[News] In What May be the Largest Strike in World History, Millions in India Protest PM Modi's Policies

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 10 11:02:33 EST 2020


  In What May be the Largest Strike in World History, Millions in India
  Protest PM Modi's Policies

by Alan Macleod - January 8, 2020

An estimatedquarter billion 
– roughly three percent of the world’s entire population – went on 
strike today across the subcontinent, protesting the government of 
Narendra Modi’s racist and “anti-people 
policies. The protests were called by the Center of Indian Trade Unions 
(CITU) and are thought to be perhaps the largest in world history.

    General strike in India begins. 250 million to be out today. World’s
    largest strike. at cituhq
    pic.twitter.com/Wyob6JVPjk <https://t.co/Wyob6JVPjk>

    — Vijay Prashad (@vijayprashad) January 8, 2020

The CITU has a12-point charter of demands 
have put to the government. The demands include:

  * Urgent measures to contain price rises through a universalized
    public distribution system and banning of speculative trading on the
    commodities market.
  * A job generation scheme to combat India’s unemployment problem.
  * Stricter enforcement of all basic labor laws.
  * Universal social security.
  * A minimum wage of at least 15,000 Rupees (≈ $210) per month.
  * A guaranteed pension for the entire working age population.
  * Equal pay for equal work.
  * The stoppage of pro-employer, anti-labor laws.
  * The end to foreign direct investment in key industries like rail,
    defense and finance.

    Delhi university strongly rejects violence on campus and the
    communal divide of India. #BharatBandh
    pic.twitter.com/VHB4IYX0g2 <https://t.co/VHB4IYX0g2>

    — We The People of India (@ThePeopleOfIN) January 8, 2020

Many on the streets are alsocontinuing the protest 
Modi’s privatization schemes and racist CAA and NRC acts. The CAA 
explicitly prevents Muslims (India’s largest religious minority 
numbering around 140 million 
<http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_And_You/religion.aspx>people) from 
neighboring countries to acquire citizenship. The NRC (National 
Registration Council) overturns all previous citizenship laws, requiring 
all Indians to provide extensive documentation to prove their 
citizenship– something hundreds of millions will surely be unable to do. 
It, therefore, gives Modi and his ruling far-right Bharatiya Janata 
Party (BJP) the ability to remove citizenship– and therefore virtually 
all human rights– from any Indian it wishes. The government hasalready 
two million people’s citizenship in the northeastern state of Assam– 
around half of them Muslims. It is also currently building a network of 
“detention centers” similar to those used by ICE in the U.S. to house 
the newly criminalized population of “illegal immigrants.” In many 
cases, it is employing those same people tobuild their own prisons 

The strike is supported by most major unions except for those affiliated 
with the ruling BJP. It also has the support of the Indian National 
Congress Party, which ruled the country for decades after its 
independence from the U.K. Rahul Gandhi, leader of the party until 
August last year, also estimated that 250 million would be on the 
streets, tweeting:


One industry expected to be hit particularly hard by the strike today is 
banking. Nearly aquarter of a trillion Rupees 
$3.1 billion) in bank transactions are set to be hit throughout the day, 
as ten unions from the finance and insurance sectors, representing 
around half a million workers, join the strike.

A common tactic of the strikers across the country is to occupy railway 
lines, shutting down India’s most important and iconic transport 
network, effectively paralyzing the country. Representatives of India’s 
coal unions alsoannounced 
its 600,000 members would join the strike, despite an order from the 
management of Coal India Ltd. not to do so. Many of the country’s 
enormous population of agricultural workers are expected to down their 
tools as well.

    The people with the railwaymen in Howrah railway
    pic.twitter.com/XxzJmK3VpM <https://t.co/XxzJmK3VpM>

    — Surjya Kanta Mishra (@mishra_surjya) January 8, 2020

News of what is billed by supporters as the world’s largest strike has 
been hard to come by in Western sources. In fact, there has been an 
almost complete media blackout of the subject. A search for “India 
strike” into Google’s news search engine as of 23:00 India standard time 
(in other words after an entire day of unrest) produces just one result 
from a Western news organization; a short article from/Reuters/ 
that only “tens of thousands” are on strike. While numbers for 
simultaneous demonstrations happening across a subcontinent can never be 
gauged completely accurately, what is striking is the complete 
disinterest in such a large revolt from international media organizations.

    I have more than 300 photos ( mainly from Bengal ) in my mobile
    related to protest against #JNUViolence
    and in support of tomorrow's #BharatBandh

    Some of them#AllIndiaWorkersStrike
    pic.twitter.com/3rjwnczhrx <https://t.co/3rjwnczhrx>

    — Amartya Das (@Amartya_13) January 7, 2020

Modi sees himself as part of the global wave of far-right leaders (such 
as Bolsonaro in Brazil and Orban in Hungary) who have come to power in 
the wake of the global economic downturn of 2008. In December, Indian 
intellectual Vijay Prashaddescribed 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrjQQAOpwiE>Modi’s ideology as a 
perfect blend of Indian fascism and hard neoliberal economics, combining 
Hindu nationalism with a package of privatization of state resources. In 
September, the prime minister came to the United States to attend a 
“Howdy Modi” summit in Houston, TX, where he embraced Donald Trump as a 
kindred spirit. And in April, he used the opportunity of International 
Peace Day tothreaten to drop nuclear bombs 

Despite the fact that today’s actions show that there is stiff and 
nationwide opposition to his Hindu chauvinism, he continues to 
retainhigh approval rates 
while his ruling BJP party celebrated a resounding victory in the 
elections of April/May, winning 303 of the 545 seats in India’s lower 
house, a margin of victory rarely seen in a multi-party system.

Modi’s governmentwarned that 
employee going on strike in any form would face the consequences,” while 
the Supreme Court claimed that protesting today amounts to “grave 
misconduct,” suggesting that the government sees the nationwide strike 
as a threat to its legitimacy. Strikers claim that it is just this 
authoritarian sentiment they are opposing.

/*Alan MacLeod <https://twitter.com/AlanRMacLeod>* is a Staff Writer 
for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two 
books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and 
<https://www.routledge.com/Bad-News-from-Venezuela-Twenty-years-of-fake-news-and-misreporting/Macleod/p/book/9781138489233> and 
Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent 
He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting 
<https://fair.org/author/alan-macleod/>, The Guardian 
<https://www.theguardian.com/profile/alan-macleod>, Salon 
<https://www.salon.com/writer/alan-macleod>, The Grayzone 
<https://thegrayzone.com/author/alan-macleod/>, Jacobin Magazine 
<https://jacobinmag.com/author/alan-macleod>, Common Dreams 
<https://www.commondreams.org/author/alan-macleod> the American Herald 
Tribune <https://ahtribune.com/author.html?id=1088> and The Canary 

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