In India, the groundswell of the peasant movement was first centralized against the power of Modi in Delhi, and passed the dangerous stage of January 26 by redeploying and deepening throughout North India. at least, and beyond. The contribution of Jacques Chastaing at the end of February, published in Anticapitalisme et Révolution then on our site and which fed the discussion of the international video-conference of February 28, at which we had the honor and the joy of meeting Nodeep Kaur recently released, makes it possible to distinguish three stages in the rise of the movement, leading to the current moment:
– the coordination of hundreds of peasant groups, AIKSCC (Coordination of All Farmers in Struggle of India), imposed a one-day general strike on the union leaderships of employees, on November 26, 2020, and repeated this success on December 8,
– the SKM (Peasant United Front), which brings together a “leading edge” part of the AIKSCC, calls for a march on Delhi, creating the permanent event that is the encampment of hundreds of thousands of peasants at the gates of the capital: a Tahir square, a Maïdan, an Occupy Wall Street, a Taksim square, but in several copies and not in the center of the capital, but all around. The phase thus opened culminates in the march of January 26.
– the government authorized it while opposing provocations to discredit and launch repression. The dangerous wavering which then occurs is overcome in particular by the action of Rakesh Tikait, who organizes the resistance, then taking the form of a direct confrontation with the gangs of the BJP and the RSS (the BJP is the ethno-nationalist party, religious in power, the RSS are its militias, fascist in nature), and calls for one, then several, Mahapanchayats, organized assemblies of tens or even hundreds of thousands of peasants, structured in villages (Panchayats) and open to workers, students , Dalits and women.
If one can have the impression, at the « summit » of the movement, of an increasing concentration – of the enormous coordination that is the AIKSCC to the smaller front that is the SKM then of the imposing figure, but uncertain (he is the heir to a « dynasty » of peasant leaders from Uttar Pradesh, who tried alliances with the Congress party and then with the BJP but have now come back), of Rakesh Tikait, we has the opposite process at the base: the push towards the confrontation with the central power on January 26 then redeployed in a formidable push towards popular self-organization, continuing to pose the question of power in a very direct way, because the Mahapanchayats one after the other decide to forbid, by a sort of social disgrace, the BJP and the RSS, and often the police, to show themselves in entire regions.
There is, throughout India and the 21st century, the Russian 1905 in what is happening there. The central confrontation had taken shape and ended in a massacre on Red Sunday, January 9, 1905. A few months later the workers’ soviets appeared. The modern Indian proletariat is very largely present in the peasantry, via the landless, the poors, the agricultural workers, the direct and deep links with the population of the cities. It is not an uprising of (small) landowners, but an uprising of proletarians who together pose the questions of current humanity: the question of power and democracy, who leads, who does (and what does!) police ; the question of land and water, who exploits them or who maintains them, on whose behalf (and therefore the ecological question, inseparable from the questions of power and property), and the question of property, for whom the land is managed, who is in charge, again.
The immense official media silence, which has lasted for many weeks now, hides the immense importance and depth of this revolutionary slick that is spreading and deepening.
On February 17, local elections in the Punjab, one of the states from which the movement started, and through which many attempts to discredit it have been manifested (by passing it off as a Sikh separatist or to serve the big landowners, in fact not so big and not that many) saw the elimination of the BJP and its allies, including the Akali Dal, famous for its pogroms of the 1990s committed in the name of the Hindutva, and also a slap in the Sikh identity party, all for the benefit of Congress and a host of local parties.
On February 18, the blockade of the railroads is a majority fact in all of North India and the extension of the Mahapanchayats in West Bengal begins, with the project to march on Kolkatta to prevent the BJP from conquering positions of power in this state during next local elections – we can see that the movement is increasingly taking over local elections in its own way. In Haryana, the state closest to Delhi, village assemblies begin to arrest police officers who want to make arrests: they are detained and then deported with a document stating that they are prohibited from returning.
In Tamil Nadu – in the far south of the peninsula – mass protests against price hikes erupt, demanding the resignation of the petroleum minister. On February 20, a Mahapanchayat is held in Chandigarh across the border between Punjab and Haryana – this has enormous significance in Indian history, as these two states were separated in 1966 as part of “communalist struggles”. Between Hindus and Sikhs.
And that’s not all: the next day there is a Mahapanchayats of 250,000 participants, Dalits / Mazdoors / Kisans, Untouchables / Farm workers / Peasants, visible expression of the dismantling of the separation of castes by the movement from below – this « caste system » supposed to symbolize the backwardness of the Indian people and which the capitalist development of the country claims to fight while it has always reproduced it …
Note that the alliance of all the exploited and oppressed is also at the heart of the struggle of comrade Nodeep Kaur, precisely of Sikh origin, woman, worker and Dalit. And it is also to this common Mahapanchayat that activists of the March for the climate went and expressed themselves, representing Disha Ravi then imprisoned.
On February 22, faced with the imminent harvest, the main spokespersons of the SKM rely on the success and the lessons of these two Mahapanchayats who will have marked the conscience, to call for joint action peasants / workers / women / young people / Dalits with common actions on February 27-28 and a general mobilization on March 8, international day of struggle for the emancipation of women, calling for the « third phase of the movement » (after those leading to January 26 then having followed it), that of the union of all the exploited and oppressed.
Thus, the rise of the proletarian and democratic revolution in India reminds on world scale the meaning and content of March 8, initiated by the Socialist International of Women before 1914 and with which the Russian Revolution of 1917 began!
The demonstrations of February 26 to 28 take up these themes and take up the symbols of the Indian national struggle, referring for example to the peasant revolutionary and Dalit of the first XXth century Swami Sahajanand, whose sentence is quoted:
“Whoever grows food and sews clothes, must now rule. He fought against the owners, the state and the devotees. India belongs to him, and now he will rule. «
During these new demonstrations and in the Mahapanchayats which, in the northern states of India, are now the events that punctuate everything, Rakesh Tikait declares that the “government of thieves” will have to be overthrown, by a new national concentration in the scale of what is happening after the harvest. The Adivasis (“tribal” peoples) outside castes also join the Mahapanchayats. Transport goes on indefinite strike in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh (also in the South) the strike against the privatization of the steelworks leads to a general strike throughout the state. Undoubtedly, the numerous workers’ strikes throughout the country but especially in the South, the entry into movement of Bengal, and the affirmation of the Mahapanchayats, as well as their self-transcendence of the divisions between castes, religions, and sexes, the whole of these processes seek to combine on a gigantic scale across India – see beyond, we’ll come back to that. In Tripura, a small state in eastern Bangladesh, tribal organizations are launching mass youth protests against unemployment.
On February 28, elected Panchayat delegates and Dalit representatives gather in Delhi and call on all Dalits to take action. The SKM (Peasant United Front) met the 10 confederations of employees on the same day, and immediately came out a call for joint action throughout India against privatizations on March 15, broadening the already very strong movement by Andhra Pradesh, then to a day of national homage to Baghat Singh, an Indian nationalist who broke with Gandhi, hanged by the British occupiers in 1931, declaring himself a Marxist on the eve of his death.
One can, of course, wonder about the « slowness » of certain processes, but in this case we are not at all in the same situation as, for example, that of « days of action » which would follow one another. from time to time. The excitement is total and spreads throughout the country, in the form of the Mahapanchayats or in other forms, more « worker-traditional » perhaps in the South and Bengal, but also through the Dalits, the Adivasis and the tribes, as well as by the youth in which all this is taken up and stirred, feminist and climatic demands being fully present. There is no backwardness in this revolutionary surge: it is, at the present moment, the advanced tip of the planetary revolutionary wave.
In fact, under this false slowness which is an unfolding and a deepening, the impression dominates that the storm is approaching and that this immense wave is still only a… wave, in front of what could come. Because the actors of the struggle feel and know that the questions of power, land, property, are before them and are there.
In Pakistan, the push is also there despite the permanent procrastination of the parliamentary opposition. Here too a deadline is in the landscape: March 26 is now designated for the departure of power and the military-Islamist state … Peasant demonstrations start in the region of Lahore.
In Bangladesh (see the article by J. Chastaing on our site on December 23), the situation had so far been out of sync, the major « economic » social struggles of 2019 having been stopped under the pretext of the Covid. If you search a search engine for « Bangladesh protests » in France to this day, you will only find anti-French Islamist protests. However, the situation began to change: the probable assassination in prison of the writer Musahqt Ahmed, and the acts of torture against the cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, who had denounced the management of the pandemic by the power, triggered mass demonstrations who confront the police.
In light of what is happening in India, Bangladesh can therefore also enter the storm zone.
Entered, without a doubt, Myanmar or Burma. The military, aided by Chinese imperialism, did not expect such resistance, because it is more than resistance: it is an uprising. They believed that the wear and tear of popular aspirations during Aung Sang Su Kyi’s equivocal years of power, marked in particular by the start of genocide against the Rohingya, had given them free rein. In fact, the general strike for democracy faces the army, which shoots.
It is therefore all of South Asia that is entering the social and democratic storm. Two immediate questions arise, besides that of breaking the wall of disinformation through silence:
– When will there be a demonstration in front of the Burmese embassy and its Chinese imperialist chaperone?
– And if we made March 8 an international day of solidarity with Indian women? Because the Indian March 8 will resound in the world. Let us resound with him!
VP, with material from JC. On 06-03-2021.