Today is the Constitution Day, indeed a very historic day for the whole of India. On this day, citizens took to the streets to remind the Government of India of its constitutional responsibility and duty towards the citizens of this country.
Farmers, agricultural laborers, fishermen, pastoralists, rural artisans, organized and unorganized sector workers / employees, women, and students participated across the country and termed some of the government policies unconstitutional.
Martyrs Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamate, Vijay Salaskar, Tukaram Ombale and police, military soldiers and officers who sacrificed their lives while fighting the fanatical terrorists on November 26, 2008, have been saluted.
Earlier this year, on the 8th of January, 2020, all the workers’ organisations went on a one-day nationwide strike to protest against the anti-labour, anti-farmer and anti-country policies of the Central Government. This was a warning to the central government. However, the central government ignored their protest.
Protesters say the central government has taken undue advantage of the health emergency crisis created by COVID-19 and the pandemic and neglected the implementation of the existing labor laws. They say without bothering to have some consultation with trade unions, political parties and without even discussing in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the central government brazenly passed 4 new anti-labour codes.
It has been alleged that the three laws passed by the government in September 2020 would push small farmers into the net of big corporates and legalize the black market in food grains.
During the unplanned and unprecedented lockdown, thousands of workers and small businesses were rendered jobless and without income, which in the context of India also means without a roof over their head and almost complete starvation.
The need of the hour is to formulate policies to support workers at various levels and make attempts to strengthen the economy.
The central government’s `self-sufficiency’ (`atma-nirbharta’) campaign has been slammed saying it is ill-timed as on the other hand public sector organisations have been sold off.
Agitators have hit out at BJP’s policies saying they are myopic, short-sighted and have left the country’s economy complete a shambles.
The Reserve Bank has acknowledged that this is the beginning of recession. It has also said that the economy will not grow and the GDP will continue to shrink until the end of next year.
However, the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister have not uttered a word on this.
On the one hand, the finance ministry says green shoots could be seen, but for the general public, none exists, term the new packages that have been announced meaningless, say they see these as ‘Jumla’, theatrics, and mere bombastic measures.
Indians also witnessed crores of working people starving, when they were trudging 100s of miles without food or water. And, during the same time, there were also reports of Mukesh Ambani's assets increasing from Rs 4.8 lakh crore to Rs 6.5 lakh crore.
There is strong criticism that the poor and common man is being exploited by the central government, and big corporates are getting richer.
Many state governments have also questioned the central government saying it is taking unilateral decisions without even consulting them.
For example, according to the GST Act 2017, after collecting the total GST tax, the share of the state has to be given by the Central Government to the respective states.
According to reports, the central government owes a total of Rs 3 lakh crore to all state governments.
The Mahavikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra has hit out at the Centre saying it is trying to destabilise their government, and misusing and abusing the different agencies controlled by them like ED, CBI, etc.
All these actions were strongly opposed by the working class and the peasantry.
On this one-day strike on the Constitution Day today, farmers' organizations across the country today have called for Chalo Delli’ ('March to Delhi') as well as street protests across the country.
On November 27, farmers' unions across the country continue their agitation and trade unions actively support it.
All employees in Banks Insurance and entire PSU, central and state govt employees observed strike today. All unions in every sector will be on strike in every sector.
The strike and agitation has called for the following demands:
1) Withdraw the anti-labor code immediately and restore all previous labor laws.
2) Repeal three anti-farmer laws immediately. Legislate for complete debt relief for farmers and a minimum basic price of one and a half times the cost of production as per the Swaminathan Commission formula.
3) Withdraw the Central Government's proposed and amended Electricity Bill 2020 immediately.
4) Pay Rs 7500 monthly subsistence allowance to all those who are not able to pay Income Tax.
5) Give 10 kg of free grain per head for the next six months.
6) Stop privatization of railways, BPCL, ports, coal and defense sectors, airports, banks, insurance companies.
7) Strictly enforce the Forest Rights Act and give legal titles to those who are tilling forest land.
8) Contract workers who are in regular work have to be made permanent.
9) Pay equal pay for equal work.
10) Cancel the new pension plan. Amend the 1995 EPF scheme and increase the minimum pension to Rs. 10000.
11) Regularize Asha, Anganwadi etc. scheme employees and give them the benefit of minimum wages, provident fund and pension.
12) Expand the MNREGA, whereby every person is entitled to at least 200 days of work in a year with Rs. 600 wages per day.
13) Implement Employment Guarantee Act in cities.
14) Strengthen the public distribution (ration) system. Strengthen the Food Corporation of India.
15) Build quality public hospitals in every taluka by strengthening public health system.
16) Strengthen public transport system with government subsidy. Best and S.T. Protect the corporation. Make it part of the main budget of the Government of Maharashtra. Merge BEST in the main budget of Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
17) Register all types of unorganized workers; provide them with health insurance and a monthly pension of Rs. 3000 / -. For this, legislate a comprehensive law on the lines of Mathadi Act.
18) Implement the national policy for vendors.
19) Strengthen and implement the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act of 1979.
20) Pass a separate law for intra-state migrant workers.
21) Cancel the new education policy. Implement a quality public education system with the recognition that education as the right of every child.
22) Stop attacks on secularism, equality and federalism (the rights of state governments), which are the values that are at the core of out Constitution.
23) Immediately disburse to the Maharashtra State Government its share of GST.
24) Adequate provision should be made for social security services for all workers.
25) Social infrastructure as well as the legal system should be strengthened in order to provide all social services to the people of India.
26) There should be no option to pay cash for any social services.
All the Constitution-loving citizens want to go beyond language, region, religion, caste and gender and the government’s divisive, anti-democratic and anti-Constitutional measures.
Protesters have taken pledge to not allow the unity of the country be undermined, and strengthen the Constitutional values of secularism, equality, socialism and democracy.