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migrant labourers

The attack of Corona virus is a struggle between the virus and the human body. In this struggle, doctors are fighting on the side of humans to control and eradicate the virus. Doctors and healthcare workers around the world are using their skills, education, knowledge and medical science to conduct the fight against this deadly virus.

But this virus pandemic is not a mere medical problem. It exposes the gross socio-economic contradictions of the world we live in. Each of the problems and contradictions which exist between the state, the social system, the social divisions and the classes in every country has now been clearly manifested.

Let us start with healthcare sector mentioned above. Global capitalism had brought the life-saving medical service under its control providing medical treatment only to those who can feed its insatiable greed for profit. Over the past 20-30 years, the dignity and respect of doctors have been wrecked and they were treated as workers laboring for money. But, that concept of private, individualized medical service is thoroughly broken today. Corona virus infection has turned this outlook on healthcare upside down.

Wherever the state run healthcare system and the public healthcare infrastructure are strong, the fight against Corona virus is carried out in an organized, appropriate manner. This crisis has restored the lofty purposes of medical discipline where doctor provide medical treatment to those in need without discriminating based on economic status. Doctors have been rescued from their corporate prison houses and consequently their social status and respect are restored.

This virus attacks everyone without discriminating based on caste, religion, race, language or rich/poor and its rapid spread compelled the capitalist medical world to respond fast. With this, whoever divided people, propagated individualism, and held aloft the capitalist banner of “privatization and profit hunt are the only way for the progress of human kind” are exposed and are bereft of ideas, now.

Not only this. All places of worship such as temples, churches and mosques are closed down. All religious and political leaders who used to deride science were compelled to speak scientifically, "Do not congregate, stay home safe, do not come to the temple if you are ill, but go to the doctor and get treatment"; They are faced with the prospect of mass extinction if they fail to follow the principles of science. This corona pandemic has made humankind to fall at the feet of science and seek scientific ways for resolving the crisis. It forced everyone to repose faith in science, to depend on science, to follow the guidelines of science.

On the other hand, bourgeois individualism and the Indian caste structure are showing their ugly face. In our country, this reality is visible to the common people in front of their own eyes. The current rulers at the center said “We are all Hindus! We will look after the interests of Hindus! The welfare of Hindus would be taken care”. But Hindu migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are left stranded without any warning in faraway places in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Rajasthan. They workers were left to travel by foot on the high ways.

"They said this is one country, they claimed we are all Hindus. But, when 3 weeks of lock down is announced, we have been abandoned by our employers in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi” that is the anguish of these workers. They started traveling back to their villages. In the time of crisis, in a place away from home the local caste groups did not have place for them and they are traveling back to seek refuge in their own caste group. With no other option, they walk hundreds of kilometers, in some cases more than 1000 kilometers to their villages. News reports say that more than 22 people died on such journeys {data upto April 5th)}

All essential services for capitalism such as banks, stock markets and the IT sector continue working even during lockdown period. IT employees who serve foreign companies are arranged to work from home.

Apart from this, other than the sale of food provisions, vegetables, essential medical services and sanitary services, all other businesses have come to a halt. Production of goods, transportation and almost all human activities are stopped. This led to a major problem, disorder and collapse in our country’s basic economic structure.

Daily wage workers who worked hard every day to earn their living are deprived of income and are left uncertain about from where their next meal will come from. They are left high and dry without any support. For the small traders and small manufacturers receivable are stuck and they are not able to pay their suppliers. Goods are left in warehouses; some of them may spoil in this period. The government says that they are postponing the advance tax payments and EMI for loans for three months. Yet, People are under stress as to how they can pay tax and EMI after three months when their business is affected due to the lock down.

The government is in no position to provide necessary personal protective equipment and proper food facilities to the medical staff, the sanitary workers, the bank employees, and even to the policemen who are used to unleash oppression on the people. That is, the government has become dysfunctional even to maintain its own police force used for repression.

People are witnessing death, hunger and children's pain with their own eyes. People are angry and distrustful towards the government who said it is our country; it is our religion, who abandoned them at this critical time.

Pro-imperialist intellectuals all over the world led by the US shout hoarse “China is the villain, there is no democracy in China and people of China are in grave danger”. However, when China learned that the disease was spreading in their country, the city of Wuhan was completely closed off and the people were made to stay home; the Chinese government not only restricted the movement of people, but also provided all basic needs of the people directly to their home. Teams of doctors from all over the country were mobilized to fight against the virus. Thus the spread of the disease is almost stopped. At the same time, people of other countries are wondering, "Why don’t this kind of effective measure take place in our country?”

In countries like Italy and USA which are considered to be developed, the death rate of infected persons is 2 to 3 times higher than the rate in China. The infection spreads rapidly in those countries. Why is this happening? Is it because that the Corona virus is also gripped by the fear of authoritarian regime in China and ran away from there? Is it because of the atmosphere of freedom in capitalist countries that it spreads and flourish so well?

"Is the existing system in Italy, United States and France wrong? Is the ruling state is not suitable for the modern world? Is what has been told to us so far, wrong?”. No one can stop such inevitable questions raised by the people of these countries. This leads the ruling class of these countries to resort to a campaign of slander against China.

Professor Prabhat Patnaik in his article ‘Global pandemic and Socialism’ states, "There is another reason for the world under global pandemic impact to turn towards socialism. That is the compulsory need for the people of the world to acquire scientific temperament. The development of scientific temperament is the first step towards socialism.”

As natural science is used to understand nature and oppose and interact with it, Marxism serves to understand the dynamics of society and act rationally. Marxism is the science of social studies. Natural science and Marxism have become practical reality for today's modern world and people of the whole world witness this fact.

This virus has forced all people to unite. In the past, such epidemics were restricted to a few towns or cities. For example, in 1994 there was a plague outbreak in Surat and thousands of people were infected and many died. But it did not become a global pandemic. The flu pandemic of 1918 was spread by soldiers returning home from First World War. Thus socioeconomic factors play an important role in the spread of infectious diseases.

The current Corona pandemic shows that humans are closer together than ever before, through information exchange, trading of goods and travel by people. Those who preached against the unity of humankind saying “We are a separate country, we will take care of our country’s welfare only, we all belong to different religions, our religion is different, the other religions are our enemies, we will maintain our caste groups” are in disarray. In the final analysis, Corona does not discriminate even between the haves and have-nots, it says that everybody is equal in front of me, I will not give special treatment to the rich.

The US government has been forced to transfer $1000, $1200 per month directly into each citizen’s bank account. The governments of all countries are forced to take collective, social and public measures for the well-being of all the people.

In India, how do states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh handle this crisis?

  • The government in Kerala and the ruling party’s youth wing are taking concrete steps to help the people medically and economically in dealing with this crisis. The government cooks and distributes food at free of cost to the affected people.
  • With the help of the medical infrastructure built by the successive progressive rule of Dravidian parties, Tamil Nadu is effectively tackling the crisis. Food is provided to workers at free of cost by the state government through Amma canteens.
  • Just like Spain, the government of Andhra Pradesh also decided to take over Private Hospitals to provide treatment to patients.
  • In Telangana, the chief minister says, “Workers from outside need not panic and go anywhere. You are all our guests, stay here. We are arranging meals for you. Whatever is needed, we will take care of you.”

This crisis is making us to realize that the problems of the globalized, socialized economy can be handled only through socialized approach. This crisis is showing us that all the problems of the society can be solved on scientific basis with a rational outlook.

But those who opposed science, and propagated individualism and privatization against socialized human life are simmering with anger and hatred. They are unable to bear the efficacy of the socialized administration and the primacy of science. This directly affects their interests, viz private property and pseudo-religious pride. These are the foundations on which their interests are nurtured, and they are kept in power, these are being dismantled and they are in great distress.

In order to deflect the questions and anger of the people away from themselves and from their rule, they divert the issue, create imaginary enemies and spit venom.

Those, who are admired by working people all over the world for handling this crisis through socialized administration and scientific planning, are the target of the animosity of the ruling classes.

Even though it is scientifically proven and accepted by the scientific community that the virus evolved in animals and spread from animals to humans, they keep spreading the misinformation that "China created this virus and spread it worldwide.” They also say that the death toll in China is much more than the reported 3,000 – 4,000. Even established bourgeois newspapers spread these falsehoods without concrete proof or facts. By claiming that the whole world is ridiculing China, politicians and bourgeois intellectuals ridicule themselves In fact, the whole world is ridiculing the ineffectiveness and impotency of the US government in controlling the pandemic.

Similarly, the world is going to ridicule the ineffectiveness of the Indian rulers tomorrow. As a preparation to face those charges the Indian rulers are shaping hatred against Muslims and foster communal divide. They spread without any shame the false narrative that the hundreds of Muslims who participated in Tabligi Jamaat in Delhi were the carriers of virus to all parts of the country. We may ask: If the participants in Tabligi Jamaat were culprits, what about the government which allowed the Jamaat to take place and failed to screen the international travellers coming to the meeting? Who is responsible for not testing them and subjecting them to quarantine?

This hatred campaign against Muslims is not a recent phenomenon. For more than 100 years, the political activities of RSS and BJP are centered only on such hatred against minority communities. In the recent years, after successive attacks such as demolition of Babri Masjid, massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, abrogation of the rights of Kashmir, amendment of Citizenship Act, now they are using even this natural calamity as a tool to foster hatred towards Muslims.

They have money power; they have the modern technology; they have state power. They are using all these tools in their ambit to instigate enmity similar to that existed between primitive ethnic groups. At the same time, they also encourage irrational nonsense like 'clapping hands and beating of plates in the evening will eradicate the Virus’ or ‘lighting lamps at night will control the virus spread.’

When Prime Minister Modi announced, “Everyone should stay home for a day and not go out”, People followed that curfew. When he called on the people to clap hands and beat plates in the evening, people did that also. He had announced that on April 5 at 9 pm, everyone should switch off the lights at their homes and light candles and show cellphone light. It looked as if someone told him about a scene of Tamil movie “Velaikkaran” in which the hero asked his fellow city residents to switch off lights at midnight and switch them on again in unison. With that he wanted to judge the solidarity of people with his cause against the villain. Imitating this in real life scenario reveals the unscientific attitude of our prime minister towards the virus and the fight against it.

Why the ruling clique resorts to such measures? The leaders of RSS / BJP are experimenting. They are testing whether People respond to their calls.

But social life is part of people’s nature, even without someone like Modi to ask them to do it. During Jallikattu agitation and natural disasters like the tsunami or in the aftermath of Gaja cyclone, people came forward on their own to help their fellow citizens propelled by their own social consciousness, without orders from any leaders. When former Chief Minister Jayalalitha passed away in 2016, the official announcement about her death was not made till midnight. But the news spread rapidly among the people. Even private companies had asked employees to go home early by 5:30 pm. After buying food items and other essentials for a couple of days, most of the people were safe and sound back in their houses. No political leader or the government department asked them to do it, people were driven by the need for their own safety and followed social order.

This is a manifestation of the closeness of all the people in the present social mode of production. But it is necessary for these fascist rulers to think and create the impression that, 'When I ordered, people of this country submissively obeyed.” They want people to always obey their dicta without any hesitation.

“Everybody has to stay home. If you come out, the police would beat you”, this was enforced during the lock down period. But the basic economic needs drive millions of people out. The fear of harm to the self and society due to virus infection is overcome by the economic hardship faced which brought starvation to children and families. Grocery stores, vegetable shops, pharmacies and related transport activities are gradually expanding.

The government is trying to suppress this with violence and repression. In Telangana, cops made some persons who were playing cards outside their home to kneel down and beat them mercilessly with their lathis. It was announced that those who venture outside would be arrested under criminal law. In Ahmedabad, policemen turned vegetable carts of roadside vendors upside down and destroyed the vegetables. Policemen smashed glasses of two-wheelers plying on the roads in Dharmapuri of Tamilnadu. The district administration of a UP district sprayed chemical water on groups of workers who came to their villages after walking hundreds of kilometers. There was a separate preferential treatment for educated elites and upper caste people. On the other hand, people belonging to oppressed working castes are treated without dignity or human rights. This is the cruel, ugly and disgusting soul of India.

The ruling classes are using this crisis as an opportunity to rehearse the oppression and control of people, taking away their rights.

What will they say tomorrow? Their greatest desire is to perpetuate these restrictions: "The risk of virus always exists. You can only come out with the permission of the government. If you want to travel to other places, you have to get a permit. No one should come out and speak out against the government, there should be no freedom of speech, people should just listen to the government propaganda in the media and should confine themselves at home and watch soap operas telecasted in the TV channels”. They may even dream of utilizing this situation to perpetuate their exploitation and oppression and increase state surveillance by using latest technology and mobile phones. As the technology is advancing with rapid strides, with increased use of robots and automation in manufacturing, the ruling classes may even dream of keeping working classes away from production and keep them under their control! But who will buy the goods produced by the robots! Also, the class conscious working classes cannot be suppressed for long!!

You may wonder how come the rulers of present day not aware of these basic things. In Modi's Gujarat, which is the headquarters of superstition, it is reported that there is a great scarcity for cow’s urine, since sanghis made the propaganda that cow’s urine can cure corona infection! Now tell us how to understand these people! Will the rulers who declared that 500 and 1000 rupee notes had demonetized overnight become wiser this time?

This is an unprecedented crisis that human race has ever seen. In the last 20-30 years, we have transformed the world into a small village with globalized production, globalized communication, worldwide traveling, meeting, studying and working which was never seen ever before. But, it is shaped by capital with its profit motive as the prime objective.

Now, lock down has been imposed and production has been halted in many parts of the world. What will be the consequences?

In the past, production had not been stopped completely even during World Wars. The war required more production, and the people were made to work harder. Crores of people were killed in the war, but nobody was made to sit at home paralyzed from economic activities, production was not stopped altogether.

Even during the Great Depression of 1930, although many companies went bankrupt, many more functioned. People left their homes looking for jobs and continued their working life.

But today, everything is stopped. When people return to work after the lock-down ends, how will this restart? Those who were without jobs and without income for such a long time, how will they manage their lives?

The production chains of the entire economy have been broken in multiple places. For example, if yarn is to be manufactured by the spinner mill, fabric manufacturer should place order, he in turn has to get requirements from the garment manufacturer. For the garment manufacturer to resume his business, his finished goods should be sold in the market. Unless the people have money to buy things, how far finished goods can be sold. This way, production chains have been broken in many places.

People's outlook has also changed. Jack Ma, the boss of Chinese company Alibaba, revealed the quest of capitalist class last year: “Young people should work 12 hours a day, six days a week to become rich in their life.” With the progress of technology and productive forces, capitalism instead of reducing the work time of working classes, increases exploitation by prolonging working hours. In this crisis, people have witnessed that the governments can take measures to protect the interests of working people when it is suits the ruling classes.

On the one hand a drive to break the capitalist framework of private property and private welfare and evolving as an advanced organization of the socially collective people's state; On the other hand reactionary ruling classes and their governments, try to reverse all the progress made by mankind so far. We have the choice of either socialism, or to slip down into the barbarity of primitive ethnic groups.

Whither we go? In the path of Science or in the path of superstition? In the way of religion or towards Socialism? Socialism or barbarism? Barbaric clashes in the name of caste and religious groups or united progress of all the people? We are standing at the crossroads; we should choose which way to turn. Autocracy of a few or the collective rule of people?

What kind of new order will emerge?

The ruling forces plan to foster hatred and enmity among people of different religions, nationalities and countries. They are also planning to establish repressive control over people by snatching away even the meager democratic rights available now.

But reality demands that the society should go towards science and socialism in which the majority will enjoy more rights and society will be ruled by collective decision making.

In the struggle between these two trends, it is true that the ruling classes are strong, they control the state machinery, media and money power.

Weakness of the ruling classes lie in the fact that they have failed miserably; they were neither able to provide even basic livelihood needs to the people, nor save their lives. They stand exposed and naked before the eyes of their own people. Their cooked up stories stand exposed and primacy of science is established. This is their weakness. Even within the state machinery, the lower level staff and employees and their families do not have better facilities to protect themselves from Corona infection than the common people. They would also be in the same mindset as the rest of working masses.

What should the working masses demand? What should they do?                         

  • The government should explain why no action was taken for more than two months after it was known that a global pandemic is spreading. We should demand that the governments to explain what measures they took from the beginning to the present and what measures that they are going to take in future.
  • China and Cuba have shown exemplary results in containing this pandemic. Therefore we should force the government to seek aid and suggestions from those countries.
  • We should demand that the government should take over Hospitals and also other public service institutions. These should run by people committees.
  • We should demand that traditional medical systems should be deployed on par with allopathy medical system for treating of covid19 viral infection.
  • After the lock down period is over the government should provide education and healthcare to all the people as welfare state. Private educational and medical institutions should be run by the government for 2 years.
  • Employment guarantee should be provided, minimum wages should be assured.
  • To implement the above measures a coalition government of all parties should be formed for 2 years.

People should get political consciousness to demand the above measures from the government.

The masses should organize themselves for this and also for protecting their right to education, healthcare and livelihood. People should unite together for demanding and safeguarding social protection measures such as public education, public healthcare, job security and pension benefits.

In trade unions, farmers associations and residents associations, alternative structures to replace the failed capitalistic institutions should be planned and established. Small traders and small manufacturers should form association with those facing similar issues and form committees. They should plan to understand the issues surrounding them and measures to combat them.

Working masses should unite across caste, religious and racial boundaries to bring large corporates, big banks, stock markets under the democratic control of working people.

Capitalists have their own globalized organization to serve their requirements. From United Nations Organization (UNO) to World Trade Organization (WTO) do they stand and work for the people? Obviously not.

Hence preparations and plans to establish an International (resembling first international working men’s association of 1864) organization uniting all organizations of working masses in all the countries should be made. Towards this goal, all parties in Tamil Nadu and in India working towards socialism as their aim under different names and banners should be united.

With the help of Science, let us vanquish capitalism and its evil alliance with castiest, communal reactionary forces, which has brought the whole world on the verge of catastrophe!

Written by Amballi Coordination Committee

Translated by Mani

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