November 23, 2014

AIAWU Opposes Anti-People Policies of Centre, Curtailing of MGNREGA

THE Central Working Committee of the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) met at the SM Joshi Foundation in Pune, Maharashtra from November 11 to 12. The Union represents the largest number of organised agricultural labour in the country and expressed its concern over the NDA government’s anti-people policies in cutting down all types of security of the mass of people in employment, food and social services for the rural poor. It deplored the uncontrolled price rise in the necessaries of life on the one hand and lack of remuneration for agricultural work and products on the other. The BJP-led central government and a number of state governments with similar policies are attempting to whittle down the MGNREGA. The central government’s attempt to dismantle the universally applicable Act into a targeted government scheme was criticised thoroughly by the delegates from all the states. Instead of just implementing MGNREGA, it is necessary to expand it at a time when the country is experiencing serious drought in some areas and floods in others. The BJP government has drastically reduced it bringing misery to the people. At the same time, it is pursuing all kinds of divisive tactics in collaboration with other exploitative forces who want to cover up the bad effects of neo-liberal policies by diverting the minds of people to communal and casteist channels. The meeting discussed the growing danger of the ever increasing hatred campaigns and atrocities on Dalits, adivasis and women. The recent incidences of atrocities on Dalits in Maharashtra like Javkheda, Sonai, Kharda, and in Gangavati in Karnataka are part and parcel of what is going on all over the country. From the experiences of the states reported in the meeting, it is clear that various state governments are also following the central government and moving more aggressively to scuttle safety nets essential to protect the majority of Indian people, like MGNREGA, food security, the Forest Rights Act, homestead rights for Dalits and landless and social security schemes like old age pensions and government aided health and education for all. The proposed changes in the wage and material component ratio, the unilateral imposition of a blanket ban on functioning of MGNREGA all over the country violates basic legal principles of Indian constitution and federalism. The AIAWU Central Working Committee (CEC) demands that the state governments oppose these amendments that are going to prove a death knell to the MGNREGA. The CWC meeting also discussed the developments related to food and social security. No state has been able to start implementing the National Food Security Act 2013, despite repeated deferments of deadline. Instead of releasing the food grains at the rate prescribed by the law for states like Tripura, which came forward to implement the Act, the central government reduced the quota of food grains drastically. They went to meddle with the day-to-day administrative discretion of state governments in their desire to show the corporate class that they can trample the basic rights of the people. Apart from that it is reported that a number of state governments is cancelling the BPL cards indiscriminately. All the north Indian states cancelled lakhs of BPL cards on one pretext or the other. State governments like Rajasthan even went further and closed down 7,500 schools denying the right to education for the poor and stopped free medical treatment by the government. Various state governments are even withholding the release of old age pensions and Indira Avas Yojana grants. The state governments continue to ignore farmers suicides. While the central government talks of bringing back black money from abroad, there is no attempt to check and root out corruption inside the country. It is in this background that the CWC decided to hold an all India militant campaign on the issues related to employment, food and social security. The CWC gave a call to give maximum support and participate widely in the protest actions onNovember 26 in Delhi and all over the country opposing the central government moves to restrict the implementation of MGNREGA, change the wage and material ratio, using machinery and contractors in direct violation of the law. The AIAWU proposes to continue its multifarious struggles until these anti-people policies are rolled back to bring much-needed help to the people. At the same time, the Union will struggle relentlessly for forging the unity of the Indian people against divisive forces and strengthening their security of life and livelihood. (EOM)