Vol. XLIII No. 12 March 24, 2019
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Save Constitution & Independent Foreign Policy: AIPSO National Convention

From our correspondent

THE All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) organised its national convention and general council meetings in New Delhi on February 27-28, 2019. The national convention was held on the theme, ‘In defence of the legacy of freedom struggle and the constitution and the imperative for an independent foreign policy’.
Around 400 participants from 15 states participated in the convention. This is for the first time in the last 31 years that the AIPSO had organised a national convention in the capital city, New Delhi. The dates for the convention were chosen in such a manner that they coincided with the martyrdom day of Chandrasekhar Azad (February 27), a great freedom fighter and compatriot of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The convention was deemed timely because of the relevance of the theme, particularly in the background of the impending general elections.
Two sessions were held in the convention. The first session of the convention was chaired by Dr Braj Kumar Pandey, presidium member of the AIPSO and a veteran of the peace movement. General Secretary of AIPSO, Pallab Sengupta explained the political background of the national convention, while Nilotpal Basu, another general secretary, spoke on the present political developments and the tasks of the AIPSO. 
A draft declaration briefly outlining the concerns expressed in the theme of the convention was introduced by R Arun Kumar, deputy general secretary of AIPSO. The declaration expressed its anguish at the increasing attacks on the democratic rights of the citizens such as their right to organise, associate, freely express views and protest. It also expressed its concern on the undermining of the independence of all institutions like the judiciary, statutory authorities like the Election Commission, RBI, CAG, CBI, universities, and research bodies, etc. The principles of federalism, a fundamental feature of our constitution, are being undermined. The rights of the democratically elected state governments are being eroded and centre-state relations have deteriorated. The control over the media and the dissemination of disinformation is on the rise, where fake news producing companies are flourishing under official patronage.
The declaration also expressed its concern at the spreading environment of hate and violence, where, majoritarianism is being projected as the new normal and communalism is on the rise; minorities, dalits, children, women and other vulnerable sections of the society have no safety or security. Attacks are carried out on people’s choice of food, dress and love.
The declaration also noted the increasing authoritarian tendencies that are threatening the very basis of our secular, democratic constitution. It saluted all those people of our country – workers, kisans, dalits, women, students, youth – who are braving attacks on their rights and livelihood and are coming out in protest. The declaration also called upon all the patriotic, democratic, secular, concerned people of our country to join hands in defence of the rights guaranteed in our constitution and its democratic, secular, sovereign, socialist, republican values.
On the question of foreign policy, which is a natural extension of the internal economic policies and politics, the declaration stated that the security and sovereignty of our country is compromised by the present Indian government as it is moving away from pursuing an independent foreign policy and is increasingly moving closer to the US, signing various defence deals and cementing its status as a junior strategic ally. The numerous military exercises held together with the US is a case in point. Further the country is pushed towards a undeclared tripartite alliance – US, Israel and India – which is detrimental to our interests. Because of its closer proximity with Israel and the US, India is losing its credibility as the champion of the interests of non-aligned and developing countries.
The declaration expressed its resentment at the silent burial accorded to our policy of Non-Alignment by the present Indian government. It reminded that for the first time in the history of NAM, the prime minister of our country did not participate in the NAM Summit.
The declaration also denounced the aggressive attempts of the US to attain global domination. It noted that US’ quest for control over all resources and markets is leading to trade wars, political and economic interventions, attack on national sovereignty and military invasions. We are witnessing the havoc wreaked by such policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and in many other regions of the world. It is intervening in the internal affairs of sovereign Venezuela and is trying to destabilise it. It is continuing with its economic blockade on Cuba. The US is trying to expand its military footprint in the African continent through AFRICOM and in Asia-Pacific region, in the name of Asia Pivot.
The AIPSO declared its solidarity with all those people who are standing up against the aggressive policies of the US and its lackeys. The declaration noted the multipolar tendencies that are developing, with various countries coming together to resist US hegemony and choosing their paths for progress. The AIPSO wants India to strengthen these forces of multipolarity and develop friendly relations with all the nations, particularly with our neighbours. Interests of our people should determine our policies, including our foreign policy, which lie in upholding our sovereignty and following an independent foreign policy.
The introduction of the declaration was followed by a healthy discussion with 19 representatives from all the 15 states participating in the discussions and strengthening it with their suggestions. The declaration was finally adopted by the meeting unanimously.
In the second session, leaders of various political parties were invited to share their position on the theme. The second session was chaired by Lalit Surjan, another member of the presidium. It was addressed by the representatives of different political parties, who endorsed the declaration of the national convention. Abhay Singh Sandhu, nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh attended the convention as a special guest and addressed it. He exhorted the participants to live up to the ideals of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and condemned the BJP’s attempts to divide society on communal lines. Leaders from CPI, RSP, CPI-ML (Liberation), Forward Bloc attended this session, supported the declaration and appreciated the timely intervention of the AIPSO. Due to the meeting of the opposition parties held on the same date and time to discuss about the post Pulwama situation, some other leaders could not attend the convention.
In the general council meeting that was held on February 28, nearly 120 members elected by their respective state units, participated. The main agenda was the adoption of the updated constitution of the AIPSO. It is to be mentioned here, that the general council meeting of AIPSO held in 2017 in Imphal, Manipur had decided to update the constitution and had elected a ten-member committee for this purpose. This committee met at Puducherry and came out with a draft that was subsequently discussed and adopted in the national office bearers meeting of the AIPSO. It was this draft that was placed for discussion in the Delhi general council meeting. With few suggestions, the constitution was adopted.
In order to ensure the building of a vibrant peace movement and putting into place the propositions of the newly adopted constitution, it was decided that the national conference of AIPSO should be organised in the first half of 2020. Prior to that all, the states will organise their respective state conferences on the basis of membership enrolled in 2019.
The national convention and the general council meeting passed three resolutions – (i) against the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan; (ii) in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and (iii) in solidarity with Palestine.
It was also decided to organise state level conventions on the lines of the national convention and take the message to the maximum number of people of our country. The declaration adopted in the national convention will be translated into various languages and widely propagated.
Some organisational changes too were made in the general council meeting of the AIPSO. M A Baby who was in the presidium, is now a patron. Nilotpal Basu is in the presidium. R Arun Kumar is the general secretary and Sadashiv is the deputy general secretary.
The convention also decided to observe the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and use this occasion to expose the BJP’s betrayal of the ideals of freedom fighters. The centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh incident will also be observed in a big way. The convention condemned the negligent attitude of the government in maintaining the Jallianwala Bagh memorial and also in commemorating the event in a befitting manner.
The two-day meeting ended by giving a call to the people of India to ensure the election of a secular democratic government that can protect the ideals of the Indian constitution and also pursue an independent foreign policy.
Can we break the grip of this dance of
Death? Can this world be released?
Will Adam’s children – the young
Inventors…will they now invent peace?
 
Well…some will scoff and some will
Scorn…but what makes them so certain?
Adam’s children might surprise us all…
And build a new garden
--  Pete seeger