Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vedanta.... is not maaya in this case

The irony could not have been more pronounced than the context in which Vedanta Resources figured in the media. Anil Aggarwal’s rags-to-riches story was splattered all over in the English language papers. That this man who dealt with scrap business as late as in 1976 had grown in size to acquisition Cairn Energy’s India operations and is all set to enter the petro-refining sector too. And his acquisition of the English company takes him to join the exalted club that makes India proud.

And there was also a report, which was expected anytime, that stated with documentary evidence that Vedanta Resources is guilty of illegal mining and such other activities in Orissa. The report, incidentally and importantly, confirmed what activists engaged in the campaign against our mineral resources from being stolen away were saying for sometimes now. And unlike those activists whom the Union Home Minister has been accusing all these days as taking sides with the Maoists, this committee was constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The four-member committee’s head, N.C.Saxena is a former IAS officer and presently a member of the National Advisory Committee that Sonia Gandhi leads and acts as the conscience keeper to the Manmohan Singh Government. And the other members of the committee as Parasuraman, now head of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Amita Baviskar, professor at the Institute of Economic Growth and Amode Kant, a retired Forest Officer are certainly not part of the community that Home Minister Chidambaram calls the Maoists or their sympathisers.

The point is that the truth has been established and the truth is that Vedanta Resources is now found guilty of encroaching upon government land and illegally built its aluminium plant in the forests. I must add that P.Chidambaram was on the Board of Vedanta Resources and he quit from that only because he decided to become the Union Finance Minister in June 2004. In other words, Chidambaram, as Director of the company, was as much a participant in their acts and he left the company’s services only because the Constitution mandates that a minister shall not remain in the Board of a Company.

It is important to remember that the four-member panel was constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to study and report as to whether Vedanta Resources, the company headed by Anil Aggarwal, involved in bauxite mining and aluminium smelting in the forests land in Orissa, was guilty of charges of violating Environment and Forest laws. It may be noted that this company also owns and operates a copper smelting plant in Tuticorin, is now the owner of MALCO in Mettur and also operates bauxite mines in the Yercaud hills and is also engaged in mining operations in many other forests including in Chattisgarh.

The Government committee, after examining evidence and studying the project in Orissa has concluded that Anil Aggarwal’s Vedanta Resources is guilty on a variety of illegal activities. It is also evident from the committee’s report that officers including those in the level of District Collectors and other authorities of the Orissa Government were guilty of allowing all the illegal activities of Anil Aggarwal’s Vedanta Resources. The committee did not say the obvious. That scrap-dealer-turned-industrialist managed to grow only because he greased the palms of the law makers, bought up law enforcers and broke all the laws to make it to riches.

All that went into the making of another such achiever – Dhirubhai Ambani – and picturised by Mani Ratnam in Guru could apply to Anil Aggarwal and Vedanta too. There is one more addition. While Ambani’s growth did not provoke resistance in the forests by adivasis (which Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh call the biggest threat to national security), Anil Aggarwal, because he entered the mining business has also provoked such resistance. It is time that Sonia Gandhi acts on the report and allows Jairam Ramesh to make the difference. Meanwhile, it is also necessary to make sure that we the people of India are informed on all that P.Chidambaram had to do in the making of Vedanta into what it is when he was a Director of the Company!

Vedanta, in the Hindu tradition, defines this world and all that it is as mere illusion... maaya... well Anil Agarwal's Vedanta is real... But then, let me add that the real as we see it is not the real. Is it a benami? It is! And the real is concealed by this illusion that we see as Anil Aggarwal!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why should the CPI(M) have problems with Mamata's Rally???

Almost all the texts, elaborating the Marxist definition of communism, stress upon the need for communists to make full use of the contradictions within the capitalist camp and push ahead for the revolution. There are a number of texts, written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, that lay down as imperative for the communists to use all means available to further the struggle for change. The Marxist understanding is that the communists must always be seen with the oppressed people and convert the collective anger of the oppressed into a revolutionary situation.

All the Marxist texts also stress that although the communists seek a fundamental transformation in the system by peaceful means, the ruling classes do not let such a change happen in a peaceful manner; that the violence by the state, in the Marxist approach, will also have to be dealt with by the communists even if they did not desire violence. It is in this context that the communists look at violence as inevitable and forced upon the revolutionary forces; and that the state is seen as a machinery of the oppressor in any system.

The CPI(M) programme too mandates something like this. Paragraph 7.18 of the CPI(M) programme, for instance, says: ``The Communist Party of India (Marxist) strives to achieve the establishment of Peoples’ Democracy and Socialist transformation through peaceful means. By developing a powerful mass revolutionary movement, by combining parliamentary and extra parliamentary forms of struggle, the working class and its allies will try their utmost to overcome the resistance of the forces of reaction and to bring about this transformation through peaceful means. However, it needs always to be borne in mind that the ruling classes never relinquish their power voluntarily. They seek to defy the will of the people and seek to reverse it by lawlessness and violence. It is, therefore, necessary for the revolutionary forces to be vigilant and so orient their work that they can face up to all contingencies, to any twists and turn in the political life of the country’’.

I was provoked to make this short exposition of Marxism and cite a paragraph from the CPI(M)’s programme in the wake of the questions that the CPI(M) has raised over the rally that Mamata Banerjee organised at Lalgarh this week.

Well. Let me clarify, at the outset, that I am not all that naïve as are Medha Pathkar and Swami Agnivesh to expect Mamata Banerjee reverse all the pro-MNC measures that Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had taken. Nor do I expect her to take the Maoists along with her to rule over West Bengal after May 2011. I am certain that she will emerge the next Chief Minister and that her love for the Maoist cadre will last until then. She needs them to deal with the lumpen elements that the CPI(M) cadre is made of now (and in sharp contrast to those who built the party and sustain it during the Seventies against the state terror that the S.S.Ray government let lose then) and once the elections are won, the Maoists will be dumped by her.

But then, the Maoists too are not all that naïve and they too have experienced this with others in Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Bihar. And they have their own agenda. It is, after all, a fact that their strategy in West Bengal hinges on the CPI(M) being unseated from power and it makes sense for them to prop up a Mamata Banerjee. The Maoists do not believe in the parliamentary path.

But then, the point is that the CPI(M) too does not consider, at least if its programme is to be taken seriously, the Parliamentary path to be sufficient. And hence it talks about the need to chart through the extra parliamentary path too. And if one goes by the normative description of this extra-parliamentary means, one must not exclude such actions as rallies, demonstrations, strikes and hartals as such forms of actions. In other words, the CPI(M) programme mandates that the party continues to resort to such forms of struggle as much as the Parliamentary form (which is contesting and winning elections) at the same time.

That must mean that the party mobilised the people against its own Government to expose the limitations of the Bourgeois Parliamentary Democracy and thus take the struggle towards socialism to its next stage: The Peoples’ Democratic Revolution.

It is strange that the party’s Politburo and its extended Central Committee meeting at Vijayawada decided to forget all these and is now seen with the BJP in Parliament attacking Mamata Banerjee for having held a rally at Lalgarh. The BJP has its own agenda when it comes to the Maoists given the large number of mines that the Raman Singh Government is bent on leasing out to domestic and foreign mining corporations. Home Minister P.Chidambaram may have another set of agenda in this regard. But then, it is inexplicable that the CPI(M) too perceives the issue in the same way.