Dr G.G. Parekh and myself take this opportunity to wish you a very healthy and active and happy new year, full of new initiatives in our efforts to change our country for the better.
It goes without saying that 2019 will be a pivotal and momentous time for our country and the entire planet. As you know, there is a monumental clash now taking place between two very different political visions. Not to get you too nervous, but the future of our country and the world is dependent upon which side wins that struggle.
The bad news is that in India and other parts of the world, the foundations of democracy are under severe attack as demagogues, supported by billionaire oligarchs, work to establish authoritarian type regimes. That is true in Russia. That is true in Brazil. That is true in the United States. While the very rich get much richer these demagogues seek to move us toward tribalism and set one group against another, deflecting attention from the real crises we face.
The good news is that, all across our country, people are getting politically involved and are fighting back. They are standing up for economic, political, social and racial justice.
In the last year we saw several lakh farmers participate in the Kisan Mukti March to Delhi to highlight the worsening agrarian scenario and the continued neglect of the agricultural sector by the government.
We saw around 5 million women forming a 620-km long Human Chain in Kerala for gender equality and justice.
We saw incredibly courageous young people fighting right wing attacks on them in universities all across the country.
We saw lakhs of workers come out on the streets to protest privatisation, increasing use of contract labour, and the anti-labour amendment to labour laws.
We saw history being created, if not corrected, when the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court decriminalised the archaic section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
After four and a half years, we also saw the people finally seeing through the lies of the Modi Government and voting it out of power in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
As we enter 2019, it seems to us that we must mount a two-pronged offensive. First, we must vigorously stand up to the assault on our Constitutional values of secularism, democracy and fraternity of the Modi Government, and ensure its defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
But that is not going to be enough. The ordinary people are in deep crisis – more than 3.5 lakh farmers have committed suicide over the past two decades due to the neoliberal policies being implemented in the country, the youth are facing a terrible unemployment crisis, more than 50% of our children are functionally illiterate, our country has become the disease capital of the world, violence on women has reached such high levels that India is probably the worst place in the world to be born a woman, atrocities on Dalits continue unabated, there is no social security for the seniors. We need to push the opposition towards a progressive and popular agenda that speaks to the real needs of the people. We must tell Dalal Street, the Ambanis and Adanis and Tatas, and the American and European multinational corporations setting up shop in India, that we will not allow their greed to destroy this country and our planet.
In the New Year, let us resolve to fight like we have never fought before for a government, a society and an economy that works for all of us, not just those on top.
Wishing you a wonderful new year,
The Most Potent Weapon in the Hands of the Oppressor is the Mind of the Oppressed [Bantu Stephen Biko (18