'Crisis' for the Poor - Bonanza for the Rich
India's poor are being pushed out of the official poverty lists but more and more India's CEOs are making it to the lists of the world's richest people. 23 Indians made it to the Forbes list of the world's billionaires in 2009.
The recession is causing unprecedented inflation; 77% of Indians who live on less than Rs. 20 a day, facing the additional burden of soaring food prices and retrenchment are finding it increasingly difficult to survive; hunger deaths are being reported from all over the country. India's rulers blame this state of affairs on the global recession and call for patient sacrifices from the people. But the sacrifices are all on one side, it seems: the exclusive club of India's richest has, during the same recession, expanded and continued to grow richer.
Worldwide, too, it seems that the crisis has hit the poor and the working class hardest while the billionaires whose greed and unscrupulousness caused the crisis in the first place have grown richer! According to the Forbes list, 200 people were added to the list of the world's billionaires, who grew 50% richer in 2009.
In 2009, the global unemployment rate rose from 7.7 to 10 percent, three million jobs were lost, and wages fell dramatically. Millions of families lost their homes and became dislocated. But productivity rose by 7%. 'Austerity' measures and unemployment for the poor; a bonanza for the corporations this is what government policy in times of recession has meant in the US and most other countries. On the list of billionaires from the US are many hedge fund managers and financiers who benefited directly from the US Government's bank bailout.
Who are the Indians who are among the world's billionaires? A list of the top 23 among them is given below )see table(. A look at this list reveals the structural composition of this class: industrialists like the Ambani brothers who vie with each other to guzzle the country's resources of gas; a collection of CEOs Lakshmi Mittal )ArcelorMittal(, Shashi Ruia )Essar(, Savitri Jindal; Anil Agarwal )of Vedanta notoriety( in the mining and steel industry, earning their wealth at the expense of land grab and eviction of the poorest tribals; media barons like Kalanithi Maran )Sun TV(, Subhash Chandra )Zee(, Indu Jain )Times Group(; real estate sharks like Kushal Pal Singh )DLF(; and others in pharmaceuticals, cement and the construction sectors.
It is these corporate fat cats who got the cream; the statement of revenues foregone in the UPA Government's Budget 2010 revealed that they effectively got tax waivers and other sops to the tune of Rs 57 crore per hour or Re 1 crore per minute!
Top 23 Indians Among World’s Richest
|S. No.||Name||Net worth||World Ranking|
|1||Mukesh Ambani||$29 billion||4|
|2||Lakshmi N Mittal||$28.7 billion||5|
|3||Azim Premji||$17 billion||28|
|4||Anil Ambani||$13.7 billion||36|
|5||Shashi Ruia||$13 billion||40|
|6||Savitri Jindal||$12.2 billion||44|
|7||Kushal Pal Singh||$9 billion||74|
|8||Kumar Mangalam Birla||$7.9 billion||86|
|9||Sunil Mittal||$7.8 billion||87|
|10||Anil Agarwal||$6.4 billion||113|
|11||Pallonji Mistry||$5.8 billion||129|
|12||Adi Godrej||$5.2 billion||148|
|13||Gautam Adani||$4.8 billion||167|
|14||Dilip Sanghvi||$4.6 billion||179|
|15||Shiv Nadar||$4.2 billion||201|
|16||G M Rao||$3.2 billion||297|
|17||Malvinder & Shivinder Singh||$3.2 billion||297|
|18||Uday Kotak||$3 billion||316|
|19||Kalanithi Maran||$2.9 billion||342|
|20||Subhash Chandra||$2.8 billion||354|
|21||Micky Jagtiani||$2.8 billion||354|
|22||Indu Jain||$2.8 billion||354|
|23||Sudhir and Samir Mehta||$2.1 billion||463|
Hari Sharma (1934-2010)
Hari Prakash Sharma, writer, activist and friend of the Naxalbari movement, passed away at his home in Vancouver, Canada on March 16 following a prolonged battle with cancer.
Born in UP and educated at Agra University and Delhi University, he moved to the US for further education in 1963. While a student in the US, he like many others was radicalised in the course of the movement against the Vietnam war, and remained a life-long Marxist. He was also a gifted writer of short stories in Hindi and a photographer.
Inspired by the Naxalbari peasant uprising in 1967, he visited Naxalbari, and remained a sympathiser and friend of the movement all his life.
Along with Kathleen Gough, he edited Imperialism and Revolution in South Asia, which was published in 1973 by the Monthly Review Press, New York. In 1975, he along with other comrades founded the Indian People's Association in North America )IPANA( in Montreal on June 25, 1975 the day Emergency was declared in India. These activities led to the revocation of his passport by the Indira Gandhi government in 1976.
In 1989 Hari Sharma mobilised the South Asian community of Canada to form the Komagata Maru Historical Society to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident, in which Indian immigrants traveling to Canada on a chartered ship were turned away from the shores of Vancouver by the racist policies of the Canadian Government.
Since the 1980s, Hari Sharma campaigned against communalism, raising the issues of the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 and targeting of Muslims by the BJP and Sangh Parivar. He played a central role in organising several North American forums against Hindutva fascism.
CPI(ML) dips its flag in memory of Comrade Hari Sharma !
Comrade Ajaib Singh Siddhu (1946-2010)
Comrade Ajaib Singh Siddhu, Vice President of the Delhi Unit of AICCTU, passed away on 19 March, following a long bout with kidney failure. A bus conductor in the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), he had been a party member since 1980.
He played a leading role in building a revolutionary movement among DTC workers in those years when the party was underground, in spite of being a government employee and in the face of family resistance. He was dismissed from his job twice, suspended four times and jailed once for his political activism. Initially he helped found the DTC Mazdoor Chetna Manch which was banned by the Government. Later he helped form the DTC Workers' Unity Centre, which in his leadership became established as a revolutionary workers' stream among DTC workers, enjoying widespread recognition and respect among workers.
He was a Delhi State Committee member of the Indian People's Front (IPF) and was President of the DTC Workers' Unity Centre for 15 years. Till two years ago he was also a member of the DTC Sector Committee.
Comrade Ajaib Singh's loss is deeply felt by his family (his wife, two daughters and son) and by the entire party. His commitment to the party, unaffected by repeated threats to his job, and his contribution to the working class movement and building the party among workers will be remembered as an inspiration by younger generations of party comrades.
Red Salute to Comrade Ajaib Singh Siddhu!
Comrade Mohd. Yusuf (1922-2010)
Comrade Mohd. Yusuf, veteran leader of the party and the trade union movement, passed away on 13 February this year at the age of 88 in Patna. An employee in the Postal Service, he was charged with sedition and dismissed from his job in 1969 because of his militant role in the Postal Workers' Union. But he challenged the dismissal in the Supreme Court and won his case in 1978, in which year he against joined the postal service in Imphal. He retired in 1979, but remained active after retirement in the Postal Trade Union. Initially in the CPI, he joined the CPI(ML) in 1995 and became the President of the Mazdoor Ekta Manch.
Red Salute to Comrade Yusuf!
Comrade Durgaram Sundi
Comrade Durgaram Sundi, activist of the Jharkhand movement and CPI(ML) candidate from Manoharpur in the last Assembly elections n Jharkhand, passed away on 27 February of a heart attack. The party along with his family bid final farewell to him in his village Lojo on 28 February.
Long Live Comrade Durgaram Sundi!