Resolution on Violence against Women
This 20th Congress of the CPI(M) expresses deep concern over the steep escalation in crimes against women, and is alarmed by the barbarity and savagery of the atrocities being committed at a time when women are entering public life, institutions of learning, and diverse work spheres in increasing numbers. The crude commodification of women and the portrayal of women as sex objects in the mass media is highly objectionable and is not only demeaning to women but creates an environment which trivialises the crime of sexual harassment and violence against women.
In the period between 2006 and 2010, crimes against women have registered an increase of as much as 29.3%. While registered cases of domestic violence against women have increased by 5 per cent over the previous year to 94, 041 cases the number of dowry deaths is as high as 8391 in 2010. Yet there is a retrograde campaign to dilute even the inadequate clause 498 at which deals with this issue, which must be resisted. The increase in the number of cases of sexual assault and rape show that the safety and security of women is deeply compromised. There were over 94,000 rape cases registered in 2010, in other words in every hour seven women/children became victims of rape. Many cases go unreported because the victims belong to the poorer socially oppressed sections that have little access to justice. In particular sexual assaults on tribal and dalit women are greatly underreported. Shockingly, the conviction rates in crimes against women are just 26 per cent which means that three fourths of the criminals get away scot-free. The failure to punish the criminals and the long delay in the judicial process is undoubtedly one of the reasons for the increase in rapes and gang rapes being witnessed in several parts of the country.
This Party congress condemns the failure of the Central Government to make the essential changes in the legal framework even though Bills are pending for several years. India is one of the few countries which do not have a special law against child sexual abuse even though such crimes are increasing. Working women face increased cases of sexual harassment at the workplace, including horrific cases against young women in the IT sector, yet twelve years after the Supreme Court guidelines in the Vishakha case, the Government has still not enacted the required law. Even though crimes in the name of honour have increased the Government has refused to enact a comprehensive legislation because of powerful casteist lobbies.
This Party Congress protests against the anti- women and utterly insensitive statements made by some political leaders who blame the victim or who call into question the veracity of her complaint. Recent outrageous statements by the West Bengal Chief Minister calling complaints of rape a political conspiracy against her Government, even while the investigation confirmed the truth of the victims’ complaints are an assault on the rights of victims for justice. In Karnataka the ruling party, the BJP has refused to take criminal action against Ministers watching pornographic films during the Assembly session. In Rajasthan, the Congress Government initially did its best to shield a senior Minister and MLAs from charges of sexual exploitation and subsequent murder of a dalit health worker who threatened to expose their misdemeanors. The law gets compromised and victim becomes doubly victimized by such insensitivity and blatant bias by some political leaders and officials.
This Congress demands sound, effective legal intervention to enforce time bound punishment of the guilty. The social, political, and economic factors leading to escalating violence against women must also be addressed in a comprehensive and gender sensitive manner.
The 20th Party Congress of the CPI (M) reiterates its commitment to fight against the increasing violence against women and for stringent punishment to the criminals in all such cases.
Resolution on Unemployment
The 20th Congress of the CPI (M) expresses deep concern at the failure of the Indian state to ensure adequate employment opportunities for the masses in rural and urban areas. The most recent data point to a grim future for millions of young men and women if the present policies are to continue. It also shows that the much proclaimed growth story of the Indian economy is a jobless and job loss growth.
According to the National Sample Survey data for 2009-10, there is a sharp decrease in employment growth in India, from an annual rate of around 2.7 per cent during 2000-2005 to only 0.8 per cent during 2005-2010. Growth in nonagricultural employment fell from 4.65 per cent per year to 2.53 per cent, even at a time when annual GDP growth was above 8 per cent, during the latter period. The MGNREGA has not been able to ensure more than 40 to 50 days of work per household in a year, despite the statutory commitment to provide 100 days of work.
The unemployment rate for the youth in the 15 to 29 years age group remains at very high levels. For rural young males it was 10.9 per cent and for rural young females 12 percent. The figures in urban areas is equally disturbing, at 10.5 per cent for young men and as high as 18.9 per cent for young women. In both the rural and urban areas, unemployment rate among the educated (secondary and above) persons of 15 years old and above was higher than those whose education level was lower than secondary school.
Even though large numbers of unemployed do not register themselves at the Government employment exchanges, the number of job seekers registered with the 966 employment exchanges across the country stood at a staggering 3.81 crore at the end of 2009, out of which 2.9 crore were educated jobseekers and 90 lakh uneducated jobseekers. As against the registration of over 62 lakh job seekers in 2011, only 4.7 lakh placements were made through employment exchanges.
In this situation of galloping unemployment, the 20th Congress of the CPI (M) strongly protests against the virtual ban on recruitments by the Central Government and public sector units. The 20th Congress also strongly protests against the policy of abolition of vacant posts in various government departments being pursued by the government. There are above 10 lakh vacancies lying unfilled in various central government departments, with the number of unfilled vacancies in the police and defense forces alone amount to over 7 lakh. The number of vacancies in Group C and erstwhile Group D posts in the railways as on 1st April 2011 was over 2.2 lakh. Vacancies also exist for skilled professionals such as teachers, doctors, scientists, statisticians, economists etc. Half of these vacancies belong to SC, ST and OBC categories.
Since the Government which is the main employer in the organized sector refuses to take measures to expand employment opportunities, it is hardly surprising that the total organized sector employment in India was only 2.87 crore in 2010, out of a total workforce of over 46 crore (i.e. around 6%). Employment in the organized sector, public and private combined, has grown by only 2.3 per cent in 2009 and 1.9 per cent in 2010.
This reveals the real nature of India’s much proclaimed growth story. An utterly lopsided pattern of growth has meant that while agriculture’s share in GDP has declined to just 15 per cent today, the workforce dependent on agriculture still remains as high as 52 per cent. Growth in the services and industrial sectors is failing to generate adequate jobs to absorb surplus workforce from agriculture. Such jobless growth is also creating a growing divide between the urban and the rural areas and widening socio-economic inequalities in an unprecedented manner.
The 20th Congress of the CPI (M) calls upon its units to organize the unemployed people, particularly the youth, and launch agitations on the following demands:
- Lift the ban on recruitment in different Central and State Government departments and PSEs; Stop the policy of abolition of vacant posts and fill all vacancies
- Provide unemployment allowance to the registered unemployed; Modernize employment exchanges
- Expand the scope of the MGNREGA to all individuals (not only to households) and enhance the cap of 100 days
- Initiate Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme at minimum wages with a minimum of one-third jobs reserved for women
- Enhance financial support for self-employment schemes, SHGs and small enterprises
- Release employment data along with quarterly GDP estimates
For Rights of Bengali Refugees
This Party Congress calls upon the Central Government to honour the assurance given by the Prime Minister to sympathetically consider the legitimate demand of the large numbers of Bengali refugees to recognize them as citizens of India. They had fled their country erstwhile East Pakistan and then Bangladesh. A large number of these refugees belong to the Scheduled Castes, mainly namashudra communities and are living in different parts of the country.
This Party Congress recognizes that the heightened insecurity of these communities is because of their exclusion in the current AAdhar drive of citizen identification which makes them even more vulnerable.
At the time of the Parliament discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2003, all political parties from across the spectrum had supported an amendment to protect these citizens who are victims of historical circumstances. Yet even after so many years the law considers them illegal migrants. There are cases where they have been treated like criminals.
This Party Congress demands a suitable amendment in Clause 2 (i) (b) of the said Citizenship Act in relation to the Bangladesh minority community refugees. This must be done while protecting the Assam accord reiterating the specific situation in Assam. It demands that the central Government bring such an amendment in the forthcoming budget session of Parliament. It assures these communities the support of the CPI (M) in their struggle for their genuine demands.
On Central Government’s Mineral Policies and for Tribal Rights
The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) expresses it strong opposition to the mineral mining policies being followed by the Central Government which have led to the loot and plunder of the country’s natural resources. Instead of holding the mineral wealth in Public Trust for the long term benefit of the country and her people, the Government has misused its absolute and arbitrary powers to provide huge profits and windfall gains to private mining companies, global and national, while exploiting and dispossessing the masses dependent on these lands. While the Central and State Governments legally maintain ownership of the mineral resources they have in fact virtually handed over all prospecting as well as extraction rights to private companies.
The Central Government while granting mining leases has fixed extremely low royalty rates. The mining companies have made huge profits. For example the Central Government has recently fixed the royalty for iron ore at just 10 per cent of the value of the mined iron ore, whereas even in a country like Australia, the royalty is a minimum of 30 per cent. Royalty in India is equally low for other major minerals.
Much of the mineral wealth is under land occupied either collectively or individually by tribal communities or under common property resources like forests and in Fifth Schedule areas. International conventions adopted by the United Nations as well as the International Labour Organization have recognized the rights of tribal communities on land and surface and sub-surface resources. Many countries including Canada, Brazil, South Africa and Australia have been forced to at least acknowledge in different ways the rights of indigenous communities on mineral wealth in their respective countries.
But in India, where an overwhelming majority of mines are located in adivasi areas, the tribal’s have not only been denied these rights but have been driven out of their lands through forcible acquisition or denied access. The spirit of the Samatha judgment of the Supreme Court to recognize tribal ownership rights has been ignored. The legal requirement under PESAA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act 1996) and the Forest Rights Act for consent of the gram sabha is blatantly violated. On the contrary even where the gram sabha has opposed a particular project, the land is forcibly acquired as for example in the bauxite rich tribal areas in Vishakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh and Kalahandi in Orissa.
In the face of growing resistance by tribal communities, the Central Government is proposing an amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation Act) 2011, to make it mandatory for companies to give funds for tribal development in districts where they have mining leases. The funds are to be put in a District Mineral Foundation Fund which will be under the administration. Coal companies are to give 26 per cent of their profits to the Fund. Companies mining other major minerals are to pay only the equivalent of annual royalty, which is a pittance. The earlier proposal to ensure profit sharing for all mining was shelved under pressure from the mining magnates. Now, in the name of “sharing” the benefits, the amendment could become the gateway for further liberalization to for companies to enter tribal areas and loot the wealth.
The 20th Party Congress holds that this proposal is nothing but tokenism which does not address the basic issue of the rights of tribal’s to be recognized as stakeholders in the mineral wealth. The control of the use of the fund in the hands of the bureaucracy also makes a mockery of the process of consultation and consent.
The 20th Party Congress demands a complete reversal of the present policies of the Government on mineral mining.
It demands that the Government must not hand over mineral wealth of the country to private companies through leases or user rights or any other mechanism. Prospecting and mining should be undertaken only by the Government through the public sector or fully state owned enterprises after securing prior informed consent from the Gram Sabhas of communities who use these lands. The Government must also legally recognize the ownership as well as usufructuary rights of tribal’s through an appropriate mechanism. It demands suitable amendments in the pending Bill to include these rights.
It calls upon party units, particularly in affected States where tribals are being displaced from land in the name of mining, to launch resistance struggles for these demands and for tribal rights.