India

Shapurji Saklatvala: Labour's first "BAME" MP

This is part one of a series. Part two here. Part three here. In 1922, sixty-five years before before Diane Abbott and three other Labour MPs of colour entered Parliament, Indian-born Shapurji Saklatvala was elected MP for Battersea North in South West London. Like some other Labour candidates more recently, Saklatvala was a bourgeois figure standing in a working-class constituency which was not his home. There the similarity ends. The first “BAME” Labour MP was a revolutionary socialist who attacked Ramsay MacDonald for failing to oppose British colonialism and Gandhi for failing to champion...

India: pandemic used to scrap workers' rights

Three Indian states with a combined population of over 300 million have used the Covid-19 crisis to radically weaken workers’ rights. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have all legislated to allow a major lengthening of shifts with no increase in pay. Madhya Pradesh is allowing employers to hire and fire at will, has removed the need for contractors to have a licence to employ up to 49 people, changed factory licence renewals from annual to every ten years, and given employers the right to bar workplace inspections. Uttar Pradesh, whose chief minister is a radical fundamentalist Hindu...

Starmer pitches to the Hindu right

Keir Starmer has signalled he intends to ignore Labour’s conference policy against Indian state oppression in Kashmir, as part of attempts to appeal to the Hindu right. Following a meeting with “Labour Friends of India”, which acts as a channel between people in the Labour Party and India’s far-right Hindu nationalist government, Starmer declared that Kashmir is “a matter for the Indian Parliament” and that he wants “even closer business links” and “dialogue” with India. He also wrote to the Hindu nationalist “Hindu Forum of Britain” asking to meet them. For more, see ‘Don’t bend to Modi –...

The labour movement and easing the lockdown

Starting with Austria reopening small shops on 14 April, almost all European countries have now begun easing their pandemic lockdowns, or announced plans to do so (Italy from 4 May, France from 11 May). Iran has reopened the bazaar in Tehran. Schools have restarted in Beijing and Shanghai. The World Health Organisation, however, has declared that “the worst is yet to come”. Its worry is not so much about a second wave in Europe, as first waves elsewhere. Africa so far shows 1,428 deaths, far fewer than Europe or the USA, and concentrated in Algeria and Egypt (over half that total between them)...

Trump visit triggers anti-Muslim violence

Late February saw an outbreak of anti-Muslim violence in New Delhi, the urban area around the Indian capital. Although reports vary, they suggest forty-three dead and many hundreds hospitalised. Muslim homes, businesses and mosques were attacked, burned, and destroyed. Most of the dead and injured were Muslim. The trigger for the attack was President Trump’s visit to the city. On Sunday 26 February, a local leader of India's governing part, the Hindu-chauvinist BJP, Kapil Mishra, speaking at a rally, demanded that police clear protests in the city against the BJP’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act...

250 million strike in India

The Hindu-chauvinist BJP Indian government is meeting serious resistance. Trade unions have been taking action. The Modi government was forced to back off a series of economic reforms including privatisation and attacks on workers’ rights after strikes in 2015, 2016 and 2019. Those issues have not gone away. Ten India trade union federations called a one-day general strike on 8 January against the government’s economic policies (the eleventh federation is affiliated with the Hindu chauvinist movement and did not strike). The workers were joined by farmers in their action. It brought out...

Oppose Modi's anti-Muslim drive!

Since winning power India in 2014, Nahendra Modi and the BJP have pursued a Hindu-chauvinist agenda. On 12 December the Modi regime passed its Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), building on the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) in attempting to remove the rights of many Muslim Indians. Since the CAA passed last month there have been protests across India, not only from Muslims but also from the left and other defenders of India’s secular constitution. Following a ban on all protests in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh (ruled by the BJP but with a 40% Muslim minority), continued...

Labour dumps Kashmir policy

Labour chair Ian Lavery has written a letter to Indian-background voters in the UK saying that “Labour is opposed to external interference in the political affairs of any other country”. Lavery does nod towards the right of the Kashmiri people “to have a say in their own future”, but insists that “Kashmir is a bilateral matter for India and Pakistan to resolve together”. “Labour will not take a pro-Indian or pro-Pakistan stance on Kashmir”. Lavery’s statement is a mass of evasions — denouncing “external interference” in such a way as to rule out international solidarity, and dismissing the...

Self-determination for Kashmir!

Taken from The Clarion By revoking Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution that provide special autonomous status and residency rules for Jammu and Kashmir, and preparing to break up the state, Narenda Modi’s far-right, Hindu-supremacist government has effectively declared war on the Kashmiri people. It has virtually declared a literal war too, with tens of thousands of troops invading the state, mainstream political leaders under house arrest, a total communications blackout, and reports of widespread human rights abuses. An already bad situation has got much worse, fast. This attack...

Gardiner and the Hindu pogromists

The Parliamentary Labour Party is full of unscrupulous and unprincipled politicians willing to exploit communal divisions and promote reactionary “community leaders” for electoral gain. However, the efforts of shadow trade minister Barry Gardiner go well beyond a few public appearances with the local vicar or imam. On 23 May, Gardiner tweeted to give a lavish welcome to right-winger Narendra Modi’s victory in India’s election. In 2001, in the wake of the Gujarat earthquake, Gardiner visited India and handed a £1 million cheque to Modi, who was then Gujarat’s Chief Minister. The money was...

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