Indian and Sri Lankan workers and students explain why they attend May 30 meeting on COVID-19 disaster in India
Indian and Sri Lankan workers and students hold talks World Socialist Website this week about the next meeting, “The coronavirus pandemic in India and the need for a socialist strategy.” The online event, hosted by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka, will be held on Sunday, May 30 at 6 p.m. India Standard Time.
The meeting comes as COVID-19 sweeps like a tsunami across India, leaving millions infected and hundreds of thousands dead. Speakers at the meeting will examine how the criminal policy of “collective immunity” pursued by the capitalist ruling class in India and other countries has led to the current catastrophe and why a revolutionary socialist strategy is the only way to combat this. unprecedented social disaster.
SM Vasan, conductor of the public transport service of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, explained why he was there.
“The extremely destructive and growing coronavirus pandemic is becoming increasingly clear to workers. It exposes the ruthless indifference of central and state governments to the social welfare, safety and lives of workers and common people.
“The government deducts money from the monthly wages of public sector workers for medical insurance, but when workers need help, they do not benefit from these deductions. The medical insurance card that workers have has no real use in the hospital where they go for treatment.
“The current social crisis demands massive development of India’s health infrastructure. It is now more than seven decades since the country gained independence, but our leaders still have not established medical centers to provide basic treatment in every district. Political parties spend a lot of money during elections, but for short-term gains. This money could have been used to meet the basic needs of the population. “
Vasan described some of the anti-worker measures imposed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since coming to power: “The Modi government has introduced many new bills harmful to workers, including demonetization, the GST. [Goods and Service Tax], amendment of labor laws, extension of working hours, infringements of fundamental rights and privatization of public sector industries. It also refuses to eliminate the GST on essential products like oxygen. It is an anti-workers government.
“I would like to thank the comrades of the WSWS for taking the fight for a socialist alternative at the international level. No other political party does this. “
Pechiyammal, a former teacher from southern Tamil Nadu, said she was “very interested” in the May 30 meeting and had already registered. “If the lockdown measures had been strictly implemented from the start, the virus could have been largely contained. I also believe that all necessary measures must be taken to avoid the loss of human lives due to hunger. “
Sumita, a Bachelor of Education student in Kolkata, said: “The Indian people have been devastated by the pandemic and are looking for an alternative to express their feelings about the situation. This meeting is important because it offers an alternative strategy to the working class and will help them to stay strong in these difficult times.
“I decided to attend to learn more about the current situation in the world. The mainstream media in this country is rife with falsified information and cannot help but glorify the one and only important bearded man [Modi]. I’m obviously looking for more reliable information.
“The rural areas where most of the Indian population resides have weak medical infrastructure and this has been pushed to the brink. Modi said earlier this year that India was running the “world’s largest immunization program”. But most people, especially the poor, have no chance of getting vaccinated. Contrary to government bragging rights, what we are seeing are more and more corpses floating in rivers due to lack of cremation space.
Leon, a young reader of the WSWS from Bangalore, said: “A meeting to discuss the socialist strategy needed to curb and manage the pandemic is absolutely necessary. The strategies provided by the capitalist countries have failed miserably, not only in the developing countries, like India, but in the developed countries of the West.
“I will be attending the meeting because I am curious to learn and understand how the WSWS works and how it is approaching the current crisis. I would also like to know how I could contribute to such progressive initiatives.
Leon said the Modi government “has failed at every level and at every step of this crucial journey, black traders, stockmen, unethical businesses and private hospitals have plundered the common man and pushed million people in poverty.
“The inadequate health infrastructure was, and still is, overwhelmed. Public health was already in a deplorable state and this pandemic has exposed the gaps. The private health sector opportunistically robbed vulnerable people who were willing to give anything to save their loved ones. It is the disgusting nature of our health care system.
Somak, a student from Kolkata, said: “The WSWS articles and analyzes on society and the working class on a Marxist basis are really good. They connect me to the real situation and help me understand current developments.
“The Modi government was completely unsuccessful in tackling this situation from the start. Sunday’s meeting is very important for workers, students and young people and will show them how to fight the devastation caused by the pandemic.
SEP members in Sri Lanka spoke with several workers and students.
Kodithuwakku, a Colombo technology professor, said Sunday’s meeting was “crucial” for the international working class and would have a “great impact” on building the socialist movement in South Asia.
“The severe consequences of social inequality amid the pandemic are more visible in India than in any other country. While many of the richest people in the world live in India, the oppressed are dying on the streets.
“Current developments confirm once again that the working class must take the lead in a political struggle to eradicate this pandemic. In India, where there is a large peasantry and many other oppressed groups, the working class has the historic task of leading the masses.
Kaandeepan from the Glenugie Estate, in the Hills Plantation District of Sri Lanka, said the coronavirus had severely affected plantation workers.
“They were first affected early last year when plantation youth working in Colombo and other districts to support their families, had to return to their plantation homes during the lockdown. ” These young workers, he continued, “are now entirely dependent on the meager wages earned by older family members in fields, where management cuts jobs and days of work.
“Jeevan Thondaman [leader of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, the main plantation union and a minister in Sri Lanka’s Rajapakse government] says workers shouldn’t fear COVID-19 but increase production and pick more tea leaves. But the workers are afraid. Previously having little knowledge about COVID-19, they now see the situation in India – the floaters in rivers and people dying on the roads – and the growing number of infections on plantations, so they now understand the dangers. .
Kaandeepan said the government had put in place an island-wide travel ban, but plantation and garment workers had to “risk their lives” and continue to work to feed their children. “No steps have been taken to relieve them and unions are encouraging workers to continue going to the fields” while garment factories continue to operate despite the growing number of COVID-19 infections.
“I urge the workers to attend the SEP meeting in order to understand the only prospect to fight the pandemic,” he said.
Mohammad, a 3rd year art student from the University of Colombo, said he would attend Sunday’s meeting due to its international significance.
“We have been in this pandemic for over a year and a half. No capitalist government wants to stop the pandemic. India is facing this catastrophe because the Modi government is determined to maintain India’s capitalist economy regardless of the threat to people’s lives. When Modi says, “India must be saved from a lockdown,” it reveals the murderous attitude of the Indian government towards the people.
“India has a large and militant working class. If he is mobilized on a politically correct line, there is no doubt that he will become a great power. This meeting is a good start for that.