The electricity shutdown that immersed almost half of India into darkness and brought life to a standstill exposed the stark realities of “shining India” and the fragile nature of its so-called economic miracle that has been portrayed to the world. This also lays bare the contrast between the high growth rates of the market economy in the former colonial countries and the debilitated conditions of the social and physical infrastructures in these societies.

After being coerced for decades in communal frenzy, sectarian violence, regional conflicts, caste prejudices, religious bigotry, nationalist chauvinism, regional antagonisms, democratic deception and cricket hysteria by the ruling classes and their harlot media, the Indian proletariat is awakening to the new epoch that is dawning across the planet. The 24-hour general strike that took place on 28th February is a turning point in the social and political evolution of present day India.

The struggle of the Power Loom workers in Ludhiana, Punjab has escalated with the workers taking the step of starting an indefinite Gherao (encirclement) of the local Labour Offices in order to get the State government to force the employers to cede to their demands. This marks a stepping up of the struggle and shows a firm willingness on the part of the workers to fight until their demands are met.

On 3rd October, striking Power Loom workers from various areas of Ludhiana gathered to demonstrate in front of the Labour Department offices for a second time to increase the pressure on local officials to get their demands met. This was the 12th day of the workers’ struggle to get a pay increase to offset the recent rises in inflation and to have labour laws enforced that are part of the Indian constitution. These have yet to be accepted by the employers who are trying their best in order to ignore the plight of the workers.

Gathering in Kolkata on Monday 12th September a joint press meeting was held by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the All India Trade Union Congress and other trade union bodies, where Kali Ghosh (State General Secretary of CITU) and Ramen Pandey (INTUC State General Secretary) denounced the Anti-Labour policies of the Trinamool Congress lead government of West Bengal.

Societies seething with discontent and deprivation erupt in most peculiar ways. In India’s egregiously unequal society, the recent upheaval, if at all it can be called that, around the right-wing conservative social activist Anna Hazare shows the malaise that has set in in this largest democracy in the world with one of the fastest growing economies.

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