05 December 2005

15th Anniversary of the AIPSG

The Association of Indian Progressive Study Groups (AIPSG) completes its 15th year of activities in a world much changed since the time it was founded in November 1990 in Montreal, Canada under the leadership of the late Hardial Bains.

The bipolar division of the world is now history, while the unipolar world desired by the US is being met with stiff resistance. People have rejected the facile ideological divisions imposed during the Cold War as they take to the streets in large numbers in one country after another to fight against neoliberal globalization, war and fascization. India has shed its anti-imperialist pretensions and is making a claim for recognition as an imperial power.

Within this complex and evolving new world, the AIPSG greets the future with the confidence that India's people hold the key to any future progress. Through their struggles, they will resolve the fundamental problem of our time - that of the marginalization of the peoples from the decision-making power that remains firmly within the grip of big capital.

Since its founding, the AIPSG has organized its work around the issue of the affirmation of rights. The numerous and diverse struggles erupting around the world - be it against the WTO, war, or the privatization of social services - are in essence a struggle against the rights of big capital and the big powers to negate and usurp people's rights and to turn the clock backwards. The upsurge of the people in India and the world is an assertion that they have inherent rights and they are ready to fight for the affirmation of those rights.

A look at some of the struggles around the world shows how the students are fighting against fee increases under the banner that education is a right, how nurses and junior doctors are fighting against healthcare cutbacks under the banner that healthcare is a right, how farmers are resisting the WTO mandated imposition of market mechanisms in agriculture under the banner that food is a right, how people are fighting against housing shortages under the banner that housing is a right, and how young workers are fighting against high youth unemployment under the banner that jobs are a right. Women are second to none in the current struggle for rights in every front, as women and as part of the social force in different sectors of economy and society. Workers are emerging in the forefront of the struggle for collective rights and against the attacks on individual rights and right to conscience.

The most important struggle for rights is unfolding in the form of struggle for national rights, the rights of a people to become their own decision-makers. Iraq and Afghanistan are in insurgency against occupying forces. Other struggles for people to become their own masters is raging in the form of Quebec's quest for the right to self determination, Korea's search for national unification, the Palestinian striving for statehood and Manipuris' struggle against Indian armed forces. There is a nascent national struggle raging in every continent - working women and men are challenging the existing governments and states that openly defend the rights of big capital and attack the rights of the people.

The struggles of people in India and in every other country against neoliberal policies, social cutbacks, arbitrary police powers, and war preparations are elements of the new movement of the peoples to affirm their national and social rights. As the rulers abandon any pretense of defending the rights of the nation and implement anti-people policies to erode hard won social and individual rights, people's struggles are acquiring the character of national struggles for the rights of the nation and the people to decide their own affairs. The struggle against foreign interference in India has become a struggle against India's capitalist rulers and the capitalist system.

The experience of the AIPSG in the past fifteen years teaches us that in the contemporary world, individual and collective rights cannot be affirmed without at the same time affirming the national right - the right of the people to become their own decision-makers. Decision-making powers are today vested in the social forces who control wealth, especially those who control capital and they have become the force spearheading the erosion of individual and collective rights, not just in India but around the globe. It is in the service of the big monopolies that laws such as POTA and the Patriot Act have been introduced. These same forces are behind social cutbacks as much as military spending and war. A giant propaganda machine spreads disinformation on a massive scale to secure the consent of the people for decisions they make to advance their interests.

The need for the people to take the decision-making power into their hands in a substantive way, beyond merely voting for candidates put up by the massive propaganda and money machines of the wealthy, has become urgent. The struggle for rights has become the main political struggle of our time, transcending the judicial and electoral arena as well as trade unionism, feminist or student activism.

For the past fifteen years, the AIPSG and various IPSGs have been building the movement against state organized racist, communal and fascist violence. The AIPSG has been uniting people to oppose all attacks organized with the active and tacit involvement of the Indian state machinery and successive Indian governments. It has elaborated on the need to build modern political movements, and for a thorough overhaul of the political process. It has been elaborating the way various rights pose themselves today and the specific political mechanisms that the status quo uses to negate the rights of the masses.

It has been elaborating a modern political program and modern political mechanisms which can make people the decision-makers on the basis of defending the rights of all. The experience of the past fifteen years convinces us that this path is the path for the future progress of India and the world, the path that will uplift the overwhelming majority of the people that the current economic and social reforms are abandoning and enslaving.

The AIPSG dedicates itself to march on that path in future. It calls upon everyone to join in the struggle for their individual and collective rights in a conscious and organized way and work for the convergence of those struggles into a movement for people's empowerment!


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