India Strikes -- When the Left Meets Labor

Pictured: A Communist Hammer and Sickle Flag
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Photo Via: Praveenp, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The labour action in India has been a historic, record-breaking show of strength for the world-wide labour movement. This has been under-covered by western media and the little coverage its gotten from sources like the BBC have been underwhelming to say the least. 

What many may be unaware of is the fact that this recent strike in India, has been the largest in human history. Numbers have ranged between 250-400 Million striking trade-unionists, most of which are highly representative of the Communist Parties and Socialist Parties of India. 

So what explains these large numbers? India had seven different trade federations. Six out of seven trade federations in India chose to strike. When a trade federation makes the decision to strike in India, every union within that trade federation will strike. This show of solidarity is the most admirable thing I’ve gained from this situation. The people of India have solidarity with their fellow laborer.

The strikes have been brought about by a law passed by the BJP parliament that did away with the minimum-price guarantees instituted by the Indian government to support the farmer economy. This in turn affected the more than 60% of Indian workers who labour within the agricultural industry. 

The demands of the strikers are rather tame and one could say somewhat simple but they are justified, no doubt. The main demand is the full repeal of the law that did away with the price floors of the agricultural prices.

Some things that I think is important for people to understand is; 
1. Labour organizing is powerful and this is an example of that. The Modi government would love to treat these strikers like the population of Kashmir, but they can’t. This is too large of a strike and the farming community is too glorified within the eyes of the Indian public for the typical Modi-Level of brutality to be accepted. 
2. The lack of media coverage is undoubtedly due to the implicit effect this has on the global labour movement. At a time when the average worker in most countries is losing wages, their job, healthcare, food and housing, any sort of global labour struggle may be the spark needed to revive the once powerful western labour movements.

The politics of India are complicated. There is a stark divide between the wealthy city-PMC’s fascistic and genocidal politics, and the politics of the solidarity-based rural laborers and farmers who show support not only to trade unionism, but to Communism. 

In America, the left resides in cities, in India, the left resides in the countryside and small farming communities.

Another interesting inverse correlation to the States, is where the power and emphasis of the left is in each respective country. In the US, the focus is almost entirely on political organizing, because of this the US labour unions are weak and the left struggles to organize them, but the ability to win federal elections are stronger now than they’ve been since the 1980s. 

In India, the power and emphasis is on unionism and labour. This has lead to a labour organization that can create the largest strike in human history almost instantaneously. But there is a reason the Modi-led BJP has more than 300 of the 535 seats in the Lok Sabha. The Indian left hasn’t focused on political elections, so they have a harder time translating that to electoral results.

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