India

When the early morning fog rises and drifting skeins from wood fires carry the sweet smell of India, the joggers arrive in Lodi Gardens.

Past the tomb of Mohammed Shah, the 15th century Mughal ruler, across a landscape manicured in the 1930s by Lady Willingdon, wife of the governor-general, recently acquired trainers stride out from ample figures in smart saris and white cotton dhotis.

Millions of workers joined a one-day strike in India on February 28 in defence of public ownership and for stronger labour rights.

Eleven major trade unions called the action to protest against the United Progressive Alliance government's policy of selling stakes in state-owned companies.

They also demanded an amendment to minimum wage laws to keep pace with inflation, pensions for all workers and the registration of trade unions in different industries.

World renowned novelist and global justice activist Arundhati Roy is facing escalating threats of violence in India because of her support for justice in Kashmir — the disputed region partitioned between India and Pakistan and occupied by military forces in the area India controls.

Roy faced sedition charges for comments she made about Kashmir at a public meeting in October. The government has since indicated it would not pursue the charge.

With the death of Dr K. Balagopal at age 52 on October 8, India and in particular his home state of Andhra Pradesh, have lost an untiring worker for human rights. Over almost three decades of activism as a human rights investigator, a public intellectual and 10 years as a lawyer, Balagopal had become synonymous with the human rights movement in India.

The butchery unleashed on Mumbai by a team of 10 black-hooded terrorists came to an end on November 29 at around 8.30 am. This is the sixth time Mumbai has come under some kind of attack since 1993.

Karl Marx, born nearly two centuries ago, had in 1867 (in the first volume of Capital) laid bare the “intimate connection between the pangs of hunger of the most industrious layers of the working class, and the extravagant consumption, coarse or refined, of the rich, for which capitalist accumulation is the basis”.

The 8th congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) ended with a massive 100,000 strong all-India rally in Kolkata on December 18. A key focus of the rally was solidarity with the peasants of Nandigram against attempts to drive them off their land by the West Bengal government in order to establish a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

In a sign of solidarity with the struggle by the peasants of Nandigram against the West Bengal state government’s attempt to seize their land for a Special Economic Zone, the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), publisher of Liberation magazine, held its 8th congress in Kolkata, the state’s capital, December 11-16.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation’s eight-year effort to seek justice for one of its party activists who was kidnapped in 1999 in the north-east Bihar state concluded on May 8 when the alleged culprit — MP Mohammad Shahabuddin — was sentenced to life imprisonment. Chhote Lal Gupta, the victim, is officially presumed dead.

With 80 million inhabitants, West Bengal is the fourth most populous state in India. It has been ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front (LF) coalition for three decades. This government, however, has regularly used police repression against workers and peasants to defend big-business interests.

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