Monday, 6 July 2009

|Armchair Revolutionary| A call for Anarcho-Syndicalism in India’s Mines

The mineral wealth of this nation is a common property resource. Any commercialization of this mineral wealth should be done in a miserly fashion and should compensate in adequate proportion (i) the people who have lived in the midst of these resources and (ii) the labor that is employed in these mines in occupational environments that are often hazardous.

What I suggest is radical and would require a re-politicization of the labor movement in India. The current politics of the labor movement are more reactionary and their role is limited to that of a vote-bank or the first line of blame for failed manufacturing units.

The new politics would have to be built on the anarcho-syndicalist movement. We would need the labor to take ownership of resources and they would have responsibility for mining, protecting the environment, ensuring the participation of host communities and ensure that the mined produce get’s a fair price in the international markets. Profits would have to be shared equally between all stakeholders including (and eventually) the government. If Tata Steel, Essar Steel or Mittal Steel – wants “ore” they buy it from the labor controlled mines.

The initial phase would require a grass-roots pacifist resistance which would entail labor setting up their own mines without government permission, interference or supervision. Ignore the laws the same way the government has ignored the people. The movement needs to have checks and balances to prevent the infiltration of arms and corruption into the movement.

It would also require a pacifist struggle to shut down existing mines that are operated by the private sector in India. In particular, we would have to target mining concessions given to large private sector parties such as Mittal-Arcelor, TATAs and Essar. The judicial system is stacked in favor of private enterprise. Litigation as a means to change will take forever. We need to change this through a pacifist struggle. No arms and all civil disobedience.

If planned quickly and executed with grass-roots support of tsunamic proportions there is no reasons why we cannot recreate the successes of the people’s movements in Argentina and Bolivia.

My rationale is simple – we need to retain control of profitable entities and not allow them to be controlled by large corporations. We need to prevent leakage of wealth and resources, conserve the environment and find employment for India's impoversihed. The current political system has abdicated power to the the "market model". They will be inclined to hand over common property resources to the players who operate out of commodities markets in exchange for infrastructure that will benefit a small minority of Indians.


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