Hundreds of Youth and Workers Launch Bhagat Singh Jan Adhikar Yatra

Student and worker organisations unite in their month-long march for employment, education, healthcare, housing, and unity.

G20

Delhi: The country is facing unprecedented unemployment, inflation and economic inequality, there is no respite from the price rise and with no jobs in sight there is growing frustration among the youth of the country. To address this and many related issues, a countrywide one-month march by the name of Bhagat Singh Jan Adhikar Yatra (BSJAY) is starting today on 12 March 2023 till 14 April 2023.

The Yatra is organised by several students, youth and workers’ organisations namely the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of India (RWPI), Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Disha Students Organization, Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union and Bigul Mazdoor Dasta. Starting today, the Yatra will cover Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Bihar, Uttrakhand, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Telangana. This will be carried out in several phases by different yatra groups such that there can be deep interactions with the public in the villages and cities of these states.

In a press conference earlier this week, representatives of various organisations highlighted the shared struggles between students and workers under the anti-people policies of the prevailing BJP government. Talking on behalf of RWPI, Yogesh argued that the government is attempting to use the “frenzy of religion” to divert from the breakdown and removal of basic social security and economic rights. By inventing a false religious enemy, the present government is faithfully implementing the British divide-and-rule policy. In a situation where all the parties like BJP, Congress, SP, BSP, RJD, JDU, and AAP serve the interests of big capitalists, it is crucial to refresh the spirit of revolution. BSJAY is an attempt in that direction.

The Shape of the Beast Called Unemployment in India

Shivani Kaul, President of the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union, echoed that the purpose of this yatra is to awaken, raise the people’s consciousness, and organize them to fight for their fundamental rights.

Priyamvada, from Disha Students Organization, laid out the dismal state of both primary and higher education, as fees continue to increase in schools and universities across the country while teaching positions remain vacant. The New Education Policy brought in by the Modi government only spearheads privatization and communalisation of education manifold. Vishal, representing the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, made the important connection between the two issues of unemployment and education. The Modi government came to power on the promise of providing two crore jobs every year, yet about 32 crore population of the country is facing the brunt of unemployment.

According to the data of the CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy), at present, the unemployment rate in the country has reached the same level as what it was at the time of COVID. The same statistics show that one out of every five youths who were forced to lose their job in the era of COVID has been unable to get employment till now. Large and reputed companies such as Twitter, Amazon, HP, Microsoft and Netflix have begun retrenchment while reducing employees – leading to job losses even for the white-collar tech and managerial classes. The same is true in all the factories, offices, shops, workshops, etc. in the whole country.

In this dire context, the Yatra is being organised with the following demands in mind:

1.) Fundamental right to employment: The Bhagat Singh National Employment Guarantee Act (BASNEGA) should be passed in Parliament, under which it is the responsibility of the government to provide jobs to all eligible citizens. In case of failure to do so, at least Rs. 10,000 should be given in the form of an unemployment allowance.

2.) Strict implementation of pro-worker labour laws: All labour laws should be strictly implemented and the new proposed labour codes should be repealed. The laws should guarantee an 8-hour working day, weekly holiday, overtime at double rate, the right to form a union, and the right to security provisions, government regulation of informal factories, abolition of contract practice on regular nature work, and criminal punishment the violation of labour laws should be made punishable by bringing them under the criminal category.

3.) Control of inflation: A law should be made declaring hoarding, futures trade and betting as punishable offences, and the system of distribution of basic goods and services should be nationalized. Food should be made available to all citizens by universalizing the public distribution system. To reduce inflation, indirect taxes should be completely abolished, and the system of progressive direct taxes on the basis of property should be strengthened.

4.) Fundamental right to education: The anti-people New Education Policy, 2020, should be scrapped and both primary and higher education should be strengthened.

5.) Secular state: To ensure a truly secular state in place of the fake secularism of ‘Sarva Dharma Samabhav’, a law should be brought under which any mention or use of any religion, community, or faith by any public leader in any form should be made a punishable offence.

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May 2024
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