The struggle for permanent revolution in South Asia
Deepal Jayasekera is the Deputy National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party, the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International. He has written extensively on the politics of the Indian subcontinent and on the national question in Sri Lanka. He made these remarks at the International online rally of May 1, 2021 organized by the World Socialist Website and the ICFI May 1.
The COVID-19 pandemic is on the rise in South Asia, with deadly consequences for nearly 1.9 billion people in the region.
As of May 1 of last year, there were around 50,000 cases of the coronavirus and nearly 2,000 deaths from the pandemic in South Asia. In one year, the number of infections has risen to 19 million and more, an increase of 380 times, with more than 230,000 deaths, an increase of 115 times.
This surge in coronavirus cases and deaths is the result of the criminal policies of ruling elites around the world, who have placed the profit interests of big business on human lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem and cannot be overcome in a single country or even in a single region. The international working class must take matters into their own hands to mobilize the resources available globally to fight the deadly pandemic.
Early last year, ignoring the imminent danger of the pandemic, governments in South Asia – mainly India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – were forced to declare lockdowns in March 2020 However, these lockdowns had not been properly associated with crucial measures, such as mass testing and contact tracing, or, most importantly, the substantial allocation of financial resources to modernize already under-developed public health systems. funded, and to support the millions of workers who have lost their income due to the closure of businesses and industries.
Governments have failed miserably to meet their stated goals. In addition, the bourgeois rulers set out to reopen industries quickly, to defend the profit interests of the capitalists. Even under the current rapid spread of the pandemic, South Asian ruling elites, like their global counterparts, continue their ruthless official policy of “herd immunity” and keeping the economy open.
India has become an epicenter of the pandemic, reporting the highest number of daily cases in any country in the world. As of April 22, it has recorded more than 300,000 cases per day, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections to nearly 18 million, just behind the United States, and marking the second highest number of cases in the world.
Since April 21, more than 2,000 deaths have been reported per day. As of now, the total death toll in India has risen to over 200,000. Even in the current dire situation, the Modi government continues to rule out a nationwide lockdown to control the pandemic, placing the profit interests of capitalists on the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government was the last to impose a lockdown in the region and the first to lift it last year. In the current deadly conditions of the pandemic, with more than 800,000 total cases and more than 17,000 deaths, Pakistan now rules out another national lockdown.
In Bangladesh, with more than 750,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 11,000 deaths, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was forced to declare a lockdown, which was extended until May 5. including the garment sector were allowed to operate.
In Sri Lanka, the government’s boasting of controlling the pandemic is punctuated by a second wave of the virus. A total of 100,000 cases and a death toll of over 650 have been reported. Nevertheless, the government of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse refuses to impose a lockdown, like Modi. Instead, the government is blaming people, insisting that they are living with the virus by acting according to health guidelines.
As part of the international upsurge of the working class, the workers and oppressed masses in South Asia have engaged in struggles, including strikes and demonstrations.
Due to the economic crisis intensified by the pandemic, a heavy economic burden has been placed on workers by governments and businesses across the region, leading to an attack on jobs, wages and living conditions.
In Sri Lanka, in the last few months alone, teachers, health workers, postal workers, electricity, water supply and drainage, banks and railways, as well as that plantations, tourism and clothing industries have staged protests and strikes in the country. public and private sectors.
The ruling class responded to these strikes by seeking to divide and weaken the working class, with the aim of crushing the growing opposition of the working class by mobilizing fascist forces, stimulating communitarianism and accelerating preparations for it. a dictatorial regime of the military police. Act “like a Hitler,” Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama said, urging President Rajapakse to establish a presidential dictatorship to crush the growing opposition, highlighting the campaign by sections of the Sri Lankan elite.
To counter these reactionary measures by the ruling elite, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka is fighting to unite Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim workers across community divisions, in an independent movement based on a socialist agenda. .
In line with the perspective of the ICFI, in opposition to the preparations for imperialist war and dictatorship, and on the basis of a politically independent strategy, the SEP (Sri Lanka) is committed to building a broad labor movement in Southeast Asia. South.
The working class was prevented from mounting such an independent political movement mainly because of the treacherous role of the so-called left-wing parties and unions, such as the Stalinist Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, and the Communist Party of India. ‘India, or IPC.
In Sri Lanka, all unions, including the CWC in Plantations and Free Zones and the General Service Employees Union, are openly working with government and companies to impose assaults on jobs, wages and working conditions. work, to the point of encouraging the police to arrest and lock up the workers.
We call on the workers of South Asia to break politically and organizationally with these treacherous parties and unions. Unify their struggles to defend social and democratic rights and form their own grassroots committees.
SEP (Sri Lanka) has already taken the initiative to develop grassroots committees in the health, education, garment and plantation sectors, as well as to rally artists and defend freedom of expression. .
Pursuing this initiative, the SEP (Sri Lanka) is fighting to rally the working class
in support of the ICFI’s call for an International Alliance of Grassroots Committee Workers.
Above all, the working class of the region, winning over the poor peasants and other oppressed by their side, must adopt a revolutionary socialist strategy of struggle to overthrow the capitalist regime.
Here, this strategy must be based on the theory of permanent revolution developed by Leon Trotsky. According to Trotsky, in countries with late capitalist development, like those of South Asia, the tasks of democratic revolution can only be accomplished under the leadership of the working class. Such an independent political movement of the working class should aim to establish a Union of Socialist Republics in South Asia and internationally.
To provide revolutionary leadership to the working class, the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka, in close collaboration with the ICFI and using its publication, the World Socialist Website, is fighting to build sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in South Asia, especially India.
Thank you comrades!