Countrywide chetawani padayatras by SJM
Government should not take aam aadmi for granted
By Pramod Kumar
Accusing successive governments of putting the interests of foreign institutions above those of the common people, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) launched chetawani padyatras (warning marches) across the country demanding that the diktats of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) should be rejected. Flagging off the first padyatra from Rajghat in Delhi on September 17, SJM convenor, Shri Muralidhar Rao said the government should reject whatever is not in the interest of the people. Noted ideologue Shri K. N. Govindacharaya was also present on the occasion. According to Shri Rao, the padyatras are aimed at exerting pressure on the government to safeguard national interest at WTO and on State governments not to play with people'slife in the name of economic reforms.
The SJM activists demanded rejection of the July framework, safeguarding of public health and withdrawal of the new patent law. They also demanded that the government should reject any new negotiation at the WTO meet till developed countries reduce all agricultural subsidies without any differentiation between Blue box, Green box and Amber box. They further demanded that the government should come out with a white paper about its strategy at the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Conference.
In Delhi, a large number of people from different walks of life joined the yatra. Addressing the gathering, Shri Muralidhar Rao said the WTO Ministerial Conference is scheduled to be held in Hong Kong from December 13 to 18 this year. ?Our experience at WTO so far has been very disappointing. Lifting of quantitative restrictions on imports and lowering of tariffs under pressure from WTO has caused havoc to our agriculture and small-scale industry. The fast rising cost of production in agriculture and import of cheap agricultural products, thanks to the WTO agreements, has made agriculture uneconomic. Farmers are being lured by multinational companies to improve their profitability by way of seeds and other agricultural inputs. Their inability to repay dues is leading to large-scale suicides by the farmers. The small-scale industries are the worst hit. Even the government has admitted closure of lakhs of SSIs in the last few years, thanks to the opening up of imports and lowering of tariffs,? he said.
Shri Rao criticised the UPA government for raising the slogan of aam aadmi during the elections but working against the same aam aadmi while in power. He accused the government of mortgaging the interests of the country at the WTO.
Disputing the figures quoted in the name of development, Shri K.N. Govindacharya said it was a farce. Citing the example of Delhi, he said about 80,00,000 people out of the population of 1.75 crore, were living in resettlement colonies and the government is spending just 1 per cent of the funds on electricity, water and cleanliness in these colonies. The rest is being spent on making available latest facilities to influential sections of the society. He further added that the government which has been describing Metro as an achievement has refused to make available space for rehri, khomcha and patriwallas, a facility available in local trains in Mumbai. It is clear that the present system of governance is insensitive to the concerns of the poor, he added.