As the world steps into 2021, with the hyper-consumerist and brainwashed urban elites and middle-class looking forward to a vaccine that would save them from COVID-19, forgetting the much deadly diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, etc, which kill millions a year, and big pharmaceutical companies of the world drooling to bag deals worth trillions from the sale of vaccines whose repercussions aren’t known, we look back at the year that’s gone and what the New Year 2021 holds for the poor, the downtrodden and the exploited people of the world. We look beyond the mainstream narrative of looking at 2021 as a year of COVID-19 vaccine as see it as a year of people’s victories against fascism in India.
The year 2020 did great justice to global monopoly-finance capital, which has been crisis-ridden for years since the 2008 US Subprime Crisis. Blaming the COVID-19 pandemic, and China for its origin, the US and its allies passed the blame of capitalism’s crisis on the disease and pushed forward the radical economic programmes to strengthen imperialism using people’s money under the garb of “stimulus”. Big corporates that advocate privatisation of profits, made their losses public and sought bailout from governments. This was replicated in each country, from the US, the UK, France, Germany, etc, western countries to the semi-colonial and semi-feudal economies like India. Public money was spent to rescue private profit from the crisis.
At the same time, in a country like India, the Hindutva fascist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used the excuse of the pandemic to not just impose the world’s most inhumane “lockdown”, which threw millions out of jobs, forced millions of unemployed workers to walk hundreds of miles to reach their villages, but also to enact laws and push pro-corporate economic reform programmes to appease the greed and lust of the imperialist organisations like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Under the garb of revitalising the economy, the Modi regime brought anti-worker and anti-farmer laws to help the big corporate sponsors of the BJP, foreign and domestic, to profiteer from the people’s agony.
While these attacks on the people’s lives and livelihoods have been in galore, the mass resistance against such attacks is the salient features of 2020. Starting with vigorous people’s movements against the new citizenship matrix and proposed disenfranchisement drive, especially the historic Shaheen Bagh movement in capital New Delhi—replicated spontaneously throughout the country in bespoke formats by women—that won international acclamations, the year ends with historic farmers’ movement against the new anti-farmer reform measures that are prescribed by the IMF and the WTO. While the citizenship movement was easily vilified by the BJP as a “Muslim affair”, the participation of farmers from all religions, castes and regions in the movement is posing unprecedented challenges to the Modi regime.
This year, in which Modi drove India’s poor to a catastrophic economic situation, exemplified people’s courage, perseverance and determination in their resistance struggle against Hindutva fascism despite the betrayal of different parliamentary parties. As the mainstream Opposition confined itself in the social-media space and avoided hitting the streets or leading the people’s resistance, the latter themselves took the lead and made historic progress. When Modi-led BJP swept the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by pulverising the fragile opposition, it created a halo of invincibility around the prime minister’s brand image. The country was asked to show obeisance to the man and his whimsical fancies. In 2019 Modi triumphed till the end.
Though 2020 gave him and even 2021 will continue to give him endless electoral victories, as fascism can’t be defeated through elections, it’s evident the halo of invincibility was breached, not by the disarrayed Opposition and its meek rhetoric but by the people’s resistance. The remarkable struggle by the working class, when it organised a nationwide strike on November 26th, bringing the country to a halt, or the heroic movement by the farmers, who braved all brutalities unleashed by the Indian state to reach the border of Delhi, each of these movements exhibits the spirit of defiance and rebellion against the sclerotic regime. The seventy-year-old senile fascist warlord can’t control the mass anger against him by flaring conflicts at the India-Pakistan border or by unleashing his feral mob against hapless Muslims in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
As the BJP intensifies its attacks on the common people and tries to sell-off the public assets to big corporates, the struggle against it will also intensify manifold in 2021. The more the BJP will try to suppress the farmers, the workers, the oppressed people, the tribal masses, the Dalits, the Kashmiri people, etc, to help its sponsors, the more it will face intense people’s resistance, which it can neither decimate through state violence nor through the time-tested communal polarisation wizard. Moreover, the demand for the release of political prisoners and innocent people—from marginalised and oppressed sections—languishing behind the bars will also resonate around, making it politically impossible for the BJP to carry out its obnoxious agenda using the old forms of exploitation.
Whether Modi’s BJP can continue to win elections in 2021, especially in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, is irrelevant. What’s important is whether it can retain its dwindling hegemony in Indian political space? This can be only answered by the concrete material developments that 2021 will experience. In case there is a development of the subjective forces needed as the catalyst of a political change, the BJP’s tyranny will be ousted by the united people’s actions. This is what makes Modi and his cabal shudder now. This, along with the cacophony of mass unrest outside, will give sleepless nights to the Hindutva fascist empire that’s trying to erect the theocratic state using the corpses of the exploited and the oppressed. The defeat of this evil predatory force is a precondition for the victory of the democracy and freedom-loving people.