Saturday, October 18, 2014

IN MARCH 2016



(January 2013, FMS)
What is this that I am doing? Why am I doing this? What is this, or this, or this that we are doing? Why are we doing this, or this, or this? Why am I not doing only that in which my heart is? Why should I not do that, and only that, which I like? Why should we do anything other than what we think is right? What are the compulsions? How can we overcome these compulsions? For everyone, for very many groups, in every part of the world, these simple questions of what, why, and how, have revolved around the meaning of our very being, and they still do. Life is what befits body and being; which is liked by body and being. Life is joy! What is contrary to being and body, what is not liked by being and body, is a curse, a fall. The five thousand year old riddle of whether to be born a human being is a blessing or a curse is being solved by workers in practice, by human beings in practice.
Over the last three years, things have changed very rapidly. All around, in this spring season, the speed of change is faster still. The significance of each individual, of every group, affirmed by social churning, is expressing, rejecting, and illuminating so much; is creating something new. Among seven billion people in the world, with the interplay of a multitude of practices and ideas, through an engagement with the experiences and thoughts of hundreds of generations...within these three years alone, 2013-2014-2015, many aspects of domination have been rejected, and several forms of hostility are being corroded. Changes have always occurred in “I-We-Ours” and “They-Enemy-Others” but of late these changes have been very extensive and extremely rapid. “I-We-Ours” now includes the entire human species, and goes, beyond it, via all life on earth, to embrace the entire universe. And “They-Enemy-Others” is shrinking-contracting, moving towards zero.

*It is difficult to be precise since so much has happened so fast and seemingly all at once, but it probably began with the workers stopping work in a factory manufacturing atom bombs in Texas, USA. In this factory in the year 2005, a bomb nearly exploded during production. The bomb was a hundred times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in Japan sixty years ago. “What is this that I am doing? Why are we doing this? How can we stop all this?” Questions resounding the world over. Stockpiles of atom bombs on earth, in the sea, in outer space – as many as can destroy all life on earth several times over. Security above all.
Workers stopped work in an atom bomb factory in Texas. In Russia. In China. In France. In England. In India. In Pakistan. In North Korea. In Israel. In Iran.

Workers stopped work in factories manufacturing atom bombs. Everywhere, supervisors and managers were silent and happy. Soldiers and guards were peaceful and merry. Directors and generals were quiet and pleased. Scientists-engineers-sociologists began to feel ashamed of being scientists-engineers-scholars. Is it meaningful at all to work for slaughter and war? Among deliberate wrong-doers, the managers-generals-scholars, being quite knowledgeable about things, were waiting for workers to do something, so that they could be free of the heavy burden on their hearts and minds.

The laboratory workshop of biological weapons. Five hundred years ago, the genocide of people living a communal life in a gift culture, by the “gift” of plague-infested blankets, from people engaged in expanding buying-selling, market-money, had been agitating the very being all along. In 1975, in preparation of biological warfare, the creation of the retro-virus in laboratories in the course of research into biological weapons that attack on the basis of the pupil of the eye and the composition of hair, became the carrier of the AIDS disease.

”What is this that i am doing? Why are we doing this? How can we stop this?” In laboratories and workshops of biological warfare, scientific workers stopped working, in universities and research institutes, laboratory assistants and researchers stopped investigations. Professors-directors-vice-chancellors were silent and were breathing easy. There was a plenitude of factories for the production of a multitude of armaments and weapons in the world. Amidst the world-wide waves of “what and why are we doing what we are doing? How to stop it?” the workers in the factories of chemical weapons stopped production. In missile manufacturing factories, workers stopped work. In factories manufacturing fighter and bomber planes, workers stopped production. In shipyards, workers stopped producing ships and submarines for the navies. In factories for guns-cannons-tanks-armored vehicles workers halted the lines. In bullet-gun shell-gunpowder factories workers stopped work. The preparations and practice of cyber-wars by radar-computer-internet-telephones-satellites were stopped by workers. In NASA-ISRO-DRDO etc.etc. everywhere, supervisors-managers-directors-generals were silent and were pleased.

Let’s breathe awhile. You too stand at ease. It is no longer a situation of “No time to die, who has the time to live.” There is no poverty of time now, no need to be miserly about time. We all have enough time for all that pleases our being.

*It is amazing that laments which were quite commonly heard till three years ago, such as “Life is nothing beyond a struggle for our daily bread”, seem almost antiquated now. With the disappearance of market-money, of currencies, it has become easy for all to have meals.

This was the Goodyear Tyre Factory in Faridabad. The barbed wires surrounding it are no longer here. Now there are no guards, no workers, no managers here. Babies are shrieking joyfully on the sand, on the grass. Boys and girls are jumping and skipping, climbing on neem trees. Young men and women, in couples, in groups, are joking, singing and dancing, are making merry. The middle-aged are happy, are looking on at the babies – the children – the youth. In the intoxicating spring season, the old are enjoying life...

In the material sphere, for life, after security, air, and water – food is indispensable. Food available in nature, food bestowed by nature. The domestication of animals was the starting point for humans to go beyond and against nature to obtain food. This advanced further with the tilling of the earth. The domestication of animals and the ploughing of the earth increased rapidly with the extension of the market, and over the last hundred and fifty years, milk production, meat production, and grain production was being done on a large scale along factory lines. To produce as much as possible with minimum expenditure is in the nature of the market, and alongside the factory mode of production came chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hybrid seeds, genetically modified (GM) seeds, new diets and medicines for chickens, cows and pigs for faster and greater production of meat, new diets, medicines, and injections for more milk, 20-25 thousand acre farms, thousands of cows in enclosures, tens of thousands of chicken in closed spaces, the creation of animal clones, etc. The human species has started producing billions of tons of food grain, millions of tons of meat – milk – butter. Godowns full of grain, problems of storage, perishing grain – in the entanglements of market prices thousands of cows killed, food grain destroyed, fields left fallow and millions in the world remained hungry. To prevent bird flu from spreading, thousands of chicken were culled and buried, to stop diseases from spreading among cows and pigs, thousands were slaughtered, buried, exterminated...

Food was produced in the factory mode in Australia, America, Canada and Europe, with workers employed to produce for the market. In India, Egypt, Brazil, etc. production for the market in farms of 2-4-10-20-50 acres, by ones’ own and ones’ family’s labour was noteworthy. But everywhere in the world, there was more and more use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc. in food production. Pesticides etc. had entered vegetables, fruits, food grains, meat, milk- even mothers’ milk. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, mixed in and seeping into, ground water. Cancer- cancer- cancer...the production of food became the production of poison. Consuming food, eating bread, drinking water, became the production of disease.

“What is this that we are doing? Why are we doing this? How can we stop this? - these questions which were echoing all around began to get answers in quick succession from several places three years ago. Workers stopped work in meat factories - the assembly line system originated in meat factories in America... Workers let out into the open the cows, pigs, and chicken that were being reared for meat in large farms where they worked... pesticide factories were brought to a standstill by workers. Workers stopped work in factories making chemical fertilizers. Farmers in Bhatinda, in Palwal, farm workers in Australia, America and Canada, stopped using pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hybrid seeds, GM seeds. In agricultural universities, workers on seed farms began to relax and scientists engaged in research stopped working and heaved a sigh of relief.

Stopping all this is fine but where will food come from? This question was expected to arise, but one had not estimated the extent to which a churning regarding food had already taken place, and how much more, and faster it would be now.

To eat when one is hungry. Very well, but there is hunger of the body and hunger of the mind. People were eating more than the body required which was harmful. The reason for overeating was social, for the being was hungry.

How much food is needed to feed the body? But before the question of how much is the question of what kind. Junk-food was much talked about earlier as well but now it was discarded at an amazing speed. In these three years, the consumption of food grains, meat, and milk, has come down a lot. The production of grains without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides has been such that taking out grain from old stocks has been minimal.
Food, whether cooked, or raw, germinated. There were many more discussions about the relationship between the three whites: salt-sugar-milk and the human body. While granting that mother’s milk is sufficient for a human child, discussions about cow-buffalo-goat milk not being suitable for the human body have continued into 2016.
That the domestication and milking of animals is not good and not necessary had been a thought provoking idea for quite some time. But of late, talks such as whether food production can be imagined without ploughing, without cleaving the earth, without working, have been very interesting.

The wheel of time cannot be turned back but methods of food production compatible with nature are an essential requirement. There were many such ancient methods and in many places several persons have been conducting tests and experiments, but they have remained few and far between. In these three years, methods of food production with an affinity to nature, have become central in experiments and in practice.

*In Gurgaon, such tall buildings, and exploitation of ground water on such a large scale, seemed, to young architects, to be an invitation to upheavals in the earth’s womb. They were afraid that these high buildings, strengthened by science-engineering-technology, can at any moment come down like a house of cards. Before natural upheavals could occur, social upheavals began to resolve the problem of housing in practice. Workers came out of the rented rooms in Kapashera, Dundahera, and Mullahera, and began to live in the ten-twenty story buildings which were lying vacant. Because of market-money, commercial considerations, a large number of houses used to remain vacant in towns. For people to collectively occupy and settle down in houses lying vacant in towns- metropolises was an instant solution to the housing problem in towns. The wave of workers making houses that were lying vacant here and there into homes began three years ago. The instant relief this gave encouraged worldwide exchanges about proper and appropriate housing. Here, in the spring of 2016, discussions regarding housing have become even more extensive.

Houses breathe. In London, 60% of the population suffers from breathing problems. The use of cement, steel, and paint in construction and decor was a major cause of this. What materials for construction of houses. Concrete houses harmful for babies. Exploitation of an area of a hundred miles around Delhi for the provision of daily needs of the metropolis. The whole sea bay polluted by a breakdown of the garbage purifying plant in Los Angeles city. And then, not only did the fear and greed linked to towns and cities push each and everyone into loneliness, into a lack of community; it also carried, alongside, a tough-ruthless-vast apparatus of security- administration–control. Villages, meanwhile, were strongholds of the suffering and frustrations of a distorted-spoilt-deformed community. There used to be numerous experiments to create new collectivities-communities in towns, in villages. In these three years, various new communities have emerged which reject both villages and towns as units for living on this earth.

Although forcibly joined, the entire human species had been joined together. Several attempts to join up on the basis of ones’ own wishes rather than by force had been made earlier. In these three years, attempts to come together on the basis of ones’ desires have increased a lot the world over. In the spring of 2016, there is a virtual flood of mutual exchanges, of links made as per ones’ own wishes. Many experiments are on. The size of social units. The relation between an individual and a social unit. The universal form of human habitation formed by social units.

*In Chicago, America, energetic children came out of schools along with enthusiastic teachers. In Delhi, parents refused to send their 2 ½ -3 year old children to nurseries and pre-nurseries. In Beijing, China, students put locks on universities, the factories for the production of knowledge. All these came like a hurricane three years ago. This was the starting point for taking the discussions- practices about childhood- the relation between generations- the role of schools –the meaning of knowledge – to a new plane. By the time spring 2016 arrived, schools-colleges- universities were shut down the world over, old age homes were closed.

The relations between generations are pleasurable and a prime necessity for the survival of every living species. Each stage of life in the passage from birth to death has a happiness of its own. Amongst human beings, all this had gone topsy turvy and the terrible destruction wrought by the expansion of market-money had completely crushed the entire earth. The expansions of market–money brought with it the extension of literacy, and schools in large numbers. Schools, teaching lessons of discipline for wage labour in the factory mode, were important locations for preparing workers for factories. To teach children how to sit as soon as they entered school was to destroy childhood. The teachers’ cruelty towards themselves and towards their students in order to remain teachers. And student-teacher relations making grandfathers and grandmothers redundant. The elderly awaiting death; and at a certain age, the old age home.

This was an industrial model town in Manesar. There was a Honda motorcycle and scooter factory here. In spring 2016, there are birds chirping here and fun filled conversations about science are taking place among children- youth- and elders. The scriptures and knowledge had played a significant role in controlling and domesticating human beings. To increase control-oppression – exploitation was the essence of knowledge but people had also used scriptures against oppression- exploitation. Like skill, knowledge too is just an accumulated form of our activities. What kind of knowledge – that is significant. For loving relations between human beings and between humans and nature it is essential to bury most of our inherited knowledge. To decide what all to not do the inherited knowledge can be useful. New relationships demand new knowledge.

*What is this that we are doing? Why are we doing this? Come let’s stop this. In Paris, drivers stopped working – trains stopped, the metro stopped, buses stopped, trucks stopped, taxies stopped. In New York, pilots refused to fly aeroplanes. On Bombay harbor, dock workers stopped all coming and going. In factories in China workers stopped the production of all types of vehicles. Three years ago in many places in the world the system of work stoppages began and the din on earth started coming to a stand still. After the stopping of wheels the spring season kept becoming more and more pleasant. In spring 2016, there is peace all around and peoples’ hearts and minds are in full bloom.

This was the Maruti Suzuki factory in Gurgaon. Today, at leisure, many people are looking back at it, and discussing the production of speed, the consumption of speed, transport. Speed, faster and faster speed – in this mad rush, where were we going? What were we fleeing from? We were running to avoid meeting our own gaze.

The effort to increase speed beyond what is naturally granted to human beings, besides stretching the body and exhausting the mind, was accompanied by a tinkering with nature. Since the last two hundred years, speed was being produced by the factory mode. And, a hundred or a hundred and twenty five years ago, caught in the grip of faster speed, people had started becoming small or big cogs of machines, of systems, of institutions.

Increasing the production of speed, and making speed faster and faster through coal, electricity, nuclear power, and electronics, meant a devastation of the earth’s womb, along with its surface. For transporting people from here to there in increasing numbers and at growing speed, and to carry increasing quantities of goods to and fro at faster and faster speeds, the ever lengthening rows of vehicles of all kinds made accidents a matter of routine. The production and consumption of speed brought with it the pollution of air-water -soil, global warming, and a hole in the ozone layer which naturally carried in itself the destruction of life on earth.
By halting the wheels, workers opened the pathways to save life on earth.

*In China, women workers came out of factories and male workers were with them. In Bangladesh, women workers came out of factories and male workers were with them. In India, girl and boy students came out together from schools- colleges- universities. Three years ago waves of natural easy relations between men and women began to rise all over the world. The growing relations of mutual respect and love between men and women made the world extremely fragrant. Together with the blossoming of nature in the intoxicating spring season of 2016, there is also a worldwide blossoming of the human species.

This was the Shahi Export Factory in Faridabad. Today there are many kinds of conversations here about the multifaceted male and female relations, between boys and girls, men and women. Interesting discussions.
In scriptures, in words of god, why have women been called sin personified? What is the meaning of the saying that not even gods can understand the character of a woman? Nature has given greater sexual capacity to women as compared to men, one man cannot satisfy the sexuality of even one woman, then what is the meaning of man attempting to keep several women under his control for sexual gratification? There are genders other than male and female in nature.

When did a family- like institution emerge amongst human beings? Why were men at the centre of the family? Blood originates in the mother’s womb, so what is the meaning of men proclaiming ‘my blood’? How can we understand the changing forms of the family? What does women becoming wage workers show? How was the transformation of women into wage workers, women’s empowerment?

It was a matter of chance that during the breakdown of communities the “I” that was engendered had men as its vehicle. Death, a certainty after birth- the unbearable pain born of this for the “I” made men go mad. And, the crazy antics of males, who were afraid of females, made the relations between men and women problematic.

In the factory mode, in the wages system, it was the worsening situation of wage workers (men) which brought about many transformations in the family, and women began to become wage workers in increasing members.
The women who had become wage workers became the new vehicles of “I”. To be a woman and a wage worker was more problematic than being a male wage worker. The long experiences of imagination-construction – creativity to overcome complex situations made women wage workers fit to inflict a mortal blow on the system of wage labour. It was the interaction of male workers and women wage workers with myriad experiences of wage work that initiated the end of the wage system three years ago. In contrast to the increasing insignificance of each individual in the wages system, we are now proceeding along the path of good relations between men and women on the basis of each person’s importance.

*For the continued survival of any living species, an indispensable requirement is that murder within that species be an exception. The human species, which calls itself the best in all living species, had become an exception.

“What is this that we are doing? Why are we doing this?" The soldiers in America took off their uniforms and proceeded to make arms and ammunition dysfunctional, Colonels and Generals also took off their uniforms and joined the soldiers in making armaments dysfunctional. In Russia. In China. In France. In England. In Iran. In India, soldiers took off their uniforms and proceeded to make arms and ammunitions dysfunctional. Three years ago throughout the world, soldiers began to disband armies speedily. All this happened so rapidly that it is difficult to say whether the initiative came from China’s army personnel or from U.S.A.’s air force personnel. The paramilitary forces and police personnel all over the world had behaved as did soldiers and officers of the armed forces. Such a wind blew all over the world that the doors of jails were opened up and locks were put on courts.

Within three years the production of a lot of things was totally stopped. Whatever production of things of the past is taking place now is a twentieth to a thirtieth part of the earlier amount. Quite some people are still engaged in doing away with stocks of fatal- harmful things. And, a significant number of people are enthusiastically engaged in activities for establishing harmony with nature.

In spring 2016, on the entire earth, people have themselves formed communities, and are themselves directing life.

This was an air force station in Faridabad. Today, here, on the sand, on the grass, children are shrieking joyfully. Girls and boys are jumping around. In couples, in groups, youth are laughing and talking, dancing and singing. In many such groups, discussions are also on.

This was not a miracle that had occurred. In Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, China, India, Greece, Rome, for four to five thousand years, generation after generation, many generations, were engaged in recognizing and breaking the shackles that bound human beings. Our ancestors had given birth to many divergent and diverse views based on their own experiences and thoughts. The expansion of money – market had forcibly joined together the entire human species, in order to yoke and exploit it. In the factories established on the basis of steam and coal, two hundred years ago, in the wages system, the shackles that bound human species were recognized as social relations, and wage workers had the capacity to break these shackles. Then in 1871, by establishing the Paris Commune, abolishing the army and police, breaking the jails, wage workers showed a glimpse of that capacity. During periods when governments were indulging in massacres and killings on an increasing scale, in Russia in 1905 and again in 1917, wage workers displayed their potential by forming Soviets. In Germany in 1918-1919, workers gave a glimpse of their capability by forming worker’s councils. Together with steam and coal, factories based on oil engines and on electrical motors had been increasing the number of wage workers in the world. But it is electronics that has led to an extremely rapid rise in the numbers of wage workers in the world. Electronics made the factory mode dominant, not just in the field of material production, but in every sphere of social life; trade-transport-education-health-entertainment. In China, in India, the social death and social murder of peasants–artisans happened at a very rapid pace, and the flood of wage-workers began. Wage workers became a majority in the world’s population. The entry of electronics in the production process increased greatly the number of non permanent, temporary workers, and in many places, 20-22 year old workers became workers with personal experience of several places. Then, T.V.- mobile phones-Internet soon broke through the barriers of numbers and distances, and along side, also made the experiences and thoughts of our ancestors easily accessible. The crises of the factory system, of wage labour, had been wreaking terrible havoc for a hundred and fifty years, but cushions were available, though of a diminishing size. Three years ago, the vast population of wage workers exercised its capability on a world-wide scale and the creation of a new human society began.

By making instant and extensive exchanges between people spread all over the world possible, electronics had played a significant role in creating change which was multidimensional and fast. And now, in view of the fact that together with pure metals, iron, aluminium, etc., electronics, with its heavy elements is harmful for life on earth, large numbers of people are making efforts to get rid of them.

Security, air, water, food, is undoubtedly essential for life, but being happy is life’s primary need. Straight forward, mutually at ease relations.





Now, an auto harness plan in Tihar jail

"Prison wages are much lower than wages paid outside, and once trained, a worker can't leave and join a competitor." There are no unions, no factory inspectors, few strikes, electricity at cost, and commercial space at Rs 10 per sq ft.

Read it here

Sunday, August 31, 2014

EVERYWHERE, WITH EVERYONE, WHENEVER TIME PERMITS

FMS, Issue No. 314
(August 2014)



This workers’ paper circulates between 2-3 lakh workers every month. Everybody has her or his own specific relationship with it. The paper is read, remembered, read to others, critiqued, kept with care, photocopied and redistributed, compared with other sources of information, evaluated, weighed, tested, questioned, argued with, used, torn, thrown away, given importance to, respected. Liveliness surrounds it.

This is the daily life of this paper. The lives of each one of us is made up of similar diversities and differences, likings and disinterests, respect, curiosity and fullness. Some people are envious of this expanse. One such person said to us, “Where does the money for such expansiveness come from?” We thought we must consider this with some amount of seriousness.

A journalist wanted to know from a worker in a garment factory in the Okhla Industrial Area, “How much would workers like their minimum wage to be?” The tailor laughed and said politely, “A single worker, on an average, produces goods worth 18-20 lakh rupees a month.” And then he said, “Keep one to two lakh for your costs. The rest should come to us, it hardly needs saying. You can keep debating over 12-15,000 rupees, but that shouldn’t make invisible the lakhs of rupees that are ours.”

Continuing in this vein, we could say that printing 12,000 copies of this paper costs the same as the monthly minimum wage of a skilled worker, as under Delhi government rates. A friend disagreed and said, “No, even lesser!” The voluntary support and contributions of a handful of people makes printing 10-20,000 copies of this paper a very simple thing.

Friends, printing this paper poses no difficulty. Given the excitement, enthusiasm and support around this paper, printing even one hundred thousand copies would be ordinary. Recently, a few students and young teachers requested us for 1000 copies of the paper so that they could take them to a new industrial area and test their thinking in a larger landscape. That’s why this month we’ve printed 13,000 copies.

Like we’ve described in some of our previous issues, the industrial areas surrounding Delhi are among the most buoyant and volatile in the world. Critical and urgent questions about thought and action are being posed here. We can say with utmost confidence that it is from within these spaces that the sharpest and most edgy possibilities are emergent, confronting the contradictions and conundrums of the present. Very soon, a form of living that is in praise of the potential of the seven billion inhabitants of this planet will find its expression.

Wait – Do you think we’re getting carried away?



Every month, 20-25 people distribute this paper in 15 places in Okhla Industrial Area, Udyog Vihar (Gurgaon), IMT Manesar and Faridabad. Every month, during distribution, different kinds of conversations are struck up with thousands of people. You could say that each person who distributes the paper threads some form of conversation with perhaps 10,000 people in a year. A current of joyfulness rises from this conversational space. It stays in collision with the language of complaints, oppression and pain. It is generative. It pushes aside exhaustion, pessimism, anger and helplessness, and makes something else emerge in their stead.

For the last year now, in different issues of the paper, we have been talking about a new category of “political prisoners” that has arisen here in the last few years. We’ve posed this argument, and it has traveled between a few lakh people. No one has thought it wrong, or dismissed it as an overstatement. Rather, it has been taken forward and has entered other platforms and public forums. 500 to 600 workers from factories just from around Delhi are political prisoners of today. They are being kept in jail without bail for years. There’s a general consensus that these are political prisoners. However, what we would like to underline here is a desire that has surfaced in many a conversation, but hasn’t yet gathered the force of general actions. This desire is about how – as individuals, and as collectives – we can all, together, author a tense weave that compels the release of these political prisoners.

Here are suggestions that have come our way: During tea breaks, at lunch hour, while in the bus, when the shift ends, when the shift begins, in the neighborhood, at the teashop, at the paan kiosk, at the dhaaba, in the park, at a feast, in the village, via SMS, through handwritten pamphlets, with posters, in letters, on placards, by printing on t-shirts, at the barber’s, in the college canteen, in classrooms, in discussion groups and meetings, in essays, through stories, in poems, on blogs, on Facebook and on Twitter, in offices, while travelling, when on a pilgrimage, between friends, via letters to editors, through translating – everywhere, with everyone, whenever time permits – amplify, accelerate the ongoing disquiet of murmurs about these political prisoners. This in itself will dishevel power’s fragile but arrogant attire.

Visit these political prisoners. These conversations, you’d agree, must happen with them as well.