The Significance of the 2020 Indian General Strike

By Timothy Dirté


On November 26th, 2020, over 250 million people in India went on strike. It is the largest strike in history being led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

At the time of this writing, the strike still persists. It is caused by not only the present Modi government’s anti-worker policies, but from the long-standing contradiction between the interests of the international and Indian bourgeoisie and the interests of the Indian people, the workers, and the farmers. The fundamental contradiction in capitalism has necessitated the building of their present movement. The previous decades of work by labor and progressive forces has made the recent strike a reality.

It is an example for all in the essential task of not waiting for crisis to organize, but to do so even in periods outside of crisis, during periods of growth. Such foresight allowed the leaders of the Indian working class to accomplish this world historic feat. It is a lesson on the grave importance of the communist party and progressive forces being the leading elements.

In a matter of months the whole of the Indian people have been shaken, they have been forced to reconcile with the immense scope of this crisis. Over 250 million people have been mobilized in defense against the anti-people policies of the bourgeoisie desperate for a way out of the crisis. Because of the position of the Indian working class and its strength, the people turned out in mass not for reaction, but for progress, against austerity.

It is clearer now, more than ever, how anti-people a bourgeois democracy can be. How it seeks to offload the crisis onto the backs of the people, displayed with crystal clear clarity in the Indian government’s passage of the recent farm bills and labor codes whose only purpose was to weaken the Indian working class. To sacrifice them for the continued growth of capital.

Previously, farming legislation in India ostensibly prevented the concentration of farms into large monopolies. Though, it did happen, albeit very slowly. The recent farm bills under the context of the capitalist crisis have removed government protections in lieu of market penetration by finance capital which has traditionally been prevented from extensively concentrating production in Indian agriculture. Which is why these bills unequivocally mean the destruction of Indian farmers, and the growth of the working class.

However, on top of the farm bills, the labor codes likewise leave much to be desired. The new labor codes are a consolidation of the 29 previously enacted with changes to the benefit of finance capital. Crucially, making it easier to fire workers and raising the wage necessary to even consider them a worker with the accompanying legal protections. To add water to a grease fire, these bills were pushed through without the opposition present. As well, all of the national trade unions have opposed the consolidation of the labor codes.

The illusions of bourgeois reform are literally melting away. Over the course of the protests, the backwardness of the Indian government, wholly beholden to the interests of finance capital, has seen many labor leaders arrested or intimidated by corporate thugs. Which has only exacerbated tensions further. The Indian working class is learning on a mass scale, and seeing with its own eyes the true class character of capitalism.

The pleas of the people for an end to the anti-people policies is confronted with the disregard that the Indian government has for its own laws. Reform is becoming a pointless goal while the Modi government ignores and subverts the Indian constitution. Many will ask “what utility is there to reform if they wont even adhere to what we have?” There is only one way forward, it is scientific socialism, it is the rational organization of production in the interest of society as a whole, not for a few.

The way forward is the organization of labor in defense against the mounting attacks on our lives by reactionary finance capital!

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