Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

Covid-19, Citizenship Amendment Act and the End of Indian Democracy

We publish below an article by Murzban Jal. He has been a regular contributor. We hope others will send their views on the artice and it will stimulate a debate.-- Administrator


By Murzban Jal




Covid-19, it seems, has come as a blessing for the capitalist politicians. While threats, even when being shot by fascist goons did not frighten the rebellious crowds asking that the  Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) be repealed because of its obvious communal colour, Covid-19 has somehow almost like magic made the crowds disappear. For the world, especially for the imperialist group of nations while Covid-19 is seen inexorably woven with the world economic crises—the crisis demanded that a lockdown of industries take place—for the Indian elites it is related directly to the Citizenship Amendment Act—to drive the crowds from the streets. What one must do is talk less of Covid-19 and talk more of the world capitalist crisis and the Citizenship Amendment Act. Not relating these would lead to tragedy. 

While a dominant view says that India is now under the tutelage of authoritarianism and fascism where a terrible form of tragedy is scripted on its bare chest, a deeper view while agreeing that fascism is a terrible form of tragedy says that it is liberalism which lies behind fascism and that because of the seeds sown by the liberalism with its free market economy one cannot confront fascism. Let us turn to Ambedkar for instance who in his ‘Reply to the Mahatma’ an extension of his Annihilation of Castesaid:


We are indeed witness to a great tragedy.[1]


What was the tragedy for Ambedkar? The tragedy was that while the Indian liberal elites instead of confronting hierarchies and inequalities simply insisted in remaining silent on these. It is this very silence of the liberals which the fascists have converted into cacophony. With the December 2019 Citizen’s Amendment Act passed in the Rajya Sabha, it seems that the tragedy that Ambedkar had warned of has indeed come.While December 2019 was the moment of the triumph of the Hindutva right-wing, Ambedkar was focused on not merely the right-wing, but on Gandhi, the liberal democrats and the Hindu reformists and their method and style of social and political leadership. According to this radical Ambedkarite perspective it was because of certain necessary reforms that Indian society was to unable to execute that the specter of fascism has risen.

It is in this sense that we recall Slavoj Zizek’s use of Walter Benjamin’s phrase “behind every fascism, there is a failed revolution”, a phrase which is apt in understanding the rise of the BJP in power, especially with the Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in the Indian parliament. What is the crux of this Act? Supporters of this Act claim is that it is nothing but an act of benevolence and those (i.e. everyone but Muslims and Jews) suffering from religious persecution would be given Indian citizenship. They say that this merely follows the Citizenship Act of 1955 and the 1985 amendment after the Assam Accord followed by other amendments in 1992, 2003, 2005 and 2015. These same supporters claim that the 2003 amendment was supported by both the Congress party and the CPI(M). So why the fuse now? The answer which the right-wing gives is that the Congress and the Left have now been seduced by extreme left-wing ideas and in a terrible fit of jealousy want to bring in god’s own appointed government down. 

A closer inspection finds something else. What the Hindytva government wants to do is to not only radically transform citizenship, but to destroy the very idea of citizenship. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) which they want to make is not going to abide by the ideology of democracy and civic nationalism, but by the fascist idea of nationhood where V.D. Savarkar’s notorious twins of “fatherland” and “holy land” will guide who is to be defined by the term “Indian”.

That this almost reflects the spirit of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935 must be spelt out. Let is turn to this to see how the Nazi turn is taking in Indian politics. On 15th September 1935 the Nazis passed the Law for the protection of German Blood and German Honour followed on 14th November by the Reich Citizenship Law. These were preceded by the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Services of 7th April 1933. That unlike almost all political parties the RSS was founded on the racial and fascist idea of “Race Spirit”. In fact it must be mentioned that no political party except the BJP follows this outdated eugenic idea borrowed from Western Europe. According to this ideology the people of the world are divided into “races”, the imagined Aryan race being the most superior. And since Jews and Muslims did not it in the spirit of the imagined Aryans these so-called races had to be exterminated. The Nazis did this with terrible consequences. Consider this foundational document of the Indian fascists:


The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must hold to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu religion and lose their separate existence, to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.[2] 


To understand how the fascist idea of who is an Indian and how those who cannot be defined as “Indian” would be expelled from the country, let us consider two statements of Indian fascism. The first is from We Or Our Nation Defined where Golwalkar said: “Race is the body of the nation, and that with its fall, the nation, ceases to exist.” and the second from Savarkar’s Hindu Rashtra Darshan who said that “Nazism provided undeniably the savior of Germany”. The point that one needs to highlight is that Nazism was and is yet the basic ideological model of the Indian fascists. It guided the ideas of Savarkar and Golwalkar.

Here one must point out that the fascist ideas of who an Indian is and the secular idea are both radically different. Also it must be noted that for the Indian fascists right from 1922 it is the idea of “Race Spirit” which guides their ideology and action. And what is this “Race Spirit”? It is the nothing but the “Caste Spirit” expressed as “Aryan Race Spirit”. It is thus that we ask: “What did this fictitious “Race spirit” now drunk on the Aryan-Hindu fantasy talk of?” It talks of the “Hindu nation” based on the imagined “Hindu race”. Now it is well known that it was Savarkar’s Essentials of Hindutva where Hindutva was invented as a racial category where the categories “Hinduness”, and “Hindudom” were created borrowed totally from European feudalism’s idea of “Christendom”.  That is why it is important to say that these ideas of “Hinduness”, and “Hindudom” came into the lexicon the Indian fascist movement from fascist Europe. The problem with the Indian fascists who want to prove that they are the only true and authentic Indians, is that almost all their ideas are borrowed by from the ideological cranium of the 19th and 20th century European right-wing. That is why we say that iIn no way can one claim that the idea of Hindutva is indigenous to Indian civilization. If the brutal form emerged from European fascism, the early Romantic version, especially as found in the works of Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel. Consider Novalis’s 1799 work Christianity or Europe:


Those were beautiful, magnificent times, when Europe was a Christian land, when one Christianity dwelled on this civilized continent, and when one common interest joined the most distant provinces of this vast spiritual empire without great worldly possessions one sovereign governed and unified the great political force. Immediately under him stood one enormous guild, open to all, executing his every wish and zealously striving to consolidated his beneficent power. Every member of this society was honored everywhere. If the common people sought from their clergyman comfort or help, protection or advice, gladly caring for his various needs in return, he also gained protection, respect and audience from his superiors. Everyone saw these elect men, armed with miraculous powers, as the children of heaven, whose mere presence and affection dispensed all kinds of blessings. Childlike faith bound the people to their teachings. How happily everyone could complete their earthly labors, since these holy men had safeguarded them a future life, forgave every sin, explained and erased every blackspot in this life. They were the experienced pilots on the great uncharted seas, in whose shelter one could scorn all storms, and whom one could trust to reach and land safely on the shores of the real paternal world.The wildest and most voracious appetites had to yield with honor and obedience to their words. Peace emanated from them. They preached nothing but love for the holy, beautiful lady of Christianity who, endowed with divine power, was ready to rescue every believer from the most terrible dangers.[3]

But it is important to note that Savarkar was no romanticist. What Savarkar did was that he took the Romantic idea of nationalism bereft of its modern and aesthetical sensibility. Thus while Savarkar’s work smacks of the unacknowledged borrowings from Novalis and Schlegel on the Romantic idea of nationalism, he most certainly cannot be compared to either of them. For Novalis and Schlegel the ideas of beauty and liberty stood central to their works. For them the political state had to be formed around the idea of beauty. The European Romantics wanted a unity of politics, identity and religion. Savarkar created the absolute identity between politics and racial-religion. What he did was that merely politicized in the right-wing sense, religious prejudices, and transformed these into the ideology of racial superiority.  But what he primarily did was he feudalized Indian nationhood—in fact feudalized it in a very Catholic Church type (and thus papal type) borrowed from feudal Europe. Thus what he did was transform feudal Europe’s idea of Christendom into the idea of Hindudom. Strictly speaking Hindudom is a total fiction. It has never existed, just as no “Hindu Church” ever existed. Savarkar continuously talked in Essentials of Hindutva of a “Buddhist Church”.  What Savarkar did was that he created a fantasy of “Hindutva” borrowed totally from the lens of feudal Europe. What Golwalkar and the RSS did was transform this fantasy into a phantasmagoria. Hindutva since Golwalkar was possessed by the spirits of the long dead. And just as commodities seized by these spirits (as in Marx’s Capital) began to dance, so too Hindutva since the late 1930s did their ghostly dancing. See one concrete fascistic ghost dancing:


Hinduism, once, used to extend over what is now Afghanistan, over Java, over Cambodia. Powerful Hindu India could reconquer these lands and give them back the pride of their Indian civilization. She could make Greater India once more a cultural reality, and a political one too….She could teach the fallen Aryans  of the West the meaning of their forgotten paganism; she could rebuild the cults of Nature, the cults of Youth and Strength, wherever they have been destroyed; she could achieve on a world-scale what Emperor Julian tried to do. And the victorious Hindus could erect a statue to Julian, somewhere in conquered Europe, on the border of the sea; a statue with an inscription, both in Sanskrit and in Greek: What thou hast dreamt, we have achieved.[4]


It must be noted that the above quote indicates imperialist ideas of Indian nationhood. For the Indian fascists, for its very existence, one must expand one’s national territories. The Nazis had talked of Lebensraum or “living space”. What one needs to do is to relate these imperialist fantasies with the modern idea of democracy where the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity would guide citizenship. One should also emphasize how Ambedkar repeatedly claimed that this triad of democracy was not possible under Hinduism and that nationalism built on the idea of Hindutva would be disastrous.  If authentic democracy was not possible under Hinduism, under Hindutva the democratic ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity would soon be transformed into the fascist reality of infantry, artillery and cavalry.

            What one needs to emphasize is that the bourgeois state in its liberal stage claimed to be fascinated by liberty, though in actuality would not do anything about this.  Now in its fascist stage it is infantry, artillery and cavalry that would fascinate the bourgeois state. Once upon a time, the Indian liberals heralded the welfare state; now under the guidance of the Washington Consensus and the Breton Woods system of monetary management the fascist descendents of the liberals now unleash the warfare state that is being ready for not only external wars but basically civil war against Indian citizens.  And in this terrible evolution from liberty to artillery, the liberals would be dumbfounded. This is because their own aims of creating a welfare state, they could only preach and never practice. It is also because the Indian liberals were scared to even implement the basics of the programme of the Indian freedom movement. They thought that they would take refuge in the state, instead of going to the masses. But the Home Minister Amit Shah under whose personal supervision the CAA has been enacted will not allow them refuge in the state. This is because he wants to create a exodus of refugees fleeing the nation. For him “Hindu Raj” is the final goal. The CAA and the NRC is the final solution.   

“If Hindu Raj becomes a fact”, so Ambedkar so famously said then “it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country”.[5] The problem is that Hindu raj has become a reality and we are without doubts facing calamity. Why is this calamity? It is calamity because democracy which the people of India so hard fought has now been out on the altar of the destruction of reason and humanity.

            That is why we say that the Citizen’s Amendment Act is a mere ruse which in actuality is the Constitution Amendment Act or the Destruction of Constitution Act. The core of the Indian Constitution is the assertion of democracy especially the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity. And without doubts it has been the genius of Ambedkar to reflect these principles as well as to synthesize these. Now it is well known that equality and liberty have been having a tense relation and both the liberals and the 20th century socialists could not harmonize these.

            Etienne Balibar Masses, Classes, Ideas mentions this tension and says that one needs to invent the idea of “equa-liberty”.[6]  And it was Ambedkar who in his States and Minorities (some would say that this fantastic document is the philosophical basis if the Indian Constitution). Suspension of this radical idea of democracy where human freedom is its essence is that of the imagined “Race Spirit” searching for war with other imagined races. What this Act will do is that it will absolutely destroy the very idea of citizenship and bring in the idea of caste and re-order the caste system in new fascist lines. This is what caste looked like earlier:  



1.      Caste looked like enclosed class reified as a closed clan system with its parasitical bureaucratic system with its “clannish aloofness”.[7]  It is an “enclosed class” (from Ambedkar’s Castes in India) and as “warring gangs” (from his Annihilation of Caste). And as “warring gangs” and also as “semi-barbarian, semi-civilized communities” (to recall Marx)[8], the caste system manifests itself as a clan system, creating the structures of extreme hierarchy and the ideology of rank worship. Rank worship is the essence of the caste system. The totem of purity and the taboo of pollution rule its ideological guidelines, whilst economic and cultural stagnation are its two main pillars. The entire system of caste is based on “gradation of castes forming an ascending scale of reverence and a descending scale of contempt”[9]. What is important is that in this site of closure and hierarchy one heralds the principles of graded inequality (where various labouring- subaltern castes are unable to recognize their exploiter, but are themselves graded within themselves unequally) and division of labourers (where within the proletariat class  there is a marked internal division based on the ideology of caste-hierarchy)—which are recognized as the main markers of caste society—now are mobilized by fascism. Fascist politics perfects these principles of graded inequality and division of labourers. But it also perfects the principle of the castrated male who is bent on creating riots and wars.

2.        The second site is that caste appears as a form of racism, albeit of the South Asian variety, where the upper castes are understood as being of higher biological stock and the lower ones considered as inferior. For the India right-wing, this idea of caste as race forms the leitmotiv of its fascist politics. Both V.D. Savarkar and M.S. Golwalkar leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS respectively based their right-wing politics on the idea of race and racial superiority. What we get now is the castrated male suffering from a form of racial superiority. I thereby claim that not only is it a peculiar system of class—or reified and ossified classes based on the ontology of segregation—but it is also equivalent to race in the South Asian sense. “Varna”, one must insist, means “colour”, and social classifications and stratification are according to race-inspired markers. Whether varna, as it appeared in Vedic literature, implied the ‘race’ perception of the early Vedic Indo-Iranian warrior tribes’ disdain for the dark skinned dasas and mlecchas of the Gangentic plain is debatable. But with the fusion of the Vedic fetishes with the fascist imagination since the 1920s the cocktail that we are making is only going to be a deadly one. As I said earlier on the Nazis were fond of Vedic literature, Himmler (as we noted earlier) was an avid reader of early Hinduism and had with him a leather bound version of the Gita. Caste, as we know it, has to be seen as a form of racism and casteism and its contemporary incarnation of communal form of racism. And that is why we insist again that casteism (at least in its modern bourgeois avtar) is equivalent to racism. And it is in this double-bind of class and race that we re-imagine caste and its process of its economic base of stratification, clannishness and fragmentation; and its ideological superstructure of superstition and rituals, whereby the upper caste elites govern through this very strange type of power and control. And if one wants to understand the basic classes in India, if one has to re-imagine the proletariat, one has to actively confront this very strange and uncanny apparatus. The uncanny (das Unheimlich), as we know from Freud is the feeling of dread and terror (1990). And since the fascist RSS has classified the Muslims in the same caste-like hierarchical manner, the importance of understanding and annihilating this uncanny and dreadful system is of extreme importance. 

3.      The last site is of neurosis-psychosis which creates cultural and political schizophrenia and the creation of the ideology of neurosis-psychosis and cultural and political schizophrenia. This form of cultural illness and the ideological superstructure which caste creates is unable to generate critical thinking and a democratic culture. The main thing that this new form of cultural illness does is that it breeds the contempt of other social groups. The creation of authoritarian fascist politics is an essential part of neurosis-psychosis. I am here bringing in the psychoanalytic concepts of neurosis and psychosis and then I am claiming that in late capitalism, neurosis (as the eternal recurrence of the self-same trauma) and psychosis (as the complete withdrawal from reality) reaches a new stage that I call “neurosis-psychosis”. In early capitalism neurosis and psychosis were separate phenomena. In late capitalism dictated by finance capitalism, we see a new stage of mental illness called “neurosis-psychosis”. Caste in this age of late capitalism perfects this strange phenomena called “neurosis-psychosis”. Like the neurotic return of the self-same trauma, caste is negated only to return once again. Marx’s celebrated statement that the Indian “self-sufficient communities that constantly reproduce themselves in the same form, and when accidently destroyed, spring up again on the spot and with the same name”[10] is understood in this neurotic understanding of caste. The idea of the caste system as “a sort of equilibrium, resulting from a general repulsion and constitutional exclusiveness, resulting between all its members”[11] fits in Marx’s theory of alienation, whilst the idea of the “wild aimless, unbounded forces of destruction”[12], fits in the theory of “neurosis-psychosis”.


Now with the state shedding of all pretensions of democracy and taking lines of fascist exclusion with their detention camps and attacks on universities it will take a form which would be totally disastrous. One will have to act and not pretend that nothing will happen. It is in this sense that we recall Martin Niemoller’s anti-fascist poem that he wrote in Nazi Germany, First they Came….:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

One should learn from history. When in 1918 a distant parent of Covid-19 entered the scene of history calling itself the “Spanish flu”, the Bolsheviks did not go along with the liberals and proto-fascists saving so-called “humanity” from this dreaded flu. It is very simple. Flu, like sickness in general, is woven in the belly of the capitalist mode of production. When the patient Monsieur Capital is terminally sick, and in this sickness creates riots, wars and diseases, there is no use sanitizing ourselves, washing our hands endlessly, wishing that this terrible Monsieur does not come close to us.  For Monsieur Capital is not merely close to all of us, he is sitting on our heads, his hands are in our pockets and if we do not throw Monsieur Capital away, he will go beyond sitting on our heads with his hands merely in our pockets.  


[1]B.R. Ambedkar, ‘Reply to the Mahatma’, in The Essential Writings of B.R. Ambedkar, ed. Valerian Rodrigues (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008), p.319.

[2]  See Shamsul Islam, Golwalkar’s We our Nation Defined. A Critique with the Full Text of the Book (New Delhi: Pharos Media, 2006), p. 14

[3]  Novalis, ‘Christianity or Europe. A Fragment’, in The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics, ed. Frederick C. Beiser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 61-2.

[4] Savitri Devi, Warning to the Hindus (Calcutta: Hindu Mission, 1939), p. 142. Also see my ‘In Defence of Marxism’, in Critique, Vol. 40, No. 1, February 2012.

[5] B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or the Partition of of India, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Writings and Speeches, Vol. 8 (Bombay Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, 1990), p. 358.

[6] Etienne Balibar, Masses, Classes, Ideas. Studies on Politics and Philosophy Before and After Marx, trans. James Swenson (New York and London, Routledge, 1994), pp. XII, XIII.

[7]See his The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India in Historical Outline (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 2000), p. 50.

[8] Karl Marx, ‘The British Rule in India’, p. 40.

[9] See B.R. Ambedkar, ‘The Political Rights of the Depressed Classes’, in Thus Spoke Ambedkar. Vol. I. A Stake in the Nation,  p. 21.

[10] Karl Marx Capital, Vol. I, p. 338-9

[11] Karl Marx, ‘The Future Results of the British Rule in India’, in On Colonialism (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), p. 81.

[12] Karl Marx, ‘The British Rule in India’, p.41.

Radical Socialist statement on LG Polymers disaster


Radical Socialist is greatly alarmed at the death of 11 people, including a six-year-old girl, and more than

a thousand people affected after styrene monomer gas leaked from a chemical plant belonging to LG

Polymers at RR Venkatapuram in Visakhapatnam on May 7, 2020. Around 350 people are hospitalised till

now. This gas leak has directly affected an area over a radius of about three kilometres. At least five

villages within this radius have been severely affected. According to experts, styrene is a neuro-toxin and

inhalation leads to immobilisation and eventual death in ten minutes.

The chemical plant situated in a densely populated area in Visakhapatnam city occupies an area of 213

acres. Earlier called Hindustan Polymers, the company was taken over by the South Korean multinational

LG Chem in July 1997.  It manufactures polystyrene and expandable polystyrene from imported styrene

and reprocesses primary plastics into engineering plastics. 

In January 2018, AP Pollution Control Board granted environmental clearance to LG Polymers to expand

production from 415 tonnes of chemicals per day to 655 tonnes per day, at an extra cost of Rs 168 crores.

These include polystyrene and expandable polystyrene, both using hazardous chemicals for its

manufacture. This clearance is considered valid till December 2021. However, later in May 2019, the

State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) pointed out that LG polymers was

functioning without a valid environmental clearance order from it. It stated that no clearance was obtained

by the company regarding ‘petrochemical based processing’ in the schedule to the EIA notification,


In the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, after the first phase of lockdown ended on April 14, 2020, the

company also managed to gain permission for functioning citing that it was an “essential” industry. The

South-Korean company had managed to obtain a No Objection Certficate (NOC) even as the first phase

of the COVID-19 lockdown ended. 

By no stretch of the imagination can a plastics manufacturing unit like LG Polymers be categorised as “

essential”. This has clearly happened in collusion with senior government officials. The issues around

the environmental clearance and the subsequent events around the lockdown makes it amply clear that

this can’t be termed as an accident but constitutes criminal negligence by the company which out to

maximise profits has bypassed all safety norms. Moreover, such an industrial disaster coupled with the

ongoing pandemic can have  far reaching dangerous consequences. 

Radical Socialist also notes, and urges all socialist, working class, and ecologically conscious people and

organisations to undertand that the Modi government, right from 2014, has been committed to

overturning environmentally sound policies. As with other issues like centralisation of powers and

overturning labour laws, it is using the current crisis to push aggressively for its eco-destructive policies,

in the name of development/economic revival. This has to be combatted not merely in this case, but in all

cases. The LG Polymers disaster is a warning that Indian capitalism and the Modi regime cannot be

trusted at all in this matter, and only continuous resistance can ensure any positive development.

Radical Socialist demands that:

  • The directors of LG Polymers be arrested for criminal negligence and flouting environmental and safety
  • norms.
  • The officials colluding with the company and easing environmental and safety norms should be booked.
  • All safety precautions must be taken before reopening plants dealing with chemical and hazardous
  • materials.
  • All victims of this disaster must be adequately compensated.
  • The local environment, atmosphere and groundwater sources must be cleaned and purified.
  • Violation of safety norms in industries must be recognised as a criminal offence.  
  • Efforts must be made to shift from such polluting industries to environment friendly ones. 

May 8, 2020

Class and Race Inequality, Health, and COVID-19


by K Mann

The demographic data collected and reported in the media for sickness and mortality rates due to COVID-19 has focused on age and to a certain extent gender. While mass hardship from unemployment has been widely reported, we have heard little about sickness or mortality rates by class or race for the coronavirus. There is nonetheless, clear evidence that class and race, and health and disease in general are closely linked. It is very likely therefore that sickness, recovery, and mortality rates for the Coronavirus pandemic will closely mirror class divides within countries and between rich and poor countries. Individual and household incomes, which reflects the class structure in a general way will be a key factor in how different classes experience the pandemic and its aftermath. Workers and the poor and people of color will likely suffer at greater rates than more privileged class and racial groups.

Sociologists, social epidemiologists and other researchers have long noted the close connections between class, race, and health. However, the two cases for which most data have been reported on COVID-19, China and Italy, gives us little guide to class or race in the current crisis because data on incomes or other measures of class have either not been collected or not have been released, and both are countries without the type of stratified racial structure as the US. While the virus spreads through human contact via close interaction with people and infected surfaces ignoring class distinctions, patterns of those who do become ill, their recovery rates and those who die will very likely be connected to social class. More research may very likely reveal a clear class divide in China and Italy. We can expect clear social epidemiological patterns along race as well as class lines in the US as the epidemic unfolds. We can see the connections between class structure and class inequality on the one hand, and health and illness rates on the other, by comparing data on income with data on measures of health such as infant mortality and life expectancy. These are general estimates in part because income is an imperfect measure of social class.

Increasing Class Divide

Over the last few decades, income inequality in the United States has sharply increased. While this has obviously created increasing hardship, especially for the lower levels of the eighty percent of the wage-earning population that experienced a reduction of their slice of the national income since the 1980s, the increasing gap between the top and the bottom income strata is itself a further aggravating factor in the degradation of quality of life measures such as those associated with health and illness. Sociologists like Richard Wilkinson argue that it is the degree of inequality in a society more than GDP that most determines measures of human well-being (Wilkinson, 1996; (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2008). Researchers often use the Gini coefficient to measure inequality across countries. It calculates income inequality on a scale of 0-1; a society with complete equality would have a score of 0.0, and one with complete inequality, that is, with all wealth going to top strata would score 1.0. The US currently scores .49, the greatest overall income inequality among the world’s global north countries (China scores .55, Italy scores .33).

Since the 1990s, the one to twenty percent has taken increasing percentages of total income and wealth in the US. This is due to tax breaks to upper income strata, declining rates of unionization, neo-liberal deregulation, and continued gains in labor productivity, almost all of which have accrued to capitalist profit rather than higher wages. At the same time, wages and salaries have stagnated for at least three fifths of the income earning population since at least the 1990s.

Income data collected by the federal government divides the wage-earning population into twenty percent segments, often referred to as the “fifths”, which show percentages of total income for each segment. Speaking generally, since the 1990s the percentage taken by the top 20% of wage earners has grown precipitously, the bottom two have shrunk, and the middle has stagnated. Workers can roughly be said to occupy the first three fifths of the income ladder. The lowest fifth received 4.3% of all total income in 1980 and 3.6% in 2000. The Occupy Wall street movement called attention to class inequality by focusing on the 1%. The 1% have indeed gobbled an increasingly huge percent of income-17% and wealth, 34% in recent years. But the top ten and top twenty percent have increased their share of wages wealth as well. The top fifth took 43.7 % of all salary and wages paid in 1980. By 2000, their share increased to 49.6%, and by 2010 slightly more to just over 51%. At that point the most substantial gains went to the top one percent.

Let’s take a quick look at the bottom strata of the income hierarchy, those occupying the bottom fifth, especially its lowest earning levels. Poverty is calculated by the U.S. government on the basis of food and other living costs in relation to income (a very faulty formula that vastly underestimates true food and living costs). Currently, the poverty line is around $25,000 for a family of four. The official poverty rate in the US is currently around 12%, or about 36 million people. A more reasonable estimate would be around 25-30% (25% would represent 88.5 million people). Many of these are children or retired people who would not be in the labor force. There are also millions barely above the poverty line whose actual life conditions resemble those under the poverty line, but yet who do not count as such in government statistics and do not qualify for public assistance. For those that do qualify, assistance payments have been slashed by successive waves of “welfare reform” from Clinton’s deep cuts in the 1990s to the latest round of cuts announced by the Trump government just before the pandemic hit the US. Among the working age poor are long term or intermittently unemployed workers, while many others are low wage workers in fast food or retail, members of the informal economy, or “gig” workers. Many of these low-wage workers earn less than the poverty line and have no sick days, pension, or health insurance. Although Obama care added millions to the ranks of the uninsured around 20 million remained uninsured.

Class and Health

Against the backdrop of this quick look at the U.S. class structure, we can take a look at health data in relation to class. Overall, the middle and upper-class self-report good and excellent health in far greater percentages than lower income strata. According to a report by the Center for Society and Health, “(p)oor adults are almost five times as likely to report being in fair or poor health as adults with family incomes at or above 400 percent of the federal poverty level . . . and they are more than three times as likely to have activity limitations due to chronic illness . . .Low-income American adults also have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic disorders than wealthier Americans (Woolf et al, 2015).

Health in a society can be measured by looking at several factors such as infant mortality, life expectancy, obesity rates, and more, not to mention multiple mental health factors. Here we take a brief look at two of these, infant mortality rates, and life expectancy, (both of which correlate with many other factors). Studies published as early as 1901 in York, England showed clear patterns linking class distinctions, living conditions, and infant mortality. A study conducted in York, England that collected data on infant mortality rates from three distinct working-class populations. The three groups differed according to living conditions and income with the poorest living in the most cramped and crowded conditions.

The infant mortality rate was highest at 247 per 1,000 live births in the poorest areas, 184 per 1,000, and in the highest, 173. The study noted that the infant mortality rate among servants living in the cleanest and least crowded neighborhoods and homes was 94. Research on 21st century populations reveals the same correlations. According to a a study published in 2001, “In England and Wales infant mortality in 2000 was 3.7 per 1,000 among infants born to fathers in the top social class and 8.1 among those born into the bottom class. Among single mothers, the rate was 7.6. . . ” (National Statistics, 2001).

Life expectancy is also a prime measure of overall health in a population. Globally, the average life expectancy is 72 years according to the World Health Organization (WHO.) All of the countries with the longest life expectancies are in the global north with Japan and Hong Kong at the top with 84 plus, while all of the countries with the shortest are in the global south. Average life expectancy in the Central African Republic is 52.8 years.

In the US,” (a)mong men born in 1960, those in the top income quintile could expect to live 12.7 years longer than men in the bottom income quintile” according to a report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (Isaacs and Choudary,2017). All of this suggests that in general (individual exceptions aside), the poorer one is, the worse health they can expect; while, the richer one is, the better health they can expect. There is even evidence that the top half of the one percent have better health than the bottom half of the one percent.

Race and Health

Race also correlates closely with health and disease but less so than class. African Americans have much lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates than whites. Overall life expectancy in the US is around 78 years. Most studies find a 4-5-year gap between whites and blacks in general. Black men live around nine years less on the average than white men. In the US, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the infant mortality rate (percentage) (measured as the number of infants who do not survive until their first birthdays), for African Americans is 11.4%, while the rate for whites was 4.9%.

Part of the poor health picture of communities of color reflects the overlap of race and class among blacks, Latinx, Asians, and Native people, all of whom are overwhelmingly working class and overrepresented in the ranks of the poor. Blacks and Latinx according to standard data collection are three times more likely to live in poverty than whites (the poverty rate for blacks and Latinx has been around 25% for most of the past few years, as opposed to 8% for whites). Blacks have far higher diabetes rates than whites, and diabetes puts one at a distinct risk for the coronavirus. Research has shown that the connection between race and health is weaker than the relationship between class and health. In other words, “. . . higher-income blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans have better health than members of their groups with less income, and this income gradient appears to be more strongly tied to health than their race or ethnicity. (Urban Institute,2015).

The high incarceration rates among African Americans will also result in higher infection and mortality rates in the black community since prisons are hotbeds of communicable disease transmission and prison hospitals are much less equipped to handle a sudden influx of patients. The myriad ways that people of color experience cultural racism in their interactions with health care workers at all levels including with physicians will continue to aggravate conditions for people of color during this crisis. And, all of the problems associated with poverty, malnutrition, and inequality will likely be magnified in unsanitary, closely packed Immigrant detention centers.

Class, Race, and COVID-19

The particularities of coronavirus will accentuate class and racial differences. For example, although people of all classes use public transportation in big urban centers, working people are more likely in some areas to take public transportation and less likely to have the option of driving their own cars, making them more vulnerable to infection. The automobile ownership rate per household in Milwaukee’s poor black neighborhoods for example, is 20-30%, while it is 90% in the white and wealthier areas. An article in the March 30 New York Times suggested that the use of long-distance public transportation that people in sprawling Detroit use to get from crowded neighborhoods to work may be factor in the sudden spike in coronavirus infections in that heavily black, working class, and poor city. Drive-up testing will be less effective in cities and counties where larger shares of the population do not have access to vehicles.

Data on the relationship between class, occupation, and the ability to self-isolate and therefore stay safe, during the pandemic is already being assembled. Information on fifteen million smart phone holders’ movements reported in the New York Times online edition on April 3, shows a clear occupational and class divide (the New York Times article did not discuss sampling issues). “(A)cross America, many lower-income workers continue to move around, while those who make more money are staying home and limiting their exposure to the Coronavirus”. For example, “The wealthiest people, those in the top 10 percent of income, however, have limited their movement more than those in the bottom 10 percent of the same metro areas.”

According to a study by the Data Center, a research group in southeastern Louisiana, “(i)ncome and poverty measures can indicate the extent to which a community may be able to successfully adhere to COVID-19 mitigation measures (such as “stay at home” and “quarantine family members who are sick”). (Data Center, March 25, 2020).” Allison Plyer, The Data Center’s chief demographer told the New Orleans Sun Herald (April 3, 2020) that “(w)hen people live in poverty, they live in much closer quarters, with potentially four people in a one-bedroom house,” said “That means it’s very hard to quarantine. A major way the virus is spread is among family members.” On the other hand, middle-class white-collar workers on the other hand, often live in larger living spaces. During the 1990s, newly built home size jumped from 1,800 feet to 2,400 feet, giving more room to quarantine a sick household member (Frank, 2015). These homes were most likely bought by those in the upper reaches of the third and lower levels of the fourth fifth.

Being poor, a person of color, or both makes one more likely to be homeless, or to live in a homeless shelter in close quarters. The vast and sudden unemployment and low wages, particularly in high rent areas, increase the likelihood that people will live in crowded living spaces making maintaining social distancing especially difficult. Living in close quarters during this stressful time is also putting women facing domestic violence at greater risk according to numerous sources that have documented a surge in violence against women and LGBTQ people specifically connected to the COVID-19 crisis (Guardian, April 3, 2020). https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/03/coronavirus-quarantine-abuse-domestic-violence.

Likewise, blue collar workers often work in closer quarters than white collar workers (some “pink collar” jobs in jobs gender-typed occupations such as secretarial work have also been moved to remote, while others such as house cleaning work, have not). In the current situation large swaths of the work performed by white collar employees has moved to online in comfortable homes (highly paid physicians working with Coronavirus patients are an exception), while working class and most people of color work in blue color jobs that can’t be performed at home, which has led to unemployment for some and the prospect of working under dangerous conditions for others.

The digital divide puts many poorer and rural working people and people of color without access to internet or quality internet or computers, smart phones, tablets, etc. in danger of not receiving the best and most up to date health related information. It also compromises their ability to follow school work that has now been shifted to a remote online format, which will further aggravate educational inequalities along class and race lines. Twelve percent of all US households lack internet access according to the US census. Only 61% of all households in New Orleans, a city with an overall poverty rate of 23.8% (2018), and one of the worst hit by COVID-19 have broad band. Twenty percent have no internet connection whatsoever (Data Center, 2020).

According to the Data Center in Louisiana, early studies of morbidity rates in Wuhan, China “have identified high blood pressure, diabetes, . . . coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD–often associated with smoking), chronic kidney disease, and cancer as pre-existing health conditions that may increase the likelihood of severe outcomes for people who get infected with COVID-19” (Data Center, 2020; Yang, 2020). African Americans, and to various extents low income people of all races, suffer from these. Approximately, one third of all African Americans in Detroit suffer from asthma and diabetes.

Education, which overlaps with class, though it is a somewhat independent factor in health, is another fault line of health and social inequality linked to class. Currently, 12% of the US population does not have a high school diploma and 65% do not have a college degree. While 32% of white adults have a college degree, as opposed to only sixteen percent of blacks and nine percent of Latinx.

Poverty, however measured, is usually accompanied by malnutrition which in turn has a negative effect on many if not all measures of health. It certainly affects infant mortality and ultimately life expectancy. Malnutrition, with its connection to class and race inequality could very well be a significant factor regarding Coronavirus. Even some of the guidelines for who to prioritize in case of ventilator shortages will reflect class and race inequalities. An article published on CNN online on March 27, reported on a letter that held that “patients with severe heart, lung, kidney or liver failure, severe trauma or burns, or terminal cancers may be ineligible for a ventilator or ICU care. These patients will instead receive “pain control and comfort measures.” These conditions are far more prevalent in lower income strata and communities of color.

Access to Health Care

The United States is the only country of the global north without a universal health care system.

In the US the poor and near poor are most likely not insured as most people in the US receive health insurance at workplaces with over 250 employees, and workers of color are more likely to work in smaller businesses that do not offer insurance. Theoretically, unemployed, underemployed, and workers working in small businesses exempt from the ACA would qualify for Medicaid, but many are excluded in part because Medicaid has been cut and Republican governors have refused federal offers to expand it.

Since lack of regular access to health care compromises overall health and likely weakens the immune system, layers of the population without regular access to health care can be expected to be more susceptible to getting sick from the virus and to experience its worst effects.

Restricted access to health care would seem therefore to be a major reason for health inequalities along class lines, and certainly plays a big part in class and health disparities. However, sharp health inequalities exist in other highly stratified capitalist countries of the global north, all of whom have some sort of universal health system. It was recently reported In England, a country with universal health care and GINI index lower than the US ( 35 as opposed to the United States’s .49) but still substantial, that the high-income strata in England live ten years longer than working people and the poor. The reasons for this are multiple and cannot all be analyzed here, but the English example points to the great depth and breadth of the destructive nature of and deep unfairness of class inequality.

The lack of a universal health care system in the US is both an expression of the great class inequality in the United States and a cause for the poorer health of the working class and poor. But, the example of England with its ten-year life expectancy gap from rich to poor attests to the depth of inequality in the sharply stratified societies of contemporary neo-capitalism. All of this means that being poor, a person of color, and/or a wage earner is an occupational health hazard in “normal” times, and even worse in the current crisis, a deep indictment of neo-liberal capitalist society. The much-touted high-quality Italian health care system had been subject to neo-liberal style cuts to public health for years in ways that badly aggravated the COVID-19 crisis.

According to a recent article on the crisis in Italy:

Our health care system was ravaged by a decade of funding and provision cuts, leaving it a shadow of its former self. 37 billion euros were cut and more than 70,000 beds vanished into thin air. ICU beds amount today to just 5,090, while the Ministry of Health states 2,500 more ICU beds are needed to tackle the crisis. The beds to population ratio is currently 3.6/1000, down from 5.8/1000 in 1998. . . .

Last but not least here, as neoliberal cuts were being implemented, the system was increasingly fragmented into regional management, breaking up state management and hampering national funding system. This resulted in economically stronger areas getting more resources while weaker areas fell behind. Worse, in recent years, public financial support has flowed into a growing private health care system. Thus, the Italian healthcare system was not well equipped to respond to the crisis when it hit. Even after all this, the Italian health system’s greatest strength lies in still being a single-payer system… (Zecca “Covid-19 opens up a new political period in Italy”).

Similar deep budget cuts to public health systems have also happened in Britain, France and elsewhere in previously social democratic “cradle to grave” welfare states that are now overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients.

The deadly combination of deep social inequalities, structural health care inequality, and neo-liberal cuts to the health care systems in the richest countries of the global north that the COVID-19 epidemic has revealed, powerfully underlines the necessity and timeliness of the central points of Bernie Sander’s program in his presidential campaign: universal health care and a redistribution of wealth and income through progressive taxation of the 1, 10, and 20%. His proposal for free college education is also essential because as has been suggested here education is also closely linked to health.

While a social democratic program would address the twin problems of income inequality and lack of a universal health care system, the tight connections between class inequality and health outlined here show that it is the existence of class divisions and therefore class society itself that inevitably denies the majority of society the means to healthy lives. The class inequalities that the COVID-19 crisis will expose means that only the elimination of penury and the drastic shrinking of social inequality, conditions which can only occur under socialism, can provide safe and healthy lives for all of the planet’s peoples.

8 April 2020

(Source News Politics.


Data Center. 2020. “Demographics of New Orleans and early COVID-19 Hot Spots in the U.S.”

Frank, Robert H. 2015. Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and it Poisonous Consequences. New York: New Press.

Isaacs, Katelin, and Choudary, Sharmila. 2017. “The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: Recent Evidence and Implications for the Social Security Retirement Age.” Urban Institute.

National Statistics, (Winter 2001) “Infant and Perinatal Mortality by Social and Biological Factors, 2000,” Health Statistics Quarterly.

Rowntree, B.S. 2001. “Poverty: A Study of Town Life (1901),” in Poverty, Inequality, and Health in Britain, 1800–2000: A Reader , ed. G. Davey Smith, D. Dorling, and M. Shaw (Bristol, England: Policy Press), 97–106.

R.G. Wilkinson , Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality (London: Routledge, 1996 ).

—– Wilkinson, Richard and Pickett, Kate. 2008. “Income Inequality and Socioeconomic Gradients in Mortality”. American Journal of Public Health. 2008 April; 98(4): 699–704.

Woolf, Steven H., Aron, l., Dubay, L., Simon, S., Zimmerman, E., Luk, K. April, 2015. “How Are Income and Wealth Linked to Health and Longevity?” Center on Society and Health.

Woolf, Steven H., Aron, l., Dubay, L., Simon, S., Zimmerman, E., Luk, K. April, 2015. “How Are Income and Wealth Linked to Health and Longevity?” Center on Society and Health.

Yang, J., Zheng, Y., Gou, X., Pu, K., Chen, Z., Guo, Q., … & Zhou, Y. (2020). “Prevalence of comorbidities in the novel Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Zecca, Antonello. 2020. “COVID 19 Opens up a New Political Period in Italy”.


From International Viewpoint

Caste Overlordship and the Problem of the Indian Revolution

 By Murzban Jal

Murzban Jal has been a regular contributor to this website. We publish below an article by him, hoping it will lead to more discussions. -- Administrator, Radical Socialist Website 

We revolt because it is impossible to breathe, in more than one sense of the term.


Frantz Fanon.





Since the idea of the Asiatic mode of production and the social formations embedded thereon was not taken seriously in twentieth century Marxism, especially in India, the understanding of Marxism was predicated on a Eurocentric and Stalinist theoretical problematic that was itself completely alien to Marx’s original understanding of revolutions in Asia in  general and India in particular. This led to a teleological and unilinear understanding of history where history was seen as a march-past from primitive communism via slave society, feudalism and capitalism, and, as if, waiting for socialism to automatically evolve as if metaphysically and independent of revolutionary action. While at the theoretical sense it meant that the Indian revolution had to be predicated on the revolutions in advanced capitalist nations, or at best usher in the bourgeois national revolution; in the practical sense it meant that Moscow and Beijing would throw their shadows on the Indian revolution. The communist revolution would be totally absent from this revisionist framework.

In this colonial Eurocentric view of history and society, the liberal democrats led by Nehru opted for a reformed type of capitalism at the time of independence governed by parliamentary democracy, while the Established Left was by and large anchored in the bourgeois parliamentary system, except twice when it was swayed by revolutionary action as seen in the Telengana movement (1946-51) followed by the Naxalbari movement from the late 1960s onwards.

And when postmodernism started showing its influence in India, the Established Left in the deconstructionist name of différance, let caste, feminism and ecology in their movement. What happened was that the Established Left moved in from one mess (Stalinism and Maoism) to another (postmodernism). And then suddenly différance came onto the scene of Indian politics, but not as caste, feminism and ecology, but as fascism. The Stalinist Left was left trembling, not knowing what to do. It is then they thought that the ghosts of Nehru and Gandhi would serve better to fight fascism than the specters of Stalin and Mao. But little would they know that ghosts are best understood as mere ghosts and the time to bury them was of extreme necessity.

Earlier the Established Left had two Overlords—Stalin and Mao. Now they are joined by many, many more. Again little would they realize that while their Overlords would appear as mere ghosts, the time for the real Overlord has come. Fascism is now no mere tale for the Established Left to narrate. It is reality, terrible and brute reality.



 Where are we Heading?


“Shame”, so the young Marx once wrote to his friend Arnold Ruge, is “a revolution in itself”.[1] The impossibility of breathing that Frantz Fanon said is also another kind of revolution. In fact one may ask: “If in class divided societies, breathing is really impossible, then how come the anti-caste, anti-class revolution is not hitherto successful in India? Why has fascism come and why does it quite oft speak in the name of Gandhi?”

            And with global capitalism tightening its grip over the entire globe, where it creates a world after its own ugly and distorted image; racism, casteism, the politics of primordial nativism and terrorism become the new commodities for sale in the global market. And in this production of these new commodities, we need another form of breathing. In this sense, to quote a contemporary Marxist-Humanist philosopher Peter Hudis: “Time seems to be moving backward in many respects, as xenophobic—as well as subtle but no less insidious—forms of racism seem to define the very shape of globalized capitalism in the twenty first century”.[2]

            It is in this sense that I say that reflections on caste and class are to be constituted in an understanding of history moving backwards. But if we are indeed moving backwards, “the question is, to what?”[3] Where are we heading? What future beckons us?

In an essay ‘In Defense of Leninism’ which was published in Economic & Political Weekly which I later added in my edited book Challenges for the Indian Left, I said that if according to Marx, great personages and facts appear in history as if twice, the first as tragedy the second as farce, then we must add that in neo-liberal capitalism history appears now also as joy since unbridled capitalism has put on the stage of world history the great revolutionaries: Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, etc. And if great personages do appear once more, then great events have also to occur with their appearance. If history appears as moving backwards, then the reversal is also now seen.

            And that is why I am saying that if history in the era of late imperialism in permanent crises is seen moving backwards, in the era of barbarism, its direct antithesis, socialism, cannot be left out from the scene of history. And this is because history moving backwards is an anomaly against history itself. Luxemburg’s great question, “socialism or barbarism”, now speaks out.  Unfortunately the dominant discourse is that of historical barbarism that now speaks. For if in the Western world, capitalism speaks through the language of racial and religious conflicts (as if the production of all other commodities it has exhausted), then in India it is through the discourse of caste and messianic religious that capitalism is able to speak. It is, as if, capitalism has totally lost its voice and needs to speak through the other. 

            Ironically both caste and religion as explicit public discourses found their voices in India only in the early 1990s with the political endorsing of the “end of socialism” theme by the Indian state. Socialism had to die for the Caste Overlord to speak its real language. The earlier Caste Overlord died who spoke the language of Nehruvain socialism, another Caste Overlord, now joined by many more lords and ladies came marching in this little scene of Indian history. And when caste did speak through the language of “justice” and “affirmative action” with the coming of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), it seemed that what Christophe Jafferlot calls a “silent revolution” did finally appear. But was this indeed the case? Would the BSP unleash a revolution of any sort, silent or otherwise? Would the dalit communities submerged beneath the hegemony of the upper caste elites under Congress rule be finally getting their own voice? Or would this be a mere inversion of Brahmanism to create nothing but an “inverted Brahmanism”? Would this silent revolution under the auspices of an “inverted Brahmanism” be nothing but a schizophrenic revolution that would lead to a complete counterrevolution? And would caste be the basis of this schizophrenic revolution turned counterrevolution?


What is Caste?


Since caste has been repeating finding its voice, mainly from parties like BSP and aided by centres of inclusion-exclusion (usually funded well by American universities and patronized by Congress politicians), one needs to out this question in the scientific perspective. Thus to the question: “What is caste?” I answer that caste is a form of enclosed community constituted in a concrete mode of production and sanctified by a concrete religious and political ideology and that it implies an essential cutting off people from one another.  It is this sense of essential clannishisness and an estrangement emerging thereon that an analysis of caste can take place. For a working dialectical materialist definition by caste I mean an enclosed, ossified and petrified class that is reified as a closed clan system with its parasitical bureaucratic system where humans lose their humanity. Let us see what Marx had to say about India appearing as:


Idyllic village communities, inoffensive though they may appear, had always been the solid foundation of Oriental Despotism, that they had restrained the human mind within the smallest compass, making it the unresisting tool of superstition, enslaving it beneath traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur and historical energies. We must not forget that the barbarian egotism which, concentrating on some miserable piece of land, had quietly witnessed the ruin of empires, the perpetuation of unspeakable cruelties, the massacre of the population of large towns, with no other consideration bestowed upon them than on natural events, itself the helpless prey of any aggressor who designed to notice it at all. We must not forget that this undignified, stagnatory, and vegetative life, that this passive sort of existence evoked on the one part, in contradistinction, wild, aimless, unbounded forces of destruction and rendered murder itself a religious rite in Hindustan. We must not forget that these little communities were contaminated by caste and slavery, that they subjugated man to external circumstances, that they transformed a self developing social state into never changing natural destiny, and thus brought about a brutalizing worship of nature, exhibiting its degradation in the fact that man, the sovereign of nature, fell down on his knees in adoration of Hanuman the monkey, and Sabbala, the cow.[4]


In the first volume of Capital this is what we see:




Manufacture, in fact, produces the skill of the detailed labourer by reproducing, and systematically driving to an extreme within the workshop, the naturally developed differentiation of trades which it found ready to hand in society at large. On the other hand, the conversion of fractional work into the life-calling of one man, corresponds to the tendency shown by earlier societies, to make trades hereditary; either to petrify them into castes, or whenever definite historical conditions beget in the individual a tendency to vary in a manner incompatible with the nature of castes, to ossify them into guilds. Castes and guilds arise from the action of the same natural law, that regulates the differentiation of plants and animals into species and varieties, except that, when a certain degree of development has been reached, the heredity of castes and the exclusiveness of guilds are ordained as a law of society.

“The muslins of Dakka in fineness, the calicoes and other piece goods of Coromandel in brilliant and durable colours, have never been surpassed. Yet they are produced without capital, machinery, division of labour, or any of those means which give such facilities to the manufacturing interest of Europe. The weaver is merely a detached individual, working a web when ordered of a customer, and with a loom of the rudest construction, consisting sometimes of a few branches or bars of wood, put roughly together. There is even no expedient for rolling up the warp; the loom must therefore be kept stretched to its full length, and becomes so inconveniently large, that it cannot be contained within the hut of the manufacturer, who is therefore compelled to ply his trade in the open air, where it is interrupted by every vicissitude of the weather.”

It is only the special skill accumulated from generation to generation, and transmitted from father to son, that gives to the Hindu, as it does to the spider, this proficiency. And yet the work of such a Hindu weaver is very complicated, compared with that of a manufacturing labourer.[5]


And a few pages later we have this:


Those small and extremely ancient Indian communities, some of which have continued down to this day, are based on possession in common of the land, on the blending of agriculture and handicrafts, and on an unalterable division of labour, which serves, whenever a new community is started, as a plan and scheme ready cut and dried. Occupying areas of from 100 up to several thousand acres, each forms a compact whole producing all it requires. The chief part of the products is destined for direct use by the community itself, and does not take the form of a commodity. Hence, production here is independent of that division of labour brought about, in Indian society as a whole, by means of the exchange of commodities. It is the surplus alone that becomes a commodity, and a portion of even that, not until it has reached the hands of the State, into whose hands from time immemorial a certain quantity of these products has found its way in the shape of rent in kind. The constitution of these communities varies in different parts of India. In those of the simplest form, the land is tilled in common, and the produce divided among the members. At the same time, spinning and weaving are carried on in each family as subsidiary industries. Side by side with the masses thus occupied with one and the same work, we find the “chief inhabitant,” who is judge, police, and tax-gatherer in one; the book-keeper, who keeps the accounts of the tillage and registers everything relating thereto; another official, who prosecutes criminals, protects strangers travelling through and escorts them to the next village; the boundary man, who guards the boundaries against neighbouring communities; the water-overseer, who distributes the water from the common tanks for irrigation; the Brahmin, who conducts the religious services; the schoolmaster, who on the sand teaches the children reading and writing; the calendar-Brahmin, or astrologer, who makes known the lucky or unlucky days for seed-time and harvest, and for every other kind of agricultural work; a smith and a carpenter, who make and repair all the agricultural implements; the potter, who makes all the pottery of the village; the barber, the washerman, who washes clothes, the silversmith, here and there the poet, who in some communities replaces the silversmith, in others the schoolmaster. This dozen of individuals is maintained at the expense of the whole community. If the population increases, a new community is founded, on the pattern of the old one, on unoccupied land. The whole mechanism discloses a systematic division of labour; but a division like that in manufactures is impossible, since the smith and the carpenter, &c., find an unchanging market, and at the most there occur, according to the sizes of the villages, two or three of each, instead of one. The law that regulates the division of labour in the community acts with the irresistible authority of a law of Nature, at the same time that each individual artificer, the smith, the carpenter, and so on, conducts in his workshop all the operations of his handicraft in the traditional way, but independently, and without recognising any authority over him. The simplicity of the organisation for production in these self-sufficing communities that constantly reproduce themselves in the same form, and when accidentally destroyed, spring up again on the spot and with the same name—this simplicity supplies the key to the secret of the unchangeableness of Asiatic societies, an unchangeableness in such striking contrast with the constant dissolution and refounding of Asiatic States, and the never-ceasing changes of dynasty. The structure of the economic elements of society remains untouched by the storm-clouds of the political sky.[6]


One should understand that to have a scientific understanding of caste on should find a material referent for the same. To talk of the material referent is of great importance, since parties that propagate alleged anti-elitist politics (like the BSP) and the ideology that speaks in the name of Ambedkar (like the many factions of the RPI in Maharashtra) not only do not want to talk of the material referent, but choose to be totally blind to this very important factor.

And this material referent is the mode of production—to be precise the Indic variation of the Asiatic mode of production, a mode that did not exist in some exotic past, but which through its numerous mutations, yet exists. What we shall do is take the above two renderings and then go back to ‘The British Rule in India’ where Marx locates caste as “semi-barbarian, semi-civilized communities”[7] where these caste-communities are seen manifesting themselves as clan systems which creates the structures of extreme hierarchy and the ideology of rank worship. Rank worship is inherently related to the totem of purity and the taboo of pollution.  If purity and pollution are its ritualitsic superstructure then economic and cultural stagnation are its two main pillars. One follows Ambedkar in outlining the two principles of graded inequality and division of labourers as central to the mechanism of caste. In the principle of graded inequality various labouring-subaltern castes are unable to recognize their exploiter, but are themselves graded within themselves unequally. And in the principle of division of labourers, there is a marked internal division based on the ideology of caste-hierarchy. While the Left has almost not touched these it is first the liberals that saw caste as a progressive structure—Gandhi was the chief proponent of this worldview. Not only did they recognize this fact, they perfected this. And this is precisely why Ambedkar saw the Congress as the most reactionary party which perfected these principles of graded inequality and division of labourers.  But is this is the case, if Ambedkar thought that the Congress was the party of the Indian counterrevolution, then why is the Established Left not going hammer and tongs after it? 

Further, what happens with caste and its fetish of purity and ranking is that racism also comes in. As racism, albeit of the South Asian variety, the upper castes are not merely “understood” as being of higher biological stock and the lower ones considered as inferior, but actually “cultivated” as inferior. When I am talking of casteism as a form of South Asian racism, I am also calling this “schizophrenic racism” where ranking in terms of “high” and “low”, “pure” and “impure” form its ontological basis. The tragic element is that even the lower castes imitate this model and imagine that they belong to a superior stock. For a certain type of Indian politics, this idea of caste as race forms the leitmotiv of its fascist politics. Both V.D. Savarkar and M.S. Golwalkar based their politics on the idea of race and racial superiority. But this not mean that Gandhi and Nehru were free from this blame. For then too this same idea was sketched deep in their ideological cranium. 

The third part of caste, I outline as “neurosis-psychosis”. I here claim that caste generates essentially a form of mental illness which creates cultural and political schizophrenia. This form of cultural illness and the ideological superstructure which caste creates is unable to generate critical-scientific thinking and a democratic culture. The main thing that this new form of cultural illness does is that it breeds the contempt of other social groups. The creation of authoritarian fascist politics is an essential part of neurosis-psychosis. But this form of contempt and also this form of neurosis-psychosis is also an essential part of Indian liberalism.

It is here imperative to understand that Marx’s idea of the “estranged mind” from Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Georg Lukács’ “reification of consciousness” from his History and Class Consciousness, R.D. Laing’s idea of the “divided self” and Theodor Adorno’s “general regression of thinking” are able to articulate caste as “neurosis-psychosis” along with Marx’s theory of alienation.   What I am saying is that the idea of the caste system as “a sort of equilibrium, resulting from a general repulsion and constitutional exclusiveness, resulting between all its members”[8] fits in Marx’s theory of alienation, while the idea of the “wild aimless, unbounded forces of destruction”[9], fits in the theory of “neurosis-psychosis”. One must understand this rather strange combination of class, racism (as schizophrenic racism) and neurosis-psychosis that has given rise to both liberalism of Gandhi and Indian fascism. What I am saying is that caste combines both the sites of the economic base and the political and ideological superstructure of the reified-estranged mind. That is why I have brought in Marx’s problematic of alienation, reification and fetishism that deals with this Indian form of capitalism in India where caste and its accompanying schizophrenia is not only preserved, but actively reproduced, albeit in modern, capitalistic forms.

It is in this perspective that I say that the Indian revolution has a very specific and particular task which cannot be reduced to the question of the New Democratic Revolution and other allied questions. One needs here going to a quote from Slavoj Žižek. According to Žižek (he is quoting Gilles Deleuze here): “If you’re trapped in the dream of the other, you’re fucked”.[10]  The problem is with the “caste question” we inevitably live in the dreams of the other. But it is not merely the other, but the Big Other which now literally f***s us all. Now who is this Big other that is f*****g us all.


The Big Other


“The tradition of all the dead generations”, so Marx once said, “weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.”[11] Probably no other nation can be burdened by its past as India. For understanding this, let us go once more to the good old Marx:


And just as when they seemed engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.[12]


It is this idea of “borrowed language” that we need to understand. We also need to understand what Marx meant by “conjuring up of the dead of world history”.[13] What I am saying is that caste—the unfortunate and terrible reality—appears in borrowed and conjured forms. Caste, or to be precise, Caste Overlordship as the Big Other, is both the ancient law giver and exploiter and also the appears as the modern bourgeois. But Caste Overlordship also has a habit of conjuring tales, the tales of “ahimsa” and “Ram Rajya” of “non-vegetarianism” and “cow protection”.

            About caste there are infinite tales: Just as snakes and elephants wander around in India and just as the sadhu takes his flute and presto climbs up the magical rope only to disappear, so too caste is a part of this exotic India. These tales are those perfected by post-Ambedkar-Ambedkarites (from the RPI and BSP to centres of inclusion-exclusion). Caste for them is something unique and exotic about India. Then are other tales: caste is a mere part of an archaic division of labour and just as modernity dissolves the archaic, so too caste will inevitably be dissolved. The second tale is of the liberal democrats and the Stalinists.  

            But caste is neither an exotic or liberal tale. It is real and appears not only as the ritualistic priest of days gone by, but realizes itself as the fascist state itself, the state takes the form of the Big Other. This Big Other, one should further note, is anti-Marxist. He assures us that caste is excellent, and if it is not excellent then it will most certainly be abolished one fine day. And the best way that caste would be both affirmed and negated is in the Gandhian conjuring way. Consider Gandhi:


The injunction against Sudras studying the Vedas is not altogether unjustified: a Sudra, in other words, a person without moral education, without sense, and without knowledge would completely misread the Shastras.[14]


It is this nasty perspective that we mention what Marx said:


A ship of fools can be perhaps be allowed to drift before the wind for a good while; but it will still drift before the wind for a good while; but it will still drift to its doom precisely because the fools refuse to believe it possible. This doom is the approaching revolution. [15]  


One can hope that the doom that Marx is talking of is the doom of the ruling classes. The ship of fools is comprised of the liberal democrats and the Stalinists. hey most certainly are going to crash on the rocks. Look at the ship of fools and see how they are drifting, without will, without plan for action. It is the liberal democrats who are without double going to crash, would they will let the entire nation crash, the proletariat included.  And they would not crash in the revolution, but the counterrevolution. The leader of the Indian liberal democrats is not Nehru, but Gandhi. It is Gandhi. And he is steering the ship of fools. 

In this case why has the nation been taught to worship Gandhi when he himself absolutely and unconditionally justifies the caste system and its demonical hierarchy, and along with the caste system justifies capitalism and landlordship where he classifies the Indian peasants and workers—the Sudras—as people “without moral education”?  The terrain now has to change in the understanding the Indian revolution. This terrain is not of class conflict in the purely West European manner, class conflict devoid of the terrors of the caste system. The terrain is of the Indic variation of the Asiatic mode of production with the caste mode of production forming its economic base. It is in this new perspective, that we see the figure of the Big Other very clearly who like the tradition of all the dead generations is weighing like a nightmare on the brain of the living. The figure is of Gandhi. And now Gandhi is wearing jackboots marching to the tune of Ram Rajya and marching with him are the cows and vegetarians of the world. If Marx said that workers of the world should unite, for Gandhi (not to forget the fascists) it is the cows and vegetarians who should unite.

No wonder that for Ambedkar, Gandhi was the biggest counterrevolutionary. But then is anyone listening?









[1]Karl Marx, ‘To Arnold Ruge, March 1843’, in Karl Marx. Early Writings, trans. Rodney Livingstone and Gregor Benton (London: Penguin Books, 1992), p. 200.

[2] Peter Hudis, Frantz Fanon. Philosopher of the Barricades (London: Pluto Press: 2015), p. 1.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Karl Marx, ‘The British Rule in India’, in Marx. Engels On Colonialism (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), p. 40-41.

[5] Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I trans. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1983), pp. 321-2

[6] Ibid., pp 337-9.

[7] Karl Marx, ‘The British Rule in India’, in Marx. Engels. On Colonialism, p. 40.

[8] Karl Marx, ‘The Future Results of the British Rule in India’, p. 81.

[9] Karl Marx, ‘The British Rule in India’, p.41.

[10] Slavoj Žižek, Event. A Philosophical Journey through a Concept (London: Melville House, 2014), p. 74.

[11] Karl Marx, ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte’, in Marx. Engels. Selected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), p. 96.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] M.K. Gandhi, The Bhagavad Gita (Mumbai: Jaico, 2017), p. 3.

[15] Karl Marx, ‘To Arnold Ruge, March 1843’, p. 200.


Statement of Feminists and Women’s Rights Organizations from the Global South and marginalized communities in the Global North

Women and Covid-19

Sunday 5 April 2020

The following statement has been endorsed by nearly 1160 individuals and women’s networks and organizations globally, from more than 100 countries, to demand States to adopt a feminist policy to address the extraordinary challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner that is consistent with human rights standards and principles.

This initiative was initiated by women from the Global South and marginalized communities in the Global North and was coordinated by the Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR).

Please fill out this form if you want to endorse this petition: http://tiny.cc/endorsenow

We, the undersigned organizations committed to feminist principles and women’s human rights, call on governments to recall and act in accordance with human rights standards in their response to COVID-19 and uphold the principles of equality and non-discrimination, centering the most marginalized people — women, children, elderly, people with disabilities, people with compromised health, rural people, unhoused people, institutionalized people, LGBT+ people, refugees, migrants,indigenous peoples, stateless people, human rights defenders, and people in conflict and war zones. Feminist policy recognizes and prioritizes the needs of the most vulnerable communities. Beyond the response to this pandemic, it is necessary for the development of peaceful, inclusive and prosperous communities within human rights-driven states.

It is critical that governments utilize a human rights and intersectional based approach to ensure that everyone has access to necessary information, support systems and resources during the current crisis. We have recognized nine key areas of focus to be considered in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. They are listed below with brief descriptions of potential challenges and recommendations that consider the lived experiences of people in vulnerable position — especially women and girls that endure a disproportionate impact due to their sex, gender, and sexual orientation — and steer policymakers toward solutions that do not exacerbate their vulnerabilities or magnify existing inequality and ensure their human rights.

These guidelines are not a replacement for the engagement of women and girls and other marginalized communities in decision-making, but a rationale for consultation and diversity in leadership.

Key Focus Areas for a Feminist Policy on COVID-19

Food security. In countries that depend on food imports, there are fears of closing borders and markets and the inability to access food. This concern is exacerbated for people experiencing poverty and in rural communities, especially women, who do not have easy access to city centers and major grocery stores and markets. This leads to people with the means purchasing large quantities of goods which limits availability for those with lower incomes who are not able to do the same and are likely to face shortages when they attempt to replenish their food supplies.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Increase — or introduce — food stamps and subsidies, both in quantity for those already receiving them and in expansion of access to include those who become more vulnerable due to current circumstances

Direct businesses to ration nonperishable food supply to control inventory and increase access for those who, due to their income levels, must purchase over a longer period of time

Send food supply to rural communities to be stored and distributed as needed to eliminate the delay in accessing supply in city centers and safeguard against shortages due to delays in shipping

Send food supply to people unable to leave their homes (e.g. disabled people living alone or in remote areas)

Healthcare. All countries expect a massive strain on their public health systems due to the spread of the virus, and this can lead to decreased maternal health and increased infant mortality rates. There is often lack of access to healthcare services and medical supplies in rural communities. The elderly, people with disabilities, and people with compromised or suppressed immune systems are at high risk, and may not have live-in support systems. The change in routine and spread of the virus can create or exacerbate mental health issues. This crisis has a disproportionate impact on women who form, according to the World Health Organization’s March 2019 Gender equity in the health workforce working paper, 70% of workers in the health and social sector, according to the World Health Organisation. It also disproportionately affects those who provide care for others.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Ensure the availability of sex-disaggragated data and gender analysis, including differentiated infection and mortality rates.

Increase availability and delivery of healthcare services and responders, medical supplies, and medications

Ensure women’s timely access to necessary and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services during the crisis, such as emergency contraception and safe abortion

Maintain an adequate stock of menstrual hygiene products at healthcare and community facilities

Train medical staff and frontline social workers to recognize signs of domestic violence and provide appropriate resources and services
Develop a database of high-risk people who live alone and establish a system and a network to maintain regular contact with and deliver supplies to them

Provide for the continued provision of health care services based on non-biased medical research and tests — unrelated to the virus — for women and girls

Implement systems to effectively meet mental health needs including accessible (e.g. sign language, captions) telephone/videocall hotlines, virtual support groups, emergency services, and delivery of medication
Support rehabilitation centers to remain open for people with disabilities and chronic illness

Direct all healthcare institutions to provide adequate health care services to people regardless of health insurance status, immigration status and affirm the rights of migrant people and stateless people — with regular and irregular status — and unhoused people to seek medical attention to be free from discrimination, detention, and deportation

Ensure health service providers and all frontline staff receive adequate training and have access to equipment to protect their own health and offer mental health support

Assess and meet the specific needs of women health service providers
The closure of schools is necessary for the protection of children, families, and communities and will help to flatten the curve so that the peak infection rate stays manageable. It, however, presents a major disruption in education and the routine to which children are accustomed. In many cases, children who depend on the school lunch program will face food insecurity. They also become more vulnerable to violence in their homes and communities which can go undetected due to no contact. School closures also have a disproportionate burden on women who traditionally undertake a role as caregivers.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Direct educational institutions to prepare review and assignment packages for children to keep them academically engaged and prevent setbacks and provide guidance for parents on the use of the material

Create educational radio programming appropriate for school-age children
Subsidize childcare for families unable to make alternate arrangements for their children

Expand free internet access to increase access to online educational platforms and material and enable children to participate in virtual and disability-accessible classroom sessions where available

Provide laptops for children who need them in order to participate in on-line education

Adopt measures to ensure they continue receiving food by making sure it can be delivered or collected

Provide extra financial and mental health support for families caring for children with disabilities

Social inequality. These exist between men and women, citizens and migrants, people with regular and irregular status, people with and without disabilities, neurotypical and neuroatypical people, and other perceived dichotomies or non-binary differences as well as racial, ethnic, and religious groups. Existing vulnerabilities are further complicated by loss of income, increased stress, and unequal domestic responsibilities. Women and girls will likely have increased burdens of caregiving which will compete with (and possibly replace) their paid work or education. Vulnerable communities are put at further risk when laws are enacted, or other measures are introduced, that restrict their movement and assembly, particularly when they have less access to information or ability to process it.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Encourage the equitable sharing of domestic tasks in explicit terms and through allowances for time off and compensation for all workers

Provide increased access to sanitation and emergency shelter spaces for unhoused people

Implement protocol and train authorities on recognizing and engaging vulnerable populations, particularly where new laws are being enforced
Consult with civil society organizations the process of implementing legislation and policy

Ensure equal access to information, public health education and resources in multiple languages, including sign and indigenous peoples languages, accessible formats, and easy-to-read and plain languages

Water and sanitation. Everyone does not have access to clean running water.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Ensure infrastructure is in place for clean, potable water to be piped into homes and delivered to underserved areas

Cease all disconnections and waive all reconnection fees to provide everyone with clean, potable water

Bring immediate remedy to issues of unclean water

Build public handwashing stations in communities

Economic inequality. People are experiencing unemployment, underemployment, and loss of income due to the temporary closure of businesses, reduced hours, and limited sick leave, vacation, personal time off and stigmatization. This negatively impacts their ability to meet financial obligations, generates bigger debts, and makes it difficult for them to acquire necessary supplies. Due to closures and the need for social distancing, there is also lack of care options and ability to pay for care for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. This produces a labor shift from the paid or gig economy to unpaid economy as family care providers.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Implement moratoriums on evictions due to rental and mortgage arrears and deferrals of rental and mortgage payments for those affected, directly or indirectly, by the virus and for people belonging to vulnerable groups

Provide Universal Basic Income for those with lost income

Provide financial support to unhoused people, refugees, and women’s shelters

Provide additional financial aid to elderly people and people with disabilities
Expedite the distribution of benefits

Modify sick leave, parental and care leave, and personal time off policies
Direct businesses to invite employees to work remotely on the same financial conditions as agreed prior to pandemic

Distribute packages with necessities including soap, disinfectants, and hand sanitizer

Violence against women, domestic violence/Intimate partner violence (DV/IPV). Rates and severity of domestic violence/intimate partner violence against women, including sexual and reproductive violence, will likely surge as tension rises. Mobility restrictions (social distance, self-isolation, extreme lockdown, or quarantine) will also increase survivors’ vulnerability to abuse and need for protection services. (See Economic inequality.) Escape will be more difficult as the abusive partner will be at home all the time. Children face particular protection risks, including increased risks of abuse and/or being separated from their caregivers. Accessibility of protection services will decline if extreme lockdown is imposed as public resources are diverted. Women and girls fleeing violence and persecution will not be able to leave their countries of origin or enter asylum countries because of the closure of borders and travel restrictions.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Establish separate units within police departments and telephone hotlines to report domestic violence

Increase resourcing for nongovernmental organizations that respond to domestic violence and provide assistance — including shelter, counselling, and legal aid — to survivors, and promote those that remain open are available

Disseminate information about gender-based violence and publicize resources and services available

Direct designated public services, including shelters, to remain open and accessible

Ensure protection services implement programs that have emergency plans that include protocols to ensure safety for residents and clients

Develop a protocol for the care of women who may not be admitted due to exposure to the virus which includes safe quarantine and access to testing

Extend the duration of judicial precautionary measures/protection orders to cover the whole mandatory period of lockdown and quarantine

Make provisions for domestic violence survivors to attend court proceedings via accessible teleconference

Direct police departments to respond to all domestic violence reports and connect survivors with appropriate resources

Ensure women and girls and other people in vulnerable positions are not rejected at the border, have access to the territory and to asylum legal procedures. If needed, they will be given access to testing

Access to information. There is unequal access to reliable information, especially for those structurally discriminated against and belonging to marginalized communities. People will need to receive regular updates from national health authorities for the duration of this crisis.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Launch public campaigns to prevent and contain the spread of the virus
Consult and work with civil society in all initiatives to provide information to the public

Make information available to the public in plain language and accessible means, modes and formats, including internet, radio and text messages

Ensure people with disabilities have access to information through sign language, closed captions, and other appropriate means

Increase subsidies to nongovernmental organizations that will ensure messages translated and delivered through appropriate means to those who speak different languages or have specific needs

Build and deploy a task force to share information and resources with vulnerable people with specific focus on unhoused, people with disabilities, migrant, refugees, and neuroatypical people

Abuse of power. People in prisons, administrative migration centers, refugee camps, and people with disabilities in institutions and psychiatric facilities are at higher risk of contagion due to the confinement conditions. They can also become more vulnerable to abuse or neglect as a result of limited external oversight and restriction of visits. It is not uncommon for authorities to become overzealous in their practices related to enforcement of the law and introduction of new laws. During this crisis, vulnerable people, especially dissidents, are at a higher risk of having negative, potentially dangerous interactions with authorities.

In response to this challenge, we call on governments to:

Provide and implement restrictions in relation to COVID-19 in accordance with the law. Any restriction should be strictly necessary, proportionate and in the interest of legitimate objectives of general interest

Monitor restrictions taken in the public interest do not result in any gender-specific harm to women and girls who are already extremely vulnerable and at risk of being denied their basic human rights

Consult any changes in existing laws with human rights organizations and Ombudsperson/Human Rights Defenders

Encourage law enforcement officers to focus on increasing safety rather than arrests

Train law enforcement officers, care workers, and social workers to recognize vulnerabilities and make necessary adjustments in their approach and engagement

Adopt human rights-oriented protocols to reduce spreading of the virus in detention and confinement facilities

Strengthen external oversight and facilitate safe contact with relatives i.e. free telephone calls

Support civil society organizations and country Ombudsperson/Human Rights Defenders in monitoring the developments within those institutions on a regular basis

Commit to discontinuing emergency laws and powers once pandemic subsides and restore the check and balances mechanism

Signed by:

Networks and organizations

1. 4M Mentor Mothers Network

2. A Long Walk Home

3. ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality


5. Action pour l’Education et la Promotion de la Femme (AEPF-Tchad)

6. Activista Ghana

7. Adivasi Dalit Woman Civil Rights Forum

8. African Diaspora Women’s Network

9. African Disability Forum- ADF

10. African Women 4 Empowerment

11. African Women Leaders Forum



14. Akina Mama wa Afrika

15. Akshara Centre

16. Aliansi Remaja Independen Sulawesi Selatan

17. All India Progressive Women’s Association AIPWA

18. Alliances for Africa



21. Annie North Women’s Refugee and Domestic Violence Service

22. Arab Women Network for Parity and Solidarity

23. Arise Nigerian Woman Foundation

24. Arts for Women Indonesia

25. Artykuł 6 (Article 6 feminist disability collective)

26. Asamblea Feminista Plurinacional

27. Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)

28. Asociación Ciudadana ACCEDER

29. Associação brasileira de antropologia- Brazilian Anthropology Association

30. Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives Trust (AALI)

31. association Tunisienne des femmes démocrates

32. Associazione Dream Team Donne in Rete

33. Associazione Il Giardino dei Ciliegi

34. Associazione Maddalena

35. Associazione Orlando

36. Associazione Risorse Donna

37. Associazione Topnomastica femminile

38. Aswat Nissa

39. AtGender

40. ATHENA Network

41. Atria, institute on gender equality and women’s history

42. AWID

43. Awmr Italia Donne della Regione Mediterranea

44. Balance AC

45. Bangladesh Centre for Human Rights and Development (BCHRD)

46. Bangladesh Model Youth Parliament (Protiki Jubo Sangsahd)

47. Baobab Women’s Project CIC


49. Believe mental health care organisation

50. Berliński Kongres Kobiet

51. Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC)Nepal

52. Border Crit Institute

53. BraveHeart Initiative for Youth & Women

54. Breakthrough (India)

55. Breakthrough (USA)

56. Broadsheet, New Zealand’s Feminist Magazine

57. Campaign for Lead Free Water

58. Canadian Feminist Network

59. CARAM Asia

60. Catholics for Reproductive Health

61. CEDAW Committee of Trinidad and Tobago


63. Center for Building Resilient Communities

64. Center for gender and sexual and reproductive health, James P Grant school of public health

65. Center for Hunger-Free Communities

66. Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

67. Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines

68. Center for Women’s Global Leadership

69. Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, Suffolk University

70. Center Women and Modern World

71. Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy

72. Centre for Gender Justice

73. Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE)

74. Centro de Derechos de Mujeres

75. Centro de Mujeres ACCION YA

76. Centro di Women’s Studies Milly Villa - Università della Calabria


78. Centro Mujeres Latinas


80. Channel Foundation

81. CHIRAPAQ Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú


83. Closet de Sor Juana

84. Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR)


86. Colectiva Lésbica Feminista Irreversibles

87. Colectivo "Género y Teología para el Desarrollo"

88. Collettivo Anguane

89. Comisión de Antropología Feminista y de Género, Colegio de Etnólogos y Antropólogos Sociales A.C

90. Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres, CLADEM

91. Common Health

92. Community Care for Emergency Response and Rehabilitation

93. Community Healthcare Initiative

94. Comunicación, Intercambio y Desarrollo Humano en América Latina, Asociación Civil ( CIDHAL, A. C.)

95. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

96. Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights

97. Cooperativa Sociale Centro Donne Mantova

98. Coordinadora de la Mujer


100. Council of Indigenous Women of Lower Lands of Europe

101. Courageous people health and development lnitiative

102. CREA

103. Creativería Social, AC

104. DAWN Canada

105. Design Studio for Social Intervention

106. DESSI International

107. Development in Practice, Gender and Entrepreneurial Initiative (DIPGEI)

108. DIVA for Equality

109. Dorothy Njemanze Foundation

110. Dziewuchy Berlin

111. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

112. Emma organization for human development

113. EMPOWER Malaysia

114. End Violence Against Women Coalition (UK)

115. Enhancing Access to Health for Poverty reduction in Tanzania (EAHP Tanzania)

116. Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas ECMIA

117. Enlightenment and empowerment of northern women initiative

118. Equality Bahamas

119. Equipo Jurídico por los Derechos Humanos

120. Equipop

121. Etihad Peace Minorities Welfare Foundation

122. EuroMed Rights

123. European Roma Rights Centre (Brussels, Belgium)

124. FACICP Disability Plus

125. Families Planning Association of Puerto Rico (PROFAMILIAS)

126. Family Planning Association of Nepal

127. FAMM Indonesia

128. Federation for Women and Family Planning

129. Federation of Sexual and Gender Minoriites Nepal

130. Federazione Femminile Evangelica Valdese e Metodista

131. Female Safe Environments-Her Safe Place


133. Femini Berlin Polska

134. Feminist Alliance for Rights

135. Feminist Humanitarian Network

136. Feminist Policy Collective

137. Feminoteka Foundation

138. Femmes leadership et développement durable

139. FEMNET - African Women’s Development and Communication Network

140. Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM)

141. First Future Leadership

142. Flash Dynamic Concepts

143. Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres

144. Food Corporation of India Handling Workers Union

145. Food Sovereignty Alliance, India

146. For Violence-Free Family Coalition

147. Forum Against Oppression of Women

148. Forum against Sex Selection

149. Four Worlds Europe

150. Fund for Congolese Women

151. Fundación Arcoíris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual

152. Fundación Código Humano

153. Fundacion Estudio e Investigacion de mujer FEIM


155. Fundación Puntos de Encuentro

156. Fundacja "Inicjatywa Kobiet Aktywnych"

157. Fundacja Dziewuchy Dziewuchom

158. Furia vzw

159. GAMAG

160. Gamana Mahila Samuha

161. Gantala Press, Inc.

162. GAYa NUSANTARA Foundation

163. Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative(GERI)

164. Gender and Sociology Department, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences

165. Gender at Work

166. Gender Awareness Trust

167. Gender Equality,,Peace and Development Centre

168. GenDev Centre for Research and Innovation, India

169. Gimtrap AC

170. GirlHQ Foundation

171. Girls Voices Initiative

172. Girlupac

173. Global Alliance for Tax Justice

174. Global Fund for Children

175. Global Fund for Women

176. Global Justice Center

177. Global Rights for Women

178. Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation

179. Global Women’s Institute

180. Graduate Women International

181. Grandmothers Advocacy Network

182. Grupo de Estudos Feministas em Política e Educação (GIRA/UFBA)

183. Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres-GGM

184. Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights

185. Herstoire Collective

186. Hollaback! Czech

187. Hope for the Needy Association

188. Humanity in Action Poland

189. ICW - International Community of Women Living with HIV

190. Icw argentina

191. Identities Media

192. If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice

193. IMMAHACO Ladies COOPERATIVE Society 87 set

194. Inclusive Bangladesh

195. iNitiatives for Nigeria

196. Institute for Economic Justice

197. Institute for Gender and Development Studies-University of the West Indies

198. Institute for Young Women Development

199. Institute of Gender Studies, University of Guyana

200. Instituto de Estudos de Gênero da UFSC e NIGS UFSC

201. Instituto de Investigación y Estudios en Cultura de Derechos Humanos CULTURADH

202. Instituto de Transformación social de pr

203. Instituto de la Mujer

204. Instituto RIA

205. Interamerican Network of Women Shelters

206. International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD)

207. International Commission on Global Feminisms and Queer Politics (IUAES)

208. International WOmen’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific

209. International Women’s Rights Project

210. Ipas CAM

211. Istituto Comprensivo Statale "Don G. Russolillo"

212. Jaringan Muda Setara

213. Jaringan Perempuan Yogyakarta - Yogyakarta Women’s Network

214. Jordanian National Commission for Women

215. Journal of International Women’s Studies

216. Justice Institute Guyana

217. Kenya Female Advisory Organization

218. Kotha

219. L’union de l’action féministe

220. LABIA - A Queer Feminist LBT Collective

221. Latin American and Caribbean Womens Health Network

222. Le kassandre

223. Le Maestre Ignoranti

224. Lesbianas Independientes Feministas Socialistas - LIFS

225. LGBTI+ Gozo

226. Libera...Mente Donna ets

227. Liberian women Humanitarian Network

228. Life in Leggings: Caribbean Alliance Against Gender-based Violence

229. Lon-art Creative

230. LOOM

231. MADRE

232. Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM)

233. Malcolm X Center For Self Determination

234. Mama Na Mtoto Initiative(Mami)

235. Manifest Wolnej Polki

236. MAP Foundation

237. Marie Stopes International

238. McMaster University

239. Mesa Acción por el Aborto en Chile


241. Movimiento de Mujeres de Chinandega


243. MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians

244. Mt Shasta Goddess Temple

245. Mujer Y Salud en Uruguay-MYSU

246. Mujeres+Mujeres

247. Mulier

248. MUSAS Peru

249. NAPM

250. NAPOLINMENTE a.p.s.

251. Narasi Perempuan

252. Naripokkho

253. National Alliance Of Women Human Right Defender/Tarangini Foundation

254. National Alliance of Women’s Organisations

255. National Birth Equity Collaborative

256. National Forum Of Women With Disabilities

257. National Network For Immigrant And Refugee Rights

258. National Platform For The Rights Of The Disabled

259. NDH LLC

260. Nederlandse Vereniging Gender & Gezondheid

261. NEPEM - Center of feminist studies at Federal University of Minas Gerais

262. Network for Community Development

263. Nigerian Feminist Forum

264. Nigerian Professional Working Women Organization

265. Nobel Women’s Initiaitve

266. NoMore234NG

267. Non una di meno

268. O.A.B.I.: Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals

269. Observatorio de Géneroy Equidad

270. Odri Intersectional rights

271. Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology

272. ONG ESE:O

273. Organización Artemisas

274. Organization Name

275. Orikalankini

276. Our Generation For Inclusive Peace

277. OutRight International

278. Oxfam (various offices)

279. Oxford Human Rights Hub

280. Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition-Zimbabwe


Pastoralist Girls Initiative

Peasants Dragnet

Perempuan Mahardhika

Perhimpunan Pembela Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (PPMAN) – Indigenous Lawyers Association Archipelagos

Perkumpulan Lintas Feminist Jakarta / Jakarta Feminist Association

PES Women

Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance

Plan International

Por la Superación de la Mujer A.C.

Power in her story / Manila Feminista

Programa de Investigacion Feminista, CEIICH UNAM

Programa Género, Cuerpo y Sexualidad de la FHCE/UDELAR


Punto Género


Queer Women in Business + Allies

Race, Racism and the Law

Radha Paudel Foundation

Raising Voices

RALI – Reborn Athena Legal Initiative

Rassemblement Contre la Hogra et pour les Droits des Algeriennes :”RAHDA”

Rays of Hope Community Foundation

Red Chiapas por la Paridad Efectiva

Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres – REPEM

Red de la No Violencia contra las Mujeres-REDNOVI

Red de Mujeres contra la violencia

Red de Mujeres por una Opinión Pública con Perspectiva de Género en Campeche AC

Red Mexicana de ciencia tecnología y genero

Red Nacional de Refugios AC

Red Nacional Universitaria por la Equidad de Género en la Educación Superior

Red Thread

Rede Nao Cala USP – Network of professors against gender violence at the University of Sao Paulo

Remember Our Sisters Everywhere

Reporteros de investigación

Restless Development Nepal

Rutgers WPF Indonesia

Rutgers WPF Indonesia

Sacred Circle of Indigenous Women of Europe



Salamander Trust


Sanctus Initiative for Human Development and Values Sustainability (SIHDEVAS]N

Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project

Save Generations Organization

Sehjira Foundation

Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars

Shayisfuba feminist collective


Shifting the Power Coalition – Pacific

Shirakat – Partnership for Development

Shishu Aangina


Society for the Improvement of Rural People(SIRP)

Solidarite Des Jeunes Filles Pour L’education Et L’integration Socioprofessionnelle, Sojfep

Sonke Gender Justice

Soroptimist International


Spatium Libertas AC

Spinifex Press

Stop au Chat Noir

Studentato universitario San Giuseppe

Success Capital Organisation

Suppressed Histories Archives

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Tag a Life International (TaLI)

Tanzania Home Economics Association

Tarangini Foundation

Tata Institute of Social Sciences


The Center for Building Resilient Communities

The Citizens’News

The Gender Security Project

The Institute for Gender and Development Studies, RCO

The Queer Muslim Project

The Story Kitchen

The Well Project

Todos Ciudadanas, AC

Toponomastica femminile

Trannational Decolonial QTPOC

Transgenders Fiji Network

Transnational United Front against Fascism


Ukrainian Association for Research in Women’s History

Unchained At Last

Union Women Center Georgia

United African Diaspora

University of Namibia

US Human Rights Network

Vida Reavivida AC

Visible Impact



Wave – Women against violence Europe

WE-Change Jamaica

Welfare Rights Organization



Widows Rights International


Wokovu Way

Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center

Women Against Rape(WAR) Inc.

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression

Women Against Violence

Women and Girls of African Descent Caucus:Descendants of Enslaved Persons brought to the Americas During the Transatlantic Slave Trade Era

Women and Health Together For The Future (WHTF)

Women and Law in Southern Africa – Mozambique

Women Enabled International

Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (WEAN)

Women for a Change

Women for Peace and Gender Equality Initiative

Women for Peace and Unity Growth Initiative

Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways

Women Foundation of Nigeria WFN

Women Health Together for Future

Women in Distress Organisation

Women Liberty and Development Initiative

Women March Lampung

Women Transforming Cities International Society

Women Working Group ( WWG)

Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)

Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights

Women’s Human Rights Education Institute

women’s initiative “One of Us”

Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc. (WLB)

Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) Nepal

Women’s Resource and Advicacy Centre / WOMEN 2030

Women’s All Points Bulletin, WAPB

Women’s Probono Initiative(WPI)

Women’s rights and health project

World Pulse

Y Coalition

Young Feminist Europe

Youth Action Nepal

Youth Changers Kenya

Youth Development Center



Zamara Foundation

422. Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network

Individuals [1156]

Aanu’ Rotimi
Abigail Edem Hunu
Abimbola Junaid
Abiola Akiyode
Adewoye Eyitayo
Adjoa Aiyetoro
Adriana Bautista
Adriana Labardini Inzunza
Adriana Sanchez Zarate
Afina FZ
Agata W
Agnès Théry
Agnieszka Gados
Agnieszka Kotwasińska
Agnieszka Piskozub-Rynkiewicz
Agnieszka Skowronek
Agueda Hortencia Castro López
Aída Marín Acuapan
Ailynn Torres Santana
Ajita Rao Dalit Feminist
akiteng isabella
Alda Facio
Alejandra Gabriela Lio
Alejandra Isibasi
Aleksandra Lipczak
Alessandra Di Muzio
Alessandra Montanini
Alessandra Perrotta
Alexandra Abello Colak
Alexandria Murphy
Alice Vergnaghi
Alicja Molenda
Alimatul Qibtiyah
Alina Poland
Alina Potts
Alinne Castillo
Alissa Trotz
Allicia Rolle
Allison Burden
Alma Colin
Altagracia Balcacer
Amal Bint Nadia
Amalia Gamio
Amanda Lucia Garces
Amani Aruri
Amber Peterman
Amel osman
Amie Bishop
Amina Mama
Amita Pitre
Amrita Chhachhi
Ana A Chavez
Ana Gabriela de la Torre Ríos
Ana Joaquina Ruiz Guerra
Anastasia Kiki
Andrea Carlise
Andrea De La Barrera Montppellier
Andrea Quinones
Andrea Vremis
Angela Fogliato
Anindya Sinha
Anita Cheria
Ankit Khirwadkar
Ann Clendenin
Ann Wright
Anna Belli
Anna Davies-van Es
Anna J. Brown
Anna Maria Ribet Ratsimba
Anna Thieme
Anna-Klara Bratt
Annamaria Rivera
Anne E. Lacsamana
Anne Murray
Anne-christine d’Adesky
Annet van der M
Annette Mukiga
Annick Wibben
Annina Plummer
Anouk Guiné
Antonella Visintin
Anuj petter Rai
Anya Heise-von der Lippe
Anya Victoria
Ardra Manasi
Argentina Casanova
Asa David Chon
Asanda Benya
Asha Herten-Crabb
Assunta Martone
Ayisha Osori
Azza Ghanmi
Barbara Bonomi Romagnoli
Barbara Harrington
Barbara Jimenez
Barbara vantslot
Bartolacci Giovanni
Béatrice Rettig
Beatriz Cavazos Siller
Beatriz do Álamo Machado Costa
Beatriz Lacerda Ratton
Beatriz Zebadua Yanez
Begoña Dorronsoro
Bejaoui Amel
Belen Montanez
Beniamina Nefesh
Beretta Federico
Betsy Spaulding
Betty Edwards
Beverly Bucur
Bianca Pomeranzi
Bianca Wagner
Blanca Luévano
Blanca Saavedra
Bolatito Adeonojobi
Bonnie Britt
Bonnie Friedman
Bonnie Gorman RN
Bridget osakwe
Brigitte P Y
Britt Baatjes
Caitlin Shannon
Camilla Cracchiolo, RN
Carisma Tucker
Carla Pochini
Carli Paola
Carlos Idibouo
Carmen Chamorro
Carmen Rojas
Carolina de Olazarra
Caroline Pugh-Roberts
Carolyn Seaman
Caterina Marassi
Caterina Pizzimenti
Catherine Mue
Catherine Nyambura
Cecilia Luna
Cecilia Babb
Celina Romany
Chandra Talpade Mohanty
Charlotte Bunch
Charlotte Coleman
Cheryl Park
Chhaya Datar
Chiara Guida
Chiara Sacchet
Chiseche Mibenge
Christelle Bay Chongwain
Christen Dobson
Christine Shahin
Christine Silva
Cinzia Italia
Cissy Nalusiba
Claire M. Cohen
Clara Alemann
Claudia Angeletti
Claudia Giorleo
Claudia Herrmannsdorfer
Claudia Salinas
Claudia Stella
Claudia Thomas
Clelia Degli Esposti
Colleen Glynn
Consiglia De Coro
Cristiana Crisi
Cristina Fiordimela
Cristina Renaud
Cucu Saidah
Daillen Culver
Damairia Pakpahan
Daniela Fusari
Danielab It
Danielle Gibson
Danila Baldo
Danna Aduna
Danuta Radzik
Dapor Ni
Darrion Smith
David Gutiérrez Castañeda
David Kirimania
Davide Lano
De luna
Debbie Caysons
Deborah Holland
Denise Nepveux
Desari Strader
Desti Murdijana
Deviyani Dixit
Deyanira González de León
Diana Young
Diane Serre
Dinah Musindarwezo
Dini Ind
Dipika Ind
Dominique Bourque
Dora Bognandi
Dora Cardaci
Dorota Seweryn-Stawarz
Dorothy Njemanze
Dorsaf Zouari
Dosia Calderon-Maydon
Dudu Manuga
E. Vanessa Bethel
Ebi Emezue
Ebru Kongar
Edith Pineda Hernández
Eduardo Salazar
Elaine Gorman
Eleane Proo Méndez
Eleazer Aderibigbe
Elena Campedelli
Elena Estavillo
Elena Schnabl
Ellen J Ferranti,MD
Ellen K Foster
Elsa Gomez
Elsa Soussan
Elvira Risino
Emanuela Arena
Emanuela Cos
Emily Boveq
Emma Puig de la Bellacasa
Emmanuel-Sathya Gray
Erika Guevara Rosas
Erlinda M. Panisales
Ernawati Ind
Esperanza Delgado
Esposito Maria
Esther de Vreede
Esther Mkamori
Esther Vicente
Eva Cech Valentová
Eva Cossette-Laneville
Eva de Wal
Evani Ind
Evelina Crespi
Evelyn Flores Mayorga
Facia Harris
Fadugba Ayodeji
Fania Noel
Feliani Ruth
Felipe Bruno Martins Fernandes
Fernanda Salazar
Fiona Vera-Gray
Franca Nouvion
Francesca Melania
Francise Dillet
Fransisca Octi
Freddy Paul Grunert
Gabriela Guzman
Gabriella Gensini
Gaetana Castellaccio
Georgina Bencsik
Ger Moane
Gianluca Mariano Colella
Gianna Lete
Gianne Cayetano
Giovanna Scifo
Giovanna Zitiello
Giulia Giardina
Glanis Changachirere
Glen Morgan
Gloria Careaga
Gloria Casas Villa
Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez
Grace Chang
Grace Muema
Greetje van der Veer
Gurpreet Kaur
Hadeel A A Qazzaz
Hadiatul Hasana
Haleemah Shajira
Halina Gasiorowska
Harris Namutebi
Hemlata Pisal
Hoda Zaki
Huma Dar
Hürrem Tezcan-Güntekin
Imma Barbarossa
Indah Nurbaitty Dwiyani
Ine VB
Ingeborga Janikowska-Lipszyc
Ingrid Ira
Ingrid Paola Romero Niño
Ipsa Agnani
Irene Dankelman
Iris Kristal
Irmia Fitriyah
Irwan Abd Lae
Isabel Anayanssi Orizaga
Isabel Erreguerena
Isabelle Sanou
Ishita Bhardwaj
Itzel Uc Domínguez
Iván Facundo Rubinstein
Ivonne Banco
Jacobina Aumbandja
Jade Castelijn
Jami Parrish
Jan Schwartz
Jane Pennoyer
Jane Rudden
Janice Monteiro
Janie Rezner
Jasmine Williams
Jaya D.
Jean Lowrie-Chin
Jeevika S
Jenna C. Ashton
Jessica Espinosa
Jessica Mandanda
Jewell-Ann Harry
Jihan Jacob
Jill Bertels
Jill Langhus-Griffin
Jill McCracken
Joan P. Gibbs, Esq.
Joanna Tegnerowicz
Johanna Lokhande
Johanne Lerhard
John Cornwell
Jonas Ruskus
Jonathan h. Harwell
Jonathan Villalba Lezama
Josephine Anenih
Josephine Whitehead
Joyce Karigia
Juana Trejo González
Judith Blau
Judith Byfield
Judith Mariscal
Judith McDaniel
Julia Pol
Julia Crumière
Julia Guenther
Julz E. Riddle
Jumari Gaweses
Jyotsna Siddharth
K. Howard
Kadija UK
Kagose Yohanes Okoll
Kahewa Endjala
Kai Fees
Kalyani Menon Sen
Karen Axalan
Karen Carpenter
Karen Cayer
Karen Philip
Karla Dominguez Gonzalez
Karla Smith
Kashique Robinson
Katarzyna Józefowska
Kate Ryan
Katherine Acey
Kathleen Thompson
Kemi Omotubora
Kendra Malone
Kenia Jhonaysi Hernandez Benitez
Kenneth Ruby
Kerry Barton-Hobbs
Ketra Todd
Kevanté Cash
Khadijah Carey
Khimananda Devkota
Khushi Kabir
Kim Pate
Kimberly Westcott
Kindyl Boyer
Kirtana Kumar
Kirthi Jayakumar
Koel Chatterji
Komal Mohite
Krissi Shaffina Twyla Rubin
Kristoffer Tingbacke
Krystyna Mazur
Laodan MacCana
Lathryn Mck8bben
Laura Chello
Laura Morini
Laura Piccand
Laura Ronchetti
Laura Sergiampietri
Laxman Belbase
Làzarie Eeckeloo
Leah Moss
Leia Grossman
Leigh Suzanne Tomppert
Leith Dunn
Leonardo García
Leticia Medina
Lidia Kuzemska
Lidia Salvatori
Liliana Cozzi
Liliana Religa
Lina Sagaral Reyes
Lisa Edwards
Lisa Lawlor Feller
Lisa Sharlach
Lisa Wiebesiek
Livia R. Gobzález Ángeles
Lizet Alvarado Torres
Loes Keysers
Lorella Baratta
Lorenzo Detassis
Loretta Campagna
Lourdes Pacheco
Lubha Neupane
Lucía Melgar
Lucia Soldà
Lucilla Ciambotti
Lucina Di Meco
Lucy Edwards-Jauch
Luthfina Saraswati Adania
M. Laura Corradi
Magda San V
Maheshvari Naidu
Mahfuza Mala
Mahua becerril Straffon
Maira Roubach Topall
Maja Staśko
Makani Themba
Makereta Tawa
Malgorzata Kot
Mamata Dash
Marcela Romero
Marcella Orru
Marci Corsi
Margara Millan
Margaret McLaren
Margo Okazawa-Rey
Maria Rosario
Maria Alessandra Tarquinio
Maria Alicia Gutierrez
Maria Bastos
María Corina Muskus
Maria Cristina Tigoli
Maria Emilia Cunti
Maria Eugenia Chavez Fonseca
María Fernanda Santos Villarreal
Maria Giovanna Titone
Maria Grazia Tidone
Maria Marraccini
Maria Reimann
Maria V. Cunningham
Maria Zych-Nowacka
Mariana Branger
Mariangela Chiaro
Marie Berger
Marie-Helene Hebbelynck
Mariela Poot
Mariem G B
Marilucy Gonzalez-Baez
Marina Bertin
Marina Toschi
Marinella Manfrotto
Marisol Poot
Marjahn Finlayson
Marsha Waggoner
Marta Cyran
Marta Kozlowska
Marta Szczepanik
Marta Usiekniewicz
Martha Douwma
Martha L. Schmidt
Martha Tukahirwa
Martina Keser
Mary Angelica Reginaldo
Mary Ellsberg
Mary McClintock
Mary Syrett
Marzena Wilk
Matt Parsons
Maurizio Bozza
Maurizio Sacchi
May Ghanem
Maya Ind
Maya Radiconcini
Megan Duckworth
Meghan Campbell
Melania Klaiber
Melanie Lindayen
Melissa Cuevas
Melissa Upreti
Melody Ross
Memory Kachambwa
Meriem Bayoudh
Michele Small
Michelina Barletta
Michelle Hurtubise
Minna Salami
Miss J Tugwana
Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome
Monica Jasis Silberg
Monica Orlando
Monika Beatty
Monika Falej
Morgan Farrington
Mukut Ray
Muthoni Muriithi
Myraiel Newry
Nada Mustafa Ali
Nadia Cario
Nadia Haddaoui
Nahir de la Silva
Nalini India
Namalie Jayasinghe
Naomi Solanke
Nastassia rambarran
Natalia AG
Natalia Skoczlan
Natalia Achy
Natalia Laskowska
Natalia Pamula
Natasya Fila Rais
Ngorube Nkeiruka M.
Nguyen Thi Thu Ha
Nia Bethel-Sears
Nicola Wallace
Nicolle Riveros
Nikki Luna
Ningthoukhongjam Thanil
Nisha Biswas
Nissie Arcega
Niveditha Menon
Niveditha Menon
Niyati Shah
Norma Castillo
Norma Garcia
Nour Amraoui
Nunzia Sciuto
Nushelle de Silva
Oby Ezekwesili
Olga Glińska
Olga Zwolak
Omowumi Asubiaro Dada
Ornella Clementi
Osai Ojigho
Paula G
Paloma Lugo
Paola Bacchetta
Paola Carli
Paola Feltrin
Paola Morini
Paola Peña
Pat Gargaetas
Patria Jimenez
Patricia Bradley
Patricia Castaneda Salgado
Patricia Morales
Patricia Moran
Patricia Oton
Patricia Schulz
Patrick Welsh
Patrizia Fiocchetti
Payal Shah
Peggy L. Curchack
Petri Patrizia
Philly Dean
Po Ita
Pooja Pant
Priliantina Bebasari
Priyanthi Fernando
Priye Diri
Puji Maharani
Purnima Gupta
Putul Sathe
Raadhika Paul
Rabea Wilke
Radhika Balakrishnan
Radhika Menon
Raffaele Galano
Rahmani Israa
Rakia Chehida
Rebeca Olascoaga
Rebecca Hooker
Regina Esposito
Renee Hatcher
Renuka Anandjit
Renzi maria Luisa
Retha Dungga
Rev Christian Scharen
Rifqah Tif
Ritika Bhatia
Robyn Clarke
Robyn Trainor
Rochelle Burgess
Rogelio Sánchez
Rosa Pastore
Rosanna Fucarino
Rosario Beck
Roshana Pradhan
Ruben Reyes Jiron
Rukia Cornelius
Ruth Jacob
Sabrina Marchetti
Saeeda Riz
Salima Bacchus-Hinds
Salina Kafle
Salma Nims
Saloni Fruehauf
Saloni Fruehauf
Samantha Willan
Sameena Eidoo
Sandeep Bakshi
Sandena Neely
Sandra Currie
Sandy Marroquín
Sangita Laha
Sara Blaser
Sara Shroff
Sarah Chiliko
Sarah Daniel
Sarah Taylor
Satvika Jandhyala
Saumya Saxena
Savoca Valeria
Sebastian Molano
Seema Sush
Seidy Salas
Serap Altinisik
Serena Fiorletta
Sethunya Mosime
Shakun Doundiyakhed
Sheba George
Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Shewli Kumar
Shirley Castley
Shobhita Narain
Sholeh Irani
Sholeh Shahrokhi
Shubhangi Singh
Silvana Vinai
Silvia Cristofori
Silvia Ivonne San Miguel
Simona Belloni
Simone Mangal-Joly
Simone Snyder
Sofia Castro Guerrero
Sohini Bhattacharya
Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun
Sonya Mulligan
Sophia K Dalal
Sophie Namy
Sri Lestari
Stella Ind
Stella Celentano
Stephanie Sodero
Strix Grr
Sumi Krishna
Susan Hawthorne
Susanna Giovannini
Sushma Varma
Sushmita Shrestha
Suzanne Steele
Swathi Seshadri
Sylvie Isabelle Kaminski
Sylwia Ludas
Tabea Casique Coronado
Tamara Gorin
Tamarack Verrall
Tapiwa Lushetile
Tara Miller
Tarez Graban
Tedd Martin Vazquez
Teresa JDC
Teresa de Jesús Dzib Caamal
Teresa King
Teresa Quarta
Teresa Roversi
Teresa Shields
Terianna Bisnauth
Terri Carney
Tessa Nkandi
Theresa Dunn
Tia Fitriyanti
Tia Pamungkas
Tirza Ong
Tita Rak
Titilade Da-Costa
Tracy Lumbasi
Trista Hendren
Tullia Lippi
Tullia Trevisan
Tunggal Pawestri
Uma V Chandru
Umama Zillur
Umi Ma’rufah
Urszula Turkiewicz
Valentina Fiorini
Valentina Vargas
Valentine Lajoux
Vanda Radzik
Vanessa Coria Castilla
Vasantha A S
Venera Tomarchio
Veronica Campanile
Veronica Zebadua-Yanez
Vesna Orl
Victoria Abril
Victoria Simpson
Virginia Capuano
Virginia Gina Vargas
Vivienne Kabarungi
Wendy Figueroa
Wendy Henry
Wilis Rengganiasih ENdah Ekowati
Willow Gerber
Ximena Torres
Yameli Gomez
Yanira Reyes-Gil
Yazmin alonzo
Yinka Falola-Anoemuah
Yolanda Pineda López
Yulia Dwi Andriyanti
Yuruen Lerma
Yvette Nyinawumuntu
Zaida Betancourt
Zara Snapp
Zebib Kidane
Zoe Howe
Zoe Marinkovich
Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh
Zuider Zamalloa
Zulma Miranda
Zuzanna Krzatala
Zuziwe Khuzwayo

A View From Ireland on the Corona Threat

Correspondence: ‘Test Test Test’ should mean Mass Testing!

Belfast Plebeian

28 March 2020

As all manner of right-wing Governments take on emergency powers to control the virus pandemic, powers that they may never relinquish, the alternative to police State lockdowns is being ignored, the orderly testing of the population beginning with health workers and proceeding to the most vulnerable at risk from developing serious illness. We know that testing for the presence of the virus is the best solution short of a vaccine because of the experience of the small town of Vó north of Venice. Helped by researchers from the University of Padua and volunteers of the Red Cross the town made up of 3,300 people were all tested without exception. When the social experiment began on 6th March some 90 people were known to be infected, as of now the increase has been stopped by isolating those with the virus. Mass testing worked!

The researchers discovered the real problem set by the corona virus was that no one could know how far and how fast the infection had spread to the population. After mass testing, it was discovered that at least six people, ‘super spreaders’, were infecting others because they were not sick, they were asymptomatic. We also know that some people are pre-symptomatic, not sick but likely to be in three or four days’ time. It fits with common sense to believe that this is how the virus is spread, after all if someone is showing signs of sickness you take steps to avoid them, if they seem fine then you carry on as normal when in contact with them especially if they are family or friend.

Yet in most countries including Ireland and Britain testing has been small enough to be called non-existent. To date in the North of Ireland only 2,989 people have been tested and in the South about 10,000. The front line health workers are crying out to be tested and still it is not happening. The evidence is clear that health workers are being infected more often than any other group, and they have reason to be worried because of greater exposure, a larger viral load often results in worse outcomes, 24 Italian doctors have already died working with corona patients.

Speaking in the Assembly on Monday last the health minister Robin Swann said there is not enough capacity to carry out mass testing here at this time. He professed the incapacity of the health department in a context where at least two local companies Randox Laboratories and Biopanda Reagents have developed testing kits that are being sold to private businesses and some States around the world, the recent scandal in England over some private doctors asking for £300 per test were said to be using the kits purchased in the North of Ireland by Randox Laboratories.

When the company sales manager was asked on the Nolan radio show about the testing capacity of Randox he was told that they have two large facilities in Antrim and Donegal that could do much more testing than they were currently doing. The sales manager said they had not been approached by the NI Executive or the NHS about acquiring their help with testing. What became clear though was that cost was a prohibitive factor, Randox was charging £112 per test. Also Biopanda sales manager is quoted in the Daily Telegraph “there has been a huge demand for the tests, however there have been no orders from the NHS.”

If the reason why we can’t mass test is that some private companies are charging too much for the NHS to reasonably pay then we have the solution, take control of the private companies and increase the testing! To hell with their shareholders!

From the website of Socialist Democracy

The Current Covid-19 Crisis in India: Radical Socialist Statement

Criminal Negligence, Criminal Intent

            The current Modi Government has shown both criminal neglect and criminal intent in how it has dealt with this pandemic. Let the facts speak for themselves as we simply lay down the time sequence of what the Government did do as well as what it did not or refused to do.

The Medical Response

            Take first the fact that we have extremely inadequate stocks of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), ventilators, sanitizers, and testing kits. These are our first necessities to protect our doctors, nurses and other health workers and to treat patients.

Jan.30, 2020–first Covid-19 case in India

Jan.31 – Ban on export of all domestic-made PPE; raw materials for PPE manufacture can still be exported.

Feb.8 – Previous order amended to permit export of surgical masks and gloves.

Feb.25 – Eight more PPE items are added to the permissible export list.

Mar.19 – Export of PPE and raw materials for their manufacture are finally banned.

Mar.24 – Exports of ventilators and sanitizers banned.

Mar.28 – 35 lakh sterile surgical gloves cleared for export to Serbia (Source: Cochin Customs).


The General Response

            Now let us look at the more general course of events and Government behaviour.

Mar.10 – 50 known Covid-19 cases emerge from 11 states/Union Territories.

Mar.13 – Central Government officially declares that there is not a health emergency.

Mar.18 – Modi says the Parliament Budget Session will carry on till April 3.

Mar.19 – Modi makes his first national address declaring a one day “Janata Curfew” from 9am to 9pm on Sunday Mar.22. He makes a point to ask for participation in a social ritual – collective clapping or banging of pans to show appreciation for health workers. There is no call for ‘social distancing’. Nor have all the required export curbs on PPE and medical equipment, to enable health workers to carry out their job safely, been imposed. [Why did Modi not enforce a lockdown on Mar.20 or Mar.21? The most plausible explanation is because the MP state assembly had to meet so as to allow for the BJP to show its majority on the floor and replace the Congress as the ruling party.]

Mar.23 – Parliament closed because of the health crisis.[This act shows how unplanned and reactive the government is to the ongoing situation and contradicts his statement on Mar.18—See entry above.]

Mar.24 – Modi calls a full 21 days lockdown till April 14. He calls for all to stay at home and when going out for essential services to maintain social distancing. [Between Mar.13 and 24, Modi’s Government realises that indeed this is a health emergency calling for proper measures and he resorts to this massive lockdown and social distancing which only the upper/middle classes could hope to carry out. No concrete mitigating or preventive or welfare enhancing measures are announced. No consideration is given to the reality that hundreds of millions, especially in towns and cities, live in densely packed slums and highly congested locales where necessary municipal services (water, electricity, garbage collection, sewage, etc.) are either non-existent or over-stressed. In short, the This shows his the Government’s contempt and unconcern for the poor and the overwhelming majority (93%) labouring in the informal sector.]

Mar.26 – Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman finally announces a Government relief package of 1.7 lakh crore. [The scale is inadequate and the details are missing. Nothing is spelt out about how material benefits will be delivered in timely fashion to the targeted population. In fact, most of it is a repackaging of existing schemes. Worst of all it offers very little to those most in need, namely migrant workers, daily wagers, marginal farmers.

Mar.28 – The Yogi Adityanath state government announces that 1200 buses will be provided to help transport migrants to their homes in UP. [From the previous three days a massive internal migration has been underway – the largest mass migration in India since Partition. There is massive overcrowding at bus depots where tens of thousands of the poor are put at risk and forced to ignore physical-distancing guidelines. Most migrants, however, cannot even board buses and start walking to their homes, women and children in tow, even hundreds of kilometres away.]

Mar.29 – The UP announcement is reversed and all state borders are sealed to prevent inter-state migration. [Migrants are now rounded up, and in the name of being quarantined, are incarcerated in stadiums, empty building and other make-shift structures in ways that make a mockery of any possibility of maintaining ‘safe’ social distancing.]

April 3 – Modi makes another national address telling the listening public that on Sunday April 5 to shut for 9 minutes their electricity at 9pm and instead light a candle.

This pattern of action in the last few weeks is disastrous enough without taking into consideration the longer term reality that India under different Governments has followed a neoliberal economic path that by its very nature rejects the building of a public health system that provides free and quality health care for all. Instead over 80% of health needs are met by the private sector and the miserable overall situation is that Government health expenditure is around 1.25% and availability of hospital beds is 0.7 per 1000 people. This is a long standing structural problem that has severely weakened Indian capacity to deal with the current Covid-19 pandemic.

What to Make of This Dismal Record

            The Modi Government’s criminal negligence is obvious. What about its criminal intent? This comes across in the following ways:

1.      How it responded to the predictable mass migration. After a completely hands-off approach, an iron fist is being used. Priority now is not being given to help migrants reach their homes or to address their food, shelter and health needs, but to ruthlessly and rapidly contain them. In one case a large group of migrants suffered direct chemical sprays to ‘sanitize’ them. The aim seems to be to prevent area-wise spread even if chances of infection among migrant workers is increased as a result of such containment. Clearly the already poor are expendable!

2.      Economic Policy bias towards capitalists. At a time when all sources of funding should be tapped and directed to bailing out the poor and indigent, that is, prioritising fiscal policy measures like raising taxes on the rich, penalising big business payroll cuts, cutting the military budget---on Mar.19 this Government shamelessly signed a deal with Israel to buy Rs. 880 crores worth of Light Machine Guns---and diverting funds thereby released to health and welfare, this Government has done the reverse. It has pursued monetary policies to infuse greater liquidity into the share market and reassure big businesses by cutting interest rates throughout the economy through lowering the repo rate or the rate of interest paid by commercial banks for their borrowings from the RBI. The financial health of the rich is more important than the material well-being of the poor.

3.      Using the current health crisis to somehow advance the Hindutva political agenda.

(a)    Communalising the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz affair: 4000 Muslims from all parts of India, and from countries abroad, had gathered at the Markaz premises in New Delhi for a residential religious programme from Mar.13 to 15.As a result a large number of persons were infected and some died. Moreover, as many then dispersed to their home states the infection spread. This programme should have been called off well beforehand.

           Recall that on March 13, the BJP Central Government did say there was no health emergency. But the Markaz certainly violated the AAP Government of Delhi’s ruling on that very date when it announced that there should be no on gatherings of more than 200 people. Apart from this, given the scale of the pandemic worldwide even before the beginning of March, going ahead with the programme was wrong and condemnable.

           It does not excuse the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz to point out that other religious bodies also engaged in wrong and condemnable actions: e.g., some 40,000 visitors thronged to the Tirupati Temple in South India on Mar.17 and 18 before the Temple was closed on Mar.19.These were also reprehensible lapses. The Modi Government has deliberately sought to dramatise and highlight the Tablighi Jamaat affair as if it was, or is, the single most important reason for the spread of the Corona virus in the country. The Sangh Parivar is here actively pushing the message that Muslims are once again the main threat, thereby diverting attention away from the Government’s own criminal failures. This is criminal intent.

(b)   J&K Domicile: At a time when everybody’s attention is focused on this health crisis, the Central Government has quietly introduced new laws on domicility in J&K. The principal effect of this new law is to help change the general demographic pattern, whereby Muslim overall are in a majority in the region. Some sections of the public (primarily non-Muslims) residing in J&K will now, because of these changes in law, be able over time to become permanent domiciles.

(c)    Promoting the cult of Modi as the country’s “Supreme Saviour”: Just his record on the COVID-19 crisis reveals a PM utterly bereft of the capacity to think deeply and seriously about practical policies. Prominently on display, however, is his authoritarian mind-set that works only along the narrowest political lines. His concern is to project the Modi image everywhere, have one-sided media monologues with the Indian public, engage in theatrics and promote spectacles of mass involvement through direct appeals i.e. establishing a direct, if one way relationship between himself as India’s ‘Chief Executive’ and the public. He believes---not without merit--- that this does enhance support for him irrespective of the ups and downs of his own party. Furthermore, these direct appeals also serve as cover ups for his policy absences, failures and iniquities. It is an obscenity that ‘Modi’ promotion is happening even in the midst of this emergency. The call for public money contributions for the current crisis will go to the newly established Government Fund called---you won’t be surprised to know---“PMCares” which was set up to push public money into private hands and it seems to facilitate hawala transactions. Indian ambassadors following Modi dictates have urged donors to contribute to this fund and not to the longstanding PM’s National Relief Fund because that body continues to have the President of the Congress Party on its managing committee.  Also, food packets distributed by the BJP have on their side labels (printed no less!) marked “Modi Tiffin”. Spectacles of empty social solidarity – banging pots and pans or lighting candles – are being offered instead of plans to get PPE to health workers, medical equipment for the sick, transport for migrants trying to get home, and food for the poor across the country.

Some Necessary Steps

Among the things that this Government has not done but needs to do immediately are the following:

·         Provide cereals, pulses, edible oils, soap, hand wash, spices for all through the PDS.

·         Ensure availability of drinking water for all.

·         All private hospitals to provide tests and treatment for Covid patients free of charge.

·         Free all under trials, those on low term sentences or soon-to-be-completed sentences, as well as all political prisoners.

·         Army to use its massive network of motor vehicles of all kinds to help transport migrants to their homes safely.


When this crisis finally recedes, you can be sure that the forces of Hindutva will shamelessly, dishonestly and yes, criminally seek to take credit for a successfully negotiated emergency. They must never be allowed to get away with this. Now and later they must be exposed for what they are. Hence this statement by our organisation, Radical Socialist, to let the facts speak for themselves!

April 4, 2020