This is what the great Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar in his couplet no. 448 about Governance had said –
Ketuppaarilaanungketum. (in Tamil)
The king with none to censure him, bereft of safeguards all,
Though none his ruin work, shall surely ruined fall. (in English)
The king who is without the guard of men who can rebuke him, will perish, even though there be no one to destroy him. (Explanation).
And the writing is on the wall.
After the recent developments in the country, especially the devastation created by the havoc of the second wave of the deadly COVID-19 virus, to save the people of the country from the present crisis, the Joint Forum of Central Trade Unions and the kisans who represent the majority of the labour force of the country, have
submitted a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have requested him to settle the following demands of the workforce of this country including those of the farmers.
a) Scrap Labour Codes Farm Laws and Electricity Amendment Bill
b) Scrap the disastrous Vaccine Policy and ensure free universal mass vaccination for all
c) Ensure MSP at C2+50% rate for all agricultural produce with ensured procurement
d) Stop privatisation/disinvestment and corporatisation move
The joint letter was given on the 29th of April 2021. However, neither there was any response from the Prime Minister, nor was any meeting convened by the Government with the Trade Unions.
Yesterday (12-5-2021), the leaders of 12 major opposition parties including 4 Chief Ministers have addressed a letter to the Prime Minister sharing their serious concern about the situation which has resulted in apocalyptic human tragedy. However, as matured leaders of the country, in their letter, without criticising the
Government about the acts of commission and omission by the Central Government during this pandemic period have suggested the following measures to be undertaken by the Government on war footing.
a) Procure vaccines centrally from all available sources – global and domestic
b) Immediately begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country
c) Invoke compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production
d) Spend budgetary allocation of Rs.35,000 crores for the vaccine
e) Stop Central Vista construction and instead, use the allocated money for procuring oxygen and vaccines
f) Release all money held in the unaccounted private trust fund, PM Cares to buy more vaccines, Oxygen and medical equipment required
g) Give all jobless at least Rs.6000 per month.
h) Free distribution of food grain to the needy (over one crore tonnes of food grain is currently rotting in central godowns)
i) Repeal farm laws to protect lakhs of our “annadatas” from becoming victims of the pandemic so that they can continue to produce food to feed the Indian people
People of the country are hoping that being the Head of the Government controlling full majority in the Parliament should at least now listen to the Trade Unions and the opposition parties to overcome this crisis.
Thousands of Central Government Employees including Defence Civilian Employees and Railway Employees who were deployed on duty during this pandemic period have been infected by the deadly virus and have succumbed to death. The Government employees are eligible for free medical treatment under the service conditions. However, the Central Government was not able to save precious lives of its own employees. The Trade Unions of Central Government employees including the Defence Civilian Employees
are also financially affected since their three instalments of DA (11%) have been completely frozen by the Government, due to which apart from DA, the employees are deprived of increase in HRA and Transport Allowance. The Dearness Relief increase due to the pensioners is also stopped. The country has now come to the conclusion that after seeing the bitter experience of the looting of private hospitals, pharmacies and other agencies taking advantage of pandemic situation that in a country like India, privatisation in all sectors has completely failed and time has come for the Government to strengthen and develop the Government Sector and Public Sector, which only will come to rescue of the people and the Government in any national crisis. Already the Central Government employees have proposed the following to the Government.
a) Withdraw the Government move to corporatize the Government departments like Ordnance Factories and Railways.
b) Withdraw the privatisation of Government activities.
c) Withdraw the New Pension Scheme.
d) Release the 3 DA instalments due to the employees and pensioners from 1-1-2020.
e) To fill up all the 5 lakh posts lying vacant in the Central Government departments.
f) Grant ex-gratia payment to the employees who died of COVID-19 infection.
g) Grant out of turn compassionate appointment to the kin of employees who died during COVID-19 pandemic.
h) Provide free vaccination to all Central Government Employees and their family members.
i) Have regular meetings and consultations with the National Council (JCM) which represents the Central Government employees and pensioners.
However unfortunately the advisors of the Government are not properly advising that in a democracy criticisms and demands have to be considered with an open mind.
Now at least, the advisors of the Government and the PM should listen and implement what Saint Thiruvalluvar had said, so that the image of the Government will automatically get a boost without spending huge amounts of money or without depending on the insensitive media.
Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation and senior leader of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)