June 25 of every year is a remembrance day for politicians, human right organisations, Trade Unions and others since this was the day during 1977 when the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a National Emergency and country witnessed the Black Days of Indian democracy. Similarly in future 30 th of June 2021 also will be remembered by the Trade Unions and the workers of our country in the coming years. It was on the 30 th June of 2021 Modi Government promulgated EDSO 2021 to handle a simple industrial dispute raised by the Trade Unions of the Defence civilian employees on a decision taken by the Government which affects the existence and future of the 76,000 Central Government employees who are recruited as Defence civilian employees through various selection process. The Government has decided without taking the employees into confidence to splinter the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories Into 7 non viable corporation.
www.indianpsu.com interacted with a few employees of the Ordnance Factories. Many of them told they were already working with different PSUs like BHEL, HAL, CCI, ONGC, Nationalised Banks etc. and they resigned from these jobs and to join Ordnance Factories with the intention to serve the defence sector and the nation. They are now feeling betrayed by the Government by not only corporatization the Ordnance Factories but by also facing the threat of the EDSO 2021 draconian law promulgated by the President of India.
www.indianpsu.com has been publishing series of articles about the process of corporatisation of Ordnance Factories. After this draconian EDSO 2021 was promulgated many of our viewers contacted us and they were referring about the message given by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on June 25th about the dangerous days of emergency. Both of them were vociferous about the dark days of emergency. The PM also told about the strength of democracy referring to his meeting with the leaders of Jammu & Kashmir. The PM has also tweeted that during the emergency between 1975 and 1977 the Nation saw a systematic destruction of institutions and he also spoke about how congress had trampled over our democratic ethos.
In an article, the Home Minister termed the emergency as “an ugly spectacle of authoritarian arrogance”. In this reference, www.indianpsu.com contacted C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF, who along with the other Trade Unions, is now fighting against the draconian EDSO 2021. Their struggle has gained momentum with many political parties, Trade Unions and Members of Parliament have come forward to support their struggle to protect their democratic rights.
C. Srikumar stated that he has also gone through the message of the Prime Minister and Home Minister which they have given on the 25th of June remembering the dark days of emergency. He stated he also read an article written by retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, in which he has congratulated the Home Minister for his opinion about the emergency. However, he was critical about the developments in the country especially the legislature with its lopsided majority towards the ruling party and the political executive did combine to push through many important and controversial laws like Citizenship Amendment Act, Farm Laws and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act 2019, through Parliament.
He further stated that the dispute raised by the Defence civilian employees and their Trade Unions was about the controversial decision taken by the present Government in violation of all the previous agreements and assurances to convert the Ordnance Factories into a PSU / multiple PSUs especially when the Government has told in clear terms that all the PSUs will be privatised. They have also raised the dispute about their service status since they were recruited under article 309 of the Indian constitution and also to be paid from the consolidated fund of India being the Central Government Employees. The dispute is how that right can be taken away. If the Government claims that it is their democratic right to decide policy matters that right cannot be at the cost of the right of 76,000 employees. Since our PM and HM speaks about the importance and sanctity of democracy then their Government should have handled the industrial dispute raised by the Federations through the Democratic process of collective bargaining or through arbitration and adjudication. Instead history has been created during the same month of June in this year by promulgating a draconian Essential Defence Services Ordinance 2021. Therefore in the coming years people have to remember not only emergency during 25 th of June every year but also remember EDSO 2021 during 30th of June every year since both have demolished democratic values and institutions.
Some authors on emergency has stated that the 1975 – 77 period was not only India’s first dictatorship but also a “ constitutional dictatorship” .
What is to be told about the June 30 th EDSO 2021.
I also want to quote here about the recent observations of the Chief Justice of India, N.V.Ramana. His observation on the essentials of a functioning democracy and the need for a reasoned and reasonable public discourse to keep the spirit alive has come at a relevant time when the Government has promulgated the EDSO 2021 The Constitution of our country has given the citizens many basic fundamental rights , but unfortunately the Governments in power used to make attempts to deny those rights and freedom to the people . It is a matter to be remembered that the core of our constitutional values and the rights given therein is not subjected to change depending upon the ruling party in power. When these constitutional rights are denied to the people by the rulers then it is for the judiciary to be strong and act independently so that the constitutional values are upheld.
Therefore since the PM and the HM have spoken at length about democratic values and rights of the citizens to oppose and criticise the Government decisions, and if these views have come from their bottom of their heart then they should immediately withdraw the EDSO 2021 and direct the Empowered Group of Ministers to start negotiations with the Federations which have given strike notice and ensure that Ordnance Factories is protected and strengthened at par with the Armed forces by retaining the Organisation in the present Government setup itself. After all individuals, organisations, and even governments have to correct their mistakes and march forward towards growth. There Is nothing wrong in that. Hope our PM & HM will accept this theory of success and come forward with an open mind on this issue since in any case the employees of Ordnance Factories doesn’t deserve such an insensitive and inhuman treatment from the Government. Let their devotion, commitment, knowledge and sacrifice be recognised . Let the Government not remain as thankless.
Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF)