In September 2019, ten labor union federations in India called for a one-day general strike on January 8th, 2020. Millions of workers, farmers, youth will be involved in protest against neoliberal policies, including privatization of public enterprises (like rail & mining). The call was made after the lockdown of Kashmir & at the beginning of attacks on Indian Muslims. Those who go uncritically rah-rah for the unions need to take a close look at this call. With nearly a million troops in Kashmir, the attacks on Indian Muslims, caste oppression, major advances in neoliberal policies, & giant steps toward fascism, why just a one day strike? Why not take those millions out & shut the country down until all their economic & political demands have been met since the three previous one & two day strikes under the Modi-led BJP government haven’t altered a single thing?

There’s a second whopping problem with this strike call. The General Secretary of the CITU federation said, “The government persists by using diversionary tactics of raising emotive non-issues to divide the people & haunt the minorities. The convention {that made the call} pledged to fight these communal & divisive forces.” What “emotive non-issues” is he talking about? Kashmir? The new citizenship laws excluding Muslims? How will a one-day strike effectively ‘fight these communal & divisive forces’? Is this just a bread & butter strike without reference to Indian militarism, occupation, discrimination, persecution? Are those ’emotive non-issues’ he mentioned the same thing as that identity politics thing accused by numbskulls of popping up to aggravate & divide the working class? Are opposing the occupation of Kashmir & the persecution of Indian Muslims just ‘diversionary tactics’? Has the General Secretary of the CITU misspoken & been misunderstood? Perhaps a longer strike would clarify his intent & maybe could actually accomplish something rather than just draw millions into the streets to say a collective ‘boo’ to Indian fascism.