Our demands against air pollution in greater detail

Demand 1: The government of NCT of Delhi should add 10,000 buses to Delhi’s fleet

  • A lack of sufficient public transportation facilities will lead to a rise in usage of private vehicles, which unfortunately, is also a significant contributor to urban air pollution. Studies suggest that the private passenger cars account for about 73% of urban air pollutants. In contrast with public transportation systems, they generate about three times more per capita emissions.
  • Scientific investigations have unequivocally established that strengthening of public transport systems have a positive impact on reducing the urban air pollution.
  • According to government data, till March 2019, the total functional buses in Delhi were 5576 – 3897 DTC buses and 1679 cluster buses. This is despite a Supreme Court order in 1998, which has instructed the government to increase the fleet strength to 10000 buses by 2001. The city’s increased commuting demand can only be met with the addition of another 10000 buses to the fleet. This will also have a drastic impact on the emission levels.

Demand 2: The government of NCT of Delhi and the Union Government should reduce fares on the Delhi Metro

  • Currently Metro transport is more expensive than other modes of transport. The fare on the Delhi Metro has been hiked recently, and the growth in passenger traffic has plateaued after this hike. The high rates deter people from using the Metro as a daily commute mode, and force them to use more polluting options – including private passenger vehicles.
  • The promotion of public transportation by subsidising it has been implemented successfully by European countries like Germany and Estonia. In Estonia alone, the implementation of subsidised travel, has increased the share of public transportation to 63% in a single year.
  • Reduction of Delhi Metro fares through subsidisation can result in the increased adoption of Metro transport system by the daily commuters. The costs incurred for this may be shared on a 50:50 basis between the Delhi & the Central governments.

Demand 3: The Union Government should levy an additional excise duty of Rs. 80,000 on diesel passenger cars

  • Scientific investigations have established that vehicular emissions are a significant source of particulate matter. Among the vehicles, the particulate matter emitted from the exhaust emissions of diesel vehicles are difficult to control due to its constituents. As a result, regulating the sale of vehicles fitted with a diesel engine will have a positive impact on particulate matter emissions.
  • The Kirit Parikh committee, appointed by the Central Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, had proposed in 2010 that an additional cess of Rs. 80,000 be levied on sale of each diesel passenger vehicle to ensure that diesel vehicles are not cheaper than petrol vehicles. We demand that this recommendation be implemented, with an objective to regulate the sales of such vehicles.
  • The additional cess thus collected can be used to strengthen public transportation infrastructure or to subsidise passenger costs.

Demand 4: The MCD and NDMC should work with urban local bodies (ULBs) to disseminate and enforce regulatory directives to control dust generated at construction or demolition sites.

  • Due to the high urban agglomeration in Delhi, there are a number of construction and demolition activities taking place across the city. Ready-mix concrete mixture, which is used for construction activities, also emits a large amount of fly ash that contributes to air pollution. According to a 2016 IIT Kanpur Report, dust from construction sites contributes approximately 3.6% of the total emissions towards PM10 and 2.1% of the total emissions towards PM2.5. Irrespective of its total contribution to air pollution, it effect on populations and workers proximate to the activity site cannot be overlooked. 
  • The health effects of construction dust on residents around construction sites has not been widely documented, but there is no doubt about the harmful effect on construction workers, who are in any case, a vulnerable group. A large proportion of such workers tend to be migrants, with no stable access to healthcare or any form of social security. 
  • There are no silver bullet technological solutions to reduce the negative environmental and health impact of construction and demolition related activities. This is one area where modest measures such as using filters on concrete mixers, erecting screens and wind-breakers, sprinkling water and transporting construction material in closed vehicles, etc; can have a considerable impact but these need to be enforced through better coordination between different government agencies. 
  • To ensure area based enforcement of these measures, steps should also be taken to empower RWAs to monitor construction activities and allow citizens to register complaints regarding dust at construction sites through their phones. 

Demand 5: The Central government along with the State governments of Punjab and Haryana, should establish transportation systems and mechanisms for transferring crop residue from farms to units that utilise agro-residue.

  • Crop residue burning in the north-western states of Punjab and Haryana is a key reason why levels of finer particulate matter up to 2.5 micron in size (PM 2.5) in the air spike upto 20 times in Delhi NCR during harvest season in the winter. Reducing or eliminating crop burning has a two pronged impact: One, farmers believe that burning crop residue improves helps control diseases and pests in crops, and promotes propagation and rotation. But in reality it causes damage to other microorganisms present in the upper layer of the soil as well as its organic quality, resulting in the loss of fertility and essential micronutrients within the soil. Two, pollution from crop residue burning is a major risk factor for acute respiratory infection (ARI) in all three states, especially among children younger than five. The health burden of this activity affects the poor farmers and their families as much as residents of the capital city. 
  • Many measures have been taken by the Union and State governments from regulatory bans, educating farmers to subsidisation of machinery; but these have created incremental change. There is little point in adopting punitive approaches to farmers burning crop residues. Farmers who are already squeezed by low crop prices and rising input prices are understandably averse to spending more money on tractors to plough and thresh the residues back into the field as manure; and also do not get a remunerative price for the crop stubble if they do spend on the labour or machinery to remove it. 
  • Governments including the union agriculture ministry need to get together to devise a system to incentivise farmers to deal with this problem and recover some of the costs through utilisation of the agro-residue to make a variety of possible products.
  • Power generating units have been set up in Punjab and Haryana. Crop residue biomass can be sent to these units so that power is generated from it. But it does not make economic sense for either farmers or power generating unit owners to harvest and transfer crop residue. The governments of Punjab, Haryana and the Central government should incur costs and set up a machinery to gather and transport crop residue during harvest. This can be done either through subsidies to farmers’ cooperatives or as a state procurement activity. 

The youth of Delhi demands immediate action against air pollution


To protect our future, we, the youth of Delhi, demand that:

  1. The government of NCT of Delhi should add 10,000 buses to Delhi’s fleet as per the Supreme Court order. 
  2. The government of NCT of Delhi and the Union Government should reduce fares on the Delhi Metro 
  3. The Union Government should levy an additional excise duty of Rs. 80,000 on diesel passenger cars as per recommendation of the Kirit Parikh committee. 
  4. The Pollution Control Board (CPCB) should work with urban local bodies (ULBs) to disseminate and enforce regulatory directives to control dust generated at construction or demolition sites.
  5. The Central government along with the State governments of Punjab and Haryana, should establish transportation systems and mechanisms for transferring crop residue from farms to units that utilize agro-residue.

Air pollution in Delhi causes 80 deaths on average every day. 50% of lung cancer deaths, especially among youth and women, are now among non-smokers – which means they are likely caused by air pollution. Air pollution also lowers children’s immunity. Its levels refuse to abate year after year, with no concrete solutions undertaken by responsible governments, either for the short term or the long term. The Central Unit of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, Delhi, demands that immediate action be taken by all responsible agencies, such that our future is secured and the city becomes liveable. 

We are keen to demand measures that do not harm the most vulnerable people in our city. We want measures that actively reduce the burden of air pollution, economic and otherwise, on workers and the poor. We reject a situation where manufacturers of air purifiers profit as our air is poisoned. As a youth organisation, we are concerned about the impact of air pollution in Delhi on our health, our future, and our economic prospects. We are also carrying out this struggle on behalf of children and the elderly, who face the worst effects of air pollution. 

The demands are explained in greater detail here.

Central Unit,

Democratic Youth Federation of India, Delhi

Contact: dyfidelhicuc@gmail.com

We are organising a demonstration asking for these demands to be accepted, at 11 am on 20th October, 2019, at Jantar Mantar. We will also submit this petition to all responsible governments and government agencies named above. If you would like to know more about these demands, participate in the demonstration, or otherwise get involved with this movement, email us at dyfidelhicuc@gmail.com or message us on Twitter or Facebook.

Study Circle 23 of 2019: The Concrete Analysis of the Concrete Situation

Dear comrades and friends,

DYFI CUC organised the twenty third study circle of this year yesterday. We read the Chapter 4 – Imperialism: World War and Civil War of Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought by Georg Lukacs.

The chapter talks about what Lenin was able to do with the theory of imperialism – not so much groundbreaking economic work, but groundbreaking analysis of what imperialism meant for action. Lenin was the only one at the time who was able to give a guideline for concrete action, in the backdrop of imperialism, because his was a theory of the class forces active under imperialism. As Lukacs says:

For Marxists the concrete analysis of the concrete situation is not the opposite of ‘pure’ theory; on the contrary, it is the culmination of all genuine theory, its consummation, the point where it therefore breaks into practice.

The chapter then talks about two flawed ways of assessing bourgeois and proletarian revolutions: one, to think that if a revolution is a bourgeois revolution, the only task of the proletariat is to support that revolution; two, to assume that all revolutions in an imperialist age will be proletarian revolutions. Both these approaches mechanistically divide bourgeois and proletarian revolutions, and ignore revolutionary elements in both. 

The chapter also briefly talks about what revisionism means in the context of war and civil war. We discussed the nature of the revolution in Nepal. Next week, we will read Chapter 5.

Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee,

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi 

Study Circle 22 of 2019 – Lenin, The Revolution and the Party

Dear comrades and friends,

DYFI CUC organised the twenty second study circle of this year today. We read the first three chapters of Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought by Georg Lukacs.

The text is helpful introduction to the writings of Lenin, as it considers his work as a whole. The first chapter talks about how the actuality of the revolution (the fact that the misery of the proletariat contains a revolutionary element) is distinct from the imminence of the revolution (the idea that revolution is around the corner). When theories are formulated with the actuality of the revolution in mind, as Lenin’s were, individual events are seen as parts of a whole, a journey towards liberation, and not just by themselves.

The second chapter talks about why Lenin considered the proletariat as the leading class of the revolution, even in Russia where it did not constitute the majority of the population. The objective class position of the proletariat, and the fact that it was the growing class while the peasantry was a declining class, provided the basis for this conclusion.

The third chapter explains why a vanguard party of the proletariat is required. It shows how political questions and organisational questions cannot be separated, that is, how organisational forms are determined by, and determine, political conditions. As Lukacs explains:

Both the old idea – held by Kautsky among others – that organization was the precondition of revolutionary action, and that of Rosa Luxemburg that it is a product of the revolutionary mass movement, appear one-sided and undialectical. Because it is the party’s function to prepare the revolution, it is – simultaneously and equally – both producer and product, both precondition and result of the revolutionary mass movement.

We discussed what it meant for the party to stay “only one step” ahead of the masses, particularly for thorny questions such as those of religion, and the difference between a compromise between ruling classes (like landlords and the big bourgeoisie) and true class alliances.

Next week, we will continue reading this book.

Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee,

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi

Study Circle 21 of 2019 – What Drives History?

Dear comrades and friends,

DYFI CUC organised the twenty first study circle of this year yesterday. We completed reading Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism by J. Stalin.

In the second half of the essay, Stalin talks about what the chief determining forces of the development of society are. He considers and dismisses the idea that geography or population growth determine societal development. He then shows that the mode of production of material values – food, clothing, footwear, houses, fuel, instruments of production, etc. – which are indispensable for the life and development of society – is the chief determining force of societal development. 

The mode of production includes the means of production as well as the relations of production: the technology and apparatus used for producing, as well as the relations of people to this technology and apparatus, and consequently to each other.

He then elaborates on two features of production: the constance of change, and the fact that change always begins with changes in the productive forces. From the essay:

The first feature of production is that it never stays at one point for a long time and is always in a state of change and development, and that, furthermore, changes in the mode of production inevitably call forth changes in the whole social system, social ideas, political views and political institutions – they call forth a reconstruction of the whole social and political order. 
The second feature of production is that its changes and development always begin with changes and development of the productive forces, and in the first place, with changes and development of the instruments of production.

We talked about what this means for philosophical determinism; whether socialism is inevitable because of the development of productive forces, or whether barbarism is a possibility; and the relationship between changes in religion and changes in the mode of production in Rome, the USSR and in India.

Next week, we will likely continue reading on Marxist philosophy.

Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee,

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi

Study Circle 20 of 2019: Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism

DYFI CUC organised the twentieth study circle of this year on Sunday, July 21. In this session, we studied half of the text, ‘Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism’, authored by J. Stalin in 1938.

The text is a simple and basic introduction to Dialectical Materialism, which can be described as a method of studying a system on a material basis, by understanding the various contradictions within it. The changes that arise in, or the evolution of, the system in question is a result of opposing forces exerted by these contradictions within it.

The etymology of the word ‘Dialectics’ goes back to the Greek word ‘Dialego’, which, Stalin wrote, “was the art of arriving at the truth by disclosing the contradictions in the argument of an opponent and overcoming these contradictions.”

While Marx learnt about Dialectics from Hegel, Marxist Dialectics is different from the latter’s in that it is Materialist. Hegel, who was an idealist, believed that consciousness has the original or objective existence, while what the consciousness perceives – namely matter – exists only in the consciousness.  

Contrary to Idealism, Materialism is the understanding that the matter exists in the objective world, independent of the consciousness which perceives it, and that consciousness itself is a product of matter. 

As Marx points out, “Our consciousness and thinking, however supra-sensuous they may seem, are the product of a material, bodily organ, the brain. Matter is not a product of mind, but mind itself is merely the highest product of matter.”

While Marx closely studied Ludwig Feuerbach who led the charge against Hegel’s idealism and sides with him in the materialist camp in opposition to the idealists, he nevertheless pointed out that Feuerbach’s approach to materialism had a serious flaw. Along with discarding the idealism of the Hegelian method, Feuerbach also discarded the dialectics in it.

This leads to a kind of materialism that tends to assume the forces which govern a system under observation to be a given or static, without questioning what the tussle between which contradictions gave rise to these forces in the first place, or, for that matter, the resolution of which of the contradictions can bring about what kind of changes to these governing forces themselves.          

Thus, Feuerbach, despite being a fierce advocate of materialism, “remained… bound by the traditional idealist fetters.” Freeing materialist thought from these fetters, Marx and Engels reaffirmed the objective existence of the material world, and established that the changes that occur in it, or to it, are a result of the opposing forces exerted by the contradictions that exist within. 

This applies not only to the physical world, not only to the evolution of humankind, but also to the development of human societies – to its evolution from one form of organisation to another (primitive communism to slave society to feudalism to capitalism).

In the next session of the study circle, we will be completing reading and discussing the remaining half of the essay in which, by drawing on the development of tools from stone age onwards, Stalin seeks to demonstrate the relationship between the productive forces of a given society relations and “relations of production”, i.e the relationships that emerge between humans as a result of their relation to the means of production. For example, slave and slave-owner, lord and serf, worker and capitalist.

Study Circle 19 of 2019 – Is Fascism Imminent?

DYFI CUC organised the nineteenth study circle of the year yesterday. We concluded our series on fascism by reading “Is Fascism Imminent?” by P. M. S. Grewal.

The article analyses the current political system in India to understand whether it is fascist or whether fascism is on the anvil. It refers to the Communist International’s understanding of fascism as the ‘most terroristic dictatorship of capital.’ It goes on to show how our parliamentary system is working quite well at furthering the interests of the Indian ruling classes and so, in essence, they do not have a need to bring about fascism. The article speaks of examples of pre-WWII and post-WWII fascist regimes. The former consisted of countries with a well established developed monopoly bourgeoisie (Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan) while the latter came about in the form of imperialist intervention as well as a section of the indigenous bourgeoisie, in response to a perceived threat of growing mass support for the communist party and elected left government in Indonesia and Chile respectively. In both these cases large scale massacres of leftists occurred.

The question of whether fascism has overtaken all Indian institutions is important because it determines what the Left parties should do in response. If the regime was truly fascist, a united front of all anti-fascist parties and forces would be necessary. The article argues that in India today such a strategy does not make sense, because Left parties have to fight both communalism and neoliberalism, and allying with neoliberal (and even communal) opposition parties weakens the fight against conditions that create fascism. That does not mean, however, that the RSS is not a fascistic organisation.

We discussed strategies in overcoming the barrage of imagined threats, divisive rumours and exploitative superstition being promulgated by the propaganda machinery of dominant parties. We discussed the importance of using newer forms of organising workers, unemployed people, and the pervasiveness of caste. We spoke of the role of social media and what the Left ought to do about it, and debated about whether most Indian people were really secular as the article claimed – and what this would mean for how the Left understands secularism.

Next week, we will read more about Marxist economics.

Study Circle 18 of 2019 – The Saffron Siege

DYFI CUC organised the eighteenth study circle of the year yesterday. We continued our series on fascism and read The Saffron Siege (also attached) by Nidheesh J Villatt. 

The article is the result of close investigatory journalism in Kerala, where the author finds that the political violence between RSS and CPI(M) cadres in Kerala is nearly always instigated by RSS, at attempts to gain a foothold in the state. The history of RSS in Kerala is explained, beginning from MS Golwalkar’s description of what he calls hostile elements in India: Muslims, Christians, and communists. The RSS has historically used violence to crush workers’ movements, for instance through their collaboration with capitalists to attack and intimidate agitating Ganesh Beedi workers, who went on to set up their own cooperative. In fact, there has always been a class nature to the violence inflicted by RSS – they have given communal flavour to capital-labour struggles, and have sided with, and been helped by, capitalists and landlords. We spoke of how the Kerala CPI(M) leadership, including the Chief Minister, has not shied away from facing violent attacks – including bullets.

The article also describes how the RSS indoctrinates children into violence through games and training in the use of weapons. At RSS shakhas, senior leaders often ask their recruits to visualise communists and Muslims during physical training. The takeaway was that the central role of violence in the political project of RSS is often obscured in mainstream commentary.

We discussed how this has been true for such organisations elsewhere as well, for example, in the way that Krishna Desai, a militant left trade unionist and CPI MLA, was murdered in 1970 in Mumbai by Shiv Sena workers. Shiv Sena had extensively campaigned against him and the mill workers’ union.

We discussed how even though RSS can be described as a fascistic organisation, that does not mean we have a fascist state – that would require all forms of democratic institutions to be eliminated entirely. We talked about the importance of issue-based resistance and coalitions in India today, rather than a vague anti-fascist front.

Next time, we will continue our series on fascism. 

Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee,

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi

Study Circle 17 of 2019: On Fascism

Dear comrades and friends,

DYFI CUC organised the seventeenth study circle of the year yesterday. We were joined by Comrade Subhashini Ali, communist leader, member of the Politburo of the CPI(M), and former president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.

We read most parts of The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class Against Fascism, by Georgi Dimitrov. The speech covers the political economy of fascism in the European context, and German fascism in particular. It talks of the class character of fascism, what it promises and what it actually brings to the working masses. It then lays out the need for a United Front against fascism, and the tasks of this united front. 

We discussed how different the situation in Europe at the time (1935) was, and how little applicability there was to contemporary India, and thus the futility of drawing too many parallels. The part we found quite relevant was the one called The Ideological Struggle Against Fascism. It speaks of what nationalism and internationalism mean for communists. We also discussed the role that caste plays in the ideology promoted by fascistic organisations.
Next Sunday, we will read about fascistic tendencies in India. Comrade Subhashini will join us again, and we hope to see a lot of you there!

Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee,

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi

Study Circle 16 of 2019 – The Abolition of the Wages System

DYFI CUC organised the sixteenth study circle of the year yesterday. We completed reading Value, Price and Profit with Chapters 12-14.

Marx ties his arguments together and demonstrates how they work on a macro scale as well. He lists four main cases where fighting for wage increases is necessary to even maintain the worker’s own labouring power: 

1) If there is a decrease in productivity, wage increases are required for the worker to be able to afford the increased price of necessities. With an increase in productivity, wage gains help compensate for the worsening of relative social position of workers caused by an increase in the rate of profit.

2) A change in the value of money makes real wages depreciate and hence wage increases are necessary.

3) There is a constant pressure to prolong the working day and to intensify the work done in a given working day. To compensate for these tendencies, as they cause labouring power to deteriorate, wage increases are necessary.

4) During downturns in the business cycle, wages are decreased. As labour power is a commodity under capitalism, it should be treated like any other commodity and compensated with a more than proportionate increase in its price (wages) during upturns, to maintain the same average wage through a complete business cycle.

Thus we see that demands for wage increases are only reactions to actions undertaken by capital interests. However, Marx underlines that greater political struggle is required for the maintenance of any kind of concessions made for workers. And we must not lose sight of the actual goal: the abolition of the wage system itself. 

The conclusions are best summarised by Marx himself:

  • Firstly. A general rise in the rate of wages would result in a fall of the general rate of profit, but, broadly speaking, not affect the prices of commodities.
  • Secondly. The general tendency of capitalist production is not to raise, but to sink the average standard of wages.
  • Thirdly. Trades Unions work well as centers of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail partially from an injudicious use of their power. They fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class that is to say the ultimate abolition of the wages system.

Next Sunday, we will begin a series of study circle meetings on fascism: what it is, how it has been dealt with in the past, perspectives about how to deal with it now. Do attend, because we expect lots of discussion!

Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee,

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi