The horrific train accident in Balasore in eastern India shook the entire country. On 2 June 2023, three trains collided near the city of Balasore, in the state of Odisha. Two passenger trains, the Coromandel Express and the Bengaluru–Howrah super-fast Express, collided after an initial collision involving a goods train near the Bahanaga Bazar railway station. A statement from the Indian Government said that at least 288 people had been killed and over 1000 were injured in this three-train collision. Everyone knows that there is a lie in these statistics. The deaths of many people will be kept secret. The Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express was carrying around 2,500 passengers. There was a huge death toll in the unreserved compartment which was behind the engine. It was packed with passengers, mostly workers returning to their places of work in states in the South. This was the worst rail accident in India in nearly three decades.
The root causes behind the accident
According to the initial analysis of the Indian railway authority, the accident occurred because of a fault in the point-signalling system. All the blame is now being put on the employees. But are workers really responsible for this accident or not? We should note the general tendency of the bourgeoisie to blame individuals and give false solutions to problems. But no disaster occurred due to the fault of a few individuals: it is capitalism, with its logic of maximising profits, which is responsible. The global strategy of the bourgeois state is the same. At the end of February, there was a headlong collision between two trains in Greece. The government and railway companies of Greece tried to put the blame on an inexperienced station master who made a fatal error. The bourgeoisie always tries to hide the reality of the failures of the capitalist system. "Indescribable disasters and suffering are already mounting up under the pressure of capitalist decomposition, which has been visibly accelerating since the beginning of the 2020s..
The deception of ‘digital India’
The accident occurred at a time when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to inaugurate a new high-speed train, the Vande Bharat Express, as part of his government’s massive investment in modernising the country’s sprawling railway network and other infrastructure. Through this incident the balloon of digital India was popped. The Indian Railways itself glorified the 'Automatic Signalling' system and 'Electrical Panel' system a few years back. Now what happened to that method? Last year, the Railway Ministry launched the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system or 'KAVACH' system in a grand ceremony. They also claimed that it was almost 'perfect' for avoiding accidents. This latest disaster tore away the veil of bourgeois falsehood. After the accident, the spokesperson of the Railway Ministry, Amitabh Sharma, admitted that the 'KAVACH' system was not activated in the trains involved in the accident or in any train on that route.. Why is the state failing to implement the benefits of modern technology? The answer is cost. The state does not want to spend money on safety measures. We know that modern capitalist technology is not synonymous with safety, and how the development of the sciences and of scientific research is not motivated by the satisfaction of human need but is subordinated to the capitalist imperative of realising the maximum profit.
The bourgeois experts classify the causes of rail accidents as: driver and signalman error; mechanical failure, vandalism, sabotage and terrorism; level crossing misuse and trespassing etc. For the latest accident, the Railway Board had recommended an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The stated aim of this inquiry is to find, and to establish whether the malfunction in the electronic locking system behind the crash was technical or the result of human interference, implying a possible terrorist connection. . . The sabotage theory and CBI investigation will thus serve to take the spotlight away from the Ministry of Railways in an election year. One of the key components of the government's communication strategy for the 2024 elections is the shining fleet of the Vande Bharat Express, conveying a wider promise of fast development under the Modi government.
The miserable condition of Indian rail
At present, India is an exemplary model for the whole world in terms of economic development.
Let's look at the statistics, what measures has the development 'model' taken to protect Indian Railways passengers? According to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau, nearly 260,00 people have died in railway accidents in India in the last ten years! It must be remembered that Indian Railways is the lifeline of the country. The railway acts as one of the catalysts for improving the infrastructure and transportation system of India's economy. Why is the passenger safety so poor in a railway network that is so crucial to the national economy? In fact, economic earnings from railways depend on milking its passengers. Day by day the price of railway tickets has increased, while the quality of service has decreased. Ticket cancellation money is rarely refunded. Not a single train will be available where passengers do not complain about the state of the toilets. Very little money is spent on upgrading tracks, reducing congestion, or adding new trains. The same train changes its name on multiple routes. The railway department has tried to continue working with casual untrained workers at a lower cost. Inadequate numbers of workers have too big a workload. They don't get enough rest. The railways, which once had 22.5 lakh employees, has now been reduced to 12 lakh. Many schools, hospitals, printing presses and offices, and factories linked to the railways have been completely closed or 'outsourced'; recruitment to its administration has almost stopped. The general stores depots in each of the 17 zones of the railways, which employed 3,000 to 4,000 employees, have been closed. No one thought how to work with such a small staff. Inhuman pressure has increased for the fewer workers employed.
Leftists appeal to the capitalist state
Most leftists are involved in providing humanitarian logistic support for injured people. The Stalinist Communist Party of India (“Marxist”) called upon all the relevant authorities to prevent the rise of the death toll by ensuring speedy and urgent medical attention to the injured. Leftists generally see particular governments or political factions as the real cause of the problem,- because the leftists are themselves an integral part of the capitalist state.
Workers realise from their daily experience that the bourgeois state does not value workers’ lives. That is why the leftists and unions try everything to divert the consciousness of workers into the parliamentary electoral process. The majority of the victims in the triple-train accident were migrant workers. Their identities were not known after their deaths, because they were passengers in the unreserved compartment. Today, when the entirety of civil society is in turmoil, the responsibility for changing the system falls on the shoulders of the workers. The naked cynicism of the capitalist state, the real architect of the accident, must be exposed to all.
The Indian working class is part of an international class
The proletarian class is bearing the full impact of the attacks on its working and living conditions as a direct result of the pressure of the economic crisis, accentuated by all the manifestations of decomposition. The disaster has shown that there are no solutions within capitalism. There is a long history of struggle by railway workers in India. Other parts of the working class can learn from their experiences. They can also learn from the experiences of the working class elsewhere in the world. In Greece there were demonstrations on the streets, in Athens, in Thessalonica, held by tens of thousands of people, accompanied by spontaneous strikes by railway workers and call-outs to other sectors from health to education to join the struggle, something that has not been seen for over ten years. The response of workers was seen in some of the slogans heard in protests: “This was not human error, it was not an accident, it was a crime!” “Down with this government of murderers!” “Mitsotakis, minister of crime!”. The struggles of workers in India are part of an international struggle, seen not just in Greece, but in the continuing struggles in Britain, France and beyond – with the same enemies, the same system to confront and overthrow.
22.5 lakh = 22.5 x 100,000 = 2,250,000
12 lakh = 12 x 100,000 = 1,200,000