Tag Archives: CPM

Free Hadiya March on 3 Oct: Citizens for Hadiya

On October 3, students, human rights activists, muslim-dalit-adivasi-bahujan organisations from all over India are converging in Thiruvananthapuram to march for the freedom of the twenty-four-year-old Hadiya, who is under virtual house arrest in the home of her father, Mr Asokan after the shocking annulment of her marriage to her chosen partner by the Kerala HC. The march will begin from the Martyr’s Column, Palayam, at 11 AM and end at the Kerala State Government Secretariat junction. Through this we hope to draw the attention of the public to the grave dangers posed by these decisions of the judiciary and by the shameful silence and criminal inaction of the Kerala government , which claims leftist and secular credentials. We invite all to participate in this march and strengthen the hands of those who are fighting to undo this unspeakable violation of justice to an Indian citizen and the gross attack on the fundamentals of Indian democracy. We also request you to kindly change your Facebook profile pictures to Citizens for Hadiya and/or write supporting posts.

Continue reading Free Hadiya March on 3 Oct: Citizens for Hadiya

Democratic centralism – ‘freedom of thought (sic.) and unity in action’? Rajinder Chaudhary

This is a guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY; you can view his previous post on democratic centralism, on Kafila here.

The title of this note uses a quotation from ‘On Democratic Centralism’ by Com Prakash Karat carried in The Marxist, XXVI, 1, January-March 2010. This piece by the then General Secretary of the CPI(M) and the constitution of CPI(M) available on its official site (as updated in October 2015) throws interesting insights into operationalisation of the principle of democratic centralism, which recently once again came into public view in the Jagmati Sangwan episode. (All quotations henceforth are from either of these two documents.)

            Prima facie ‘unity in action’ appears quite desirable but is it really so in all situations? Does it require to ‘bind the entire collective into implementing that decision’ in all situations as Karat argues, or ‘the individual shall subordinate himself to the will of the collective’ as article XIII 1(b) of party constitution requires? Do all actions-decisions that a communist party undertakes in a parliamentary democracy like ours are of the war like situation requiring marshalling of all resources without exception? Obviously, all organisational decisions cannot be equally crucial to require binding the whole organization to it. Why can’t there be freedom of action where some members or units decide to focus on health issues and others on educational issues, and some may refrain from either? Why can’t some members/units try particular tactics of organization, follow a calendar of their own and others a different one? If it sounds that one is stretching the centralism aspect a bit too far, it may be noted that Karat points out that the ‘democracy is practiced, before the conference when the political line is being formulated. Centralism comes in when the line is being implemented’, ‘when the party is formulating its policies, at the time of conferences etc., there will be democracy in action, free discussions within the party forums. Once a call for action is given, the aspect of centralism will predominate’. As if defining the political line once in three years, clinches everything and thereafter, on no other issues independent and dencentralised decisions can be taken. In fact article XXXIII of the party constitution, makes it explicit that democratic centralism means “the centralised leadership based on inner-Party democracy under the guidance of the centralised leadership”. There is a whole article on “Inner-Party Discussions” (article XXI) which states thatState Committee can initiate inner-Party discussion on an important question of Party policy concerning that particular State… with the approval of the Central Committee” (emphasis added). So, even discussion at state level on state issues can only be initiated with the approval of the Central Committee (and off course format has to be approved too). This amply clarifies the meaning of ‘freedom of thought (sic.) and unity in action’ and where emphasis lies in ‘democratic centralism’. No wonder many times one has come across situation where Party members are just curious to know what the party line on particular issue was and not the detailed arguments and would not speak on a current issue until unless party line was clear.

Continue reading Democratic centralism – ‘freedom of thought (sic.) and unity in action’? Rajinder Chaudhary

सी पी एम के भीतर जनतांत्रिक विरोध के अधिकार का प्रश्न – जगमती सांगवान के बहाने

सी पी एम या भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी (मार्क्सवादी) पिछले दिनों अपनी एक सदस्य की वजह से खबर में रही. अनुशासनहीनता के कारण जगमती सांगवान को पार्टी से निकालने का निर्णय किया गया,ऐसी सूचना उसके वक्तव्य में दी गई है. जगमती पार्टी की केन्द्रीय समिति की सदस्य थीं.

जगमती सांगवान को पार्टी से निकाला बाद में गया, केन्द्रीय समिति की बैठक के दौरान ही पहले वे बाहर निकल आई थीं और प्रेसवालों के सामने पार्टी छोड़ने का ऐलान कर दिया था.लेकिन कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी में ही नहीं,किसी भी पार्टी में शायद ही किसी सदस्य को खुद पार्टी से अलग होने का गौरव लेने दिया जाता रहा हो! यह फैसला पार्टी ही कर सकती है कि सदस्य का रिश्ता पार्टी से कैसा और कितना लंबा होगा.इसलिए कम से कम इस आधार पर सी पी एम की आलोचना करने के पहले पार्टियों के तंत्र की आलोचना करने की आवश्यकता होगी. Continue reading सी पी एम के भीतर जनतांत्रिक विरोध के अधिकार का प्रश्न – जगमती सांगवान के बहाने

The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by RAVI SINHA

…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer[1]

Future historians of India may well describe the past year as a year of political sin. This was the year in which the man who had earlier presided over the Gujarat Carnage was awarded the ultimate prize. The year saw an election that touched a new low marked by shallowness, vulgarities and lies – in no small measure by the labors of the man himself. Equally appalling have been the exertions of a large class of literati and glitterati to portray philistinism and inanities spouted by the most powerful mouth as wisdom of a visionary leader.

An entire country seems to have gone blind – unable to see that the emperor has no clothes. In this age of incessant television it should be obvious to anyone that the supreme leader does not carry conviction even when enunciating relatively higher banalities. He is at his natural best only when he mocks someone as a shehzada or slanders and vilifies an entire community through phrases such as ame paanch, amara pachees. It is an irony of history that the republic which had Nehru as its first prime minister has one now for whom even common mythology is too cerebral. He must vulgarize Pushpak Viman and Ganesha and reduce them to quackeries of aviation and surgery.

Misfortune of the nation goes beyond the man. Forces of the diabolic housed in the hydra-headed Parivaar can now accomplish the impossible. They can now occupy the political center stage without leaving off the lunatic fringe. They can adopt Gandhi without renouncing Godse; erect world’s tallest statue of a leader who had punished their forefathers for assassinating Gandhi; even co-opt Bhagat Singh without batting an eyelid about what he stood for and what he had to say about ideologies like theirs. They can further refine the art of doublespeak. Their “statesmen” can pave the way for corporate plunder and call it sab ka vikas (development for all). Their “ideologues” can advocate sab ka saath (inclusion of all) by exhorting Hindu women to give birth to a minimum of four children each, lest Hindus are reduced to a minority “in their own country”. Continue reading The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

AAP’s Divide & Rule: Satya Sagar

Guest post by Satya Sagar

While the Indian media goes ballistic over the possibility of a split in the Aam Aadmi Party and ardent supporters stand demoralised, for me this is probably the best news I have heard since the party’s historic win in the recent Delhi assembly elections. I love anything with ‘splittist tendencies’.

The reason is simple. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the nature of living systems, particularly microbial life (and this is a bacterial planet we live on) one of its fundamental characteristics is ‘divide and rule’. Let me explain in more detail, before Markandeya Katju accuses me of being a ‘British agent’.

Basically, anything that possesses life, propagates and spreads its influence only through the process of splitting itself repeatedly till it finds its true balance within the larger ecosystem. All of evolution is possible only because of the constant churning, that results in repeated mutation of basic genetic structures, from which the most durable and relevant ones survive.

Lifeless, inanimate objects on the other hand, by definition, do not possess any internal contradictions and can move around only when pushed by external forces. In political terms it is simple to understand this point – when was the last time the Congress, BJP or for that matter CPI or CPM split anywhere?  If there is no opinion at all, there can’t be a ‘difference of opinion’ too. Continue reading AAP’s Divide & Rule: Satya Sagar

From dynasty to plain nasty: Satya Sagar

  Guest post by SATYA SAGAR

The shocking spectacle of Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor of The Hindu, being forced out of his post by a cabal of its owners is a brutal reminder to journalists all over the country that however fine a professional you may be you will always remain at the mercy of media proprietors.

Just around two years ago when N. Ram, the then Editor of The Hindu, passed on the mantle to Varadarajan, a highly respected and independent journalist, he had touted the move as a radical shift away from being a family run outfit to one headed by professionals.

Ram’s motives were neither clear nor very noble, engaged as he was in a bitter struggle with his siblings over control of the newspaper. Still, for the newspaper to move away from its long tradition of tight family control was a welcome, positive departure in a land where dynasties run everything from politics and religion to cricket and cinema.

Unfortunately, this flowering of corporate democracy was not to last too long. Ultimately the family managed to strike back with a vengeance, ganging up in a Board of Director’s meeting to demote Siddharth from the post of Editor to ‘Contributing Editor and Senior Columnist’ prompting his immediate resignation. Continue reading From dynasty to plain nasty: Satya Sagar

Mad Rush for Top CPM Jobs!: CPI (Mohammad Rafi) News Service

Guest Post by CPI ( Mohammad Rafi) News Service

Mad Rush for Top CPM Jobs!:  CPI (Mohammad Rafi) News Service

New Delhi, 15 July 2012: The CPI(M) headquarters saw a mad rush of job applicants after General Secretary Prakash Karat said in a magazine interview that his party paid Rs. 3000-4000 to its whole-time cadre as salary every month. Job seekers from around the country clamoured for immediate appointment to as full time party cadre amidst unruly scenes reminiscent of a typical day at the Indian Parliament.

Karat had mentioned this figure while answering a question as to why the Party’s leaders were mostly from upper caste and middle class backgrounds. According to the CPM General Secretary working class members were hesitant to become whole-timers as ‘ it’s not easy to survive on this small amount’. Continue reading Mad Rush for Top CPM Jobs!: CPI (Mohammad Rafi) News Service

Mamata’s order that stoked the media war: Independent Observer

[This is a guest post by an independent journalist journalist and in Kolkata]

How difficult is to make a choice between the Caligula and the powerful senators who plotted against him, purportedly to save Rome from the populist-turned paranoid emperor?
The question comes to one’s mind in view of the ongoing public spat between Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and a powerful section of Bengal media which has virtually likened her to a female (a non-libidinous also) version of Caligula. The row, that now involves pro and anti-Mamata media blocs also, has been triggered by a recent government order asking 2500 plus state-run and aided libraries to subscribe, initially, to eight pro-government newspapers —five Bengali, two Urdu and one Hindi— barring the market leaders in these segments. The circular of the state libraries and mass education department cited the ‘promotion of free-thinking’ as the reason behind favouring the chosen newspapers.

However, the issues involved are neither limited to Mamata’s increasing attempts to browbeat critical media as the aggrieved houses are complaining about nor her well-meaning effort to support ‘small’, resource-starved newspapers against their big brothers as she herself and beneficiaries of her patronage are claiming. A closer scrutiny reveals that there are more to it beyond the binary of Oraamra (them and us), now part of Bengal’s political and media lexicon after Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s infamous bragging over his government’s brute majority in the state assembly in order to rubbish all opposition to his policies. Continue reading Mamata’s order that stoked the media war: Independent Observer

Old Left is Dying! Long Live the Left!

[Following the publication of the previous post – the statement on the future of the Left, we have received some important comments that seek to take the debate forward, alongside those predictable, invective laden rants that we know only too well by now. We need to keep the debate on the future of the Left in India going, irrespective of these comments that seek to derail any meaningful discussion. We must continue to assert that ‘the Left’ far exceeds the decadent and decrepit lot that now goes by the name of Left parties in this country. This  post is a slightly modified and longer version of an article that appeared in Bengali yesterday in Ekdin.]

In a recent newspaper article, former Left Front finance minister Ashok Mitra, observed: “The Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has not merely lost the poll in West Bengal, it has been made mincemeat of.” He was underlining the obvious, catastrophic significance of the results – at least from the Left Front’s perspective. The signs are there for everybody to see, especially when all important leaders of the LF government have faced resounding defeat and the overall vote share of the LF has declined by almost 9 percent since the last assembly election. Mitra’s reference is important as much was being made of the fact that he signed in support of the LF in the course of the election campaign.

But such was the state of drunkenness in power, that only a Biman Bose could say, when virtually everyone knew what was coming, that the LF would still gain a comfortable majority and those who were predicting their decline would have to “swallow their own spit.” More incredibly, even after the elections, indeed after the results came in, both Bose and Prakash Karat in Delhi focused on the fact that their votes had increased by 11 lakh votes in absolute terms. Of course, the minor detail they mentioned in passing was that the TMC alliance had increased its votes much more. The even more minor point that there had been as many as 4.8 million more votes polled this time as compared to 2009 was, of course, beside the point.

Continue reading Old Left is Dying! Long Live the Left!

A Few Lessons on Marxism and Politics

“At a certain point in their historical lives, social classes become detached from their traditional parties. In other words, the traditional parties in that particular organizational form, with the particular men who constitute, represent and lead them, are no longer recognized by their class (or fraction of a class) as its expression” – Antonio Gramsci, Prison Noteboooks, International Publishers, New York, 1971, p. 210. Emphasis added)

This is how Gramsci, sitting inside Mussolini’s fascist prison, began his now celebrated discussion of the ‘crisis of hegemony’. I cite this here apropos of the discussion that has gone on some of the previous posts by Monobina Gupta, Sankar Ray and myself on the CPM/Left in West Bengal, in the course of which, I have been accused of ‘coming out’ as a supporter of the Trinamool Congress, which some have also termed as a fascist or even ‘super-fascist’ organization! Clearly, these gentlemen neither know the history of fascism nor indeed of Marxism. Fed on pamphlets of a certain marxist catechism, they have learnt only one thing: the division of the world into two camps where ostensibly, battle lines are permanently drawn between parties that apparently have a ‘mandate from heaven’ of bearing a particular class character, either bourgeois or working class. I hope none of those who have learnt their ‘dialectics’ or their ‘historical materialism’ from marxism-made-easy pamphlets of Emile Burns, Maurice Cornforth and Stalin will jump to pronounce Gramsci a postmodernist who denies this supposed ‘class essence’ of parties . (I am told though that these too are passe now; ‘cadres’ these days are not meant to read beyond party resolutions and ‘theoretical’ essays of Prabhat Patnaik, whose own world has stopped with Michal Kalecki).

Continue reading A Few Lessons on Marxism and Politics

वामपंथ, माकपा और जनवादी क्रांति बकौल प्रभात पटनायक

[This post is a response to Prabhat Patnaik’s article ‘Why the Left Matters’ which appeared in the Indian Express on 17 March. A version has appeared in two parts in Jansatta]

पांच राज्यों में विधान सभा चुनाव हो रहे हैं. इनमें से दो, बंगाल और केरल वाममोर्चा शासित प्रदेश हैं. केरल में तो भारत के अन्य राज्यों की तरह  चुनावों के परिणामस्वरूप सरकारें बदलती रही हैं , बंगाल ने पिछले  चौंतीस  साल से वाम मोर्चे के अलावा किसी और सरकार का तजुर्बा करना ज़रूरी नहीं समझा है. इसे अक्सर बंगाल की जनता की राजनीतिक परिपक्वता के तौर पर व्याख्यायित किया गया है. बौद्धिक जगत में साम्यवादी विचार की वैधता के लिए भी जनता द्वारा दिए गए इस स्थायित्व का इस्तेमाल वैसे ही किया जाता रहा है जैसे कभी सोवियत संघ और अन्य पूर्वी युरोपीय देशों या अभी भी चीन में  साम्यवादी दल के  सत्ता के अबाधित रहने से उसे प्राप्त था.  बल्कि कई बार इसे अन्य  राज्यों की जनता के राजनीतिक दृष्टि से पिछ्ड़े होने के प्रमाण के रूप में भी पेश किया जाता रहा है . इस बार स्थिति कुछ बदली हुई लग रही है. अगर बंगाल में अनेक स्तरों के स्थानीय निकायों के चुनाव कुछ इशारा कर रहे हैं तो वह सत्ता परिवर्तन का है.

Prabhat Patnaik, leading CPI-M aligned intellectual
Prabhat Patnaik, leading CPI-M aligned intellectual

संसदीय प्रणाली पर आधारित लोकतांत्रिक व्यवस्था में इस प्रकार का परिवर्तन जीवन का नियम माना जाता है, बल्कि इस अस्थिरता में ही उसकी जीवंतता का स्रोत भी देखा जा सकता है. लेकिन बंगाल की जनता द्वारा मत-परिवर्तन की संभावना एक विशेष बौद्धिक संवर्ग के लिए चिंता का विषय बन गई है. प्रख्यात अर्थशास्त्री प्रभात पटनायक ने कुछ पहले इस संकेत की असाधारणता की ओर ध्यान दिलाते हुए एक टिप्पणी लिखी है. बल्कि यह जनता और विशेषकर भारत के शिक्षित समुदाय से एक अपील ही है – भारत की लोकतांत्रिक क्रांति की रक्षा की अपील. उनके कहने का सार यह है कि भारत की सतत वर्धमान लोकतांत्रिक क्रांति पर प्रतिक्रांतिकारी शक्तियों के बादल मंडरा रहे हैं और इस बार यह खतरा वास्तविक और आसन्न है. इस खतरे का सामना करने के लिए प्रभात आवश्यक मानते हैं कि वामपंथ को चुनाव में प्रतिकूल परिणाम न झेलना पड़ॆ.  उनके अनुसार वामपंथ को कोई भी चुनावी धक्का दरअसल लोकतांत्रिक क्रांति के लिए मरणांतक आघात साबित हो सकता है.

Continue reading वामपंथ, माकपा और जनवादी क्रांति बकौल प्रभात पटनायक

Scorched by Blind-spots – Prabhat Babu and the CPI(M): Andaleeb Mondal

Guest post by ANDALEEB MONDAL

[Recently Prabhat Patnaik published an article “Dial M for modernity” in The Telegraph, about what is right about the CPI(M). This piece is a response to that article. There are some very elliptical Bengal-specific references in the piece that have been retained as they add to the flavour. AN]

The CPI(M) regime is alive in West Bengal and Kerala. As the numbers go, it could hardly be more alive in Bengal, its throbbing vitality being underscored by a now-famous comparison of assembly seats between the CPI(M) led Left Front and the principal opposition – “Amra 235, ora 35” ( We are 235, they are 35).This famous phrase was uttered by a self-proclaimed progressive writer with supreme empathy for toiling masses, who incidentally is the nephew of another writer-poet whose progressive credentials and dedication to people’s causes resonated in Bengal and beyond, without having the honour of being propped up by state sponsorship. Of course I am being snide and I do not intend to embark on a comparative literary analysis. To look for evidence of continuity among them is absurd – the filial accident being least of the reasons. However, conjuring up continuities do serve some purpose, occasionally.

Times shape people vice versa and such mutual shaping has always happened – sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes vigorously. They do bear the imprint of past times and ethos and hence in the absence of observable points of radical change, one may fall into the trap of assuming a kind of “historical” continuity. This idea of continuity can obfuscate continuous drifts in time. In the life of political organizations and ideologies , such feigned continuities primarily have a three-pronged way of self-maintainance. Let me call them – rituals, manifestos and lastly, for lack of a better epithet, kula-devatas ( clan deities). This permeates most political formations in the Indian landscape – the present discussion is about the CPI(M). However, a semblance of similarity in these Three Great cliches can be kept up.

Continue reading Scorched by Blind-spots – Prabhat Babu and the CPI(M): Andaleeb Mondal

When Buddha Did Not Smile: Monobina Gupta

This is a guest post by MONOBINA GUPTA

Buddhadeb with Tata building as backdrop, courtesy Calcuttans.com
Buddhadeb with a laterally inverted Tata as backdrop, courtesy Calcuttans.com

As the true magnitude of the West Bengal election results sank in, a sulking Buddhadeb responded, stonewalling the media as if to say that had it not been for them the Party would have romped home victorious! Here is a conversation reported in The Telegraph (May 18,2009). The reporters in Writer’s Building asked the Chief Minister:

Is it true that you have offered to resign?

No reply.

Will you step down as chief minister owning moral responsibility for the party’s debacle?

No reply.

Why didn’t you go to Delhi to attend the CPM politburo meeting?

No reply.

Silence has rarely been so eloquent in the corridors of Writers’ Buildings as when a grim-faced Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee walked out at 1.30 pm for lunch at home.
Faced with a volley of questions whether he had offered to resign, the Bengal chief minister left without replying. The Telegraph had reported that the chief minister had offered to resign but CPM boss Prakash Karat had been trying to make him change his mind.

This is not the first time Bhattacharjee has faced tricky questions but he usually deflects them by saying “I don’t reply to questions flung at me from the corridors’’.
But this afternoon, he opted for silence.

Continue reading When Buddha Did Not Smile: Monobina Gupta

Welcome to Kerala’s Haven of Ease and Vice — Chengara

Make no mistake — this is not my assessment. I’ve just borrowed it from our Chief Minister, the redoubtable V.S. Achuthananadan, the foremost of (official) revolutionaries in Kerala, whose memories of struggle stretch back right up to the workers’ uprising of the 1940s in south Kerala, the Punnapra-Vayalar, celebrated in communist myth and legend.  In September this year it appeared as if the CPM was ready to negotiate with the protestors, but nothing has really moved. The latter have hung firm in their resolve, it requires a rather strange imagination to read that as evidence for ‘peace and prosperity’ at Chengara. The Congress has now emerged, after much slumber, with support for the struggle, and V.M. Sudheeran, one of the most popular and respected leaders of the Congress, has sharply condemned the CM’s statement (below).

Continue reading Welcome to Kerala’s Haven of Ease and Vice — Chengara

Singur, Mediotics and an NGO Called Indian Express

[Note: Television was often referred to as the the idiot-box. For very sound reasons. It produced idiocy on a regular basis. It still does. But in these days, this is no longer the monopoly of the televisual media. Newspapers too are doing pretty much the same. Let us call this specific form of media-generated idiocy, rampant among media persons, mediocy and the phenomenon, mediotics. Those affected by it will then be mediots.]

I know that someone will immediately step in to correct me to say that Indian Express is not an NGO. But if one looks at the completely illiterate use of the term made by the Indian media, then anything that is not ‘governmental’ is ‘non-governmental’ and can, hence, be called an NGO. Except that for the large mass of ignoramuses peopling the media i.e. mediots, this is a safe term to describe an animal that you cannot identify. Continue reading Singur, Mediotics and an NGO Called Indian Express

Leftist Babel in Kerala

There is still the eerie silence here about the land struggle at Chengara, but we are nearly deaf from listening to talk, talk, and more talk about the redistribution of surplus land to landless dalit people. Everyone, from Karat to Pinarayi Vijayan to VS, to even that undaunted champion of liberal ‘minimum entitlements’ welfarism, T.M. Thomas Isaac, is talking of redistributing surplus land to landless dalits (adivasis, according to some,or landless ‘poor’ according to others, ‘poor’ according to yet others…).

That seems rather odd.Talking with some minor CPM intellectual-bhikshaamdehis the other day (who are of course still patiently waiting for ‘more and accurate information’) I could see a sense of wounded innocence. “Don’t forget,” one of them told me,”it is the CPM that campaigned for redistribution of surplus land.” What they do not want to acknowledge — in the very specific present, of course — was that this promise was never fulfilled. Indeed, the so-called ‘class agenda’of the dominant left was more or less treated as over in the early 1970s;the left’s achievements after this did not touch upon redistribution of productive resources to the agricultural working classes. Indeed, we have seen the expansion of mass welfare — mass housing, fixing minimum wages, making available welfare pensions through welfare funds for unorganised sector workers, and so on.We have also seen the welfare system’s indirect acknowledgement of the rise of the consumer-citizen in Kerala — for instance, in the state-run Maveli stores.

Continue reading Leftist Babel in Kerala

Update on Chengara

On 14 August, leading dalit activists from Kerala protested in Pathanamthitta against the continued road blockade organised by the joint front of trade unions which claim to be fighting for the rights of plantation workers. They were prevented from proceeding to Chengara and were arrested, to be released by evening. Meanwhile, the trade unions agreed to lift the blockade by 3 at noon. They however demand that the people who have occupied the plantation should all leave in 10 days’ time, and if this does not happen, the blockade will be on again.

Press coverage has improved somewhat but not much. Even the sworn enemies of the left, like the Malayala Manorama, have kept largely silent. Not surprising, though — the Congress and others, including the interests that this newspaper represents, are patiently waiting for the LDF government to dig its own grave by provoking a Nandigram-like situation. Once the calamity begins, they will of course move in, like vultures. The Centre too of course is watching and waiting for CPM to make another big mistake.

These are strange times.There is a raging debate now on within the CPM and the LDF about the pending approval to proposed SEZs, and one of the key points of the conflict has to do with trade union presence within them.While a powerful section within the CPM wants to curtail workers’ rights within the SEZs,outside, on the road to Chengara, trade unions attack their ‘enemies’ — landless and marginalised people.

The Chengara Struggle Committee has called for protest meetings all over the State on 23 August; it has also appealed for a protective human chain around Chengara on 25 August.

Flashpoint Chengara: March Against Blockade Tomorrow

AN APPEAL from the PANCHAMI DALIT FEMINIST COLLECTIVE, Kottayam, to join the march on August 14th, against sexual harassment and human rights violations at the site of the struggle for land at Chengara, Pathanamthitta, Kerala.

[Below is an urgent appeal from Chengara, Kerala, where a land struggle has been on for the past one year. There seems to be a general elite consensus about refusing citizenship to the 7500 landless families that have occupied government land there; more ominously, there seems to be also the determination to punish them. Since early August a road blockade has been going on led by the united front of trade unions defending the right of (eighty) workers in the occupied Chengara plantation. Apparently, there are also ‘criminal elements’- the trade unions and the police, poor things, know nothing of them – who have been violently stopping activists from reaching the settlement.The CPM intellectuals in Kerala are patiently waiting for ‘more and accurate’ information, as they were when some of us approached them proposing a protest around Nandigram last year. Reports of starvation, sickness,and sexual assault are reaching us from Chengara but there is no way we can get there.Now, what is this? A new form of illegal custody? A new form of sexual harassment in custody? On 14 August, dalit activists and organisations are planning a march to Chengara, and hopefully food and medical supplies can be taken there. Please circulate this appeal widely – we have to stop another Nandigram– JD]

A historic land struggle has been unfolding at Chengara in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala, involving about 7500 families, Continue reading Flashpoint Chengara: March Against Blockade Tomorrow

Nuclear Deal, ‘National Interest’ and the Indian Left – PK Sundaram

It is the Indian left’s concurrence, rather than its disagreement, with the idea of a nuclear future (including nuclear weapons) that has made its case weak and inaudible to the larger masses.

Contextualizing the deal

In a charged atmosphere produced by the backers and opponents of the deal both pitching their positions in terms of ‘national interests’, it would be necessary not to lose sight of its broader meanings and implications.

In its essence, the deal is about opening up of the restrictions over nuclear commerce put on India after its 1974 ‘peaceful nuclear tests’. Though initiated and facilitated by the United States, this move will provide India access to international markets in nuclear fuel, material and technology, in accordance to the safeguards and guidelines of the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). While it would imply huge imports from the US, the deal also removes international fetters on nuclear trade with other countries including Russia, China, France and Australia whose corporations would get major business orders from India once the deal comes into effect.

Read the full article here.

Textbooks and Intolerance, Communal and Secular

Once again, religious sentiments have been hurt. This time in the God’s own Country, Kerala . And the culprit is a small portion of a lesson from the social science textbook for class vii, part i. It has been alleged by groups claiming to represent Muslims and Christians that this particular lesson preaches atheism. It sticks because the government which is getting the textbooks published is led by Marxists and there is a perception that Marxists have a pathological hatred for religion. Kerala has been witness to a bitter controversy on the faith only recently in which the church and the CPM were at loggerheads. So, there is a background to the new battle over a small lesson in a class seven textbook. But first let us try to look at the facts.

Continue reading Textbooks and Intolerance, Communal and Secular

Commissar Karat in October 1917

In his opening passage of the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx attributed to Hegel (somewhat mistakenly) the idea “that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice” and added sardonically that Hegel forgot to add: “First time as tragedy, second time as farce.” He went on to illustrate his comment thus: “Caussidiere for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the Montagne of 1848 to 1851[66] for the Montagne of 1793 to 1795, the nephew for the uncle. And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances of the second edition of the Eighteenth Brumaire.”

Marx’s point was simple but profound. The tradition of the dead generations, he claimed, weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living: “Just as they [revolutionaries, ‘men’] seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95.”

Continue reading Commissar Karat in October 1917