The New Wave’s Weblog

Maoist Quarterly from India

New Wave No:1

Posted by thenewwave on April 18, 2008


Capitalist restoration in China was a major setback of the second half of the 20th century for the International Communist Movement. Later on,the collapse of the Soviet Social Imperialist bloc also had a big impact on various Maoist parties all over the world resulting in serious wrangling within them. As a result, a number of Parties abandoned revolutionary Marxism and climbed on the bandwagon of social Democracy. Some others even went to the extreme of refuting Communism itself, and plunged in to the quagmire of bourgeois democracy. Being unable to grasp the ideological under currents of these events, many became ideologically bankrupt. Even then a few Communist Parties could come out with more ideological clarity; boldly defending and upholding revolutionary Marxism. In this process, they not only advanced in the evaluation of historical experiences but could make ideological advancements also. This has paved way to a deeper recognition and grasp of universality of Mao’s contributions resulting in establishing Maoism as the third and higher stage in the development of Marxism. Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) which is the embryonic centre of the world’s Maoist forces, played a vital, role in establishing Marxism-Leninism-Maoism the world over as the advanced ideological weapon in the hands of the proletariat to defeat all the enemies of mankind.

Maoism has brought a new vigour to the oppressed masses the world over, as directly seen in the People’s Wars in Nepal, Peru, India, Turkey and the Philippines. A new wave of revolution is emerging in the world spearheaded by Maoist forces.

South Asia is turning in to a major storm centre of revolution. Revolutionary upheaval in Nepal under the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has already rendered sleepless nights to the imperialists and their comprador agents in South Asia.

In our country too a new stirring up is visible. ‘The New Wave’ will strive to embrace and convey the power of this new revolutionary motion in its diverse aspects and to help in sharpen its ideological weapon.


Globalisation and Unemployment


George Joseph

One of the greatest myths created by the advocates of globalisations is being demolished by the latest report of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) regarding the employment situation at the world level. According, to the report, ‘Global Employment Trend, Brief-Jan 06’ of ILO, global employment generation is highly inadequate resulting in massive unemployment. It warns that this job crisis is one of the biggest “security risks” of our time. The report says “The world’s unemployment rate stood at 6.3 percent, unchanged from the previous year and 0.3 percent points higher than a decade earlier. In total, nearly 191.8 million people were unemployed around the world in 2005, an increase of 2.2 million since 2004, and 34.4 million since 1995. All most half of the unemployed people in the world are young people, a troublesome figure given that youths makeup only 25 percent of the working age population. Young people are more than three times as adults to be unemployed”.

This dismal picture of global unemployment is coming out amidst euphoria on economic growth everywhere. For many years, the ruling classes and their economists have been emphasising the need of improving economic growth rate to contain unemployment and generate more jobs. This idea was widely propagated from the beginning of imperialist globalisation all over the world. In many of the developing countries including India, liberalisation of the economy and structural adjustment programmes were implemented in this line. One of the earliest documents on liberalisation initiated in 1991, published by the finance ministry in 1993, says that the aim of the economic reforms was “to put the economy on a sustainable path of 6 to 7 percent growth and it is essential if we are to break the age-old bonds of poverty, which continue to afflict so many millions of our people”.[1] If we look back we can easily see that this one–sided concern over economic growth was the product of 1990s. But, in actual life there exists no one to one correlation between economic growth (measured in GDP) and employment generation. Though, the global economic growth rate was 5.1 percent in 2005, employment growth rate was 1.7 percent. This trend is the same with every country.

“At the end of 2005, 2.85 billion people aged 15 and older were in work, up 1.5 percent over the previous year, and up 16.5 percent since 1995. How many of the new jobs created in 2005 were decent jobs is difficult to estimate at this point but given the experience of the last years it is not likely that it is the majority”, says the ILO report. Here, the term in work needs some clarification. According to the ILO definition, this means those who are self-employed, employed, employers as well as unpaid family members. In this, self-employed must include the ‘discouraged labour force’, those who turn to some other means of survival being unable to find any job. For example consider the case of a rag picker on the street. According to ILO’s definition, the rag picker is a self-employed person and hence in work! And, the unpaid family members of the very same rag picker, who is ‘self-employed’, are also in work! If such people were removed from those in work, the total number of unemployed would double. Instead of doing that, it introduces another category, working poor people, those unable to earn 2 $ (nearly 90 Rupees) per day. According to imperialist standards, these are people below poverty line. As per ILO’s data itself, working poor people constitute around 6.7 percent of the total employment. That is, out of 2.85 billion workers 1.9 billion cannot be really considered to be employed or in work. Global employment to population ratio also has declined as per the ILO report. This is a measure of the share of world’s working age population (between 15 years and 59 years) that is in work. It has declined from 62.8 percent in 1995 to 61.4 percent in 2005. For young people aged between 15 and 24 years it has declined from 51.7 percent in 1995 to 46.7 percent in 2005. In comparison to the general adult working age population, the rate of decline of employment opportunity for the young people is very high. Global youth unemployment is 3.5 times that of the adults. This shows the increasing job crunch at the world level.

Table 1: Unemployment in the world-1995, 2000, 2002-2005(million)





























Source: ILO, Global Employment Trend Model-2006

ILO Director General, Juan Somavia writes, “…what we are increasingly concerned about at the International Labour Organisation is that the world is sliding into an unprecedented global job crisis”. According to him during the past 10 years official unemployment has grown by more than 25 percent. Of these unemployed, 86 million, that is nearly half of the global total, are young people aged between 15 and 24 years. As of 2005 more than 15 percent of the youth in the world are unemployed. Though the youth’s population have grown by 10.5 percent over the last 10 years youth employment grew by just 0.2 percent.

Within this global scenario, let as see what is there in stock for us here in our country? The recent survey report of National Sample survey Organisation (NSSO) related to 2004 shows a substantial increase of unemployment. In comparison to the unemployment in urban areas, rural unemployment is very high. According to the report, rural unemployment has almost doubled from that of 1993-1994 for both men and women. On the basis of government’s own definition of ‘labour force’ and ‘work force’ rural unemployment, which was 5.6 percent for both men and women in 1993-94, has increased to 9 percent and 9.3 percent respectively in 2004. In the urban area, unemployment has increased from 6.7 and 10.7 percent to 8.1 and 11.7 respectively for men and women in 2004.

Table 2: Unemployment rate among men and women(as % of labour force)


Rural men

Rural women

Urban men

Urban women
















Source: National Sample Survey Organisation

Table 3: Level of unemployment (million persons)











Labour force





Work force










Unemployment rate (%)





Source: Calculated from National Sample Survey (Current Daily Status Basis)

According to the official calculations, the total number of unemployed people has increased from 20.13 million in 1993-94 to about 46 million in 2005. That is, the total number of unemployed has doubled during the past 10 years. Data available from 947 Employment Exchanges, as on September 2004, show that 40.8 million job seers were registered with the employment exchanges. Out of that, about 70 percent were educated (ie. 10th standard and above) 26 percent were women. Those placed through the employment exchanges at the all India level during the period of January–September 2004 was near about 0.103 million – a placement of 0.25 percent of the jobseekers. Functionally, employment exchanges are not serving the purpose for which they were meant. It was based on this justification that the NDA government once planned to get rid of it; they had a similar logic for the attempt to discard the public distribution system, saying that people don’t purchase from ration shops! How will people purchase such rotten grains distributed through ration shops and how can employment exchanges provide non-existent jobs? Instead of addressing the real issues, the rulers are resorting to circular logic to further their class interests.

Though, employment and poverty alleviation were the main promises of every government that came and went and elections are still fought on the very same issues, the number of unemployed and poor are increasing day by day. Every five year plan, every budget speech and every election manifesto keeps on speaking about these issues, while the numbers of poor keep on increasing. It was in such a situation, let us remember, that liberalisation policies and structural adjustment programmes were implemented as a part of imperialist globalisation in the name of increasing GDP growth rate for reducing poverty and providing employment. But what is the result of the 15 years of liberalisation?

Except for a brief period of all round recovery of the economy during 1993-95 as a result of the hectic activities in the economy after the opening up, indicators of real development, that is the development of the people, are steeply falling at a rapid pace. When, in every year, 18 million people are added to the working age population (15 years to 59 years) and 8 million are added to the labour force, average job creation was only around 3 million during 1999-2000 and 2 million during 2000-2003, leaving more than 5 million jobless. Annual growth of employment in the agricultural sector, which is the largest employer in the country accounting for 56.7 percent of the employment, was a mere 0.2 percent during 1993-2000 resulting in zero employment elasticity (growth of employment per growth of GDP). Large scale land concentration and widespread mechanisation resulted in the increase of landless households from 35 percent to 41 percent between 1988 and 2000. While landlessness and unemployment ravaged the rural poor, peasants were forced to commit suicide being unable to bear the burden of the so called ‘economic growth’. And this is still that is continuing.

The industrial sector, which provides 17.6 percent of total employment, was facing lack of capital investment, resulting in rapid fall of employment, though there was a huge inflow of foreign capital into the speculative market during the past 15 years of liberalisation. During the period 1991-2001, India received $17.8 billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). But employment in manufacturing sector rose only 1.7 percent during the same period, compared to 28.3 percent in the 1970s and 16.9 percent in the `80s. During the same period, annual addition of employment in the organised sector which employs around 8 million people has gone down from 0.39 million in 1990 to – 0.17 in 2001. This means retrenchment or loss of job. It is estimated that around 1.3 million (13 percent of the work force) employees lost their jobs between 1995 and 2002.

After the opening up of the economy, FDI and Foreign Institutional Investments (FII) flowed in on a large scale resulting in the boom of stock market indexes, a fictitious growth of economy and increased total foreign exchange reserve. Everything was the result of the pumping in of speculative capital. We remember the euphoria created during the time of NDA government when the stock market index crossed 6000 points. Today the stock market is above 12000 points. Foreign exchange reserves crossed $140 billion. GDP growth rate is somewhere around 8.5 percent. In comparison to the NDA government the UPA government is in a better position to campaign about a ‘super shining India’ outsmarting the NDA campaign on ‘shining India’. What is exactly shining is nothing but the speculative capital of multinational corporations and their Indian counterparts.

Table 4: Annual Addition to Organised Sector Employment (million jobs)























One segment of the service sector that was much glorified during the past years of liberalisation was Information Technology (IT). Though it was providing a mere 0.2 percent of the total employment, it was projected as the hope of hopeless jobseekers. Apart from attracting a section of the upward mobile middle class jobseekers, it cannot be considered as a viable solution for the ever swelling unemployment. But the campaigners of liberalisation still project the IT sector as a major source of employment.

It is not that the rulers are not aware of the grave situation. To hoodwink the people, they resort to jugglery and arithmetical manipulations, in order to present a lighter picture of unemployment, in the same way as they brought down the number of Below Poverty Line population. Discouraged labourers, those who withdraw themselves from jobseeking being unable to get a job, are not at all considered by the government data. Their number is not reflected in the calculations of the government. At the same time, those who eke out some means for minimum survival are considered to be employed! In government data, disguised unemployment is not reflected at all. If all these sections of unemployed people are properly accounted for, the real picture of unemployment that emerges would be more frightening. Yet, the UPA government is now preparing to change labour regulations, thus making it easier for employers to throw out workers!

Saroj Dutta –Not Merely A Person of Literature, But An Architect of Socio-Cultural Consciousness

Asit Sengupta

On 4th August, 1971 night Saroj Kumar Dutta, popularly known as S.D. or Shashanka got arrested from a Kolkata shelter. Next day at dawn after a couple of hours of brutal torture, police-force secretly took him to Maidan of Kolkata, beheaded him and took away his head and left the rest of his body for few hours. And later, they took the possession of that part of the body also. But till today, in official police record, he remains an absconder.

Since then thirty five years have elapsed. Yet he is haunting the whole of West Bengal society. Maoist revolutionaries are still considering him as a pioneer and ideal figure of the revolutionary cultural movement and, a theoretician and an activist. This is quite understandable. But surprisingly, still he is an extremely haunting literary personality for the revisionists, careerists, bootlickers and or aspirant-bootlickers of the ruling classes. The situation is such that ignoring S.D., nobody can claim to be even a progressive intellectual. Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and the Communist Party of India [CPI], which are continuously playing the anchor-roles in hiding the state-killers of S.D., are still compelled to publish and sell his earlier writings merely giving his full name, i.e., Saroj Kumar Dutta, but not his actual identity. The trick is a simple effort to maneuver the new generation readers so that they will not know about his real ideological and political stands, which they know can tear apart their counter-revolutionary characters.

Is it because of his unusually brutal killing by the police-force, Saroj Dutta became such a sensitive figure? Can we simplify his social contribution by attributing to such benevolent colours and contours of Bengali babudom? If so, why not a single commission to probe his killing constituted by the government could complete its term and babudom is, in fact, passive in this regard? And more so, why at the time of his killing, only a handful of intellectuals came out to lodge their worries about the possibility of such an inhuman treatment with him? At that time seeing the bland and spineless responses of this class, on the killing of Saroj Dutta, poet Birendra Chattopadhyay had to scream in despair:

“In this country is there any human being –

Is myself a human being?”

No, it’s not because of their benevolence and liberalism that the revisionists and comprador babudom are not forgetting Saroj Dutta. They indeed want to do this – with their whole bodies and souls, but the social reality is not permitting them to do so. It is the ideology and practice of Saroj Dutta that has made permanent imprints on Bengal’s socio-cultural fabric. And, that, they are finding fatal for their very existence. Then, how can they ignore or forget him?

From his college life onwards, S.D. was attached with the Communist Movement. He had joined Amrita Bazar Patrika, a Kolkata based English daily news paper, after doing his post-graduation as a Sub-Editor. There he had organised and led trade union strikes for several times. Due to a political strike, he and others lost their job. During the time of that agitation he got married with Comrade Bela Dutta.[2]

Since undivided CPI-days until Naxalbari struggle, S.D. was more confined to the Party-propaganda and literary work. He was in the Editorial Board of CPI’s Bengali daily news paper Swadhinata (Freedom) since early 1940. He was also in the cultural paper of the party, Parichay (Introduction) and later became its Editor. He had initiated another famous literary magazine Agrani. While doing all this work for the Party, he had started to oppose the revisionist line of the Party-leadership which was toeing with Khrushchev’s theory of peaceful transition to Socialism. This had brought him in the fold of CPI(M), thinking that the formation of this new Party would be a real rupture from revisionism. During his CPI(M)-days, he was a member of the Editorial Board of its Bengali weekly Desh Hitaishi (Well wisher of the country) right from its inception. However, almost instantly his hope was shattered. When Naxalbari struggle started, he became an all out supporter of this uprising. Immediately after the Naxalbari peasant uprising along with Sushital Roychowdhury, the Editor-in-Chief, and others, he paid special attention to propagate this struggle as a model for the Indian Communist Revolutionaries through the pages of Desh Hitaishi. Revisionist bosses of CPI(M) were vehemently opposing Naxalbari uprising and they organised some goons to beat and drive out Saroj Dutta and other supporters of Naxalbari from Desh Hitaishi-office. Right from inception of the Bengali eveninger Deshabrati and English periodical Liberation, he was a member of the editorial boards of both of them. Later he became the Editor of Deshabrati. Both were the organs of CPI(ML). The name Liberation was actually proposed by Saroj Dutta.

Saroj Dutta was a prolific, sharp, witty, Marxist writer. Through his poems, he repeatedly tried to demystify the legends in which exploitation and suppression of the poor were tried to be covered up. Even Sukanto Bhattacharya, a great path-breaking poet in Bengali literature, who died in his early twenties, used to acknowledge Saroj Dutta as a poet of stature. However, a few eternally enlightened ‘friends of Revolution’(!) are making vain attempts to propagate that he was not that much an efficient translator, nor a good poet. Clearly, this effort is meant to keep away the younger generation who can be otherwise attracted towards his ideology through his literary works.

It’s true that Saroj Dutta himself was not a path-breaker of Bengali literature like more younger Sukanto Bhattacharya. But his poems and articles, as well as translations, were more concerned to develop consciousness against feudal and imperialistic cultural propaganda. Through his poems he repeatedly tried to destroy the myths created by the nobles through centuries. (viz. Shakuntala, Uttar Ramayana etc.). Varvara Rao (VV) a tall poet in recent Telugu revolutionary literature, once commented that, during his student days first time he read the poem Shakuntala in Telugu translation along with other friends and found it as astonishingly iconoclastic giving a new dimension to analyse a myth under which century-old exploitation of women by the nobles were hidden with the ruling classes’ effort to justify their satanic acts as mere coincidence for which disobedience of the nobles by the exploited masses has played the anchor role (consider revising this). Comrade V.V. and others were further astonished to know that such a poem was written in the decade of 1940. As a result, an effort was taken to translate the poems of Saroj Dutta from Bengali to Telugu and now almost all of his poems are translated into Telugu. Indeed, it had upset those who were in clownish acrobatics to prove that Saroj Dutta was not a poet of stature. Moreover, it happened, before these bootlickers could start their business- Saroj Dutta, as a revolutionary poet, had become an all India figure!

Saroj Dutta’s translations from Romain Rolland, Maxim Gorky, N. Krupskaya, Leo Tolstoy, Patrice Lumumba, Langston Huges, Ernest Jones and others made popular among the youth of Bengal. He had taken particular interest to popularise the anti-imperialist and communist scientists through his columns in newspapers.

From the whole literary creations of Saroj Dutta, one can easily find a common theme that he tried to infuse the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist and communist world outlook among the youth of Bengal. When the idol-breaking movement against the comprador ideologues started by the pro-CPI(M-L) revolutionary students and youth, on behalf of the Party he took up the responsibility to give its ideological basis. Precisely this particular quality of Saroj Dutta was the most unsolicited one to the reactionaries of all hues, including the revisionists of all shades, because it sowed the seeds of Revolution.

Ideological Struggles in the Cultural Front

Saroj Dutta had launched three major ideological struggles in the cultural field – one, against the line of thinking of Buddhadeb Basu; two, against that of Samar Sen and third and the most important one during the compradors’ Idol-Breaking Movement in 1970’s. During this time he was the Secretary of West Bengal State Committee of CPI(M-L).

Responding to the speech of Buddhadeb Basu – a well known Bengali poet and scholarly person – given at the conference of Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA), Saroj Dutta raised sharp criticism and exposed its hollowness. Buddhadeb Basu had argued that prior to revolution, in the society there would be suffering, boredom and horror, so to depict them would be the task of the artists and writers. Saroj Dutta’s reply was that the very thinking that art and literature would mechanically depict the facts is an unscientific and self-deceptive thinking. On the contrary, to apply wholeheartedly the individual talent for the destruction of the society that destroys the individual talent is the task of the progressive artists and writers. And he cautioned that introduction of such confused fellows into the Progressive Cultural Movement would weaken the Movement seriously.

Saroj Dutta was more aggressive while replying to the article “In defense of Decadent Cultureby Samar Sen (also a well-known Bengali poet, who later initiated and edited the weekly Frontier). The reason was very obvious. Samar Sen had proposed that writers and artists who are exposing the decadent nature of the prevailing society, are progressives and dictation by the Communist Party to write only the propaganda material cannot be tolerated. Realising the revisionist characteristic of this proposition, Saroj Dutta vehemently attacked this position. He opined that the task of the Communists is to uproot the existing decadence, that’s why Communists cannot afford to bear even a tinge of decadence within them as well as in their movements. In the period of decadence, the art and literature which portray the decadence are not sincere, rather hollow in their approach, it preaches inertness and that way it is counter-revolutionary. Every attempt to rationalise and constructing logic to justify the inertness must be vehemently repudiated, particularly in the period of making revolution. Saroj Dutta also warned that the Communists should be cautious from these “tricky demagogueries”. He had also denied the allegation of Samar Sen that Communist Party had ordered the writers to write propaganda material as factually incorrect.

Now-a-days, a few babus are trying their hard to show that by taking such a stubborn and belligerent step against such revisionist outlooks, Saroj Dutta, in fact, denied the Maoist concept of United Front. In other words, what these United Front-expert-Babus are really pleading for is to give space to petty-bourgeois anarchists, revisionists and compradors in the people’s culture, in the name of their self-styled concept of United Front.

In this respect, it would be pertinent to recall a contemporary debate between Bishnu Dey, another renowned Bengali poet and scholarly person, and Manik Bandopadhyaya, one of the greatest novelist and short story writer that Bengali literature has ever produced , the then president of PWA, Bengal, on the issue that whether writers and artists should be in the Communist Party or not. Bishnu Dey wanted to be a fellow-traveler of the progressives without becoming a member of the Communist Party with the plea that the Communist Party’s discipline restricts and blocks the creativity of the artists and writers. Manik Bandopadhyaya strongly refuted this assertion, and upheld that democracy as the fundamental characteristic of a true Communist Party without giving room to anarchism and concluded that, because of this, dynamism comes only through the Communist Party and sans dynamism one cannot be a progressive and not even a fellow-traveler of them.

Today, one can easily see that this kind of vrindabani lotas[3], who after doing a few initial supportive feats for the exploited classes, finally used to toadying the exploiters. In any language and culture, one will get a number of such examples. But the question remains – how to identify these elements from the beginning? Both S.D. and Manik Bandopadhaya had shown that through the ideological debate, it is possible to identify the alien trends within the intellectuals and it cannot be the question of mechanically discarding them. Unfortunately, such a trend was never developed in our Communist Movement

S.D.’s Last and the Greatest Battle in the Cultural Field

Among the ordinary masses of Bengal, till the time of The Spring Thunder over India , Saroj Dutta was only known as a Communist in the field of literature and journalism. Of course, within the Communist Party, he had a high revolutionary prestige. When Comrade Charu Majumder was trying to organise the Maoist Communist Revolutionaries, he had sent Sauren Bose from Siliguri to Kolkata to make contact particularly with Saroj Dutta and Comrade Sushital Roychowdhury. In later period, S.D. was an active member of the All India Co-ordination Committee of the Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) and right from the formation of CPI(M-L), he was in the West Bengal State Committee. On the other hand, since the beginning of the publications of CPI(M-L)’s Party organs Liberation (in English) and Deshabrati (in Bengali – a daily evening paper), Saroj Dutta was in their Editorial Boards. Afterwards he became the editor of Deshabrati. In the pages of Deshabrati, he had started a regular column: Patrikaar Duniya-ae (In The World of Newspapers) with his pen-name of Shashanka. Instantly, articles in this column became the most sought-after and it became the point of discussion and the source of inspiration for the broad masses of the whole of West Bengal. Through these columns, upholding Maoism and the Comrade Charu Majumder’s line, he openly and unhesitatingly advocated, supported, promoted and encouraged to wage the total war – waging a war against the ruling classes at all the fronts together, i.e., waging war not only at the military front, but also in the fronts of ideology, culture, history, economy et al – against the prevailing semi-colonial and semi-feudal system of our country. Through these columns, he had also exposed the ruling classes’ and their agents’ crookedness and their panic from the revolutionary ideology and armed masses. From the writings of Shashanka, it was very much evident that, he never understood and propagated Revolution as a simplistic question of mere seizure of political power where as he upheld the Maoist concept that in making a Revolution, use of organised armed might of the masses is an essential and basic thing Taking lessons from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China (GPCR), which was going on at that time under the leadership Comrade Mao Tsetung, Saroj Dutta was trying to apply Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the context of India, particularly West Bengal, under the leadership of Comrade Charu Majumder.

At that time, CPI (M-L) was waging armed struggles to build up base areas and People’s Army and the columns of Shashanka was giving unequivocal active support and creating people’s opinion for it. When students and youth, influenced by CPI(M-L) and GPCR, started the Idol-Breaking Movement with their own initiative, Saroj Dutta being a leader of the Party owned it and took up the responsibility to provide the theoretical and ideological basis for this Movement. As Shashanka, first he wrote an article: Murti Bhangaar Samarthane (In Support of the Idol Breaking). In this article, on the basis of Mao Tsetung’s understanding of comprador class, he exploded the comprador-parameter of being a “patriot” and set up people’s parameters to decide a patriot. Simultaneously, he set the guide-line that the object of the Idol-Breaking Movement is on one hand to demolish the social image of the fake patriots built by the compradors and on the other hand to establish the prestige of the pro-people real patriots, who were either relegated to the secondary position, or made ignominious by the compradors. It was indeed a fatal blow to the existing line of thinking to analyse the history of our society and culture. Many ruling classes’ icons got naked as the chamchas[4] of British imperialism and its subservient feudals. The real class character of many so-called social reformations and as well as British introduced education system to develop the compradors – which is still in vogue in our country – got thoroughly exposed. The whole neatly fabricated concept of “Bengal Renaissance” was exposed as an effort by the British imperialists to create a comprador class for them. Due to this Movement, the very concept of ‘Bengal Renaissance’ got such a jolt that even after so many patch up work by the ruling class for so many years, it couldn’t really get back its previous acceptance. Saroj Dutta himself wrote a few studies of some of this type of ‘great persons’ to provide an idea how to analyse them. Comrade Charu Majumder had an agreement with this position where as Comrade Sushital Roychowdhury, though did not object this, had raised some criticism on certain analysis of a few characters. Similarly, few others also later raised some criticism on S.D.’s analysis of Prafulla Chandra Roy.

This Movement along with these articles of Shashanka could create a charged atmosphere in favour of the revolutionary culture all over the West Bengal, particularly among the students and youth. Defying the death and the terror of severe police-torture, broad masses came forward en masse, on one hand to physically smash the idols of the “great persons” established by the ruling classes, and on the other hand, to seriously investigate the compradors-defined “great persons” regarding their true class-characters and collaborationist acts with British imperialism and its subservient feudals. In fact, a number of revolutionaries lost their lives, became maimed by the police-torture for their participation in the Idol-Breaking Movement. As a result, the level of consciousness of broad masses had reached to a new height and in West Bengal a new wave in all the disciplines of revolutionary art and literature emerged. What Saroj Kumar Dutta and like poets could not do by writing poems, this Idol-Breaking Movement and a few articles of Shashanka in relation to this Movement could do, not only that did that in a massive way!

Idol-Breaking Movement had considerably diminished the barrier between the direct and indirect cultural activists. In any society, everybody – whether one can write, draw, sing or play, or not – comes under the ambit of culture. Yet, a general notion came from repeated reactionary propaganda that those who can write, draw, sing or play are THE cultural activists, and others are not. In the particular case of our country, Babudom has almost monopolises these activities. As a result, particularly urban middle-strata Babus , who are having definite access for reading, writing, and other training facilities, became the sole contractors of cultural activities. If anyone from the downtrodden classes is coming up as an artist or writer, either s/he is gobbled up or put down by this class, or goes down anonymously being ignored. Imperialism is extremely keen to keep up and expand this mechanism. S.D. had an earlier understanding that ruling classes had widened the natural gap between the direct and indirect cultural activists. In the debate with Samar Sen, he had particularly raised this point. During the Idol-Breaking Movement, first time in the history of Indian Communist Movement, the direct and indirect cultural activists came together to shatter the alien culture and thus tried to minimise this gap in a conscious manner. Those Comrades who had gone to break the compradors’ idols were not necessarily writers, artists or intellectuals, rather most of them were only indirect cultural activists, or one can say broad-masses. Later Maoist Movements in India have not taken up such a conscious effort ,though, of course, they have given special attention to expand the number of direct cultural activists. But the question to bring the indirect cultural activists into a cultural movement, i.e., in other words, the task to arouse the broad-masses actively on basic socio-cultural issues is yet to be taken up consciously. One of the lessons of Idol-Breaking Movement is that such a movement cannot be driven by a Party without having and actually implementing the total war-concept and completely dissociating itself from the monolithic Party-structure.

To begin the Idol-Breaking Movement, the example of May 4th Movement of China before the formation of CPC was there before the Party. A number of revolutionaries had to lay their lives, but the Movement could give fatal blows to feudalism and raised the level of consciousness of the whole society and created the background for forming the Communist Party. The Party and Saroj Dutta had tried to organise this Idol-Breaking Movement in the way mass line was applied by Mao Tse tung during GPCR to smash the bourgeois head-quarters in the Party and government. The power of the reactionary fellows, who were sitting in the government, was challenged through this method. This method is quite unthinkable, as it is against the so-called Party-discipline in a Communist Party that follows regimented monolithic Party-concept of Comrade Stalin. Applying the lessons of GPCR in our country, breaking away from this metaphysical concept regarding Party’s method of functioning, was a must. When Comrade Charu Majumder told about the necessity of applying the lessons of GPCR, he never talked about it in abstraction. He and like Comrades tried to apply it in a concrete manner. The method applied in Idol-Breaking Movement was one of such example. It was intended to unleash the initiative of the broad-masses in a massive way. And it got remarkable success in it. In spite of the fact that this Movement was initiated by the pro-Party students and youth, Party’s intervention in giving it ideological and theoretical basis and organisational forms, could make it a more broad-based and more effective in developing further understanding about the method of functioning of imperialism in our country by utilising compradors and their culture.

Naively putting up a Laxman-Rekha[5] between the feudal culture and comprador culture, a few gentle persons later have raised criticism that in his earlier life Saroj Dutta was a serious opponent of feudal culture, but during the Idol-Breaking Movement he didn’t pointed his gun towards it, rather he had devoted his full might against comprador culture. In this case, these well-read gentle persons, got a parallel like ‘Young Marx’ and ‘Older Marx’ in Saroj Dutta. These well intentioned gentle persons failed to understand the inter-relationship between feudal culture and comprador culture, as well as they couldn’t really appreciate the development took place in the understanding of the existing state character and the society of our country in wake of Naxalbari Struggle and realisation of Maoism. One of the most important development made by Mao Tsetung in the science of Marxism and Leninism is the concept of compradors being used by imperialism in alliance with the subjugated feudalism to obstruct the growth of national capitalism. Naturally, it is having its own socio-cultural manifestations too and imperialism is eager to promote and consolidate this culture, which is having number of umbilical linkage with both feudalism and imperialism. Hence, in particular socio-cultural condition of India, the steps taken by S.D. and the Party to uproot the comprador culture during the Idol-Breaking Movement, in effect, had hit the very base of existing feudal socio-culture of our country. One can confidently assure these gentle persons that with the acceptance of Maoism and along with the development of Naxalbari Struggle, Saroj Dutta could really go into the depth of the problem and successfully could hit to the base of existing feudal socio-culture of our country. ‘Two Saroj Duttas’ thus never existed, as was confused by these gentle persons. Contrary to it, it was one and the same Saroj Dutta – of course, more matured and ideologically sharper than earlier – whom we can see during the Idol-Breaking Movement.

Some Comrades, in spite of their revolutionary consistency, zeal and determination, in spite of their serious acceptance of Maoism, are still suffering from the hang-over of Stalinist metaphysical concept of monolithic Party-structure and functioning. Obviously, they are not in a position to appreciate the mass line method of Mao Tsetung that was adopted during the Idol-Breaking Movement. As a result, they are failing to recognise the importance of this Movement and also the basic need of continuing this kind of movement. Simultaneously, they are failing to understand that rupturing from Comrade Stalin’s monolithic Party-structure and to follow Maoist concept of Party-organisation is a must to uphold Maoism truly. Hence, their criticism of Idol-Breaking Movement and the method applied to conduct this by CPI(M-L) and Saroj Dutta, comes from the same point of departure that is being used by the utterly rotten ruling class revisionists, like CPI and CPI(M), who out rightly reject the very concept of Maoism and vehemently oppose GPCR and Naxalbari.

Saroj Dutta

Saroj Dutta or Saroj Kumar Dutta was born at Norail of Jessore District of undivided Bengal (now in Bangla Desh) in 1914. His liberal, atheist and principled parents indeed had nurtured the future revolutionary life of Saroj Dutta. After completion of his M.A. in English with first class he joined Amrita Bazaar Patrika – a English-daily newspaper that was published from Kolkata – as sub-editor. But due to organising a political strike, very shortly he was thrown out of this paper.

Right from his student life he had accepted Marxism ardently. In 1954 Saroj Dutta became the editor of Swadhinata (daily news paper of CPI) as well as Parichay (Bengali Literary organ of CPI). He also had close contact with Bengali daily newspaper Satyayuga.

Saroj Dutta was a prolific, sharp, witty, Marxist writer. Through his poems, he repeatedly tried to demystify the legends where exploitations and suppressions of the poor were tried to be covered up. In reply to Bengali poet Buddhadev Basu’s article “Bengali Literature Today: Position of modern writers” (read at All India Progressive Writers’ Forum) Saroj Dutta wrote Chhinno Jaar Chhadmabesh (Whose veil is already torn) published in Agrani (a Bengali literary periodical) in 1939. That was the first attempt to establish Marxism in Bengali Literature. He had entered into another polemics in the field of literary ideas with his cotemporary Bengali poet Samar Sen. There he had blasted the pseudo-revolutionary approach of the petty-bourgeois intellectuals. He had written number of biographical articles for the younger generations to arm them with Communist values and internationalism.

He was equally at ease in translating the literary creations from other languages into Bengali. In 1946, he translated “I will not rest” – the autobiography of Romaine Rolland – into Bengali as Shilpeer Nabajanma (New Birth of an Artist). At that time it could create a great sensation particularly among the literary circle and it had created a protracted impact on the younger generations. In 1943, he became a member of ‘Anti-fascist Writers’ and Artists’ forum’ and he was also involved with “Friends of Soviet Union”. After the death of Stalin in 1953, Soviet Union had adopted deStalinisation policy and it had a big impact on the whole of C.P.I. But Saroj Dutta had an opposite view which were expressed through his literary activities. In 1953 and 1954 he translated “America in Gorky’s Eyes”, ‘Tale of Sebastopol” by Tolstoy. In 1957, he translated Turgenev’s “Spring Torrent”, Tolstoy’s “Resurrections”. He had also translated Krupskaya’s “Memoirs of Lenin” into Bengali.

During the time of split of CPI into CPI and CPI(M), he refused to accept the post-Stalin Khruschevian theory of peaceful transition to Socialism of Soviet Union and adopted Mao Tsetung Thought. At that time he started to work as a member of the Editorial Board of Desh Hitoishi, the party organ of CPI(M).

Immediately after the Naxalbari peasant uprising along with Sushital Roychowdhury, the Editor-in-Chief, and others, he paid special attention to propagate this struggle as a model for the Indian Communist Revolutionaries in the pages of Desh Hitoishi. Revisionist bosses of CPI(M) were vehemently opposing Naxalbari uprising and they organised some goons to beat and drive out Saroj Dutta and other supporters of Naxalbari from Desh Hitoishi-office. Soon Saroj Dutta came in close contact with Comrade Charu Majumdar and became a part of the process to build the new party of the genuine Communist Revolutionaries – CPI(ML). Right from the inception of the Bengali eveninger Deshabrati and the English periodical Liberation, he was a member of the editorial board of both of them. Later he became the Editor of Deshabrati. Both were the organs of CPI(ML). He had explained the ideological basis of Idol–Breaking Movement against the comprador theoreticians through the writings in the name of Shashaanka in the pages of Deshabrati. In fact, at that time Shashaanka’s articles in Deshabrati were the most popular writings in Bengali. In these writings Soroj Dutta tried to assimilate the rich and earthy oral tradition of the downtrodden class of Bengal – which was looked down by the feudal and comprador babus of Bengal as chhotoloker bhasha (language of the wretched) and kept that kind of expressions away from the arena of Bengali literature.

In the last part of his life, he became the Secretary of West Bengal State Committee of CPI(ML). On 4th august 1971 night he was arrested and brutally murdered. To hide his identity he was beheaded and his body was thrown in Maidan of Kolkata by the police. But even today, police’s official version is that he is still an absconder. To dilute the people’s anger, CPI(M)-led West Bengal State government had constituted more than one commission to probe into this incident, but none was allowed to complete their terms even by the same government.

Comrade Charu Majumder on Comrade Saroj Dutta

“At midnight of 4th and 5th August the police captured Comrade Saroj Dutta and on that very night shot him secretly.

Chairman has said: “It is not hard for one to do a bit of good. What is hard is to do good all one’s life and never do anything bad, to act consistently in the interest of the broad masses, the young people and the revolution, and to engage in arduous struggle for decades on end. That is the hardest thing of all!” Comrade Saroj Dutta was such a comrade and his entire life was spent in working for the revolution. There is no reactionary force which did not fear his pen which was as sharp as a razor. That is why the police force did not even enact the farce of a trial, they murdered him on that night itself. …

Comrade Saroj Dutta was leader of the Party and he died a hero’s death befitting a leader. His revolutionary steadfastness should serve as a model for youths. Overcoming all weaknesses, the youths will have to take to the path of revolution more resolutely and avenge these killings by integrating themselves with the workers and poor and landless peasants.”

August 16, 1971

CPM on Caste Question

A Reformist Agenda to Save Brahmanism


The resolution adopted by the CPM convention on ‘The Problems of Dalits’ starts out with a section titled “A Marxist Perspective on Caste Oppression” – a section notable for its superficial, idealist and ahistorical treatment of the issue. We are thus informed that “India is the only country in the world where such a system came into being and still exists.” Evidently, the CPM leadership would benefit a lot from some reading, or at least some briefing from their acquaintances in the surrounding South Asian countries. More than ignorance, this reflects a deeper problem of outlook and stand. The very next sentences declare that “The varna and caste system was sanctified by Hindu religion and by Vedic scriptures. This was the main reason for its consolidation.” Then how do we explain the continuing existence of caste in Buddhist Sri Lanka and large parts of Islamic Pakistan?

Obviously, there is something more involved here, in both the realms of material social relations and ideological superstructure. At the level of social relations we must investigate the unique features of caste that made it so useful for the exploiters of the South Asian subcontinent throughout centuries and its implications for democratic revolution. Without this material reason there can be no explanation for the continued existence of caste in countries where the Hindu religion had lost state patronage centuries ago.[6] The initial four fold Varna division (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras) was a form of division of labour. While its later evolution into caste continued to fulfil this role under feudalism, it was also the form of integrating tribes into it. This had the distinct feature of modifying and absorbing crucial elements of tribal endogamy, social organisation and taboos, instead of wiping them out. But this by itself cannot explain the persistence of caste. Neither can it be sought in religion. The ‘estate’ form of social division in medieval Western Europe was also based on birthright. And it had legitimacy supplied by the all powerful Catholic Church. But all of this could not block the later sprouting of capitalism. Nor could Catholicism prevent the rise of Protestantism or even its own transformation to adapt to the capitalist system.

While we must look to the external intervention of colonialism to get a satisfactory answer, it is equally important to examine a unique internal feature of the caste social order. Caste was not only a division of labour. It was also a hierarchical division of labourers. A division closed by birth and legitimised through religious belief. This was that particular feature that endeared it to the exploiters over the ages. This was the material substance that promoted an incorporation of caste division in one or another form, into their rule despite having diverse religious beliefs, be it Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity or Sikhism. Though the CPM pays formal tribute to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in its resolution, it has hardly bothered to grasp his pioneering recognition of the role of caste as a division of labourers. Marxist theoretical work on caste must necessarily synthesise this contribution. It is of great importance even in such a basic task like forging working class consciousness.

The recognition of caste as a form of social organisation cutting across religious faith also demands that we go beyond Hindu religion, or even religion itself. We must address the central issue of Brahmanism. This ultra reactionary ideology has repeatedly succeeded in persisting under adverse conditions and adapting to new socio-economic relations. A further reading of the CPM resolution will show that its shallow treatment is meant precisely to draw attention away from this crucial task.

The only reference it makes to Brahmanism in its document is this: “Apart from its rabid communal ideology, the RSS adopted a Brahmanical stance right from the beginning.” Well, this is broadly acceptable, if one overlooks its separation of the RSS’s ‘rabid communal ideology’ from its ‘Brahmanical stance’. What about other political representatives of the ruling classes? Were they ‘non-Brahmanical’? This is what it says about the Indian National Congress: “The Congress-led national movement on its part, failed to take up radical social reform measures as part of the freedom movement.”

To put the record straight, it was never a matter of ‘failure’. Throughout its existence the Congress persistently did all it could to block radical, democratic, social reforms. This was true of its initial phase where Gokhale and others tried to reform some of the more obnoxious practices of Brahmanism. It was blatant under Tilak and his group who refused to accept any reform whatsoever and didn’t hesitate to drive out the ‘social reformers’. And it continued under Gandhi, though in a very new guise. In fact, the rise of Gandhi from being just one in the pack of leaders to the canonised status of Mahatma was directly related to his ideological, political, organisational, and struggle package. This was a package to restructure the Congress in order to establish its hegemony in the anti-British struggle. It was done by blocking the growth of movements (working class, peasant, anti-caste, national) coming up from below, through a partial takeover of their agendas and incorporation of their social bases under the overarching domination of the Congress. A notable thing about the Gandhian package was its adaptation of Brahmanism to new needs and challenges. The grounds had been prepared by Dayanand Saraswati, Vivekananda and others who had tried to save the caste order with new interpretations. Gandhi was the new synthesis of Brahmanism. It was a synthesis suited to the interests of the rising comprador-bureaucratic bourgeoisie and those sections of feudal lords keen on seizing emerging opportunities in close company with them. This synthesis was absorbed by Nehru and later leaders as a cornerstone of the Congress. Starting from Indira Gandhi’s return to power in the early 1980s, the Congress has refashioned this to present a more explicit and rigid Brahmanic stance. This was necessitated by the legitimacy crisis of the Indian ruling classes and competition from the Sangh Parivar for the post of main political representative.

One cannot expect the CPM leadership to accept this. But why is it so carefully silent about Gandhi’s notorious support to varnashrama dharma? It is silent because its class collaboration demands accommodation with Brahmanism. This is not a new development. Let alone Gandhi, even a reactionary bigot like Sankara who led the assault to restore Brahmanism in the philosophical realm was extolled by CPM theoreticians. The present CPM resolution’s favourable quoting of E.M.S. Namboodiripad who tried his best to make Sankara acceptable is not at all surprising. The CPM’s opposition to the RSS or other representatives of the ruling classes is not over Brahmanism but about the preferable flavour. This is why it repeatedly appeals to Gandhi and his version of ‘accommodative’ Brahmanism. This also explains its eagerness to claim the post of true standard bearers of the Gandhi-Nehru Congress tradition, as opposed to its present leaders, who are accused of compromising with the aggressive, rigid, Brahmanism of the Sangh Parivar.

The CPM’s Brahmanic tradition has its roots in the revisionism of the erstwhile united CPI. This party did have a number of theoreticians and activists who were firm in their opposition to Brahmanism and keen on identifying with progressive thinking and struggles against it. But the leading core was forever anchored in the Gandhian tradition. This was complemented by a stubborn insistence on mechanical thinking and powerful economism. Hence its activities on the caste question never went beyond the parameters set by the Gandhian reform ideal. Instead of synthesising and building on the achievements of radical social reform movements and their critiques of Brahmanism it turned its back on this democratic stream. In the name of unity (of the working class movement, of the freedom struggle and so on) it opposed all efforts to consciously raise caste, gender and similar issues and struggle against backward thinking among the masses.

The present resolution seemingly indicates a change of course. Yet the tail is all too evident. In the sole paragraph where the anti-caste movements of the past find a place, there is nothing about their critiques of Brahmanism. The old CPI criticism on these movements not addressing the “… crucial issue of radical land reforms.” is repeated. Was the old CPI or the present CPM any better in addressing the issue of “radical” land reforms? What exactly are the specific tasks of radical land reform in caste-feudalism?

The CPM resolution accepts that the Dalits were deprived of ownership rights to land and property. In many nationalities and regions this meant that they were deprived of the right to tenancy also. Yet, castewise, they were (and remain) the largest labour force in agriculture. But the old, undivided, CPI and the CPM (or CPI) never addressed this particular feature of caste-feudalism. It never found a place in their theoretical work or agrarian programmes. The slogan of ‘Land to the Tiller’ was grasped and applied in a mechanical, economist manner. Ignoring the issue of identifying the real tillers, this position was reserved for the tenants. Thereby Dalit landless peasants’ right to land they tilled was denied. They were excluded from the peasant movement by channelling them into agricultural labourers’ organisations. These were focussed on wages and working conditions and homestead or surplus land. Even where they gained land through homestead rights or distribution of surplus land, under CPI or CPM led governments, this blocked them from any further right to land. In effect, this was a modified continuation of the Brahmanic exclusion of Dalits from the right to land and an inevitable consequence of the programmatic positions of these parties.

The only exception to this was Telengana. But there too it didn’t come from a conscious rectification. It was a spontaneous outcome of the high tide of class struggle generated by the politics of armed struggle to seize political power. And it was inevitably pushed back once the CPI leadership surrendered to Nehru and went back to its parliamentary ways. This was the record of the old CPI on the land question. It is continued by the CPM. This ugly tradition also shows us how economism and revisionism directly serve Brahmanism.

The CPM resolution laments that “…imperialists, the landlords and bourgeois leadership were acting as the defenders of the caste system, by protecting the landlord and pre-capitalist land system.” Why is the bourgeoisie defending the caste system and protecting the pre-capitalist land system? All the resolution offers is non-answers: “bourgeoisie compromised with landlordism”, “society under capitalist development has compromised with the existing caste system” and “Indian bourgeoisie itself fosters caste prejudices”. It cannot go beyond this drivel because the CPM’s class analysis of the Indian ruling classes is equally trivial. All its Party Programme does is to repeat the words ‘big bourgeoisie’ para after para and leave it at that. There is no class characterisation of this bourgeoisie, apart from a string of qualifications similar to those quoted above. As for why the Indian big bourgeoisie exhibits them, the only explanation is a mechanical parroting of Marxist analysis on the German or Russian bourgeoisie’s compromise with feudalism – they compromised because they feared the masses. This vulgar treatment of class analysis has its implications in dealing with the caste question.

Is Brahmanism intrinsic only to the feudal class? Is the Indian big bourgeoisie’s defence of the caste system a matter of compromise or is it an inevitable aspect of its class character? The Maoist concept of the particular type of capitalism, bureaucrat capitalism, engendered by imperialism in the oppressed countries can answer this. Bureaucrat capitalism and the comprador-bureaucrat bourgeoisie that grows up as the big bourgeoisie in these countries exists forever intertwined with feudalism. This is not a compromise but an inseparable urge of its class character. To return to the subject at hand, Brahmanism is very much a part of the Indian comprador-bureaucrat bourgeoisie’s world outlook. Not just in the caste question, its stamp can be seen in all of its ideology, politics, culture and practice. Brahmanism is contained in the very core of the Indian ruling classes; in their state, exploitation and oppression. This provides a powerful basis to bring out the struggle against caste and Brahmanism from the comparatively narrower frame of the Dalit issue without reducing the role of specific struggle on the caste question. It also implies that the caste issue, or any of the other issues, cannot be dealt with in a piecemeal, reformist manner, separated from the central task of seizing political power by destroying the Indian state.

The CPM resolution says that the fight against caste oppression and communalism are interlinked and it must be linked with the struggle against class exploitation. Why only these? Can we advance the struggle for women’s emancipation without taking on caste and Brahmanism? Can conscious working class unity develop without addressing all these issues? The CPM’s outlook makes all of them mere supplements, since it evades identification of both the social relations and superstructure that actually intertwine all these tasks as integral parts of new democratic revolution, with agrarian revolution as its main axis. This is inevitable given its collaboration with the present social system.


Implications of the Indo–US Nuclear Agreement

A number of agreements were made during Bush’s trip to India. They tie this country more tightly into the web of US imperialism’s strategic aims, open up India to US biotech and armament monopolies and increase technological dependence. The most important agreement is the nuclear deal. Though different political factions of the ruling classes, such as the BJP and the CPM led Left Front, have expressed concerns over details, the consensus among them is overriding. The Indian ruling classes are in raptures over what they believe is their entry into world power status.

Just before his visit, Bush had announced his Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Under GNEP, a consortium of nations with advanced nuclear technologies would ensure that countries who agree to forgo their own investments in enrichment and reprocessing technologies will have reliable access to nuclear fuel. India was put in this category in a marked change from the qualification of being one among “leading countries with advanced nuclear technology”, stated in the 2005 statement. This had raised a lot of criticism in Indian ruling class circles. The 2006 statement conveniently sidesteps the issue but pointedly drops the formulation of 2005. Instead, a bland sentence sums up the whole thing, (both countries) “Welcomed the successful completion of discussions on India’s separation plan and looked forward to the full implementation of the commitments in the July 18, 2005 Joint Statement on nuclear cooperation.” The two further steps called for before the US honours its commitments, getting US Congress approval and finalising an additional protocol by India with the International Atomic Energy Agency, will be occasions for extracting more commitments from India. Condoleezza Rice has already set this up with her statement that the Indian government will have to agree to amendments in the present deal in order to get it through the US Congress. While US senators sit in judgement, the Indian parliament has had no role in this whole affair except listening to a report by the Prime Minister. So much for India’s so called sovereignty and democracy!

While moving towards the deal, and in the debate following it, much has been made of the division in the establishment between those willing to accept all the demands of the US and those who ‘fought’ to protect India’s nuclear weapons capacities as well as Fast Breeder[7] capabilities. But the Bush regime was all along willing to let the Indian state retain its weapons capacities. Analysts point out that with even the agreed 65 per cent of nuclear capacity under full safeguards, the remaining would be enough to produce 200 atomic bombs every year! It will also allow the Indian state to continue with its ambitions to have nuclear powered and armed submarines. The deal has in fact sanctioned the Indian state’s nuclear weapons status, though not in formal terms. This is well within US ideas on India’s role in its strategic plans. A US strategic think tank paper notes that, “In late 1997, the White House had decided to make India the lynchpin of its South Asia policy and to replace its nonproliferation focus which the Indians hated, with a multifaceted approach in which they were sure the Indians would welcome under any government.”[8]

This means firm support to the Indian state’s expansionist interests. The present nuclear deal formalises this at the cost of greater Indian collaboration. All factions of the ruling classes welcomed it, principally because their expansionist drive is satisfied. It will be wrong to ignore this and argue that the Indian rulers agreed so that they can boast of being a world power in order to cover up their weaknesses and divert the masses. No doubt, they are far from being a world power. But that does not contradict their expansionism. Their expansionist acts have always been realised with the backing of one or the other imperialist power.

For the people of India this holds out big dangers. India is already involved in the US led occupation of Afghanistan. This includes deployment of its para–military in the guise of protecting Indians working there. Its navy serves to assist the US in the Indian Ocean and surrounding seas. It is also a part of the US–Japan–Australia strategic naval tie up. As collaboration increases, Indian forces will be drawn into being cannon fodder for US aggression and the people will be more exposed to retaliatory attacks by its victims. The arms race in South Asia will accelerate and relations with neighbouring countries will worsen.

The interests of the US in making India the lynchpin of its aggressive moves in this part of the world is certainly related to its designs to retain global superiority vis-à-vis other imperialist powers. But it cannot be reduced to this alone. South Asia has already emerged as a strong centre of the world revolution, where Maoist forces have a solid and growing footing. At present the US and its close allies are focussed in West Asia and consider it as the frontline in their worldwide ‘war on the people’. But a potential Maoist revolutionary upsurge in South Asia holds out a major threat to their plans. Not only does a huge part of the world’s oppressed live here, their revolutionary advance will make a powerful impact all over the world and accelerate the emerging new wave of revolution. This is the unstated but crucial concern shaping US strategic plans for the Indian state, which is the bulwark of reaction in this region.

Much is being written about the US considering China as the biggest danger it will have to face in Asia in the future. China certainly has formidable strength. But, like India, it too is really not an independent world power. It is not going to be one in the near future. China’s economy is thoroughly tied up to and dependent on imperialist capital. Though the previous socialist system had given it a broader economic base, compared to India, most of it has been destroyed. At the most China may become an interim threat to US designs, just as Iraq under Saddam became one. To that extent, the US is keen on building up Indian expansionism as a tool to keep China in check and also to stir up trouble when it suits it.

Kill, But be Discrete

It is reported that Manmohan Singh has advised a Central conference on strategising against the Maoist movement to be firm in suppressing it but avoid brutalising the state. This is similar to his deceptive slogan of “Globalisation with a humane face.” They just don’t go together. Globalisation means havoc and misery for the millions, to push up the profits of imperialist and bureaucrat capital. It cannot have a humane face. Neither can the Indian state avoid revealing its brutality as it tries to suppress the growing spread of the Maoist movement that represents the interests of the people; which is why he has also called for discretion. To put that in plainspeak he wants his forces to kill; but with less, or even better, no exposure. Exposure dents the blown up image of being the ‘largest democracy’. It could also hurt prospects of wooing in more imperialist capital, who are already concerned.

This conference has repeated most of the decisions of earlier conferences. The new element is the Centre’s instruction to set up a joint command with several joint task forces combining the police from neighbouring States. Though the Centre and the States still claim that there is no need to bring in the army, the proposal on joint command indicates that they are preparing for this. In fact the army is already involved in orchestrating the deployment of retired officers. RAW’s (Indian counter–intelligence) helicopters are doing active surveillance and 25 Central para–military battalions are already deployed. These para–military formations are near equivalent to army infantry. The Indian state has perfected the public relations act of deploying the army under a different name. The Rashtriya Rifles in Kashmir is an example; all its forces have been drawn from the regular infantry. Something similar can be expected.

It remains to be seen how the proposal to set up a single command and joint task forces will work out. This had been floated out earlier also. Apart from State and departmental rivalries there is a political complexity. Unlike the early 1970’s when the Congress was in sole power in New Delhi and most of the States, the present situation is quite fragmented. All the main players in Delhi – the Congress and allies, BJP and allies, the fake Left – are in government in the concerned States. All are united in the aim of destroying the revolutionary movement, which is the single biggest obstacle to their globalisation sell out. But they have serious political contradictions amongst themselves. Besides, the political compulsion each party faces in the different States is also quite varied. Neither of these aspects can be ignored by them. The UPA government’s capacity to enforce a common policy is also limited.

This and the inevitable resistance generated among the masses to the anti–people economic policies and suppression of the rulers make the going all the more difficult. The so called Salwa Judum (Peace Movement) in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh is a good example. Last year the media was full of accounts on how the people are getting organised in this movement to resist the Maoists and ensure that they don’t loose their share of development. Now we hear something very different. We read of masses being uprooted from their villages and pushed into camps guarded by Salwa Judum vigilantes; of their being forced to participate at gun point in the so called peace rallies; of people killed, women raped, houses burned down. This was of course exposed by the CPI (Maoist) and human rights organisations earlier itself. But now it is reported in the mainstream media itself. Salwa Judum is led by a Congress leader. He is backed by the BJP Chief Minister and the Central government, which has sent in a battalion of the Naga armed police. Yet another section of Congress and BJP leaders have criticised the whole strategy as counter–productive. Meanwhile, mass resistance is growing. The state forces and counter–revolutionary vigilantes suffered a number of blows from the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army and people’s militia led by the CPI (Maoist).

The Central conference was quite concerned about the spread of the Maoist movement into more States and new regions. It accepts that the ‘naxal menace’ is now present in 40 per cent of the country’s area, affecting 35 percent of its population. Yes, it is spreading and growing, though not yet fully unified and at different levels of activity. Contradictions, further sharpened by globalisation, provide the fuel.

Who Will Gain from Capital Account Convertibility?

The UPA government is now set on moving to capital account convertibility as soon as possible. Once this is allowed there won’t be any bar on converting rupees into any foreign currency and vice versa. Anyone can buy and sell any amount of foreign currencies whenever they feel like it. Financial speculation will shoot up.

Allowing capital convertibility has all along been part of the liberalisation package, initiated by the Narasimha Rao government with the present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister. But the South East Asian financial crisis of the 1990s forced them to back off. These countries had opened up their economies and had allowed capital account convertibility. Naturally, there was a big inflow of foreign capital. They were being held up as models for others. But just as capital flowed in it rushed out also and triggered off a crisis. Many big companies went bankrupt and thousands were throw into the streets. The UPA government wants us to forget this shocking lesson. Now that foreign exchange reserves have swollen up, they are eager to carry out their original plan. These reserves and growth figures are held up as proof of the country’s economic strength, allowing capital account convertibility.

This is actually a circular logic. The sharp rise in foreign exchange reserves is itself a direct outcome of Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) role, mainly in stock markets. The UPA government changed tax laws and further relaxed limits on foreign capital investments in various sectors. Estimates say that the government gave away nearly Rs 8000 crore in 2005 alone to FIIs and others by abolishing the tax on long-term gains from transactions of shares and other securities altogether. This has given greater incentive to FIIs. While net FII flows (this is the total inflow minus outflow of FII) into India from the early 1990s till end-March 2003 amounted to roughly Rs 68 thousand crore, in two and a half years, between then and the end of December 2005, the total inflow was nearly Rs 11 lakh crore. This capital is also counted in calculating Gross Domestic Product figures. Hence more FII capital means more GDP. This is cited to show a higher economic growth rate. And that is then used as a justification for further liberalisation.

FII capital is speculative capital. It is imperialist capital roving around for quick and high profits in financial deals. Since the government has permitted FIIs to bring in money from undisclosed sources a lot of Indian black money is also flowing in through this channel. Though the inflow of such capital boosts up foreign exchange reserves it is a liability. Since the driving force of such capital is quick profit it is always searching for the best option. The moment it sees a better place for getting higher profit it will rush away. And this can be done very quickly in the present global financial set up. In fact this was exactly what triggered of the South East Asian financial crisis in the 1990s. Since successive Central governments have eased restrictions on foreign capital investment, majority ownership of a number of key Indian financial institutions is now in the hands of FIIs. If they decide to pull out, the whole financial system will be thrown into crisis.

FII speculative capital is already a liability in a more immediate sense. The huge foreign exchange reserve it has helped built up causes the value of the rupee to go up. This makes Indian exports less competitive. Since globalisation has made export oriented growth supreme and the USA is a key market, the government can’t allow this. So it buys up dollars through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to keep the rupee value low. This in turn becomes another burden and a source of bleeding out resources. Speculative dealers stand to gain. They convert their dollars into rupees via stock market deals or otherwise. When this pushes up the value of the rupee they can sell out to get more dollars. Otherwise also, a good portion of foreign exchange reserves flow back to USA via the RBI’s buying up of the US government securities. Imperialist financial advisers have started arguing for new international institutions which can take over the task of investing surplus foreign exchange reserves held by countries like India in a more ‘profitable’ manner.

All of this brings up an obvious question – exactly who is benefited by the huge build up in foreign exchange reserves? If one leaves out the narrow super rich and neo-rich segments of the population who can now freely import all sorts of luxurious goods or travel abroad for vacations, it is clear that the principle beneficiaries are the imperialists themselves. At the cost of pushing the whole country into a dangerous situation, which will bring utter ruin to lakhs, the ruling classes are hungering for that extra leftover from their imperialist masters’ kill. That is exactly what the haste for allowing capital account convertibility is all about.



By dismissing the plea of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) to stop the ongoing construction to increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from 110.64 m to 121.92 m until the rehabilitation of the Project Affected People (PAF) at the height of 110.64m is completed, the Supreme Court has once again proved how it is doling out injustice. It has not only declined to stop the ongoing construction, but has once again assigned the Prime Minister to take decision on the basis of the report on rehabilitation. The question at this point is why do we need a supreme court to take such decisions, as the work to increase the dam height was already sanctioned by the Narmada control Authority (NCA) and the Prime Minister was already empowered by the Supreme Court as the final arbitrator through its verdict of 2000 October? Actually, the dispute was on the question of rehabilitation and resettlement of the PAF of the Sardar Sarovar dam. Interestingly SC has not taken a decision on this issue. On the contrary, it has (il) legally sanctioned construction work to increase the height of the dam! This is in gross violation of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDTA) of 1979 and its own verdicts of 2000 October and 2005 march.

‘Land-for-land should be the basis of rehabilitation, as against cash compensation under the Land Acquisition Act’; ‘Villages must be relocated as a community and newly created villages must have all basic amenities’; ‘Rehabilitation should be on irrigable land, irrigable lands must be made available for rehabilitation one year in advance of any construction starting on the dam’—these were the conditions put forth in the Narmada Tribunal Award. All these were violated one way or other by the concerned States, and more than 13200 families are still left behind for rehabilitation even at the existing height of 110.64 m. NBA activists went on indefinite hunger strike demanding stoppage of height-increasing work until the completion of rehabilitation as prescribed by the Tribunal Award and earlier SC verdicts.

Under the pressure of NBA’s hunger strike, a group of ministers led by Central Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz visited the project affected areas and reported about the dismal state of rehabilitation work in Madhya Pradesh, which has already declared that it has no irrigable land for compensation. These ministers also said that reports of Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) sub group of NCA and Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA)– a body set up to unsure the completion of rehabilitation and resettlement, were “largely paper work”. Later, the Sardar Sarovar Project Status Report submitted by the Water Resource Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office also disproved the claims of the concerned States on rehabilitation of the ousted Project Affected Families. It identified that 36,921 families from 226 villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will be affected if the height of the dam is increased to 121.92 m. This has substantiated the argument of NBA regarding rehabilitation. However, the Centre claimed that all the affected families were resettled in the three states in its application filed in the Supreme Court on April 17! Actually, on the basis of the bare facts before the court, it should have questioned the contradiction in the claims of the Centre and suspended the ongoing work until the completion of rehabilitation. Instead, it has denied justice to the poor of the Narmada valley mostly tribals and dalits by declining to stop the work. This was in violation of its own observation made on April 17. The same SC bench has then said: “It is made clear to the State Governments that if the relief and rehabilitation to the unfortunate oustees is not granted in true letter and spirit, this court will have no option but to stop the work of the dam”.

Actually, Supreme Court has already watered the original Narmada Tribunal Award through its verdicts of 2000 and 2005. As said earlier, the original amend speaks of ‘land-for-land’ as the basis of rehabilitation and it should be made available before one year of any construction on the dam. Supreme Court verdicts changed the condition of rehabilitation as ‘parri passu (side by side) Rehabilitation and Resettlement’. In doing so the SC has given ample provision to the concerned States to delay rehabilitation. If this was ‘back stabbing’ by the SC on the original Tribunal Award, now in the latest verdict, it is attempting ‘front stabbing’ when it says that the issues before it are whether rehabilitation of the oustees could be completed simultaneously with raising of the dam height and the validity and implementation of the Special Relief Package. This special package is something new brought in by the SC with the connivance of the Centre. This Special Relief Package is nothing but cash compensation in lieu of the land-for land compensation as specified in the original Tribunal Award. The Shunglu committee appointed by PM to look in to the matter of cash compensation also is getting the sanctity of the SC with its above observation. Eventually, we may expect a verdict of SC permitting cash-compensation also for rehabilitation when it takes up the matter again for hearing in July 2006. Then it will be another loss to the struggling masses-the victims of the destructive development agenda of the state. And, it will prompt NBA for a new compromise.

NBA has been compromising in its struggle against the Sardar Sarovar dam ever since it came into existence. From ‘no dam’ to ‘at least rehabilitation’—it was compromising all along in its Gandhian struggle. The latest hunger strike by Medha Patkar, Jamsing Navgave and Bhagwatibehn Patidar proved to be futile in its immediate aim, though it could bring out the plight of the project affected people on a wider canvass and further the debate on the destructive development agenda of the ruling class parties.

It is clear that the Prime Minister’s evasive approach to deal with the situation was deliberate. He was allowing injustice to happen like Narasimha Rao during the demolition of Babri Masjid. As he was empowered by the Supreme Court to take final decision, he has the legal authority for a timely intervention in the dispute. He must be aware that there was no urgency to increase the height of the dam. It is an old story that the water in the dam has not been properly utilised at all. Gujarat could manage to irrigate only less than 10 percent of the land it could have irrigated as it has not constructed many canals and other water delivery systems. It could not provide enough water to Kutch and Saurashtra regions which are reeling under severe drought. In such a situation height increase is totally unjustifiable and inhumane as it ousts large number of families in addition to the thousands already waiting for rehabilitation. Not only that, when his own ministers have reported about the pathetic state of rehabilitation, he could have trusted their report and taken a humanitarian stand to suspend construction. Instead, he referred the matter to Supreme Court. And the SC, reaffirmed PM’s final authority and posted the matter for further hearing on July 7. The PM’s evasiveness at this juncture was criminal as it amounts to snatching away the livelihood of thousands of ousted families.

The Sardar Sarovar dam is constructed and is still being constructed on a series of lies. Lies on the kind of development we need, lies on the benefits of big dams, lies on the prosperity dams will bring, and finally lies on rehabilitation. Though all these were exposed time and again the State has been aggressively imposing its destructive development agenda over the poor people of the country side who are at the receiving end and the direct victims of this agenda. Whether it is the valley in the Narmada basin or in the habitats of Kalinganagar, the state has a single paradigm of development. Its development agenda is violent and aggressive-it is development at gunpoint. They have converted the country into a big corporation working with an aim of profit only. Here judiciary acts hand in glove with the executive. Struggles against it should not be and cannot be peaceful. Particularly when this development agenda is forcing the people to take life and death decisions. And, this is the obstacle before NBA as ever.

The pathetic failure of its Gandhian compromises stand in sharp contrast to the militancy of the masses in Kalinganagar. There, they have succeeded in blocking the agenda of the state and comprador monopolies like Tata, for nearly 5 months now. This may be broken by brutal force. But that will only pave the way for a higher level of consciousness and struggle- not the despair reaped by the NBA.


Undermining Reservation

A section of students who demonstrated against the proposal to reserve seats for Backward Class students in leading all-India educational institutions, naming their movement ‘Youth for Equality’ was not at all surprising. They were continuing a long standing tradition of the Indian ruling classes – enjoy the benefits of caste and accuse anyone who demands redress of creating privileged groups and divisions in society. For them, equality means the perpetual monopoly of the upper class, upper castes.

With globalisation taking its toll of government jobs, reservation in the private sector and top notch educational institutions that are considered as stepping stones has become a live issue. Though the UPA government’s Common Minimum Programme had declared in favour of these steps it has been dragging its feet. The 93rd Constitutional Amendment, that gives legal protection to reservations in education, was something forced on it to handle potential political volatility caused by the blatantly anti–reservation judgement of the Supreme Court.

The retrogressive anti–reservation agitations of the late 1980s and early ‘90s were engineered to question and recast the legitimacy of caste reservation. Merit was posed as the victim of reservation policy, which was accused of imposing mediocrity at a time when India was getting ready to leap into the 21st century. It was argued that over the past decades ‘development’ had made reservation unnecessary. Through this discourse, the Gandhian acceptance of reservation as a ‘penance’ by upper castes was undermined. Instead it was sought to be repositioned as a temporary concession, to be ended as soon as possible. But the sharp polarisation, shift in oppressed caste vote banks leading to new political parties such as the BSP, RJD and Samajwadi Party emerging as contenders and redrawing of political equations prevented this. Reservation retained its place as a constitutional right. But its status of a democratic right solely addressing caste discrimination was diluted with the introduction of economic criteria.

Since then, ruling class ideologues have been working at a totally different policy which would retain reformist sheen and also allow further dilution of caste reservation. The Bhopal Declaration of the Congress is one among them. In place of reservation as a democratic right, it seeks to bring in affirmative action. This calls for allotting a certain quota in government orders for products and services in favour of enterprises of Dalits, Adivasis and Backward castes. The response of the educational and corporate elite to the recent proposal on implementing reservation in their sectors is also shaping up along these lines. Scholarships and a quota system in procurement are being held out as alternatives to reservation. This apparently offers equal opportunity to members of the oppressed castes; provided they have sufficient merit or entrepreneurial skill. There lies the catch.

Centuries old shackles of caste effectively prevent the large majority of the oppressed castes from acquiring knowledge and skills that are easier for others. Even in the most liberal circumstances they must confront biases and discrimination, which continuously wear them down. Those who manage to surmount this will inevitably be a tiny minority. If this capacity to overcome is to be made the criteria, in place of the right of all members of the oppressed castes to reservation in education and jobs, with concessions in qualifications, ultimately their vast majority is going to be cut off from any means to improve their situation. This is of course already happening. Only a very narrow section has succeeded in getting ahead through reservations. Hence the change may not be so visible in terms of numbers. But once this policy gets enshrined the present situation will be officially formalised. Reservation as a democratic right of all members of the oppressed castes will be forever eliminated.

Another World Is Possible – A Communist World!

There are billions of us who cannot stand the world as we know it. On this planet many struggle to lead lives they don’t find worth living, while most fight just to survive.

The wealth working people have created, instead of being a means for a better life, has become an obstacle to human progress and even survival, because it is controlled by imperialism, a world-eating system whose first, last and only goal is profit. From tsunami and earthquakes to global warming, the rulers are unwilling and unable to put human lives first. Ceaseless waves of global capital smash through country after country, robbing people of their land or leaving them without a job, driving them to roam the world seeking work. New investment and new advances in technology bring misery, hardship and even danger to the masses, instead of a way out. In one country after another, including the Asian giants of India and China, the sordid truth about the “success stories” of the “free market” is that the paradise they provide for a handful is built on a living hell for the great majority.

In opposition to world opinion, the US and Britain invaded Iraq, seized its wealth, set up a puppet regime and revived medieval demagogues who are fighting for a share of the pie, under the occupiers’ bayonets – and they proclaim this a victory for democracy! Nothing good can happen in Iraq until the people unite to kick the US out and overthrow the local reactionaries– and for this they need the support of the world’s people.

Now the US is threatening a nuclear war against Iran – in the name of opposing nuclear weapons! This shows yet again that what the US seeks is not peace but global hegemony. Now is the time for the cry “No war on Iran!” to become a force in the world.

The anger of the people of Nepal is boiling over. For years the US, UK and other imperialists and India armed and financed the hated monarchy against the revolutionary people’s war. Now that the king is tottering, they want to intervene to save a system based on feudalism and foreign domination. The solution for Nepal’s people is not a new face on the old system but a new democratic revolution as part of the world revolution. We say, Imperialists and India – Hands off Nepal!

Resistance is rising in many countries, but too often the people do not understand the real nature of the system or who their friends and enemies are, on a national and international level.

We want a world where one nation does not oppress another – where the diversity of humanity can flourish unfettered by borders. Where women, “who hold up half the sky”, are not treated as objects or pushed down and held back. Where society is not divided into the humiliated majority who work with their hands and the privileged few who get to think and make the real decisions. Where people have broken free from the ideas that have arisen from and legitimated thousands of years of exploitation and oppression. Where all human beings, collectively and individually, can at last achieve conscious power over their own destiny and that of their planet.

That world has a name: communism. And there is an outlook and method that can guide us to fight for it: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. The first attempts to build socialism and advance to communism in the Soviet Union and China were subject to relentless attack by the imperialists and reactionaries, who today scorn and ridicule their histories and their leaders, in an effort to bury forever the hope of revolution. But these revolutions made real, dramatic changes in the lives of hundreds of millions and left a rich legacy to critically examine and go forward on that basis. The world urgently needs more and stronger communist parties united in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, which is fighting to build its understanding, unity and power so that it can lead humanity toward that goal.

1 May 2006 – The Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement

Hail the 10th Anniversary of The Heroic People’s War in Nepal

The People’s War, driving forward the New Democratic revolution of Nepal, will complete 10 years on February 13th. These 10 years have written a new saga of heroism and self-sacrifice in the annals of the international communist movement. With the leaders and ranks of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Peoples Liberation Army it leads in the forefront, the Nepalese masses have come forward in huge numbers, willingly paying the price in blood, to rid their country of the semi-colonial, semi-feudal social system and the reactionary state that protects it.

From its initiation in 1996, the People’s War in Nepal has gone through many twists and turns. These included three spells of ceasefires. On each occasion the Nepali ruling classes, Indian expansionists and their imperialist masters, drummed up big propaganda that the Maoist revolutionaries were going to lay down arms. This was again repeated in the context of the 12 point agreement with the main parliamentary parties. But, on each occasion, the CPN (M), has destroyed the wild hopes of the enemies, proved the ability of the communists to worst the enemy in peace talks as well as war, and made significant contributions to enrich the strategic and tactical understanding of the international communist movement on People’s War. It has also deepened the understanding on the women’s question and given rich experiences in handling issues like the caste question, particular to many countries in South Asia. A good number of political lessons have been given by the People’s War in Nepal in “being firm in principles and flexible in tactics”, “uniting the many to defeat the few”, the brilliant manner by which the contradictions among the enemies have been made to serve the cause of revolution, as well as application of proletarian military science to advance the war in leaps always centred on the key issue of seizing political power. This was ensured by a deep grasp and creative application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, by the CPN (M) under the able leadership of its Chairman comrade: Prachanda, and a firm commitment to its pledge made before the initiation in 1996, “This plan would be based on the aim of completing the new democratic revolution after the destruction of feudalism and imperialism, then immediately moving towards socialism, and, by way of cultural revolutions based on the theory of continuous revolutions under the dictatorship of the proletariat, marching to communism and the golden future of the whole humanity.”

The People’s War led by the CPN (M) and the base areas built up throughout Nepal’s rural areas, stands out as a beacon of inspiration to the masses all over the world. It points out the real way to face up to the ravages of imperialist globalisation and build a new world free of exploitation and oppression. The CPN (M) has always insisted on holding high the internationalist character of the People’s War it is leading and uniting even more firmly with the proletarian forces all over the world through the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. It has also made ceaseless efforts to link this war with the revolutionary aspirations of the masses in the South Asian countries and used its prestige to make a co-ordination of the Maoists in South Asia possible through the CCOMPOSA.

From the very beginning, Indian expansionism has been trying to destroy the People’s War. Though it has stopped open supply of weapons to the autocratic Gyanendra monarchy, it continues its intrigues and interference Nepal’s affairs, in close co-operation with imperialist powers. It refuses to free leaders of the CPN (M) locked up in Indian prisons on false charges. US imperialism continues to threaten the revolution and conspires to break the new unity of struggling forces in Nepal. But the People’s War, which has already achieved so much in a short span of 10 years will surely stand up to these threats. It will continue to be the spearhead of the Nepal’s revolutionary advance and the backbone of the broad resistance against its present rulers. It will continue to inspire the masses throughout the world and strengthen their will to destroy the world imperialist system for ever.








The New Turn in Nepal

The people’s struggle in Nepal has led to a new turn in the country’s political scene. This upsurge in the cities, mainly in Kathmandu, was initiated by the call given by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN (M)] and the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) comprising the major parliamentary parties in continuation of the 12 point agreement between them. Though US imperialism, other imperialist powers and India tried to force an agreement that would give room for the Gyanendra monarchy, and some among the SPA were willing, the rebellious mood of the masses backed by the firm stand of the CPN (M) defeated their conspiracies. They had to concede the restoration of the old parliament, which was dissolved by Gyanendra. But, unlike then, the strength of this parliament lies in the streets. The mood there, including among the support bases of the SPA, is clearly in favour of ending the monarchy and establishing a secular, democratic republic. So the future clearly depends on how soon and fully the SPA will honour its agreement with the CPN (M) and prove able to control the army. What now exists is a ceasefire between the CPN (M) and the SPA, with the masses hungering for quick progress.

Imperialism and Indian expansionism have been forced to back off from their insistence on preserving the monarchy, even if ceremonially. They are now trying to intervene through the approaching process of adopting a new constitution. Thus they raise the issue of the CPN (M)’s disarmament as a pre–condition, debate about the composition of an armed monitoring force and prepare to resume arms supply to the Royal Nepal Army. Meanwhile their ideologues and media work overtime to establish that the changeover in Nepal was entirely a result of peaceful agitations. This is not ignorance. It is conscious propaganda to deny the decisive role of the 10 year old People’s War that brought about a shift in the balance of forces in Nepal and made the present political development possible. Indian revisionists, particularly the CPM, are also a part of this propaganda effort. They are strutting around with the claim that their mediation made the 12 point agreement and the ending of the people’s upsurge possible. To swallow this one must forget that they as well as their counterpart in Nepal, the UML, were for constitutional monarchy and against a Constitutional Assembly till recent. If they now are staunch republicans the reason once again lies in the shift in political alignments brought about by the People’s War. Another reason is a policy view emerging from their mentors (imperialist and Indian expansionist strategists) that a Constitutional Assembly may be a better option to intervene in Nepal.

To understand the developments in Nepal one must also answer this question – why didn’t US imperialism or Indian expansionism opt for a military intervention? The presence of a powerful People’s War with wide support is a deterring factor. But this has never been sufficient to force the reactionaries to back off. One must look for the reasons in the present world situation as well as history. One important factor is the US being tied down in Iraq in an occupation war that is getting more and more unpopular. Venturing into Nepal to suppress a Maoist revolution can well spark off a radical polarisation within the growing anti–war movement all over the world, particularly in the US itself. For the US and other reactionaries, while carrying out their ‘war on the people’, it is more convenient politically to deal with Islamic fundamentalists and terrorism as the main enemies rather than Maoists and People’s Wars led by them. An armed intervention in Nepal would bring up the basic battle line between the imperialist system and the people of the world, between capitalism and communism. Indian expansionism too has its reasons. Venturing into Nepal with its armed forces will be far more exhausting and costly than anything it has done in the past. It will immediately unite the overwhelming majority of the Nepalese people into a National Resistance War with the Maoists firmly in leadership. Within India it will give a new impetus to the ongoing People’s War, which is already a major concern for the rulers. Apart from such immediate reasons, reactionaries are probably drawing inspiration from historical examples, like Vietnam in the 1950’s, where an acceptance of Constitutional Assembly elections gave them time to prepare both the political and military grounds for armed intervention. They may be more confident now since, unlike then, no socialist camp or country exists today. Evidently, such calculations have also played a role in encouraging the parties in the SPA, most of who are guided by one or the other reactionary power, to go along with the CPN (M). This is not to ignore the internal compulsions they faced but to remind ourselves of the logic of reaction.

Democracy is a powerful rallying call – for the people, and unfortunately, for their enemies also. Protection or restoration of democracy has often been used as a slogan by the reactionaries for their wars and armed interventions. In the coming days, the setting up of an interim government, elections to the Constituent Assembly and the details of a new constitution will be the main arena of struggle in Nepal. Imperialism, Indian expansionism and diehard reactionaries in Nepal will do all they can to impose a solution which will leave the exploitative system and state essentially untouched, whatever may be the form of governance. They will also be preparing grounds for armed intervention as a last resort.

The CPN (M) is also preparing. In keeping with its stated positions and the 12 point agreement, it has expressed its belief that an interim constitution and interim government will be built up by dissolving the existing parliament, constitution and the government after the initial phase of the dialogue and that it will lead to a whole process of unconditional constitutional assembly election. These steps, enjoying wide support from the masses, will be useful to fight reactionary manoeuvres. The 4th May statement of comrade Prachanda, its Chairman, has proposed a broad republican front of pro–people forces in the form of a movement to guarantee the resolution of the people’s basic problems and warned against US imperialist conspiracies. It also soberly states, “…with deep sense of responsibility towards people’s aspiration of democracy and peace and remaining firm in 12-point understanding, we are going to sit in the talk. If someone understands our sense of responsibility as a weakness, “tired of war” or “haste to come over ground”, it will only imply that he has not understood our idea and feeling at all. We are prepared to fight from any front of struggle for Nepal and the Nepalese people till the end.”

Iran Maoists on Islamic regime’s “nuclear posturing

With the false swagger of champion puppets, the heads of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) have announced that they have joined the nuclear powers club. . . At the Friday prayers, with lots of noise but without any shame, the ayatollahs proclaimed that Iran’s new status as a “nuclear power” should be celebrated as a patriotic holiday and demanded that the people’s hearts be filled with “national pride”. However, the majority of the people who have suffered under a medieval religious regime for 27 years are not inspired to feel any national pride by this…

Two days after this announcement, The New York Times wrote that Western nuclear analysts believe that Iran lacks the necessary skills, materials and tools to come close to achieving their nuclear desires. “Nothing has changed to alter current estimate of when Iran might be able to make a single nuclear weapon, assuming that is its ultimate goal. The United States government has put that at 5 to 10 years and some analysts have said it could come as late as 2020.” (13 April 2006) This newspaper quoting David Albright, the head of the Institute of Science and International security in Washington who is following Iran’s nuclear programme: “They have a long way to go.” However, the Bush government seized the opportunity and demanded that the world’s powers punish Iran. The options put on the table by the US range from economic sanctions to bombardment.

The real reason for the Islamic Republic’s rush to proclaim itself a “nuclear power” is that the regime is worried about its own survival. They have adopted a policy of seeking to accelerate a confrontation with the US based on relying on Russia and China. Western journalist Michael Slackman reported in mid- March from Tehran: “When [Iranian Prime Minister] Ahmadinejad took office, he embraced a decision already made by the top leadership to move toward confrontation with the West about the nuclear programme… But one political scientist who speaks regularly with members of the Foreign Ministry said that Iran had hinged much of its strategy on winning Russia’s support… The political scientist said some negotiators believed that by being hostile to the West they would be able to entice Moscow into making Tehran its stronghold in the Middle East. ‘They thought the turn east was the way forward,’ the person said. ‘That was a belief and a vision.’”(NYT, 15 March 2006) The heads of the IRI think that their nuclear policy can serve several goals: to silence the people, cool down the differences within the regime and find new international friends.

Regarding the people, this policy is an absurd effort to boost “Iranian national pride” in the hope that they would temporarily stop thinking about the regime’s crimes and plunder. Regarding the ranks of the regime, the point is to unite the different factions around a plan for survival. And regarding the US and European imperialists, their aim is to provoke the US to accelerate an attack on Iran. These reactionaries are counting on the religious sentiments of the Moslems of the Middle East and inside Iran…Regarding the regime’s policy towards the powers competing with the US, the regime’s aim is to separate Russia and China from the US and Europe, following their “East versus West” strategy. So far they have been the lackeys of the Western imperialist capitalists. Now that the West does not want them anymore, they have to sell themselves on the world market to another master, and they are hoping for Russian and Chinese buyers.

from the April issue (no. 27) of Hagighat, publication of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, AWTW News Service..

Mass violent protests rock Turkish Kurdistan

Starting at the end of March the Kurdish area of Turkey witnessed a week of mass upheaval and fighting with police and gendarme troops on a scale unprecedented in recent years and maybe longer. Clashes between some 10,000 protestors and police broke out on 27 March in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey after the funeral of 14 Kurdish nationalist guerrillas killed by government forces. Thousands of stone-throwing youth, with the support of a great deal of the local population according to reports, attacked police stations and other government targets over a three-day period, until the government sent in gendarme troops to occupy the city. Some clashes continued after that. There was also serious fighting in the Kurdish cities of Batman, 80 kilometres to the east, and Kiziktepe, near the border with Syria, and in Istanbul itself, following a protest by Kurds.

The Turkish government has been carrying out armed operations against the Kurdish nation and in particular Kurdish guerrilla forces associated with the PKK nationalist organisation for many years. (Although the Kurdish Workers Party changed its name to Kongra-Gel a few years ago when it left its claims to Marxism behind, it is still widely known by its old initials). The government never ceased military operations in the area even though following the US-assisted capture of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK withdrew their forces to the Kurdish area in Northern Iraq and repeatedly called for peace negotiations. PKK ceased all armed operations for five years, until 2004. The Turkish state, more or less openly dominated by the National Security Council made up of the top military chiefs, responded to these calls for peace by labelling the PKK “terrorist”. The U.S. government and the European Union backed Turkey in this regard.

Feelings in the Kurdish areas of Turkey were already simmering after a series of bombings in the Semdinli area, where several people were killed. The last of these was an attack on a bookstore during which some vigilant ordinary Kurdish people were able to capture the perpetrators red-handed in the act, only for it to turn out that they were members of the Turkish army intelligence section, called Jitem (Jendarmerie Intelligence Service). One of them was a former PKK guerrilla who had turned traitor and was used by Turkish intelligence. It then became apparent that a number of bombings that had been blamed on the PKK were in fact the work of Turkish intelligence – outraging not only millions of Kurds but also many Turkish people too. General Yasar Buyukkanit, the no 2 man in the Turkish army, made a media statement that he personally knew the men who had been caught carrying out the bombings and that “they are good boys”. Everyone understood this to be a way of putting a cloak of protection over these murderers.

People felt that they had right on their side, that they had caught the perpetrators red-handed, and that there was no reason to expect justice from the very state that was in fact behind the crimes in the first place. Heated street battles against the police erupted throughout the area. This also led to infighting among the ruling class forces, particularly between the military and the Justice and Development party, the Islamic party heading the government. A local prosecutor in Van even prepared an indictment against General Buyukkanit for going outside established channels to organise his own vigilante gang. This led to an uproar of protest from military men and hard-liners, broadcast widely in the media, basically saying how dare this prosecutor make such scandalous claims against the men who are responsible for defending our country. These military figures alleged that the prosecutor was providing indirect support to the “terrorists”.

This was the setting for the vicious attack on 26 March by the Turkish army, which massacred a group of 14 PKK guerrillas using chemical bombs in the North Kurdistan mountains near the border with Iraq. The Turkish army denied the use of the chemical weapons, which violates international law. However, family members of the dead guerrillas saw the bodies, and exposed what actually took place. Their accounts were convincing enough to be widely reported in the Kurdish media. When the bodies of the guerrillas arrived back in Diyarbakir, many thousands of people attended the funerals. This has been seen as a time to strike back at a harsh clampdown meant to crush the Kurdish movement in general. Repressive measures have hit all the Kurdish organisations in Turkey, including the DTP (the Democratic Society Party), the legal Kurdish nationalist party, and the mayor of Diyarbakir.

The police tried to prevent people from attending the funeral, which caused even more anger, and led to widespread fighting between youth and police. The police killed four children and nine adults in the course of the street clashes.

Hundreds were arrested, including some supporters of the Maoist Communist Party of Turkey/North Kurdistan (MKP). Ilyas Aktas, a young journalist in Diyarbakir for the Maoist newspaper Devrimci Demokrasi, was shot in the head by the police and fell into a coma. On 11 April, his doctors announced that he was on life support and brain dead, with no hope for recovery.

On 9 April, 2,000 people marched through East London to protest the government’s attacks and express solidarity with the Kurdish people’s struggle. Many thousands more took to the streets in Germany, Switzerland and throughout northern Europe.

The MKP issued a statement that declared “its unconditional support for the legitimate, democratic demands of the Kurdish nationalist struggle and their right to resist the Turkish fascist regime to secure those rights – and that ultimately it is only through new democratic revolution that the Kurdish nation can achieve genuine liberation”.

France: Youth revolt

[The student’s upsurge in France succeeded in forcing the Villepin government to back off. An article posted on the A World To Win News Service pointed out, “… the movement’s greatest strength is its broadness in two senses. First, its ability to combine widespread support among much of French society with increasingly confrontational (and controversial) actions… Second, its ability to draw in youth of all sections of the working class as well as the middle classes.” The controversial law (CPE – First Job Contract) which permitted employers to dismiss with little notice and without cause people under 26 during their first two years at any job has been rolled back.. Other measures in the so-called “Equal Opportunity” employment package adopted in the wake of last November’s revolt would allow children to leave school at 14 to become apprentices and work at night starting at 15. For children not in work, their families would be cut from welfare if they fail to attend class. The following excerpt from a leaflet of the World People’s Resistance Movement-France explains the issues behind the CPE –ed.]

The CPE is the tip of the iceberg of major changes looming over French society. For several generations a kind of agreement has existed in France whereby the working class and the masses of people would accept the capitalist system in return for a certain degree of job security, educational opportunities and social benefits. But this model always excluded an important section on the bottom of the society, and in recent years this section has been growing larger and more desperate, as we saw last November when the working class suburbs erupted. Those who previously benefited from this social pact see the gains of the past being whittled away. For the educated youth the promise that a diploma would mean of social advancement and a secure future has been evaporating. The entire ruling class of France, the Socialist Party included, believes that the only answer to ensuring France’s competitiveness internationally and thus its future is to accelerate these tendencies; this means greater freedom for employers to fire at will, sharpening competition among the people for increasingly few crumbs, increasing inequality and intensifying exploitation. The only difference among the main ruling class parties and spokesmen is how to introduce a more savage and naked capitalism and who will preside over this process. And make no mistake: the rulers are united that this restructuring will require an even heavier boot of the police on the neck of today’s and tomorrow’s victims of the process.

While the current movement has begun as a battle to protect current labour laws, it cannot remain for long on that level. Besides, a return to the days of a more benevolent capitalism is not really possible: capitalism in today’s world means inequality, exploitation, wasted lives and broken dreams. It means immense riches for a handful and hardship or worse for most people. Capitalism is a system that has spread throughout the whole world, intensifying the gap between rich and poor in each country and between a handful of imperialist countries including France and the great majority of humanity. Clawing to the top of this basket of crabs is impossible for most and not the future we want to fight for.

The revolt of the youth began last November in the suburbs. Since February the bulk of secondary school and university students have powerfully rejected the future that they see diminishing before them. People are furious to discover that the government won’t listen to the cries of hundreds of thousands of youth in the streets and the millions more who support them. The real nature of French democracy – a dictatorship of the capitalist ruling class – is coming into sharper focus, with the help of the club-wielding cops and the scent of tear gas.

In times like these people’s thinking can somersault. All that was declared permanent and unchangeable yesterday must submit to a fresh examination by the new generation. It is no longer possible to “outlaw” the questioning of society’s rules and the way it is organised, along with capitalist cultural mottos blaring out to youth to “succeed or die trying”. Older people see their own spirits, buried under decades of “realism”, rekindled by the youth’s declaration of a “rêve général” (general strike). Still, the fight around the CPE poses choices for the road ahead: Will the youth return to their daily routines and uncertain futures, slapped down for having dared defy the ruling class? Or will the current upsurge prove to be just the prologue of new rounds of battle that will further shake the whole country and contribute to the fight to remake the world?

On the Italian Elections

[The Italian election has captured attention with the spectacle of a defeated party breaking all ‘parliamentary norms’ in order to hang on to power. As the following excerpts from the Maoist Communist Party’s (Italy) Election Boycott call helps us understand, there is more to this than the desperation of Berlusconi (now voted out) trying to block possible legal action by a new government. It is very much part of the elections itself, which was “the most antidemocratic ever held in Italy after the World War II.” – ed.]

The general political elections in Italy put one before two bourgeois coalitions competing for the power, inside the same process of building a modern fascist and police state regime in order to improve the role of the Italian imperialism in the world imperialist competition, in the phase of the infinite war led by the first head of the imperialism, the US.

In the Italian elections, on one hand, we have the coalition of the current government Berlusconi-Bossi-Fini. A three-headed monster: Berlusconi, representing the parasitic financial capitalism; Fini representing the political inheritors of the conservative and farmer Christian Democratic right, strongly linked to the Vatican; Bossi, representing the owners of small and medium industrial firms, the wild capitalism of the richest areas in the north of the country. Inside this block takes part the majority of the Vatican, under the guidance of the new clerical-Nazi pope Ratzinger, also by means of the UDC party of Casini, the new fascist and new Nazi forces; the big crime organizations – mafia, ‘ndrangheta’ and ‘camorra’.

This faction of the bourgeoisie combines the defence of the interests of part of the big financial capital and the reactionary mass populism. It projects a form of open personal dictatorship holding a monopolistic control of the media, the centres of the power and, particularly, the suppressive state apparatuses: police, armed forces, magistracy, intelligence.

The other coalition represents the majority of the industrial capitalism and of the Italian trans-national corporations, linked to the EU and the world market, that fear the reactionary march of Berlusconi can punish their interests and the general interest of the imperialist bourgeoisie in the world market and competition. Also this block, in which take part the trade unions, the financial and productive system of the cooperatives, the disadvantaged part of the state apparatus and the sectors of the southern economic system integrated in the world market, projects an authoritarian form of regime, based on the repressive strengthening of the state apparatus, on the growth of the role of the Italian imperialism in the world chessboard, first in the areas where it has direct interests, the Middle East, the Northern Africa and the Balkans.

On all the decisive aspects, the elements that unite the two coalitions of the imperialist bourgeoisie are more numerous than those that divide them and they both aim to be its “business committee” to impose its particular interests as the general interest of the country.

The coalition led by Berlusconi move from a servant alliance with Bush and the US imperialism seeking a particular place under the shadow of the US giant. That is why it participates in the frontline of the war and the occupation of Iraq, upholds the US stand on almost all the world-influencing topics and opposes the solid building of a European imperialistic pole under a French-German leadership. The coalition led by Prodi does not aim to obstruct the strategic plans and interests of the US imperialism but to moderate their impact, in order to allow Italy to play both the games, combining the liaison with the EU and its own interests in the Mediterranean area. In this sense, neither one coalition or the other actually proposes the withdrawal of the troops from Iraq but rather they compete on how to maintain and strengthen the Italian presence and the relationship with the other countries in Middle East: Israel, Iran, Egypt.

Internally, both the coalitions aim to support the police state and to review the antifascist Constitution. The Berlusconi’s coalition openly evaluates the fascism and cancels the Resistance. The Prodi’s coalition upholds a modernization that puts amongst the relics of the past the antifascist struggle and the form of bourgeois democracy born from the Resistance. Therefore, both the coalitions agree on the strengthening of the police forces, the militarization of the country, the laws against the “terrorism” and the migrants. Also on the ideological and cultural field, both the coalitions make the “family” and the “security” the main levers to preserve and improve the stability of the existing state and system.

As regards the attack against the conditions of life and work of the people’s masses, actually the coalitions do not differ: they aim to expand the precariousness, the exploitation, the privatization and reduction of social services, in the context of an ongoing impoverishment of the people’s masses, particularly the southern people, the youth and the women. To do this, the Berlusconi coalition aims to build regime-servant trade unions, while the Prodi coalition aims to use the lever of a “concerting consensus”, realizing the corporative integration of the unions in the handling of the economics and the State.

As regards the big crime organizations in Southern Italy, Berlusconi aims to make an alliance with them; Prodi aims to a “restricting coexistence” in order to strengthen the role of the Italian capitalism in the world and to defend the interest of the firm-owner from the mafia blackmails.

The assault launched by Berlusconi against the magistracy and the mass media makes these centres of the bourgeois rule a field of a factions’ struggle that goes however against the freedom of press and the appearing equality before the law that the bourgeois democracy claims to apply. While Berlusconi openly holds the democratic judges and commentators as enemies Prodi looks at them as elements to keep under control.

The bourgeois electoral competition is the triumph of the parliamentary democracy as form of dictatorship. This time, the system of election is shaped on the rule of the money, of the richness, of the elites of the bourgeois parties and even any appearance of choice for the voters has been cancelled. The incoming elections will be the most antidemocratic ever held in Italy after the World War II.

This system and the general interests of the bourgeoisie make the political ranks competing for the vote more homogeneous and widen the separation between the parties and the masses, between the State and the masses and between the interests of the bourgeois industrial and financial oligarchy and the working class and people’s masses.

The parties, inheritors of the revisionist CPI, the Rifondazione Comunista Party of Bertinottie, other lesser forces, play the role of the pages in the coalition of Prodi, they seek seats and remainders with few chances to influence the programs. But their role is important and goes over their electoral strength. That is to serve the general interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie and the stability of the bourgeois state and system as a whole, through their active mobilizing to include the masses in the support of the centre-left coalition, to reduce their separation from the bourgeois state, to corrupt the ideology, the culture, the character and the organization of the proletarian and people’s movements of opposition, to actively oppose in the mass movements every tendency to go beyond the framework of the bourgeois interests and establishment and every form of antagonist, revolutionary and genuinely communist organization.

This way today the reformism serves the march toward the modern fascism.

US: Immigrants step out

A great upsurge is taking place across the United States! Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are stepping out of the shadows, into the sun. In Chicago, up to a half million filled Daley Plaza, shutting down the city, chanting “¡Se siente, se siente, el inmigrante está presente!” (The immigrants are here, you can feel it!) In Milwaukee, home of Congressman Sensenbrenner, author of the cruel bill that set off the protests, 25,000 marched. Tens of thousands went into the streets in Washington, DC. In Phoenix, over 20,000 demonstrators marched to the office of Republican Senator Jon Kyl, co-sponsor of a bill that would give illegal immigrants up to five years to leave the country. In Georgia, tens of thousands of immigrants stayed away from work in protest against a new state law there that would deny state services to adults living in the U.S. illegally and impose a 5 percent surcharge on wire transfers from illegal immigrants. As we go to press, students have walked out of schools throughout Southern California, and hundreds of thousands are filling the streets of Los Angeles. [Half a million people ended up filling the streets of central Los Angeles that day. The following week saw similar protests in many regions of the country, including conservative “American heartland” places like Oklahoma City. More than 10,000 people, mainly immigrants, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan behind a banner reading, “We are not illegal!”]

People widely know about – and hate – the Sensenbrenner bill passed by the House of Representatives in December. Pushed by fascist anti-immigrant Tom Tancredo and others, it would, among other things, immediately criminalize millions of people by declaring it a felony just to be in this country without “proper papers” – and to provide any help to these people. The House bill also calls for further leaps in border militarization, including a 1,200-kilometre-long wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and it refuses to consider any possibility for undocumented immigrants to get legal status.

– excerpted from various articles in the 2 and 9 April issues of Revolution, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA ( by AWTW News Service.



Rahul Sankrityayan

In Buddhism there is no place either for god (creator of the universe) or for revealed book. Morality is based on the act of being good or bad. Those who believe in god subject morality also to the will of god – whatever is prescribed by god is good and whatever is prohibited by him is evil. Here Buddhism differs, it considers the “good of many, happiness of many” (bahujana hitaya bahujana sukhaya) to be the criterion of good and evil.

Socio-economic Views

In the economic and political fields also the views of Buddha are different. He had prescribed the ideal of service for the monks and nuns. He had called those who did not conform to this ideal as “useless consumers of the nation’s wealth” (mogham sa ratthapindam bhunjati). He enjoined upon them to adopt communal living. He had introduced the system of economic communism in the community of monks and nuns. Apart from the eight items (of personal use), such as clothing, the begging bowl, etc. all other things were considered to be the property of the commune (samgha). The houses, gardens, small agricultural and other implements, bedsteads, beddings, etc. were considered to be communal property.

In the days of Buddha whatever land was donated was given to the “present and future commune of the four directions” (agata anagata chatudisassa) alone. This system continued for four or five centuries. The inscriptions in Ceylon [presently Sri Lanka –ed.] indicate that in the two centuries preceding Christ, fields were donated as charity only to the “present and future communes of the four directions”. Of course, in the Buddhist commune economic communism could not continue for long and in the 2nd century BC, according to the testimony of the inscriptions at Sanchi and Bharhut, the monks and nuns were already constructing pillars and railings with their private income which meant that now they had other personal property apart from the eight items of personal use.

Buddha preferred the political system of the republics (ganas). In that age slavery was prevalent, and hence in the Lichhavi (Vaishali) republic, the most prosperous and powerful at the time, democracy existed only for those who belonged to the Lichhavi clan. The slaves were movable property and they were numerous. The non-Lichhhavi Brahmin or grahapati (trader) caste though free had no right of vote for the senate (samsad). They were at the mercy of the Lichhavis. All the same these republics were evidently better than monarchy.

For Buddha the origin of monarchy did not lie in any divine source but kingship was the product of the growth of private property. Private property led to inequality or class division among the people, who started quarrelling among themselves and (overtly or covertly) started trying to snatch each other’s property, and therefore they selected one from among them as their judge, who by accumulating power for selfish ends developed into a king.

Buddha lived in the 6th-5th century BC (death 543 BC). At that time too economic and social discrimination was very sharp. For the eradication of economic inequality he attempted the eradication of economic inequality. Buddha confined his efforts to the monastic communes alone, but the abolition of social inequality he attempted on a universal scale. His voice raised against casteism had its effect but the basic foundation of casteism lay in the high-caste “haves” and the low-caste “have-nots”. Without removing the one the other could not be done away with. All the same Buddha’s communes granted equal rights in the monastic order to the lowest of the castes, the chandalas who were accepted as human beings by courtesy only. Buddhism fervently advocated the brotherhood of man without any distinction of race, country or caste. The principle of coexistence embodied in the panch shila was put into practice by Buddhism. And its missionaries in foreign lands never even dreamt of destroying the culture of any nation.

Buddhist philosophy

Buddhism has made original contributions in several fields but those in the field of philosophy are unique. Of course, it will be erroneous to say that it helped Marx’s philosophy or it ever came anywhere near the fundamentals of Marxism. But an understanding of Marxist philosophy is easier for students of Buddhist philosophy.

We know that Hegel’s philosophy played an important part in the development of Marxist philosophy and Marxist philosophy on its part removed the inconsistencies of Hegelian philosophy. It is said that the reality put up-side-down in the form of Hegelianism was put on its feet by Marx in the form of dialectical materialism. Hegel held that mind or idea was primary and real and matter a product thereof. Marx held matter to be primary and mind to be its highest development. Buddhism in its highest and final form is in a large measure similar to the idealism of Hegel. The idea (vijnana) of Yogachara philosophy is dynamic and nonmaterial. Like Hegel, the Yogachara school of Buddhism too considers idea or mind as the ultimate reality.

The basic tenet of Buddhism is: all is non-eternal. Later on the word “momentary” came to be used for “non-eternal” and it was said that whatever is “real” is “momentary” or “dynamic” and whatever is not “momentary” is not “real”. Thus Buddhist philosophy denied the existence of anything “eternal” and “static” in the world. For Buddhism this is the fundamental concept which has no exception. The denial of god or soul was a corollary of this principle. Buddhist philosophy takes pride in its denial of the soul (anatmavada).

Buddha’s birth synchronized with the end of the age of the Upanishads. The sages (rishis) laid the greatest emphasis on the soul (individual or cosmic) – soul is something nonmaterial, eternal and unchangeable. Buddhism aimed primarily at shattering this eternalist philosophy of the Upanishads, and that is why it was called anatmavada as against the atmavada of the Upanishads.

The dynamism of Buddhist philosophy, i.e., everything is in flux, inspired an entirely different outlook about the world. Even the believers in souls or eternalists were willing to accept the external world as changeable but they believed in an eternal existence within it. This they called atman or Brahman. Buddhists say: if we look inside the trunk of a banana tree we would get only layers within layers, one covering peeling off after the other but no substance inside it, similarly all the things in the universe do not contain any eternal substance – atman or Brahman; the world is void of any eternal element.

Hence the concept of Buddhist voidism (shunyavada). To explain their concept of dynamism the example of clouds or the flame of the lamp is cited. Just as the clouds go on changing each moment, so does this world. Even the most solid diamond or iron goes on changing every moment. Then why the similarity and sameness in their previous and subsequent forms? To this the Buddhist reply is: similarity in organization. The effect is always similar to the cause, hence the illusion of oneness. The flame of the lamp is changing every moment but the new flame born out of the old flame is similar to it, therefore we rush to the conclusion that “it is the same flame”.

Theory of causality

Having accepted the entire inner and outer world, without any exception, as non eternal it was necessary to have a different theory of causality too. Those who held the atoms or matter to be like immutable bricks could assert that by the assemblage of them the new object arises. Their integration and disintegration correspond to the origination and destruction of things. But Buddhist philosophy did not believe in the existence of such immutable eternal bricks. Everything is void of eternal essence, i.e., there are not things (vastu) but events (dharma). They could not be compared to gold which is a primary element and can be molded into different shapes, such as bracelets or pendants. Buddha used a different terminology to explain the law of causality: dependent origination (pratitya samutpada).

Elucidating this terminology Buddha says “When this was, then this comes and it was then this becomes” (asmin sati idam bhavati). At the completion of this, this is born. What has just ended is the cause and what has emerged after the cause is the effect. The effect was wholly nonexistent when the cause was there, and when the effect came into existence the cause completely vanished. There was no eternal substance inside the cause which is transferred to the effect. Actually they have no other relation to each other except that the one preceded or followed the other.

Collectivity of causes

Having accepted the entire inner and outer world in flux, as a conglomeration not of things but of events, the concept of dependent origination becomes inevitable. Dynamism and the theory that there is no eternal substratum forced them to look upon the world as made up of events. Rejection of the old ideas of the law of cause and effect inevitably led to the concept of dependent origination. In other words, dependent origination replaced the old theory of cause and effect.

Here Buddhist philosophy shattered another old concept, according to which one cause was supposed to beget one or several effects. The sages of the Upanishads believed in several strange things originating from the same soul (atman). Even in the material world one element was called the cause and the other element originating from it the effect. Buddhist philosophy contended that no object – or to use their nomenclature dharma – is born of one thing. No effect has only one cause, but several causes together give birth to one effect (object). This theory is called collectivity of causes (hetusamagrivada).

The great philosopher Dharmakirti says: “One (thing) is not born out of one but all is born of collective causes” (na chaikam ekam ekasmat, samagrya sarva sambhavah). When several causes assemble then one effect is created. Though the doctrine of the unity of the opposites is not mentioned as in Marxist philosophy yet it is clearly stated that one effect is the result of the coming together of several causes and if the smallest of them is missing then that effect would not result. According to Buddhist philosophy cause is entirely different from effect, in other words, the emergence of the effect is a qualitative change. And this qualitative change (emergence of an entirely different effect) cannot take place unless all the causes are pooled in the required measure – quantity. This concept of cause and effect includes qualitative change (the effect) and quantity which brings this about (collectivity of causes).

Definition of Reality

In the light of this conception of the world the Buddhist thinkers had to define anew what is “real” and what is “unreal”. For the ancient thinkers this definition was simple enough: that which is eternal, immutable or unchangeable is real and that which is non-eternal, mutable or changeable is unreal. In Buddhism there was no place for such “real” things. They defined a real thing as: that which is capable of objective action (artha-kriya-samartham).

Sweets and bread are real because they are capable of objective action, i.e., they are able of the objective action of nourishment or satisfying our hunger; but the sweets and bread seen in a dream are not real because they cannot satisfy our hunger, they are in-capable of objective action. That which is capable of objective action has been called not only real but absolutely real (paramartha sat). What was real according to the ancient thinkers was not capable of objective action because it was immutable, eternal and perfect. What is the proof of the existence of an inactive thing which is beyond the reach of the senses, since it is not an object of direct perception or of inference based on it?

The criterion of being objectively active is an infallible test of reality, and there is no doubt that in it one gets an inkling of modern ideas. The real should prove itself by objective experiment, nothing can be called real just on the basis of reason. To the rationalist objection that his stand was not rational, Dharmakirti replied: “If the objects themselves are like that, who are we?” (yadidam svayamarthanam rocate tatra ke vayam). Reason is not absolute, only the objective action or experiment is the touchstone of reality. This was a big weapon but it was not used, and there was reason for it. The entire progress of science is based on this principle – that we accept objects as our guide.

Matter and Mind

In Buddhist philosophy there are differences regarding the ideas about body and mind, matter and mind. Monist idealists among Buddhists consider only the mind to be real. Of course, even this “real” (mind) of theirs is dynamic. The others, the dualists, accept the separate existence of matter and mind. But this much both accept that the mind depends on the body (kaya sthitam manah). Mind or consciousness or idea cannot exist apart from the body or matter. This sentence reveals to some extent the mutual relationship between mind and matter, i.e., mind is dependent on matter (body).

Even the dualists did not accept that mind is absolutely different from matter. They said that like water and the waves, the world of matter is a transmutation (parinama) of mind. This is akin to Hegelian philosophy. If instead of “matter is a transmutation of mind” (vijnana parinamosan) it is said that mind is evolution of matter (rupa parinamashchit), then Buddhist idealism will be spared the trouble of standing on its head.

And in their philosophy there was enough ground for thinking in this manner. When every effect is entirely different and qualitatively entirely new as compared to the causes then what difficulty was there in accepting that mind evolves from matter – mind while being entirely different from matter could still be its effect. Dialectical materialism even while asserting that mind has evolved out of matter does not contend that mind is matter on the contrary it considers mind to be different from it and its highest evolution.

In Buddha’s time, on the one hand, there were the atmavadi thinkers who considered the soul to be eternal and immutable. On the other hand, there were materialist thinkers too who denied the existence of the soul, although their materialism had not risen above the level of mechanical materialism. Buddha and his followers propounded a philosophy which includes several features of advanced materialism but they were not prepared to call themselves materialists.

The Buddhist thinkers had from the very beginning been insistent on adopting the middle path in all matters; and here too they wanted to keep themselves between theism and materialism, although with regard to non-eternalism they did not advocate the middle path. For this consideration alone Buddhism is accepted as a religion. In spite of such radicalism in their philosophy, their belief in rebirth, yogic mysticism and some other views are the same as in other religions. That Buddhist thought made violent attacks against many an established tenet is proved by this saying of India’s unparalleled philosopher Dharmakirti: “Vedapramanyam kasyacit kartrivadah snane dharmechha jativada valepah. Santaparamth papahanaya ceti dhvastaprajnanam panca lingani jadye.”

“Accepting the authority of the Veda and someone as the creator, the desire of getting merit through the holy dip, the vanity of casteism and torturing the body to redeem the sins – these are the five characteristics of stupidity”.





Written by Ramu Ramanathan, translated by Chetan Datar and directed by Sunil Shanbagh, the play “Cotton 56 Polyester 84: The city that was Mumbai” was really a rare theatre experience. As the name itself suggests, it is the story of the mill workers of Mumbai – or erstwhile Bombay – who actually laid the foundations of this working class city. If we go by history, the blood and sweat of the Girni Kamgars – the mill workers – wove the fabric of this once-industrial city.

Today, gigantic shopping malls and plush residential high rise buildings, constructed on the ruins of these mills and it’s connected working-class neighbourhoods, rear up triumphantly and threaten the very same mill workers who now eke out with other means of livelihood.

“Welcome to Girangaon, the village of Girnis, the township of cotton textile mills. Parel, Byculla, Lalbaugh – once the centre of Mumbai, one of the greatest cities in the world, the foundation of its prosperity and growth, its cosmopolitan character and its rich culture. The story of Girangaon is the story of Mumbai” – says the brochure on the play. Exactly. The story of Mumbai is principally the story of mills and mill workers.

Cotton mills were built up in Mumbai from 1850 onwards to meet the needs of Britain and supply coarse cloth to the local market. Britain faced severe shortage after the outbreak of the Civil War in America. It was in this situation that the first cotton mill was setup in Mumbai. Soon many mills came up and brought lakhs of workers from different regions, languages, castes and religions to Mumbai. Though they were working long hours for exploitative wages and living in shanties and chawls their working class liveliness brought new spirit to the city. Their mutual interaction laid the basis for a cosmopolitan culture, further enriched through their songs and theatre. Their working class spirit created a vibrant culture cutting across caste, language and religious barriers. Peoples’ poets and singers emerged. Mumbai’s working class movement grow up in this fertile soil and became the foundation of the communist movement there. It is estimated that, by 1960s, there were more than 2.5 lakh workers altogether in all the mills. Their liveliness and mobility during days and night’s brought a 24 hours life to Mumbai. The downfall of this culture coincides with the emergence of Shiv Sena in the 60s and its gaining a foothold among the mill workers, acting as the champion of the cause of mill workers. The revisionist degeneration of the CPI by this time gave it the necessary opening. Shiv Sena’s manoeuvring further worsened the plight of mill workers. Lay-offs and lock-outs became a routine affair. After the historic strike of mill workers in early 80s, most of the mills remained closed, throwing out the workers. It is not surprising to see the offspring of Shiv Sena leaders like Thackeray and Manohar Joshi, who were once talking about the mills and mill workers, purchasing Kohinoor mills for rupees 421 crores and planning to construct commercial complexes there. Already, National Textile Corporation has sold out its Mumbai Textile mills for about 702 crores rupees! Around 600 acres of prime land held by near about 60 mills will be sold out and converted into Singapore style shopping malls or plush residential buildings after pulling down the chimneys of the mills brick by brick. Then on, no trace of any mill will be found. No trace of the vibrant culture generated by the mill workers will be left. After all, there won’t be any mill workers either.

This is the background in which the play is set. Various episodes in the life and struggles of the Mumbai mill workers have been braided into a fine and simple, but provoking, play in the skilful hands of Ramu Ramanathan and its realisation on stage by Sunil Shanbagh. Unlike conventional forms, this play uses the style of story telling. The story unfolds through the conversation between two mill worker friends—Bhai (Hindu brother) and Miya (Muslim brother). They are jobless mill workers whose mills are closed. The characters in the play are nameless. Quite correctly, since they are not particular individuals; neither in the play nor among the mill workers. The story itself is not of any individual —it is of the many Bhais and many Miyas who had to tie up their whole lives in yards of cotton and polyester yarn. Bhai and Miya through their narration and interaction, and sometimes their reminiscences, take the audience on a journey crisscrossing past and present.

Bhai is running a Sarvajanik Vachanalaya—a public reading room. Miya is still fighting the court cases of the mill workers as a union activist. Bhai has got his wife and son Chottu. Though living in despair and uncertainty, both Bhai and Miya are not totally lost. Their lives are enlivened by cherished memories of the past. They still retain the working class spirit to fight with odds. At times they evaluate their past deeds in a critical and self-critical manner. On one such occasion, Bhai criticises Miya for his aligning with the Shiv Sena when it came to work among the mill workers; a criticism he accepts but tries to explain that the situation had forced him to do so. To this Bhai makes a striking statement, “A person becomes communist only for once in the whole life”! That is it.

Apart from Miya, his wife and son, there are a few other characters also in the play who we find around us in Mumbai. One of them is a local money lender and businessman who consistently tries to convince Bhai and his wife about the futility of working class ideals and encourages them to do some business, making use of his loans. Though Bhai’s wife gets attracted despite his efforts to convince her, he never weakens. It is not that she is ambitious of doing business but this was the only practical way out – a sight commonly seen in society. Another character is the underworld don with whom Bhai’s son Chottu works. Chottu gets involved with the underworld out of frustration and despair. At one point, Bhai and Miya reminisce about Chottu—how he used to accompany Bhai to the mill and help him in his work and how Chottu was working as a temporary worker in the mill. The don is being portrayed as an example of how criminals are being created by the system. Don knows how the cause of mill workers got defeated and the treacherous political games played by various politicians. His vengeance to the system has turned him to criminal activities as he realises that politicians are more criminal.

Chottu and his lover-the don’s daughter- are representatives of the new generation. Chottu’s bitter experiences force him to crime, to thinking that money is power and eventually bring him to the dangers of the underworld. Chottu does not heed his father’s advice against his don connection. On the contrary he asks Bhai what was the outcome of his principled life as a mill worker? Chottu is full of vengeance against the system but directionless. The play ends with his encounter death.

The simplicity of the play is highly applaudable; as simple as the life of a mill worker. With just a few small benches constituting the Sarvajanik Vachanalaya the stage is set for the entire play. Miya, Bhai and his wife have well depicted the concerns of mill workers. Their fine acting takes the audience to the past for a few moments and then brings them back to the present, something otherwise very difficult for such a so-simple play.

The portrayal of the relation between Bhai and his wife is balanced with a marked absence of any trace of male domination, though not in an idealist sense.

Various songs describing the lives and concerns of the mill workers, sung quite lively by Bhai, remind us of the cultural space created by the mill workers during their time. The vibrance of that culture is effectively recreated through these songs which are integral to the play.

Nagesh Bhonsle and Kumud Mishra respectively as Bhai and Miya have performed aptly on stage. Similar was Charusheela Sable-Vachhani as the wife of Bhai. Devdatta Sable’s music has brought out the beauty of the lyrics with all of its vitality.

This timely and thought provoking play convincingly tells the tale of the mills and mill workers and their role in the making of Mumbai; how their little hopes and simple dreams are being shattered in the name of development; how a secular and vibrant culture is being swept out by the onslaught of the development models of globalisation. At the same time one can’t but question its faith in the courts (Miya still fights mill workers’ cases in court) when the judiciary itself has sided with the private mill owners and mill managements through its judgements against workers and permitting mill owners to sell off mill land.

In A Night of Full Moon

Saroj Kumar Dutt

Those who try to obligate me

With their flutes, herbs and rituals,

Breaking the poison fangs

Who hold me inside a smothering basket,

Who keep us around their necks

And usually kill us at the end –

Warn them

A night of full moon has come!

Often I wobbled my entranced hood

To the tune of their flutes,

Frequently I sought for a pit to hide my exhausted self,

Repeatedly I screamed with dumb rage

And lashed out then with my useless fangs tried to assail them,

And pounded my head against the hard earth!

But watching my vain efforts

They got jubilated and laughed at me.

Today all over my body

There is a severe pain,

My sensitive skin is finally growing,

The body is shaking with the fever of pain,

And like two drops of extracts of hatred

My eyes are unperplexed;

Now I would come out of the old skin –

Afresh, smooth and ferocious!

But in the revelry of their games

They have forgotten –

Tonight my venom gland is full to its brim.

[1] Economic Reports: Two years after and the task ahead, Government of India, Finance Ministry, 1993.

[2] Comrade Bela Dutta had got her Communist Party membership even earlier than S.D. She had worked as an organiser in Tebhaga Movement and was a woman combatant of the initial period of Communist Movement in India. She had participated in attacking an armed police camp during Tebhaga Movement.

[3] Vrindabani Lota : is a Hindi idiom, came from a particular type of round-shaped vessel, which rolls to any side at any time, indicates dwindling character.

[4] Chamchas: mainly a Hindi slang, which means boot-lickers.

[5] Laxman-Rekha – a Hindi-idiom, which means a line of demarcation which must not be crossed.

[6] More accurately Brahmanic religious faiths, since it is now established that there was no Hindu religion as such till the colonial period.

[7] Fast Breeder reactors can convert thorium, which India has abundantly, into uranium; thus allowing weapon and reactor grade fuel selfreliance.

[8]Natural Allies? Regional Security in Asia and Prospects for Indo-American Strategic Cooperation, Stephen J. Blank, Strategic Studies Institute’, U.S. Army War College, September 2005.

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Posted by thenewwave on April 18, 2008

Election and Emergency in Bangladesh

Why Did Dr. Yunus Get a Nobel Prize?

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New Wave No:3, HTML.

Posted by thenewwave on February 17, 2008


From Meerut to Naxalbari

Islamic Resistance, the Principal Contradiction and the ‘War on Terror’ – Ajith

The Wholesale of Retail – George Joseph


Re-reading Marx – Ajith

Mao Tsetung on Socialism and Democracy

The Birth of the New Man – Charu Mazumdar

To Young Political Workers – Bhagat Singh

What Stalin Told the CPI

Environmental Practice in Socialist China

Why Did Yunus Get the Nobel Prize?
The Great Revolt of 1857    The Killing Fields of Gujarat    UP Elections

SEZ    OBC Reservation    Cultural Censorship of Hindu Revivalism
Palestine    India    Nepal    Bangladesh    Russia

USA    the Philippines    Bhutan    Sri Lanka
Satisfaction – Otto Rene Castillo

From Meerut to Naxalbari

Officially sponsored commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the 1857 revolt and the birth centenary of Bhagat Singh by the Congress led Central government and various parliamentary parties, otherwise in keen competition to prove themselves as the foremost tools of imperialist globalisation, are telling examples of the doublespeak that is mainstream Indian politics.

Despite its varied impulses ranging from the anger of peasants to the disgruntlement of disposed local rulers and feudal lords, with inflamed religious and caste sentiments mainly supplying the ideological glue, the revolt of 1857 was united in its opposition to British rule and merciless in its mission of destroying it and all who stood by it. These were the attributes, and its broader character unlike the uprisings preceding it, that gave the revolt the character of a ‘war of independence’. Yet a nation as such, let alone an ‘India’, was nowhere in its political horizon. Despite its broader vision the actual spread was mostly limited to the northern and central part of present India. While colonialism stamped it as a ‘sepoy mutiny’ and saw a reactionary backlash in the religious, casteist and traditionalist mobilisations of the insurgents, Marx and Engels were able to extract and project its essence of being a ‘national revolt’ through their New York Daily Tribune articles. Their works are no doubt referred to by official commemorators of all hues, even aggressively by the CPM and CPI. What they conveniently brush over is the vital distinction between independence and dependence, however well it may be packaged. Nearly a century separated the Tribune articles from neo-colonialism. But the independence they spoke about was unambiguous, to be attained through the total overthrow of foreign domination.

It needs a stupendous amount of deceit to pass of the sham independence existing in India as the fulfilment of the aims of the 1857 revolt. But the art of juggling irreconcilable opposites have for long been the tradition of our ruling classes and their servitors. We thus have official historians, and even those who are avowedly Marxist, place both the 1857 revolt and the upper caste reforms promoted by a group of intellectuals, who were stalwarts of British rule, as vital ingredients in the making of the ‘Indian national movement’. If the revolt is haloed as the 1st Indian War of Independence, the labour of these intellectuals, who did all they could to help the coloniser crush it, is revered as the Indian Renaissance! Bhagath Singh and his comrades have also suffered this fate. Their revolutionary nationalism is clubbed with the comprador postures of Gandhi, Nehru and others in the Congress leadership of that period, though their complicity in getting them hanged is well recorded.

So they commemorate 1857 and Bhagat Singh’s birth centenary, and in the same breath declare the Naxalbari armed peasant revolt to be an aberration from a supposedly non-violent tradition, uniquely Indian. This myth of non-violence is tightly interwoven with the almost total dilution of the role of all struggles, other than those led by Gandhi and the Congress. But the rulers can’t eliminate them from history or from popular consciousness. They must be commemorated – to strip them of their revolutionary legacy. Their uncompromising stand, which dictated their choice of violent means, is hazed over. And they are then invoked as symbols of communal amity falsely labelled as secularism or of a patriotism defined vaguely enough to exclude any troubling questions about real liberation from imperialism. The co-option into the compradors’ wretched record was thus complete, or so it seemed, till Naxalbari.

The Maoist movement born out of the Naxalbari uprising has become the greatest threat to the rulers. The strength and spread of the Maoist movement now forces them to openly acknowledge this. But its potential goes far beyond material presence. Naxalbari carried forward the determination of the great struggles of the past – nothing short of total destruction of the oppressors’ rule was acceptable and this could only be achieved through revolutionary violence. Like them it took an unflinching stand on the need to draw a sharp line of demarcation between those who side with the country and its people and with the oppressors. It unmasked the collaborators who till recent were unquestioned in their professed patriotism. Naxalbari swept away the fog of compradorism and feudal self-aggrandising in all realms of society and blew in the fresh, liberating, breath of struggle. It was a turning point that brought back the revolutionary traditions of our past; with the added power of proletarian ideology. 2007 also marks the 40th anniversary of Naxalbari.

The uprising of Meerut in May 1857 was only one in a chain of revolts. Yet it was a defining moment. The insurgents marched out from the confines of their cantonment and thus gave it a broad character. But in their search for a unifying, even if symbolic, leadership, they couldn’t think of anyone other than the heir of the Mogul empire. They couldn’t envisage the outcome of the destruction of British rule except as the restoration of that empire, even when their chosen emperor and most of the feudal lords and kings had to be forced to take up their posts. From Meerut to Naxalbari, in the little more than a century that passed, the consciousness of revolution grew at an amazing speed. Though the official historians, whether of left or right hue, would like us to believe that 1857 was the last violent ‘national’ revolt, history records revolts and uprisings in every following decade, including major strikes and uprisings by the newly born working class. More importantly, the ideological impulses also shifted. To give an example, the violation of caste and religious orthodoxies had once stirred up rebellion. Now the struggle against caste and for rational thought became unavoidable in the discourse of independence; how they were handled is a different matter. In a certain sense, Bhagat Singh and his comrades represent both a link and a leap in this process made up of so many streams. For them independence was no longer a matter of ending foreign rule alone. It was also a quest to build a new society free of exploitation and oppression. Yet their heroic struggles were still part of an old pattern, where the leaders stood apart from the masses, seen as passive recipients and followers. This is not to deny the transformation they, particularly Bhagat Singh, were undergoing. But this was only in thinking. It was proceeding to incorporate the revolutionary thrust of their past activity into a Marxist plan of work, while breaking with the terrorist vision. But internment limited its development and execution at the hands of the British colonialists brought an abrupt end to this promising turn. Perhaps this is a major reason why, despite the absorption of most of this stream into the emerging communist party, it failed to provide the energy for pushing this movement along the revolutionary road.

Where then can we place the old communist party in this process? It was a mixed bag. The break from terrorism, popularising Marxism and organising the struggle of the masses stand out to its credit. But, except for brief intermissions like the Telengana armed struggle, the overall thrust was thoroughly reformist and quite stuck up in the Gandhian rut. It took the ideological clarity of Naxalbari to provide that decisive revolutionary impetus and make a thorough break. The party it gave birth to, the CPI (M-L) founded and led by Charu Mazumdar, gave it conscious form and content. This was a synthesis unlike anything seen before, a unity of revolutionary vision and daring struggle.

Looking back, we must also see the incompleteness in this rupture. Despite its overthrowing of the revisionist and Gandhian legacies of the old CPI, the new party also carried over some of that old baggage. To cite some striking instances, this was seen in its theoretical and programmatic positions on the caste and women’s issues. Its insistence on sinking roots among the most oppressed sections of society and the vehemence of its revolutionary assault on the old order did compensate this to some extent. But that was not enough. In recent years good advances have been made in addressing this lack. More remains to be done. Similarly, though the dynamite blast of Naxalbari gave, and still gives, a yield far wider than the military ambit of the protracted People’s War it initiated, this is yet to be harvested. Some manifestations of its wholesale attack (as part of its total war) on all aspects of this system, such as the smashing of statues of comprador and feudal idols, were perhaps quite arbitrary. There was less of ideological work necessary to strip them of their haloes. But this is how it is in any revolutionary outburst. Yet it seems that the plus points of such beginnings have faded while the legacy of weak ideological and theoretical work still remains. The growth of revolutionary cultural activism is significant, but it cannot be a substitute for this.

The 40 years since Naxalbari, with all its ups and downs, has now reached a juncture where a higher leap, a higher synthesis, is demanded by theory and practice.TOP

Islamic Resistance, the Principal Contradiction, and the ‘War on Terror’

ajithWhat is the balance sheet almost seven years into Bush’s ‘war on terror’? Death, destruction, torture and all the inhumanness of imperialism, multiplied a thousand times. Yet the US and its allies are nowhere near their aims in Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world. The two wars in Iraq had been celebrated by the American ruling class as their coming out of the ‘Vietnam syndrome’, i.e. the hesitation to get into drawn out military engagements abroad out of fear of getting bogged down with all its consequences. But the current debate and dissensions within them indicate quite the opposite.

Despite pushing in additional forces into Iraq the Bush regime has failed to roll back the resistance. Losses are mounting. Within the US and its allies the pressure to pull out is building up. But this is not that easy. Pulling out troops would amount to a formal acceptance of defeat in their ‘war on terror’. The consequent repercussions wouldn’t be limited to those regions alone. Besides that, it would trigger off a leap in sectarian violence. Africa is sufficient proof that imperialism can live and profit from this. But sectarian violence in Iraq won’t remain contained to its borders. Its spreading out has strategic implications far greater than in Africa. An internally warring Iraq will pull in neighbouring countries, affect the main oil producing region of the world and cause devastating destabilisation in the whole global economy. US imperialism is caught in a jam. It can’t stay the course much longer and it can’t pull out that easily. The option of engaging Iran to utilise its influence in Iraq is again contradictory. First of all, almost all imperialist think tank studies admit that Iran’s role in the Iraqi Shia resistance is minimal. Moreover, conceding the present Iranian regime a role in guaranteeing stability in Iraq would blow a big hole in US plans for West Asia. It will even weaken its hold among other comprador regimes in the region. The ‘war on terror’ was supposed to reap for the US the full benefit of being the sole superpower. It was to ensure that neither the peoples of the world nor its imperialist rivals would ever be able to challenge its supremacy. But the way it’s being bled in Iraq and elsewhere, the way it has actually helped in exposing the military weakness of the US before the people and thus making them more confident of fighting it, this strategy is increasingly being seen as a liability. Added to this is the opportunity rendered to imperialist rivals, notably Russia, to promote their interests while the US is tied down.

Iraq and Afghanistan are not strictly comparable to Vietnam. There a revolutionary force was leading a national liberation war. Here the national war is mainly organised and led by Islamic forces. But, in terms of the situation the US finds itself today, the similarities are striking. This is rooted in their ultimate source, the working out of the contradiction between imperialism and oppressed nations and peoples, which sets the context and determines the dynamics. Unlike Vietnam, this contradiction is not manifested in West Asia and Afghanistan through a sharp differentiation brought about by a revolutionary ideology. It is further clouded over by sectarian strife pitting people against people. But this precisely is the complexity, the particular form in which this contradiction is working out, that demands analysis.

To begin with we must settle with two views which complement each other even though they look quite contradictory. One of them formally acknowledges the reactionary character of the ideologies guiding Islamic forces and then goes on to an uncritical endorsement of these forces. The other formally accepts that they are part of oppressed and colonised humanity and then proceeds to declare their fight against imperialist occupiers as a clash between two reactionary forces. What is common to both of them is a peculiar logic by which their premises are no where to be seen in the conclusions. What is striking is the evasion of any grappling with the complexity mentioned above. Thereby both of them hamper any possible Maoist intervention; in the first case by tailing what’s on the field and in the second by standing aloof from this ‘messy’ reality.

The essential problem with the main resistance in Iraq or Afghanistan is not that it is Islamic, or, to put it broadly, led by a religious ideology. Religious ideologies have played a progressive role in the past. They still can become the means of expressing national and democratic content because in the semi-colonial, semi-feudal conditions of oppressed countries religion is not only a spiritual affair. It is also a way of life tightly interwoven with national culture. In the specific issue under discussion, the main problem lies in the particular elaboration of this ideology, the reactionary social programs being advanced by the more determined Islamic resistance forces—their fundamentalism. Therefore, apart from seeking out why religious ideologies, rather than secular ones, are gaining acceptance, we must also think over why this particular type is advancing, instead of something like a liberation theology. To give a tentative answer, it could be due to a combination of various factors. A weakening of faith in progressive thought and practice in general instilled by world events (including the setback of socialism), the failure of Maoists to uphold the national banner in oppressed countries coupled with a superficial identification of comprador modernisation with secularisation of society, the fierce and uncompromising rejection of the existent situation seen in fundamentalist religiosity that also gives it a more militant nature — all of these have contributed. Globalisation’s devastations and added miseries and the conscious boost given to religious movements by imperialism and reactionaries are no doubt conducive. But we must beware of reading too much into this. To attribute a one to one relation between the weakening of religion and proletarianisation and its resurgence with de-proletarianisation is the worst type of mechanical thought and a hasty generalisation. As for the role of imperialism and reaction, admitting it as an important factor also begs the question of why they are so successful and brings up, even more forcefully, the necessity of investigating the material and cultural factors intrinsic to particular societies. Similarly, to see in the growth of these fundamentalist movements a ploy by imperialism and reaction to divert the masses from the ‘real’ issues of globalisation fails to explain their perceived authenticity, precisely as a response to globalisation, among their mass following, apart from leaving out questions of faith and ideology from the list of real issues.

What is the class composition at the core of Islamic fundamentalist movements or of fundamentalist movements in general in the oppressed countries? It can very well be petty bourgeois, rural and urban, even ‘modern’ in education. Marxism, and the facts of life, shows us that the petty bourgeoisie of an oppressed country is an important national force, by no means outmoded historically though quite capable of being reactionary. Historical experience also teaches us that it can at times lead national movements. The petty bourgeois class composition of the core is one important reason why some fundamentalist movements are able to connect with the broad masses and don the mantle of legitimate resistance. But if analysis is guided by moral repugnance, the whole lot will just be seen as a bunch of outmoded reactionary strata, period—no suppositions to the contrary allowed. This may make it convenient in immediate terms to gain an audience among those put off by the reactionary views and practices of Islamic fundamentalists. But it won’t help Maoists in understanding and grappling with this phenomenon or mobilising a revolutionary mass on that basis, either in the oppressed countries or the imperialist ones. Dismissing the resistance in countries like Iraq as a clash between two reactionary strata amounts to imperialist economism, precisely because the aspect of national resistance contained in it is denied. The distinction seemingly drawn by qualifying these strata as colonised and imperialist will be meaningless so long as its implication of the national contradiction is denied. (For that matter, those criticised of imperialist economism by Lenin too had never denied the distinction between imperialism and the colonies. The problem was that their denial of the right to self-determination including secession eliminated this distinction from their politics.) In the present situation, one outcome of this is the reversal of priority targets in the occupied countries as seen in the argument, “To truly stand with the people of Afghanistan now means opposing all of their major enemies: the Taliban, the ‘Islamic republic of Afghanistan’ and of course, the foreign occupiers, Canada included, who keep the Afghan Government in power.”[1] This tacking on of imperialist occupiers in the list of major enemies, instead of focusing on it and the puppet state, is an inevitable expression of the imperialist economism underlying the analysis.

Assuming the petty bourgeois core of a fundamentalist movement, where does its virulent and reactionary character, so contradictory to its objective class position, emerge from? To get into this we must distinguish fundamentalism from revivalism. There can be no Chinese wall separating them. The transformation that takes place after gaining political power is evident. But they do exhibit an important difference, right in their religiosity. Revivalist religiosity, like the Hindutva of the Sangh Parivar in India, is quite superficial. Even though there is a big heralding of rituals and symbolisms, even those abandoned long ago by ‘true believers’, it has no problem in accompanying this with vulgar comprador self-indulgence. All religion inevitably contains unconscious hypocrisy. But here it is conscious, though not admitted. Vulgar materialistic pursuits and the aping of imperialist culture–otherwise targeted as forces weakening the ‘national spirit’–are willingly accommodated and internalised. They are very much part of the revivalist ‘way of life’.

For the fundamentalists (the Khalistanis were a good example and so too the Taliban) the return to an ‘uncontaminated’ practice of religion is uncompromising. This spiritualism must necessarily collide sharply with the present and the powers that enforce it. In fact, going back is seen as the only way to resist and overcome the degeneration of the present. Returning to the past need not always deliver reaction. There is the example of the Lutherian reform in Europe. Its spiritualism was closely intertwined with disgust over the Catholic Church’s monetarisation of redemption and other such ‘unChristian’ acts and it called for going back to an idyllic past. But objectively Luther’s reform promoted the growth of capitalism, a society where the cash nexus rules supreme; quite opposite to what he set out to achieve. Regardless of the redeemer’s desires, the social forces of capitalist transition marshalled him into their service. When we look at fundamentalism in the oppressed countries today the hopelessness of its project becomes all too evident. These are societies where each advance of bureaucrat capitalism also resurrects some feudalism too, where the dynamic of social transition is repressed, disarticulated, by national oppression. Thus the objective context pulls and shapes the fundamentalists’ endeavour to surpass the present by returning to the past into a reactionary buttressing of existing social relations, even while they clash with it.

It is the impossibility of fundamentalism that gives it its rigid, fanatic character, its fierce spirituality, the source of its capacity to call forth militant self-sacrifice, as well as the root of its fascism. At its heart lies an intense reaction to national, cultural, alienation continuously aggravated by imperialist domination and its imposed transformation. This is the crucible. To reduce fundamentalism to the dissatisfaction of some feudal or clan elements or a mere resurgence of their ideologies would miss a very important detail– it is rather modern, a product of our times. Exposing the reactionary content of fundamentalism is no doubt necessary. The heightened awareness of women, dalits and similar sections of the oppressed masses, chained by religious traditions, provide powerful sources of energy to do this. But unless the spiritual space occupied by fundamentalism is retaken with the enlightening vision of an all round liberation, a vibrant national, secular culture and a new society free of exploitation, unless the physical space now occupied by fundamentalist resistance is regained under the revolutionary banners of a peoples’ war, the Maoists are not going to succeed.

For these reasons, in the specific context of resistance against imperialist occupation, the relation between fundamentalist forces and Maoists can neither be simply antagonistic nor collaborative. It may contain both of them. The reactionary social programme of a fundamentalist force in an oppressed country does not automatically exclude it from the national resistance. Its actions against the national oppressor are just. The question of whether this reflects the contradiction of the oppressed people with imperialism or whether it reflects the contradiction of a section of the local ruling classes with a particular imperialist power has to be answered by concrete analysis of the class composition at the core of that particular force. Sweeping generalisations, either way, are of no use. There is another aspect to this. In a context of occupation the contradiction between the nation and the occupiers becomes principal. All the contradictions, including those among the ruling classes or between some sections of them with the occupying imperialist powers, are determined, conditioned, by this principal contradiction. Therefore, even when the class core is ruling class (comprador or feudal), its resistance against an occupying force is, objectively, a part of the national resistance. That does not eliminate the reactionary interests guiding its resistance just as much as these interests, by themselves, don’t exclude it from the resistance. In terms of policy, just because some force is resisting imperialist occupation that doesn’t mean that Maoists should endorse it as a national liberation force or unite with it, even while they acknowledge its resistance and the objective role it plays. On the contrary, the resistance put up by a force which is fighting against imperialist occupation cannot be denied its objective role by citing the reactionary social programme it may be upholding.

Now, to approach the issue from this angle demands a proper appreciation of the advance made by Mao Tsetung in charting out the road of revolution in oppressed countries and his approach in analysing the complex tangle of contradictions met with in the world. Today it is commonly accepted among Maoist forces that the principal contradiction in the world is the one between imperialism and oppressed nations and peoples. But, quite often, this doesn’t inform analysis of phenomena like the resurgence of various forms of religious movements in oppressed countries. Even worse is the case where the imperialists are taken at their word and the ‘war on terror’ is mainly seen, at least in its present phase, as something guided by US ruling class interests in rolling back Islamic fundamentalism. That is the declared purpose. But a closer look shows something else. Towards the end of the last century, not just US imperialism but the whole NATO bloc was engaged with the question of planning for overcoming decades of upheaval. A recent UK Defence Ministry think tank study puts this quite explicitly.[2] It isn’t difficult to understand this concern when situated within the globalisation drive of imperialism and the resistance it was bringing up. The advocacy of the particular policy put forward by the US neo-cons, later formulated as the ‘war on terror’, was within the ambit of this broad imperialist strategy, very much directly related to the working out of the principal contradiction. Today armed struggle is branded as ‘terrorism’, regardless of its political nature. The ‘war on terror’, where Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is ostensibly posed as the enemy, has its antecedents in the counter-insurgency campaign in South America carried out under the banner of a ‘war on drugs’. It is accompanied by a broad project of restructuring the crisis ridden agrarian sector in the 3rd world, which is identified as a potential source of ‘destabilisation’, in other words revolution. The ‘war on terror’ is a war on the peoples of the world. It is aimed at rolling back the emerging new wave of revolution. This is the dynamic that must be grasped in order to break out from the terms sought to be set by imperialism.

Policies will naturally differ in the oppressed countries and in imperialist ones. Yet there are some similarities also. The terrorism of Islamic and other resistance groups is conveniently used by ruling classes in both these countries to legitimise their suppression and curtailment of democratic rights. Where the victims are the masses, terrorist acts divide them and pushes a large section towards the banners of the rulers. We must certainly draw a sharp line of demarcation between terrorism and revolutionary violence. But we must also draw a sharper line of demarcation between this Maoist position and the ‘anti-terrorism’ propaganda of imperialism and reaction. This cannot be done in the determined way it must be done with arguments over who poses the greater threat to humanity or who the principal culprit is, even though all of that is true. What is needed is the firm and unconditional defence of the right of an oppressed people or section of society to resist with arms. Opposition to the ideology or social programme they follow cannot be allowed to dilute this. And the only way to ensure that is to fully grasp the dynamics of revolution, of the people against the system, particularly of the principal contradiction in the present world situation. When the ongoing turmoil in the world is viewed overall from the prism of inter-ruling class or reactionary conflicts, when major turns are mainly analysed and explained in these terms and revolution is only something that is added to this rather than accepted as the principal factor it really is, the defence of the right of an oppressed to resist can only become conditional and weak.

[1]From the WPRM-Winnipeg’s ‘Notes on Afghanistan’
[2]”Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents. Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.”, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme, 2007-2006. DCDC is a Directorate General within the UK’s Ministry of Defence. Strategic Trends is a source document for the development of UK Defence Policy.TOP

The Wholesale of Retail

george josephFinally, the international monster retailer from US- Wal-Mart- is entering the Indian retail sector, though not through the front door. Wal-Mart has made a tie up with Bharti Enterprises and launched Bharti Retail in order to enter into the foray of retail business in the country. As UPA government has not yet formally given the nod for the entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, Wal-Mart took the option of a back door entry. In February, Bharti Enterprises formally unveiled its road map for its retail business in India. With a plan to open its first retail outlet by 15 August 2008 (how patriotic they are!), it is investing around $2.5 billion (around Rs. 11250 crores) exclusively for front-end stores in the retail business. This is with an aim of making revenue of $4.5 billion out of this business by 2015! They are planning to set up a number of hyper-markets and super- markets across the country. It is said that in the beginning Bharti Retail would manage the front-end and Wal-mart would be involved in the back-end, that is, procurement, logistics and supply chain. The plan behind this tie up is very clear. When the government opens up the retail sector for FDI, Wal-Mart can very easily come to the front-end of the retail business and become the monopoly. By that time it would be able to spread its retail chain across the country through Bharti Retail.

Eversince Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced in 2004 that, his government was considering to permit FDI in the retail sector and following him, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram made another statement along the same lines while making the mid year review for 2004-05, it became one of the hottest topics of debate – whether FDI should be allowed in retail sector or not? But it is interesting to note what Finance Minister said then. He said, “On retail, the review notes that creating an effective supply chain from the producer to the consumer is critical for development of many sectors, particularly processed and semi-processed agro-products. In this context, it says, the role that could be played by organised retail chains, including international ones merits careful attention”. So it is not only about FDI, he also spoke about permitting ‘organised retail chains’ in the retail sector. These ‘organised retail chains’ are none other than big corporates like Bharti, Reliance Tata, the Birla Group, Godrej, the Mahindra, the ITC Group and Wadia — and a horde of others — who are awaiting the opening up of the retail sector to pump in more than Rs 1,00,000 crore over the next few years. According to Chidambaram, the entire retail sector is going to be opened up for the Indian compradors as well as FDI. As far as the ordinary people engaged in the retail business are concerned there is no difference between FDI and Indian Corporates once they are in retail. The tendency of both will be to oust the traditional retailers, monopolise and then control the sector. For the time being, just because of wide criticisms from various corners and opposition from the fake left, the government has withheld the plan to open up the retail sector for FDI, whereas, the Indian corporates are already given a free hand.

Here, the government and the organised retail lobby were quite successful in containing and diverting the whole debate in the direction of FDI question in retail sector, so that the entry of Indian corporates in retail is justified and supported. This is evident from the general opinion coming out from various corners that ‘when there is enough capital here itself then why should we allow foreign capital in the retail sector?’ This kind of argument fails to understand the dangers of this so called capital of the corporates. It is the very same capital that has massacred adivasis at Kalinganagar, or is snatching away the basic livelihood of lakhs of people across the country in the name of SEZ. It is the very same capital that makes huge profit out while employing very few people and helps the governments to show multi digit GDP growth while pushing millions into hunger and misery. And, it is this very same capital that is now going to snatch away the livelihood of more than 16 crore people whose life depends on the retail sector.

Meanwhile, with an aim to substantiate the need to open up the retail sector for FDI, various study reports were brought out by the government as well as corporates. The study conducted by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) came out with its report on FDI in retail sector, strongly recommending for 49 percent FDI. It says, “In the initial stage, FDI up to 49 per cent should be allowed which can be raised to 100 per cent in 3-to-5 years depending on the growth of the sector. FDI cap below 49 per cent would not bring in the desired foreign investment”. It argued that by restricting FDI, we are losing huge amounts of foreign investment which otherwise would have speeded up the growth of organised formats in the country. During the same time, towing a similar line of thinking as that of ICRIER report, another report by ICICI bank also came out. In all these reports the basic arguments in support of allowing FDI in retail are that — it will improve competition and develop the market; will generate more employment; increased sourcing by major international retailers will boost up exports; greater investment in food processing technology will reduce overall wastage and improve production and distribution cycle; will improve the life style by spending on quality products; and, in the long run it will develop tourism, improve agriculture, develop efficient small and medium size industries etc…etc…! And, finally they make a comparison of the benefit China gained from FDI in retail.

All the major international retail giants like Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour, Auchan, Royal Ahold and 7-Eleven, who are consistently pressurising their respective governments to demand the opening up of retail sector for FDI in WTO, are here at our door steps to grab the first opportunity when FDI is allowed. Among them, Wal-Mart was very smart in manipulating the situation in their favour. The President and CEO of Wal-Mart International, John B. Menzer, met the Prime Minister in May 2005, to discuss about the opening up of the retail sector in this country for FDI. The Business World had reported that, ‘the world’s largest company, Wal-Mart, is leaving no stones unturned to lobby for its entry into India.’ That was true. To prepare the ground for Menzer’s visit, according to a media report, David Mulford, US ambassador to India, met the prime minister, finance minister and commerce minister. Thus, even before the Wal-Mart president’s arrival, the government had publicised their intent to liberalise the retail sector for FDI.

During that visit, Wal-Mart chief remarked that they are ‘ideally’ interested to come with full equity in every category including food and grocery. That means they want to sell everything what we purchase at present from the local grocery shop or the street vendor or from the branded shops, under one roof, that of Wal-Mart!

What is so fascinating about the retail sector here? It is nothing but the huge market potential that exists in it as far as size and revenue are concerned. According to the Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) Report of the international management consultancy firm AT Kearney, India is the second most potential destination for retail in the world after Russia. Though estimates vary widely about the true size of the retail business in India, according AT Kearney estimates, it was around Rs.4,00,000 crores in 2004 and poised to double in 2005. According to another report estimated by FICCI, the total retail business to be around $286billion (roughly Rs.12,87,000 crores)[1] or 44% of GDP and food sales account for 63% of the total retail sales. A latest report, India Retail Sector Analysis (2006-2007) by the market consultancy firm RNCOS, predicts the growth of the retail sector to $427billion (roughly Rs. 20,00,000 crores) by 2010 and $637billion(roughlyRs.29,00,000 crores) by 2015[2]. This shows that trade or retailing is and will be the single largest component of the services sector in terms of contribution to GDP. It is this potential that big capital is eyeing.

The retail sector in India is highly fragmented. Of the total trade taking place, 98% is in the unorganised retail sector which includes all low-cost retailing, for example, the local grocery shops, owner manned general stores, small beedi shops, hand cart and pavement vendors. Only 2% is estimated to be in the organised sector which includes hypermarkets, supermarkets, margin-free shops and privately owned large retail businesses. Whereas, in developed economies, organised trade makes up over 70-80% of total trade. Actually this is one of the concerns among ruling class policy makers who have already set out to make India a so-called ‘developed country’. (Akin to ‘kill the poor to kill poverty’ logic!) According to RNCOS report, organised retail will form 10% of total retailing by 2010. As of today, India has the highest shop density in the world. It was estimated in 2001 that there were 120 lakh retail outlets in the country. That is 12 outlets for every 1000 people. Perhaps India may be the only one country in the world to have more than one retailer for every hundred people! Out of the 12 million outlets operating in the country only 4% of them are larger than 500 square feet in size. Compare this with the average size of a Wal-Mart store, 85,000 sq.ft!

According to the report of RNCOS, the total retail market is primarily focused in rural regions, which makes up 55 per cent (equivalent to US$ 165 billion) of the overall retail market as opposed to the urban segment, which represents 45 per cent (equivalent to US$ 135 billion). The rural market is spread over 627,000 villages, of which a core group of 100,000 villages that makes up 50 per cent of the rural populace will be the main target at present. This is the market potential even in rural areas the corporates are targeting for.

Capital is not concerned about labourers beyond their necessity of a bare minimum subsistence. This is truer with all those who are more concerned about and see only the concerns of capital. All these studies and reports which give primacy to capital carefully avoid any reference to the plight of the people involved in the retail business and their fate when huge capital is enters. It is estimated that there are approximately 4 crore people involved in the unorganized retail sector. Where as the organized trade employs merely 5 lakh people! That is 4% of India’s population is in the unorganized retail business. If we assume an average dependency of 4 persons per retailer then there are 16 crore people living on small scale retail business in the country. Approximately 2 crores are employed in this sector, mostly on day wages. The total comes to nearly 20 % of the population.

Though retailing is termed as self employment it is actually a form of disguised unemployment. The vastness of the unorganized retail sector is a visible testimony to the unemployment situation in the country. Except a very few, people opt for a retail of any sort, from selling on the pavements to starting a small shop depending on the meager capital available with him/her, when all other options of employment are closed in front of them. Those who seek employment also see it as a last resort. Government boasts about two digit growth in industry but it is deliberately silent about the growth of employment in this sector. It is nothing but jobless growth and it was continuing for many years. In a country where the total work force constitutes 50% of the population, what will be the source of income of these 55 crore people if the government does not provide them employment? So it is not the choice but the circumstance that makes up a retailer. For the vast majority their capital may be of few tens or at the most a few thousands in contrast to the millions and billions of the ‘Indian’/ Foreign big retailers. There is no way they can stand up to these big players of capital and compete with them. They will eventually have to leave this space for these monsters. Whether Indian comprador capital or foreign capital, its logic will be to monopolise the market. In such a situation UPA government’s plan to open up the retail sector means forcefully disappearing 16 crore people for some 16 odd big players! This is must be stopped.

As far as FDI in retail sector is concerned, as said earlier, Wal-Mart is already here. A number of other international retailers are waiting to enter. It is true that there will be huge capital investment. But who is going to benefit? Many reports have already come out exposing their skewed method of profit making and their anti-labour policies. The modus operandi of these companies is to source items at the lowest price and sell it at a very higher price, but one lower than what is current in the market. Wal-Mart chief Mr. Menzer gave a fine demonstration of this at a lunch hosted for journalists at the US embassy in Delhi when he came to meet the Prime Minister. Waving his little black wallet at everyone he said: “We sell this piece, sourced from India, at $17a piece in the US. Our competitor sells it for $70.” But he didn’t tell the price he sourced it.In all probability he must have procured it from here for not more than $3 or $4 per piece!

In this effort to source items at a very low price they put undue pressure on the actual producers or suppliers for low cost production. Suppliers are forced to cut down wages and other benefits to labourers, ignore health and safety regulations, increase maximum working hours and restrict labour rights etc., in order to reduce production costs and keep their contract going with Wal-Mart and similar monsters. This is the case with almost every production unit in China supplying goods to Wal-Mart. In effect they are working as ‘sweat-shops’ of Wal-Mart. Actually, the Chinese government is consciously allowing several lakhs of wage labourers to toil in such sweat-shops for the sake of FDI. Led by a sham Communist Party it has become perhaps the world’s greatest facilitator of capitalist production, beckoning multinational giants with tax-free zones and harsh punishment for anyone trying to organise a labor movement.[3] A lot of reports are already available on this topic. A report on ASDA Wal-Mart, a wholly owned UK subsidiary of Wal-Mart since 1999, says, “Wal-Mart’s relentless pursuit of the lowest possible prices has taken a heavy toll on its employees and suppliers. Workers in Wal-Mart stores and distribution centres have seen their rights violated as a result of cost cutting, while the company’s determined opposition to trade unions has denied employees essential protection and bargaining rights. Suppliers have also been exposed to ever worsening conditions as Wal-Mart turns the screw on source factories in some of the poorest countries in the world”.[4] But, the self-styled champions of ‘GDP based growth’ who tirelessly argue for FDI and comprador capital in retail sector conveniently hide these facts from their open discussions. On the contrary, what they say is, ‘see Wal-Mart, has 45 stores in China and procures merchandise worth $20 billion from there, whereas in India, it has just one procurement office in Bangalore and outsources for only $1 billion worth of merchandise’. ‘In its investigation of factory conditions, the US National Labor Committee found that “in country after country, factories that produce for Wal-Mart are the worst.” According to the Committee, Wal-Mart “is actually lowering standards in China, slashing wages and benefits, imposing long mandatory-overtime shifts, while tolerating the arbitrary firing of workers who even dare to discuss factory conditions.”[5] This can be substantiated from what is explained by a Chinese labour official: “Wal-Mart pressures the factory to cut its price, and the factory responds with longer hours or lower pay… and the workers have no options.”[6] More than 30 million Chinese workers have lost their jobs as the old state-owned industrial base crumbled before the competitive onslaught of foreign and domestic private firms.[7]

This is just the story of the back-end or the sourcing end of the Wal-Mart operation. The stories at the front-end of its operation are of closure and monopoly. In US itself, Wal-Mart’s existence has led to large scale closures. A survey of Wal-Mart’s impact in the first 12 years of its operation in the US State of Iowa found that 50% of clothing stores, 42% of variety stores, 26% of department stores and 30% of hardware stores had closed.[1] If this is the fate of retailers in the US itself then one can imagine what would be in stock for our retailers once Wal-Mart opens its store.

It can dump a wide variety of products sourced from cheap destinations which will eventually affect local production units as there won’t be local takers once closure takes place. In the name of supplying quality food at cheapest price it can dump genetically modified food items in the market, bypassing public knowledge and the government. It can import cheap agro products from developed countries where farm subsidy is heavy and sell them at very cheap prices here. This will have a direct bearing on the agrarian sector which is already in distress. It can force the government to change many laws, including labour laws, to suit its free operation. In other words, to use the US war language, we can say that the ‘collateral damage’ Wal-Mart will cause is tremendous’.[8]

The fake lefts’ opposition was all along a tactic aiming at making inroads into the trader vote banks of the BJP and Congress. Now these parties, particularly CPI(M), once critical of opening up of the retail sector for organised retail chains and FDI, have now begun to talk about ‘regulating the organised retailers’. Some organised retail chains have already opened their outlets in West Bengal and Keralam, where they rule. And many more are waiting. This is becoming another example for their double-speak to hoodwink the masses, as in the case of SEZ. They opposed FDI and later invited it; they opposed SEZ and then killed people to implement it; they opposed ADB loans and grabbed it when in power, they opposed organised retailers and now allow them to open their outlets.

The hawkish Indian compradors that are entering the retail sector are as dangerous as Wal-Mart and sort. As capital investment is the mantra of development today, parliamentary political parties are bound to summersault and spread red carpets once they are offered capital investment by these companies. Then people will have no other option left but to take to the streets against these blood suckers as it happened in Indonesia where large retail shops in Jakarta were attacked during the riots of 1997-98.

1 Foreign Direct Investment in Retail, ICICI Bank, 2004
2 RNCOS, ’India Retail Sector Analysis (2006-2007)’, April 2007
3 Peter S. Goodman and Philip P. Pan, ‘Chinese Workers Pay for Wal-Mart’s Low Prices’, Washington Post, 8/2/2004.
4 ASDA Wal-Mart: The Alternative Report, September 2005,
5 Ibid
6 Cited in Peter S. Goodman and Philip P. Pan, ‘Chinese Workers Pay for Wal-Mart’s Low Prices’, Washington Post, 8/2/2004.
7 Carl Goldstein, ’Wal-Mart in China’, New York Times, Dec 8,2003.
8 Cited in ASDA report, ‘Bill Quinn, How Wal-Mart is Destroying America (and the World) and What You Can Do About It (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press), 2000, p4.










Food Retail







Non-Food Retail














Source: P.G.Chengappa, Lalith Achoth, Arpita Mukherjee, B.M.Ramachandra Reddy and P.C.Ravi,
Evolution of Food Retail Chains: The Indian Context, 5-6th Nov. 2003,

Re-reading ‘Marx on British India’

Much has already been written about Marx’s writings on India. Is there need for more? Going by the Introduction and Appreciation seen in a new collection, the answer can only be an emphatic yes.[1]

Given the history of invasions of the Indian sub-continent by various forces and the empires they established, Marx raised an important question – what distinguished British rule from them? His answer was the civilisational ‘superiority’ of British colonialism.[2] Superiority is a loaded term. Our contemporary critical sense, enriched by the insights of Edward Said and many others, calls for a closer look. But that cannot negate historical progress and the superior capabilities of any new social system compared to earlier ones; in all respects, including the appropriation of their knowledge. This was as true of the incorporation of tribal societies in the Indian sub-continent into caste-feudalism as it was for colonialism. The ‘superior civilisation’ of the British was evidently a product of its capitalist nature and in this respect the decisive difference noted by Marx, its inflicting a ‘misery of an essentially different and infinitely more intensive kind’ can’t be denied.[3] This refutes the charge of Orientalism and exposes a basic flaw in this whole stream of reading. But that can’t be a plea for avoiding critical reading itself.

The fashion of blaming the faulty and biased source materials Marx had to rely on and passing by an examination of how he used them or how they influenced him is certainly not Marxian. Marx was critical in his use of that material, but not completely so. This was influenced not only by the paucity of additional inputs but also by the Enlightmentalist milieu of that period. Explicit traces of this influence can be seen, for example, in Marx’s views on the ‘Hindu’ religion, where he correctly criticises it for subjecting humans (the “sovereign of nature”) to a brutalising worship of nature.[4] This characterisation of ‘Hindu’ (properly speaking Brahmanic) religion obviously does great injustice to its sophisticated philosophical thinking and misses the intriguing paradox of its co-existence with animism in a single belief system. We can attribute this to faulty information. But can the supposedly sovereign role assigned to human beings avoid critical correction? It even violates Marx’s own views on the nature-human metabolism.[5] Yet another example is where he reasons that the state’s running of irrigation systems in Asian countries, unlike private enterprise in medieval Europe, was necessitated by ‘civilisation … (being) … too low to call into life voluntary association’ apart from the vastness of territory.[6] Low in civilisation, yet high enough to develop technology and organisation for such enterprises?

So what does this say about ‘historical superiority’? We need to be critical about the ‘absolute’ quality usually vested in it. It has to be tempered with the recognition that what is surpassed as inferior may well contain some superior aspects. The relativeness of ‘superiority’ to the future as well as to the past, given by class, gender, racial and various other biases accompanying it, must never be ignored.

Even a cursory reading of Marx’s writings in the light of such new sensibilities would call for acknowledging such drawbacks. But sadly enough, this collection, edited by noted Marxist historians, has chosen to remain silent. Even worse, we see Prabhat Patnaik declaring those articles to be “a real classic on Indian history”![7]

Some of Marx’s views, based on faulty sources, such as the concept of an Asiatic mode of production based on supposedly stagnant village communities and a despotic state, have been abandoned by most Marxist historians. The fact that even the ‘hereditary divisions of labour’ congealed in the caste order (correctly seen by Marx as a decisive impediment to progress) was itself never immobile, is now widely accepted.[8] Similarly his characterisation of hand spinning and hand weaving as the pivots of village society, his view on the absence of private property in land, of the paralysis of productive forces for want of means of transport, of state functions as merely plunder and public works (irrigation) also stand corrected. Marx didn’t know of the Harappan civilisation, of the Mauryan or Guptan empires (by no means foreign), of the productive tasks prescribed for the state by Kuatilya and its role in the expansion of settled agriculture or of the locally developed technologies in agriculture and crafts. But we do and must therefore call into question Marx’s opinion that British colonialism effected the ‘greatest and … only social revolution…’ in the sub-continent.[9] To give it the halo of a ‘classic’ view of our history would be making a laughing stock of Marxism and a departure from the creative advances made in applying it to the study of this sub-continent. DD Kosambi, a pioneer in this matter, observed, “The advance of agrarian village economy over tribal country is the first great social revolution in India: the change from an aggregate of gentes to a society.”[10] Further, “Marx noted only the backwardness engendered by the caste system, the grip of the most disgusting rituals… which sickeningly degraded man. On the other hand, without these superstitions assimilated by Brahmanism at need… tribal society could not have been converted peacefully to new forms nor free savages changed into helpless serfs…”[11] Despite Kosambi’s mistaken subscription to Marx’s view that modern industry introduced by colonialism would dissolve caste[12], his characterisation of the incorporation of tribal societies through the caste order as a more or less peaceful process and his overlooking the rituals and superstitions intrinsic to Brahmanism, these insights stand as valuable stepping stones.

There is another matter. Take Prabhat Patnaik’s trumpeting the “lucidity of (Marx’s) exposition of the dialectics of the colonial impact”. Yes, Marx correctly drew attention to the dual role of British rule, its destructive and regenerative functions. But a careful reading of what he wrote, aided by knowledge of the actual course of developments, shows that his optimism about the regenerative role of colonialism was misplaced. Moreover, there was also the problem of viewing the prospects of colonial India through the prism of Western capitalism’s course of development. One can summarise Marx’s views as follows: through the introduction of modern industry by way of the railways and of private property in land through the zamindari and ryotwari settlements, by the political unity enforced through colonial rule, formation of a native army and the growth of a new class ‘endowed with requirements for government and imbued with European science’, along with the introduction of a ‘free press’, the British were unconsciously laying the material foundations of Western (capitalist) society. If we leave out the specificities, what stands out is a projection of an inevitable development of capitalism, more or less along the pattern witnessed in Western Europe. Furthermore, the role of force exerted by colonial political power was seen only in its transformative aspect, in breaking down the old framework.[13] Its role as a barrier to the development of capitalism, as a protector of the old order, suitably reformed, was missed. So too was the distinct nature of the capitalism fostered by colonialism. It is surprising that this is ignored by Prabhat Patnaik in his ‘Appreciation’, centred on an exposition of ‘a capitalist mode located in the midst of a subjugated pre-capitalist hinterland’ as a necessary condition of imperialism[14] and by Irfan Habib in his Introduction. We will come back to this later. Let us first examine the central premise Marx drew on to arrive at his conclusions on the role of colonial political power and the dialectics of colonial rule.

This was the destruction of handicraft, particularly of the weaving industry, by British commodity trade and the introduction of modern industry; the dissolution of the existent natural economy. But the insight of later historical research shows us that the period preceding the consolidation of British colonial rule saw large growth in the weaving sector and in cotton cultivation. It was stimulated by the new, external, demand created by colonial trade as well as by a growth of the internal market. Some of the salient features of this development were the growing separation of handicrafts from agriculture, greater division of labour and specialisation in the weaving sector, rapid growth of the weaver population in towns and emergence of new weaver settlements.[15] In view of this new knowledge shouldn’t a Marxist reflect on how, when and why the population of Dacca swelled up to 150,000, largely weavers, instead of remaining fixated on its drastic decline to 20,000 under British colonialism? Evidently the dialectics of colonial intrusion was far more complex than the destruction/regeneration noted by Marx. Too much of indigenous capitalist development cannot be read into the facts recorded above. But it was also not a mere offshoot of colonial trade. At least in some parts of the sub-continent the potential for capitalist development was emerging even before this. British colonialism did not impose its rule over a stagnant sub-continent. Nor were the conditions met by it those of classical caste-feudalism.[16] Some regions in the sub-continent were already transitional. Moreover, there is no reason to insist that capitalism must develop only through internal stimuli. The case of Japan is illustrative. There the forceful entry of Western colonial powers triggered off an internal dynamic leading to the growth of capitalism. More importantly, the later loss of interest in Japan on the part of the colonial powers, drawn to the riches of China, gave it the favourable circumstance of avoiding colonial domination and thus allowed it to take the path of capitalist development. This brings us back to the role of political power.

It wouldn’t be off the mark to assume that indigenous capitalism could have developed in the Indian sub-continent under the strong stimuli of colonial and other trade. For example, Tippu’s Mysore and to a lesser extent Thiruvithaamkoor under Marthanda Varma could have taken the trajectory of a development of capitalism from above, through state intervention, if they had remained independent. The consolidation of British colonial power was certainly one of the decisive factors preventing this. This implies a qualification of the regenerative role of British rule and draws attention to the dual role of colonial power. In the matter of regeneration, or the growth of capitalism, it was both transformative as well as suppressive. The various aspects noted by Marx no doubt led to the growth of capitalism, but of a certain type. It was shaped and warped by colonial interests, and this included the sustenance and regeneration of many elements of caste-feudalism. This was later recognised by the 3rd International under Lenin and incorporated in its views on the colonial question.[17] But a more precise characterisation of this capitalism and the class engendered by it came through Mao Tsetung’s sparse but pathbreaking illumination on bureaucrat capitalism, a capitalism fostered by imperialism and intertwined with feudalism, and class analysis of the comprador-bureaucrat bourgeoisie in China. These rich analytical tools have been totally ignored by most of the Marxist theoreticians in India.

Prabhat Patnaik and Irfan Habib are definitely of the view that colonialism, particularly imperialism, has obstructed the growth of capitalism. In his Introduction Irfan Habib records this, but with a justification for Marx who “…naturally could not have foreseen how Britain would now use administrative measures to throttle India’s industrial development.”[18] But why was this so natural? If the mill owners of Britain had blocked the sale of Indian textiles in an earlier period, they could surely be expected to employ colonial power to block the growth of a competing capitalism in the colony. Why did Marx miss this? The answer once again lies in his high expectations about the regenerative role of British rule and the consequent growth of capitalism in British India. He related this to the necessity felt by ascendant British industrial interests to create fresh productive powers after destroying local industry, precisely because they found that the power of consuming their goods (in British India) was contracting to the lowest possible point. Hence the conclusion, “You cannot continue to inundate a country with your manufactures, unless you enable it to give you some produce in return.”[19] Colonial power certainly did this enabling, but in a manner very different from what Marx expected. For a long period, the development of productive forces was mainly in the direction of ensuring raw materials for the industrial growth of Britain. The later growth of local industry was again a ‘development of underdevelopment’.

What interests us here is the contradiction seen in Prabhat Patnaik’s and Irfan Habib’s arguments. They have used the occasion of bringing out this new collection to introduce and argue out the thesis that the exploitation of the colonies was not merely a matter of primary accumulation. There is a certain ‘division of labour’ here. Patnaik visualises Marx’s articles as a window to enter into the thesis, while Irfan Habib devotes his effort to substantiate Marx’s prophecies, with some inevitable amendments. But we will be justified in treating them as one because both of them accept the central argument of Marx’s articles – capitalist growth induced in a stagnant society through the agency of colonial rule. Prabhat Patnaik has argued that Marx’s articles “… see capitalism, necessarily, within a wider setting, not in isolation but as existing amidst and coupled to pre-capitalist formations …which have been transformed by capitalism in accordance with its own needs, through political domination in the form of colonial rule.”[20] The question is about the ‘transformation’, its nature and extent. As we saw earlier, Marx envisioned a development of capitalism due to the regenerative role of British rule. This was the basis for assuming a basic, if not total, transformation of pre-capitalist society in its future course under colonial rule. Irfan Habib, favoured by Patnaik for his ‘illuminating Introduction’, would have us believe that Marx’s predictions on a bourgeois class emerging and taking the lead of a national movement[21] and industry dissolving hereditary divisions of labour upon which the Indian castes rest have been vindicated.[22] He does recognise contradictions thrown up by British rule. But this is linked to his view that “…the genesis of modern elements in India under the aegis of British dominance could not create any lasting groundwork for collaboration between the new classes and the British rulers…”[23] What he has in mind is not the proletariat or the new middle class but the bourgeoisie itself. This is sought to be substantiated by Marx’s observations on the poor response from ‘Indian Capitalists’ to the East India Company’s loan, obviously a case of reading too much into the temporary hesitation shown by the local rich in the immediate context of the 1857 revolt. If we accept these views then the ‘finale of 1947’ has produced an independent country led by a bourgeoisie strong enough to throw off the yoke of imperialist colonialism. But if that were true then there can be no reason to argue that a colonial relation, in one or another form, the exploitation of countries retained in backwardness whatever may be its degree, is ‘necessary’ for capitalism or its highest stage of imperialism. On the contrary, if such exploitation is not merely a matter of primary accumulation, if it is a ‘necessity’ of capitalism and imperialism, we must then abandon the notion of gaining independence in 1947 and accept the bitter fact of a continued, though now semi-colonial, dependence. The reality of neo-colonialism must be acknowledged.

Marx noted, “The world market itself forms the basis for this (capitalist) mode of production. On the other hand, the immanent necessity of this mode of production to produce on an ever enlarged scale tends to extend the world market continuously…”[24] The greater part of this world market of capitalism was the colonies, and at present the semi-colonial countries. The exploitation and plunder of the colonies was crucial for the primary accumulation of the emerging capitalist mode. However, this was not just a matter of primary accumulation. It has also played a crucial role in the growth of capitalism into imperialism and its continued sustenance. This recognition does not eliminate the primary internal dynamics in the emergence of either capitalism or imperialism in the West, because a mode of production develops only where the conditions for it have taken shape. Neither does it shift the locus of exploitation to exchange relations instead of at the basic level of production. The issue for us is the conditions created and enforced by colonial rule or the conditions sanctioned and imposed by imperialism in the post-colonial period. The continuous expansion of the world market necessitated by the capitalist mode of production in the metropolis demands the development of productive forces in the colonies. But the extent of this development depends on the exploitative needs of capital in the centre, which also makes subordination of the peripheries a must and also determines its nature. This is no doubt influenced and shaped by a number of other factors including class struggle and contradictions among world powers. But the element of oppression and disarticulation, which also contains the sustenance of semi-feudalism, is a constant. These conditions ruled out, and still rule out, the development of capitalism in these along the trajectory projected by Marx.

This takes us beyond Marx’s articles on British India and brings us to re-examining and developing the commonly accepted Leninist theory of imperialism. It is generally understood that the retrogressive role of colonialism was mainly a product of the shift of capitalism from progressive free trade to a reactionary monopoly phase. This does not accord with historical facts. The disarticulation of colonial economies and regeneration of feudal relations took place right from the very beginning of colonial rule, during the phase of competitive capitalism. It was forever a part of its transformative role. Therefore what is needed is a synthesis, with Lenin’s theory of imperialism at its core, but critically ingesting the views of Rosa Luxembourg and of the world system school who have tried to address and situate the sustained role of the colonial exploitative relation in the capitalist system. Such a synthesis must also necessarily include Mao Tsetung’s contributions, because they shed light on the particularities of capitalism promoted under the colonial relation, or at present under the form of neo colonialism.

Sadly enough, the thesis sought to be advanced, explicitly by Prabhat Patnaik and implicitly by Irfan Habib, is nowhere near this. Standing as they do on a political position that denies the colonial relation (the continued imperialist domination and control) shackling countries like India, Patnaik’s argument about “…the preservation of a subjugated and degraded pre-capitalist or semi-capitalist sector, constituting the (necessary) environment within which the capitalist sector functions…”[25] falls lame. It amounts to nothing more than smuggling in elements of the world system school’s argument in order to square the all too visible signs of imperialist domination and servility of the ruling classes (including among those they consider as communists) with their political positions on an ‘independent’ India and an ‘independent’ big bourgeoisie. There could of course be another take of this thesis whereby big industry in India is identified as the ‘capitalist sector’. But this would only mean a shifting of the problem and miserably fail to address the nature of India’s relation to the imperialist centres.

To come back to Marx’s writings, the ‘Introduction’ of Irfan Habib and ‘Appreciation’ of Prabhat Patnaik are good lessons in how not to read Marx. Their concern to defend Marx is defeated by the glossing over of errors in recording history as well as in judgement. It is also marked by what can politely be put as convenient reading. Thus Irfan Habib declares that “Marx’s thesis of the union of agriculture and craft … and an immutable division of labour … as the twin pillars of the village economy, remains of lasting value.”[26]What Marx wrote about is the combination of two circumstances bringing about a particular type of social system, the ‘so called village system’. These were the central despotic state charged with taking care of public works like irrigation and the dispersed existence of the populace agglomerated in small centres by the domestic union of agricultural and manufacturing pursuits.[27] This was supposed to be the characteristics of the Asiatic mode of production. If the mode as such is abandoned and the erroneous characterisation of the role of the central state is corrected, what really remains of ‘lasting value’? The domestic union of agriculture and manufacture was something commonly seen in all medieval societies, East or West. What is unique is the ‘hereditary division of labour’, caste. It is to Marx’s lasting credit that he drew attention to this feature and projected it as the decisive impediment to ‘Indian progress and Indian power’. How far has this insight, this truly unique feature, been taken up? How do we explain the hard fact that despite Marx’s acknowledging caste as a ‘division of labour’, Ambedkar’s insight on caste as also a ‘division of labourers’ and Kosambi’s pioneering work on the role of the caste order in the incorporation of tribal societies into feudalism, the tradition in Indian Marxist thought and political practice has been to see it as a matter of the superstructure? How far can all these questions be addressed by those who declare that the Indian working class has more or less dissolved caste, even when all facts of their life point to the opposite?

Despite all the limitations and even errors in Marx’s writings what stands out is his effort to apply materialism in the study of the history and society of the Indian sub-continent, paying keen attention to what he then knew as its particularities. It is this approach that needs to be distilled out and applied in our historical studies. And it should be tempered with Kosambi’s observation, “India is not a mathematical point but a very large country, a sub-continent with the utmost diversity of natural environment, language, historical course of development. Neither in the means of production nor in the stages of social development was there overall homogeneity in the oldest times. Centuries must be allowed to pass before comparable stages of productive and social relationships may be established between the Indus valley, Bengal and Malabar. Even then important differences remain which makes periodisation for India as a whole almost impossible, except with the broadest margins.”[28]
[1] Karl Marx on India (KMI), ed. Iqbal Hussein, Introduction –Irfan Habib, Aligarh Historians Society with Tulika Books, New Delhi, 2006.
[2] ‘The Future Results of The British Rule in India’, from ‘The First War of Independence’ (FWI), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1978, page 30.
[3] ‘The British Rule in India’, FWI, page 14. Emphasis added.
[4] Ibid, page 18.
[5] “It [the labour process] is the universal condition for the metabolic interaction between man and nature, the everlasting nature-imposed condition of human existence.” quoted in ‘Marx’s Ecology – Materialism and Nature’, James Bellamy Foster, Cornerstone Publications, Kharagpur, 2001, page 157.
[6] ‘The British Rule in India’, page 15.
[7] ‘Appreciation: The Other Marx’, Prabhat Patnaik, KMI, page lv.
[8] Combined Methods in Indology and Other Writings’ (CMIW), D.D. Kosambi, ed. Brajadadulal Chattopadhyaya, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002, page 298; ‘Capital and Labour Redfined – India and the Third World’, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Tulika Books, New Delhi, 2002, page 143.
[9] ‘The British Rule in India’, page 17.
[10] Kosambi, page 308.
[11] Ibid, page 309.
[12] This actually contradicts Kosambi’s’s own acknowledgement of caste as a means of control over the exploited.
[13] ‘Capital’, Karl Marx, Volume 1, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1974, page 703. Marx points to the employment of the power of the state in the colonial system, “…to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process of the transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition.”
[14] Patnaik, page lxvii.
[15] ‘India –Changing Economic Structure in the Sixteenth-Eighteenth Centuries, Outline History of Crafts and Trade’, Alexander I. Tchithcerov, Manohar Publishers, New Delhi, 1998, pages 53,63-64, 74, 104 and 136.
[16] Bagchi, page 143.
[17] Colonial Theses, 6th Congress Report of the Communist International.
[18] ‘Introduction: Marx’s Perception of India’, Irfan Habib, KMI, page li.
[19] ‘The East Indai Company – Its History and Results’, Karl Marx, FWI, page 27.
[20] Patnaik, page lviii.
[21] “… the formation of the Indian National Congress, from which event the formal history of the Indian national movement begins.”, “… followed till the finale of 1947 contained much that should have gratified him, for it was all according to the perspective he had outlined in 1853.”, Habib, page lii.
[22] “This was confident prophecy; the Indian working class has largely fulfilled it…”, ibid, page lii.
[23] Ibid, page lii.
[24] ‘Capital’, Volume 3, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1974, page 333.
[25] Patnaik, page lxiii.
[26] Habib, page xxxv.
[27] ‘British Rule in India’, page 16.
[28] Kosambi, page 50.

Mao Tsetung on Socialism and Democracy
We allow opinion to be varied among the people, that is, there is freedom to criticize, to express different views and to advocate theism or atheism (i.e., materialism). In any society and at any time, there are always two kinds of people and views, the advanced and the backward, that exist as opposites struggling with each other, with the advanced views invariably prevailing over the backward ones; it is neither possible nor right to have “uniformity of public opinion”. Society can progress only if what is advanced is given full play and prevails over what is backward. But in an era in which classes and class struggle still exist both at home and abroad, the working class and the masses who have seized state power must suppress the resistance to the revolution put up by all counter-revolutionary classes, groups and individuals, thwart their activities aimed at restoration and prohibit them from exploiting freedom of speech for counter revolutionary purposes.
In Refutation of “Uniformity of Public Opinion”, Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, Vol-V, page 17.

We must not follow the example of Soviet Union in concentrating everything in the hands of the central authorities, shackling the local authorities and denying them the right to independent action.
On the Ten Major Relationships, ibid, page 292.

Which is better, to have just one party or several? As we see it now, it’s perhaps better to have several parties. This has been true in the past and may well be so for the future; it means long-term coexistence and mutual supervision.
We should even provide for such abusive types as Lung Yun, Liang Shu-ming and Peng Yi-hu and allow them to rail at us, while refuting their nonsense and accepting what makes sense in their rebukes. This is better for the party, for the people and for socialism.
On the Ten Major Relationships, ibid, pages 296-297.

Stalin, however, over a long period of time, in fact did not acknowledge that there would be contradictions in a socialist society. In Stalin’s later stages, people were not allowed to say bad things, or to criticize the party or the government. In fact, what Stalin did was to confuse the contradictions among the people with the contradictions between the enemy and the people. He considered everyone who said bad things and gossiped as an enemy, and therefore unjustly wronged may people.
Speech at a CPC Cadre Meeting in Shanghai, Comrade Mao Tsetung’s Evaluation of Comrade Stalin, page 39.

We have some people in the area of literature and art, but even there it is a thirty-seventy split…In the area of literature and art, the advantage lies outside the communist party.
Speech at Tianjin Municipal Party Members and Cadres Meeting, ibid, page 36.

Problems like bad mouthing the government talking about the government, being dissatisfied with the government, being dissatisfied with the communist party, criticising the government, criticising the communist party, are in origin problems among the people. But there are two types of criticism; there is the enemy criticizing us, the enemy being dissatisfied with the communist party; and there are people criticizing us, the people being dissatisfied with us; and the two must be distinguished.
On Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People, Speaking Notes, ibid, page 30.

Dogmatism has no force. One of the reasons why it has developed is because the communist party has come into power. Marx and Engels criticized Duhring and Lenin criticised Lunacharsky. They had to exert great efforts to out argue them. Stalin was different. So, his criticism was not balanced, and was very similar to a father scolding his son. “As soon as he has power in his hand, he rules by fiat”. Criticism should not rely on state power; it should use truth. If you use Marxism, if you apply effort you can prevail.
Talk at Yinian Tang, ibid, page 29.

Materialism emerges out of the comparison with and struggle with idealism. Many people hate Chiang Kai-Shek, but they don’t know what a bastard Chiang Kai-Shek really is. Therefore, we should publish the collected works of Chiang Kai-Shek. We should also publish the collected works of Sun Yat Sen and the collected works of Kang Youwei. To prohibit people from contact with ugliness, error and fallacies, idealism, and metaphysics is a very dangerous policy. It would cause people’s thinking to deteriorate and ossify; it would make them one sided and incapable of facing the world or meeting the challenge of a rival show. We Communists know too little about the opposite side, so we are comparatively monotonous and can hardly produce any persuasive statements.
Speech at the Conference of Provincial, Municipal and Autonomous Region Party Secretaries, ibid, page 27.

The Birth of the New Man
Charu Majumdar

(On July 28, 1972, comrade: Charu Majumdar the founder leader of the CPI (M-L) was murdered by the Indian state. Since then this date has been commemorated as Martyr’s Day. In memory of the thousands of valiant daughters and sons of the people who have laid down their lives for the cause of revolution, we reprint a letter written by Charu Majumdar – NW)
Dear Comrade,
I had your letter. Comrades Gurudas, Shashi and Sudeb were your fellow workers. It is not possible for me to feel the anguish that you must be feeling. Comrade, the path of revolution is, indeed, crimson with the blood of martyrs. Price has to be paid for the liberation of the people. Every attack on us is painful and this pain gives rise to the strong resolve to make greater sacrifices and to the most intense hatred for the enemy. When those two are wedded to Mao Tsetung Thought, the new man is born. The oppressed people of India, crores of poor and landless peasants of our country, are looking forward to the birth of the new man. When the poor and landless peasantry will beget the new man, the people of India will then wipe off all their tears and break into laughter. What a flood of life will then sweep through the whole of India! Our country will blaze up like a bright star and illumine the entire world. It is through the self-sacrifice of countless men that the India of our dreams will become real. Each such death is heavier than a mountain, for they grew up much greater than what we are. That is why their deaths will create innumerable lives. That is why the dust of this road has to be washed with tears and the road made firm with blood.

Did we commit any mistake? Who can say that no mistake will be committed? But this is not the day of repentance, this is the day when one should blaze up like a flame of fire, this is the day when the blood debt should be repaid in blood. For thousands of years the poor and landless peasants of our country have shed their blood and sacrificed their lives to build up this country: it is through their sacrifice that our society, culture, wealth, riches, tradition- all these have been built up. The burden of that debt rests on our shoulders. It is our task to repay that debt. But we must correct the mistakes, if we have committed any. Without correcting them we shall be unable to sharpen the edge of our attack. It seems to me that our mistake there arises from the old political deviation, that is, the division between the tribals and non-tribals. The class enemies could unite only by exploiting that advantage. If they hadn’t this advantage, each of them would have been busy saving his own skin and they would never come forward to help one another.

Out of every martyrdom arises new life. I shall live to hear the wonderful news of the rich harvest of new life the martyrdom of these three heroes will yield.

July 6, 1970

(From ‘The Historic Turning Point -A Liberation Anthology’, Volume 2, Page 104-105. Charu Majumdar wrote the following letter, from which some organisational matter has been dropped, in reply to the Party worker in charge of the regional Party organization in Midnapur. He had reported to him that three heroic guerrilla comrades had been murdered by class enemies while returning after annihilating a hated jotedar in Keshpur (in Midnapur district of West Bengal), and added: “I told the comrades that, in order to build up the struggle in Keshpur, lives had to be laid down. The comrades went and gave their lives. This asking others to sacrifice their lives seems quite unbearable to me. I would like to know where we are committing mistakes.”)


To Young Political Workers
Bhagat Singh
(The birth centenary of Shahid Bhagat Singh that concluded recently saw great many books and articles on the life and works of this great revolutionary of the last century. Apart from achieving so much at such a young age and the undying spirit, the key thing that distinguished him from the rest was his capacity to gauge the needs of the revolutionary movement early on, with a balanced view. He strove to give a new turn to the terrorist movement that was going on since 1895 by advancing to Marxism. When the CPI was still overcoming teething problems and even later remained a mere appendage of the Congress throughout the independence struggle, Bhagat Singh had a clear picture as to what was necessary for bringing about a revolution. He could see and distinguish between the role and limitations of the Congress led struggle and the need for carrying out a thorough revolution led by the working class along with the peasantry, overturning the exploitative economic base and superstructure. The CPI too had a similar concept. What differentiated Bhagat Singh was his clarity that this could be realised only by breaking away from the collaborative Congress, establishing the independent leadership of the proletariat and preparing for armed struggle from the very beginning. The letter printed below gives an idea of his thinking – NW)
Dear Comrades,

Our movement is passing through a very important phase at present. After a year’s fierce struggle some definite proposals regarding the constitutional reforms have been formulated by the Round Table Conference and the Congress leaders have been invited to give this * . . . (sic) think it desirable in the present circumstances to call off their movement. Whether they decide in favour or against is a matter of little importance to us. The present movement is bound to end in some sort of compromise. The compromise may be effected sooner or later. And compromise is not such ignoble and deplorable a thing as we generally think. It is rather an indispensable factor in the political strategy. Any nation that rises against the oppressors is bound to fail in the beginning, and to gain partial reforms during the medieval period of its struggle through compromises. And it is only at the last stage – having fully organized all the forces and resources of the nation – that it can possibly strike the final blow in which it might succeed to shatter the ruler’s government. But even then it might fail, which makes some sort of compromise inevitable. This can be best illustrated by the Russian example.

In 1905 a revolutionary movement broke out in Russia. All the leaders were very hopeful. Lenin had returned from the foreign countries where he had taken refuge. He was conducting the struggle. People came to tell him that a dozen landlords were killed and a score of their mansions were burnt. Lenin responded by telling them to return and to kill twelve hundred landlords and burn as many of their palaces. In his opinion that would have meant something if revolution failed. Duma was introduced. The same Lenin advocated the view of participating in the Duma. This is what happened in 1907. In 1906 he was opposed to the participation in this first Duma which had granted more scope of work than this second one whose rights had been curtailed. This was due to the changed circumstances. Reaction was gaining the upper hand and Lenin wanted to use the floor of the Duma as a platform to discuss socialist ideas.

Again after the 1917 revolution, when the Bolsheviks were forced to sign the Brest Litovsk Treaty, everyone except Lenin was opposed to it. But Lenin said: “Peace”. “Peace and again peace: peace at any cost-even at the cost of many of the Russian provinces to be yielded to German War Lord”. When some anti-Bolshevik people condemned Lenin for this treaty, he declared frankly that the Bolsheviks were not in a position to face to German onslaught and they preferred the treaty to the complete annihilation of the Bolshevik Government.

The thing that I wanted to point out was that compromise is an essential weapon which has to be wielded every now and then as the struggle develops. But the thing that we must keep always before us is the idea of the movement. We must always maintain a clear notion as to the aim for the achievement of which we are fighting. That helps us to verify the success and failures of our movements and we can easily formulate the future programme. Tilak’s policy, quite apart from the ideal i.e. his strategy, was the best. You are fighting to get sixteen annas from your enemy, you get only one anna. Pocket it and fight for the rest. What we note in the moderates is of their ideal. They start to achieve on anna and they can’t get it. The revolutionaries must always keep in mind that they are striving for a complete revolution. Complete mastery of power in their hands. Compromises are dreaded because the conservatives try to disband the revolutionary forces after the compromise from such pitfalls. We must be very careful at such junctures to avoid any sort of confusion of the real issues especially the goal. The British Labour leaders betrayed their real struggle and have been reduced to mere hypocrite imperialists. In my opinion the diehard conservatives are better to us than these polished imperialist Labour leaders. About the tactics and strategy one should study life-work of Lenin. His definite views on the subject of compromise will be found in “Left – Wing” Communism.

… in my opinion, this time the real revolutionary forces have not been invited into the arena. This is a struggle dependent upon the middle class shopkeepers and a few capitalists. Both these, and particularly the latter, can never dare to risk its property or possessions in any struggle. The real revolutionary armies are in the villages and in factories, the peasantry and the labourers. But our bourgeois leaders do not and cannot dare to tackle them. The sleeping lion once awakened from its slumber shall become irresistible even after the achievement of what our leaders aim at. After his first experience with the Ahmedabad labourers in 1920 Mahatma Gandhi declared: “We must not tamper with the labourers. It is dangerous to make political use of the factory proletariat” (The Times, May 1921). Since then, they never dared to approach them. There remains the peasantry. The Bardoli satyagraha of 1922 clearly shows the horror the leaders felt when they saw the gigantic peasant class rising to shake off not only the domination of an alien nation but also the yoke of the landlords.

It is there that our leaders prefer surrender to the British than to the peasantry. Leave alone Pt. Jawahar lal. Can you point out any effort to organize the peasants or the labourers? No, they will not run the risk. There they lack. That is why I say they never meant a complete revolution. Through economic and administrative pressure they hoped to get a few more reforms, a few more concessions for the Indian capitalists. That is why I say that this movement is doomed to die, may be after some sort of compromise or even without. The young workers who in all sincerity raise the cry “Long Live Revolution”, are not well organized and strong enough to carry the movement themselves. As a matter of fact, even our great leaders, with the exception of perhaps Pt. Motilal Nehru, do not dare to take any responsibility on their shoulders, which is why every now and then they surrender unconditionally before Gandhi. In spite of their differences, they never oppose him seriously and the resolutions have to be carried for the Mahatma.

In these circumstances, let me warn the sincere young workers who seriously mean a revolution that harder times are coming. Let then beware lest they should get confused or disheartened. After the experience made through two struggles of the Great Gandhi, we are in a better position to form a clear idea of our present position and the future programme.

Now allow me to state the case in the simplest manner. You cry “Long Live Revolution.” Let me assume that you really mean it. According to our definition of the term, as stated in our statement in the Assembly Bomb Case, revolution means the complete overthrow of the existing social order and its replacement with the socialist order. For that purpose our immediate aim is the achievement of power. As a matter of fact, the state, the government machinery is just a weapon in the hands of the ruling class to further and safeguard its interest. We want to snatch and handle it to utilise it for the consummation of our ideal, i.e., social reconstruction on new, i.e., Marxist, basis. For this purpose we are fighting to handle the government machinery. All along we have to educate the masses and to create a favourable atmosphere for our social programme. In the struggles we can best train and educate them.

With these things clear before us, i.e., our immediate and ultimate object having been clearly put, we can now proceed with the examination of the present situation. We must always be very candid and quite business-like while analysing any situation.

We know that since a hue and cry was raised about the Indians’ participation in and share in the responsibility of the Indian government, the Minto-Morley Reforms were introduced, which formed the Viceroy’s council with consultation rights only. During the Great War, when the Indian help was needed the most, promises about self-government were made and the existing reforms were introduced. Limited legislative powers have been entrusted to the Assembly but subject to the goodwill of the Viceroy. Now is the third stage.

Now reforms are being discussed and are to be introduced in the near future. How can our young men judge them? This is a question; I do not know by what standard are the Congress leaders going to judge them. But for us, the revolutionaries, we can have the following criteria:

1. Extent of responsibility transferred to the shoulders of the Indians.
2. Form of the Government institutions that are going to be introduced and the extent of the right of participation given to the masses.
3. Future prospects and the safeguards.
… Now in the first place we must see the method of the executive formation: Whether the executive is to be elected by the members of a popular assembly or is to be imposed from above as before, and further, whether it shall be responsible to the house or shall absolutely affront it as in the past?

As regards the second item, we can judge it through the scope of franchise. The property qualifications making a man eligible to vote should be altogether abolished and universal suffrage be introduced instead …I may here make a mention about provincial autonomy. But from whatever I have heard, I can only say that the Governor imposed from above, equipped with extraordinary powers, higher and above the legislative, shall prove to be no less than a despot. Let us better call it the “provincial tyranny” instead of “autonomy.” This is a strange type of democratisation of the state institutions.

The third item is quite clear. During the last two years the British politicians have been trying to undo Montague’s promise for another dole of reforms to be bestowed every ten years till the British Treasury exhausts.

We can see what they have decided about the future.

Let me make it clear that we do not analyse these things to rejoice over the achievement, but to form a clear idea about our situation, so that we may enlighten the masses and prepare them for further struggle. For us, compromise never means surrender, but a step forward and some rest. That is all and nothing else.

Having discussed the present situation, let us proceed to discuss the future programme and the line of action we ought to adopt.

As I have already stated, for any revolutionary party a definite programme is very essential. For, you must know that revolution means action. It means a change brought about deliberately by an organized and systematic work, as opposed to sudden and unorganised or spontaneous change or breakdown. And for the formulation of a programme, one must necessarily study:

1. The goal.
2. The premises from where were to start, i.e., the existing conditions.
3. The course of action, i.e., the means and methods.
…We have discussed the present situation to some extent. The goal also has been slightly touched. We want a socialist revolution, the indispensable preliminary to which is the political revolution. That is what we want. The political revolution does not mean the transfer of state (or more crudely, the power) from the hands of the British to the Indian, but to those Indians who are at one with us as to the final goal, or to be more precise, the power to be transferred to the revolutionary party through popular support. After that, to proceed in right earnest is to organize the reconstruction of the whole society on the socialist basis. If you do not mean this revolution, then please have mercy. Stop shouting “Long Live Revolution.” The term revolution is too sacred, at least to us, to be so lightly used or misused. But if you say you are for the national revolution and the aims of your struggle is an Indian republic of the type of the United State of America, then I ask you which forces are you relying on to help you bring about this revolution? Whether the revolution is national or socialist, they forces you can rely upon are the peasantry and the labour. Congress leaders do not dare to organize those forces. You have seen it in this movement. They know it better than anybody else that without these forces they are absolutely helpless. When they passed the resolution of complete independence – that really meant a revolution – they did not mean it. They had to do it under pressure of the younger element, and then they wanted to use it as a threat to achieve their hearts’ desire – Dominion Status… Mahatmaji made no secret of the fact that the door (for compromise) was open. That was the real spirit. At the very outset they knew that their movement could not but end in some compromise. It is this half-heartedness that we hate, not the compromise at a particular stage in the struggle. Anyway, we were discussing the forces on which you can depend for a revolution. But if you say that you will approach the peasants and labourers to enlist their active support, let me tell you that they are not going to be fooled by any sentimental talk. They ask you quite candidly: what are they going to gain by your revolution for which you demand their sacrifices, what difference does it make to them whether Lord Reading is the head of the Indian government or Sir Purshotamdas Thakordas? What difference for a peasant if Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru replaces Lord Irwin!

…When you have formulated this clear-cut idea about your goals you can proceed in right earnest to organize your forces for such an action. Now there are two different phases through which you shall have to pass. First, the preparation; second, the action. After the present movement ends, you will find disgust and some disappointment amongst the sincere revolutionary workers. But you need not worry. Leave sentimentalism aside. Be prepared to face the facts. Revolution is a very difficult task. It is beyond the power of any man to make a revolution. Neither can it be brought about on any appointed date. It is brought about by special environments, social and economic. The function of an organized party is to utilize any such opportunity offered by these circumstances. And to prepare the masses and organize the forces for the revolution is a very difficult task. And that required a very great sacrifice on the part of the revolutionary workers… We require – using the term so dear to Lenin – the “professional revolutionaries”. The whole-time workers who have no other ambitions or life-work accept the revolution. The greater the number of such workers organized into a party, the great the chances of your success.

To proceed systematically, what you need the most is a party with workers of the type discussed above with clear-cut ideas and keen perception and ability of initiative and quick decisions. The party shall have iron discipline and it need not necessarily be an underground party, rather the contrary. The policy of voluntarily going to jail should altogether be abandoned. That will create a number of workers who shall be forced to lead an underground life. They should carry on the work with the same zeal. And it is this group of workers that shall produce worthy leaders for the real opportunity.

The party requires workers which can be recruited only through the youth movement. Hence we find the youth movement as the starting point of our programme. The youth movement should organize study circles, class lectures and publication of leaflets, pamphlets, books and periodicals. This is the best recruiting and training ground for political workers.

Those young men, who may have matured in their ideas and may find themselves ready to devote their life to the cause, may be transferred to the party. The party workers shall always guide and control the work of the youth movement as well. The party should start with the work of mass propaganda. It is very essential… it is essential for gaining the active sympathy of and organising the peasants and workers. The name of party should be communist party. This party of political workers, bound by strict discipline, should handle all other movements. It shall have to organize the peasants’ and workers’ parties, labour unions, and kindred political bodies. And in order to create political consciousness, not only of national politics but class politics as well, the party should organize a big publishing campaign. Writings on the essence of all problems, enlightening the masses on the socialist theory, shall be within easy reach and distributed widely. The writings should be simple and clear.

There are certain people in the labour movement who enlist some absurd ideas about the economic liberty of the peasants and workers without political freedom. They are demagogues or muddle-headed people. Such ideas are unimaginable and preposterous. We mean the economic liberty of the masses, and for that very purpose we are striving to win the political power. No doubt in the beginning, we shall have to fight for little economic demands and privileges of these classes. But these struggles will make them conscious, alert and prepared for the final struggle to conquer political power.

Apart from these, there shall necessarily be organized a military department. This is very important. At times its need is felt very badly. But at that time you cannot start and form such a group with substantial means to act effectively. Perhaps this is the topic that needs a careful explanation. There is very great probability of my being misunderstood on this subject. Apparently I have acted like a terrorist. But I am not a terrorist. I am a revolutionary who has got such definite ideas of a lengthy programme as is being discussed here. My “comrades in arms” might accuse me, like Ram Prasad Bismil, for having been subjected to certain sort of reaction in the condemned cell, which is not true. I have got the same ideas, same convictions, same convictions, same zeal and same spirit as I used to have outside, perhaps-nay, decidedly-better. Hence I warn my readers to be careful while reading my words. They should not try to read anything between the lines. Let me announce with all the strength at my command, that I am not a terrorist and I never was, except perhaps in the beginning of my revolutionary career. And I am convinced that we cannot gain anything through those methods. One can easily judge it from the history of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. All our activities were directed towards an aim, i.e., identifying ourselves with the great movement as its military wing. If anybody has misunderstood me, let him amend his ideas. I do not mean that bombs and pistols are useless, rather the contrary. But I mean to say that mere bomb-throwing is not only useless but sometimes harmful. The military department of the party should always keep ready all the war-material it can command for any emergency. It should back the political work of the party. It cannot and should not work independently.

…If you start the work on these lines, you shall have to be very sober. The programme requires at least twenty years for its fulfilment. Cast aside the youthful dreams of a revolution within ten years, just as Gandhi’s utopian promises of Swaraj in one year were cast aside. You need not be emotional about this, nor is it going to be easy. It demands a life of constant struggle, suffering and sacrifice. Crush your individuality first. Shake off the dreams of personal comfort. Then start to work. Inch by inch you shall have to proceed. It needs courage, perseverance and very strong determination. No difficulties and no hardships shall discourage you. No failure and betrayals shall dishearten you. Whatever hardship you may have to face your revolutionary spirit should not slacken. Through the ordeal of sufferings and sacrifice you shall come out victorious. And these individual victories shall be the valuable assets of the revolution.

Long Live Revolution
2nd February, 1931
(abridged from The translation was checked and corrected with Chaman Lal’s ‘Bhagat Singh Ke Sampoorna Dasthavez’)


What Stalin Told the CPI

The CPI leadership has always claimed that the Telangana armed struggle was withdrawn on the instructions of Stalin. The CPM too had propagated this in an indirect manner. Now the transcript of Stalin’s discussions with the CPI delegation is available [Revolutionary Democracy, September 2006] What it shows is that while Stalin disagreed with considering armed struggle as the main form of struggle he never called for withdrawing the Telangana struggle. In fact he said, “In every way it is necessary to support what has originated in Telengana. It is the first sprouts of civil war. But one does not need to rely on partisan war alone. It, of course, renders assistance but itself is in need of help.”[RD, page 199] He stressed, “I have given you no instructions, this is advice. It is not obligatory for you…” Instead of supporting and rendering assistance to Telangana, not to say of using its own brains as suggested by Stalin, the CPI leadership crawled before Nehru to affect an ignominious surrender. The Tactical Line of 1951 paved the way for its degeneration into parliamentary revisionism.

While the lies of the CPI (and CPM) stand exposed, the transcript also shows that many of the 1951 Tactical Line concepts did have their root in Stalin’s views. This is evident in his position on the ‘Chinese path’ as well as on bureaucrat capitalism. Stalin explained the ‘Chinese path’ as the two-stage revolution. He didn’t recognise the universality of the path of protracted people’s war in the oppressed countries. Hence his argument that armed struggle could not be considered as the main form of struggle was not merely an evaluation of the situation at that time. It was a more generalised view. Flowing from the Russian experience it was guided by conceiving armed struggle as the main form of struggle only when the offensive for nationwide seizure of political power is possible. Furthermore he gave excessive emphasis to the favourable grounds created by having a friendly country as the rear. While this is certainly of great help, too much can’t be made of it. After all, the Russian revolution never had a rear! Stalin correctly drew attention to the larger working class in India, its comparatively bigger industrial/urban base, and the necessity to link this up with the guerrilla struggle. But this wouldn’t make the path of revolution basically different from that of China, though it adds new features. Similarly on the question of bureaucrat capitalism he denied any universal validity for this concept outside the specific context of China and failed to see the contribution of this category in grasping the particularities of capitalism fostered by imperialism. The discussion with the CPI delegation took place before Stalin and Mao met. One doesn’t know whether these issues figured in their talks and whether Stalin changed his views. But it is striking that these arguments are the very ones which had to be defeated by Charu Majumdar and others in their struggle to rupture from revisionism.

Despite the drawbacks mentioned above there is much of value in Stalin’s opinions, particularly his criticism of striking out in all directions and the penchant for endless discussions. The transcript actually helps testify to the leap made by Mao Tsetung, embodied in Maoism. Revolutionary Democracy’s editors wish to hold up Stalin’s opinions to negate this; quite expected given their ideological inclination. What is disgusting is the way the transcript is being used by the Kanu Sanyal group to justify their revisionist deviation from the Chinese path, concretised in India through Naxalbari.

Environmental Practice in Socialist China

Efforts by workers and technicians of the Nanking Chemical Fertilizer Plant to utilize waste liquid, gas and residue have produced good results. In the past three years, 46,000 tons of useful materials have been recovered. Nickel, pig iron, ammonia alum, sodium silicate and ammonium sulphate worth 6 million yuan literally have been picked out of the rubbish heap. They have recovered sulphur dioxide equivalent to 30.000 tons of sulphuric acid, separated hydrogen and trial-produced hydroxylamine sulphate from waste gas, and generated 4 million Kwh of electricity from waste heat.

Used catalysts had been discarded until plant workers began trying to recover rare metals from them. After 50 or so attempts and several months they succeeded in recovering 90 per cent of the elements used in the catalysts. Catalysts made from recovered rare metals proved to be more active and had a longer work life than those made from “fresh” rare metals and cost only 20 per cent of the original price. These “retrieved” rare metals now are supplied to other chemical plants to make catalysts.

Before the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution the plant had three tail gas recovery towers to reclaim some of the noxious sulphur dioxide from sulphuric acid tail gas. During the Cultural Revolution the workers made some technical innovations which simplified and improved the process and did away with one of the towers. The whole set-up now occupies only a quarter of the original space. Moreover, the chimneys give cleaner smoke with a sulphur dioxide content fully answering the low level set by state hygiene regulations.

The plant formerly recovered 200-300 tons of yellow phosphorus a year from the tail gas of its electric furnaces. As this process released vast quantities of harmful fumes, some veteran workers suggested they should make phosphoric acid instead, which would eliminate the health hazard and also produce a more valuable chemical. Backed by the workshop Party branch, a three-in-one assault team of six veteran workers, plus technicians and cadres went to work on it. After three and a half months of learning-by-doing and ransacking the plant for discarded pieces of machinery and material they built a semi-mechanical semi-automated section capable of producing 40-50 tons of phosphoric acid a month from flue exhaust.

Another successful addition was a workshop to extract ammonia alum from the residue left over from making potash fertilizer. This was profitable and also did away with the troublesome disposal problem. Again it was the workers who thought of this and who went to other factories to learn how to recover ammonia alum. They converted a disused shed for their purpose and sifted through the plant’s machinery morgue for parts. With unstinted help of fraternal factories they built a workshop which could turn out 7.000 tons of ammonia alum annually for the paper, printing and dyeing and pharmaceutical industries. This alone earns close to a million yuan a year for the state.

Peking Review, June 30, 1972(Vol-15, No-26)


Why Did Yunus Get the Nobel Prize?

Dr.Yunus is an economist; more aptly, he is a businessperson. This year he along with his Grameen Bank got the Nobel Prize for Peace. Why have the imperialists selected Dr. Yunus for this Prize? It is already being widely discussed that his small-scale credit project has attracted the imperialists’ attention the most. However, the social situation of Bangla Desh itself shows that it could not play a minimal role in the eradication of poverty and in the establishment of peace. Because of technological advancement of the modern world or in the subsequent socio-dynamics of the bourgeoisie, a so-called eradication of old type of poverty has taken place in a very limited sense, and this process is still continuing. In that particular sense, by employing more than 20 lakhs of poor women, even the bloodsucker garment industry is playing a bigger role than that of the Grameen Bank! Yet, within the prevailing system what is the special importance of Grameen Bank and Yunus for imperialism?

Grameen Bank is a new type of banking system. Its difference with the conventional banking system is that it gives loans only to the poor and that too particularly to the poor women. Dr. Yunus claims that this loan is offered without taking any security. These are the particular characteristics of Grameen Bank Project.

Dr. Yunus and his imperialists/bourgeois bosses claim, that his credit-programme is making the poor self-sufficient. Is this true?

Earlier the peasantry was taking loans from traditional moneylenders. But traditional money lending system is becoming a matter of history, because in the field of credit too, the bourgeoisie is now capable of introducing politically safer as well as economically more exploitative methods. Grameen Bank is one of them. Small-scale credit may make a few persons richer. And it happens in cases of governmental schemes of agricultural loan, youth complex loans, etc. too. But, through these, none can reach the overall solution of the problem of poverty.

In spite of all this, if we fail to recognise that some aspects of the small-scale credit project of Grameen Bank are definitely different from the traditional moneylender’s credit we won’t be able understand one of the main reasons for giving them the ‘Peace Prize’. Of course, incidents where Grameen Bank has recovered the credit in the same fashion as traditional moneylenders are many. Due to this, the masses of this country have already given such epithets like Soodkhore (moneylender), Navya-kabuliwala (neo-Shylock) etc., to Dr. Yunus and his Grameen Bank

In certain instances, small credit is used in small-scale production and trade. This helps people to survive at a marginalised level. Consequently, a big chunk of pauperised masses can be kept away from the path of immediate revolt. Simultaneously, they can be bound within a separate structure led by the bourgeoisie. The more the poor masses, particularly the poor women, can be tied to worshipping Yunus, the more they will be pulled away from making social-revolution.

In conventional banking big business-persons have become defaulters, but the repayment of loans at the Grameen Bank is almost 100%. Poor people do not become defaulters. Dr. Yunus has discovered this in the interest of capital. On the other hand, the profit is two or even three times more than that of conventional banks. When a woman takes a loan from Grameen Bank, she has to pay installments towards repayment of her total loan right from the very first day. Though the total loan gradually decreases due to this, she still has to pay interest for the whole amount that she borrowed, until the end. Thus, the actual rate of interest of Grameen Bank is above 30%, and this, today, is an unbelievable rate of profit in the banking sector. If such a discoverer doesn’t get the Nobel Prize in the capitalist system, who else would?

Already the capital of Grameen Bank exceeds 4 thousand crores Takas and annually it is giving loans of almost 400 crores Takas. It means Grameen Bank is annually earning a profit of around 150 crores Takas. Depending upon this capital it has already started various other businesses.

Dr. Yunus has opened up a new horizon in bourgeois banking before world capitalism. Through his innovation, the imperialists have got such an attractive sector to invest where it is both highly profitable and secured. Simultaneously, the method of this profiteering is blocking the motion of the poor towards discontent and revolt. It is killing two birds with one stone.

[translated and abridged from the article published in ‘Andolon’ (7 November, 2006), a revolutionary journal from Bangladesh. The complete article is now posted on the New Wave blogsite]


The Great Revolt of 1857

Right from the early beginnings of colonialism in the sub-continent, starting from the Portuguese, people rose up in rebellion. There were two major common streams in this- one by the patriotic kings and feudal lords, the other by the masses, mainly the Adivasis. This continued even after the British finally succeeded in consolidating their rule. The main instrument they used to suppress these uprisings was the Indian colonial army; on the whole loyal to its masters, though there were instances of its soldiers rebelling and fraternising with the people. But this army was to become the van of a great revolt in 1857. Smouldering and shooting out sparks from early that year, the revolt took a mighty leap in May with the revolt of the Meerut cantonment and the march of the rebels to Delhi. It quickly spread out all over North and Central India. British rule was restricted to a few points. The Empire was shaken up and its echoes were heard in many parts of the world. The 1857 revolt was not well organised or led. But it was not a totally spontaneous one either. A secret structure was being built up within the British army and it was widely linked to the villages as well. This was also a reflection of the diverse sources which gave it the character of a ‘national revolt’. Though unrecorded in official histories, the lowest of the low, Dalit landless peasants played a significant role in it along with the ‘upper castes’. So too did courtesans and other sections of society. Not only the British and their collaborators, hated moneylenders too were targeted. Though the descendant of the Moguls was enthroned as the emperor in Delhi, there was a great unleashing of the masses who had scant respect for the decorum of the courts or the extravagant habits of the nobles.

The British coloniser suppressed the revolt in the most brutal manner. Hundreds of thousands were tortured and summarily executed. A chronicler in Delhi recorded the killing of 1400 in a single instance. Wherever British rule was re-established the conquerors army turned to the most rapacious loot and plunder. This was done while the British press was full of stories about atrocities committed by the rebels. Condemning the British atrocities Marx wrote, “”The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked.”

The British succeeded in suppressing this mighty revolt. But the spirit of the people was never defeated. The heroic rebellion and its undying spirit despite the gruesome fate it met is well captured in this pithy Dalit (Pasi) folk song- “Bani bani kati bani, ban ke bigri bani, Angrezon ke tope se urhi, phir bani rahi bani.” (The village Bani was made, then destroyed, again made and again destroyed; the cannon balls of the British blew it apart, then Bani was once again made and remained Bani)


The Killing Fields of Gujarat

The Supreme Court as usual was forced to give a new twist to the attempts of the anti Modi sections within BJP to put him in trouble and the efforts of various democratic and liberal crusaders’ to bring Modi to book. Opening up of the Sohrabuddin encounter case by the Supreme Court has once again opened up a Pandora’s Box on the functioning of Modi and his close coterie or henchmen. The iron fisted rule of the self proclaimed Iron Man of Gujarat was getting exposed from day one of the Apex Court’s decision and shocking news, one after the other, became the common fodder of the major news media for the next few days. All the cases of encounters that occurred interestingly have one man in common – DIG Vanjara. The modus operandi was simple: catch hold of some Muslims with petty criminal background, encounter them and spread the story that they had plans to kill Modi. Even feuds between lobbies or gangs were settled by eliminating one after taking money from the other. This coterie has killed more than a dozen so called terrorists. Modi holds the unique distinction of outdoing all the CMs and PMs till date. His iron fisted rule stands on the bedrock of conspiracies, hate campaigns and genocide, a record none are able to match. The State ruling strata needed a dictator since political crisis ridden Gujarat for long had not seen a CM complete his term. The man who orchestrated the worst ever state sponsored massacre and a series of similar conspiracies (like Akshardham) recently completed 3000 days in office.

The media, who shouted foul when the Abu Gharib incidents came to light, is diverting the debate from the main question – the civic right of any and every person to get a fair trial. Killing by police is equal to trial and sentencing by police and a serious violation of human rights. Overall the media was trying to develop an opinion that ‘killing of innocents’ is wrong but if real terrorists, militants or revolutionaries are falsely encountered it is okay. In fact the hyper-activism of Apex Court on the question of encounter killing is sending the message enough is enough, the people are losing confidence in the system. A huge amount of funds pouring in, in the name of tackling terrorism, is being grossly misused. Even US had been pumping a lot of funds indirectly to various countries and organizations, of which the Saffron Brigade is also a beneficiary. There is a common understanding between the ruling classes that “innocents” should not be killed though there are no problems if real terrorists or revolutionaries, the real trouble makers for the ruling classes and their rule, are killed, so long as ‘proper’ procedures are followed. It has become common knowledge that all these so called encounters are nothing but cold blooded murders. After this decision the Maharashtra government immediately changed their rules. From now onwards encounters will be carried out by State CID only (as if they are above intimidation, corruption and political control). The implication is that only few among the police are to be blamed for all the encounters. The role of state behind them is totally suppressed. It is very clear that Modi and coterie are going to go scot free


Dalit-Brahmin Feat
The New Mantra For Elections

This Uttar Pradesh election saw the greatest surprise of this century. Experimentations at the level of caste equations got a different dimension altogether. The traditional bastions of all the parties shook, though it was the Congress and especially the BJP that faced the tune. The secret strategy of BSP in wooing the Brahmins while keeping its traditional Dalit base intact and also taking the aid of the Muslims and lower level of OBC’s has brought about a big advantage to Mayawati in her first independent venture, after the death of her mentor Kanshiram. This shift in strategy was being reflected for quite sometime. The slogans were changed to accommodate the Brahmin. No big promises of development. No manifestos and program papers. No high profile celebrities canvassing. No daily press-conferences and media gimmickry in which all other parties and leaders were trying to out do each other. Successful caste-communal arithmetic has paved the way to victory, by outdoing other parties in this perpetual staple of Indian ‘democracy’.

This formula of Dalit – Brahmin coalition is now being openly discussed for implementation at All India level. The BSP’s Brahmin candidates in all won 51 seats. They were already disgruntled with BJP due to their appeasement of OBC politics and the rise of Kalyan Singhs and Rajanath Singhs. Another important thing to note is that for quite sometime now the Brahmins have ceased to be the main perpetrators of casteist crimes on the Dalits as they were replaced and outdone by the new power holders, mainly the upwardly mobile OBCs like the Yadavs etc. Hence they have found each other to be more compatible. How this will go about while sharing the bounties of power between the Brahmin and Dalit elite is yet to be seen and it depends on the efficient tight rope walking by Mayawati. Already this victory has given a great relief to Mayawati who has been dropped from the Taj Corridor Case in exchange for her votes for the UPA’s Presidential candidate.

One of the major shifts in position will be on the question of reservations. Mayawati has already hinted on the need to have an economic criterion, which was backed by Manmohan Singh and L.K. Advani immediately. BSP’s electoral victory is also giving nightmares to RSS and BJP as Mayawati has turned out to be a bigger unifier of Hindus than themselves, thus giving rise to new identity questions.


SEZ: More struggles

The pseudo left government in West Bengal has massacred at least 55 people (though Buddhadeb claims the credit of only 14) in Nandigram in order to facilitate the Indonesian butcher Salim Co. to build their industrial empire in the State. Salim Co. was nurtured by Suharto who during his tenure as President of Indonesia had massacred more than a million communists in Indonesia in 1965. It is an irony of history that a ‘communist’ government masterminds a massacre of its own people for the sake of the capital of a communist butcher. This is what we have witnessed in Nandigram on 14th March. Though talks between the fake left and Trinamool Congress was supposed to bring peace, clashes continue in Nandigram since the CPM is still trying to dominate with the help of the police. The fact that a huge number of people had not consented to acquisition of land in Singur (site of Tata’s planned factory and a scene of struggle) has now come out. It is also known that a huge extent of land far above that needed for the project was forcibly acquired. But the CPM government is refusing to give it back with the anti-people argument that there is no law for this!

The only crime the people of Nandigram committed was that they fought against the state and its political goons to protect their only means of survival- their farm land- which the government had notified for the proposed SEZ to be set up by the notorious Salim Co. The social fascist government of West Bengal replied with torching of houses, murder and rape. It will go down in history as the first ever ‘SEZ massacre’ in the country.

From the statements and opinions of CPM leadership during and after this massacre it is evident that they had no ideological botheration in doing this crime against humanity. Rather, they were ‘ideologically’ firm to kill people for the sake of foreign investment. This is the level of the ideological degeneration of these social fascists. And they distort Marxism to justify this by saying that industry can only grow by swallowing agriculture.

Though the government says only 14 have been killed, the people of Nandigram and the joint front that is fighting their cause, ‘The Bhoomi Ucchad Pratirodh Samiti’, say at least 55 people have been killed by the state and CPM goons. The crimes perpetrated by the CPM goons in Nandigram with the help of state machinery were so heinous that even the Savarna Hindu fanatic and master pogromist Narendra Modi must have taken lessons from it. It is very clear from the way things have unfolded at Nandigram that the government had a sinister and systematic plan to attack that village. In order to encircle the struggling masses of Nandigram heavy police force was brought in along with CPM goons. This, on the other hand, strengthened the resolve of the masses. They resisted the entry of the enemies of the people by digging the road, removing bridges and blocking canals and by arming themselves with whatever arms they had. When more force was brought by the state, in order to break the resistance of the masses, people tried to stop them on the way by keeping women and children in the forefront. But the police and the goons started to fire at the people. They have raped and murdered women. Witnesses say children were torn apart and thrown them into canals. A 70 year old lady was stripped naked. A doctor at the Medinipur district hospital who refused to follow instructions from CPM bosses and discharge those who were brought injured was transferred within hours. The government withdrew that transfer order only after the patients and hospital staff went on hunger strike.

At the height of these atrocities, the so-called ‘communist’ Buddha didn’t even hesitate to brand the struggling people as Muslim fundamentalists and terrorists who oppose development in the State. This is sheer Brahminic communal frenzy. In fact, out of the 14 ‘officially’ killed, the majority are Dalits. The people of Nandigram are still continuing their resistance against the social fascist government of West Bengal. At Singur also the struggle is going on.

Evenwhen their own government in West Bengal is killing people and forcefully acquiring land for SEZs, the central leadership of CPM makes treacherous statements against SEZ and related land acquisition in the media. Mr. Karat said while speaking on the occasion of the 41st foundation day of the Bengali daily Ganashakti , “In the name of setting up SEZs thousands of acres are being given to big companies not for the sake of industries but for promoting real estate speculation.” But the West Bengal SEZ Bill 2003 clearly gives the government the right to acquire any land for SEZ. “The State Government may identify any area or areas to be a Special Economic Zone and may invite or accept proposals for the development of such area or areas as Special Economic Zone, in such manner as may be prescribed.”(Section 3 (1), chapter II, WB SEZ Bill 2003) (emphasis added). They clamour about neo-liberalism and globalisation but implement its policies whereever they are in power. The Kerala government’s Smart City deal is another example.This double talk and attacks on the masses are an expression of the class transformation that has taken in the PCM leadership. In West Bengal, its rural leadership is made up of old type landlords who came over from the Congress and new ones who enriched themselves through party and administrative positions. The CPM leader who was killed buy the masses at Nandigram was a notorious example of this. In the cities, right down to the local level, the CPM is run by old and new exploiters, particularly entrenched in real estate speculation and construction.

One thing is clear. On the question of SEZ there is no ‘left’ and ‘right’. Central as well as State governments are firm on the question of SEZ. For them it is the panacea for progress as it is expected to bring hopefully huge investments. And, they are ready to go to any extent, as in Nandigram or Singur, for the sake of investment- no matter whether it is foreign or Indian.

From the statements coming from Commerce ministry it is very much clear that there is no significant change in their basic approach towards SEZ, even after the massacre at Nandigram. Within a few days after Nandigram killing, Commerce minister Kamal Nath said in an interview that the ‘government will not politically wriggle out of SEZ’ as ‘it is already an Act of the parliament’ and hence there is no going back from it. Not only that, if approvals are not done in time, ‘the investors might opt out of India and take their investment elsewhere. According to him, “Nandigram was a very unfortunate incident of land acquisition but we must not confuse land acquisition with SEZ. They are two distinct things.” Through this statement he is mocking at struggles still going on in various States against land acquisition for SEZ. He is very deliberately separating the land question from SEZ so as to divert the direction of attack against SEZ. It is now known to every one that SEZ is primarily a question of land acquisition, of real estate speculation, and, very particularly, forceful land acquisition by the state.

In the light of wide opposition and resistance against SEZ, the government is now planning to bring out a National Re-settlement and Rehabilitation Policy based on the land acquisition rehabilitation packages for farmers formulated by State governments.

It is nothing but another ploy to drain out the energy of the anti- SEZ struggle by luring them in to the trap of petty monetary gains. Reliance has already come out with a plan of a ‘special rehabilitation package’ to the peasants who are ready to part with their land in Navi Mumbai. There they are utilising the service of MIDC in acquiring land. That is, the state machinery is playing the role of real estate agents for the big business houses.

Though there was a temporary freeze on new approvals of SEZs, now it is revived and fresh approvals are going on in full swing. In the last month itself more than 100 new proposals of SEZ were approved by the committee of Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM). In order to dent the criticism on the question of the maximum size of SEZ, this committee has now put the ceiling at 5000 ha (12000 acres). Now the EGoM has prescribed a uniform processing area of 50 per cent to both sector-specific and multi-product SEZ. That means remaining 50% land is still available to the developers of the SEZ for real estate business.

What ever may be done to make the SEZ seemingly more acceptable, fundamentally it is dispossessing farmers from their livelihood for big capital through the agency of the state. With new modifications in the SEZ act, there is every chance that the government may come out aggressively to acquire land.


On Reservations to OBC’s

It is yet to be seen what the Supreme Court’s verdict on reservation to OBC’s in higher education will be. But one thing is clear; the decision to form a Constitutional Bench to examine whether reservation helps to perpetuate caste and divides the nation marks a qualitative shift for the worse in the dimensions of the anti-reservation moves going on for the past three decades. Though the politicians shedding crocodile tears over the plight of the OBC’s may find ways to continue reservations for their sheer survival, no matter what the Apex Court decides, they have landed in a soup. This is the unanimous concern of all the parliamentary parties, all of whom depend on casteist and communal vote bank politics.. These self created contradictions are going blow up in their faces precisely for this reason. The absence of real concern for the masses and genuine will to eradicate caste system and their persistent effort to push their Brahmanic agenda can’t be hidden for long.

The wide spread anti-reservation agitations in favor of ‘merit’ by the doctors, engineers and elite students, was clearly fueled by the Savarna dominated media and secretly cajoled on by the Sangh Parivar. It was nothing but the venomous Brahmnic expressions of present day casteism, which thrives in the so-called well educated ‘meritorious’ elite youth of India. The debate that ensued in the media was conveniently silent on the key point that the ‘question of reservation is principally a question of democratic right’. This deception is what emerged from the demands for a ‘scientific, level playing field’ between the highly privileged minority(9%) that grabs all the opportunities and the majority that has been marginalized for ages through draconian caste system and sidelined by the unscientific merit system of the present.

In fact the 49.5% cutoff margin to total reservation is in itself a highly unscientific measure. This can be seen particularly in the light of Sachar Commission’s Report, which shows the inhuman conditions of minority religions that are inconsiderately kept out of the ambit of reservations. Barely 9% Savarna and 5% other privileged sections, have 51.5 % share of the total seats, whereas 25% (minority religions) are totally out of reservations fold. Yet the so called democratic media’s furore is over reservations to OBC’s.

The role of the Apex Court, who wants to paint a democratic, impartial and ‘unscathed guardian of law’, picture of itself, has been far from non-casteist. Quite to the contrary, it is more openly Brahmanic. The fact that the blue-eyed boy of the Supreme Court, Narendra Modi, has been repeatedly let off without any suo moto case even when he carried out a genocide on Muslims, while the just struggles of Gujjars of Rajasthan directed against the Government invokes the wrath of the Apex Court, declaring it as a ‘national disgrace’; the fact that it accepts the existing 1930s list of OBC’s for reservation guarantee in jobs but wants an updated list for reservations in higher education – all these are deliberately contradictory stances. It again goes on to establish that bringing in one Dalit or a Minority person in high places of power in this system doesn’t dent its Savarna Brahmanic character. The ruling classes shamelessly puts forward sham secularist excuses to hide their Brahmanic interest by not incorporating caste in census, though caste occupies every facet of life. So we are left with the 1930 Census Report. This sham secularism has been followed by the Supreme Court when it carefully avoided directing the government to conduct a fresh caste census, even though it had no qualm in rejecting OBC reservation quota in education because it is based on the old census figure.

While defending the democratic right of reservation we must also fight against the ruling classes’ tactics of using reservations to divide the masses and consolidate their vote banks. Despite all the contradictions they face today this policy is still being pursued to their gain. The way the Meenas were turned against the Gujjars in Rajasthan is an example. We must also keep in mind the limits of reservation within the existing system. The differential historical privilege of oppressed castes and tribes will inevitably reflect in their capacity to utilise the opportunities provided by reservation. Mere addition to the SC or ST list won’t change this. The 49.5% cutoff imposed by the Supreme Court that prevents population wise reservation further aggravates this. The end result is the sharpening of contradictions between oppressed castes or tribes over their share in reservation opportunities, while the main culprit, the Brahmanic caste order, escapes blame and even becomes the arbitrator.


Cultural Censorship of Hindu Revivalism

The recent attack on the exhibition which was conducted as a part of an examination at MS University’s art faculty is an indication of the extent to which Hindu revivalism is imposing its cultural censorship in Gujarat. Savarna Hindu fanatics were mobilised and let loose by a local BJP leader to vandalise the exhibition of art at the Art Faculty. They not only rampaged through the exhibits on ‘gods and goddesses’ by a post graduate student of art and forced him to close down the exhibition but also got him arrested and put in lock up for six days. The students of the faculty who conducted another exhibition, ‘Erotica in Indian Art’, in protest were also attacked and the exhibits were forcefully removed by these vandals. The Dean of the Art Faculty who defied the dictates of the savarna fascists was suspended by the Vice Chancellor of the university and he was forced to go in to hiding to save himself from possible attack from RSS, Bhajrang Dal and BJP fanatics.

In another case, a fashion show, which was conducted as part of the examination at the National Institute of Fashion Design, Ahmedabad was also attacked by these fanatics. In all these cases the University authorities are colluding with the Hindu revivalists in suppressing freedom of expression by bringing goons and police into the campus and unleashing attack on the students and professors. This exposes the extent to which the state and its various instruments are being put to the service of Hindu fascist ideology in Gujarat. With revivalist ideologues at key positions in the governing bodies of universities and institutions, these fascist forces are let loose in suppressing freedom of expression and imposing cultural censorship.

Gujarat has witnessed a series of attack on dissenters in the recent past. Attack on Narmada Bachao Andolan’s (NBA) office for opposing the construction of Narmada dam, persecution of renowned dancer Mallika Sarabhai for taking a firm stand against Hindu revivalism during the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, attack on the film ‘Fana’ starring Amir Khan because he supported NBA and criticised the pogrom are some examples. In this context we must recall a similar attack on the exhibition of MF Hussein who depicted Hindu gods in his paintings. At that time, these forces could very conveniently propagate that a Muslim was tarnishing Hindu gods. Whereas, in the present case, the artist being a Hindu, they couldn’t come out with a similar kind of propaganda. So it is not a question whether the artist is a Muslim or a Hindu, the basic issue involved here is the fascist method of suppressing freedom of expression and imposing cultural censorship.

In order to give a communal twist to the entire episode they provoked Muslim’s by distributing leaflets with derogatory cartoons immediately after the attack on the exhibition. A BJP leader who was spearheading this campaign was beaten up by angry Muslims. BJP’s State leadership is worried and is trying to put a halt to this campaign as they don’t want another riot right now, considering the forthcoming assembly elections in the state. This is forcing them to go into the defensive for the time being. On the other hand, rising public opinion against attacks on the art exhibition and the resistance that developed subsequently at the all India level from progressive artists and intellectuals have also forced them to take such a defensive stand. Today, the situation in Gujarat is such that anybody with a slight Sangh Parivar connection becomes the self styled custodian of Hindu culture and issues dictates accordingly. And for this they don’t require the help of any leader. This is dangerous.

An artist is sometimes a rebel in society. On occasions he/she may contest the existing, accepted, norms of society through a piece of artistic creation which may shake up social complacency. This is to be addressed and debated, or even protested, democratically on the wider plane of freedom of expression, if society is to move ahead. Any attempt to curtail this freedom in art and literature by fascist means is tantamount to the death of the creative life of the people in any society. This is outrightly anti-people and must be resisted.

“Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting the progress of the arts and the sciences……Different forms and styles in art should develop freely and different schools in science should contend freely. We think that it is harmful to the growth of art and science if administrative measures are used to impose one particular style of art or school of thought and to ban another. Questions of right and wrong in the arts and sciences should be settled through free discussion in artistic and scientific circles and through practical work in these fields. They should not be settled in an over-simple manner.”

Mao Tse-tung  (Correct handling of Contradiction Among the Masses, Vol. V, page 408)


Palestine: Who Gains?

After months of fighting , Gaza is now controlled by the Hamas, the West Bank by the Fatah. President Mahmoud Abbas, a faithful stooge of the US-Zionist bloc, has appointed Salam Fayyad,another stooge, as Prime Minister. US-Zionist schemes to overturn the election verdict that produced a Hamas majority in the Palestinian parliament underly this turn of events. This verdict was a reflection of the disgust Palestinians have with Fatah. It has become a collaborationist, corrupt organisation. In comparision, Hamas was increasingly seen as a fighting force. But Hamas too has shown its capacity for collaboration. It was ready to arrive at an agreement with Zionists, within the limits of the capitulationist treaty that gave birth tothe powerless Palestinian Authority. Hamas’ victory infact sharply underscored this powerlessness. When the imperialists and Zionists cut off funding, the so-called independent administration came to a halt. For all its brave talk Hamas was forced to swallow injustice and accept a Fatah role in thegovernment, brokered by Saudi Arabia. But US imperialism and Zionism were keen on a crushing defeat. They chose to achieve it by pushing the Fatah into confrontation. Hamas may be justified in its eviction of Fatah from Gaza. But, it won’t aid the Palestinian cause much, because sectarian interests rather than a firm stand against collaboration have guided the fighting. The loosers are the Palestinians. Whether the instigators, US and Israel, gain, remains to be seen.


India: Maoists’ Break Encirclement

Maddened by the successful conclusion of the CPI (Maoist) Congress in the midst of extreme surveillance and suppression, the Central and State governemnts had stepped up theirencirclement and suppression campaign, particularly in Dantewada. But a series of succesful attacks by the PGLA and People’s Militia in over the last few months gave a powerful answer. Though the counter-revolutionary Salwa Judum, an implementation of the CIA’s ‘strategic hamlets’ strategy, is officially still on, many among the ruling classs were admitting that it had failed in its objectives by the end of last year itself. Now, their security experts are saying that proper effort was not made to co-ordinate armed suppression with ‘development’.

Development has always been a component of counter-revolutionary strategy. The state asumes that the masses can be turned away from the revolutionary road if some economic sops are given , They can never understand that it is the totality of the exploitative and oppressive existence of the masses which leads them to revolution. Moreover,when the ‘development’ of the Indian ruling classes and imperialism is demanding an aggressive push, seen in the SEZ policy, opening up of the retail sector to TNCs and Indian comprdors, granting of huge tracts of forest land to mining corporates even violating constitutional rights ofAdivasi tribes and so many other steps, it is all the more difficult to hoodwink the masses with sops.

Manmohan Singh’s government has put in place a more closer role for the army in the counter-revolutionary campaigns. But its role is still indirect, though vey active. In Bihar thousands of ex-servcemen have been recruited on a daily wage basis. In Chattisgarh ex-army officers are involved in planning and training. In States where the growth of the Maoist movement is expected even revolutionary mass movements are continously harassed and suppressed. For example, this is now common in all the border districts of Keralam. The UPA government has decalred that it is going to wipe out the Maoist movement in 4 to 5 years. Various governments, from right to fake left, have been claiming that and tryng to do that for the past 40 years.


Nepal: Rising Struggles, Temporary Truce

The growing divergences seen over the past months between the CPN (M) and the 7 Party Alli-ance has ended for the time being in a temporary truce. Constitutional Assembly (CA) elections have now been fixed for November and the Interim parliament has amended the constitution al-lowing the declaration of a republic by a two third majority as well as the removal of the prime minister by a parliament vote. Earlier the government had accepted the demand to provide sala-ries to the billeted PLA soldiers and ensure proper facilities in the cantonments, after the CPN (M) refused to allow the UN verification to go on.

Delay in carrying out the promised CA elections, failure to deliver the provisions and ensure proper living conditions assured to the billeted PLA fighters and complicity of some sections of the Alliance in the murderous trouble stirred up by the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) in Terai with the backing of Indian expansionism had led to the situation where the mutually ac-cepted agreement leading to the formation of an Interim parliament and Interim government was on the way to collapse. As a senior leader of the CPN(M) pointed out that all these steps were part of a ‘new war strategy’ adopted by the Nepal Congress, advised by the US and India. Par-ticularly, it was trying to instigate trouble in the cantonments by withholding money and rations from the fighters, provoking some of them to escape the harsh conditions and others to revolt.

On May 1st The CPN (M) announced its launching a new mass struggle. On May 13th people from eight districts were mobilised in a mammoth human chain surrounding the main power centers of Kathmandu and a petition signed by 1.5 million demanding that the state be declared a federal democratic republic from the parliament was submitted to the Speaker. The petition also demanded that the government make public those who were disappeared during the insur-gency and the 19-day-long April movement, and provide special relief to families of the in-mates, disappeared, injured and martyrs; the proper management of cantonments as per the in-terim constitution and action against those involved in the Gaur massacre (in Terai); desisting from making any agreement related to natural resources including hydropower until the CA election is held; immediate nationalisation of the king’s property, making public the report of Raymajhi Commission (which enquired into state atrocities committed during the April 2006 uprising) and taking action against those implicated by it; implementation of a revolutionary land reform programme for a long-term solution to problems caused by unequal distribution of land, waiving loans of small farmers and making arrangements for livelihood of the landless, squatters and freed bonded labours. On May 18th, activists of the Young Communist League (YCL), All Nepal Women’s Association (Revolutionary) and All Nepal Independent Student Union-Revolutionary carried out a series of attacks defacing and destroying statues of the mon-archy, past and present. Meanwhile a police attack on the strike by Republican Teachers Front, demanding better salaries and facilities as well as early announcement of CA election dates, was met with a day long Kathmandu bandh on the 27th. Over the past months organisations of workers, youth, students, women, various strata of urban middle class and other sections of the masses has strengthened. Thousands have broken away from reactionary and opportunist or-ganisations to join the Maoist movement. Conferences of various mass organisations and fronts were successfully carried out. This massive organisation and mobilisation is reflected in the growing number of mass struggles and protests all over the country. The YCL has been particu-larly active, blocking Indian goods entry at the Pashupatinagar customs point in protest against Indian border encroachment and duty evasion done in collusion with customs officials. In an-other incident, YCL activists captured Sitaram Prasai, the former chairman of Nepal Cottage and Small Industry Development Bank accused of a Rs 280 million fraud, and forced the police to take him into custody. The true concerns of the Nepali Congress leadership was revealed when this action provoked prime minister GP Koirala to accuse the Young Communist League (YCL) of degenerating into a “young criminal league”, though he was silent when the police avoided arresting Prasai even as he made several public appearances and threw a lavish party at a five-start hotel in Kathmandu, inviting a host of politicians and top police officials.

The CPN (M) has recently evaluated that there is a planned and naked foreign intervention against the independence, security and self-respect of Nepal. US imperialism and Indian expan-sionism is openly provoking Madheshi (Terai) and other nationalities to unleash communal vio-lence. The danger of Sikkimisation and Bhutanisation has increased very much. Nepali Con-gress, which is leading the interim government, is the front paw of this intervention. Hence the party has adopted a policy of intensifying struggle in the interim government, interim legislature and the streets by raising the question of republic to the level of a mass movement. Given the sharpening of contradictions in Nepal it remains to be seen how long the temporary truce will hold.


Election and Emergency in Bangladesh

Emergency was declared in Bangladesh on last 11th January. It was imposed as a way out of the grave crisis which arose due to the severe contradiction within the ruling class on the issue of national parliament election. Even a second caretaker government was formed. According to the ruling classes and the state a “caretaker government” is a non-elected and so-called non-political government. Ruling big bourgeois class of our country introduced this system in 1990. The contradiction among the comprador bourgeoisie is very intense and nasty, centred on getting power. All of them are dangerously desperate for power, and will achieve it through any means – fraud, terror, corruption etc. As a result, due to narrow group interests, the basic rule of bourgeois democracy, of holding election under the ruling government and handing over power to the winning group became impossible for them. As a quick remedy to this crisis, they made a stop-gap arrangement of forming a non-elected, non-democratic and ‘non-political’ caretaker government when the time for elections comes.

This new government is specifically formed for holding election. And they have cheated the masses by showing that this is a great victory of democracy. Thus they tried to show that though there are quarrels among the ruling classes, yet they are resolving them democratically.

But the ruling classes themselves have busted this caretaker government system in the face of threats. The first caretaker government formed immediately after the resignation of BNP coalition government turned out to be a monopoly interest keeper of BNP-coalition; hence it was replaced in the face of growing opposition from within the ruling classes. This is a clear violation of the constitution. Thus the caretaker government system has proved to be ineffective to overcome the crisis of the ruling bourgeois class.

Fall of the first caretaker government, imposition of emergency and take over of power by the second caretaker government – all of these were practically a disguised coup d’état, which was committed by the imperialists (including the so-called donor group, and chief personals in the name of diplomats) and the army. Big business men, bourgeoisie intellectual groups in the name of so-called civil society, a big chunk of civil bureaucracy and some of the small bourgeois political parties are directly associated with this. They utilised the disgust and grievance of general masses against the greed for power, corruption and anti-people programs of the two big bourgeois parties – BNP and Awami League.

From the very first day this new regime created more terror by carrying out mass-arrest in the name of arresting terrorists. During the last three months, they have created a record by arresting nearly 2 lakh people. They are continuously killing people in fake ‘crossfire’, a practice initiated by the former government and police. Moreover custodial killing in military lock ups through barbaric physical torture and branded as heart-attacks are on the rise. They have severely increased suppression campaign and fascist attack in rural areas aimed at totally destroying the Maoist and the other left progressive forces.

After coming to power, the quick implementation of imperialist programs and plans that go against the very interests of the country and its people is the major step taken by this second ‘caretaker’ government. Including the Noble prize winner, Dr. Yunus, who is an agent of the imperialists, the established intellectuals of civil society and big businessmen are openly hailing without any hesitation that this ‘non-political’ government dared to implement reform programs which none of the previous political governments could achieve for fear of people’s backlash. The present caretaker government is practically carrying out this task; even through, constitutionally, this non-elected government has no power to take such policy oriented decisions.

This government has brought into force orders for denationalisation of three major banks which had been a long time demand of the plunderer big bourgeoisie and imperialists. They have increased the price of electricity which the past BNP government could not carry out for fear of public opinion going against them. They have increased the price of fuel oil by a very high rate. World Bank and imperialists were putting pressure for a long time to increase prices of all of these. This government is talking about importing electricity from India. If implemented, Bangladesh will be more dependent on Indian expansionists. Besides, they are jumping to implement many other programs like investment of Tata, the agreement with the gas lifting company Asia Energy and NICO, giving up management of Chittagong port to imperialists etc. The past government could not dare implement these things. Some NGO’s and elements of civil society have become the active supporters of all of these activities.

When this government will carryout election and how long this emergency will continue – all these are uncertain. Rather, they are making conspiracy to continue this emergency for a long period on the false ground that there is no existing parliament. Although direct military rule has not been imposed due to different reasons including public opinion, pressure and influence of political parties of the bourgeois class and international situation etc, that sword of military rule is still hanging over Bangladesh. It may also be a last step resort to overcome the crisis among the ruling class. They speak about democracy, but have practically banned all type of political activities. Thus the bankruptcy of the so-called democracy of the ruling comprador bureaucratic bourgeois class, agent of imperialism, is being exposed.

This new group of ruling class has started a so-called anti-corruption campaign after coming to power. They have arrested some notorious corrupted leaders of bourgeois parties including BNP and Awami League. But at the same time, they have released one of the most corrupted ruling class leaders in the history of Bangladesh, the ex-military administrator General Ershad, extremely hated and isolated from the people, from his punishment for corruption. This makes it clear beyond doubt that the motive of their ongoing campaign of anti-corruption is sectarian politics – it is not really meant to uproot corruption. They have imposed indescribable, inhuman situation on lakhs of people by evicting slum inhabitants and making them homeless in the name of destroying the so-called foundations of illegal activities and crime. They have rendered lakhs of poor people jobless through the eviction of hawkers and small shops. Already sky high prices of essential commodities are being further fuelled.

The ongoing situation of the country, the activities of imperialists and Indian expansionists, and the programs of their local ruling agents are closely related to the “war against terrorism” program of imperialism, particularly US imperialism. This war is basically against the world people, and in South Asia, particularly against Maoists and revolutionary forces. So, there is a great challenge in front of the revolutionary forces, particularly Maoists. Similarly this is also an opportunity for advancing the revolution.
[abridged from an article of the International Department, PBSP, CC. The complete article is now posted on the New Wave blogsite]


Resurgent Russia Flexes Muscles

The year 2007 has started with an absolute new avatar of Russia and its contradiction with US. The aggressive stand taken by Russia with regard to the deployment of missiles in Poland is an indication of the times to come. These heated exchanges are being exhaustively covered in the media in the last few months. The wounded social imperialists of over three decades – Russia, had been lying low for quite some time. But in the arena of imperialist competition where collusion between various imperialists forces is just skin deep and contention is next to their nature, rooted to the marrow, lying low doesn’t mean down and out. Various forces and intellectuals have been raking their brains to know as to what is the status of Russia in what they see as a unipolar world. How long before Russia resurges? Will the world see the re-emergence of a Russian led bloc? How will the inter-imperialist contradiction unfold?

After the initial period of economic and political turbulence under Yeltsin’s presidentship the Russian ruling class has overcome various hurdles and have been going from strength to strength cautiously. Meanwhile its main adversary the United States, in its aggressive bid to become the all time supremo of the world, has been engaging itself in numerous wars and getting bogged down in them. Slowly but surely the Russians are building their strength. They have the world’s third-largest foreign currency and gold reserves. In the last 5 years the defence budget has increased 4 times to $ 30 billion. But it is still quite paltry compared to the annual budget of NATO which reached its all time high of over 600 billion dollars last year, contributed mainly by the US. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Russian nuclear arsenal is largely intact. It is being continuously developed. Though marginalised at one point it was still the only country to have the potential technological expertise to give US a really tough time in nuclear armaments and missiles. That potential is now being unleashed with the new found wealth gained through oil and gas exports.

Interestingly, the speed with which US was penetrating politically in the Central Asian states, till a couple of years back, and putting Russia in a strategically difficult situation, has now been completely reversed. Russia has successfully driven out US interests venturing in natural gases in these states and taken over the Gas Pipe Line Project to Europe. Similarly the US had to vacate most of their military bases in this region. The governments in these states have shifted their loyalty to Moscow. This is the single major strategic success of Vladimir Putin, before he steps down from office early next year.

In January, the Pentagon relocated its Cobra Dane floating radar, the world’s biggest radar, from the Hawaii to the Aleut Islands near Alaska, within 300 km of the Russian border. The US proposes to base interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, ostensibly to shoot down long-range missiles launched by what it calls “rogue states,” that is Iran and North Korea. All of this is part of a global missile shield the Pentagon is building. Russia claims that these systems are aimed at it. It is speeding up the re-armament of its strategic forces with new long-range missiles. Moscow has also threatened to withdraw from a 1987 treaty with the US banning medium-range ballistic missiles and resume their production if the US goes ahead with its anti-missile plans for Europe.

Russia had sent the West a clear political signal when Putin’s military officers test-fired two new missiles in a much-touted PR event. The message was that the Kremlin would no longer accept exclusion by the United States and NATO. For the first time, Putin spoke publicly of a “new arms race.”

These strategic moves are backed by a consolidation of Russian monopoly capital in different sectors of the economy and its aggressive push into the European economy and other parts of the world. But Russian imperialism is still a long way off from confronting the US. Its industrial technology and organisation still has to catch up. The present resurgence is based on the high prices of oil and gas exports, something which depends very much on the state of the world economy. Yet the reassertion of Russia is already reflected around the world. In India, for long an important arena of social imperialism, the pro-Russian lobby has started stirring. In coming days the contention of US and Russia will certainly be reflected in more visible and sharper terms.


USA: Police Attack May 1st March

On May 1st, International Worker’s Day, in the wake of massive ICE (Immigration Control) raids throughout the country, and the terrorizing of entire communities in Southern California, tens of thousands of people joined thousands more across the country as they marched in downtown Los Angles (L.A.)to declare that they are human beings-not criminals or beasts of burden unworthy of basic human rights. But by the end of the afternoon, the LAPD (Los Angles Police) gave their answer in the form of teargas and rubber bullets.

In the late afternoon the LAPD began driving their motorcycles into a crowd that had gathered to watch a group of Aztec dancers at the entrance to the park. Outraged, more people gathered to see what was going on-and denounce the actions of the police. Then in an act of brute force and complete disregard for the lives of the thousands of people who were attending the rally, battalions of armed police charged into the park-shooting more than 240 rubber bullets into the crowd. Television news crews captured images of the police swinging their batons at an arm’s length of a frightened child who cried as he stood frozen in the chaos. The people least able to move quickly-mothers with strollers, entire families, disabled people, and street vendors were pushed, hit, and humiliated as they tried to run from the police.

Radio and television journalists were viciously attacked. A camerawoman from local Fox News Channel 11 was pushed to the ground and beaten. When a news reporter tried to help her get up and they tried to get to their news van only a few feet away, the police pushed the reporter away and threatened to arrest her. Nearby, police kicked another camera man, took his camera, and threw it to the ground.

Numerous people were injured as they were hit with so-called “non-lethal” missiles that can easily take out a person’s eye, or crack a baby’s skull. One man with a large and bloody bruise on the side of his stomach-who like many others had carried the U.S. flag throughout the day-threw it down in an act of indignation at the way people had been brutalized by the police, saying: “I don’t care if they kill me.” As the police cleared the park and pushed people onto a business street surrounded by apartment buildings and houses (while they continued shooting), people from the neighbourhood opened their doors to shelter people from the attack. Groups of youth came out and built small barricades in the street-fires were lit at street corners and hundreds gathered as the police finally dispersed.

The brutal police attack was clearly unprovoked. Police and their apologists have tried to justify this as a response to “agitators.” This is a bald lie. This rally had a permit to be in the park until 9 PM (the police raid came around 6 PM-only an hour after the rally began). The real “provocation” was that immigrants and their allies came out in the tens of thousands to rally and demand that immigrants be treated as human beings. This brutality is a critical part of U.S. imperialism’s program for immigrants: killed at the border; worked to death like slaves; Gestapo-style ICE raids with la migra dragging people out of their homes in the middle of the night; deportations and tearing families apart; terrorizing communities with street sweeps; concentration camps for captured immigrants including children; and armed vigilantes hunting down immigrants like modern day slave catchers.

In the days after the police attack there is growing outrage among different sections of people. In the neighbourhood surrounding McArthur Park-which has a long history of police brutality at the hands of the Rampart Police Division-people are angry that the demonstration was attacked with such viciousness. Some people from the neighbourhood have commented that they feel the police wanted to “put people in their place,” but that the opposite has happened and people are angrier than ever.


Reaping The Fruits Of Agrarian Revolution

isah antonio

The year 2006 has been a fruitful year for the New People’s Army. News from the battlefront of the different regions in the Philippines reported victorious tactical offensives which garnered an impressive amount of high-powered rifles, ammunitions and other materiel, inflicted casualties and demoralized enemy troops and brought stability to areas governed by revolutionary organs of political power.

Such victories would not have been possible without the support of the peasant masses. The peasantry comprises the majority of the Philippine population and of the membership in the people’s army. By waging agrarian revolution and carrying out the struggle against the existing feudal system, the movement has advanced the work in the countryside especially among the poor and middle peasants and the farm workers.

As victories in the armed struggle accumulate, so do successes in the struggle for genuine agrarian reform. The scores of successes range from distribution of land confiscated from despotic landlords to increase of crop-share of the peasants, lowering of land rent, increase in farm workers’ wages, reduction of usury, establishment and development of agricultural cooperatives and mutual exchange of labor, establishment of communal farms tilled by mass organizations, improvement of working conditions and raising of farmgate prices for agricultural produce.

Reports gathered by Ang Bayan (The Nation), illustrate some of the most recent achievements in the struggle for genuine agrarian reform by the revolutionary forces and the peasant masses in the countryside.

A prime example of the close working cooperation between the revolutionary forces and the masses is the “balik-bukid” (return to farm) campaign. The campaign was launched by the revolutionary forces and the peasants in a town in southern Philippines against one of the biggest paper and woodproducts manufacturing companies in Asia. For several years now, the company has been rapaciously grabbing the lands tilled by the peasants in the area. It has now claimed up to 400,000 hectares of land which cover several provinces and forest and mountain areas, but only half of this concession has been registered with the reactionary government’s Department of Natural Resources.

It has forbidden the peasants to reside and till within its concession area. The company uses the reactionary state’s military, paramilitary and police forces, including its own armed goons, to crush any attempt by the peasant masses to farm and form communities.

But the revolutionary movement persevered in the implementation of the campaign until more and more of the peasant masses settled in the areas which cannot be continuously protected by the company’s armed goons. Land was distributed to the peasants according to their capacity to till the land and to the number of family members. Principal crops planted were food crops such as rice, corn and vegetables to alleviate hunger.

Part of the “balik bukid” campaign is the formation of peasant associations and cooperatives, mutual exchange of labor and communal production. At the same time, the movement and the masses set up strict rules and guidelines so that gains made are preserved.For example, selling of land is forbidden and so is landgrabbing. Those who violate these rules are stripped of their landholdings.

In Cagayan Valley in northern Philippines, more than 71,000 peasants in 52 barangays (villages) from eight towns benefited from the agrarian struggles despite intensive military operations and harassment in these areas. Through the peasants’ concerted actions, they were able to reduce interest rates on their loans from 7% per month to 2.5%. In other areas in the province, land rent was reduced to one-fourth of net production from a previous one-third of gross production.

In other villages, tenant farmers have altogether stopped paying land rent. An additional 21,790 peasants are now working under better conditions after 920 peasant activists from 22 barangays took action against miserable working conditions.

The reactionary government was not spared from the actions of the peasants. In another province in northern Philippines, the peasants prevented the implementation of the government’s Socialized Integrated Forest Management Agreement which is another scheme to grab the land from peasants for the benefit of landlords and capitalist developers.

In the Bicol region, the movement has been able to reduce land rent in over 35,000 hectares of land, thereby benefiting over 10,000 families.

The agrarian revolution is also advancing in Quezon province. Copra farmers negotiated with a local big landlord for the implementation of provisions in the minimum program of the revolutionary agrarian reform. Through united action, the farmers were able to raise their crop share from 40 to 50% and made the landlord defray the cost of coconut picking and half of the transport expenses.

They were able to raise the daily wages of the coconut pickers. At the same time, they confronted the cheating tactics done by the landlord against the farmers. The most common ways of cheating which the landlord uses are automatically taking off 15-25% from the weight of copra sold to him citing moisture of the copra, rigging his weighing scales and concealing the actual weight from the farmers.

The success and implementation of genuine land reform bring to the fore the cooperation of the New People’s Army and the revolutionary masses in the guerrilla zones. In every action taken, they study and investigate each case carefully, develop the correct tactics in facing the landlords and capitalists in the area and make sure that implementation primarily benefits the poor and middle peasants and the farm workers.

In the struggle for land, the masses learn the meaning of collective action and that they have the strength and power to face their class enemy with the support of the New People’s Army.

Only through a thorough-going organizing and consolidating work among the peasants could the revolutionary movement further surge forward, and defend and maintain the victories it has achieved.
[from Liberation International, November-December 2006]

Major conclusions of the first Cagayan Valley regional conference on agrarian revolution held in May 2005

    More than 300,000 individuals in the region’s three provinces have so far benefited from the agrarian revolution and the implementation of the land reform program of the revolutionary movement. Achievements included reduction of agricultural land rent, increase in crop share, reduction of interests on agricultural loans, increase in farm workers’ wages and improvement in their working conditions, and reduction in the costs of production.

    The correctness of waging agrarian revolution as the key factor to all-round advancement of revolutionary work in the countryside was validated.

    The region achieved victories not only in the economic field but also in the political, organizational, military and cultural arenas.

    The anti-feudal movement has reinvigorated the anti-fascist (against wide-scale and intense militarization and violation of human rights) and anti-imperialist movements (against neo-liberal globalization, IMF/WB impositions), the legal democratic struggle, the promotion of health services and the protection of the environment.

    From 1999 to 2004 the number of revolutionary mass organizations grew by 904% in the guerrilla zones and by 2,538% in the entire region, while organizing groups* grew by 532% and organizing committees* by 610%. The number of activists and mass leaders grew by 779%, and the mass base** expanded by 459% in barrios (villages) and town centers.

    The peasant movement and revolutionary political power have grown stronger not only at the barrio level but also at the municipal, district and provincial levels.

    Regarding carrying out socialist transformation of agriculture, the conference stated that it is not enough to merely address the bourgeois demands of the peasants for land to till but it is also necessary to advance and strengthen the socialist features until socialist transformation of agriculture can be realized.

    The socialist factors that must be strengthened are the Party leadership over the peasant movement and the organs of political power, the establishment of solid cores of poor and lower-middle peasants within the revolutionary mass organizations, the organizing of agricultural workers in capitalist plantations and farms, and the conscious advancing of the socialist perspective.

    The realization of the socialist transformation of agriculture relies on the victory of the national-democratic revolution.

* organizing groups and organizing committees are preliminary forms of organizations which expand and consolidate themselves into full-pledged revolutionary mass organizations of peasants and farm workers, women, youth, children and cultural activists.
** the revolutionary mass base in a specific area is the total number organized into various revolutionary mass organizations, including individual activists and those actively supporting the revolutionary organs of political power.
[from Liberation International, November-December 2006]TOP

Bhutan: Indian Expansionism Kills Refugees

For years the Indian ruling classes have nurtured Bhutan as a backyard concubine. Bhutan’s ethnic cleansing for past decades and has left over a lakh Bhutanese as refugees in Nepal refugee camps. The development of Maoist movement in Nepal inspired these Bhutanese and Communist Party of Bhutan (MLM ) was born.. The cutting to size of the Monarchy in Nepal by the Maoist has chilled the spine of the Bhutan Monarch Jigme Wangchuk who had all along lived on the blessings of the Indian ruling classes. In 2005, the Indian army entered the Bhutanese territory a la US style pre-emptive attacks and hunted for ULFA rebels without as much caring for Bhutan’s sovereignty. It continues to stay there even today, along with its forces already stationed along the Chinese border, while the Bhutan Government watches helplessly.

Recently the King had announced a series of reforms as a check to the growing hostility towards the monarchy. Accordingly he had planned to carry out a sham general election to legitimise his rule. The refugees decide to return back to their own country given the changed situation. It serves the King better to keep these more than-a-lakh refugees out of the country and deny them their rightful citizenship. Thus the returning refugees were denied entry. The returning refugees have to pass through a small portion of West Bengal to reach Bhutan. The revisionist power brokers, the CPM government of West Bengal, under instructions from Delhi, blocked and attacked the refugees march to Bhutan, killing two and injuring many.

External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the refugee stalemate has become an international problem and has created problem of law and order in his State. Mukherjee said “The population of Bhutan is about 600,000. If these 100,000 people (Bhutanese refugees) enter Bhutan it would create a demographic imbalance.” What a shameless and cheap lie. Till 11 years back they were in Bhutan. If they return back to their own country how can it cause a demographic problem?

United States which is highly sensitive about the developments in South Asia due the growing influence of CPN (Maoist) and the Maoist movement in general throughout this region quickly doled out a carrot of immigration to US and some European countries, to the refugees in an attempt to diffuse the possible revolutionary outburst. The hypocrisy of this humanitarianism is evident from the fact that it is done at a time when draconian measures are being taken to stop immigrant workers from entering US and demands for more H1 visas are being resisted. The sinister plans of all the players can be easily understood and it is being deftly carried out by the US loyalist the UNHCR. The attempts by Resettlement and International Protection Director Vincent Cochepal and Sustainable Solutions Officer Berna Dette to woo the refugees were challenged by CBP (MLM) cadres who told them that any resettlement to a third country was out of question and nothing less than repatriation to their country was acceptable.


Sri Lanka: Indian Expansionists Fume

The much publicised peace talks had to fail as no sincere effort was ever taken in reconsidering the demands of the LTTE; on the contrary it was only sops doled out with the intention of luring them to a compromise or dividing them. Though they did achieve some initial success it seems Prabhakaran is fully in command. Absence of war is not necessarily peace. The military’s continued occupation of homes, schools, places of worship and other public spaces, the continued restrictions on fishing and the escalating harassment of civilians by the Sri Lankan armed forces personnel are the pressing concerns of the Tamil people.

The deadlock had to break and it did with a bang as LTTE launched an air attack on Srilankan Air Force, another world first for the LTTE. Though it may not be that effective, it is a major moral booster for LTTE and a psychological advantage.

The Indian ruling classes are watchful about the happenings and are seriously concerned with the developments in what they consider as their backyard. They had helped the LTTE once up on a time, and then tried to use it to pressure the Sri Lankan government. But they burnt their fingers trying to play off both sides against each other. Since then they were keeping a low profile. But that didn’t mean they had stopped their intervention. Carefully calculated and controlled moves to wreck LTTE plans while not giving the Sri Lankan government too much room to go on the offensive – this has been the game plan of Indian expansionism. They are also well aware how the LTTE is an inspiring force to the home-grown nationality movements apart from the influence it has on the Tamil people.

Yet the recent comments of M. K. Narayanan, the chief security adviser to the PM, clearly shows that our ruling classes are being forced to show their hands. His insistence that the Sri Lankan government should not purchase weapons from China or Pakistan was a gross interference in Sir Lanka’s internal matters. It also revealed the concern of Indian expansionism over loosing its grip. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan ruling classes, particularly the party bloc in power, are carrying out a dual tactic of aggression and suppression along with appeasement. On the one side the devolution package it proposed is woefully short of even moderate Elam Tamil expectations on federalism. Aggression against LTTE held positions continue unabated. Meanwhile, through the JVP, a proposal to grant citizenship to displaced Tamils (mainly ex-estate workers) is being moved. Ironically this was being moved right at the time as a campaign for the forced removal of Tamils from Colombo was going on. These appeasement tactics are aimed at dividing Tamil and international opinion. Evidently the government is preparing for a major offensive



Otto Rene Castillo
The most beautiful thing
for those who have fought a whole life
is to come to the end and say:
we believed in people and life,
and life and the people
never let us down.

Only in this way do men become men,
women become women,
fighting day and night
for people and for life.
And when these lives come to an end
the people open their deepest rivers
and they enter those waters forever.
And so they become, distant fires, living,
creating the heart of example.
The most beautiful thing
for those who have fought a whole life
is to come to the end and say:
we believed in people and life,
and life and the people
never let us down.


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Posted by thenewwave on October 9, 2007

Maoist monthly from India:

Revolutionary Internationalist Journal:

Maoist news and views from Revolutioanry Nepal:

Maoist weekly from the USA:

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Revolutionary Greetings!

Posted by thenewwave on October 8, 2007

Welcome to

The New Wave

a Maoist Quarterly from India

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