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Friday 20 January 2012

The Marxists Fail to Adress the Problem of Caste System oriented Discrimination and Exclusion just because they are led by Brahamins who happen to be Committed to Sustain Manusmriti Rule!While the Maoists Kicked out Revolutionary Gaddar as He is Dali

The Marxists Fail to Adress the Problem of Caste System oriented Discrimination and Exclusion just because they are led by Brahamins who happen to be Committed to Sustain Manusmriti Rule!While the Maoists Kicked out Revolutionary Gaddar as He is Dalit!

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Maoists Kicked out Revolutionary Gaddar as He is Dalit!Gaddar had been demanding to address the Problem of Brahaminical System and the caste Phenomenon. And Now, it is in andhra,ahead of the crucial state general council meeting, a serious debate is going on in the CPM party circles as to why a leader from backward and Dalit sections has never been made the party chief. While Marx saw caste as the decisive impediment to India's power and progress, they (Indian Marxists) took caste as a matter of superstructure... Caste being a production relation does not belong to the superstructure, but to the socio-economic base. The biggest theoretical failure of Indian Marxists has been their refusal to recognise caste as part of the substructure of the society.Here one has to distinguish between caste as an institution of permanent division of means of production and profession and caste as an attitude of untouchability and discrimination. Caste contains both these aspects, the former belonging to the base and the latter to the superstructure.

Dr BR Ambedkar had clarified that the Marxist ideology was hijacked by the Brahamins.Dr. Ambedkar's analysis and formulations on the ruling classes, Congress and Gandhism were quite different from the official Ambedkarite perceptions. Moreover, "his evaluation about the western parliamentary system and approving references to the Paris Commune and the soviet system exploded all theories that Ambedkar was anti-communist". Ambedkar`s SARVHARA was the Mulnivasi Bahujan whose identity is still denied by the Brahamin communists.In his conflict with Gandhi, Ambedkar undoubtedly emerged as the foremost exponent of a radical socio-economic programme in the freedom struggle.From Harijans to dalits — there lies the whole course of transformation in the self-perception of untouchables and none but Ambedkar had been the moving spirit behind this transformation. He was perhaps the first dalit leader, who combined with a fair degree of success the social awakening of dalits with their political assertion.The Marxists and Maoists did never recognise the fact.

Cautioning supporters against the "growing influence of identity politics in India," Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said in Kolkata on Tuesday that the Left must meet the challenge.

Ahead of the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Mr. Karat pointed out that 20 years ago the phenomenon of "Other Backward Classes (OBC) mobilisation" had been witnessed there, but had now fragmented into a dozen different groups.

"When I used to go to U.P. 20 years ago there used to be what is generally called the Other Backward Classes (OBC) mobilisation. Today that does not exist. That OBC has been broken up into another dozen sub-castes and a dozen political parties have sprung up, representing each caste or sub-caste," he said.

Mr. Karat said that this brand of politics, which is dividing people along the lines of caste, community, religion or ethnic identities, is an instrument to fight the Left movement in India as it was being used to break up the class-based movements, to divide the class solidarity of people who face common forms of exploitation.
"To fall into the trap of believing that identity politics is a movement of only the oppressed sections, small minority groups and oppressed people and, therefore, is a progressive phenomenon, and it would be falling into the very trap set by imperialism and the ruling classes. We have to patiently counter identity politics," he said. "Identity politics can only be effectively countered when we take up those genuine issues of oppression that is faced by those sections,' he added.

Speaking on the "Challenges of the times and the task before the Left" at a seminar organised during the North 24 Parganas district conference of the CPI(M), Mr. Karat outlined the problems being faced by the country.

Criticising the neo-liberal policies being promoted by the Centre, Mr. Karat said they had led to new kinds of exploitation of the working classes and peasants. He emphasised the need to organise workers in the unorganised sector in order "to build a powerful worker-peasant alliance."

He also warned about the growing influence of imperialist forces on India's foreign policy, which in turn is also affecting our domestic policies.

Citing the example of the introduction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector, Mr. Karat said that the Left had managed to stall the move that would affect the livelihood of lakhs of people, but the UPA government was determined to go ahead with the decision.

"Again they [the UPA government] have said, once the Assembly elections are over, we will implement it. Everyone else is opposed to it; the people in this country are opposed to it, but why do they want to bring it? Because the United States of America has said that you have to do it," he said.

The Left will have to mobilise the people on a large scale against this pro-imperialist foreign policy, which will also have a direct impact on the domestic policies and livelihood of the people.

Marx talked about those labour relations. He talked about 'exploitation of labour' that has been taking place since hundreds and thousands of yeas in the arena of labour relations. He discussed various kinds of problems that arise due to exploitation of labour. He indicated the solution to those problems. Therefore, it is our responsibility to understand our problems. First, we have to ascertain whether exploitation of labour is present in India. We also have to ascertain whether the caste question comes under the sphere of labour relations. If we ascertain that there is a connection between castes and labour, then we can undoubtedly arrive at the conclusion that Marx's theory applies to India also.
Any problem connected with human society is intertwined with labour relations. Since caste question is connected with human beings, it also comes under the purview of the theory that talks about labour relations.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the talk of "the death of socialism" has ceased and instead an alternative to capitalism is being sought, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said Tuesday, adding that socialism in the 21st century will have to take a different form.

"In the world today, no more is there a talk about the death of socialism and Marxism. In fact, what is in the dock today is the future of capitalism," Mr. Karat said emphatically adding that the only alternative to capitalism is socialism.

Confident that "out of this prolonged capitalist crisis, new contradictions will develop," Mr. Karat said that there was a tremendous "scope for developing a revolutionary movement" in this period utilising all the contradictions between the interests of the ruling classes and the working classes that will emerge.

Mr. Karat, who is in town to attend the crucial session of the party's Central Committee which is likely to finalise the draft ideological resolution, was speaking at a seminar on the "Challenges of the times and the role of the Left" during the North 24 Parganas district conference of the CPI(M).

Citing success stories in Latin America, Mr. Karat said that Venezuela was leading the way in the "re-nationalisation" of certain sectors, including power, telecom and oil and natural gas.
Similarly, Bolivia had witnessed the reallocation of one crore acres of land in land reforms. "We have to go through different phases of developing socialism," Mr. Karat said.

However, he said that after the experiences of socialism in the 20 century, corrections would have to be made such as the inclusion of a role of the market within a planned economy.
"There will be central planning, but market will not be eliminated. The market will be utilised, incorporated within the central planning. Because without the market we cannot get correct indicators in a modern economy of how much is to be produced, what is to be produced and how can you price that product," Mr. Karat said.

Mr. Karat said that countries such as China, Vietnam and Cuba have already adopted the market within a planned economy.

India has been witness to a great social turmoil in recent years where the twin entities of caste and religion have played a major catalytic role. It all came to the fore after VP Singh-led Janata Dal government decided to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations on reservation of jobs to Other Backward Classes in 1990. Although Janata Dal came to power on a plank of anti-Congressism with a tacit support from BJP, the alliance soon ran into rough weather. And interestingly, the two became protagonists of two major socio-political movements in contemporary history of India. Pitted against each other, the movements were popularly known as Mandal and Mandir movements. Janata Dal, in the beginning, enjoyed a much larger support base in its crusade against corruption (Bofors). Its championing of Mandal to the exclusion of everything else, however, vastly eroded its support base and led to a whole chain of political crisis which eventually reduced it to a marginal force in Indian politics.
Mandal, if one were to believe the rhetoric of VP Singh and his cohorts, would usher in an unparalleled social revolution in India against the forces of statusquoism and obscurantism, the forces who were politically represented by Congress(I) and BJP.
In an ironic twist of history, Mandal recommendations were implemented by Congress(I) government taking, in the process, much wind out of the Janata Dal sails.
The crusader in VP Singh dies hard and now it is reduced to the ridiculous demand of a dalit President or a backward Prime Minister, irrespective of his/her ideological-political predilection. Then there is the gimmick of staying away from Delhi till a backward gets employment on the basis of reservation quota. The revolution thus has degenerated into cosmetic reforms and the movement into tokenism.
As regards reservation proper Janata Dal is now left with the options of opposing the creamy layer verdict and to pressurise for 10 per cent reservation quota for upper castes on economic criterion — a promise that V P Singh made to diffuse the anti-Mandal agitation. Neither of the options, however, can be pursued with any zeal for obvious reasons.
Political eclipse of Mr.VP Singh and his Janata Dal signalled the rise of Mulayam Singh and Kanshi Ram. Mulayam Singh claims himself to be the natural representative of backwards as compared to VP Singh, the outsider, and invoking Lohia he has couched his politics in a socialist phraseology with a greater force of inheritance and sincerity of purpose. Kanshi Ram, the rising star of dalit politics, on the other hand, invokes the legacy of Ambedkar. Armed with a radical dalit posture and anti-communist phobia he seems to be desperate to outsmart Ambedkar himself.
These dramatic events have exerted tremendous impact on Indian left and communist movement. While Mandal greatly eroded the communist base among backward peasantry in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, BSP virtually swept away the traditional dalit support of left parties in Uttar Pradesh. Under the circumstances a polemics has surfaced within the left and communist circles that calls for a new approach to the caste phenomenon in Indian society and, particularly in the backdrop of soviet debacle, to redefine the "orthodox" concept of class. Recent desertion of first-ranking leaders of CPI to Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, PWG Naxalites swelling the ranks of BSP in Andhra Pradesh and defection of some IPF MLAs to Janata Dal in Bihar bring out the gravity and the complexity of the situation.

Ambedkar and Communism
Reply to Marxist Look at Religion Buddhist Approach
by Dr. K. Jamanadas,
This has a reference to an article by Research Scholars, Kong Fan and Li Shen, published in "Studies in World Religions" #4, 1983, by Kong Fan and Li Shen tr. by P. Barry.
The issues created by the authors are not new. They have been raised time and again and not only in Indian context, but in World context they have been already answered by authorities like Dr. Ambedkar.
The authors expound two theories, that views of Marx, Lenin and Mao are opposed to religion. They feel that only Marx has given scientific explanation of religion, and that it is "Religion is the Opium of the people". Authors say that "It can not lead people who suffer difficulties to overcome the difficulties. It only allows them to anesthetize themselves, thereby, Religion changes material struggle into a kind of spiritual comfort. It transforms real needs to hopes of an illusory world." The authors apparently equate religion with God, and feel that as Science has disproved the existence of God, and as so called religious ethics comes from the will of God, it has no meaning.
Secondly, they believe only Marxism holds that, ultimately, rooting out private ownership will remove all evil. They lament that though Socialism has brought liberation of masses, still people believe in religion. This is because of legacy of feudalism, influence of capitalism, imperialism, beurocratism.
Lastly they outline the line of action not only for their own country but for the whole world. They feel the Communist party of China thinks it necessary to form a united front with "patriotic religious believers to oppose the reactionary forces at home and abroad and to carry out socialist revolution and modernization". They are bound to expound Marxism through "research into religion and into its history, doctrine and present circumstances." This propaganda they wish to do with "unhurried discussion to reason things out" by criticizing religion but not the people who follow or preach it, except the "criminals". Of course they do not forget to assign the power of final judgment to a few persons as they say that all this must be according to the "theories, plans and policies of Party Central".
They, however, admit that there were "religious wrongs", but blame the "Gang of four" with their "ultra leftist" attitude for these religious wrongs. Further claiming that State is not controlling Religion, the Authors are generous in allowing practice of religion to those who are patriotic and not against the government.
As I have been asked to reply this article by Mr. Jaysuria, a Buddhist Dignitary from America, I will try to say a few words from Indian Buddhist's point of view.
Ambedkar and Communism
There is such a vast literature by Dr. Ambedkar in favour of Buddhism and against Communism, that only quoting from Ambedkar, who has already thought over Communism for years before giving Buddhism to the multitudes of Indian masses, will answer all points raised by the above research scholars. One thing needs to be remembered is that Ambedkar's views are nearly fifty years old, and they are still valid. They do not mention Mao, as his theories had not then come into prominence, but what he says about communism in general should also apply to Maoism too.
The very fact that "The Gang of Four" can become successful in capturing power and do the things, against the "real" Marxism, proves the fact that there is some inherent weaknesses in Marxism.
One thing, I wish to make clear is I am not a Communist, I am an Ambedkarite. But I am one of those few who think that Marxism is not finished in Russia, unlike many who do, after the break up of Soviet Union. The meaning of Religion according to Buddhism, as expounded by Dr. Ambedkar, the modern Religion Giver of Indian Buddhism, is well explained in his "Buddha and His Dhamma", the Bible of Buddhist Ambedkarites.
It is rather unfortunate, that we have to say, the authors of the article either misunderstood Marxism or Religion or both. These scholars should have pondered over one point. If any people in the world, needed the liberation from oppression, they were the Dalits of India. According to theories of Marxism, the revolution should have started here by them. But their leader Dr. Ambedkar thought that Communism is no answer, and adopted Buddhism along with his followers. His followers are now about one fifth population of this country of 1000 million people. Was Dr. Ambedkar wrong in discarding Communism and accepting Buddhism?
Pre-requisites of Communism
Dr. Ambedkar avers that there are certain pre-requisites for the Marxism to succeed. These are the society should be a "Free society", meaning it should give importance to an Individual over the society and that it should be based on equality, fraternity and liberty. [Ambedkar, "India and the Pre-requisites of Communism", (W&S vol. 3,), p.95]
These have been brought to China by Buddhism and to Russia by Christianity. The absence of these factors in caste ridden Indian society could not foster the growth of Marxism in India, and that is why Marx failed in Hindu India. Marx could not properly evaluate the importance of caste or its influence on Indian masses. Because, Marx failed here, his followers in India talk of "Class" and not of "Caste". That is the reason, the movement of Marx in India was and still is in the hands of oppressor class.
Residue of Marxism
Marx expounded his theories about 150 years ago. Most of Marxism is demolished during these years. But what remains of the Karl Marx, Dr. Ambedkar feels, is a residue of fire, small but still very important. The residue in his opinion, consists of four items:
(i) The function of philosophy is to reconstruct the world and not to waste its time in explaining the origin of the world.
(ii) That there is a conflict of interest between class and class.
(iii) That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to another through exploitation.
(iv) That it is necessary for the good of society that the sorrow be removed by the abolition of private property.
Comparison between Buddha and Karl Marx
Taking the points form the Marxian Creed which have survived Dr. Ambedkar compares the Buddha and Karl Marx. He feels that, on the first point there is complete agreement between the Buddha and Karl Marx. That language is different but the meaning is the same. If for misery one reads exploitation Buddha is not away form Marx. ("Buddha or Karl Marx", (W&S vol. 3), p. 444)
On the question of private property, Dr. Ambedkar quotes the illuminating extract from a dialogue between Buddha and Ananda, Buddha saying avarice is because of possession, which in turn is because of tenacity. Not only Buddha prohibited private property in Sangha, he put more restrictions and "rules are far more rigorous than are to be found in Communism in Russia" (Ibid. p. 446)
Means to achieve goals
Dr. Ambedkar, then, examines the means to achieve the goals. Having summarized Buddha's tenets, he feels that, it is clear that the means adopted by the Buddha were to convert a man by changing his moral disposition to follow the path voluntarily. The means adopted by the Communists are equally clear, short and swift. They are (1) Violence and (2) Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
The Communists say that there are the only two means of establishing Communism. The first is violence. Nothing short of it will suffice to break up the existing system. The other is Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Nothing short of it will suffice to continue the new system. It is now clear what are the similarities and differences between Buddha and Karl Marx. The differences are about the means. The end is common to both. (Ibid. p. 450)
The Bhikshu Sangha had the most democratic constitution. The Buddha was only one of the Bhikkus. At the most he was like a Prime Minister among members of the Cabinet. He was never a dictator. Twice before his death be was asked to appoint some one as the head of the Sangha to control it. But each time he refused saying that the Dhamma is the Supreme Commander of the Sangha. He refused to be a dictator and refused to appoint a dictator.
What about the value of the means? Whose means are superior and lasting in the long run?
Can the Communists say that in achieving their valuable they have not destroyed other valuable ends? They have destroyed private property. Assuming that this is a valuable end can the Communists say that they have not destroyed other valuable end in the process of achieving it? How many people have they killed for achieving their end. Has human life no value? Could they not have taken property without taking the life of the owner? (Ibid. p. 452)
Dictatorship is often defined as absence of liberty or absence of Parliamentary Government. Both interpretations are not quite clear. There is no liberty even when there is Parliamentary Government. For law means want of liberty. The difference between Dictatorship and Parliamentary Government lies in this. In Parliamentary Government every citizen has a right to criticize the restraint on liberty imposed by the Government. In Parliamentary Government you have a duty and a right; the duty to obey the law and right to criticize it. In Dictatorship you have only duty to obey but no right to criticize it. [Ibid. p. 453]
We must now consider whose means are more lasting. One has to chose between Government by force and Government by moral disposition. As Burke has said force cannot be a lasting means. In his speech on conciliation with America he uttered this memorable warning:
"First, Sir, permit me to observe, that the use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment: But it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered."
"My next objection is its uncertainty. Terror is not always the effect of force, and an armament is not a victory. If you do not succeed, you are without resource, for, conciliation failing, force remains; but force failing. no further hope of reconciliation is left. Power and authority are sometimes bought by kindness; but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence.
A further objection to force is, that you impair the object by your very endeavors to preserve it. The thing you fought for is the thing which you recover, but depreciated, sunk, wasted and consumed in the contest." (Ibid. p. 453)
Withering away of State
Dr. Ambedkar also discusses the Communist theory of "withering away of the state". He says, The Communists themselves admit that their theory of the State as a permanent dictatorship is a weakness in their political philosophy. They take shelter under the plea that the State will ultimately wither away. There are two questions which they have to answer. (1) When will it wither away? (2) What will take the place of the State when it withers away? To the first question they can give no definite time. (Ibid. p 459)
Though the second question is more important than the first, Dr. Ambedkar feels, the Communists have no satisfactory answer to the question what would take the place of the State when it withers away. Will it be succeed by Anarchy? If so, he feels, the building up of the Communist State is an useless effort. If it cannot be sustained except by force and if it results in anarchy when the force holding it together is withdrawn what good is the Communist State. [Ibid. p.460]
He therefore avers that, the only thing which could sustain it after force is withdrawn is Religion. He observes:
"But to the Communists, Religion is anathema. Their hatred to Religion is so deep seated that they will not even discriminate between religions which are helpful to Communism and religions which are not. The Communists have carried their hatred of Christianity to Buddhism without waiting to examine the difference between the two." [Ibid. p. 460]
Charges against Christianity
Dr. Ambedkar discusses two charges against Christianity leveled by the Communists. Surprisingly, the same charges are leveled by Chinese Research Scholars in the same terminology. Ambedkar answers these charges as he observes:
"Their first charge against Christianity was that they made people other worldliness and made them suffer poverty in this world. As can be seen from quotations from Buddhism in the earlier part of this tract such a charge cannot be leveled against Buddhism."
Dr. Ambedkar then answers the second charge as follows:
"The second charge leveled by the Communists against Christianity cannot be leveled against Buddhism. This charge is summed up in the statement that Religion is the opium of the people. This charge is based upon the Sermon on the Mount which is to be found in the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount sublimates poverty and weakness. It promises heaven to the poor and the weak. There is no Sermon on the Mount to be found in the Buddha's teachings. His teaching is to acquire wealth." [Ibid. p.460]
He then gives the Buddha's Sermon on the subject to Anathapindika one of his disciples, wherein Buddha describes how wealth should be acquired justly and legitimately. [Ibid. p. 460]
Dr. Ambedkar concludes the discussion by observing:
"The Russians do not seem to be paying any attention to Buddhism as an ultimate aid to sustain Communism when force is withdrawn.
"The Russians are proud of their communism. But they forget that the wonder of all wonders is that the Buddha established Communism so far as the Sangha was concerned without dictatorship. It may be that it was a communism on a very small scale but it was communism without dictatorship, a miracle which Lenin failed to do.
"The Buddha's method was different. His method was to change the mind of man: to alter his disposition: so that whatever man does, he does it voluntarily without the use of force or compulsion. His main means to alter the disposition of men was his Dhamma and the constant preaching of his Dhamma. The Buddha's way not to force people to do what they did not like to do although it was good for them. His way was to alter the disposition of men so that they would do voluntarily what they would not otherwise to do.
"It has been claimed that the Communist Dictatorship in Russia has wonderful achievements to its credit. There can be no denial of it. That is why I say that a Russian Dictatorship would be good for all backward countries. But this his no argument for permanent Dictatorships. Humanity does not only want economic values, it also wants spiritual values to be retained. Permanent Dictatorship has paid no attention to spiritual values and does not seem to intend to. Carlyle called Political Economy a Pig Philosophy. Carlyle was of course wrong. For man needs material comforts. But the Communist Philosophy seems to be equally wrong for the aim of their philosophy seems to be fatten pigs as though men are no better than pigs. Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarized by the French Revolution in three words. Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasized that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all. [Ibid. p. 462]
Tests of Religion
In his memorable treatise, "Buddha and future of His Religion", after comparing Buddhism with Hinduism, while comparing Buddhism with other non-hindu religions, Dr. Ambedkar concludes by enumerating the tests a religion must pass:
"(i) That society must have either the sanction of law or the sanction of morality to hold it together. Without either society is sure to go pieces. In all societies law plays a very small part. It is intended to keep the minority within the range of social discipline. The majority is left and has to be left to sustain its social life by the postulates and sanction of morality. Religion in the sense of morality, must therefore, remain the governing principle in every society.
(ii) That religion as defined in the first proposition must be in accord with science. Religion is bound to lose it respect and therefore become the subject of ridicule and thereby not merely lose its force as a governing principle of life but might in course of time disintegrated and lapse if it is not in accord with science. In other words, religion if it is to function, must be in accord with reason which is merely another name for science.
(iii) That religion as a code of social morality, must recognize the fundamental tenets of liberty, equality and fraternity. Unless a religion recognizes these three fundamental principles of social life religion will be doomed.
(iv) That religion must not sanctify or ennoble poverty. Renunciation of riches by those who have it may be a blessed state. But poverty can never be. To declare poverty to be a blessed state is to pervert religion, to perpetuate vice crime, to consent to make earth a living hell."
Dr. Ambedkar asks, which religion fulfills these requirements today, reminding that the days of the Mahatmas are gone and the world cannot have a new Religion. It will have to make its choice from existing religions. Some of the religions might satisfy one or two tests but Buddhism is the only religion satisfying all tests. He observes:
"So far as I know the only religion which satisfies all these tests is Buddhism. In other words Buddhism is the only religion which the world can have. If the new world - which be it realized is very different from the old - must have a religion - and the new world needs religion for more than the old world did - then it can only be religion of the Buddha." [Buddha and future of his religion", p. 9]
"Could the Buddha answer Karl Marx?"
Admitting that all this may sound very strange, because most of writers on Buddha have propagated the idea that the only thing Buddha taught was Ahimsa. It is true Buddha taught Ahimsa, he says, he does not want to minimize its importance, because it is a great doctrine and the world can not be saved without it. He further observes:
"What I wish to emphasize it is that Buddha taught many other things besides Ahimsa. He taught as a part of religion, social freedom, intellectual freedom, economic freedom and political freedom. He taught equality, equality not between man and man only but between man and woman. It would be difficult to find a religious teacher to compare with Buddha whose teachings embrace so many aspects of the social life of a people whose doctrines are so modern and whose main concern was to give salvation to man in his life on earth and not to promise it to him in heaven after he is dead." [Buddha and future of his religion", p. 10]
Dr. Ambedkar says many divergent views expressed about Buddha's teachings, including Samadhi, Vippasana, Esoterism etc. are because the authors are not students of Buddhism, but of history or anthropology. He asks "Did the Buddha have no social message?" If pressed for an answer, the Buddhist scholars admit that Buddha taught 1. Ahimsa and 2. Peace. But the real questions are seldom asked and replied. These are: Did the Buddha teach 1. Justice, 2. Love, 3. Liberty, 4. Equality, 5. Fraternity, and 6. "Could the Buddha answer Karl Marx?" He further avers that "My answer is that the Buddha has a social message. He answers all these questions. But they have been buried by modern authors." ["Buddha and His Dhamma", book III, part II, sec. 1. (p. 159)]
The Proof of Buddhism superseding Marxism
It is well known that His Holiness Pope John Paul II, does not have much love about Buddhism. Also John L. Allen Jr., recently reported in National Catholic Reporter, of Feb. 26, 1999, that the Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in 1997,
"had riled Buddhists when he called the religion an "autocratic spirituality" that seeks "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligation." He also suggested that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the church's biggest foe by 2000."
If Buddhism is being replacing Marxism, by authorities like above, as per Laws of Contradictions by Mao himself, it shows a great future for Buddhism in World affairs. And Ambedkar's prophecy will come true sooner than later.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gaddar in a meeting in Nizam College Grounds- 2005
Personal details
1949 (age 62–63)
Political party

Gummadi Vittal Rao popularly known as Gaddar (born 1949) is a poet, pseudonym of a revolutionary Telugu balladeer and vocal Naxalite activist from the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The name Gaddar was adopted as a tribute to the pre-independence Gadar party which opposedBritish colonial rule in Punjab during 1910s.

[edit]Early years

Gaddar was born to Seshaiah and Lachumamma in the Toopran village of the Medak district in a poor dalit family. His parents worked as labourers to earn a living. He attended his early schooling in Bodhan of the Nizamabad district. After completing Pre University Course (then equivalent of 12th class) from a government junior college in Hyderabad.


[edit]1969 Separate Telangana Agitation

In 1969, Vittal Rao (Gaddar) joined the struggle for separate Telangana state. He formed a burrakatha (a kind of folk art in Andhra Pradesh, India) troupe named after Mahatma Gandhi to spread awareness about Telangana issue. He was soon disillusioned. For a while, he gave performances on family planning and other social themes for the Indian government's information and broadcasting ministry.

[edit]Popular culture

B. Narsing Rao, film director and founder of a forum called 'Art Lovers Association' noticed Gaddar and was impressed by his performance. He invited him to perform at a program on Bhagat Singh's anniversary. After this program, Gaddar began attending the weekly meetings of Art Lovers Forum on Sundays. B. Narsing Rao also asked him to write and bring something along. At the next weekly meet, Gaddar brought his first song — Apuro Rickshaw (stop rickshaw). Narsing Rao suggested changes to link the song to their lives and their labour. This became the famous song:
Stop Rickshaw-walla; I am coming; You work from morning to night, but your stomach cannot be filled; So much blood and sweat, yet you earn hardly anything…
This song, written in about 1971, became a massive hit, specifically amongst rickshaw drivers.
Then Gaddar came regularly to the Sunday meets. Numerous songs were written, mostly by Vittal. They printed their first songbook. It was entitled "GADDAR"; after the famous Gadar Party of Punjab. Soon, whenever they went to perform on streets, the people began to say that the "Gaddar people have come". The name stuck, and from then on Vittalrao is known as Gaddar. Meanwhile Gaddar came to know that B Narsing Rao was linked to the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). Slowly Gaddar also came close to the Party.

[edit]Gaddar once again for separate State of Telanagana

With the resurgence of Telangana movement, Gadar once again started to express his support for the cause of Telangana and expressed his strong vocal support for all those fighting for a separate Telangana state with the motive of upliftment of lower castes, particularly dalits and also backward castes. Despite being a hardcore communist, he does not share the ideas of some communist parties of India that oppose separate Telangana state. In recent TV interviews he came out clearly that he is strongly with those who are for a Telangana of social justice where Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes have political representation on par with the OCs and BCs of the State. He expressed his solidarity with Devendar Gouds NTPP (Nava Telengana Praja Party) in spite of being shot at by the police during Goud's term as AP Home Minister. Quoting in his own words from various interviews on News channels "Even though telangana can be achieved only by political process through a bill at the center, it lies not only with the leaders of telangana parties but all those who have their lives at stake to bring about a people's movement. For a beginning let us take a big march. I Would lead the march and would be the first to take any bullets if fired at."
Gadar's song "Amma Telanganama Akali kekala gaanama" has been selected as the state song of Telangana"
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]
Gaddar protests against arrest of Varavara Rao- 2005

[edit]Jana Natya Mandali

The Art Lovers Association was renamed the Jana Natya Mandali in 1972. Even while he was singing of revolution in the villages, Gaddar took a banking recruitment exam and got the post of a clerk at Canara Bank in 1975. He quit his bank job in 1984 and concentrated on Jana Natya Mandali. After he voiced his protest against the killing of several Dalits by upper caste landlords in Karamchedu village in Prakasam district in July 1985, the police raided Gaddar's house. He went underground.


In exile, Gaddar roamed through the forests of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradeshand Orissa, spreading the revolutionary ideology through folk arts. Gaddar and his troupe adapted folk forms such as Oggu Katha, Veedhi Bhagotham (vernacular ballets using a combination of song, dialogue and dance) and Yellamma Katha (the story of the local deity) to revolutionary themes depicting the travails of peasants, labourers and other weaker sections. Jana Natya Mandali was soon regarded as the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People's War, a Maoist party active in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,Bihar and Orissa.
With his revolutionary songs catching the imagination of the masses, Gaddar became a legend. Hundreds of thousands of printed copies and thousands of cassettes of his songs have been distributed and sold over the last two decades.
Gaddar's attire is as well known as his songs. In his own words, 'in the beginning, we used to perform wearing lungis. But then, since women too formed a part of the audience, we thought that costume was not appropriate. Therefore, we preferred gochis (dhotis). In the same way,gongali (a thick blanket made of rough wool) worn across the chest had its own advantages. It is in the jungles that we first took to wearing anklets and a loaded rifle on the right shoulder. On the left one, we had a dolu (drum).' He sticks to the same gochi and gongali, anklets anddolu. The loaded rifle has given way to a lathi in the right hand.
After four-and-a-half years of exile, Gaddar emerged from hiding when the then Congress government led by Dr Marri Chenna Reddy adopted a 'liberal attitude' towards the Naxalites. On February 18, 1990, Gaddar met the media. Two days later, Jana Natya Mandali celebrated its 19th anniversary at Nizam College Grounds in Hyderabad. A staggering 200,000 people came to watch Gaddar.
In the last 15 years since he surfaced from self-imposed exile, Gaddar has seen six chief ministers blow hot and cold on the Naxalitemovement. During this period, he has launched campaigns to protest against State repression in the countryside and killings of scores ofNaxalites by the police in what he calls 'fake encounters.'
Gaddar believes those wielding political and administrative power will, one day, realise that the Naxalite issue can be tackled only by addressing the socio-economic issues in the countryside, and not through 'State terror.'

[edit]Assassination attempt

On April 6, 1997 there was an assassination bid on Gaddar. While two of the three bullets the assailants fired into him were removed, one was left untouched because of medical complications. The near-fatal attack, which the balladeer believes was engineered by the police, did not deter Gaddar from being a champion of the downtrodden.

[edit]Peace Emissary

In 2001, the Telugu Desam government accepted a proposal to have peace negotiations with Naxalites and the then Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People's War announced the names of Varavara Rao and Gaddar as its emissaries to work out modalities for the proposed talks. The Naxalite party was under ban at that time and these two writers were chosen as emissaries, keeping in view their yeomen services in people's causes for over three decades then. The government had also named two ministers as its representatives and after three sittings held at a time of unabated encounter killings, Varavara Rao and Gaddar pulled out of the talks' process, that went on between May and July 2002.
The then opposition Indian National Congress criticized the stand of the Telugu Desam Party with regard to the talks and made a categorical promise in its Election Manifesto 2004 to hold talks to arrive at a meaningful peace. The Congress came to power in May 2004 and initiated the talks' process in June. This time around the then Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People's War named Varavara Rao, Gaddar and novelist Kalyana Rao as its emissaries. The emissaries assumed their position on 13 July 2004 and had involved themselves in several rounds of discussions on modalities with the government including the Home Minister and the government representatives. Finally, leaders of two Naxalite parties (by then Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti also joined the talks process and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Peoples War became Communist Party of India (Maoist)) came for the talks held between 15 October and 18 October 2004. After this first round of talks, the negotiating parties had to meet for subsequent rounds but after the encounter killings of some naxalites in January 2005, the Naxalite parties withdrew from the process on 16 January. After some failed attempts to revive the process,Varavara Rao and other emissaries withdrew from their positions on 4 April 2005. The peace process ended with the imposition of ban on CPI (Maoist), Revolutionary Writer's Association (Virasam) and some other people's organizations on 18 August 2005.
Within 24 hours of imposition of ban on Virasam, Varavara Rao and Kalyana Rao, were arrested on 19 August 2005 under AP Public Security Act. The police did not arrest Gaddar though they say they have evidence against him. The police accuse Gaddar of inciting violence and propagating the Naxalite ideology of 'power through the barrel of the gun.'
Unlike other left-wing revolutionary writers and poets, Gaddar is equally well known in rural and urban Andhra Pradesh. He is a familiar face on television screens, participating in protest programmes or spirited debates. His songs cut across the barriers of region, religion, dialect, caste and social status.
In the words of prominent academic Dr. Kancha Ilaiah, 'Gaddar was the first Telangana intellectual who established a link between the productive masses and the literary text and, of course, that text established a link between the masses and educational institutions.'

[edit]Political career

[edit]Telangana Praja Front

Main article: Telangana Praja Front
Gaddar founded Telangana Praja Front on October 3, 2010 and a formal announcement was made at a broad-based convention on October 9.[9]
As many people in Telangana believe TRS is mostly used by K.Chandra Sekhar rao family for advance of its political interests, the Telangana Praja front viewed by those people that it will bring a new dynamic into the demand for Telangana state hood.

[edit]Personal life

Gaddar is married to Vimala. He has two sons, called Sureedu and Chandrudu (died of illness in 2003) and a daughter Vennela. Both his children are well settled in USA.


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[edit]External links



The political and ideological struggles of the left parties have reached a crossroads, as correctly emphasized by the political resolutions of the 17th Party Congress of the CPI (M). The communal fascism of the Sangh parivar, with its ideology of the Hindu Rashtra, now poses a grave and unprecedented threat to the secular fabric of Indian democracy. Gujarat-type genocides are likely to engulf the entitre country if the BJP and its perverted parivar are allowed to gain further strength. The so-called non-communal regional parties, which are supporting the Sangh parivar with a view to sharing the spoils of power, are too devoid of ideologies to be relied upon as anti-fascist political forces of the future. The Congress is in a state of severe ideological atrophy and organizational decay. But it still retains a broadly and vaguely non-communal character and considerable following at the all-India level. It can conceivably become a tactical ally of the left forces in the struggle against communal fascism. But for at least two reasons the left parties and forces alone can spearhead the great coming struggle of the masses against the demonic communal and fascist forces. First, the left forces alone are committed to ideologies which not only aim to confront and combat the fascist forces without compromise, but also offer a clear alternative politicoeconomic programme to the people that is scientific and equalitarian. Secondly, for that very reason, fascists everywhere make leftists their primary political target in all countries, once they are in power. The rapid growth of the left forces in Indian politics is therefore an immediate ideological and strategic imperative.
Unfortunately, as the political resolution of the 17th Party Congress of the CPI(M) has forcefully pointed out, the left parties are weak as an all-India political force, their influence being limited to the three states of West Bengal, Tripura, and Kerala. The resolution has further correctly pointed that united front with non-left parties can only be a tactical necessity, and not the main path of progress for the left parties. The growth of the left movement in India would have to depend primarily on the independent growth of the left forces all over the country. In this context, the 17th Party Congress of the CPI(M) has emphasized the need, not only for sustained ideological work, but also mass struggles against caste oppression, communalism, and the oppression of women. Without minimizing the importance of protracted mass struggles on all other fronts, in this paper we wish to deal specifically with the question of integrating the struggle against caste oppression with the broader class struggle in the objective Indian context. For it appears to us that the adoption of a clear ideological and strategic position by the CPI(M) and other left parties on this question is the key to the accelerated development and proliferation of the ideology and organization of the left in the given objective conditions of society and politics in India.

Marxist Thinking on Caste in India

Karl Marx was the first thinker to draw sharp attention to the highly deleterious impact of caste on Indian society and its causal link with the relations of production. In his famous essay on The Future Results of British Rule in India Karl Marx characterized the Indian castes as "the most decisive impediment to India's progress and power". Marx correctly argued that the caste system of India was based on the hereditary division of labour, which was inseparably linked with the unchanging technological base and subsistence economy of the Indian village community. At that time he believed that British rule would undermine the economic and technological foundations of these primitive, self-sufficient, stagnant, and isolated village communities, particularly through the spread of railways. The industrialization and commercialization of India under British rule, facilitated by the spread of railways, would lead to the breakdown of the traditional village communities, and with them also the caste system.1  But Marx wrote later on that he had exaggerated the possible impact of the spread of railways on the traditional relations of production characterized by the Indian village community.2 The important point, however, is that Marx clearly and causally connected the archaic social formation of caste in India with the relations of production. It followed logically that the abolition of the caste hierarchy and the oppression and exploitation of the 'lower' castes could not be separated from the Marxian form of class struggle.
One has to realize that the building of India on modern democratic and secular lines requires an uncompromising struggle against the caste-based Hindu society and its culture. There is no question of secular democracy, not to speak of socialism, unless the very citadel of India's 'age-old' civilization and culture – the division of society into a hierarchy of castes – is broken. In other words, the struggle for radical democracy and socialism cannot be separated from the struggle against caste society.3
The decisive challenge of caste and untouchability has to be defeated by the leaders of the mass struggles by inculcating a strong anti-caste feeling among the fighting toilers – above all among the workers in the spirit of proletarian unity and solidarity. This can be achieved by strong ideological propaganda against the caste system and untouchability.
Then alone the mighty force of the united toilers will decisively strike for agrarian revolution, smashing the basis of caste distinctions and serfdom of the untouchables; then alone the democratic forces will open the way to political power and rapid industrialization on the basis of socialization of all means of production and usher in a casteless and classless society.5
But while the CPI (M) and other left parties have consistently organized mass protest and struggles against communalism, the exigencies and dynamics of the developing political situation in India in the 1980s and 1990s prevented them from organizing a simultaneous struggle against casteism and communalism. In particular, the acute caste conflict generated by the Mandal Commission Report and its aftermath made it extremely difficult to integrate the anti-caste ideology of the left with the class struggle against feudalism and capitalism in the 1980s. The rapid rise of communal fascism in Indian politics in the 1990s, leading to the capture of power at the Centre by the communal and fascist forces, impelled the left parties to mobilize all their organizational power against these forces, and to postpone the organization of a mass struggle against casteism and caste oppression to a later date. The issue was again taken up seriously at the 17thParty Congress of the CPI (M) at Hyderabad in 2002.    

Caste Structure and Relations of Production

Caste formations, of course, are not identical with class divisions. There is a caste structure within each class, and a class structure within each caste. They generate different forms of sociopolitical belonging, loyalties, and consciousness. Both on the epistemological and the empirical planes, caste consciousness proves to be antithetical to class consciousness, and stymies the growth of proletarian class solidarity. As every leftist political worker knows, the unity of the working class in India is constantly vitiated by the caste consciousness and caste loyalties of the peasants and workers. The poor 'upper' caste peasant or worker does not consider his poor 'lower' caste coworker or neighbour as his equal, tends to look down upon him, and generally refuses to build or accept any sociocultural linkages with him.  While workers and peasants belonging to different castes do join trade unions and participate in common struggles on purely economic issues, they generally desist from developing life-sharing sociocultural linkages across caste barriers. In many cases, it is individual and collective economism rather than class consciousness that motivates participation in agitations for specific economic demands. This is also evident from the fact that support of workers for political parties does not always correspond with their trade union belonging.
The class consciousness of the workers and peasants can, of course, be best awakened by their continuous participation in the class struggle. But if the nature of the class struggle itself is often distorted by caste consciousness, we are in a vicious circle. On epistemological, sociological and organizational grounds, therefore, it is necessary to treat the caste structure as a semi-autonomous socioeconomic formation within the broader class structure of Indian society, and trace its historical and sociological roots in the evolving relations of production in India from the ancient times to the modern period. This, fo course, cannot be done exhaustively within the short span of this paper. We shall confine ourselves to portraying, in a few bold strokes, the outlines of the relationship between caste formations and the relations of production in India. This will then enable us to appreciate the strategy of integrating the struggle against caste oppression into the broader class struggle, as recommended by Marxist stalwarts like E.M.S. Namboodiripad and B.T.Ranadive, as well as the Salkia Plenum and 17th Congress of the CPI (M),  and formulate appropriate tactics for an integral form of class struggle with Indian characteristics.   
There is a widespread belief among orthodox Hindus that chaturvarnya , or the hierarchical four-tier social structure of ancient India, had a religious origin. This belief is engendered by the apparently religious justification of chaturvarnya in the Rig Veda,  the Manusmriti, and the interpolated forms of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, where it has been declared to be of divine origin. In reality, however, the support to chaturvarnya given by the religious texts on the pretext of its allegedly divine origin served merely to sanctify and perpetuate an ancient form of unjust division of labour that was based on the oppression and exploitation of the entire working class, which constituted the overwhelming majority of the population in ancient India, by a small and parasitic ruling class. The 'other-worldly' religious injunctions were in the nature of a deliberately contrived functional ideology that served to camouflage a this-worldly socioeconomic structure of exploitation.  In other words, the social roots of the metaphysics of chaturvarnya were embedded in the relations of production in ancient India.
and the performance of religious rituals to the Brahmins, ruling and fighting to the Kshatriyas, and trade and business to the Vaishyas. The sociopolitical status of the Vaishyas was, however, somewhat ambivalent and fluctuating. In the age of the dharmasutras,  all peasants, except rural artisans, craftsmen, and landless labourers, were reckoned as Vaishyas. By the middle of the period of the dharmasastras, however,  most of the peasants, including those who tilled their own land, were demoted to the status of Sudras. Only that small section of peasants who were big landowners and produced a marketable agricultural surplus, were now counted as Vaishyas.6 From that time onwards, the Brahmins and Kshatriyas effectively constituted the ruling class of ancient India, with the Vaishyas playing a somewhat auxiliary role.
Thus by about the 1st or 2nd century A.D. the entire working class, including all small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, artisans and craftsmen, and all manual labourers, was relegated to the status of Sudras. The Brahmins and Kshatriyas naturally constituted only a small proportion of the population. Since industry and trade were undeveloped in that ancient period, the Vaishyas also constituted an insignificant proportion of the population. The Sudras therefore constituted the overwhelming majority of the people of the country. It was this vast class of Sudras that was relegated to the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid  and ruthlessly exploited by the composite ruling class of the Brahmins and Kashatriyas, using both the power of religion and the power of the state as its instruments of control.  
The concept of swadharma was central to the injunctions of the religious texts regarding the division of labour consummated bychaturvarnya. Manu defined swadharma as swakarma, or the occupational duty as prescribed by the dharmasastras. All major religious texts, including the Manusmriti, the Bhagavadgita, and the interpolated versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, prescribed the unquestioning service of the three 'higher' varnas as the swadharma of the Sudras. The vast working class of Sudras was thus denied all social, economic and political rights, which were, of course, monopolized by the Brahmins and Kshatriyas. The Manusmriti also denied the Sudras the right to education, the right to property, the right to carry arms, and even access to religious observances. The Manusmritideclared that if a Sudra acquired any property, any Brahmin or Kshatriya had the right to take it away from him forcibly. As regards the carrying of arms, even the Brahmins were empowered to carry and use arms in times of trouble, although it was alien to their swadharma. But the Sudras were totally forbidden to carry or use arms. The denial of the right to property in a social structure based on private property perpetuated the proletarianization of the Sudras, while the denial of the right to carry arms rendered them incapable of overthrowing the structure of exploitation. Thus the whole purpose of the ostensibly religious injunctions regarding chaturvarnya was to reduce the entire working class to the status of subsistence labour, close to that of slaves, and generate a huge surplus value through its productive labour for the enjoyment of a parasitic ruling class.
The religious texts have also forbidden the change of occupations prescribed by them for the four varnas respectively on pain of dire consequences in this world as well as the next, because this would destabilize and destroy the prevailing social order. The Manusmritimakes the change of occupations a serious and heavily punishable offence. The Bhagavadgita says that it is better to die in the performance of one's own swadharma, even if it be without merit, than to practise the swadharma of another varna, even if the latter be easier to perform. But not being sure of the effectiveness of religious injunctions by themselves, the wise writers of religious texts also provided for political safeguards against any potential challenge to chaturvarnya. The Manusmriti enjoins upon the king the duty of preserving the four-tier social hierarchy, and to inflict severe punishment on those who attempt to change their occupations. TheBhagavadgita cautions the Kshatriyas against the non-performance of their swadharma of fighting, lest such an example inspired the 'lower' varnas to change their occupations. The Manusmriti also advises the Brahmins and Kshatriyas to form a class alliance in their common class interest. Such an alliance, it says, would ensure tremendous gains for themselves in this world and the next, whereas in the absence of such an alliance both the varnas would perish. For the same reason, the dharmasastras, including the Manusmriti, made it a major political duty of the king to suppress all forms of atheism and to inflict severe punishment on atheists. Any atheist challenge to thedharmasastras would have seriously undermined the foundations of the exploitative structure of chaturvarnya. Thus the opium of religion as well as the power of the state, both of which were mere instruments of exploitation in the hands of the ruling class, were used to perpetuate the oppressive and exploitative socioeconomic structure of ancient India.

Class Structure, Dalits and Adivasis

One special characteristic of this exploitative socioeconomic structure was the marginalization, alienation, economic exploitation, and geographical separation of the atisudras, also called asprishyas or panchamas or antyajas in the dharmasastras. Originally stigmatized on account of the 'unclean' jobs assigned to them, they were subjected to numerous inhuman disabilities, in addition to those suffered by the rest of the Sudras. Perhaps the most disabling injunction against them proclaimed by Manu and other law-givers was the one that denied them the right to live in the main village inhabited by the exalted 'upper' varnas, and were compelled to live in separate hamlets on the outskirts of the village. It was from this geographical and social exile that they acquired their status as antyajas, meaning "born on the margin". According to the injunctions of the dharmasastras, they were obliged to wear the mark of untouchability on their bodies, and eat only the foulest kind of food, including the leftovers thrown away by the 'higher' varnas, from iron or broken earthen pots. They were allowed to wear only iron 'jewelry' on their bodies. They were not to draw water from the wells used by the 'upper' varnas, not to enter temples, not to enter areas inhabited by the  'higher' varnas except to perform menial jobs for the latter, and not to tread the roads used by the latter. They had to wear a bell in their necks in order to warn the 'higher' varnas of their approach, so that the latter could move out of sight in time. They were permitted to move around only in the darkness of the night, avoiding the areas inhabited by the exalted ones.
The adivasis or indigenous people of ancient India suffered more or less the same socioeconomic disabilities as the atisudras, and were virtually indistinguishable from the latter with regard to their status in relation to the socioeconomic structure of chaturvarnya. They were also both geographically isolated and socially marginalized, and relegated to the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. They represented that section of the pre-Aryan population of India, which had retreated into the jungles and hills in the face of the Aryan advance, and remained by and large inaccessible to the conquering Aryan 'civilization' and its chaturvarnya. Those who lived in the forests were generally called nishadas or shabaras, depending on their tribal belonging as well as occupation, while those who dwelt on the mountains were generally called kiratas. There is abundant evidence in the dharmasastras and Sanskrit literature to show that these indigenous people were also treated as untouchables.
This forest and mountain-dwelling section of the people of India differed from the rest of Aryan-dominated ancient Indian society in at least three important respects. In the first place, they practised a form of primitive communism of property that was diametrically opposed to the system of private property on which the Aryan 'civilization' was based. Hence, unlike the exploitative class structure of the Aryan-dominated society, the relations of production of adivasi society did not generate a class structure.  Secondly, they had refused to come under Aryan domination, and hence, were outside the purview of chaturvarnya. There never was any varna or caste system inadivasi society. Thirdly, They had refused to be a part of the Vedic and dharmasastra-based Brahminical religion of the Aryas, and never practised the rituals and ceremonies of the latter. Because of their refusal to be integrated into mainstream Aryan society, the adivasisremained even more isolated, geographically as well as socially, than the asprishyas within the fold of chaturvarnya. As regards their socioeconomic status vis-à-vis Brahminical society, they were also treated in practice like atisudras and untouchables. Like their counterpart within Brahminical society, they also belonged to the most exploited section of the proleatariat of ancient India, and were assigned to the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. They were not a part of chaturvarnya in terms of religious doctrine. But along with the panchamas or atisudras, they were the worst victims of the exploitative class structure of ancient India.
The grossly exploitative class structure of ancient India, which was cleverly camouflaged  and sanctified by the dharmasastras, particularly by chaturvarnya, has remained virtually unchanged to this day. Unchanged feudal relations of production, poverty, illiteracy, and crystallized superstition among the masses, and the oppressive and exploitative strategies of the ruling classes over many centuries have contributed to the perpetuation of the ancient relations of production and their sociocultural superstructure. The original four varnashave proliferated into over three thousand castes and subcastes due to numerous socioreligious and economic factors. These include false ideas regarding hereditary transmission of purity and impurity, differences of rituals and ceremonies, endogamous marriage and other forms of sociocultural intercourse, geographical location, and above all, economic status, particularly land ownership. Some cases of Sanskritization, or the vertical movement of the 'lower' castes, have also taken place over the centuries, mainly due to their rise in economic status. The myriad castes and subcastes of contemporary India cannot in all cases be classified under the original chaturvarnyaof the dharmasastras, although they have all risen on the matrix of the four-tier hierarchical socioeconomic structure of ancient India. Perhaps the most important retrograde development is that the entire caste system has become hereditary and transformed itself into a crystallized prejudice structure. Although it is still a superstructure of the relations of production, it has over the centuries acquired a measure of autonomy, and in some ways behaves independently of the relations of production. This is the most distinctive characteristic of class relations in India today. This is also the single most important social reality that the left forces spearheading the class struggle in India must weave into their strategy.
The proliferation of castes, and the relative improvement of the socioeconomic status of some of the 'middle' castes, have to some extent diluted the structure of the four-tier  hierarchy of ancient Indian society. But so far as the relations of production are concerned, the slave-like condition of the dalits – descendants of the panchamas and asprishyas – has remained unchanged at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. Similarly, the adivasis – descendants of the shavaras, nishadas and kiratas – have remained the victims of the grossest and most acute form of socioeconomic exploitation. This is mainly because neither the basic class structure of India nor the crystallized prejudice structure of caste has changed significantly for many centuries, including the fiftyfive years since India's independence, except to some extent in the left-dominated states. The existential characteristics of the collective historical condition of these two socioeconomic classes make them the 'wretched of the earth' who truly belong to the fourth world of nearly total alienation and exploitation. Apart from being the victims of gross economic exploitation, they also suffer from the stigma of low social status imposed on them by the prejudice structure of caste. It follows logically that those leftist forces in India which are engaged in class struggle for the collective emancipation of the proletariat must accord the highest priority to the emancipation of the dalits and the adivasis. For there are no worse sufferers from class exploitation, and no proletariat more impoverished than them anywhere in the world.
Numerous studies, including the Mandal Commission Report, have established beyond any doubt that that there is a high correlation between poverty and social 'backwardness' in India. This is particularly true of the dalits and the adivasis. It was estimated by the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in 1981 that 85 % of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes belonged to the poorest 35% of the population.7 Another indication of the absolute poverty of the SCs and STs is that 84% of the SCs and 94% of the STs live in the rural sector8 Moreover, 90% of all bonded labourers and 80% of all child labourers come from the SCs and STs.9 Several investigations, including those by the Planning Commission, have revealed that landlessness  and illiteracy are much greater among the SCs and STs than in the rest of the population.10      
For several reasons, however, it would be misleading to assume that caste oppression can be eliminated through the class struggle on the economic plane alone. In the first place, the crystallized prejudice structure of caste tends to rationalize and perpetuate the economic exploitation of the oppressed castes. By confining the 'low' castes to the lowest paid occupations on a hereditary basis through religious dogma and cultural prejudice, they are kept perpetually in a state of absolute poverty. Their poverty, in turn, reinforces the sociocultural prejudices against them, and tends to perpetuate the stigma of inferiority with which they have been branded from ancient times. Secondly, unlike the poorer sections of the 'upper' castes, the dalits and adivasis have been compelled to live in separate hamlets in the rural areas, and in separate slums in the urban areas. This geographical isolation of the oppressed castes is more due to social stigma than to economic status. Thirdly, although feudalism prevails in many parts of the world, particularly the Third World, the caste system does not exist in any other country. Hence caste oppression must be attributed at least partly to the peculiar religious and sociocultural tradition of India. Finally, even with the advent of capitalism, caste prejudices do not seem to have lost their vigour in the capitalist sector of the Indian economy. Hence in determining their strategy of class struggle with Indian characteristics, the left forces have to take into account the dialectical relationship between class and caste.

Class Struggle with Indian Characteristics

Thus the integration of the fight against caste oppression with the class struggle in India, as prescribed by EMS Namboodiripad, B.T. Ranadive, the Salkia Plenum and the 17th Congress of the CPI (M), implies that a three-pronged class struggle has to be organized in India with certain specifically Indian characteristics. The 17th Congress of the CPI (M) has correctly highlighted the importance of the independent growth of the left parties, as distinguished from the united front tactics. For while united front tactics become necessary for electoral purposes and for organizing mass struggles, steady and sustained growth in the strength of the left parties can alone be the ultimate guarantee for a successful struggle against the forces of communal fascism and for the emancipation of the Indian proletariat. Moreover, a sustained and long-term cultural revolution, through which the proletariat will capture the commanding heights of a scientific and socialist culture, is also a necessary component of the class struggle for destroying the sociocultural foundations of the archaic social formation of caste. In the objective socioeconomic conditions of India, the Marxian strategy of class struggle must incorporate these specifically Indian characteristics.
1.      Independent Growth of Left Parties
Since the SCs and STs are the most oppressed and exploited sections of the Indian proletariat, they qualify to be the natural allies of the CPI (M) and other left parties. The left parties must therefore unequivocally align themselves with the SCs and STs, and fight for their economic as well as social rights. This struggle must include the uncompromising implementation of the policy of reservation, which is correctly based on the principle of positive discrimination in favour of the traditionally disadvantaged sections of the population. There appears to be a general suspicion among the SCs and STs that although the CPI(M) and other left parties have accepted the policy of reservation, they are not always sincere in implementing this policy on account of their apparent ideological position that caste is a false socioeconomic category. It is necessary to dispel this misperception, and to draw increasing numbers of SCs and STs within the ideological and organizational fold of the left parties by building sympathetic linkages with their life experiences and aspirations. It should be remembered that some otherwise misguided ultra-left forces in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have succeeded in increasing their strength to some extent in recent years mainly by taking up the cause of the SCs and STs. It is necessary for the major left parties with a mass base to seize the initiative from these misguided ultra-leftist elements in order to carry forward the class struggle along correct lines.
The Tamil Nadu branch of the CPI (M) has already taken up ideological and organizational work among the SCs and STs in right earnest, and obtained visible results. Small as it is in terms of its total numerical strength, about one-third of its membership comes from the SCs and STs.13 Harkishan Singh Surjeet, General Secretary of the CPI (M), has rightly commended this achievement of the CPI (M) in Tamil Nadu.14If the Tamil Nadu CPI (M) does not deviate from this correct strategy of class struggle with Indian characteristics, it will certainly be able to increase its organizational and political strength significantly in the near future. There can also be little doubt that if the CPI (M) as a whole and other left parties persist with this strategy, and treat the SCs and STs as their natural allies in the class struggle, they will grow from strength to strength in the not too distant future.
Needless to say, the tactic of united front is only an element of the class struggle at a time when the left forces are not strong enough to capture power in the whole country on their own strength. Hence it is necessary for every left party to choose even its temporary allies in the united front, whether for electoral purposes or for the purpose of organizing mass struggles, very carefully in terms of a correct class analysis. Since the SCs and STs represent the most oppressed, exploited, and impoverished section of the Indian proletariat, their parties and organizations should be accorded the highest priority by the left parties in forming a united front. The left will have to strive to draw the dalit organisations into joint struggles against social oppression, land, wages and other issues affecting the SCs and STs.  Even when some of these organisations are imbued with casteist ideologies, it must be seen  in the historical and existential experience of caste oppression, endured for centuries.    It is the task of the left parties to engage them in dialogue and persuade them, through both ideology and practice, that their true destiny lies with the left.
It should not be forgotten that the grievances of the dalit-adivasi groups against  Manuvada and their deep-seated sense of socioeconomic injustice is quite legitimate and not inconsistent with the class struggle. Their only fear seems to be that the left parties, in their apparently exclusive preoccupation with the economic dimension of the class struggle, would fail to pay special attention to the issue of caste oppression, and hence not serve the true socioeconomic interests of the SCs and STs. But in the context of the clear espousal of the cause of caste oppression by the CPI (M), which is the largest leftist party in the country, there is no valid reason for this misperception. Once they are persuaded to realize, by word and deed, that the left parties regard them as natural allies and assign the highest priority to their emancipation, the parties and organizations of the SCs and STs may not be slow to form permanent alliances with the left. The formation of a united front with other democratic parties need not be ruled out in a given situation, but in no case should the most oppressed and exploited section of the Indian proletariat be left out of a united front led by the left parties. There can be little doubt that the left parties will make rapid headway in Indian politics, outside the states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, if united fronts are formed in this manner, keeping in view the long-term strategy of the class struggle with Indian characteristics.
As we have tried to show above, the crystallized prejudice structure of caste has acquired a certain autonomous character over the centuries, and often stymies the growth of class consciousness and thwarts the growth of the class struggle for the radical restructuring of the relations of production in India.. It has grown out of ancient religious dogmas and cultural prejudices, and is unique to India's long and unbroken sociocultural tradition. Feudal social formations elsewhere, such as the estate system of Europe, were not sustained and perpetuated by any archaic social hierarchies based on socioreligious strictures and taboos enforced by the state. The socioeconomic structure of medieval Europe represented a simple division of the population in terms of economic status that was functionally and almost exclusively derived from the relations of production. The transition from feudalism to capitalism, accompanied by an intellectual renaissance and religious reformation, led to a simple division of society into classes. Even in China, which was a feudal country at the time of the communist revolution, there were no archaic and rigid sociocultural formations intervening in class relations. The class struggle there was carried out by the peasants and workers against the landlords and capitalists, as well as against the state controlled by the latter. But the existence of the crystallized prejudice structure of caste as a palpable objective element of India's socioeconomic structure makes it imperative to add a specifically cultural dimension to the class struggle.
A direct assault on the economic structures of feudalism and capitalism, and the transformation of these structures into socialist relations of production should, of course, remain the central thrust of the class struggle in India. But on account of the complex class-caste relationship outlined above, the class struggle on the economic front will have to be supplemented by a great intellectual and cultural movement among the masses against the religious and cultural prejudices that sustain the caste hierarchy and perpetuate caste oppression. Here the struggle against caste oppression and the struggle against communal fascism are likely to converge in one gigantic cultural revolution. The struggle for the replacement of the unscientific and bourgeois religious culture that sustains both caste oppression and communal fascism by a scientific, proletarian, and socialist culture will have to be an integral element of the class struggle in India. Moreover, this will have to be a protracted cultural revolution that will continue for a long time after the socialist revolution, as and when it takes place.
A proletarian socialist revolution does not seem to be an immediate possibility in India, although this must remain the inalienable long-term goal of the class struggle. But this is not sufficient reason for arguing that the class struggle must therefore confine itself to something close to economism in the immediate future. Even within the constraints imposed by the objective politicoeconomic conditions of India it is possible, in fact imperative, to carry on a massive intellectual struggle against religious and obscurantist belief structures and values. Even partial success of such a cultural revolution would in fact lead to an awakening of class consciousness among the masses, reinforce the class struggle on the economic and political fronts, and pave the way for the rapid growth of the left forces all over India.   


(P. Sundarayya Memorial Lecture, 1997)
Sitaram Yechury
I consider it an unique honour at being asked to deliver the P. Sundarayya memorial lecture this year.  I am fully conscious of my limitations in undertaking such a task.  For Comrade PS, as all of us fondly used to call him, continues to tower like  a colossus over the Indian Communist movement  and the larger political life of the country. Both in terms of his personal life and his political activity, comrade PS's contributions truly rank him as one of the foremost figures of the international Communist movement. Personally to  me, like numerous others, Comrade PS had an irreversible  influence on the course of my life and activities.  It is only appropriate that any observation in his memory would have to be related with something that is  of immense importance to contemporary political  and social life.  I have, therefore, chosen to speak  about caste and class in Indian politics today.
This choice is not unrelated to Comrade PS's own contributions.  In fact, nothing of contemporary significance is unrelated to his contribution. But the issue that I have chosen is one that was intrinsically linked with Comrade PS's personal life as well as political activity.  The fact that he changed his name from Sundar Rama Reddy to Sundarayya reflected his deep commitment to do away with caste hierarchies and the associated social oppression. His undisputed leadership of the Telengana armed struggle  demonstrated most emphatically in Indian history that  intensification of the class struggle overcomes all caste divisions.  For  these reasons, I think that it is appropriate that we try to grapple with the current caste assertion in some quarters and its impact on Indian politics.
During the recent years, caste mobilisation has become an important factor  in shaping Indian politics.  Ever since the issue of Mandal Commission reservations in government jobs for the OBCs came to the national agenda in 1989, it has left an impact on the evolution of national politics.  For a Marxist and a Communist, it is not only necessary to assess this growing role of caste  assertion in Indian political life but also to map out the manner in which the unity of the toilers' is strengthened in order to achieve the People's Democratic Revolution. Unless, as PS always used to teach us, we tackle with clarity this important phenomenon, we will not be able to overcome the potentially  disruptive role that caste mobilisation can have on toilers' unity.  It is for these reasons that this issue needs to be address with all seriousness.
At the outset, it is necessary to debunk a common fallacy that attempts to pit caste versus class.   Vested interests often advise Communists that since they believe in class divisions in society, caste ought not to  engage their attention. Such  a mechanical distinction between caste and class is not only a vulgar simplification but divorced from the present day Indian reality.  The caste stratification of our society is something that has come down to us from centuries.  Despite all the refinements and changes within castes and between castes, that have taken place over the years, the basic structure, in so far as the oppression of the dalits or the backward  castes is concerned remains. It is within this social stratification that the class formation in India is taking place.  Capitalism is still developing in India  and  the process of the development of society divided into modern capitalist classes, is taking place constantly within the existing caste stratification. The question therefore, is not one of class versus caste. It is the formation of classes under modern capitalism within the inherited caste structure.  To a large extent, the most exploited classes in our society, constitute the most socially oppressed castes. And, to that extent, the struggle against class exploitation and the struggle against social oppression complement each other. These sections as it were, are subject to dual oppression.  It is this  complementarity that not only needs to be recognised but on the basis of that  recognition, it must follow that an important task before the Communist movement in our country today is the  integration of the struggle against class exploitation  with the struggle against social oppression.  As we shall see later, it is only through such an integration that the firm unity of the toilers can be forged and strengthened in order to  advance towards People's Democracy.
Before we take up the task of trying to understand the nature and characteristics of caste mobilisation in the present day political life, one needs to examine, albeit briefly,  as to why caste divisions  and social oppression continue to persist even after all the tall claims made by the ruling classes through the post-independence decades to overcome them.
There is a vast amount of literature on the evolution and sustenance of the caste system in India.  The large number of such works are only matched by the divergence of its conclusions. I am not here going into the origins of the caste system or its tenacity.  Some scholars have also linked it with a discussion of Marx's Asiatic Mode of production.  Without any disrespect or devaluation of such work, which  I consider is of immense intellectual and political value, it would suffice for our discussion to base ourselves on the fact (agreed upon by most) that the caste system, in Marxist terms, is the superstructure of an economic base which is pre-capitalist. In that sense, any attempt to overthrow this sinful heritage and obnoxious caste oppression will have to target the elimination of the vestiges of pre-capitalist economic formations.  This, in our present case, is the elimination of the vestiges of feudalism and semi-feudalism.
This does not mean, even for a moment, that such elimination, through a comprehensive agrarian revolution, however complex and difficult it may be, will automatically eliminate the caste system and the entire range of social consciousness associated with it.  As Engels in a letter to Block says, that Marx and he had meant that the economic factor is decisive in the final analysis.  Even after the change in the economic base the superstructure and associated social consciousness may persist and would require an intense ideological struggle to eliminate it. But without the attempt to change the pre-capitalist agrarian order, mere appeals for a change of heart or behaviour cannot and will not eliminate this obnoxious social oppression. Our opportunity that was there was to affect a sweeping agrarian revolution alongwith the anti-colonial freedom struggle. But this was not to be due to the compromising character of the leadership.
The main reason for this persistence of social oppression based on  caste stratification is the inadequacy of the ruling classes, during the freedom struggle, in addressing themselves to this issue.  The overcoming of caste differentiation was sought through proper social behaviour between individuals and castes without growing into the social roots of this phenomenon.  The sinful heritage of caste oppression was something that the national anti-colonial struggle  could not repudiate because the leadership of the freedom struggle was not interested in going  to the root of the problem and  uprooting it.  Even it had a correct understanding of the social roots of the problem, it did not have the courage to  seize it by the roots.  By refusing to sweep away the feudal and  semi-feudal agrarian relations, which was  the bedrock for the continuation and persistence of caste exploitation, the leadership of freedom struggle not only permitted but in later years perpetuated the caste exploitation. Thus, the struggle against caste oppression over the decades of freedom movement and post-independence India was divorced from the anti-colonial struggle earlier and from the struggle for an agrarian revolution later.
With the advent of  modernisation under the  British rule, particularly the railways,  many, including Karl Marx, had thought that the old order would  crumble paving the way for a class division of modern  society. However, this did not happen as envisaged. This was so because it was not in the interest of the colonial rule to transform Indian society. Its interests lay in exploiting the Indian people and its economy on the basis of their backwardness.  This required to keep the rural land relations intact, in class terms, modifying them only to advance  the colonial  revenue collections without disturbing the economic or social  relations. The British also required that a powerful indigenous Indian capitalist class does not arise.  The result was an alliance with the feudal landlords for its political survival and the  super imposition of minimum modern capitalist relations on the  existing feudal land relations which sustained the caste system.
Thus, we find under the British rule, a contradictory process was put in motion. The effect of modern relations as Marx had foreseen -- railways, communications, growing market, few industries, trade -- accentuated the tendency towards destroying the old structure and with it the caste system and replacing it with modern day class divisions.  On the other hand, the vital interests of the colonial power lay in seeking political and economic support from the landlords and feudal interests, thus maintaining the old land relations and thereby supporting the caste structure and institutions.
Thus, the process of change of the old  society, under the British rule, was slow and painful and never destined to be completed.
Simultaneously within the  freedom movement itself, there were two main trends that contributed to the persistence of the caste institutions.  One was the revivalist ideology which dominated a number of leaders of the freedom movement. Coming from upper caste Hindu background, these leaders in the struggle against the British drew sustenance from India's so called  past and in  the process they defended the social institutions of this past.  Tilak was, in fact, a classic example of such a tendency. Rajni Palme Dutt in India Today summed up this line of thinking most appropriately by the following:
"So from the existing foul welter and decaying and corrupt metaphysics, from the broken relics of the shattered village system, from the dead remains of court splendours of a vanished civilisation, they sought to fabricate and build up and reconstitute a golden dream of Hindu culture -- a `purified' Hindu culture -- which they could hold up as an ideal and a guiding light.  Against the overwhelming flood of British bourgeois culture and ideology, which they saw completely conquering the Indian bourgeoisie and intelligentsia, they sought to hold forward a feeble shield  of a reconstructed Hindu ideology which had no longer any natural basis for its existence in actual life conditions.  All social and scientific development was condemned by the more extreme devotees of this gospel as the conquerors' culture : every form of antiquated tradition, even abuse, privilege and obscurantism, was treated with respect and veneration."  (page 327)
Similar is the attitude of present day communal forces. Precisely because their ideological roots are based on revivalism and obscurantism, they are opposed to a thorough agrarian revolution.  Even at the level of the superstructure despite mouthing radical slogans, they only strengthen the caste hierarchies of the old Hindu order.
The other tendency which prevented the liquidation of the old order alongwith the freedom struggle was the vacillation of the Congress towards landlords and feudal interests.  At a time when huge mass peasant revolts had started growing against landlords, the Congress in the 1922 Bardoli resolution calling off the national campaign against the British stated: "The Working Committee advises Congress workers and organisations to inform the ryots that withholding of rent payments to zamindar is contrary to the Congress resolutions and injurious to the best interests of the country.  The Working Committee assures the zamindars that the Congress movement is in no way interested to attack their legal rights ....."  Thus, the Congress's efforts to achieve independence was divorced from the agrarian revolution.  In fact, as we shall see later, instead of carrying on a sweeping overthrow of the old feudal order, the Congress compromised with the landlords sharing power with them in post-independent India.
These two tendencies put together prevented any meaningful attack against the social oppression of the caste system associated with the feudal and semi-feudal order existing in the country.  It was only the Communist Party of India which linked the struggle against British imperialism with a comprehensive agrarian revolution. Right from the Platform of Action in 1930 to the memorandum submitted to the National Integration Council by Comrade PS on behalf of the CPI(M) in 1968, the  Communist movement constantly underlined that caste exploitation and social emancipation could be possible only through sweeping changes in agrarian relations.  However, in the absence of a powerful agrarian movement, this task has remained unfulfilled till date.  As a result, given the compromising attitude of the bourgeois leadership, the atrocities and caste oppression continue to persist.
Another current also needs to be properly analysed in order to understand the persistence of the caste stratification till date, ie, the Social Reform Movement.  There have been huge anti-caste movements that have taken place in the country and have wielded significant political influence at  their time.  Amongst the giants that stand out of such movements was  Jyotiba Phule.  Jyotiba was a great secular democrat whose passion for the untouchable and sense of justice was unheard of.  He, personally, had absolutely no caste bias and the movement demanding equal  treatment was named as the satyashodhak -- a movement against untruth, injustice and hypocrisy of the Hindu social order dominated  by the Brahmins.
Ideologically Jyotiba's movement was an uncompromising attack on the ancient and feudal superstructure.  However, this uncompromising attack did not go beyond to attack the basic agrarian relations based on feudal land relations which was the basis on which this superstructure existed.  While this movement contributed immensely to increase consciousness against caste exploitation, it could reach the levels to the elimination of that precisely because it could not mobilise the peasantry for an agrarian revolution.
Similar has been the experience of Ambedkar.  This most outstanding and tireless fighter, who on behalf of the dalits exposed the upper caste hypocrisies, lambasted the Congress and its policies had to finally asked his followers to embrace Buddhism to escape the injustices of Hindu society. But the  grim social reality based on unequal land relations did not change because of conversion to Buddhism.  Unfortunately,  smashing the present socio-economic system as the decisive step for elimination of caste exploitation,  was replaced by formal declarations of equality, reservation of seats, jobs etc. It was once again shown that despite a leader of Ambedkar's structure, despite the strength of the movement, the objective could not be achieved because it failed to target the basic source of this exploitation, ie, feudal and semi-feudal land relations.
Similar also has been the experience of the Dravidian movement led by Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker. Periyar did succeed in creating a great feeling against caste oppression and his voice boomed large against untouchability.  But yet again, viewing this merely at the level of superstructure without attacking the economic base that nurtured such a monstrous iniquitous caste stratification, the movement could not reach its logical culmination.
Thus, we find that the social reform movement, despite the glorious uncompromising role of its leaders could not achieve the stated objective as it either ignored or bypassed the tasks of the agrarian revolution.
Thus, we find at the time of independence, all these currents put together had created a situation where the tasks of the democratic revolution --  chiefly the agrarian revolution -- remained unfulfilled under the bourgeois leadership of the freedom struggle that not only vacillated but compromised with landlordism.
This process gets manifested in a concrete expression in post-independent India.  The Indian bourgeoisie, in its eagerness to capture state power, on the one hand compromised with imperialism and on the other, compromised with landlordism and semi-feudal forces. It shared power with the later in the ruling class alliance. Thus instead of sweeping away the feudal and semi-feudal land relations alongwith the anti-colonial-anti-imperialist struggle, the ruling classes perpetuated these relations, seeking only to modify them for their interests by attempting to superimpose capitalism.  Thus, instead of a sweeping overthrow of the old order from below what happened over these years of independence was the limited superimposition of capitalist relations in agriculture, that too in limited pockets without overthrowing the social relations. This only perpetuated the social consciousness associated with the semi-feudal relations -- caste and communalism.
Further, the system of parliamentary democracy that was adopted was based on an electoral system which tended to reinforce the caste consciousness. Instead of guaranteeing equality, irrespective of caste, the electoral system, itself, nurtured the perpetuation of caste consciousness in terms of choice of candidates and the appeal to the electorate.  The ruling classes have consistently refused to accept the CPI(M)'s suggestion to introduce proportional representation.  Apart from its other advantages, as people would have to vote for parties and not individuals, this would have minimised the appeals based on caste, religion, community etc.
While both these factors tended to reinforce the perpetuation of caste oppression, the Congress leadership continued to mouth concern  over caste oppression and continued to appeal to people to change their way of life and outlook rather than attack the economic basis on which this oppression thrived.  The inability to proceed with even the limited land reform legislations because of the alliance with the landlords prevented in the past and prevents today the Indian bourgeoisie to complete the tasks of the democratic revolution.
This is reinforced by the attitude of the Congress leaders, even those coming from the dalits.  A case in point is the experiences and opinions of Shri Jagjivan Ram in his book Caste Challenge in India.  Unlike many other dalit leaders who stood aloof from the national movement, Shri Jagjivan Ram has a proud distinction of active participation in the freedom struggle, including imprisonment.  With justified passion, he recounts the plight of the dalits and the oppressed castes. Intellectually, he accepts the fact that the struggle against caste oppression can only be successful as an integral part of the struggle of the exploited classes of India.  Despite emphasising this consistently in his book, the final solution he offers is characteristic of a bourgeois leader. He abhors class struggle for the emancipation of the poor and urges the people to  adopt the Gandhian way, ie, the elimination of such oppression with the exercise of the force of morality.  Thus, once again, we find that while understanding the problem correctly, while describing the situation graphically, the modern day leaders of post-independent India also fought shy of mobilising the people for a sweeping agrarian revolution as the basic solution of the problem.
The net result has been not the building up of a movement for the eradication of social oppression that the caste system represents but for palliatives offered to redress to some degree the suffering of these sections through the extension of the British concept of concessions such as reservations in educational institutions and jobs.  These are projected as an end in itself.  This, despite the plethora of statistical information that this has not substantially altered the conditions of a vast majority of the oppressed. In the absence of any meaningful change in agrarian relations, such concessions must be supported.  But no illusions must be entertained that this is the only solution.
In the very nature of things these palliatives will neither solve the problem of poverty and unemployment, nor change the condition of untouchables and other downtrodden castes.  They will certainly offer some relief, to individuals from these communities, enhance their confidence in their advance, but not change their status.  For the ruling classes these concessions play an important role. In the first place in the general competition for jobs etc, they pit one section of toilers against another.  Secondly they create an impression among some sections that government is their real friend and they should confine the struggle within the framework of the bourgeois system.  Thus a basis of challenge to the present socio-economic system from the most downtrodden sections is prevented.
Another phenomenon will also have to be noted which was taking place simultaneously.  A parallel development that was taking place during the days of the freedom struggle and particularly after the independence was the process of emergence of a modern state in India. The vast multinational character of our country, ensured that different sections -- caste, religions, ethnic, regional -- began rightfully demanding equality of status and opportunity in the new independent polity.  But, however, as the economic crisis deepened in the post-independent decades, far from the expectations of these different sections being met the disparities started growing.  This led and continues to lead today for the scramble  amongst these different sections for a share of the cake.  As the size of the cake shrinks this scramble takes the form of conflict between various groups. Hence, the demand for reservations from new sections and the opposition to reservations from other sections becomes a common practice.
It is, in this background of deepening crisis in our country, that one must understand the nature of the present caste assertion.  There are two aspects to this.  On the one hand, as a result of whatever limited development that has taken place since independence and in the background of the deepening crisis, there is a growing consciousness amongst the oppressed castes to rebel against their conditions of social oppression.  This is a positive aspect. Without such a growing consciousness the struggle against oppression and exploitation cannot be carried out decisively.  This is a consciousness that needs to be nurtured and strengthened by the Communists with the effort to integrate this consciousness with the struggles against the present socio-economic system. It is only through such an integration of the struggle against social oppression and the struggle against modern day class exploitation can the struggle for an agrarian revolution be strengthened  and  carried forward to its logical culmination.
There is, however, another aspect to the present day caste assertion.  This is the attempt to try and confine this growing consciousness within the parameters of the concerned caste.  This is resorted to by the leadership of the present day movements whose outlook is no different from the one's we discussed above. While appealing only to the caste consciousness and ignoring, if not evading, the basic issue of the struggle against the existing agrarian order, these leaders once again are appealing for a change in the superstructure without affecting the base.  In doing so, they treat this growing consciousness amongst the dalits and the backward caste as separate compartments, as vote banks, for their political fortunes rather than addressing themselves for a genuine solution of the problem.
The appeal of such caste leaders to their following is not to strengthen the common struggle to change the present socio-economic system.  The appeal is to elect their brethren to power.  Thus spreading the illusion that coming to power within the same system that protects the existing socio-economic order is a solution to their problems.  This may serve the lust for power of the leaders but the living conditions of the mass remain as backward as ever.  This has been the experience of the governments that have come to power in Bihar and UP. Neither of them even  initiated the implementation of existing land reform legislations that the West Bengal Left Front government has done. By exploiting the growing consciousness amongst the socially oppressed, the leadership is thus, perpetuating the very edifice of exploitation of the existing socio-economic system. Instead of  sweeping agrarian changes they seek to preserve the existing order that perpetuates the caste system and its oppression.
The net result of this is that this dual nature of the present caste assertion presents itself in a manner as though, there is a duality of social consciousness amongst the oppressed.  The Communist movement itself has experienced instances of how the oppressed sections are willing to brave the worst police oppression  in their economic struggles under the red flag, but when it comes to electoral preferences and voting, they appear to be guided by their social kinship and caste affinity. It is this apparent duality of social consciousness that the vested interests of the caste leadership seek to preserve.  They do so for electoral benefit.
But in the process, they seek to divorce the struggle, against social oppression from the struggle against modern day class exploitation. Thus, instead of strengthening the unity of the toilers against the present socio-economic system, they tend to separate the two struggles thereby weakening this unity.
It is the task of the Communists today in the present situation to integrate these struggles against social oppression with class exploitation in one, overall wider class struggle to change the existing socio-economic system and unleash the agrarian revolution.  This is a challenge of our times.  The red flag should be as active in mobilising the people in the struggles against the new economic policies, against communalism, as in mobilising the oppressed in the struggles against social oppression.
It is precisely because the Communists seek and strive for such an integration that various caste leaders  pour venomous attacks against us.  For when such an integration takes place, there is no room for sordid political bargaining and manoeuvring, that is done by the leaders in the name of the exploited castes (Eg: UP today).  Hence, Shri Kanshi Ram's preposterous attacks against the Communists particularly the CPI(M).
Therefore, while supporting reservations for the dalits and the backward castes, the Communist movement unhesitatingly always emphasises that this is not the final solution.  Enough statistics can be adduced to show that despite  reservations, the plight of these sections have not substantially improved.
While all caste leaders mouth the  necessity of radical economic reforms to improve the lot of the oppressed, it is by now clear that unless the struggle for a sweeping agrarian revolution takes place, no meaningful emancipation of these sections who continue to pay for the sins of the past, cannot be achieved.
Thus, paying homage to Comrade PS today means to carry forward the struggle that he initiated and undertook in his time in modern day conditions. He did so through practice in the Telengana armed struggle when the dalit agricultural labour fought alongside the caste peasant.  The source of inspiration that this continues to be today must motivate all of us to  unleash a powerful agrarian movement for the sweeping away of the semi-feudal land relations. This is the only manner in which social oppression and economic exploitation can be overcome leading to the liberation of the millions of the oppressed and exploited brothers and sisters of ours.

BC Reservations

Article in People's Democracy dated September 9, 1990

 Reservations For OBCs
 Protect Unity With Social Justice

Prakash Karat
A decade after its submission, a part of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission report has been implemented by the announcement of 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Classes in jobs in Central Services and public sector undertakings.  While there were periodic agitations for and against implementation of the Mandal report after 1981, now the decision of the National Front Government has sparked off widespread student protests against it in different States. They have the backing of a considerable section of the intelligentsia and practically the entire media controlled by big business.   

The vociferous protest against reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the growing unease about reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes reflects the sharp conflicts which are erupting in Indian society over the distribution of a limited number of Government jobs and educational resources.  It should be noted that the vocal opposition to the reservations for OBCs goes hand in hand with a more disguised resentment against reservation for the scheduled castes and tribes. One has only to recall to the Gujarat anti-reservation movement of 1981 and the recent December, 1989 U.P. agitation against the Parliament extending the reservation of seats in legislatures for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes for another ten years.  
The movement against reservations in the present Indian context is definitely retrograde and objectively serves the interests of those who seek to preserve the dominance of the upper castes.  The plea against reservations is advanced on the basis of equality of opportunity and merit. In an unequal society like India, where scheduled castes, tribes and shudras (the bulk of whom are the OBCs) have been discriminated against in choice of occupation, social mobility and control over the means of production, all talk of equality, without taking into account this reality, reduces equality to the concept of formal equality.
As for merit, it is perfectly possible  in India to discriminate in recruitment and promotions,  on the basis of caste prejudices or preferences, militating against merit.  Further, merit, as the Mandal Commission and a host of other commissions and Supreme Court judgements have pointed out, must be seen in the context of achieving  real equality of opportunities, social environment and compensatory discrimination to ensure social justice.

The CPI(M) has viewed reservations for  scheduled castes and scheduled tribes as the minimum relief extended by the Indian State to those sections of society who have historically and socially suffered the worst oppression over the centuries.  While supporting this reservation (totalling 22.5 per cent at the Centre and varying in States according to the proportion of population of SCs and STs), the CPI(M) has also held that this is limited concession which does not tackle the roots of the problem necessary for their social and economic emancipation.  The history of four decades of reservations for SCs and STs amply confirms this fact. Only a thin stratum (not more than five to ten per cent) of the SC population has benefitted from the reservations.  Even in education, they are unable to fully utilise the quotas allotted to them.
The untouchables are still not "touchable" despite the four decades of constitutional sanction against this evil practice.  They are subject to lynchings, rape of women and arson when they seek to stand up for their rights.  Altogether 28,736 cases of atrocities against scheduled castes were reported in 1987 and 1988.
The reason for this is the lack of change in the material conditions of the vast mass of the scheduled castes people living in the rural areas. Land, the main means of production, is outside their control.  The failure of the Indian bourgeoisie  to complete the democratic tasks of the first stage of our revolution due to their compromise with landlordism, has led to the landless scheduled castes and tribals remaining not only at the bottom of the social ladder but also at the bottom of the economic ladder.  That is why the CPI(M), while firmly supporting reservations in jobs and education for the SCs and STs as offering some openings, consistently demands radical land reforms and building  of the unity of agricultural labourers and poor peasants of all sections to provide the basis for a powerful agrarian movement to achieve the same.  
The Mandal Commission report itself recognises this basic truth and notes: "unless these production relations are radically altered through structural changes and progressive land reforms implemented rigorously all over the country, OBCs will never become truly independent. In view of this, highest priority should be given to radical land reforms by all the States.

Reservation for the OBCs has existed in many States for a long time. In the four southern States there has been some form of reservations from the pre-independence period.  The other States where reservations exist in varying degrees are: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar, U.P., Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. In West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and most of the north-eastern States, such reservations do not exist  due to the nature of the historical evolution of the caste pattern, and in West Bengal due to the major socio-economic changes which were brought about through prolonged struggles.
It is a fact that the bulk of those who are categorised as OBCs in the States belong to the rural poor.  They are sharecroppers, small tenants or poor peasants with small holdings.  Further, in the rural areas the OBCs are in occupations which are still based on the traditional caste hierarchy such as dhobis, barbers, cattlerearers and artisans.  Their lowly caste status prevents their entry into education and new occupations.  These are the facts confirmed by detailed  studies conducted by the Havanur  Commission in Karnataka (1975); the Backward Classes Commission in Tamil Nadu (1971); the Backward Classes Reservation Commission in Kerala (1971); the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission in Gujarat (1976) and the Backward Classes Commission in Andhra Pradesh (1970); that within OBCs there are many sub-castes which are educationally and economically backward judged by a number of socio-economic indicators.

Therefore, where the caste status contributes to the backwardness of communities under the OBC category, and where anti-caste movements have not been able to cut across caste barriers and build powerful class-based mass organisations, there is a justification for providing reservations to such communities.  This is the basis on which the CPI(M) supported the implementation of the Mandal Commission report since 1981-82 and earlier in States where due to prolonged movements the OBCs were accorded reservations.

The CPI(M) has, however, qualified this support on two counts.  Firstly, it has argued for an economic criterion within the reservation for OBCs.  This is a demand distinct from the blanket reservation for the SCs and STs for whom no economic criterion is necessary. Four decades of socio-economic  developments and growth of capitalism have led to class differentiation within the caste structure. In the case of OBCs, it is well known that there are a few castes in different States which contain influential strata who own land and other means of production.  They are well represented in the political power structure also.  The complexity of the OBC problem lies, thus, in the fact that within some communities of the OBCs there is a great economic (inter-caste) differentiation and also there is inter-caste differentiation, i.e., compared to a few better-off communities there are a number of more backward communities.
In order to see that the landless as compared to the richer landed, the poor as compared to the affluent, the more backward as distinct  from the strata of the developed -- i.e. the majority of the poor and deprived of these communities -- benefit from reservation, the CPI(M) wants an economic criterion.  This criterion need not necessarily be just an income ceiling, but can be a package in which income tax assessments, extent of landholding, professional status of parents, etc., can be taken into consideration.
The concept of an economic criterion is not a new proposal.  As early as 1958, the Administrative Reforms Committee  in Kerala headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad, Chief Minister, suggested such a criterion for backward classes reservation.  The Nettoor Damodaran Commission report  of 1971 also made a similar suggestion.  The Justice Chinnappa Reddy Commission report, the most recent in Karnataka, has recommended that from the OBC reservations those whose parents are income tax or sales tax assesses, hold land upto eight acres or are Class I officers can be excluded. In Kerala reservation in admissions to medical colleges is governed by an income criterion. Only those whose parents draw less than Rs, 20,000 per year are entitled to benefit from OBC reservation. In some other States like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, there are two or three categories of backward classes, with the more  backward either getting more fee concessions and other facilities or getting a greater quantum of reservations.  The difficulty is that wherever OBC reservations already exist, the introduction of an economic criterion meets with strong resistance. Only when a broad consensus is reached can it be implemented. In Kerala, it has not been implemented so far as there is no such agreement.  In the case of Bihar, when OBC reservations were being introduced for the first time in 1978, it was possible, after a destructive anti-reservation movement, to arrive at a formula which has been working since then.  The 26 per cent reservation consists of 12 per cent of the most backward category listed in Annexure 1; eight per cent for other backward classes listed in Annexure II with an income ceiling of Rs 12,000 per annum; three per cent for women and three per cent for the poor of the forward castes. The National Front Government at the Centre should consider the Bihar  Experience which brought about some stability in the tense caste situation. In this connection, the proposal of the Prime Minister  for additional reservation of five  to ten per cent for those economically backward can be accepted provided that this is allotted to those who do not fall within the reserved categories.  This may help in alleviating  the fears of those economically deprived amongst the forward castes.

There is a second qualification with respect to OBC reservations.  While the CPI(M) has been supporting  the demand for the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, it has also been asking for a consensus to be  evolved  on the sensitive question. Only by taking care to see that substantial sections are convinced on the justification and reasonableness of the scope of reservations can be divisive anti-reservation movement be avoided or limited.  That is why the Party criticised the sudden announcement without proper consultations.  That an all-party meeting has now been proposed to held on September 3, shows how such an exercise earlier could have been helpful.
Anyway, after the rich and varied experience of OBC reservations in the States, it is clear that there has to be periodic reviews of the status of those on the reserved lists and for identification of those who continue to remain backward.  Here a good example is the Chinnappa Reddy Commission (the third in Karnataka in the space  of 15 years( which has further defined the identification of backward status apart from keeping in mind the caste factor and computing  other criteria along with it such as access to education, economic status, occupation and employment pattern.
But reservations for the OBCs have come to stay. Unlike the superficial portrayal which depicts V.P. Singh as the villain who has suddenly opened the Pandora's box of reservation for the OBCs, the social and political implications of the aspirations of those downtrodden in Indian society, has been with us before independence and during the past four decades.  These facts of history are deliberately suppressed by the likes of Arun Shourie who have railed against reservations.  He is only being consistent in his Hindu upper-casteist outlook.  Advocating the "shifting" of Babri Masjid from its site in Ayodhya and pouring scorn over the aspirations of the lower castes, are both of one piece.
An aspect of the prolonged  struggle against upper-caste domination was the non-Brahmin movements in the south and in  Maharashtra for well over a century. In the north, the anti-caste  social reform movements had a belated start. Bihar saw this phenomenon earlier than in other  north-Indian States. In the pre-independence period, these anti-caste movements spearheaded the fight against the upper caste domination.  Their main weakness lay in their alienation from the anti-imperialist movement a feature due  also to the approach of the Congress party. It sought to fight caste-domination not by advocating a thorough-going agrarian revolution which could have altered the  relations of production in agriculture, but by an upper-caste approach of reformism which was exemplified by Gandhism, both  before and after independence, with its reliance  on preaching  against untouchability by inter-caste dining, inter-caste marriages, and of course reservations.

The Marxist analysis of contemporary reality holds that the anti-caste movement, if it is to be successful in eliminating caste domination, requires linking the anti-caste movements with the movement for agrarian revolution, for building the unity of the working people, and advancing the democratic movement.  Where this task remain unaccomplished, or where this impulse is weak, the consciousness of the oppressed mass within the lower caste considers reservations as the only safeguard for their advancement.  The working class party, therefore, while supporting reservations, seeks to strengthen its links with the rural mass which will be a main force of the agrarian revolution.  At the same time, it also considers the building of unity of the toiling people of all castes to be the crucial question.
Unfortunately, some sections of the intelligentsia with democratic inclinations are opposing reservations for the OBCs on the plea that it perpetuates casteism and fragments society.  This is to  ignore the fact that it is the casteism of the upper-castes attendant with the monopoly of the means of production, which has perpetuated backwardness. If with capitalist development, class and caste alignments are getting redefined and divergent, the end to casteism and building class-based movements requires a dual approach.
The CPI(M) recognises that a big section of the working people come from castes and communities who, though not belonging to the SCs or OBCs, are economically exploited and suffer from social deprivation.  They constitute an important and advanced section of the democratic movement.  The modern working class and the organised movement of the working people can advance only the basis of the unity of both sections of the working people -- the advanced sections of the urban working people and rural mass who suffer from both caste and economic oppression.
Those who advocate reservations without any restrain and recklessly compete to hike up quotas for the backward classes and scheduled castes are not mindful of the vital need for unity.  Their stand mirrors the approach of those upper caste sections who seek to oppose any increase in reservations as a threat to their interests. Both the pro-reservationist and the anti-reservationist leaders work within the bourgeois mould and foster the illusion that the distribution of the limited number of jobs at stake is a life and death question for the advancement of their communities.  Both these approaches  have to be countered and the working people of both sections mobilised on a common platform. let it be emphasised that reservations alone cannot solve any of the basic problems  facing the socially and economically oppressed.
The CPI(M) attitude to OBC reservation stems from its class standpoint. It seeks the unity of the toiling people, of all castes, both urban and rural, against the main exploiters who perpetuate a social system which is retrogressive.  This unity is necessary to fight monopoly capital and concentration of wealth which should unite both the forwards and backwards who comprise the working class. It is necessary to fight landlordism, for which the entire rural poor has to be mobilised breaking caste oppression and divisions.  The democratic sections amongst the toilers not covered by reservations, both working class and peasantry, have to accept the necessity for reservations, so that overall unity can be cemented.
Unlike the past, the CPI(M) cannot see the anti-caste struggles as only a sphere for social reform.  The Left has to channelise this anti-feudal current into its agrarian movement.  The Thirteenth Congress of the CPI(M), in its Political Resolution, addressed itself to the situation of the masses belonging to these downtrodden castes and state:
"Large sections from these masses often stand alienated from the democratic and working class movement, and are swayed by sectional leadership which diverts their discontent and anger into narrow channels.  The period since our last Congress has witnessed a new militant awakening among these sections -- the adivasis, harijans and backward classes. It is  necessary to make all efforts to draw this new awakening  to the common struggle developing a correct attitude and tactics towards their organisation".
The resolution proceeds to point out that the successive Congress Governments have attempted to rally these sections, tempting  them with the promise of reservation of jobs in Government service.  "This was also a device to bypass the question of land reforms and redistribution of land".  Since reservations cater only to a  small minority amongst them, "the growing misery of the uneducated mass is bursting forth in militant  protest and  action.  These protests against social discrimination, caste tyranny, police repression, are at present carried out under the leadership of their caste leaders.  They represent the anti-feudal, anti-landlord discontent of these agrarian masses."
The resolution exhorts: "The Party, the democratic movement and class organisations should led support to their struggle against caste tyranny and repression, and enable them and their organisations to join the common struggle."  This applies to the SC and ST, toiling sections as well to the oppressed in the OBCs.
The RSS has come out openly against the declared reservations for the OBCs.  Denouncing V.P. Singh, the Organiser stated: "He wants to undo the great task of uniting Hindu society from the days of Vivekananda, Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Hedgewar."  The RSS view, not surprisingly, is governed by its Hindu chauvinist upper-caste bias.  Notwithstanding the official position of the BJP leadership, that reservation should be there with an economic criterion, its ranks are active in the student agitation. One of its M.P.s, Dr. J.K. Jain, went on a hunger strike against the announcement.
Both the BJP and Congress(I) activists are actively competing to lead the anti-reservation agitation.  Their representatives in the executive of the Delhi University Teachers Association have ganged up to try and pass a resolution condemning the implementation  of the OBC reservations.  From these activities it seems that for  these parties, (unlike the CPI(M), the demand for an economic criterion is not meant to improve the scheme of reservations, it is a ploy to try and scuttle its implementation.
One has to condemn the manoeuvrings of bourgeois political leaders who seek to make reservation a device for consolidating their influence and thereby fan caste divisions and divide the people.  This is a cynical manipulation of the aspirations of the most oppressed sections in the downtrodden castes.  At the same time, the advanced democratic movement, the fighting organisations of the different sections of the people have a heavy responsibility before them:
1.  To oppose movements against reservations.  
2.  At the same time, explain to the democratic sections not entitled to reservations, the necessity to accept this limited concession to those deprived of the capacity for equal competition due to historical-social conditions.
3.  Counter caste-exclusive movements which stress only reservations and seek to keep the SC or reserved categories of employees and workers away from the common movement.  This requires championing their special demands and problems.
All efforts must be made to see that people do not get divided on the reservation question.  For this, it is essential that the struggle to change the present direction of policies is stepped up.  The National Front Government has promised the right to work in the Constitution; it is yet to be implemented.  The struggle to expand employment and ensure the right to work can be the basis of the broadest unity encompassing the crores of the unemployed. In the sphere  of land reforms, the fight to distribute land already identified  as surplus (63 million acres) but not taken over the distributed by the Government (58.5 million acres), provides the basis for uniting the rural poor.  The right to education and expansion of education facilities to make them accessible to all is vital in view of the continuing trend to restrict higher education and neglect the primary school sector. If increased reservations in educational institutions are there, it must go hand in hand with compensatory increases in seats in higher education, so that no one deserving is deprived of higher education.
The National Front Government has been unable to make a radical break with the old economic policies of the Congress. It has no plan to revive the over two lakh sick units which are closed in the industrial sector; its industrial policy pronouncements with a bias to foreign capital and privatisation will restrict the scope of employment. It has not withdrawn the ban on recruitment in Government services and public sector  undertakings.  Many State Governments do not want to proceed of land reforms on the specious plea that its implementation is completed.  All these policies have to be reversed, and this requires the broadest unity of all sections of the people.
The stand taken by the CPI(M) Politbureau and Central Committee on the OBC reservations, in practice, is the way the unity of the people, the toiling sections can be maintained and strengthened to see that the main struggle against the bourgeois-landlord system further advances.

Karnataka:CPI(M) intensifies the Dalit Struggle

Thu, 2010-07-22 00:09 | Janashakti Report
An expanded translation of a Janashakti report on the Dalit agitations lead by CPI(M) in Karnataka.
Anguished and devastated, a huge number of the exploited people from the Dalit Community from different parts of Karnataka gathered in Bengaluru. They raised their voice against the malpractices in the name of casteism. They also voiced their opinions asking for their right for adequate food. Last June, Thousands of people from dalit community led by CPI(M) conducted a dharna infront of Chief Minister's house demanding the government to fulfill their basic demands.
It is a matter of great concern that no perceptible change in the living conditions of the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who constitute a considerably big section of our society, could be achieved, even after six decades of Independence. Several studies have shown that the Constitutional provisions of reservations in employment and education have not properly reached them yet. Even the figures given by the Karnataka Human Development Report, 2005 corroborate this. The atrocities and social boycotts inflicted on Dalits by caste-Hindus in the State, almost on daily basis, highlight their weaker status, helplessness and Govt.'s apathy. The increasing number incidents of dishonouring statues of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar occurring in various parts of the State, only further prove this fact.

The downtrodden in Karnataka form about 26.5 % of the population, and without improving their conditions, there can be no meaningful development of Karnataka. From centuries, this community has been exploited incessantly, and without empowering them economically, socially and educationally, it makes little or no sense when we boast about the development India is undergoing.
Since the BJP governance has begun in Karnataka, there has been increasing oppression of the Dalits by the upper castes of the society. BJP government has acquired an image of being pro-upper castes, and this has turned to be the magic wand for the Upper castes to continue with their oppression against the Dalits.
The property-less people
These people, who were denied of properties under the Varnashrama system, are still dependent on upper caste landlords. Economically, these communities are worse-off. On several occasions, the forces of lanlordism extract unpaid labour from them. The lands got by Dalit beneficiaries under Land Reforms are still in the possession of the landlords. Lakhs of Dalit families have been pushed out of their lands due to loopholes in the Land Reforms Act, and reduced to the status of agricultural labourers. Bulk of this section has to depend on the low-income agricultural sector. To this day, the Upper caste land owners get these people to do menial jobs, without paying them any wages. About 75 % of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe from the rural population are still surviving on daily wage labour. Their average income per day has not increased beyond Rs.25. Daily wage labour opportunities have reduced to only 70 days per year.

The annual income of a typical Dalit family has not increased beyond Rs.4000. As a consequence, child labour, and the unfortunate Devadaasi system have perpetuated.
Literacy rate has not been able to reach 50%. The proportion of children remaining out of primary schools is 5%, while that of high schools is 18%. They are unable to purchase healthcare. Undernourishment is so grim that 70% of infants die at that stage itself, and of the remaining. 38% die before reaching the age of 5 years. About 30 % of the pregnant Dalit women do not get adequate care during pregnancy. About 80% of the Dalits do not own a house to live in. Even now, 30% have to live under kerosene light. There are no cemeteries with adequate space for burial of the dead.                                                                                                                       
Devadasi : Remnants of feudal system
The Devadasi Abolition Act of Bombay State and a similar Act of Madras Government are in force in the Bombay Karnataka Area and in Bellary District respectively. But the Devadasi System is still in force in some parts of Karnataka and the women who are inducted to this system are in a pitiable condition and end up in prostitution for a living. The women are all devadasis, literally slaves of the goddess. As children their parents gave them to serve Yellama - the goddess of fertility. Her cult is thousands of years old, her followers spread across southern India. At the temple to Yellama in Saundatti women dance and praise the goddess. The practice of dedicating young girls as devadasis has been outlawed for over 50 years, but still it happens. Being devadasis means they are slaves of the goddess. When girls dedicated to Yellama reach puberty they are forced to sacrifice their virginity to an older man. What follows is a life of sexual slavery, they become sanctified prostitutes.

With such a reality infront of us, the liberalization policies being followed by the Government and the recurring droughts have further worsened the situation. The portion of funds allocated for the Dalits from the state budget is not in proportion with their population, it is minuscule. But, the funds allocated to other departments of the Government are either never used or misused, the latter being the case, most of the times. Under circumstances such as these, CPI(M) had organized protests in front of the Chief Minister's residence in Bengaluru, pressurizing the fulfillment of these demands.
Sugar that can't be savored
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member K.Varadarajan, who participated in the protest, during his speech said that even after more than 60 years of Independence the existence of practices like untouchability, emanating from casteism is a matter of shame and disgrace. Instances of social segregation and abolishment occur even today as we speak. He expressed his discontent by saying that the existence of laws against untouchability is just like sugar on paper, which cannot be savored. The social,economic and political conditions of the Dalits are worrisome, he said. Land is being snatched away from them as a common occurrence. He also added that daily wage workers are migrating into cities aspiring for better wages.
Types of Untouchability
He said that Untouchability had become a common occurrence, observable  ubiquitously. According to a survey conducted, in Andhra Pradesh there are 148 different practices pertaining to Untouchability, likewise 92 in Tamil Nadu. In this regard, CPI(M) has been consolidating numerous protests. He said that apart from pursuing struggles on the economic front, CPI(M) was also active in the social front, trying to tackle issues of prime concern. Casteism was being maneuvered by religion and an urgent need had arisen to fight against blind religious beliefs. He reached out to everyone saying that, each had a role to play in annihilating this inhumane peril called casteism. In this regard, he said, CPI(M) had taken up numerous struggles all across India.
Inhumane exploitation
The campaign leader for the day, Maruti Manpade, CPI(M) State Leader directly blamed BJP for all the increasing atrocities against the Dalits. Caste instigated crime, social segregation, have been increasing profusely all across the state and the Government was giving no heed to address this issue, he said. In the Siddhaganga and the Pejawar Mutts in Karnataka, the devotees are discriminated into two different streams for the food served, and none of the Mutt Leaders have taken a stand against this double standard. He also said that the government was being negligent with respect to the Devdaasi women. These women are in a pitiful state, surviving by begging. In Bagalkote district alone there about 50,000 orphans, born to the Devadaasis. But the Government was being inhumane and ignoring them, was his accusation. There is a State committee for Dalit rights headed by the Chief Minister, but has failed to meet even once. Not even 30% of the allocated special funds has been spent on them. He accused Yediyurappa to have nullified all the constitutional provisions for the Dalits.

CPI(M) leader, P.Neela, said that, Dalits instead of asking for their rights need to snatch it back. Being comical she said that, Karnataka was built by Dalits, and not by the ones who drink milk, eat curds and ring bells. She complained about the lack of facilities to mill workers and farming wage labourers by the state Government. And by this she concluded that BJP has proven it's anti-Dalit nature.
Former parliamentarian and CPI(M) State Secretary, G.V.Sriraamareddy said that, the Communists in India have been fighting for the cause of Dalits even before Independence, and History is the witness for it. The campaign for Dalits, land for sowers, were started by the CPI(M). The Communist Governments in West Bengal, Kerala, and Tripura have successfully implemented stringent laws against casteism and have been able to provide land to the people from backward classes. He also added that, just by making a Dalit minister, the Dalits cannot be redeemed. Be it Mr. Kharge who has been a minister for three decades, or the Chief Minister Mayawati cannot solve the problems Dalits are facing. The session was presided over by State Secretary, Com.V.J.K.Nair. Social Welfare Minister D.Sudhakar, accepted the pleas and committed to discuss with the Chief Minister. The session was also presided over by State committee members, Com. Nityanandhaswami and G.C.Bayya Reddy.
Following demands were submitted to Minister of Social Welfare, D. Sudhakar and the government was demanded to initiate a discussion on these demands, take suitable action for arranging a joint meeting of representatives of our Party and concerned Ministers/ senior officials:
1. The State Budget should provide for 23.65% of its outlay for the SC/ST population, in proportion to their population in the State. And STs should be provided reservation of 7% as provided by the Central Govt., instead of the current provision of 3%.
2. The un-utilisation of outlays during the prescribed period provided for various Departments under the Govt. should be considered as 'dereliction of duty'. Those misusing funds provided for Dalits should be proceeded against under Atrocities Act.
3.  All the laws against atrocities on Dalits, untouchability and caste discrimination should be strictly implemented. The complaints should be addressed to speedily and the culprits punished. Witnesses should be provided with protection and financial assistance. The crimes like boycott and blackmail should be added to the purview of Prevention of Atrocities on SCs and STs Act, 1989.
4. Complete economic rehabilitation should be immediately provided to the Dalit victims of atrocities. To prevent delays in provision of justice, Special Courts should be provided with Judges and Public Prosecutors. SC/ST Commission should be strengthened with appointments of Judges and Social Scientists.
5. Re-investigation of the burning alive of Dalits of Kambalapally in Chinthamani district should be ordered. Rigorous punishment should be handed out to the culprits and maximum relief should be provided to the victims. Lands should be allotted to the Dalit villagers of Chitta, Kadakola, and Marakambi. Similarly, the victimised Dalit families in Danapur, Gabbur, Hunasawadi, Halakere, Lakkasandra and Lakshmisagar should be provided with relief.
6. Refusal of temple entry, two tumblers system in the hotels, refusal of entry into public lakes, wells and taps and also hair-cutting saloons, forced unpaid labour and such other practices of untouchability should be strictly halted. And continuous campaigns of enlightening people on these practices should be carried out. The system of separate provision for meals based on castes in vogue in Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt and in other Mutts should be banned.
7. Reservation facility in Private Sector should be immediately implemented. All backlog posts should be filled up. Discrimination in promotion to Dalit employees, delaying or avoiding promotions and such other misdeeds should be stopped. Sewerage workers and sweepers should be released from contract labour and regularized as permanent employees. The systems of child-labour and bonded labour should be eliminated and rehabilitation should be provided to them.
8. Hostels for Dalit students at hobli, taluk and district levels should be opened in adequate numbers. All Dalit students applying for hostels should get admission. Buildings and other infrastructural facilities should be provided for all Dalit Hostels. The monthly food stipend for students in Dalit Hostels should be increased from Rs.1000 to Rs.2000. Scholarships for Dalit students should be increased to the maximum extent. Priority should be given for education of children of Devadasi women.
9. The opportunities for self-employment of Dalit youth should be increased. The Loan facilities with lower interest and 50% subsidy should be increased. One-time writing-off of loans obtained from SC/ST Corporation. Minimum individual loan of Rs. 4 lakhs for SHGs of Dalit women. Restraints on political influences and corruption in the selection of Dalit beneficieries.
10.Universalisation of Public Distribution System and all Dalit households should be enabled to get the benefit without any condition. The minimum daily wage of agricultural labour should be increased to Rs,200.
11.Housing facility for Dalit families should be provided. Comprehensive Land Reforms should be carried out and minimum 2 acres should be distributed to landless Dalit households.
12.Steps to be taken for implementation of Tribal & Other Traditional Forest Dwellers( Forest Rights) Act, 2006 in the State. One more opportunity for applying for regularization should be given to those cultivating Govt. lands. The applications submitted earlier and not settled yet, should be speedily settled and rejected applications should be reconsidered.
13.The fresh enumeration list of Devadasi women should be accepted and all Devadasi women should be provided with pension and rehabilitation. The Govt. should provide incentive of Rs. 1 lakh for inter-caste and Devadasi remarriage programmes.
14.Dalit households should be enabled to get continuous work by be proper implementation of the NREGA. The Scheme should be extended to urban areas. Daily wage should be enhanced to Rs. 200.
15.Allottment of preparation of the mid-day meal to private agencies should be withdrawn and rural dalit, backward women should be enabled to get employment. They should be given decent wages.
16. The legislation banning beef should be withdrawn and the food right of the Dalits should be restored.

Kerala - Pathanamthitta

'Class-caste struggle at Chengara'
Staff Reporter
Arundhati Roy says CPI(M) game plan is to defeat the struggle

PATHANAMTHITTA: The nine-month-old agitation for land launched by the Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi (SJVSV) at Chengara, near here, should not be treated as a mere land struggle, said writer and social activist Arundhati Roy.
The agitation at Chengara was also a class and caste struggle, she said adding that the caste factor could not be simply sidelined in the typical Indian situation.
Ms. Roy, along with Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer, was talking to reporters during her visit to Chengara on Sunday.
Flays CPI(M)
Ms. Roy said her involvement and expression of solidarity with the Chengara agitation was as a writer and not a human rights activist. She said allegations of external forces' involvement in the Chengara agitation could be viewed as part of a game plan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to defeat the land struggle. The CPI(M) had adopted a similar strategy in Nandigram too, she added. Mr. Bhushan also expressed solidarity with the agitation for land by the landless poor at Chengara.
Laha Gopalan, SJVSV president, and Chengara Solidarity Forum leaders Sreeraman Koyyon, Selina and A.K. Ramakrishnan were also present.
Second visit
This is the second visit of Ms. Roy to Chengara since the SJVSV workers began their agitation in the rubber estates of Harissons Malayalam Ltd. in August last.


One: A New World
Changes in the socio-economic and political sectors in Kerala during the initial decades of 20th century created conditions congenial for the growth of Communist Party.

New strains of thought developed as capitalist transformation laid the foundation for the commencement of social reform movements in various sections of society. At the all India level Vivekananda and others put forward such thoughts. Against this background social reform movements started by Sree Narayana Guru, Ayyankali and others in southern parts of Kerala and by Vagbhatananda and others in northern parts got developed into movements against superstition and bad customs. These evoked a big stirring among the people. An attitude against untouchability and casteism and interest in acquiring modern education were evident among all sections. Pressures for the same started developing in the society. Extension of English education initiated by Christian Missionaries in 1906 and later carried forward by government, rebellion for wearing a cloth to cover upper parts of body, installing an idol at Aruvippuram in 1888, Malayali Memorial in 1891, establishment of SNDP Yogam in 1903, activites, struggles etc. all these became factors helpful to accelerate changes in Kerala society during a short span of time. Movements for liberation from the colonial rule of British imperialism and struggles launched by these movements grew along with them.

It was during this period when social renaissance movements and independence movement were growing that ideas about socialism and Soviet Revolution reached Kerala. Such ideas got propagated in Kerala through the works of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, Sahodaran Ayyappan, P. Kesavadev and others.
Two: Changing Horizon

During this period against the background of sufferings inflicted by landlordism and imperialism struggles and organizations of peasants and workers against them started emerging slowly. The practice of collective bargaining by working people also started. The peasant rebellion known as Malabar Rebellion of 1921 and consequent political changes highly influenced the independence movement of Kerala.

A number of Kerala youth were jailed during this period for participating in 'violation of law' movement as part of independence movement. At this time Kiran Chandra Das brother of Jithendra Das, Kamal Nath Thivari, Sen Gupta, T.N. Chandravarthi and Sarath Chandra Acharya were in Kannur jail and Jayadev Kapur in Vellore jail. Malayalee youngsters got an opportunity at that time to get acquainted with them and establish a link with them. Contact and discussions with them and reading books given by them gave these youngsters a new light. That shook their thoughts. They came to know of many new aspects of political work. This gave a new sense of direction to them. E.M.S writes about it in the following manner:

"It will not be a big exaggeration to say that seeds of left, Congress and Congress Socialist movements were sown at Kannur jail and that too by Thivari.''
Three: Awakening People

It was youth dissatisfied by the Congress policy which was afraid of people's advance who were attracted to the socialist idea. At that time there was an atmosphere in Kerala which gave strength to such thoughts.

People were suffering a lot due to persecution by landlords. Against this resistance and organizations were cropping up here and there. In 1935 July a meeting of peasants were held in the Bharatheeya building in Naniyoor in Kolachery Amsom of old Chirakkal Taluk. Kolachery Karshaka Sangham was formed with Vishnu Bharatheeyan as President and K.A. Keraleeyan as Secretary. By September 1935, Karivelloor Karshaka Sangham was formed which represented round Karivelloor, Velloor, Peralam and Kotakkad. With the formation of All India Kisan Sabha in 1936 a new front of struggle was opened in agrarian sector. The Hunger March led by AKG in 1936 July raising the demands of peasants imparted a new vigour to this sector. Following this a number of Karshaka Sangham were formed in Malabar. In 1936 November the first Karshaka Conference of Chirakkal Taluk was held at Parassinikkadavu. In 1937 All Malabar conference of Karshaka Sangham was held in Kozhikode. This awakening among peasants prepared the ground for the advent of a new political movement.

During this period trade unions also started to be formed and strengthened. Global economic crisis of 1929 started creating serious consequences in Indian economy as well. First Travancore Labour Association came into being. Such organizations later became militant TUs. Strikes were organized in Kozhikkode, Kannur, Pappinisseri, Thalassery and other centres which further strengthed TUs. In 1935 May the first Kerala Workers' conference was held at Kozhikode. This initiative to bring up working class as an independent class force prepared the ground for propagating Communist ideas. During this period coir workers in Travancore got organized and achieved strength. In Kochi organizations like Cochin Sterling Workers' Union were being formed. Labour brotherhood and TUs of Alagappa Textiles and Sitaram Mills were formed. In 1937 second All Kerala Workers' Conference was held at Thrissur. This organizational consciousness developed among workers prepared the ground for a new politics.

By the beginning of 1930s some other useful developments were taking place. Important among them was Nivarthana Agitation in Travancore. That was the demand of people suppressed so far as untouchables and weaker sections for participation in government. This brought to the forefront struggles like proportional representation in government and reservation of jobs. This imparted a new enthusiasm among oppressed masses.
Four: Congress Socialist Party

At this juncture those who got motivated by Soviet Revolution formed Congress Socialist Party. They got enthused by organizations of peasants and workers, their party and their rule in Soviet Union. But they did not know any thing about the fundamentals of socialism or Marxism. E.M.S has assessed the prevailing situation as follows:
"Our understanding about socialist idea was incomplete and hazy. But we tried to spread what we new among the people using the propaganda machinery then available. No substantial knowledge was there about basic tenets of socialism. But we new that Soviet Union was a living symbol of all that. For it was a time that a big and all pervading economic crisis was raging in the capitalist world. At the same time Soviet Union was successfully implementing its first five year plan. Their economic progress was taking place at a pace not achieved by any other country so far. Is there anything more needed to have a good impression of socialism and the bad impression of capitalism? To us who did not have any opportunity so far to make a theoretical study of the fundamental tenets of socialism, it was a fact which was helpful to develop one's own opinion favoring socialism and to convey it to the people."

In order to establish a government as was established in Soviet Union the path is to build organizations of peasants and workers, to make them conscious of their rights and to rally them around the national movement. Besides it an organizational chain connecting all units from primary level in the village to the central level was necessary.
Five: Learning and Training

The leadership did not stop with establishing party units. It was necessary to develop political consciousness among the ranks. With this objective reading rooms, libraries, and night schools were established in villages and many attempts were made to educate them. With the same objective Prabhatham weekly was started.

Later a centralized form was given to it. The one month long learning and training camp at Mankada Pallippuram was on these lines. What was done there was physical and mental learning. About hundred people selected from all over the state participated in it.

Those who got trained there conducted classes and training at the district level. Those trained there conducted classes in taluks and later in villages. Thus by giving training and doing learning through out the state a new type of political activity became lively. It became the basis for an organizational set up in Kerala as a whole.
Six: Congress of ordinary people

As decided in the jail they worked with the objective of organizing peasants and workers and rallying them around independence movement. They were able to realise it.

In 1934 membership of Congress in Kerala was about 3000. By 1938-39 it rose to about 60,000. By that time over village units of Congress were formed. By this time active village-town-district and state committees came into being.

A right wing section of Congress was against the Congress organization being expanded up to the basic level and getting into the hands of ordinary people. It was the left wing which brought Congress into the midst of people.
Seven : First Communist Party Groups

While working in Congress and Congress Socialist Party as mentioned above some young political workers got more opportunity to be in touch and exchange ideas with some Communist leaders. On that basis they met many times and carried out discussions. EMS describes his experience then as follows:

" We had heard during that period that there was an organization called Communist Party. Even that we heard from the leaders of Congress socialist party and the Royists who were opposed to it in various ways. We had read some pamphlets circulated in the name of Communists. We had total disagreement with the main idea in it (Communists were of the opinion that true socialists were to work not inside Indian National Congress but opposing it" (Soviet Union and Communists)

It was CC members of Communist Party P.Sundarayya and S.V Ghate who were having constant contact, meeting and discussions with Kerala comrades in this manner. As a result of such constant contacts extending over two years the first Communist Party group in Kerala came into being in 1937. The members of the first Communist group were P. Krishna Pilla, EMS Namboodiripad, K. Damodaran and N.C Sekhar. They were functioning within the Congress.
Eight: New View Point

Left wing Congress men propagated  a new idea of giving shape to a new man. It was an idea formed out of life and experience. They developed a new style which touches the heart of ordinary people.

This is clear from the words of Batlivala who presided over Second Kerala Workers' Conference.

"When workers demanded rice soup as food, dothi for dress and a dwelling to reside, they are characterized as Communists, Bolsheviks and dangerous people and suppressed. There are no decent word to describe them. They are demanding employment and wage for labour. If they say this much they are labelled Communists, Bolsheviks and those undermining the community. They know that workers are looking to Russia for motivation and models. In Russia now there are no exploiters. There is workers' rule in that country".

The presidential address of Prof.N.G. Ranga at the Kotakkad Peasants' Conference in 1939 pinpointed the new objective. Suffering of peasants will end totally only if the rule of peasants and workers is established. He cited as an example the great improvement that has occurred in the lives of workers and peasants under Soviet rule. A speech by P. Krishna Pilla during those days is another example.

"It has been possible to understand one thing clearly from the workers' activities till now. There will be no gain till workers get political power. Now British imperialism is exploiting masses by joining hands with vested interests in India. There fore the main task of workers is to do away with imperialism and capture power All workers have to join Indian National Congress which is fighting to demolish imperialism and to achieve independence of India and strengthen political struggle by resorting to general strike. The classification into native states and British India is meaningless. Kings of native states are mere slaves of British government.'' (From the speech made at the half yearly conference of Thrissivaperur General Factory Workers Union in July, 1939)
Nine: Preparation

The Kerala unit of Communist Party of India came into being two years and a half after the formation of the first Communist Group in the state.

Very elaborate preparations were made for it. The stand of the Congress Socialist Party regarding second world war motivated hastening of the process. About it EMS Namboodipad has written thus:

"When preparations were being made to convert Congress Socialist Party as a whole into Communist Party, during the weeks just after the beginning of the war, a syllabus on Marxist theory was implemented. During the two and half years of undergound work this activity was continued. Leading cadres of the Party were taught authoritative works like Socialism, Utopian and scientific by Engels, What's to be Done by Lenin and Fundamental principles of Leninism by Stalin. Translation of these and many other books was initiated. Some of these were published for the education of the cadre. The work CPSU (B) History by Stalin was translated in toto and chapters were printed one by one. There was urge from all quarters to learn theory. But only after the party came out of the under ground could that process be continued and taken to a higher level." (Communist Party in Kerala- Origin and Growth)
Ten: Pinarayi Conference

In 1939 what happened at Parappuram was transformation of one party in to another party. Preparations and discussions for it were carried out earlier. Since it was a secret conference no document about it is available and so the only source is the memory of those who participated in it. EMS has recorded about it as follows.

"An organization was formed earlier in a totally illegal manner. It was not known to many people. But in the conference in a semi-legal situation at the end of 1939 the creation of the Kerala unit of Communist Party was publicly announced." (Communist Movement: Origin and Growth)

Nobody had recorded all the names of those who participated in Parappuram Conference.
Names that could be collected from memories and articles of various people are given below:

1. P.Krishna Pilla
2. E.M.S. Namboodripad
3. K. Damodaran
4. P.Narayanan Nair
5. K.K.Warrier
6. A.K.Gopalan
7. Vishnubharatheeyan
8. E.P.Gopalan
9. P.S.Namboothiri
10. C.H. Kanaran
11. K.A.Keralaleeyan
12. Subramanyan Thirumumb
13. K.P.Gopalan
14. Chandroth Kunhiraman Nair
15. M.K.Kelu
16. Subramanya Shenai
17. V.V.Kunhnabu
18. William Stelax
19. A.V.Kunhabu
20. Kunhiraman Master
21. P.M. Krishna Menon
22. K.Krishnan Nair
23. Vadavathi Krishnan
24. N.E. Balaram
25. Pinarayi Krishan Nair
26. K.N.Chathukutty
27. Manjunatha Rao
28. Kongasseri Krishnan
29. K.P.R.Gopalan
30. P.V. Kunhunni Nair
31. Moyyarath Sankaran
32. P.K.Balakrishnan
33. Janardhana Shenai
34. George Chadayammuri
35. P.Gangadharan
36. T.K.Raju
37. I.C.P.Namboothiri
38. P.P.Achuthan Master
39. C.Kannan
40. M.Padmanabhan
41. T.V.Achuthan Nair
42. K.Damu
Eleven : Anti-imperialist Struggle

Party's attitude to war put the party in Kerala into a difficult position. During those days party was swimming against the current. Congress used it as a weapon to beat Communist Party. They broke all mass organizations into two. Thus their strength was split. They were made mutual enemies. The first assessment of world war by Communist Party was that it was a war between imperialist powers. So Party decided to galvanize anti-imperialist struggle. There was big protest against making India a party to the war. Life of ordinary people was full of suffering due to price rise. Many laws negating civil rights came into force. KPCC gave a call to observe 1940 September 15 as a protest day against suppression. Karshaka Sangham also gave call to hold processions and rallies raising demands of peasants. Peasants actively came forward to implement this call. In places like Morazha and Mattannur people clashed with police. Some police men died. In the police firing at Thalassery Abu and Chathukkutty became the first martyrs. It was after a few months in 1941 March that a policeman died in Kayyur struggle. Comrades including K.P.R.Gopalan were made culprits. Among them four comrades were hanged on the basis of court verdict. This was a time when Communist Party and class-mass organizations led by it achieved substantial growth.

After Germany attacked Soviet Union the war assumed an anti fascist character. Till then people were not active in supporting war efforts. It was after Soviet Union was attacked that the first Congress of the party was held at Bombay in 1943. After the Congress party and class-mass organizations were involved in militant actions. After the war in 1946 Telengana struggle, Thebhagah struggle (in Bengal) and Vayalar- Punnapra struggle in Kerala took palace. It was the days when Communist Party attracted the attention and widespread support of people.

It was during this period that Deshabhimani started functioning. The meeting held at Kozhikoode town Hall on 1946 November 14 discussed the acute food shortage. Karivallur struggle on 1946 December 30 was launched on the basis of decision taken there. It was the resistance exerted to prevent goondas of the landlord who tried to take away paddy produced by peasants. Police fixed on 1946 December 3 shows at those who had rallied at Kavumbai hill after police excesses. Five people were killed.

Party carried out a strong intervention in the cultural scene along with such fights. Activities carried out by the party using cultural forms including drama in order to make people conscious of exploitation and suppression carried out by imperialism and land lodism against ordinary people.

Party tried to build class organizations of workers and peasants irrespective of their caste and community and to raise class slogans against bad customs conceived rites and casteist disabilities this abilities based on a class position. Thus party was able to raise the fight against social disabilities to the level of class consciousness. P. Krishnapilla and AKG were participants in the struggle for temple entry at Guruvayoor. Paliyam struggle which took place later was carried out under the leadership of party itself. Mention has to be made of struggles conducted under the leadership of AKG at Payyannur Kandoth for the right of Dalits to walk along the streets. Struggle to establish the right to take bath in the temple pond also was important. This practice of actively intervening in this manner in the struggle for social reform has played a major role in the growth of Communist Party in Kerala.
Twelve : Attainment of Independence and Persecution of Communists

Congress leaders who were panicky at the galloping mass struggles and power of the masses under the leadership of Communist Party wanted to attain power as early as possible. Imperialism came to know of it and tried to split the country on religious lines. Muslim league and one section of Congress leaders yielded to this plan. Party leaders like AKG were in jail even during the days of independence. Many were under ground. This is proof of party being suppressed by British regime and Congress at the time of independence.

Second Congress of the party was held in Kolkota in 1948. Making it as a guise police and Congressmen made a witch hunt of the partymen. Many party activists including prominent leader Moyarath Sankaran were killed in Police custody. During this period there were 1982 firing in various parts of India. 3284 people were killed. Over 50,000 persons were jailed. 82 persons were killed in jails. A large number of people went underground. An important event during this period was Onchiyam firing. It was firing against people protesting against police who had gone to arrest some Communists. During the same period occurred the resistance in Pazhassi-Thillankeri belt. Comrades sleeping in a hut in Munayamkunnu were encircled by police and fired upon. Six comrades died on the spot. There was firing in Salem jail on 1950 February 11. In that firing 19 comrades from Kerala were killed.

Padikkunnu incident is an example of how Communists were confronted with during that period. On 1950 May 4 Rairu Nambiar and Kuttappa were taken from the jail on the plea of sending them to court for bail. Gopalan Nambiar from the police camp was also included in the group. They were taken out to Padikkunnu and asked to raise the slogan Communist Party Murdabad.  They did not obey. They were fired upon by the police and killed.

Sooranad incident during this period was another illuminating chapter of fight against landlodism. What led to the incident was the issue related to catching fish from a public pond. During this period a series of such fights and struggles attended with great sacrifice occurred.
It was just before the first general elections in 1952 that the party has declared legal and comrades jailed without any trial were released. Because of sacrifices made by comrades confidence of people in the party increased during the period. In the first general elections the party could win more seats than all parties other than the Congress. Communist Party candidate Ravinarayana Reddy had a bigger majority in the country than even Prime Minister Nehru. Party got majority in Alappuzha municipality and Malabar Districts Board to which elections were held on later date. Party representation in the Travancore-Cochin Assembly increased in succeeding elections.
Thirteen : party comes to power in Kerala

It was during this period that agitations and struggles for reorganization of states on linguistic basis were conducted and the central government was forced to concede the demand. Kerala state was formed. In the first elections conducted to the state Assembly in 1957 March Communist Party and its independents secured a majority. Cabinet was formed under the leadership of EMS Nambudiripad which implemented a new approach and new style of work in relation to land reforms, labour relations, education, development, decentralization, minority rights and other matters. Large sections of people were satisfied with these reforms. Vest interests were dissatisfied with these development using whom Congress organised "Liberation struggle". On the plea that the state government could not control the struggle the Central government dismissed that government unconstitutionally on 1959 August 31. Though in the ensuring elections in 1960 March the three party alliance consisting of Congress, PSP and Muslim League won, the fame of the first Communist ministry lingered  for a long time. What is generally highlighted as the main achievement of that ministry is that it developed a new path as far as governance and developmental policies are concerned.
Fourteen : Inner party struggle and split

In the fourth party Congress held at Palakkad in 1956 differences of views became acute in relation to the approach to be adopted to Congress Party and party programme. Existing party programme was dropped. Since there was no unity of opinion regarding the new programme to be adopted, undivided CPI functioned till 1964 without a party programme. There was a big difference of opinion inside the party in this period in the matter of assessing Indian situation. These who adopted a right wing position put forward the idea of forgoing unity with Congress. Those who formed CPI(M) later on could not accept this revisionist idea of class collaboration. This was the basis of party split in 1964. The difference of opinion developed between Soviet and Chinese parties on ideological issues at the international level also contributed to intensify the difference here. Soviet party supported the faction which later became CPI.

The struggle against revisionist leadership was a serious intervention by Indian Communists to apply Marxism-Leninism to the objective conditions of India. The Seventh Party Congress of CPI (M) held at Kolkata put forward a clear policy in this matter. But the central government adopted a stand of putting behind bars a large number of leaders of CPI(M) When the Polit Bureau was about to meet in Thrissur within two months after the Seventh Congress. All PB members except Joythibasu and EMS were under arrest. This arrest was before the mid term elections to Kerala Assembly which was held in 1965 February. These arrests were made by charging them Chinese agents. In this background vast majority of candidates chosen by the party submitted their nominations from jail. Party had to face that election in such a difficult situation.

Still in the midterm elections held in Kerala in 1965 after the party split CPI(M) became the single largest party securing  40 seats. CPI could secure only three seats. With this election it was established that people of Kerala were with CPI(M). But even though CPI(M) was the single largest party Governor did not allow CPI(M) to form a cabinet.

Party succeeded in carrying out a fight against right deviation that developed  in the Communist Party. But along with this a left deviation also made its appearance in the party. One section put forward the opinion that party should follow the position of Chinese Communist Party. They argued that Indian bourgeoisie were having comprador character. They put forward also the argument that mass movements and intervention in parliamentary politics was not necessary. They later came to be known as CPI(ML). In the Burdwan Plenum in 1968 the resolution clarifying party stand on international issues was adopted. At that time Chinese Communist Party too was not prepared to recognise CPI(M) which adopted a revolutionary strategy suited to the India situation. CPI(M) had to confront with their open opposition. From 1968 onwards for a decade the party had to face opposition of both Soviet and Chinese Parties. With people's support they could withstand the attack of these parties.

Non-Congress parties formed multiparty governments after 1967 election in 8 states including Kerala and West Bengal. In Kerala CPIM) was leading the government. In 1969 left parties aligned with CPI(M) in Kerala and West Bengal allied with Congress. During this period party organized peasants and agricultural workers in the state and carried out a struggle for distribution of surplus land demanding that the land legislation brought in by the united front government be implemented. This was another brilliant chapter in the history of political struggles in Kerala. That alliance between Congress and left parties continued during the days of internal emergency till 1979. During this period (CPI(M) and class-mass organizations led by it had to confront with a great deal of suppression and isolation. Many comrades became martyrs. Party grew up overcoming all these.
Fifteen: Left and Democratic Front

Tenth Party Congress held at Jallundar in 1978 December put forth the perspective of forming left and democratic front against Congress and its anti-people policies as also the fascist approach of Congress. In 1979 under the initiative of CPI(M) left and democratic front was formed in Kerala. But it was not on the lines envisaged by the party Congress. There is a lot of difference between the two.

After the break down of Janata government what came up as an alternative to Congress in many north India states was BJP. But because of the approach adopted by CPI(M) in Kerala, BJP could not grow substantially. Taking the all India situation into consideration the 11th Party Congress held at Vijayawada in 1982 put forward the view point that in the Indian context fight against communalism is also important. CPI(M) adopted a plan of action to implement this policy. Proving the prediction of political observers that no party or front in Kerala can form a government without support of communal and community based forces wrong, the left and secular democratic front won elections in 1987, 1996 and 2006. This period witnessed continuous growth of the party and class-mass organizations led by it.
Sixteen: Policies of Globalisation and Resistance to Them

Congress government at the Centre put forth the perspective of a new economic policy by middle of 1980s. It was during this period socialist regimes including USSR broke down. With that development US pushed forward its activities to establish a unipolar world. Policies of globalsation formulated in this background adopted the approach of weakening India's self reliance and sovereignty. The two major political parties in India, Congress and BJP, supported it. Communist Party started a resistance movement against it. During this period Kerala formulated two types of struggles:

a) Struggles which rally masses against  policies of globalization.

b) Attempts to develop peoples' alternative to globalization using powers available with the state.

Communist Party organized broad resistance during these days against such policies. Worth mentioning is the struggle picketing Taluk Offices for one month. During this period numerous propaganda and agitations rallying people were carried out. Innumerable struggles launched by students, women, youth, peasants and workers were a strong rebuke against such policies. Through them it was possible to develop popular sentiments against globalisation policies.

Party organized interventions to formulate the perspective as to how alternate policies can be given shape to within the limitations. The two Kerala Study Congresses were steps in this direction. The present LDF government led by CPI (M) is going ahead formulating policies on this basis. The new Kerala budget is the latest example. Its policy of increasing public investment and giving emphasis to social security projects has turned out to be a model to the whole country. In this context Party is presenting an approach to overcome even struggles that may be created in Kerala due to the fall out of global economic crisis.

Interventions by the party to resist the onslaughts of communal fascist forces are very important. Due to such interventions carried out to maintain secularism and democracy in society many brave comrades who fell victims to the weapons of retrograde forces lost their lives. There are so many people who lost their lives and those who are living martyrs due to suppression of the state. Their bravery in the fight and self sacrifice are major factors which ensured the growth of Communist movement. What remains the biggest strength of the party is the activities of lakhs of comrades who love the movement as dear as their life. At present an intense effort is being made to debilitate the party by disrupting its leadership. Party is marching ahead by strongly resisting this trend.


It was the Communist Party which raised people of Kerala who were suffocating under the iron grip of landlordism to the pedestal of democratic consciousness, development and organization consciousness. Once this was realised new innumerable struggles were organized under the leadership of the party. Popular support to the party is increasing day by day because  this party is always ready to actively intervene in issues cropping up on various occasions and to lead the people in struggles connected with them.

Inspiring Conference Against Untouchability in Tamil Nadu

25 August, 2002
R Chandra
AN important aspect of democratic revolution is the elimination of caste oppression in general and of oppression of scheduled castes and tribes in particular. The CPI(M) and the mass organisations led by CPI(M) activists have taken important steps in recent times to carry forward the struggle against the oppression of Dalits and other exploited sections. The All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) has been in the forefront in taking up the cause of Dalits at the national and lower levels. The Tamilnadu state unit of the AIDWA has been pro-active on this issue.
Four years ago, in 1998, the AIDWA's state unit organised conferences of women on the issue of untouchability in several districts including Dindigul, Thoothukkudi, Pudukkottai, Theni and Cuddalore. These conferences provided a platform for women, for Dalit women in particular, to share their experiences of oppression as well as their strategies of struggle. These conferences promoted their solidarity. They brought out numerous instances of cruel oppression, especially those related to the crime of untouchability. Following these conferences, the AIDWA launched a series of agitations and struggles. Then, taking stock of the overall experience, the AIDWA state committee decided to conduct zonal conferences, with delegates from several districts, to deliberate on how to carry the struggle forward. The first of these zonal conferences took place in Pudukkottai recently, on July 26.
The conference saw the participation of 202 women delegates from six districts --- Tiruchirapalli, Pudukkottai, Perambalur, Thanjavur, Thirvarur and Nagapattinam. While a majority of the delegates were Dalits, women from other sections were also there.
At the conference, state AIDWA's assistant secretary R Chandra gave an account of the atrocities and various forms of untouchability practised against Dalits in the state and the country. She drew attention to the fact that most Dalits are working in the unorganised sector of economy and are yet to be organised and assert themselves in most parts of the country. Citing data on Dalits from a report of the National Human Rights Commission, Chandra said Dalits form a majority of the nutritionally deprived population, and of those who die of starvation in our country. The data suggest that, on an average,
  • Dalits are attacked every hour;
  • Dalit women are raped every day;
  • at least 2 Dalits are killed every day;
  • at least 2 Dalit houses are set on fire every day.
Dindigul MLA and state AIDWA assistant secretary Balabharathi presented a study report on the problems of Dalit women, based on responses to a questionnaire circulated among women in the six districts from where delegates to the conference came. Several of the responses from the districts of Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur, Balabharathi noted, indicated an absence of the practice of untouchability, reflecting the impact of the struggle for social reform and economic empowerment of Dalits, under the leadership of the Left parties and the Left-led kisan movement. She pointed out the failure of Dravidian parties to effectively address the Dalit issue, and sharply criticised the demand put forward by Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader Dr Ramadoss for bifurcation of Tamilnadu on caste lines. She also noted with concern the deep and wide persistence of caste identities in the state's culture, citing the use of caste names in the titles of popular movies.
Sixteen delegates took part in the discussion on Balabharathi's report.
Mala, who suffered serious injuries during an attack by caste Hindus on Dalits in her village Themmavur in Pudukkottai in May 2000, recalled the struggle against this atrocity. That struggle was led by the CPI(M), AIDWA and other democratic mass organisations. But the harassment continues. An instance is that Dalit students are not being allowed to perform science experiments in schools. Dalit women are unable to find any employment.
Tamizh form Tiruchy district referred to the unfortunate divisions among Dalits themselves. Chellammal, also from Tiruchy, reported the case of a Dalit woman teacher who was beaten up and whose transfer was sought by the caste Hindus because she fell in love with a caste Hindu. Thanks to the support from the AIDWA, the teacher has been retained in the same school.
Indira from Perambalur narrated her experience of harassment after her son married a caste Hindu girl. She said drunken mobs attack Dalit settlements during festivals. In Krishnapuram village, caste Hindus refuse to buy milk from Dalits. The two-glass system still prevails in many villages. Those who fight these practices are pressured in many ways to give up. Indira was herself asked to desert the AIDWA. But she refused to submit to the intimidation, saying she would remain in the AIDWA and even risking her life.
Ayilammal from Perambalur noted that the 'backward' castes of her village do not buy provisions from the ration shop because it is located in the Dalit settlement. Padmavathi, also of Perambalur, referred to an incident of rape of a Dalit girl by a caste Hindu; against him no action was taken.
A delegate from Pudukottai reported that a Dalit is ridiculed if she/he uses an umbrella for protection from the hot sun.
Velumani narrated her harrowing experience. Her son had dared to marry a caste Hindu girl. A false case of 'kidnap of a minor girl' was foisted, and he was sent to jail. Velumani had to spend Rs 16,000 to get him released. The caste Hindus later separated the newly-wed couple. Even caste Hindu children are chided if they play with Dalit children, and their young minds are poisoned with casteist hatred.
Saraswathi from Thanjavur noted the continuing practice of using separate glasses for Dalits even in a village where, following a struggle, a settlement was reached about doing away with it. Even in Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam where the Left has a strong presence and a tradition of militant struggle, anti-Dalit discrimination has not entirely disappeared.
Jayam, who is the president of Kilvelur panchayat in Thiruvarur, reported that the panchayat clerk, son of an upper caste landowner, was refusing to work under a Dalit president.
Kalaiarasi of Nagapatinam referred to villages where Dalits cannot get a hair cut at the barber's shop. An old woman was made to carry her own excreta and clean up a public site near the Coleroon river. Her guilt was that, given the complete absence of toilet facilities in the nearby areas, she had used the site in an emergency.
Summing up the discussion, Vasuki (who was state AIDWA assistant secretary at the time of the conference and is its secretary now) referred to the problems the Dalit women leaders of panchayats face. She cited the case of Pushpam, president of the Keeranur town panchayat in Pudukkottai district, who was facing non-cooperation from officials under her. It is obvious that, being elected leader of a local body does not imply deliverance from the caste oppression. Vasuki condemned the practice of dismissing the elected Dalit panchayat leaders, indulged in by some bureaucrats with the connivance of vested interests, and using to this end certain provisions in the existing acts. She drew the delegates' attention to Dr Ambedkar's warning that unbridled operation of market forces will harm Dalits. She called upon the delegates to unitedly fight to secure the basic democratic rights of Dalits, and spelled out the tasks before the AIDWA in this regard.
The conference concluded with a public meeting, presided over by Pappammal of Gandharvakottai, when the large public gathering heard the speakers with rapt attention and appreciation. The police was reluctant to permit the use of mikes, but the reluctance was overcome by the intervention of AIDWA and CPI(M) leaders. The state AIDWA office bearers explained the organisation's perspective and demands on the issue of untouchability.


Continuity and change

The special conference of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Thiruvananthapuram adopts an updated party programme that breaks new ground in several areas while maintaining the strategic perspective of the 1964 document.
THE Programme is an exceptionally important document for a Communist party. Since, unlike most other political parties, a Communist party seeks to transform the status quo in a fundamental way in order to achieve its vision of a just social order, charting a path to achieve this objective becomes crucial. This is exactly what the programme document is supposed to do.
C. RATHEESH KUMARThe special conference under way at AKG Centre, the headquarters of the Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in Thiruvananthapuram.
Yet, reaching a consensus on the programme of the party was a long and protracted struggle in the history of the Communist movement in India. Not that efforts to arrive at a programme were lacking. Even in the first two years after its formation in 1920, the party, then declared illegal, made some initial formulations, including for example the proclamation of complete independence for the country. This it did well ahead of the Congress party. However, it took more than a decade after its birth for the Communist party to develop a central core of activists who formed themselves into a provisional Central Committee in December 1933.
Although some guidelines towards a programmatic document were put forward in the first Congress of the Communist Party of India (CPI), it took more than three decades from its birth in 1920 for the party to evolve a programme document at a special confer ence in 1951. While this document was formally approved at the third Congress of the party, there were serious differences of views on its validity. Intense debates within the undivided CPI continued for more than a decade over the correct strategy or pr ogramme, culminating in a split and the emergence of the CPI and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) as two distinct parties in 1964.
At its Congress in November 1964, the CPI(M) adopted a programme, with a far greater degree of unanimity and cohesion. It is this programme, now 36 years old, that has been updated at the special conference of CPI(M) held in Thiruvananthapuram from Octob er 20 to 23.
The CPI(M) has specifically declared the objective of the exercise which culminated in the Thiruvananthapuram conference to be one of "updating" the 1964 programme and not of "revising" it. The reason for this is that there is a fundamental and essential continuity between the document adopted in Thiruvananthapuram and the programme adopted at the 1964 Congress of the party. The resolution of the 14th Congress of the CPI(M) in Chennai in 1992, which set the ball rolling for the updating exercise, stated that the 1964 programme "...continues to remain basically valid for the stage of the revolution, the strategy, class character of the Indian state and government and the class alliance to achieve the people's democratic revolution. However, there are se ctions in relation to the assessment of the international situation and the national developments which need to be updated."
The updated programme adopted in Thiruvananthapuram basically reflects this understanding. The document consists of eight sections. The first, introductory section briefly reviews the role of the Communist party in the struggle for freedom and, subsequen tly, in the progress made towards achieving the objectives the party had set for itself. It also deals with the ideological battles waged by the CPI(M) in defence of its understanding of Marxism and its practical application.
The second section undertakes an assessment of the global developments in the 20th century, paying particular attention to the setbacks to socialism in the closing decade of the century. It also focusses on the impact, for the developing world as well as the world economy as a whole, of the emergence of internationally mobile finance capital as the dominant force of world capitalism.
The third section summarises the developments in the Indian economy since Independence, focussing particularly on the consequences of a decade and a half of liberalisation that started in the mid-1980s and was speeded up considerably in the 1990s.
The fourth section deals with foreign policy and the fifth with democracy and the structure of the Indian state as it has evolved in the post-Independence period. The sixth section puts forward the CPI(M)'s vision of the transitional society on the road to socialism, characterised as people's democracy.
The seventh section deals with the process of mobilisation of working people - industrial workers, agricultural labourers, poor and middle peasants, and the rural and urban "middle class", including the rich peasants - under the leadership of the working class, in order to achieve the aim of people's democracy.
General secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet addressing the conference. On the dais are the other Polit Bureau members of the party.

The eighth and final section deals with the task of building the party, which is seen as having a crucial, leading role to play in the entire process.
THE CPI(M)'s views, as set out in the updated programme, can now be briefly summarised. The path of economic and social development pursued in India since Independence has mainly benefited the urban and the rural rich, especially the big monopoly houses and large landowners. On the other hand, industrial and agricultural workers, small and medium farmers and various sections of employees, have all been hurt in various ways by this path, leading to massive unemployment, erosion in incomes as a consequenc e of inflation, eviction and loss of land, and so on. At the same time, given the absence of basic land reforms (except, to some extent, in Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura under Left-led governments) the ownership and control of land and other productive assets in agriculture remain highly concentrated, severely limiting the expansion of the domestic market. The initial stimulus to growth in the post-Independence period provided by public investment and import substitution quickly ran out of steam. Give n the refusal of the state to raise resources through the taxation of the rich, the fiscal crisis followed. The crisis of the economy has been considerably worsened by the economic policies followed during the period since 1985, and especially since 1991 . The changed global situation - in the economic sphere, the dominance of finance capital demanding the abolition of all restrictions on its movements across the borders of sovereign states, and in the political sphere, the collapse of socialism in Easte rn Europe and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the break-up of the latter leading to a unipolar dominance of the world by the United States - has also contributed to the abandonment of even a limited pursuit of self-reliance by captains of Indian industry and business. The rulers of India, according to the programme document, have embarked upon a path of mortgaging the sovereignty of the country and are carrying out the policies dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) , the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the U.S.-led G-7 countries, whereby imports have been liberalised, huge concessions have been offered to foreign investors, public sector assets are sold at rock bottom prices, and transnational co rporations and foreign finance capital are assisted and encouraged to take over major and strategic sectors of the economy, including power and telecommunications.
On the other hand, all sections of the working people and even small and medium industries are badly affected by these policies, which have also been disastrous for Indian agriculture and food security. In sum, the CPI(M)'s view is that the developments since 1964 have confirmed the correctness of the 1964 programme's characterisation of the Indian state as serving the interests of the capitalists and landlords and as being led by big business which increasingly collaborates with foreign finance capital .
It also logically follows from this understanding that the problems of the Indian people can be addressed, and the country's sovereignty protected, only by uniting all working people against these policies and against foreign capital, Indian big business and landlords. In all these respects, and in placing the primary emphasis on the break-up of land monopoly and provision of land to the landless tillers through the process of such a break-up, the updated programme and the 1964 programme are essentially the same. In this sense, the CPI(M)'s strategic perspective remains the same as in 1964.
The updated programme breaks new ground in several areas. There is a revision in the party's assessment of developments in the 20th century. It is still held that capitalism is an exploitative socio-economic system that cannot solve the problems confront ing humanity and that only the establishment of socialism can free humanity from exploitation. However, it is also explicitly recognised that capitalism is resilient, and that the struggle to defeat it and move to socialism would be a protracted one. The updated programme also notes that "... in the course of the uncharted path of building socialism, the Soviet Union and other socialist countries in Eastern Europe committed serious mistakes." It recognises that the setbacks to socialism have resulted, a lbeit temporarily, in strengthening the global imperial order under the hegemony of the United States, which "... is using its economic, political and military power aggressively".
The document draws pointed attention to the enormous concentration and internationalisation of finance. It notes: "Globally mobile finance capital is assaulting the sovereignty of nations, seeking unimpeded access to their economies in pursuit of super p rofits." Noting the role of the IMF, the WTO and the World Bank in promoting the interests of a global financial oligarchy, the updated programme points out: "The new hegemony of speculative finance capital results in sluggish growth in the advanced capi talist countries. For the Third World it spells a vicious cycle of intensified exploitation and growing debt."
Drawing on the positive and negative lessons from the experience of various current and former socialist countries, the programme has modified some of the earlier formulations on the programme of people's democracy viewed as a stage in a transition to so cialism. It provides for a multi-structured economy, with several forms of property ownership - state, collective, cooperative, joint sector and private sector - coexisting in a people's democratic set-up. The document envisages a number of political par ties operating under such a system, and the vision of people's democracy set out in the document explicitly provides for the right to form political parties and associations. This is important in the context of the allegations that are sometimes made tha t Communists do not accept multi-party democracy.
The updated programme deals at some length with the question of caste and caste oppression. It recognises that the assertion by Dalits, which is sought to be brutally suppressed, has a democratic content, and that the fight for the abolition of the caste system is an important part of the movement for people's democracy. It rejects, at the same time, a casteist approach seeking to mobilise people of the oppressed castes purely on caste lines, and notes: "The fight against caste oppression is inter-linke d with the struggle against class exploitation."
K.G. SANTOSHWith Polit Bureau members in the vanguard, a massive CPI(M) rally marking the successful conclusion of the special conference.
The considerable political advance that the forces of communalism have made in the decades since the adoption of the 1964 programme, and the enhanced threat to the country's secular fabric, are clearly matters of grave concern for the CPI(M). The updated programme highlights the need to uphold secularism and notes specifically: "Defence of minority rights is a crucial aspect of the struggle to strengthen democracy and secularism."
While the 1964 programme had made only a brief reference to women's equality in its section on the programme of people's democracy, the updated programme deals with the issue at some length. It explicitly recognises that patriarchy remains strong, and as serts that the processes of liberalisation are leading to newer forms of gender exploitation and increased violence against women. It notes that the movement for women's equality is an integral part of the movement for social emancipation.
The updated programme makes references to the environment issue, and the threat of ecological destruction, identifying the "rapacious drive for profits by the multi-national corporations and the extravagant consumption of the rich countries" as factors " ...seriously threatening the world's environment". The vision of people's democracy set out also contains references to the need to protect the environment.
Summing up, one can see that the updated programme is a serious attempt to recognise and come to grips with the dramatic global and national developments which have taken place in the 36 years since the adoption of the 1964 programme. There is a self-cri tical review of its earlier understanding of the international situation, as well as a recognition of the seriousness of the developments in the spheres of the economy and the polity in India. But as is perhaps unavoidable while drawing up a brief and co ncise programmatic document, many important issues have only been touched upon. There is clearly a need for a much deeper analysis of the setbacks to socialism and its collapse in specific countries. There is also a need for a more critical analysis of t he rise of communalism and the weakening of secularism in India. The agrarian situation in India and the manner in which it has been transformed over the last three and a half decades also require a concrete study. While the inclusion of gender and envir onment concerns is noteworthy, more detailed policy statements on these two issues as well as the caste question in all its complexity are also needed to clarify the position of the leading Left party in the country on issues which have acquired critical importance.


Accord in Uthapuram
May 6, 2008: Part of the wall that separated Dalits and caste Hindus for decades was brought down and a common pathway was laid.
AT last, the residents of Uthapuram, a small village in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, which came into the news when a portion of the huge "wall of untouchability" dividing the habitations of Dalits and caste Hindus was demolished three years ago, have begun to see light at the end of the tunnel.
On the initiative of the police and the district administration, an agreement was reached between the Pallar (Dalit) and Pillai (caste Hindu) residents on October 20, which emphasises a new, positive direction in their coexistence besides enabling them to shed their six-decade-old acrimony.
Asra Garg, Superintendent of Police, Madurai district, the architect of the agreement, told Frontlinethat it was the outcome of teamwork and was hammered out after several rounds of talks with representatives of the two communities. It has been clearly laid down in the accord that caste Hindus should allow Dalits to worship at the Muthalamman-Mariamman temple in the village although its administration and maintenance will remain under their control.
The issue of the construction of a common bus shelter, which was also contentious, has been settled. The caste Hindus have agreed to clear the encroachments along the new pathway created after the removal of a portion of the wall. They will also withdraw the case filed in this connection. Both communities will make efforts with the help of the Superintendent of Police to withdraw cases registered against each other. They will extend their cooperation in maintaining law and order by approaching the police and the district administration to resolve amicably any problem arising in the village. Both sides have agreed to promote cooperation and unity.
Uthapuram had been a hotbed of caste tension and witnessed violent clashes in 1948, 1964 and 1989. However, the village earned notoriety in 2008 when the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) focussed on the "wall of untouchability" raised by caste Hindus close on the heels of the caste riots in 1989 ( Frontline, June 6, 2008).
The TNUEF and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), along with some Dalit organisations, staged protests all over the State demanding the demolition of the caste wall. The issue was raised in the State Assembly too. Intensifying the struggle for the removal of the wall, the State CPI(M) leadership made it clear on April 29, 2008, that the party would pull it down if the then Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government failed to do so.
Denying that the wall had been constructed to perpetuate untouchability, caste Hindus had been claiming that it was needed to protect their kin. It had been built according to an agreement signed by the two communities, they said. They took a tough stand on the issue and resorted to different forms of protests to stall the demolition. However, much to the relief of Dalits, a portion of the wall was removed by the district administration on May 6, 2008.
But subsequent developments proved that the animosity of the caste-Hindu residents towards Dalits had not died down. They left the village on May 6 in protest against the government's action and returned only after a week. Stalemate continued with regard to the construction of a common bus shelter, and Dalits were denied access to the temple and the common pathway. This sorry state of affairs resulted in further efforts last year by the CPI(M) and the TNUEF to bring the two communities to an agreement.
However, much water has flowed under the bridge since then. Sustained struggles launched by the Dalits, sincere efforts made by the police and the district administration, and the realisation of the need for peace on the part of caste Hindus have resulted in the agreement, according to P. Sampath, the leader of the TNUEF. "The agreement has thrown up an opportunity for greater class unity between the two communities as the vast majority of them are small and marginal farmers," he said.

Marxist Analysis of Indian Society

Prakash Karat At the 20th Anniversary Meeting
of Marxbadi Path, 26th August, 2000
The purpose of conducting a Marxist analysis of Indian society should be to outline a roadmap of how to end the multifaceted exploitation of the Indian people.  The primary goal of any revolutionary movement in India should be directed towards eliminating the system of social and class exploitation which has kept the largest mass of humanity in any single country in the thrall of oppression. In terms of numbers, India's poor constitutes the single largest contingent of the world's poverty stricken. There are poorer people in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, but in sheer numbers the goal of eliminating world poverty cannot succeed without the elimination of poverty in India and South Asia.
That more than fifty years after independence, there is no substantial denting of the problem of mass poverty in India is a standing testimony to the enduring forms of old exploitation which are now combined with newer varieties of globalised capitalism.
It would be the central purpose of the talk to establish that only by applying the method of Marxism and the theory and practice of scientific socialism that the Indian people can emancipate themselves from the vicious cycle of hunger, disease, illiteracy and poverty.
In the recent period the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has been engaged in undertaking a Marxist analysis of contemporary Indian society. As a Marxist-Leninist Party, the CPI(M) has been updating its strategic programme. It is the programme, which determines the path of the Indian revolution and the strategy to be adopted to achieve basic social transformation. In the course of the discussions in preparing the draft of the updated programme, and in the subsequent ongoing discussions within the Party, a number of issues have been thrown up for discussion, for clarification and for a Marxist formulation of the issues involved.
Applying Marxism to Indian conditions today is an exciting and challenging endeavour. At the beginning of the 21st century, if we look around, it is true that socialism has suffered setbacks both at the ideological and material levels. The disappearance of the Soviet Union and the regimes of actually existing socialism in Eastern Europe, mark shrinkage in the field where Marxism held sway even if in a flawed fashion. Outside the four existing socialist countries, China, Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea, India holds an important position. It is one of the major countries where mass  communist parties exist and where the traditions of the left movement are still a vital force. The fact that the Left has always constituted either the second or the third largest bloc in parliament over the last five decades testifies to both the mass influence and the vitality of the communist movement.
It becomes a major responsibility of those who subscribe to Marxism and who believe that a party based on the tenets of Marxism-Leninism is essential for a revolutionary movement to consistently engage themselves in sharpening the tools of Marxist methodology and build up the theoretical resources for enriching and sustaining the class struggle that is taking place and will continue to develop in the coming days. This no doubt is a challenge in a situation, where worldwide, the ideological offensive against socialism has sharpened in the concluding years of the 20th century. Marxism as an intellectual current is dismissed in the advanced capitalist countries. In the erstwhile socialist countries of Russia and Eastern Europe, it is subjected to intellectual censorship in many forms. The globalised communications and media empires controlled by the transnational corporations do not even go through the pretense of formally acknowledging the existence of anti-capitalist currents.
It is in such a situation that in India Marxists have to not only keep the faith, but to nurture Marxism so that it becomes once again a revitalising and creative force. The updating of the Party programme, provides the opportunity for a significant section of the Communist movement, the CPI(M), to engage in a critical appraisal of the theory and practice of the communist movement. Strategy, as all communists know is vital. No strategy and all tactics is the recipe for opportunism. While strategy devoid of a living analysis of classes and their interrelationship can be reduced to a dogma.
Fifty three years after independence and 36 years after the CPI(M) adopted its programme in 1964, when we look back at the way State and society in India has developed, an inescapable reality is the relentless development of capitalism. As Marxists, we know that the State is controlled and run by the ruling classes and the mode of production in society determines the relations of production on which basis the relationship between classes, the mode of extraction of surplus and the nature of the superstructural relations in society develop.
The Indian capitalist class is today, after more than five decades of post independence, a class which has expanded and undergone some important changes. At the time of independence itself, there was a big bourgeoisie, which dominated this class as a whole. But the outlook of this big bourgeoisie has undergone a significant change. It was the big bourgeoisie which spelt out the type of capitalist development that was undertaken in India from the 1950s: a) a class which understood the international situation and its own base in Indian society. It needed the Indian State to accumulate capital and develop capitalism. The State capitalism, which the Indian ruling classes sponsored, played a two-fold role. It enabled the development of capitalism within a constrained framework. A model of capitalist development without a thoroughgoing agrarian revolution, which necessitated a compromise with landlordism and the development of agrarian capitalism from above relying on landlords and the rich peasants. (b) The subordinate position of the Indian bourgeoisie vis a vis world capitalism required the organic link with foreign finance capital and reliance on this imperialist capital to advance the path of capitalist development. (c) Such a capitalist development could have a relative degree of autonomy in a situation where there was the existence of the Soviet Union and a socialist bloc; the bourgeois-landlord classes in India could utilise the conflicts between the two blocs and maneouvre to strengthen its own position to a limited extent.
The big bourgeoisie was the pivot around which both the alliance with landlordism and the collaboration with imperialist capital could take place for the specific type of capitalist development that was undertaken. A major change has come about in the attitude of the big bourgeoisie. The big bourgeoisie is no more an advocate of State capitalism. It is no more as dependent on the State as before for capital accumulation and investment.  Four decades of capitalist development under the old regime (till the eighties) has enabled the big bourgeoisie to kick off the crutches of State-sponsored capitalism and  embark on the new path of liberalisation. This path has also come about in a new world conjuncture -- The neo-liberal offensive which built up momentum in the 1980s and which has now established itself triumphantly worldwide with the dismantling of the Soviet Union.
The big bourgeoisie remains the key target for the people's democratic revolution. The struggle against the big bourgeoisie has to be waged in these new conditions. It is necessary to recognise the strength and the potentialities of the enemy while exploiting its weaknesses and contradictions. As in the case of all big bourgeoisie, in India too, the growth of the big bourgeoisie has meant a steady concentration of assets and the means of production in the hands of this narrow strata. From the beginning, the big bourgeoisie has been dominated by family owned businesses. Fifty years after independence this remains so. New families and companies have entered the ranks of the big bourgeoisie. But the concentration of assets and wealth continues. The richest 100 capitalists have a personal wealth of  Rs. 50 thousand crore. This is only the wealth accruing from shares held in companies. The development of the productive forces have not resulted in either an equitable distribution of assets or an equitable distribution of incomes.
A problem which has arisen in the post-liberalisation era has strategic implications. A section of the regional bourgeoisie which earlier had no durable links with foreign capital and was therefore considered as part of the non-big bourgeoisie which had its conflicts and contradictions with the big bourgeoisie is today in the opposite camp. The Chandrababu Naidu's and others of  his ilk representing the regional bourgeois-landlord classes, are today enthusiastic advocates of collaboration with foreign capital and privatisation. Strategically the shift of the bourgeois-landlord classes towards collaborating with imperialism does pose difficulties in putting up resistance and rallying the classes whose vital interests are affected. The big bourgeoisie has some regional allies. All these features have to be integrated into our class analysis while working out the strategy to counter and fight back the ruling classes.
The big bourgeoisie cannot and will not be anything but the harbinger of a counter-revolution. The landlords, except for the category of small landlords who do not mainly live off the surplus extracted from the agricultural workers, will remain united with the big bourgeoisie in opposing any worker-peasant led movement. It will be building castles of sand to rely on the rich peasants and the non-big bourgeoisie to forge a powerful front against imperialism, or, the big bourgeoisie. There will be occasions on which these classes can be mobilised and sections of them will make the cross over to the democratic side. But this is something which will not happen without the core of the strategy of an Indian revolution being addressed.
The big bourgeoisie dominated capitalist development has some specific features, which must be taken into account while working out the strategy of a democratic revolution. Firstly, the development of capitalism in agriculture has assumed certain specific forms and led to changes in the relations of production. Increasingly capitalism is the mode of production in agriculture. Landlord is a term, which defines more than before, capitalist landlord. There is ofcourse the phenomenon of semi-feudal landlordism but that also is in a period of transition. The development of capitalism has led to differentiation among the peasantry which requires a clear understanding for developing the agrarian movement. The rich peasants are a motive force for the development of the new type of capitalist relations. They are part of the developing agrarian bourgeoisie which primarily produces through hired labour. It has an antagonistic contradiction with agricultural workers and it is opposed to any further measures for land reforms and re-distribution of land. While increasingly sections of the rich peasants identify with the capitalist landlords, at the same time, they hold powerful influence among other sections of the peasantry. The middle and small peasants are bound with the rich peasants through caste and social and cultural ties.
At the same time, the development of capitalism in agriculture has produced a rural proletariat which is expanding. If the agricultural workers, poor peasants and the small artisans are put together, they constitute no less than 70 per cent of the rural work force. Any strategic perspective for an agrarian revolution has to rely on this semi-proletarian mass of the peasantry and the agricultural workers if we are to develop a powerful movement against the bourgeois-landlord order.
In the rural areas, increasingly, there is a nexus of the rural rich, the capitalist landlord, the contractor, the real estate owners and big traders who constitute a powerful bloc. They ruthlessly put down any signs of revolt by the rural poor against the established order. In social terms, this bloc is heterogeneous and varies from region to region in terms of caste and social composition. In some regions the old upper-caste landlords hold sway over this rural rich combine while in others the upper strata of the landed castes among the OBCs have acquired the role of the dominant strata.
Any Marxist analysis of the concrete conditions will recognise that capitalist development in agriculture is widespread, prevalent and becoming predominant. While it is essential for concrete study to work out specific slogans in different parts of the country and regions, a fact often blurred and indistinct is that capitalist relations of production exist in all parts of the country. It is true that there are three broad categories of regions. The areas where capitalist relations have advances like in Punjab, Haryana, West UP, parts of Maharashtra, Andhra etc. Then there are the regions where capitalist relations are mixed up with semi-feudal forms. Thirdly, there are the Left-led states where land reform laws have been implemented leading to reduction in concentration of land ownership. Even in the states where land reforms have been substantially implemented under the existing laws, the essence of the capitalist relations of production continue to develop. A tenant who has benefitted from land reforms through abolition of intermediaries in a state like Kerala or the tenants (bargadars) who have benefitted from security of tenure in West Bengal are subject to the same laws of capitalist development as their counterparts in other states and regions. Disregarding the formal tenurial and property forms, rich peasants, capitalist farmers and landlords emerge. Middle peasants, given the vast number of smallholdings and fragmentation of land, continue as a substantial strata in the agrarian sector. But all valid statistics and data show the growing number of landless and near landless. This is the poor peasant and agricultural worker masses which will be the main base for the agrarian movement even in a situation where the Left has been able to render all sections of the peasantry substantial benefits within the existing bourgeois-landlord system. The development of an agrarian capitalist class in West Bengal and Kerala is part of the all India phenomenon in agriculture and there can be no exceptionalism to this basic development.
The recent spurt of attacks on the rural bases of the CPI(M) in West Bengal are targeted at the rural poor and is an attempt by the agrarian new capitalist class and bested interests, both old and new to counter and roll back the gains made by the poor peasants and agricultural workers. With capitalist development, the rural proletariat, in the main the agricultural workers, have to be organised as a strong and independent force to counter this offensive of the rural rich nexus.
While dealing with the ruling classes, Marxism does not look at only the economic role of the exploiting classes. It analyses the social role played by that class in particular. In the case of India a distinct feature of the class structure is the overlaying of the caste structure and consciousness.  In the early days of the communist movement, there was optimism that capitalist development would shatter some of the antiquated caste relations. While it is true that the inter-penetration of caste and class has proceeded with the development of capitalism, it would be highly simplistic to view class categories without its caste dimensions. As EMS Namboodiripad pointed out both the bourgeoisie and the working class have the imprint of caste consciousness on them. "As a matter of fact, the very growth of capitalism, the rise of the bourgeois and proletarian classes, was and is coloured by the persistence of the old varna-caste society. Neither of the two major classes of the emerging capitalist society, the bourgeois and the proletariat, could shake-off the pre-capitalist modes of thinking and culture."
The modern Indian bourgeoisie which saw its rise in the early part of the 20thcentury has in the past hundred years been unable to shed its caste moorings. The development of capitalism and modern bourgeois practices do not exclude caste. In fact caste has reinvented itself in social and political terms and is very much part of the consciousness of all the classes which exist in India today.
In agrarian relations, the position of the dalits, the scheduled castes is distinctive as wage labourer and as unfree labour. No other caste category in India faces the type of exploitation which is visited upon those outside the varna system. The abolition of the caste system and all forms of caste oppression has to be a fundamental goal of the democratic revolution. It is not enough to say that the abolition of landlordism and feudal relations will ensure the end of the caste system. Life and experience in bourgeois-landlord India confirm that untouchability does not only exist but is widespread. Forms of untouchability and exclusion, direct or disguised, is still practiced by the bulk of those who belong to the chaturvarna system. The communist movement which does not engage in a direct fight against this type of oppression will not be able to rally the truly proletarian masses in the rural areas. As the CPI(M)'s Draft Updated Programme states: "The problem of caste oppression and discrimination has a long history and is deeply rooted in the pre-capitalist social system. The society under capitalist development has compromised with the existing caste system.  The Indian bourgeoisie itself fosters caste prejudices.  Working class unity presupposes unity against the caste system and the oppression of dalits, since the vast majority of the dalit population are part of the labouring classes.  To fight for abolition of the caste system is an important part of the democratic revolution.  The fight against caste oppression is interlinked with the struggle against class exploitation." (para 5.11, draft of the updated programme)
It is imperative that all forms of caste oppression direct or otherwise be taken up as an instruments of oppression to be fought and rolled back in the course of  building the people's democratic front.
As for the working class, which is the dialectical opposite of the other modern class, the bourgeoisie, in Indian conditions, caste consciousness remains embedded within the class consciousness. Unless there is a powerful and effective campaign against the caste system as such and it is integral to the main agenda of the working class movement, it will not be possible to counter the growing caste appeal and divisiveness which will affect the unity of the working class.
The fight against untouchability, the social and economic oppression  of a vast mass of the downtrodden, requires addressing the demands of the dalits as a special category. This does not mean accepting the petty bourgeois-driven ideas of caste exclusiveness and identity politics which is being embraced by a number of vocal and militant dalit sections. As B.T. Ranadive pointed out: "All variants which sought to fight the anti-caste struggle in isolation from the main class struggles of our times have failed and produced pitiful results" (Caste & Property Relations, p23). It is basically a class approach which recognises the need for forging the unity of all oppressed sections. It is an expression of what Lenin stated as the basic duty of the working class, championing the fight against all oppressions which in India includes the most heinous type of oppression of the scheduled castes.
In Indian society, in numerical terms, the petty bourgeoisie constitutes a vast section. In strict Marxist terms, there is not only an urban petty bourgeoisie, but a vast mass of the small propertied class in the rural areas, are also part of the petty bourgeoisie. As such they are an important component of the democratic revolution. What is called the middle classes in popular parlance are active and vocal players in the Indian political spectrum today. One of the major problems confronting the communist movement are the changes, which have come about in what are called the middle class. In a period when State capitalism was the norm, the Indian middle class subscribed to the Nehruvian path.  A path which opened up possibilities for this class to develop, get jobs and for its intellectual to play a role in the development of independent India. The middle classes are a heterogeneous lot. It includes managerial and administrative personnel, there is the technical and scientific personnel, there are shopkeepers, school teachers, salaried employees and so on.
The shift in the path of development, the change in the outlook of the ruling class and the consequent path of liberalisation, have brought about some significant changes. Upto the seventies, substantial sections of  the middle classes were attracted towards a Left or Left-of-centre ideology. As an intermediate class it was able to adopt this position without getting into any major conflict with the ruling class. But the development of capitalism and the qualitative change, which has come about, has brought differentiation within the middle class/petty bourgeoisie. As far as the urban middle classes are concerned, an upper strata which constitutes a minority has benefitted from the era of liberalisation. Not only has there been an increase in their incomes, especially if they are working for the islands of high income generating sectors, but also the expanded opportunities for their sons and daughters abroad have enabled them to acquire assets which enables them to enter the portals of the bourgeoisie and adopt their class outlook. This strata has irrevocably turned away from any social project which includes the rural and urban poor.
Another substantial strata of the middle class has illusions about liberalisation. This is more of an ideological condition which can be countered and these sections won over. They are not pro-imperialist and their patriotic instincts will bring them into conflict with the pro-imperialist direction taken by the ruling classes. The bulk of the middle classes are those who fall victim to the depredations of the liberalised free market economy and the highly unequal segmentation of wealth and assets implied in this process. These are the sections who must be linked up to the workers and peasants and popular democratic movements.
At present, (given the weakness of the Left and democratic forces) sections of the middle classes have become susceptible to the path of an authoritarian Hindutva. The new values of the market of self interest and self gratification hold an appeal which transcends their material conditions and blunts their democratic instincts. Unlike the middle classes in the advanced capitalist societies, the Indian middle class are imbued with religiosity. These are conditions ripe for the growth of Hindutva type of authoritarianism where both democracy and secularism will be casualties.
The reversal of this trend and the link up of the petty bourgeoisie with the working people can be accomplished only through a relentless ideological battle. It cannot be accomplished by harping back to the old Nehruvian/Gandhian framework. The big challenge before the Left is to construct a radical vision which can attract the middle class, except for the upper strata, towards a restructuring of Indian society in political, economic and cultural terms. This cannot be fully accomplished without strengthening the movement of the basic classes. It is only when the class based movements of the workers and peasants develop that the petty bourgeoisie can be won over in larger numbers. But in the interregnum, it is important to vigorously work among the middle classes to tap their latent anti-imperialism and mobilise their democratic instincts against the ravages of crony capitalism and feudal ideologies.
Marxist theory and practice in India must learn to deal with the complexities of society and marshal all resources for the central task of a democratic revolution. The chinks and gaps in our understanding must be filled up.
Fifty per cent of the population are women. Gender oppression is as old as class societies. Engels talked of the origin of patriarchy. Indian Marxists have generally found it convenient to neglect this strand of Marxist thought. The Dialectics of Nature by Engels was studied but not the insights in the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.
The gender problem is also a class question for us. According to one estimate, 127 million women exist in the work force. There can be no working class movement of any depth and effectively without these women. The Updated Programme has sought to update our understanding of the women's question.
"….five decades of bourgeois-landlord rule have perpetuated patriarchy in every sphere. Women are exploited at different levels, as women, as workers and as citizens. Processes of liberalisation have brought in their wake newer forms of gender exploitation, in both the economic and social spheres, leading to increased violence against women. Economic independence and an independent role in social and political life are basic conditions for the advance of women.  Resistance against this unequal status and the women's movement for equality are part of the movement for social emancipation." (Para 5.13, updated draft of the Party Programme)
The question of democracy in Indian society is posed in a complex and variegated fashion. At one level, independent India has had a functioning political democracy. The 1950 republican Constitution provided for a parliamentary democratic system which has been the main vehicle for political activities at different levels. That this is essentially a bourgeois democracy limited by the nature of the bourgeois-landlord system does not detract from its existence which is a considerable achievement. In a great measure, the survival of democratic rights and norms however limited for Indian citizens is due to this political system having taken root and survived many vicissitudes. It is definitely relevant therefore for Marxists to defend and ensure the existence of a parliamentary democratic system as part of the overall struggle for democracy.
But a Marxist approach cannot be confined to this. It has to go beyond. Democracy cannot be interpreted as purely electoral democracy and the right to vote for citizens every five years to elect their governments in the centre and the states and in the local bodies. Democracy is concomitant to equity both economic and social. Social and economic equity is required for the existence of real democracy. With the development of capitalism in India and its entrenchment, India is also witnessing the divorce between the "political" democracy and the economic and social aspects of democracy. With liberalisation this has become more pronounced. Governments may come and go, prime ministers and cabinet personnel may change, parties may alternate in power, but no change in the basic economic policies can be contemplated which would mean exercise of real democracy for the citizens.
In fact the detachment of political democracy from the economic and social structure under liberalisation will only lead to the demand for restricting and attenuating political democracy. Authoritarianism of a creeping variety has already set in. As we meet in Calcutta today the higher judiciary is discussing various measures to restrain and restrict the right of association and protest through mass demonstrations and rallies. Already there is a Supreme Court endorsement of the prohibition of bandhs. The Kerala High Court has now decreed that hartals are also illegal and unconstitutional. The Marxists had been the first to warn that liberalisation will have its repercussions on the democratic system. The priorities of big capital, both Indian and foreign are hostile to the democratic aspirations of citizens and the arena of sovereignty exercised by the Indian nation State.
Marxist analysis points to the intensification of the contradictions between the people and the bourgeois-landlord system which is increasingly collaborating with imperialism. Without losing sight of the present correlation of forces in the world, our own application of Marxism to Indian conditions teaches us to take up the central task of organising the working class to lead the mass of the poor peasantry and agricultural workers to develop the basis of an alternative class front.
The growth of communal ideology and the authoritarian tendencies can be fought back only if the main fire is directed at the big bourgeoisie, landlords and imperialism.
With the abject dependence of the big bourgeoisie to imperialism, it is possible to develop a widespread anti-imperialist movement on a whole range of issues affecting the Indian people. With the direct entry of imperialism into agriculture, even sections of the rich peasants and small landlords will develop contradictions with imperialist capital.
The small scale industrialists, the medium entrepreneurs are being adversely affected by liberalisation.
The working class and the communist movement is being presented with a historic opportunity to forge a wider platform in defence of national sovereignty which has been compounded by the ruling classes.
The big bourgeoisie was always more collaborationist and compromising towards imperialism. Given a correct approach and tactics, it will be possible to forge a wider unity of the workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie and small bourgeoisie to isolate it.
The present conjuncture of an aggressive imperialist sponsored globalisation has its ideological and political impact on our society.
The Left is told to lay down arms metaphorically. They are expected to surrender ideologically and become acceptable social democrats -- of the Tory Blair variety. Refusal to do so invites calumny, abuse and as we see in West Bengal today growing violence directed at supporting the Left. Despite all the resources of the media and the State apparatus with the ruling classes, this is a sign of weakness. The Communists are feared because Marxism provides them with the weapons to fight the big capitalists, the big landlords and their imperialist mentors.
Fifty years of capitalist development, five decades of social and economic disparities and distortions in society can all be fought only if there is a powerful movement of the workers, poor peasants and the agricultural labour. They will constitute the core of a left and democratic alternative which is an interim stage towards the people's democratic front. The Left in India and the communists in particular have to take up the task of developing the class struggle. This class struggle will develop and intensify when the workers and agricultural labour and the poor peasants are organised and mobilised to fight for their rights. But this alone does not constitute the class struggle. The class struggle is in the realm of ideas and ideology too. It is in the struggle to transform the thinking of men and women and the social relations in which they are engaged in. Here there can be no escape from the fact that Marxism is the only method and viewpoint which can provide these classes with the intellectual, political and organisational resources for fighting for emancipation.
Palash Biswas
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