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Bhagat Singh was an outstanding revolutionary activist and thinker who sacrificed his life in the Independence movement at only 23 years of age. Having taken birth in a revolutionary family from Punjab, Bhagat Singh devoted his life from his early teens for the struggle to build a free, egalitarian and secular India. During his honest endeavour to achieve that aim he embraced the scientific thought of revolution. It was bound to attract enmity not only from the British Raj, but also from the comprador section of the Indian population.

Lenin once said, “During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly bounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extend for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it”. The life of Bhagat Singh was no exception.

Today all ruling class parties including BJP are claiming Bhagat Singh’s legacy whereas little effort has been put to propagate his actual ideas and concepts. Bhagat Singh made bitter criticism of communalism and untouchability. He was greatly influenced by the works of Marx of several questions including religion and became an atheist. This was a very important phenomenon at that time when nearly all the young revolutionaries outside the Communist Party used to draw their inspiration to fight against the colonial rule from religion. As a young journalist, in several papers like Kirti, Arjun and Pratap, Bhagat Singh observed the ugly face of communalism and riots in 1920s and expressed his anguish in some articles. Therefore, it is amusing that, the shameless leaders of the shameless riots & massacres, and others like them claim Bhagat Singh’s legacy.

Bhagat Singh was born in a Sikh family in Punjab on 28th September, 1907. He was born in a revolutionary family. His grandfather, Arjun Singh, was a follower of Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s Hindu reformist movement, Arya Samaj, which had considerable influence on the young Bhagat. His father Kishan Singh and uncles were members of the Ghadar party, led by Kartar Singh Sarabha and Hardayal. Ajit Singh, one of his uncles was forced to flee to Persia due to pending court cases against him, while Swaran Singh, his another uncle, died at home in 1910 following his release from Borstal Jail in Lahore.

In 1919, at the age of 12, Singh visited the site of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, hours after thousands of unarmed people gathered at a public meeting had been killed. At the age of 14, he was among those in his village who welcomed protestors against the killing of a large number unarmed people at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib on 20 February 1921. Bhagat became disillusioned with Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence after Gandhi called off the non-cooperation movement. Gandhi’s decision followed the violent killing of policemen by villagers who were reacting to the police killing three villagers in the 1922 Chauri Chaura incident. Bhagat joined the Young Revolutionary Movement and began to advocate for the violent overthrow of the British from India.

Seeking revenge for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai at the hands of the police, Singh was involved in the murder of British police officer John Saunders. He eluded efforts by the police to capture him. Together with Batukeshwar Dutt, he undertook a successful effort to throw two bombs and leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly while shouting slogans of revolution. Subsequently they volunteered to surrender and be arrested. Held on this charge, he gained widespread national support demanding equal rights for British and Indian political prisoners. During this time, evidence was brought against him for a conviction in the Saunders case, after trial by a Special Tribunal and appeal at the Privy Council in England. He was convicted and subsequently hanged at the age of 23. His legacy prompted youth in India to begin the fighting for Indian independence and he continues to be a youth idol in modern India.

Apart from his revolutionary activities, Bhagat Singh put hard labour to develop the revolutionary guideline in Indian context. Within a very short life span of only 22, he wrote a number of articles, letters and documents which display his deep insight. He studied the experiences of different revolutions in the world, including the Bolshevik revolution (1917) in Russia led by great revolutionary V.I. Lenin and consequently embraced atheism and Marxism-Leninism.

With the martyrdom of Comrade Bhagat Singh, India lost promising revolutionary and communist leader. However, his sacrifice has given birth to uncountable number of revolutionaries. Moreover he has kept the revolutionary legacy astir which is still cherished, he has kept the hope of forming an egalitarian and secular India alive.

Though young, Bhagat Singh was not mere an emotion packed freedom fighter. He gave serious thought to understand the scientific rules of social battles. In this process, he developed serious differences with Gandhi in so many matters. He questioned the philosophy of non-violence of Gandhi when he withdrew the non-cooperation movement following the violent upsurge of the masses in response to the brutal suppressions and killings by the British government. However, it does not mean that he was trigger-happy revolutionary.

Bhagat Singh tried to understand the form and content of revolution from the experience of different world revolutions and embraced Marxism as the guiding ideology. He became involved in several revolutionary organizations and become one of the important leaders of Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) and later played a role to change its name to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

Eighty eight years have passed after the martyrdom of comrade Bhagat Singh: still India has not achieved true independence. Although the power has been transferred to the hands of the Indian rulers, the colonial rule in different form still prevails. The ruling classes still use the evils like untouchability or communalism for their purposes. The exploitation over human by human still exists as the order of the day. The India which Bhagat Singh dreamt of is still unfulfilled which has kept him still alive as an eternal flame of revolution. Long live Com. Bhagat Singh. Long live revolution. n

The birth centenary of renowned Marxist philosopher Com. Debiprasad Chattapadhayya was observed in last year. The communist movement in India will be indebted to him forever for his remarkable contribution in studies of Indian philosophy and Indian history. Unfortunately, till this date the communist movement could not realize proper importance of his works. A handful of articles on this path-breaking philosopher which have already appeared on the occasion of his birth centenary are mostly ordinary in nature. One can find nothing there except only ritualistic approach. One of the reasons behind this unfortunate fact is the communist movement of our country has divorced philosophy as a whole.  Philosophy is mostly considered as an academic subject in the Marxist political circle in India except citing some abrupt quotations from the writings of Lenin and Mao. Therefore, the realization that, starting from all major political questions to every detail in practical politics are actually directed and controlled by philosophy does not gain much currency in Indian communist movement. Thus, in this type of political environment it was quite obvious that the works of Comrade Debiprasad Chattapadhayya would fail to attract sufficient attention.

The volume of works of Debiprasad is absolutely huge. He was a master in all the branches of Indian philosophy. However, his paradigm-setting contribution was made in rediscovering Indian materialism. There was a time when the philosophy-circle of the West including Hegel and the academic faculties in India earnestly believed that India must be a country of idealism only, a land of Vedanta. Debiprasad proved that India is not only a land of spirituality but at the same time it is a land of oldest materialisms in the world by employing undisputable facts. It was not an easy task at his time. Even the Marxists were not ready to accept this notion. One of the biggest reasons for this mistake was the influence of Western philosophical environment on the thinking brains of India. In Europe it was a popular concept that India was a land of unhindered spirituality where life and society remained in an unmoved situation until the Europeans came for settling colony. India had a society where there was no struggle of the masses or classes. Therefore, Hegel said the following: “The Chinese has significance only when he is dead, the Indian kills himself, plunges into Brahma and dies while living, in complete unconsciousness, or is god by virtue of his birth, here there is no change, no progress, for advance is possible only through the fulfillment of the independence of the spirit.” (Philosophie der Geschichte/ 270-271/quoted by G. Plekhanov/Selected Philosophical Works/vol.-I/page 466). It is absolutely clear that Hegel understood or read about only Vedanta when he spoke about India.

It is quite meaningless to deny the fact that Marx and Engels, too, were heavily influenced by such thought for a long time as Marxism was developed from the inner-struggle of European philosophy-circle which was an important component of Marxism. However, to understand that in any great world-outlook there is always particularities along with its universal side it is not required to be a scholar. It is only a common sense. But the astonishing fact that the Indian communists could not understand this simple fact and copied the whole paradigm from West could not be explained by the theory of ‘colonial mindset’ only. There is also some material basis behind this.

Since the eighth century AD the materialist and dialectical thoughts in India started to be evaporated from Indian political scenario. The manuscripts of those great thoughts started to gradually vanish under this attack. It obviously happened not without reason. From different sources it is clear that a long-drawn suppression was responsible for that. As the Vedanta-following Nobility had been powerful, in other words, as the ‘double-helix’ of Brahmins and the Kshatriyas started to gain absolute power, the followers of the notions of the people as Lokayata or Buddhism started facing physical attacks. Under the leadership of Acharya Shankara, the Vedantists regrouped themselves and indulged in physical attacks on the Lokayatikas, Jainas and the Buddhists. Later on, the Turkish invasion in India added much fuel in this course of destruction of the Buddhist and Lokayata groups. A number of Buddhist universities including Nalanda and Vikramshila came under massive attacks, killings and destructions by the Turks. As a result of these attacks by the Brahmin-Kshatriya rulers and later by the Turks for several centuries, nearly all the manuscripts of the heretic ideologies in India were lost. Then, a systematic distortion of those ideologies was started mainly by the Vedantists which continued till the time of Debiprasad. For an example we can mention the well known Lokayata or Carvaka sutra which states as: “Eat, drink and make merry even on debts as long as you live”, (Jabat jibet sukham jibet/ rinam kritwa ghitam pibet). Since there was no original manuscript of Lokayata found, this type of distortion has been gradually established as truth and the ideology of Lokayata appears as an ideology of mere merry-making. However, modern researchers of Indian materialism have shown that the original sutra probably was a different one which stated: “Live in happiness because there is nothing which can avoid death/once burnt where from the human body come back?” (Jabat jibet sukham jibennasti mrityuragachara/ Bhassibhutassa dehassya punaragamanam kutoh?). The sole target of this materialist sutra was the practice of austerity based on idealist ideology which was preached by the Brahmanical forces.

As a result of these developments the heretical ideas and speculations in Indian philosophical scenario were forcefully suppressed and they started disappearing.

However, the British rule in India became an unconscious tool to rediscover the revolutionary thoughts of this great land. As the British needed to establish a vast network of railways, they had to take up a thorough excavation programme in hand. As a result of that the heretic India started to come out from beneath the ground. A number of Buddhist stupas, monasteries, manuscripts were discovered. A group of English Civil Servants initially posted in Sri Lanka devoted to translate Pali literatures in different European languages. They established Pali Text Society in 1881. However, no original Carvaka manuscript was found. Eminent Marxist-Buddhist philosopher of the Communist Party comrade Rahul Sankrityaya discovered a manuscript from a Buddhist monastery in Sri Lanka called Tatwapaplavasingha written by one Jayarashi Vatta in 1940, which, according to some scholars, could be treated as only Carvaka text. It was published from Oriental Studies of Varoda under the editorship of Rahul in the same year. However, Debiprasad did not agree with them and he did not accept Jayarashi as a Carvaka.

Prior to Debiprasad, a number of researchers and philosophers studied the Carvaka or Lokayata ideology as the sole Indian edition of materialism. As a continuation of these studies Debiprasad also took the job in hand. However, he started to appear taller than them as soon as he employed a complete revolutionary approach for this study. He never let himself to be a prisoner in the custody of the conventional formulas and wisdom. Engels showed in the Introduction of the second volume of Capital wrote by Marx that prior to Marx a number of  economists worked to discover the source of surplus value in the history of economics. They reached so nearer to their goal that Althusser, the prominent French Marxist made a comment that the source of surplus value was looking up to them from their works, but they could not see it. The simple reason was that those economists allowed themselves to be limited within the boundary of conventional formulas. The revolutionary audacity of Marx led him to invent new tools to understand the complexity of the reality. As a result the struggles of the working class and the world socialist movement became able to reach in a more matured stage leaving behind the phases of their infancy. The theory of socialism achieved a scientific basis. The works of Debiprasad in some places can be compared with that of Marx in the arena of philosophical struggle against idealism in India. The magnum opus of Debiprasad, Lokayata : A study in Ancient Indian Materialism published in 1959 from the publication house of the Communist Party is not less effective weapon than Marx’s Capital in Indian perspective.

All sincere communists in our country once faced a question — In which path the Indian revolution will take place, the Russian path or the Chinese path? Subsequently, nearly all the communists were divided in these two camps. The supporters of both the camps were present in undivided Communist Party. Later, all the adherents of the Chinese path finally assembled in CPI(ML) and other radical groups, and the supporters of the Russian path stayed back in the parties like CPI or CPI(M). Nobody could think it was quite obvious that the Indian revolution to take a different route and that must have to be Indian in nature. A country which supposed to have drowned in spiritual haze for centuries, a country which supposed to have been inert, unchanged, and remained in a state of no struggle for progress for centuries how could it supply vital materials to formulate the path of revolution of its own? How could the poor communists of this poor country bank on the wisdom which emerged from the history of its own? Which struggles were there which could not but to lead inevitably in the direction of a communist revolution?

Therefore, it was a fait accompli for the Indian communists not only to learn from the experiences of the revolutions of other countries, but to chalk out its own path in a copy-paste manner of those revolutions. Though, unconsciously perhaps, Debiprasad destroyed the edifice of that fait accompli. It was utter failure of the Indian communists to understand the importance of his works which could help them to draw a new line of thinking in the subject of path of revolution. Today some communists are speaking about Indian  path quite correctly but still they are saying it negatively, i.e., from the experiences of the failures of the earlier attempts. Today we can assert that if the works of social scientists like Debiprasad (along with others like Romila Thapar, Kosamby, Rahul etc) can be understood and synthesized properly we can speak about an Indian path positively. Here lies the significance and importance of Com. Debiprasad Chattapadhayya.

(To be concluded, Next Part: First Chapter: Lokayata: The Indian Materialism) n

The 2019 General Election for the 17thLok Sabha is taking place at hitherto most critical juncture in the post-1947 history of our country. In the past, a serious challenge to Indian polity was faced when Indira regime had declared internal emergency and suppressed dissent autocratically. But she was compelled to declare elections in 1977 following growing people’s resistance to her emergency rule.  In spite of favourable intelligence and media reports, Congress was routed out by the silent suffering majority of the deprived people.

Present situation is much more dangerous. The RSS parivar is making all out efforts to retain power at any cost as they are in a hurry to impose its Hindurashtra concept over the country. If it gets another term, it will reverse whatever democratic rights and institutions we could achieve and the danger of fascism shall become a reality. So defeating BJP and reversing whatever damage Modi rule has done to Indian polity and people have become the primary tasks before the people.

Though Modi and other BJP leaders sound very optimistic about getting another term the concrete facts speak otherwise. In fact they are alarmed and panicky at the growing people’s alienation following total failure of Modi government in implementing his numerous promises. Not only it failed to implement its promises, but the demonetisation and GST policies have ruined the people’s economy. Unemployment has become rampant, all welfare measures are cut, suicides by peasants have increased, and there is all round pauperisation of the masses, while a tiny section of the elite classes and corporates becoming fabulously rich. The divisive policies of RSS implemented at alarming speed have led to numerous communal riots, mob lynching of Muslims and dalits, and alienation of all these sections including the people of Kashmir and Northeast.

In order to cover up these failures, the communal and caste divisions are sharpened, an atmosphere of hatred is created. Anti-terror jingoism and Pakistan-hatred are cunningly whipped up by the saffron forces on the eve of the elections. War hysteria is spread through corporate media.  Pseudo patriotic passions are whipped up. Any one questioning the failures of Modi rule in all fields are targeted and attacked as traitors as he is projected as the chowkidar, the real guardian of India’s security and welfare by the Sanghis.

But country-wide peasant upsurges, working class struggles, youth and students movements, protests by oppressed castes against subversion of caste-based reservation, adivasis’ movement against intensifying suppression and depriving of their rights to land and livelihood, women’s fury against patriarchal oppression and gender inequality, struggles for protecting the environment and habitat, etc. are gathering momentum against the corporate-saffron fascistic Modi rule.

Though the corporate media is working hard to sell the Modi brand once again, though the state machinery is utilised to sell BJP’s virtues and though the social media and money power is lavishly utilized, like in 1977, it is becoming almost clearer day by day that the silent majority, the suffering sections of the people are going to throw out BJP from power. But we cannot be complacent as the RSS parivar nay go to ant extent to retain power.  Taking this in to consideration more vigorous mobilization of the masses is needed to throw out the Sanghi raj.

But, however hard the RSS parivar may try, during the last one year or so almost all the results of the assembly elections to Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh etc and the by elections have shown that Modi’s influence is waning. They reflect the anti-BJP mood among the people. Besides, there is a polarisation of most of the opposition parties including Congress and other ruling class parties along with a number of regional parties against Modi regime. The social democratic Left Front parties led by the CPI(M) are also part of this mobilization. Besides, all struggling forces all over the country, the oppressed classes and sections of the people are also determined to throw out the Modi regime from power. In this situation, in spite of all its vile campaign and communalization the trend is against BJP and its allies.

Even then, one weakness of the opposition to BJP from the ruling class parties is that all of them including even the Left Front parties are not behind BJP in going ahead with the implementation of the neoliberal/corporate policies. Similarly, though all of them are against the nakedly divisive communal fascist policies of Modi rule, they also indulge in communal and caste appeasement as part of vote bank politics. So, even while there are good possibilities for unseating the BJP in this election, the RSS and the communal, casteist forces shall continue to wield their influence. The corporate forces and the bureaucracy helping them shall continue to dominate. In such a situation the administration and the ruling system as a whole shall remain anti-people. The divide between the rich and the poor shall further widen. Like the 2014 situation which helped Modi to come to power attacking the weaknesses of the UPA rule, a similar or worse situation may be created again.

So, while we have to strive hard to throw out the BJP from power, the question of building up a people’s alternative against the ruling system should be addressed by the revolutionary forces. It will not weaken in any manner the struggle to defeat BJP in this election, on the contrary shall only make these efforts more meaningful. It is in this context, the CPI (ML) Red Star is intervening in the elections with the call to defeat BJP, build up people’s alternative based on a people-oriented development program rejecting neoliberal/corporate economic policies, and democratisation at all levels.

 That is, while raising the central slogan of throwing out Modi rule, we look beyond to the socio-economic policies which were/are pursued by Congress and other regional parties also during last many decades, intensifying pauperization of the masses and enriching the elite classes. So, in order to build a real people’s alternative government, basic reorientation of all hitherto policies towards just, sustainable and equitable development and all round democratization of the society and polity including the judiciary is essential. The program of the people’s government proposed by the Red Star is explained in detail in the Election Manifesto published by the Party.

 It is in this situation, the CPI (ML) Red Star is fielding 42 candidates in 17 states and supporting like-minded candidates as an alternative force facilitating the throwing out of the corporate-saffron fascist regime of BJP.

The party appeals to the people, the oppressed classes including women, working class including the vast majority of informal and unorganized among them, the peasantry, the agricultural workers, slum dwellers, youth, students and all democratic forces to cast their votes to strengthen the struggle for building of a people’s alternative government wherever such candidates are contesting. In all other seats they should vote judiciously to defeat the BJP and its allies.

As Modi’s rule has reached its fag end, we are witnessing now is the latest malicious move to withhold the release of official data prepared by government’s own statistical machineries. The most conspicuous has been the ban imposed on publishing the NSSO’s 2017-18 data on employment. Modi came to power in 2014 with a promise of creating additional two crore jobs per year. But according to the NSSO survey, the details of which are leaked out on March 20, 2019, instead of the creation of two crore new jobs per annum, the country has been losing one crore jobs per year. Since this reversal on employment generation has obviously taken place due to Modi’s corporatisation policies, using the NITI Aayog, which devoid of any statistical expertise and that is working as a public relations department of the saffron regime, the govt. has released a series of doctored data which were completely at divergence with the NSSO figures.

Earlier, two members of the National Statistical Commission led by its chairman PC Mohanan had resigned protesting against the government’s manipulation of data. They had also questioned the manner in which the Modi government resorted to the new series of GDP data that can depict a relatively higher growth rate under Modi by artificially lowering India’s growth rates during the UPA regime. Contrary to Modi’s claims, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, India’s unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in February this year from 5.9 percent in February 2018 which is the biggest job loss that India is experiencing in five decades!

While 60 percent of the toilets built under the Swachh Bharat are lacking water and in Chhattisgarh (which declared its rural areas ODF-open defecation free), for instance, in all the 18769 villages surveyed, they are used as storehouses instead of using for the expected purposes. During the first year of his ascendancy to the throne, budget allocation to healthcare was reduced by 15 percent. At a time when 2.4 million Indian people are dying per annum due to lack of primary medical aid, and renowned international journals like Lancet exposed this deplorable situation in India, in 2018 Modi started Ayushmann Bharat with much fanfare. It also proved another publicity stunt since only Rs. 2000 crore was earmarked for this project whereas the initial minimum requirement was Rs. 30000 crore for including at least 10 crore people under this scheme. Even if it is spent, it would have been less than Rs. 20 per person. While Modi has already spent Rs. 3643 crore on Shivaji statue and more for that of Patel, in the neighbouring BJP-ruled state of Maharashtra alone 4000 peasants had to commit suicide on account of a debt of Rs. 150 crore to banks from which leading corporates Amabani, Adani, Essar, etc. have looted Rs. 15 lakh crore in the guise of non-performing assets (NPAs). Like MNREGS, both Swachh Bharat and Ayushmann Bharat have turned out as mere hoax.

On the one hand, Modi government without sending lawyers to the court cunningly created the situation for the SC passing an order on February 13 evicting more than a million hapless tribal people from their habitat, and on the other expedited wildlife clearances for facilitating corporate mining and environmentally harmful projects in ecologically fragile and sensitive regions to the detriment of forest dwellers in particular. To speed up corporate plunder of nature, after coming to power, Modi actively intervened to dilute the 2013 Land Acquisition Act that under the UPA regime had brought about some regulations in corporate land acquisition and certain procedures for eviction of peasants and adivasis from their land.

While curtailing federal powers of the state government through such neoliberal offensives as GST, regarding execution of corporate projects, Modi regime extended a free hand to them to act in violation of even central laws and against the rights of forest dwellers and marginalized sections. In brief, regarding land acquisition and natural resource appropriation for projects whether private or PPP route, the Modi regime is openly siding with the corporates against the sustenance and livelihood of the oppressed.

While these lines are being written, the UN had released its latest World Happiness Report ranking India at 140 among 156 countries for which study was conducted. India which is among countries at the bottom of the index that experienced the highest decline in welfare and happiness in recent years has gone down seven spots compared with the last edition of the Report which analysed economic, political and social stresses that people suffer. People’s lives with respect to per capita income, healthy life expectancy, freedom and liberty, absence of corruption, social support, etc. are taken as the criteria for the study. Thus while Modi was shoring up India’s ranking in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index by liberalising all laws pertaining to environment, labour, tax and even democratic rights, unleashing all kinds of financial parasitism, unknown levels of corruption leading to predatory plunder by corporate MNCs and crony capitalists, India with its 140th rank has been going down in terms of UN’s World Happiness Report, even much below that of neighbouring Pakistan (67), Bhutan (95), Bangladesh (125) and Sri Lanka (130). As a manifestation of this, while Modi-bhakts and corporate-saffron media are working overtime to fool people in to believing that India is fast developing, all the basic economic, social, democratic foundations of the country are collapsing.

Modi came to power on an anti-corruption plank taking advantage of people’s fury against the corrupt UPA government. But what India witnessed since then has been the unravelling of Modi himself as the agent of most corrupt crony capitalists. In the notorious Rs. 59000croreRafale deal with a reported underhand dealing of Rs. 30000 crore, Modi himself is exposed as the agent/middleman of Ambani. No prime minister in India has degenerated to such a level. Probably, Modi’s unveiling of himself as the chosen representative of the most corrupt corporate class is with regard to his approach to corruption itself.  The BJP itself later admitted Modi’s promise of putting Rs. 15 lakh in the account of each Indians after repatriating unaccounted money from abroad as a mere election stunt. The alteration that he has brought about in election funding through the Electoral Bond Scheme based on inputs from neoliberal centres is an ingenious move to cement the corporate-saffron unholy nexus.  This scheme that channels unaccounted black money from foreign tax havens and corporate sources is already exposed as a corollary of the financial parasitism and corporatisation underlying behind the so called Modinomics. Till date, the BJP has reportedly cornered around 95 percent of the tens of millions of worth black money donations mobilised through Electoral Bonds.

And to facilitate the legitimisation of funding from foreign tax havens, Modi has gone even for amending the Foreign Currency Regulation Act of 1976. In 2017 itself, in the third year of his rule, as underlined by Transparency International, Modi has earned the distinction for his regime as the most corrupt in Asia relegating Pakistan and Thailand in to the background. All investigative and enforcement agencies were manipulated to cover-up corruption by the ruling regime even as they are systematically directed against political opponents. According to the latest information, the income tax department that has been in possession of a diary by Yedyurappa, former Karnataka CM that contains huge pay-offs of over Rs. 1800 crore to central  BJP team along with extortions worth Rs. 2690 crore, did nothing to investigate them.

Under Modi regime, corruption has assumed a new dimension of being ingrained in to the very process of formulation and implementation of policies through the unholy nexus among corporates, politicians and bureaucrats. Demonetisation itself was a classic corrupt move for wholesale whitening of the unaccounted black money hoardings of the most parasitic corporate class and politicians associated with BJP. While sucking out the meagre cash holdings of the vast majority of toiling people, demonetisation enabled the corrupt super-rich to consolidate the country’s wealth in their hands. By damaging the circulation channels and supply chains of the economy it paved the way for further corporatisation by destroying the informal and agricultural sectors that provided employment for 95 percent of the Indian workforce, and ultimately led to a 2 percent decline in India’s national product or loss of around Rs. 3-4 lakh crores during the financial year that proceeded demonetisation.  One of the declared objectives of demonetisation was a transformation to digitization and cashless transactions. But as per the latest RBI Report on currency circulation, demonetisation resulted in around 20 percent growth in currency circulation, rising to 21.41 lakh crore as on 15 March, 2019 from Rs.17.97 lakh crore as on 4 November, 2016, on the eve of demonetisation. According to BJP’s own statements including the affidavit it submitted to Supreme Court, demonetisation might have been whitened a minimum of Rs 5 lakh crore worth black money.

Along with it, the GST that is being superimposed over states  destroying the federal structure, depriving the states of their constitutional  right to resource mobilisation and transferring the reins of the unified Indian market to corporate monopoly forces has broken the backs of retail, informal, traditional and self-employment sectors where vast majority Indians depend for their sustenance.

Under the ultra-rightist, corporate-saffron regime, India witnessed a systematic destruction of almost all PSUs in strategic and key sectors including even the defence sector. While the budgetary targets pertaining to social welfare expenditures remain unfulfilled throughout, the disinvestment target for the fiscal year 2019 is already met.  As announced by the finance minister on March 22, 2019, disinvestment receipts for the financial year have touched Rs. 85000 crore as against the budgetary target of Rs. 80000 crore. Along with this, calculated steps were initiated to privatise or destroy public sector/departmental undertakings relating to railways, oil and gas, national highways, ports, airports, telecom and so on. As a result, for instance, BSNL and ONGC are on the brink of collapse while Reliance Jio and Reliance Petroleum have already taken over their positions. On account of Modi’s ultra-rightist policies, while the entire employment oriented productive spheres including agriculture and industry are facing reverses, the wealth of the top 9 Indian billionaires including Ambani and Adani are galloping at the rate of Rs. 2200 crore a day or Rs. 803000 crore an year! This occurs when earnings and living conditions of the common people go on declining such that in the Global Hunger Index India’s ranking under Modi rule has deteriorated by 37 percent reaching 100 among 119 countries, much below that of neighbouring countries.

Unlike the UPA rule, the period since 2014 when Modi has been in power experienced sharp decline in international crude oil prices.  Countries like Iran and Venezuela which are facing unilateral Yankee embargo are even ready to part with their huge stocks of oil and gas even at a reduced price than the prevailing international prices. But Modi as US bootlicker and chosen agent of the most corrupt financial corporate class used this occasion for plundering people and fattening private oil giants like Ambani and Essar. Compared with the period of the UPA regime, when international crude oil prices plunged from $ 140 a barrel to around $ 50a barrel during the entire period of Modi rule, instead of reducing domestic oil prices, Modi went on raising taxes on petrol and diesel without any let up. Thus he raised taxes on petrol and diesel by 200 percent and 400 percent respectively, and a doubling of LPG prices such that both the central and state governments could gobble up around Rs. 15 lakh crores from this account alone.

Instead of spending this amount on people-oriented programs Modi in his budgets provided corporate tax exemptions worth Rs. 6 lakh crore on an average. Together with the highest GST rates in the world coupled with corporate control over price-fixing, the fuel price hike which also is the highest in the world has led to a sky-rocketing of the prices of all items of mass consumption and essential services even as peasants are denied minimum prices for their sustenance.

Closer examination will reveal that under the cover of saffronisation and all round campaign for Hindu Rashtra, Modi has been working overtime to serve his corporate chieftains. The ultimate beneficiaries of war- mongering and war hysteria built-up by Modi regime are the corporate class. Unity among the working class and oppressed people against the corporate-saffron regime is diverted by creating mutual hatred among the general public and feelings of insecurity among dalits, adivasis and minorities. Patriarchal and obscurantist religious and caste-based values are directed against women for cooling down their fury against the system. Institutions related to education, research and culture are manipulated and brought under corporate-saffron diktats.

Under Modi regime, since policy decisions are often conceived in the corporate- saffron-bureaucratic nexus, parliament, various parliamentary committees and related institutions have lost their significance and elected representatives of the people are kept in the dark regarding strategic decisions. Together with parliament, judiciary, administration, enforcement and investigative agencies and police are subjected to saffronisation. Even military is utilized for serving the saffron agenda. Corporate-saffron think-tanks are hand-picked to serve crony capitalism where corruption forms an integral part.  While constitutional offices like CAG and autonomous bodies like RBI and CBI are denigrated, non-constitutional posts like the National Security Advisor and those who have access to PMO’s office wield extra-constitutional powers. Those who oppose the regime are charged with colonial sedition laws and black laws such as UAPA while saffron intellectuals and activists behind terrorist attacks and cow vigilantes are let scot-free by official investigative agencies. Even judges who refuse to toe the official line are dealt with accordingly. UP has become the “fake-encounter capital” of India where a reign of terror is unleashed on political opponents and oppressed sections.

At this critical juncture, all the democratic forces in the country are duty-bound to come forward for overthrowing this regime based a concrete evaluation of the horrific situation that we are facing.

Manufacturing jobs actually fell in absolute terms from 58.9 million in 2011-12 to 48.3 million in 2015-16. Economists have been writing for some months that, contrary to the claims of the government, there is plenty of data available that shows unmistakably that unemployment is high and rising. Educated unemployment has worsened just as young people are getting better educated, and expect to work outside agriculture in industry and services.

We have done this on the strength of analysis of household surveys – Annual Survey, Labour Bureau (LB) 2015-16 – with a sample size the same or larger than the five-yearly employment-unemployment surveys of the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO). We also used survey data, available since 2016, of the Centre for Monitoring of the Indian Economy (CMIE), which has a sample size larger than the LB Annual Survey and the NSSO surveys. Both surveys that were used cover both rural and urban, and both organised and unorganised sector employment. In a nutshell, they capture both EPFO/NPS (organised) as well as such employment as might be generated by MUDRA loans or platform economy jobs. The latter two sources are precisely what the government claims are not being captured by whatever data on jobs is available.

We have repeatedly stated that government claims that there is not enough ‘good’ data on jobs is simply untenable, for the reasons noted above: recent available employment data all capture jobs that the government claimed were not being captured. The recently leaked data from the NSSO’s latest labour force survey (PLFS 2017-18), using the same questionnaire and same definitions of employment/unemployment as earlier NSSO surveys on employment should have laid to rest any government claims forever.

What became clear from the NSSO’s 2017-18 data is that actually the jobs situation is even more grim that has been consistently argued. We had argued earlier the overall rate of open unemployment (as opposed to under-employment or disguised unemployment) had risen sharply after 2011-12. That has been proven in the leaked numbers. However, the “believers” prefer the new chief economic advisor’s response: “People talk about unemployment rate. Debating the unemployment rate misses the point entirely. The key aspect is meaningful employment.”

What the leaked data has shown is that while the open unemployment rate by the usual status was never over 2.6% between 1977-78 and 2011-12, it has now jumped to 6.1% in 2017-18. This is not entirely surprising as more and more young people have gotten educated in India in the last 10-12 years particularly. Tertiary education enrolment rate (for 18-23 year olds) has risen over this period from 11% in 2006 to 26% in 2016. Gross secondary (classes 9-10) enrolment rate for 15-16 year olds had shot up from 58% in 2010 to 90% in 2016.

The expectation of such youth is for a urban, regular job in either industry or services, not in agriculture. If they have the financial wherewithal to obtain education upto such levels, they can also “afford” to remain unemployed. Poor people, who are also much more poorly educated, have much lower capacity to withstand open unemployment, and hence have lower open unemployment rates.

What the recently leaked data also reveals is that as open unemployment rates increase, more and more people got disheartened, and fall out of the labour force. In other words, they stopped looking for work, even though they were in the working age (15+). The result is that labour force participation rates (LFPR), for all ages, have fallen sharply from 43% in 2004-5 to 39.5% in 2011-12, to 36.9% in 2017-18.  As we will show below, this shows up in the rising numbers of youth who are NEET (not in education, employment or training). This is a potential source of both our demographic dividend, but also of what is looking like a mounting demographic disaster.

Meanwhile, we have been repeatedly told by government economists that there is no jobs crisis. Surjit Bhalla, till recently a member PM’s Economic Advisory Council, keeps repeating that we shouldn’t about slow growth of jobs based on his employment estimates (on January 5, 2019). However, estimates based on both principal and subsidiary status suggests the following (see below table).

Table 1: Sectoral Employment, Unemployment, Labour Force and NEET (Usual Principal+Subsidiary Status)

Employment and unemployment Estimates

                                       2004-05              2011-12     2015-16           2017-18

Agriculture                     266.2                  230.4         225                  222.4

Manufacturing                53.1                    58.9           48.3                 44.1

Non-manufacturing        29.6                    55.2           61                    64.2

Service                          107.5                  127.3         140.8               148.4

Total employed              456.5                  471.8         475.2               476.9

Unemployed                  10.7                    10.3           16.5                 21.8

Labour force                  467.2                  482.2         491.7               496.6

NEET (15-29 yrage group)           70.3      83.9           103.3   115.6

Note: Estimates for the year 2017-18*, are projected figures under the assumption that all else remains unchanged. NEET = Not in education, employment or training. Source: Authors estimation using NSS and LB unit data.

The overall labour force (LF) is not growing at 12 million per annum. Never in India’s history, except 1999-2000 to 2004-5 due to a baby boom in the early 1980s, has the LF grown by 12 million. Instead it had grown by 2.1 million per annum during 2004-05 and 2011-12, and about 2.4 million per annum during post 2011-12 periods. The sharp supposed “fall” in jobs that we find post 2004 is actually on account of a sharp increase in school enrolment. The volume of open unemployment was almost constant at around 10 million until 2011-12, but it increased to 16.5 million by 2015-16. Increased open unemployment post 2011-12 periods suggests that those in education prior to 2011-12 would start searching for non-agricultural jobs – but did not find them. The latest data suggest that this situation has worsened further by 2017-18.

Worse still, it shows up in a sharp increase in unemployment rate (UR) of the educated (based on our estimates of Annual Survey, Labour Bureau). The UR rose over 2011-12 to 2016 from 0.6 to 2.4% for those with middle education, 1.3% to 3.2% for class 10 pass, 2% to 4.4% for class 12 pass, 4.1 to 8.4% for graduate and 5.3% to 8.5% for post-graduates. Even more worrying, for those with technical education, UR rose for graduates from 6.9% to 11%, post-grads from 5.7 to 7.7% and for vocationally trained from 4.9% to 7.9%. The more educated you are, the more likely you will be unemployed.

Bhalla has argued that “During those seven UPA years [2004-5 to 2011-12] only 10 million jobs were provided or just 1.4 million per annum”. Earlier Bhalla claimed: “…that the lowering of GDP growth for 2004-5 to 2011-12 was entirely expected. Primarily because of the surprise [sic] low employment growth between 2004-5 and 2011-12”.  For 2004-5 to 2011-12 he erroneously claims that NSSO data “reveal” a total job gain of “only 9 million”. Bhalla seems to believe all kinds of jobs, including in agriculture, are “jobs” to be valued. For an economy at India’s stage of development an increase of workers in agriculture (that took place over 1999-2004) is a structural retrogression – in a direction opposite to the desired one.

Between 2004-5 and 2011-12 the number of workers in agriculture fell sharply, which is good – for the first time in India’s economic history.  Until then, the absolute numbers working in agriculture had increased (even though the share of employment in farming was falling, slowly). Similarly, youth (aged 15-29 years) employed in agriculture fell from 86.8 to 60.9 million (or at the rate of 3 million per annum) between 2004-5 and 2011-12. However, after 2012 youth in agriculture actually increased to 84.8 million till 2015-16 and even more since then (as CMIE data would attest). Bhalla is clearly innocent of such nuances. Job growth is lower in recent years than over.

Bhalla’s claim that only 1.4 million jobs were provided during 2004-5 to 2011-12 (or just <10 million total) is facile. Yes, that is true only if you deduct from total job growth in all sectors those leaving agriculture (less agri-workers is a good thing for the workers, agriculture, and economy as a whole). What really matters for India at our stage of development is the growth in non-agricultural jobs. During that period 51.2 million non-agri jobs were created, or 7.3 million per annum. By contrast, post-2012, only 1.2 million pa (or 4.8 million total) non-agricultural jobs were created until 2015-16, and then 1.75 million (3.5 million total) are likely to have been created (all other things remaining the same) till 2017-18.

What is most worrying is that manufacturing jobs actually fell in absolute terms from 58.9 million in 2011-12 to 48.3 million in 2015-16, a whopping 10.6 million over a mere four-year period. This is consistent with the slowing growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP, which consists of manufacturing, mining, electricity). IIP had risen from 100 in 2004-5 to 172 by 2013-14 (in the 2004-5 series), and from (a base of 100 in 2011-12 in the later series) to 107 in 2013-14, but only rose to 125.3 in 2017-18. Slower industrial production recently is also suggested by other indicators (slower credit offtake, lower plant load factor). Declining manufacturing jobs is indicative of stalled transformation of the Indian economy.

What is tragic is the growing number of educated youths (age 15-29) who are “Not in Employment, Education and Training (NEET)”. This number (which was 70 million in 2004-5, Table 1) increased by 2 million per annum during 2004-5 and 2011-12, but was growing by about 5 million per annum  2011-12 – 2015-16, and if that later trend continued (as there is evidence it has) we estimate it would have increased to 115.6 million in 2017-18. These NEET and unemployed youths together constitutes the potential labour force, which can be utilised to realise the demographic dividend in India.

Bhalla’s claim: “A large part of the so-called jobs crisis is because of demand for government jobs, not jobs per se” is therefore without foundation. There is a real crisis. Also, the NEETs have grown by a massive 20 million in just four years (2011-12 to 2015-16). Plus there is the 10 million actual increase in the LF. In other words, just over 4 years, India should have created at least 7.5 million new non-agri jobs each year (which India had managed to create over 2004-5 to 2011-12); it actually created only 2.2 million. This is not counting the new non-agri jobs needed for agricultural workers wanting to leave agriculture; this number fell as construction growth fell sharply in the last few years. If the government is not willing to recognise a jobs problem it is unlikely to do very much about it – and continue to keep relying upon EPFO data (inadequate as it is) and MUDRA loans to keep informing us that there is no jobs crisis. It’s not surprising that the NDA-II’s budget speech did not mention “jobs” once.

(Writer is Prof of Economics, Centre for Labor, JNU) n

LENIN ON WOMEN'S LIBERATION

Speech at the First All Russian Congress of Working Women, November 19, 1918

Comrades, in a certain sense this Congress of the women’s section of the workers’ army has a special significance, because one of the hardest things in every country has been to stir the women into action. There can be no socialist revolution unless very many working women take a big part in it.

In all civilised countries, even the most advanced, women are actually no more than domestic slaves. Women do not enjoy full equality in any capitalist state, not even in the freest of republics.

One of the primary tasks of the Soviet Republic is to abolish all restrictions on women’s rights. The Soviet government has completely abolished divorce proceedings, that source of bourgeois degradation, repression and humiliation.

It will soon be a year now since complete freedom of divorce was legislated. We have passed a decree annulling all distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children and removing political restrictions. Nowhere else in the world have equality and freedom for working women been so fully established.

We know that it is the working-class woman who has to bear the full brunt of antiquated codes. For the first time in history, our law has removed everything that denied women rights. But the important thing is not the law. In the cities and industrial areas this law on complete freedom of marriage is doing all right, but in the countryside it all too frequently remains a dead letter. There the religious marriage still predominates. This is due to the influence of the priests, an evil that is harder to combat than the old legislation.

We must be extremely careful in fighting religious prejudices; some people cause a lot of harm in this struggle by offending religious feelings. We must use propaganda and education. By lending too sharp an edge to the struggle we may only arouse popular resentment; such methods of struggle tend to perpetuate the division of the people along religious lines, whereas our strength lies in unity. The deepest source of religious prejudice is poverty and ignorance; and that is the evil we have to combat.

The status of women up to now has been compared to that of a slave; women have been tied to the home, and only socialism can save them from this. They will only be completely emancipated when we change from small-scale individual farming to collective farming and collective working of the land. That is a difficult task. But now that Poor Peasants’ Committees are being formed, the time has come when the socialist revolution is being consolidated.

The poorest part of the rural population is only now beginning to organise, and socialism is acquiring a firm foundation in these organisations of poor peasants.

Before, often the town became revolutionary and then the countryside.

But the present revolution relies on the countryside, and therein lie its significance and strength. the experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it. The Soviet government is doing everything in its power to enable women to carry on independent proletarian socialist work.

The Soviet government is in a difficult position because the imperialists of all countries hate Soviet Russia and are preparing to go to war with her for kindling the fire of revolution in a number of countries and for taking determined steps towards socialism.

Now that they are out to destroy revolutionary Russia, the ground is beginning to burn under their own feet. You know how the revolutionary movement is spreading in Germany. In Denmark the workers are fighting their government. In Switzerland and Holland the revolutionary movement is getting stronger. The revolutionary movement in these small countries has no importance in itself, but it is particularly significant because there was no war in these countries and they had the most “constitutional” democratic system. If countries like these are stirring into action, it makes us sure the revolutionary movement is gaining ground all over the world.

No other republic has so far been able to emancipate woman. The Soviet Government is helping her. Our cause is invincible because the invincible working class is rising in all countries. This movement signifies the spread of the invincible socialist revolution. n

Comrade Gomathi is a plantation worker under Tata company who led a historic struggle of women’s workers at Munnar, Kerala, for which she is now isolated and persecuted by the administration and leaders of ruling class political parties. CPI(M) leaders are now in the forefront along with other leading political parties to isolate her so that they can prevent the emergence of an independent class-conscious movement, challenging them and the Tata management whom all of them serve. Now read this interview by Mrudula Bhavani, January 27, 2019.

You are a block panchayat member. Why are you forced to leave Munnar?

The trauma I am going through is so much after organizing the Pombila Orumai movement, which cannot be described in words. There is no single reply from Kerala for my facebook post about leaving Munnar. I have no regret. I’m just one among the thousands of plantation workers. And I’m not claiming that I created the movement. I don’t understand why they’re creating troubles aimed at me. All those from Kerala who said that they’ll stand beside me, or they will demolish the police station etc. now seem to be least moved by my post. Which way the rulers affect the lives of the women here? Can anyone say that? I wrote on that as well saying that the women who support Vanitha Mathil should comment on women issues too.

Today what I feel is that all this seems to be joke for them. There was a huge support for Vanitha mathil. But did that in any my state? I have issues of shelter, police cases on me and my son, only because I questioned power. The police torture is making me even suicidal and the case on my son too. Yes, it is my son’s mistake that he fell in love with a minor. The same girl who walked holding my hands, is now going against me and seeking for my son’s arrest. I don’t have any grudge against MM Mani, only that MM Mani spoke against Pombila samaram. I don’t have any grudge against CPIM. They might have grudge against me because I organized a movement without them. They still have that evil conviction in their minds that we have organized the movement opposing them and that I became a block member opposing them. A lot of efforts are being taken to finish me off.

While AITUC, INTUC and CITU are all separate, they all unite together when it comes to my issue. I’ve been constantly fighting within the block panchayat, they are not giving me funds as well. Recently in a place called Connimala top I’ve started a work for 5 lakhs, it’s been one and half years and the Panchayat president from Congress Karupasaamy is creating blockades over my work. I’m not able to do work despite getting votes. I’m still doing within my capacity. If I’m entering any quarters, anticipating that I might organize Pombila Orumai movement again, they’re troubling the workers there. But the people are saying that they’ll stand beside me no matter what. And I believe by heart that the people of Munnar are with me. Not just in Kerala, I’m travelling across India and participating in various movements. Why do they fear me? Now negotiation over salary is going on. Now it’s been 11 months since the salary hike for plantation workers given. Company is saying that they won’t give. Politicians are getting involved in this. They’re citing various problems like GST, flood and snow, to show that the company is affected. Why won’t they increase the salary of plantation workers who are generating crores of rupees’ profit? That’s why they fear for me thinking that Gomathi will arrive again.

There are issues with Patta (land right) as well. They have allotted patta in some places which people don’t know. People again approach me to solve the issue. I say that I’ll obviously join if you start, despite the consequences. People are being oppressed that they are confined within company quarters and work. They say that votes will prove whether Pombila orumai movement exists or not. As Parliament elections are nearing, I’m facing a lot of issues as well. Pa.Ranjith visited Thrissur recently. Vigilance and special branch officers ask me “Did you meet him, how wouldn’t you not meet him despite you both belong to the same caste?” till then I didn’t know Pa.Ranjith belongs to my caste. Even if I deny all that, they say “If people who are close to you like Santhosh, Sunny Kappikad have met him, how come Pa.Ranjith come here without your knowledge. That too him being a Tamilian”. They keep asking whether actors Rajinikanth, Kamalhassan, Parvathy invited me and promised any favours, What is my next plan of action? If I’m going to organize any other movement. Special branch officers from Thodupuzha visited my home. Who am I? I’m just reduced to a Block member who couldn’t even do anything for people.

Most of the people working in Block are from CPIM, who wouldn’t help me at all. I have struggled so much to do something, but nothing happens. No member has even invited me to any of the Grama Sabha. That is my pathetic state. Whom did I betray? Whose living did I spoil? Is it my fault that I protested for the people? I posted a video to collect rice from Tamilnadu since the plantation workers of Munnar didn’t receive any help after flood. And a lot of politicians became “Gomathi”, falsely claimed my identity, collected and hoarded the rice. I still have the regret of not being to help people.

The government and the politicians have pushed me into a state of being suicidal. I never gave up, except for my son’s issue. I didn’t leave my home for a month. I don’t know what made her complaint; she was very close to me, who even said that she’ll marry my son. CPIM people are even spreading false news that she was pregnant and have gone through abortion. I visited her in person and she denied that. My son got bail, only because she herself told the judge that it is mere political vengeance. In between she joined CPIM. I don’t have any issues with her joining CPIM. Now she’s saying that she doesn’t want my son and humiliating me. Even I possess the video she sent me, the letters she wrote to the SP and DSP. It doesn’t take much time for me to reveal all that. But I don’t wish to humiliate another woman. I still believe my son should face punishment if he deserves it. But they don’t show any courtesy on me despite me being a woman.

Are all women coming to the streets to struggle? How many politicians bring their wives to the protest sites? How many wives of politicians participated in the Vanitha Mathil. Did the families of Kodiyeri and Pinarayi participate? All those who participated were plantation workers, adivasis and other oppressed. They lied to the plantation workers here that you women should come and oppose women’s entry into Sabarimala and took them to Vanitha Mathil. People here are regretting after returning. Why should they lie? They could have spoken the truth. We showed what the power of Dalit organizations means and what “Renaissance” is, on April 9th. But everyone just joined Vanitha Mahil. Despite studying only till 10th class, I’m able to comprehend what politics means. Why couldn’t you? Now have all the problems of women resolved? Even now I have written a post. But there’s no response.

I used to receive thousands of phone calls sending their regards. But I received none now. It is only the plantations workers are expressing their concerns. Because I posted in Tamil. They say “Why should you leave? You stand firmly. Your name is present in Munnar. People of Munnar will even build your statue after you pass away”. People of Kerala don’t have to build a statue after I pass away. It is enough if people who fight for Munnar to stand by me. If you don’t want to support, I don’t need your concerns. I know what to do as an individual in Munnar. Did we start the movement anticipating support from various corners? We fought for our rights, to show the world how our lives are even after freedom.Yes, you gave support. But the movement was victorious not because of your support but because the plantation workers came together. Gomathi as an individual is capable to fight all her lifetime. I would have  done anything for the people of Munnar, if I had owned a house to live. Staying in a rented house is big problem. My father’s house has shares. My brother has died leaving 3 daughters, how can I stay there. There are lot of family issues too. They all think that Gomathi has the support of Kerala.

No, Gomathi has courage, power and the support of God. I might leave Munnar, but I do have my own plans. Kerala will witness what I’m going to do. I don’t need anyone’s support. But I’ll accept anyone who is concerned about the well being of the plantation workers, colony people and the adivasis. I know how to guide these people, and I’ll leave Munnar only after showing them a path. Yes, it is true that I was broken in my son’s issue, and it is true that I have a case on me; I’m not going to deny all that. Only that I’m broken that a girl who was beside me have rejected me and my son. I give my best wishes to her. I don’t have any grudge against you. I know that it is all because of CPIM. Let them arrest my son if he had committed any mistake, but that won’t stop me from fighting for people. I’m not concerned about whether I’ll receive any support or not.

After accepting the Supreme Court’s verdict to allow women entering Sabarimala, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has lifted up to the position of renaissance (Navodhanam) leader. He addressed the question of gender, the question of caste etc. but at the same time you, a Dalit plantation workers’ leader who is in the fore front of anti-caste, labor rights movement are forced to leave Munnar after continuing torture from the same government. Isn’t that the irony?

People here don’t even understand the meaning of ‘Navodhanam’. They are denying the presence of caste and religion. Ask him to come to the ground. To make him a ‘Navodhana’ hero, they created a Vanitha mathil. Now he has become a Navadhana hero. I don’t have any issues with it. Caste and religion have entrenched here. No one can deny that. Women’s problems have never been resolved. No one can endure the trauma I am going through. But I don’t fear for anyone. Be it Pinarayi Vijayan or anyone, I’m going to speak truth. I don’t understand on what basis they’re supporting this navodhanam.

 Again, I’m saying, even I can understand this is not navodhanam but it is a political drama. The whole Kerala have now gone to sabarimala. If women had to visit there, take them with enough protection. As simple as that. But why all this drama? All have now realized what Pinarayi Vijayan government is. There will be a change. This only makes me laugh even amidst all my pain seeing all this drama they are doing with the people and women. It is painful to see even all the writers and intellectuals go behind all this ‘Navodhanam’, Sabarimala issue and Vanitha Mathil. n

175 YEARS OF THE HOLY FAMILY - SANKAR

When Engels left Paris after a short staying of only ten days with Marx at the end of August, 1844, he finished his portion of the book they planned. It was The Holy Family, first joint work of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, where the duo first time jointly declared their final departure from the circle of the Young Hegelians. Thus a new ideology was announced for the emancipation of humanity.

Soon after the death of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel on 1831, his followers were divided in two opposite sects, namely The Orthodox Hegelians and The Young Hegelians. They were also called as Right Hegelians and the Left Hegelians, respectively. The Orthodox Hegelians used to interpret Hegel’s philosophy in the conservative direction according to which the Supreme Absolute in Hegel’s philosophy had been embodied in the Prussian state of that time. Therefore, there was no further scope of any extension of political freedom.

On the contrary, the Young Hegelians did not accept this. They used to advocate that the scope of freedom is actually unlimited which could not be restricted either by the state or by religion. Thus the state and the religion were their chief enemies which had to be uprooted in the course of achieving human emancipation. Therefore, the premise of Young Hegelian thought was that the religion and the state were the base, on which rest of the categories of the society were built.

In order to understand The Holy Family which played a pivotal role in the course of genesis of Marxism it is of course imperative to have a clearer vision on the dynamics of thought inside the circle of Hegel’s followers. Hegel always considered himself as a staunch Lutheran Christian. His philosophy was completely mingled with his theological outlook. As Bruno Bauer remembered:

“Only Hegel, whose lectures I had heard from the first hours, held me immediately captive. For me it was as if, in these penetrating and simple truths, that nothing new came to be known but only the revelation of inborn knowledge, and from them my weak spirit was given back its calm and certainty. How great was that man’s simplicity and openness in the search for truth, and how holy his anger, when he spoke of how the very pillars of the church itself were apparently being destroyed by the ones who had been set up as its teachers and shepherds, and how great was the sorrow of his spirit, when he revealed how dogma and the display of eternal truth were cast aside and disdained by the moderns.” (Quoted in a thesis on New Hegelian movement by Nathan W Bjorge: The Inverted Essence: The Young Hegelian Critique of Religion 1835-45, 2009)

 Therefore, the first split among the disciples of Hegel took place with the publication of The Life of Jesus Critically Examined by David Strauss, one of the prominent Hegelians in 1935. Strauss argued in the book that the stories on Jesus described in Christian canon were mostly mythical and fictional. The Hegelian Orthodoxy could not accept this turn of Hegelian philosophical discourse. However, very soon a group of young disciples of Hegel had been gathered around the opinion advocated in The Life of Jesus in the University of Berlin. Eventually this group of young graduates in philosophy in the University started to be known as Young Hegelians. The differences of opinion gradually broadened, although within the general framework of Hegelian discourse, and started to embrace nearly all the fields of philosophical thoughts.

Since late twenties of the nineteenth century Bruno Bauer became a disciple of Hegel. At that time he was a student of philosophy in the University of Berlin. After completion of student life he received his teaching license in 1834. He started his teaching career on the next year in the same University. When the controversial book of Strauss was published Bauer launched his counter attack on Strauss and the famous ‘Life of Jesus’ debate began. However, within three years he was defeated completely. Although Strauss’ book was apparently theological, but actually it was a radical political text closely related to the issues of revolutions of 1830 and 1848. Therefore, throughout German political circle at that time The Life of Jesus appeared as a radical political symbol.

By 1840 Bruno Bauer made a U-tern in his career in philosophy and became a Young Hegelian. His three volume Critique of the Synoptic Gospels was published in 1940-42 where he made a further advancement from Strauss and reached in the conclusion that there was never the historical Jesus at all. Bauer wrote: “To the question of whether Jesus was an authentic historical figure, we replied that everything relating to the historical Jesus, all that we know of him, relates to the world of fancy, to be more exact - to Christian fancies. This has no connection with any man who lived in the real world. The question is answered by its elimination for the future.” (thesis, ibid). 

As the Young Hegelians started to come in dominance in the University of Berlin since mid-1830s, Bruno Bauer, the then Old Hegelian ideologue, left it and joined in the faculty of philosophy in the University of Bonn in 1839. However, his u-tern in philosophical understanding led his dismissal from the University in October, 1841 and he made a dramatic return in the University of Berlin as the supreme leader of the Young Hegelians. 

Marx arrived at the University of Berlin in 1836 at the age of 18, where he met Bauer as a teacher and was influenced by him in order to adopt Hegelianism. After Bauer’s come back at the University in 1941 Marx allied with him to carry forward the Young Hegelian campaign. However, interesting developments started to take place in the political scenario of Europe at that time which eventually created a split between them within two years.

The political lefts in Europe in the early decades of nineteenth century generally used to relate themselves with the French Revolution of 1789. However, they were mainly radical republicans. As the capitalist development started to move in a faster pace since 1820s, the organized working class began to appear in England and France. As a result the concept of socialism or communism started to make inroad in left radicalism and prepared a potential ground for future break up within the Young Hegelian movement. The Chartist movement in England was a magnificent development in this direction. It was the first mass movement of the working class in Europe. Since the early years of 1830s the demand to remove property restriction in the right to vote started to come to the fore. In 1838 a People’s Charter was drawn up for the London Working Men’s Association (LWMA) by William Lovett and Francis Place, two self-educated radicals, in consultation with other members of LWMA. The Charter had six demands:

  • All men to have the vote (universal manhood suffrage)
  • Voting should take place by secret ballot
  • Parliamentary elections every year, not once every five years
  • Constituencies should be of equal size
  • Members of Parliament should be paid
  • The property qualification for becoming a Member of Parliament should be abolished.

Huge participation of the working masses took place in favour of these demands. In June 1839, the Chartists’ petition was presented to the House of Commons with over 1.25 million signatures. It was rejected by Parliament. This provoked unrest which was crushed by the authorities. A second petition was presented in May 1842, signed by over three million people, but again it was rejected and further unrest and arrests followed.

When the Young Hegelians made their first split from Hegelian Orthodoxy the camp as a whole used to put emphasis to practice over theory, materialism over idealism, secular humanism over Christian Orthodoxy, continued dialectical process over complete totality, and negation over positive. However now, when the second split took place among the Young Hegelians themselves it took a different shape. The adherents of socialism/communism (Engels, Marx, Hess etc.) started to put emphasis to community over individual, “the people” over “the unique one”, the commune over republic, and proletariat over the bourgeoisie. “The Holy Family” of Marx and Engels was the first theoretical-philosophical assertion of this new position.

The first clash took place when as the editor of Young Hegelian journal Rheinische Zeitung (Rhineland Times) Marx denied to publish the superficial and pretentious articles of the ultra-radical Berlin Circle of “The Free” in the autumn of 1842. At that time political parties were not very common formation in Germany, whereas in England or France it was common. German radicals generally use to organize themselves around particular beer-pubs or coffeehouses like Café Pilfax in Pest or Romberg’s Coffeehouse in Cologne. Young Hegelian “The Free” was such type of club which saw itself as a political party with a revolutionary character. Marx gradually entered in deep rooted differences with “The Free” where Bruno Bauer and his brother Edger Bauer, Max Stirner, Eduard Meyen and others formed a group which was sarcastically called by Marx as “The Holy Family”. 

“The Free” saw itself as a party but not an actual party, a party of the masses or of a particular class. According to Bruno Bauer and his comrades it was not the mass but some advanced individuals could change the world through ruthless criticism to everything. So they declared, “Criticism does not form any party and will have no party of its own; it is solitary because it is engrossed in its object and oppose itself to it. It isolates itself from everything.” Marx criticized heavily the position of the Young Hegelians. He ridiculed Bruno: “That is why he creates for himself a Holy Family, just as the solitary God endeavours in the Holy Family to end his tedious isolation from society.”

Marx fantastically show that those advocators of materialism actually landed in idealism. It was a crucial realization of Marx which led him to formulating a new philosophy which he more clearly elaborated in German Ideology. He proved that according to Critical Criticism the world was nothing but “a mere fancy of his brain” which led it to discard the role of the masses in creating the world history. Marx said, “Returning to its starting point, Absolute Criticism has ended the speculative cycle and thereby its own life’s career. Its further movement is pure, lofty circling within itself, above all interest of a mass nature and therefore devoid of any further interest for the Mass.”

Engels elaborated the significance and role of the proletariat magnificently in the book. The famous concept of Marx-Engels regarding the alienation or “human self-estrangement” was first described in The Holy Family. Therefore, the role of the proletariat was charted by them with such clarity. Let us have a look how they put down the departure from romantic point of view which Bruno Bauer and his comrades tried to ascribe to them. Engels wrote in The Holy Family: “When socialist writers ascribe this world historic role to the proletariat, it is not at all, as Critical Criticism pretends to believe, because they regard the proletariat as gods. Rather the contrary. Since in the full-formed proletariat the abstraction of all humanity, even of the semblance of humanity, is particularly complete; since the conditions of the life of the proletariat sum up all the conditions of life of society today in their most inhuman form; since man has lost himself in the proletariat, yet at the same time has not only gained theoretical consciousness of that loss, but through urgent, no longer removable, no longer disguisable, absolutely  imperative need—— the practical expression of necessity—— is driven directly to revolt against this inhumanity, it follows that the proletariat can and must emancipate himself.”

One hundred and seventy five years have passed since The Holy Family was written. However, the relevance of the book is still being felt. The reason, however, lies in an unfortunate fact. That is even after one hundred seventy five years of Marx’s battle the Marxists still are not Marxist, rather Young Hegelian as far as the philosophy is concerned. The ‘holy family’ is not destroyed, but still survives in the minds of the disciples of Marx. In different practical political movements when we receive a number of brain-made suggestions even from our serious minded Marxist friends, when we see the outright romantic politics in the revolutionary camp we cannot but reread The Holy Family where Marx-Engels ridiculed the Young Hegelians in the following fashion:

“Criticism, which is self-sufficient, and complete and perfect in itself, naturally cannot recognize history as it really took place, for that would mean recognizing the base Mass in all its mass-like mass nature, whereas the problem is precisely to redeem the mass from its mass nature. History is therefore freed from its Mass nature, and Criticism, which has a free attitude to its object, call to history: “You ought to have happened in such and such a way!” n

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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.