Debiprasad threw new light on the question of the transition from matriarchy to patriarchy and its relation with materialism in our country. His investigation have problematized the apparently organized, however, a linier theory that the primitive communist society was matriarchal and the class-societies were patriarchal. He devoted two chapters for this subject in his Lokayata, under the title of Ganapati and Gauri. He showed that in the initial stage of hunting-gathering society where gathering was more prominent than hunting, there the society was matriarchal in nature. However, in the higher stage of hunting-gathering society where hunting was more prominent especially hunting by bow and arrow was introduced there the domination over the society was shifted to the hands of the male-folks from the women. Why? Debiprasad did not enter into a detailed discussion, but he indicated towards a huge socio-cultural- psychological and economical shift of the society. While Morgan and Engels both relied on the economic cause behind this transition in a strict sense, Debiprasad found it unsatisfactory, though, he never challenged it openly rather restricted himself in some indication, probably for the reason that he was a Marxist in such a time when economic determination was recognized as an essential component of Marxism and any deviation from it used to be considered as a deviation from the philosophy itself.
Similarly, Debiprasad showed that when the society advanced from the higher stage of hunting-gathering society to the initial stage of agricultural society again the domination over the society was changed and a reverse journey from patriarchy to matriarchy took place. Why? Why a gathering based society was generally matriarchal and a hunting based society was patriarchal? And why the initiation of primary agriculture re-established the domination of the women once again? Debiprasad employed one simple sentence to indicate the reason of the change. He said, “Hunting was the job of the male”. It is a well-accepted fact among the Marxists that the division of labour between male and female was the most primitive division of labour in human history. However, the Marxists never studied deeply the consequences of this division of labour in a society. Debiprasad restricted himself only in some indications which must be studied and elaborated by a new generation of the Marxists. In the chapter of Ganapati Debiprasad showed that the main weapon of the god was bow and arrow. In our country there are eighteen forms of the god Ganapati are found, with the common weapon of bow and arrow. It establishes sufficiently that the god emerged at the tribal hunting-gathering stage of the society which must have been pre-Indus Valley Civilization.
Before the discovery of the remnants of Indus Valley Civilization in the beginning of the last century it was thought that the Vedic civilization was the earliest civilization in India. However, the discovery extended the horizon of human knowledge about the history of civilizations of our country. More the study of this newly discovered civilization proceeds it has been revealed that it was an early agriculturist society where no definite evidence of ploughing is found. The inhabitants of this society learned to use floods and river water wisely as well as learned to erect dams for agricultural use. This civilization was a bronze-age civilization and mainly depended on agriculture. Debiprasad showed that this civilization was a matriarchal society where Ganapati lost its importance and in that place goddess Durga or Sakamvari or Gouri emerged.
Debiprasad discussed elaborately with an ancient ritual which is still observed in a large part of our country, called, Ganesha Chaturthi Vrata. This is a ritual related to agriculture where the presence of Ganesha or Ganapati is mainly namesake. The main character in this vrata is Gauri. The vrata is observed at the session of sowing the seeds. In the first day of the ritual the image of Ganesha is placed at the site of the ritual as simply the representative of the new moon but actually he is nothing to do with the ritual itself. From the second day he is totally absent and the ritual take a complete feminine character where Gauri replaced Ganesha. However, Gauri is not the Gauri of our familiar Puranic pantheon; instead, she is a bundle of plants, along with her human representative: a virgin. Debiprasad wrote: “The plants are collected by women, placed on a diagram drawn with turmeric powder. While wrapping these up in a bundle, married women are served with vermilion. Only women remain to participate in the rest of the ritual centering round this bundle of plants. The plants, along with the virgin, are carried from room to room and asked, ‘Gauri, Gauri what do you see?’ The virgin answers, ‘I see prosperity and plenty.’ To make this dramatic visit of Gauri realistic, her supposed footprints are actually drawn on the floor showing that she did enter the rooms.”
The people of Bengal and other eastern states know very well that these types of rituals and festivals take place throughout the months of September, October and November which are essentially related to faith, magical believes and conventions connected to agriculture. It is very clear to understand that all these rituals and festivals were originated in a society where hunting was no more the main economic activity. It was already replaced by agriculture, however, agriculture remained in its initial stage. At that point of time sufficient development in natural science was absent. As a result the human did not know the biological mechanism of a plant which produces crops. Agricultural production was still mere a mystery for them. At that uncertain state of affairs for production, for rain, for fertility of the ground and overall agricultural success the human needed to depend on magic and magical beliefs. These rituals and festivals related to agriculture were mere reflection of this fact. But what is the relation between agricultural rituals and the women? Why in all the agriculture related rituals and festivals are dominated by the women? Why in the brata like Ganesha Chaturthi the presence of the god Ganesha is only namesake? What is the significance of exit of Ganesha from the scene from the second day of the festival?
According to Debiprasad the answers of these questions lie in the fact that agriculture was invented by the women. Therefore, agriculture, especially, in its initial stage was the job of the women. As the hunting was the job of the men and the society mainly depended on hunting was invariably male-dominated, similarly, the society depended on early agriculture was invariably dominated by the women. Debiprasad quoted Briffault, “In the primitive division of labour the gathering and the cultivation of the vegetable food are the special occupation of the women as hunting is that of the men.” (Lokayata/252). Debiprasad quoted Giles from Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics: “Primitive agriculture is not altogether nor to any large extent, in the hands of males. As Von Den Steiner remarks of the Bakairi of Central Brazil, it is women that has invented agriculture….” (ibid/252).
At the first stage of societal development when gathering was the main economic activity women was the driving force of the society. When economic dependency was shifted on hunting the women were dislodged from their dominating position and the male folks came in the fore. The women were deputed to perform the household activities, childbearing, child-rearing and animal husbandry. In the course of performing these duties, especially animal husbandry, someday women invented agriculture. And it happened so naturally that not only in India, but in a large part of the globe it is evident that all the early agriculturist societies were characterized by female domination, matriarchal and matrilineal elements based on mother-right. Obviously India played the key-role to develop early agriculture and matriarchal system based on that. Debiprasad quoted Ehranfels: “Women here not only invented systematic tilling of the soil, but also put this into practice, which can be no means have been an easy task, as conservatism was so strong in primitive society, specially, in the primeval culture-circle, that some remnants of these pre-agricultural groups have been preserved to the present day. In consequence of the tilling of the soil the people of this first matriarchal culture-circle gave up roaming in the forest and became first settlers.” And again, “The mutual relations between Indian and non-Indian mother-right cultures are manifold. The general geographical and also the archaeological situation favours the theory that the world-culture of mother-right originally emanated from India.” And the mother-right of Indian society “appears to have created the ancient matriarchal civilization in the Mediterranean Basin, Oriental Africa, the Near-East and specially Southern Arabia.” Therefore, it was not an accident that the early materialism or proto-materialism found its early home in India and India was a land of materialism, quite contrary to the claim of the Vedantists that it is a land of spiritualism and idealism.
With the introduction of early agriculture there happened the exit of male and again the female-folks came in the fore. The main economic activity again came back in the hands of the women and the male-folks took the backbench. This social phenomenon is reflected in the brata like Ganesh Chaturthi where the presence of the god Ganesha is only namesake and he actually exit from the scene from the second day of the festival. Debiprasad here clearly deviated from the picture presented by Morgan and Bachofen, and also to some extent Engels regarding the transition from matriarchal to patriarchal society. Morgan explained the transition as a general point of view which very often seems as a linear development. However, contrary to that Debiprasad offered a comprehensive theoretical framework which actually contains the zigzag path of societal development. The initial matriarchal society based on gathering and hunting, where the main emphasis was laid on gathering, not hunting, was replaced by the higher stage hunting-gathering society where hunting by bow and arrow was the main economic activity. We have already seen that this type of society was invariably a patriarchal one. From this stage society developed further, somewhere in the globe to the early agriculturist society and somewhere into the pastoral society. Debiprasad wrote: “The categories do not constitute a fixed chronological sequence. Food gathering and hunting have come first everywhere, but the higher grades depend on the local fauna and flora and other environmental factors. Thus, after food-gathering and hunting, some of the people of the ancient times moved towards the pastoral economy while some others discovered agriculture.” (ibid/236) In the pastoral society patriarchy continued, however, in the early agriculturist society the matriarchy came back which was again replace by patriarchy when agriculture rolled on into the higher stage of agriculturist society.
These observations of Debiprasad solved the age-old riddle regarding the early Vedic society. From the theoretical framework put forward by Morgan and Engels we came to know that the classless society was matriarchal society based on mother-right but when the private property came in dominance the ancient clans had to be broken and the mother-right must be destroyed to pave the way patriarchy in order to retain the property within the family. Therefore the uncertainty in the identification of the father of a newborn baby must have been vanished. As a result monogamy was imposed on the women while polygamy in case of the male-folks continued. Therefore, class societies must be patriarchal according to this theoretical understanding. In the main classless society was matriarchal and class societies were patriarchal. This was a clear-cut characterization put forward by Morgan and Engels. How then can we explain the presence of the class divided early agriculturist society like Indus Valley Civilization which was matriarchal in nature? And how can we explain the presence of classless pastoral society like the early Vedic society which was patriarchal in nature? Morgan-Engels formula does not provide an answer. Here is the significance of Debiprasad that he solved these riddles with more elaborated observations which in return developed not only the general philosophical understanding but the Marxist theory on the questions related to the transition from pre-history to the civilization.
What was the main reason behind the transition from classless matriarchal society to class divided patriarchal society? According to the Morgan-Engels theory although the classless matriarchal society had its own dynamics and constant changes can be seen throughout the history of classless society, however, it was the origination of private property which put the last nail on the coffin of the matriarchal society based on mother-right. On the contrary Debiprasad put forward a different idea. The gathering-hunting society was matriarchal because gathering was in the main the job of the women. The higher stage of hunting-gathering society was patriarchal because hunting, especially, by bow and arrow was the job of the men. Pastoral society was patriarchal but early agriculturist society became matriarchal because agriculture was invented by the women and it was their job. Now what does it all mean? How far this psycho-economic and cultural approach can be considered as a Marxist approach? These questions deserve an elaborated discussion which we like to address in opportune moment. However, it can now be said at least that if the Communists of country already would have taken up these valuable observations of Debiprasad and addressed these questions there was a chance to develop the Marxist theory in order to combat the mechanical Marxist ideas which have played very important role to develop revisionism.
Anyway, according to Debiprasad early agriculturist Indus Valley Civilization was the source of matriarchal society and consequently proto-materialist beliefs like Tantra. Tantra like doctrine which gives immense importance to the concept of awakening the female power was originated in a matriarchal society. The deities like Kali, Durga, Gauri or Sakamvari came into the imagination of the people at that type of society, Debiprasad explained. In order to describe the origination of Shakta cult (related to goddess Kali) he quoted many times from The Indo-Aryan Races written by Ramaprasad Chanda: “The Shakta conception of the Devi, as Adya Shakti, ‘the primordial energy’, and Jagadamva, ‘the mother of universe’, also very probably arose in a society where matriarchate or mother-kin was prevalent.” It is a well accepted fact the Aryan society was not this kind of society; neither matriarchal nor matrilineal. That was the reason why Debiprasad asserted so confidently that Tantra or ancient materialism in India was originated in Indus Valley Civilization and had a close connection with matriarchy.
Debiprasad considered this magic-based belief-system which had its lot many deities and rituals as pre-spiritualistic or proto-materialist? He remarked, “Ganapati, indeed, leads us to presume that the nature of this pre-spiritualistic, or at least proto-materialistic, that is, Lokayatika, in the sense in which we have understood it.” But the question is why Debiprasad did not want to identify these belief-systems with religion proper? Why he called these notions pre-spiritualistic or proto-materialistic? A thorough reading of his texts suggests that one of the major reasons behind this understanding Debiprasad was that these belief-systems worked in order to develop the productive power of the society through more confident and enthusiastic human action while the religious doctrines always undermine human action and teach to suspend human efforts as the supreme goal of humankind is never related to this-worldly phenomena.
Since the time around 15OO BCE the Aryan tribal groups started to enter ancient India or Jambudwipa. We have already seen that the Aryans were pastoral and nomadic groups based on patriarchal social system. As a result a ferocious conflict started to open up in this part of the globe between matriarchal early agriculturist people and nomadic pastoral patriarchal tribes. Since the Indus Valley script is yet to be decoded and on the other hand the Aryans had no script at all at that point of time, the history of this conflict is not readily available. Debiprasad tried to reconstruct this history from myths, puranas and ‘religious’ texts. Bachofen applied this same method in his famous work Mother Right. Debiprasad reminded us that Marx too admitted this method: “As is well-known, we have abundant data from the religious and mythological point of view, but hardly much from the point of view social history proper. So we propose to begin from a different end. If it true that religious ideas are ultimately conditioned by concrete material factors, it should be possible for us to discover something about these material factors by examining the religious ideas in which these are reflected. As Marx said, ‘the reality of the past seems reflected in mythological fantasy’. We may therefore examine the mythological fantasies in order to arrive at the ancient reality.” (ibid/126)
In order to understand the history of this conflict Debiprasad resorted to Rig Vedic evidences. He described elaborately how Indra, the war-god of the Aryans defeated, raped and drove Usha, the mother-deity of matriarchal Harappa from the valley of Indus to the banks of Bipasha. From the narratives of killing Vrta by Indra Debiprasad described how the Aryan destroyed the dams built by the people of Harappa civilization in order to destroy their agricultural system. However, the materialism of Indus could not be destroyed by the Aryans. The stiff battle of this notion with the Aryan idealism continued even after the destruction of Indus Valley Civilization. And it is a more interesting fact that the materialism which came into being in the Indus civilization became popular among the oppressed masses in the Vedic society when it broke down into warring classes. His struggle is continuing even today. Debiprasad opined that the fate of present class struggle in India depends on how this age-old contradiction will be handled by the present generations of the toiling masses. We will try to understand the view of Debiprasad on this immensely important subject in the following chapters.
(Next: Chapter — III, Vedic Society and Vedic Philosophy)
As we have noted in our analysis of the Interim Budget (“Budget as a Means of Purchasing Votes?”, Red Star, March 2019), that exercise of the Modi government was in total disregard of all established parliamentary traditions, precedents and scruples, including even abandonment of placing the mandatory pre-Budget Economic Survey which was indispensable for the country to know the “real state of the economy”. Modi government was afraid of presenting the Economic Survey asthe data, inevitably be preparedby official agencies such as Central Statistical Organisation and National Sample Survey Organisation, would have to highlight several unpleasant but real facts concerning the economy. If brought to light through the Economic Survey, it would have been an official admission of the frightening disruption that has ravaged the entire economy. And on the eve of the 11thLaksabha election, leading members of these agencies who were reluctant to manipulate the data as demanded by the regime, quite unprecedentedly, had resigned from their posts.
At the same time, utilising doctored statistics, manipulated data and bogus claims, Modi regime transformed the interim budget into an election speech with a whole set of freebies, giveaways, tax concessions, money transfer schemes and other populist programs, each being addressed to specific vote-banks. But after winning the election with a brute majority backed by corporate money power, EVM manipulation and by depoliticising the masses, in the full-fledged budget Modi.2 has brought forward its true colour.
Coming to Modi.2’s maiden budget, several experts including IMF pensioners deputed to India and US-based researchers formerly associated with Modi government, in spite of their adherence to neoliberal economic philosophy, have come out openly against the use of manipulated official data in it. Among them, the most relevant criticism has come from Arvind Subramanian, former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) under Modi.1. Though Modi.2’s panel of economic advisers have rejected his evaluation, Subramanian’s observations have once again reignited serious concerns about the credibility of government’s economic growth data including the 2019 budget estimates made by Sitharaman in her maiden budget. For instance, the 2019 budget claims that in 2018 India was the fastest growing economy in the world. According to Subramanian, this is an overestimation as the methodology used for calculating it was also flawed- an aspect upheld by several other economists too. Obviously, in the beginning of Modi’s first term, in 2015 itself, India had changed the way and the methodology of measuring GDP. The first major change was the use of market prices instead factory or production costs to calculate the GDP figures. This shift in the method of calculation from the traditional practice of using wholesale prices with producers to market prices paid by consumers will definitely give an inflated figure of GDP. Secondly, the base year was shifted from 2004-05 to 2011-12 to assess GDP growth figures. Naturally, when the base year becomes 2011-12 everything included in the calculation will be at the 2011-12 prices which will be much higher than that of 2004-05 prices such that the nominally again the GDP figures will be inflated.
Therefore, Subramanian questioned the claims of the Modi government that under its regime GDP had grown to 7 percent per annum and, according to him, the actual GDP growth under Modi.1 is only around 4.5 percent (hovering between 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent) instead of 7 percent. However, the new methodology enabled Modi regime to suspiciously lower the GDP growth rate of under the UPA regime, and artificially hike that during the NDA rule. Ironically, based on this new methodology, the fastest growth of 8 percent and 8.2 percent was respectively recorded during 2016 and 2017 though these were the years when both demonetisation and GST had devastated the economy. More revealingly, even today reliable data regarding the unorganised sectors are lacking, and it is this area that contributes 60 percent to the entire economic system.
Since, Subramanian’s comment is based on these facts and on his own research, which has been published by the Centre for International Development at Harvard University, many economists and statisticians have come to believe that Modi government’s GDP figures are exaggerated or overstated by about 2.5 percent! Hence when Modi government claimed India as the fastest growing economy in 2018, many leading economists have pointed out that this claim is baseless as it is on the basis of a flawed methodology.
Subramanian has even gone to the extent of calling for an independent panel of experts comprising Indian and foreign nationals to examine India’s GDP data. To quote him: “My new research suggests that post-global financial crisis, the heady narrative of a guns-blazing India - that statisticians led us to believe - may have to cede to a more realistic one of an economy growing solidly but not spectacularly.” As such, several experts asked for restoring confidence in the official data by urgently revamping the statistical system to have an accurate picture of the economy and capture real-time data for policy analysis. Revealingly, finance minister Sitharaman has not yet been able to answer the question relating to the discrepancy in revenue collection between the Budget estimates and Economic Survey, the latter being generally recognised as reliable. Thus, while the Budget Estimates for 2018-19 expect a revenue of 17.3 lakh crore, Economic Survey puts the same as only 15.6 lakh crore—a gap of almost Rs. 2 lakh crore, a manifestation of utter confusion connected with data manipulation.
When Sitharaman in her budget speech elaborated the government’s goal of transforming ‘fastest growing’ India into a $5 trillion economy in the next five years (i.e., almost doubling from the present $2.7 trillion) that requires an annual GDP growth rate of 8 percent, and outlined her budget estimates in conformity with this task, the fact remains that the whole exercise is based on unrealistic and unscientific data. Most important is the fact that even this $2.7 trillion which at present is equal to the state domestic product of California, one among the 50 states in US, itself is an exaggerated figure. As already pointed out, the present high growth claim is not at all reflected in the economy or experienced by the people since, despite the government’s claims of rapid growth, unemployment touched a 45-year high that too during the last two years of Modi.1. Further, in spite of several initiatives on the part of commerce and finance ministries to boost exports, on a year-on-year basis, Indian exports have dwindled in 2018 by 9.71 percent relative to the previous year due to both domestic factors and external factors such as ongoing global stagnation and strengthening of protectionist walls being built by a number of countries including the US.
Coupled with this, the industrial sluggishness or deindustrialisation, unprecedented agrarian distress as manifested in the increasing mass suicides of peasants across the country and above all the total devastation inflicted on the informal/unorganised sectors (on account of demonetisation that created a sudden stoppage of cash flow to them on the one hand and GST that led to the withdrawal of all special tax provisions and corporate restrictions that sustained these sectors) that provide employment to more than 90 percent of the Indian people and contribute almost 50 percent to country’s export earnings)also reveal that the projected 8 percent growth rate as envisaged in the budget for doubling the GDP to achieve the $5 trillion mark is only wishful thinking.
In fact, the entire growth agenda elaborated in the budget are to unleash what is called the “animal spirits” of corporatesto achieve the $5 trillion goal. To achieve this, while blatantly hoodwinking the people through certain populist schemes like Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, Bamboo and Khadi clusters, Rural Housing Schemes, KissanSammanNidhi, etc. to rural sector and peasants, (even as reducing MGNREGS allocation by Rs.1000 crore!) and appeasement of middle classes through certain income tax exemptions, this budget, true to the far-right economic orientation of saffron fascism, has opened up avenues for the biggest-ever corporate plunder and loot along with integration of India’s infrastructure, finance, trade and service sectors with foreign corporate speculative capital. All the restrictions to the free entry of FDI into social overheads, insurance, banks, aviation, retail trade and even media are abolished. Even namesake controls on foreign portfolio capital which is coming solely for speculation are being taken away.
For instance, the hallmark of Modi.2 budget is its announcement of an infrastructure program envisaging investment worth Rs. 100 lakh in 5 years along the notorious PPP route that has become the most widely recognised form of private-corporate plunder under neo-liberalism. The whole projects under this proposal utilising country’s land and scarce resources, budget allocations and above all public money deposited in banks will be led by the most corrupt corporate thugs, both foreign and domestic. Unhindered entry and exit of 100 percent FDI as announced in the budget is in accordance with this corporatisation.
In the case of railways (along with the Planning Commission, Modi had abolished the Railway Budget too), in accordance with the ultra-rightist orientation, entire railway development including rail infrastructure, goods and passenger segments is also brought under the notorious PPP model led by Indian and foreign corporates and an investment of Rs. 50 lakh crores is envisaged for this for the period between 2018 and 2030. To start with, projects in two corridors — Western corridor (Delhi-Mumbai) and Eastern corridor (Delhi-Howrah) — have already been initiated. In the same manner projects for building up 125,000 km roads with an allocation of around Rs. 75000 crore on the part of government under PPP will be undertaken in the next five years.
Modi.2’s first budget is going to create history by granting tax-exemptions worth Rs. 8.99 lakh crore to monopolies under various heads out of which corporate income tax exemptions alone amounts to Rs, 4.69 lakh crore. The consequent revenue gap is to be filled up by hikes of Rs.2 cess/litre on patrol and diesel with their concomitant cascading effect on the prices of all necessaries, Rs.2 cess/litre on patrol and deisel will make the prices of necessaries and essential as announced in the budget. The gains from corporate tax-cuts announced in the budget are applicable to almost 99 percent of the business class, even as India’s income tax base still remains too narrow with just 4.6 crore tax-payers filing returns.
At a time when even leading financial tycoons like George Soros have written to US presidential candidates seeking increased taxes on the superrich and billionaires, Modi government has reduced corporate tax from 30 percent to 25 percent (in view of various corporate tax-exemptions, experts have already pointed out that the nominal tax of 30 percent means an effective tax of only 16 percent) for companies with a turnover of up to Rs. 400 crore. While corporate tax rate in India, a country having the highest inequality in wealth and income with around 80 percent of the additional income generated being gobbled up by the upper-most one percent of the population, is the lowest, even imperialist countries like France and Germany still have 56 percent tax on the superrich. Further, India under the Modi regime has become the country having the lowest tax-GDP ratio of 11.7 percent.
Along with this unleashing of corporate capital to every sphere of economy, the budget also envisages several neoliberal steps for discipline and keep workers at its disposal. In this regard, the move to transform all the existing 44 labour laws into 4 Codes has already been taken during Modi.1 itself. Among them, the first one, i.e., the bill on the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH Code) that legally empower employers to extend working time to 14 hours against the existing 8-hrs work, abolishing guarantee for ‘equal pay for equal work’ and incorporating provisions for transforming the state as a ‘facilitator’ of corporates against the interest of workers is already presented before the parliament. This Code that seeks to merge 13 labour laws into a single code applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people and, therefore, encompasses 40 crore of Indian workers, together with the other 3 Codes, is a flagrant violation of ILO regulations and a clear-cut corporate-saffron fascist move towards unfettered corporatization. At a time when the domestic market is shrinking, the idea is to emulate China’s model of capturing global market with low-priced goods and to strengthen the present trend towards India’s transformation as a cheap-labour based export-oriented economy. In conformity with this Code, without even convening or even consulting the Statutory Minimum Wage Advisory Committee, to appease the corporate plunderers, the Modi govt has fixed Rs. 178 as the daily wage for workers. Modi’s anti working class position is once again evident as according to a Report, out of the Rs. 47127 crore Construction Cess collected as of March 2019, only around 19000 was spent, and the worst case in this regard is that of Modi’s own Gujarat spending just 0.09 percent of the cess collected.
The budget has other notable anti-people measures too. The disinvestment target pegged at Rs. 1.05 lakh crore is the biggest-ever intended to instalment-wise sell-out of all the remaining PSUs by such as BSNL, ONGC, GAIL, etc., to the corrupt capitalist cronies at throwaway prices. And as manifestation of the interpenetration between the saffron fascist regime and corporate monopolies which is a feature of fascism, Amit Shah, the Home Minister himself has taken over the charge of the Cabinet Committee for disinvesting Air India. Another closely related aspect of this fascistisation is the defence allocation including pension to the tune of Rs. 4.31 crore out of which an amount of Rs. 1.08 crore is to be directly handed over to corporate arms manufacturers and weapon dealers based in imperialist countries especially, US.
Thus while the budget tries to achieve its high growth target by freeing up the “animal spirit” of the corporate financiers, what witness is a slowing down in all sectors. Even the stock market indices which were galloping upwards when Modi.2 ascended to the throne are going down so that during the 50 days of the government, around 12 lakh crore have been lost in the leading stock exchanges in India. The reason is all round shrinking of the world market mainly due to extreme protectionist policies pursued by countries together with the loss of purchasing power of the toiling masses in the domestic sphere arising from unprecedented joblessness.
In the mad pursuit of making maximum profit at the shortest time possible, capital investment is fast entering in to the sphere of money-spinning speculative sphere altogether abandoning employment-oriented productive sectors where profit rate is relatively low. As a consequence, deindustrialisation and unemployment have become the norm even as wealth accumulation in the hands of tiny superrich and financial elite is breaking records leading to unprecedented inequality and pauperisation of the broad masses. To be precise, budget is reinforcing this negative trend.
The growing threat of ecological catastrophe whose disastrous consequences are already getting manifested in various forms have become the most decisive challenge today. If following emergence and strengthening of the capitalist mode of production, if the plunder of natural resources and the very nature itself started intensifying, after the introduction of neoliberal policies and corporate loot, the ecological destruction reached disastrous levels leading to global warming, climate change like consequences. Cyclone intensities have increased, rainfall is more erratic, extreme weather events are more frequent, pole-ward migration of species is noticeable, crop yield variations are higher, glaciers have shrunk by 275 Gt per year in the past two decades, and climate change impacts have already exacerbated conflicts in many regions.
Climate change is a consequence of a fundamentally flawed relationship between human activities with nature. And it has already reached a stage when sustainable and socially just climate change solutions cannot be achieved by technical tinkering, but only through basically re-structuring society. For example, take the case of impact of greenhouse gases (GHGs), they are global, no matter where they are released. The solutions, therefore, must be global. A country cannot be saved from climate change by it alone cutting down emission. Only a global effort to drastically cut emissions can do that. Because it is global problem that has regional and local impacts, climate change cannot be tackled the same way like local problems, e.g., deforestation, or human rights violations. Though, sectoral and local initiatives, e.g., switching from grid power to solar energy, organic farming, forest conservation can inspire people to join the movement to stop climate change and make a sustainable society, its basic solution calls for a people’s campaign for global climate emergency which must also draw from the experience of local and regional movements and relate to them. The situation has reached such a stage that if emergency measures are not taken urgently to put an end to further ecological destruction, and to revert fast to safer levels, the unfolding catastrophe shall make human existence impossible on the earth.
Though humanity has reached such a disastrous situation, in spite of many assurances the governments of imperialist countries as well as of the neo-colonially dependent countries refuse to implement even the decisions taken by a series of UN initiatives like Kyoto Protocol. As the rule of capital is becoming increasingly monopolistic, speculative, profit oriented and fascistic, none of these assurances are met and the ecological catastrophe is becoming an ever-increasing threat day by day. It is reaching such a stage that there are only two alternatives before the humanity: either throw out the capitalist-imperialist system or perish! Realizing the urgency of the situation, a broad spectrum of people’s movements in our country and around the world including the movements of even school children are actively striving to force the governments to declare a climate emergency and to change their policies which cause ecological destruction. In this situation, the communist forces everywhere are confronting this challenge: integrate with these movements as part of the class struggle, while intensifying the struggles to overthrow the capitalist-imperialist system with the goal of realizing an alternative path of sustainable, people oriented, egalitarian development paradigm linked to all round democratization of society with all power to the people.
For those communists who have assimilated the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, it is not difficult to take this stand. Explaining the exploitative nature of capitalism, Marx and Engels in their numerous studies including The Capital and the Dialectics of Nature have pointed out that under capitalism, the relation between capital and nature have become antagonistic, and if not checked, it shall lead to global environmental catastrophe. Only in a socialist society without exploitation of man by man do nature and human form a fruitful unity. Only in a classless communist society, with the “humanization of nature” and with the “naturalization of the humans” come to their relative completion.
In his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, Marx wrote: “This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature, and between man and man”. But, under the exploitative capitalist mode of production what is happening is basically different. Engels warned: Let us not, however, flatter ourselves over much on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings almost the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancels the first”. But, under neoliberal/corporate imperialism utilizing modern technological devices, as the plunder of nature went on intensifying to unprecedented levels from the 1970s onwards for overcoming its own crisis and for super profit, the nature started taking revenge leading to present ecological catastrophe which is becoming increasingly serious day by day.
Marxism is a social science. It calls for understanding the basic laws of motion of capital it has put forward, and for developing them according to the concrete changes taking place in the society, as Lenin did when capitalism reached its highest phase, imperialism. In the post-Lenin period, as it was confronting new crises, the imperialist system went on transforming its strategy and tactics to overcome the perennial cycle of crises as well as to confront the growing challenges from the socialist camp. It is in this process, during the post-Second World War situation, under the leadership of US imperialism it transformed the colonial forms of imperialist domination with neo-colonial forms, using finance capital, market, technology and weapons-trade as is main instruments of control. Necessary institutions and post-modernism like theoretical positions were also developed for this purpose. In spite of it, as stagflation created new crisis in 1970s, replacing the post-War phase of Keynesian welfare state concepts, it imposed imperialist globalization through neoliberal policies, intensifying the pursuit of super profit by unprecedented plunder of nature. As the consequences of this started getting manifested in various forms, many studies by scientists on the impact of this aggressive attack on nature also started coming out. Many environmental movements also started, in the main led by the NGOs to start with.
But, an evaluation of this period shows that the international communist movement failed to comprehend these fast changes which were making the imperialist system more ruthless and barbarous. When neo-colonialism was “more pernicious and sinister form of colonialism”, the Soviet communist leadership evaluated that it is weakening of imperialism, and abandoning the path of class struggle, it called for “peaceful co-existence and peaceful completion with imperialism, and peaceful transition to socialism”, in the process degenerating Soviet Union and all east European countries to capitalist path! Most of the communist parties around the world including the CPI also followed this revisionist path. Though the CPC under Mao’s leadership tried to challenge this, soon after his death the capitalist roaders usurped power there also. As the challenge from the international communist movement significantly weakened, the imperialist countries could go ahead more speedily by surmounting the systemic crises it went on facing through further intensification of neoliberal/corporate policies and plunder of nature for super profit and monopolization. By this time, the scientists and environmentalists had started pointing out the increasing ecological destruction taking place under neoliberal offensive and were organizing movements against it, But, as a result of the degeneration of former socialist countries and mainstream communist parties to right opportunist positions, they failed to comprehend the changes taking place in the imperialist system and their impact not only to the exploited masses, but also to nature. As the Left Front led by the CPI(M), the mainstream communists in India, like their counterparts in other countries , had become apologists of neo-colonialism and then executioners of neoliberal policies wherever they came to power, like the ruling class parties they also took hostile approach to the ecological movements, Many of them went to the extent of dubbing them as ecological fundamentalists!
By this time the CPI(ML) movement, starting with the great people’s uprising in Naxalbari, but soon pursuing left adventurist line, had disintegrated to many groups under state terror. As most of them failed to make a concrete analysis of the emerging international and national situation breaking away from their sectarian positions, even when the environmental destruction was becoming a serious problem, they also could not recognize its importance.
It was in this situation, the CPI(ML) Red Star, which had initiated the reorganization of the CPI(ML) under the banner of CRC, CPI(ML) from1979, took up an evaluation of the post-War international situation and the transformation of imperialist plunder from colonial to neo-colonial forms along with the changes taking place in the concrete situation of our country. These studies helped it to recognise the importance of the movements developing in different parts of the country for ecological protection. In the second half of 1980s it took active part in successfully preventing the construction of nuclear power plants in Kerala and many other ecological movements. In the 1990s as part of the struggle against the imposition of neoliberal/globalization policies and against WTO, the party, then under the banner of CPI(ML) Red Flag, led or participated in many movements for the protection of environment. After going through many studies coming out internationally and nationally on the increasing contradiction between the capitalist mode of production under neoliberal regime and the threats faced by the natural foundations of human life, the party took up its own studies to deepen its understanding on this important question.
It is based on these studies, the Party Program adopted by the 9th Congress of CPI(ML) Red Star in 2009 (2.1) explained: “during this period, especially after the crisis of the 1970s, with the mad rush for exploitation of natural and human resources utilizing the unprecedented technological advances under the imperialist perspective of development, ever- intensifying ecological devastation has started becoming a major factor both at the international and the national level. It has given rise to a new, fifth major contradiction, at both international and national levels, the contradiction between capital and nature, along with the other four major contradictions”.
In (3.7) it stated: Under neo-colonization, due to the policies implemented in the name of development which actually serve the interests of imperialists and their lackeys, ecological devastation has become an ever intensifying factor. ‘Global warming’ like phenomena and the nuclear catastrophe created by the nuclear arms race, existing nuclear plants which are ‘nuclear time bombs’ as once again proved by the meltdown of Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
Under the title: Program of People’s Democracy, it stated: (6.16) Based on the understanding that the contradiction between capital and nature has become a major contradiction at both national and international level, concrete plans should be worked out to protect environment and to develop the perspective on development taking this important question in to consideration.
After this, during the last one decade party committees and the class/mass organizations in which the party comrades are actively functioning, took initiative to launch many ecological movements in different fields and became part of large number of movements along with other ecological movements and groups. At the international level, the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR), in which the CPI(ML) Red Star is a leading member, recognizing the significance of the movement for protection of environment in the context of growing danger of ecological catastrophe, has taken up different initiatives. It is in continuation to these, presently party has become one of the members of the organizing committee for the South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis which is organizing an important Conference at Hyderabad on 18th to 21st September. Under the initiative of party members a website: www.ecopolitiks.org is also propagating the significance of this movement
Finally even the chief of Niti Ayog also had to accept the economy is collapsing. Now the finance minister has rushed with some props to prevent it from falling further. She has announced rolls back of super-rich charges on foreign and domestic equity investors, to those speculators who make fortunes through portfolio investments in stock markets, sops to automobile majors and to other corporates for getting their help to kick start the economy again. But the reports speak about slow down reaching more areas, from automobiles and real estate to textiles, even to biscuits and other consumer items. Why? The purchasing power of the consumers is falling! Naturally, as even jobs of middle income groups are also falling sharply, and the unemployment rates have reached highest levels in 45 years. With the increasing slow down, hundreds of thousands are losing jobs every day. Along with the serious distress in the farm sector which is compelling thousands of farmers to commit suicide and millions of agricultural workers’ families forces to migrate to urban centres, the consequences of man-made climate change leading to draughts, flash floods and mud-slips have also sharply cut down the purchasing power of increasing number of people.
But, even many among the corporate think-tanks also agree that just by rolling back her own budget proposals presented two months back along with providing some sops to corporates, the increasing crisis cannot be solved; because the slow down, in the main, started from the time of demonetisation itself, and aggravated after the introduction of the GST. Though Modi succeeded to cover up the impending economic crisis during the election campaign through unleashing a muscular nationalist offensive projecting Phulwama and Balakot, and his finance minister presented her budget based on cooked up data in the economic survey, in spite of Modi’s efforts for whipping up frenzy among his majoritarian Hindutva vote bank through Kashmir, Pak-phobia, NRC like projects, one day the reality had to come out, as it has reached such a size that it cannot be covered up any more. Corporate media also forced to mention collapsing economy!
Now the billion dollar question is, can the finance minister block the torrent of economic slowdown with these sops to the corporate and speculative sharks? Under present crony capitalism, while all the benefits from these will be sucked up by these sharks, very little is going to tickle down to the masses. So, the employment and purchasing power shall go on decreasing, and the slowdown will only become more severe. What is required is the reversal of his phoney economic initiatives, and eventually the rejection of the neo-liberal/corporate policies, and developing self-reliant, sustainable, people oriented economy. As both are anathema to Modi regime and to the very corporate imperialist system itself, the crisis shall sharpen only. And as usual, the whole burden of the crisis shall come over the toiling masses. More than ever, they have only one way out: come out on the streets, intensify the struggles to throw out this barbarous ruling system!
The prime minister and home minister are repeating everyday that abrogation of Article 370 shall put an end to terrorism which killed 41,000 people during last seven decades, will lead to more investments and progress of Kashmir and except for few miscreants vast majority of the people are happy with it. But even during the important Muslim festival of Eid the Kashmir valley was and even two weeks after the presidential order abrogating Article 370 and down grading J&K state in to two union territories, vast areas were under curfew and communications through landlines, mobile and the internet blocked. Contrary to government’s claims, the situation continues to be far from normal even now.
If as Modi government claims the people are happy with their decision, why the curfew was continuing and why the valley was virtually turned in to an open jail? Why the government is restricting even the Indian media from reporting truly from Kashmir? How long the government is going to continue this clamp down? The condition in the valley is turned in to worse than that of Gaza where the Palestinian people are attacked by the Zionist Israeli forces. The people in this country have the right to ask Modi-2: how long you are going to continue this? It is nakedly continuing the divisive politics of the imperialists.
After all that has happened from 5th August, the unfolding scenario with respect to Kashmir now reveals a well-thought out strategy behind abrogation of Article 370 and 35A as these clauses had been a barrier to the unfettered plunder and loot of the Kashmiris and their resources by the corporate speculators and financial cronies. The Modi regime, which in its compradorial role acts as a facilitator of corporatization, has already led India to an unprecedented economic collapse as manifested in diverse forms. But, due to its ‘special status’, unlike in other parts of India, J&K has been relatively immune from this predatory plunder and pathetic situation thereof.
However, following the Constitutional coup transforming Kashmir into the most militarized region in the world and caging the entire Kashmiri people violating all their fundamental rights, now Modi regime is laying down red carpet for all corporate plunderers, both foreign and Indian. To facilitate this neoliberal task, the comprador Modi regime is going for a Global Investors Meet in Srinagar during October 12-14 this year and the task of accomplishing this has already been entrusted to Reliance led by Mukesh Ambani along with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). Revealingly, to tide over its crisis, the RIL has entered into a strategic deal with Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, the biggest oil giant, transferring 20 percent of RIL owner-ship at a price of Rs. 1.1 lakh crore. This deal among other things has ensured the support of Saudi Arabia, the embodiment of reaction, so called guardian of ‘Ummah’ (Islamic Community), and above all the West Asian pillar of US imperialism, to Modi’s Kashmir move — once again underlining the power of finance capital, the supreme arbiter in all political dealings today.
It is by its naked sell-out of Kashmir to corporate financiers along with the ongoing surrender of Indian economy as a whole to imperialist capital, the Modi regime has succeeded to ensure the support of all imperialists to his moves in Kashmir. In this context, Pak foreign minister’s desperate comment that the leading world powers “will not back Pakistan on the issue due to their economic interest in India where many have strongly invested” conveys the political undercurrents behind the move.
In this situation the democratic forces should expose the real intentions of the Modi regime behind the abrogation of Article 370 and down grading of J&K into two union territories, extent support to the people of J&K for their right of self-determination and work for the broader unity of the peoples of South Asia based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, against all imperialists’ efforts to continue their hegemony over the region. n
Mass Convention under the joint leadership of CPI(ML)Red star, Peoples' Brigade, CPI(ML), CPI(ML) PCC, Sramik krishak Sangrami Manch and November revolution centenary committee demanding scrapping NRC bill, restoration article 370 in Kashmir and against the fascist agenda of BJP.
On August 17, Indonesian Independence Day, armed Indonesian police, soldiers and radical Islamic militia stormed a student dormitory in the Indonesian city of Surabaya (on the island of Java), which housed West Papuan students, arresting 43.
The attack reportedly took place because the students had allegedly refused to raise the Indonesian flag.
Indonesia invaded West Papua in 1962 and has continued a brutal occupation since. It has conducted military attacks in areas populated by civilians, under the cover of targeting West Papua’s pro-independence forces. It is illegal to raise the West Papuan flag (the Morning Star - a symbol of independence).
Reports of human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings, torture and displacement are rife.
West Papuans are regularly subject to racism and according to eye-witness reports, students were tortured and called "monkeys", "pigs" and "dogs" during the attack on August 17.
Following the attack, protests have continued in West Papua and thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest Indonesia's systematic racism, and to demand freedom and a referendum on independence.
In the Indonesian cities of Medan and Bandung the students have also received support.
In response to the protests, Indonesia has sent more than 1200 troops into West Papua, including the notorious Detachment 88 and Brimob (mobile police units). Detachment 88, which is trained by Australia, with the United States and Britain was reportedly involved in the attack in Surabaya and has been regularly used in a counter-insurgency role in West Papua. It was reportedly responsible for the killing of West Papuan independence leader, Kelly Kwalik.
Protesters and activists are being repressed by Indoneian forces. The internet has been cut off and journalists are prevented from entering the province, which is preventing information from coming out of West Papua. Surya Anta, spokesperson for the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua was also arrested on September 1.
This statement on behalf of left organisations in the Asia-Pacific raises the following demands:
- Stop the repression against West Papuan activists and protesters and release all those detained during the protests, including Surya Anta.
- Respect the right to self-determination of the Papuan people by agreeing to an internationally monitored referendum on independence.
- Immediate withdrawal of military forces from West Papua.
- Stop racism and systemic racist discrimination against the Papuan people.
- Restore internet access in West Papua.
- Allow international journalists access to West Papua.
Socialist Alliance (Australia)
Socialist Party of Malaysia
CPI(ML) Red Star
Any organization/party agreeing with this statement can add their name or send their names to us.
Social activist Medha Patkar's health has started deteriorating after a week into her indefinite hunger strike to demand swift rehabilitation of thousands affected by floods in areas surrounding the Sardar Sarovar Dam. She launched the agitation -- called the "Narmada Chunauti Satyagraha" -- at Chhota Barda in Madhya Pradesh's Barwani district on August 25, and 10 more villagers joined her four days later.
The main demand of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is that the authorities keep the gates of the dam open until the rehabilitation of 32,000 families affected people in the submergence area is completed. It also wants the government to keep in abeyance the Narmada Control Authority's directive to fill to its optimum level of 138.68 metres, and instead maintain it at 122 metres. She has made it clear to the government that there was no question of her backing out until a concrete plan is formulated for the rehabilitation of those affected. The NBA and the villagers have both warned that they will only intensify the struggle if the government does not give in to their demands.
CPI(ML) Red Star supports the struggle of Narmada Bachao Andolan led by Medha Patkar and appeal to all democratic forces to put pressure on the MP government to accede to the affected people’s demand.
CPI(ML) Red Star