The CC of CPI(ML) Red Star which met on 16th June, in the context of the untimely departure of com. Sivaram, PB member and Odisha state committee secretary of the party on 28th May night, and before the party could come out of the shock, the departure of com. Sharmistha, another PB member, General Secretary of the AIRWO, and Central Executive Committee member of the TUCI on 13th June, as another big shock to all comrades, which immensely pained them. While comrade Sharmistha also played an important role in the formation and development of the World Women’s Conference also, comrade Sivaram, in the course of 28 years of consistent work based on the ideological political breakthrough achieved by the Party built up the most active communist organization surrounded by class/mass organizations and people’s movements in a backward state like Odisha starting from a scratch, starting our work among the slum dwellers of Bhubaneswar.
The Central Committee resolved that the loss of these two young, militant, mass leaders who enormously helped in developing the party line, to build the party and class/mass organizations and in developing many important mass movements, is not only a great loss to CPI(ML) Red Star, but to the entire communist movement. The Central Committee pays homage to them, upholding their great revolutionary contributions; and calls upon all party comrades to march forward to fulfill the revolutionary tasks for which they fought with communist conviction and determination all through their life.
The departure of com. K T Raju, secretary of the party district committee, Salem, and state executive committee member, and com. Govind Raj, secretary of the party district committee of Dharmapuri, are a big loss not only to the Tamilnadu state committee of the party, but to the party as a whole. The Central Committee pays homage to these departed comrades, heartfelt condolences to their families and calls upon the party comrades to march forward to fulfill the revolutionary tasks for which they were fighting and but still left unfinished.
During the last one and half years, as the attack of Covid 19 pandemic went on intensifying, a large number of leaders, activists and members of the different left organizations who were continuing their work among the people have lost their life. During the beginning of the Covid pandemic, it took away com. Jaswant Rao, CCM of CPI(ML) Class Struggle and U. Sambasiva Rao of the Caste Annihilation Movement. During the last few months comrades Mohammad Gouse, GS of the MCPI(U), Prof Lal Bahadur Varma (Itihas Bodh),Ram Jatan Sharma (CCC member of CPI(ML)-Liberation), Madhu, CCM of CPI(ML) Class Struggle, Muktar Pasha (CCM, CPI(ML) New Democracy), and Nagendra (vice president, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra) departed us. The Central Committee conveys its heartfelt condolences to their family members, to their comrades and friends.
Under the Covid 19 pandemic according to government statistics more than 3.5lakh people have lost their life. But there are reports that the actual count may be much higher, as dead bodies were found floating in Ganges and other rivers in UP and Bihar. If the large number of people died due to lack of medicine, oxygen, proper treatment, lack of hospital beds, even lack of food and livelihood etc are included the number may go up to a crore. They are victims of the insensitivity of a criminal ruling system with fascist character of its leadership. The Central Committee extends heartfelt condolences to their families, and stands with them at the time of their immense suffering.
CPI(ML) Red Star
16th June 2021
Today Indian economy is confronting the worst contraction on record. Officially also, it is acknowledged as historic down-turn in 70 years. It is a fact that COVID-19 came when imperialism has been still reeling under the impact and repercussions of the 2008 global crisis. Now the pandemic has driven the world economy to a state of crumbling, the dimensions of which are surpassing that of the Great Depression of 1929-33.For instance, based on October 2020 database, IMF estimates a 4.4% contraction in world output in 2020. Except China which is expected to mark a growth rate of 1.9%, all leading countries will contract or represent minus growth- US(-4.3%), Japan(-5.3%), Euro Area(-8.3%) and UK(-9.8%). On the other hand, while the average growth rate of the so called “developing countries” is predicted to contract by -3%, that of India will be a staggering -10.3%.
According to Swiss bank UBS, by the dawn of 2020 itself, half of world’s net wealth belonged to the top 1% of the superrich; and top 10% of the population held 85% of total global wealth. Conversely, 90% of the people have only 15% of world’s wealth (and top 30% holding 97% of the total wealth). During the pandemic, world’s billionaires whose number rose from 2158 in 2017 to 2189 by mid-2020 increased their wealth by 27.5% during April-July 2020, to a record high of $10.2 trillion.
Its global consequences as manifested in surging poverty and unemployment are horrific. While IMF predicts a fall of an additional 90 million people in to extreme deprivation in 2020, ILO calculates an unemployment/underemployment of up to 2 billion people (58% of the world’s total labour force of 3.46 billion in 2019) in 2020 itself. According to the World Food Program, on an average, around 9 million people are dying annually from famine and hunger-related causes. Now, on account of the pandemic, this figure may skyrocket as there will now be 1.5 to 2.0 billion famine-vulnerable people, many of whom may die.
Indian Economy Facing The Worst-Ever Contraction
However, the present collapse of the Indian economy, as noted in the beginning, is quite unparalleled and the worst on record. Both International agencies and official Indian sources have acknowledged this. In continuation of a 24% contraction or negative growth for the first quarter of 2020, the IMF, in its latest World Economic Outlook, predicts a 10.3% contraction for the entire financial year ending March 2021, revising its earlier prediction of a 4.5% decline. This additional 5.8 percentage-point downgrade of Indian GDP is the worst in the world. Strikingly, IMF’s outlook for India is worse than RBI’s prediction of a 9.5% decline in GDP in the current fiscal year. A comparison of the sector-wise official statistics pertaining to the first quarter of the previous year (2019-20) with that of the current year, gives a more concrete picture. For instance, except agriculture, forestry and fishing (that shows a growth of 3.4% in the first quarter of 2020-21 compared to 3.0% growth in 2019-20), all other sectors are steadily contracting. Thus, 2020-21 quarter one contraction for mining and quarrying was -23.3% (4.7% in 2019-20), for manufacturing, it was -39.3% (3% in 2019-20), electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services -7% (8.8% in 2019-20), -50.3% (5.2% in 2019-20), trade, hotels, transport, communication, broadcasting services -47% (3.5% in 2019-20), financial, real estate and professional services -5.3% (6.0% in 2019-20), and public administration, defence and other services -10.3% (7.7% in 2019-20).
As such, according to independent analysts, the crisis is more deep-rooted and worse outcomes are in store. For instance, India’s former Chief Economic Advisor and World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu have predicted the economy to shrink by around 12% in the current year. According to Arun Kumar, another well-known economist, India’s GDP decline in the current year will be around 50% and not 24% as officially claimed. This is because of the devastation of India’s unorganised/informal sector that provides 94% of total employment and yields 45% of total output produced in the country. Contradicting CMIE data, Arun Kumar also puts the actual unemployment figure at 20 crore. According to him, unless appropriately managed through policy interventions, the official optimistic projections for 2021 will remain as wishful thinking.
The massive decline of around 24% in India’s GDP, as officially estimated, in 2020 April-June quarter makes the size of GDP almost the same in size as that in the same quarter in 2015. Hence it can be said that the GDP level has leaped back by 5-6 years, more or less equal to the same level when Modi came to power. As a result, the past half-a-decade under Modinomics may be characterised as lost years for India. A comparison between Bangladesh, India’s neighbour would be more illuminating in this regard. According to IMF data, on an average, India’s per capita GDP has been 24 percent higher than that of Bangladesh during the last 5 years. But by mid-2020, India’s per capita GDP in nominal US dollar terms was $1876.53 (Rs. 1.25 lakh approximately) compared to $1887.97 for Bangladesh.
Consequently, in the 2020 Global Hunger Index prepared jointly by World Hunger Aid and Concern Worldwide, India’s rank slipped to 94 (among 107 countries) from 55 (among 76) in 2014. Most of the South Asian countries — Sri Lanka (64), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Myanmar (78) and Pakistan (88) — are better off than India in this regard. As its manifestation, with 17.5% of world population, India is home to 22% of world’s most poor and hungry people. As a direct outcome of this destitution, with 37.4% of the underweight children, India has the distinction of having number one position in the world in this regard too. In the same vein, in the case of other indices such as Inequality Index (where India’s position is 129 among 157 countries), Happiness Index (144 among 156), Environment Performance Index (167 among 180), and so on, India’s deterioration continues unabated. With 18 million slaves (out of 46 million worldwide) almost entirely from the lowest rung of the caste system, India under Modi regime occupies number one position in Global Slavery Index too.
At the same time, amidst a 24% GDP contraction during the first quarter of 2020-21, as estimated by Forbes, within one year Ambani has his wealth increased by 73% from$3730 crore to $8870 crore, that of Adani by 61% reaching $2520 crore, and in that order for many billionaires such that the total wealth of the first 10 Indian billionaires rose to $51750 crore (approximately Rs. 38 lakh crore) during the same period. In general, as Oxfam has estimated, today around three-fourth of the additional income or wealth generated in India is gobbled up by the upper 1% of the super-rich (close to 60 percent of the country’s total wealth is in the hands of upper 10 percent of the population). If we exclude the 75% of the income appropriated by the upper 1%, then the per capita income of the 99% will be a paltry portion of the officially estimated Rs. 1.25 lakh. And if we exclude the organised sector and take the unorganised and informal sectors where 95% of the Indian workforce are depending for their sustenance (for which no detailed official data is there), then the situation will be too gruesome. It may be more horrific than what Arjun Sengupta, the then Planning Commission member had estimated a decade back—that 83% of Indians subsist on just Rs. 20 a day!
Analysis Of The Situation
The cause for this situation is now generally attributed to India’s lockdown which is acknowledged as the most coercive, the most stringent and most prolonged in the world, on account of its deadly restrictions on social and economic life. For instance, a study on the government responses to COVID-19 by the Oxford University, after comparing the pandemic-induced lockdowns that put the economy in a frozen state on account of disruptions in both movement of the people and supply chains in various countries, has attributed the highest “Stringency Index” of 100 to Modi government followed by Italy (with a Stringency Index of 95.2), Spain (90.5), Germany (81), US (66.76) and Japan (45). Revealingly, while all other countries resorted to lockdowns when the number of infections reached around 100000, the strictest lockdown in India was superimposed when the total infections were just around 5000 in the third week of March 2020. While putting the entire economy in a frozen state leading to a devastation especially of the informal sectors that provide sustenance for vast majority of the toiling masses, in the absence of any worthwhile intervention for containing the pandemic, the lockdown that lasted for almost 2 months utterly failed to get the pandemic under control, with the number of corona-virus cases crossing 7.6 million (by the beginning of the 3rd week of October, while these lines are written), second only to the US.
COVID-19, The Immediate Cause Only
The government and corporate media in India now firmly claim that the economic collapse with all its manifestations is caused by the corona virus pandemic. This is also endorsed by IMF when its chief economist Gita Gopinath referred to the “great lockdown” of India. But this forms only a partial explanation and not in accord with concrete facts. On the other hand, a closer analysis reveals that the elements of the present crisis and the consequent irreversible economic downturn got a new turn since the advent of Modi in 2014. In fact, COVID-19 is only the spark and not the root cause triggering the present crisis.
That is, while the post-meltdown crisis has been a continuing process at the global level, India’s economic collapse under Modi regime, though connected with many external factors, is to be understood as different in many respects. For, as highlighted by several international and Indian studies including that done by the Economic Research Department of SBI , the Indian economy was ‘relatively immune’ from the global meltdown of 2008 and the country’s GDP had been growing at 7-8 % on an average up to 2014-15. This also prompted neoliberal centres to characterise India as “the best-performing economy” in the world during the years immediately following 2008 meltdown.
Thus, in retrospect, it can be seen that the ongoing economic collapse of India has been inseparably linked up with the complete transformation of the Indian state as a “facilitator” of corporatisation and the consequent far-right shift in economic policies under Modi regime. For instance, without any qualm, immediately after coming to power, the first step that Modi did was the abolition of the more than six-and-a-half decade-old Planning Commission, the last remnant of state-led development, and its replacement by a corporate-bureaucratic think-tank called NITI Aayog and entrusting the task of policymaking with it without even consulting the parliament. To transform the State as corporate-investor-friendly, and to rapidly improve India’s indices pertaining to “ease of doing business” and “global competitiveness” as laid down by Bretton Woods twin (and, of course, fully in tandem with the far-right economic philosophy of RSS that guides the Modi regime), what followed was a pan-Indian extension of the ultra-rightist Gujarat model that uninterruptedly flourished under Modi’s chief ministership. Mimicking China’s export-led growth, the flagship “Make in India” initiative was announced in September 2014 with the declared aim of transforming India into world’s manufacturing hub, creation of an additional 100 million jobs in the manufacturing sector and raising the proportion of manufacturing from 16 percent to 25 percent of GDP by 2022. However, what happened is the opposite and today this proportion has further fallen down to around 13 percent. The foreign capital that rushed in taking advantage of liberal tax, labour and environmental regulations under the cover of “Make in India” mainly went into money-spinning speculative activities, as capital that flowed in was least interested in employment-oriented production. Consequently, “Make in India” transformed India into a dustbin corporate-speculative capital on the one hand, and a dumping ground for capital and consumer goods from imperialist sources ranging from US to China.
Modi’s 2016 Demonetisation superimposed on the people in the guise of a surgical strike against black money was an ingenious move to whiten the black money with the most corrupt corporate black money holders on the one hand, and suck out whatever left in the arteries of common people by denying them cash which is the life-blood of the informal sectors and essential for people’s daily transactions, leading to a further concentration of wealth with the corporate-financial elite closely connected with the ruling regime. In the process, the whole economy remained in a paralysed state. This was followed by GST that deprived the states of their Federal right of resource mobilisation and shifted the tax burden on the shoulders of common people and on the unorganised sectors.
Though Modi came to power in 2014 claiming to generate an additional 2 crore jobs every year, according to independent estimates, by the beginning of 2020, i.e., on the eve of the pandemic, the country had lost around 14 crore jobs since 2014. And India today experiences the worst unemployment in recorded history. Almost 50 percent of the people is still clinging to agriculture for their sustenance though the contribution of agriculture to GDP is only around 15 percent as of now. Modi’s input-output pricing policies pertaining to agriculture and its forcible integration with world market coupled corporatisation policies have pauperised the peasantry. Over the years, corporatisation of agriculture had displaced large sections from agriculture altogether.
Though concentration of income and wealth under Modi is of unprecedented proportions, only 1.5 crore Indians are effective direct tax payers (including corporate and personal income taxes) and in spite of extreme concentration of wealth and inequality, Indian corporate tax rate at 15 percent is the lowest in the world. The direct tax-GDP ratio in India is stagnating at around 5.5 percent which also is the lowest in the world. If the upper 10 percent of the wealthy sections are brought under the tax net, together with 30 percent corporate tax prevailing when Modi came to power (during the 1970s, the highest rate was up to 90 percent), the direct tax-GDP ratio could have easily been raised to 20 percent.
To compensate for this biggest loss in direct tax revenue arising from tax rate reduction, along with the increase in indirect tax burden on the people through GST, Modi has been resorting to the biggest-ever loot of the broad masses by sky-rocketing prices of petroleum products (mainly through raising taxes and cesses on petrol, diesel, cooking gas, etc.), and by this alone during 2014-20 the regime has amassed an additional amount worth Rs. 17.5 lakh crore compared to the UPA regime. Ironically, the average world crude oil price (India imports around 80 percent of its crude oil requirements) during the entire Modi regime has been around one-third of what it was during the previous UPA rule, and following declining global demand in the context of COVID-19, global price is now hovering around one-fourth of what it had been a decade ago. Meanwhile, declining government revenue from direct and indirect taxes(the latter mainly on account of loss in people’s purchasing power) coupled with corruption (though Modi came to power on an anti-corruption plank and with the promise of bringing back Indian black money from foreign tax havens and putting Rs. 15 lakh in to the account of each Indian citizen, under him India became a “flourishing example of crony capitalism” and the most corrupt country in Asia) and loss to exchequer in manifold ways, etc., are resulting in an unprecedented growth in India’s debt-GDP ratio to around 85 percent during the Modi period. To cap it all, an unprecedented loot of public wealth through disinvestment of PSUs and plunder of public sector banks through the creation of NPAs by corporates are flourishing without any let up.
The anti-people nature of this government is self-evident in its reluctance to distribute at least a portion of the huge stock of food grains among the starving millions including the migrant workers who were condemned to bear the brunt of the coercive lockdown. In spite of Modi regime’s anti-farmer policies including the latest pro-corporate central agricultural legislations, India is ranked second in food and agricultural production. As such, the total food grains stock (rice plus wheat) with FCI has topped 100 million tons by mid-2020. On account of grave storage challenges, millions of tons of this grain stock are prone to decay, and the government could have effectively and quickly liquidate the heavy burden of storage by immediately distributing this among the needy, vulnerable and destitute sections through a free-grain scheme. But true to its fascist character, except certain window-dressing (eg, the announcement to distribute 5 kg wheat/rice for 3 months among the poor as part of Aatmanirbhar), the government least interested to distribute the food grains among the tens of millions of poor including the migrant workers.
To be precise, prior to COVID-19, the neoliberal-corporatisation policies pursued by Modi government have been driving the country to an economic contraction of unprecedented proportions. Now the pandemic is again used as an opportunity by the corporate-saffron fascist regime for stimulating the corporates by its far-right agenda more aggressively. For instance, the recently announced so called “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” is another cover for an unprecedented “stimulus package” for those whom Modi regime characterises as “wealth creators” (a synonym for most corrupt corporate looters). Aatmanirbhar Bharat is a vulgar imitation of the earlier prognosis of “Make in India” (of late, “Make in India” is replaced by the new catchword “Assemble in India for the World” in accordance with the “Global Value Chains” hypothesis recently put forward by World Bank)and what envisaged now is the outright sell-out of remaining key and strategic sectors including mining, transport, defence, banks and insurance, space exploration, power distribution, health research, and entire frontier technologies to foreign and Indian corporates. No doubt, such “supply-side” interventions belong to the same genre of pro-corporate stimulus packages pursued elsewhere by neoliberal centres. Revealingly, out of the Rs. 21 lakh crore Aatmanirbhar package, what addressed to the vast majority of toiling and oppressed masses is only around Rs.2 lakh core or just one percent of the country’s GDP, the remaining straightway going to corporate coffers.
On Understanding the Present Economic Collapse
Obviously, for fascists, crises are new opportunities, and the corporate-saffron fascist Modi regime is no exception to this rule. Using COVID-19 as a cover, Modi.2 is now engaged in an aggressive wealth transfer to corporate looters on the one hand, and imposition of heavy burdens on the backs of common people on the other. Of course, as can be seen, there has been a constant economic downturn under Modi-1 and Modi-2, and the GDP contraction cannot be only due to the pandemic or the severest lockdown. Ironically, as we pointed out earlier, corporate wealth accumulation is flourishing without any let up even as the economy and all its components are going down—private consumption expenditure contracted-26.7%, exports-20%, construction-50%, investment and services (including trade, hotels, communication, transport and broadcast)-47% respectively and so on in the context of the pandemic. In the ultimate analysis, all these variables could be seen directly and indirectly linked up with gross value addition, production, employment and earnings ofthe people. Therefore, it is important to understand this irreversible declining trend under Modi regime with respect to the logic of corporatisation (“wealth creation” as the govt. officially puts it) vigorously pursued by it.
From its very inception, Modi government’s concentrated effort has been to create an ‘investor-friendly” atmosphere for the corporate speculators. In the guise of unleashing the “animal spirit” of the most corrupt corporate giants, unprecedented tax give-aways and exemptions along with steep reduction in corporate tax rates have become regular feature of all budgets and extra-budgetary measures since 2014. Now at 15 percent, Indian corporate tax rate is the lowest in the world. Corporate companies are exempted from paying Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT), audit exemption for adapting to cashless transactions up to Rs. 5 crore, amendment in Indian Company’s Act for abolishing penal steps against those violating it including non-adherence to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and so on. Even profit-making PSUs are disinvested at throwaway prices to be gobbled up big corporate companies. Leading corporates were allowed to build-up huge non-performing assets (NPAs) with public sector banks that pushed the banking system to crisis. Elimination of all restrictions to the free entry and exit of foreign corporate capital and similar other steps were also initiated in a systematic manner.
But this unparalleled wealth transfer to corporates in the guise of boosting production and employment has, instead of positively contributing anything to employment-oriented production, rather led to horrific proportion of wealth accumulation by both foreign and domestic corporate giants who diverted a major component of this wealth to terribly destructive speculation and money-spinning activities. Even banks, financial institutions and mutual funds have become reluctant to deploy the immense funds at their disposal for productive investment. Still under the so called ‘expert’ advice from neoliberal centres, red carpet has been continuously laid down for attracting foreign capital. And the economic situation which was bad in the pre-Covid situation has become worse, or as is conceived by many, the economy which was already in the ICU is now put on the ventilator. Thus, Modi government’s wholehearted embrace of the logic of corporate capital-i.e., if left free capital today invariably goes to the most profitable avenues- has pushed Indian economy in to a vicious corporatisation-stagnation trap. Its ultimate outcome is the explosive growth of the most corrupt and parasitic corporate class sucking out wealth from the real economy through manifold ways while remaining at the sphere of speculation.
Lenin in his theory of imperialism had already explained much on the character of fictitious or speculative capital –an aspect briefly noted by Marx too in Capital. Today under neoliberal imperialism, speculative capital that develops exclusively in the financial sphere by sucking out value from the real economy without any real link with material production has become the dominant form of capital. And this is the essence of economic contraction and crisis today. India today is in the firm grip of a vicious circle—i.e., lack of investment in employment-oriented productive investment leads to lack of jobs resulting in lack of income and purchasing power for the masses, which in turn leads to lack of demand for goods and services and market contraction that lead to lower or lack of profit from the productive sphere which again pulls back investment in spite of repeated corporate “stimulus packages” by the government. As this vicious circle of contraction/stagnation strengthens, Modi government which rolls itself back from all investments, in tune with neoliberal diktats, is coercively superimposing heavier and heavier burdens on the shoulders of the people. All avenues at the disposal of corporate-saffron fascism are deployed not only against workers and all oppressed including dalits, adivasis, minorities, women and even children, but also on political opponents and dissenters. Obviously, there is no shortcut, and the only option is a political alternative capable of resisting and defeating this horrific situation.
On Immediate Options and Political Alternative
Obviously, from the perspective of Marxist political economy, the alternative to this corporate-fascist offensive is to break the logic of neo-liberalism itself, which calls for an appropriate broad-based, nationwide people’s movement led by revolutionary forces capable of imparting death blows to corporate capital. The immediate requirements or slogans for initiating such a process are there in the Draft of the Common Minimum program for building the Anti-Fascist Front already proposed by CPI (ML) Red Star (see, “ Appeal to All Revolutionary Left Organisations”, Red Star, August 2020). The specific economic demands (items 3-8) mentioned in it, for instance, if urgently implemented, will ensure more purchasing power in people’s hands and will provide a boost to productive economic activities. Though reactionary sections of corporate capital may still keep aloof from investment, it will definitely prompt sustainable agriculture, encourage medium and small industries to actively come forward to boost production and employment, which can break the vicious circle of economic stagnation.
Together with this “demand push” (as against “supply side”) initiatives, demands for reintroducing progressive corporate taxation, wealth and inheritance tax, abolition of regressive indirect taxation including the neoliberal GST that puts disproportionate burden on the people, introduction of redistributive wage and universal social and security and gender-specific policies, ensuring quality public services including water, health and education, total elimination of burden of unpaid work especially by women, guaranteeing elder care as well as child care, ensuring minimum wage sufficient enough for adequate standard of living, regulating ratios between lowest and highest wages and earnings, price support programs for peasants, reasonable restrictions on financial dealings and ban on speculation, capital flight, illicit financial flows, etc., anti-monopoly and anti-corruption policies, strengthening public sector and reversal of disinvestment and denationalisation policies and so on can appropriately be incorporated in to the minimum program. This shall form the stepping stone towards a sustainable political-economic alternative capable of resisting and overcoming the hegemony of corporate capital.
(Party School Paper for 2020)
Presently humanity is passing through an unprecedented crisis when all over the world it is almost paralyzed under the Covid19 pandemic, with no hope an early control of its very fast infection. But the ruling system in all the countries along with the mainstream media are indulged in diverting attention from the intensification of climate change or global warming, basic reasons for the outbreak of viruses like SARS in 2003, then MERS in 2012 and now the Covid19 with extremely high capacity to spread, or about the fast melting of huge glaziers in North and South poles, or about the receding of glaziers in Himalayas, about the super cyclones, wild fires as the one raging in US for weeks and so many other cases of destruction of eco-system and bio-diversity exposing how the corporatization/neo-liberalization under the capitalist imperialist system have taken the imperialist loot of nature to extreme levels. As the ruling system in all the countries which is becoming increasingly fascistic, stubbornly persists with very same policies, humanity is facing the danger of ecological catastrophe and threatened with even extinction of human species.
As the ecological destruction becoming increasingly dangerous following the imposition of neoliberal policies from the 1970s, there were numerous protests by people forcing the imperialist powers and their junior partners in power to convene climate conferences which were coming out with many proposals like Kyoto Protocol. But, the imperialist countries were not ready to cut down the energy consumption or to control the consumerist lust. So, all these proposals remained only in paper, they were not implemented. In Madrid Conference most of these powers withdrew from even these conferences, and the token climate conferences have also coming to an end. Even after the Covid19 outbreak and possibilities for more dangerous viruses surfacing and natural calamities breaking out, like the corporates allowed to loot the workers to any extent they want by throwing out even the existing labour rights, they are allowed to neglect all restrictions on environmental protection in spite of repeated warnings from the scientists and the concerned people’s movements.
It is imperialist barbarism and arrogance of the ruling system in action. It is a great challenge we have to take up urgently. The CPI(ML) Red Star calls for united action at national and international level to throw out the capitalist imperialist system and create conditions for protection of nature and creating an egalitarian society.
CC, CPI(ML) Red Star
( The Resolution adopted by the Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star on launching the campaign Against Theoretical Base of RSS)
Launch Countrywide Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, Theoretical Base of RSS Neo- Fascism!
Organize Campaign from 28th September, Shahid Bhagat Singh birthday, to 25th December, when Manusmrithi was burnt at Nagpur in 1927 by women, dalits, and other oppressed sections under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar!
Compatriots, friends and comrades!
Presently we are witnessing all round intensification of corporate loot using the cover of Covid19 making tens of millions jobless and extremely pauperized. Along with this, the fascist offensive of RSS parivar is intensifying. Fascism has always emerged and developed as an outcome of the extreme intensification of the internal contradictions under the rule of finance capital. Presently, fascism has broken out as RSS fascism in our country on the Hindutva Manuvadi theoretical basis. When the contradictions in the capitalist imperialist countries as well as in all other countries ruled by their junior partners have sharpened and has led to a severe internal crisis which cannot be resolved through normal methods of surplus value extraction from both internal and external sources, the ruling corporate classes elevate the fascist forces to power. What happened in India? As the hitherto main ruling class party, the Congress, could not resolve the crisis during its decade long UPA rule, the openly fascist RSS/BJP was elevated to power under the leadership of Modi in 2014. Following this the working class and all oppressed classes and sections have come under the consequences of the economic crisis intensified further by the Covid19 pandemic under the corporate fascist rule of Modi led by RSS fascism.
Already, the struggle against it has started emerging and developing in various forms in different areas. Spontaneous movements of youth and students have also started. It is the task of the revolutionary left forces to unite with all struggling forces, so that the Modi government can be increasingly challenged in the streets. At the same time, the Modi government led by RSS/BJP is using the increasing threat from the Covid19 pandemic, zingoism whipped up using India-China border standoff etc to divert the attention of the people from their immediate problems. It is also resorting to intensifying saffronization of all fields of life as well as the state machinery for it. The 5th August Bhoomipuja for Ram temple, and the kar-seva by thousands of RSS men are also used to expand the majoritarian Hindutva aura around it. The soft Hindutva line of Congress and most of the opposition parties is in effect helping BJP in this.
Though these opposition parties and the Left Front parties led by CPI(M) are politically campaigning against the suppression of all political dissent and transferring all burden of the economic crisis and the pandemic crisis over the masses, they do not attack the Hindutva theoretical base of the RSS. Only a small section of revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary left forces are attacking the Hindutva Manuvaddi fascist line of RSS/BJP. As the Bihar elections are coming nearer, the Mahagadbandhan of opposition parties is not putting forward an alternative to fascist BJP/JDU alliance. So, even if BJP is defeated, the RSS base is not going to be weakened. After an interlude it can come back with added force using the theoretical base of RSS. So, if the RSS is not weakened and defeated by attacking its theoretical base, consistently through uninterrupted campaigns, through ideological, cultural attacks on its Brahmanical, Manuvadi Hindutva line, along with the struggles in other fields, this theoretical roots of the corporate fascist rule cannot be destroyed.
So, the CC calls for mobilizing a powerful all round campaign, taking lessons from the experience of the renaissance movement, and the hitherto theoretical struggle against the RSS and its ideology, and in continuation to these. As a new beginning, the CC has called for an All India campaign from 28th September, the birth day of Shahid Bhagat Singh, to 25th December, the 93rd anniversary of burning of Manusmrithi at Nagpur in 1927 before a large mobilization of women, dalits and other oppressed sections, under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, soon after the formation of RSS in 1925 with Manusmrithi as its theoretical base. Its anniversary is observed as the Women’s Liberation Day every year. While the Party is launching such a campaign of great significance uniting with the mass organizations active among women, youth, students, and cultural field, and the Caste Annihilation Movement, the CC calls for active efforts to bring organizations of dalits, Adivasis and other oppressed peoples also in this platform. This theoretical offensive against RSS should target Manusmrithi, Bunch of Thoughts, Savarker's writings, and all basic documents of RSS. To make this campaign successful, all out efforts should be made to ensure participation of the revolutionary intellectuals who have made significant contribution in exposing the theoretical base of RSS through their articles and campaigns already.
Presently, not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but BSP like organizations which had campaigned against Manusmrithi once, are also compromising with the ruling ideas of ruling RSS/BJP. While the liberal bourgeois intellectuals have more or less become the supporters of RSS parivar, the CPI(M) intellectuals are also writing about ‘positive things’ in Ramayana, Githa, Manusmrithi, Ananth madh etc. Many so-called left intellectuals are even compromising with saffron forces. So, launching a theoretical offensive against the fascist ideology of RSS will help to expose these opportunist positions; It will help to launch an uncompromising ideological struggle against the ideology of RSS based on Marxist-Leninist positions; and it shall inspire the new generation of youth and students to study more about RSS ideology, and the Marxist theory which paves the way for launching class struggle in all fields, including the fields of theory and revolutionary practice, with an all-embracing, comprehensive perspective, and advancing to the social change which shall herald the creation of a casteless, genuinely secular democratic and egalitarian society.
The CC of the CPI(ML) Red Star appeals to all progressive, democratic, struggling forces who aspire for the overthrow of all forces of reaction, and creation of a new society with the annihilation all inequalities based on gender, race, caste etc and with socialist orientation to actively participate in this campaign.
Central Committee, CPI(ML) Red Star, dated 21st September, 2020.
Resolution On Present Situation And Our Tasks Adopted By The CC
After getting re-elected in 2019 LS elections, Modi government had moved very fast to get the Abolition of Article 370 of the Constitution reducing J&K state in to two Union Territories, and to get the CAA adopted by the parliament t0 communalize citizenship spreading Xenophobia, intensifying the fascisation of the country. When a mighty movement of broad sections of people including large sections of Muslims challenged it, all opposition to its fascist aggressive policies by utilizing the lockdown imposed for containing Covid19 pandemic as a cover. Now the Modi rule, has openly moved towards overthrowing the basic secular democratic spirit of the Constitution still using the pandemic as a cover. Keeping the parliament in abeyance, it issued ordinances for corporatization of the agriculture sector; it is selling what is left of the PSUs including railways, opening and handing over new areas for mining to the corporates, enacting the new NEP2020 violating the federal principles of the Constitution and introducing many Manuvadi aspects, using public funds for the building of the Ram temple and PM doing Bhoomi Puja for it along with the RSS chief. In this way Modi govt is moving fast to make the country de-facto Hindu Rashtra. Covid19 related restrictions are used to curb all people’s movements. State terror is unleashed for intensifying the fascist suppression. Instead of taking initiative to settle the border dispute with China and Nepal, the stalemate following the standoff is used to further militarization of the country, and to further strengthen the strategic partnership with US imperialism.
At the same time the Covid19 is spreading fast with the number of patients crossing 3 million and dead 65,000. India may reach the top at world level in both by September end, as the Covid-care is getting less and less priority. The whole burden of the grave economic recession, the consequences of the pandemic and all calamities are thrown to the back of the common masses. Unemployment and pauperization of the vast masses are reaching alarming levels, with the number of jobless and penniless are increasing fast. Knowing the consequences of such a situation, Modi is indulging in spreading the hate politics against Muslim fast, and trying to decimate the opposition and win over the masses through consolidating majoritarian Hindutva vote base using Ram temple. In short, Modi is taking an aggressive approach to carry on with implementation of the RSS agenda.
But, the divided parliamentary opposition has no alternative to present before the people and to mobilize them, even after the arch-reactionary, fascist moves by the Modi government. For example, as the dates of Bihar elections are coming closer and when BJP has already launched its expensive online campaign on a big scale trying to win over new sections using its majoritarian Hindutva platform in which even the dalit and backward sub-castes are recruited using the ‘identity politics’ or social engineering in most vulgar forms as it did in UP during the LS elections last year to defeat the powerful alliance of yadav based SP and jatav based BSP. In the absence of Lalu Prasad, the RJD is in much disarray; first it along with other parties in its not yet concretized grand alliance tried to get the election postponed; now even after the Election Commission started moving in the direction of holding it in October-November itself as desired by BJP, the alliance is not yet formed. While this is the condition of opposition unity in almost all states, according to latest reports the Congress is facing serious internal dissensions.
In is in this situation, CPI(ML) Red Star, as already decided by the previous CC meetings is calling for taking the following steps to strengthen the all-round offensive against corporate fascist Modi government.
Firstly, top priority should be given to establish the ideological, political line of the party, to intensify efforts for building a Bolshevik style powerful party winning over all revolutionary communists and new comrades to its fold, to strengthen party committee system and political education of the party members, and for develop various struggle, campaigns and movements against the central and state governments.
Secondly, we have already taken initiative in the building up of class/mass organizations and various people’s movements at all India level in which our party comrades are playing leading role. Present situation demands continuous efforts to develop them, give political orientation to them to play more active role in the anti-fascist movement. It also calls for developing struggles in all fields and winning new forces to build united fronts at all levels.
Thirdly, joining hands with like-minded forces, we have taken initiative to start the Revolutionary Left Coordination (RLC) in a webinar on 15th August, with a joint appeal to all such forces to join this process. While this process should be intensified at central level, all SCs and SOCs should take initiative to form the RLC at state level also through winning over such forces by holding continuous discussion and working together taking up issues on which agreement is there.
Fourthly, for building countrywide, broad based Anti-Fascist Front of all forces opposed to fascisation of the country, who uphold the basic rights enshrined in the Constitution, is a major task before the revolutionary forces to overthrow the RSS led Modi fascist rule. But this cannot be achieved just by giving a call for it or by convening few meetings. The recent experience of the Anti-CAA, NPR/NRC movement is before us. It could become such a mighty movement through a process, winning over new forces step by step. Many of our comrades played significant role in this starting with the Delhi rally giving clear-cut slogans in which our Delhi committee played the leading role. So, we have to help the process of building the broad-based anti-fascist front at all India level by joining all ongoing united movements with full vigour, building unity of all classes and sections oppressed by the fascist forces.
Our approach should be based on the principle of “unity and struggle”. While continuing healthy ideological, political struggle against the ruling class parties as well as the revisionist forces, it should not become an obstacle for is joining wholeheartedly with all the joint movements, like what is happening in the workers, peasants, students fronts already. It should be extended to other fields. Wherever there are possibilities like in students, youth, women, cultural like movements the mass organizations in which our comrades are playing leading roles can call for ‘students against fascism’ like joint movements. In the parliamentary struggles also, while always trying for independent communist assertion, building the RLC with Common Program, organizing campaign based on it including contesting selected seats where RLC constituents have mass base, we should focus our campaign to defeat BJP and its allies at state and central level. By actively involving in this process our party committees and comrades can emerge as leaders of the movements in many areas. With such a flexible, broad based approach at central and state level our Party Committees should start playing active role in building the Anti-Fascist Front. While different tactics are adopted in different states according to concrete conditions there, we should clearly put our central task in these elections is to defeat BJP and thereby weaken Modi Govt.
- Introduction: The coming to power of the Modi-led BJP again with a thumping majority poses a serious challenge to the toiling and oppressed masses. Not only there is a further sharp turn to the far right, footsteps of fascism are growing louder by the day. Soon after Modi-2 took over there has been a spurt in mob lynchings and attacks on dalits and minorities. There is talk of implementing NRC in other states apart from Assam, thus creating a situation where millions may be deprived of citizenship rights by one stroke of the pen. Measures like the new draft education policy are a thinly veiled attempt at imposing the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan paradigm on the younger generations and striking at the root of our culture of diversity and democracy. Fascisization of all fields is taking place more aggressively. Virulent national chauvinism is being peddled as answer to all problems, thus creating a culture of communal frenzy and majoritarian violence. Voices of dissent are being summarily throttled. The RSS Parivar is on an offensive to transform India into a Hindu Rashtra by 2024. Side by side, Modi’s neo-liberal economic policies continuously intensifying corporatization are aimed at pauperization of the masses. The projected privatization of all public sector enterprises, changes in labour laws to please the corporate, the abject surrender to US threats, the growing rate of unemployment, farmers’ distress, aggravating climate crisis – all these are making for a situation of unprecedented catastrophe. The latest developments, scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution and dividing J&K in to two union territories by Modi-2 is a direct attack against the democratic rights of the Kashmiri people. The valley is under total military occupation, with all movements of people, communication and all civilian facilities stopped with the state put under 144 and curfew imposed. While these steps have internationalized the Kashmir question even when Modi is repeating it as an internal matter, it aso threatens whatever federal values still remaining in the Constitution.. This belligerent corporate-saffron fascist offensive can be effectivey challenged and defeated only if party building is effectively take up.
- The Political Resolution adopted by the 11th Party Congress, after analyzing the present situation has pointed out the importance “to urgently engage in building up the Party, strengthening class/mass organizations and developing peoples movements and class struggle”. In continuation to it, analyzing the situation following the ascendance of Modi-2, the Central Committee in its June, 2019, Resolution has called: “to combat this all round intensification of neoliberal/corporatization policies and fascisization of all fields, the Central Committee calls for: Firstly, take up the party building as the first and foremost task, trying to merge all genuine communists and streamlining the party committees at all levels; strengthen class/mass organizations, and develop people’s movements in all fields and at all levels according to the concrete situation;......”. It is evident that unless the task of party building is taken up as the primary task all other tasks shall remain unfulfilled. In the present situation of ever intensifying fascisization, this task has become paramount. Only under the leadership of an ideologically, politically and organizationally powerful communist party, surrounded by class/mass organizations/movements, the development of class struggle and people’s movements this task can be effectively carried forward, and the united front activities according to the demands of the present situation can be initiated and developed.
- The Political Organizational Report (POR) adopted by the Eleventh Congress has explained the various aspect of party building including the necessity for theoretical offensive required for it as follows: “(5.a.3….while considering the magnitude of the theoretical challenges confronting the communist movement, as explained in The Resolution, (Resolution on Theoretical Offensive adopted by the Tenth Congress), what we could do in this field so far is still very little……” It has explained in detail the necessity to intensify the theoretical offensive to continuously develop the Party’s programmatic approach, Path of Revolution and the organizational tasks. An over-view of the organizational strength and functioning of the present state committees, which are still insignificant considering the magnitude of the challenges before us, also underline the importance of taking up the party building in an all embracive manner.
- Unification of Communist Revolutionaries
As the POR called for, the present situation, more than ever, demands the unity of the communist revolutionary (CR) forces to defeat the ruling class forces and to advance towards people’s democracy and socialism. After last five decades long practice of parliamentary cretinism, the CPI(M) led Left Front has suffered severe decimation .On the other extreme, the left adventurist stream also has alienated from the people further. In this situation, we have to expand the call to unite all communist forces who are prepared to struggle against these deviations and to pursue Marxist-Leninist theory and practice according to the concrete analysis of present international and Indian situation. Based on this understanding, as explained in the POR, during the last one decade, especially after the Bhopal Special Conference in 2009, we have merged with many sections/organizations of communist revolutionaries. This process is still continuing. Presently, when almost all the parties/organizations within the broad “left spectrum’ are undergoing a major ideological and political churning, there are good possibilities for merger of many of them with Red Star, leading to a new communist polarization. We have to intensify our efforts in this direction. The experience of the Bhangar people’s resistance struggle has created more favorable conditions for advancing unity talks with the communist forces.
- This question of winning over the communist forces to the party should be taken up at three levels: Firstly, though their number may vary considerably from state to state, there are many former members of organizations belonging to the ‘communist spectrum’ who can be won over and enrolled after convincing them about our party line; Secondly, there are many groups of comrades, especially in states where the left movement had good influence, who have left their previous organizations due to ideological or political or organizational differences, for winning over whom also initiative should be taken; Thirdly, active efforts should be made to find out organizations who are nearer to our party line and to win over them through protracted discussions and, if necessary by even working together with them for some time forming coordination committees..
- Party Membership: Though we have our presence in 17 states and SCs/SOCs in 16 states, our party membership in 2018 was only a little over 4,000. Even among them, many are not fulfilling the responsibilities as explained in the Party Constitution. During this year’s membership renewal process, such inactive members should be convinced to overcome their weaknesses, or, if this is not possible, should be weeded out. Considering the enormous tasks we have to take up in different fields, this membership is absolutely insufficient. Urgent steps should be taken to increase the membership. The following steps should be taken up for accomplishing it:
- We have formed Party Sub-Committees in all class/mass organizations and movements at central level. They are constituted at state level also at least in few states or in few fields. Make these committees active and through them take up the enrolment of party members from all fields, especially from among the workers, agricultural workers and peasantry. Considering the fairly good number of membership in TUCI, AIKKS and ABM a good number of members can be recruited from these areas.
- Though two thirds of the population in our country are under 35 years old, our membership among them is very limited. This is linked to our weakness in building the student and youth organizations in spite of repeated decisions. Give more emphasis to this field and recruit larger number of candidate members from students and youth.
- Women constitute half of our population. Without giving emphasis to women’s liberation, party cannot advance the revolutionary movement. But proportion of women among our party members and their presence in party committees are deplorable. Attention should be given for recruiting large number of women as party members.
- The results of the 17th Lok Sabha elections show severe decimation of CPI(M) and CPI, especially in W. Bengal and Tripura. During the last decade, large number of members of these parties and of the ML organizations have become inactive. Some of the comrades associated with us in the past had also become inactive. An active campaign should be organized and hold continuous discussions to win over them to our Party line and to enroll them as party members.
- The experience of Bhangar movement has taught us that successful waging of such people’s movements become a gold mine for recruiting large number of party members including whole timers. It will be reflected in the growth of party membership in Bengal this year. Similarly in all areas where mass movements are developing, proper emphasis should be given to bring the struggling people nearer to the party and to recruit new members from among them to the party.
- Give emphasis to building grass root level party committees: During the last few years the CC has emphasized repeatedly on the importance of organizing and strengthening party committees at the grass root level, that is party committees at Branch, Local and Area levels and Party Sympathizers’ Groups. Decline of our mobilization strength for party programs, and our poor performance in the elections even in the districts where we have waged many struggles are connected to the weakness of our party at grass root level. With the strengthening of the three tier panchayat system, all the ruling class or main stream parties are giving lot of emphasis to capture these Gram, Block and District panchayats, deploying even their senior cadres to them. Since enormous funds are available for these panchayats, they have become very corrupt. As we are not giving proper emphasis to build grass root level party committees and to provide party education and political guidance to them, even few of our own comrades elected to them also became corrupt and left the party. We have to seriously evaluate these negative experiences. Give utmost political and organizational importance to strengthening grass root level party committees. In districts where our party committees are functioning, select gram and block panchayats where our party presence is there; strengthen the Branch committees at village/town/municipal ward level and Local Committees at Gram/Town panchayat levels; chalk out people’s programs/our alternative development and democratization concepts, and wherever possible form people’s committees to capture the panchayats, struggling against the main stream parties. By striving to make these panchayats to function according to our political and organizational line, consistently strengthening the direct participation of the people in its activities through strengthening the functioning of the neighborhood committees. In this way we shall be able to take class struggle to the grass root levels. (see the Appendix).
- Strengthen the District Committee functioning: The district committees link the state committee with the grass root party committees, and in the party structure of the communist party it has to play an important role. It should have an office and regular office functioning, including the practice of issuing press statements on important developments. It should coordinate the working of area committees and the grass root functioning below them. It should collect the levy regularly and ensure the propagation of party organs and literature. It should maintain levy register and account register. It should send circulars to lower level committees on the one hand, and send regular written reports to state committee.
- Strengthen State Committee functioning: In a multinational/multi lingual country like India, the state committees have to play a very important role if we have to lead the revolutionary movement and party forward. But many of our state committees are very weak. Many of them have no proper office or office functioning. They do not bring out the state party organ or issue statements on important developments. We have to wage consistent struggle against the influence of liberalism on the one hand and against sectarianism on the other to strengthen the state committee functioning, taking practical steps for it.
- Give Emphasis to party Education: As explained in the POR adopted by the 11th Party Congress (quoted above), in spite of repeated efforts necessary emphasis is not given to party education at state and district levels, though central party schools are regularly conducted from 2010, party schools are not organized at lower levels including translation of all central party school papers in most of the states. All the state committees should ensure that immediate steps are taken to overcome this weakness. In the present situation of increasing fascisization of the country and the problems created by alien thinking within the “left spectrum” leading to its splintering, the importance of party education by organizing regular party classes has increased more. It also calls for making necessary basic Marxist classics available to the comrades. The state committees should give ever-increasing attention to this.
- Conclusion: With the coming to power of Modi-2 and intensification of fascisization, the concrete conditions in our country are going to face fast changes. As we intensify our struggle in all fields, it is natural that we shall come under increasing state repression, and we should be prepared to face it. While we shall continue to utilize all possibilities for open work to link the party with the masses, our party committee system and organizational functioning should be properly streamlined so that it is capable of confronting all eventualities. Let us strengthen our party building with all our might, overcoming all past mistakes and present weaknesses.
Appendix: On linking the Party Building at Grass Root level with the 3-Tier Panchayat System.
- While giving emphasis to party building, along with giving emphasis to grass root level party building, Ie, of Area, Local and Branch committees, their activities should be linked to our active participation in the functioning of the 3-tier panchayat system. In the Central Party School in 2013 we had discussed a paper on Our Approach to Participation in Local Body Elections. Even after so amny years, still we could not make any advances in this field. Not only that, as we failed or as we are very weak, in developing grass root level party building linking with revolutionary participation in the panchayat system, and preparing our comrades accordingly, almost all our comrades elected to panchayat samithis so far by and large got influenced by corrupt practices and left our party.
- Under these circumstancess, what is happening under the Bhangar Jomi Committee is significant. As the struggle was reaching its peak, confronting the armed attack of the TMC goons we could fight only six seats of Polarhat panchayat where we won with more than 90% support, while in all other 9 seats TMC won without contest or by capturing booths. When the Bhangar Agreement was signed, apart from the compensation to the affected people, the state government agreed to implement a number of projects in the affected area for the people. Now the TMC is trying to convene the full panchayat samithi and impose its hegemony so that it can control all these projects plus other panchayat projects sanctioned by the government. As it shall lead to a situation like what was happening in the past, the Jomi Committee is waging legal struggle as well as struggle in the streets to continue its control in the areas from where our comrades have won. In this way we are struggling to use the panchayat system to consolidate the gains of the Bhangar movement. It calls for regular attention of the leading comrades also. In this way the WB state committee is striving to maintain and expand our political and organizational influence in this area. It is a good example to be emulated in other areas/states according to concrete conditions.
- Numerous past experiences teach us that wherever such struggles take place, as the gains are not consolidated through effective utilization of the panchayat system and strengthening of our mass base through it, very soon our gains were lost or very little of it is continuing. Many decades of parliamentary experience of traditional communist parties also teaches that if the parliamentary institutions including the 3-tier panchayat system are not used in a revolutionary manner as part of the class struggle, they can lead to negative results. It is in this context, however micro level it may be, the present militant functioning of the Bhangar Committee after signing of the agreement should be viewed.
- Presently under neo-liberalism, both imperialism and comprador Indian ruling classes are effectively utilizing local self governments for their neocolonial objectives in the same manner as they make use of central and state governments. All the ruling class parties like BJP, Congress, regional parties and CPI(M)-led parties are functioning as proponents of this neoliberal approach to local bodies. In this context, it is imperative on the part of the struggling left forces to put forward a class approach to local body elections. It should expose the so called top-down decentralization imposed under the labels of “participatory democracy”, “participatory development” and “empowerment” by imperialist centers. It has to show that such decentralization is not intended for genuine people’s political power at the local level. On the contrary, it leads to increasing global centralization of finance capital by making local bodies as its appendage.
- At the behest of neo-colonial agencies such as the World Bank, as part of downsizing the welfare state, all erstwhile social welfare and developmental tasks of the central and state governments are put on the shoulders of fund-starved local bodies who are increasingly made direct dependencies of WB, ADB and other funding agencies. In spite of the economic burden imposed on them, the right to collect land revenue, which is now with the State government, is not set apart for local bodies. The bureaucratic set up of the local bodies has also changed little in the midst of many talks on decentralization. Even today, the elected representatives of the Panchayat system are not vested with any real powers. All the financial and executive powers are vested with the executive officer or secretary of the Panchayat system at village, bloc and district levels. More precisely, the elected local bodies still lack autonomy regarding resource mobilization and executive powers of implementation.
- Taking these aspects into consideration, according to the concrete conditions prevailing in different parts of the country, we should put forward a people’s alternative of bottom-up decentralization which is inseparably linked with the development of class struggle aimed at basically altering the existing property relations and power structure.
- The Party should actively participate in local body elections with this ideological clarity and with a political program so as to transform local bodies as primary centers of people’s political power. For this, participation in local elections should be linked with the uncompromising struggle and campaigns for redistribution of land on the basis of land to the tiller, confiscation of land held by land mafia, distribution of such lands and surplus land among landless, agitation against displacement, against all super-imposed neo-colonial projects, and so on.
- The genuine decentralization means the workers, peasants and all other oppressed sections and classes, the masses of the people, wielding political power at the local level. It is invariably linked to the abolition of imperialist strangle hold over the country and basic changes in the class relations which are maintained through the present “top-down” decentralization. Instead of this, a “bottom-up” decentralization as people’s alternative replacing the existing class relations and hegemony of imperialist finance capital is indispensable. A restructuring of the property relations including land relations in favour of the landless, entrusting land to the real tillers, is an essential component of this. In spite of the rhetoric on decentralization and empowerment of panchayats, the Indian state keeps the people in the dark and imposes various neo-colonial projects violating their jurisdiction. In numerous court cases where panchayats vs MNCs are involved, mostly the courts uphold the neo-colonial loot of the latter against the rights of the former.
- The Party should reject the neo-liberal decentralization experiments pursued In different states. It should try to draw lessons from the experiences of Paris Commune, the “Soviets” and “People’s Communes”. They should take lessons from them and make efforts for applying them in accordance with the concrete conditions prevailing today. Along with the development of struggles by class/mass organisations, a people’s development agenda should be placed before the people. All State Committees should prepare a manifesto clearly specifying the Party’s program including specific demands for land, shelter, food, drinking water, employment, education, healthcare, etc. with respect to local body elections according to concrete conditions. Along with this, an effective organizational initiative for utilizing local bodies in the interest of class struggle should be evolved.
Marx and Engels located the origin of women’s oppression in the rise of class society. Engels wrote The Origin of Family, Private Property and State in 1884 - a year after Marx's death. He used Marx's Ethnological Notebooks as well as his own notes as the basis of the text. The notebooks contained Marx's notes on Ancient Society by Lewis Henry Morgan. The Origin is a short book which dwells on Morgan's findings and puts forward an argument about the nature of "primitive" society, the rise of commodity production and, with it, the emergence of classes and the state. Engels contended that, for the vast majority of human existence, some 200,000 years (or 2 million years if we include other human-like species), people lived in small communities that were relatively egalitarian, did not contain systematic oppression by one group or another, and to whom concepts such as property and wealth would have had no meaning.
Humans had not yet learned how to cultivate plants or rear animals. These hunter-gatherer societies could sustain only a relatively small population which had to move on when resources became scarce. Sharing and communal living were the best way to ensure the survival of the group. There would have been a division of labour between men and women, but this did not mean the domination of one group by the other - each person would make the decisions about the activities they were involved in.
Rather than living in family units of two parents and their children, or an extended patriarchal family centering round the male elder, people lived in communal systems of kinship - children would be the responsibility of everyone.
The old kinship systems were centred on mothers because it was only possible to identify the line of descent through the mother. In such a setup only mothers would know with certainty who their children were and thus build up a network of blood relationships around that knowledge, giving every member of the group a line of descent and a role. The "household" was communal, and the fruits of women's and men's labour were shared among families. There was no separation between what we would now know as ‘housework’ and all other work - there was no public/private divide.
The new male-dominated family broke up this intricate, communal system by placing the family as the key economic unit of society, the means through which wealth would be owned and passed on. Rather than the woman being an equally important economic actor in society, she and her children became dependent upon the individual man in the family.
This change took place with development of production relations and growing people's ability to produce more than they immediately needed to consume. The development of agriculture and the domestication of animals meant goods could be produced for trade - commodities could be exchanged for other things or, eventually, money. More specialised tools became crucial to production and thus very valuable property. Men tended to be the ones responsible for animal rearing and increasingly for agriculture - so they owned the tools and made the economic decisions, gradually increasing their importance in relation to women.
For the first time women's ability to give birth became a burden. This was partly because settled communities with greater productive capacity could sustain larger populations - in fact needed more labourers to work in the fields - and so women would tend to spend more time pregnant or with young children. But the main source of women's oppression was the separation of the family from the communal clan. Women's labour in the home became a private service under conditions of subjugation. This was the "world historic defeat of the female sex" that Engels wrote about:
"The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became a slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children. This degraded position of women...has gradually been palliated and glossed over, and sometimes clothed in milder form, in no sense has it been abolished."
As Marx noted, "The modern family contains in germ not only slavery but also serfdom, since from the beginning it is related to agricultural services. It contains in miniature all the contradictions which later extend throughout society and its state."
This defeat of mother right was a profound change in human relations caused, not by some latent desire in men to dominate women, but by the needs of commodity production and the way it developed. The monogamous family was "the first form of the family to be based...on economic conditions - on the victory of private property over...communal property". Along with domestic slavery came slave labour and the beginning of systematic exploitation. Once communal property was undermined this was inevitable - private property for some always means no property for others. Engels writes that this process "opens the period that has lasted until today in which every step forward is also a step backward, in which prosperity and development for some is won through the misery and frustration of others."
Engels built upon Morgan’s theory in The Origin to develop, as the title implies, a theory of how the rise of class society led to both the rise of the state, which represents the interests of the ruling class in the day-to-day class struggle, and the rise of the family, as the means by which the first ruling classes possessed and passed on private wealth. He developed a historical analysis which located the source of women’s oppression. In so doing, he provided a strategy for ending that oppression. It is no exaggeration to say that Engels’ work has defined the terms of debate around ‘the origin’ of women’s oppression for the last 100 years. Most writers on the subject of women’s oppression have set out either to support or reject Marxist theory as laid out by Engels in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.
Until the women’s movement of the late 1960s began to challenge male chauvinism, sexist assumptions provided the basis for broad generalizations. Claude Levi-Strauss, a leading anthropologist within the structuralist school, went so far as to argue that "human society...is primarily a masculine society." He argued that the "exchange of women" is a "practically universal" feature of human society, in which men obtain women from other men – from fathers, brothers and other male relatives. Moreover, he asserted that "the deep polygamous tendency, which exists among all men, always makes the number of available women seem insufficient." Therefore, "the most desirable women must form a minority." Because of this, "the demand for women is an actual fact, or to all intents and purposes, always in a state of disequilibrium and tension." According to Levi-Strauss, then, women have been the passive victims of men’s sexual aggression since the beginning of human society.
On the other hand, in its purest form, much of feminist theory rests upon more imaginations than facts. There is wideranging supposition like men dominate women because they hold women in contempt for their ability to bear children–or because they are jealous of women’s ability to bear children. Men oppress women because long ago women formed a powerful matriarchy which was overthrown–or because men have always been a tyrannical patriarchy. Gerda Lerner argues in her book, The Creation of Patriarchy, "Feminists, beginning with Simone de Beauvoir… [have explained women’s oppression] as caused by either male biology or male psychology." She goes on to describe a sampling of feminist theories, all of which border on the outlandish: Thus, Susan Brownmiller sees man’s ability to rape women leading to their propensity to rape women and shows how this has led to male dominance over women and to male supremacy. Elizabeth Fisher ingeniously argued that the domestication of animals…led men to the idea of raping women. She claimed that the brutalization and violence connected with animal domestication led to men’s sexual dominance and institutionalized aggression. More recently, Mary O’Brien built an elaborate explanation of the ‘origin’ of male dominance on men’s psychological need to compensate for their inability to bear children through the construction of institutions of dominance and, like Fisher, dated this "discovery" in the period of the discovery of animal domestication.
In his introduction to the first edition of The Origin, Engels explains materialism as follows: “According to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the final instance, the production and reproduction of immediate life. This, again, is of a twofold character: on the one side, the production of the means of existence, of food, clothing and shelter and the tools necessary for that production; on the other side, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species.”
Before class society, the idea of a strictly monogamous pairing of males and females with their offspring – the modern, ‘monogamous‘ family – was unknown to human society. Inequality was also unknown. For more than 2 million years, humans lived in groups made up of people who were mostly related by blood, in conditions of relative equality. This understanding is an important part of Marxist theory.
Human evolution has taken place over a very long time–a period of millions of years. The earliest human ancestors (Homo habilus) probably appeared some 2 million or more years ago, while anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) did not appear until 200,000 to 100,000 years ago. The earliest forms of agriculture did not begin until 10,000 years ago, and it is only over the last thousand years that human society has experienced much more rapid technological development.25
For most of human history, it would have been impossible to accumulate wealth – nor was there much motivation to do so. For one thing, there would have been no place to store it. People lived first in nomadic bands – hunter-gatherer societies – sustaining themselves by some combination of gathering berries, roots and other vegetable growth, and hunting or fishing. In most such societies, there would have been no point in working more than the several hours per day it takes to produce what is necessary for subsistence. But even among the first societies to advance to horticulture, it wasn’t really possible to produce much more than what was to be immediately consumed by members of the band.
With the onset of more advanced agricultural production–through the use of the plow and/or advanced methods of irrigation –and the beginnings of settled communities, in some societies human beings were able to extract more than the means of subsistence from the environment. This led to the first accumulation of surplus, or wealth. As Engels stated in The Origin: "Above all, we now meet the first iron plowshare drawn by cattle, which made large-scale agriculture, the cultivation of fields, possible and thus created a practically unrestricted food supply in comparison with previous conditions." This was a turning point for human society, for it meant that, over time, production for use could be replaced by production for exchange and eventually for profit, leading to the rise of the first class societies some 6,000 years ago.
The crux of Engels’ theory of women’s oppression rests on the relationship between the sexual division of labor and the mode of production, which underwent a fundamental transformation with the onset of class society. In hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies, there was a sexual division of labor–rigidly defined sets of responsibilities for women and men. But both sexes were allowed a high degree of autonomy in performing those tasks. Moreover–and this is an element which has been learned since Engels’ time–women not only provided much of the food for the band in hunter-gatherer societies, but also, in many cases, they provided most of the food. So women in pre-class societies were able to combine motherhood and productive labor–in fact, there was no strict demarcation between the reproductive and productive spheres. Women, in many cases, could carry small children with them while they gathered or planted, or leave the children behind with other adults for a few hours at a time. Likewise, many goods could be produced in the household. Because women were central to production in these pre-class societies, systematic inequality between the sexes was nonexistent, and elder women in particular enjoyed relatively high status.
All of that changed with the development of private property. According to the sexual division of labor, men tended to take charge of heavier agricultural jobs, like plowing, since it was more difficult for pregnant or nursing women and might endanger small children to be carried along. Moreover, since men traditionally took care of big-game hunting (though not exclusively), again, it made sense for them to oversee the domestication of cattle. Engels argued that the domestication of cattle preceded the use of the plow in agriculture, although it is now accepted that these two processes developed at the same time. But this does not diminish the validity of his explanation as to why control over cattle fell to men.
As production shifted away from the household, the role of reproduction changed substantially. The shift toward agricultural production sharply increased the productivity of labor. This, in turn, increased the demand for labor–the greater the number of field workers, the higher the surplus. Thus, unlike hunter-gatherer societies, which sought to limit the number of offspring, agricultural societies sought to maximize women’s reproductive potential, so the family would have more children to help out in the fields. Therefore, at the same time that men were playing an increasingly exclusive role in production, women were required to play a much more central role in reproduction.
The rigid sexual division of labor remained the same, but production shifted away from the household. The family no longer served anything but a reproductive function – as such, it became an economic unit of consumption. In the family, men as owners of the means of production and controlling the major share of production, came to be owners of the produce too, and the woman and children of the family became dependent on the man for their share of the produce. This also enabled the men to hold the woman in relative subjugation. Women became trapped within their individual families, as the reproducers of society–cut off from production. These changes took place first among the property-owning families, the first ruling class. But eventually, the monogamous family became an economic unit of society as a whole.
It is important to understand that these changes did not take place overnight, but over a period of thousands of years. Moreover, greed was not responsible, in the first instance, for the unequal distribution of wealth. Nor was male chauvinism the reason why power fell into the hands of (some) men, while the status of women fell dramatically. There is no evidence (nor any reason to assume) that women were coerced into this role by men. For property-owning families, a larger surplus would have been in the interest of all household members. Engels said of the first male "property owners" of domesticated cattle, "What is certain is that we must not think of him as a property owner in the modern sense of the word." He owned his cattle in the same sense that he owned the other tools required to obtain food and other necessities. But "the family did not multiply so rapidly as the cattle." Agricultural output also increased sharply–some of which needed to be stored to feed the community in case of a poor harvest, and some of which could be traded for other goods.
Obviously, every society across the globe did not experience an identical succession of changes in the mode of production. Chris Harman writes, "[T]he exact route from hunter-gathering through horticulture and agriculture to civilization did vary considerably from one society to another." But, “[t]he divergent forms under which class society emerged must not make us forget the enormous similarities from society to society.” Everywhere there was, in the beginning, primitive communism. Everywhere, once settled agricultural societies were formed, some lineages, lineage elders or "big men" could begin to gain prestige through their role in undertaking the redistribution of the little surplus that existed in the interests of the group as a whole. Everywhere, as the surplus grew, this small section of society came to control a greater share of the social wealth, putting it in a position where it could begin to crystallize out into a social class.
What is indisputable is that the onset of class society brought with it a universal shift toward patrilineage–and, more importantly, the role of men as "heads" of their households. Engels was undoubtedly correct–with more supporting evidence today than when he was writing–that the rise of the modern family brought with it a degradation of women which was unknown in pre-class societies. Engels argued, “The overthrow of mother right was the world historic defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children. . . . In order to make certain of the wife’s fidelity and therefore the paternity of his children, she is delivered over unconditionally into the power of the husband; if he kills her, he is only exercising his rights.”
That the rise of the family was a consequence–and not a cause, as some argue–of the rise of classes is central to Engels’ argument.
Engels argued that the rise of class society brought with it rising inequality – between the rulers and the ruled, and between men and women. At first the surplus was shared with the entire clan – so wealth was not accumulated by any one individual or groups of individuals. But gradually, as settled communities grew in size and became more complex social organizations, and, most importantly, as the surplus grew, the distribution of wealth became unequal – and a small number of men rose above the rest of the population in wealth and power.
Engels didn't claim that there was a straightforward, one-way relationship between the development of the productive forces and the social relations - there is always a battle. But everything doesn't influence everything equally: "It is not that the economic situation is cause, solely active, while everything else [political, philosophical, religious, etc, development] is only passive effect. There is rather interaction on the basis of economic necessity, which ultimately always asserts itself."
Engels’ analysis is straightforward–it may need further development, but its essence is there, plain to see. The sexual division of labor which existed in pre-class societies, when production for use was the dominant mode of production, carried no implication of gender inequality. Women were able to combine their reproductive and productive roles, so both sexes were able to perform productive labor. But with the rise of class society, when production for exchange began to dominate, the sexual division of labor helped to erode equality between the sexes. Production and trade increasingly occurred away from the household, so that the household became a sphere primarily for reproduction. As Coontz and Henderson argue,
The increasing need for redistribution (both within local groups and between them) and the political tasks this creates have consequences for sex roles in that these political roles are often filled by males, even in matrilineal/matrilocal societies. Presumably this flows from the division of labor that associates males with long-distance activities, external affairs, and products requiring group-wide distribution, while females are more occupied with daily productive tasks from which they cannot be absented.
Hence, the beginnings of a "public" versus a "private" sphere, with women increasingly trapped in the household in property-owning families. The rise of the family itself explains women’s subordinate role within it. For the first time in human history, women’s ability to give birth kept them from playing a significant part in production.
For Engels, there was a "historic defeat" because something fundamental changed in the economic base of society. We developed ways to produce a surplus, not by nature's bounty but by our own labour. If, as Engels argues, oppression arose alongside class society then is he saying that, once we get rid of class society, oppression will automatically disappear?
A fair reading of The Origin with an open mind makes it clear that the treatise contains no such assumption. No oppression can ever automatically disappear. On the contrary, an uncompromising fight against all forms of gender oppression serves to erode the base on which such oppression stands and paves the way for the uprooting of the base. For instance, the struggles against various aspects of women’s oppression like domestic violence and sexual violence sharpen and intensify the struggle against class. “The first condition for the liberation of women”, argued Engels, “is to bring the whole of the female sex back into public industry”. We have seen over the past few decades how structural changes in capitalism have led to a significant increase in the participation of women in the workforce in many countries worldwide. While this has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the ideas and aspirations of women themselves, as well as influencing social attitudes more broadly, women’s economic, social and personal autonomy are limited by the needs of capitalism. Engels went on to explain that “this in turn demands the abolition of the monogamous family’s attribute of being the economic unit of society”. The family as an institution and women’s role within it, have clearly undergone significant changes since Engels wrote The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Nevertheless, it retains an economic and ideological relevance for 21st century capitalism which is suffering from a systemic crisis and is riven with contradictions: a system which exploits women as low-cost labour in the workplace while defining their existence by their role in the monogamous family.
Capitalist ideology concerning women’s role and status in society has also evolved since the late 19th century, but the ideas and values of a system based on commodity production for profit and inequalities of wealth and power rest on, combine with, and perpetuate the residue of outmoded ideas of male authority and supremacy which have their roots in earlier class societies. As a consequence, women continue to experience violence, sexual abuse and restrictions on their sexuality and reproductive rights, while facing sexism, discrimination, gender stereotyping and double standards.
For Engels the basis for resolving the problems which women face in society entails “the transfer of the means of production into common ownership”. In this way, “the monogamous family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into social industry. The care and education of children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike…” In a socialist society, personal relations will be freed from the economic and social constraints which continue to limit them even today. The basis for true liberation will be laid. Close to 150 years after they were first written, Engels’s words regarding the ending of women’s oppression maintain all their force.
Part - 2
In the present day the women’s organization needs to be broad-based, encompassing the aspirations of all struggling women and gender rights movements, and attempting to bring together all resistances to patriarchy under one umbrella. However, since patriarchy today is nurtured and sustained by imperialism, and in every challenge to patriarchy the world order of imperialism is also challenged to some extent or the other, the general nature of the women’s organization will be anti-imperialist.
In our country, with the fascistic onslaught intensifying, there is need for the women’s organization to be particularly strong in order to combat state-sponsored patriarchal challenges. For that the women’s organization needs to break out of the stereotypical mould of being an appendage to a Party and develop independent organizing and agitating abilities. In our country it is the custom of political parties, ranging from right, centre to left, to have women’s wings as women’s organizations. The CPIM has one, the Congress has another and so does the BJP. Even struggling left organizations like the Liberation and others have their women’s wings which go by the name of women’s organizations. However, just as it is uncommon for these ‘women’s organisations’ to ever go against any position adopted by the Party they are associated with, so also it is rare for them to take up independent positions and struggles.
The primary objective of a women’s organization is women’s liberation, and this can be neither achieved nor struggled for by women who aren’t independent themselves. But it is most often seen that far from being an independent organization with distinctive positions on all questions pertaining to the unceasing attacks on women, the tendency is to tail the Party. Thus the independent assertion of women through their own organization remains a far cry.
The relationship between the Communist Party and women’s organization should necessarily be dialectical, independent of each other and yet each hammering away at class-divided society with a view to replace it with a new order. As struggling trade unions set their own agendas of struggle, but the Party remains a bulwark of support all throughout and helps the trade union to view the long-term goals without positing itself as a Grand Patriarch in relationship to the union, so also the women’s organization should at all times set its own agenda of propaganda and struggle, aided by the Party but never dictated by it or constrained by it.
The Communist Party has a great role to play in the educating and organizing of women. The exclusion of women from all important spaces has become a habit that must be consciously fought. Very often it is convenient not to have a woman or two in a meeting or gathering of a couple of dozen men, especially because including women would necessitate making separate logistical arrangements for them. But we are so used to viewing all space as ‘male space’ that the very idea of organizing a space for women appears downright troublesome. Very often women’s voices are ignored simply because the total unfamiliarity with the female voice makes it difficult for the Party to understand what is being tried to be conveyed. This is also obvious from the total invisibilisation of women not just in formal academia but also the history of the communist movement, both in India as well as abroad. History text books in Indian schools teach a wide range of modern, international historical events ranging from the French Revolution to the Paris Commune and the American War of Independence, the Emancipation of Slaves in the US, Emancipation of Serfs in Russia to the Boer War, and of course the Russian Revolution and the Chinese Revolution and the two World Wars and chunks of the post World War scenario, the United Nations, Israel-Palestine, Cold War, et al. However, one chapter of history that is summarily and deliberately glossed over in all history books – left, right and centre – without exception, is the history of the International Women’s Suffrage Movement and its somewhat less-than-triumphant victory. Although this movement, dealing as it did with the question of citizenship rights for half the population of the globe, had a prolonged, fierce and chequered history, pitting citizens against citizens even as women and men united against governments on a fairest possible demand, and had an international character, it is one movement about which most of us know very little. Neither academic textbooks, nor progressive history books which tell us about the uninterrupted fight of the people of the world for democracy and rights, usually have chapters dedicated to the International Women’s Suffrage Movement, and while Abraham Lincoln remains a greatly famous name not merely for his leadership role in the Civil War but more so as the champion of the emancipation of the African Americans from slavery, the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement are forgotten names relegated to the pages of something that goes by the dubious distinction of ‘feminist literature’. Now take a look at the history of the International Communist Movement. Except for Rosa Luxembourg and Clara Zetkin and a handful others, the women leaders are inexplicably missing. Not that they weren’t there. Not that the ICM was largely a male-only movement. But tomes on the ICM will give you a different idea.
This invisibilisation of women has acquired such a degree of normalcy that it isn’t generally considered a part of what is broadly termed as oppression of women. This picture of violent inequality – where women are intruding ‘others’ in a world of men, for men and by men – however, remains a constant, be it in history or the living present. So the visibilisation of women’s struggles and their role in history remains an important duty of the Communist Party.
The most important challenges before the women’s movement today are the tendency to shy away from forming broad-based women’s organizations and the inclination to limit the organization by the position of the Party. AIRWO is an exception to this general rule. It is not an appendage of CPI(ML) Red Star, or any other Party for that matter. It calls itself revolutionary because it believes in the revolutionary reorganization of society for the achievement of the complete emancipation of women. But that is not to say that it is an organization for only women revolutionaries. It is an organization which aims at bringing together the ranks of women, all struggles of, by and for women, and all the liberatory aspirations of women into one united, yet diverse, platform committed to the uprooting of patriarchy.
The caste system in India is a unique system which was developed almost three thousand years back as per the Rig Vedic evidences. However, the system became rigid and institutional at the time of Manu who composed Manusmriti. Ascribing an exact date of composing the Manusmriti is difficult but according to different sources and modern researches it may be safe to assume that the period of Manusmriti is between 200 BCE to 200 CE. The socio-economic fabric of our country reveals that how much powerful an ancient system, like caste division can be in even present times that the practical politics of a revolutionary party cannot ignore its dynamics. However, a systematic study of this system from Marxist point of view was never done with due importance. Therefore, it has become a herculean task today to enter into a comprehensive study of the system. This paper, therefore, did not try to do that. Instead, the paper concentrated on the key issues related to the subject in order to understand the very nature of our social struggles which may facilitate to develop the correct strategy and tactics of our revolution. In this paper it may be fruitless to search answers. On the contrary, the paper has strove to formulate the questions. A collective effort based on the combination of theory and practice may find the answers of those.
Origination of Varna and Caste Division
Manusmriti is the most ill famous source of the ugly form of caste division against which all the democratic forces vow to fight. Manu divided the society into four varnas, i.e., Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra (Chaturvarna system) where Brahmin is in the top of social hierarchical ladder and followed by other three varnas respectively. Shudra is the lowest varna and deprived from all the rights and whose duty is only to serve other three varnas. Some of the dicta of Manu are as follow:
- In whom among the three (higher) castes the most and the best of (those) five may be he is here worthy of respect; a Shudra (is not worthy of respect on the ground of his wealth or knowledge no matter how high they are)….
- A Kshatriya who reviles a Brahmin ought to be fined one hundred (Panas); a Vaishya one hundred and fifty or two hundred, but a Shudra ought to receive corporal punishment.
- A Brahmin may take possession of the goods of a Shudra with perfect peace of mind, for, since nothing at all belongs to this Shudra as his own, he is one whose property may be taken away by his master.
- Indeed, an accumulation of wealth should not be made by a Shudra even if he is able to do so, for the sight of mere possession of wealth by a Shudra injures the Brahmin.
- If a man (of the Shudra caste) makes love to a girl of the highest caste he deserves corporal punishment.
- A woman alone (is) a wife for a Shudra; both she and a woman of his own caste (are) legally (wives) of a Vaishya; they two and also a woman of his own caste (are wives) of a Kshatriya, both they and a woman of his own caste (are wives) of a Brahmin.
We need to discuss Manu’s system more elaborately, however, before that we must understand the actual difference between the varna system and caste system. According to the varna system the Indo-Aryan people were divided into four groups. However, according to the caste system which arose from the varna system in later period divided the people in numerous subdivisions and all the divisions were placed hierarchically. These sub-divisions are rigid and are determined by birth. In the beginning the varna division was not very much rigid because it was said that the division did not take place by birth, but by the action (karma). Therefore, at the time of great epics or even after that we can see many Shudra kings ruled different parts of the country. However, after the fall of Mauryan Empire no major Shudra empire came into being.
But it does not mean that the varna system was mere a theoretical one while the caste system is practical and very much a matter of day-to-day life. Many anti-caste scholars propagate this idea which we consider not only as wrong but an attempt to give concession to the ‘sacred’ scriptures. Therefore, they put overemphasis on the difference between varna system and caste system. It is true that in the beginning the varna system was not rigid and social mobility was there unlike the caste system and this is an important difference between these two systems. However, as time passed by, the system became rigid, oppressive and a matter of day-to-day life and as the division of work spread all over the society and more and more new professions came into existence the caste system originated as a finer and all-embraced form of varna system in later period. However, It should be noted that whole of the Manu’s system is based on varna division, not on the caste division. If the varna system was mere a theoretical one then all the hatred of the dalits against Manusmriti become unexplainable.
But what was the inspiration behind the origination of a system like varna system? Let us hear Manu:
"Shaktena api hi shudrena na karyah
Dhanasanchayah shudrah hi dhanamasadya Brahmanan eba Badhate!"
i.e., even if able, the Shudras should not accumulate wealth. Accumulation of wealth by the Shudras make the Brahmins suffer. Many passages can be quoted form Manusmriti and other Smrities (scriptures of codified laws) to show that the main inspiration behind the varna division was highly economic in nature, that is, to extract the surplus production and to deprive a large section of the people from social production other than the means of subsistence only. JANASHAKTI, the central organ of presently non-existent CPIML—JANASHAKTI once took an attempt to study the caste question from Marxist point of view. The paper was published by a social organization later as a booklet. According to their understanding: “Thus the varna system which first started social making based on a primitive social division of labour and political subordination of one group by another, took the concrete shape of social division based on social division of labour to extract surplus from the toiling people and division of labourers too originated.” (Class Caste Relations: Marxist Approach). Comrade Santosh Rana also had similar understanding. He wrote, “In short, the position of an individual in social division of labour, his role in controlling the means of production, his social prestige in relation of the law, his portion of social surplus and the means of achieving this surplus, etc., are determined by his varna. The task of the Shudras was to produce surplus and the three upper varnas used to extract that. It only means, the class division in India at first expressed itself through the varna system.” (Samaj Shreni Rajniti, A collection of Essays by Santosh Rana in Bengali/ Translation is mine).
Once upon a time the West Bengal state committee of CPIM undertook the task to study the social history of our country under the leadership of Anil Biswas around the year of 2OOO and a brief outline of the study was published as a booklet in the year of 2OO3. They also reached in the same conclusion and admitted that the class struggle in ancient and mediaeval India took the form of caste struggle, however, they considered it as a barrier for the development of a classical class struggle.
Among the early communists of our country Comrade S. A. Dange first engaged in a systematic study of the history of ancient India form a Marxist point of view. Although he was influenced by a mechanical Marxist approach and tried to impose the western pattern of social development on the history of India (especially in the case of slave system), still he has left behind some important observations for us. He also admitted that although the varna system emerged in the primitive communist society of the Aryans, however, with the advent of private property the varna division took the shape of class division. He wrote, “Once that stage has been reached, private property and classes are born. The Varnas metamorphoses into contradictory classes and take the path of civil war, class war. The primitive commune dies, never to return.” (INDIA: FROM PRIMITIVE COMMUNISM TO SLAVERY/ PPH/ Page:1O1).
Professor Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya had an elaborated study on the Vedic society in ancient India. He also convincingly proved that in early Vedic period the Aryan society was a primitive form of communistic society without the class division, although, a simple form of division of work was present there. However, for the first time the Indo-Aryan society became divided into four varnas when the ill-famous Purusha Shukata was composed. It was nothing but the reflection of the emerging class division within the Indo-Aryan society.
The Rig Veda is an important source to understand the transition from classless society to the class society in India. The experts have an opinion that the Rig Veda was composed through a long time, nearly seven hundred to eight hundred years. Within this time frame the Vedic society passed through this transition. That is why we see a concept of equality of all human being (obviously within the clan) and gods too were considered as the friends of all human being (Jananam Jamih). However, in the later portion of the Rig Veda we see a work division came into being where the Brahmins had the prerogatives to maintain the connection with the gods, that is, in the ritualistic matters. The Purusha Shukta proposed a division among the Indo-Aryan people, however, it did not set up the hierarchy. It gave some indications only. The Brahmins were formed from the mouth of the Purusha. The Rajanyas were born from his arms. The Vaishyas came from his thighs and the Shudras from his feet. Many different interpretations are possible of this symbolic presentation of the division. The question arises that how far it is correct to assume that the Rig Veda determined the hierarchical places of four varnas and their duties or role in the society! Manu had his particular interpretation. He was convinced that the Purusha Shukta place the Brahmin at the top of the social hierarchical ladder, by saying that they were born from the mouth of the Purusha. For him it was quite sufficient indication that the Brahmins should own all the knowledge and wisdom in order to appear as the sole representatives of the divinity in this material world. Similarly the Rajanyas had the duty to protect the people since they were born from the arms. The Vaishyas and the Shudras were duty-bound to produce the wealth and the Shudras had a role only to serve the upper three varnas. Since they were born from the feet of the Purusha they had no right.
This interpretation of Manu was not acceptable to many admirers and followers of the Rig Veda and so called Vedic religion. According to them, by the system of Chaturvarna the Vedas only proposed a job division only, nothing more than that. Therefore, a person can be a Brahmin, or Kshatriya, or Shudra not by his or her birth but by work or karma. Ambedkar called these people as the most dangerous enemy of the dalit movement.
However, we must understand why Manu interpreted the Purusha Shukta in such a manner from the historical materialist point of view. Manu composed a literature which was called Smriti, that means, the law. But the laws are creations of the human being. The strong presence of the memory of old days of communistic society never allowed the people to accept any discrimination when it was created by the human itself. This is an important peculiarity of Indian society. Therefore, it must have been supported by the divinity. The Smrities must have been supported by the Shruti (the Vedas). Why? Because ‘the Vedas are not created by the human being, it was composed by the God’. The fatal Shruti-Smriti combine now became eligible to dictate the discrimination. Had there been no Purusha Shukta in the Rig Veda it would be difficult for Manu to justify the class division within the Indo-Aryan society which in return would make the class struggle much sharper. Therefore, today at least it can be said that the Purusha Shukta gives an important service to the ruling classes from the ancient time till today. (The whole hymn of Purusha Shukta made of sixteen verses along with annotation and notes by Wendy Doniger are given in Appendix for the advanced readers).
Now let us enter the political consequences of this development as laid down by Manu. From above discussion one thing is very clear. The varna division and subsequent caste division in Indian society is nothing but the class division in a different form. Therefore, when Ambedkar gave a call for annihilation of castes and the Communist Party gave a call to fight for a classless society, there was no essential difference between these two calls.
The Political Struggle of the Shudras
However, the early communists of our movement failed to see the matter from this angel. This is not true, as some of the critics of the communist movement always try to propagate, that the Communist Party did not take care of the Caste Annihilation movement led by Ambedkar at all. However, all the efforts of the Party were based on some half hearted understanding of the social struggles in our country. In the preface of “Who were the Shudras?” written in nineteen forty six Ambedkar said, “It is well-known that there is a non-Brahmin movement in this country which is political movement of the Shudras. It is also well-known that I have been connected with it.” Thus under the leadership of Ambedkar the political movement of the Shudras was born. When the Shudras of our country who were actually the Indian version of proletariat having nothing to lose except their chains waged a political struggle against their oppressors, it should have been a welcome development for the communists. However, the matter did not develop in this line. Instead, a bitter relation was developed between the Communists and the Ambedkarites and an unwanted rift was emerged between these two camps which helped Congress to manipulate the complicated situation prevailed at that time of nineteen thirties and nineteen forties successfully to capture the leadership of anti-British struggle in India in order to give birth a neo-colonial India after nineteen forty seven. We need to understand the failure of both the camps, the Communists and the Ambedkarites, in this regard in order to determine today’s task in the concrete social condition of Indian revolution. At first we will discuss the mental make-up of B.R. Ambedkar. The above-mentioned preface of “Who were the Shudras” written by him can be an eye opener in this case.
In that preface Ambedkar divided the ‘Hindus’ in five distinct categories. He said, “There is a class of Hindus, who are known as Orthodox and who will not admit that there is anything wrong with the Hindu social system. To talk of reforming it is to them rank blasphemy.” Regarding the second category he said, “There is a class of Hindus who are known as Arya Samajists. They believe in the Vedas and only in Vedas. They differ from the Orthodox inasmuch as they discard anything which is not in the Vedas. Their gospel is that of return to the Vedas.” On the third category Ambedkar said, “There is a class of Hindus who will admit that the Hindu social system is all wrong, but who hold that there is no necessity to attack it. Their argument is that since law does not recognize it, it is dying, if not a dead system.” He remarked on the fourth category, “There is a class of Hindus, who are politically minded. They are indifferent to such questions. To them Swaraj is more important than social reform.” Ambedkar found his ally in the fifth category, so he said, “The fifth class of Hindus are those who are rationalists, and who regard reforms as of primary importance, even more important than Swaraj.”
Ambedkar admitted that there was a fierce battle was going on between him and the first two categories of the ‘Hindus’. On the probable impact of his book, ‘Who Were the Shudras’ on the Arya Samajists he said, “The book treads heavily on the toes of the Arya Samajists…. Both these conclusions are bound to act like atomic bombs on the dogmas of the Arya Samajists.” He said further, “I am not sorry for this clash with Arya Samajist. The Arya Samajists have done great mischief in making the Hindu society a stationary society…… I am convinced that the Hindu society will not accept the necessity of reforming itself unless and until this Arya Samajists’s ideology is completely destroyed. This book does render this service, if no other.”
On the Orthodox ‘Hindus’ he remarked, “What the Orthodox Hindus will say about this book I can well imagine for I have battling with him all these years. The only thing I did not know was how the meek and non-violent looking Hindu can be violent when anybody attacks his Sacred Books. I became aware of it as never before when last year I received a shower of letters from angry Hindus, who became quite unbalanced by my speech on the subject delivered in Madras. The letters were full of filthy abuses, unmentionable and unprintable, and full of dire threats to my life…. I don’t know what they will do this time….. For I know very well that they are a base crew who, professing to defend their religion, have made religion a matter of trade. They are more selfish than any other set of beings in the world, and are prostituting their intelligence to support the vested interests of their class…. What I would like to tell these amiable gentlemen is that they will not be able to stop me by their imprecations.”
On the other hand Ambedkar admitted that he had no expectation to be able to change the minds of third and fourth categories of the ‘Hindus’. While he furnished some arguments against the third category he just simply ignored the fourth category of the “Hindus” whom he called “politically minded”. On them he only employed two or three remarks, “As to the politically-minded Hindu, he need not be taken seriously. His line of approach is generally governed by a short-term view more than by long-range considerations. He is willing to follow the line of least resistance and postpone a matter, however urgent, if it is likely to make him unpopular. It is therefore quite natural if the politically-minded Hindu regards this book as nuisance.” On the ‘Hindus’ of fifth category Ambedkar said, “The only class of Hindus, who are likely to welcome the book are those who believe in the necessity and urgency of social reform. The fact that it is a problem which will certainly take a long time to solve and will call the efforts of many generations to come, is in their opinion, no justification for postponing the study of the problem. Even an ardent Hindu politician, if he is honest, will admit that the problems arising out of the malignant form of communalism which is inherent in the Hindu social organization and which the politically minded Hindus desire to ignore or postpone, invariably return to plague, those very politicians at every turn. These problems are not the difficulties of the moment. They are our permanent difficulties, that is to say, difficulties of every moment. I am glad to know that such a class of Hindus exists. Small though they be, they are my mainstay and it is to them that I have addressed my arguments.”
From above quotations we can have a sketch of mental make-up of B.R. Ambedkar and his general political understanding. For him the Independence of the country was not that much important if the rule of the newly independent country would go in the hands of the caste-Hindu leadership. A Hindu India was no way better for him than the colonial India. Therefore, he wanted to launch a decisive battle against caste discrimination and for the annihilation of the caste system at that point of time when the struggle for independence of our country from the British rule reached at its peak. This became the point of difference between the Ambedkarite movement and the Communist movement. It is also very clear from the discussion put forward by Ambedkar in that preface that he meant the leadership of the Communist Party and the non-Orthodox leaders of Congress as “politically-minded Hindus”. Here, one can easily notice the weakness in Ambedkar’s politics which lost credibility to represent the nation as a whole and remained merely as dalit politics. The Communist Party warned Ambedkar continuously about this lacuna and urged him to be united with the mainstream of the struggle for Independence. However, the Communist Party was always apprehensive about the actual political aim of Ambedkar and thought that his politics would create disunity among the ranks of the working class and the toiling masses which in return might create harm to the communist movement in particular and the struggle for Independence in general. Therefore, while the party was sympathetic with the condition of the dalits and agreed upon the justification of dalit movement and criticized heavily the Congress leadership for not paying attention to their cause, the Communist Party did not believe the leaders of the dalit movement including Ambedkar. (See the documents of B.T. Randive on dalit movement, nineteen forty six) Thus, a space of political dialogue between the Communists and the Ambedkarites could not come into being and the warning from the CP to Ambedkar went in vain as the later saw no friendly advice in it. Therefore, the Communist Party failed to perform its historical duty.
Today a large number of the Communists will accept this fact, however, it is not enough. We must analyze why the Communist Party failed to build unity with the dalit movement. We must identify the shortcomings in the theoretical understanding of the communist practice in this question in order to understand today’s task. Otherwise again the movement will be directed by the pragmatic political understanding and we will repeat the same mistake, may be from an opposite direction.
It is a well accepted fact that the original Shudras of the Rig Veda were gradually marginalized more and more by the three upper Varnas and at one point of time started to be mixed up with the so called fifth Varna or the Avarnas who were actually the vanquished non-Aryans and formed a large section of the Indian people who are generally called as the dalits. According to a recent survey conducted by NSS nearly three fourth of the Indian population are entitled to some kind of reservation as they belong to SC, ST or OBC categories. The overwhelming majority of the dalit people in our country are landless, property-less, marginalized, socially and economically oppressed. The largest section of nearly fifty crore strong unorganized workers in India is made of by these people.
However, it must be taken into account that we are not living in English or West European condition. In Indian context this huge section of the working class is not only economically exploited but at the same time socially deprived since in our country the class division was introduced in the form of caste or varna division in order to take religious sanctity. The positive side of Ambedkar’s politics lies in the fact that he understood that without snatching the political power from the caste-Hindus, dalits could never achieve a country or society of its own. The annihilation of the caste division cannot be achieved by changing the minds of the caste-Hindus or through some patch work to reform Hindu social structure. So he declared his movement as the political movement of the Shudras.
From a Marxist point of view the political struggle of the Shudras is nothing but the political struggle of the working class. Therefore, the political formation which led this struggle must have been a party of the working class. However, Ambedkar was not a Marxist. It is not necessary for a working class party to be a Marxist party all the time. The Marxist party does not necessarily lead through its majority or organizational strength but through its clear and profound theoretical-political understanding. The Communist Manifesto says: “In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole? The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement. The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.” (The Communist Manifesto/ Edited by Frederic L. Bender/ Norton Critical Edition/ pp 67).
Therefore, the Communist Party cannot oppose other working-class parties because they don’t have any separate sectarian principles. Keeping a cooperative and friendly relation with those parties the CP must lead them to move forward by pointing out the general and long-term political interest of the working class. Now the question is did the early Communists of our country apply this teaching of the Communist Manifesto or were they were led by sectarian principles?
Instead of becoming glad to see the political upsurge of the dalits under the leadership of Ambedkar, the Communist Party became apprehensive and scared. Comrade BTR repeatedly pressurized SCF (Scheduled Caste Federation) to dismantle the dalit mass organizations under its umbrella and to work within same mass organizations led by the Communist Party.(See the above mentioned documents of BTR and also the Introduction by Anand Teltumbde of ‘India and Communism’ written by Ambedkar/ Left Word/2O17) Sometimes the organs of the party openly advocated the necessity to bring out the dalit masses from the dalit organizations in order to organize them under the fold of the Communist Party. All this activities of the party and the mentality behind those helped to develop mistrust, fear and distance among the ranks of the dalit movement. Undoubtedly it was nothing but the sectarian policy of the Communist Party. Instead of performing the labourious task to find out the general and long-term political interests of the working class and by pointing out those to the leaders of the dalit movement the party took a shortcut road of putting the organizational interest in command and did the same mistake which The Communist Manifesto warned against, i.e., to develop sectarian principles against other working class parties.
What was the general interest of the working class in India at the decisive moment of the struggle for Independence? Undoubtedly it was Swaraj—— the Independence from the British rule which Ambedkar failed to see. It was quite expected from a man like Ambedkar as he was not a Marxist and from a political formation like SCF as it was a non-Marxist working class party. The Communist Manifesto clearly said that it was the distinguishing feature of the Communists to see and uphold the general interest of the working class. However, while the Communist Party correctly pointed out the general interest of the working class to the dalit leaders but at the same time showing left-anarchist political mentality they accused and opposed and very often described Ambedkar and other dalit leaders as the stooge of imperialism. But what was the reason behind this kind of behavior of the Communist leaders towards the dalit leadership?
The answer probably lies in the fact that the leaders of the Communist Party never recognized the dalit movement as the integral part of the Indian working class movement. They never recognized the dalit leaders as the representatives of a large section of the Indian working masses. Therefore, they never recognized SCF as another working class party. So they never tried to find out the way to develop a proper relation with them. It does not mean that the Communist leaders did not know the actual condition of the dalits in our country or they had no sympathy towards the dalit movement. BTR admitted in those documents that in the Indian Railways thousands of the dalit workers received only nine rupees as DA while the workers in the garment factories of Mumbai were paid one hundred rupees for the same. The party admitted that since the time immemorial the dalits were deprived from all the rights which were absolutely essential to lead a decent life and if these people were not given equal status then an Independent India was not possible. Practically there was actually no demand of Ambedkar left which was not accepted by the Communist Party. However, when the dalits formed their own political organization in order to launch a political struggle, the Communist Party became scared and apprehensive. Actually half-hearted understanding on the Indian history and reality led the Party to commit this political blunder.
We will see how this blunder took more complicated and irreversible turn when the question of the long-term interests of the working class was confronted by the Communist Party. What was the long-term interest of the working class in the freedom struggle? Undoubtedly it was to build up a New Democratic India as a result of anti-colonial struggle. Now, the question is, was it possible under the leadership of Congress? The answer is No. Then why the Communist Party accepted the leadership of Congress in the freedom movement and never tried snatching the leadership? Ambedkar and other leaders of SCF were not against the freedom movement or freedom from the British as such. However, Ambedkars was in total disagreement of the leadership of Congress as he knew that since the Congress party used to represent the interest of the bourgeois and zaminder class of our country who were at the same time from so called higher castes then it was quite imperative that the ‘free’ India would be a prison for the dalits. Ambedkar called those freedom fighters as ‘politically minded Hindus’ and advised his fellow comrades ‘not to take them seriously’ who did not bother that outcome of the freedom movement. Unfortunately, the Communist Party placed itself in this position. Had the party been directed by the long-term interest of the working class then it became absolutely natural for it to develop a rock-solid alliance with the Ambedkarite movement in order to emerge as a potential claimant of the leadership of the freedom struggle. In that case the course of the history might change into a new direction.
Some comrades do not accept the fact that the Communist Party accepted the leadership of Congress in the freedom movement. Many documents can be cited to negate this thought. If this is done the size of the present article might be longer than it was intended. However, one can remember that as early as in nineteen thirty two there were four communist parties of the Third Communist International to write an open letter to the Indian Communists warning about the danger of accepting the leadership of Congress in the freedom struggle which they thought that the Communist in India did not care. In nineteen forty four, Comrade P.C. Joshi wrote a few letters to M.K. Gandhi and MK replied those, too. The correspondence between PC and MK is one of the important documents of the Communist Party. Replying one letter from Gandhi Comrade Joshi wrote to him, “If my own father wrote such a letter I would not respond and never would see his face. However, I am replying you because you are the father of our nation. As a patriot it goes against my duty to be angry with you even when you insult and harass us.” (English translation is mine from Bengali document)
Some comrades think that Ambedkar and other dalit leaders were against the freedom struggle as a whole, therefore an alliance with them was not possible in the movement for Independence. Again, many articles wrote by Ambedkar can be cited to negate this thought but for the time being we can be restricted in the above mentioned documents of comrade BTR in this regard. He wrote: “However, it is true that SCF never commit a crime to go against the demand of freedom. As a matter of fact Rao Bahadur Shibraj, the President of their Kanpur session clearly stated, ‘We are not against the freedom of India but we want assurance that what we demanded in Nagpur that will be accepted’.”(English translation is mine form Bengali document)
In spite of knowing all these things the Communist Party never paid deeper attention to the fact that if it was true that the SCF leadership were not actually against the freedom movement then why apparently they used to take such political position which might be depicted as against anti-colonial struggle! The party never tried to realize with enough seriousness that why the severe bitterness emerged in the relation between the dalit movement and the Congress party! The party never learned from the history of our country to understand the serious nature of the contradiction between the dalits and the caste Hindus.
On the contrary Comrade BTR tried repeatedly to convince Ambedkar and his fellow comrades about the importance and necessity of the leadership of Congress in general over the freedom movement and the leadership of MK Gandhi in particular whom the party already recognized as the father of the nation! It is true that the Communist party criticized the Congress for not accepting the demands of SCF, but it is also true that in the contradiction between SCF and the Congress the party associated itself with the later which meant that in the contradiction between the dalits and the caste Hindus the party associated itself with the later.
This strategic blunder of the party negated the merit of its criticism against Congress for not accepting the demands of the dalits. It is true that the Communist Party honestly and earnestly wanted the unity among Congress, Communist, Muslim League and SCF including all the nationalist forces against the British but they failed to realize that it could not be possible if the Congress would remain as the leader of the freedom movement. The party needed Congress as they used it as a cover and continued to work inside it. This tactical blunder negated the merit of its honest aspiration to unite all the nationalist forces against the British rule.
After seventy two years of so called Independence a serious evaluation is required regarding the relation between the dalit movement and the communist movement. By this span of time many changes took place in the Indian political scenario. Congress ruled the country for more than 6O years within these seventy two years of ‘Independence’. No significant improvement in the general condition of the dalit masses can be seen by this time. In spite of the capitalist development in India the ugly form of caste discrimination, caste oppression, and the domination of Brahmanical ideology and practices continue with same vigour. Ambedkar’s apprehensions have come true. The “free” India is actually a neo-colonial India which has become the prison of the dalits. Receiving an insignificant share of the state power by a handful of the dalit leaders does not indicate any kind of change in the condition of the dalit masses.
The dalit movement has undergone many changes. Repeated division and re-division within dalit movement has weakened the movement which only helped the Brahmanical Manuvadi ruling class to use one section of the movement against another in order to retain its domination over the country. The communist movement also has passed through many changes and within this movement, too, repeated division and re-division have taken place.
Initial lacuna in theoretical understanding has aggravated, however, from the same pragmatist outlook many left and revolutionary left organizations now are raising Joy Bhim Lal Salam slogan landing in the opposite pole in the case of relation with the dalit movement and started to preach red-blue unity. However, how far this change of position is coming from the improvement of theoretical understanding on Indian reality or comes as a result of practical-political need at the time of severe crisis throughout international communist movement, is a difficult question to answer.
However, it is interesting to see that while the party like CPI(M) is raising Joy Bhim Lal Salam slogan in different parts of the country, at the same time they support the cunning step of the BJP government of introducing economic condition based reservation. This self contradiction only raises serious doubts that they have not learned anything from the past experiences. For them the talk of red-blue unity is nothing but a short-term tactical game. Their tacit support to BJP in the political battle against TMC in Bengal again shows how easily these ‘communists’ can ally with the Brahminvadi, Manuvadi forces.
In this scenario we, the revolutionary lefts, must accomplish the long-pending task to bridge the
‘unholy rift between the dalit movement and the communist movement’ (as coined by Anand Teltumbde) in our country. We need to recognize the dalit parties as different kind of working class parties. It is true that today many dalit organizations under the leadership of Mayavati like leaders actually left the revolutionary slogan of Ambedkar, the annihilation of the castes. Instead of that they are busy to find privileges for a handful of dalit aristocrats within this caste-divided society. However, it does not mean that the whole dalit movement has lost its relevance or deteriorated in a reformist opportunist movement. We cannot forget that the same scenario is also evolved in the communist movement itself. However, it does not mean that the communist movement has lost its relevance as the revolutionary movement in the society. We can say it emphatically that if we can build the real red-blue unity based on proper understanding of the Indian condition and history, the struggle against the ruling classes of our country will have a better chance to win.
(Paper presented in Study Class) n