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
(Let us Study Sharmista’s Paper on Marxism and the Women’s Question; Help Building of AIRWO with Her Vision, Ensuring Rightful Role of Women in Party and in the Struggle for their Liberation!
Com. Sharmista is no more with us; but her contributions to the theoretical offensive to project a correct understanding of the Marxist contribution to the Women’s liberation, to develop this understanding , the organizational approach for it, and its practice according to the concrete conditions of today will be read, discussed and practiced for a long time to come, as a part of the class struggle. She has written many valuable articles on this question, in the AIRWO organ, as well as in many publications including the Red Star. When she was entrusted with the responsibility to write the paper on Marxism and the Women’s Question for the 2020 Central Party School, she told me: Comrade, this time I am going to write a paper keeping in mind our Resolution on Theoretical Offensive adopted by 10th Congress at Lucknow”. I said, ok go ahead. But as the dates of Party School was nearing, the paper was not received. After one or two reminders, she sent the paper with the a note “the second part has to be developed. But I shall explain in the School”.
In the School for CC members and selected comrades from different states, she said, “I will not speak about what I have written in the paper. But to show how mechanical, and often patriarchic was the communist movement towards women’s liberation, I will explain certain incidents”. Like the revisionists everywhere, in India also the CPI leadership was spreading the argument that, since the private property is the root cause of women’s slavery, once it is ended by the revolution, the women’s liberation also will take place. It was the same argument put forward when the question was raised why the party is not taking up struggle for caste annihilation, struggle against Brahmanical Manuvadi concepts, struggle against feudal and imperialist cultural values etc also along with, and as part of the class struggle from the pre-revolutionary phase itself. So, class struggle was, in effect, reduced to economism.
She sighted many examples of what happened to those who opposed this reformist approach. Many were eased out of leadership. Contrary to what was explained by Lenin to Clara Zetkin, though in name the ‘front organization’ concept was opposed, all mass organizations, including women’s, was not better than that. No serious efforts were made to politicize and bring women forward and to leadership, instead if they came forward they were put down. The communist party leadership always remained male dominated. In India, so far no women were elevated to become even a state secretary of the party, or as chief minister by the CPI or CPI(M). One interesting, but horrific incident she explained was what happened to the hundreds of women who had left their patriarchal families and joined the Great Telengana Struggle. Large number of women, influenced by the communist propaganda had become volunteers and squad members. In spite of forceful migration of Hyderabad state with Indian Union and dispatch of Indian army to suppress the Telengana struggle, it was continuing by spreading to new areas and adopting new tactics. But, when the CPI leadership approached Nehru government which was playing all tactics to politically disarm and destroy the revolutionary sections in the CPI, in order to get recognition for contesting the 1952 elections and to get the restrictions on the party removed, it cleverly demanded the withdrawal of the Telengana Struggle and dissolution of all secret party fractions active in many armed forces units. When the leadership surrendered, and accepted these demands, thousands of party members were court martialled and thrown out of the armed forces. In Telengana, the women who had joined the party had nowhere to go for continuing to their communist work as the movement was withdrawn; most of them had to return to their old patriarchal prisons! There was not even a serious discussion on this matter in the CPI. These women and fighters were told to wait for revolution, which it had really abandoned even before the ‘peaceful transition to socialism through parliamentary struggle’ of Krushchov was put forward by Krushchov in the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956! Was it just a mistake of only these parties, CPI, and then CPI and CPI(M) after 1964, who have degenerated to social democratic positions? The condition of the CR organizations which came up after the disintegration of CPI(ML) and other such groupings by 1972 were not different, or worse in the case of CPI(Maoist), and CLI groups which fervently argue for front organizations with the only task of supporting the armed struggle led by the ‘party which should be always underground’! The understanding of those who have mass organizations, either they are micro groups without any democratic organizational set ups, or pursue the same style of revisionist, reformist parties with regard to class/mass organizations.
It is in this context, the importance of the paper of com. Sharmista written for the Party School, given below should be seen. Mind it, it is not a AIRWO paper, but a paper written to educate the party on this question by a PB member of the party! Whenever I asked her to complete it, so that it can be published, she was asking for some more time. Then she became incapable of any such work from the beginning of April. Now our beloved comrade Sharmista has left us yesterday. Today when her body was taken from SSKN Hospital to Academy of Fine Arts for all fraternal organizations, comrades and friends to pay their tributes, a very large number of all of them came to show their love, affection and respect to her; then in a procession her body was taken back to SSKN Hospital in a procession, with the comrades singing the International, and raising slogans in her memory. Her body was handed over to the Hospital to help the students in their research work.
Though she was not well, she attended the PB meeting on 10th June and participated in the discussion on some issues also; especially when we discussed about two days’ online PB meeting in July for preliminary discussions on updating the present Party documents, followed by 4-5 days actual PB meeting in August to update and develop them in the 12th Party Congress, preparations for which we have already started. When one comrade raised the question of linking it with the proposals in the Resolution on Theoretical Offensive, she enthusiastically supported it. Then I reminded her promise to come up with concrete proposals based on the paper she has presented in the Party School, with a smile she said. Now, we have to carry forward to take up this task also.
So, we think it will be a tribute to her to publish this paper online today itself. Red Salute to you beloved Sharmista, You Will be Always with Us, Inspiring Us! - KN Ramachandran)
Marxism and the Women’s Question
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 2,000,000 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 centered 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 wide ranging 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) 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 patri-lineage–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.
To All Comrades and Friends,
Dear comrades and Friends,
Com. Sharmistha, PB member of the Party, General Secretary of AIRWO, and Central Executive Committee member of the TUCI left us at 3 pm today, in a hospital in Kolkata where she was admitted yesterday evening for serious abdominal ailments from which she was suffering for a long time. She became ill while participating in the election campaign at Bhangar and from that time she had to keep away from all activities.
Com. Sharmistha was in the forefront of the party activities as well as in women’s front and working class front. In developing the ideological, political line of CPI(ML) Red Star, as well as in building the party in W. Bengal she has played an important role along with other leading comrades. She was just 45 years old when she left us. She was a student of Presidency College and then Kolkata University from where she did the post graduation, and journalist course. She started her career as a journalist in The Telegraph. From the Presidency College days she was a militant student activist. In 2002 she left the job, and became a whole time activist in the CCRI. In 2009 CCRI became part of the CPI(ML) Red Star. During the last 12 years, as an active party leader, as General Secretary of the All India Revolutionary Women’s organization, and as the Central Executive Committee member of Trade Union Centre of India she has participated and led many important struggles.
On the question of women’s liberation she has written many important papers which has exposed the theoretical weakness of the communist movement from the beginning in developing a consistent political line and practice against the Brahmanical, Hindutua ideology and patriarchy based on Manumrithi, which is the theoretical basis of RSS and all reactionary forces, perpetuating the slavery of women and other genders. She has campaigned for revolutionary emancipation of women, and has led the AIRWO for last one decade, developing it to an all India organization. Extending her activities to international level, she has played an active role in the development of the World Women’s Conference, actively participating in its Conferences at Caracas (Venezuela), Nepal and Germany, and organizing the latest Conference at Bangalore in 2018.
Com. Sharmista was active in working class movement also from the beginning of her political career. When the neoliberal policies have turned 95% of the workers as contract/casual workers, and as the traditional TU movement of the old style, affiliated to ruling class and reformist parties have become stagnant failing to take the working class beyond economism, she was always eager to develop movement of the workers in the unorganized sector. One of the struggles of closed jute mill workers led by her had led to collision with the TMC government.
In initiating and developing the Bhangar movement , and the Committee for land and livelihood she played an important role along with com. Alik, who is her life partner also, and other comrades. She was arrested and jailed under UAPA. After coming out of the jail after six months, she again plunged in to the movement playing an important role in defeating TMC goons and winning five seats in Polarghat panchayat elections. Once the struggle was successfully concluded, she played important role in consolidation the party and mass organizations in that area.
She was vibrant and militant mass leader, a powerful speaker. Living in the Commune with com Alik and other comrades, she dedicated her life for the emancipation of women and all oppressed classes and sections, with uncompromising communist conviction and determination. Comrades Sharmistha was a real revolutionary mass leader who has contributed much in developing the revolutionary mass line under the leadership of the party. Her loss, just two weeks after the our another great loss, com. Sivaram leaving us on 28th May, a time when the communist movement is facing serious challenges, is not only a loss to our party, but to the whole communist movement. The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star appeals to all comrades and friends to organize memorial programs, and to dedicate ourselves to carry forward the revolutionary work for which com. Sharmistha has fought for all her life.
She is survived by her mother. The Party extends heartfelt condolences to her and all other friends and comrades dear and near to her. Com. Alik, her partner, who is the secretary of the W. Bengal state committee of the party, has announced that after a brief program when all comrades from different parts of the state including Bhangar shall pay tributes to departed leader com. Sharmistha, and her body shall be handed over to the hospital for helping the students’ research. Com. Sharmistha was our beloved, dear comrade, whose memory shall be always with us inspiring us to carry forward the revolutionary tasks.
Red Salute to our beloved dear comrade Sharmistha!
K N Ramachandran
CPI(ML) Red Star
13th June 2021
Our Beloved Comrade Sivaram Never Dies! He Lives Through Us, Inspiring Present and Future Generations!
A tribute to com. Sivaram by KN Ramachandran.
By the time the online PB meeting was held on 5th May evening, Pramila had come out of Covid’s grip, but Sivaram was in ICU. Still he attended the meeting for few minutes. After extending greetings to all comrades he left. Within 4-5 days he was moved to ventilator keeping all of us in anxiety and with the hope that he shall resist and come back. We held the next PB meeting on 28th May evening, postponing it 2-3 times, waiting for his recovery. Meeting ended by 10 pm. As usual I called Shankar, he said no new report from hospital. The shocking news was send by hospital at 11.30pm. Early morning Shankar saw the message, soon called me, our Sivaram is no more. I felt totally exhausted, but recovered, started calling comrades, posting messages in social media. Now all our comrades, fraternal forces and friends are sharing our grief, a great loss not only for our party, but to the communist movement as a whole. For me, it is difficult even to think, he is no more with us, with his boyish smile, and revolutionary enthusiasm.
When I first met him in 1993 at Bangalore he was just 20, just completed his degree. It was a crucial time for the country: after getting Babri Masjid opened for Shila Nyas RSS was on the offensive, when to counter RSS/BJP Rathyatra, Mandal report was published in 1989, followed by Kamandal against Mandal by BJP, formal introduction of neo-liberal, corporatization by Manmohan/Narassimha Rao in 1991, followed by demolition of Babri Masjid by RSS in 1992, Indian politics was entering a new, dangerous phase. TUCI, with 9-10 workers’ organizations, mainly linked to CRs, organized the first demonstration at New Delhi against LPG in 1992. Then a well-attended Democratic Convention against Growing Autocracy was organized by CPI(ML) Red Flag at Thrissur, Kerala, with the participation of prominent all India leaders. In continuation to it a democratic convention was organized at Bangalore with participation of Dr. Balagopal (APCLC) like comrades as main speakers. Sivaram attended it with senior journalist com. Abir Pady from Berhampore. Sivaram spoke only few sentences in the convention, but his revolutionary spirit was evident. I discussed with Abir Pady and Sivaram in the evening, and they invited me to Odisha. During the discussion, com. Sivaram told me that he had participated in the movement of local fisher people aginst allotting Chilka lake to Tatas for prawn breeding. The Aska college where he studied was a center of left politics. Com. Balachader who first joined Liberation and then shifter to New Democracy, Sabyasachi Pandey who joined PWG were his college mates. But Sivaram was not satisfied with the political line of these CR organizations. After our discussions and the conversations with many left intellectuals where I presented our approach to the changes taking place in the imperialist system from colonial to neo-colonial forms of exploitation during the post-Second World War years and the failure of the CR organizations to recognize these developments, we got many friends there.
In 1980s, com. Gananath Patro, like most others in the forefront of the movement against building the Space Centre at Baliapal, proposed were also basically upholding the “Chinese Path’. Dr. Narayan, IIT Kharagpur student, who was trying to organize CPI(ML) inspired by Naxalbari Uprising. Though he joined us for some time. But his work was mainly focused on bringing a cultural paper in Odiya, and among intellectuals. He became inactive after becoming a lecturer in a college near Bhubaneswar. So, we were eager to start work in Odisha, but we had to start from scratch. Pady was very critical of the parliamentary stream, CPI, CPI(M) like parties whom he called “election, collection, corruption” teams. He was also critical against “only armed struggle line”. Our critic of hitherto communist movement, analysis of how neocolonial plunder intensified through neoliberal policies plundering the masses and devastating nature, the need to campaign against impending WTO formation, and our call for developing revolutionary mass line were supported by him. Sivaram was keenly attending the discussion, and raised many questions.
His father was a worker in the sugar factory at Nuva Gaon, in Aska tehsil, where his family is living. He was helping a tuition center, run by a progressive intellectual who was a supporter of Netaji Bose. He had read some of the basic documents of communist movement, and had discussions with CPI leaders of his area. When I met him, already he had an overall understanding about the Marxist- Leninist movement. Though his family wanted him to take up some job, he wanted to join the revolutionary movement. He had read Bhagat Singh’s articles which inspired him. He asked, if Bhagat Singh could join the movement at the age of 16, why can’t he start at 20?
Then our discussion shifted to where he will start working. I had explained how neocolonization have started capitalist transformation of agricultural sector, how crony capitalism was becoming dominant trend, driving millions from villages to urban areas. But the CRs then present in the state, while participating in issue based struggles joining with others, were still sticking to the Lin Biaoist analysis that India is like pre-revolutionary China and should follow the people’s war line. The CPI(M) led Left Front parties with their line of parliamentary cretinism, were continuously weakening. At the same time, the PWG pursuing its anarchist line was active on the borders with AP and Chhattisgarh; its extremely sectarian approach and isolated squad actions like exploding compartment of Kakathiya Express train, killing many passengers, were not winning friends for Marxism. Fighting both right opportunist and ‘left’ sectarian line, how to politicize and mobilize the masses and build a communist party was the challenge.
The socio-cultural, and economic backwardness of Odisha aggravated the problems. Though capitalist relations were entering agriculture, especially in the coastal districts, land concentration in the hands of Puri temple like Matts and big landlords continued. With the introduction of neo-liberal policies, the corporate forces were entering the state in a big way. They were allotted large areas of land for mining and establishing industries. As a result of growing people’ opposition to these policies pursued by hitherto Congress governments, Congress was reduced to 3rd position, BJD and BJP were fighting for power. But they also supported transfer of huge tracts of land to corporate forces. At the same time, Manuvadi Hindutva polarization was taking place fast with RSS increasing its strength. Caste system of the worst sort was dominant. Though the CPI and later CPI and CPI(M) had fairly good influence in many areas till 1960s, their line of economism, almost rejecting the need for socio-cultural changes, not fighting against the Brahmanical Manuvadi RSS doctrine of Hindurashtra weakened them considerably. The CRs who had presence there also failed to address these questions. So, it was not easy even to make an entry in to this complex socio-political and economic situation and build a communist party witch pursues revolutionary mass line. Following the traditional methods of going to the villages and start agrarian movement from scratch, or trade union work where reformist forces are dominating will be impossible. So, let us go for a new experiment.
Abir Pady knew some of the democratic rights and social activists having contacts in the vast Bhubaneswar slums with lakhs of population. So, with Sivaram’s consent, it was decided to start a new experiment by organizing the slum dwellers of Bhubaneswar, staying in Pady’s room to start with. According to this plan, both of us went around, met many of com. Pady’s friends and met many slum dwellers. We found the entry among these slum people is not going to be easy. I told him my experience in Mumbi slums. Almost all political parties, dalit and Adivasi organizations , numerous NGOs and religious/caste organizations are having well entrenched bases. They use political clout, religious/caste identities and giving economic and medical help and relief during the natural calamities, to hold on to their pockets. Anti-social elements also have their dens. Situation is almost here. Only difference is that these are new slums, the vested interests are not so well entrenched.
In our study of the area, we found that the basic needs, the housing right as fundamental one, and no demolition till satisfactory alternative housing were rarely or not raised and fought for. So, our work should mainly focus on it. Within two- three months, Sivaram found that, as soon as possible he should get some space in any big slum, make a shed and shift. But the party had no funds to help. Its funds came only from collection from supporters. We were strongly opposed to money action, or extortion practiced by most of the groups, or even collection from tainted forces. All these problems were explained to him. He liked this method of entirely relying on the masses for funds.
Within months, he be-friended an old slum activist of Salia Sahi from a left party, who joined Sivaram in his activities, and provided place near his house Salia Sahi to Sivaram for building a shed. Sivaram had many friends among the youth in the area already and he was really moving fast. So, next phase of work was planned. . In this manner, within two years he was known in most of the slum areas, Basti Surakha Manch was launched. The first resistance struggle against slum demolition also took place. Women were organized in large numbers and they were in the forefront to beat back the demolition squads with bull dozers. This took more organized form soon. Organization of units of Basti Suraksha Manch and their committees in as many slums as possible was started. A vacant spot was found and an office was started in a shed there. Within 2 years he had gained much confidence and was taking initiative in all fields.
Impressed with the progress of his work, Dr. Narayan who was teaching in a nearby college, with whom we had many round of discussions, gave his contacts in Bhadrak. In Bhadrak and Balasore district to the north, bordering Bengal, once CPI and latter CPI(M) had good influence. But, as they became entirely election focused parties, they got weakened. Still, they were against entry of Naxalites in the area. When our comrades approached the inactive former Naxalite activists and sympathizers, most of them were for ‘armed struggle only line’ though they were not doing anything! Contrary to what Mao taught they were not interested to mobilize the people and make them capable of creating revolution. They were not interested even to discuss how almost all former socialist countries where communists had seized power, including Mao’s China had degenerated from the socialist path and the importance of learning from them. Like the parliamentary stream of communists, they were also thinking socio-cultural changes will follow the revolution automatically, abstract understanding. Nobody had told them about Mao’s call to communists to learn from the negative experience in the former socialist countries, and dare to launch the Cultural revolution along with class struggle for revolutionary change. Sivaram’s theoretical clarity and dedication succeeded to win over many comrades who had left CPI and CPI(M) and it helped to start party building.
At the same time, more attention was given to win over mainly youth and students. But in the absence of comrades who are capable of taking this responsibility apart from him, this difficult task could not gather necessary momentum. During the political campaign in Bhadrak district Com. Pramila and her friends joined the movement and their political campaign inspired more women to join, paving the way for organizing women’s groups. Peasant and agricultural workers were organized. Some students from Bhadrak college also joined us. This offensive helped him to expand the field of activities to not only the slums of Cuttack, but to many districts.
Starting from getting involved in the Chilka movement against handing over the Chilka lake to Tata’s for prawns’ fishery, Sivaram was active in the movements against Kalinga nagar, Vedanta to the movement against corporate POSCO, which gave inspiration to many movements against corporatization of industries and trade at all India level. He was fully active in relief work with all comrades when the Super cyclone devastated most of Odisha’s coastal region. During these relief works, he had a very serious accident. Even before fully recovering from it, he was back in relief work. The cyclone had destroyed lakhs of coconut trees. So, coordinated by the CC a plan to bring two truck loads of coconuts from Kerala, to prepare a temporary nursery near Puri to make coconut saplings and distribute them ws worked out. The Kerala committee organized a campaign to collect the coconuts and the amount needed to take them in trucks to Puri, and when they reached Puri, in some vacant land a nursery was organized to prepare the saplings, and the party committees with the help of relief committees distributed them. It was a successful move, and most of those saplings have become trees giving coconuts. involving the Kerala state committeethe which included getting a truckload of coconuts from Kerala comrades, and supplying coconut shoots to those who lost them in large numbers.
At Bhubaneswar, a former Khurda district secretary of CPI(M) and a senior advocate RBM, who had left it and was inactive for many years, showed interest to discuss with us. Impressed by the dedication and Marxist clarity of Sivaram, he joined the party. Meanwhile some comrades from Puri and Koraput also joined. A party State Organizing Committee was formed. Sivaram attended the 3rd Ali India Conference in 1994 at Raichur, Karnataka, with two more delegates.
In 1996, when the Mumbai visit of WTO chief Arthur Dunkel, who drafted GATT Agreement based on which the WTO was formed, was announced, the party organized a militant Dunkel Go Back march, mobilizing hundreds of RYFI members from different states, along with slum dwellers of Mumbai and party comrades, com. Sivaram led a team of comrades from Odisha to join it. (As a result Dunkel had to cancell the visit). Though we could not use the positive impact it created in Mumbai as we had no consistent, active leadership in the state at that time, it enthused Sivaram immensely and had its good impact in other states also.
He met many intellectuals and the democratic rights activists and it led to long term relations with them. Among them, Adv. Biswapriya Kanungo, is closely associating with the BSM and all other activities even now. As a result of this relation with large number of university professors and other intellectuals, he became part of the environmental and socio-cultural movements He started attending the discussions on various issues in Bhubaneswar and became close to all progressive forces.
It was in 1995 or ‘96, an interesting thing happened. After working with PWG comrades in AILRC, in cultural field and fraternal contacts, and three round of discussion with its top leaders, we found that our differences with it are very serious. It had a static approach to Indian reality. Following it, there was open polemics with it in our organ. Meanwhile, some intellectual belonging to PWG’s network knowing Sivaram’s activities, tried to win over him. When he rejected their line out rightly, may be as a last attempt, he was asked to go to their ‘area’ once and see how their squads are functioning. When he informed me and asked permission, I told him if you know the contact well you can go, but take care.. From what he learned from three weeks stay and travels with the squad, he understood how politically backward they are, and like their theory how their practice is also bankrupt. Party’s approach to such things, allowing him to go and see for himself, increased his confidence in it.
Sivaram’s contribution to the revolutionary movement is that at a time when it is facing a great setback, when the degeneration to right opportunism and pragmatism was taking place at fast pace, when how to develop revolutionary mass line was eluding even those who had accepted mass line after the 1972 disintegration of the CPI(ML) , and when almost all of the ‘educated sections’ around him were ridiculing Marxism as a failed venture, he dared to embrace it, and dared to apply it in the concrete condition of his surroundings. As a result, during the last three decades he could build up a militant mass movement, and party and class/mass organizations to lead it. Though, still it has to cover a lot more distance to influence the politics of Odisha, it has become a continuously growing force, the most active section among all the parties belonging to the broad left spectrum.
By 2000, the Odisha State Committee could expand its influence and membership, and he could lead a strong delegation including comrade Pramila and other young women cadres to the 5th All India Conference of CPI(ML) Red Flag at Raichur. In this conference he was elected to the CC, when he was only 27. In the following years while the slum people’s movement and party was developing, Sivaram had to face two major ideological-political challenges.
In Kerala a rightist deviation was getting strengthened for some time focusing on approach towards CPI(M) and the LDF led by it. When the CC decided to convene the sixth All India Conference at Bangalore, inside the CC and among the members the rightists started a vulgour camapaign. They tried to influence the CC members from other states also, so that they can capture the leadership of the party, by unhealthy means. They targeted Sivaram and tried to win over him to their side. But Sivaram took firm stand against these advocates of social democracy and stood with the leadership.
Again, the Red Flag and CPI(ML) led by Kanu Sanyal merged with the understanding that differences still remaining on some of the basic questions shall be settled in an all India Conference within two years, and to work together at central and state level under a single committee based on consensus, In Odisha, while Sivaram was leading a very active organization led by young comrades, the ‘senior’ leader who was allowed to become secretary and others belonging to KS section started to put pressure on him, either to confuse and weaken him, or to win over a section of our comrades. It was an unhealthy thing against the understanding to work under consensus, and to create a healthy atmosphere for advancing towards the final merger. Sivaram faced this situation with exemplary patience and political maturity; he maintained good personal relations with the ‘senior’ comrades, but defeated all their efforts to weaken him politically or organizationally. As a result, even though we were forced to end the merger, as the KS section went on creating obstacles to implement the joint decision to hold the Conference within two years, even after three and half years, Sivaram could come out of it with increasing support from people in all fields.
From 2009, in expanding the slum people’s movement at state level, in organizing the trade unions and TUCI committee, the peasant movement and activities in all other fields there were further advances. Expect in Kerala where the rightist section were expelled in 2003, at all India level party activities have strengthened. During these 30 years, starting with the formation of RC and then CRC, CPI(ML) in 1979, its reorganization as CPI(ML) Red Flag in 1987, merger with KS led CPI(ML) as CPI(ML) in 2005 at Vijayawada, coming out of it in the beginning of 2009, registering as CPI(ML) Red Star with EC, and making all out efforts for the unity of the CR organizations, from a small group formed with the merger of Kerala committee of CRs with a few CRs from AP, it had grown in to an all India organization searching a new path for revolution according to the fast changing neoliberal concrete conditions, an unprecedented dangerous phase in the history of humanity, at international and national levels. To evaluate this rich experience and to chalk out the way forward, a Special All India Conference was held at Bhopal in November, 2009, which elected a new CC and CEC in which com. Sivaram was also included. When the CC decided to hold the Ninth Congress of the CPI(ML) Red Star in 2011, Sivaram confidently came forward and volunteered to take up the difficult task. The meeting of the ICC of the newly formed ICOR was also held along with it. Both these programs were great success. The 9th Congress elected a new CC and eleven member PB including Sivaram.
In 2001, Sivaram and Pramila decided to become life partners, and the event was organized by the party. Leaders of all parties except BJP and BJD, mass organizations and progressive forces active in all fields, a huge gathering participated in it. The simple way it was conducted inspired all. All leading comrades and friends congratulated Sivaram and Pramila for developing a communist culture not only in the people’s movements, but in personal life also. Soon Pramila developed as the leader of the Basti Surakksha Manch, AIRWO became active, and Gharelu Kamgar Sanghatan was formed. At a time when the communist movement had suffered severe setbacks and the party, trade union movement as well as other mass movements had become stagnant as a result of surrendering to economism, Sivaram took up the challenge of putting the party line explained in the new Party Program, Constitution and Path of Revolution adopted by the th Congress, addressing the new situation in to practice according to Odisha conditions, and successfully carried it forward. Sivaram has given immense enthusiasm to comrades to go forward, making bold experiments and searching for ways to develop revolutionary mass line. As many leaders from different organizations paying tribute to Sivaram after his departure has pointed out, by developing the class struggle in all areas and the challenging task of practicing communist culture both in the party and personal life, he was giving theoretical lessons to all.
A decade after the 2011 Party Congress, he has consolidated and further expanded the struggles and party building . Today if undoubtedly Red Star is the most active communist organization in Odisha, it is not only because of the party line, but because Sivaram relentlessly carried forward the organization building and struggles based on it with full dedication . During this process his family including Pramila and their son Sonu also became part of the party, showing what should be the communist culture. He was active in politicizing the party cadres and mass organization leaders, even trying to transform the workers; families in to communes wherever possible. As a result, in any strike or struggle call at state or central level, Sivaram with the whole organization will be in the forefront to make it a success. Based on party line, he organized many meetings with cultural activists, those who are active for caste annihilation movement, and environmental movement, inviting party leaders as well as intellectuals, scientists from outside to Odisha and launching these movements. Upholding Mao’s call on the need of developing Cultural Revolution as part of class struggle even from the pre-revolution days, to fight against all decadent ideas to create a new revolutionary consciousness among the masses, he initiated many discussions. Based on the call of the party, explaining how RSS could make the Manuvadi, Brahmanical ideas and practice as the dominant culture among the people, helping BJP to continue its rule with increased majority in 2019, he was very much concerned about developing ideological campaigns to combat it. He explained to comrades, that it shows the correctness of Marxist teaching that ‘ideas can become a material force”. When the Modi government is using Jai Sri Ram as its central slogan to polarize the people based on Hindutva concept diverting attention of the masses from all burning issuess, this counter revolutionary advance can be defeated and thrown out only through a very powerful offensive to make Marxism as the leading idea among the people so that it can become the most important material force guiding us.
Recognizing the importance of the struggle for making housing, education, healthcare and employment as fundamental rights, he was active in all these field. When some of the progressive minded took up the question of building a people’s health movement he extended all support to it. Advocating a people’s education system, free, equal, scientific and available for all, he became active in making the campaign of the AIFRTE campaign for it a big success. His presence was felt everywhere. When the Modi rule is intensifying fascist onslaughts, our party committee has become part of the broad anti-fascist movement of all parties except the BJP and BJD. In this way while showing the correctness of the party line through relentless struggles, he was humble, friendly with all, creating a fresh approach to develop the communist movement and the mass people’s movement.
The CPI(ML) Red Star is proud of com. Sivaram for the great work he has done in all fields. He was becoming a model for all to emulate. In 1993 when we went to Bhubaneswar, I was 55 years old, and Sivaram just 20. I wanted to see his reaction when we confront the different forces active in the slums, and the masses. We walked around from morning to evening for a week, and I could see his confident was growing day by day. Sivaram was very emotional. He was really touched while hearing how the bull dozers come and demolish the slums. I left him with the some of the new friends we got during this week with confidence that he will succeed. Now after his untimely departure when he has become a martyr in the valiant struggle against the naked unconcern shown by the Modi government, as well as all those who are in power, to save the people from this horrific pandemic, and destitution due to loss of livelihood for tens of crores, compelling activists like him to plunge in to relief work, exposing themselves to the danger of infection and its consequences.
So how do we see him? He was a dedicated communist, desiring the unity of all communist forces to build a powerful party capable of overthrowing the reactionary ruling system as early as possible and advancing towards people’s democracy and socialism. He was an untiring, relentless fighter till his last day. On 1st May he was active in organizing and addressing May Day programs. Next day, even when he had fever, till evening he was busy, till the time he went to hospital. On 3rd he was in ICU, then Ventilator. I used to console myself, he is a great fighter, he will resist and come out successful! But for once, he failed. This 48 year old young man has done so much, and now it is the responsibility of the party members, cadres in Odisha to get inspired by his revolutionary spirit and march ahead to fulfill the unfinished tasks. That will be the greatest tribute to him. It is not only the party in Odisha, but the entire party should take lessons from his practice, his daringness to make bold experiments and to realize them with determination, to put in to practice the path of revolution according to concrete conditions of India. Sivaram will be with us always inspiring us, as we move forward to revolution. He will be remembered always by the fighting masses of people. The best way to pay tributes to him is to become as untiring and determined like him, and dedicate ourselves to carry forward the tasks of revolution still left unfinished
Our Beloved Comrade Sivaram Never Dies! He Lives Through Us, Inspiring Present and Future Generations! Red Salute to Our beloved Comrade Sivaram.