Kabeer Katlat

Kabeer Katlat

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Under the Modi regime today, pandemic-battered India is going through one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history. Together with the economic and social collapse already brought about, consequent on India becoming the epicentre of the second Covid-tsunami, the cruelty, callousness, and total abdication of responsibility on the part of this fascist regime in protecting the lives and livelihood of people are exposed beyond description. The situation is so horrific that even Modi’s PR work backed by submissive corporate media has become ineffective in concealing it.

 

A year ago when the pandemic entered India, beginning with obscurantist moves like clasping hands, candle lighting, banging utensils, etc., the more than 3-months nationwide coercive lockdown that Modi superimposed on 138 crore Indians had brought about a complete disruption of people’s lives and livelihood. Despite his incessant sermons on “Atmanirbhar” during this period, Modi didn’t do anything in the direction of strengthening the health care system including availability of medicines and badly needed oxygen supplies, and bringing private-corporate hospitals under social control.  As a result of Modi’s policies during pandemic, while top one percent of the richest gobbled up their wealth by 35 percent, an additional 7.5 crore Indians were pushed in to poverty in 2020.

 

In the meanwhile, in the context of global warnings on a second wave of mutated Covid virus and as many governments in Europe took precautions against it by the last quarter of 2020, the approach of Modi and his PR managers who were celebrating the regime’s ‘victory’ over the coronavirus was one of callous, criminal negligence. It was in this context that the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Family Welfare, being aware of the impending danger, in its 123rd Report made available to speaker of Lok Sabha and chairman of Rajya Sabha during November 2020 and which was tabled in both the Houses of Parliament on February 2, 2021, warned of serious shortage of oxygen cylinders in hospitals and recommended a “robust strategy for containment and mitigation of Covid-19,” and “adequate production of Oxygen for ensuring its supply as per demand in the hospitals.”

However, instead adhering to these recommendations of the parliamentary committee and in gross disregard of it, Modi with his false claim of conquering the pandemic has been reckless in holding massive electoral rallies in different states, hold Kumbh Mela, and so on, violating all Covid- protocols and norms even as the whole country is being ravaged by the fast-spreading- pandemic, with daily infections already crossing the staggering figure of 4 lakh (the number of Covid patients in India was 2394 on May 1 2020) and per day death of more than 3000. Today saffron-fascist Modi regime is being exposed as the most anti-people and reactionary one engaged in concealing Covid cases, death counts and nakedly bullying media to not report facts including assault on independent media  persons by saffron goons.

 

In this gravest situation, along with the intensification of inequality and poverty, instead of strengthening medical facilities and health infrastructure under public control, thereby ensuring universal healthcare to people, Modi is undermining it by decontrolling everything connected with health sector. Healthcare being the pillar of people’s sustenance, even imperialist countries have extended vaccine and oxygen to their citizens free of cost and medicines at affordable prices. On the other hand, by unleashing corporate forces on the production and distribution of vaccine, fascist Modi has superimposed world’s highest vaccine price on the citizens of India, a country that has long championed for free vaccines and affordable medicines for people in all international fora. And, as people are gasping for air and collapsing due to lack of life-saving oxygen, black-marketing and hoarding of oxygen cylinders are thriving across the country.

In this horror situation, our immediate demands are:

 

  1. Production, procurement, distribution of vaccine should be immediately brought under state control for which provisions of the Epidemics Diseases Act, Compulsory Licensing of the Patents Act, and Drugs Control Act can be used.

 

  1. Vaccine should be made available to all free of cost

 

  1. Immediate nationalisation of production and distribution of oxygen in the country.

 

  1. Strengthen country’s public health system including adequate availability of hospital beds and medicines as affordable to people including extension of healthcare facilities at homes

 

  1. Private hospitals should brought under public control through an ordinance

 

  1. Expert medical advice should be sought from a team of concerned medical experts including immunologists and virologists and should be made available to public and government’s dependence on pharma companies for information should be stopped.

 

  1. Responsible science reporters and pro-people journalists being best sources of information should have full freedom to report on Covid related issues. This is of utmost significance in view of such fascist moves like Yogi's threat of imposing NSA on those who report on oxygen shortages in UP.

 

  1. Image-building exercises/expenditures like Central Vista project should be wound up and public money generated thus should be diverted towards securing the lives and livelihood of people.

 

  1. Urgent steps are to be taken for an appropriate pandemic-tax on the super-rich, reintroduction of wealth tax in view of the unprecedented concentration of wealth, and an increase in corporate tax for mobilising the required money.

 

  1. Ensuring livelihood of people including contract and casual workers, landless poor peasants, marginalised and oppressed including Dalits, Adivasis, fisher-people is equally important as protection of their lives through proper Covid-management. Together with the revamping of MNREG program and free distribution of food stock with FCI, a nationwide initiative with the involvement of state and local governments for ensuring free food, medicines, shelter and other amenities affordable to poor and migrant workers are urgently needed.

 

  1. Scarcity of medical staff in the immediate context should be resolved through involving rural doctors and sanitation/health workers.

 

  1. Covid management primarily being a health issue, unnecessary police intervention and harassment of the people should be immediately stopped.

 

  1. To deal with the pandemic, budgetary allocation for health should be enhanced along with a slashing of the defence budget.

 

  1. Anti-farmer black laws should be abolished forthwith, and as long as farmers' agitation is continuing, full-fledged Covid-testing and treatment centres should be established in all struggle centres.

 

An Empowered High Level Committee composed of medical experts, politicians, economists, and concerned scholars should be entrusted with the task of overseeing the implementation of the above demands.

 

The Party declares its solidarity with the suffering people and appeal them to unitedly come forward for compelling the regime for implementing these immediate minimum demands.

 

Polit Bureau

CPI (ML) Red Srar

 

1st May 2021

 

(Speech delivered by Com KN Ramachandran at the International Webinar organized by ICOR on the occasion of 150th Anniversary of Paris Commune)

 

Comrades, first of all on behalf of CPI(ML) Red Star I congratulate ICOR for organizing this webinar on such an important subject, the contributions of the Paris Commune  when we are observing it 150th anniversary. We communists observe the anniversary of such epochal movements not as a ritual, but to analyse them and take lessons from them.

 

The Commune was an antithesis to all forms of capitalist and dependent states that have emerged at various phases of  human history till today. First decree of the Commune, was to suppress standing army, and substitute it by the armed people.  Similarly bureaucracy was replaced with elected functionaries at all levels, with right to recall them. As far as those elected to various bodies at all levels are concerned, the people who elected them had right to recall them also.

Commune decreed the separation of religion from the state; Gender equality became an  accepted principle; Women played an important role in both the initiation and the governance of the Commune, In short, the Commune was visualized as the concentrated form of people’s power. Following Marx’s analysis of the Commune experience in lhe Civil War in France, Lenin also had analyzed its great significance, and in the concrete conditions preceding October Revolution had developed the Soviets with the call “all power to the soviets”.

 

But in later years, following October revolution, though Lenin declared “all power to the people, to the Soviets”, after the initial leaps forward, the concept of state capitalism started emerging under the cover of NEP. Communist Saturdays like experiments started disappearing. Concepts like state capitalism led by the party also came up. Bureaucratic tendencies were raising their heads in the state, army and slowly in the party. Though the party documents warned against them, explaining how eventually such tendencies shall lead to return to bourgeois state power, and called for fighting against them, party could not put forward any concrete methods of struggling against all ideas and to strengthen socialist values.

What happened to Soviets? Based on Lenin’s concept of “all power to the Soviets” the Soviet Union was constituted as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Soviets were supposed to be elected from village/town level to top most positions in USSR, to the the Supreme Soviet. But as catching up with the imperialist powers like ideas started becoming stronger, with erroneous concepts like Socialism with American efficiency, the theory of productive forces started coming to dominance. Socialist transformation as a basically different, or anti-thesis of capitalism and its institutions was not projected in the way it should have been. The Collectives becoming bureaucratized farms, or farms under bureaucracy. In this situation the concept of Soviets started disappearing except in name. As the danger of Second World War increased, and later the aggression by Nazi Germany became a reality, like NEP in 1920s, the War economy became a cover for further centralization of power and penetration of capitalist ideas and culture.

 

Instead of developing proletarian democratic models starting with strengthening the Soviets, transcending the limits of bourgeois democracy and advancing to people’s democracy, the danger of Soviet Union becoming a bureaucratic state capitalist dictatorship was a threat in the post-War years. It was in this situation, the revisionists gaining strength day by day, used the opportunity provided by departure of Stalin in 1953 could use the military and usurp power peacefully from within, transforming SU to a social imperialist power by 1960s.

 

In the 8th Congress of CPC almost same process was started by the capitalist roaders in China also. But under Mao’s leadership the socialist forces retaliated with Socialist rectification movement at all levels, (when the Soviet revisionists stopped all aid to China already economically blockaded by the imperialist powers, and withdrew all engineers working in different projects), challenging it with) Backyard Furnace campaign for a self-reliant people oriented development of technology, and People Communes as the centers of people’s political power, taking up the whole process of democratization, and people’s plan for development As the struggle with the capitalist roaders in power intensified, Mao called on the people to attack their headquarters by developing the theory and practice of Cultural Revolution to intensify class struggle at the realm of super structure to establish socialist thinking among the masses. But, though it succeeded to remove the leading capitalist roaders like Liu Shaochi and Deng Tsiaoping from power, under the camouflage of intensifying these efforts, the CR was hijacked by the petti-bourgeois left adventurist Lin Biao camp, dominating the 9th Congress of the CPC in 1969, with the new era theory, concept like heroes making history replacing the Marxist teaching that it is the masses who create history. In his book, Long Live the Victory of People’s War, it advocated that all Asian, African, Latin American countries are in semi-feudal, semi-colonial condition similar to pre-revolutionary China, and should follow the path People’s War as in China. This line was diametrically opposed to Mao’s teaching that like China rejected  the efforts to impose the Soviet Line by a section of the CPC, and successfully followed its own path of revolution, every party should analyze the situation in their country and develop its own path. But, as the Lin Line was propagated as Mao’s line, it influenced all the ML forces emerged in 1960s, causing grievous consequences to them.

 

As inner party struggle in CPC intensified following the 9th Congress, with the help of centrist forces led by Chou Enlai, the rightist forces went on strengthening, and in spite of Mao’s last struggle removing Deng who  was reinstated in 1974, from power in early1976; following Mao’s death, with the help of centrist Hua Kuofeng, who had replaced Chou, the capitalist roaders could suppress the left in a military coup. Deng returned with the Four Modernizations. Understandably, destroying the People’s Communes and calling for ending the CR were the first steps taken by Deng. China also degenerated to capitalist path. Almost same things happened in all former socialist countries in various forms through “peaceful transition” back to capitalist path. Same thing happened to the Communist Parties formed under Comintern’s inspiration also; almost all of them degenerating to social democracy, to apologists of neocolonialism and now to apologists of neo-fascism. The Marxist Leninist Organizations emerged in 1960s splintered, with a section going to the side of social democracy, and the other to “Maoism”, to modern day Mensheviks and Narodniks. As a result, when we are observing the 150th anniversary of Paris Commune which gave rise to the first workers’ state, the international communist movement has not recovered from these grave setbacks yet.

 

Today the capitalist imperialist system has transformed the whole world in its own image to unprecedented levels under the neo-liberal, corporate policies, with the destruction of the livelihood of the vast masses and ecological destruction almost reaching its peak, threatening even the very existence of human species on this earth, giving rise to climate change and outspread of one pandemic after another;

The challenge today before us is: either throw out the capitalist imperialist system and initiate a sustainable, ecology friendly, egalitarian development paradigm under democratization with all power to people, taking the positive contributions of the Paris Commune, the Soviets and the People’s Communes along with the CR according to present conditionss, or perish!

 

It means if Paris Commune was a great breakthrough towards the realization of a proletarian state as an lternative to the capitalist system, today what we need is a great leap of this experience to confront the present challenges, learning from the past positive and negative experiences.

 

For this we have to throw away all reformist, legalist, social democratic garbage and petti-bourgeois opportunist concepts like ‘peaceful transition to socialism’ and intensify class struggle with a comprehensive, all embracing understanding, building a basically different alternative, and unleashing the CR to transform the super structure strengthened by the barbarous imperialist system as part of class struggle.

 

We have to develop the Leninist daringness to develop theory and practice, to build powerful Bolshevik style parties according to present situation in all countries, develop proletarian internationalism constantly trying to overcome present challenges as a result of imperialist forces and their junior partners globalizing and liberalizing  everything through corporate fascist neoliberal policies.

 

Along with developing revolutionary parties in every country and a Communist International of a new type to advance toward World Proletarian Socialist Revolution; Let us take up thse national and international tasks and make ICOR capable of taking up this challenge learning from the experience of the Paris Commune!

 

Red Salute to all comrades! Long Live ICOR!

 

In the course of evolving class divided society and state, different kinds of states have appeared in accordance with changes in the character of class contradictions. Going past the ages of monarchy and autocracy, parliamentary democracy has been established particularly in the era of capitalism. This is nothing but a form of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and all the exploiting classes. Phrases like establishing rule of law, abiding by law, etc are conventional there. No king or dictator can rule at his/her whims, rule must be confined within a legal limit—such a stately attitude develops.

 

Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has taken placed together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, as long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. The form we mention here had bureaucracy and army as its pillars. Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has taken place together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, so long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. In the form we mention here, bureaucracy and army are called its pillars. The Leninist theory or Marxist-Leninist political theory, taking bureaucracy in parliamentary democracy into account, stated in the definition of Marxist state that the state that has essentially emerged from the impossibility of reconciliation of the irreconcilable contradictions of classes in a class divided society and sitting on its head has established itself as an apparatus isolated from the society.

 

Hence the separation of the state and the society –separation of the people—is but a natural phenomenon. However, from the above definition itself we can understand that an isolated apparatus can’t control and compatible with a society for long. Therefore it needs a system through which the state can forge institutions to make relations with the people. Parliamentary democracy is one such instrument to make the state acceptable to the people. This is a form of rule which apparently provides a place for people’s participation. But the bureaucracy, the judiciary and the army is connected inextricably with parliamentary democracy, none of which is an elected institution. The principle of Separation of Power of bourgeoisie system was established through French Revolution based on Montesquieu’s doctrine. That principle of Separation of Power is still continuing. Separation of Power means that the three pillars of state—the legislature, the judiciary and the administration—will remain independent of one another and no section can interfere in the business of other  institutions organically linked as mutually complementary. For the purpose of acceptability of the state, sometimes their differences are manifested. When activity of the people rises, the people can at times be able to some extent to make use of the space for apparent participation to occupy some ground to intervene in a country. This generally comes up from the contradictions or conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the working class, ruling class(es) and the ruled. Such a situation emerges in relation to the contradiction within the production system. Therefore the working class too can use the bourgeoisie democracy to some extent for organizing themselves, to upgrade their standard of life, to have some influence in making society stand up against the ruling class. But just this much. If we think that the whole system can be changed through the bourgeoisie democracy, that will be only farfetched. Many among us don’t think this way. 

 

 

Question arises as to how then fascism can arise within parliamentary democracy, or how individual governance comes up? This is our general knowledge that as much as democratic right is there for the people within parliamentary democracy, that right, the traditional bourgeois democratic right, must be destroyed for fascism to be established. The organs of the state do not necessarily perform according to laws because dictatorship essentially implies some coercion, legal or illegal. Hence the state must have always some fascistic character. The fact is not that some state machinery or a Govt. there under does never take fascist step. But there is difference between taking some fascist step and converting the whole state machinery into a fascist one. The difference is that the apparent space of participation of the people within the state machinery can be exploited by fascism. Fascism takes a section of the people into its own direction, influenced by its reactionary ideology assimilates into the whole state machinery. The existence of bourgeoisie democracy in the whole state machinery or the differences which exist between the different organs through separation of power are all obliterated. 

 

 In the course of evolving class divided society and state, different kinds of states have appeared in accordance with changes in the character of class contradictions. Going past the ages of monarchy and autocracy, parliamentary democracy has been established particularly in the era of capitalism. This is nothing but a form of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and all the exploiting classes. Phrases like establishing rule of law, abiding by law, etc are conventional there. No king or dictator can rule at his/her whims, rule must be confined within a legal limit—such a stately attitude develops.

 

Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has taken placed together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, as long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. The form we mention here had bureaucracy and army as its pillars. Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has  taken place together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, so long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. In the form we mention here, bureaucracy and army are called its pillars. The Leninist theory or Marxist-Leninist political theory, taking bureaucracy in parliamentary democracy into account, stated in the definition of Marxist state that the state that has essentially emerged from the impossibility of reconciliation of the irreconcilable contradictions of classes in a class divided society has established itself on the head of and separated from the society.

 

Hence the separation of the state and the society –separation of the people—is but a natural phenomenon. However, from the above definition itself we can understand that an isolated apparatus can’t lead a society for long. Therefore it needs a system through which the state can forge institutions to make relations with the people. Parliamentary democracy is one such instrument to make the state acceptable to the people. This is a form of rule which apparently provides a place for people’s participation. But the bureaucracy, the judiciary and the army is connected inextricably with parliamentary democracy, none of which is an elected institution. The principle of Separation of Power of bourgeoisie system was established through French Revolution based on Montesquieu’s doctrine. That principle of Separation of Power is still continuing. Separation of Power means that the three pillars of state—the legislature, the judiciary and the administration—will remain independent of one another and no system can interfere in the business of other.  institutions organically linked as mutually complementary. For the purpose of acceptability of the state, sometimes their differences are manifested. When activity of the people rises, the people can at times be able to some extent to make use of the space for apparent participation to occupy some ground to intervene in a country. This generally comes up from the contradictions or conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the working class, ruling class(es) and the ruled. Such a situation emerges in relation to the contradiction within the production system. Therefore the working class too can use the bourgeoisie democracy to some extent for organizing themselves, to upgrade their standard of life, to have some influence in making society stand up against the ruling class. But just this much. If we think that the whole system can be changed through the bourgeoisie democracy, that will be only farfetched. Many among us don’t think this way. 

 

 

Question arises as to how then fascism can arise within parliamentary democracy, or how individual governance comes up? This is our general knowledge that as much as democratic right is there for the people within parliamentary democracy, that right, the traditional bourgeois democratic right, must be destroyed for fascism to be established. The organs of the state do not necessarily perform according to laws because dictatorship essentially implies some coercion, legal or illegal. Hence the state must have always some fascistic character. The fact is not that some state machinery or a Govt. there under does never take fascist step. But there is difference between taking some fascist step and converting the whole state machinery into a fascist one. The difference is that the apparent space of participation of the people within the state machinery can be exploited by fascism. Fascism takes a section of the people into its own direction, influenced by its reactionary ideology assimilates into the whole state machinery. The existence of bourgeoisie democracy in the whole state machinery or the differences which exist between the different organs through separation of power are all obliterated. 

 

Question arises that how then fascism can arise within parliamentary democracy, or how individual governance comes up? This is our general knowledge that as much as democratic right is there for the people within parliamentary democracy, that right, the traditional bourgeois democratic right, must be destroyed for fascism to be established. The organs of the state do not necessarily perform according to laws because dictatorship essentially implies some coercion, legal or illegal. Hence the state must have always some fascistic character. The fact is not that some state machinery or a Govt. there under does never take fascist step. But there is difference between taking some fascist step and converting the whole state machinery into a fascist one. The difference is that the apparent space of participation of the people within the state machinery can be exploited by fascism. Fascism takes a section of the people into its own direction, influenced by its reactionary ideology assimilates into the whole state machinery. The existence of bourgeoisie democracy in the whole state machinery or the differences which exist between the different organs through separation of power are all obliterated.

 

These are, in general, required to reconcile the internal contradictions among the bourgeoisie too in a bourgeoisie democracy. But fascism means establishment of a most reactionary rule by suppressing the internal contradictions even among the bourgeoisie. If we understand the difference at this point, we can comprehend the difference between parliamentary autocracy and fascism in a conventional democratic or constitutional set up. We will confine our discussion within the example of West Bengal. That the Trinamool Govt. in West Bengal is an autocratic Govt. bears no doubt among any of us. A new debate has surfaced again concerning the massive police attacks on the Nabanna expedition led by the student organizations of the left section on 11 February 2021. That is, what is the difference between this and what the BJP Govt. is doing in UP? There have many more attacks been launched in West Bengal from Bhangar to many other places. Keeping those attacks in mind one raises the question whether removing the TMC Govt. should be the principal task. When, today, BJP has possibility to snatch power in West Bengal, what is the answer? 

 

It should be mentioned first that removing not only these two forces, our target is to uproot the ruling class itself. In elections too, it is always desirable to defeat or corner all the ruling class forces. But it must be considered how much the victory or defeat of some force reinforce the state machinery or destroy the unity of the people under the given condition of the election.

 

Let us come to the present situation. It can be said at this situation that BJP is a fascist force and TMC an autocratic force. BJP is exploiting the constitutional system not only to guard the corporate interests but also strives to instate autocracy after crushing the whole system. That is the reason why it is bringing in its reactionary ideology forcefully among the people. As for example, Hindi Hindu Hindustan, one nation-one language-one state, etc. These all constitute their effort to destroy the present constitutional structure and build up a new one. This means substituting the present federal structure by a central power, all powers concentrated to the president in place of parliamentary democracy, destroying the autonomy of different nationalities and languages. This implies that it will not only rob the rights of the exploited classes, will also resolve the internal contradictions of the exploiting classes through forceful suppression. When democracy disappears from among the exploiting classes themselves, it needs no mention that the exploited classes will not have even the sprinkles of democracy.

 

On the other hand, imprint of autocracy is conspicuous when judged every sphere of functioning of the Govt. and the party of TMC of this state. But that it does through this conventional democracy. All the suppressive and autocratic measures it takes are all features of this conventional democracy. Many might argue that many of their actions are illegal. Actually, meaning of democracy is not limited within legal rights. It carries a much wider sense. Law is but its one aspect. As people say, as much laws, so much are its lacunas. This is bourgeoisie democracy. Rule of law is there, of course, but the laws are so framed that the coercion of the ruling classes becomes legally permissible. Say, for example, a worker is retrenched illegally. Proving this as illegal, the course the worker has to run through is impossible for him to follow alone. Therefore, only presence of a law is not enough, the process through which it is effected is also important.

 

Similar argument we can hold about the power of the police. Police can’t search a house without search warrant. Notwithstanding, if the police officers deem it necessary to search immediately, they can force to do that. The person can go to the court to decide for its legality. But the coercion is already done. And then comes when the court will judge, whether the police can manage to get the search warrant at a post-date, etc. The long time the judgment will take is everybody’s experience. But if the whole society agitates against this, the people gets into movements against the ruling system, the laws can in many cases be made use of by us. Thus in the existing system the democracy of the people means their right to protest. Its extent is the criteria to judge the ambience of democracy. But the matter of people’s participation in state functioning is solely apparent. From that point of view, Mamata’s rule is somewhat more or less democratic than that of the other governments. Modi’s rule too, till now, could not have negated the existing democracy, though advancing towards that. As much their strength grows, so much will that situation ripe.    

 

But many fail to comprehend this situation, particularly CPI(M), the new version of social democracy. All say the emergency, declared by Indira Gandhi, also as semi-fascist instead of fascist rule. But at the present situation, the Mamata Banerjee rule is made by them as a virtually fascist rule. For example, the Indian People’s Theatre has made a video clip on the assembly of the alliance (Left-Congress-Abbas) at the Brigade on 28 March. Everything there is targeted against Mamata, as if BJP has no existence. One can argue that it was made only against TMC. It can be agreed at this point for the sake of argument. But everything is said there referring to Mamata Banerjee as fascist. This is nothing but showing fascism watered down. Similarly, in the Press Conference of DYFI leader on Maidul’s death, police was referred to as the hands and legs of the Govt. which is the brain. But the A-B-C-D of Marxism teaches that bureaucracy and the armed force are the pillars of the state. No Govt. can function without them. Actually, the absolute ignorance about the Marxist concept of state or its intentional distortions has utterly jumbled the concepts of fascism and parliamentary democracy.

 

Dmitrov, the leader of the Comintern, while discussing about German fascism, said that the class pacifism of social democracy is one of the reasons of the rise of fascism. Here too we find how the attempt to conceal class hatred is running.

 

So, beware of the danger!

 

(This is the translated version of Bengali article published in the Bengali Organ ‘Sangrami Sangbad. Translated by Com Gautam Chaudhury-- Editor RS)

Marx never made any abstract statement like “Revolution is Inevitable”; On the contrary, in the Communist Manifesto prepared for the Communist League and published in 1848, Marx and Engels categorically declares: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”. So, when Kobad Ghandy‘s (KG) interview with Ms Jyothi Punwani published in the 28th March, Weekly Magazine of The Hindu, (given as separate article) appears with the title ‘We can no longer keep saying revolution is inevitable’ the reader will be confused, as it is the revisionists who teach revolution is inevitable and there can be peaceful transition to socialism. As far as we know, the party he was in, the CPI(ML) People’s War (PWG) in the beginning and CPI(Maoist) also do not say so. So, we can conclude that it is a headline given by the editors.

KG belongs to the generation of comrades who joined the Naxalite movement(as the CPI(ML) movement is popularly mentioned in the mainstream media) during the objectively potential, post-Emergency years. He left his studies in UK and returned to Mumbai, organized the Vidyarthi Pragati Sanghatan (VPS), the most active student organization of Mumbai at that time, formed Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) with Ad. P.A. Sebastian and other friends, and by 1979 joined the PWG. For 30 years he worked with PWG, and then CPI(Maoist) before he was arrested in 2009 from Delhi.  During this period probably in 1991 when K.G. Sathyamurthi, who was secretary for many years was expelled for his stand on caste question, for some time he was also separated from PWG; but soon he re-joined it. After 10 years jail life, he came out on bail in 2019.  His book: Fractured Freedom: A Jail Memoir, is just published. During his days in Tihar jail he had written few articles on various topics, critically reviewing his experience, which were published in the Mainstream weekly.

Though in 1979, when I had gone to Mumbai to organize the CRC, CPI(ML), I tried to meet him, as he had gone out for some meetings, I could not.  Collecting his number from PA Sebastian, I called him and had a fairly long talk with him. From that as well as from the article he had written in People’s Power, an irregular Bulletin published by  Prof. Dixit, on agrarian relations in India, it was clear that he had become firm advocate of the ideological-political-organizational line of PWG by that time.  Later in early 1990s, when he was ‘semi-underground’ after his brief separation from PWG, and living at Nagpur I had a long discussion with him. Then also, apart from some differences on the organizational decisions of PWG, he strongly defended its line. So,  his articles in Mainstream in which he had made critical assessment of many aspects of the PWG/Maoist line (of course not mentioning its name) was a surprise, Now, in this interview he has explained his thoughts on the PWG/Maoist movement more clearly. Many of these critics were raised much earlier by others including me, of course from different view-points. As I had met him after the three round of discussions with the PWG for merger had failed, the points of differences were explained to him, including our stand that both, the right deviation in Soviet Union as well as the left adventurist Lin line in China emerged from erroneous understanding of post-Second World War imperialism which had transformed its plunder of Asian-African-Latin American countries from colonial to neo-colonial forms, ie from direct control to control through finance capital, technology transfer, market and military deals; and this plunder reaching more aggressive forms, with earlier welfare state concepts and state intervention in production through public sector, changed to neoliberal corporate policies under the dictates of IMF-WB-WTO. When I argued that the problem with most of the CR forces is their refusal to recognize the vast changes taking place as a result at international and national developments, and to develop their program and path of revolution accordingly, though we had a healthy debate, he did not commit anything. Later I came to know that he re-joined the PWG. At that time I had pointed out to him that how can anyone justify in the name of advancing revolution incidents like Kakthiya Express burning, fate of a girl who went in search of the revolutionary party, punishments like cutting away hands or legs of suspected police informers etc.  Com KG had agreed with me that such practices should be stopped. Viewed in this background, I am happy that at least now he has come out with a serious critic of the practice of CPI(Maoist) and the consequences of these, both political and theoretical.

What are his main criticisms?

  1. Socialism all over the world has given enormous economic benefits to the people. But communist systems too have suffered setbacks; their weaknesses need to be rectified;
  2. No one can be happy without the necessities of life. But to talk only about the economic aspect of change isn’t enough. After some time, power and ego start affecting people in the movement. But if you have a value system integrated into your goal, you can counter these influence
  3. People don’t change merely with a new ideology; their subconscious thinking inculcated in childhood continues to influence them. Socialism doesn’t automatically bring forth a ‘socialist person’. You have to struggle to become one.
  4. With caste superiority coming ‘naturally’ to Indians, this is all the more important. I also saw it in Jharkhand’s jails. When the Naxalite inmates belonging to the Marxist Coordination Committee heard I was being brought there, they came running. The media had projected me as a top Maoist leader, and they thought that, like other Naxal leaders they knew, I’d have pots of money. When they saw I didn’t, they slunk away, refusing to help. It was a don who helped me get warm clothes in the Jharkhand winter! Some of these Naxalites were part of the jail mafia, and ran most of the lucrative wards. Jharkhand has such a heroic history of resistance to the British, starting from the 18th century. What are the Naxalites doing to their tradition?
  5. Indian Marxists are terribly dogmatic. They are just not willing to discuss new concepts, nor are they willing to acknowledge that communism has suffered a severe setback worldwide. It should make them think. Economic and social conditions today are so atrocious, yet there is no alternative — unlike when we were young, when communism was the rage.
  6. But how we go about achieving it needs to be discussed. We can no longer keep saying, ‘Revolution is inevitable’. In Andhra/ Telangana’s jails I saw that despite 40 years of the revolutionary movement there, the younger generation knew nothing about it. But all that senior leftists say is: ‘Revolution has its ups and downs, but finally it will come,’ without any analysis.
  7. Can we still say ‘the working class is the vanguard’? Where is the working class in India? Since the 90s, there’s only contract labour and sub-contracted labour. The workers are not on the factory floor, they are fractured. I was shocked to learn in Jharkhand that even the Railways contracts out the smallest job — say, cleaning train toilets — to 10 different contractors. An inmate told me he earned ₹10,000 from his job as a driver, but ₹30,000 from illegally selling diesel. So this worker is basically self-employed. Would such workers have a proletarian mentality? Where is the relationship between the proletariat and the capitalist? The workers are highly oppressed, but they have been socially de-proletarianised
  8. Islamists only wanted to convert me, talking about jannatetc! Some of them even advocated bomb blasts in public places as the solution against injustice. Muslims who may die in such blasts would be collateral damage, they said. Identity politics leads to vote bank politics and makes it easier for Hindutva parties to get the sympathy of even ‘lower-caste’ Hindus, and to target Muslims and Dalits.
  9. I think they soon realised I couldn’t give them much information. They knew more than I did! Basically, they also knew that more than them

When Com.KG raises these criticisms, surprisingly what is absent is a self-critical approach. When he had returned to Mumbai with the decision to join the revolutionary movement,(a great decision which the students and youth) he was 26 years old, post-graduate intellectual and must have tried to read the Great Debate of CPC against CPSU, the writings of Edgar Snow, William Hinton like friends of Chinese Revolution, Mao’s 5th volume documents, some of the literature on Cultural Revolution (brought by KS from Hong Kong and later published as 6h to 10th volume of Mao’s works, the extensive writings on IMF and World Bank projects corporatizing agriculture in Latin American countries turning them to banana republics, Thatcherism which advocated substitution of Keynesian welfare state concepts with neoliberal policies hotly debated from early 1970s in UK, the debate then going on in the Economic and Political Weekly on mode of production in Indian agriculture etc similarly he must have heard about post-modernism and its product identity politics, the debate on the failures of socialism practiced in the socialist countries including Soviet Union etc He must have read at least seen some of the voluminous reports on what was happening in China during 1976-78 period, especially available in UK.

But, still in spite of all these how he could accept the PWG line which had refused to learn anything from them and write such an article like the one he wrote for Dixit’s publication trying to argue India was still semi-feudal in 1979? Similarly, after Naxalbari Uprising, under its influence many progressive intellectuals had come forward with many friendly critics of the movement, including books which deepened the ideological struggle against further degeneration of CPI and CPI(M) to social democracy. The Dalit Panthers had come forward by 1972 from Pune calling for taking up the study of Ambedkar’s books, and the need to start caste annihilation movement as part of class struggle.

What I want to point out is that the post Emergency years in India, as well as the 1970s as a whole internationally was a vibrant period with the Vietnam war of US/ the national liberation movement in Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea inspiring the struggling masses around the world. Almost all the questions now raised by KG now were raised then by many revolutionary streams, intellectuals of that time. The importance of analyzing the transformations taking place in forms of imperialist plunder after the War under IMF-World Bank- GATT agreements were also hotly debated topics then. Within our country, among the CR forces also such discussions were taking place. As a result of these many initiatives were also forthcoming. The first mistake committed by was that in spite of all these, he led the large number of students in VPS, many of whom were ready to become professional revolutionaries hastily to the fold of PWG. As a result, many left political work midway. Those who continued like KG became disillusioned.

The second criticism I raise against KG is that, even after so much damage is done by the Maoist line (which is nothing but Linbiaoism), in spite of raising serious criticism against it, he has not denounced it; showing that still he maintains loyalty to it. Like the petti-bourgeois intellectuals who openly or secretly support the Maoists and become directly or indirectly link with the front organisations floated by them, even after most of the Maoist movements not only in India, but in Nepal, Chile, Turkey and Philippines facing degeneration as in Nepal or disintegration in other places recognizing the consequences of the erroneous line followed by the Maoists, he is not ready to reject it, and look around and see many efforts  made by the CRs like CPI(ML) Red Star to confront the issues raised by him.

As Mao has made it repeatedly clear the path of protracted people’s war pursued by the CPC was unique one developed to suit the China’s situation, which was a feudal, semi-feudal society, without any centralized government, where the communists to work within the Kuomintang army during Sun Yat Sen’s time, and after his death when the supremo Chiang started suppression of communists which reached its peak in 1927, compelling them to retreat to rural areas. But a sizable section of the army under Chu Te also joined the communists, turning the revolutionary movement in to a war between two armies! Today the concrete situation under the neoliberal/corporate offensive by the imperialists and their junior partners in power in the neo-colonially dependent countries have drastically changed. From the beginning of 1980s a number of mass uprisings, starting with anti-IMF revolts in Latin America, the Arab Spring when these mass uprisings uprooted decades-long dictatorships and oligarchies. This situation continues. Even the more than four months old siege of Delhi by tens of thousands of farmers also is part of these uprisings. If there are powerful, Bolshevik style communist parties existing in these countries they can come to their leaderships and capture power. Besides, as ecological destruction under the neoliberal loot of the nature has reached such a peak threatening an ecological catastrophe, causing the extinction of human species from the earth, the humanity is facing the challenge: either revolutionary overthrow of the imperialist system and reconstruction of the world with a much more advanced, nature friendly development perspective, or perish. In spite of such vast changes, the Maoists in Chhattisgarh organizing an attack on police and trying to continue its squad actions is only helping the corporate fascist Modi government to use them as pretexts to intensify attacks on the struggling farmers and other toiling sections. Even after grave mistakes committed like supporting an N T Rama Rao, or YSR in AP or Shibu oren in Jharkhand, or TMC in WB in 2011 after calling for ‘boycott of elections.

One important claim made by the intellectuals and NGOs supporting the Maoists is that they are preventing the corporate loot in the areas were they are present! But what is the truth? The maximum penetration of corporates took place in Jharkhand during 1990s and 2010s when the Maoists had maximum strength in the area. It is in Bastar’s Dantewada, where they have maximum presence, the ESSAR mining and exporting of the best iron ore from Balladilla is increasing every year. The practice of collecting huge amounts of levy from the forest contractors, corporates and construction companies, without any system of accountability have made the cadres and leaders corrupt as KG saw. With all respect to Anuradha whom I have meet three times at Nagpur and discussed about our practice of mass line, the Chhattisgarh adivasis developing better politics than those in Jharkhand who are led by MCC is one of the myths propagated by Arundhati Roy like authors in her “God of small things” line. Just providing uniform and gun training will not make any one self-confident. The real problem with the Maoists is that instead of pursiong the Marxist line of ‘people create history’, their line is ‘hero’s make history’ which keep followers politically backward even after 40 years of activities. At the same time, in Odisha alone from the Chika movement to Vedanta and POSCO there are many examples of militant mass movement driving away the corporates. In Chhattisgarh also through big mass movements Shivnath River’s privatization and the SEZ in Rajnathgaon were stopped. The ten nuclear power plants announced by UPA govt also did not come up because of stiff resistance by people. But the trigger happy Maoist leadership is not ready to ‘seek truth from facts’

Marxism teaches that we have to overthrow the capitalist system and advance to communism through a period of socialist transformation, during which the the hitherto ruling class ideas which are dominating the society should be thrown out and new shoots of socialist alternative models of development and democray should be developed. 150 years ago the communards of Paris were the first to practice it. This first proletarian state has given many lessons including the slogan “all power to the people”. After October Revolution, Lenin had given the call all power to the Soviets. Mao tried to take it one step forward through People’s Communes. Imperialists and their lackeys targeted them for attack, as they wanted to destroy such communist shoots to grow. So, Mao called for starting Cultural Revolution one step ahead of revolutionary movement. But for many culture meant just war songs presented by Gaddar or its imitations. There were no efforts to rectify the mistake done by the communist movement in 1930s when they refused to learn from Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar and put caste annihilation as an important part of class struggle. They may kill one or two RSS men, but will never launch a campaign to teach the dangers RSS fascism going to brimg to them. They refuse to teach that while fighting majority fundamentalism, the struggle against minority fundamentalism should not be kept away, as both are dangerous, both collaborate to prevent revolutionary advances.

A more detailed response is necessary to expose the superficiality of the observations made by KG. One can try to do it after going through his book. The problem with such half-hearted exposures of an organization and its practice, which are continued in spite of colossal mistakes is that it will not help to resolve the problems confronted by the communist movement. Lenin was ruthless in his struggle against the then Mensheviks and Narodniks, as he was convinced that without it building of a Bolshevik party capable of making revolution is not possible. But many of our friends are reluctant to do so, as many among the right opportunists, the modern day Mensheviks are our old friends; similarly how can we attack the modern day Narodniks, as many of them sacrifice their lives, or are good boys known to them. Such subjective ideas go against the interest of revolution. If KG really want to help the rectification of present mistakes, to spread the vision of revolution with a revolutionary cultural perspective, he should tell his friends still in hide outs and forests to put an end to the anarchist line and practice, and come out openly among the people, make concrete analysis of present reality, and mobilise the masses for seeking truth based on facts. The present reality, the country’s capital under siege by hundreds of thousands of farmers with the support of tens of millions of the peasantry demand such transparent action.

We can no longer keep saying revolution is inevitable: Kobad Ghandy (Interview)

Jyoti Punwani

MARCH 27, 2021

UPDATED: MARCH 26, 2021 15:05 IST

The activist, whose book has just been released, criticises Indian Marxists for being terribly dogmatic, and says it’s the system that has failed, not the ideology

When he was arrested in 2009, headlines screamed ‘top Maoist nabbed’. Today, he’s juggling time between interviews and podcasts, after his book recounting his journey from London to Indian jails (Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir) has become a bestseller. In an interview, he talks about these experiences, the setbacks suffered by communism, and the need for socialists to build a system of values beyond economic issues.

So, are you a Naxalite?

What is a Naxalite? It’s a vague term. There are many parties and groups who are called Naxalite. Some participate in elections, others work underground. Among the protesting farmers’ groups too, a few are reported to be affiliated to Marxist-Leninist groups.

I am for radical change and a socialist economic system. Capitalism has not given anything to the masses, while socialism all over the world has given enormous economic benefits to the people. But communist systems too have suffered setbacks; their weaknesses need to be rectified.

In your book you write that ‘universal happiness’ must be the goal of any movement for change. What happened to the goal of reducing inequality?

Of course, no one can be happy without the necessities of life. But to talk only about the economic aspect of change isn’t enough. After some time, power and ego start affecting people in the movement. But if you have a value system integrated into your goal, you can counter these influences. For example, I find people praising Anuradha [his late wife, Anuradha Ghandy] for her organisational capacities, not her personal qualities of straightforwardness, honesty, etc. which were equally if not more valuable for a social activist and, in fact, for any human being.

It’s true Freud came after Marx, but still I feel Marxists have ignored the importance of psychology. Just mechanically saying ‘social being determines consciousness’ doesn’t take into account the reality that people don’t change merely with a new ideology; their subconscious thinking inculcated in childhood continues to influence them. Socialism doesn’t automatically bring forth a ‘socialist person’. You have to struggle to become one.

Have you seen this lack of a value system affect those in the struggle?

Yes, and my book talks about it. With caste superiority coming ‘naturally’ to Indians, this is all the more important. I also saw it in Jharkhand’s jails. When the Naxalite inmates belonging to the Marxist Coordination Committee heard I was being brought there, they came running. The media had projected me as a top Maoist leader, and they thought that, like other Naxal leaders they knew, I’d have pots of money. When they saw I didn’t, they slunk away, refusing to help. It was a don who helped me get warm clothes in the Jharkhand winter! Some of these Naxalites were part of the jail mafia, and ran most of the lucrative wards.

Jharkhand has such a heroic history of resistance to the British, starting from the 18th century. What are the Naxalites doing to their tradition? They seem totally different from the Bastar tribals who, I heard from Anuradha, have transformed themselves through the movement to become self-confident and creative, especially the women.

I wonder how your comrades will react to this!

Indian Marxists are terribly dogmatic. They are just not willing to discuss new concepts, nor are they willing to acknowledge that communism has suffered a severe setback worldwide. It should make them think. Economic and social conditions today are so atrocious, yet there is no alternative — unlike when we were young, when communism was the rage.

Has communism failed or the people who implemented it?

The system has failed, not the ideology. History shows us that the socialist system is the most viable for the oppressed masses, while the existing system is destroying the lives not only of the poorest but now also of the middle classes. And the environment too. Only the 3,500-odd billionaires of the world are thriving.

But how we go about achieving it needs to be discussed. We can no longer keep saying, ‘Revolution is inevitable’. In Andhra/ Telangana’s jails I saw that despite 40 years of the revolutionary movement there, the younger generation knew nothing about it. But all that senior leftists say is: ‘Revolution has its ups and downs, but finally it will come,’ without any analysis.

Can we still say ‘the working class is the vanguard’? Where is the working class in India? Since the 90s, there’s only contract labour and sub-contracted labour. The workers are not on the factory floor, they are fractured. I was shocked to learn in Jharkhand that even the Railways contracts out the smallest job — say, cleaning train toilets — to 10 different contractors. An inmate told me he earned ₹10,000 from his job as a driver, but ₹30,000 from illegally selling diesel. So this worker is basically self-employed. Would such workers have a proletarian mentality?

Where is the relationship between the proletariat and the capitalist? The workers are highly oppressed, but they have been socially de-proletarianised.

Your observations on Islamists may also make you unpopular among your comrades. Identity politics is the in thing now.

I’ve written what I saw. Afzal Guru introduced me to the progressive concepts of Islam, but the Islamists only wanted to convert me, talking about jannat etc! Some of them even advocated bomb blasts in public places as the solution against injustice. Muslims who may die in such blasts would be collateral damage, they said. Identity politics leads to vote bank politics and makes it easier for Hindutva parties to get the sympathy of even ‘lower-caste’ Hindus, and to target Muslims and Dalits.

You’ve described the Nirbhaya rapist as a “vile sort.” Can you elaborate?

He would lie at the drop of a hat. I never saw anyone as manipulative and hypocritical as him, with his pujas on the one hand and his vicious outbursts against Nirbhaya’s mother on the other. Whenever he heard about her interviews, he’d say she deserved to be raped.

Physically you were not touched by the police. What restrained them?

I think they soon realised I couldn’t give them much information. They knew more than I did! Basically, they also knew that more than them, jail life would break me. Most people end up disillusioned in jail. I also did break, now and then. It’s not just the indignity of jail life, it’s the legal system too. You don’t know when you will be free or in what condition. Fortunately, I could keep myself sane through yoga and exercise, reading and writing, and Mainstream Weekly published my articles. My first phase in Tihar was very tough. I was very lucky that Afzal befriended me and cushioned the impact. He was jovial, educated; we could discuss so many things.

Jyoti Punwani is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist.

Sudden escalation in the second wave of COVID-19 in India with over 3 lakh cases (315660 cases recorded in India at 11.15 pm on April 21, 2021 is the highest-ever single-day spike in coronavirus infections in the world. Till now, 300310 were the highest single-day infections reported in US on January 2, 2021) and more than 3000 deaths per day has again belied the neoliberal pundits’ prediction of an uptrend in its economic indicators. Ongoing nation-wide vaccination drive that is leaving people to the mercy of Indian and multinational pharma companies coupled with re-imposition of virus management measures such as containment zones, night curfews, reduction in working-time and reverse migration of workers and so on will further dampen economic activity in general. Though IMF and other international agencies had predicted an economic recovery with double-digit GDP growth rate in 2021, such a prospect seems to be very dim as of now. Even UNCTAD’s modest forecast that India is to recover at the rate of 3.9 percent in 2021 is also going to be wishful thinking in view of the critical situation in the country. According UNCTAD, rather than the stimulus packages aimed at easing supply-side constraints (meaning pro-corporate stimulus packages, a large increase in public spending for pandemic relief that is expected to boost the purchasing power of the people is the only route towards recovery.

 

Revealingly, as already discussed much, India’s economic collapse in 2020 has been historic since the accumulated income loss as measured in terms of GDP for the fiscal year 2020-21 relative to 2019-20 (pre- COVID period approximately) was 27.7 percent compared to around 4 percent for the global economy. On the other hand, UNCTAD forecasts a 4.7 percent GDP growth for world with a 4.5 percent growth for US and 8.1 percent for China (according to latest report, China has recorded 18.3 percent GDP growth during the first quarter of 2021), and an average 4.7 percent growth for the world economy in 2021. This growth “will still leave the global economy over $10 trillion short of where it could have been by the end of 2021 if it had stayed on the pre-pandemic trend.” However, in view of the second wave of the pandemic at a global level, on account of pro-corporate/neoliberal austerity steps and supply-side policies, even the moderate predictions of UNCTAD regarding an economic recovery are going to be too optimistic.  

 

Of course, both international and Indian sources have already acknowledged Indian economy’s historic collapse, along with IMF’s own characterisation of the same as the “worst among G-20 countries” in 2020. Obviously, this has been due to the far-right, crony capitalist policies of Modi regime such as Demonetisation and GST coupled with the most stringent, most prolonged, ill-conceived, coercive and authoritarian lockdown superimposed by it on a population of 138 crore. That’s, the neoliberal fascist offensive by Modi regime that acted as economic holocausts has led the entire economy to a frozen state bringing all productive activities to a standstill as exemplified in a paralysis of the agricultural sector that provides sustenance to 50 percent of the people and destruction of the informal and traditional sectors which are the sole source of livelihood for 95 percent of the 52 crore workforce in India.

 A corollary of this neo-fascist offensive has been the unprecedented concentration of the country’s wealth with Ambanis and Adanis through such measures as pro-corporate tax exemptions, neoliberal labour and environmental deregulations and the series of stimulus packages that directly channelled trillions worth of public money into corporate coffers.  And, in consonance with the logic of neoliberal accumulation, this fabulous wealth appropriation by the billionaires, instead of contributing anything to the employment-oriented economy, went on ballooning the money-spinning speculative spheres, again leading to further appropriation of public assets by a handful of the corporate superrich. Modi’s megalomaniac’s approach to COVID, starting from such obscurantist practices as “switching off lights” and “banging vessels” and finally superimposing the most coercive and stringent lockdown at a stretch for two months in an unjustified and uncalled for manner had led India to the disastrous situation of the worst performing economy in the world during 2020.

 In this context, when the COVID tsunami in the form a ‘second wave’ is ravaging India, its devastating impacts are on the top of the severe damage to the economy that has already been inflicted by Modi’s corporate-saffron fascist policies.  For instance, joblessness which is highest in India’s recorded history, have already pushed tens of millions into absolute poverty. However, instead of a badly needed public spending program, Modi, at the behest of his corporate friends, has accelerated the privatisation-corporatisation agenda and all-round neoliberal policies with intensified vigour. Consequently, for instance, under the nationwide covid-vaccination drive, without even resorting to namesake public control, Modi has entrusted the vaccine production, its price determination and distribution solely to big pharma, both Indian and foreign, leading to a further amplification of all the pandemic-induced socio-economic vulnerabilities in the country. Following the announcement of his pro-corporate vaccine policy that is to take effect from May1, 2021, the Serum Institute, the producers of Covishield, that constitutes 90 percent of India’s vaccine supply as of now, has suddenlyrevised its price that was available at private hospitals at a price of Rs.250 to a whopping Rs.600 per dose. While it ensures super-profit for vaccine monopolies, as in the case of all far-right policies of Modi, it is intended to push large sections of poor out of the social safety net.

Coming to the economic scenario, while Modi regime is denying vast majority of Indians their basis sustenance, as reported by the Forbes 2021 list, the ranks of Indian dollar billionaires have swelled further from 102 to 140 in 12 months, their combined wealth doubling to $596 billion in just the past year, when the working and oppressed people of India were bearing the entire burden of the first wave of Covid. According to Forbes, these 140 billionaires now gobble up 22.7 percent of India’s GDP of $2.62 trillion. While the economy was contracted and vast majority of Indians were pushed down on the economic ladder, the combined wealth of the 140 billionaires has almost doubled to $ 596 billion (the combined wealth of the top two -- Ambani ($84.5 billion) and Adani ($50.5 billion) -- comes to $135billion) in the year 2020. Forbes also noted how, in spite of occasional ups-and-downs, the stock market scaled new heights during the same period leading to a gallop in wealth appropriation by the speculative superrich class. Thus, when the GDP contracted by more than one-fourth, the combined wealth of India’s crony capitalists went up by more than 90 percent! This situation, that’s characterised as “prosperity rules at the very top” while majority collapses continues unabated in 2021. 

While India thus has the third highest number of billionaires in the world after the United States and China, India under Modi has totally abolished the wealth tax along with reduction of corporate tax from 30 percent 15 percent. A 10 percent wealth tax (as a pandemic tax) alone on the superrich would have yielded many lakh crore rupees to the public exchequer which we could have been used for running the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme to provide sustenance to tens of millions of poorest Indians for many years. This tax money should have also been used for distributing food grains to the hundreds of millions of starving Indians including migrant workers from the buffer stocks which during the pandemic time in mid-2020 reached 104 million tons. In the same vein, this money would have been used for extending healthcare and education to the poor. On the contrary, the anti-people fascist character of the regime has become self-evident to the whole world, as India (having third position in the number of billionaires and second in food and agricultural production) ranked 131 in UN Human Development Index-much below ‘least developed’ sub-Saharan, Latin American and Asian countries. 

Meanwhile, under the cover of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” which is another reincarnation of “Make in India”, many lakh crore worth of “stimulus packages” were being granted to the corporate thugs called “wealth creators”, along with outright sell-out of the entire 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. While even the US under Biden in the beginning of 2021 again announced a ‘rescue package’ worth $1.9 trillion (equivalent to almost 90 percent of Indian GDP) mainly as direct cash transfers to people, the paltry Rs. 2 lakh direct benefit transfer to the people (along with Rs. 27 lakh crore worth corporate ‘stimulus package’) carried out by Modi during 2020 amounts to just one percent of the country’s GDP. Its outcome has become clear. For, on account of demand-push initiatives, according to latest forecasts, unemployment in US is expected to fall from 8.1 percent in 2020 to 4.1percent in 2022 along with an economic recovery in 2021. 

But under the corporate-fascist Modi regime that uses COVID as an opportunity to suck out whatever left in the arteries of common people for fattening corporate cronies, the economic contraction has become irreversible and is going to accelerate further. Obviously, in consonance with the character of neoliberal accumulation, the biggest-ever wealth transfer to the billionaire class is not used for employment-oriented production, but to horrific levels of speculation, plunder of nature and other money-spinning businesses. As we have previously analysed, Modi’s nexus with the speculative corporate oligarchs like Ambani and Adani has pushed India into a vicious corporatisation-speculation trap again leading to 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.

 At a time when even neoliberal centres have suggested a return to public-expenditures and demand-push policies for sustaining the economy, saffron-fascist regime is unwilling to deviate from its arch-reactionary character. Modi’s repeated corporate-stimulus packages is continuously pulling back the badly-needed investment in the productive spheres. The latest example of this is his COVID vaccine policy of unleashing big-pharma over the production, distribution and marketing of vaccines in the country. Even in this hour of crisis when India has become the epicentre of the second wave of COVID, Modi is reluctant to resort to a public financing of the vaccination project; instead he is keenly using the vaccination drive for unbridled profiteering by private pharmaceutical companies. Being a typical neo-fascist regime, Modi govt. is deploying all avenues at its disposal for the maximum wealth appropriation by corporate speculators at the shortest possible time. And this saffron fascist move against workers and all oppressed including dalits, adivasis, minorities, women and even children, and on political opponents and dissenters is quite unparalleled today. A broad antifascist front capable of defeating the saffron-fascist regime is the only political option  to overcome this horrific situation.

One hundred and thirty sixth May Day is approaching. After relentless class war of the working class of the world for almost one and half century now they are facing ferocious attack of the exploiters in general, and trans and multinational companies along with their organs like IMF, WB, WTO in particular, around the world. Due to their long-drawn struggle against capitalist-imperialist exploitation the working class achieved many demands in the past like eight hours working day, right to pension, provident fund, health insurance, gratuity etc. and many other welfare services for them within the framework of the bourgeois society. However, when the class struggle faced disaster in many fronts, socialist movement became weak, the bloodsuckers have started to snatch all those hard-earned rights.

 

In India the struggle for eight hours working day was stronger since much before of the Chicago struggle. However, after the Chicago massacre the struggle began to spread throughout the country. The Tsunamy of the May Day struggle erupted with massive force. After 14 several rights of the workers were achieved and started to be implemented. However, with the weakening of the socialist movement in India also the allies of the corporate companies and imperialists started to snatch those rights especially with the advent of neo-liberalism. Even the formal right of eight hours work is being tried to snatch.

 

The present central government of India, the most prominent and overt champion of the reactionaries and representative of the most reactionary capital is openly advocating in favor of increasing the working hours. They changed the labor laws to abrogate the progressive content of the laws. The whole set of the labor laws are now changed into four labor codes to make the process of retrenchment, wage cut, informalisation of the work and the rights of trade unions convenient. The workers are trying to resist but so far have failed to yield enough success.

 

The Covid situation at present time is apparently helping the rulers. Taking the advantage of present situation they are imposing the burden of the crises of imperialism and capitalism. Another important reason behind their success is the dominance of reformist, individualist ideological influence among the workers and absence of an able and strong communist movement. However, we know that the course of history cannot be determined by the oppressors at the end. The people and the working masses are makers of the history.

 

In this connection we again like to state that the present Covid pandemic is showing the actual face of capitalism. In spite of huge scientific development in present era capitalism has failed to protect the human society and nature as well. Reckless loot of labor and nature has led them to jeopardize the human civilization. Therefore, the immediate task of the working class is not only to emancipate itself from the fetter of capitalism, but by doing this to protect the human civilization, too. In this May Day, though the mobilization will be effected due to the epidemic, all class conscious workers and people must raise their firm voice to overthrow the imperialist capitalist rule and march forward to establish socialism and communism for emancipation from wage slavery. Free the labor; protect the nature and human civilization. Fight for socialism. This should be the clarion call in this juncture.

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