A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 | No. 31 | 29 JUL - 4 AUG 2014
The Modi Government has been in power for a very short time – and already, we can see the disturbing signs of saffron forces downgrading the quality of schooling, higher education and research.
The appointment of Y Sudarshan Rao as Chief of the Indian Council of Historical Research is the first signal that the Government is allowing saffron ideology rather than academic worth be the criterion for heading academic institutions.
Rao lacks publications in peer reviewed journals, and his academic work is confined to blog posts. Without such academic publications, Rao's writings are no better than ideologically-coloured opinions. And those opinions in themselves are cause for concern. Rao in his articles has declared that in ancient times the caste system worked well, and that this system in the historical past should not be viewed through the lens of modern democratic values.
This justification of a Brahminical hierarchy that epitomises discrimination is nothing new for Sangh ideology. Sangh founder Golwalkar rationalised caste hierarchy by comparing it to different limbs of the body: "If a developed society realizes that the existing differences are due to the scientific social structure and that they indicate the different limbs of body social, the diversity would not be construed as a blemish." (Organiser, 1 December 1952, p. 7) Deendayal Upadhyaya, another prominent RSS figure, similarly argued, "In our concept of four castes (varnas), they are thought of as different limbs of virat purush (the primeval man)…These limbs are not only complimentary to one another but even further there is individuality, unity. There is a complete identity of interests, identity, belonging…If this idea is not kept alive, the caste instead of being complimentary can produce conflict. But then that is a distortion." (D. Upadhyaya, Integral Humanism, New Delhi, Bharatiya Jansangh, 1965, p. 43) Now, this open rationalisation of the unconstitutional and discriminatory caste system will head of India's premier historical research body.
Even more disturbing is the fact that Rao's writings extol the ideas of those who have openly called for India to relinquish its secular Constitution and become a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).
It has come to light that the Gujarat Government has printed textbooks authored by Dinanath Batra on a mass scale, with a foreword by former Gujarat CM Narendra Modi (who is PM today), and has made them mandatory supplementary reading in Gujarat schools.
The content of these textbooks would be laughably absurd – except that when they carry the endorsement of the PM and a State Government uses taxpayers' money to promote them, it is no longer funny. It becomes a cruel joke with the minds of young impressionable students.
It is embarrassing that the man who is India's Prime Minister today, officially endorses textbooks that teach students to reject the map of India and instead learn to draw the map of the Sangh fiction of 'Akhand Bharat' that includes India's neighbouring countries and regions.
Batra's books claim to promote 'Indian culture' instead of 'Western culture', but only promotes caste Hindu rituals of North India. Why are the cultural practices of dalits, minorities, or of various Indian regions, not considered Indian culture by him?
Worse still, his textbooks include stories that would be considered offensively racist and communal by any professional educationist. These stories refer to a Black person as a 'negro' and compare him to a 'buffalo'; to Indians' colour being that of 'a roti cooked right' as opposed to being 'burnt' like that of Blacks; comparing 'foreigners' to the shoes on the feet of an Indian; and suggesting that a Muslim freedom fighter's objection to Vande Mataram made him anti national. Batra is also on record objecting to the use of ordinary spoken Hindustani words which he claims are words of 'foreign' origin.
Apart from these, the books are full of historical absurdities that claim ancient Indians invented cars, stem cell therapy, and so on.
Batra has boasted that the HRD Minister has promised to introduce his proposed changes in syllabi on a national scale. Parallel to the Modi Government's move to set up a commission to reform education, Batra has set up a Non-Governmental Education Commission (NGEC) that is pushing the Government to 'Indianise' education.
The Prime Minister needs to break his silence and explain why his name is used to endorse and promote Batra's absurd books. And the HRD Minister needs to tell the country what her Ministry's stand is on the Gujarat Government's promotion of obscurantist, unscientific, communal and racist material among young children.
The Gujarat Model was promoted by Mr Modi at corporate expense, as the epitome of 'development' and 'progress.' Today, Gujarat's model of school education stands exposed as the worst joke with the country's students. We have seen Shiv Sena MPs shamefully force feed a Muslim man to make him break his fast, with no action taken against them. The Modi Government cannot be allowed to force feed the myths and falsehoods of the RSS shakhas, to the country's children in the name of education.
CC Call for 28 July 2014:
Expand and Strengthen the Party for Effective Resistance against the Modi Regime's Corporate-Communal Offensive
July 28, 2014 marks the 42nd anniversary of the martyrdom of our founder leader Comrade Charu Mazumdar. It also marks the 40th anniversary of the reorganisation of the Party in the wake of the setback suffered in the early 1970s. As we face India's first BJP-majority government at the centre, which in its first two months in power have already given us unmistakable glimpses of its thoroughly corporate-friendly agenda and authoritarian and communal character, we are reminded of the last words of Comrade Charu Mazumdar and the lessons we learnt in our battle with Indira autocracy in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Riding on the appeal of bank nationalisation and the call of 'garibi hatao', Indira Gandhi had secured a clear mandate in 1971 defeating the Congress old guards. She then went on to consolidate her power with the victory over Pakistan in the Bangladesh war which had left the RSS awe-struck and led Vajpayee to compare Indira Gandhi with the demon-slaying image of goddess Durga. History tells us how quickly this 'garibi hatao' mandate and the nationalist appeal had translated into a brutal paramilitary crackdown on the CPI(ML) and gone on to envelope India's parliamentary democracy in the darkness of Emergency.
Comrade Charu Mazumdar had clearly sensed this danger when days before his martyrdom he called for broad-based unity against the onslaught on the people, asserting that the interests of the people were the interests of the party. The reorganisation of the Party Central Committee on 28 July 1974 and the subsequent revival of the party upheld the spirit of CM's powerful last words through waves of peasant awakening, all-out mass initiatives and bold assertion of the agenda of radical social transformation and consistent democracy. A rejuvenated CPI(ML) successfully resisted the autocratic onslaught of the ruling classes, building brick by brick a committed communist party organisation dedicated to the interests and struggles of the people.
The situation today is both markedly similar and dissimilar to the situation four decades ago. Indira Gandhi was full of Left pretensions and socialistic rhetoric. Narendra Modi flaunts his rightwing politics and intimate corporate ties with great pride. The Congress under Indira Gandhi's stewardship was busy writing the obituary of the CPI(ML). Modi's mission of a 'Congress-mukt Bharat' seeks to establish and consolidate rightwing hegemony under the exclusive leadership of the BJP, he would love to see India purged of the entire array of Left forces, marginalising in the process even various non-Left liberal streams of social and cultural discourse.
Just as Indira Gandhi, backed by her own coterie of close confidantes, wanted to rule with an iron hand, Modi too would like to rule as a supreme leader enjoying the unabashed adulation of his bhakts and allegiance of his colleagues. And to be sure, the nationalist demagogy is central to the rhetoric employed by the two leaders – while Indira's accent was on 'national unity and integrity' and officially proclaimed 'secularism', Modi's nationalism is openly majoritarian and the emphasis is on a hard state that curbs liberties in the name of 'national security' and corporate-led developmentalism that would bulldoze every voice of dissent and sanctify every destruction of natural resource and people's livelihood in the name of economic growth.
Our job today is to rise against this mounting rightwing onslaught and corporate-communal offensive. We have to bounce back against the triumphalist rightwing clamour of marginalisation of the Left. And as we take up this challenge, we must go deep among the people and organise and mobilise them on their everyday issues. We must pit the aspirations of the people, which the BJP had invoked in the election campaign to come to power, against the BJP's rapidly unfolding corporate-communal agenda and the harsh reality of rising prices and growing mockery of people's welfare. When the rhetoric of 'achchhe din' (good days) turns into the reality of 'bitter pill', fight back the people will and the CPI(ML) must discharge its role in the frontlines of people's struggle.
As the Modi government unleashes its authoritarian mode of governance and seeks to impose its corporate-communal agenda, we can hear the voices of disenchantment and dissent all around us. From the man on the street complaining about the soaring prices to the Chief Justice of India slamming the government for its interference in the appointment of judges – protests can be heard everywhere. This is the time to reach out to various fighting forces and build the broadest possible unity in struggle.
Today the opposition in Parliament has evidently become quite weak and most sections of the opposition have no credibility when it comes to the question of defending the rights and livelihood of the people, the pluralist fabric of the country and the autonomy of various institutions. Regardless of the role of the Opposition inside Parliament and the response of various institutions to the challenges posed by the Modi government, the voices of protest and resistance must be raised boldly on the streets. Extensive interaction with various progressive democratic forces and effective solidarity and cooperation with wide-ranging struggles of the people are the needs of the hour.
And sure enough, we need a stronger party organisation than ever before. When the Central Committee was reorganised in July 1974, we had to begin the task of Party reorganisation from above, starting almost from scratch. Today, after nine Congresses we are on a much stronger footing with a Party membership of more than one lakh and presence of Party organisation in more than 20 states and 100 districts. But the recent elections have once again made it clear that we need a much more effective Party organisation at the grassroots. We have a nearly 3-million-strong organised mass membership, but our votes barely crossed one million which clearly shows our weakness in terms of political and electoral mobilisation of our members and supporters.
All said and done, polling booths are the key site of electoral struggles. The money-, muscle- and media-power and social engineering equations of dominant ruling class parties play themselves out through booth level mobilisation of the electorate. Given that the electoral domain is no level-playing field and the power balance in electoral struggles is heavily tilted against the poor and working people, it becomes all the more imperative that communists are able to put up effective ground-level resistance against the politics of the ruling classes through intensive counter-mobilisation at the grassroots.
The grassroots organisation that won big victories in the struggle against feudal domination and state terror in the formative years of our Party is also our main weapon in the battle in the electoral arena. It must be understood that unlike the Congress and various identity-based parties, the BJP is a cadre-based party which pays serious attention to its organisation and propaganda and indoctrination campaign at the grassroots. Communist resistance to the BJP must therefore be waged most decisively in the sphere of organisational and ideological-political mobilisation at the grassroots. On the 40th anniversary of Party reorganisation, let us resolve to raise our grassroots organisation to a higher level in terms of mass strength as well as political mobilisation and organisational functioning. The battle against the corporate-communal fascist threat must be won decisively by powerful communist organisation of the working people working in tandem with broader democratic forces on every front of people's struggle.
42nd Martyrdom Anniversary of Comrade Charu Mazumdar
The 42nd anniversary of Comrade Charu Mazumdar's martyrdom was observed all over the country by party members.
In Delhi, a Cadre Convention was held at Charu Bhavan, which began by paying floral tributes to Comrade Charu Mazumdar's statue.
Subsequently, Comrade Sanjay Sharma (Delhi State Secretary) and Kavita Krishnan (PB member) elaborated on the CC's Call, outlining the orientation of building a mass movement and democratic unity against the anti people policies of the Modi Government and strengthening and expanding the party. The Convention was attended by PB member Prabhat Kumar, CCMs Rajiv Dimri and Ravi Rai, and was addressed by a range of CPI(ML) activists working in Delhi.
In Haryana, the occasion was marked by a protest dharna at Sonepat against Dalit atrocities. Many activists from various Haryana districts participated in the dharna, against the attack on a Dalit Sarpanch of the Janti Khurd village. The protesters demanded to know from the local administration why there was a delay in acting against the perpetrators. The dharna was led by Prem Singh Gehlawat, party in charge for Haryana.
The Bangalore unit of the party and AICCTU organised a Public Hall Meeting on 28 July 2014 in memory of Comrade Charu Mazumdar. The speakers spoke on the "Corporate, Communal Fascism and the Role of the Left".
Dr. Venkataramaiah Lakshminarayana, Professor Lakshminarayana, AICCTU State Organising Secretary Clifton addressed the gathering while Com. Shankar, Central Committee Member of CPIML Liberation presided over the meeting
Worker activists from various public and private sector companies (national and multinational) and government departments participated in the programme with enthusiasm. Similar Programmes were held at Harapanahalli and Gangavati as well.
Left Parties Will Unite for Bihar Assembly By-Elections
At a joint press conference on 29th July in Patna, the CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M) announced their intention to contest the Bihar Assembly by-polls in a united way. The Left parties said that this unity was forged in the backdrop of the urgent need to counter communal and corporate fascism, and to assert a people's alternative against the offensive of price rise, unemployment and assaults on democracy.
CPI will contest 2 seats (Jale and Banka), CPI(M) 3 (Chhapra, Mohiuddinnagar, Parbatta), and CPI(ML) 5 seats (Narkatiyaganj, Rajnagar (SC), Bhagalpur, Hajipur, Mohania (SC)) in the by polls.
The Press Conference was addressed by CPI(ML) State Secretary Comrade Kunal, CPI State Secretary Comrade Rajendra Prasad Singh and CPI(M) State Secretary Comrade Vijaykant Thakur.
Outlining the dangers of the Modi Government's policies and the BJP's communal offensive in Bihar, Comrade Kunal said that the front of Congress, RJD and JDU was an opportunist one. The Congress was highly discredited in Bihar and the rest of the country; and the JDU is responsible in large measure for allowing BJP to gain a foothold in Bihar and pursue its communal agenda. And the RJD's rule in Bihar is also one in which communal and casteist forces had a free run and indulged in massacres of rural poor. Moreover the BJP and the Congress, JDU, RJD are all united by the commitment to pro-corporate, anti poor policy that are devastating Bihar and the country. Such an opportunist front cannot counter the saffron offensive and defend people's interests, rights and secular values. The unity of Left forces was the need of the hour, and the decision to contest by-polls together is a welcome one.
CPI(ML)'s Homage to Comrade D Prempati
CPI(ML) deeply condoles the passing of Comrade D Prempati, a relentless campaigner for democracy, secularism, social justice and human dignity who stood consistently by a whole array of revolutionary struggles of the Indian people. He was a Marxist who was closely acquainted with the writings and thoughts of Ambedkar, Periyar and Phule and drew on his insightful studies and observations to vigorously challenge Brahminical propaganda and resist feudal-communal onslaughts.
We in CPI(ML) cherish fond memories of Comrade Prempati's consistent contribution to the party's multifarious activities and initiatives in the 1980s, especially in the launching of Indian People's Front and a Marxist theoretical periodical called Marxism Today, of which he was the editor. He was one of the Convenors of the Nagbhushan Patnaik Release Committee in the early 1980s, and he enjoyed a close and warm relationship with Comrade Nagbhushan after the latter's release from jail.
Comrades visiting his house at any hour of the day in connection with any work always received the warm hospitality of Comrade Prempati and his family. For generations of his students in Delhi College of Art he was an affectionate teacher of English literature, and for activist circles in Delhi and elsewhere he was a comrade they could look to for guidance and cooperation.
Whether it was the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination when Delhi witnessed a horrific pogrom against the Sikh community, the days of casteist frenzy against the adoption of the Mandal Commission report, the barbaric demolition of Babri Masjid and the riots that preceded and followed in its wake or the state-sponsored genocide in Gujarat in 2002, Comrade Prempati could be seen and heard in every protest meeting as a courageous and tireless campaigner for sanity, social justice and human rights.
We have lost Comrade Prempati at a crucial juncture in India's political and social life. As we rally today in defence of our hard-won democratic rights, social dignity and pluralistic legacy, he will be sorely missed, but his writings and memories will continue to inspire activists in a whole range of circles to better understand the country and fight harder for our cherished goals of social transformation and human dignity. On behalf of the CPI(ML) Central Committee, I pay my heart-felt homage to Comrade Prempati. His legacy of study, analysis and activism will live on and inspire us in all our struggles for a better tomorrow.
General Secretary, CPI(ML)
Tribute To Writer Madhukar Singh
Eminent Hindi litterateur Madhukar Singh, who led 'Samantar Kahani Andolan' in story writing along with noted writer Kamleshwar and others in the 1970s, died at his residence at native village Dharahara, on the outskirts of Ara in Bhojpur district, on 15th July. He was 87.
CPI(ML) and progressive cultural organisations were part of his final journey, and paid tribute to this pride of Bhojpur and Bihar.
The final journey of writer Madhukar Singh started from Dharhara on 16th July morning. Earlier, CPI-ML Patna State secretary Com. Kunal, Politbureau member Com. Amar, State standing committee member Santosh Sahar, writers Ashok Kumar and Shivnarayan met and consoled the bereaved family.
Poet Shriram Tiwari, story writer Anant Kumar Singh, CPI-ML leader Sudama Prasad and many others were present. On behalf of the Dharhara branch of CPI-ML, the Party flag was placed over the body of the departed writer, after which the final journey started. At Dharhara the body was brought to the CPI-ML district office where Party workers, litterateurs, and cultural activists including Com. Kunal, Com. Nand Kishore Prasad, Com. Amar, and Com. Santosh Sahar paid tribute to him.
Addressing the condolence meeting, CPI-ML State secretary Com. Kunal said that Madhukarji wrote lifelong about people's struggles. He was against the system of people's oppression, and his dream was to establish the rule of the poor and the working class.
Com. Santosh Sahar said that Madhukarji was the pride of Bihar. Along with the Soviet Land Nehru award he was also the recipient of Bihar's highest award. But the irony is that no representative from the government or the administration has come to pay tribute to this pride of Bihar.
Last year the Jan Sanskriti Manch and the people of Bhojpur not only honoured Madhukarji but also organized an important programme to highlight his literary contribution. The people of Bhojpur proved that a people's writer is not beholden to any government for help.
Com. Sudama Prasad said that Madhukar Singh wrote stories about the poor and dalits fighting against imperialistic oppression. Poet Jitendra Kumar pointed out that when the poor and the working class started their political struggle in the 70's, Madhukarji helped to develop their cultural tools. Raju Yadav said that Madhukarji would remain immortal in the people's struggles. Janmat editor Sudhir Suman recollected that Madhukarji was a teacher at the Jain School along with the founder of the Bhojpur movement Jagdish Master. From those early days he had a deep association with Jagdish Master, his comrades and his Party the CPI-ML. In the 90s he became a member of the Party and retained his membership throughout his life.
The funeral procession which began from the Party office proceeded through the main roads and reached Sinha ghat where Madhukarji was given a final farewell and his younger son Jyoti Kalash lit the funeral pyre at 3 in the afternoon. His second son Ajitabh, grandsons, relatives, and many people from his village were also present.