Archive for India

Maoism – A Critique From the Left

Posted in Books & Authors, Communist Movement, International Affairs, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2010 by Umer

Pragoti has had a number of contributors from the Left taking on the subject of Maoism and Maoist violence in India. Various articles such asthis or this have addressed the subject. One of the regular contributors to Pragoti, Prasenjit Bose, has now edited a volume of articles which critique the Maoists from the viewpoint of the organised Left in the country. The critique is organised on various lines – a theory/praxis critique by PMS Grewal and Nilotpal Basu and a comparative assessment of various extremist/Maoist movements across the world, particularly in Latin America by another Pragoti contributor Vijay Prashad. The book is rounded off with a telling ideological document that debated the viewpoints of the Naxalites before these left wing sectarians branched off from the CPI(M) in the late 1960s. The book is available for purchase here. With permission from Prasenjit Bose, we are carrying the introduction to the book (the first chapter) in this post.

Introduction — Prasenjit Bose

As the debate on leftwing extremist violence and the state’s offensive against it intensifies in India, opinion tends to get increasingly polarized. On the one side are those who consider the CPI (Maoist) as a destructive terrorist group, much like the Islamist Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) or the separatist United Liberation Force of Asom (ULFA), which has to be crushed through the military might of the state. On the other side are those who see the Maoists as a revolutionary force, fighting for the cause of the exploited and the marginalized, and justify their violent acts as a necessary evil in order to bring about radical social transformation. Little effort is made, however, from either end to delve deeper into the question of leftwing extremism, in India or elsewhere, in order to understand its current activities in terms of its ideological basis, social roots and historical origins. 

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National Democratic Revolution

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Umer

by Danish Khan

When we try to investigate the region of South Asia, the conflict of the Jammu and Kashmir flashes our imagination. More than 100,000 lives have been lost in the bloodiest dispute of the Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan. It will not be wrong to say that the establishments of both India and Pakistan working on the agenda of Imperial powers have exploited the conflict of Kashmir as a popular tool to keep millions of people of the sub-continent under the clouds of darkness, poverty and misery. While during all this time the people who have been most affected by this ever lasting dispute are the unfortunate people of the Jammu and Kashmir. It is essential that the legacy of Kashmir dispute should be put to an end, and a new dawn should emerge from the beautiful mountains of Kashmir which will ensure a prosperous and peaceful future for the coming generations of sub continent.

The present status of the Jammu and Kashmir is similar to a neo-colony. When I will use the term Kashmir, I am referring to the whole region of the Jammu and Kashmir. The armed forces of both India and Pakistan have occupied the territory of the Kashmir. The people of Kashmir have been denied from their basic civic liberties. To make sure the status quo in the Kashmir, the India and Pakistan are spending almost three forth of their economic budget on the military. If we analyze the means of production of the Kashmir they are pre-capitalist in nature. In these harsh realities it is inevitable that only the scientific knowledge of Marxism-Leninism has a potential to emancipate the most oppressed and exploited people of the Kashmir. In the light of Marxism-Leninism a “National Democratic Revolution” can solve this conflict by emancipating the people of Kashmir from occupation, oppression and exploitation. National Democratic Revolution in Kashmir can also trickle starts the series of “people’s democratic revolution” in the sub-continent. Because the defeat of arm forces of India and Pakistan in Kashmir can only weaken their stranglehold in their own countries respectively. Thus it will be a huge opening for the people’s movement in India and Pakistan to take control of the state affairs and close all doors for Imperialism.

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On Pakistan and National Unity

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Umer

Resolution passed by the Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India on the 19th September 1942, and confirmed by the First Congress of the Communist Party of India in May 1943.

All-India national unity based on communal harmony and Congress-League joint front is today an urent and pressing necessity to solve the present national crisis, to win national government from the hands of the British imperialist bureaucracy and to defend our Motherland against the fascist aggressor. This has brought the controversy of pakistan versus the unity of India sharply to the forefront. The Communist Party, therefore, lays down the main principles of the Communist policy on this issue.

1. The Communist party draws together the toilers of all castes, communities and nationalities in common class organizations (Trade Unions, Kissan Sabhas, etc.). It unites them politically as the vanguard of the United national front for achieving the freedom of our country and democracy. This is the cornerstone of the policy of achieving communal unity.

2. To build the united national front of the peoples of the various communities and nationalities that inhabit India, for the defense and freedom of our country, it is necessary to dispel the mutual distrust and suspicion that exists among them. This is a remnant of memories of past historical oppression and of present social inequalities arising out of the feudal imperialist exploitation. For this purpose, the basis rights of the communities and nationalities must be made an essential part of the programme of the united national front.

3. The programme of the U.N.F. must declare that in Free India, there will be perfect equality between nationalities and communities that live together in India. There will be no oppression of one nationality by another. There will be no inequalities or disabilities based on caste or community. To ensure this the national movement must recognize the following rights as part of its programme for national unity:

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In the name of honour

Posted in Communist Movement, Law, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2009 by Umer

The Aug. 15-29, 2008 issue of the Frontline carried the theme of caste-based violence and killings in the name of honour. The urgent relevance of the topic emerged from the an instance in Dharana, near Haryana, where a local panchayat ordered the ouster of a family from a village on the grounds that a member of the family had married outside of caste in violation of the parampara (tradition).

The Red Diary has frequently raised the issue of caste system and emphasised the importance that caste plays in the socio-political make-up of the South Asian sub-continent. The Red Diary here presents the interview of Brinda Karat to Frontline regarding caste system and its impact women.

Interview with Brinda Karat, MP and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member.

ONE of the few parliamentarians with a record of raising women’s issues both in and outside Parliament, Brinda Karat feels that honour killings and honour-related harassment do not get the attention they deserve from the executive or the legislature. She says that it was time political parties came together on this issue. In an interview to Frontline, she explained the importance of recognising these crimes as a separate category and the need for special laws to deal with them as had been done in the case of sati. Excerpts:

In your view, how serious are honour killings and crimes related to honour? You raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha and it evoked a response from the Home Minister and several other members cutting across party lines

I had asked a question in Parliament on the number of killings relating to honour that had taken place so far and the reply I received from the government was that they do not recognise such a category and, therefore, there was no separate collection of such data.

According to a 2008 judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, it was stated that there were thousands of cases of young couples who had been victimised because they crossed the lakshman rekha determined by their communities, castes or families.

It is a shame that even today there is no legal definition of the term honour killing or honour crime. As a result, the perpetrators of such crimes more often than not get away with murder, torture, assault, and violation of laws regarding atrocities committed on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. And they continue to commit them with impunity.

The extent of the crime is underestimated, it is made invisible and young men and women just disappear without a trace as though they had never lived. Hence, it is essential for the government to not only define the crime but also start collecting separate data, for unless the existence of the crime itself is recognised, it is difficult to deal with it in any form.

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Comrade Iqbal Bali: A Tribute

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by Umer

by Dr. Faheem Hussain

My dear friend and a great revolutionary, Mohammed Iqbal, affectionately know by all his friends and admirers as Bali, died on 19 June in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, following complications after major heart surgery.

Comrade Iqbal Bali

Comrade Iqbal Bali

How does one talk of this man so full of energy? For me it is impossible to imagine Rawalpindi without him. For the last forty years he was the moving force in all the demonstrations and meetings held in Rawalpindi to promote democracy in Pakistan. In this article I will talk about how I knew him and about some of his political ideas. The activities that I will highlight pertain basically to the period from 1969 to 1989 when I worked closely with him. I left Pakistan in 1989 and withdrew from taking active part in the democratic movement because of personal reasons and because of the collapse of the left and the trade union movement.

Bali’s political activism goes back to the days in the sixties when he was a radar technician in the Pakistan Air Force. He got into a lot of scrapes while in the air force as he stood up to officers who mistreated ordinary airmen and fought for the rights of the latter. Several times he was punished for this.

He moved to Rawalpindi in the late sixties when he was immediately involved in the 1968-69 student movement against the Ayub Khan dictatorship. At this time there was a rebirth throughout Pakistan of socialist and Marxist ideas inspired by the great Vietnamese resistance and the student movements in Europe and America against the war and for greater democracy. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was also riding this wave with his slogans of “roti, kapra, aur makan” (food, clothe and shelter). In Rawalpindi too there were many people discussing the concept of reviving a communist movement. Bali was part of a group of young idealistic people wanting to overthrow the oppressive capital social order in Pakistan. There were such groups consisting of intellectuals, students and workers springing up in all the major cities.

He worked with the People’s Labour Front (PLF), newly founded in Rawalpindi by Riffat Hussain Baba (now at PILER in Karachi) and Nazir Masih (Secretary-General of the Municipal Worker’s Union of Rawalpindi). (Sadly Nazir Masih, another great figure in the workers’ movement in Pindi, died many years ago). In its heyday the PLF was the main trade union federation for the major industries of Pindi and Islamabad, including the large Kohinoor Textiles Mills on Peshawar Road. The PLF played a leading role in negotiations for workers rights. There was many a heroic battle that should be recounted by others. During his PLF years Bali ran study circles with workers and wrote pamphlets and helped to distribute them and to paste them on walls around the city. He was always an activist who did not like long theoretical discussions and he wanted to immediately get into action.

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Ironies of History: Contradictions of The Khilafat Movement

Posted in International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by Umer

by Hamza Alavi

The ‘Khilafat’ Movement of 1919-24, is probably quite unique inasmuch as it has been glorified with one voice by Islamic ideologists, Indian nationalists and communists alike and along with them by Western scholars, as an anti-colonial movement of Muslims of India, premised on the hostility of the British to the Turkish Sultan, their venerated Caliph.1 Little attempt has been made to examine the premises on which the movement was founded, the rhetoric of its leaders being taken at face value. On closer examination we find extra-ordinary paradoxes and contradictions behind that rhetoric.

As for the ‘achievements’ of that Movement, its lasting legacy is the legitimised place that it gave the Muslim clergy at the centre of the modern political arena, armed with a political organisation in the form of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Hind (and its successors after the Partition) which the clergy have used to intervene actively in both the political as well as the ideological sphere. Never before in Indian Muslim history was the clergy ever accorded such a place in political life.

The Khilafat Movement also introduced the religious idiom in the politics of Indian Muslims. Contrary to some misconceptions (and misrepresentations) it was not the Muslim League, the bearer of Muslim Nationalism in India, that introduced religious ideology in the politics of Indian Muslims. Muslim Nationalism was a movement of Muslims and not a movement of Islam. It was an ethnic movement of disaffected Muslim professionals and the government-job-seeking educated Indian Muslim middle class, mainly those of UP and Bihar and urban Punjab. Their objectives were modest, for they demanded not much more than fair quotas in jobs for Muslims and certain safeguards for their interests. Muslim Nationalism in India was a secular rather than a religious movement. Nor was it, in its origins, a Hindu hating movement as is sometimes made out. To the contrary, by virtue of the Lucknow Pact of 1916 it had already moved decisively towards a common platform with the broader Indian National Movement and unity with the Congress Party. The Khilafat Movement intervened in that context in a way that decisively killed the politics of the Lucknow Pact. The intervention of the Khilafat Movement in Indian Muslim politics has had a considerable retrogressive ideological influence on the modern Indian Muslim mind that reverberates still in Muslim thinking and their politics in present day India and Pakistan. For that alone, it deserves to be reviewed and re-evaluated.

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Khuda-e-bartar teri zameeN par

Posted in Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , on July 28, 2009 by Umer

Khuda-e-bartar teri zameeN par

Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi

Vocals: Lata Mangeshkar

Kudaa-e-bartar terii zameeN par, zameeN ki Khaatir, ye jaNg kyoN hai?
har ik fatah-o-zafar ke daaman pe Khuun-e-insaaN ka  raNg kyoN hai?

zameeN bhi teri, haiN ham bhi tere, ye milkiyat ka savaal kyaa hai?
ye qatl-o-KhuuN ka rivaaz kyoN haiN? ye rasm-o-jaNg-o-jadaal kyaa hai?
jinheiN talab hai jahaan bhar ki unhiiN ka dil itnaa taNg kyoN hai?
Khudaa-e-bartar terii zameeN par, zameeN ki Khaatir, ye jaNg kyoN hai?
Ghareeb maaoN, shareef behnoN ko amn-o-izzat kii zindagii de
jinheiN ataa kii hai tuu ne taaqat, unheiN hidaayat kii roshnii de
saroN meiN kibr-o-Gharoor kyoN hai? diloN ke sheeshe pe zaNg kyoN hai?
Khudaa-e-bartar terii zameeN par, zameeN ki Khaatir ye jaNg kyoN hai?

qazaa ke raste pe jaanevaaloN ko bach ke aane kii raah dena
diloN ke gulshan ujaR na jaayeiN, muhabbatoN ko panaah dena
jahaaN meiN jashn-e-vafaa ke badle, ye jashn-e-teer-o-tufaNg kyoN hai?
Khudaa-e-bartar teri zameeN par, zameeN ki Khaatir, ye jaNg kyoN hai?

Glossary:

Khudaa-e-bartar = O superior God, bartar means superior, high, excellent, used as an adjective here for God
fatah-o-zafar = victories and triumph
milkiyat = property, land, possession
qatl-o-KhuuN = murders and blood (basically both indicating and emphasising “Murders, riots”)
jaNg-o-jadaal = fights and battles
talab = thirst, need
amn-o-izzat = peace and respect
ataa = blessed (given by the grace of God, a blessing)
kibr-o-Gharoor = pride (kibr = pride, eminence, similar meanings for Gharoor as well)
qazaa = destiny, fate, divine decree
jashn-e-teer-o-tufaNg = celebrations with bows and guns

Courtesy: Sahir ke qalam se