05 May 2010

Comrade Kanu Sanyal: Enigmatic End of a Communist Leader

Since 1931, March 23 is remembered all over India as the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev the martyrdom that epitomized and further ignited the revolutionary anti-imperialist spirit of the Indian freedom struggle. This year, March 23 witnessed a tragic footnote when veteran communist leader Kanu Sanyal was discovered hanging dead at his residence at Hatighisa village near Naxalbari in Darjeeling district. For people who have known Kanu Sanyal since the stormy days of the Naxalbari peasant uprising and after, it was indeed quite difficult to imagine or accept the fact that the debilitating state of his body and mind would drive him to such a tragic end. The corporate media of course did not lose a moment to pounce upon his suicide and project it as the ultimate denouement of the Naxalbari movement and the CPI(ML)! Some CPI(M) leaders have begun attributing Sanyal’s enigmatic end to his frustration with the Maoist variety of militarism, conveniently ignoring the fact that if Sanyal had been critical of the Maoists, he had been no less critical of the CPI(M)’s growing degeneration as a ruling party and its corporate land-grab drive in Singur and Nandigram. In the wake of the Naxalbari peasant uprising of May 1967, Kanu Sanyal’s name had become an integral part of the revolutionary communist lore in the country. Any animated discussion on Naxalbari would throw up...

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Green Hunt’s Grim Toll Rises

The Maoist ambush of Central Reserve Police Force )CRPF( jawans on April 6 in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh which claimed the lives of 74 jawans is yet another tragic and terrible toll taken by Chidambaram’s war. The CRPF Battalion was reportedly returning from a 4-day ‘area domination operation’ when they were ambushed, and were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons which were captured by the Maoists. The jawan’s deaths are being cynically used by the security establishment, the State, and most sections of the media to justify the Government’s military offensive and indeed, to raise a shrill cry for ‘final solutions’ to the Maoist challenge, including deployment of army and Air Force. These dangerous exhortations need to be exposed and challenged powerfully. It must be asserted that the cycle of bloodshed will continue unless the Government puts an immediate stop to Operation Green Hunt and initiates dialogue, not only with the Maoists but with the range of people’s movements. Chidambaram made a grand gesture of offering to resign, accepting responsibility for the Dantewada killing, and promptly there was a great show of unity in the ruling class, with the main Opposition, the BJP, expressing confidence in Chidambaram’s leadership. At the same time, there have also been voices within the ruling class that have sought to project some kind of discomfort with the OGH model. Congress leader Digvijay Singh wrote a piece in...

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The Hurt Locker:

Cinematic Adventurism Set in American Imperial Adventurism This year’s Academy Awards in California, true to its Hollywood roots, presented with an ample amount of scripted suspense and feigned emotion a classic underdog story: ‘The Hurt Locker’ a low-budget, ‘independent’ film about the Iraq war, directed by a woman (Katherine Bigelow) and featuring little-known actors, beat out director James Cameron (a man and the ex-husband of Bigelow, no less) and his multi-million dollar epic ‘Avatar’ (the most expensive, and soon to be highest-grossing, film of all time) for the honor of ‘Best Picture’. Bigelow became the first woman to receive an Oscar as a director (a milestone that was way, way overdue), and the film received several other awards and was showered with praise for its ‘realistic’ portrayal of the rigors of war. Now that the dust of the Oscars has settled, however, it seems that all the sound and fury of The Hurt Locker was nothing more than a Bush-style campaign of ‘shock-and-awe’: despite all the hype, the film offers very little in the way of meaningful content or message, and it is certainly not an ‘anti-war film’. Far from being a critique of the Iraq war, or the rapacious politics behind it, it is a sensationalist imagining of war so removed from reality that even most American soldiers who reviewed the film called it pure ‘fantasy’. So how...

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Updates

8th Party Congress of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh (RWPB) A three-member delegation of the CPI(ML)(Liberation had been to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to attend the 8th Party Congress of the RWPB held on and from 1st April to 3rd April, followed by a grand meet with the leaders of the left and democratic parties/formations of Bangladesh on 4th April evening, including Comrade Saiful Haque, General Secretary, RWPB. The CPI(ML) delegation was led by Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, and included PB Member Comrade Kartick Pal and Tripura State Secretary and CCM Comrade Mrinmoy Chakravarty. The delegation met with warm welcome, communist fraternity and comradely hospitality. The Party Congress symbolised proletarian simplicity, commitments and bold and tireless struggles towards reorganisation and rebuilding a revolutionary communist party. RWPB came into existence in 2004 with a split in Workers’ Party of Bangladesh. RWPB leaders it is said, revolted against the class collaborationist opportunist line, parliamentary cretinism and abject surrender to ruling class parties adapted by the WPB leadership. As of now the WBP is a partner of the ruling Awami League led ‘grand alliance’. On the contrary, the RWPB is consistently striving to adapt Marxist-Leninist ideological-political positions, provide revolutionary orientation to workers, peasants’ movements, focusing on agrarian movement as the axis, develop joint forums of trade unions and anti-imperialist political forum with other left parties and democrats, etc. The...

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AICCTU’s MAY DAY CALL

CHECK PRICE RISE! FOOD FOR ALL! JOBS FOR ALL ! Rights and Dignity to Workers and Toiling Peasants ! Monthly wages of Rs. 11,000 and Social Security to all unorganized workers ! The working class, the toiling masses and the poor are reeling under relentless rise in prices of food and other essential items coupled with massive loss of livelihood, steady erosion in wages and social security, ever-growing impoverishment and pauperization and curbing of trade unions rights including creation of No-TU Zones. But powerful protests can be seen all around and on May Day this year the working class of the country will direct its growing anger and resentment towards giving a fitting reply to the ruling elite’s pro-rich, anti poor policies. Sops for the Rich, Peanuts for the Poor The Budget 2010 has come out as an arrogant, shameless expression of the pro-rich, pro-corporate policies of the UPA govt. marking the heights of its insensitivity towards “common man” in whose name it ascended to power. Despite an all round protest particularly by lakhs of poor masses protesting under the left banner through out the country, the Sonia-Manmohan-Pranab trio has snubbed the common man by refusing to roll back the hikes in prices of petrol, diesel etc, which were their contribution to overall offensive of price rise. Let us further see what the “common man” and handful of rich...

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UPA’s Anti-Farmer Offensive

(In the backdrop of severe agrarian crisis and growing peasant assertion, a national Peasant Conference is to be held at Patna on 10 May, the anniversary of the First Indian War of Independence. The article analysis of the ongoing agrarian crisis as a note towards the Conference. – Ed/-) After deliberately turning a blind eye to the acute agrarian crisis through the first four years of its first term, a crisis that became so acute mainly because of its brazen neo-liberal anti-farmer policies, the UPA, just on the election year before the last Lok Sabha polls, announced the one-time loan waiver. By their own admission, the move paid them rich electoral dividends. But one year into the UPA’s second term, the fury of the agrarian crisis is back with a vengeance. The following features and symptoms are quite prominent: (i) agricultural growth rate is again declining – after registering 4% in the first year of the Eleventh Plan (2007-12), the growth rate dipped to 1.6% in 2008-09 and then minus 0.2 per cent in 2009-10 according to the latest Economic Survey; (ii) a renewed wave of farmers’ suicides is being seen not only in the old suicide belts but also in several other states; (iii) agriculture in many parts of the country is reeling under the disastrous impact of a debilitating drought, and (iv) together with agricultural stagnation, the...

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Country-wide People’s Rights Rallies Demand “Check Prices, Give Us Jobs – Carry Out Land Reforms!”

(Between 23 and 31 March this year, the CPI(ML) held mass rallies and other mass protests in the national capital and in several states demanding a check on price rise, and guarantee of jobs, housing and land reform. A Report.) Massive Jan-Adhikar Rally In Patna On March 30, Patna became a veritable sea of red flags, with thousands of poor agricultural labourers, sharecroppers, peasants, women and men from all over Bihar assembling at Gandhi Maidan in CPI(ML)’s Jan Adhikar Rally. The record-breaking participation and mobilisation of the rural poor, defying the blazing sun, was a challenge to the Nitish Government’s claims of ‘good governance.’ In the face of the ruling class consensus across parties against land reforms, the Rally was an assertion of the uncompromising resolve of the rural poor to struggle for implementation of the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission and secure sharecroppers’ rights. A day before the Rally, ABVP cadres uprooted flags and banners of the Rally – an incident that indicated the discomfort and fear of Bihar’s rulers and its most reactionary forces at the mobilisation of the revolutionary Left. The Rally and mass meeting was presided over by the party’s Bihar State Secretary Comrade Nand Kishore Prasad. Jan Sanskriti Manch and Hirawal artists began the meeting with rousing performances of revolutionary folk songs. Among the party leaders present on the dais were PB members...

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Not Cricket:

Put a Stop to IPL’s Corrupt Corporate Carnival “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” – that is how Trinidadian Marxist and noted cricket writer C L R James had commented on the deep interweaving of cricket with imperialism and racism. The remark takes on a new significance with the controversy unfolding in the IPL – where corporate profits, corruption, betting, Bollywood and other externals play a far greater role than the sport itself. The controversy erupted when the IPL Chairman Lalit Modi accused former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor of misusing his office to further the interests of a commercial enterprise run by a close friend, who had received a whopping 19 per cent ‘sweat equity’ worth Rs. 70 crores in the consortium which secured the franchise for the IPL’s Kochi team for no discernible services rendered. The accusation, however, brought Lalit Modi himself under the scanner. An IT department investigation was revealed to be in the possession of the government for several months, that exposed Modi’s involvement in black money, money laundering, betting and match-fixing in cricket. According to the report, Modi was a failed businessman in his pre-IPL days, but post-IPL, he now enjoys a sumptuous lifestyle – with a private jet, a luxury yacht and a fleet of luxury cars. Moreover, the entire controversy exposed the intricate and shady nexus between politicians, corporates...

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Food Security Farce

India has a shameful track record of tackling hunger: worse even than some of the poorest countries in the world. According to the UN’s Global Hunger Index 2009, which ranked countries on three leading indicators – prevalence of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality, and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient – India ranked 65th out of 88 countries. India lagged behind countries like Uganda (38th); Mauritania (40th); Zimbabwe (58th) and even war-torn nations, as well as India’s neighbours Nepal and Pakistan. India’s boasts of being the second fastest growing economy in the world are mocked by its millions who go hungry – and especially by its hungry children. 43.5 per cent Indian children under the age of five were underweight (between 2002 and 2007) and the under five-year-age infant mortality rate in 2007 was 7.2 per cent. Recent reports in an English daily show vast empires of hunger across India. They record children eating mud to quell hunger in the constituency in Uttar Pradesh of India’s first PM; slow-malnutrition deaths and early ageing of men and women in their 30s and 40s in Bolangir, Orissa; children surviving on wild berries and red ants in Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district; children with bellies distended by malnutrition being treated by tribal rituals of lancing with red-hot rods in the absence of medical care. In this context, the proposal for...

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A Bill to Kill Higher Education

The union cabinet has given the green signal to Kapil Sibal to table the Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, in the Parliament. Part of Sibal’s much touted 100 day agenda, the Bill proposes to make laws prescribing the approval of branch campuses of foreign educational institutions in India. The Bill which has still not been made available in the public domain and is being guarded secretly exemplifies the functioning of this government which has gone ahead with important policy and legislative actions without any public consultation, debate or discussion. Nevertheless, a look at a 2009 December version of the Bill in the light of Sibal’s grand pronouncements suggests that once more, global pro-corporate interests are in play in the guise of educational reform. FEPs in India Foreign education providers(FEPs) have been operating in the country since the year 2000. Despite protests, foreign direct investment in education was permitted and 100 percent equity was allowed in educational institutions. Those who entered educational activities, worked through a variety of forms including that of twinning – wherein enrolled students complete part of their study in India and partly in educational institution situated abroad, offering dual degrees and collaborative education with a local private educational institute. The quality of these programmes have been doubtful, while their costs have been very high. Much like the domestic private operators, they...

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Massacre Masterminds Escape Justice

13 years after the brutal massacre of landless poor by the Ranveer Sena at Laxmanpur Bathe in Jehanabad, Bihar, the Additional District and Sessions Court of Patna sentenced 16 Ranveer Sena men to death and 10 to life imprisonment. The verdict, though belated, is welcome – but those who bear greatest guilt for that massacre – Ranveer Sena Brahmeshwar Singh and the political patrons of the Ranveer Sena escaped punishment entirely. On the night of December 1, 1997, armed cadres of a Ranveer Sena, a landlords’ private militia, had crossed the Sone river and arrived stealthily at Batan Bigha, a dalit hamlet of Laxamanpur-Bathe village, on the banks of Sone river that forms the boundary between Bhojpur and Jehanabad (now part of Arwal) districts. Using swords and guns, they slaughtered 61 people: unarmed and sleeping villagers (including 27 women, 8 of whom were pregnant, and 17 children including a 1-year-old baby); some fishermen whom they happened to encounter on their stealthy journey across the river; as well as the boatmen who rowed them across the Sone. In the 1990s, the Ranveer Sena and the Bathe massacre were being rationalised in much the same terms that the Salwa Judum is rationalised today – as a ‘spontaneous reaction’ against ‘Naxalism’. In reality it was a landlords’ militia intended to suppress and intimidate the political assertion of the landless poor, under the...

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Jan Adhikar Rally and After:

On March 30, Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan was witness to one of the biggest people’s assemblies of recent times. The occasion was the “Jan Adhikar Rally” called by the Bihar State Committee of the CPI(ML). People from different parts of the state started streaming into Patna from the early hours of March 29 itself. And the flow continued till the early afternoon on March 30 when the meeting was already on. Defying the scorching sun, tens of thousands of people listened in rapt attention to the speeches of the leaders, bursting frequently not just into loud applause but roaring chants: “Check Prices, Guarantee Jobs; Carry out Land Reforms” and “Land, Housing and Guaranteed Jobs – People’s Rights, People’s Rights.” The rally did much more than showcase the mass strength and disciplined organization the CPI(ML) is known for. It reflected the growing mood of the people on the ground under Nitish Kumar’s much-trumpeted reign of ‘good governance’ and ‘development with justice’. It also set the tone for popular unity and mobilization in the battle against feudal reaction and for ending the current impasse to push Bihar forward towards land reforms and real development. Bihar is currently seeing an encore of sorts of the NDA’s “India shining” campaign at the Centre. The state government is busy congratulating itself for changing the world’s “perception” about Bihar. Certificates from the World Bank, ADB,...

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