When it was Bliss to be a Communist

Between 1936 and 1947, the Communist Party of India grew from a base of few hundred cadre to 80,000. During one of the most critical phases of its history, when it supported the British war effort in 1942, the Party actually expanded and brought into its fold people who later became major cultural figures. When the Royal Indian Mutiny took place in 1946, the flags of three political groups were flown on the mutinous ships- that of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and the CPI. The then leader of the CPI was also the first person to address Gandhi as the ‘father of the nation’. Given the aura that the party built up at that time, its leader at that time is relatively little known. If his comrades in arms in the party who took over immediately after him had their way, his name would have been completely written off. As it were, they almost succeeded.

There has been little or no remembrance on the part of the CPI and CPM for PC Joshi.

After all, the intellectual decline and current mediocrity of the CPM was achieved at the cost of dismantling the heritage of Joshi, particularly by Pramod Dasgupta.
Continue reading “When it was Bliss to be a Communist”

Links

Robert Fisk created quite a flutter last week with his article on the decline and possible demise of the dollar. Probably the rumours are untrue, but then there isn’t a smoke without a fire. Martin Wolf critiques Fisk’s views in FT (needs free registration).

The award of the Nobel for literature to Herta Muller confirms that East and Central Europe, along with Latin America, is the happening place for contemporary literature. An extract from one of her novels.

Why did Rama fight the war with Ravana? In his own words, it wasn’t for Sita. Read a superb piece by a card- carrying feminist and translator of the Valmiki Ramayana.

The award to Olstrom is path breaking both because she is the first woman to receive the Nobel for economics as well as because, strictly speaking, she isn’t an economist. A good introduction to her work on the collective use of common resources.

One may love or hate her, but the fact is that Arundhati Roy continues to give expression to the angst of our age.

This is the first part of an inspiring Hungarian travelogue by a group of Dalit students.

You can also follow these occasional links real time via twitter.

Caste, Racism and the UN Resolution

Hats off to the Maoists in Nepal for taking the caste question to the UN level. This is in sharp contrast to the stance taken by the Indian government all through. During the World Conference Against Racism in Durban (2001) India had opposed equating the caste system with racism and the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee had gone on record stating that:

“There were misconceived attempts by some NGOs to equate racism with caste-based discrimination which is based on birth and occupation and has nothing to do with the race of a person.”

Earlier this year in April the Indian government had succeeded in having caste discrimination ignored in the resolution during the World Conference on Racism held in Geneva. Continue reading “Caste, Racism and the UN Resolution”

IT: The Future is Here, Almost

This article was written 14 years ago when internet services officially started in India. I had expressed a number of fears in this some of which have been happily proved incorrect. However, I find it interesting that there are almost no fundamentally new technological breakthroughs that have come around since the article was written. Some of the concerns raised in the article still hold, particularly its conclusion.

Trivia: The original article was typed on a PC- XT machine using Word Star 7.

I had used email for just over a  month then using a corporate account and the browser I was then using were Mosaic and Gopher !

Anyone remember using these ??

*

Information Revolution
The Future is Here, Almost
by Bhupinder Singh
(Op Ed, The Tribune, Chandigarh, 19 August 1995)

India formally joined Internet, the real information superhighway- on Wednesday. With a PC and a modem, Indians now have the wide, wild, world of information at their button tips. This article by a computer engineer talks about new vistas and, hidden traps.

While we were not looking, the future arrived.

It did not arrive the way popular science fiction had predicted- with personal trips to Mars on weekends, et al. Instead, it arrived as a social, cultural, informational and technological revolution more world- changing than the futurists could have dreamed. This change is so headlong and profound that it is more than difficult to comes to terms with or even grasp it, let alone understand it.

Within the lifetime of people who have barely got beyond middle age, human society and the relations of people within them have gone through a sort of economic and social earthquake. To a large extent, technological change since the Industrial Revolution, has not much been derived from it as it has driven this cataclysmic change.
Continue reading “IT: The Future is Here, Almost”

A Pilgrimage

The vihara at Nagarjunakonda island (click to enlarge images)

It required a visit to the ancient town reconstructed at Anupu on the banks of the Krishna river to drive home what a great setback the decline and destruction of Buddhism was to Indian civilization. A number of reasons have been ascribed to account for the atheistic religion’s demise in the land of its birth. This includes the one pointed out by DD Kosambi- that the Buddhist monasteries succumbed to their opulence. Another theory is that it was too closely aligned with centralized states and when those broke up, so did the religion. Whatever be the reasons for its ultimate decline, it is certain is that its successor- Brahmanical Hinduism, was worse. As I gazed over the monastery and the amphitheater a deep sense of reverence and awe came over me. It was soon broken, though, by the chants of shalokas from the Bhagavad Gita over the loudspeaker from a close by temple. The sound was metaphorically shattering. It was Shancaracharya, after all, who sounded the death knell of Buddhism and revived the Gita.
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Mayawati’s Iconoclasm and the statues

There is much self- righteous indignation in the media and others over the statues being installed by Mayawati all over the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to them, it is ‘clear’ to everyone with some common sense that spending Rs 1000 crores on the statues is a blatant misuse of public money.

What is missing in such ‘common sense’ perceptions is that Mayawati along with Kanshi Ram, like all innovators and path breakers, has been an iconoclast of the highest order. Between the two of them, they have created for the first time in Indian history a successful party representing some of the poorest and socially ostracized masses of the country. Like it or not, it is an unprecedented achievement. This has been done by technique and strategies that have made no sense to many because their politics is of a very different nature.

For instance, a party that claims to represent the socially oppressed, the BSP has never indicated any kind of social reform or advanced any social and economic programme for the Dalits. It’s party organization structure unique- it is neither cadre based nor does it have a hierarchy to accommodate aspiring next rung leaders. It has consciously abstained from agitation politics to focus only on creating a political machinery intent on winning elections.1 Indeed, were it not for its operation within a democratic setup, the single mindedness of its leaders is reminiscent of Lenin’s insistence on capturing state power.
Continue reading “Mayawati’s Iconoclasm and the statues”

Dalits in Punjab: Silent no more

Little over a year ago, this blog had posed the question:

There is a deafening silence on part of dalits in Punjab. One wonders why, and for how long.

To which a naive comment from a reader was:

Presumably if Dalit oppression was blunted by Sikh philosophy, if not absolutely at least comparatively, Dalits might not have felt need for a movement.

Over the last two days, my question as well as the comment to the post have been answered loud and clear.