Musings in Ideology – part –3 Development, Democracy & third world perspective.

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(Are we living in a time different from the time of November revolution? Are we in the same space-time continuum? ….. Politically it is the Leninist scheme of thing and it’s the time of imperialism described by Lenin – argues the writer.)
Written for and published in November, 2010 issue of Pragyan.

The previous part of this article ended with the comment that the organisational practice of the communist till date is not in keeping with the Marxist concept of withering away of state and politics. So keeping in view the Lenin’s theoretical concept of consciousness to the masses from without and proletarian vanguard, Stalinist practice, Gramsci’s concept of organic intellectual and Rosa Luxembourgian critiques, this organizational question needs to be discussed & debated at length in ideological musing. But prior to doing that, few more important parameters left untouched are discussed in this part of my article considering practicing & dominant ideology of the masses.

 Development & democracy are such ideological constructs in the sense that these terminologies bear different connotation depending on the balance of forces within really existing power structure. The ideological concept is as defined by the design of the type of society the development process is supposed to bring about. As Samir Amin puts it “the history of the dominant ideology as a series of successive discourses, whose types I have termed liberal nationalist, then social and national, finally globalised neoliberal,”1. Within the really existing capitalism having capital/labour contradiction permanently operational throughout the system, the diverse conflicting social thoughts bearing ideological values for or against the labour are always at play. The conflicting ideas emanating from really existing balance of forces or social milieu influences and determines the dominant ideology of any period and in that sense the theoretical basis of idea/ideas is different from both deterministic as well as post-modernist (so called pluralist) approach.

Sub-prime crisis and crisis of capitalism

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Written & published in newspaper/magazine in January/2009

( Communist manifesto in 1848 …. In this crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity – the epidemic of over-production …)

A World Bank report states – “ the number of malnourished people with a record rise of 44 million  in the year 2008, is estimated to be total 967 million. The number of most hungry people is 1.4 billion and that of hungry people is another 3 billion. The hungry people in India, that claims to be largely free from the impact of global economic crisis, is 200 million. The situation of hungry people in the so called developed states of India are worse than Sub-Saharan Africa.” These are the official figures. The real situation is more horrifying than the official figures reveal. These figures are rising rapidly with every passing time. Thousands of working people are losing their jobs regularly. The factory shutters are getting down one after another. The unemployment rate and the number of unemployed are increasing leaps & bounds. The common toiling masses, the people of backward communities and countries, since long, have been facing the brunt of this crisis of the system in this way in their own lives. In the case of recent American Sub-Prime crisis also, the backward Afro-American, Hispanics in the American society have slided down further in socio-economic ladder. Those people, who do not have own roofs over their heads, also availed the sub-prime loan with a desire to have their own home.


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Written and published in newspaper/magazine in the last part of  2008

Globalisation or Biswayan or Bhubonayan in local parlance are the words which are very familiar nowadays. According to some commentators there is nothing new in it as globalisation of capital is ingrained in capitalism. But as the present phase is new, there are some new features. Amongst these features, a radical structural change in the finance capital is one of most striking features. The deregulation of capital is the buzz-word in this phase of globalization process beginning from the eighties. The use of new instruments in financial market has created the scope for a handful of financial institutions to extract profit to the range of million-trillion dollars. This trade which is dependent on market sentiment has already gone beyond the control of any kind of existing regulatory mechanism. In the face of the growth of this trade in meteoric speed, global regulatory institution like IMF too is facing difficulties. This capital is not being directed towards productive investment. The players from underdeveloped or developing countries are not noteworthy stake-holder in this trade. The liberalized economy and the policy of taking more foreign debt for servicing outstanding debt will result in havoc in the economy of those countries in case of any dwindle or collapse in the global financial system. Profit and more profit, and for that no long-term productive investment but to make investment for quick instantaneous profit is rule of the day. Enormous growth of this quick profit market has already made the market volatile. The imbalances in the financial market may result in the situation like cyclonic storm to crash the market and formant deeper crisis in the already imbalanced global economy. Prior to analysing this situation in detail, let us see what the new financial instruments are and how they are operated.

A vibrant movement of NREG-workers

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The recent high court judgment on a PIL-petition filed by Assam Mojuri Sramik Union regarding the formation of state council of NREGA in Assam and payment of unemployment allowance to the NREG-workers who have not been provided with hundred days of work in a year, is an yardstick to assess the quotidian and arduous struggle of the NREGA workers of Assam. The state council has subsequently been formed and the appellant authority (the program coordinator/Deputy Commissioner) has been asked to pass order on the appeal petition filed for unemployment allowance.

The three years long struggle began with a series of workshops in different rural hinterlands and JANAPADAS under the auspices of Swabhiman NGO especially in this Barak Valley (comprising of three district viz. Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi) region of Assam, following the demand for inclusion of these three districts under NREGA-net from a mass-gathering held at Borkhola,Cahar and organized by Day Labourer’s Union. The movement really began to spread when these districts were brought under the purview of the act.

Protibadi Aandolon O "Bamponthider" Bhumika.

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People's spontaneous response to the call of  Paratibadi  Manch, a conglomeration of several Bengali middle class organisations of Silchar, reveals the deep feeling of deprivation in the minds of the people. But a section of the media & the intelligentsia are skeptical about the motive behind this movement. The milieu is being heated up with conflicting opinions and points - counterpoints. The people who came out to the street in large number is getting confused and hesitant. The opportunity of initiating a vibrant debate from within the people's activism is lost and nipped in the bud due to direction-less hullabaloo of the "conspiracy theory pheriwallas". This write-up to be published in Arunodoy, Silchar, deals with the inherent logic of the whole episode and dissects the middle class mindset.

Prosongo : BHASHA ANDOLON, 1986

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21st July, 1986. On that day, the Assam Police had heavily come down on the agitators demanding withdrawal of SEBA CIRCULAR by which Assamese was imposed on all other linguistic groups. The police fired indiscriminately on the demonstrators mobilized in front of Karimganj Circuit house where the then Chief Minister was stationed and thereby killing two youths on the spot and injuring many. Thereafter, the reign of terror was let loose through the inhuman police atrocities to contain the people’s wrath against the police administration in particular and the power-that-be in general. Many linguistic groups of Assam was aggrieved and agitated and all were being coalesced into a common platform to fight against this chauvinist approach and the poignant situation was embroiled and pregnant with a bigger struggle. The ruling class retreated and the circular was shelved for the time being.

 The aggressive manifestation of chauvinism of Assamese ruling class was not new, it was a repetition of earlier such episode and most sordid one was 19th may, 1961 when eleven youths were martyred by the bullet of Assam Police. This repetition of the same phenomena of aggressive chauvinism countered by people’s fury to scale down to soft chauvinism makes someone skeptical. Why those language movements of Barak Valley could not come out of the vicious cycle of action-reaction paradigm? Why those people’s movement could not rise above the transitory issues and strike the root of this Chauvinism to settle it once for all? Why undemocratic socio-economic structure could not be challenged adequately?      

There are many such questions and different answers in the minds of concerned people. Let there be a vigorous interaction which may culminate into a solution with path breaking insight & people’s activism. With this intention, few write-ups to be published in the “AMADER SAMAKAL, a vernacular magazine from Silchar, Cachar, Assam  are posted in the SWABHIMAN website/blog. The visitors of this site/blog are invited to spell out their mind directly or to mail their write-up to swabhiman’s e-mail id.  
Prosongo : Bhasha Andolon 1986

Devolution or Disintegration

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By Kalpana Kannabiran. This article is an English translation of the article in Telegu that appeared in Varta and in Bengali weekly tabloid ARUNODOY, Silchar.

At he time when the movement for the State of   Telangana reaches its peak, and even as the leaders of this movement craft the contours of this state that is one step towards liberating the people of this region from a history of economic, political and cultural oppression, it is important to think about which way we would like to go. As somebody who believes in Telangana statehood, not as part of a general argument about the efficacy of smaller states alone, but as indispensable to the dignity of the region, I raise these questions with the aim of pushing for a greater democratization of the movement. There are unresolved issues that need to be addressed and there are leaders of integrity, with a radical vision and political astuteness like Kondandram and Ratnamala, who have the capacity to take difficult questions on board and turn them into strengths.
One pillar for the demand for a separate Telangana is the fact of economic hegemony and the appropriation of the assets in Telangana by the ruling classes and business interests in Andhra. Indeed what sets the Telangana movement apart is the fact that it is led by persons with a proven commitment to civil liberties and human rights. This is in stark contrast to the Samaikya Andhra movement. This however, is only the starting point. Having a leadership with a socialist vision in a region, which has seen the worst forms of feudalism and continues to grapple with the worst forms of caste discrimination and exploitation of adivasi communities, it becomes imperative to outline the economic contours of the new state. This is even more important because the power of the movement today, although the result of years of silent work and campaigning in each district by civil libertarians committed to the cause, is within the grasp of mainstream politicians of different hues who see in the new state unlimited political opportunity. It is of course necessary to broaden the base and create inclusive platforms by converting political opportunism into a commitment to justice. But what will be the non-negotiables in that platform, apart from the demand for a separate state?

Musings in Ideology : Part-2

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     National Question & Communist International
                      written by Arup Baishya; getting published on PRAGYAN

            One important & practical aspect of modern human civilization is the question of nationality. It was even implicit in the French revolution when the institution of ‘associated labour’ was discovered in communes of the workers. Karl Marx wrote “The Second Empire had been the jubilee of cosmopolitan blackleggism, the rakes of all countries rushing in at its call for a share in its orgies and in the plunder of the French people. Even at this moment, the right hand of Thiers is Ganessco, the foul Wallachian, and his left hand is Markovsky, the Russian spy. The Commune admitted all foreigners to the honor of dying for an immortal cause. Between the foreign war lost by their treason, and the civil war fomented by their conspiracy with the foreign invader, the bourgeoisie had found the time to display their patriotism by organizing police hunts upon the Germans in France.

Musings in Ideology : Part I

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An Introductory note 
 written by : Arup Baisya; getting published on PRAGYAN
                   The title of this write-up has been borrowed from the book of Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, the doyen and the great thinker of modern Indian philosophy. In his book he commented, “With the progress of science becoming ever more spectacular, the forces wanting to frustrate its basic aspiration – maiming it and mutilating it – are becoming all the more menacing. This tends to perplex the scientific community itself. Absorbed as the scientists are in their detailed research they feel bewildered. Why for example should so much of scientific knowledge threaten the world with an impending doom, with no more of any scope for science itself?”1  Here comes the question of ideology. The scientific knowledge bereft of a constructive ideological commitment may cause havoc. Everything that is solid melts into the air under the modern technological era and in that case the ideology having no well defined continuum is something airy and cannot be grasped and cherished by the people. If that is so, the human civilization is destined to doom. But that is not the case. Humanity always clasped an ideology. The plain truth is that everything is ‘soaked in ideology’ whether we realize it or not. Istvan Meszaros in his book ‘Power Of Ideology’ pointed out, “to believe that one can get rid of ideology in our contemporary world  - or indeed in the foreseeable future – is no more realistic than the idea of Marx’s ‘valiant fellow’ who thought that men were drowned in water because they were possessed with the idea of gravity.”2 He rightly opined that the Ideologies are epochally circumscribed in twofold sense. First, in that the conflictual orientation of the various forms of practical social consciousness remains their prominent features for as long as societies are divided into classes. And second, that the specific character of the fundamental social conflict which leaves the indelible mark on the contending ideologies in different historical periods arises from the epochally – not on a short-term basis – changing character of society’s productive and distributive practices and from the corresponding need to subject to radical questioning of the continued imposition of the formerly viable mode of socioeconomic and cultural intercourse as it becomes increasingly undermined in the course historical development.3

The BPL Question

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     The Below Poverty Line (BPL) lists are to be revised again. It is time therefore that the people looked closely at what is involved. For a family to be listed as BPL promises to ensure relatively affordable food, free medical care and various other facilities. It is therefore a vital marker for the nearly 80 percent of our rural population and the similar but slightly lesser numbers in the urban areas who do not get two square meals a day throughout the year. It is therefore not surprising that BPL listings have become the focus of spontaneous class struggle throughout India. A brief review of the question is therefore necessary at the present juncture.

Food crisis & famine

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               In the first week of April `08, the influential US magazine Time noted:– “ .. the headlines of the past month suggest that skyrocketing food prices are threatening the stability of a growing number of governments around the world.”  The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler offered among the bleakest prognoses for the continuing crisis -- “We are heading for a very long period of rioting, conflicts and waves of uncontrollable regional instability marked by the despair of the most vulnerable populations,”

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