Re: [Marxism] On “The myth of India’s Development” and other messages

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at
Mon Jul 10 12:00:58 MDT 2006

On 7/10/06, Marla Vijaya kumar <marlavk at> wrote:
>     On "The myth of India's Development" and other messages:
>       I  apologise for my slow response as I wanted to do some homework
> before I could  reply to some of the points raised in various messages that
> have appeared in  Marxmail in the last few days.
>       I  am happy on two counts. One, that India is increasingly being
> debated on Marxmail, an  indication that comrades are beginning to see the
> importance of India in world affairs, not simply because it is the
> second  most populous nation, but also because of its strategic position in
> today's  world.
>       And  secondly, the recognition that communists in India are worth
> their salt and that they are not class  collaborators, as the propaganda
> goes.
>       In  fact, when I wrote once that the priority of Indian communists
> when they gain  power in provinces ('states' as we call them), is
> implementing land reforms and  distribution of land to the landless poor and
> protecting and improving workers  rights, Louis commented that Indian
> communists appear to be different from  those of Chinese communists. They
> are in deed and have decades of experience in  the struggle on two fronts –
> in mass struggles as well as in parliamentary  participation, ie. to put it
> simply, inside and outside the parliament.

I agree in general.  Two points, though:

(1) The Indian mainstream (i.e. election-contesting)  communist parties --
the much smaller Communist Party of India (CPI) and the larger  Communist
Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM, also sometimes called CPM), are caught in a
wedge that they are trying to break out of. The wedge is both spatial and
tactical/political. Spatially, the CPI and the CPI(M) have a significant
presence only in two states: Bengal and Kerala. They are absolutely dominant
in Bengal (have been in power at the state level in Bengal since 1977 and
win evey state election with thumping majorities) and relatively successful
in Kerala as well. However,  they have so far been very unsuccessful in
breaking out in the rest of the country, especially in the populous,
economically backward north Indian states, though they are trying to. That's
the spatial wedge they are caught in -- not very clear at this point how
they can break out of this wedge and widen their influence in the rest of
the country. The tactical/political wedge is the following: in the state
where they are in power, i.e. Bengal, the CPI and the CPI(M) have had to
strike deals with capitalists, both indigenous and foreign. There simply is
no other way that capital can be raised for industrial  investment, which
Bengal desperately needs. (Because of the land reforms, the rural areas are
doing reasonably well, but the industrial base has been eroded away over the
decades of communist dominance as industries have picked up and migrated to
other places where unions were less militant). The CPI and the CPIM are
trying to do this, it seems to me, somewhat in the style of Lenin's New
Economic Policy -- a necessary compromise with capitalism without however
capitulating to neoliberalism and trying to stay in control of the
situation, reigning in the capitalists and keeping them in check while at
the same time collaborating with them.  Obviously this is very tricky to
pull off, and the Left Front is being buffeted by many contrary pressures.
Time will tell if it can pull this off. The article from "The Telegraph"
newspaper, Calcutta, that I've attached below will give an indication of the
kinds of things that are happening and what the competing pressures are.

(2) Meanwhile, less visible to the public eye, non-election-contesting
communists who self-style themselves maoists are fighting an insurgency.
Several of these groups came together last year to form the Communist Party
of India (Maoist). The Indian prime minister has described the insurgency as
the gravest danger to the Indian polity in the existence of the Indian
state, and the  insurgents are currently active in about one-fourth of the
districts in the country in some form or another. The maoists operate in
forested areas populated mostly by the indigenous people (who in India are
called "tribals") and don't seem to have much of a presence in urban areas
or rural non-tribal areas, though they are trying to break out in these
areas. The recent success of the maoists in Nepal is likely to bolster the
Indian maoists as well. It's hard to say in what direction the insurgency
will develop and to what extent, but the sharpening economic inequality
being brought about by globalization will probably nourish it.

Here's the article I mentioned (it's from a newspaper that generally has an
anti-Left-Front line):


Yechury commands, govt listens to market
The Telegraph
May 28, 2006

Hooghly/Calcutta, May 27: If anyone had any doubt that more than physical
distance separates the CPM headquarters in Delhi and the party's government
in Bengal, Sitaram Yechury removed it today.

Yechury, a CPM politburo member, today said in Calcutta that only
single-crop land would be used for setting up industries in Bengal.

But 40 km away in Hooghly's Chinsurah, district magistrate Vinod Kumar
chaired a meeting with local leaders as part of a delayed effort to ensure
smooth acquisition of double, triple and even four-crop land in Singur for
Tata Motors' small-car project.

Reflecting this reality, industries minister Nirupam Sen said in Calcutta:
"It is a market economy. An industry will come where an investor wants it
to. The days of command economy, when the government used to dictate terms,
are over."

The Tatas need 1,000 acres in Singur for their project.

On Thursday, villagers there gheraoed [encircled] the cars in which Tata
Motors officials went to inspect the land.

An agriculture department official said handing over multiple-crop land to
industry was "inevitable" if factories were to come up in south Bengal,
especially near Calcutta. (See chart)

Either Yechury, who represents Bengal in the Rajya Sabha [Upper House of
Parliament] , is not aware of the nature of land availability in the state
or he chose to gloss over the inconvenient detail that not many large tracts
of one-crop land are available.

The state government has set itself a target of acquiring over 31,000 acres
in six months for industrial units in south Bengal.

At today's meeting in Hooghly, held to "dispel misconceptions", officials
tried to impress upon representatives of panchayats and farmers' bodies and
the local MLA and MP the need to inform farmers about the acquisition of
land, compensation and the benefits once the factory comes up.

But at the end of the hour-long meeting, not everyone came out convinced.

Trinamul Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharjee said: "We're not opposed to
development. But I will not take the responsibility of convincing the
people; let the administration do that. Over 80 per cent of the land under
this project is double or multi-crop. Let the farmers decide for themselves
whether they will give up this land for 130 per cent of the market price."

Krishak Congress leader Haren Singha Roy said his organisation wanted the

"But of the 1,000 acres earmarked for the project, around 300 acres are
triple-crop. We have demanded that this portion be left out," he added.

Naveen Prakash, the executive director of West Bengal Industrial Development
Corporation, said there is no "guarantee" of jobs for the displaced farmers.

"The government will only request Tata Motors to provide training to one
member from every displaced marginal farmer's family. They might be taken in
as skilled labourers, but that is not final," an official said.

But MP Rupchand Pal of the CPM insisted that once the factory comes up, many
ancillary services would start and even international vendors would arrive.

"Tata will also look after health and education. The government will ensure
that compensation to farmers is adequate. No village or settlement will be
taken over. We'll also see to it that the landless farmers' interests are
protected," he said.

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