[Marxism] A window to reality : a review of Sanhati's recent publications

newsletter at sanhati.com newsletter at sanhati.com
Sat Jul 9 11:25:15 MDT 2011

[1] Sanhati Selections 2011 : An Anthology in Solidarity with People's
Struggles, Rs 30. Kolkata, India 2010.

[2] 'Sovereign Are the People' : A Diary in Stormy Times. Selections from
the Sanhati columns by Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri, Kolkata, India 2010.

The 25 June 2011 edition of Economic and Political Weekly has a good
review of Sanhati's recent publications (noted above).  The review is by
Rahul Varman of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.  An excerpt is
shown below.

If you wish to obtain a copy, please send requests to newsletter [at]

Excerpt :

The ruling elite of the country along with its various agents – the State,
the media and academia is out to make everyone believe that India is
progressing rapidly and this high tide of economic growth is bound to lift
all boats in the coming years as it has happened in the west. They offer
the lifestyles of the rich and the middle classes – the cars, the
flyovers­, the malls, the mobiles and their advancing living standards –
as testimony to this progress and the source of hope for everyone. The
establishment is out to assur­e that “all is well” and in fact, can only
become better.

But on the other side, is the everyday lived experience of the common
folks – mounting distress in the countryside which is reflected in farmer
suicides and resistance against landgrab, as well as increasing
casualisation, depressing wages and lengthening workday of the working
classes. The sharpening lines between the small super-rich, their luxuries
and decadent lifestyles on the one side, and the inhuman work and living
conditions devoid of almost any material necessities befitting the tall
claims of our rulers in the 21st century can be seen in its full horror
and extremes in metropolitan centres like Delhi and Mumbai. As protest and
resistance against such a state of affairs have gained momentum,
especially in the last decade, such voices have found space in alternate
and new
media and Sanhati is one such endea­vour that emerged in 2006, especially
at the time of the turmoil of Singur-Nandigram in West Bengal, by a set of
academics and activists.

All is not well.

The two volumes reviewed here are a s­election of articles that have been
­ carried by the Sanhati website in recent times and are a reflection of
such winds of change in the polity, society and economy that India has
been in the process of becoming in r­ecent years. The first [book],
Selections 2011 (henceforth SS) is a collection of articles by various
contributors in 2010 on a broad set of themes – agrarian change,
displacement due to “development”, special economic zones (SEZs), economic
policy, working classes, Maoists, Indian state, women, etc. The second
volume is a selection from the regular column authored by the veteran
academic-activist Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri on the website from August
2007 to August 2010 (henceforth DRC). The column is focused relatively more
on developments in West Bengal and predictabl­y carries pieces on Nandigram,
Singur, Lalgarh, Communist Party of Indi­a (Marxist) (CPM), Maoists, etc,
though one can also find comments on topics ranging from Dandakaranya,
agrarian conditions, jobless industrialisation, the Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural E­mployment Guarantee Act (MNREGA)­, POSCO to price rise,
nuclear power, Indian state, civil society, etc. Beside­ contesting the
positions, in the two volumes one can also find debates with A­martya Sen,
Sumanta Bannerjee and Prabhat Patnaik. For the sake of brevity, I will
discuss the two volumes together and highlight only a few articles, though
there are several more analytical and infor­mative pieces than those
mentioned here in this short ­review.


The interested reader may read the entire review at the website of
Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) : www.epw.in.

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