Saturday, August 2, 2014

CPI(M) Organises Jyoti Basu Centenary Lecture

New Delhi, 30th July - THE Communist Party of India (Marxist) organised a lecture by noted economist Prof. Prabhat Patnaik on "Capitalism, Inequality and Globalisation" in New Delhi's Constitution Club on July 30, as part of the Jyoti Basu birth centenary celebrations.

In his short welcome address, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said Jyoti Basu symbolised the working class movement in India and its achievements. He said Basu, who was first elected to the Bengal Provincial Assembly in 1946 from the Railway Workers constituency, was an outstanding leader of the Communist movement in India.

Giving the Jyoti Basu centenary lecture, in the light of French economist Thomas Piketty's empirical book Capital in the Twenty-First Century which has attracted much international attention, Patnaik said "inequality has a tendency to increase under capitalism", and it is intimately linked to the process of globalisation.

Patnaik argues, though Piketty's hypothesis that inequality is set to rise in the coming year is agreeable, his theoretical basis -- the "neo-classical" paradigm -- within which his argument is set is a largely discredited one; and even within this paradigm his specific position is based on assumptions which are highly untenable.

The theoretical basis of Piketty is "wrong" having "dangerous political implications", he says.

The "neo-classical" paradigm, Patnaik said, blames trade union activities for persistent unemployment and advocates for "labour market flexibility". He says it is a pity that Piketty, despite his concern with wealth inequality, adopts this theory that only serves the agenda of corporate capital. He said the votaries of capitalism want to stamp out trade unions through "free hire and fire", which the BJP government in Rajasthan is at present trying to introduce.

Patnaik says mobility of capital in the present age of globalisation and large-scale privatisation have contributed to the weakening of trade unions. In support of his claim, he says while, in the USA, 33 percent of workforce in the public sector is unionised, it is only seven percent in the private sector.

He says the expansion of big capital across the world and, on the contrary, restriction of workers' movements to a particular country have further weakened the effectiveness of trade unions.

Patnaik says while world wealth and income inequalities are all set to rise sharply in the coming years as Piketty prognosticates, but, he argues, these are for reasons which are exact opposite of what the French economist believes.

He argues that the rise in income and wealth inequalities could not be attributed to, as Piketty has done in his Capital, the slowing down of world population growth leading to tightness in world labour markets, but for precisely the opposite reason – namely that there will be no tightness in world labour markets and no diminution in world labour reserves.

The programme was well attended. Veteran CPI leader A B Bardhan was among others who attended the lecture.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jyoti Basu’s Birth Centenary - Call to Defend Democracy

KOLKATA, 8th July, 2014: The birth centenary of Jyoti Basu - one of the most revered Communist leaders, was celebrated in West Bengal on 8thJuly with a variety of programmes including blood donation camps, seminars and cultural programmes. A central public meeting was organized by Jyoti Basu Birth Centenary Committee in Nazrul Mancha in Kolkata, attended by thousands and addressed by Left leaders and intellectuals. Jyoti Basu's photos were garlanded outside CPI(M) offices and those of its various mass organisations in the city and the districts
The public meeting began with a short documentary on Jyoti Basu. The meeting, presided by veteran Forward Block leader and Chairman of the centenary committee Ashok Ghosh, witnessed the presence of people from all sections of life and leaders of various left organizations.
Biman Basu, addressing the meeting highlighted the sacrifice of Jyoti Basu in his early life when he travelled to all parts of Bengal to develop the trade union. Biman Basu said, Jyoti Basu left personal happiness and luxurious life to serve the toiling people. Biman Basu also deliberated how Jyoti Basu fought ceaselessly to defend democracy. His thoughts and ideas on the struggle for democracy are important now as West Bengal and the country are facing an attack on democracy.
Elucidating the contribution of Jyoti Basu to parliamentary democracy, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said, Jyoti Basu had brought the struggle of peasants and working classes to the centre of politics in West Bengal.  “He brought the issues of peasants and the workers to the fore in parliamentary democracy. Its origins lay in the workers movement which was followed by strikes and protest in factories. These protests turned into a phenomenon which engulfed the entire industrial sector and workers were successful is ascertaining their rights,” Bhattachrarjee said. When the Left Front assumed office,  unlike any other Chief Minister, he made it clear that the government will have to stand for the rights of farmers and agricultural workers. “The fight for land went ahead with giving pattas (land rights) to the farmers and then identifying the rights of share croppers,” Bhattacharjee said.
Bhattacharjee reflected on how Mr. Basu ensured that the State remained insulated from the communal strife in 1984 after the murder of Indira Gandhi and 1992 after demolition of Babri Masjid. “He was secular to the core of his heart. He knew that Communist movement and secularism has to go hand in hand,” Bhattacharjee said.
 “Jyoti Babu has an unwavering faith in democracy.. Despite himself being arrested a number of times for false charges when the Left Front government came to power in 1977 all political prisoners across political lines were freed. It was like a general amnesty,” he said.
Referring to present times Bhattacharjee said that it is clear that the politics in the country has taken a “right turn” with the alliance of corporates and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) ruling the nation but added that it is imperative for the Left forces to take lessons from Jyoti Basu's life and put up a fight.
Noted economist Prabhat Patnaik outlined the features of contemporary Indian politics and said, neo liberal policies have created a situation where growth of industrial production has reached almost  negative, rate of inflation has risen to almost ten per cent. Corporate elite have chosen Modi to come out of their own crisis. On the other hand, the rapid growth of unemployment has contributed to growth of lumpen proletariat. The dangerous repercussions of the process is already evident in West Bengal where the attack on women and criminal activities are on rise. This situation can give rise to fascism. Only the Left can counter the threat of fascism through struggle on alternative policy trajectories.
Patnaik said, unlike P Sundarya, Jyoti Basu was born in an elite family. But he identified himself with the working people of the country. He was one of the most popular Communist leaders after Castro brothers. The crisis in Bengal was the backdrop in which the Left movement in Bengal developed and leaders like Jyoti Basu emerged. The Left could play its role as real initiator of Bengal renaissance.
Veteran CPI(M) leader Hasim Abdul Halim, CPI leader Manjukumar Majumdar, RSP leader Khisti Goswami, intellectual Azizul Haque emphasized the need of Left unity in this hour of difficult struggle.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tripura Remembers Jyoti Basu

By Haripada Das 
AGARTALA, 15th June: THE life and legacy of Comrade Jyoti Basu would always be the guiding light for the party so as to come out of the hard days that the party is facing today, and to carry forward the cause of the toiling masses that the party has been striving for. This was the essence of the points made by speakers at an overflowing hall meeting on the occasion of observance of Jyoti Basu’s birth centenary year at Rabindra Shatabsrshiki Bhavan, Agartala on June 15.
Biman Bose and Manik Sarkar, both Polit Bureau members of the CPI(M), addressed the hall meeting that was presided over by the party’s state secretary Bijan Dhar. At the outset, floral tribute and homage was paid at the image of the departed leader by the Polit Bureau members, Central Committee members, state secretariat members and state committee members present in the auditorium. Then followed the inaugural songs performed by two cultural units, namely Gandiv and Krishti Kala Kendra.
Biman Bose, the CPI(M)’s West Bengal state secretary and Polit Bureau member, presented a brief life sketch of Comrade Jyoti Basu. Biman Bose narrated the atmosphere in Jyoti Basu’s family which was very much friendly with the freedom fighters. This deeply motivated young Jyoti to take to a jihad against British imperialism. A young boy, whom his parents sent to London to build up a bright carrier, thus got involved in India’s freedom struggle and came in touch with communist leaders like R P Dutta in London. Basu ultimately came back to India to become a party wholetimer and dedicated his whole life to the cause of the workers, peasants and other toiling masses of the country. While a party wholetimer, he adopted the Bengali language which he was never taught in academic institutions, Biman Bose informed.
Bose also referred to Jyoti Basu’s role in the Tebhaga movement, in raising up women’s defence squads, his work among the railway workers, his guidance in the 1946 naval workers strike and all-India employees’ strike, his role in combating communal riots in 1946, his style of functioning underground when the party was banned in 1948, his leadership in the movement against the Bang-Bihar merger plan, his contribution in the relief work during the 1946 famine, his work as the party’s state secretary since 1953, his exemplary work as a legislator in West Bengal assembly which attracted people’s attention to the party’s work, and his leadership in the United Front governments in 1967 and 1969.
Today it is not the first time, Biman Bose said, that semi-fascist terror has been let loose against the party in West Bengal. It was unleashed in 1972 and was combated and finally defeated by the party. Jyoti Basu’s work in those days would remain the guiding force in our endeavours to resist the ongoing all-out attack perpetrated by the ruling Trinamool Congress on the communists in West Bengal today.
Referring to Comrade Jyoti Basu’s performance as a chief minister with the so far longest tenure, Biman Bose said Basu played a vanguard role in pressing for restructuring of the centre-state relations and organised several conclaves with the opposition chief ministers. This resulted in the setting up of Sarkaria commission which recommended several positive measures to protect the rights of the states against the centre’s whimsical attitude born out of political antagonism. Land reforms ensuring distribution of excess land to the poor farmers and establishment of barga rights in West Bengal were unequivocally appreciated by one and all, and became a model for the country. Basu won nationwide respect for his valiant stand during the anti-Sikh riot in Delhi in 1984 and Babri demolition in 1992. His flexible attitude but ideological firmness in leading a coalition government for 23 long years is a great lesson for all of us, Biman Bose said.
Explaining the new situation in the country, Manik Sarkar said a pro-Hindutva party has now come to power in Delhi with the so far biggest share of seats in its life with a minority share of votes. In fact the BJP subtly and craftily exploited the fallouts of the Congress led UPA government’s misrule, which unleashed all-out attacks on the lives and livelihood of the common people of our country over the last ten years, coupled with huge scams involving trillions of rupees of the government exchequer. The BJP also had the blessings of the corporate lobby which lavishly poured out money for its poll campaign, Manik Sarkar said.
However, Sarkar said, there is no reason to take this change as permanent or think that everything has been lost. The fact is that 69 percent of the voters did not support the BJP. We have to reach out to those sections of the people; we have to bring about a change in their thinking and consciousness. There is no room for getting frustrated. Comrade Jyoti Basu’s life and deeds teach us to go to the masses again and again. We must also approach the vast masses who do not support us. All the questions raised by them must be answered politely, with facts and reason. They must be imparted class consciousness and drawn to the mass and class organisations. The BJP has nothing good to render to the people. Rather it is committed to compensating the big corporate houses which helped it come to power. Our national unity and communal harmony are now under severe threat from the RSS, the hardcore Hindutva force that has always been controlling the BJP from behind the curtain. The CPI(M) alone cannot combat this danger. We must rally all the like minded secular forces with us. If we successfully do it, that would be the true homage to late Comrade Jyoti Basu, Manik Sarkar asserted.

As for Tripura, Manik Sarkar said, Jyoti Basu always paid special attention to our state, particularly because of the extraordinary ethnic bonding of tribal and non-tribal masses in the state; this is something uncommon in other states of the country. He would cite this feature of the state while addressing the people in other states.
Expressing deep respect for late Comrade Jyoti Basu in his opening speech, Bijan Dhar said Jyoti Basu was a beloved leader of the people of Tripura. He started visiting Tripura since 1951 and came here many times till 2005. He came here in our victory as well as in our hard days during 1988-93. He helped the state unit of our party with his valuable suggestions and advices on many occasions. If we look back upon the history of the Indian communist movement, we will see the communist party moving forward while facing one crisis after another. Referring to the poor performance of the party in Lok Sabha elections, emergence of the BJP as the ruling party with an absolute majority in the parliament, and the semi-fascist attacks let loose on the communists in West Bengal, a strong base of the party, Dhar said we are now undergoing yet another crisis, but that is no reason to be frustrated. The teachings of Comrade Jyoti Basu would show us the path to overcome this crisis, he concluded.
The hall meeting ended with the rendition of Internationale in chorus.

Peoples Democracy, 22nd June, 2014