The Indian radical grapples with globalisation

3 09 2012

There has been a major transformation in India over the last two decades – economic, political, social and cultural. Some of this has been a result of the liberalisation of the economy, a significant part of which has been the opening up to global capital. The Left in India, across organisations and ideologies, has viewed globalisation as a disaster for India. However, even a cursory glance at the actual history of globalisation in India will show that it has been as much about India reaching out to the world as the world coming to India.

This paper argues that the  Indian radical has been unable to come to terms with this phenomenon. He does not know how to define it, he does not know how to engage with it and he invariably falls back on understandings and explanations from another age which have little salience today. It is this last feature which brings out a streak of conservativeness in him.

This paper tries to identify the main features of the Indian radical’s fear of globalisation, the function of nationalism in this, the role which foreign goods and capital play in building this and the consequences for radical politics.

(This is not a fully developed position but rather an attempt to think through some ideas. Further, the text here is a rough draft which was used to make a presentation at the workshop on Spectacle of Globality organised by Ravinder Kaur and Thomas Blom Hansen at the University of Copenhagen on 29-30 August 2012. Please do not quote from this article without asking me.)

Read the rest of this entry »





The Politics of Culture (Book Review)

2 10 2011

Books:

G P Deshpande, The World of Ideas in Modern Marathi: Phule, Vinoba, Savarkar, Tulika, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 120. Rs. 240.

G P Deshpande, Talking the Political Culturally and Other Essays, Thema, Kolkata, 2009, pp. 127, Rs. 150. Read the rest of this entry »





On Freedom of the Press

28 10 2010

The question of the freedom of the press or, more generally, the freedom of thought and expression, has come increasingly into public debate in India. This perhaps is a global trend from what it appears to me, but in India hardly a month passes without some important issue taking centre stage in public debates around the question of freedom of thought and expression.

Whether it is protesting against a film, a book, a speech or public statement, a work of art, a newspaper report or even a question paper, there are demands for banning, censorship, prosecution (often followed by extra-judicial persecution) and punishment for those who are seen to be exceeding the limits of freedom of speech.  Read the rest of this entry »





Commemorating Congo at 50

30 06 2010

On 30 June, 1960 Congo achieved independence from Belgian rule. It was an exceptionally harsh 80 years of colonialism which saw tens of millions of its people killed in the pursuit of European wealth and civilisation.  Read the rest of this entry »





Democracy and the Communist Party

14 03 2010

This paper, rather preliminary note towards a full paper, attempts to look at the troubled history of democracy (both as a concept as well as a practice) and parties claiming affiliation to Marxism-Leninism. It tries to understand the historical paradox of parties and movements influenced by Marxism being among the more important contributors to democratising our world, but States ruled by parties owing allegiance to Marxism denying democratic rights to their own citizens. It then tries to identify some of the reasons for this large democratic deficit.

But before I begin, two short points about the structure of the paper may be in order. First, I have been fairly hesitant to write on this topic. I can hardly lay any claim to expertise on theoretical debates among Marxists as well as on the details of the history of countries ruled by communist parties. That apart, I am also conscious of my weakness in political theory, specially that relating to democracy and related ideas of liberty and representation. Therefore, the stress will remain more on the historical experience rather than the theoretical arguments. Second, and following from my hesitation laid out above, this paper is basically structured around three writings by two Marxists: Karl Marx himself[1], and Rosa Luxemburg. You may say I am merely paraphrasing them, or you may say that they are the burqa I wear during this excursion into unfamiliar territory. Read the rest of this entry »





A Very Brief History of Trade Unions in the erstwhile Hyderabad State

4 02 2010

In December 2000 when I first shifted to Hyderabad, the Confederation of Indian Trade Unions held its conference here. I met many trade unionists from all over the country and a few from other countries too. At one of these meetings I was asked about the history of the trade union movement in Hyderabad and realised that I knew next to nothing, despite my grandfather, Alam Khundmiri, having being one of those who initiated such work here in the 1930s and 1940s when the Nizam ruled over these lands. Read the rest of this entry »





Fractured Social Sciences

16 06 2009

[Can the contradiction between underdevelopment and democracy be transcended]

This is the draft I wrote for the editorial for the Economic and Political Weekly, VOL 44 No. 23 June 12, 2009. There may be many differences between this draft and the EPW editorial. Read the rest of this entry »





A Logical Defeat

4 06 2009

[Can the Left learn the proper lessons from its electoral rout?]

This is the draft I wrote, a finalised version of which was published as the editorial of the Economic and Political Weekly in the Vol XLIV No 21 issue dated May 29, 2009.

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Fascism with a Red Flag

2 05 2009

This is the draft I wrote for an EPW editorial published in the of 25 April – 2 May, 2009 edition. There are significant differences between this draft and the final edit.

Maoist attacks on the people’s right to vote is similar to the fascists’ attacks on democracy Read the rest of this entry »





Stalemate in Bengal?

23 03 2009

For the first time in close to three decades, the Left Front finds itself on the defensive in West Bengal in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections.

[This is the draft of the editorial I wrote on the political situation in West Bengal ahead of the 2009 Parliamentary elections in India. This was published in the march 21, 2009 vol xliv no 12 edition of the EPW.] Read the rest of this entry »





Reflections in the Aftermath of Nandigram

28 01 2009

This article was published in the 5 May, 2007 edition of the Economic and Political Weekly. This was a few weeks after the killing of 14 peasants by the West Bengal Police in Nandigram. At that time I had, for various reasons – didactic, political, tactical – decided not to publish it in my name. Today, the reasons for keeping this article anonymous are not as pressing and therefore I am “soft launching” it here. The EPW original is here. Read the rest of this entry »





Lenin’s Epitaph: Lessons from the Russia – Georgia War

19 08 2008

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Now that the war between Russia and Georgia is over, it is a good time to learn a few lessons. This war holds out important lessons for all concerned – for the Georgians, for the Russians, for the Americans and NATO, for the world at large. Moreover the lessons are political, military and economic. Let us see what some of these lessons are. Read the rest of this entry »





India – US nuclear deal: a left critique

5 08 2008

The India-US nuclear deal, which faced stiff and unprecedented opposition inside the country was finally smuggled through the Indian Parliament by the ruling combine. It is quite interesting that the main opposition to this deal came from within the country and not from the international community. The passage of the deal, despite the stiff resistance from the Left in India, also marks a watershed of sorts in the political landscape of the country and will have implications well into the future. Read the rest of this entry »





The Greatest Genocide in History (Part III): The Way Ahead

6 05 2008

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In the past two weeks, this column has tried to understand why is it that China and South Asia (historical India) account for a 92 million out of the 100 million “missing women” of the world. Patriarchy is common to all historical societies yet it is the civilisations of these two regions which have developed this ghastly tradition and not others. While the reasons may be numerous, it seems that there was something common in particular forms of feudal culture which developed in these two civilisations which have promoted this particularly vicious and murderous form of patriarchy. Read the rest of this entry »





Brothers in Arms: The Tragedy of China and Tibet

1 04 2008

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On 6th March this year over 4,000 workers of the Casio Electronics Company’s factory in Panyu, China marched the streets and fought battles with over 1,000 riot police. The workers had come out in spontaneous protest when they realised that while they had been given a 90 yuan raise in their wages, the company had cut between 80 to 150 yaun from their bonuses and their “official” trade union had acquiesced in this daylight robbery. They did what any self respecting worker would and refused to work, came out of their factory and were marching towards the Mayor’s office. They were met by a wall of riot police and other security officers who dispersed them with baton charges in which about two dozen workers, including women, were injured.

This was no flash in the pan incident. Over the past decade and more workers, farmers and students are increasingly coming out on the streets to protest and often turning violent. Almost always, their protests are met with severe police action and an information black-out in the Chinese media which is dutifully replicated in the West’s free media. Read the rest of this entry »








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