By Harsh Thakor
I recommend everyone to read this classic book titled “India-50 after Naxalbari” by Bernard D’Mellow that most analytically assesses metamorphosis in India in post-naxalbari era of Naxalbari, Maoist movement and emergence of fascism in India. In the era when proto-fascism is reaching it’s optimum height it is all the more significant. Morally it is not India after Naxalbari but India after 50 years from 1968.
With the farmers struggle against agricultural bills hitting a full pitch It would have been appropriate if this book was released now. I would also have loved Bernard to touch upon Kobad Ghandy’s recent writings.A separate section could have been published in an exchange with Kobad,on the revised situation .I would have loved to read about their views on humanism within Socialism and the Individual being neglected by Marxists.Both somehow incorporate the liberal tradition within Marxism.
Bernard’s work is an ideal reference point for intellectuals to assess the development of Indian neo-fascism ,whatever the aberrations. It would be an ideal platform for debate with the Marxists who still adhered to the traditional Leninist views from other streams. What is pertinent is that it enables a reader to think for himself or formulate views.
It is a must in the library of any progressive reader. It does ample justice to the genuine revolutionary movements of India particularly that of the Maoists and encompasses every sphere of society. It most illustratively and vividly describes the ruthlessness of capitalism in India, the hypocrisy of so-called democracy and the ascendancy of fascism. Hope readers will help circulate and publicize it. A major contribution to igniting the flame and enriching the treasury of works of the legendary Naxalbari movement that turned the destiny of india more than any event. . The book gives a great insight into what the future of India could be. Hope the book is circulated well abroad. I feel it can reach out to even those not so familiar with leftist politics., with the lucidity of the language. The work is a thorn in the flesh for the Hindu saffron brigade and pro-cooperate intellectuals. It shimmers the torch of truth in a period when many a book is being published by the bourgeois press glorifying the achievements of the Narendra Modi with led B.J.P.rule in India containing white lies about the economic prosperity of the country to camouflage the fascist colours of the state. Significant book launch was held in the very egg of imperialism and hotbed of Hindu saffron fascism -‘Mumbai’ where many a journalist has become a mere pawn or tool in the hands of the corporates. Salute Bernard for his most intellectual and courageous effort when the Hindutva ideology and pro-corporate policies are tightening their noose on genuine people’s movements as never before. A great piece of research from a historical point of view. Morally the book should not be titled’India after Naxalbari’ but a ‘True history of India’ as it’s main discussion is not on Naxalbari movement itself.It has been admired not only by many pro-maoist activists and intellectuals but also liberal democrats.
Unfortunately it has been reviewed by quite a few intellectuals who treat India as a capitalist state or bourgeoise democracy and the Maoist movement as a terrorist one. Still intellectuals like Sumanta Banerjee and Arundahati Roy hold the book in great esteem as well as Monthly Review.What is challenging such a book in broad social circles ,who are so brainwashed with the so-called India ‘Shining’ or even the neo-fascist agenda of Modi.If properly channelized it could be a weapon to extricate people from the clutches of the semi-fascist or pro-Hindutva social order. Few portrayals amongst left circles in India have been more rational, balanced or lucid. I was happy that Surkh Rekha editor ,Pavel Kussa from Punjab appreciated the work as most balanced as former All India Peoples Resistance Forum secretary well as Arjun Prasad Singh from Bihar and Marxist cultural activist Ravunni from Kerala.
Book is divided into 10 chapters like an epic novel with each chapter a logical sequel to the previous one. Chapter 1 on ‘Naxalite Spring thunder phase’ where he recounts the history of the naxalbari uprising. Chapter 2-‘1968 India as history’. he recounts the brutal state repression unleashed. Chapter 3-‘Unequal Development and evolution of the ruling bloc’ describing the principal undeveloped capitalism highlighting the state-corporate nexus. Chapter 4-‘Naxalite Spring thunder phase11’ narrating the events from 1978-2003 doing describing the mass movements of the Maoists in light of worker-peasant alliance and women liberation. Chapter 5-‘India 1989’ which sums up the financial autocracy and phenomenal disparity prevailing in total contrast to progressive capitalism. ‘Chapter 6′ The far’-India’s rotten liberal democracy narrates how fundamental rights are violated and how it is an integral part of the bourgeois Indian state and how parliamentary democracy only protected the vested interests. Chapter 7-‘Maoist,Spring Thunder phase 3’ studies the movement after the formation of the C.P.I.(Maoist) throwing light on the guerrilla army Chapter 8-‘Rotten at the heart -Secular state’ vividly describes how essentially the state violates the rights of minorities being responsible for some of the bloodiest communal riots ever perpetrating violence on Sikhs and Muslims. Chapter 9 -‘Little man ,What now’ sums up the semi-fascist nature of the Modi regime and the aspect of sub-imperialism. Here he draws an analogy of the Nazi regime of 1930’s with the Hindu fascist agenda. Chapter 10-In “History. memory and dreams’ he elaborates the concept of New Democracy in term of it’s workability.
With great historical research he has described the basically anti-people or reactionary role by the Congress in the pre-independence period itself compromising or betraying many a struggle like the Naval ratings uprising,Chauri Chaura Movement and many peasant struggles .He also summarized the pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim nature of the Congress in the pre-1947 period itself . Bernard meticulously describes how in so many junctures Gandhi and Nehru betrayed the ant-feudal and anti-imperialist movements The historical flow in his writings must be praised as a reader can grasp how the post-1947 India was a direct consequence of the political tend followed by the Congress before Independence.
Bernard elaborates how democratic rights were supressed from the time of Nehru itself and how even before emergency the form or rule was subservient to the capitalist or landlord class. Sums up how morally even the Nehruvian regime morally did not strip the rights of the landlords with their reforms nor awarded true rights to the working class. With great detail he summarizes how the landless and poor peasantry were still subjugated by rich peasants or landlords. Vividly describes killings of peasant and workers and in detail describes how the constitution of 1950 hardly made sufficient provisions for the dalits and Muslims. With great precision he describes how partisan Nehru was to the exploiter classes and after inheriting the reign daughter Indira in the garb of working for the poor morally attacked the workers and peasantry with greater ruthlessness than her predecessors, in the name of ‘garibi hatao’ etc.Summarizes post-1991 liberalization and globalization with great depth and the consolidation of Hindutva fascism. He brilliantly documents the changes that too place in every era and how the state and ruling classes have become more oppressive over subsequent decades. with great historical perspective. He elaborates how the corporates,big industrialists, big landlords have consolidated their stranglehold on the broad masses be it the peasants, workers or students with the total blessings of the ruling class parties. He sums up how the state made pretence of being secular and democratic but was in essence communal and autocratic. With great historical narrative and perception he portrays the economic and political opression of the working or labour class and the modification in forms of exploitation. Gave a detailed analysis and description of how mercilessly casual and contract labour were deployed and the vast reserves of labour. With meticulous research he describes how the industrialists are flourishing given a virtual license to trample upon the rights of workers and tribals as never before giving vivid examples of Ambani and Adani. In certain pages with untold courage and conviction he exposes how aggressive the Indian state was in Kashmir and its connection with it’s general political agenda.
I also admired Bernard exposing how Nehru nefariously put the blame on China in the 1962 war, putting into oblivion the treachery of the Indian army.
‘In 1958 ,it not only refused to negotiate a settlement of the border dispute but engaged in military provocations,ultimately leaving the Chinese People’s Liberation army no other conviction. In 1962 the PLA ,after defeating the Indian army in “India’s China War , and with India still refusing to negotiate ,uniltaererally declared a cease fire and withdrew to 20 km of the McMahon line. Quoting Neville Maxwel ‘The Chinese withdrawal to their original lines after a victory in the field was the first time in recorded history that a great power has not exploited military success by demanding more.”
He has virtually devoted 2 chapters doing justice to the great achievements of the Maoists and the mass organizations led by them. He critically reviews the movement from the Charu Mazumdar era where left adventurist errors were made and the rectification of those mistakes by the Andhra Pradesh State Comitee led by Kondapalli Seetharmiah. The struggles of the mass organizations like Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union and Rytu Colie Sangham and their significance were summed up.He makes a balanced appraisal of the erstwhile C.P.I. (M.L.) Peoples War Group narrating how if any revolutionary democracy was attained in tribal regions it was because of their sustained struggle. Bernard does amply justice to the Maoist movement from a critical angle as a whole. In great depth gives credit to the achievements of the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.)Peoples War group in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana summarizing how they built the roots of alternative revolutionary democratic power or foundations of genuine democracy as well as revolutionary political consciousness. In detail he summarizes the history of the advance and setbacks and how heroically they survived against all odds from 1980-99, with flow in narration. He portrays why the C.P.I. (Maoist) is a genuine revolutionary democratic force and praises it’s achievements. He explains the seriousness with which they have stooped to the ground to implement their task basing themselves in the very heart of the oppressed masses and deploying a methodical strategy. In most lucid language he defends the right of the Adivasis to be armed in self defence against the opressors as a democratic right and thus hold sit imperative of the Maoists to build armed squads. Above all makes an indepth description on the application of ‘New Democracy’ in various facets of society be it peasants, workers, women, health or education Arguably no writer in modern times has projected such balanced view of the Maoists as Bernard.
Benard published the political geography of which regions the Maoist movement encompassed like Dandakaranya,T elengana ,Chattisgarh, Orissa, publishing the names of all the districts where the movement made inroads. He points out how there was hardly presence in Punjab,Tamil Nadu,Kranataka ,Kerala Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat,Rajasthan,Assam or Haryana.
I greatly admire the recognition he gives to Alpa Shah’s critical appraisal of the Maoists work in Jharkand.Vividly she praises the democratic foundation laid down by the C.P.I.(Maoist) in a camp she visited. He summarized Alpa Shah’s view that ‘relations of intimacy’ were built between the maoist organization and the people and that enormous effort was made to combat the phenomenon of caste and class division s among the people. He quotes Alpa Shah writing about how they treat the villagers as equals and got far greater credibility in their behaviour pattern than the representatives of the Indian state.Alpa describes how the maoist cadre would do the ordinary things of life like washing utensils ,.Quoting Alpa Shah in the book “Relations of intimacy manifest themselves in the creation of new subjects beyond the caste and class divides of rural India nurturing spaces of freedom which contest established rules of endogamy,of hierarchy and traditional conventions. These are spaces of freedom which have proved attractive to historically marginalized and discriminated populations ‘ The views and research of Juhi Tyagi was also narrated who carried out in depth research in North Telengana area.. and praised the empowerment of village level sanghams in enhancing the class consciousness of agricultural and landless labourers.Tyagi called it “an effective organizational field.’
In the lalgarh movement in West Bengal Bernard gave great credibility to how the PCAPA integrated in the very heart of the masses to shimmer the spark of resistance and confront the rulers. Vividly he described how they penetrated al spheres of life which the CPM had literally thrown into the dustbin. ‘The PCPA led mass movement ,with meagre resources at the command ,was able to run heath posts with doctors coming from Kolkata once a week, construct and repair embankments ,dig ponds, set up tube wells,teach the local language to some schools, through voluntary labour.”
‘What was really heartening were the direct forms of people’s democracy in practice. Each village now had a gram village. Committee with five women and five men on it, two persons, a man and a woman from each village, were a part of the central coordinating committee, taking and ratifying decisions were done in an utterly democratic manner, officials had to sit on the ground on hand woven mats on equal terms to negotiate with the committees. This was a fitting contrast with the practice of rotten liberal democracy.’
Bernard touched upon how the movement spread like wildfire in tribal blocks of West Midnapore,Purulia, and Bankura districts.and further lit it’s torch in Goaltore,Salboni,Nayagra,even Garbeta,a strong CPM stronghold. The CPM’s divide and rule politics was thwarted.
There was also a sound criticism of lack of independence from the Maoist party of mass organizations and inadequate penetration in the working class or urban areas. Later he points out the pertinent mistakes of the Maoists in Lalgarh in underestimating the enemy, functioning too openly and attempting to form an alliance with Mamta led Congress.Bernard touched on neglected aspect of revolutionary humanism analyzing instances of how maoists themselves violated rights in certain instances. Bernard highlights how guerrilla zones are not turning into base areas. He also exposes the absence of genuine democracy within the mass organisations of the Adivasis in Bastar,which have to morally submit to the dictates of the Maoist party. A most illustrative example is given ho win the very constitution of the Adivasi mass organisation there must be approval of the party for nay decision.
Bernard analytically sums up what led to the reversal of the C.P.I.(M.L.) Peoples War in Andhra Pradesh ,with elimination of top leadership. He was convinced that the state police intelligence had infiltrated the movement. and military line replaced massline.
‘What explains the terrible blunder commited by the Maoists and the PCAPA in allowing Mamata Banerjeee and her TMC to gain a foothold in Jangalmahal.The handling of a whole set of contradictions in the course of an alliance with a temporary, unstable thoroughly unscrupulous and conditional associate.’
‘Maoist practice is based on ‘notion of witness ‘, whereby a small number of commited revolutionaries, by force of example, involving a great element of sacrifice, and taking huge risks, engage in pedagogy wit the oppressed ,learning about oppression and it’s causes. From this reflection comes realisation of the need for engagement in the struggle for liberation, a collective fight for freedom and justice.”
“Neverthless thee are dehumanising aspects of violence and oppressed. Often violence and non –violence are contrasted as mutually exclusive ways .and the Maoist way is claimed to be exclusively violent. This is far from the truth .At the heart of the political activity of the Maoists is organising and convincing people, not only against oppression, but for a society free from the shackles of oppression. The Maoists are trying to bring about liberation of the oppressed, not for them, but with them. Reflection and action are not divorced from each other and most of the political activity involves a non –confrontational meeting of minds.”
“In their violent political resistance, however, the Maoists need to evaluate the entire set of consequences. It is heartening to find that it is the fight against the opressors and their hired combatants, the Maoists are now sensitive to the injuries, and deaths that they inflict on those who serve or protect the opressors but so because they have little choice.”
Quoting Alpa Shah “An enormous effort was made to supersede and negate the specificities of caste and class divisions among all people brought into the revolutionary fold. This involved,paying attention to treating lower castes and tribes with respect and dignity as equals.
In everyday life the Maoists never demanded special treatment from the toiling masses like washing their used plates and assisting with household chores.”They treated the fellow folk like their brothers or sisters, being as gentle or polite as they could. Unlike the state, the Maoist literally became one and all with the people, becoming an essential part of their lives. Caste was overcome with relations built not only of respect and dignity but also joking and teasing at times.
He describes the three main objectives of the Naxalite movement in Bihar and Jharkhand nd it’s achievements. and highlights the superficiality of land reforms with regard to zamindari abolition. Seizure of illegally occupied land, and its distribution amongst landless labour, the assertion of human dignity of the dalits and backward castes and the winning of higher wages. Bernard explains the immense significance of the caste structure and how it divided or segregated the society. The struggle for ‘Izat’ is described, including fight against sexual abuse of Dalit women. The neccessity of the dalit labourers to organise armed self defence of the Dalit tola s of their villages in the form of local militia with country made weapons. The retaliatory actions after the 1992 Bara massacre of dalits were described, where a sena of the Bhumhar caste was given a smashing blow. Bernard described how the MKSS had even brought upper backward castes into their fold, who harboured prejudices against the dalits,which affected the inner harmony so much needed for a cohesive organizational structure.
He very accurately sums up the true nature of India being semi-fascist and how fascism of the Hindu variety could permeate the very organ s of a parliamentary democratic system. Bernard gives us an impending warning how Fascisms could materialise of the Hindutva variety with a series of examples. He explains why it is very difficult for India to go completely fascist like Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy and abolish the parliamentary political system’s organs., and thus partially retain feature of a bourgeois democratic state. Yet he pointed out similarities between the Hindutva Saffron fascism pervading India and Nazism.A detailed account was made of the riots in Bhiwandi in Mumbai in 1984 Sikh massacre in Dehi in 1984,Babri Masjid -Mumbai riots in 1992-93 and Godhra riots in 2004.and how the culprits responsible from the saffron brigade were yet not brought to the book. With vivid summary he explains how the tentacles of Hindutva fascism agenda are consolidating themselves more than ever by each day. Also highlighted the importance of Ambedkar and importance of studying caste movement in relation to combating fascist trend. With meticulous research he summarizes the caste polarization in India and how much the revolutionary democratic movement has to assimilate or absorb caste struggles. Also the nascent Sub-Imperialism in India highlighted by equating it with the global face of Indian big business .Bernard explains how India’s sub -Imperialism has it’s base in the very nature of the semi-peripheral underdeveloped capitalism, which is controlled by the Indian big business-state-multinational bloc. With illustrative detail he explains the link between the agenda of the Hindu saffron Brigade or Hindutva with the patronage or domination of Corporates or big business houses. And how economics is virtually at the centre.
He brilliantly contrasted Socialist China under Chairman Mao after the 1950’s with India. -, with strong conviction expressing it’s egalitarian nature. He covered how Socialist China awarded their people all the basic necessities of life, unlike India, like clothing housing and education.
Berrnard is not dogmatic when assessing prospects of the protracted peoples War nor completely dimissed India as a capitalist society. He does justice to the fact that in important zones in India are still entrapped by feudalism like in Chattisharh, Jharkand or Orissa.However he highlights the deep penetration of Imperialism and capitalism.
Great historical light has been placed on the mass movements of the peasants, tribals , dalits and workers since 1947.A vivid account is given of the impact and gains of Telengana armed peasant struggle. The cause and effect of the Navnirman movement led by JP has also been added. The 1974 railway strike has been written in golden letters describing the indomitable courage not only of the railwaymen but all sections of workers countering the brutal repression. An appraisal of great detail has been made of the victories of the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha of mine workers led by Shankar Guha Nyugi where right to minumum wages was won and contract labour abolished. Summed up how the CMMS created genuine workers rule facing the tyranny of the merciless industrialists. Highlighted the participation of women workers, building of a free hospital and free schools, adult education programme and anti-alcohol programme..The importance of the 1982 Mill workers strike in Mumbai is also touched upon explaining it’s overall influence on the trade Union movement as a whole and the lessons the working class learnt from it. Bernard summed up the glaring shortcoming sof the organization and focus of labour movement and how it became so marginalized. The formation, protest and repression of the dalit panther movement in 1972 Maharashtra has been recounted .The story of how the Dalit Panthers boycotted the 25th independence anniversary celebrations was remembered highlighting it’s connection with social atrocities. He described the splits that caused it’s decline and the ambivolence of the Hindu communal forces towards them who murdered cadres of the Dalit Panther. The founder of Dalit Panthers,Namdeo Dhasal is quoted stating how inconsequential the national emblem was the dlaits were still subjugated to slavery. A significant part of the manifesto of the Dalit Panthers was quoted.
Most poignantly Bernard illustrates how t he so called Socialist planning incorporated the very participation or monopoly of industrialist like J.R.D.Tata .J.R.D was appointed chairmen of new public sector.Nehru made a significant statement in favour of the role of MNC’s.in India’s industrial development in the Constituent assembly. in April 1949.Indian development of planning of the post-independence period went by; public investment in public enterprises in infrastructure and certain designated industries served to boost private investment. There was never any anti-private enterprise strategy, even in spheres fair transport ,Imperial bank and Insurance nationalisation.
Bernard reflected how after liberalisation in July 1991 a virtual 2360 degree effect was created. With the expansion of multinational and Indian big business companies at such an unprecedented magnitude the state enterprises were thrown into oblivion.The MNC;s came to control important ‘product’ markets in goods and services be it cars, refrigerators,elite food products, shaving products.
With Immaculate details he covers the expansionist, hegemonic and chauvinist foreign policy of the state. Bernard writes how as a junior partner of the United States,the Indian Navy is fast turning into a policeman of the Indian Ocean,andIndia’s military dependence on the US military is increasing.This is a dramatic change from before.
He narrates how before 1971 subservient India was to American military policy .Bernard highlights US 7th fleet in December 1971 after the victory of the Indian army in East Bengal. Sending a dispatch of ten ships to threaten the Indian armed forces.In August 1971 India had entered a treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union. It was the cruisers, destroyers and submarine of the Soviet Union that saved India. In 1990 India also permitted the refuelling of US military craft on Indian soil.
.Bernard makes a very fair appraisal of Mahatma Gandhi. He is critical of his pro-caste and pro-Hindu aspects of his ideology and practice but praises his death defying courage to prevent the Hindu-Muslim riots in post-1947 period and save lives of so many Muslims. Very vividly explain show Gandhi sided with the landlords, rich and upper castes but his ‘Hinduism’ was a completely different brand from the Brahamanical Hindutva fascsim of the R.S.S..Bernard reflects on how Jayaparakash Naaryan erroneously felt that the R.S.S.had a progressive character and failed to read their fascist nature. The notion that Hindutva is totally different and disconnected from Hinduism by intellectuals like Sashi Tharoor is is refuted tooth and nail with detailed analysis of the Bhagavad Gita justifying inequality.
I complement Bernard for recognising the secular and progressive credentials of the Bhakti movement, which was a branch of Hinduism. It absorbed dalits, tribals and other elements of the lower strata of Indian society.Bernard recalls Shramanism of the first millennium BC, exploited areas of belief and practice distinctive from the Vedas and Dharmashastras.He narrates how the dominace of Syndicated Hinduism extinguished progressive trends. With great conviction Bernard feels Gandhian secularism was superficial where he had equal respect for Hinduism as Buddhism. In his view Gandhi only projecte the humanist aspects of religion and not on reactionary aspects like caste or divisiveness.
Most pertently Bernard highlights need for a libertarian, democratic consciousness, which requires a deep commitment to artistic freedom and beauty.and democratic rights.Revolutinary romanticism would never sprout in the absence of this. This is very coherent with the view of Kobad Ghandy today.
His work gave untold emphasis to the writings of Mahatma Phule and BR Ambedkar. and is very coherent with the Marxist intellectua s who uphold concept of Brahmanical fascism,like Ajith(Murali) and late Anuradha Ghandy.
FLAWS IN BOOK
Arguably there were flaws in his book .Describes India as backward capitalist instead of semi-feudal snot do complete justice to the extent which feudalism is still prevailing in agriculture. Does not touch upon the bargaining power of the landlord classes and the power they still possess of expropriating property at considerably cheaper rates or the existence of moneylenders. even in regions like Punjab. He also fails to connect a lot of the anti-people pro -corporate policies with the semi-feudal .semi-colonial nature of the state. Fails to learn from the study of intellectuals like R.S.Rao or ‘Aspects of India’s economy’ on semi-feudalism where inspite of inroads of capitalism and penetration of imperialism usury still exists and agricultural production not socialized. Infact I wish his book had credited the work of journal ‘Aspects’ of the ‘Research Unit for Political Economy’ which did pioneering work in contributing research of the true Indian socio-economic conditions or political economy at a magnitude unprecedented by any journal ever in India. It became a virtual handbook for thousands of democratic cadre. I also wish he had covered the great role of Samar Sen ,founder of ‘frontier weekly’in the turbulent times in Kolkata of the Naxalite movement,.No Marxist intellectual so bravely penned pages with neo-fascism at a crescendo in the 1970’s in time of Naxalite movement. No poet dipped ink to challenge ruling class tyranny at such magnitude with Frontier literally becoming the mouthpiece of revolutionary democrtas.
Quoting the document of the C.P.I…(Maoist) in 2004’Even today extreme forms of semi-feudal exploitation are rampant in the countryside. The major prevailing forms of practice are share cropping, which is robbing the peasants of 50 % of their produce, as well as bonded labour, usurious and merchant capital. The countryside is dominated by landlords, usurers ,merchants and religious institutions which are the mainstay of the semi-feudal relations of production in the country. Despite the hoax of all land reforms 30% of the total land is in posession of the landlords with 65%of the peasantry owning neither land or meagre land. This testifies that we are a semi-feudal country.”
Strangely inspite of not evaluating India as semi-feudal he devotes any entire chapter discussing the practice of the formulation of ‘New Democracy’ in India. Bernard fails to understand the thesis of the false nature of Indian Independence of Sunita Kumar Ghosh in India and the Raj or his analysis of the nature of the Indian big bourgeoisie. In my view he incorrectly attributes partial independence to the Indian state in 1947 and awards Jawaharal Nehru secular credentials. It is rather confusing how he wishes to incorporate ‘New Democracy’ within framework of a capitalist Society
It fails to understand the comprador nature of the Indian state and relevance of United front as advocated by Maoism with regards to India, with a national bourgeoise existing. Erroneously feels that a multi-party sytem can award genuine revolutionary democratic power failing to grasp the essentials of revolutionary democracy as prescribed by Marxism-Leninism -Maoism which tooth and nail defend concept of vanguard Communist party and oppose multiple parties.
On his coverage of International relation she does not cover the aspect of Soviet Social-Imperialist hegemony in Indi and it’s imperialist relations with India.
Inaccurate analysis and underestimation of potential of protracted peoples war in India. No clear understanding expressed about the important similarities between India and China for practicing of protracted peoples war like terrain, mountain regions, forests etc. or differences like India having parliamentary parties and elections unlike China in pre-revolution period. Conclusively he questions why base areas have not been converted from guerilla zones without a clear perspective of the complexities of protracted people’s war in India. or in depth understanding of relationship between mass line and agrarian revolution. To me Bernard does not touch the very base of the erroneous military line of the charu mazumdar period and how ‘annihilation of the class enemy’ trend pertained even in time of the C.P.I.(M.L.)Peoples War Group. Hardly any depth in reviewing crucial aspects of weakness in massline which prevent genuine base areas developing or in summarising how the subjective factors have not arisen for unleashing a peoples war.I strongly feel Bernard should have meticulously studies DV Rao’s writings on applicability of peoples War in India in the basic document written in 1972.
Bernard does not sum up issues like the mistakes of introduction of Mao thought in the manifesto of organizations like Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union and Virasam or inability to form independent mass organizations formed with a broader base which did not directly propagate party politics. There is no specific reference to how certain squad actions in erstwhile PWG era and even later reflected ‘military ‘ approach and not massline and how mass organizations were not awarded adequate independence. I feel certain concrete examples of adventurist squad actions should have been portrayed in light of massline.
He was over-critical of the Maoist actions in Jungal mahal in Lalgarh against CPM .In my view he is over sympathetic to the work of CPM in the agricultural sector and does not understand their social fascist nature.
He contemplates strategy of New Democratic Revolution but still denies the existence of the national bourgeoisie or middle peasantry as allies of the revolution and under estimates workability of protracted people’s war .I feel he fails to highlight the ineffectiveness of the slogan of ‘Boycott’ today, with people’s consciousness not at the required level. To me he should have highlighted how even extra-parliamentary tactics could be deployed. I wish he could have touched upon how in the last 2 decades even armed squad action sin Orissa gave a setback to the democratic movement, breaking the backbone of democratic forums.
. There is also hardly any mention of the positive work of other revolutionary streams like Tarimela-Nagi Reddy Nagi Reddy or Chandra Pulla Reddy groups and He failed to reflect on the struggle of the Andhra Pradesh Cordination Commitee of Communist revolutionaries in struggling against the left adventurism pervading in the practice and line of Charu Mazumdar led C.P.I.(M.L.) No reference to groups like C.P.I.(M.L)New Democracy or Communist Party Re-Organization centre of India(M.L.) thus neglecting aspect of the overall re-organization of the genuine Communist party and how the C.P.I.(Maoist) would emerge as the true vanguard of the Indian people.
In the summary of the repression on the Maoist movement in erstwhile C.P.I (M.L.) PWG era and recent repression on C.P.I. (Maoist) he does not touch upon the crucial aspect of the proletarian party itself which is the backbone. There is also hardly any exposure of the revisionist trend within the Marxist Leninist camp like C.P.I. (M.L.)Liberation.or harm caused by right deviation.
Also fails to touch upon the revolutionary democratic movement in Punjab of the landless and landed peasantry, led by various naxalite groups in recent times. No reference to the mass movement of the Punjab Students Union of the 1970’s which had historic significance or to the communist revolutionary resistance movement to Khalistani fundamentalism in the 1980’s and early 90’s.He has failed to highlight the phenomena of the Punjab problem where the Khalistani movement was a virtual agent of state terrorism,which engulfed the state for over a decade.
. He misses out on an adequate coverage of the democratic right movement. In context of conflicting trends he does not highlight what split the movement in Andhra Pradesh. He does not mention the formation of forum s like All India federation of Organizations for Democratic Rights in 1982 which struggled against the wrong trends of civil liberties organizations nor movement not being linked to struggles of the broad masses and converted into maoist or party forums. Hardly enough recognition to the significant work by Organization for Protection of Democratic Rights in Andhra Pradesh or Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab. Nor did he write on the emergence of historical fronts like All India Peoples Resistance Forum and later Revolutionary Democratic Front. Also touches very little on the aspect of liberation of Kashmir. And the debates on the important aspect of nationality.
He has not given due credit to the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre of India’s achievements in Bihar which made almost the same contribution of the PWG in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.He is critical of MCC’s policy towards the Bhumihar caste without grasping line of the agrarian revolutionary movement as a whole which the erstwhile group was trying to apply. Reflects caste rather than class analysis. Needed to highlight in more precise detail how the MCC smashed the base of the landlord senas within their red army corpses and distributed thousands of acres of land with the krantikari Kisan Commitees. What was also missed out on Bihar was the weakness in aspects of massline by the erstwhile MCC which is now C.P.I. (Maoist) which failed to create an agrarian revolution but reflected military approach. He needed to point out the defective trend of ‘annihilation of class enemy’ by armed squads ,just like in Andhra Pradesh.
He also concludes the book with no coverage of the recent uprising of the peasantry in India comprising both the landed and landless sections and the massive suicides of farmers in states like Punjab and Maharashtra and protests.
There is no agenda in the conclusion of how the Indian masses should combat the semi-fascist state. I feel a discussion should have been initiate on the tactics to confront neo-fascism or how contradictions within the ruling classes could be exploited and extra-parliamentary struggles could be undertaken.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab . Written on Mass movements, Mass line, Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontier weekly . An avid cricket lover too who has posted writings on blogs like Pakpassion Indian Cricket Fans and Sulekha.com