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Disturbing Aspects of Kerala Society : By Gail Omvedt@ Republishing

Indian Left still stuck in the 1940s: Karat

Indian Left still stuck in the 1940s: Karat
Story Dated: Sunday, October 24, 2010 20:6 hrs IST
http://english.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/contentView.do?tabId=0&programId=1080132912&BV_ID=@@@&contentId=8129536&contentType=EDITORIAL

Cambridge: In a candid overview of the state of the Left parties in India, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has said that the Leftist forces, who were still "banking on the concepts and theories of the 1940s" needed to understand the sweeping changes being witnessed by the nation.

In one of the key presentations at the ‘Lessons of Empire’ conference at the University of Cambridge in memory of noted Marxist historian Victor Kiernan, Karat admitted that Left parties were "deficient" in theory and needed to study and understand the new developments sweeping India.

Calling himself the only ‘non-scholar’ among the speakers that included academic stars such as Eric Hobsbawm and Christopher Bayly, Karat recalled Kiernan’s friendship with Indian Marxists such as P C Joshi and EMS Namboodiripad and recalled that he was always unrestrained in his criticism of some aspects of the Communist Party of India.

Recounting the genesis and history of India’s Left, Karat recalled that Kiernan would often criticise the party leaders and cadre, some of whom he called the ‘cafe going intellectuals,’ for indulging in political gossip.

A friend and supporter of the party, Kiernan, who lived in India from 1938 to 1946 and died in 2009, was nonetheless scathing in his criticism of the lack of awareness and focus on theory among the party leaders and cadre. Karat said:

"We feel the acute need of theorising to understand the new developments in India. We need to study the big challenge posed by neo-liberal capitalism". "It is leading to unequal development. Its focus of exploitation is similar to primitive forms of exploitation".

This study and theorising was more important because the Left, he said, was the only force in Indian politics that had alternative policies. Indian Left today, he added, was facing similar kind of challenges that it faced during the 1940s.

The Indian Left, Karat said, was historically wrong in writing off the institution of caste. Karat presented a summary of the growth and continued prominence of the Left parties in Kerala politics, which, he said, had resulted in the state’s above average performance in most social indicators.

The Left parties has consistently polled 40 per cent of the vote and elections throw up alternately Congress or Left led governments in the state. "Today the Left in India is confronted with three challenges: the growth of neo-liberal capitalism that is leading to widespread social inequalities; the continuing challenge to bring about agrarian transformation; and the fight against entrenched oppressive institutions such as caste," Karat said.

Statement of Arundhathi Roy

Statement of Arundhathi Roy

‘I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.’

Arundhati Roy
October 26, 2010

Dalits in Kangeyam allege denial of temple entry

http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article849224.ece

Dalits in Kangeyam allege denial of temple entry

The Uthamapalayam temple entry struggle committee has alleged denial of temple entry for Dalits and discrimination by caste Hindus at Uthamapalayam in Kangeyam, Tirupur district.

In 2005 January, when the Dalits demanded right to enter the Uthamapalayam Mariamman temple, Revenue and HR&CE officials held talks ensured the entry of dalits into the temple.

Convenor of the Committee S. Karuppiah said that the caste Hindus, claiming that the temple had lost its sanctity because of the entry of Dalits had constructed another temple on a common site and named it New Uthamapalayam Mariamman Temple. The kumbabishegam took place on October 21.

When the Dalits from Velampalayam, Uthamapalayam, Dasavanaickenpatti, Nagamanaickenpatti numbering nearly 500 tried to enter the temple with materials for abishegam, they were intercepted and attacked.

MEETING HELD

In order to end the caste-based discrimination and practice of untouchability, representatives of 13 organisations conducted a meeting at Vellakoil on Saturday.

At the meeting, it was decided to condemn the official machinery for supporting the caste Hindu outfits, which resorted to discrimination of Dalits and practice of untouchability. An 18-member executive committee was constituted for the purpose of ensuring temple entry rights for Dalits.

The New Uthamapalayam Mariamman Temple was a symbol of shame depicting the practice of untouchability.

The meeting also resolved to seek registration of cases against caste Hindus for the attack unleashed on Dalits under the Protection of Civil Rights Act and arrest of those responsible for the attack.

The meeting also demanded the withdrawal of the case registered against the Dalits in Vellakoil police limits.

The meeting decided to represent to the District Collector and Superintendent of Police in connection with the attack.

It also resolved to hold a public meeting at Vellakoil on November 9 to highlight the rights of the Dalits to enter the Uthamapalayam Mariamman temple.

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