The Supreme Court of India has been doing strange things. Not so long ago it tossed up the idea of a "collective conscience of the [sic] society", which incidentally stood the notion of conscience on its head. On 6 May 2013 it pronounced nuclear energy to be "clean, safe, reliable and competitive". Courts of law are meant to interpret and apply laws made by humans, not the laws of nature and of physics. Now all the courts in the land, from the highest to the humblest, will be compelled to act in favour of something that is questioned the world over. Perhaps physicists will study for law degrees to even the balance.
Mukul Dube, Delhi
‘Gandhi, Tagore, Guha Neogi...’
This refers to the article 'Gandhi, Tagore, Guha-Neogi—Of People and People's Politics by Pranab Kanti Basu, [Frontier, 46/6]. Basu has tried to deal with a serious subject. But unfortunately, the article is superficial. There is need for a full-length article on the topic. Maybe Basu can contribute one. It is essential to first know more about the person Guha Neogi and his activities, and then more about his thoughts and ideas (with quotes from his writings).
If Guha Neogi had been an avowed Marxist, he must have known that all hitherto existing societies have been class societies. Whatever you call it—Somaj or community—the typical Indian village of the days of Gandhi and Tagore was a class-divided entity. That must also have been the case in pre-colonial India. And there must also have been class conflicts in such communities. Everybody knows a poem By Tagore ("Dui Bigha Jami" ??) in which a big landlord tells his poor peasant neighbour that he will buy off the latter's two bigha land. The poor peasant wailed.
Basu calls Gandhi and Tagore "communitarians". It is well-known that they were not communists. Tagore was a Zamindar's son. And he chastised the Marxist/communist/leftist poets and writers of his days for their allegedly "shaukhin Majdoori" (fashionable proletarianism). But, being a Marxist, Guha Neogi must have been a communist or a sort of socialist. That is why it is not correct to put him in the same fold with Gandhi and Tagore.
More important, however, is to get clarity on "people's politics" or "people-centric politics". What does that mean? Even if capitalists and landlords are excluded from the definition of "people", there still remain many interest-conflicts in any community or Samaj. Basu refers to the "mass uprisings". In Tunesia and Egypt the masses succeded in overthrowing a dictator. That's all. Now the people there are back to square one, indeed more divided than before. The Wall Street occupiers and those of Takshim Square could not tell the world anything about their vision of a good society.
In contrast, Gandhi had a clear vision of a good society. And he had a band of Satyagrahis, a vanguard, to work for its realization. He did not simply rely on the amorphous "people". As regards Guha Neogi, Basu makes clear that he had a "working class community" in mind, not an all-inclusive one. But also a working class community needs inspired leadership in order to be able to achieve anything. If one is not fighting only for small gains here and now, but for the vision of a good society, then it must first be made clear what that vision is. And then an inspired leadership and a vanguard is necessary to convince the people of the nessecity and cogency of the visualised societal transformation.
Saral Sarkar, Germany
Vol. 46, No. 11, Sep 22 - 28, 2013
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