A Sense of Uncertainty

Communist Left looks restless for political revival. But the general feeling about the Left’s future is that of events spinning out of their control, and a deep sense of forboding. A perception that the ‘old’ Left that most people saw as basically a voice of the voiceless is coming apart with every passing day. Of late they are frantically trying to get out of paralytic mess they have been is for so long, by way of organising a rally or two here and there, without really raising the basic issues. They are now talking about inducting new blood in leadership, while seriously thinking to coin new slogans to cope with the changing reality. The realisation that old stereotyped slogans are not working is itself no less revolutionary, by Indian leftist standard, of course, because they are too conservative to change their preconceived notion of ground reality. For them it seems some things are best ignored rather than addressed. So they continue to ignore most pressing issues that affect toilers and tillers everywhere in the country. They have no general line of approach to the prevailing crisis stemmed mainly from neo-liberal onslaught on every segment of population. As a result all their tall talk of campaign for mass awareness sounds hollow. Using rhetoric of ‘denial of democracy’ they are actually talking more of the same—how to remain relevant in electoral politics.

Hundreds of innocent people are languishing in Indian jails as undertrials for years, simply for opposing the government’s forcible land acquisition policy, for mortgaging hills, rivers and natural resources to corporate houses, for resisting army brutalities in the so-called disturbed areas. Not that they are all maoists raising the banner of violence. Not that they are all insurgents challenging the authority. Maybe, some of them are passive sympathisers to the maoist cause or insurgency but in most cases they are peaceful people demanding justice and protesting against systematic curtailment of fundamental rights in their own way, rather in very peaceful way. The weak and poor are brutalised in custody but the left finds no reason to launch a sustained campaign for ‘release of political prisoners’. They don’t think ‘release of political prisoners’ is a burning issue around which a broad-based mass mobilisation is possible throughout the country. Their concern of ‘law and order’, like any mainstream party, is too narrow to see not beyond their own family. They react when their own cadres are tortured in custody. They are too partisan to overlook non-partisan democracy that is really attracting a large section of sensitive people who are liberal in their outlook and don’t subscribe to any party dogma.

Farm suicide is now so endemic that the government authorities just mention it casually as if it is as natural as anything else. Parliamentarians, including left parliamentarians remain satisfied with the official data released by the ministry of agriculture from time to time. 34 farmers committed suicide everyday in 2014 as per official admission in parliament. The number of farmers committing suicide increased to 12,350 in 2014 from 11,772 the previous year. The left has so far failed to formulate any concrete slogan to combat the menace. Issuing harmless press statements after every farm suicide and doing nothing in re-evaluating the peasant question in its totality won’t do. This strategy of inaction in the field cannot motivate farmers—poor, middle and marginal farmers—in their thousands to support them even in elections. The story is about an indefinite future in which, due to market-driven agrarian practice, large parts of India, have already become uninhabitable for peasants and all sorts of reactionary political tendencies have multiplied. Farming, even by middle peasants, seems to be a losing proposition. A deliberate policy of neglect in agriculture has been in operation for long. But the left shows no political willingness to enact new slogans to motivate tillers against the market-dependent agrarian culture in place of traditional farming. The pervasing dominance of multinationals in agri-business and in agrarian policy-making in the government, seems to have totally changed the agrarian pattern in rural India. How multinational Monsanto is ruining traditional Indian agriculture and Indian farmers as well doesn’t figure in their action programme. In principle they are not opposed to the idea of entry of big business in agriculture. So it seems. Because of the government’s agrarian policy large parts of rural India have become alien lands to farmers. They are looking for escape route and, suicide seems to be the easiest way to escape uncertain future. The Modi dispersion is all set to allow Mansanto to commercialise mustard. They are likely to sanction the planting of GM mustard crops by the Monsanto. But it is now a proven fact throughout the world that GM foods entail higher risks than their counterparts. Whatever food security remains in India will vanish if agri-giants like Monsanto are allowed to have their way. What is urgently needed is to save Indian farming community and India’s food sovereignty and vigouous campaign against multi-national take-over of Indian agriculture. In this regard the left, is at worst, wandering in wilderness; they have no adequate lasting slogan to build up movement. Nor do they want to get rid of business as usual rhetoric of remunerative price, subsidy, bank credit and all that.

The fact is that most farm suicides are taking place in Bt Cotton growing areas and Monsanto is the real culprit. But the left at no point of time raised the slogan of ‘Stop Bt Cotton’ and ‘Stop Monsanto’ as well. Farm suicides cannot be arrested unless they mobilise peasant masses against Bt Cotton.

True, old slogans are dead but new appropriate slogans to match demand of present times, are hardly emerging, notwithstanding the left’s half-hearted resolve to formulate or reformulate new slogans.

In truth after each election they become politically more irrelevant than before. And today even their regional identity is at stake. The formation of government is the highest from of class-struggle in their political understanding. But it is a struggle in retrogression. Indian peasants are at a cross-roads and for the left taking a positive stand is more than essential. Issuing pious sermons won’t work. Nor will it remove the sense of uncertainty that has gripped both urban and rural societies of India. Corporates are turning human beings into things, pushing people beyond their capacity without empathy.

Vol. 48, No. 23, Dec 13 - 19, 2015