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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 1, December 22, 2012 [Annual 2012]

Pledge Redeemed


Thursday 3 January 2013, by SC


With this Annual Number, this journal enters the fiftyfirst year of its publication. On the occasion of our Golden Jubilee we warmly greet all our readers as well as well-wishers who have stood by us through thick and think.

Mainstream was born fifty years ago. In its first issue, dated September 1, 1962, the editor’s letter to the reader spelt out the purpose for which the weekly had been launched:

....Mainstream owes allegiance to no political party or group. Its loyalty is wholly and unreservedly to India and socialism.

Faith in the people of India is our shield and armour; determination to resist all attempts to withhold the fruits of freedom from them our only weapon. It shall be our endeavour to try relentlessly to demolish the wall of misunder-standing, mutual suspicion and even personal pique that divides progressive sections in the country one from another.

Mainstream is meant to provide a common platform for all of them to exchange views on the many thorny and pressing problems confronting the nation, so that the right solutions may emerge.

That the scenario today is far more complex than what it was fifty years ago is an under-statement. In the globalised atmosphere dictated by neoliberalism following the collapse of the socialist community of states headed by the USSR and the end of not just the Cold War but also the seemingly durable countervailing force in the international arena, socialism has turned into a dirty word in the vocabulary of particularly the upwardly mobile middle classes dominating the scene even if the majority of the deprived and dispossessed, the ‘wretched of the earth’, still clings on to it as a beacon of hope. Nevertheless, there is no gainsaying that the progressive forces holding aloft the banner of socialism have suffered a heavy blow everywhere and forced to beat a retreat, hopefully temporary.

These forces were not in the least inconsequential in the then ruling party, the Congress, with our first Prime Minister himself—who held the reins of power in 1962—having unveiled the vision of a ‘socialistic pattern of society’ at the Congress’ Avadi session in the mid-fifties of the last century. However, due to various reasons as outlined above, the progressive forward-looking elements were thoroughly disunited and Mainstream, as its inaugural issue pointed out, resolved to unite those sections through meaningful exchange of ideas and dialogue to the best of its ability.

Today there are well-meaning individuals in the principal constituent of the ruling coalition no doubt, but their vision suffers from the lack of a clear perspective as to how to ensure progress. So a majority of them is lured into uncritically accepting the neoliberal paradigm of development based on the totally unworkable ‘trickle-down theory’ borrowed from the neo-conservatives of the Western world who shun the word ‘socialism’ like plague. Even as the unviability of that model of economic advance is becoming increasingly evident in the recent events in the US and Europe (witness the unique and massive ‘Occupy Wall Street’ demons-trations in America and movements against austerity measures imposed in such European states as Greece and Spain), the absence of the blueprint of the alternative course of progress, based on the democratic socialist framework, has caused and is causing much confusion among the people in general and they include all those wedded to the socialist values upheld during our battle for decolonisation and freedom even if their number has depleted with the passage of time.

This is where this publication, with all its limitations and shortcomings, is playing a role in bridging the gap and offering a forum of open discussion and discourse through which one expects the alternative to emerge. But, needless to underline, its task on this score has become increasingly daunting given the constraints under which it is functioning bereft as it is of money power which really calls the shots in the prevailing environment.

Mainstream’s journey in the last fifty years has been arduous but at the same time rewarding as well. When the Emergency was proclaimed alongside the curbing of press freedom through the imposition of precensorship in June 1975, this periodical continued to purvey information through diverse means that could not invite direct retaliation. However, when the authorities sought to suppress even oblique references to events uncomfortable to the powers that be, it was compelled to suspend publication. Before that Mainstream’s founder in a signed editorial cogently explained why he was forced to take the extreme step after 14 years of uninterrupted appearance.

Throughout these fourteen years, there has never been any questioning of the cherished values, the ideals and principles, born out of the struggle of this nation for freedom, democracy and a new social order. To strive for such an objective, the unity of forward-looking forces has been and shall be the essential pre-requisite. As it has grown over the years, Mainstream has, in its modest way, endeavoured to bring about such a unity without fear or favour. It has faced many an ordeal and it can humbly claim that it has never deviated from the path of fearless and independent journalism.

Times have changed, and with them, the values. The political process, its semantics and its very style and purpose, pose questions which Time alone can answer. And to face such an extraordinary situation requires courage—courage not of the foolhardy but of the patient and the silently alert. Battles may be lost but wars are won by firm adherence to clear perspective.

These words have all long guided us as the lodestar even at the height of despondency. And they will, we sincerely believe, do so in future as well. But as of now, when we are passing through dark days for the nation, their significance has heightened in considerable measure.

The depressing scenario all around us does not instil any sense of confidence today. As was mentioned two months ago in these columns, while analysing the present situation fifty years after the perfidious Chinese aggression that left a permanent scar on our body politic,

Unless we weed out the scourges whose burden we still have to bear—from poverty, inequality, corruption (like attacks on women) to all kinds of fissiparous trends (including communalism, casteism, regionalism)—we cannot hope to save, leave aside strengthen, our independence in the long term.

It must also be mentioned in this context that the ongoing Maoist insurgency in our tribal heartland once again brings into focus the unending socio-economic oppression and exploitation the poor and the marginalised are being subjected to even after 65 years of our independence from alien rule. As in the past, Mainstream will continue to stand by these disprivileged people at the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder.

It is in this setting that the spontaneous mass upsurges against corruption on the one hand and assaults on womenfolk in general on the other do inspire some hope that all is not lost in the midst of the allround indifference and apathy of the political class in particular. Mainstream promises to reinforce this trend in society to the extent possible in the coming days.

On this occasion we fondly remember not only N.C., the founder of this journal, but also C.N.C. (C.N. Chitta Ranjan), Mainstream’s first editor, and D.R.G. (Desh Raj Goyal) who succeded Chitta Ranjan thereafter before N.C. took over the task in 1967. (Fortunately, D.R. Goyal who had to once briefly suffer imprisonment on account of certain professional reasons connected with the journal during his editorship, is still with us although N.C. and C.N.C. as well as Subhradra Joshi, who at one time headed the Mainstream editorial board, have departed from our midst.) We also convey our sincere greetings to all those who were associated with the weekly in some form or other (a few of whom have contributed in this issue).
As Mainstream complete fifty years of its chequered life, let us redeem the pledge to carry forward the legacy of this periodical regardless of the heavy odds seeking to block its advance in the days ahead.

December 18 S.C.

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