VOL XLV No 01
Renewing Resolve amid Formidable Challenges
Tuesday 24 April 2007, by
As Mainstream enters the fortyfifth year of its modest but purposeful existence one is gripped by a feeling of allround depression.
Today there is a UPA Government at the Centre and it is dependent on its very survival on the crucial support that the Left parties are rendering from outside. But this is being viewed by both the UPA constituents and the supporting parties as merely a matter of expediency. This is completely alien to the holistic vision that Mainstream had projected when it appeared on the Indian horizon, a vision that was based on the necessity of building the unity of “all forward-looking forces as the sheet-another and guarantee of advance towards socialism”.
True, socialism is not on the agenda now, at least not at this moment in time. With the collapse of the statist socialist countries in Eastern Europe headed by the mighty Soviet Union, it has to be unequivocally conceded that world socialism is on the retreat and the negative impact of such a phenomenon on India cannot be overemphasi-sed. But what is far more disconcerting is the frog-in-the-well approach of the Left. Where theLeft parties should have sought to strain every nerve to project a new, alternative path to democratic socialism for all forward-looking sections far beyond their pale—both within the Congress and outside—they are just not interested in doing so. Perhaps the Left finds itself incapable of undertaking the task which doubtless is formidable in today’s exceptionally difficult circumstances. As a consequence it is becoming a prisoner of adhocism best manifest in the West Bengal CM’s incoherent utterances in a juvenile bid to ape Deng Xiaoping.
Meanwhile the national scene is marked by growing complexities—philistines in power unable to grasp the nature of economic disparities afflicting the polity as a whole reflected in the suicides in the countryside showing no sign of subsiding despite the high trajectory of growth illustrated by the rising graph of GDP, the mounting tide of Dalit assertion and tribal upsurge mirrored in the violence following the Khairlanji killings on the one side and the incessant Maoist offensives in the most backward regions on the other. Apart from certain activist groups as also some farsighted thinkers none is concerned over these developments—the complete apathy of the political establishments of every hue offering a shocking response to the happenings they are in no position to control or influence.
Terrorism, both indigenous and abetted and engineered from outside, has taken substantive strides of late to emerge as a menace of frightening proportions and it is becoming increasingly clear with every passing day that it would have to be fought relying only on our own strength for the foreign power on which the Manmohan Singh dispensation is heavily banking, namely, the US, is not going to do anything substantive to help us in that endeavour beyond pious expressions of sympathy and support. The Bush Administration’s promises on the Indo-US nuclear deal are also proving to be hollow—and side by side our PM’s pathetic reliance on George W. Bush’s verbal assurances as well—now that the Final Hyde Act from the US legislative process is bringing out the yawning gap between words and deeds. There is no harm seeking bonhomie with Washington on our own terms for mutual benefit as a sovereign nation but under no circumstance will the Indian public tolerate a single move to circumscribe the country’s sovereignty in any form. This is what has just been forcefully articulated in our parliament.
The movements of the poor and the dispossessed are growing in scale and alongside these the question—‘development for what and whom?’—is coming to the fore as never before. The issue of displacement and immiserisation too is assuming greater prominence in this context. These are healthy signs no doubt yet what cannot be lost sight of is that the onslaughts on the oppressed sections have acquired a far more sinsiter shape than before, courtesy the bait of globalisation our government personnel have fallen for hook, line and sinker.
The criminalisation of the polity and corruption in public life too are matters of serious concern considering the alarming heights such phenomena have now scaled without encountering any resistance whatsoever.
Indeed the challenges before us today are far more formidable than in the past. And the conditions have worsened in view of the disunity in the ranks of the progressive forces despite the continuance of the UPA Government. It is also frustrating to find the two striking achievements of the UPA dispensation—the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Right to Information Act—turning out to be ineffective in coming to the assistance of the toiling people for whom these were intended to act as instruments of support.
All this is not to minimise the significance of the ruling coalition at the Centre as a bulwark against the return to power of the communal forces still on the prowl. Yet the fact is that it has done precious little in positive terms to reinforce the people’s conviction in its capability.
Against the backdrop of this dismal picture on the domestic plane there is one silver-lining in the global setting: the massive setbacks suffered by George W. Bush both inside the US and the world beyond. His misadventure in Iraq has met with a huge fiasco leading to the resignation of his Defence Secretary. And this has further strengthened the unprecedented anti-US peace movement across the continents. His rhetoric against Iran and North Korea has thus declined in intensity even if his motivations to ‘act unilaterally’ against such ‘rogue states’ remain as strong as ever.
Fully conscious of the magnitude of the challenges before us, Mainstream renews its resolve to carry on with its quest for the elusive unity in the ranks of all secular, democratic, progressive and forward-looking forces pledged to effect allround advance in defence of the poor and the dispossessed and simultaneously defeat the dark forces of Right Reaction. This quest is no longer the luxury of an intellectual discourse for on it hinges the future of our democracy and socio-economic progress—whether or not we can ensure our confident march towards democratic socialism in the days ahead.
December 19 S.C.