The Revolutionary Democracy statement on the events in Nandigram was widely circulated. It was carried in the French, English and Russian editions of Northstar Compass which are published from Montreal, Toronto, and Moscow. The Greek comrades published it in their Athens based blog. It was also translated and published in Urdu in the journal Awami Manshoor, Karachi.
From: Ghaziabad – INDIA
Janab salam and respects. Received the July issue of the current year. I am thankful. I was introduced to Awami Manshoor in 1994. I wanted that the writers and intellectuals of Bhawalpur should also contribute in the journal. In this issue in the column, ‘Log Kehte hain’ after the writers of letters from Lahore, the writers and poets of Bhawalpur hold second position, Karachi and Bhawalpur contributing three letters each. First is mine, second from Bhagwan Dass Ejaz and third from F. S. Ejaz. Out of these three Bhawalpuris two are from India and one is from Pakistan. I am very glad about this.
In the June 2007 issue appeared an article by an unknown writer translated by Janab Qamran Abbas on Nandigram. Readers here did not like it. It is full of distortions. I will send my opinion on this article in my next letter. This has damaged the reputation of AM. I will write on the correct situation next time. A government which is ruling for last 30 years and which has distributed 12 lakh acres of land to peasants does not deserve such an article.
Please publish my couplets on the October Revolution, being sent on the back of the next sheet of paper in the October issue.
Thanking you. My regards to the whole team of Awami Manshoor.
O. P. Azad Bhawalpuri
Let me first thank you and Revolutionary Democracy for bringing out rare pieces of information defending socialism especially regarding the Russian revolution and Comrade Stalin. I believe, in a hurry to attack political rivals some reactionary materials are posted in Revolutionary Democracy with improper comments. The article ‘CPM’s grazing land’ by Sumit Mitrais such a piece. The following comment from the editor on the article ‘Mitra’s analysis, in contrast, suggests that the illness of the current policies may well be traced to the inherent limitations of the earlier policies, especially the much-vaunted ‘operation barga’ is inappropriate.
Revolutionary Democracy cannot grab any point to substantiate its stand about the crisis in Bengal from Mishra’s article. In his article he is denouncing educational reform and land reform as a way to provide undue advantage to CPM party people. He is not considering the struggles behind these measures (from the CPM and other left forces). Mishra says ‘most landowners have lost their land’, ‘anti-development rent control laws’ etc.
His analysis about the reason why land can be easily grabbed for corporates in states other than in West Bengal is totally flawed. One reason for opposition is due to the real estate value for urban land being close to big cities whether in Kolkata suburbs or in Mumbai suburbs. The case of rural land is different. Mishra’s theory about flawed policies leading to more people depending on agriculture in Bengal while other states shift more people into industry from agriculture due to good pro-industrial policies is only a neo-liberal claim. It is a shame that Revolutionary Democracy published such lines without proper comments to denounce it. First of all the industrialisation in the listed neo-liberal states could not handle not even 10% of the population. Flawed industrialisation for export profit failed to yield anything in those states. (Sure the case will be the same in West Bengal.)
West Bengal does not have very high number of agricultural labourers when compared to Maharashtra, Gujarat or Tamil Nadu. See the map in the link: http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/india/agricultural-labourers.htm.
Andhra Pradesh, the cyber state of the last decade has more than West Bengal. Agricultural labourers are a neglected population all over India and forced to live under distress. Their plight is not bad in Bengal when compared to other states. (But there is no need to compare poverty. Poverty is poverty whether it is 1 degree or 100 degrees.)
Agriculture is under distress all over India and industrialisation under neo-liberal policies is not enough to offset this decline.
72 per cent of the population of Punjab is involved in agrarian activity. The unnatural deaths of farmers in Punjab, the country’s food bowl, add up to 30,000 plus in the last decade. Farmer suicides have been reported in many of the 12,278 villages of the state, spread over 18 districts. The Government concedes fewer numbers between 1988 and 2004 stating that only 2,116 farmers had ended their lives.
Maharashtra link: http://www.empowerpoor.com/backgrounder.asp?report=159
While 60% of people are dependent on agriculture for a living, the share of agricultural output in state revenue is disproportionately small. It was 42% in 1960, and has, in recent years, come down to 17%. The number of primary schools in the state, which was 67,271 in 2003-04, rose marginally to 67,964 in 2004-05. Only 12.71% of primary and 3.37% of secondary schools are within a distance of 100 km, in rural Maharashtra. There are 42 lakh unemployed persons in the state, and 5 lakh people are added to the tally every year. Maharashtra. The state had 5% unemployment in 1993-94, and this rose to 7% in 1999-2000. The spate of farmer suicides in Maharashtra since July 2007 touched 1,132.
Bengal farmers stand better when compared to these two glamour states. The number of farmers suicides in West Bengal is much fewer. What makes West Bengal different is that the people put up a fight. Why? Can’t we concede at least that the land reforms and panchayat system, however limited, have improved the quality of life of rural Bengal at least in their expectations from their government or society. I believe the decades long Left rule in Bengal has meaning only in terms of empowering people to another level. There are indications that the ruling left is in a crisis to continue rule and empowering the people. The other left has significance at this point of history but they should not align with reactionaries like Mamata or Mishra and they should acknowledge the power that the people gained in the last decades through the Left Front and take the mantle and carry it forward. That will be a silver lining for the progressive forces all over India. The other left has to start a similar innings as CPM had in 1977. Most of the followers of CPM will only welcome that. Can the elite Bengali Left do that? Isn’t there not an amount of hypocrisy there right from the days of Vivekananda?