Lead Article

Left's Debacle in 2014: Who's Responsible?

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The debacle faced by the CPI(M)-led Left Front in the 2014 general elections, especially in its erstwhile stronghold of West Bengal, has stunned supporters and opponents alike, and caused stirrings within the ranks of the Left activists. Out of the 98 seats it contested this time, the CPI(M) has won only 9 seats and secured a meager 3.2% of the national vote – lowest since the formation of the party in 1964. With the single seat won by the CPI and two more Left backed independents from Kerala the total strength of the Left contingent in parliament is 12, which is also the lowest since the first general elections of 1951-52. The Left Front won 2 out of the 2 seats it contested in Tripura, 8 out of the 20 in Kerala and only 2 out of the 42 in West Bengal. Why has this happened? What factors and who are to be held responsible for this debacle? Can anything be done to retrieve the situation and rejuvenate the Left? 

National

The Rise of the AAP: Some Points, Some Questions

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"There is no doubt that the rise of AAP represents a significant opportunity to defeat the massive right wing assault on justice and democracy in this country, and that the party has opened a political space that no one else has been able to create. Rejection of this party would hence be a serious mistake. However, major political decisions such as joining this party cannot be taken only on the basis of what is occurring now - it is necessary to consider what will happen in the long run. We request comrades to consider these points before taking decisions on their approach to AAP."

AAP Needs to Learn the Art of Alliances

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The impressive performance of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi polls has opened up the contest for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. The AAP has clearly put a spoke in the wheel for the ‘Modi for PM’ campaign by emerging as a fresh alternative to the discredited and corrupt Congress.

Understanding the 'Mango People'

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"AAP and other parties like it would be forced to confront directly the fundamental economic processes that are generating the corruption, venality and inequality that they oppose. While this is still not explicitly recognised, it is likely to become evident soon enough since many of the demands they make simply cannot be fulfilled in a neoliberal economic framework.This makes forces like the AAP natural allies of the Left and progressive forces, if the latter are also open to the changing realities and shedding past prejudices." 

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International

The Battle for Turkey

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What started as a small demonstration against the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park has turned into a big political turmoil that Turkey has not witnessed for decades. The planned demolition of one of the rare green spaces in the middle of Istanbul and replacement of it with a shopping mall and residential complex led people to start a peaceful sit-in to express their opposition. On May 31, riot police moved in, assailing the demonstrators with pressurized water and tear gas, arresting hundreds of them, and injuring many. Following that and Prime Minister Erdogan’s disapproval of any reconciliation, the protests have started to spread to many other cities across the country, and the world. The protestors cut across ideological, religious and class lines, many of whom are strikingly young.

"Class Struggle is not Waged in only One Way; We want to Learn by Doing"

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Aasim Sajjad Akhtar is a renowned left intellectual and currently the general secretary of the Punjab section of the newly formed Awami Workers Party (AWP). The new party was formed last month after a merger of three progressive and left forces, the Awami Party Pakistan, the Labour Party and the Workers Party and vowed to "build a new programme of socialism for 21st century Pakistan". Com. Sajjad speaks about the challenges before the AWP, it's goals and its immediate aims to Pragoti Edit Group Convenor, Srinivasan Ramani in this interview (via email). 

Hugo Chavez's victory: Strengthening the Bolivarian project in Venezuela

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President Hugo Chavez's recent victory in Venezuela's presidential elections is another step in making the path to socialism irreversible in that country. Whether Chavez will manage to heed some of his leftist critics and allies and evolve further reforms that broaden the scope of the socialist project remains to be seen, but the signs are promising.   

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Editorials

Pragoti salutes the nameless and the ordinary

Pragoti salutes the nameless and the ordinary whose valiance and courage in life and death will not be headlines in the chronicles of the Mumbai carnage. The immediate appeals to jingoistic nationalism and communalism by the hard and soft Hindu right, and the proposals to launch war and pass draconian laws, dished out by the mainstream media, is an attempt to ensure that the people are put through more of such terror. We stand committed to the struggles of the ordinary and the nameless people of India to fight terrorism and all political harbingers of terror.

Support the General Strike on August 20, 2008

The general strike on August 20 will be a landmark in the struggle of the workers and peasants of India against the Manmohan Singh government that is bent on proving its loyalty to the big bourgeoisie in India and its allegiance to international finance capital and by extension US imperialism. A PRAGOTI Editorial

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Pragoti Interviews

Interview with Noam Chomsky

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In this wide ranging interview, Noam Chomsky talks about his new book "Hopes and Prospects" and dwells on the issues of Haiti, the US economy and polity, the growth processes in India and China and the current political state of Latin America. We are grateful to Keane Bhatt for making this interview available to us.

"Rahul Gandhi does not understand why the rich are rich and the poor are poor"

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CPI(M) Research Unit Convenor, Prasenjit Bose interviewed by Vima Naukara (Insurance Employee), the monthly journal of insurance employees association in Karnataka published from Bangalore. The text of the interview recorded in September 2010 is reproduced here. 

I am accused of romanticizing the working class: Anand Patwardhan

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 Anand Patwardhan's documentary film "War and Peace (Jung aur Aman)" was screened at IIT Bombay on 30th August 2009. During and after the discussion session of the documentary film, our editorial team member Anirban Ghatak took a short interview of Anand. Anand answered the questions with equal determination and conviction which we are pretty used to see in his films. Here we present the interview. 

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Theory and Praxis

21st century socialism and issues - a debate

A debate on 21st century socialism hosted on Pragoti featuring articles by Rohit & Srinivasan Ramani, a riposte by Arjun Sengupta and a response by Rohit & Srinivasan Ramani again. 

The Indian radical grapples with globalisation

There has been a major transformation in India over the last two decades – economic, political, social and cultural. Some of this has been a result of the liberalisation of the economy, a significant part of which has been the opening up to global capital. The Left in India, across organisations and ideologies, has viewed globalisation as a disaster for India. However, even a cursory glance at the actual history of globalisation in India will show that it has been as much about India reaching out to the world as the world coming to India.

On Democratic Centralism

 In the recent period, alongwith a number of critical discussions on the electoral set-back suffered by the CPI (M) and the Left in last Lok Sabha elections, there have been some questions raised about the practice of democratic centralism as the organizational principle of the Communist Party. Such critiques have come from persons who are intellectuals associated with the Left or the CPI (M). 

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Political Economy

Contemporary Imperialism and the Socialist Alternative

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The anti-people character of the neoliberal regime and the bankruptcy of its free market ideology are getting thoroughly exposed with the deepening economic crisis and the irrational, vested-interest-driven actions of the bourgeois governments. With the weakening hegemony of neoliberal ideas, debates over alternatives to globalised capitalism are emerging, along with a revival of interest in Marxism and socialist ideas across the world. Attempts are also underway to better understand and analyze the contemporary world from a Marxist standpoint.

21st century socialism and its discontents – a response to a response

The authors, Rohit and Srinivasan Ramani, of the original introductory piece - "What Does 21st Century Socialism Mean" respond to Arjun Sengupta's critique of it. 

The Debate on 21st Century Socialism: A Response

The article by Srinivasan Ramani and Rohit titled “What does 21st Century Socialism mean?” evoked multiple responses. Arjun Sengupta raises a few further questions in the ongoing debate.

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Reviews

Deconstructing the Libyan war

Stanly Johny reviews Vijay Prashad's book, "Arab Spring, Libyan Winter". 

Aarakshan : Much ado about nothing

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The film barely offers an honest debate on caste-based reservation; instead the plot merely promotes private education, mixed with an unhealthy dose of charity, individual morality and traditionalism, writes SAQIB KHAN

Images and Politics in Peepli Live

"Peepli Live can be accused of the same crime that it accuses the media of – just scratching the surface of all issues it could in an hour and a half without really trying to push the envelope of discourse on any front, neither the role of media, nor agrarian crisis or indeed the crisis of Indian politics itself", says Tejal Kanitkar in a review of the movie in this post.

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Commemoration

The Continuing Relevance of Karl Marx

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Nearly a hundred and thirty years after his death and 190 years after his birth on May 5, 1818, Karl Marx continues to exert enormous intellectual and practical influence across the world. The socialist future he so confidently predicted has not yet become the global reality that many had hoped it would. The capitalist mode of production that he diagnosed as crisis-prone and doomed to extinction in the course of further historical development dominates the contemporary world. The early attempts at establishing a socialist society have faced exceptionally difficult problems in a predominantly capitalist/imperialist world. Yet, none of these facts can be seen as rendering Marx irrelevant or as diminishing the power and vitality of his theory and vision. Why?

16 August 2010- A Tribute to Narayan Surve

A poetic tribute to the revolutionary Marathi poet Narayan Surve by Pallavi Chavan. The poem, originally composed in Marathi, has also been translated in English by the poet. Both the versions are included in the post below.

150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore: the Universal Poet

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May 9, 2010 marks the 150 birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest poets and thinkers India has ever produced. In the present day World, riddled with war and violence, his writings on universal humanness and peace are more relevant than ever.
 
The multi-cultural educational efforts carried out by Tagore became an inspiration to educators around the world, and schools following his philosophy of human unity were created in many countries.
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Others

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Diaries

পার্র্টি-নেতা ও ‘পার্টি-শত্রু’

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যারা দিনের পর দিন আন্দোলন বিমুখ থেকেছেন ও একের পর এক ভুল সিদ্ধান্ত গ্রহণ করেছেন,তারা রয়ে গেলেন পার্টি নেতা হয়ে। যেই নেতারা সরকারী টাকায় ১৬০০০ টাকার চশমা কিনে পার্টি ও বামফ্রন্টের মর্যাদাহানী করেছেন অথবা সরকারী আনুকুল্যে রাজারহাটের জমি সস্তায় হাতিয়ে নিয়েছেন, তারাই এখন সার্টিফিকেট দিচ্ছেন যে কে পাটির ভাল চায় আর কে চায় না! আর যারা বামপন্থী মতে বিশ্বাসী হয়ে পার্টি নেতৃত্বের বিচ্যুতির বিরুদ্ধে সরব হয়েছেন তাঁদের গায়ে পার্টি শত্রুর তকমা লাগানো হচ্ছে। মানুষ এই ভন্ড, রাজনৈতিকভাবে দেউলিয়া ও অধঃপতিত নেতৃত্বকে বিপুল ভোটে পরাজিত করে প্রমাণ করেছেন যে এই নেতাদের কে মানুষ আর যাই হোক তাদের মিত্র বলে মনে করে না।

বাম নেতৃত্বের সংকট

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এটাই সময়ের দাবী যে পলিটব্যুরো থেকে শুরু করে রাজ্য নেতৃত্ব ও তলার সাংগঠনিক কমিটিগুলির অবিলম্বে পুনর্বিন্যাস প্রয়োজন। এই প্রক্রিয়া শুরু করার জন্য রাজ্য ও কেন্দ্রীয় নেতৃত্বের অবিলম্বে নিজেদের পদ থেকে সরে দাঁড়ানো উচিত।  নতুন নেতৃত্ব নির্বাচিত করতে হবে সর্বস্তরে স্বচ্ছ ও গণতান্ত্রিক পদ্ধতিতে নির্বাচনের মাধ্যমে। যদি বলেন যে হঠাৎ নেতৃত্ব পরিবর্তন সংকট ডেকে আনতে পারে, তাহলে বলব যে সংকট এসে গিয়েছে, তাই সেই সংকট আর বাড়াবেন না। আর সময় নেই। 

How the CPI(M) Leadership in West Bengal is Purging Voices of Dissent

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This is to inform all concerned that I have been a member of the CPI(M) since the year 2000, which I had joined as an activist of the SFI. I’ve been the secretary of the Website Branch of the party since 2011, which works under the state centre in West Bengal. I played my due role in the CPI(M)’s campaign for the recently concluded Loksabha elections.

"Non-Publication of a News-Item - Workers March To Parliament"

Piqued with the lack of adequate coverage of an important workers' rally held in New Delhi on 12th December 2013, a number of concerned people write a letter to the chairperson of the Press Council of India. The letter is carried below. 

Prospects for the "multi-class supported" Aam Aadmi Party

Having graduated from a political movement to a party in government relatively quickly, in the small but significant State of Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is now poised to address its next challenge — that of attaining national relevance. The party’s success in Delhi had much to do with some unique factors related to the capital city such as the extensive media coverage it received during the phase of its agitations for a Lokpal. But it was the party’s strategy to move away from a single-issue movement (anti-corruption) with an element of anti-politics to a “populist” political organisation articulating real life issues of the ordinary citizens like inflated power bills and the inequitable distribution of water, that catapulted it to centre stage. It transited from being a civil society organisation committed to the realisation of the Lokpal to a political party seeking to implement the vision of Lokniti (decentralised, communitarian democracy).

Policy Based Alternative Needed to Congress & BJP

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The most unambiguous message emanating from the assembly election results in four states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi — is that the people are disgusted with the Congress governments, both at the Centre and in the states. Given the record of relentless inflation and rise in food prices, the deteriorating economic condition, the plethora of mega-scams and rudderless, insensitive governance, this was waiting to happen. The defeat of the Congress in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls has now become quite certain.

Sexual Harrasment Charge against Retired Judge: Statement by Faculty Members of NUJS

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The serious allegation of sexual harassment against the retired Supreme Court judge, AK Ganguly, made by a law intern, has been debated in the mainstream media over the past few weeks. 12 faculty members of the NUJS, Kolkata of which the complainant was a student, has issued a statement today countering the attempted character assassination of the complainant and demanding that the NUJS dissociates itself from the retired judge till he is exonerated of the charges made against him. The NUJS faculty members’ statement is reproduced below.

The AAP's performance in Delhi - A GIS Look and some assessments

I take a preliminary look at the electoral performance of the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi state using Geographical Information System (GIS) tools. This allows us to make some qualitative conclusions that could have a bearing on the AAP's political strategy going forward.

March For a Minimum Living Wage

 On 12 December 2013, more than a lakh workers predominantly from the unorganised sector marched on Parliament to demand a minimum living wage, social security measures and regulariation of work. The call had been given by trade unions across the political spectrum and the participants came from all parts of the country. However, mainstream and popular media remained indifferent and ignored the rally, much like earlier times.

Aam Aadmi Party and the Idea of Political Alternative

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Exactly two years ago, the Congress leaders in Delhi dismissed the social movement called ‘India against Corruption’ by stating that a bunch of self-righteous people cannot bring the national and Delhi state governments to a standstill. The demand of the movement for introducing a Jan Lok Pal Bill in the Parliament had been met by the government and therefore the Congress critics chose to ignore the movement stating it was time to move on from these issues and come back to business as usual.