Leftist Legacy & Influence:

Aam aadmi should be priority

By Dhurjati Mukherjee

The recent elections to Delhi University, JNU and Hyderabad University bear testimony to the fact that Left philosophy still holds sway among educated students and youth. More so, in a country where politics is dominated by a coterie whose interest in human welfare is debatable, the Leftists have demonstrated time and again that they are truly wedded to the concerns of the poor and impoverished sections of society.
True, though their influence has been on the wane except perhaps in Kerala and Tripura the educated sections of the young generation have great faith in Leftist policies and programmes. In fact, if education, not literacy, reaches the far corners of the country, the Left resurgence might become a reality.
This is all the more apparent after the scam tainted UPA Government lost the elections and the rightist BJP-led NDA came to power and started injecting its philosophical traits among students and youth. Alongside, the Saffron brigade’s casteist bias and disregard for dalits have come in for severe criticism.
Obviously, this has not been liked by the youth. Coupled with this the reduction of grants to colleges and universities have affected students in a big way. However, the most important issue is the policies of the Government which is leading to lack of employment and under-employment that economists have rightly termed as ‘jobless growth’.
Add to this the recent killings and threats to intellectuals by fundamentalist forces reflects there is an unwritten directive to toe the BJP-RSS line or face the consequences. This situation has never occurred in the country.
Importantly, all that is being propagated in the name of Hindutva is not, in any way, highlighting true Hinduism, instead it is fomenting class and caste divide resulting to violence and clashes across the country. In their bid to propagate Hindutva, the Saffron Sangh has launched a full-fledged attack on independent minded scholars and writers.
Undeniably, this unhealthy trend in society has become a subject of much discussion and debate country-wide whereby minorities are finding it difficult to maintain their normal freedom. The Leftists and even rationalists are against the systematic intellectual onslaught which curbs their free will to think and act the way they want and manner.
However, this is not to suggest that the rank and file is wedded to Leftist ideology. But seeing the state of governance, pro-rich planning and rampant corruption the educated class, specially the younger ones, are completely dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. Certainly, this cannot be expected to continue for long.
Pertinently, today’s state of affairs is directly in conflict with Gandhian thinking. The Father of the Nation who is highly regarded as a rightist philosopher yet his ideas on social and economic issues have much in common with those propagated by the Left.
Gandhi’s emphasis on political decentralization has been implemented after decades but economic decentralization has yet to become a reality. The functioning of the panchayats, as envisaged by him, is not the same as what is prevalent nowadays namely a top-down approach. He was against this. In fact, the left has all along been clamouring for more power to panchayats and local bodies which should have a decisive say in planning and development.
Interestingly, not many are aware that MGNREGA which is hailed as an exemplary programme was first mooted by the Leftists. Add to this, workers are now demanding wage parity with that of the minimum wage rate in States. The Leftists, be they independent thinkers and writers or belonging to a political Party have always been advocating the need for focusing on the rural sector and upgrading the poor social infrastructure across the country.
There is no gainsaying, Leftists are normally humble people and free from all sorts of corruption. None of them are directly or indirectly connected with any business houses or involved in any scams. But more than this, their concern in involving programmes for the lower segments of society, including landless farmers, sharecroppers, very small traders and businessmen merit attention.
Nevertheless, there are several problems in the Left organizing itself in a big way. Their plans and programmes normally go against the interests of the rich and the powerful and, as such, they do not want the left to be a powerful force. Another important obstacle to Left resurgence is that they are in general identified with violence in society though the rightist forces are much more violent and aggressive.
The violence perpetrated by ultra left forces — Maoists and Naxalites — has given Leftists a bad name. But this has been changing as the mainstream Left is very much against all types of violence. These mainstream Parties do not subscribe to cruelty and their movements are for justified demands, usually highlighting the concerns of the economically weaker sections and low income groups.
The Left strategy of bringing about the necessary transformation in society is to create pressure so as to change policies and programmes wherein they are geared towards the rural sector and economically weaker sections. But, as is well known, organizing the masses calls for resources which the Left are short of. But, most intellectuals, comprising mainly university and college professors, appreciate and subscribe to Leftist thinking.
In sum, the real change that is needed is to bring about a transformation in their focus, namely, grass-root problems which have been manifest in Leftist thinking. This is imperative for India as it needs to grow fast and thereby uplifting the conditions of the poor and oppressed. It is uncertain whether rightist forces ideology and programmes would be able to bring about the transformation, consequently, one might have to turn to the Left for achieving this in the coming years. —— INFA