Sunday, November 12, 2006

Indian lessons for Australia

Currently writing a paper on Indian Communism. The largest Communist party the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has much material on the web. India has seen a sustained attempt by the conservative BJP to mobilise Hindu nationalist sentiment and an attempt to define Indian national identity not as civic but Hindu. Party supporters have encouraged pogroms and mob violence against minorities especially Muslims but also Christians. This has not stopped Australian conservative commentators such as Greg Sheridan praising the BJP. In Australia we seen the right also supporting an ethno-religious rather than a civic nationalism. Chaplains in schools is the thin edge of the wedge, not just a 'political stunt' much more dangerous. I certainly don't agree with the CPI(M) on many issues (as my paper will show) but they are good on the defence of secularism (both quotes from documents accessible here):
The secular principle is enshrined in the Constitution and the values of secular democracy are proclaimed by the big bourgeois leadership of the State. However, the practice of secularism by the bourgeoisie has been flawed. They try to distort the whole concept of secularism. They would have the people believe that instead of complete separation of religion and politics, secularism means freedom for all religious faiths to equally interfere in the affairs of the State and political life. Instead of firmly combating the anti-secular trends, the bourgeoisie often gives concessions and strengthens them. The threat to the secular foundations has become menacing with the rise of the communal and fascistic RSS-led combine and its assuming power at the Centre. Systematic efforts are on to communalise the institutions of the State, the administration, the educational system and the media…Our Party is, therefore, committed to wage an uncompromising struggle for the consistent implementation of the principles of secularism. Even the slightest departure from that principle should be exposed and fought. While defending the right of every religious community -- whether it is the majority or the minorities -- as well as those who have no faith in any religion to believe in and practice any religion or none at all, the Party should fight against all forms of intrusion of religion in the economic, political and administrative life of the nation and uphold secular and democratic values in culture, education and society. The danger of fascist trends gaining ground, based on religious communalism must be firmly fought at all levels…In conditions of capitalist exploitation the guaranteed rights to the minorities provided in the Constitution are also not implemented. There is the lack of equal opportunities and discrimination against the Muslim minorities both in the economic and social sphere. Communal riots and violent attacks against the Muslims have become a permanent feature. The RSS and its outfits constantly instigate hatred against the minorities and they target the Christian community also. This fosters alienation and insecurity among the minorities, which breeds fundamentalist trends and weakens the secular foundations. Minority communalism isolates the minorities and hampers the common movement of all oppressed sections. Defence of minority rights is a crucial aspect of the struggle to strengthen democracy and secularism. (2000 Program, 5.7-5.9).
The CPI(M) is for championing the legitimate rights of the minorities against discrimination and fighting off the attacks by majority communalism. At the same time, the Party stands for democratic and progressive reforms within the minorities. It opposes fundamentalism and minority communalism which seeks to ghettoize and breed intolerance amongst the minorities. The Party is for special measures to provide education and access to jobs for the Muslim minorities. Attention has to be paid to the rights and needs of the working people and the poorer sections amongst the minorities and to bring them into the common class and mass movements (Political Resolution, April 2005).


At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Phil said...

Pretty well sums it up. Interesting stuff to come as far as India/Oz relations go, Congress also largely stands for secularism BTW, although it must frame that in it's own way as a party of mass appeal,which of course the CPI(M) is not despite it's size.

Don't get me started on BJP and the Shiv Sena's Hindutva, fascists the lot.

As an aside it's amazing to be at one of the CPI rallys (just as a bystander) and seeing all the red hammer and sickle flags and banners feels like some kind of weird time warp.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Geoff Robinson said...

BJP very dodgy. The CPI nostalgia politics is strange. At least in all their stuff on the web no attempt to really engage with what went wrong in the USSR. But in government the Indian Communists look rather like the state Labor governments in Australia.


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