Marx’s Indian followers have a confused but predominantly negative attitude to the question of India’s legitimacy as a united republic. They are willing to accept the unified Indian state as long as it is useful to their own ends (as in 1959-62, after their election victory in Kerala gave them hope of taking over India, a hope crushed by the embarrassing Chinese invasion of 1962), but they are just as ready to discard it, because they do not believe in it and have no loyalty towards it. Around the time of independence, they actively campaigned for the “Balkanization of India”, hoping to gobble up one fragment after another. They never tire of denouncing anything that bolsters India’s unity as a ‘myth’. For them, India is an artificial unit, a prisonhouse of nations, bound to fall apart, (as what any of the hostile country inimical to India, would expect and dream of).

In contrast with other colonized countries, Marxists in India played no important role in the freedom movement either, except negatively. According to a Western Marxist observer: “Uncompromising opposition to Gandhi and his cherished Hindu convictions meant that communists were cut off in a considerable measure from the mainstream of the patriotic struggle”. Ever since, they have supported every antinational cause: the crushing of the Quit India movement (1942), Partition (1947), the Razakar terror campaign to prevent the merger of Hyderabad with India (1948), the Chinese claims to Indian territory (up to 1962: “China’s chairman is also India’s chairman”). As late as 1997, CPI leader Sitaram Yechury refused to admit that China had been the aggressor in 1962.
In the 1990s, they had threatened secession of the states they control in the event of a Hindu-nationalist election victory(i.e. BJP/RSS). It is a different matter that by the time this victory took place, in 1998, the Communist movement had become too weak and grey to hazard such action.

To complete the picture, it should be realized that as born Hindus alienated by westernization, Indian Marxists are animated by a seething hatred of their ancestral culture and heritage.

**** Marxism against India ****
To understand the compulsion on Indian Marxists to hold out against changes in the dominant AIT paradigm as long as possible, we should know a few things about their unique position as compared to that of Marxists elsewhere. Their animosity against the native culture of India and against a theory which would strengthen their own country’s prestige is somewhat surprising, for in most Third World countries, Marxists have also been ardent nationalists in the struggle for cultural as well as political and economic decolonization. In Communist countries, national history was rewritten not only to vilify the reactionary forces (e.g. Confucius) but also to highlight and glorify the nation’s contribution to material culture and scientific progress. This is or was true of China, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and of their supporters abroad.

Along the same lines, we must note in India the lone Marxist historian Bhagwan Singh, who has contributed to the critique of the AIT, focusing specifically on the material culture and the economic data available in Vedic literature and the archaeological record of the Harappan cities, to show that the two match. Also, Western Marxists of an earlier generation have protested against the imperialist projection of colonial racism onto the colonized native society, as in the AIT-related racial theory of caste: “The early Indo-Aryans could no more have thought in modern terms of race prejudice than they could have invented the airplane.” Finally, Soviet historians have extolled ancient Hindu contributions to science and political culture which were ignored by their political Leftists and Marxists allies in India, instead went on to counter that very argument.aap

Most Indian Marxists, by contrast, along with their supporters in Western Indology departments (when it comes to controversial issues, most Western India-watchers are incredibly gullible parrots of whatever their privileged Indian contacts tell them), go out of their way to belittle India and to vilify as ‘chauvinistic’ or worse any attempt to revalue India’s contribution.

In their campaign against India and Hinduism, Indian Marxists get plenty of patronage from Western universities. When Non-Resident Indians raise money to fund a chair of Indian Studies in a Western university, what they get for their money is in most cases the appointment of an Indian Marxist academic who comes to confirm the Western audiences in their most negative stereotypes about India, e.g. by reducing every single aspect of Hindu civilization to ‘caste oppression’ (it is Axioma 1 of contemporary Indian Studies that Hinduism is caste, wholly caste and nothing but caste). Thus, the Hinduja Foundation has set up an Indic Studies programme in Columbia University, but its staff includes determinedly anti-Hindu characters who even vilify their own sponsors at conferences elsewhere.
One occasion where I saw US-based Indian Marxists in action was at the 1996 Annual South Asia Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, in a panel purportedly dealing with the AIT debate. I knew that excellent and innovative papers by N.S. Rajaram and Shrikant Talageri had been rejected by the organizers, so I felt entitled to expect presentations of top-notch scholarship dwarfing even that of Rajaram and Talageri. Instead, what the audience got, was a canvassing session for the ‘Forum of Indian Leftists’ without any scholarly papers. The speakers disdained to even mention any of the argumentative contents of the AIT debate, except ‘David Frawley’s paradox’ (the AIT’s puzzling implication pointed out by Frawley, viz. that the Harappan civilization had numerous cities but no literature, while Vedic civilization had a vast literature but no cities), which they simply laughed off without discussion ad rem.
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Dr. Subramanian Swamy


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