Surjeet’s Birth Centenary Celebrations Begin in Odisha: True Patriotism Requires Fight against Trident Attacks of Modi Regime
Rabi Narayan Mallick
TRUE patriotism means all-out efforts to save India and its citizens, to protect its syncretic plural culture and its democratic set-up. All these are under attack in the Modi regime. It is the duty of all Left, progressive and patriotic forces to fight against these trident attacks. This will be the true tribute to legendary Communist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet, said CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, flagging off Surjeet’s birth centenary celebrations in Odisha’s state capital Bhubaneswar. Yechury delivered his speech on “Today’s India and the Role of Patriotic Indians” at the programme, organised by Surjeet’s Birth Centenary Celebration Committee, Odisha. Senior CPI(M) leader Janardan Pati presided over the function and CPI(M) State Secretary Ali Kishore Patnaik gave the introductory speech. Remembering Surjeet, Yechury said that we have a lot to learn from the life and sacrifice of Surjeet, how he joined the freedom movement at a tender age of 14 or 15 leaving his school, how he was arrested on the day after his marriage and after a year in jail could not even recognise his wife, and how he did not know his actual date of birth and made it the same as that of Bhagat Singh, how even without a formal education he was a proud participant in international ideological debate, how from his life’s harrowing experience of the Partition days he remained a life-long crusader against communalism, how he displayed high Communist morality by returning Tata’s donation to the CPI(M) when he was General Secretary of the Party and last but not the least, his sense of abiding by the Party discipline in carrying out the Party’s decisions and so on. Dwelling upon the present situation, Yechury said India is home to 194.6 million hungry people. We have the highest number of malnourished children in the world and 52.7 per cent of the children in India die before attaining the age of five and India accounts for around 50 per cent of the modern slaves of the world in the form of child labour and trafficked women. Without addressing these burning problems, Modi is observing Yoga Day with fanfare. Nobody opposes yoga, but it has been there much before the coming of Aryans and even before the Vedic period. Sculptures of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro are evidence of this. Lord Buddha’s posture is also a form of yoga. It is aimed at sending oxygen to all cells of the body. But Modi wants political mobilisation through this which is nothing but taking away the attention of the people from the day-to-day problem they confront. The attempts of the Modi government to rewrite history by presenting mythology as history, changing the curriculum, packing the educational/research bodies with henchmen and bigots are aimed at turning India into a backward-looking country and trying to rouse their sentiments on false vanity and ego far from based on reality and just on fascistic method. Reminding the self-appointed agents of religion on the plurality of Indian nation, Yechury said that people of different regions of the country practice different practices even though they believe in the same religion. The attempts of communal forces to destroy our syncretic/pluralistic culture are not new. In fact, it started in the twenties of the last century when our freedom movement was starting to be deep-rooted. In the year 1889, four leaders were born. They were Jawaharlal Nehru, Acharya Narendra Dev, Muzaffar Ahmed (Kaka Babu) and K B Hedgewar. Nehru stood for a modern, secular, democratic republic, Narendra Dev was the pioneer of the Socialist Party to spread the socialist philosophy and Muzaffar Ahmed was the founder of the Communist Party of India with the goal of taking the political independence to economic freedom. Despite differences on many issues, these three stands were having one commonality, i.e. to protect India’s pluralistic culture and progress of the country. But opposed to all these, there were communalists headed by Hedgewar on the one hand and Jinnah on the other. Both these brands of communalists wanted states based on religion where minorities will not have any rights. First, Savarkar advanced the two-nation theory and then, Jinnah followed it. All these were experienced by Surjeet during his early years of political life. But the most harrowing was his experience during the days of the Partition which saw unprecedented mayhem and displacement of lakhs and lakhs of people. This made Surjeet a life-long crusader against communalism which he put into practice during the formation of secular governments right from the one led by V P Singh in 1989 to the United Front government in 1996 and UPA-1 government in 2004 for which he was termed as ‘Pitamah Bhisma’ in the political circles. Referring to the prevailing economic situation, Yechury said that it is now passing through crises. Our export has gone drawn and the balance of trade deficit has gone up. But the Modi government has changed the base year to depict a picture that India’s GDP growth rate has even surpassed China which is nothing but a hoax. Sharply criticising the rising inequality in India, Yechury said that the government’s pro-corporate and pro-international finance capital policies are sharpening the divide between two Indias. Number of dollar billionaires rose from 45 to 100 in the last two years and these 100 families own 50 per cent of our GDP while 58 per cent of Indians are fighting for their survival. We have to first save India in order to better it. Yechury cautioned that the fight against neo-liberal attacks and to save our pluralist culture is interlinked. The Modi government’s 60 per cent reduction in allocation for MGNREGA, dilution of PDS, non-increase of MSP for farmers, amending the labour laws to deprive the workers from their hard won rights, and the draconian land acquisition bills – all are aimed to squeezing the poor and pampering the rich. In the name of industrial corridor, the Modi government wants to acquire any land they like. It is proposed to acquire 1 KM wide land on either side of national highways, state highways, and railway lines. By this 39 per cent of the land of the country will be acquired and handed over to the corporate sector. The farmers are fighting against this. The workers of all political parties are preparing for an all-India General Strike on September 2. The Left and the progressive forces are to be united and make common cause with all these struggles, exhorted Yechury. Yechury said that India does not have dearth of patriotic forces. Nor does it lack resources. If only due tax is collected from the richest one per cent, the fiscal deficit will come down. Funds will be available for irrigation and other infrastructures. India can provide education, health, and dignified living to all Indians. The venue was packed to its capacity with people from all walks of life including Left party leaders and cadres and academicians attending the event. A book in Odiya depicting the life and struggle of Harkishan Singh Surjeet was released by Yechury.