July 18, 2021

TN: Anniversary of Facebook Live Discussions on PD

S V Venugopalan

THE onset of the Covid-19 pandemic started posing challenges, not just on the health front but also in other multi-dimensional ways, to human life.  The serious attack on the livelihood of mass of citizens is beyond description and the utter indifference of the powers-that-be at the centre needs no elaboration. As has been discussed by eminent contributors in People's Democracy, this Covid situation has been exploited by the ruling classes to their advantage and the Hindutva-neoliberal regime nexus helps push ahead the process. Further, continuous lockdown and the social distancing warranted by the virus makes it increasingly difficult to organise and stage popular protest against the ongoing attacks unleashed by the Modi regime.

In this backdrop, the CPI(M) Central Chennai district committee was experimenting on how to reach the Party members and keep the communications and contacts alive in the absence of any physical assembly and chanced upon trying a couple of avenues through Facebook live mode. Reading headlines and important texts of the Theekkathir, Party's daily, in the morning, book reviews once a week and discussion on important books of other languages in the weekends were thought about and one important programme that has also been successfully going on since June last year is, discussion on topical essays and editorials appearing in the People's Democracy.

Drawn from middle class units, over 30 comrades have been enthusiastically involving themselves and appearing in this PD-special FB live sessions, twice a week initially for over six months and now once a week at 6 pm every Friday, addressing the viewers on important subject matters based on the editorial and/or articles appearing that week in the PD. This has helped countless cadres of the Party, especially the non-English knowing sections, even beyond the district to get to know the Party's standpoints, views, decisions of the Central Committee meetings and about various struggles and movements taking place at various places, in their mother tongue.

The first anniversary of this very novel and engaging effort was celebrated, through Zoom medium and Facebook live, on July 4. E Sarvesan, secretariat member of the Central Chennai committee, presided over the meeting and S Sivasubramaniam, secretary of the Insurance local committee & coordinator of the weekly Facebook live discussions on PD, heartily welcomed the gathering.

Delivering the keynote address, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member G Ramakrishnan said he has been reading People's Democracy since 1967, two years ahead of joining the Party, during his student days itself, along with Social Scientist. Later in his political life, even as a practising lawyer in Cuddalore district, he said, he was the agent for PD as assigned by the Party and could increase its subscription.

Ramakrishnan said that the regular reading of the PD gives a comprehensive and concrete class perspective on various issues. Citing various contributors on socio-political, economic, agrarian, science and development and cultural issues, he extolled the quality of articles, enriching the knowledge and raising the level of class consciousness of the Party cadres. Hailing the initiative taken by the Central Chennai district committee for this innovative exercise, he called upon all English knowing Party cadres to keep reading and sharing which would help them and the Party as well.

T Jeyasankar, S Ramesh Kumar and Kavitha Gajendran briefly shared their experiences of taking part in the Facebook live PD sessions. G Selva, secretary of the district committee, explained the efforts taken for increasing readership of the PD through various measures.

On behalf of the editorial team of the People's Democracy, G Mamatha recorded her appreciation for this exemplary step taken by the Central Chennai district committee. Tracing the glorious 55 years history of the PD since June 27,  1965, she drew attention to the continuing challenges faced by the paper since inception, both from the ideological and political adversaries. Born out of a bitter struggle against ideological and political deviations, PD's journey is marked by many challenges, she added.
PD has been an agitator, a propagandist, and an organiser, in line with the role that Lenin had envisaged for the Communist Party organs, Mamatha said. Sharply demarcating PD from the mainstream print media, she highlighted that PD presents a class analysis of the policies and developments, and is a voice of the exploited and oppressed sections of the society. She appealed for concentrating on increasing the subscriptions, including e-subscriptions, for, augmenting the financial resources is a major concern for the periodical.