Thursday, May 18, 2006

CPI Wins Again in West Bengal

It looks like Bengal has yet another Communist government. And here is evidence that it wasn't, as was widely believed, due to poll rigging.

What follows naturally, is a bitter pill for those who believed that the CPI-M has clung onto power in West Bengal only through rigging. It is time to accept the reality of mass support for the Left Front in West Bengal. "I was not at all worried about the outcome. Had I been worried, I would have come to the office before the start of counting," was CPI-M State Secretary Biman Bose's reaction when asked about the results. It was typically CPI-M. So are the other reactions from Left leaders like 92-year-old former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu: "It was a reflection of people's faith in our policies and we hope that the Opposition will cooperate with the government in its good work and play a responsible role."

Bhattacharya, Sumit. "The message from Bengal." 11 May 2006 18 May 2006
But, it appears they didn't win by all that much.

But what is hidden in the numbers is the message that had the Opposition been not so disunited -- though there was a sort of informal cobbled coalition at the grassroots -- this assembly election could have been a very different story.

One pointer to that lies in the margins. Transport and Sports Minister Subhas Chakraborty, one of the CPI-M's electoral heavyweights, won his Belgachia East seat by only 1,744 votes. Of course there were exceptions like Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who won by 58,000 votes from his Jadavpur constituency, but overall the margins are thin. But what is the secret of the Left Front's success in West Bengal? The answer is that the CPI-M's organisation at the grassroots is unparalleled in the country.
Politics is not for any honest person.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Beautiful Saree

To see an impressive array of beautiful sarees, a single length of cloth warn by women in India, check out the gallery of Laxmipati Sarees.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Go East, Young Man!

This just brings tears to my eyes:

BANGALORE, India - Nate Linkon graduated from college last year with a business degree and a lot of offers. But he made an unusual choice: to pack his bags and move 9,000 miles away from corporate America to Bangalore. In his view, there’s no better place to beef up his résumé — even though the pay is much lower.

. . .

Infosys’ profits are three times those of its U.S. competitors. One of the main reasons is salaries. The employees here — the software engineers — make about a quarter of the salary of someone doing the same job in the United States.

Still, a growing number of Americans are looking to Bangalore, where their money goes a lot further. This summer, 100 new U.S. graduates will start as full-time engineers at Infosys, with 200 more to arrive by the end of the year, part of a total staff expansion the company projects to top 50 percent this year.

Like Linkon, they are willing to take lower pay to get the hands-on experience they believe will make them more marketable when they return to a job in the United States.

Brown, Campbell. "Americans make reverse commute — to India: Cutting-edge jobs, early-career experience draw the tech-savvy." 11 May 2006 11 May 2006
These young American professionals going to return to America with more than a very marketable resume—they are going to come back with an impression of a beautiful and timeless culture, one that is now full with hope for the future. I can't tell you how happy I am to see this happening.

Holy Men Wanted for Indian Army

It looks like the Indian Army is upgrading, not only in weaponry but in taking the spiritual concerns of its fighting men more seriously:

Are you a Hindu pandit, Sikh granthi, Buddhist monk, Christian priest or Muslim maulvi looking for a great career? Or, are you an unemployed graduate in the 27 to 34 age group with a religious bent of mind? The Indian Army needs you as a religious teacher. Curious? Read on.

Why does the army need religious teachers? The Indian Army is one of the largest in the world, with 980,000 active troops and 800,000 reservists. There are routine religious activities for an army unit just as civilians like you and me enjoy. For decades, an atmosphere of religious harmony has existed in the armed forces. In some cantonments like Mathura, mosques constructed for the troops of the British Indian Army still continue to be maintained.

Some of the older army regiments in India are so religious that they
have their own dieties. For instance, the icon of Lord Vishnu, popularly known as Badri Vishal, installed at Badrinath in Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh, is the presiding deity of the Garhwal Rifles. All the battalions of the Garhwal Rifles worship the mighty Badri Vishal. What do religious teachers in the Indian Army do?

Lype, George. "Wanted: Holy men for the Indian Army." 10 May 2006. 11 May 2006 <>

Monday, May 01, 2006

Orwellian Realism

In his novel 1984, George Orwell portrayed a society that was so completely controlled by Communism that it was impossible for any one or any group to oppose the government. The means by which the government excercised its complete control over the population was by complete control of all information--even "illegal" pornography for the proles--and complete control of the resistance movement, symbolized by the fictitious "Goldberg." But, quite thankfully, such a society never materialized--not even close to it. Even a place like North Korea never came close to approximating the subtle and sophisticated control of infomration as portrayed by Orwell's dark, future Communist society.

Yet the fact that 1984's dark society never materialized strongly suggests that Orwell himself believed too much in the philosophy he vehemently denounced. Marx, after all, predicted that an industrial society is a prerequisite for revolution of the proletariat, yet every society that saw the Communists rise to power was not industrial but agrarian. Unlike Germany, England, and (later) America; Russia, China, and so many numerous banana republics, where Communism came to power (at least for some time), were all agrarian societies.

What Marx got right, however, was that the disparities between the very rich and very poor (the differences Marx imagined between the future bourgeoisie and protetariat) are common in agrarian countries, and it is indeed in these countries where Communism has found the most favor. The kind of society Orwell imagined, then, could not exist as an industrial society but as an agrarian society. For a Communist government to persist indefinitely, it would have to strike the right balance between keeping its political elite popular enough with its followers to earn their allegiance, and it has to demonize their society's bourgeoisie just enough so that the mass of people remain inimical to them but that they continue to prop up the government. Such a government exists in this world, and an example of such is in West Bengal, India.

The state of West Bengal has had a Communist state government for nearly 29 years, winning all fourteen elections since then. What political party in America would give their left arm, and perhaps both legs, to have that kind of electoral success? Yogendra Yadav and Sanjay Kumar give us a further, detailed glimpse into the success of West Bengal's CPI(M) [CPM]:

The architects of the Left Front, leaders such as the late Pramode Dasgupta, carefully integrated Government policy with a strategy of political mobilisation. This design was flawlessly executed by legendary party managers such as the late Anil Biswas, who created a party machine unmatched in any Indian State. The Left shifted its social base from being a party of the industrial proletariat to that of marginal farmers, sharecroppers and the landless poor. This class base was carefully stitched together; a coalition of the socially marginalised groups that included Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims. This class-community coalition has stood by the Left Front through all the political change of the last three decades. The CPI(M) election machine has ensured a very high level of mobilisation, thus increasing the turnout in the State to one of the highest in the country.

Yadav, Yogendra, Sanjay Kumar. "Why the Left will win West
Bengal Again." 16 Apr. 2006. The Hindu. Online Edition. 1 May 2006

Economy and technology are closely related to each other, and both seem to play important roles when used as instruments of oppression. But of the two, since economy seems to be more closely linked to the success of Communism, it could be said that economy is the stronger force. Yet neither economies nor technologies oppress people, people oppress people. Bear in mind that West Bengal's Communist government persists on top of a functional democratic system for electing a government. Througout the world and at all levels of discourse about oppression and liberation, virtue and high character are the persistently missing ideas from all manner of pontifcations about peace.

People get the government, and the society, they deserve.