Friday, April 21, 2006

The media enterprise and its clients, the bent and the beautiful, are now celebrating Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. Well, they have reasons to do that!!!!!!!!!!!

Budhadeb Mark IIIs CPM turning anti-Marxist?by V. Krishna Ananth
THE West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Budhadeb Bhattacharya, seems to have emerged as an anti-Marxist leader and yet manages to remain in the CPM. The latest expression of his anti-Marxist ideas could be noticed at a seminar conducted by the CPM in Thiruvananthapuram recently.
Mr Bhattacharya wondered: ``Why should one criticise us when we permit entrepreneurs to set up shopping malls? What is wrong in having super-speciality hospitals facilitating the rich in our country to get quality treatment instead of letting them bank on foreign hospitals?’’ And the enlightened Buddha asked his comrades in Kerala to adopt the ``Bengal model’’, particularly in such sectors as health, education, entertainment and information technology.
Well, the CPM in West Bengal had taken the path of neo-liberalism even earlier than Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya became Chief Minister. And the CPM, as it is natural with the party, had considered its duty to defend these. I remember an incident that occurred some times ago.
A set of CPM faithfuls, who were also active in the Tamil Nadu Science Forum, had organised a public reception and a meeting for Ms Medha Pathkar in Chennai. Medha was leading a yatra from Plachimada in Kerala to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and the focus was against the cola plants that an MNC had set up across the country and the adverse impact of that on the livelihood of the people and on the larger question of development. The organisers did not know that Medha was accompanied in that yatra by Mr Thomas Kochery of the Fishermen’s Forum.
The West Bengal Government had signed an MoU with the Sahara group just a few weeks before and it involved transfer of the Jambudweep Islands in the marsh lands of the Sundarbans. In this land that was traditionally used by the fisherfolk — who would dry up the fish they caught there so that it could be sold across West Bengal throughout the year — the Sahara group was planning to float a garden resort. The group carried full-page advertisements in daily newspapers announcing the project and declaring that this would be only one of its kind in India.
Mr Tom Kochery declared at the Chennai meeting that his organisation would not allow this rape of nature and the fishermen would defend their livelihood concerns even if that meant taking on the powerful state and its police. The MoU, to adopt Mr Bhattacharya’s logic, would facilitate the rich to holiday in India rather than sending them away to some foreign land! And when a resort of that kind came up, it will provide employment to people; as waiters in the restaurants, as room boys in the lodges and as cleaners, sweepers and in many other ways. Such holiday resorts will also open up opportunities for dance girls to entertain the rich who come on a holiday!
The only problem was that for all these major gains a few thousand fishermen will have to agree to stop bothering about their livelihood concerns. And when this happens, the availability of fish will go down. But then, this is not an insurmountable problem. The Sahara group and such others would import fish from somewhere else and take care of the nutrition requirements of the rich and the mighty! The fishermen, meanwhile, could get themselves trained to become cleaners and sweepers in the holiday resorts. They cannot become waiters and receptionists and bell boys in these resorts because there are several hundred trained people from the umpteen hotel management colleges across the country.
Coming to the Chennai meeting, Mr Thomas Kochery announced the agitation and it is still on in the Sundarbans. Meanwhile, the hapless organisers of the Chennai meeting were slapped with show cause notices by the CPM. Their crime was that they did not defend the West Bengal Government right then and snub Mr Thomas Kochery. They were charged with having indulged in anti-party activities. It is another matter that many of them apologised. This, perhaps, happened because they are all in the party even now and they have made it a point to resist the temptation to give another reception to Ms Medha Patkar or anyone like her.
The point is the CPM does not differ, in any way, with the Budha line. The party stands for the same development logic that the neo-liberal policies seek to implement. Shopping malls, super-speciality hospitals and so on. For, a large section of the party’s middle-level leaders and most of the levy-paying members belong to the urban middle classes and they all love to go to a multiplex and shop in a super market. And the party government cannot ignore the ``needs’’ of this section.
Now, why is this anti-Marxist?
This is anti-Marxist because such development as destroys nature and does not address to the livelihood concerns of a majority of the people is essentially the pattern that capitalism took. And Karl Marx, in his various texts, described this as severely exploitative and inhuman. Marx went on to present that these contradictions and the human tragedy that arise out of these are caused by the greed for profit that is central to the capitalist logic. Marx then went on to write the Communist Manifesto in which he talked about the need to change this rule and put in place a new society that he called communism.
And communism is about a society without greed and where human concerns and not greed would determine the life of the people. It is not another way to capitalism. In Mr Bhattacharya’s formula of development, where multiplexes, shopping malls and super-speciality clinics symbolise progress, there is no place for the ordinary farmer (whose land is taken away for building the shopping malls). Similarly, when super-speciality clinics come up everywhere, the medical professionals will make more money and hence will spend all their time and energy there rather than in government hospitals.
We all know that all the specialists in the super-speciality clinics are doctors in government hospitals and employed as consultants in private clinics. And their heart is always where money is. Their expertise is hardly available for the poor man.
It is for all these reasons that one should have problems with multiplexes, shopping malls and super-speciality hospitals. More so, when these are accepted as the sole denominators of progress and determinants of growth.


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