Friday 2 August 2013

PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF TELANGANA eople's Republic of Telangana


T. Vijayendra


This article does not take a stand, pro or anti Telangana agitation. It identifies Telangana as a bio-geographical and linguistic region and the aspirations of its people to live a peaceful life while ensuring their regional identity. It discusses the unfolding of the tragedy of its people in terms of the struggle of different stake holders in the region. Finally it explores the possibility of an alternative vision and a programme to achieve it.

The Telangana Region-Biogeography and Language

Telangana is a biogeographic region. A biogeographic region defines its flora, fauna and human society. Thus Telangana defines a people or a speech community. They are defined in terms of the food they grow and eat, the kind of houses they live in, kind of dresses they wear, kind of religious/local deity festivals they have and the language they speak. There are even festivals across religion such as pir panduga where the ancestors are brought alive and carried around to a common worship ground, fed and appeased with dances and songs! All communities take part in it.

Telangana as a biogeographic region existed before the present agitation, before the Indian Constitution, before the Nizam’s rule etc. Without going to ancient history, the Telangana people as we them know today have existed at least for 500 year. By this we mean its agriculture, society, particularly its composite culture of different religions. They will continue to exist in coming decades if not centuries.

The agitation for a separate Telangana state is only 30-40 year old, a mere drop in its long history as a region. It is entirely possible that in future we may have a world without borders and ‘a separate Telangana’ may become meaningless, although Telangana as a biogeographic region will remain, the name Telangana will remain and hopefully a peaceful and happy Telangana region will be there. Nevertheless, as the Greek film ‘One Day, Eternity’ shows a struggle for a short period may encompass a large canvas and a large stretch of history.

People’s History of Struggle

Here again we limit ourselves to recent history of Nizam’s rule. As is well known it was a feudal society and the Nizam himself was under the British imperialist rule. So the people’s struggle was against the Nizam’s rule, against feudal oppression and against imperialism. This is the root of the famous Telangana struggle with a few victories and many defeats. Most of the issues continue although times and methods of oppression, exploitation and resistance too have changed. New political parties have come and the Communist party itself has seen transition from CPI-CPI (M)-CPI(ML)-PWG to CPI(Maoist). The older issues and older organisations like land reform and organisations of peasantry and other working class organisations continue to have relevance. We are saying this so that we do not forget them during the present agitation for a separate state. Newer and not so new issues of caste, gender, ecology, economic crisis and the crisis of capitalism itself influence the present situation.

The Separate Telangana Movement

Like any big event in history different classes/stake holders have different interests. For the sake of convenience they are termed as ‘project of the people’ and ‘the project of the ruling class’ . Here the term ‘people’ includes all the working people and oppressed groups and communities. Similarly the term ‘ruling class’ includes all the ruling classes-feudal, local, national, multinational capitalism and imperialism. We do this because in practice the ruling classes and the oppressed classes tend to unite among themselves when the struggle intensifies and issues become clear. Alternatively, by looking the issue in this light it helps to clarify the issues and hopefully help the oppressed to unite and succeed.

The Project of the Ruling Classes

The ruling class talk on Telangana is about uneven development of different regions and Telangana being treated as an internal colony. Hence demand for a separate Telangana. Any development of capitalism requires exploitation of local people and resources and colonial exploitation of regions outside at super exploitation rate. Telangana was part of Nizam’s rule, remained ‘backward’ and was ready to become an internal colony’ in the Unified Visala Andhra to the region which was part of the ‘advanced’ British Madras Presidency.

The ruling class project in the separate Telangana agitation is to loot the Telangana people and resources with the help of multinationals as they have done in Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. Today with people’s awareness it means a civil war. They are prepared for it and as soon the new state will be formed they will unleash this war. BJP has already declared Chhatisgarh as a model for the new Telangana state. They will of course have populist measures, like creating a university for the Telangana language, primary education in local language and hate campaign against outsiders etc. We have seen it in Jharkhand and in Chhatisgarh. They will treat any protest as Maoist and new avatars of ‘strategic hamlets’ and ‘Salwa Judam’ will emerge.

Critic of the Project of the Ruling Classes

The project of the ruling classes are short term and even if they succeed they are doomed, although they will cause much damage, violence and hardship to the people and the land. Why? Mainly because capitalism is going through a deep crisis triggered by peak oil, that is production of petroleum has reached a peak and will keep on declining. The material basis for capitalism is concentrated source of energy in increasing quantity. That era is over. Coal is the only alternative left, particularly in China and India. Hence there is a surge in coal mining and coal based thermal power plants. But these projects take away land from the people and are the dirtiest sources of pollution. Hence the people’s struggle against them is also picking up momentum all over the country. In fact the rapacious policies in Chhatisgarh and some of the ‘ugly’ energy even in the Telangana agitation reflects this crisis.

There are already signs of decline of capitalism Although the government granted SEZs in large numbers all over the country, many of them are not able to start and many have been cancelled. They are being cancelled because either they are not able to raise resources or the opposition to them from people is very strong. As oil production falls many projects will fail to take off the ground.

The Project of the People

There are several trends in the project of the people. We can broadly classify them in two trends: Social Democratic and Revolutionary. The term Social Democratic is used to distinguish it from mere ‘Democratic’ which is used by the ruling class for its project.

Social Democratic

They believe that Telangana is a distinct entity with its own distinct economy and culture. They claim to represent people’s issues such as issues of class, caste, gender and ethnicity. However they believe that the struggle for separate Telangana state can encompass all these issues under one umbrella.

They believe mainly in ‘democratic’ methods of struggle and seek a solution within the Indian Constitution. They maintain that if the democratic process are strengthened and significant gains for the people can be achieved, as has been done in Kerala and West Bengal, then it is possible to avoid Telangana going the Jharkhand or the Chhatisgarh way.

Some believe that a new party may have to formed like ‘Dalit Bahujan Party’ to achieve these aims and to distinguish these class/caste interests from the TRS party.

A Critic of the Social Democracy Model

The general understanding is that the era of bourgeois democratic revolution ended by 1871. Hence democratic agenda of the social change/revolution will have to have a socialist content. So India never had a chance of ‘the bourgeois democratic revolution’. The Indian Constitution has tried to incorporate many aspects of social democracy in it, basically in terms of a welfare state. However the performance of the Indian welfare state has been dismal. It has failed in obtaining basic securities of food, water, sanitation, secondary education, health and livelihood for the majority of our people. Ambedkar made a prophetic statement saying that the Constitution is raising a lot of aspirations among the poor and if they are not fulfilled we will have a revolution on our hands.

Social democracy has been relatively viable mainly where bourgeois/capitalist transformation has already occurred; where the proletariat is already formed. Within India Kerala and West Bengal had seen major social transformation in the 19th century. Parts of coastal Karnataka and Goa also have seen such developments. So in these regions and a section of the urban middle classes, there indeed have been some gains for the people. Also in some sectors of organised industry, particularly in the public sector, the working class too has got some rights and securities. But the vast majority of the Indian people have not had any gains except, as Ramchandra Guha puts it, they got Bollywood, cricket and elections!

Specifically, 1984 is the cut off year for India where any significant pro people measures have successfully been taken by the Indian government. The significance of the year 1984 is that during the Bhopal gas incident none of the parliamentary parties came to the side of the people. After 1990, the LPG (Liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation) counter revolution, all the parliamentary parties took large amounts of money from the bourgeoisie to win the election. Today the figures appear to be Rs. 10 crores for a winning in parliament and corresponding figures for other elections.

In Bengal and Kerala too some progress occurred mainly before these dates. But today even there things are getting worse. As far as Telangana is concerned, or for that matter Andhra Pradesh and rest of India, it has missed the bus of social democracy long time back.

Specifically, in Telangana, while everyone is ready to agree to a socialist/social democratic agenda, what will happen when the state is actually formed and elections are held? Why will it not go the Jharkhand way? They would all have taken large amounts of money to win the elections and will need to take keep on taking money to win future elections too. Their hands will be tied. KCR is already supposed to have taken very large amounts of money.

Revolutionary Trend

Here revolutionary trend in general is considered and not Maoist trend alone.

Revolutionaries start with the above critic of social democracy. They believe that the people’s project cannot be achieved in any Indian state today under the present Indian Constitution and ‘democracy’. The Indian state has been at war with the Indian people almost from the very beginning deploying its army and police forces against people in different parts of the country. Today there is a full scale civil war going on at scores of places under the guise of ‘problems’ and ‘menaces’ like Kashmir, Naga, Bodo etc. and last but not the least the Naxalite/Maoist. Today any one on the side of the poor people is likely to be called a Maoist, arrested, tortured and even killed. The state obtains its consent to rule and carry on these policies through elections where the ruling classes pay crores of rupees per candidate. Any state, therefore, as a rule, will be forced to follows the agenda of the ‘project of the ruling classes’.

The aim of all revolutionary groups is to form a new state outside the present Constitution with their revolutionary ‘people’s agenda’. Almost all of them believe that it can be achieved mainly through armed struggle. In addition they all believe in class organisations of workers and peasants etc. Many social and cultural organisations are also created and supported by them. Various revolutionary groups have different strategies which includes supporting the separate Telangana movement and helping even to strengthen the ‘social democratic’ groups, because they do not want to give up any gains made by the people, like freedom of press, civil liberties and various other rights which people have won.

Critic of the Revolutionary Trend

Both the Russian and the Chinese revolutions were won in less than 40 years of the formation of the communist parties in their country. The Indian communist movement is 90 year old but no revolution is yet in sight. Indian communists have been impressed by the Chinese path from the 50s and in 1969 Charu Majumdar declared ‘China’s path is our path’. Forty years later, while the Maoist certainly have a significant presence, victory does not seem to be in sight. The point is, Indian people do not seem to have gained much from these years of revolution. It has been a path with a few victories and many defeats. India seems to have missed the bus of revolution as well!

Specifically while the Maoist have a general vision of an egalitarian state, they seem to lack a vision which can tackle all the contradiction of the present Indian society. Secondly, they do not seem to have a vision which can take care of resource depletion of today’s world. They still seem to believe in the agenda of industrialisation as a part of socialist reconstruction, or at least they do not seem to have an articulated critic of it. There seems to be no learning from Cuba.

After Vietnam in the mid seventies, there has not been any revolutionary success in the world. The Maoist in Nepal agreed for elections and promptly lost power, possibly signifying the end of social democracy as well as revolutionary era! What has changed? Some believe it is the ‘peaking’ of the production of petrol and many other minerals which has heralded the end of the era of industrial revolution whether under capitalism/social democracy/communist revolutionary.

What will Happen?

In reality all trends operate. For example in Chhatisgarh not only the ruling classes are ruling, but in the people’s struggle there are Gandhians, CPI, Maoists, Christian groups, civil rights group, ngos etc. Apart from the Maoists, almost all others belong to ‘democratic' trend. Although there are differences among different trends and they criticise each other, there is also some sort of informal understanding between different trends. This is so because people cannot afford to lose any little right they have got, like civil rights, freedom of speech and assembly, ration cards, NREGA etc. Also irrespective of any trend they belong to, any one who speaks for the tribals or opposes the projects of mining, steel or power plants, is called a Maoist and treated as such.

In Telangana too all the trends are there and eventually will have to co-operate with each other. Because if today the Telangana is created it will be under the Indian Constitution and the Telangana government will be elected in the same way as the Jharkhand and the Chhatisgarh government have been. It is very unlikely that the people’s trends, ‘social democratic’ parties will win the elections. Even if they do either it will be a short lived experiment or it will change colour very fast. How can it follow different policies? It will immediately sign MoUs with multinationals and declare a war on the people. Therefore, like in Chhatisgarh, eventually all the people’s trends will have to struggle against the government and as has been said above, they will have to co-operate.

It will not be possible to avoid the war that is being imposed on the people by a dying ruling class, unless the process of formation of Telangana is delayed by a decade or so. However it seems that every one wants Telangana–the ruling classes, the social democratic forces and the Maoist. The voices against Telangana are stifled whether these voices are from the Andhra ruling classes or voices of ‘reason’. No dialogue is possible. This tragedy will have to play itself out because no social formation changes without trying out all the possibilities. Like in a bad marriage divorce normally occurs after a lot of sufferings of every one involved.

Is there a Hope?

Yes. In much as it is a dying ruling class, it is on its way out. While this tragedy is being played out, the pro people forces need to co-operate and not fight emotional battles among themselves. There should be a dialogue between the different sections of groups/parties working for the poor people. This dialogue should result in an alternative vision of a future and an alternative People’s agenda. It is possible to envisage initiative to be taken today that can prepare the people for a transition to an alternative future vision.

How do we arrive at an agenda for future?

There are three component of arriving at such an agenda. First is the material basis. Second is a model of a future derived from above and theories and experiences of other parts of the world and the third is the energies and the direction of people’s movement.

As has been said above, the material basis of capitalism, concentrated form of energy in increasing quantities, like coal and petrol is a thing of past. There is no equivalent form of energy which can replace these. With that today’s high energy industrial society will also become a thing of past. The alternative is scaling down the energy requirement in an equitable fashion. The main form will be harvesting the solar energy, of which the main form will be through the photosynthesis route, that is through plants. That has been the basis of all life on this planet and will remain so. The other forms of solar energy, like direct heat (drying and solar water heaters and cookers) and photovoltaic (solar cells) will play a minor but significant role. Many other forms like flowing water to run water mills and micro hydel projects will also be there.

Such a future society will necessarily be composed of a small regions self sufficient in food and water federally related to other similar region. As such Telangana has a logic. Its politic will have to be some form of a mix of socialism and anarchism and it will be arrived through years of transition. As of today, Cuba provides a transition model.

All these ideas are fine, one will say, but who will flesh them out into a full fledged programme, who will carry them out? Ideas become a material force, as Mao said, when they are grasped by the masses. So for that we have to look at the people’s movements and organisations today and see if there are any takers for them.

Today India is going through a huge turmoil. Hundreds of protests movements are taking place against the rapacious policies and projects of this dying capitalism. In many places it is a civil war like situation. What is the nature of people’s energies in these struggles? First and foremost it is a struggle for survival, for livelihood. These projects are trying to displace millions of people from their land and livelihood sources. And people are refusing. In many places NAPM, Gandhians, Christian groups, CPI and Maoists are with the people because all of them have an agenda of working with poor people. In many other places many civil society groups, particularly environmental groups are part of these protests. In each a coalition is emerging.

It is in these coalitions, networks, etc. a dialogue can emerge where such a programme can be chalked out on a regional basis. Chhattisghar, Jharkhand and Telangana are such regions where a large variety of people’s forces are active. In such places a full fledged programme can emerge. Initially some ‘thinking’ friends of the movement can set up small groups to work out the details in dialogue with people active in the movement. Some documents can be prepared which may form the basis of meeting of all the groups.

Today mankind is facing a severe crisis of food, water and livelihood security due to the rapacious policies persued by capitalist/industrial/development model in the last 200 years. These policies also led to degradation of environment to a crisis level and endangered forests, wildlife and water security. So the main aim of any people’s programme will be to ensure food, water and livelihood security of the people on a sustainable basis and save the environment. This can occur only through a social revolution, peaceful or otherwise.

These broader goals and vision at a macro level can be achieved only when a political environment is available, that is, a political and social revolution has taken place. However, an important aspect of these programmes will be the initiatives that people can take on an individual and small group basis. At a micro level a lot of activities can be initiated. The main aim of course will be to start rebuilding such a future society through organising and empowering people with such a vision of the future. These activities may in turn contribute to a broader vision to the political trends.

April 17, 2010
Published in: Calcutta, Frontier, October 3 -30, 2010, Autumn Number
Mobile: +91 94907 05634



Monday 11 February 2013



This is not meant to be a comprehensive directory. In each field I have indicated a few important and starting organisations. Once you contact them, it will lead you to further contacts.

Try to locate a person/organisation close to your place in your area of interest. That way you can build a local group of your area of interest – be it kitchen garden or cycling!

Any event organised by any of the organisations may be communicated to other organisation with a request to give publicity. At the end of the directory I am giving all the email ids at one place so that it is conveniently available.


Water harvesting for:
  1. Recharging ground water: direct roof top water to a soak pit: design of soak pit
  2. Daily use: direct roof top water to a sump/ tank through appropriate filter; excess water to go to soak pit: design for sand filter, other filters
  3. Drinking water: direct roof top water to a tank through appropriate filter
Hyderabad Goes Green
This is a group of a few organisations (Andromeda and the Daily Dump) who provide a wide range of green products and services at commercial rates.

Sintex Rain Water Harvesting System for Drinking...
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View

Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board


Separate waste into wet and dry at source; compost wet waste at household level. Organise colony level segregation/ composting.

Sukuki Exnora
Maj. Shiva Kiran
5566 7333,

The Daily Dump

a. Abhinav Gangumalla
Hyderabad Goes Green
Plot No.74, Road No.5, Banjara Hills,
Hyderabad 500018
Mobile: +91 7416790905
Email:, Website:
Available: Books/Composters/Soaps

b. Lalitha Manchikanti
Blue Green and Grey Technologies
H.No 11-13-249, Road No.9B, Alakapuri Colony
9885286051, 9703817981
Available: Composters


You will need:
  1. Pots/ containers
  2. Soil, manure
  3. Seeds
  4. Tools
Agri Horticultural Society
M. Anantha Reddy, Chairman
Public gardens, Hyderabad 500 004
92461 08262, 2329 9779, 6559 1474,,

Inti Panta This is a Hyderabad Google group of roof top gardening:
Rambabu Mobile: 99121 99627

Centre for Sustainable Agriculture

Ramanjaneyulu GV

12-13-445, Street Number 1, Secunderabad – 500017.
Phone: 040-2701 7735 Mobile: 09000699702

For seeds:
National Seeds Corporation Ltd.
17-11 Tukaram Gate, Lalguda
Secunderabad 500 017
2773 2276

Commercial seed shops:

Several private seed stores and nurseries are located at various places with seed stores concentrated in Hyderguda. They also sell tools. You should acquire – hand spade, hand rake and secateurs.


Deccan Development Society
101, Kishan Residency,1-11-242/1, Street No. 5,
Shyamlal Buildings Area, Begumpet,
Hyderabad - 500 016
Telephone: 040-27764577, 27764744

Jiva Organics
Home delivery of products and organic catering service

Sahaja Aharam Cooperative Federation
Street-1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad- 500 017
040 6526 8303

Good Seeds
They organise a market on first the Sunday of every month at Saptaparni, Banjara Hills, Road No.7
Ganesh margabandhu
99513 55633

Deccan Organics
Plot No. 151 & 152,
Srinivasa Hills, Parvathapur (V),
Ghatkeshwar (Mdl), Hyderabad R.R. Dist, Pin-500039
040-64649364, 040-64627627.


They are located at S. R. Nagar, Hyderabad
Chaktravarti 99495 31113
Mamata 98496 66450

They supply plate meals – up to 25 you have to collect, beyond they can come and supply. They can also bulk millet (jonna/jowar) rotis.


Blue Cross of Hyderabad
403/9, Road No. 35
Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad - 500033
Phone: + 91- 40 3298 9858, 2354 4355 / 5523

A-21 Sainikpuri, Secunderabad - 500094
Phone: +91-40-2711 3167/2711 0977


Indian Youth Climate Network IYCN
N. S. Prasad

Centre for Environment Education
Ms. Vanitha Kommu,
Programme Coordinator, CEE Andhra Pradesh
Door No: 6-3-348/2, Dwarakapuri Colony, Panjagutta
Hyderabad – 500 482
Telefax: (040) 23352586, Phone: (040) 23352596, 65883100

 Energy Conservation MissionThe Institution of Engineers (India),
Andhra Pradesh State Centre,
Visvesvaraya Bhavan, Khairatabad,
Hyderabad - 500004


Bird Watchers' Society of Andhra Pradesh
Aasheesh Pittie (President)
M. Shafaat Ulla (Hon. Secretary)
98492 29552
Society to Save Rocks
1236, Road No. 60, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad 500 033Tel. No. +91 40 23552923,
Friends of Snake Club
Rescues: Sanjay @ +91 8374233366 (24/7 Dedicated line)
Fax @ +91 40 3099 5291 (24/7 Dedicated line)

Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society
Imran Siddiqui
305, Lenaine Estate, Opp. Chrmas, Abids, Hyderabad 500 001
97048 76609, 94902 72220

WWF-India Andhra Pradesh State Office818, Road No. 2 Castle Hills
Near N.M.D.C., Masab Tank
Hyderabad - 500 057
Telefax: 040-23534151 (09440751037)


Manchi Pustakam/ Permanent Green
Street No.1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad- 500 017,
+91 9490746614
K. Suresh
Ph. 073822 97430

Online Bookstores
The Other India Bookstore is a small alternative publishing house and bookstore in Mapusa, Goa (India). We deal mainly in environmental, alternative and Third ...

b. Earthcare Books
Earthcare Books is a publisher and distributor of books on environmental issues and just and sustainable development. We believe that an understanding of our...

Free Downloads of books

10. Films/videos
  1. The Best Green Movies
Submitted by sustainadelic on Sun, 2012-08-05
This is a good site.
Agriculture videos
There are 23 entries, most of them about India.

Directory of Green Films
An environment and wildlife audio-visual compilation
by CMS ENVIS Centre
This is a book about Indian sources


Solar Shoppe
P. Sriram
132, II Floor, Saikrupa Complex, Bhagyanagar Colony,
KPHB, Kukatpally, Hyderabad 500 072
98853 64101
040 4020 0814
For solar box cookers and other solar equipment.

Global Telelinks (Prakruthi Power)
5-3-456/A20, 2nd Floor, 201, Maruthi Grandeur,
Dwarakapuri Road, Punjagutta,
Hyderabad - 500082
PH; 23350291, Fax: 23350292; Mob: 9848011955, 948311955
Dealing in Solar LED products.

Swadeshi Hand Made papers
K. Krishna Rao
24, LIC Colony, Srinagar Colony, Yellareddyguda, Hyderabad 500 073
98661 44459

Andhra Pradesh Bee Keeper's Association
12, Rural training Centre, NIRD, Rajendra Nagar, Hyderabad 500 003
6517 6949, 93911 68797

Hyderabad Cycling Club
This is more like an adventure group. The site will lead you to other adventure events and groups.

Email ids

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Ramanjaneyulu GV <>, Shafaat Ulla <>,>,Suresh Kosaraju <>, "",
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Words: 1082
November 10, 2012
Mobile: +91 94907 05634



Comrade Shankar Guha Niyogi (February 14, 1943 – September 28, 1991) was murdered by the agents of the capitalist class. In spite of the efforts of by good lawyers like Kannabiran, his murderers went unpunished because of the collusion between the state, bureaucracy and judiciary on behalf of the capitalist class. This fact alone shows how much a threat he was to the capitalist class and what an asset he was to the working class movement.

Unique features of comrade Niyogi and his movement

Unlike many other trade union leaders in our country, comrade Niyogi was a trade union activist from the working class itself. He had jobs ranging from a day labourers in the mines to being an employee of the Bhilai Steel Plant in Chhattisgarh. His trade union, Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh (CMSS), embraced different sections of the contract mine workers in the region. He also had a political organisation CMS (Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha) which worked on a regional basis embracing all the working classes - peasants, artisans and labourers of the region.

Apart from the immediate needs of the working class struggle, comrade Niyogi had a vision of a future socialist society. He also had the ability to translate this vision into the daily struggle of the working class. His slogan was 'Sangharsh Aur Nirman', that is, 'Struggle and Build'. His work and vision attracted a large number of professionals from prestigious universities and colleges across the country.

The story of Shaheed Hospital, the workers own hospital, at Dalli Rajahara, a mining town near Bhilai, is well known. It attracted doctors from Vellore (Dr. Binayak Sen) and several doctors from Calcutta (Dr. Asheesh Kundu, Dr. Punayabrat Gun, Dr. Jana and many others). Binayak Sen and his wife Dr. Ilina Sen (a sociologist from JNU) made Chhattisgarh their home. Many other professionals like Sudha Bharadwaj (IIT Kanpur and a lawyer) also made Chhattisgarh her home. Many came, stayed for a few years and went. They included Vidyadhar Gadgil and his wife, Mariette Correa, of TISS, Bombay, Arvind Gupta of IIT Kanpur and many others. Well known trade union journalist, Sitaram Shastri edited his journal Mitan. Dr. Anil Sadgopalan, a microbiologist and educationalist interacted with him on a continuous basis and after his death wrote a book about Niyogi's work and life.

Very few trade union movements attracted so much support from middle classes and professionals. The reason was Niyogi's vision and his ability to relate with so many different people and with their ideas on politics, health care, education and appropriate technology.

Shankar Guha Niyogi was not alone with new ideas on trade union movement. Many others like Thangappan at Bombay and Subbu at Chennai were also trying out similar ideas. But Niyogi succeeded more than others because of the situation in Chhattisgarh, his abilities and support that he received. But by nineties neo-liberal ideas had gripped the rulers at Delhi and the Indian state gradually became openly pro capitalist, under the leadership of Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. It eroded the space for civil society, looted the country's wealth and provided sops to the middle class. The computer technology also provided a large number of new jobs. This enabled the capitalist class to go on the offensive and kill comrade Niyogi.

Current Situation

However during the last decade the situation has again changed in favour of people's movement. Neo-liberal policies are failing and there is a huge crisis in the capitalist system. Since 2008 the world has been going through a deep economic crisis. Whatever recovery occurs, it does not take us back to pre crisis level and newer areas have come under crisis. It began with the USA (though Japan has been facing it for two decades), and it spread to Europe and this year China and India too are facing it. No one is predicting a quick recovery and there is a feeling that it will not go away in near future.

Two crises have come together – Global Warming and Peak Oil. Global warming has been caused primarily due to burning of fuel, particularly fossil fuels. It has been affecting climate and some of the warmest years have come in the last decade. This year's hot summer may lead to a global famine, like which we have never seen before. Many scientists fear that unless we reduce consumption we may cross the tipping point. That is, when global warming itself will cause further global warming. Then there will be no hope for life on this planet. This is causing a worldwide demand to reduce carbon emission which is being resisted by the industry.

Peak oil represents the resource constraints that we are facing. Many products which we mine, like coal, oil, metals are finite in their quantity. If we take out more than half of it, a peak in production occurs, thereafter the production falls and its price goes up. That is what happened to petroleum products. Now oil is central to the industrial society and decline in its production leads to an economic crisis. As can be seen none of these factors are going away in any foreseeable future and we are in for a permanent crisis leading to a collapse of the present system.

This has given a tremendous rise to people's movement in India. Millions are opposing the rapacious projects of thermal and nuclear power plants, refineries, SEZs, big hydro projects etc. Newer classes are joining the movements. Peasants and other rural working classes who are affected by these projects have joined hands with environmentalists and other professionals. Once again professionals in various fields are helping the people's movement.

Trade Union Movement Today

Dying capitalism has become even more rapacious in its loot and anti worker policies, On one hand factories are closing down, partial and full lock out are coming up, land acquired for SEZs are being returned; on the other the capitalists are demanding newer projects and concessions from the state, easy environment clearance and anti worker policies. Their policy seems to loot and run away. Attacks on workers have increased as it happened in Yanam (Ceramic factory) and Manesar (Maruti car factory). The working class too is fighting back. The trade union movement too has responded. Not only are they responding to these attacks with vigour they are charting new paths in the tradition of the path blazed by the Niyogi era.

The Vision: Socialism Today
In the light of past experience, both of successes and shortcomings, the socialism today may look like this:

  1. Human beings are a part of nature. They have to live with it and not off it.
  2. Within human society there should be equality, brotherhood and democracy.
  3. The size of the state will be small. It will have ecological boundaries and will be organised federally within, with its neighbours and globally.
  4. Within the small state there will be decentralisation and direct democracy at the grass root level (village pnachayat and city wards) and all units will be federally related. The 'centre' will have minimum powers.
  5. The grass root level organisations will start with direct democracy and move towards 'a free association of free people'.
  6. The technological base of such society will be to move towards ecologically sound processes. Food will come from organic farming and free range animals, birds and fishes. Other needs will be satisfied by humane use of domestic animals in farming and transport, leather and wood as main raw materials etc. It does not mean completely abandoning modern sensibilities and scientific advances.
  7. The main agenda for humanity for the 21st century will be to restore the earth's ecological health which has been damaged so severely by capitalism. Special attention will have to be given to endangered ecosystem, plants and animals.
  8. The main social agenda will be to rebuild the communities.

Broad Objectives of Socialism Today

      1. Equality
      2. Rebuild communities
3. Reducing consumption of resources
4. Local self sufficiency
5. Ecological restoration

So what should be the Trade Union initiative today?

The trade union movement is often accused for demanding wage rise only. This should now be seen in the context of equity. The workers, justifiably, feel they should get a higher share of the surplus value they generate. Why should the bosses/capitalists get such a high share of the produce? In the present crisis, their demand would naturally be: let the employers first take a cut in their earnings - the jobs must be saved. Secondly, the new society and the new technologies cannot succeed unless waste of resources - either by way of employers taking their undue share or by irrational production and consumption of goods - is stopped.

This very correct demand must be combined with initiatives based on regional planning for a fossil fuel free socialist society. We cannot plan in vacuum. It has to be in the context of the actual situation of the region and the issues faced by working people.

The movement today is facing six kinds of situations related to the collapse of capitalism:

  1. The capital has abandoned and the units are closed.
  2. The industry is running into losses and is planning to close down.
  3. The industry is running but it has enormous contradiction with the community due to pollution of land and water.
  4. New units are proposed at the cost of tribals, peasants, environment and/or the activity is irrational from a futuristic perspective of a fossil fuel free society.
  5. The industry is running as a part of the natural economy of the region and can easily fit into a fossil fuel free socialist future.
  6. New industrial activity is planned in tune with the needs of a fossil fuel free socialist society.

The Trade Union Response

  1. The initiative should focus on the first problem because the need is acute and a new activity can be planned. One of the first things to do will be to claim the resources of the abandoned unit - land, housing colony, building, equipment and stores and cash compensation. The initiative should be centred towards the most distressed section of the working class and start with mitigating the distress. However it should be done through new initiative of mutual aid which would build a sense of community. It can start with ensuring food and shelter for the working people. Community kitchens could be one of the first things to start. Vegetable, fruit and agricultural activities should be immediately started. At the same time one should enter into a dialogue with the other working people of the region, which includes not only informal sector workers and peasants and artisans, but also professionals, who know the region’s potentials in terms of alternatives. Wherever possible support of political organisations and movements should be sought - like Naxalites, NAPM and others. Slowly a collective alternative should be built up.

Of course there will be repression by the state directly and indirectly. This is where the mass support will play a crucial role. Within the trade union movement regional federation of all the unions may be a new direction that the movement may have to take. Some of the big opportunities we may have probably missed were the closure of Kolar Gold Fields and Sindri Fertiliser Factory. In Kolar, the government offered the whole township to the workers! But, there are a lot many places where the need is urgent.

  1. In the past, when an industry was planning closure, the unions tried to stop it. Today it will not be advisable. It is better to move in early to bargain for the workers share in the closing procedure. Like in the case above the union can take over the resources and run a new activity in collaboration with regional stakeholders.
  1. The most difficult situation is one where the industry is running and the Trade Union movement is coming in sharp contradiction with the local population and environment groups. A classic example is the Coco Cola factory in Plachimada in Kerala. Here the first need is to start a dialogue between all the stakeholders. One should first come to an agreement on the long-term goals. Then, work towards a path where all the stakeholders’ needs are satisfied as well as the goal (closure of factory and alternative ‘green’ employment generation) is achieved.
  1. In instances where new irrational industrial activities are coming up, the path is quite clear. We have to join other movements which are opposing them and initiate alternate regional planning for a green fossil fuel free socialist society. For example the present struggle against thermal and nuclear power plants, against big dams and against SEZs.
  1. In cases where the industry fits in easily with a fossil fuel free socialist future, the effort should be to save the industry. One can then move towards, a greater share of worker participation in running the industry; better conditions of work; making the industry ‘greener’ etc. For example rice mills, oil mills, textile mills, bicycle factories etc.
  1. Finally, wherever new industrial activity is planned in tune with the needs of a future society, the Syndicalist/anarchist approach can be put to full use. The workers can own the activity in some form of the cooperative run with full cooperation of regional stakeholders.

This, contemporary interpretation of the slogan, ‘Sangharsh aur Nirman’ (Struggle and Build), in the author's opinion is the true legacy of comrade Shankar Guha Niyogi and a tribute to his memory.

Words: 2268
August 31, 2012

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