People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 03

January 20, 2013




‘Democratic Movement Must Champion

The Fight for Women’s Equality’


THE fight for women’s equality in political, economic and social spheres must become an important agenda of the democratic movement today especially when reactionaries are trying to push women back from the advances they are making in this regard. In this connection, Comrade P Sundarayya’s legacy of fighting for women’s upliftment in all spheres must be upheld.


This was stated by CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat while addressing a jam-packed meeting in Hyderabad on January 10, 2013 organised in connection with centenary celebrations of Comrade P Sundarayya. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury also spoke in the meeting that was chaired by Polit Bureau member and AP state secretary B V Raghavulu.


Paying rich tributes to Comrade PS for his great contribution in building the Communist Party in South India and subsequently developing the Party with a clear vision and understanding, Karat underlined his role in building the agrarian movement in the country. “All through his life as a leader, PS was a strategician of the agrarian movement of India. The agrarian situation and the class relations were grasped by him unlike any other leader in the Party”, he said. It was PS who first set up class-based agricultural workers union in his village in 1934 because he realised that agricultural workers organisation is a crucial requirement in the anti-feudal and anti-landlord movement. Karat traced the land reforms undertaken by the Left Front governments in Bengal, Kerala and Tripura to this strategic understanding evolved by PS.


As an organiser and leader of the Party, Sundarayya took great care and interest in the development of cadre. It was he who showed to the Party how cadre have to be nurtured. He went into personal details of the cadre to see whether their needs are being met and to help them in overcoming any weaknesses they had. Karat said that we all must learn and emulate this legacy.


Karat said PS was a revolutionary in the true sense because he saw the need for a revolution in the social sphere at quite an early age. His first protest in his village was against the caste discrimination of dalits by upper castes.  Subsequently, he championed women’s equality in all spheres, including in domestic life and marriage.


Referring to the recent horrific incident of gangrape and murder of a young woman in Delhi that sparked off countrywide protests, Karat hoped some steps will be taken regarding demands for tightening of laws, better policing, speedier justice etc in the coming session of parliament. However the root cause of growing attacks on women can be traced to the larger problem of patriarchal and male chauvinist attitudes prevailing in the society. Even after 65 years Independence women have a highly inferior status in our country. As per UN report, India has been ranked 134th position out of a total of 178 countries as far as status of women is concerned.


Condemning the reactions of so-called spiritual, social and political leaders to the incident, Karat said these reflected the horrible state of patriarchal mindsets. He in particular highlighted RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement about rapes not happening in rural India because there is no western influence on women. “This is a travesty of actual situation. The poor dalit, adivasi agricultural women are daily raped in the villages of our country. He doesn’t seem to consider these as crimes. This also shows his class nature”, said Karat.


He also condemned the reactions of various Muslim fundamentalists organisations some of which proposed banning of co-education and some prescribed that women must not go out alone. He equated these reactions with that of Taliban in Afghanistan. The khap panchayats in Haryana and Rajasthan were implementing many retrograde steps against women. Overall, this is the dominant view on women in our country. Added to these were the commodification of women by media and advertisements that is also contributing to these attacks. Karat ended by saying that we should follow the legacy of PS who upheld the fight for women’s equality.


Sitaram Yechury in his address said that class exploitation in our country was being carried out on two fronts - economic exploitation and social exploitation. The class struggle can be taken forward only when we take up the struggle against both these exploitations simultaneously. He dealt at length on the economic crisis plaguing the world capitalist system for the last five years and reminded about Karl Marx’s assertion that there cannot be capitalism without exploitation and without periodic crises.


He traced the origins of the latest crisis to capitalism’s aggressive pursuit of profits in newer avenues following the collapse of Soviet Union. Although it reaped in super profits, the purchasing power of people had also been greatly reduced. To overcome this, cheap credit was provided recklessly, resulting in credit defaults that affected the entire banking and financial system of US. Yechury said the US spent nearly 12.5 trillion dollars out of its total GDP of 14.5 trillion dollars to bail out the banks. Similar was the case with other European countries. “These bailouts in effect meant that the financial institutions’ bankruptcies were being converted into sovereign bankruptcies. And to overcome this, a serious assault has been mounted on the working people of these countries in the form of cut backs in pensions, education, health etc even as the workers are being made to work longer hours to earn lesser amounts. This will surely leader to another phase of crisis as the spending capacity of people has been further reduced”, he said. Yechury asserted that unless capitalism is demolished and socialism is built, mankind would not be emancipated.


Referring to the spate of hikes in Railway fares, LPG, kerosene and other petro products price and a general cut in subsidies by the UPA-II government, he lambasted the government for trying to project these as necessary measures to cut fiscal deficit. He said the present deficit is largely due to the Rs 5.22 lakh crore worth subsidies being given to rich corporates in the form of tax concessions. The government falsely says these ‘incentives’ (actually subsidies) to the corporates are required to boost growth of the economy. But in reality the manufacturing sector witnessed drastic slowdown in the recent quarters despite these concessions. He asserted that these subsidies to the rich are only fuelling speculation and a rise in prices of all commodities. He demanded that the government stop subsidising the capitalists and take measures to increase the purchasing power of the common man by increasing its spend on public welfare.


Raghavulu called upon the gathering to prepare for intense struggles in the coming period against growing burdens being heaped on the people by the UPA-II and state governments.