People's Democracy

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


No. 14

April 07, 2013





A Politically Stable, Economically Sound Socialist Republic


M A Baby


THE week-long visit of a CPI(M) delegation to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV), from March 25 to 31, 2013, was highly inspiring. Vietnam shines like a revolutionary polestar with unique revolutionary exploits in defeating two mighty imperialist forces – French and the US – apart from warding off the Japanese intervention. What engages the attention of the friends and foes of SRV today is the impact of the changes following the collapse of the USSR and the East European experiments with constructing a just and egalitarian society, in this backward land in Indochina.  One wishes to know whether the new initiatives, as part of Doi Moi (renovation), are giving the desired results in the Vietnamese society, as it is close to quarter of a century that these important policy changes are being experimented with.




My brief personal experience of getting a feel of the society of SRV during the late 1990s resurfaced while moving through the streets of Hanoi. That visit was on the occasion of the second Asia-Oceania Conference in Solidarity with Cuba, held in Vietnam.  The impact of Doi Moi was not yet very visible in and around Hanoi during those days. A few signs of new projects and constructions, appearing sporadically, were there to see. Then we had the opportunity to visit Hanoi only, that too for three days.


Now, almost after one decade and a half, the city of Hanoi has changed in a big way. Signs of economic growth and affluence are visible throughout. There are a lot of new state controlled enterprises as well as private initiatives and joint ventures. The fact that over 40 per cent of the GDP growth comes from state owned and controlled enterprises underlines the importance of the social control over the economy. 


Land is leased out to entrepreneurs who can use it for agricultural farming and for industrial units etc in other designated places.  Another practice is of the state constructing hotels etc and then entrusting their management to reputed private enterprises, with profit sharing agreements. Our delegation had the experience of staying in such a hotel. The facilities and management that we experienced were of remarkable quality.


In Ho Chi Minh City, which is in the southern part of SRV, the delegation had an opportunity to visit a huge Export Processing Zone (EPZ) where over 63,000 workers and employees are provided with job. This is known as the Silicon Valley of Vietnam. All types of industrial units are allowed in respective zones, and the required infrastructure support, clearance etc are given within a short period of time, without any unnecessary obstacles.  The environmental impact studies and such statutory requirements are strictly followed before giving final clearance to any project. As far as the rights and entitlements of workers and employees are concerned, very clear government regulations are to be followed by investors in the EPZs. Maternity leave with full wage has now, from the month of April, been enhanced for six months. As women constitute a large majority of workers and employees, this provision would certainly have a great positive impact. They have the right to organise and strike, and there were instances of these freedoms being taken recourse to successfully.




So what we have seen is a qualitatively different model of utilising private capital and foreign direct investment (FDI) for strengthening and rejuvenating the building of an egalitarian society. This also shows how, in a period of adverse political and economic conditions, a socialist country can draw clear cut parameters to protect the interests of workers and the society as a whole, without kneeling before finance capital and its imperialist masters. 


The approach consists of the following points:


a) The experiment is within the structure of building a strong, politically stable socialist society under the Communist Party of Vietnam and other patriotic and anti-imperialist forces.


b) The leadership and pivotal role of state-controlled sector in the economy is assiduously  protected.


c)  Private and foreign investors will have to strictly follow each of the rules and regulations formulated by the SRV. 


d) Workers’ right to organise and strike are protected and practised.


e)  Investment ensures advanced technology, job creation and other social benefits, while providing a reasonable profit to the investor.


f) Facilities and amenities for workers in general and for women workers in particular are protected without fail. 


Universalisation of healthcare and education for the common people are the cornerstone of SRV. Along with it, improvement of the quality of higher and technical education is emphasised. As much as 20 per cent of the total budget spending is earmarked for education. Science and technology are essential for the growth of any forward looking society. Hence special attention is being paid to this aspect.


The solid foundation laid by the leadership and revolutionary people of Vietnam, after the liberation of their society, led to the implementation of land reforms. However, further growth of the society, especially after the temporary setbacks in the early 1990s demanded a fresh look at our collective experience throughout the modern history. The resultant approach evolved by the SRV has elements of experiments in Russia tried by V I Lenin in a different time and context through the New Economic Policy. Allowing private individuals to enhance the productivity of agricultural land by giving it out on lease is a new initiative being practised in SRV, with positive results.


At a time when we find shocking examples of jobless growth in capitalist countries where neo-liberal exploitative policies are being pursued, the situation is different in SRV when Doi Moi is being implemented, with the wellbeing of the poorest in the society getting topmost priority. During the period of the last five years, more than 80 lakh jobs have been generated in SRV. The proportion of poor households has been reduced from 50 per cent to 9.5 per cent.


It is impossible to find a slum or a beggar or starving people in Vietnam today. During the bilateral discussions with us, Vietnamese comrades admitted that they are facing many a problem regarding a developing socialist country. But the determination with which they are tackling these problems are innovative and inspiring and they are confident that, with the concrete application of Marxism-Leninism, enriched by the teachings and practice of Ho Chi Minh, the working people and revolutionary forces of Vietnam would be able to overcome the difficulties and challenges being posed by imperialist globalisation.  The confidence and self-assurance with which women are moving and taking responsibilities in Vietnamese society are praiseworthy.  This is very much evident in the whole of society. The provision of equal property rights for women is a very important factor in this process. They are provided with equal educational opportunities, equality in jobs and wages etc. The culture of treating women as equals is very much visible. This is not only reflected in the approach of men towards women, but in the courage, confidence and realisation of women that they are equal and it is their right rather than a privilege bestowed through law.




The CPI(M) delegation’s meeting and discussions with Dinh The Huynh, a member of the Polit Bureau and Secretariat, chairman of the Central Commission for Communication and Education, was very much educative. He gave an overview of the decisions of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s eleventh party congress and the subsequent decisions taken by the government. Other important personages with whom our delegation held bilateral discussions included Vuong Dinh Hue (a member of the Central Committee and chairman of the Central Commission for Economic Affairs), Hoang Binh Quan (member, Central Committee and chairman of Central Commission for External Relations) and Nguyen Van Dua (permanent deputy secretary, Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee).


The delegation visited Ho Chi Minh Mansoleum and paid tributes to the great liberator and revolutionary whose simple life and inimitable communist behaviour continues to inspire generations of revolutionaries the world over.


In Ho Chi Minh City, our visit to Thong Nhat Palace, which is now maintained as a museum with the name Unification Palace and War Museum, provided us with a heartrending experience of the great sacrifices suffered and the courage and militancy shown by the revolutionary fighters of Vietnam.


Our visit to Cu Chi underground tunnel was an unforgettable experience. These underground tunnels were constructed with bare minimum tools in dense forests, concealing the entire work from the radar like observation of US military troupes. They can arguably be described as the greatest innovation among the techniques of guerrilla warfare that have been put to successful use in any part of the world in ancient or modern battles. The strenuous struggles carried out by the revolutionary movement in Vietnam inspire the progressive humanity throughout the world. We hope that they would be equally successful in developing a modern, strong and sustainable socialist economy, while protecting the interests of all sections of working people and disadvantaged sections as well as taking care of every aspect of environmental concerns and gender justice.


The CPI(M) delegation consisted of Savitri Mazumdar (leader of the women’s  organisation in West Bengal), Mohd Yusuf Tarigami (MLA, Central Committee member and secretary of the Jammu & Kashmir state committee of the party), and Sampath from Tamilnadu and M A Gafoor from Andhra Pradesh (both being members of the CPI(M) Central Committee), apart from M A Baby, leader of the delegation.