Social Conditions and Tactics
A report based on preliminary social investigation conducted by survey teams during August-October 2001 in the Perspective Area.
State Committee CPI (ML) (Peoples’ War) Karnataka
3 August 2002
I SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Appendix: I: Special Social Groups 53
Appendix: II: Standing Orders 54
Appendix III: Excerpts from a Resolution on Right Opportunism in the State Committee 55
Appendix IV: A Sample of Right Opportunist Views of Some Comrades During the
February Plenum. 56
Select Bibliography 58
List of Tables:
Table 1: TSA: Basic Statistics from Select Villages 11
Table 2: BSA: Basic Statistics from Select Villages 13
Table 3: NSA: Basic Statistics from Select Villages 14
Table 4: Villages Adjoining BSA and NSA: Basic Statistics from Select Villages 15
Table 5: Class-Land Relations for All Four Areas 16
Table 6: TSA: Caste Composition from Select Villages 20
Table 7: Decline in Areca Rates 22
Table 8: Decline in Coffee, Cardamom, Pepper and Murugana Huli Rates 23
Table 9: Decline in Wage Rates 23
Table 10: Elementary Information on Temples and Mathas 32
Table 11: Nature and Status of Mass Organisations 44
In July 2001, the SC initiated the process of conducting social investigation in the Perspective Area. It held a five-day long education programme for DCMs and ACMs in the PA entitled Political Education for Conducting Preparations to Undertake People’s War in Malnad. In particular, it focused on the study of Mao Tse-tung’s Oppose Book Worship. The education programme also relied on Mao’s Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society. Basing itself on the Strategy and Tactics adopted in the IX Congress of the party and the Perspective for Agrarian Work finalized in 1987 by the KN SC, the discussions also focused on theoretical aspects that hinged around the question of semifeudalism. Discussion was initiated on the concrete question of the variations in semifeudalism in Karnataka and the specific manifestations of semifeudalism in Malnad in the context of the penetration of cbb capital to pockets of South Malnad and the trend of imperialist globalisation.
Based on the SC Resolution of May 2001, questions were prepared for collecting data on the following aspects:
"In areas of semifeudal agriculture: Two categories to be made.
b. Adivasi area. } There are some additional aspects for the adivasi area.
Aspects concerning the economy
# Apply class analysis.
# Study class relations. List out names and holdings of big landlords of each village.
# Forms of semifeudal exploitation:
Wage labour, bonded and semi-bonded labour, tenancy, usury.
# Caste and property relations. Specific strengths of each caste.
# Paddy, area, coffee: Specific role of each crop in the household economy. Marketing and market structure. Relations with merchants.
# Migration: Seasonal out migration as labour hands
Distant outmigration . Nature of employment.
Role of remmitances from outside.
# Nature of expenditure: Main heads.
# Relative percentage of classes in each village.
#Impact of land reforms, tenancy abolition.
# Contradiction and collusion with forest department. Encroachment and eviction.
# Investigate how the land question is the central question.
Aspects concerning politics and ideology
# Politicians. Political leanings. Clout. Among the different classes and strata.
# Hindu communalism. Advocates. Zealous votaries. Relations with non-communal groups.
# Influence of feudal and bourgeois ideologies. Media and false consciousness.
# Patriarchy. Among the different classes.
# Listing of weapons with peasantry and landlords.
# Identify all the notorious and big landlords.
# Organisations: rrs, small coffee growers, campco.
# Ruling class doles and reforms.
# Smuggler syndicates.
# Specifically trace dependence on forest. For food (hunting, remnants of food-gathering, medicine, fuel, etc).
# Minor forest produce: Is it a minor or a major part of their economy? Role of LAMPS. Relations with forest department. Relationship with contractors.
# Establish the economic basis of the demand for adivasi autonomy.
# Study the adivasi superstructure: Particularly: The clans, mother right and its remnants. Belief/religion. Relations with Kigga, Sringeri, Dharmasthala, Kalasa, Hornadu.
# Specific manifestations of patriarchy.
# Bourgeois political organisations/institutions.
# Role of NF.
#Memories of adivasi struggles.
# Adivasi response to land reforms."
Four investigation teams were made for the PA. The area of each team was planned so that it coincided with the LGS area of each squad in the coming days. Each team was headed by an ACM. DCMs participated in the process with the teams. The teams selected three villages each for in depth study, while they planned to make a general study of at least 12 villages that fell within their area. Each of these three villages marked out for in depth study were:
1. Those that fell within the NP area and had an absolute adivasi population.
2. Those that fell within the NP and had a mixture of adivasi and non-adivasi population.
3. Those that came outside the NP but under the control of landlords carrying out semifeudal exploitation.
Our 1987 Perspective states that while in North Malnad semifeudal conditions prevail (Point 57) and "land hunger is acute", (Point 29), in the South Malnad, "in the sphere of coffee, capitalist agriculture coexists with semifeudal agriculture"(Point 37).
In other words, while semifeudalism preponderates in the Malnad as a whole, in parts of the South Malnad, where coffee is grown, capitalist agriculture coexists with semifeudal agriculture. In the coffee estates owned by the cbb, the relations of production are between labour and capital. In the coffee estates owned by landlords, the relations of production are semifeudal. The investigation teams did not go to those plantations owned by the cbb. In fact such cbb areas fall outside the perview of the proposed LGS areas. However, the investigation teams collected data from villages where coffee was grown by the landlords who carried out semifeudal exploitation.
Comrades held extensive discussions with a cross section of the people, often running late into the night. In some villages they spoke to each and every individual. A lot of notes were made. Discussions also took place in the squads on the data that was collected. Each team drafted a report which was discussed with DCMs and ACMs in April 2002.
The process of social investigation helped each of the teams get a deeper understanding of social reality and the specific conditions in which they had to work. It was the first such exercise conducted by the Karnataka party. It has helped us in applying the Maoist slogan of learning from the people. And, it is bound to aid us in improving our tactics in our political struggle against feudalism and imperialism.
The SC presents this document as a summing up of the preliminary social investigation undertaken by our teams. On the basis of the social investigation and in keeping with the line of the party, the SC has also drawn up a second part in this document entitled Tactics.
The SC hopes that Socotac will be studied by all PMs and discussed in their respective party forums so that the Karnataka party can develop and implement a unified political understanding for accomplishing its central task of conducting people’s war in Malnad.
The task of social investigation was undertaken, and this document is today being prepared and discussed, in the context of a two-line debate within the Karnataka party. The debate is centred on the question of implementing the enriched line of the party and advancing along the path of people’s war or in succumbing to right opportunism and thereby liquidating the movement. The struggle with right opportunism is focused here on the evaluation of concrete social conditions in Karnataka, in the Malnad and in the Perspective Area.
In the Indian communist movement protracted people’s war has been negated from various different angles. One important source for the negation of protracted peoples’ war has rested on a denial of the semifeudal character of the country. The consequences of wrong analysis of social conditions can be serious. It has a direct bearing on the direction of the revolutionary movement.
Today there is a deep-rooted right opportunist perception of things in the Karnataka party. Right opportunism in the Karnataka party has different sources and many manifestations. In the sphere of social analysis, it denies the semifeudal nature of social relations in Malnad. It presumes that semifeudalism exists only in certain "pockets" in Malnad. It considers "imperialism as the principal contradiction" in Malnad as a whole. It evaluates that the enemy is relatively "strong" in the Malnad and not "weak" when compared to the North Maidan as a region. It says that while semifeudalism has been transformed, it is expressed in the superstructural "caste form" in Mudigere and Sakleshpura area. It presumes that a "middle peasant economy dominates" the North Malnad and that landlords are either nominal there or are nonexistent. The sum and substance of these arguments is that social relations have been transformed from that of semifeudalism to capitalist relations, and the principal contradiction has been shifted from that of semifeudalism to that with imperialism in the Malnad.
The Maoist theory of protracted peoples’ war is closely bound up with the question of semifeudalism. Semifeudalism provides the social material for area-wise seizure of political power. Hence any rejection of the prevalence of semifeudalism tantamounts to a rejection of the establishment of base areas. And the conquest of bases lies at the heart of Mao’s theory of protracted peoples’war.
This is the relationship between social analysis and strategy and tactics.
Within the Karnataka party, comrades putting forth some of the incorrect arguments listed above, tend to also develop wrong views about the tactics and strategy of protracted peoples’ war. The essence of these arguments is to withdraw or postpone the formation of squads, to build a legal movement in the urban centers and mobilize people even more in anti-imperialist mass struggles over a "wide area" since the Perspective Area is "very small" or "highly developed" with a "strong enemy" making it impossible for our sustenance. While there is no apparent denial of the strategy of protracted peoples’ war, since most of the arguments touch upon tactical matters, the essence of these arguments has strategic implications. It revives the stages theory that has been put forward since the time of Naxalbari, first by CPR-TN-DV and later by Jana Shakthi, among others. The stages theory is a right opportunist theory and our party, since the time of Com CM, has continuously fought against it. As recently as in February this year the erstwhile West Bengal Secretary, Com Manik, brought up his right opportunist line for which he reinvoked the stages theory. The principal debate in the ML movement on the question of protracted peoples’ war has hinged around recurrent versions of the stages theory. Hence the stages theory has proved to be resilient. And it has been the most important manifestation of right opportunism on the question of strategy and tactics.
This document on social conditions and tactics is prepared in the context of the emergence of a right opportunist political line (ROL) in the Karnataka party. The right opportunist view not only makes an incorrect evaluation of social conditions in Malnad, but it also desires to hold back preparations for the conduct of peoples’ war in the Perspective Area by basing on the enriched political and military line of the party at the IX Congress and under the guidance of the CC.
The ROL has shown up in the KN SC. It persists in the SC and resides in the KN leadership in the form of a SC minority. It also manifests in a few leading cadres of the KN party.
The Letter issued by the SC to all PMs on 21 July 2002 entitled Conduct Two-Line Struggle to Reaffirm the Party Line introduces the different aspects of the ROL and the need for conducting a two-line struggle to rescue the party from it and reestablish the commanding position of the party’s line.
The SC minority insists that it neither had nor does it presently have either right opportunism or a line.
It says that it agrees with the Socotac. But there is a condition it places to this "agreement". It agrees to this document minus its "polemical part".
And just what does the polemic do? It points at how the arguments of these comrades inside and outside the SC make up the ROL.
Mao Tsetung says that "…the line is the key-link" (cited in Bidding Farewell to Agrarian Revolution—The Essence of Manik’s Paper, p 22). He also says that the "…ideological and political line decides everything." (ibid, p 23)
For a communist party, line is the essence of analysis. To negate the essence and agree with the appearance: that is precisely what the minority’s "agreement" with Socotac while at the same time disagreeing with the polemics really means.
A fair part of the erroneous arguments this document answers have come up in the SC. The SC resolution of December 2002 is excerpted in Appendix III in order that comrades may understand the manifestation of the ROL in the SC and how it in fact expressed itself as "the danger of a right deviation and the stage theory" despite attempts by minority comrades to shrug off their association with the ROL. (See Appendix III)
Yet if the stages theory is not a line, then what else should one call it?
If comrades in the minority still want to hold out an elusive argument, if they still want to contend that real differences in line are only part of the make-believe virtual world of a SC majority and that real differences in line were only innocent suggestions, it smacks of the "indefiniteness, diffuseness, elusiveness" of opportunism that Lenin talked of. (cited in, Rally Around the Party’s General Political Line! Fight Back Com Manik’s Attempts to Liquidate the Party!, p 25)
Elusiveness is the precise nature of opportunism in the SC minority. They contradict the most essential part of a resolution which had been unanimously passed in the December SC meeting and which mentioned in clear cut terms that their arguments contained the danger of the stage theory. Hence when they say that they agree with the Socotac but not with its polemics, it must be viewed as only another of their attempts to be elusive.
This document seeks to answer the wrong perception of some comrades in the party. The purpose of social analysis is to concretize our line. We have to draw up correct tactics thereby enriching it in theory. And by implementing these tactics, we have to enrich it through practice. To separate the polemical part from the analysis would amount to discarding the kernel and keeping the husk. The history of MLM, our ideology, is a history of struggle and debate. Let our comrades show up one instance from our teachers where the intruding polemical nuisance was relegated to some neutral appendix.
The SC calls upon all party members to study the analysis of social conditions and uphold the correct tactics that we have proposed in this document. It calls upon them to reject the right opportunist conceptions of some comrades. The SC appeals to all PMs to advance in the direction of undertaking people’s war in Karnataka in order to implement the slogan of the February Plenum: "Complete preparations to build a guerrilla zone with the perspective of establishing a base area in Malnad".
3. The Perspective Area
The Western Ghats, with an average width of about 100 kms, runs from North to South for about 2,200 kms. It runs parallel to the West Coast. It passes through Kerala, TN, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. At its northern extremity in Gujarat, it makes a junction with the Vindya and Satpura ranges.
The Western Ghats traverses a length of about 700 kms in Karnataka. The longest part, the widest and deepest forests of the Western Ghats are located in Karnataka. At its maximum, the Western Ghats is about 200 kms wide in Karnataka. The Western Ghats that runs through Karnataka is called as the Malnad.
The Western Ghats has its strategic significance for peoples’ war in India owing to the forest and mountainous terrain. The population of Malnad is about one-tenth of that of the entire state. It runs as a divider between the Karavali and the Maidan regions. It covers an area of about 50,000 sq kms or roughly one-fourth of the total area of Karnataka. It is contiguous with the remaining three regions of Karnataka--—the North Maidan, the South Maidan and the Karavali. It passes through 10 of Karnataka’s 27 districts viz, Belgaum, Uttara Kannada, Dharwad, Shimoga, Udupi, Chickmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Mysore and Chamarajanagara. It bridges the Kannada nationality with the Tulu and Kodava nationalities. While its terrain is of strategic value for ppw in India, the above mentioned additional factors enhance its strategic significance. It would not be an exaggeration, owing to all these factors, to call the Malnad as the strategic midrib of peoples’ war in Karnataka.
The Malnad may be further divided into two. The North Malnad is composed of the districts of Belgaum, Uttara Kannada, Dharwad, Shimoga and a part of Udupi. The South Malnad is composed of a part of Udupi, Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Mysore and Chamarajanagara.
The Perspective Area falls in the central part of Malnad. It covers the northern part of the South Malnad and the southern part of North Malnad. It includes parts (and not all) of the forested areas of Udupi, Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada districts. It covers an area of about 10,000 sq kms in eight taluks. By deploying adequate squads, organizing the masses in class struggle and conducting guerrilla warfare here, the Perspective Area will gradually emerge as a Guerrilla Zone. Hence the Perspective Area is that area which we plan to develop as a Guerrilla Zone.
Today we have initiated our work in one part of the Perspective Area. We are currently working in parts of five taluks. Our present work is divided among 4 areas. Each of the four areas have to be expanded in the coming days so that 4 LGSs can cover a total area 80 kms N-S by 40 kms E-W or 3,200 sq kms . In other words each LGS must operate in an optimum area of 800 sq kms. Within the PA, there is currently one DC.
Our work at present covers the entire NP area. The NP is shared by three squads. The NP covers 602 sq kms. It currently serves as the core for our activity. But our work is not confined to the NP. It extends beyond it. Today about two-thirds of our influence would be among adivasis (inside and outside the NP).
The population in any forest area is sparse. This is true of the PA also. However, the population covered by each squad must be enhanced. Today the population that has been covered stands from 2,500 to 3,000 forch squad. However, this is inadequate. It must reach a level of 10,000 for each LGS area of T, B and N in the coming days. In areas that fall outside these three squad areas but within the Perspective area, the density of population is relatively higher. Here the average population covered in each LGS area can reach up to 25,000. Taking the Perspective Area as a whole, including the towns and the large villages having urban characteristics, a rough estimate of the population of the Perspective Area could be about 5 lakhs.
To accomplish the transformation of the Perspective Area into a GZ we must organize the people in class struggle, build mass organizations, set up party cells, form militia, establish SGSs and conduct guerrilla warfare in about a dozen LGS areas.
4. The Economy
Table 1TSABasic Statistics From Select Villages
Table 1 (Continued)
Basic Statistics From Select Villages
Table 2 (Continued)
Basic Statistics From Select Villages
Table 3 (Continued)
Villages Adjoining BSA and NSA
Basic Statistics From Select Villages
Table 4 (Continued)
Class-Land Relations of All Four Areas
(All Figures in Percentage)
a. Land Holding:
Table 5 provides us with an overall picture of the class-land holding pattern.
It is clear from this that the landless and poor peasantry constituting nearly 30% of the population own just 5% of the land. At the same time, a population of 5% of landlords own 35% of all land. In between these two poles are the middle and rich peasantry. The middle peasant class constitutes 50% of the rural population and owns 34% of all land. The rich peasantry, which forms 15% of the population, owns 19% of all land.
Let us look at Tables 1 to 4. The figures here provide a picture of the class-land ratio for each of the four areas that were surveyed.
In TSA the landless-poor peasant population constitutes 50% of the total. This category of the exploited owns 15% of all land. At the same time, the landlords who constitute 4% of the population own 24% of all land. The middle peasantry is 37% of the total population and it owns 37% of all land.
In BSA, the landless poor peasant composition is 14% of the total population. It owns merely 2% of all land. At the other extremity are the landlords who own 19.19% of all land and constitute merely 6% of the entire population. The middle peasantry is obviously the numerically predominant population. It forms 63% of the population and possesses 48% of all land in the area.
In the NSA, the landless-poor peasantry form up to 24% of the population. They control only 3% of all land. However, the landlords who make up merely 6% of the population own 37% of all land. The middle peasantry is numerically the largest. It constitutes 52% of the population and owns 33% of all land.
In the fourth area, the landless peasantry makes up 22% of the rural population. Along with the poor peasantry, it constitutes 30% of the population. However, it owns just 1% of all land. At the same time, and in contrast to this degree of pauperization, the landlords forming up to 10% own 60% of all the land. The middle peasantry makes up 48% of the population and it owns just 18% of all the land.
How are we to reckon with these area-wise variations?
A closer look at Tables 1-4 makes this evident.
As already mentioned the investigation teams selected three categories of villages for in depth study. To restate, these three types of villages were:
1. Those that fell within the NP area and had an absolute adivasi population.
2. Those that fell within the NP and had a mixture of adivasi and non-adivasi population. 3. Those that came outside the NP but under the control of landlords carrying out semifeudal exploitation.
It can be generally found from Tables 1-4 that in villages which are totally adivasi villages, the land holding pattern is manifestly different from that of the villages of the second and third type. In complete adivasi villages, the landlord class is absent. However, it is present in villages where there is an admixture of adivasi-non adivasi populations or even in those villages where the adivasi population is entirely absent.
For instance in villages like TK, M, B and T in TSA, or, Y, B, K, H, M, A, A and A in BSA, or in K of the fourth area, landlords are not present.
However, the other social pole of the landlords are the landless and poor peasantry. If labourers are absent, the population of the poor peasantry is miniscule.
In other words in villages which are completely adivasi, the poor, middle and rich peasantry may be found. And among these three classes, it is the middle peasantry that constitutes the largest segment and it owns the greatest proportion of land.
Table 1 and Table 2 offer us another detail. Table 1 tells us that of the 37 villages studied in TSA, only 4 villages are complete adivasi villages. However, from Table 2 we learn that of the 15 villages that have furnished information in the BSA, 9 are complete adivasi villages. In other words, the high ratio of adivasi villages in the BSA sample is an important factor for the numerical preponderance of the middle peasantry which stands at 63% of the entire population for the BSA.
Table 4 provides data from villages, which fall on the periphery of the BSA and NSA. Data from this area describes the highest population of landless labourers which stands at 22%. At the same time, the landless and poor peasant population together constitutes 30% of the population while they control just 1% of all land. On the other hand, in contrast to this pauperization, the landlords own 60% of all land. Such a contrast is not reflected in the other three areas. The reason for this is that in this area data was collected from villages where local landlords owned coffee plantations. T is an example. Of a total of 677 acres of agricultural land in this village, 5 landlords share 620 acres between themselves, most of which is coffee estate.
The proliferation of the small property holders is evident in all the four areas where investigation was undertaken. There were the landless and poor peasant classes at one extreme and at the other extreme, there was a landlord class with big property. Between these two extremes of the semifeudal social order, there was a proliferation of the small property owners constituted by the middle and rich peasants. The resilience of petty producers in the agrarian social system is one of the many hallmarks of a semifeudal society.
The following general yardstick may be evolved in drawing the relationship between the extent of land holding and the determination of the social class on the basis of data that has been collected.
Poor Peasant: Up to 1 acre of thari (paddy lands). Around ½ acre of bagayat (areca garden).
Or up to 2 acres of thari and no bagayat.
Middle Peasant: 1 – 2 acres of thari and more than 1 acre of bagayat.
Rich Peasant: 2 – 3 acres of bagayat. 1-3 acres of thari.
Landlord: More than 4 acres of bagayat and more than 3 acres of thari.
Our investigations from the fourth area reveal that productivity rates vary as the scale of agriculture varies. Bigger the scale, greater the productivity. For instance, productivity rates of coffee per acre varies by a proportion of 1:4 between a small holding and a large holding of coffee. Hence, the yield per acre goes up as one ascends the social scale. As a result it would be wrong to make a mere mathematical equation by forgetting the class to which the land belongs when we draw up yardsticks for the differentiation of classes based on land holding.
The income from areca is high. It provides an income of half a lakh for an acre after deducting production costs. The market value of one acre of areca is about Rs 6 lakhs. The value of one acre of coffee is about Rs 5 lakhs.
TSA: Men: Rs 35 + 1 seer of rice + 1 meal
Women: Rs 30 + 1 seer of rice + 1 meal
NSA: Men: Rs 50-60
Women: Rs 35-40 or 2 ½ seers of rice
Area Adjoining BSA and NSA: Men: Rs 50
The relatively higher rates for labour in NSA is reflective of the general conditions in Dakshina Kannada district.
Despite the fact that the principal amount of the wage is monetised, a fair proportion of the wage continues to be paid in kind. If one breaks down the wage paid in TSA to strictly monetary terms it would be like this: Rs 35 in cash.
1 seer of rice = Rs 10
1 meal = Rs 10.
Total wage paid = Rs 55
In other words, wage paid in kind constitutes 35% of the total day’s wage. This mode of payment reflects the continuation of semifeudal forms. This form of wage payment is generally true of the BSA also.
An important aspect of the relations of production is that labour is not free. This has significance for the semifeudal nature of class exploitation.
Extra economic forms of exploitation are many faceted. We shall draw attention to some of the more important forms of semifeudal exploitation in the relations of production.
Although the traditional form of bonded labour has not been evident, one must not be led to the easy conclusion that all forms of bondage are absent and that labour is "free" as under capitalism. In fact, labour exploitation by the landlords and to an extent by rich peasants takes place under modified conditions of the old system of bondage. This modified form is nothing but revised debt-bondage. Landlords extract labour from the same labourers, on a regular and long lasting basis, at rates lower than the daily wage rate.
This is what the ACM of the fourth area, where coffee estates dominate, reported: "Landlords keep labourers in debt bondage. Anyone who decides to leave the big landlord of T and go for work elsewhere must first repay his loan. The landlord does not provide loans to labourers who do not work for him." This is the form adopted by a landlord who owns 300 acres of coffee. Once a labourer takes a loan from the landlord, he must go for work at 8-30 in the morning. If the labourer takes time off for lunch he is permitted to return to his house at 6-00 pm. If he/she does not have his/her lunch then he/she is allowed to go at 4-30 pm. In other words. For those who take a fresh loan the wage that is paid is lesser than that paid to the rest of the labourers and the labourer has to work on all days in the week.
In Tunga area the landlords generally deduct Rs 5 from a day’s wage of Rs 35 in case a loan has been forwarded. This elongates the period of retention of the labourer and is advantageous for the landlord. This deduction is considered as a part repayment of the original amount. In B village of BSA, the landlords pay only Rs 20 as a day’s wage in case a loan is forwarded to the labourer. The landlords of T deduct Rs 15 from each day’s wage of Rs 50 or in other words, Rs 100 is deducted each week.
The complete adivasi populated villages also come under semifeudal forms of exploitation. Although big landlords reside outside adivasi villages, they continue to exploit labour by relations of debt bondage. One such semifeudal landlord owns a large provision store and a rice mill. Once after the landlord forwards a loan to a peasant, he does not take the repayment in cash. Instead he prefers, as a general rule, to seek it either in kind or in the form of labour. If it is in the form of grain or forest produce, it is bought at rates below the market rate.
Also, from villages such as H and A in the BSA, cases resembling the old system of bonded labour have been reported. Both these are complete adivasi villages. The adivasi peasantry have taken loans from landlords and have sent members of their family to the coffee estates of the landlords in order to offer labour services to repay the loan. Such labour is paid up to 15% below that of the daily wage rate. Similar cases of debt bondage have been reported from K. The landlord has 14 peasants in debt bondage here. While some come from neighbouring villages, four families reside in serf quarters off his farm. The landlord extracts corvee from such labourers. The peasantry of the surrounding villages of K also provide corvee to the Jain basadi in the village. Corvee is extracted at the Kigga temple from adivasis.
Arecanut harvesting and processing is done at the house of the landlords. This is called cheni. Groups of labourers from half a dozen upwards operate as one labouring team. The landlord makes a contract with an individual labourer on the basis of a loan he forwards. During harvesting time, this labourer mobilizes a team of peasants. This loan is adjusted as wages on a piece-rate basis. This is a labour intensive operation engaging the landless, poor peasants and a section of the middle peasants for three months from December to February. Tables 1 and 3 show that 7% of the total number of families in Tunga area and 56% of the total number of families in BSA leave their houses for cheni during this time.
During the peak agricultural seasons such as paddy transplantation and harvesting, poor and middle peasants from villages as far as B and TK have to go to the landlord’s fields in H about 15 kms away. It is binding upon all those who have taken a loan from him.
Tenancy is another form of exploitation undertaken by the landlords. The extent of tenancy has come down over the years. Yet, in villages like K or DK of TSA and G of the fourth area, tenancy continues as a mode of semifeudal exploitation. The G landlord has 10 tenant families working in his lands. Tenants pay 50% of the crop as land rent. In K, the second harvest belongs to the share cropper. In T village of the fourth area, 20% of the population are tenants.
Apart from direct exploitation of the landless, poor and to an extent, the middle peasantry in agriculture, the landlords also extract surplus in the collection of MFP(minor forest produce). In the collection of minor forest produce also semifeudal exploitation is visible. The landlords of TSA and BSA also own shops. MFP collected by the peasantry is sold against loans taken by them from landlords. Each year MFP worth several lakhs of rupees is collected from each squad area. All this is channeled through landlords who make a fortune in the bargain. The profit they make is not just what comes off the process of merchant capital, but the most significant part comes from extra-economic suppression of prices and from usury. This is one important example from the area as to how landlords mediate in the labour activity of the peasantry although the labour is not expended directly on the land or the property of the landlord.
MFP collection is a major economic activity of the peasantry in this area. A good proportion of their cash earnings come from the collection of MFP. Rough estimates reveal that up to a third of the income of the peasantry comes from MFP collection. Tables 1, 3 and 4 tell about the proportion of people involved in expending labour for MFP collection and how significant it is for these toilers.
58% of the population of TSA, 50% of the population of NSA and 24% of the population of the fourth area expend labour in MFP collection. In the TSA, as we have already seen, the landless and poor peasantry constitute 48% of the population. Yet the percentage of people involved in MFP collection is 10% higher than the total landless-poor peasant population. In NSA, the total landless-poor peasant population is 24%. Yet the population involved in collecting MFP is double, at 50%.
These statistics reveal that MFP collection is not the activity of merely the landless or poor peasants. A fair proportion of the middle peasantry also partake in it.
However, in the fourth area, the total number of people involved in MFP collection is 24%. This is lower than the total percentage of landless-poor peasants. These figures do not contradict our conclusions; since in the fourth area, MFP collection is low because there is no forest for a good number of villages.
Also, MFP collection is not confined to adivasis alone. Data from Table 6 makes this amply clear. If the total adivasi population in TSA is 46%, the number of households involved in MFP collection is 58%.
The conclusion we arrive at from all this data is that MFP collection is a major source of economic activity for the people. It involves the landless, poor and middle peasantry. It involves the adivasi and non-adivasi populations of these classes. This widens the scope for semifeudal exploitation of the masses of peasantry by the landlords.
Indian semifeudalism is, essentially, caste based. Whenever we refer to semifeudalism in India, we always do so with the understanding that it is a caste-based semifeudalism. Further, our party considers caste as a factor influencing the superstructure and also the base. Let us now consider some aspects of the caste factor in the economy.
First, we note that the landlords invariably hail from Brahmin, Vokkaliga, Bant and Jain families. The landlord of SM who comes from the Billava (toddy tappers caste is the only exception from a list of 54 landlords. Second, we note that among the landless peasants none come from Brahmin, Vokkaliga, Bant or Jain families. Instead, the landless peasants are composed of the Dalits and adivasis. Further, the bulk of the poor peasantry is also made up of the adivasis and Dalits. In other words, the caste system is rigid, it ties down the peasantry and it has a direct relation with property ownership.
Table 6: Caste Composition From Select Villages of TSA
Tables 1 and 6 tell us about the role of caste as a factor of extra economic coercion. H is a Dalit village in TSA. All the 13 families of H are Dalits. Of these, 12 are landless labourers and one is a poor peasant. It is important to observe that the landless labourers and poor peasants of all other castes of TSA, as a rule, undertake MFP collection. However, the Dalits of H do not collect MFP although they reside in the midst of forest. The labour activity of the H Dalits is strictly regimented by the landlords of M.
All the above illustrations demonstrate the semifeudal nature of labour exploitation, the semi-bonded and extra-economic forms which characterize semifeudalism.
Beedi rolling is another important subsidiary labour activity practiced by women of poor and middle peasant families in NSA. Beedi rolling falls in the category of home-based social production. It is a special type of labour exploitation which takes advantage of patriarchal social relations to extract super profits.
Another form of labour, characteristic of semifeudal agriculture, where small property holders proliferate, is the essentially non-exploitative form of mutual labour exchange practiced principally by the middle peasantry and to an extent by the poor peasantry. This is called badalaalu or olaalu. Below the Ghats it is called agaara-pagaara. The additional labour requirements for specific agricultural operations such as transplanting paddy, harvesting or threshing and winnowing are met by mutual labour exchange. Mutual labour exchange is generally carried out among a group of half-a dozen families in the case of non-adivasi peasantry. However among the adivasis, particularly in the complete adivasi villages, mutual labour exchange is a treat to watch.
In the adivasi villages of Y-M-B-K-H of BSA, up to 50 men and women gather during paddy transplanting and harvesting. The ACM reported that with such a concentration of labour, the work of a particular middle peasant household is completed in just half a day.
Mutual labour exchange is however not confined to merely labour intensive agricultural activity. It is a part of the culture of the people. The scale of labour exchange reduces when it involves other kinds of agricultural activity. Mutual labour exchange is the mode of existence of adivasi middle and poor peasant labour. The rich peasantry do not participate in mutual labour exchange.
In the complete adivasi villages, no account of mutual labour exchange is maintained by the peasantry. The general work culture is to offer labour services whenever anybody requests for it. But with the non-adivasi middle peasantry, an account is maintained of mutual labour exchange by the participating peasant families.
Mutual labour exchange is a form of labour cooperation. It has the potential to subject itself to moulding by the proletariat or to its misuse by the bourgeoisie.
The use of agricultural machinery is nominal. Some tillers are in use. A few pulpers have been reported from the fourth area. Tractors or jeeps are maintained by the biggest of landlords for transportation. Some have pumpsets and a few landlords and rich peasants have sprinklers in their coffee lands. Back pack pesticide spraying machines have proliferated. They can be generally found in the houses of middle peasants. The overwhelming part of productive activity is carried out by human labour without the intervention of modern machinery. Here again the stamp of semifeudalism is evident.
The Perspective Area enjoys heavy rainfall. The rainy season lasts for 5 months in a year. The staple food crop that is grown is paddy. It is rain fed. The commercial crops that are grown are arecanut, coffee, cardamom, pepper and plantain. In NSA coconut proliferates and cashew is grown. In recent days, with the collapse of coffee rates and the decline in areca rates, the cultivation of vanilla has been picking up. A quarter or less of all paddy lands, particularly those that lie in the lower reaches of the valleys, are cultivated for a second crop. Otherwise most paddy lands are left fallow after harvest. Paddy lands are called as thari. And the lands where areca is grown are called bagayat. Bagayat lands are generally multicropped. All the commercial crops listed above except cashew are raised in the bagayats. But as the holding increases, particularly among the landlords, land is parceled out for monoculture. The areca gardens and coffee estates are generally separated. Bagayat for a landlord would mean an exclusive areca garden and his coffee estate is called as thota. This is the direct result of the economy of scale. However, in the coffee estates and areca gardens, cardamom and pepper are grown.
Tables 1 and 2 tell us of the land use pattern for the TSA and BSA. The thari-bagayat ratio for TSA is 60:40, while for the BSA area this stands at 56:44. Starting down the ladder of classes, one finds that with the poor peasantry, this ratio is skewed in favour of thari. But as one ascends the social scale of classes, with the middle peasantry it is still in favour of thari. But, with the rich peasantry, bagayat lands assume precedence. And with the landlords, bagayat lands and the estates clearly predominate.
The 60:40 and 56:44 mean ratio of thari:bagayat lands is indicative of the persistence of semifeudalism. Self sufficiency is one of the many features of semifeudalism. In other words, production for consumption instead of for sale. Paddy is generally produced for consumption. And it is sold only if there is a good harvest or if there is the pressing need to repay loans taken from the money-lenders. We have also seen that the payment of wages also takes place in the form of one seer of rice and one meal. The surplus grain that is produced meets these requirements. In fact this method of wage payment should be seen within the context of a semifeudal economy of production for consumption rather than for sale. The fact that from 56% to 60% of all agricultural land is used for the cultivation of paddy is indicative of the semifeudal nature of the economy, that the grain that is produced is principally consumed locally.
Rural indebtedness is rampant. Loans are extended by landlord-moneylenders, merchant-moneylenders and from institutional sources. The number of families without loans are few. Data from the fourth area are provided in Table 4. Total loans from all sources (excluding the loans made by landlords) stands as high as Rs 19,24,000 for a population of just 131 families. The average loan that is made comes to Rs 14,687. Of these loans, 30% have come from institutional sources. The remaining have come from landlord and merchant usurers. The H landlord is said to have given loans to each village ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 70,000. He is estimated to have forwarded upto Rs 4 lakhs to the adivasi villages alone.
In the adivasi villages of BSA, it has been reported that loans are also forwarded by private finance companies or small time private bankers residing in towns like Sringeri. They offer loans up to Rs 10,000. They charge an interest of 30%. Yet, the landlords of the area have forwarded the biggest proportion of loans.
Here again the mark of semifeudalism is distinct.
Rural unemployment is reflected in several ways.
On the one hand it is visible in the outmigration of labour from villages to cities. The incidence of outmigration is relatively high in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts.
The pressure on land has been increasing. This is reflected in the phenomenon of encroachment of forest lands. Tables 1, 2 and 4 provide data on this. It must be noted that the data on encroachment does not include land encroached by landlords. In TSA area, 10% of all land cultivated by the peasantry does not have title deeds. In BSA, 32% of all land does not have title deeds. In the fourth area peripheral to BSA and NSA, this figure stands at 10%. In other words, 10% to 32% of all lands cultivated by the peasantry do not have title deeds. Such encroachment has been undertaken against all odds and at great risk. It has often invited victimization from the Forest Department. The pressure to encroach comes from immiserisation and declassing caused due to land fragmentation among the peasantry. The ACM of TSA has reported that "land fragmentation is pushing down the class status" of the peasantry in the adivasi villages that were surveyed.
Encroachment undertaken due to the crisis in the semifeudal system is indicative of the growth of rural unemployment and peasant hunger for land.
Areca nut is the principal source of income for the middle and rich peasantry. It is followed by coffee. For the poor peasantry it could be cardamom. In the fourth area, however, coffee is the leader and it is followed by areca.
In recent years the market has generated a price crisis for coffee and areca. Tables 7 and 8 compiled by comrades in the fourth area describes the decline.
Decline in Areca Rates
Decline in Coffee, Cardamom, Pepper and Murugana Huli Rates
In addition to the above commodities, rates of coconut and cashew have also fallen in the same period.
Areca rates in 1998 stood from 15% to 20% higher than the rates in 2000. Coffee rates in 1998 stood at Rs 6,000 per quintal. Murugana huli rates stood at Rs 80 in 1999. Hence the decline in prices has been going on for the last three years.
The drop in the rates of coffee from Rs 6,000 per quintal to Rs 2,000 per quintal over a 4 year period is directly attributable to the near liquidation of the Coffee Board by the cbb. The structural adjustment programme of the World Bank was implemented after the Coffee Board took loans from it in the early 1990s. Free Sale Quota has replaced the earlier regulation raj.
Under the WTO regime, in the last four years, coffee rates have declined in direct relation to the import of coffee into India.
Similarly, the import of areca into the country after the signing of the WTO agreement has also affected the prices of local areca.
The overproduction of coffee and areca in this period has also compounded the price crisis.
The price crisis in areca and coffee has affected the various different agrarian classes of the PA. Table 9 furnishes some details of it from the NSA.
Decline in Wage Rates
The decline in wage rates has been directly attributed to the fall in prices of areca and coconut by the people. This decline has been significant and sharp. The decline in wage rates from 25% to 42% matches the fall in areca rates from 27% to 60%. This is one important indication of how the burden of the price crisis is shifted by landlords on to the backs of the landless and poor peasantry. The basic classes are the under dogs and any fall in rates of agricultural commodities affects them directly.
The peasantry—poor, middle and rich—are also affected seriously by the fall in prices. Loan repayments have become all the more difficult. Thus they are pushed more into the mercy of the semifeudal money lenders and the institutional usurers. The household budget is slashed. And the proportion of debt and interest repayment in the household budget becomes heavier.
The collapse in prices is directly attributable to the semicolonial status of our country. It has deepened the contradiction between imperialism and the cbb on the one hand and the peasantry and landless labourers on the other. It also intensified the contradiction between the labourers and peasantry on the one hand and the semifeudal landlords and usurers on the other.
The TSA team reported the sale of 1 acre of land by a middle peasant family in the end of 2001 in one of the adivasi villages. This was sold in order to clear a debt taken from the landlord. However, the person who purchased it was not the landlord. Apart from this, there have been no reports of the purchase and sale of land. Obviously, land has not been thrown up as a commodity in the market. There is no capitalist accumulation taking place of the means of production. In this regard too, the semifeudal nature of agrarian property continues to characterize the agriculture of the Perspective Area.
Let us briefly sum up the features of the economy.
+ In the pattern of land ownership which exhibits the coexistence of landlordism on the one hand and landlessness on the other along with the simultaneous existence of a multitude of scattered homestead farms.
+ In the adoption of extra economic methods for exploitation.
+ In the self-sufficiency in grain despite the growth of commercial crops.
+ In the near absence of the application of machinery.
+ In the further intensification of the crisis of semifeudalism owing to the deepening economic features of semicolonialism—all the more so in the wake of imperialist globalisation.
+ In the fragmentation of land from one generation to another as the means for a change of ownership rather than by the transformation of land into a commodity. The later process would have lead to the concentration of land as capital at one extreme and the pauperized petty holders as labour at the other. Or, in other words, the law of capital causing the break up and the polarization of society is emphatically absent.
5. Some Specific Aspects
In 1987, the State Government announced the formation of the Kuduremukh National Park (KNP). In doing so, it amalgamated the:
The total area falling under the KNP is 602 sq kms. In 1998, the government served eviction notice to the people. Since then the simmering contradiction with the state government, particularly with the KFD, was stoked. From August 2001, the KFD pursued a package of measures to implement the NP programme. Since then the struggle with the KFD became increasingly volatile.
The ruling classes plan to evict the population dwelling in the area and impose restrictions on the population that resides within a distance of 8 kms from the boundary of the NP.
The KFD has used the smoke screen of environmental conservation to implement its reactionary agenda.
But the KFD is the epitome of forest destruction and pillage rather than ecological conservation. It has been one of the major instruments causing the destruction of the environment in Karnataka. The KFD was formed by British colonialism in order to exploit the forests. In the post 1947 period, due to growing ecological destruction and the rape of forest by the landlord-cbb-imperialist combine, the KFD has learned to hoodwink the people—singing the tune of conservation but dancing to the tune of destruction.
The KFD is a component part of the Indian state. It serves the classes that wield it in the service of imperialism. The Indian state is semifeudal and semicolonial in character. The KFD is no exception to this characterization. It bears this imprint. The semifeudal character of the KFD is manifested in the NP issue in the very demarcation of the area falling under the NP. The boundary skirts around the fence of the landlords’ estates. The KFD has taken meticulous care to keep the landlord class outside the NP. This is the semifeudal rationale of the NP boundary. Then, about its semicolonial character as manifested in the NP: First, let us take a look at how the cbb is protected. The KIOCL, the mining company owned by cbb capital falls in the so called core area of the NP. The KIOCL has been created to supply iron ore at throw away prices for the imperialist bourgeoisie. The NP completely encircles KIOCL. Instead of shutting down this ecocidal plant, the KFD has been pursuing the eviction of the peasant masses from the NP with funds provided by the KIOCL company for implementing its reactionary NP programme. The KFD serves imperialism by providing a hunting ground for imperialist biotech companies and the degenerate capitalist tourist industry. This is no conservation of the environment but a move to foreclose the utilization of the forests by the people and its exclusive reservation for pillage by the compradors and the imperialists.
Some comrades consider the NP issue as only an "economic issue". This is wrong. The implementation of the NP will surely wreck the economy of the people who reside inside its perimeter and seriously affect the life of those thousands who live at a distance of 8 kms from it. It is bound to have serious economic consequences. But that is not the all of it.
The NP will wreck not just the economic life. It will also tear up the social life of people who reside in it, particularly the life of adivasis.
The KFD is accustomed to talking about endangered species. But the NP is going to endanger the economic, social and cultural life of an entire people. The life of the adivasis is inseparable from the environs of these forests. Furthermore, the adivasi society of Gowdlus/Male Kudiyas who have inhabited these forests for ages are concentrated in and around the NP. If they are evicted, it will lead to the elimination of an ethnic community all together.
Moreover, the NP programme serves imperialism and the Indian ruling classes. This is an economic question, a political question and a cultural question.
This is how the party has viewed the matter ever since the issue came to the forefront.
Today, in the context of the party of the proletariat working in the NP with the perspective of establishing the political power of the oppressed by the formation of bases and achieving the NDR, the battle around the NP issue should at no cost be seen as merely an economic issue.
The same comrades say that the struggle must be given a "political character". And that this can be achieved by giving it "anti-imperialist orientatation". Or else it would amount to "armed economism".
First of all, the party has, since the very beginning, viewed it with an anti-imperialist orientation. So there is nothing new in restating that. But today, unless anti-imperialism is backed by the power of the gun and leads to the establishment of the power of the people, all talk about anti-imperialism will be high sounding, yet, only empty words.
The correct formulation will be to call the NP issue as a partial issue. But it is a partial issue which can have dire consequences on different aspects of the life of the people. It must be taken up and dealt with the political vision of unleashing the initiative of the masses and arousing them to conduct the class struggle in order to establish their power by smashing the power of the rulers.
On the NP issue, the landlords have already begun to play an open collaborative role since March this year. A few Congress party landlords have joined hands with the KFD and the police department in breaking the struggle of the people. Again, Hindutva fascists have also openly targeted the NP struggle and the party since May this year. It will be wrong to presume any more after these, that the NP issue is merely a fight against imperialism without at the same time being a fight against the semifeudal landlords that survive as a class only because of imperialism.
This is the scope of the NP struggle. It can be a good starting point to arouse the people against imperialism, against the cbb and against feudalism. And the mass struggle against it can therefore be useful for the introduction of the politics of peoples’ war for the establishment of peoples’ power through armed struggle.
It is perverse to consider such a struggle as "armed economism." And what is worse, it is nothing but a pale disguise for legalism, for "reformism bereft of arms", to talk of endowing the movement with "political character" today merely by giving it an "anti-imperialist orientation" without the backing of arms.
b. Tenancy Abolition and Land Reform of the Mid-1970s
The passing of the Tenancy Abolition Act in 1974 and its implementation has been the single most important factor modifying agrarian relations in the Perspective Area since after the transfer of power.
What was the specific manifestation of semifeudalism before the ruling class inspired Land Reform of 1974? How has it transformed social conditions since then? How does one understand the essence of semfeudalism in the context of this transformation? What is the difference between the land reforms of the comprador-landlord classes and how is it distinctly different from the revolutionary land reforms of the proletariat?
A host of literature abounds starting from the novels of Kuvempu or Shivarama Karanth, to the specific historical enquiries of writers like G Rajashekar to a whole lot of books and research papers that have documented Land Reforms by universities, research institutions or government sponsored studies; such as the writings of Narendar Pani, Abdul Aziz or MAS Rajan. Some academics such as James Manor and MN Srinivas have attempted to evaluate the significance of the Devraj Urs period in the light of modified caste equations in bourgeois politics emerging from the land reform. But, equally important for us, are the results of our own social investigation, learning from the people themselves, about the period before the implementation of ruling class inspired land reforms. Each of our investigation teams gathered data about conditions before the 1974 reforms.
Our investigations provide the following picture of semifeudalism during the pre-1974 period. The big landlords hailing from Brahmin, Bunt, Vokkaliga and Jain backgrounds owned large feudal estates. Some ran into a few hundred acres. A big landlord had entire villages under his control. There were three principal categories among the peasantry—the bonded labourers, and the tenants and the rich peasants. Dalits were condemned to bonded labour as a rule. Tenants were in serfdom and they worked the land. The tenants in serfdom, called the vokkalu of the landlord, constituted the poor and middle peasantry. Adivasis, Pujaris, Acharis and Kumbaras were all tenants. A section of Vokkaligas and Bunts were also tenants. The managers and overseers of the semifeudal estates and the local representatives who collected ground rent for the landlord had their own land and enjoyed the status of middle or rich peasants. There was also a class of small landlords that had emerged out of them which leased out lands to the tenants. The rich peasantry was composed principally of the Vokkaligas, Bants, Brahmins and Jains. Extra-economic semifeudal cooercion was the norm. Violence and punishment were part of daily life. Landlords exercised sole authority. Their word was law. They ruled with the whip and each time it cracked it struck terror in the hearts of the oppressed masses.
The following information has been furnished by our investigation teams about the pre-1974 situation in each area:
Area Peripheral to BSA and NSA:
In the light of the conditions that prevail today, what conclusions can we derive from the information provided by our investigation teams?
It is clear that the land reform of 1974 has not transformed the semifeudal social structure although it has increased the numerical strength of the middle peasantry. In fact the semifeudal semicolonial state allied with the landlords while implementing the land reforms of 1974. Some presume that it has introduced capitalism in agriculture. And that Malnad agriculture has transformed into capitalist agriculture on account of this. A few others feel that this was the precursor to the Green Revolution and thus provided the economic environment for the development of capitalism in Karnataka. It is generally claimed that the 1974 land reform was most successfully implemented in the villages falling under the Perspective Area. Some have also been carried away by the concomitant assertion of the backward castes and the opportunities this has created for a certain development in the service sector and the market that has been created for low value consumer goods. These developments in the economy do not contradict the essential continuation of semifeudalism in the countryside. However, our social investigation establishes that a quarter century after the so called land reform, its success was elusive and deceptive. Our investigation proves that while it has made some modifications, the order of semifeudalism continues to prevail.
The elimination of semifeudalism is not possible under semicolonial conditions. Least of all is it possible by a state which represents the class interests of the cbb and big landlords. To expect the state which exists only because the peasantry is exploited and oppressed, to accomplish this, is to pursue a line of thinking which will draw us closer to reform and legalism rather than to revolution and to the building of an underground party which leads the armed struggle to achieve the social revolution against feudalism, comprador bureaucrat capitalism and imperialism.
The land reform of 1974 is deceptive. The proletarian party must strive for genuine and revolutionary land reform.
The historic fact of the matter is that semicolonialism reinforces semifeudalism while making certain modifications to it across time. These modifications must be taken into account while studying and evaluating our society and in drawing up our specific tactics. But above all, it must be kept in mind that the elimination of semifeudalism is not just an economic question. It is a political question and it is tied up closely with the simultaneous elimination of the power of the comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie. It is tied up with the struggle for land and the overthrow of the landlord class. It is tied up ultimately, with the smashing of the Indian state in the course of protracted peoples war by the process of the establishment of the power of the people, area-wise.
c. The Adivasi Question
Some comrades say that the NP question is "an isolated issue" since it is basically an adivasi issue. A few other comrades who share this line of thought say that by taking up the NP issue we may gain support among the adivasis but in actual fact we will isolate ourselves from the non-adivasis since the "Vokkaligas and Brahmins do not relate with the adivasis". And from this the message they seek to generate is that "since the adivasi population is small" there is a sectarian ring about the way this struggle is being conducted.
Is this evaluation correct?
No. It is wrong.
Let us look into the reasons. But in doing so let us consider it in the context of the broader adivasi question.
The adivasis are considered as a special social group by our party. Look at Appendix 1 for this.
This means that our party has to pay attention to adivasis as a people in addition to the general class demands of the adivasi masses.
Adivasis of India are 7 crores in number. In other words, they exceed the population of Karnataka and Goa put together. They are among the most oppressed and exploited sections of Indian society. They reside in areas which are strategic for the conduct of peoples’ war, thus creating the opportunity for the proletarian party to integrate with them from the early periods of the revolution.
The adivasis of Karnataka are less than 1% of the total population of the state. They are exclusive to the Malnad.
The Gowdlu/Male Kudiya adivasis are numerically perhaps the biggest adivasi community of Karnataka. In the absence of any precise figures, we may venture to estimate their number at 20,000. They inhabit the forests of Sringeri, Koppa and Mudigere in Chikmagalur district, Karkala in Udupi district and Belathangadi and Puttur taluks in Dakshina Kannada district. They are called Gowdlu in Chikmagalur and Male Kudiya in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts.
There are some specific features about them.
The specific feature of the Gowdlu/Male Kudiya adivasis is that, unlike most adivasi communities, they are split among two different nationalities. In Chikmagalur district they belong to the Kannada nationality. In Udupi-Dakshina Kannada districts they belong to the Tulu nationality. This is the reason why they have two different names. The Gowdlu and the Male Kudiyas, ie, those belonging to the Kannada and to the Tulu nationalities, are almost even in number.
However, despite this split between two nationalities, they retain their identity as one integral ethnic community. This is their specificity. Nationality is no barrier for marriage, although marriage between those below and those above the Ghats are not frequent. The Gowdlu/Male Kudiya adivasis have survived as one ethnic community despite their amalgamation into the Kannada and Tulu nationalities during the pre-colonial feudal period of our past.
The Gowdly/Male Kudiya are a part of semifeudal society.
Some comrades feel that the adivasi peoples of India have their own mode of production distinct from the feudal and capitalist modes of production that coexist in India and articulate themselves in the combined form of a semifeudal-semicolonial Indian social formation. But this is incorrect. All adivasi societies of India come within the gamut of semifeudal semicolonial social relations. All they possess today are broken fragments or remnants of their previous modes of production in their economic and cultural life.
The Gowdlu/Male Kudiya adivasis are divided along class lines. There is a miniscule proletariat which works in the cbb owned coffee plantations and at the KIOCL company. The landless peasantry among the Gowdlu/Male Kudiya is more numerous than the proletariat. However, the poor-middle peasantry constitute their class bulk. There also is a rich peasantry among them. In recent days, those rich peasants who have attached themselves to bourgeois political parties and various state initiated institutions are emerging as neo-landlords or gentry.
This class composition of the Gowdlu/Male Kudiya society endows them with good revolutionary potential.
Such a class composition makes the adivasis enemies of the landlords and the cbb. As a social group, they stand to benefit with the smashing of landlord authority, the completion of genuine land reform and the victory of the NDR.
The decision of the ruling classes to implement the KNP has aroused the anger of the adivasis in particular and the non-adivasi peasantry which resides in and around the NP in general, against the government.
Data from social investigation establishes that the NP issue is not merely an adivasi issue, since the adivasis constitute about half the population in and around the NP. Also, data on MFP collection illustrates that it is not the adivasis alone who depend on the forest for income from MFP collection but a fair portion of non-adivasi peasants too. Hence it would not be factually correct to say that it is merely an adivasi issue.
Yet, at the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that the adivasis constitute nearly half the population in and around the NP. Further, it is generally the rule that adivasis go for MFP collection; and as a community, they share the closest of ties with the forest. Their knowledge of the forest, its flora and fauna, is profound when compared to the rest of the peasantry. For these reasons, there can be little doubt in saying that the NP question can only be decided if the adivasis are aroused against the enemy. In this sense, though it is not "merely" an adivasi question, it surely is closely linked with the adivasi question.
More over, the adivasis will suffer elimination as an ethnic community in case the NP is implemented. Hence the plan to go ahead with the NP will naturally invite the deepest anger of the adivasis. In this sense the NP question is closely linked to the adivasi question.
The opinion of comrades that the party will isolate itself since the NP issue itself "is an isolated issue" is not borne out by facts.
It is necessary that the party must pay special attention to the adivasis in the struggle against the NP. Because, unless they are aroused, no meaningful fight can be launched against the government. But, at the same time, the participation of the non-adivasis has increased in recent days and not decreased. In fact the peasantry from Vokkaliga and Bunt castes have recognized the fact that the adivasis are a political force and that without them the non-adivasis cannot win their battle against the NP. This sense of realization is a democratic broadening rather than an isolationist or sectarian narrowing of the scope of the struggle. It is only because the adivasis have fought that the non-adivasis have been able to see the enemy more clearly and are making up their minds to, in turn, join hands in the struggle.
Quite often, in the course of the revolutionary movement, we might have a narrow mass base for a particular struggle. But only if we persist and open the scope of the struggle by having a correct approach towards the other sections and classes can we turn things around. The conduct of the struggle against the NP by mobilizing the adivasis is not sectarianism on part of the leadership. Rather, it is the lack of resoluteness and inability to comprehend the dialectics of the revolutionary mass movement which leads comrades to make such unfounded criticism. It speaks of the failure to grasp the process of the emergence of the unity of the broad masses by throwing open the gates of political activity to the most oppressed and the most deprived. And, it is a reflection of the inability to cognize the process for the emergence of a united front. This is the source of the problem.
We shall here look into one striking aspect of the superstructure of the area; a feature which we will have to incessantly and repeatedly contend with. The 1987 Perspective called this area of South Malnad as "Karnataka’s reactionary bastion" (Point 38). The question compels us to pay attention to ideology and draw up appropriate tactics from time to time to conduct the class struggle.
Table 10 provides some data about the class character of the temples and mathas close to our area of work.
Table 10: Elementary Information on Temples and Mathas
Of these temples, the Dharmasthala temple stands out as a unique phenomenon. It cultivates a social base. It does so by playing a social role quite distinct from the Sringeri and Udupi mathas, which confine themselves to the world of apparent religious activity. But the Dharmasthala matha hands out doles to the people and has taken up many programmes of economic relief. These doles have fetched Veerendra Hegde the aura of divine benevolence.
In the last three years it has undertaken a scheme of organizing people into labour cooperatives called "groups" in the villages of Belthangady and Karkala taluks. This project is funded by the NABARD.
NABARD is the brain-child of the WB-IMF and is the Indian monopolist agent disbursing agricultural loans to the various governments and banks of the country and in turn the bloated leech collecting, keeping a margin and passing on the rest of the interest to the imperialists.
The current scheme covers almost all villages in these two taluks. Groups of four to six men undertake mutual labour exchange once a week. Each of them pays up Rs 10 every week, which is deposited in the bank. The bank forwards loans, with other members of the group standing as guarantors. An interest of 18% is collected from peasants on these loans. The Dharmasthala temple acts as a middleman. It takes 2% as its commission. In other words, this is nothing but the age-old business of money-lending. But it is organized through social buttressing, ie, by the formation of mutual aid groups. The NABARD finds the Dharmasthala temple a reassuring agent for disbursing loans than through normal banking channels. The reason is clear. Repayments are assured since anyone reneging on it will be tormented by the bhoothas of Manjunatheshwara. Furthermore, deposits by each group ensures the part repayment of loans and also serves as unstated interest payment. The "groups" however fail to see that this is nothing but money-lending, pure and simple, with the ruling classes capitalizing on popular faith.
The Dharmasthala institution thus acts as an important ideological pillar. It carves out a social constituency for the ruling classes from among the broad masses. The institution emerges from feudal roots and it sustains the class interests of the comprador bureaucrat bourgeoisie and imperialism. The benign Veerendra Hegde himself is a crorepathi. He owns hundreds of acres of coffee and tea plantations, holds company stock, blesses criminals and politicians alike without fear or favour and even settles jigsaw property disputes when they crop up within comprador feudal families such as the Pais of Manipal. Through the "groups" he has proved to be the local peddler of global capital.
There are some NGOs also which work in the area. The imperialists fund them. Their political role is to serve as an instrument of the state; to mobilize the people in order to blunt their class-consciousness and douse their anger. Some of these NGOs have already proved their role as collaborators on the KNP issue. They build organizations among adivasis, dalits and women and set up environmental forums. But the irony is that so far they have organized the adivasis and "empowered" them only so as to achieve their eviction. They have organized women but never against patriarchal oppression carried out by landlords and the reactionaries. They mobilize dalits but not against the semifeudal perpetrators of untouchability. NGO leaders are busy submitting reports to their imperialist donors, flying to attend international conferences and spend a good part of their earnings on luxury consumption. Not to be unfair to them, they also manage to prune some of their lavishness in order to save up for bad times round the bend. James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer rightly say that they are a "neo-comprador group" who base themselves on "post-modernist identity politics" and compete with radical movements waging class struggle or conducting guerrilla warfare. (James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer, Globalisation Unmasked, Pp 128-138)
Political parties generally have a weak mass base in villages surveyed. However, the influence of the Sangh Parivar has been spreading in the peripheral areas of our work. All the religious institutions mentioned share the social viewpoint of Hindutva, the frail Pejawar Sri being the most zealous of the lot. He personally blessed the saffron hoodlums that brought down the Babri Masjid a decade ago. More recently, he poured divine ghee and butter from Sri Krishna’s larder into the fires that burned the Muslims of Gujarat.
All these institutions—temples and mathas, NGOs, political parties and the Hindutva brigade contribute significantly in determining the superstructure. Together they carve out a social base for the ruling classes. Despite apparent mutual recrimination, such as, for instance, between the NGOs and the Dharmasthala ideological-financial complex, these different superstructural institutions will stand united in their opposition to the peoples’ war. They will do their best to counter the movement; even invoke the gods. These forces have already begun to express their displeasure with the changing political perception and practice of the masses in our area of work. The Bhajarangis have openly stated that they will serve as social informers and props in order to preempt the making of another Andhra Pradesh in Karnataka. The NGOs have been airing alarm signals about our activity and are reassured by the company of the KFD. Congress party landlords cum politicians have been serving as the launching pad for feeding and fending for the KFD and the District Reserve police against the struggle opposing the KNP. The doctorate holder decorating the throne at Dharmasthala has expressed his dissatisfaction with opposition for the KNP.
In the coming days, as the movement picks up, the gods will catch a cold and begin to shiver. These ruling class superstructural institutions will openly take sides against the popular struggle. Their true colour will be exposed. They will not only stand with the enemy but will demonstrate that they are themselves also a part of the enemy. This will provide the objective basis for isolating them from the masses.
8. Semifeudal Relations Continue to Prevail
Comrades with right opportunist views say that semifeudal relations have undergone transformation in Malnad. As a result, they contend, that in Malnad "the contradiction with imperialism is principal". A few other comrades share this opportunist viewpoint but do not go as far. They say that "landlordism exists in pockets. Semifeudalism is not strong in WG. In Mudigere-Sakleshpur area it is in caste form. As we go towards UK, a middle peasant economy dominates." From this analysis of social conditions in Malnad they conclude, in a tone similar to the comrades we have referred to earlier that: "In Western Ghats we cannot characterize what the principal contradiction is."
Our CC has conducted a regular debate on the mode of production since the early days of its formation and defended the thesis of semifeudalism against arguments which claimed that capitalism reflected the essence of the Indian social formation. See Indian Agriculture—Capitalist or Pre-Capitalist? Voice of the Vanguard, Volume I, Issuues 1,2 and 3, 1983; Class Analysis of Indian Agriculture, Voice of the Vanguard, Special Article, Volume 4, 1986, and CPI (ML) Red Flag—Drift to the Right, Proletarian Vanguard, May-June, 1998. (This article has been translated and released as a booklet by the Karnataka SC) Hence we shall not venture into an analysis of the semifeudal character of agrarian relations in India.
Such convenient off handed evaluations made by these comrades should be taken with a pinch of salt. They stem from superficial and subjective analysis of theory, social reality and the line of our party.
We have seen by now that survey by the four teams demonstrates irrevocably that social conditions are semifeudal.
There is capitalist penetration in agriculture. However, the most essential aspect of capital, ie, commodification, has not really taken place. When we talk of a change in the relations of production, it is not a partial aspect of the relations that we are talking about. Capitalism should manifest itself not partially. It has to be an essential, comprehensive and all-round manifestation. Commodification should manifest itself in the determining aspects of the economy. Labour, the principal means of production, ie land, and the produce are key aspects of the economy. Have they been commodified?
It is true that labour power is bought and sold. This is a capitalist trait. It is also true that land exists in the form of private property. The legal system provides for the purchase and sale of land. This also is a capitalist trait. Thirdly, agricultural production does take place for the market. This also is a capitalist trait. But there is a semifeudal rider that operates behind all this. And that is what is principal.
The commodification of labour is still partial. We have seen that labour continues to be coerced. It is not a "free" commodity yet. Moreover, the largest pat of all social labour is expended on one’s own land rather than submit itself into a commodity. A minor part of the labour of the poor peasantry, most part of the labour of the middle peasants continue to fall outside the ambit of commodity relations. Further, there is yet no significant trend indicating the subjection of labour on a social scale into a commodity.
The transformation of social labour into a commodity can be achieved only when the structure of property relations is transformed. In other words, land, the principal form of property in agriculture, must itself become a commodity. Without this the mass of petty producers cannot be expropriated by capitalism. It is clear even from a cursory glance at the social economy of Malnad that the peasantry is generally not selling land and that an agrarian bourgeoisie that has been accumulating capital by constant purchase of land is not in ascent. The approach of the peasantry as a whole, including the poorest sections is to stick by their land, scratch its surface rather than part with it. Only one case was reported of the sale of 1 acre of land by a peasant in all our investigation. And even this did not reach the hands of either a landlord or a capitalist. Unless land is transformed into a commodity, unless it acquires the social motion of a commodity in the market, capital accumulation, its production and reproduction, will remain ephemeral and the emergence of capitalism will remain illusory. On the contrary, facts from the Perspective Area demonstrate the trend of fragmentation of land instead of its further accumulation into social capital. Generational land fragmentation is the specific manifestation of the crisis of semifeudalism and not of capitalism which requires the dispossession of land from the hands of the petty producer to that of the capitalist who applies capital on an increasingly larger scale thereby leading to the polarization of society—the concentration of capital at one pole and the concentration of the proletariat at the other.
Thirdly, production must be for the market. The produce must assume the form of a commodity so that the profits that are gained may be ploughed back for achieving more production with more labour and more productive means so that more profits may be made during the next cycle. But we have seen that production continues to be made for consumption. And a good part of what is sold by the peasantry is forced out by semifeudal usury.
Our Strategy and Tactics states: "…the capitalist economy coexists with, and stands on, a preponderant semifeudal base. Although capitalist relations are penetrating the feudal set up in the Indian countryside, they are partially remoulding it to suit the needs of imperialism, it is impossible (given the collusion between feudalism, comprador bureaucrat capital and imperialism) to bring a radical structural change in the semifeudal base and its superstructure." (p 25)
The claims that semifeudal social conditions have undergone transformation are therefore unfounded.
Has the economy of the Mudigere-Sakleshpur area undergone a transformation and is semifeudalism expressed only as a remnant in the form of caste?
Mudigere and Sakleshpura are coffee growing areas. Here big plantations, as large as a few thousand acres and owned by the cbb coexist with the coffee estates owned by semifeudal landlords. In the cbb owned plantations capitalist relations of production prevail. Attacks on Dailts do not take place here. In the cbb plantations Dalits are not hounded and segregated in order to extract surplus. Dalits are physically targeted in the estates owned by Vokkaliga landlords in particular. This reactionary tendency is not merely a footloose super structural remnant. It emerges from the semifeudal economy and in turn, it serves the very same base.
Does a middle peasant economy dominate Uttara Kannada and North Malnad? Or do semifeudal landlords dominate even here?
First, it is conceptually wrong to speak of a "middle peasant economy". The economy is semifeudal and semicolonial. There are many villages without landlords. This is true of the Malnad also. Our own investigations also establish this. But to see their dwelling and not their labour process is a wrong method of study. We have witnessed how complete adivasi villages where middle peasants predominate numerically have come under the control, regulation and exploitation of the landlord class from data collected by comrades. Further, it must be kept in mind that the numerical prevalence of middle peasants in a village or a cluster of villages is reflective of semifeudalism and not capitalism in our context. Petty holdings is one of the hallmarks of the agrarian land holding structure of semifeudalism and it coexists with the large holdings of landlords.
But the more important point about the North Malnad is that landlords very much dominate the scene. Our 1987 Perspective has said that "The North Malnad possesses semi-feudal conditions" (Pt 57) and that "land hunger is acute here." (Point 39)
UK district forms the biggest swathe of the North Malnad land mass. The SC initiated preliminary social investigation in UK and Belgaum districts also. We have not summarized results of this investigation made by comrades in this document since it falls outside the Perspective Area and since the party has no work in this region.
The study from three taluks of North Malnad confirms the evaluation made by the 1987 Perspective. It reveals, more than ever, that landlords are very much there, they "dominate the villages" and they await the proletariat to lead the peasant masses in overthrowing these parasites that have feasted on their toil all these years.
In sum, in the South Malnad, capitalist relations in the cbb estates cooexist with semifeudal relations in the villages that surround them. In the North Malnad semifeudal relations prevail. Taking the Malnad region as a whole, semifeudalism prevails. The evaluation of the Perspective, despite a decade-and-a-half of increased imperialist penetration, remains valid.
If this is the sum of social conditions in Malnad, then is it correct to presume that the principal contradiction has changed into that with imperialism? Or, are we in a position of not being able to "characterize what the principal contradiction is" in the Malnad today?
This is what our Strategy and Tactics says about principal contradiction. "In the present stage, were no imperialist power is resorting to direct aggression on our country or when our country has not been reduced to the status of neocolony of any single imperialist power, it is the contradiction between feudalism and broad masses of the people that is the principal contradiction." (p 7)
Neither have we been aggressed nor has our status been transformed into that of a neocolony. Hence the principal contradiction, of that between feudalism and the broad masses, remains unchanged.
The Strategy and Tactics says immediately thereafter, that the "agrarian revolutionary programme remains primary" "during the entire period" when feudalism versus the broad masses remains the principal contradiction. (ibid)
What is the significance of this sentence in the Strategy and Tactics?
If comrades insist that the principal contradiction has undergone transformation in the Malnad they can only mean that the agrarian revolutionary programme is not valid any more. Hence, land reform, which constitutes the heart of the agrarian programme—since that is what essentially eliminates landlords as a class thereby freeing the productive forces and paving the highway for the democratization of society—is bypassed.
In other words, they are bidding farewell to class struggle against the landlords.
This is the quintessence of the matter.
This is where their opportunism stems from. This is also the central point for their displeasure with the rural movement in Raichur. (The details of this may be found in the POR) This is where they derive the supreme confidence in continuing with a legal struggle in the face of a dangerously fascising enemy. And not without reason, this is the point that clears the way for their tactics of "we must abandon our work" in the PA, "comrades shifted to the PA should be withdrawn", "We must try to postpone armed struggle to the maximum. Hence how correct is it to make preparations at this stage?" "We should intensify the political struggle without going to squad form", "In the context of the rightist drift today we must go more and more on a political offensive", "It will be guerrillaism to form armed squads before 1 year", "To conduct armed struggle today amounts to militarism and left sectarianism" Some other comrades couch their opportunism. They say "we must build 1+2 instead of LGS" or "forming 4 LGSs is a subjective wish".
Yes, let us have anything but the armed struggle! That is the common refrain. Let us have propaganda, let us build a legal movement in the towns, let us do this and let us do that, let us do everything under the sun. But let us not, for heaven’s sake, touch the landlords or take up the armed struggle.
These are opportunist tactics that emerge from the view that the principal contradiction is with imperialism in the Malnad. They emerge from petty bourgeois social roots in the party and they ultimately only serve the interests of the rich peasantry and the landlords in the countryside.
The 1987 Perspective keeps the class interests of the proletariat and oppressed peasantry in mind while evaluating social conditions in Malnad and presenting a concrete programme. It says. "Thus today in the South Malnad, in the sphere of coffee, capitalist agriculture co-exists with semi-feudal agriculture. While in the areas of semi-feudalism, the slogan would be for land to the tiller, or for the breaking of feudalism; in the areas of capitalist agriculture, the slogan would be for collectivisation, or for socialist property to break comprador capitalism."
It applies the line of the party in the stage of the NDR by ensuring the elimination of semifeudalism, comprador bureaucrat capitalism and imperialism in the concrete conditions of Malnad. It keeps class struggle as the cornerstone of the Communist Party.
But unfortunately these comrades with right opportunist views underemphasize class struggle. A Communist Party, which does not breathe class struggle and peoples’ war in the period of its rise to power, can never hope to conquer it, leave alone the question of its retention later.
Agrarian revolution is the centerpiece and "land to the tiller" should remain the central slogan in the Malnad. It is only by mobilizing the peasantry against semifeudalism that the struggle can be waged for the simultaneous elimination of imperialism and comprador bureaucrat capitalism.
1. Tactics for Completing Preparations to Build a Guerrilla Zone in the Perspective Area
In the light of the enriched line of the IX Congress, the February 2002 Plenum placed the following slogan before our entire party and the masses who stand with it, for implementation: "Complete preparations to build a guerrilla zone with the perspective of establishing a base area in Malnad".
We must understand what this call means and what our tactics should be for its implementation and achievement.
In the light of this we must at the same time refute right opportunist tactics, which some comrades in the party have proposed.
The political and military line of the party is enshrined in our documents. Strategy and Tactics is a major document of the party. We abide by this document as party members and every committee and each cell should strive to defend it and implement it.
In this regard, Com Stalin says: "After a political line has been worked out and tested in practice, the party cadres become the decisive force in the leadership exercised by the party… A correct political line is, of course, the primary and most important thing. But that in itself is not enough. A correct political line is not needed as a declaration but as some thing to be carried into effect. But in order to carry a correct political line into effect, we must have cadres, people who understand the political line of the Party, who accept it as their own line, who are prepared to carry it into effect, who are able to put it into effect, who are able to put it into practice and are capable of answering for it, defending it and fighting for it. Failing this, a correct political line runs the risk of being purely nominal." (Problems of Leninism, Pp 919-920)
Let us, in understanding the call of our Plenum see what three important conceptual terms of protracted peoples’ war mean:
Only then can we concretize the implementation of the political and military line to the Perspective Area selected in Malnad.
Comrade Mao Tse-tung says: "The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries."
Mao Tse-tung, Problems of War and Strategy.
"In China war is the main form of struggle and the army is the main form of organization. Other forms such as mass organization and mass struggle are also extremely important and indeed indispensable and in no circumstances to be overlooked, but their purpose is to serve the war. Before the outbreak of a war all organization and struggle are in preparation for the war… After war breaks out, all organization and struggle are coordinated with the war either directly or indirectly…"
Mao Tse-tung, Problems of War and Strategy.
We must pay attention to these two statements by Mao. In them the cardinal significance of waging war for the seizure of state power is brought out.
Basing on this Maoist summation, our line clearly states that: "…the party of the proletariat from the very beginning arouses and mobilizes the people for armed struggle, relies on the peasantry—the main force of the revolution—makes backward rural areas its main centre of work, builds a people’s army and liberated areas in the countryside, expands them in the course of protracted people’s war, encircles and finally captures cities to complete the new democratic revolution." (Strategy and Tactics, p 24)
Then again, our party line states: "In a country like ours revolution will go on from the beginning mainly through the form of armed struggle." (p 31)
In other words it is in the nature of the path of protracted peoples’ war that the war commences from the beginning of the revolutionary movement itself.
Yet some comrades wrongly argue, that "we must postpone the armed struggle as much as possible". This is contrary to our line and it reflects a right opportunist view. It also carries with it seeds of the stage theory.
In other words we must orient our party and masses for the armed struggle from the very beginning and all our activity, before its onset, starting from mass work to fulfilling logistical requirements, should be conducted with this orientation.
In current circumstances, the revolution in our country will advance by undertaking preparations for building a guerrilla zone, accomplishing the guerrilla zone and setting up base areas.
What then do we mean by preparations for a guerrilla zone?
The term preparations should not be understood mechanically. At every point in our revolution we have to constantly make preparations to achieve the new tasks that we set for ourselves.
But the call of the Plenum addresses a specific kind of preparation. It speaks of completing preparations for building a GZ.
This completion of preparations decided in the Plenum must be distinguished from the completion of preparations, which the SC drew up in its May 2001 meeting, although the two are mutually related. The SC resolution concentrated in shifting our forces, in conducting social investigation, undertaking terrain study, building of a militant mass movement, the completion of BMC training, the formation of squads and the holding of a Plenum making a review of our past and providing fresh tasks to advance in the light of the decisions of the IX Congress. All this was preparatory work leading up to the formation of armed squads. But with the completion of these tasks with varying degrees of success, now the party has to organize the masses in developing the class struggle by operating through the armed squads in a manner that the Perspective Area transforms into a GZ. Hence, the preparations that we have on hand now are different from what we planned in the 2001 May SC meeting.
Our Strategy and Tactics has devoted a separate sub head for the question of completing preparations for building a GZ.
It says that the mobilization of the peasantry is the key point in the building of guerrilla zones. There will be a need for the revolutionary forces to get armed and also arm the people from the beginning in order to counter the attacks of local enemies and foil the government’s campaigns of suppression during the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist struggle. Guerrilla squads and the peoples’ militia get formed in this way. During this course, the actions against government armed forces increase, the revolutionary armed forces gain strength and the struggle between them and the government armed forces becomes the main thing, bringing about a qualitative change in the whole situation, which will lead to the formation of guerrilla zone." (Strategy and Tactics, p 45)
Time bound plans, forms of organization and struggle, and proper work methods should be formulated basing on the political, economic, social, geographical conditions, the repression and the impact of our party on the people in various areas. We should understand the immediate demands of the people of various areas and mobilize them on those issues. The slogans advanced by the Party should be such that they catch the imagination of the people.
Then the document goes on to elaborate that we must focus on the agrarian revolution by "…taking possession of the lands and estates of landlords, money lenders, religious and other institutions and the government…we must also lead struggles in Adivasi areas, demanding the restoration of right over the forest to the Adivasis themselves; demanding their right of possession of forest lands; demanding remunerative prices for forest produce and other agricultural produce; against the plundering of forest wealth, against the forced eviction of Adivasi masses from forest areas in the name of construction of heavy projects etc." (ibid, p. 46)
Campaigns and struggles on political issues, struggles against the caste system, against imperialist globalisation, patriarchy, communalism, black acts, culture, have to be taken up by mobilizing the peasant masses. (ibid, p 47)
It also says however, that right from the beginning the Party has to concentrate on educating the peasantry on the politics of capturing state power. (ibid)
For conducting these struggles with a correct orientation, mass organizations should have the perspective of serving the Party and the people’s war. (ibid, p 49)
In the Perspective Area we must form LGSs. They in turn will have to build the mass organizations. Through them the masses have to be mobilized in struggles against semifeudalism, semicolonialism and the semifeudal semicolonial state on economic, social and political issues. In the course, units of the people’s militia will have to be formed. With the intensification of the class struggle in the Perspective Area, covering about 10,000 sq kms, and falling under about a dozen LGSs, and with the formation of a militia at the village level and the formation of a few SGSs, following the consolidation of the party by the building of DCs, ACs and cells in the villages and towns, the class struggle in the area will undergo a qualitative transformation.
This is how our Strategy and Tactics describes the emergence and content of a GZ. "During the course of advancement towards the guerrilla zone, the struggle waged against the government armed forces intensifies, and will develop as the main task of the guerrilla squads. This will bring about a qualitative change in the entire situation and will lead to the formation of a guerrilla zone. One the one hand, the government however it may try to continue its power, it will not be able to continue its rule with stability on the other hand, to whatever extent the guerrilla war develops and intensifies, the revolutionary forces tool will not be in a position to establish stable political power. An area, where such a situation prevails is called a guerrilla zone. The reactionary government on the one side and the revolutionary forces on the other side contend for total power over the area. But, none of them could exercise a stable rule; it will remain as an intermediary zone between those two sides." (ibid, p 50)
What are the characteristic features of a guerrilla zone? The following six features may be listed.
Hence, after the Perspective Area witnesses repeated mobilization of the people in class struggle, after the armed conflict between the forces of the PGA and the enemy’s armed forces increase, then over a period of time, the Perspective Area of Malnad will transform into a GZ having the above six important characteristics among others.
But as our S and T says, despite the change in our subjective position and in the objective situation in a GZ, "the enemy will be strong and the revolutionary forces will be weak." (p 52)
But, by concentrating on points within the GZ where the enemy is militarily weak, and by mobilizing the masses and by destroying enemy forces and driving out the enemy and consolidating the revolutionary forces, "focal points of new political power" will emerge within the GZ. These focal points, created by the concentration of the PGA are called as Guerrilla Bases. (ibid, p 52)
Basing on the GBs and by further developing the peoples’ war, a liberated or base area comes into existence.
This is what the Strategy and Tactics explains about base areas: "A liberated area is a specific area where the enemy has been destroyed completely and where the rule of the revolutionary people’s government is established. If such a liberated area is to be established then a well trained people’s liberation army (a regular army) well trained under a centralized military command and having the capability of defeating the enemy would be in existence; majority of the oppressed masses in that area should have been educated with revolutionary politics and should be ready for forming organs of political power. The people’s revolutionary committees which are the organs of peoples’ political power, will transform into Revolutionary Peoples’ Councils. A layer of these peoples’ revolutionary councils will be built from the village level to liberated area level. The people should, in support of the Peoples’ Liberation Army, get armed in peoples’ militia organizations. A Communist Party which provides leadership to all these should be in existence. Without these conditions, neither a liberated area can get formed not can it sustain after formation." (ibid, p 55)
We will also have to implement this method to build a BA in Malnad.
In other words, this is what the call of the Plenum to complete preparations to build a guerrilla zone with the perspective of establishing a base area in Malnad means.
It is with this plan and vision that we are today undertaking our work in the Perspective Area of Malnad.
In one part of the area where we plan to operate LGSs, the people have been waging a mass struggle since the end of 1998. This struggle has been intensifying over the years and as the state government plans to evict the people within the NP area and restrict those in the immediate periphery of the NP, the mass struggle has gained new and increasingly militant momentum. It is the task of the party to advance the mass struggle by building secret mass organizations, set up units of the people’s militia, carry out propaganda in favour of the seizure of political power through peoples’ war against the landlords, the cbb and the reactionary state representing them. In the course of unleashing popular anger against the KFD, and building up the secret mass organizations and militia, the party must concentrate on consolidating the mass struggles by building the party with the advanced sections of the masses and recruiting male and female squad members from among the youth.
In the course of building the mass movement, the LGS should strictly adopt secret methods of functioning without giving room for legalism and defend itself when attacked by KFD squads or police units. It will also have to mobilize the masses and take punitive action against notorious landlords and select informers in order to defend and advance the mass movement. While concentrating mass struggle on the KFD for the present, it can take advantage of the relatively poor social base for bourgeois political parties in the existing are of operation and isolate those landlords who openly side with the KFD and the state. In the course of the further advancement of the struggle against the KFD, the party must initiate struggles against the landlord class in order to arouse the people for agrarian revolution. The party must, right from the start, develop the anti-cbb, anti-imperialist struggle of the masses on issues such as mining in Western Ghats, the market crisis in agricultural produce and similar other issues. Such consistent efforts by the party through its system of organizers operating in LGSs will generate the armed struggle in the specific form of guerrilla warfare.
In the meanwhile how should we approach the question of building the urban movement?
We have to build our urban movement while giving priority to the rural movement. This is how our line draws the relationship between the urban and rural movement.
With regard to the rural movement, it says that since the peasantry constitutes the main force in our revolution, the working class party should concentrate mainly on the peasantry during its efforts for preparing the people for the revolution. (ibid, Pp 30-31)
But following this, it draws the relationship with the urban movement and spells out the orientation of the urban movement by emphasising what constitutes the key aspect. It continues that the party, while concentrating, in the main, on the peasantry, should also take up the work of organizing the other oppressed masses and mobilizing them for the revolutionary war. But it says that this should be done "in such a way the work being done in the working class, which is the leadership force of our revolution will be the key aspect. Students, employees and other urban petty-bourgeois sections and the semi-proletariat too should be organized and prepared for the peoples’ war." (ibid, p 31)
Within the urban movement, the party must concentrate on the working class and other toiling masses, since the proletariat is the leader of the social revolution, it is the most numerous class in towns and cities since our party, a communist party, is the party of the proletariat.
The Strategy and Tactics very clearly establishes the relationship between the working class and the other classes in the revolutionary movement in urban areas. It says: "From the beginning we will have to concentrate on the organization of the working class, which being the leadership of our revolution has to directly participate and lead the agrarian revolution and the peoples’ war and on building a revolutionary workers movement. Moreover, on the basis of revolutionary workers movement we will be able to mobilize millions of urban oppressed masses and build struggles against imperialism and feudalism, struggles in support of the agrarian revolution and struggles for democratic rights. We will create the subjective forces and conditions required for building a countrywide, broad, anti-imperialist, anti-feudal united front during this course only." (p 69)
In other words, we must concentrate our forces on the working class in the urban movement. We should organize the other classes in urban areas keeping this aspect in mind. Struggles for democratic rights and solidarity for the agrarian revolution can acquire strength only if we base our movement on the working class in urban areas. While concentrating on the working class we must, at the same time, organize the semi-proletariat and the different strata of the petty bourgeoisie, including students and intellectuals. It is only if we have such an orientation can we create the basis for building the four class revolutionary united front under the leadership of the working class and also generate the self-defense forces in the towns and cities.
However, since the urban centers are strongholds of the enemy, we have to work with strategic insight and utmost caution here. Strategy and Tactics says: "From the very beginning, the underground leadership, organizers and professional revolutionaries working there should be under some cover in order not to get exposed to the enemy." (ibid, p 76)
It further instructs us about ingenuity and flexibility in clandestine mass work in the urban areas. It says: "We should be able to change from one form of organization to another and should never continue the same old organization that is already exposed totally to the enemy. There may develop a trend, which neglects technical precautions under the excuse of pressing requirements or due to frustration that tasks are not being fulfilled thereby getting exposed to the enemy. We have to properly educate so that this trend does not develop. Under any circumstances, we should not let the enemy know all our forces in the course of struggle in urban areas." (ibid, p 77)
The Strategy and Tactics also has a subheading on work in urban areas in the vicinity of GZs and BAs. It states: "In such towns, opportunity for open and legal work will in general not be available, either to our Party or to the mass organizations. Therefore, our Party has to work, in the main, through cover organizations only." (p 78)
All these are guidelines for our political work in urban areas in general and in the urban areas in the vicinity of the Perspective Area in particular.
Our party has been doing work in Shimoga city, which is the main political and financial centre for villages in the Perspective Area above the Ghats. The party has to have a plan to take up work in the twin cities of Shimoga-Bhadravathi on the basis of the guidelines provided by the Strategy and Tactics. The population of the two cities taken together exceeds 5 lakhs. The working class and semi-proletarian masses are the largest chunk in this. The twin cities have a college going student mass whose numbers may be estimated at 20,000. The teaching faculty from school teachers to university academics is the widest section among the intelligentsia. The fact that the intellectual mileu here has borne progressive traditions is an advantageous factor for organizers of the NDR.
There are also the other headquarters of the districts constituting the PA. The population of all the four district head quarters would be 15 lakhs.
We must also undertake work in the towns proximal to the Perspective Area. The development of the revolutionary war in the villages will be a positive factor for building our movement in these towns, and the towns and cities in turn will be able to contribute better for the development of the peoples war in the countryside. But all this will be possible if and only if, we observe the precautions and implement the guidelines laid down in the Strategy and Tactics. If we adopt a legalistic approach, it will lead to serious losses for the revolutionary movement and liquidate the party in urban areas. It will be the liquidationist line in urban work. We must not forget that towns in the immediate vicinity of the Perspective Area are small and it will not be difficult for the enemy to capture and suppress our forces unless we do work with a creative bent of mind, unless we are prepared to learn from our losses and only and unless we persevere against a fascist enemy.
There are eight taluk towns in the PA. Together, they possess a population of up to three lakhs. Then there is the smaller urban and semiurban landscape. The working class and semi-proletarian masses constitute the majority of the population in the taluka and lesser towns. There is an industrial proletariat working in the medium and small industrial units, there are mine workers, workers, workers in the food processing industry, transportation workers, municipal and watch and ward workers, lower rung government employees including watchers and guards of the KFD, power production and distribution workers, medical workers, hammalis, shop hands, etc. The relatively deeper penetration of the service sector opens scope for organizing these masses.
Bangalore is the political and economic hub of the enemy. It serves as the strategic scientific-technical laboratory in Karnataka and is part of the military-strategic nucleus of the Indian rulers. However, by creating a vast industrial proletariat and a teeming working class, the comprador bureaucrat bourgeoisie, imperialism and the semifeudal landlords have spawned their grave-diggers. The petty bourgeois masses have been overflowing into the slums. The national bourgeoisie covets its own economic organizations.
These apart there also are the other towns and cities we are working in.
Our party has to pursue our urban work by undertaking deeper investigation. Yet, at the same time, we must not make it a precondition for taking up work. We must study the CC’s proposed urban-working class work document diligently and concretize it to suit local objective conditions and the state of our subjective forces.
The presence of an agrarian proletariat in the cbb owned coffee plantations in the fringe of the Perspective Area, in addition to the existence of a working class in the towns and cities is a bonus for the peoples’ war. It opens scope for the integration of the working class with the peasant movement on a large scale. It opens great opportunities for the construction of a party with a powerful proletarian stratum. And, it opens the opportunity for the proletariat to provide leadership as a class in the New Democratic Revolution. The demand of the rural proletariat to socialize cbb property will infuse a solid proletarian socialist aspect to the antifeudal anti-imperialist democratic revolution. Hence, the party must keep this possibility in mind from the beginning and appropriate tactics must be taken by the concerned committees to accomplish this.
2. Forms of Organization
Secret mass organizations have to be built in the villages. Since the villages are generally thinly populated and the forest is peppered with homestead households, mass organization units have to be built by adopting suitable clusters. The Perspective Area DC and AC have to chalk out these concrete clusters.
Table 11: Nature and Status of Mass Organisations
What do we mean by a secret mass organization?
The main point about secret mass organizations is that the leadership of the mass organization must not be exposed to the enemy. Mass organization leadership in the village level must be elected by all the members. It should have a balance of landless-poor and middle peasants, a correct balance between Dalits and adivasis on the one hand and non-Dalits and non-adivasis on the other, a correct balance between the young and the old and a correct balance between the sexes.
It is preferable if the Executive Committees formed at Sq Area level and above have an underground full timer.
Ground work with the perspective of building mass organizations among the rural proletariat must be undertaken.
Cover organizations must be formed to rally the different sections among the masses on their issues. Such covers should be guided directly by the DC.
A cultural detachment of JKM must be formed. In the coming days it must operate as a full fledged cultural squad.
The party must be built by adopting strictly secret methods. Cells should be built at the village-cluster level.
The village party cell should guide mass organisations in the village.
The KMS may be guided by an active member of the ARCS/KRCS/KAMS/MaV.
All PR cells and Party cells in a squad area must be guided by the AC.
The PGA should be built at the village-cluster level in the form of the militia. The militia may be called GRD. It should be composed of militant youth belonging to both sexes. Each militia unit must have a commander. The Local Guerrilla Squad should guide the militia. The militia must be trained and armed.
PRs or Full Timers from mass organization and militia must be recruited to build the LGS. The LGS must strictly implement the standing orders passed by the CC. (See Appendix II for the CC’s Standing Orders) The system of Commander-Dy Commander must be developed for each squad. Its strength must be raised so that it can function as a viable military unit with at least two segments in the form of a First Team and a Main Team with at least three members in each. LGS functioning should be standardized with the levels set by the CMC for all LGSs operating under its command.
With the coming into operation of four LGSs, one Special Guerrilla Squad must be built with the most agile fighters in the area. It may be built even with 6 members to begin with. It is only after such an LGS-SGS combination emerges, that further expansion by the formation of new LGSs must be planned.
The militia, LGS and SGS must operate based on the guidelines laid down by the SC and CMC from time to time.
ARCS and KRCS must mobilize the peasant masses in the class struggle for agrarian revolution. While doing so, it should also organize mutual labour exchange and guide it with a new democratic perspective.
e. Urban Centres
In the urban areas, we must utilise available legal opportunity to build existing mass organizations.
At the same time we must harbour no illusions.
In the background of the POTA and COCA, our work in the towns and cities will be mainly through covers in the coming days. We must send ACMs and PRs underground. In addition to our legal mass work, we must, in each town where our party organization exists, take up work under new covers. These covers should not be exposed. We have to allocate adequate number of cadres in Blr, Smg-Bdv and in towns around the PA to work among the working class.
We must build organizations for the slum youth and organizations among various professionals and employees.
The party must also build a movement against feudalism in the urban areas. In the context of the increasing momentum of imperialist globalisation as well as its serious fall out which is assuming the form of struggles by different sections of the masses, the party must pay adequate attention to organize various sections such as students and intellectuals also in the cities.
The party should initiate and participate in various jafs and make them familiar with the party’s leadership.
The towns must also serve as centres for building solidarity for the armed struggle directly and indirectly.
We must also create a network to fulfill the diverse requirements of the movements in the countryside.
These are some tactics the party should adopt in the coming days to implement the slogan of the Plenum. However, on the basis of our social investigation, and in keeping with the line of the party, each and every committee and cell must formulate and further concretize the question of tactics.
3. Refute Right Opportunist Tactics
Let us contrast the tactics we have put forth with the right opportunist tactics put forward by some comrades in the party.
Some comrades say that the Western Ghats is "advanced" and not "backward" and that the enemy is "strong" and not "weak" here. Is this a correct evaluation? And, what are its implications for the peoples war?
As the Perspective says, the Malnad has a "unique trait" when compared to the other forest regions of India. (Perspective for Agrarian Work in Karnataka, point 46) It has a semifeudal peasant population rather than an adivasi population. As we have already seen in the first part under social conditions, the adivasi population is less than 1% while the all India average stands at 7%. Hence, when compared to forest regions with a resident adivasi population, the Malnad has a semifeudal non-adivasi peasant population. Hence the economy and culture in the Malnad shows greater development.
A second aspect about this peculiarity of Malnad is that it displays significant capitalist penetration.
As we have already seen, in the South Malnad, cbb owned plantations coexist with semifeualism. Also, the cultivation of cash crops such as coffee and areca in the main has also led to the further growth of capitalist traits in the economy.
This is manifested in certain aspects of the culture such as relatively higher literacy.
But the growth of the service sector owing to the penetration of capitalism is an important factor. The transport and communication network is relatively well developed in the South Malnad when compared to the North.
But should this lead us to the conclusion that Malnad as a whole is "developed" and that the enemy is "strong" rather than "weak"?
The Malnad, as we have already seeen, is semifeudal. Development has basically taken place here within conditions of semifeudalism. Hence to categorise the "development" of Malnad outside the framework of its principally semifeudal structure, will only lead to grave implications for the protracted peoples war.
The 1987 Perspective has clearly stated all these peculiar features of the Malnad. It views the Malnad as relatively developed when compared to the other forest regions of
India. Yet, at the same time, inspite of all these features, the 1987 Perspective views the Malnad as a whole within the backwardness characteristic of semifeudalism.
The Strategy and Tactics also therefore considers the Western Ghats as the first stype of strategic area where base areas can be formed.
But the Maoist theory of protracted people’s war does not provide for the building of base areas in places where there is capitalist development. The semifeudal semicolonial character "basically determines… military strategy and tactics." (Strategy and Tactics p 28)
Hence to classify the Malnad as "developed", outside the frame of semifeudalism will only amount to a rejection of the application of the principles of protracted peoples’ war and the formation of bases. Base areas are the strategic heart of Maoist protracted people’s War.
Malnad is very much a part of the "backward and vast rural areas" which the Strategy and Tactics states in discussing the characteristics of India’s revolutionary war.
Hence, while accounting for development in Malnad as a whole, we must always categorise it as "relatively developed". A failure to qualify this development can only lead us to a negation of the strategic role of the Western Ghats in the Indian New Democratic Revolution. It will amount to a negation of our Plenum.
The same comrades who speak of the "development" of the Western Ghats also say, in the same breath, that here the enemy is "strong" and not "weak".
How is one to understand this?
Despite capitalist penetration in Malnad and despite the fact that the cbb has stakes in the South Malnad, we continue to characterize the Malnad as a whole as an area where the enemy is "weak" and not "strong".
Let us see how the Strategy and Tactics characterizes areas such as the Western Ghats. It states that they are: "…hilly regions with dense forest cover which have sufficient economic resources, and which have a vast forest area spreading over thousands of square kilometers. In such areas the enemy is weak, and these areas are very favourable for the manouvres of the people’s army… In the first type of strategic areas we can defeat the enemy completely by fulfilling the tasks of building and consolidating a strong party and a strong people’s army; procuring people’s support and economic resources while developing the guerrilla war aiming at the building of liberated areas in these areas." (Pp 59-60)
But if we go by the subjective analysis put forward by comrades with right opportunist views, then it can only mean one thing—that we have to, as one comrade said, "abandon" our work here, since the KN party has chosen a wrong spot, since it is a region where the enemy is "strong" instead of a region where the enemy is "weak" for conducting people’s war.
We choose the "vast backward areas of the countryside" as the principal theatre of our war and we select those with favourable terrain as strategic areas within the vast backward areas for concentrating our subjective forces and undertaking peoples war in order to establish base areas.
But if we categorise the Malnad as "developed" and as a place where the enemy is "strong", we are bound to negate the application of protracted peoples’ war.
While we should firmly refute such evaluations as being right opportunist, we must, at the same time, not forget to take into account the unfavourable factor of a relatively developed transport and communication network and the implications of early reaction by the state to our party’s activity in the area. The Karnataka party has already identified these features in its 1987 Perspective.
While seeing these unfavourable features, we must also view a few other favourable features specific to the Malnad which can be used as factors to counter weigh the unfavourable ones. Firstly, since the Western Ghats are rain forests, it has dense foliage. Secondly, the terrain is not just forested but mountainous and rugged. Thirdly, villages are dispersed homestead settlements. For instance a village of 10 families may stretch beyond a kilometer in a valley and it is relatively easy to conceal squad entry or exit. Dense foliage, a mountainous terrain, a lengthy rainy season and swarming leeches increase the real distance between roads and provide added manouvrebility to the PGAs mobile units even in the face of relatively large enemy deployment.
By adhering to the Standing Orders of the CC, by adopting security precautions strictly, our armed forces can, by relying on a growing mass base sustain itself in the face of enemy attack and gradually extend itself by conducting selective tactical offensives on the enemy.
Some comrades feel that the formation of the LGS is "premature" and "sectarian". Some other comrades feel that instead of LGS, we must form "1 + 2 squads". They presume that the formation of squads contradicts the mass line and the building of a mass movement. A few other comrades prefer to call the decision to form LGS as "guerrillaism".
Why is the CMC standardizing the LGS as the basic form of our mobile armed formation?
The LGS is an elementary PGA formation. It is so designed as to fulfill a specific political and organizational task. The basic task of the LGS is not military. Instead it is organisational. It has to build the mass organizations, the militia and the party. The LGS is a specific form of military organization which answers this need. Hence it is compact, having from 6 – 9 members, and protects itself in order to carry out the task of building the class struggle through the various organizations listed above and concentrates on recruiting fresh members for the party and the PGA.
1 + 1 or 1 + 2 may still be formed if it is not convenient to form an LGS. However, in a political environment of growing mass struggle and popular receptivity to the propaganda of peoples’ war by our armed units in a geographical setting which provides advantageous manouvrebility, LGS and not 1 + 1 should be formed. We may start with 1 + 1 or 1 + 2 if mass reception for the politics of revolutionary war for the seizure of power is poor or if we lack the subjective forces. But, when both these drawbacks are not there, the party must take up the task of building the LGS.
Our party’s experience in the conduct of protracted peoples’ war over the years has taught us that the LGS is a relatively stable military formation providing scope for fire and movement. This attribute is derived from its numbers, which are divided into two segments or teams under the command of the Commander and the Dy Commander. The LGS provides scope for cover fire and retreat. It also provides scope for flanking manouvres and for the assumption of different military formations depending on the specific situation in the battle-field. Hence the LGS operates as a basic military unit. It has far greater opportunity to safeguard itself in the face of enemy attack if the principles of fire and movement are correctly adopted in the battle-field. Further the numerical composition of the LGS endows it with an array and a relatively diverse range of fire power. This variety and depth of fire power cannot be provided by 1 + 1 or 1 + 2 squads. Further, round the clock task such as sentrying, and regular tasks such as couriering, scouting, etc can be done effectively only if the squad is of LGS strength. On an average, one member of an LGS is normally ill. Numbers therefore matter in such conditions. If we do not pay regard to it, it will weaken our defenses, tax our vigilance and make us susceptible to the enemy’s strike units.
Due to the specific numbers, the internal segmentation and movement in specific formation, the LGS has proved itself, in the course of India’s protracted people’s war, as a versatile form to protect itself and the leadership from the ACs upwards.
To belittle the LGS which is time tested and has been watered by the blood of martyrs only describes a lack of appreciation for military matters in order to advance the revolution. The Karnataka party faces one major stigma. It must grow out of it. And, sooner the better. We have a nominal or a minimal grasp of military matters and unless we approach the political art and the political science of the military sphere with real earnestness we will plod on and achieve nothing. Mao wrote after many years of conducting the peoples’ war under the leadership of the peoples’ army that: "…war experience is a particular kind of experience. All who take part in war must rid themselves of their customary ways and accustom themselves to war before they can win victory." (Mao Tse-Tung, On Protracted War, Volume II) We in Karnataka have to take the cue and "rid" ourselves first, of "customary" right opportunist thinking which derives some extra ounces from our civilian life style and functioning.
Some comrades feel that armed formations are a "subjective" or "mechanical" "imposition" on the mass movement and they will drive away the masses instead of drawing them to our side.
But our brief experience in the Perspective Area and fairly long experience from Raichur have demonstrated facts which are the precise opposite. But that apart, let us see what our party line, drawn after summing up not just theory but the real and living experience of bitter blood-soaked class struggle has to say in this regard. "In a country like ours the revolution will go on from the beginning mainly through the form of armed struggle. Neither the work of organization of the people nor the work of building mass struggles can go on successfully without the support of the people’s armed forces. The party can consolidate the achievements of mass struggles only be expanding and developing the guerrilla war and will thus be able to lay the foundation for the alternative people’s political power." (Strategy and Tactics, p 31)
In fact, the above citation echoes Mao Tsetung who said something similar but on a grand scale. His profound words reverberate in many parts of South Asia. We must welcome it to the Malnad and not belittle or dismiss the Maoist thunderclap. "Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party. Yet, having guns, we can create Party organizations, as witness the powerful Party organizations which the Eighth Route Army has created in northern China. We can also create cadres, create schools, create culture, create mass movements. Everything in Yenan has been created by having guns. All things grow out of the barrel of a gun. According to the Marxist theory of the state, the army is the chief component of state power. Whoever wants to seize and retain state power must have a strong army. Some people ridicule us as advocates of the "omnipotence of war". Yes, we are advocates of the omnipotence of revolutionary war; that is good, not bad, it is Marxist. The guns of the Russian Communist Party created socialism. We shall create a democratic republic. Experience in the class struggle in the era of imperialism teaches us that it is only by the power of the gun that the working class and the labouring masses can defeat the armed bourgeoisie and landlords; in this sense we may say that only with guns can the whole world be transformed. We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun." (Mao Tse Tung, Problems of War and Strategy, Volume II)
Some comrades feel that the area in which we plan to operate 4 LGSs is too small, being just 80 kms by 40 kms and "easily vulnerable to the enemy". Some others feel that the leadership is pursuing a "left sectarian line" because it plans "to build the guerrilla zone in merely 250 villages". Hence a new front must be commenced simultaneously with another 250 villages or else we will be smashed by the enemy.
Is this evaluation and are such tactics correct? No, they are both wrong.
3,200 sq kms of area, a population that supports the party and located among the best terrain in India is not going to be a walk over for the enemy. Of course the determining factor here is the support of the masses. To gain their support we have to do patient and conscious work against odds, in the midst of an enemy that is searching for us, while all along being witness to the loss of comrades close and dear to us. But if we do this, if we first struggle with determination against the odds with MLM as our weapon, we can surely overcome our difficulties, learn to broaden our mass base and expand our areas so that we can complete preparations to transform the Perspective Area into a guerrilla zone. In fact the dialectics of the development of our revolutionary movement anywhere in the country has charted this course. We grow within iron encirclement. But we shall grow through fighting a hundred battles and achieve the counter encirclement.
This is no pep talk. The Karnataka party has limited experience in a rolling plains area of sustaining our armed squad for nearly 5 years. We sustained ourselves despite a mass base that began to decline for the last two years. Of course we had our ups and downs. We went through an encounter. But we continued our work for two years thereafter. Yet we demonstrated that we can sustain ourselves under adverse conditions in a plains area which measured much lesser than what we already operate in today.
To say that we cannot sustain in an area of 80 kms by 40 kms and gradually build our strength can only be self-defeating and a negation of the positive experience of Raichur.
But Raichur is not the only experience for our party. We have examples from Tamil Nadu, from Orissa where only one squad has been operating for close to three years now, from Balaghat where only two squads operated for close to a decade, from the southern plains of Andhra, the northern plains of Bihar or the central and south western plains of West Bengal that we can sustain, gradually build our forces, replenish losses and expand by simultaneously conducting tactical offensives against the enemy and building up the party and the PGA. The sense of defeatism should not be allowed to get the better of us and lead us to despondency and despair.
In fact the theory of protracted peoples war is based on the premise of a weak, ill-trained and ill-equipped force transforming itself with the aid of ideology and by closely integrating with a powerless, oppressed and battered masses, to become the conqueror of political power. That is precisely what protracted peoples war is all about.
Also, it is factually incorrect to say that the party is planning to build a GZ in just 250 villages. We plan the GZ for 10,000 sq kms encompassing a few hundred villages. But if comrades with this opinion really mean that a GZ must be built in 250 villages, it can only be a manifestation of left phrase mongering. The party must reject the proposal of starting simultaneous work to build two guerrilla zones because; that way we will excessively disperse and in the ultimate analysis, not even have one.
Our social investigation tells us that in the TSA there are 130 fire arms. Most of them are in the hands of the people. The masses are sharp shooters capable of attacking moving targets, even by night in the most unconventional of weapon positions. If a part of this can be turned from the wild animals that are hunted against the wild enemy, by organizing the militia, the peoples’ war will become an unstoppable tide. The red flag pitched on Gangadikallu will only then be seen by Karnataka’s oppressed, yet restive multitudes, far and wide.
There has been another important aspect of the right opportunist thinking in comrades who over emphasise the urban movement at the cost of the rural movement, who speak of work in all or most of the urban centers of the Perspective Area as a precondition for the armed movement in the countryside and they argue that the allocation of "legal subjective forces in the Perspective Area is a must or else we will be isolated." Some comrades put the whole argument in one succinct sentence. "Withdraw our forces from the Perspective Area."
These arguments are flawed. They emerge from a deep rooted understanding that the armed struggle can be sustained only if it gains a constituency and finds justification in the petty bourgeoisie, particularly the intellectuals. This is precisely what some comrades mean when they couch their words in statements that say that there should be, as a precondition, a "political justification of military acts". While the role of intellectuals is important for the revolution, their open support should not be made into a precondition.
The conception of the urban movement which these comrades counterpose to the rural, is characterized by some major orientational shortcomings. Firstly, they conceive of a consolidated urban movement as a precondition for the commencement of work in the rural areas. Secondly, the very conception of the urban movement in the vicinity and away from the Perspective Area are both viewed as movements with legal mass organizations and possessing legal means of propaganda. Thirdly, the urban movement, in their conception, revolves around the building of what they call "democratic/legal support structures". These "support structures" are a euphemism for forums composed of the intelligentsia. In other words, their urban work is beset with a legalistic and petty bourgeois approach. The point to be underscored is that comrades carrying the right opportunist view have consistently failed to articulate the need to build a working class movement. These tactics are presented as "preparatory" work for the rural movement Thus they become unstated preconditions obstructing the advancement of the class struggle in the countryside.
The party must reject them.
The legalistic deviation which is manifested by these comrades will not only obstruct the advance of the rural movement, but will ultimately liquidate our party in the cities and towns.
The economic and political situation is turning more and more unfavourable for the ruling classes in India and abroad. By allowing the events of September 11 to occur, the US ruling classes have found the justification to embark on an open ended war outside their country and to come down on immigrants, democrats and revolutionaries within their country.
The Indian ruling classes led by Vajpayee-Advani is in fact sitting on a rumbling volcano. South Asia has more than a dozen major armed struggles led from nationalist forces to Maoists. The Indian expansionists are still on the verge of drowning South Asia in a war with Pakistan. Meanwhile, they have conducted the worst pogroms on the Muslim masses in Gujarat and armed with the POTA they have commenced the suppression of, not only Islamic militants but nationalists and Communist revolutionaries too. Our party and its front organizations have been banned. The Karnataka government has got approval from the centre for COCA. The state police are undergoing one of the biggest upgradation projects since inception. It is beefing up its intelligence mechanism, procuring modern equipment and is imparting commando training. The enemy knows that our party is working in the Perspective Area. The Hindutva forces have commenced skirmishes with us and they have started a propaganda tirade against the Naxalite movement in the Perspective Area.
A tightening of screws on the party has already commenced. If we continue to cherish right opportunist views and if we continue to see the matter legalistically we will succumb to the enemy and the revolutionary movement in Karnataka will have to pay an avoidable price. Let us heed to the repeated cautions of the Central Committee in this regard. Let us adopt correct tactics under its guidance.
The prospects for the emergence of militant mass struggles are bright. Let us see the impact and from it gauge the potential of the deepening crisis on the Perspective Area.
The KNP issue has been a major point for rallying people’s anger against the ruling classes. In addition there are a host of other factors, which are building up. For instance, there is sharp fall in MFP rates in the last two years. But more important has been the ban imposed by the KFD in collecting MFP within and immediately around the KNP. The KFD has also threatened merchants dealing in MFP to close down their "illegal" trade. This has seriously affected incomes of the peasantry. Next, has been the fall in areca and coffee prices and the spread of disease affecting the health of coconut and areca palms. The middle and rich peasantry are deeply worried. They shudder at the thought of the future. The ban on ghutka across the major ghutka consuming states such as UP, Rajasthan, MP, AP and Gujarat dashes all hope of a revival and threatens to push down rates for areca during the coming harvest. Labour intake this season in the coffee plantations has dropped by a noticeable degree. Many coffee holdings remain poorly tended. Labour rates have already been slashed in coffee estates. Cheni returns for labour have been lower this year than during the last areca-harvesting season. The ban on smoking in public places and tax favours for mini-cigarettes has already led to large protests by beedi workers in the towns of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. In the various different Reserve Forests surrounding or close to the KNP, peasants have been served with eviction orders or have been asked to cough up mind-boggling fines for encroaching forest more than two-and-a-half decades ago. In the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, nearly a hundred peasant families have been evicted. In the wake of protests, the government is still dilly-dallying on the plan to construct medium sized dams and a garland scheme of small sized dams, which will not only lead to further eviction but also cause even more ecological destruction. The plan of the ruling classes to divest from KIOCL and hand over the company to a Japanese TNC after ensuring a 20 year lease for mining at Nellibeedu and Gangadikallu which will seriously affect the riverine ecology has kicked up anger in 7 districts along the valley of the Tunga-Bhadra rivers and despite all the wheeling and dealing, the state and central governments are unable to placate the masses. The economic crisis is indeed deepening and in the context of the global downturn and the decline in the Indian economy, it is bound to assume political form.
Already, suicide deaths have been reported in and around the Perspective Area. This is one kind of political reaction. It is an apolitical kind of political response. It stems from an acute sense of helplessness and fatalism. But a depressed state of mind can only help the ruling classes since the masses target themselves and not the enemy. We must propagate and expose the objective underlying factors behind such suicide deaths as was done in the case of suicides on the KNP issue.
Then there is the ruling class alternative. Fascism. Resurgent Hindutva is its concrete manifestation in the Perspective Area. The Bhajarang Dal, which was a non-entity half a decade ago, has begun to recruit its footmen being turned out in growing numbers by the pervasive crisis of the system. At the lead locally are vagabonds whose only sense of solidarity is derived from sandal-wood and timber smuggling and who hail basically from Brahmin and Vokkaliga backgrounds. They are getting more and more vociferous in the last few years. The Bababudangiri issue was raked up by the Sangh Parivar five years ago and it has been growing increasingly awesome with the deepening of the economic crisis of the area. In May this year the Bhajrang Dal targeted the anti-KNP struggle, and what is more, it sought to physically prevent the holding of a demonstration and seminar. State level big-wigs were present at a shadow rally to counter the wide-based protests against the Bhajarangis. Hindutva fascism is thus a clear and manifest political expression of the crisis in the economic system and since we live in the midst of the deepening of the crisis, in the coming days, one must expect more volatility, more fanaticism and more fascism from them.
And finally, there is the popular alternative put forward by the proletariat. Revolution! As the economic crisis heaves in spasms and as the impatience and anger of the adivasi and peasant masses cry for political resolution, our party must rise up to the occasion in meeting this demand. With MLM in our minds, the interest of the broad masses and the memories of our martyrs in our hearts and with guns in our hands we must channelise this sea of popular discontent for the seizure of political power through people’s war. Already, since January this year, the people have demonstrated in about 25 mass struggles within the PA that they are ready to rise up if we dare to lead. They surpass us in militancy and they teach us to learn from them with modesty.
We must meet the challenge of fascism squarely in the various different forms that it will try to approach us and brook no quarter to it. The only answer fascism deserves is armed revolution. And to do just that we must gain a foot hold in the Malnad all the more urgently, here and now. It might, as some comrades say, only be in a small part of the Malnad. But let us not forget that if this small part is determined, it can catch the class imagination of thousands of masses since this small part is surrounded by a sea of surging troubles. Yes, through blood and sweat, through unprecedented valour and grit we can tend this small sprout into the new hope of a giant banyan.
Special Social Groups
iii) Adivasis: The adivasis or the tribes residing in the hilly regions, forests or less-developed plains in India constitute about 7% of the Indian population. Representing relatively more backward forces of production, their economy, society and culture differ significantly from those in the rest of India. The more advanced non-tribal as well as the Indian state have deprived the adivasis of their land and other traditional means of livelihood. The process of breaking up of their traditional economies, society and culture and their forcible assimilation into the semi-feudal, semi-colonial set up by the Indian ruling classes in collusion with imperialism is proceeding at an unprecedented pace particularly after the transfer of power. The attempts to convert adivasis into various religions with the backing of the state have been going on since a long time. Whereas during British rule, Christianity spread on a considerable scale into the vast tracts inhabited by the adivasis, after the transfer of power it is the Hindu chauvinist organizations that are aggressively spreading Hindu religion in these areas. As the regions inhabited by the adivasis are rich in mineral deposits and forest wealth, imperialism and comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie are evincing special interest in exploiting these regions through mining, quarrying and such other activities. Some infrastructure to has been developed towards this end. The state and central governments have been carrying on construction works, luring a section from the adivasis under the name of welfare schemes. In the main, tribal chiefs, are benefiting from government schemes and are trying to turn the people in favour of the government. They constitute the social basis for the bourgeois parties. Proper tactics have to be adopted to ensure the eradication of the influence on the adivasi masses of this intermediary section which is divorced from labour. These regions have strategic importance for the Indian revolution from the military viewpoint due to their favourable terrain that facilitates the establishment of guerrilla bases. Hence the party of the proletariat should organize adivasis with slogan, right over forest belongs to adivasis, and draw up a specific plan for work among them and mobilize them against economic, political, social and cultural oppression by the Indian ruling classes in collusion with imperialism.
Strategy and Tactics, Pp 21-22
CPI (ML) (PW)
Excerpts from a Resolution on Right Opportunism in the State Committee
Reaffirmation of SC Plan
The SC reaffirms the correctness of the 18 month Plan of the May 2001 SC Meeting. It also upholds the changes made by the October 2001 SC meeting to the above plan.
Proposals were made by most members of the SC to postpone the period of preparations by 1 year to 1½ years. The reasons forwarded for this postponement were: The party should in this period concentrate its forces to take up legal mass activity around the PA (Perspective Area) and in towns and cities. By doing so, the Party’s PR strength could reach 80-100 members. That since the SC and cadres had poor or no understanding of PPW, special study camps, classes should be conducted to improve the theoretical level. That the cadres and leaders who have been allotted and are doing work in the PA should be partially withdrawn during this period of preparations. That the SC had little understanding of how to build and consolidate mass organizations, it had to concentrate its efforts in building and developing the mass movement. That cadres, including the entire SC, should be sent to the struggle areas for up to 6 months in batches. That the area of launching the pw should be far more extensive. These were some of the proposals that comrades put forward.
After a thorough discussion, initiated by the CC, the SC arrived at the unanimous decision that this alternative plan for preparations was wrong. The comrades had approached the problem legalistically. This alternative proposal contained the danger of a right deviation and the stage theory.
9 December 2001
A Sample of Rightist Views of Some Comrades During the February Plenum
Armed struggle will have a positive impact within NP and a negative impact outside the area in today’s context. This is because other struggles are not there.
CPI (ML) (PW) Literature:
Programme, March 2001
Strategy and Tactics, March 2001
Indian Agriculture—Capitalist or Precapitalist? Voice of the Vanguard, 1, 2 and 3, 1983.
Class Analysis of Indian Agriculture, Voice of Vanguard, Special Article, Volume 4, 1986.
CPI (ML) Red Flag—Drift to the Right, Proletarian Vanguard, May-June 1998.
Central Committee (Provisional), CPI (ML) (Peoples’ War), Let Us Defeat the Opportunist Politics of the "Janashakthi" Party! Let us Intensify the Armed Struggle!, January 2001.
Political Bureau, Central Committee, CPI (ML) (Peoples’ War), Bidding Farewell to Agrarian Revolution—the Essence of Manik’s Paper, April 2002.
Karnataka SC, CPI (ML) (Peoples’ War), Perspective for Agrarian Work in Karnataka, 1987.
VI Lenin, The Development of Capitalism in Russia.
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VI Lenin, The Agrarian Question and the Critics of Marx.
J Stalin, Foundations of Leninism.
Mao Tsetung, Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society.
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Mao Tsetung, How to Differentiate the Classes in the Rural Areas.
Mao Tsetung, Problems of War and Strategy.
Mao Tsetung, Oppose Book Worship.
Jose Maria Sison, Semifeudalism in the Philippines: Myth or Reality?, April 1986.
Jose Maria Sison, Qualitatively Unchanged Conditions, April 1995 from Sison’s Introduction to Philippine Economy and Politics.
James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer, Globalization Unmasked, Madhyam Books, New Delhi, 2001.
G Rajshekar, Kagodu Satyagraha: Kagodu Raitha Satyagraha: 1950-1951, Akshara Prakashana, Sagar, 1980.
Ksheerasagar, Dikku Thappida Karnataka Bhusudharane, CIEDS, Bangalore, 1985.
Narendar Pani, Reforms to Pre-empt Change: Land Legislation in Karnataka, Concept, New Delhi, 1983.