Kanhaiya and his supporters can promote socialism or social democracy in India. But they will succeed only if their arguements are loaded with plenty of content and knowledge.
By Rakesh Raman
After his release on bail from jail Thursday, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar delivered a politically charged speech to a huge gathering of students in the JNU campus.
Kanhaiya, who is facing sedition charges, pledged to continue the struggle with the help of other students in order to get freedom from poverty and social evils that have become the bane in India’s development.
He clarified that his slogans are not aimed to get freedom from India, but to get “freedom in India” – the freedom that has been granted to every citizen of India by the Contitution.
Undeterred by the ongoing police case against him, Kanhaiya criticized India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his political party BJP, ABVP which is the student wing of BJP, and their parent outfil RSS for crushing the voices of dissent in the country.
The student leader said that the sedition law is being used by the government as a political tool to attack the opponents of the BJP government. And the government has not only charged the JNU students with sedition, but has also tried to book opposition leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, and Arvind Kejriwal under the sedition charges.
Kanhaiya said that it was a pre-planned ploy of the government to arrest him and a couple of other JNU students on frivolous charges so the students should not raise their voices against the atrocious, anti-people policies of the BJP government.
He said that JNU has always stood against the state excesses, and the students will intensify their struggle to get social freedom and justice for a Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula who was forced to commit suicide about a month ago under unbearable government pressure.
Although Kanhaiya did not elaborate about the future course of action for students’ movement, he emphasized that the students will struggle to achieve the true independence of India by ensuring equality for all.
He quoted the Russian communist revolutionary Lenin to state that socialism is an integral part of democracy. Lenin had preached the idea of social democracy in 1905.
Social democracy is a political concept that promotes the existence of a welfare state within the framework of a capitalist economy like India. Most communists believe that social democracy, which is an evolutionary political process to achieve socialism, can help build an egalitarian society.
But is Kanhaiya a communist? From the tenor of his loud speeches that lack content, Kanhaiya seems to be influenced by the political ideology of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
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However, he fails to put his utterances into perspective. Kanhaiya fails to express that there is a distinct disagreement between the concept of social democracy introduced by Lenin and the socio-economic model (often termed as orthodox Marxism) proposed by the German philosopher Karl Marx.
Kanhaiya fails to understand that such shallow slogans that he delivers may make him a popular – yet naive – leader in India, but he will not be able to do any good for the commoners of this underdeveloped country.
Although the Nordic countries have successfully used social democracy to achieve socio-economic development, it is extremely difficult to deploy this model in capitalist economies such as India and the USA that preach but do not practice democracy.
These so-called democracies are almost ruined by the perpetual class struggles between the ownership class (bourgeois) and the labouring class (proletariat).
In the USA, for example, common people have realized that the current democracy that serves only a handful of affluent Americans is soon going to ring the death knell for people at large who are already facing joblessness, poverty, and starvation.
In the ongoing Presidential race in the U.S., a self-styled socialist candidate Bernie Sanders is pointing out flaws in the American democracy while promoting social democracy.
Sanders – who sounds like the reincarnation of the 19th-century revolutionary socialist Karl Marx – talks about the widening rich-poor divide in America and the deformed democracy in the country that has become a plutocracy or perhaps kleptocracy (the rule by thieves) driven by the greed of top 1% of the corporate bigwigs.
After initial euphoria, Sanders’ campaign is now losing steam, as another Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton with largely capitalist views is surging ahead in the race to win Presidential nomination.
This is a lesson for those who promote socialism. They must understand that the ownership class still dominates and socialism has failed to go beyond its status of a mere buzzword. By the way, socialism was the most popular word of the year 2015.
While socialism cannot be a quick-fix solution to all the social and economic problems in a country, the word’s linguistic popularity suggests that people are, at least, considering socialism as an alternative political system in democracies that have become plutocracies. Case in point: India.
Kanhaiya and his supporters can promote socialism or social democracy in India. But they will succeed only if their arguments are loaded with plenty of content and knowledge to support their views.
Otherwise, like it has been happening in India, such Kanhaiyas will come and go. The only thing that will stay with the common Indians is slavery that they have been experiencing even in independent India.
You also can read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman