Indian Communists Need To Think As Indians

Professor K V Narayana Rao

Communists have become irrelevant in the politics  of most parts of India. Communists of different hues have various programmes in India in the context of celebrations of the Centenary of the November Revolution (which took place in October according to Julian Calendar) in Soviet Russia.

In this situation, they would do well to ponder over the reflexions of Achutha Menon (1913-1991) for an Indian Model for Communism. These reflections in Malayalam were found in a manuscript on his table after his demise. Some extracts of an English translation of that manuscript are given below for the benefit of the public as well:

  1. If Marxism  is the philosophy of social transformation, we must assimilate it. That is to say, every one of us must master it as a living part of our thinking. And first we must study the people, the society which we want to transform. Even its very need has not been recognized to date by any section of the Indian Communist movement….The phenomenon of caste has persisted for several millenia in Indian society….Karl Marx has referred to this…. (He) had only expressed the hope that with the unfolding of the Industrial civilisation and the development of class struggle, the caste system would disappear. We cannot blame Marx for not proposing a solution to the problem. Indian communists should accomplish this task. Without it, communists will never be able carry out any revolution in India.
  2. ……revolutionary thinking cannot be simply copied or cannot be learnt by rote….Let me recall something which makes me even now feel extremely ashamed. During the 1948-51 period we were all ‘underground’…The leaders were all the time in a terrific debate. What was it about? The question posted was which was the model or path for the Indian revolution, the Russian or the Chinese? And even after three long years we could not find a solution. Finally the leaders went to Moscow to get their doubts clarified. They met Stalin himself and doubts were cleared. Is it possible to find bankruptcy of thinking more pathetic than this anywhere? What revolution can a party of this kind lead?
  3. …our greatest weakness is abject servitude in thinking or the absence of original thinking. In the sixty-eight year long history of the Indian Communist movement have we been able to produce at least one person who could be considered  a mastermind or a genius? At the same time the communist intellectuals have never been willing to accord recognition to talented original thinkers of other parties. They are all dismissed in one phrase as “bourgeoisie intellectuals”! That would be the end of it.! And we are saved the “trouble” of thinking on our own. We had only disdain for Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghose, Mahatma Gandhi and Sreemannarayana Guru!. Indian communists have not acknowledged the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine of nonviolence nor of the purity of ends and means.. When later in the Rajiv-Gorbachev declaration of New Delhi, Michael Gorbachev recognised the relevance of nonviolence in tackling questions like war and peace in the international arena, the whole world could grasp the relevance of nonviolence. But like the village school teacher of Oliver Goldsmith, “even vanquished”, we “argue still”!
  4. ….Only when we have studied our people, their traditions, their unique characteristics, the history of  our country and its geography, and on the solid base  of Indian reality we are able to discover and chart out a path for the Indian revolution..then and only then, will Indian Communism have come of age…
  5. We firmly believed that the only way of building communism or socialism in any country was the one pioneered by the Soviet Communist Party. If someone ventured to mention the mistakes committed by them, he was branded by us as anti-communist or dissident and considered an enemy…..The Indian communists should evolve a model of our own. .We can draw inspiration and learn lessons not only from Marx, but also from Gandhiji, Jai Prakash, Acharya Narendra Dev, Dr Ambedkar, Dr Lohia and others.This certainly requires casting off of all cynicism and intellectual arrogance by the Communists.

(Prof KVN Rao taught Political Science at Sri Venkateswara University and other institutions. He is a reputed author and an authority on AP and Telangana politics. He lives in Tiruvanantapuram. His mail id:

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Professor K V Narayana Rao, a doyen among Indian Political thinkers & an authority on Andhra and Telangana politics, worked at several places, including: ICSSR, NIRD, S V University, University of Hyderabad, Dr. MCR HRD Institute in his long innings of teaching and research.

    It was my good fortune to have worked with him both at NIRD (1979-83) and Dr MCR HRD Institute (2001-2003). An astute observer besides being a good analyst, Dr Rao has few rivals on the theme of State Politics in India.

    Shri Jairam Ramesh had acknowledged Dr. Rao’s contribution to Andhra Politics, in his recent work on the division of AP.
    K R Sastry.

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