Very few men in history have an international impact on the ideology, politics and economics of the world as is the case with Karl Marx. After his 200th birthday, the world ponders over the ideas he prescribed and their consequences.
A philosopher is as good as the actions perpetrated by his disciples. Considered ideological father of communism, Lenin ascribed to Karl Marx’ beliefs when he led the Bolsheviks to overthrow the Czars in the 1917 Russian Revolution. What pursued next was a tyrannical regime where lands of peasants were snatched in the name of collectivization and millions starved to death, many million more in Stalin era. Another inspired man who customized Marxism into Maoism was Mao Zedong of China, who is considered responsible for tens of millions of death with his economic policies broadly classified as Great Leap Forward. Besides, Kim Jong II of North Korea, Khymer Rouge Govt of Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam have all referred to Marxism in one form or the other and millions of deaths have been attributed to their regimes.
But has Marx caused an impact to India in any form? Pt Nehru is believed to have romanticized Russian Revolution and expected an Indian version of it against the British. There was an enormous impact of Marxism on the economic policies in the formative years. The five-year plan was directly derived from The Soviet books of economics. We did not completely adopt communism but a softer version of it – socialism, which allowed the government huge controls over industrialization and distribution of wealth among the society. Corruption was a direct by-product of this phenomenon. Government officials who realized their power on decision making didn’t mind minting extra money for themselves for doing the ‘favors’ to state subjects. Socialism was added to the preamble of India in 1976 by Indira Gandhi and the policies continued till 1991 economic reforms when we took a turn to liberalization.
Marx inspired various political parties CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), MCPI, CMP of which the most prominent has been the communist party of India (Marxist) which ruled in Kerala, West Bengal, Tripura and also in Centre in various coalition Governments. They came close to hold the Prime Ministership when Jyoti Basu was at the helm. Opinions may vary but most agree that development did come to a standstill in the states they ruled. Plus, a ruthless machinery they developed to keep the party in power promoted hooliganism and murders.
Even today, Kerala has reportedly one of the highest records of political murders by Left Organizations. Besides various student organizations including AISF and AISA have added to the violence in years. Karl Marx prioritized communism over everything else, even nationalism, there are scores of reports of how Communist parties were sympathetic to China in the 1962 war and to Pakistan in 1971 war of Bangladesh, since Pakistan was a Chinese ally. Even today, the Marxists do not hesitate to chant “Bharat tere tukde honge” if that is the price to pay to spread communalism in India.
However, the most profound impact that Karl Marx had over India originated in the village called Naxalbari, which spread to various parts of Central and eastern India as cancer called ‘naxalism’. Marx had said, ‘No Great movement has ever been inaugurated without bloodshed’. An armed struggle by the tribals and villagers who took it upon themselves to bring economic parity and justice through people’s court defying the state took thousands of lives over the years and deprived generations of the benefit of development. The top layers in this movement took it as an efficient means to exercise power over the Naxal belt in the name of bringing justice to the oppressed and exploiting themselves. His idea of establishing a classless and stateless communist society has bled India with numerous cuts.
Marx was blatantly against capitalism as he believed and rightly so that it increases the disparity in the rich and poor. But he grossly underestimated the capability of capitalism in wealth creation and removing poverty. A communist may have a rich and poor both at poverty levels to maintain equality, rather than rewarding the meritorious with wealth. Communism as an economic policy has failed throughout the world, as is evident in various countries, notable east Germany and USSR. It is surprising that in the land of Gandhi, who is the pioneer of non-violence, we have parties floated on the philosophies of a person who justifies violence to achieve the means of communism. It is time Indian counterparts take cognizance and corrective measures, else irrelevance is the on their way too. The Birthday is over and so should the ‘Party’.