I am among those who think that science has great beauty.
A scientist is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural
phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.
— Marie Curie (1867-1934), Polish-French scientist
The bold and frank interview of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the
CPI(M) Chief Minister of Left Front-ruled West Bengal, in Hindustan Times of
July 19, should raise widespread interest in issues on effectiveness of
communism as political idealism in the 21st century. The world is changing,
communists are changing and we can't stick to our old dogmas, the chief minister
reportedly asserted. After the farm sector reforms ran their course, the next
logical step for the state called for industrialization and, the chief minister
has rightly maintained that here the state has to follow what other states are
doing, which effectively would involve invitation to industrialists and
capitalists. He has claimed, according to the report, that if he were not
receptive to industrial projects, they would go to other states, as competition
to garner investment is intense among the states. On Nandigram episode, the
chief minister candidly admitted that the government failed to reach the masses.
The industrial investment in the state was languishing for decades,
notwithstanding stable government for a record three decades period. Only
recently, as a result of a radical comrade Buddhadeb, backed by communal harmony
and good law and order the investors are returning to the state. Incidentally,
the chief minister could have treaded the path laid down in CPI(M) philosophy
and abhorred capitalists and MNCs, but then the state would have continued to
fall behind other states in progress. Obviously, Buddhadeb needs to be
complimented for taking the bull by horn in the interest of the state.
West Bengal needs more manufacturing, more investment and more FDI and there are
no shortcuts to industrialization without this. For this, big business has to be
welcomed as also MNCs. The only exception, according to the chief minister,
would be retail trade where MNCs would not be permitted in the state. While
several factors make investment climate congenial, IEMs filed for projects in
the state shot up five-fold between 2002-03 and 2006-07, matching the growth in
acknowledged investment-friendly majors like Maharashtra and Gujarat, though the
pace falls short of the accomplishment by resource-rich Orissa and Chhattisgarh.
Even the state economy growth at 7+ per cent a year between 2001-02 and 2004-05
matches the all-India feat.
CPI(M) has a mandate to bring about basic transformation in society by carrying
out programmes to end imperialist, big bourgeois and landlord exploitation.
While West Bengal has charted a new path, Kerala and Tripura the other
leftist-ruled states, have not gambled into such radical breaks from leftist
Lastly, China and Russia too have changed the traditional concept of communism
and embraced traces of various proportions of capitalism in industrialization.
So it would seem, bury Marxism and Leninism, and yet long live communist
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[23 July 2007]