The *Book under review provides a fairly detailed discussion of the process of land reforms in West Bengal during the period of Left Front rule. The merit of the book is that it has dealt not only with the subject of seizure of ceiling surplus lands and their redistribution, but with related issues like operation barga, sharecropping arrangements, minimum wages, the functioning of panchayets etc. Certainly there is no point in saying that there was no land reform work worth the name in West Bengal during the period of Left Front rule. But the question is how far the official claim in this respect was correct and what could be done to follow up the initial work so as to raise it to a higher level. The author has not subscribed to the official claim, which he considers exaggerated. He has also dealt with the various problems that grew up during the implementation of the operation barga and other agrarian programmes.Read More »
The Great Recession, from the middle of 2007 onwards, has rocked the global economy. This has led to at least a couple of things. The legitimacy of neo-liberalism in the west–qua ‘there is no other alternative’—has been shattered, and vast majority of people are now looking for other political alternatives which partly explains the rise of the popularity of Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. This has also laid bare the inability of mainstream economics to explain, let alone predict or foresee, any of these crises. In November of 2011, 70 students walked out of N Gregory Mankiw’s (who has authored the most widely used undergraduate textbook of economics) in protest that alternative theories are not taught in the curriculum. It is clear that neoclassical economics has very little to offer to explain the current crisis. Nobel laureate Robert Lucas, who had declared in 2003 that “central problem of depression-prevention has been solved”, in 2008 said that “I am skeptical about the argument that the sub prime mortgage problem will contaminate the whole mortgage market, that housing construction will come to a halt, and that the economy will slip into a recession. Every step in this chain is questionable and none has been quantified. If we have learned anything from the past 20 years it is that there is a lot of stability built into the real economy”.Read More »
When the Palestinian literary critic and thinker Edward Said read the comic book Palestine (1997)by Joe Sacco, he called it a work of “extraordinary originality” – and one of the best attempts to capture the country’s turmoil. Originally published as a serial, Palestine was one of the first examples of journalism as graphic art. Sacco uses it to present the Palestinians in a more sympathetic light, telling the story of his travels in the country and the people he met there.Read More »
Debali Mookerjea-Leonard’s ‘Literature, Gender and the Trauma of Partition: The Paradox of Independence’ resonatingly treads a line between fact and fiction to show that there was no easy escape for the victims and survivors of the tragedy.
In writing my first novel, whose protagonist is a young refugee woman from East Pakistan, I employed the device of coincidence to achieve a happy ending. Doing so wasn’t a sudden rush on my part to end what had become a protracted writing project but a well thought-out conclusion. It was not to be. When they read it, two of my trusted beta readers quashed it summarily, citing it as lazy and escapist. Even though incredible incidents can happen in real life, one of them advised, in a work of fiction, coincidences are hard to pull off convincingly.Read More »
Dhawale, A., Sainath, P., Deshpande, S., Prashad, V.(2018). The Kisan Long March in Maharashtra. LeftWord Books.
“Land reform is on the agenda of mankind”. So wrote William Hinton over five decades ago, in the preface to his agrarian classic – Fanshen. The events described in The Kisan Long March– 50,000 farmers marching over 200km, in a veritable sea of red – suggest that Hinton’s remark remains as relevant today, as it was in 1966.Read More »
“[R]evolutions are ‘great’ precisely because they…are far ahead of…their time” (36). In the five essays presented inOctober 1917, renowned radical political economist, Samir Amin, pushes far beyond the immediate necessity of emphasizing the historical weight of October, and launches, into an ambitiously broad analysis of the trajectory of twenty first socialism, the Marxism that inspired it, and the lessons that can be drawn for the struggles of the twenty first century.Read More »
IN THIS memoir, Jane Lazarre weaves a complex and fascinating account of her father, the lifelong communist, party organiser and Spanish civil war veteran William Lazarre, aka Bill Lawrence, in the form of an intergenerational dialogue.
Her father came to the US at the beginning of the last century to escape the pogroms in tsarist Russia and, already enthused by the ideals of communism, he joined the US Communist Party and became a full-time organiser. He volunteered for Spain in 1936 and became a commissar with the Lincoln Brigade.Read More »