Report on Talk by Partho Sarathi Ray in San Francisco – August 23, 2011
An important public event was held on the evening of August 23, 2011, in San Francisco, when Partho Sarathi Ray, an activist who is a member of Sanhati, and a molecular biologist by profession, reported on the peoples movements in India. Illustrating his talk with the many photos he has taken as an activist working with these popular struggles, as well as a video by the activist film-making group Canvas, Ray focused his report around the West Bengal area of Lalgarh, where since 2008 there has been a massive and militant uprising of the adivasi or indigenous people. This movement–which began in the aftermath of the brutal repression let loose by the state government in the wake of the landmine blast by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in protest of the government’s attempt to impose a Special Economic Zone in the region for construction of a steel plant– raised to a new level the forces of popular struggle and revolution in India. The Lalgarh adivasi communities took the lead in their own self-organization, forming institutions of local democratic governance, participatory economic development and cultural autonomy that offer an alternate model for society in opposition to the corrupt and oppressive regime of the parliamentary parties. In close alliance with the revolutionary forces of the CPI (Maoist), and other progressive forces, they have shown a way forward in India that rests on the interests of the vast majority of the people, rather than corporations and the rich.
Ray began his talk by placing the events in India in the context of worldwide struggles, including in the United States, against imperialism, neoliberalism and the suppression and exploitation of the working classes and indigenous communities. This introduction was reflected in the wide range of organizations sponsoring the event, including the International Campaign Against War on the People in India, Sanhati, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Collision Course Video, Freedom Archives, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), and Friends of South Asia (FOSA). The breadth of the focus on both domestic and international issues of these groups itself represented an unusual new level of cooperation in the region. As Ray emphasized in his talk, such potential for the spread of activism and militancy across the boundaries of nationality, ethnicity and particular interests is a necessary step in building a broader international movement that can begin to more powerfully confront the forces of global capitalism.
Though the main part of the evening was taken up with the report by Ray, questions and discussions following his talk addressed many further complexities facing the people of India as they try to chart a new course for the society. Those attending were encouraged to become more active in supporting these struggles and learning more about the new popular and revolutionary forces in India. Specifically, there is a growing international movement to oppose Operation Green Hunt, the massive and draconian campaign of the Indian government to wipe out not only the CPI (Maoist) and its armed wing, the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army, but all popular resistances, such as those in Lalgarh. Those who want to support this effort to bring a halt to OGH can visit the website www.icawpi.org. There are also campaigns focused on specific situations in India, such as blocking the attempt to open an SEZ for POSCO, the South Korean steel giant, in the state of Orissa. Those wishing to help with this campaign can contact http://miningzone.org/campaigns/posco/divestment. All those interested in learning more about the situation in India, as well as struggles here in the United States, are also encouraged to visit websites of the sponsoring organizations:
International Campaign Against War on the People in India: http://www.icawpi.org/
Freedom Archives: http://www.freedomarchives.org/index.html
collision course video: http://vimeo.com/user4773018/videos
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement: http://mxgm.org/
Arab Resource and Organizing Center: http://www.araborganizing.org/
Friends of South Asia: http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/