New Login   

Preaching to the Converted

Swapna Kona

By Prakash Karat
Leftword, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 120, Rs. 95.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 12 December 2007

John Kenneth Galbraith once said, ‘Under capitalism, man exploits man; under communism, it’s just the opposite’. The capitalism versus communism debate is as old as politics itself. In India, it much precedes independence from British rule. It is, thus, difficult to understand the conceptually colonial precincts that modern Indian communism’s arguments find anchor with. As an intellectual tool, the historical contribution of communist literature can only be understated. For generations, communist writing has provoked thought, defined spirit and indeed, stirred revolution. The work under review, however, fails to do either.   Prakash Karat’s collection of previously published essays promised to be an interesting read. Given present circumstances, any work titled ‘India-US’ or ‘The Nuclear Deal’ catches the attention of an eager student of politics in India. The question is if it can sustain such interest.   The book begins in reverse order—with Karat’s most recent work first. The Indo-US Nuclear Deal is glanced over cursorily but soon abandoned. If the attempt of the writing was to place the nuclear deal in the larger context of bilateral relations between the countries, it does not achieve its aim. The title of the book is misleading and causes disappointment at the end of the first few chapters. As the chapters were all meant to be individual pieces of writing, they do not lend themselves to a flow of thought that a subject such as strategic relations deserves. The book, which really is a booklet, with its 120 pages, comprises a collection of eighteen articles written by Karat over seven years. Most of these articles were originally published with People’s Democracy. Some of the articles are commentaries on recent events (Chapters 7 & 16, dealing with visits to the US) whilst some others aim at a larger study at the ideological context of shifts in Indian foreign policy (Chapters 4 & 18).   Broadly, there are three recurring themes to the book—the argument for democracy, the issue of foreign policy and India’s internal politics. Democratization as an object of study has found immense currency around the world, initially owing to the debate over intervention and increasingly, after Iraq. Wherever on the political spectrum one is placed, the urgency with which a democratic process must be reviewed, faulted and debated is essential to the survival of a healthy political environment as also a thriving political community. For this, the community cannot view itself as outside of the ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.