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A Transition on Record

Manoranjan Mohanty

By Govind Kelkar
Usha Publications, New Delhi, 1979, pp. 172, Rs. 55.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 4 January-February 1980

Between Govind Kelkar's visit to China in April-May 1978 and mine in May-June 1979 there was a year full of rapid policy changes. She travelled in China when the Chinese leadership was inclined to retain the overall orientation of the Cultural Revolution and integrate it with a programme of four modernizations while denouncing the extremism of the Gang of Four. By the time I visited China the leadership was fast swinging in favour of those who denounced the policies of the Cultural Revolution in toto, redefined the theory of class struggle and opted for a new line of four modernizations. Kelkar's account records this transition period which existed for about two years in 1977­-78 and was overtaken by the new line adopted at the Third Plenum of the CPC in December 1978. Kelkar's report is im­portant for yet another reason. Its vivid descriptions of communes, factories, hos­pitals and schools that she visited reflect some real achievements, especially for the rural people without minimizing the enormous problems that they still face. In the middle of 1978 references to the Cultural Revolution were still positive. Revolutionary Committees were yet to be replaced by Management Committees in Communes with a Director as the head. May 7 Cadre Schools were not yet very much discredited, cadres could freely quote Chairman Mao and mention ‘class struggle as the key link’. Cultural Re­volution was not yet propagated as a dark decade. Leaders of various production Brigades in the Xiyang Country told Kel­kar how production had been in fact rais­ed significantly since 1966. For example, the leader of the Shipping Brigade said that the total earnings from agriculture and the sideline productions were 180,000 yuan in the mid-sixties and it had touched 580,000 yuan in 1977. In all the communes that Kelkar visited the same impression was conveyed about big strides made during the Cultural Revolution. A year later such presentations were rare. The achievements were interpreted as be­ing ‘inspite of the interference by the gang of four’ or being ‘less than what could have been’ or being ‘stagnant dur­ing that decade’. At the Third Plenum the CPC leadership decided to experimentally introduce new policies on the functioning of the rural communes and accelerating agricul­tural development. In September 1979 these were finally promulgated for the whole country. They envisage consolida­tion of the Production Team, the lowest level of the three tier collective as not only accounting unit, but ...

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