NEWS / SBI / LOANS
NEW DELHI: State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender by assets, has written off over Rs 1 lakh crore worth of loans in the two years ended March 31, as it purged its accounts of legacy bad loans, The Hindustan Times reported on Monday.
BY NOW, it’s widely acknowledged that the LS polls in the state saw large-scale minority consolidation. At the receiving end of this phenomenon are the CPIM-CPI and the BJP. While the BJP is known as a pro-Hindu party, the main support base of the two Communist parties since the very start of the red movement here was of the Hindus. Even today, except for a cosmetic appearance, there are not many Muslims or Christians with these two red parties. It will remain so, despite the large-scale push the CPIM sought to make in recent years — not just in Kerala but at the national level too – to woo the minorities.
Communism is an ideology based on practices that existed in Christian societies in Europe. The concept was first propounded by a Greek philosopher. There were shades of communism practised in an isolated manner in Muslim societies too, before Karl Marx and Frederic Angels came up with the Communist Manifesto and formalised the thought process. They raised this ideology after the initial phases of the Industrial Revolution when exploitation of the labour force was rampant in factories in Europe. But, in general, both Christians and Moslems worldwide did not take a fancy to Communism. Marx held out that religion is the opium of the masses and should be shunned for social progress. He was true in many respects vis-a-vis the role of the Church in social affairs.
In Kerala, those who promoted this ideology were the Hindus. The 1957 victory of the Communists in Kerala polls was a consolidation of the Hindu might. At the organisational level, those like P Krishna Pillai pushed the cause of Communism in its initial years. Then came stalwarts like AK Gopalan, EMS Namboodiripad, MN Govindan Nair and the like. Some Christians too took a fancy to it, like TV Thomas or Prof Joseph Mundassery. At an intellectual level, prominent writers and creative geniuses like P Kesava Dev, Thoppil Bhasi (Bhaskara Pillai), P Bhaskaran and Vayalar Ramavarma gave eminent push to Communism, in the form of their literary or artistic support for emancipation of the poor. The roles played by the drama troupe of Thoppil Bhasi, the Kayamkulam-based KPAC, or the Kalidasa Kalakendram founded by O Madhavan –father of actor Mukesh — in promoting Communism in Kerala were great.
Equally important was the roles played by Kumaran Asan, through his writings, and Sree Narayana Guru who led the cause of the backward communities though he, as a saintly figure, refused to be fitted into a community brand. “I have no caste,” he stated after he reached a level of saintly renunciation. Guru started propagating his ideas for the cause of the humanity at large. As a Hindu saint, he had respect for Christianity and for Islam. Eventually, Guru rose to the level of a prophet – God’s emissary.
It was with the Guru’s blessings that legendary Vadapuram Bava organised coir factory workers in Alappuzha in the first labour offensive in Kerala before Independence. From there, Communists picked up the thread. Now, no one remembers Vadapuram Baba, whose old house still exists on the National Highway — at the northern end of the bypass road. The movement was virtually hijacked by the Communists. Then happened the violent Punnapra-Vayalar upsurges. Those like Bava were sidelined and a new set of trade union leaders came up. They, in due course, included those like P Sugathan, KR Gouri Amma and VS Achuthanandan from the backward community. The rest is modern history. In sum, Communism’s growth in Kerala was a collective effort of those from two Hindu communities – Nairs/Nambiars and Ezhavas/Thiyyas. A Brahmin like EMS Namboodiripad emerged as the main fulcrum around which the movement grew in Kerala. Progressive leaders from the forward castes gave the much-needed intellectual stimulus to the growth of Communism. The foot-soliders, understandably, were from the backward communities. Together, they built the new revolutionary movement in the state.
Outside, across India, the leadership of the Communist movement rested largely with the Brahminical class, just as they held the reins in every other field of life. That scenario has only marginally changed even now. India, overall, is dominated by Brahmins at the bureaucratic and leadership levels and the Vaisyas in the realm of trade and business. Brahmins formed five per cent of the population and the Vaisyas some 20 per cent. A quarter of well-shaped Indians who lead a happy life are from these two communities. Forward castes as a whole came up by virtue of their head-start in education alongside the Brahmins.
Christians and Muslims do not want to turn to the Left for the reason that they were well-protected under the UDF arrangement crafted by visionary K Karunakaran since the late 1960s. The 1967 EMS-led ministry had eminent participation of the Muslim League, lead by CH Mohd Koya. Half way through its term, Karunakaran as Congress legislature party leader managed to break away the CPI and the Muslim League, to pull down the EMS ministry and form an alternative ministry headed by C Achutha Menon of the CPI. Achutha Menon, a CPI member of Rajya Sabha, was airlifted from Delhi to take over as the new CM in 1969, with K Karunakaran as the home minister. However, Koya had extracted what he wanted from the EMS ministry before he broke it up – namely, the formation of Malappuram district, a Muslim majority district in the state. Muslim League, under the able leadership of PK Kunhalikutty carried on in an admirable way after the exit of Koya. Muslims are getting what is their due in the administrative machinery as also other fields of governmental patronage. So with Christians, patronised partly by the Congress party and partly by the Kerala Congress.
The UDF has come to represent the interests of three main segments of the society – the Nairs, the Christians and the Muslims. To be fair, Dalits too get some benefit from all sides. The Congress party and its governments helped them in good measure. Communists too helped these poor, though at a lesser level. The BJP also is making every effort to woo them with some or other goodies. Dalits deserved to be cared for protected. It is to all our satisfaction that they get their due in the social set-up at least in Kerala. Outside of this state, their plight remains miserable.
In the current political alignment, who backs the Left? The age of ideology is over. Yet, thanks to the unionised environment here, sections of people from every community back the Left. This, though, might not form a larger support base. This base will keep dwindling as time passes. From the very start of Communism in Kerala till now, Ezhavas formed the bedrock of the Communist base here. They too are having a re-thinking as to how long they should stay with this enterprise which is not of much help to them. When the LDF comes to power, the government will reach out to all segments of the society. Unlike in the UDF time, when specific communities get a whole lot of benefits. It could be small things, even, like the licence to start a ration shop, a job with SupplyCo or the like.
When the LDF is in power, their prime voter base – the Ezhavas – hardly gets any such favour. Every such appointment, small or big, is coordinated from the AKG Centre, and vested interests manage to get them. Go to a local secretary of the CPIM or CPI to get a help from the government. You will not get it. They want us to be their voting machines in human form, election season after season. Chances are that these once-committed communists would look around for greener pastures. This is happening in front of our eyes. This LS poll season was an eye-opener. Communism in Kerala must now give way to some new hope in the air. It could be BJP, it could be something else. Time alone can say. If Communism can collapse in the Soviet Union and much of the other red nations, it can happen here too.