“The Indian Left has seldom been on the same page as with rest of India in its over 80-year history. The communists opposed the Quit India movement, vilified and abused national leaders such as Gandhiji and Netaji and spied on freedom fighters for the British empire. When most Indians wanted … a unified India, the communists, hand in glove with the Muslim League, successfully worked for the creation of a theocratic Pakistan. … Yechury has proved that his party is the Taliban’s counterpart in India.” – Balbir Punj
When JNU’s bright student and Marxist intellectual Sitaram Yechury took over the leadership of the CPM, even his enemies felt that here was a man for the season in a party that was increasingly becoming irrelevant to Indian politics. But his taking up cudgels against a national movement to project yoga as a worldwide body-mind fitness programme has proved the cliche that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Even worse is his comparing yoga postures to the morning stretching by dogs. Yechury’s opposition to yoga, however, underlines the fact that the Indian Left has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. It’s disconnect with the Indian ethos and interests remains unchanged.
In fact, it is not surprising given the fact that the Indian Left has seldom been on the same page as with rest of India in its over 80-year history. The communists opposed the Quit India movement, vilified and abused national leaders such as Gandhiji and Netaji and spied on freedom fighters for the British empire.
When most Indians wanted the British to leave behind a unified India, the communists, hand in glove with the Muslim League, successfully worked for the creation of a theocratic Pakistan. They waged an armed war against independent India in 1948, sided with aggressor China in 1962 and joined anti-Indian forces in denouncing India after the nation went nuclear under the NDA. So Yechury’s tirade against yoga is of no surprise. Yoga must be opposed and condemned by the CPM because of its Indian origins, irrespective of its global acceptance and proven benefits. It reminds one of the Taliban’s senseless opposition to polio eradication programme in parts of Pakistan because of its western origins. By opposing yoga, Yechury has proved that his party is the Taliban’s counterpart in India.
The Taliban portrays anti-polio campaign in Pakistan as a conspiracy by Western imperialism and the Church, CPM sees yoga as an extension of BJP’s Hindutva agenda! The fact is, both polio eradication programme and yoga are ideology- and religion-neutral and are aimed at the well-being of humanity.
When ambassadors from a host of countries from the US to Japan are found among the yoga enthusiasts participating at the Rajpath show, when across the world in New York, London, Paris or Beijing people are gladly practising yogic postures, where is the question of a Hindutva agenda?
The CPM leader, however, does not stop at accusing the International Yoga Day resolution of the UN endorsed by 190 nations as a partisan agenda of the Modi government. He goes overboard, perceiving in it “a tactic adopted by dictators in the past”.
Surely, the Marxist who found virtue in such dictators as Stalin, Mao, North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, Cambodian butcher Pol Pot, Cuba’s Castro, among other communists, has such a warped mind that he fears seeds of dictatorship in an internationally hailed body-mind health movement and greatness in communist-led wholesale killing of innocents.
From Patanjali to B. K. S. Iyengar, did the communist leader find even a trace of dictatorship in the vast and varied literature and practitioners of yoga? Even stranger is Yechury’s accusation that celebrating an Indian contribution to global civilisation is meant to “divert attention from basic issues confronting people” like malnutrition and hunger. He remembers that some 190 million people in the country are below poverty line.
One may ask this Marxist intellectual whether asking people to read Tagore or listen to Ravi Shankar’s sitar recital is also a diversionary tactic? In fact, building body-mind harmony is by all criteria part of creating a nation that can better resolve the extreme and complex issues of solving the burning problems of people.
Both leadership and the common man need the discipline of body and mind to deal with the humongous problems of poverty. For one who heads a party that ruled West Bengal for 34 years and left the state and people so frustrated that they overthrew his party wholesale from power, such accusations betray his anti-people past and a future of increasing irrelevance that is staring at his party’s poverty of ideas.
The Marxist leader fails to see any virtue in the promotion of yoga. This is in line with the Marxist thinking that seems to say that true thought began only with Marx. And this mindset is close to the marauding Taliban who want the world to accept on pain of being butchered or buried alive—a daily practice in Islamist held parts of West Asia—that their creed alone has monopoly of divine truth.
Nationalism is anathema to the Marxists. Their guru had proclaimed proletarian unity across countries will emerge out of the dialectic process of the intensifying class war. National boundaries and specific national symbols were to dissolve in the emergence of proletarian internationalism. “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing but your chains to lose” was the clarion call of Marx. But 20th century saw Russian and Chinese communism, Stalin and Mao at loggerheads. It saw communist China marching its forces into communist Vietnam and communist Vietnam driving communist leaders of Cambodia into exile.
Marxism died in Russia and the once-communist Putin is now Putin, the Russian nationalist. How communism in North Korea, one of the very few last bastions of Marx’s heaven on earth morphed into a family dictatorship of the worst order challenges Marx’s vision as naïve and untrue.
Yet another Marxian utopia, Cuba, is also changing after subjecting its dissidents into lifelong prison and its people into primitive poverty. As for Red China, free market came to its rescue even as its proletarian dictatorship has meant that even a blind intellectual and dissident had to be locked up in his own house with walls raised high and soldiers keeping constant watch.
What happened to East Germany, where the regime sought to surround the country to prevent its people from escaping the Marxist utopia with a huge concrete and steel wall for decades, is also part of recent history.
The refusal of Marxists like Yechury to take pride in their own nation’s ancient achievements is in line with the West Asian Taliban who physically destroy the monuments of their own past. That leads us to understand why the invading Turks burnt the great library of Alexandria in the mid-15th century and the marauding Ghaznis and Ghoris as well as their later avatars like Aurangzeb could not tolerate the magnificent and the sacred in India.
Such hatred for the past glories of your own country and people lead to Kashmiri extremists driving the Pandits out of the Valley. In the Indian Marxist’s hate speech against the yoga day observance, you see the same bitter intolerance of the Taliban working within the communist bonnet. – The New Indian Express, 27 June 2015
» Balbir Punj is national vice president, BJP. E-mail: email@example.com