Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inaugural Address by Harkishan Singh Surjeet at the EMS Academy

March 19, 2001

At the outset, I would like to recall with pride that the EMS Academy has come a long way since I laid its foundation stone. This memorial built in honour of one of the most outstanding exponent of Marxism of our times is a fitting tribute to his memory.

On this occasion, I also recall the overwhelming response to the call for funds for the setting of this institution. It testifies to the reverence with which EMS was held by Malayalees cutting across party lines.

The contributions made by EMS are not limited to his writings. EMS has dealt with wide-ranging subjects like politics, philosophy, history, economics, sociology, literature, culture and education with reference to Kerala.

He was a political leader who had complete command over the written and spoken word. His political career commenced with the fight against social evils within his own community. This was to seem him advance towards the struggle for independence and later on find himself in the communist movement. He not only put new scientific ideas in a popular way but also actively participated in the struggles. The inedible mark that he made as the first Communist Chief Minister of any state in the Indian Union earned him respectability amongst all democratic minded people of the country.

It would not be an exaggeration to state that no other person in Kerala has contributed so intensely in bringing about profound changes in the life of the people of the state in the last century. All through his life he communicated with the people, especially of Kerala, through his various columns and articles in various periodicals and books.

Comrade EMS Namboodiripad was the founder General Secretary of the Congress Socialist Party. He was one of the founders of the All India Kisan Sabha. Gradually he gravitated towards the then illegal Communist Party of India.

After the third Congress of the Communist Party of India, he started working at the all India Centre of the Party. He became the editor of the central organ of the Party, and officiated as the General Secretary when the General Secretary was away.

As General Secretary of the CPI(M), a responsibility he came to acquire later, he left an inedible imprint both inside the party and outside. Even after he had to leave the Centre, owing to ill health and relinquished the responsibility of General Secretary, he made immense contribution to the movement. His commitment was so unwavering that even when he breathed his last he was writing for the Kerala Party’s daily, Deshabhimani.

He fought against alien tendencies and put forward the Marxist standpoint to various problems facing Kerala and the country. His in-depth study of Kerala society, its past and present saw him presenting new insights and in his books on the subject.
Ever since my association with him began in 1953, I have seen him always deeply immersed in work. He was either reading or writing. When at work, he remained detached from everything else and concentrated singularly on it. He was a voracious reader whose thirst for knowledge remained insatiate. He would devour any book that came his way at the first opportunity.

Even while building a Party He with a mass following and increased membership he always emphasised that becoming a member of the Party and accepting its programme does not mean that one had become a communist. To become a real communist, Com. EMS stressed that one needs to comprehend the basics of Marxism-Leninism. Com. EMS always pointed out that there is no alternative to study. Study and deeper study alone, he said gives one the capacity and sagacity to comprehend and face difficult and adverse circumstances. That is why when faced with an hostile situation in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the setbacks to socialism, when many a communist party and its members abandoned their goal, Com. EMS and the CPI(M) stood steadfast rededicating itself to building socialism. The CPI(M) rightly concluded that the setbacks and reverses were not because of the flaw in theory but were entirely due to its erroneous application. Each country has to adopt its own style and form depending on the correlation of forces, the development of productive forces etc. It has to be concretely applied to the concrete conditions prevailing in each country.

The communists in India have made tremendous sacrifices both during the course of the freedom struggle and after. However, at the same time we should not hesitate in admitting our failure in to assume the leadership of the national movement as in the case of China and some other Asian countries. The failure lies in our application of the Marxist understanding to the then prevailing Indian situation. In independent India, hundreds of our cadres have sacrificed their lives in the struggle to build a better future, to defend and advance the rights of the workers and peasants, to defend the unity and integrity of the country etc.

Comrade EMS Namboodiripad was a leader par excellence, who combined his deep theoretical understanding with practical work -- coming up with newer solutions and venturing to take risks; he deeply felt for the poor and the underprivileged and they in turn identified with him; he was a colleague who respected the views of others; he was like a saint to many and always lent an ear to anyone who approached him. These qualities of Comrade EMS made him stand apart from the vast spectrum of political leadership in the country. It is comrades like P. Krishna Pillai, A.K. Gopalan and EMS Namboodiripad who laid the strong foundations for the Communist movement in Kerala and the country as a whole. For generations of Communists and patriots, Comrade EMS was more than an inspiration. His life and work remains as a guide for future generations. Simple living, dedication to the cause he cherished, spirit of self-sacrifice, theory and practice -- all these are qualities that the generation of today has to learn from him.

The EMS Academy is a tribute to his life long commitment to the cause of the revolution. The curriculum at the academy, I am sure, reflects the wide spectrum of intellectual pursuits of Com. EMS. The courses that would be conducted, the proposed cultural centre and museum apart from the library and other research facilities, I am sure will attract research students and scholars in large numbers. EMS had always emphasised and encouraged study and came up with newer understanding and solutions to problems. This Academy, I am sure will encourage this tendency.

Thank you.

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