1st Comrade Naveen Babu Memorial Lecture
The life of Comrade Naveen Babu exemplifies the transformation of a student into a revolutionary. Starting his journey on the revolutionary path from JNU in late 1980s, Naveen embraced the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Within a decade he was working among the oppressed adivasis of Eastern Ghats, and laid down his life for the revolution on 18 February 2000 at Darakonda in Visakhapatnam during a battle with the fascist Andhra Pradesh Police.
Comrade Naveen (Yalavarthi Naveen Babu) was born in a village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh in a middle peasant family. He completed his graduation in Hyderabad and joined M A Sociology in Meerut University in 1984. In 1986 he joined the M Phil programme in Sociology in JNU, and after completing his M Phil dissertation in 1988 he enrolled for the PhD (Naveen’s book From Varna to Jati: Political Economy of Caste in Indian Social Formation based on his M Phil dissertation has been published in 2009). Naveen formed the Student’s forum which stood for the exposure of the revisionist Left’s politics of compromise in JNU. In 1986, the Delhi Radical Students Organisation (DRSO) was formed. Soon Naveen became part of the DRSO in 1988. In 1989, when Delhi became the centre for the ‘upper’ caste anti-Mandal mania, the DRSO-led Student’s Solidarity swam against the tide by struggling for reservations for the OBCs. When there were vacillations amongst many in the revolutionary ranks, Naveen stood like a rock, patiently explaining the necessity for DRSO to support reservations, thereby drawing it closer to the oppressed sections.
In 1990, he represented DRSO in the countrywide students’ body, All India Revolutionary Students’ Federation (AIRSF), taking responsibility for editing its student magazine Kalam. Naveen also played a key role in organising an International Seminar on Nationality Struggles which was held in February 1996 in Delhi. The seminar under the auspices of the All India Peoples’ Revolutionary Forum (AIPRF) played a major role in linking the class struggles with the nationality struggles, giving birth to the Coordination Committee of Struggles of Nationalities and Democratic Movements (CCNDM). This effort of Comrade Naveen remains a strong bridge between the revolutionary and nationality movements of South Asia.
Comrade Naveen’s is a life of an exemplary revolutionary and an inspiration for the radical students’ movement of the country. He stood for the unity of words and deeds, theory and practice. He was an intellectual in the tradition of martyrs Christopher Caudwell and David Guest who laid down their lives in the Spanish Civil War or Chaganti Bhaskar Rao martyred in the forests of Srikakulam. Comrade Naveen laid down his life fighting the brutal Indian state for a new society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression. DSU commemorates the martyrdom of Comrade Naveen through this Memorial Lecture and remembers the students and youth of the country whose martyrdom has held high the red flag of the Indian Revolution.
Jan Myrdal, the Swedish author and columnist is a central figure in the world-wide anti-imperialist movement against the Vietnam War. He has penned more than 80 books, among which are Report from a Chinese Village (1963), Confessions of a Disloyal European (1968), The Silk Road (1980) and India Waits (1986). He has written fiction, plays and books on literature, art and politics. Born to Nobel laureate parents Alva and Gunnar Myrdal, Jan moved beyond the vision of his parents stretching the political boundaries of anti-imperialism to new levels. He travelled the length and breadth of the globe seeing various revolutionary and anti-imperialist movements in several continents closely while interacting with their leadership. He is a prominent supporter of the civil liberties movements in various countries, a trenchant critic of US imperialism and Israeli colonial settlements in the Middle East. He has also made a number of feature films and TV documentaries. Two years ago, at the age of 83, Jan Myrdal travelled in the tribal heartland of Bastar and personally interacted with the tribal people and the leadership of CPI (Maoist). His book Red Star Over India is an account of his trip which deftly combines India’s present with its past. The English version the book is released in the Kolkata Book Fair on 28 February 2012.
In ‘Some Notes on the Working Class and the Imperialist Wars’, which is the title of the 1st Comrade Naveen Babu Memorial Lecture, Jan Myrdal revisits the historic role the European working class has played in fighting against the imperialist ruling classes in their countries in the last century and the lessons learnt from the setbacks. He also analyses the new challenges the working class faces in the present epoch of worldwide crisis in the imperialist economy and the growing tide of revolutionary Communist movements in the oppressed countries such as India.
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