Mao’s Impact

· Political
Authors

In the summer of 1967 when I was a lad of 11, I felt the impact of Mao Zedong. A section of Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal led a violent uprising in 1967, trying to develop a “revolutionary opposition”. The insurrection started in 1967 in Naxalbari village when a peasant was attacked by hired hands over a land dispute. Majumdar greatly admired Mao Zedong and advocated that Indian peasants and lower classes must follow in his footsteps and overthrow the government and upper classes. Large number of students left their education to join revolutionary activities. My own elder brother and sister joined the group, inspite of my father being a landed gentry and thus a bourgeois. The impact of this still echoes throughout India in the form of armed insurrection as what is loosely termed as Maoism .

My elder bother was in college when he joined the Naxalbari Movement. He was extremely good in English and became their spokesperson. He was arrested from the front of The American Centre, where they were staging a protest. Later he was again picked up from a nearby village where he was working at the grass root level and was detained. First we got the news that he has died in an `encounter’. My mother was in grief and I accompanied her from one morgue to the other to identify the body.
Then we heard that he has been shifted to a jail outside Calcutta. He would have languished there had it not been for the jailer who recognized the name of my father , as a famous antiquarian and informed the administration. My father received a call thereafter to send someone to sign a bond and release him on condition that he will not return to Calcutta. He was released and to our horror found him in a bad state with one of his arms broken. Very soon he joined a corporate and left for Assam , a neighboring state, never to return to Calcutta. He rose in rank in this company and ultimately went to the United States to join the American paint company. Later he was send to Egypt to start the American Egyptian paint company, which he did successfully. He returned to India after retiring from his job and currently lives as a widower with one daughter in another state. He has utilized all his earnings for the upliftment of the poor in West Bengal , particularly in education.

As for my sister……She was in the last year of her school. She joined the movement and went to a village to teach. Here she met a comrade, a son of a farmer from that village. Both were sympathetic to the cause. They fell in love and married. My sister …urbane, educated from a bourgeois family. He a farmer’s son…… illiterate rustic and poor. After the death of the movement they came to Calcutta to live. They lived in abject poverty as no one would give them jobs. My mother took them under her wings and provided for them….not my father. He was anti-communist. He latter reconciled and tried to help them to settle. They were provided a residence in my mother’s aunt’s house where they live till date. My sister latter got a job ……first in teaching and latter in an office, as the hard feelings toward the Naxalbari movement evaporated and now again she has taken up teaching.They have two children. A son and a daughter. Both are educated in Catholic Schools. They are currently working. I sometimes feel sad for my sister but she has no regret. Very happy in spite of adverse situations and says she `belongs to the peasants’…….quote from Mao.

My father died soon thereafter at the age of 60 from a cerebral attack. He was too shell shocked at the unfolding of events. Incidentally the Naxalbari Movement in Calcutta started near our home at Taltala. My mother died of grief, soon thereafter.

Mao Zedong was the world’s most prominent Chinese communist during the 20th century. Mao’s Red Army overthrew Chiang Kai-Shek in 1949, and the communists seized power of mainland China. Ruthless and ambitious, Mao turned China into a world military power and created a cult of personality. His campaign to export communism made China a threat to the West and led to confrontations in Southeast Asia and Korea. Under Mao’s rule China endured a series of economic disasters and political terrorism, but for more than 25 years Mao was China.

Born in Hunan on Dec. 26, 1893, Mao Zedong did not venture outside his home province until he was 25. Up to then, his formal education was limited to 6 years at a junior normal school where he acquired a meager knowledge but developed a lucid written style and a considerable understanding of social problems, Chinese history, and current affairs.

The son of a peasant, Mao joined the revolutionary army that overthrew the Qing dynasty but, after six months as a soldier, left to acquire more education. At Beijing University he met Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu, founders of the CCP, and in 1921 he committed himself to Marxism.

At that time, Marxist thought held that revolution lay in the hands of urban workers, but in 1925 Mao concluded that in China it was the peasants . He became chairman of the Chinese Soviet Republic and its Red Army withstood repeated attacks from Chiang Kai-shek’s army but at last undertook the Long March to a more secure position in northwestern China.

There Mao became the undisputed head of the CCP. Guerrilla warfare tactics, appealed to the local population’s nationalist sentiments. Mao’s agrarian policies gained the party military advantages against their Nationalist and Japanese enemies and broad support among the peasantry. This agrarian Marxism differed from the Soviet model, but, when the communists succeeded in taking power in China in 1949, the Soviet Union agreed to provide assistance.

However, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and his criticism of “new bourgeois elements” in the Soviet Union and China alienated the Soviet Union irrevocably; Soviet aid was withdrawn in 1960. Mao followed the failed Great Leap Forward with the Cultural Revolution, also considered to have been a disastrous mistake.

Mao died in Sept., 1976. Mao’s embalmed body is displayed in a mausoleum in Tienanmen Square, Beijing .

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