(p.291) Bibliographical Notes with Select Bibliography
(p.291) Bibliographical Notes with Select Bibliography
The literature on communism in India is enormous. So the preparation of a reasonably balanced bibliography puts the author in a real difficulty. The task is made more difficult by the availability of the texts, produced by the parties or the activists, sympathetic to an ideological cause, which are invariably tilted toward a particular, if not partisan, point of view. Given their importance in understanding and also conceptualizing an ideological line of thinking, one can ignore them only at serious academic costs. These texts may not have academic rigor and finesse but are very useful to grasp the inner dynamics of movements that are drawn on the context-driven interpretation of an ideology. The problem is far less complicated with regard to the parliamentary left operating openly in the public domain to pursue social democracy in the name of Marxism–Leninism. At regular party plenums and core committee meetings, not only does the parliamentary left reveal the plan of action and core strategies, they also set in motion different kinds of ideology-driven political movements to create and consolidate their social base. Besides these texts that come out of these kinds of congregations, the parliamentary communists also produce tons of literature during the elections to seek to sway popular support in their favor. These act as important sources if one strives to understand the politico-ideological foundation of the system of governance in case the parliamentary left is elected to power.
It is rather easier to locate and get hold of pertinent textual materials for the parliamentary left; the task is terribly difficult once one strives to understand the left-wing extremism or Maoism in the Indian context for at least two major reasons. First, the effort to understand the phenomenon is marred by the lack of the availability of authentic texts relating to their activities for the fulfillment of the classical Marxist–Leninist ideological goal through the conventional Marxist–Leninist method of violent revolution. In the Internet era, the situation is slightly better because the apparently Web-friendly contemporary Maoists post their points of view to advance a specific ideological course of action favoring the marginalized. These are undoubtedly (p.292) useful texts though their authenticity cannot be verified given the absence of comparable sources of information. Second, a difficulty emanates from the obvious constraints of drawing inputs out of a field survey. The available accounts, based on field visits, are very useful to prepare a general narrative, but they do not seem to be useful for obvious methodological reasons if one has specific questions. Furthermore, the field survey is not at all free from trouble. Not only are the outsiders considered suspects by the local people in the Maoist areas, they are also harassed by the security forces for being allegedly sympathetic to the left extremists. The ethnographic details that come out of field interaction are, on most occasions, likely to be doctored in the prevalent atmosphere of fear and suspicion. A serious methodological constraint also relates to the authenticity of the pamphlets and other printed texts since (i) their sources are mostly anonymous to avoid security risks and (ii) there are instances when both Maoists and the Indian intelligence spread concocted stories to score points against each other, thus putting the reliability of these sources in question.
Keeping in mind the obvious difficulties, the bibliography has three complementary components. First, like any other academic work, Communism in India draws on the derived wisdom through a careful scan of the available published literature. There is a fairly good amount of written texts, both books and articles, in English and other vernacular languages, on the left-wing extremism in India. However, given the space constraint, one has to be selective while preparing a bibliography on such a vast subject. Second, by including a specific section, called Webliography, the bibliography takes into account the party-produced texts that are posted on the Web for specific ideological purposes. Notwithstanding their utility in academic exercise, one has to be careful since these propagandistic texts do not usually project an authenticated line of thought as most of them are generally produced instantaneously to address ideology-driven concerns or challenges. Finally, the third component consists of national and local dailies, both in English and vernacular languages. Despite obvious methodological limitations, newspapers continue to remain critical in ethnographic research. Reflective of the public sentiments, the Fourth Estate cannot be ignored while assessing the parliamentary left and its bête noire, the extremist left-wing Maoist movement in India. There still remain the methodological problems that are likely to be less difficult to handle in view of the availability of contrasting points of view on the same phenomenon that allow an innovative and also independent reading of the materials.
This is not an unusual bibliography, but differently textured, seeking to highlight the probable methodological difficulties that one is likely to confront in ethnographic studies. By classifying the sources of inputs, the above bibliographical notes will surely be a useful aid for future researchers to take care of the difficulties while being engaged in unearthing the complexities of the organically evolved movements for specific ideological claims. There is thus an implicit assumption that a bibliography, as much as the text, is intellectually equally provocative to raise unique context-driven questions with potentials to initiate new debates or theoretical discourses. Despite not being exhaustive, the bibliography is thus not merely a list of relevant texts but also a pathfinder for different kind of creative exercises, based on new concerns and challenges.
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