Marxists have always sided with those promoting discriminatory ideologies when in power.
Even though Karl Marx had Jewish ancestry, his family converted to Lutheranism. Marx's writings later featured anti-Semitic themes then prevalent in Christendom.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or the Soviet Union, under Joseph Stalin was known for its anti-Semitism. In China, the Maoist State is essentially a Han state.
Unlike right-wing bigotry against ethnic groups, which is outwardly visible and hence explicitly dangerous and obscene, Marxist bigotry is wrapped in layers of intellectual coating and often localised and contextual.
In India, Marxists embrace the hate rhetoric of anti-Brahminism.
The Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association (TNPWAA) is the cultural and literary wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M) in short. Its current head is Madukkur Ramalingam.
Ramalingam is an orator. In a meeting after the Chandrayaan-3 Moon landing, he gave a talk where he sought to differentiate between being a scientist and having (scientific) knowledge.
To make his point, he contrasted the approach of the Nobel physics laureate Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1888-1970) and the film lyric writer and communist sympathiser Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram (1930-1959).
Ramalingam said that when C V Raman was asked about the Moon landing accomplished by the United States (US), he said it was wrong.
Raman, according to Ramalingam, said that because the Moon was on the head of (Shiva) Peruman, a Moon landing was not the right thing to do.
On the contrary, Ramalingam continued, when the assistant editor of the Communist party organ Jana Sakthi asked Kalyanasundaram for a poem about the Soviet-made unmanned craft reaching the Moon, the writer penned a poem which said the Moon had been conquered by human efforts.
Ramalingam concluded by saying "C V Raman knows science, but Pattukottai poet knows rationalism."
These are ridiculous and fictitious claims.
When one compares the date of composition or publication of the poem about the Soviet unmanned craft landing on the Moon, the dates do not match. The poet most probably lauded Soviet space research for the launch of Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite.
Yet the lines that human efforts would conquer the Moon proved techno-prophetic. However, that's not hard to imagine. French author Jules Verne had said it long ago. The real lie is about Raman.
Raman was unenthusiastic about the space competition in which the two superpowers of the time, the US and USSR, were engaged.
In his convocation address to the students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, in 1966, Raman made the famous remark that it was 'sheer raving lunacy' to spend millions of dollars on a space walk.
Raman considered space activity of that time 'thinly veiled militarism' between the two superpowers. His criticism was a valid one, worthy of further reflection.
The Cold-War space race between the US and USSR had a strong political propaganda dimension to it. Nations investing millions of dollars (at that time) in a competitive spirit, following the example of the two superpowers, would have led to mere techno-aping and, worse, starving of other scientific research programmes.
That the space race was used for power and show rather than for genuine scientific purposes was also felt by the chief architect of the Indian space programme — Vikram Sarabhai.
In 1968, talking about India's space programme at the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station, Sarabhai said India did not share "the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the explorations of the Moon or the planets or manned space flight."
Rather, India's space programme would use from space research "the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society, which we find in our country," and that it should not be confused with "grandiose schemes, whose primary impact is for show rather than progress measured in hard economic and social terms."
Evidently, Raman and Sarabhai presented similar critiques of the space race between the superpowers and Raman's critique was free from any religious bias.
What type of a person was C V Raman? Was he an orthodox traditionalist?
Writer Chandan Gowda has documented in his recent book Another India an incident narrated to him by Dalit leader and Kannada poet Siddalingaiah.
It was about Gopalaswamy Iyer, who was determined to eradicate caste discrimination against the students of the scheduled communities in the then-princely state of Mysuru.
Iyer ran a hostel for boys from the Scheduled Caste (SC) in Bangalore (now Bengaluru). One day, the building owner asked Iyer to find another place for the hostel.
When the owner of the hostel building asked Gopalaswamy Iyer to shift his hostel elsewhere, the latter conveyed the desperate need for finding an alternate building to Sir CV Raman, the Nobel-prize winning physicist. The physicist immediately offered his bungalow in the city to be used as the hostel until another building was found.Gowda, Chandan. Another India: Events, Memories, People (Kindle, page 248). 2023.
This was the humanism of Raman.
Although he, too, was human and had his faults. For instance, some have alleged that he was highly patriarchal. Maybe. But mixing religious sentiment with the spirit of science was not one of his faults.
Then, why did Ramalingam, the TNPWAA state president, propagate such a falsehood?
The answer can be found in the animosity that the political left has been harbouring against Brahmins in Tamil Nadu.
It was, after all, under Ramalingam's presidentship that TNPWAA organised the now-notorious 'anti-Sanatana' conference.
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