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Some Points concerning

Political Biography of Ranganayakamma

(Originally prepared when an English reviewer (of Ranganayakamma's book AN INTRODUCTION TO MARX'S 'CAPITAL' in 3 volumes) wanted it. Updated in August 2004)


1.     RANGANAYAKAMMA (hereafter RN) was born in 1939, attended high school in a small town, Tadepalligudem, near her village, Bommidi in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh and passed SSLC (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) examination in 1955. She could not continue her studies further as her parents could not financially afford to send her to a far-off college.

2.     Her marriage was a traditionally arranged marriage. Due to contradictions, she left the first marriage after 12 years (1958-1970).

3.     Basically she is a novelist and short story writer. She wrote about 15 novels (some are of 2 or 3 volumes each), 70 stories and many more essays. She published about 60 volumes in all. The main theme is gender-equality and depiction of women's family life.

4.     After she left the first marriage, she and Bapuji (alias  Gandhi) started living together (without a formal/civil marriage ceremony) along with the children of the first marriage. Bapuji was not married before and he is 10 years younger than her.  He was her reader-admirer.

5.     Both of them studied Marxism out of their own interest and initiative. Right from the beginning RN has been insisting that she should read Marx's fundamental work 'Capital' in order to understand Marx's theory. There were no Telugu translations of  'Capital' available at that time.

6.     Between 1973-79, RN and Bapuji were associated with a small Maoist group called UCCR-ML: UNITY CENTRE FOR COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARIES OF INDIA:MARXIST-LENINIST, which subsequently spilt into many tiny groups.  Owing to their concern for Communist Revolution, they joined and worked in a literary and cultural organisation which was started with the initiative of UCCRI (ML). They  remained with that group for about six years: 1973-79

7.     RN edited and published her own (self-supported/sponsored) literary monthly magazine called 'PRAJA SAHITI' (People's Literature) between August 1977-May 1979.

8.     Though she had many differences on several issues, she remained in that ‘Maoist group’ out of her concern for revolution and as she thought a party is a prerequisite for revolution. The group has all defects of a Maoist-variety of Stalinist organisation. Following the Chinese Communist Party uncritically, it condemned Liu Shao-chi and praised Lin Piao upto 1971; began to condemn Lin Piao since 1972; did not criticise Mao's cult and so on. She was very critical of many issues but was not equipped with the knowledge of 'Capital'.

9.     RN and Bapuji started reading it. (The whole process is described on pages 20-21 in volume 1 of the English version of the Introduction). In 1978, when they informed the party leaders about RN's plan to publish the first part (Commodities and Money) of volume 1 of 'Capital' in the form of an Introduction, the party leaders objected to it. They said that a higher committee (say central committee) should assign such a task and things should be done under its direct supervision. RN told them that she would go ahead with her plan and the committee can look into it and make suggestions if any before it goes to the press. The leaders were incapable of reading anything. Except some texts of Mao, Stalin and a couple of texts of Lenin, they never saw even the 'face' of any text of Marx and Engels (They might have seen 'Manifesto'). Finally, without 'caring' or 'considering' the party leadership, RN went ahead and readers received it very well.

10. The most outstanding feature of RN's books (including Telugu introduction to 'Capital') is that she writes in the most lucid manner and even her opponents/adversaries acknowledge this fact. A considerable number of cadres belonging to all kinds of leftist/communist parties (from 'Parliamentary' left to those who speak of 'armed revolution', from pro-Soviet to pro-Chinese) who are interested in knowing things read RN's introduction, though their leaders did not like her critical mind and though they did not review the book in their party journals. See preface to volume 1 for further details of subsequent volumes: 2,3,4 and 5.

11. RN wrote a three-volume (nearly 2000 page) Marxist critique of Valmiki's Ramayana, the most revered text of Hinduism under the title 'Ramayana Vishavruksham", meaning 'Ramayana, the piosonous tree'. These volumes first appeared in 1974, 1975, and  1976 respectively and have been under reprints since then. A long preface to the first volume of this critique (narrating the process of human evolution since the primitive stage to the present and situating the feudal culture as is evident in Ramayana) 'converted' a considerable number of readers into Marxists. This book is now (August 2004) available in English.

12. She wrote a three volume novel "JANAKI VIMUKTI" (English meaning: ‘Emancipation of Janaki’) explaining how Marxism is the correct solution for gender equality.

13. She wrote a couple of critiques of bourgeois feminists under the title FROM INEQUALITY TO INEQUALITY, taking a Telugu translation of ALEXANDRA KOLLONTAI's Russian story (via English) LOVES OF THREE GENERATIONS, published by Hyderabad Feminist Circle, who are opposed to Marxism. Based on the theoretical formulations of Louis Morgan, Fredrick Engels and Lenin, RN argued that bourgeios feminism takes women from one form of inequality to another form of inequality.

14. Her long essay on Ambedkar (who is well known as the ‘saviour’ of the  untouchable/depressed/ "Dalit" castes in India) has come out in the book form in November 2000 and subsequently underwent two more editions within a month. (In December 2003, fourth edition came out). This was initially serialized for 49 instalments in a Telugu weekly magazine called 'Andhra Jyothy'. The English version of this book came out in August 2001, under the title “For the Solution of the ‘Caste’ question, Buddha is not enough, Ambedkar is not enough either, Marx is a Must!”

15. RN also wrote a long critique in Telugu on the individual cult of Mao under the title Cult of Individual: Is it Necessary for Revolution? She wrote this when three persons (her eldest son Uday, Bapuji and herself) translated CHARLES BETTELHEIM'S 'CHINA SINCE MAO' (Monthly Review Press, 1978) into Telugu in 1983. RN had added about 130 footnotes to this translation so as to enable the non-specialist readers understand things without any difficulty. (Now, the second print of the book came out in March 2003. The second edition included about a 50-page data on happenings in China between 1983-2002). They had also translated Bettelheim's ‘Cultural Revolution and Industrial Organisation in China’ and RN added a 200-page information and analysis of Cultural Revolution to this translation.

16. With the help of Dr.M.Srihari Rao (who provided funds for the book ‘An  Introduction to Marx’s ‘Capital’ in three volumes), RN undertook the publication of Bettelheim's CLASS STRUGGLES IN THE USSR: THIRD PERIOD (in two volumes) in 1994 and 1995. RN agrees with the essentials of Bettelheim's analysis of Soviet Union and China.

17. Since 1980, RN did not affiliate or belong to any Communist Party or Group. While acknowledging the utmost importance of a Communist Party for the cause of revolution, she is critical of all the communist groups in India more particularly in the state of AP where she knows many groups. They promote only "Party Capitalism" (to use Bettelheim's expression in another context) or State Capitalism. They are highly bureaucratised, ignorant of fundamentals of Marxism and do not want to make self-criticism. Of course, there are some cadres in most of the Maoist groups who face repression from the state and the exploiting classes but their sacrifices are not fruitful in the context of the politics of their leadership. There are considerable numbers of cadres belonging to different groups who read RN's books and say that they learnt things from her books without any difficulty. (Many readers write letters to RN asking for clarification on several issues. It is interesting to note that Ranganayakamma's answers to the questions of the readers have been published in two volumes: one in 1978 and another in 1989. Originally published serially in weekly magazines, they came out in the form of books and underwent reprints and readers keep writing to her to seek her advise or clarification on certain social issues).

18. Her motive in writing this Introduction to Marx’s ‘Capital’ is that unless majority (in fact all) workers of the world understand it, they cannot make revolution; even if they overthrow the bourgeois state by some means, they won't be able to march forward to establish a new society qualitatively different from the bourgeois society. (They won't even understand what 'interest' is, what 'rent' is and what 'profit' is!) Hence working class organisations should propagate Marx's 'Capital'.

19. This introduction… has never been used for 'educational purposes' in an official sense. But, some readers in some parts of this state read it and conducted some 'study classes' on it among factory workers and students for some time in the past. There are considerable number of readers who still read the Telugu version of this book individually and in small groups.



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