Fourth World Programme by M.P. Parameswaran

Fourth World Programme by M.P. Parameswaran


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



It is about 15 years since India capitulated to the world’s imperialist powers. The people have experienced its impact.

Our products are devalued. Lockouts, layoffs, loss of employment, insecurity, bankruptcy, suicides . . . these are

our daily experience. And we are more than 80% of the society. We are against this neo-liberal globalization. The

various groups which participated in the WSF in Mumbai opposing globalization belonged to the poor and middle classes.



Another World Is Possible—Thoughts about a Fourth World

By M.P. Parameswaran



A Programme for Action

A new world is not the result of one single creative act—call it revolution, call it change. It is an evolutionary product, a product of hundreds of thousands of small and big, local and wide spread struggles, a product of meso and macro creations, a product of making and breaking of mutual faiths and alliances. In an overall sense, yes it is a qualitative change in the economic system, political system and in ethics and culture. This change cannot be brought about by ‘annihilating a few class enemies’. The class enemy is not a person or a few persons alone.

It is also present in ourselves in the form of alien class consciousness and desires. In what form the final collapse of neo-liberalism will take place in any country, it is difficult to forsee now. All that can be said now is that an extended period of incremental changes, or small, small revolutionary struggles will have to precede any major qualitative change in the socio-economic system. The subject matter of this small final chapter is an  exploration into the form and extent of these small transitionary struggles. Broadly, we can classify them into two categories: direct struggles and indirect struggles.

Direct Struggle 

This could be direct armed resistance as it took place in China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc., and is taking place in Colombia and elsewhere. But it could also be an open economic war. As far as India is concerned, the enemies are the Indian ruling classes, together with the imperialist countries, led by the US. A direct military confrontation with them at this junction is out of question. Even the capture of the Indian State through an armed struggle cannot be thought of, not only because it is unrealistic but also because the resulting India may not be much better than the present one.

The great manthra of globalization is “Free Market.” That is the great battle-ground. The enemy is strongly entrenched there. We have to face it there itself. They have forced all countries in the world to open their markets and obtained the right to sell anything,  anywhere, anytime at any price. Normally, national governments can control them through duties or taxes, quantitative restrictions etc. Contemporary national governments, including the Indian government , are not interested in imposing such restrictions. But we, the people, can impose restrictions.

The imperialists have compelled the national governments to yield them the right to sell. But no national government or any body else can compel us to buy. Our right not to buy their goods remains sovereign, provided we can obtain other goods which satisfy our wants. The moment we feel or decide that we cannot live without colas, mineral waters, packed foods, durable consumption goods, etc., marketed by them, we lose this sovereignty. If we can assure our own food to abate our hunger, good potable water, soft drinks like coconut water, butter milk, sherbot, etc., to quench our thirst, enough cloth to cover us, a decent space to live in—and all these we can—we keep our sovereignty. We use this as our weapon to fight them. We decide that the money in our pocket will not go into their hands.

There might be instances when we might be forced to do so, for example life-saving drugs, component parts of many equipments daily used by us, instruments for research, certain types of machinery for manufacture . . . these we accept. But we can reject a much larger number of items—all toiletries, all soft drinks, coffee and tea, packaged foods, including drinks, cloths, bulk of the medicines, construction materials . . .

This list is quite long. The entire class of consumer products and substantial chunk of productive equipment, currently imported can be totally boycotted. A back of the envelop type of calculation shows that the amounts involved are enormous. The consumption of transnational consumer products by an average middle class/rich family could be anywhere between Rs 200 to Rs 1000 per month. Assuming a figure of Rs 400 and assuming 100 million families (out of 200 million) the monthly loss of turnover for them could be Rs 4000 crore. This is not a small amount. Assuming 60% of this as integrated labour component, this means 10 million ‘jobs’ providing Rs 2400 per month. 

It is about 15 years since India capitulated to the world’s imperialist powers. The people have experienced its impact. Our products are devalued. Lockouts, layoffs, loss of employment, insecurity, bankruptcy, suicides . . . these are our daily experience. And we are more than 80% of the society. We are against this neo-liberal globalization. The various groups which participated in the WSF in Mumbai opposing globalization belonged to the poor and middle classes. They represented organizations and movements, of women, organized and unorganized workers, service personnel, peasants, agriculture labour, youth, women, etc., whose total organizational membership may exceed 100 million—about 20 million families. If they decide to boycott products of transnational like Hindustan Liver, Nestle, Cadbury, etc., and go for equally good Indian products, the impact will be beyond description.

This is direct engagement with the enemy on its own battleground, the market. We find no reason to believe that this will go against the interest of the poor, will cool down revolutionary vigour or anything of that sort. Only armchair revolutionaries, who don’t want any revolution in the near future, can oppose it.

The impact of such a massive boycott can be really painful to the enemy. It may be painful also to a minority which are enjoying five- star global comforts today. They will oppose us. That is understandable. It is instructing to note that boycott of colas as a symbol of boycott against neo-liberal globalization, is becoming increasingly popular in Europe too.

There are hundreds and hundreds of products that could be boycotted. The problems to be faced are:  

a) Paucity of good quality alternatives.

b) Weakness of marketing mechanism for alternative products.

c) Entrenched consumerism brought about by the media.

How do we overcome these problems?

We have to and we can improve the quality of local products considerably. Those scientists and technologists working in the society (government)—supported R and D institutions in the country, who have some commitment towards the people, can help in this. Many can make this as their official work. Others can help voluntarily. Continuous quality upgradation of local consumer products is one important element in this battle against globalization.

The second element is marketing. For this, two strategies can be envisaged. One is to bring the producer and the consumer as close as possible. What may be generally called localization of production. This localization would depend on many factors: technology, presently feasible scales of production, consumption intensity, raw material availability etc. etc. Certain thumb rules can be used. As far as food items are concerned, ‘local’ could mean very small communities. As far as computer assembly is concerned, the area could be as large as a district or State. As far as computer components are concerned it could be the entire nation or even global. As demand intensity increases and small-scale technology improves, the local becomes smaller and smaller in area. The haulage—wastage-index comes down and social control becomes stronger.

The strength of the trans-nationals, mainly, is their marketing ability. The producer should establish contact with the consumer. This is the essence of marketing. They do this through media, through wholesale/retail shops, commissions etc. By far, the strongest element in all these is the communication with the consumer, prompting him to take a decision to buy. We too shall do this. Our mode of communication is not the media but face-to-face communication. Also intensive citizen education. A proposal that is being worked out in Kerala has the following components:

?? In selected panchayats, form all-women marketing federations. The members of this federation shall all work, basically in door- to- door distribution. For every 200 households, there will be one member in this federation.

?? These members will be formally introduced to the relevant families by respected citizens of the panchayat. They will wear approved uniforms, badges and caps while they visit households.

?? An assurance committee of ‘elders’ will be formed in each of these panchayats. They will take the responsibility of replacing defective goods and other losses caused to consumers.

?? The ‘sales person’ dedicated to a set of households will collect their orders, for monthly or weekly delivery and deliver the goods on the appointed day and time.

?? The customer can pay an advance or pay on delivery if they wish so. Those who pay in advance will be paid interest.

?? To begin with, the Marketing Federation will estimate locally available products, products that could be later manufactured locally, products from the same block or district, products from other parts of the State or country. Bulk purchase some of them, clean them and repack them. To begin with, they may have 30 to 40 items for sale—some choice in toiletries, tea, etc.

?? Part of the monthly profit will be set apart for possible guarantee payments, part for benefits likes ESI, provident fund, leave salary, maternity leave, etc. The balance will be paid in cash as monthly salary not as daily wage.

?? The entire programme in the pilot panchayats will be serviced by a professional marketing organization specially set up for this, with experienced professionals. Initially, the expenses of this organization will be met from some project support. Later, the panchayat which it is serving should be able to sustain it.

?? Massive local campaigns exhorting the people to support this programme for self-reliance and against globalization, will be carried out using various means of communication. Through such activities, every village will become a battlefront. The multinationals can hardly face us except through buying off some of us.

The second form of direct struggle against neo-liberalism is what is called people- to people trade, fair trade, etc. This is, in fact, an extension of internal trade to international trade. Essentially it means keeping the trans-nationals and liberalizers out of the production and trade lines. Many groups are already involved in this. It can be strengthened.

Thirdly, a campaign to impose penal taxes on the high-end consumers who earn a disproportionately large income and so are inclined to spend it in conspicuous consumption. A 50 per cent surcharge on all bill items of five- star hotels, a steep hike in the sales tax on private cars, a high surcharge on other high-price single items, a surcharge on star type of schools and hospitals, etc., can be thought of. In the long run the income disparity between the poor and the rich should be brought down. Continuous campaigns for this can be held.

Ultimately the national governments have to be responsible and responsive. People should have control over them. First, the people should become capable of intervening and controlling the grama sabha and the panchayat. At the national level, to assert the sovereignty of the people, political struggles of a new type will have to emerge. There will have to be a new class realignment, the genuine stake holders—the workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie have to re-form their political platform. Instead of fighting each other, rallying under caste, religion, loyalty to leadership, etc., they should form a united platform or party of their own. Politics should reflect class interests more genuinely.

Besides direct political struggles, different social groups like, say teaches, researchers, government servants, doctors etc. can organize their own indirect struggles.Some examples are given below.

Indirect Battle

Administration: Those who are employed in State institutions from panchayat to national government can use their own office files as a weapon to fight the class enemies. Each issue, each file, will have a class content in it. According to current administrative practice, the ‘notings’ start from LDC/UDC (Lower Division/Upper Division Clerk) and then travel hierarchically upwards. What the LDC/UDC writes on the file has great power. There are files which conceals great frauds on the people, big vested interests follow them, up to the secretary and to the minister. The illegal/anti- people elements in the transaction can be noted down by the LDC/UDC on the file. It will make matters more difficult for the enemies of the people. Similarly, they can expedite the decisions in favour of the deserving ordinary citizens. A government servant can be citizen- friendly, opposed to corrupt contractors and even corrupt politicians. This is the meaning of a united front of all the exploited.

Teachers: Today’s teachers groom tomorrow’s citizens, tomorrows world. The leaders of the freedom struggle were mostly all groomed by their teachers. All the ills of the present society, all the threats faced by human species, can be incorporated into the informal curriculum. Secular, democratic and egalitarian values can be best imparted by teachers. They can transact lessons critically in the classroom,. so that even the worst communal text books can be turned against their authors.

They can educate the children about antipeople policies of the government, who loses and who benefits from a particular developmental project, how skewed cost benefit analyzes can become. There is no dearth of opportunities to them. The political struggle of teachers has to be expressed in their classroom transactions. Trade union struggles are economic struggles. Teachers of institutions owned by the government or aided by the government can attract back all the children from commercial, so- called recognized or self- financing, schools.

Doctors: They can make primary health centres effective and efficient, shall refrain from playing games with representatives of multinational companies, shall stop prescribing unnecessary drugs, can become proactive in peoples’ health care.  

Research workers in R and D establishments can consciously occupy themselves in the problems of benefit to poor masses and not to the rich minority. They can argue and fight with their superiors if they are not allowed. Solar energy, wealth from waste, total recyclability…. There is no dearth to exciting problems. Engaging herself or himself in such topics of research is their form of political struggle.

The point to be emphasized here is that it is necessary to improvise more and more new forms and weapons of struggle. The old forms have been mastered by our enemies long ago and are becoming increasingly ineffective.


A Tsunami of Criticisms

During the period from mid- 2003 to 2004-end , the term ‘Fourth World’ attracted much more media coverage than any other single issue. The total number of references will run into a couple of thousand. There are plain abuses and seemingly academic critiques from the so-called militant Left, media references to them, media’s own conjectures and occasional rejoinders. The abuses generally take the following tone:

The author of the Fourth World is a revisionist, is an imperialist agent, has received crores [a unit in the Indian number system equal to ten million] of rupees from the CIA and betrayed the revolution, has penetrated the CPI(M) to subvert it ( he was not even a branch secretary, but only an ordinary member) has conspired with leaders like Dr. Thomas Isaac to destabilize the Party and so on. The people of Kerala know the author for the past three-four decades; such abuses will not cut ice with them.

 However, criticisms of friends like Comrade P.Govinda Pillai, Dr. Thomas Isaac, etc. upset the public. Their chief criticism is that Fourth World is not a Marxian concept, that it is utopian and hence to be rejected, etc. Even they have not offered any substantive criticism of the economics, politics and culture of the future society as indicated in the book. Given below are the main points raised by them and the author’s rejoinder.

1. There is no Marxian philosophy in the Fourth World concept. The analysis is un-Marxian.

Marxism is not something which some ‘high priests’ declare it to be. Marx has been subjected to interpretation and enrichment. There have been ‘official’ interpretations like that of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc. There have been heretic interpretations like that of Rosa Luxumburg, Trotsky, Gramsci, etc. Mine may be counted as one more heretic interpretation. Marxism is a science and not a religion as the high priests make it to be. I maintain that the relationship between means and ends, as well as that between productive forces and productive relationships are dialectical. Dictatorship, even if it is of the proletariat, cannot lead to democracy. There is no democracy without participation. Very little participation is possible in giant enterprises, whether in economics or in politics.

There is the following oft- quoted sentence in Marx’s preface to ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” The social existence is defined by the mode of production consisting of both forces of production and relationships in production. There is a tendency to equate social existence to production relations and to disregard the role of productive forces. Productive forces are supposed to be autonomous, as if they grow almost on their own, either facilitated or obstructed by production relations. Their growth is considered linear and quantitative.

The transformation from quantitative to qualitative is supposed to be confined to production relations. The official interpreters of Marx do not recognise any qualitative change in productive forces.

The linear growth of productive forces leads to larger and larger enterprises with less and less control by the workers, leading ultimately to the formation of a new class—the managerial class who soon graduates into the “owning class”, as it happened in the erstwhile USSR and other socialist countries. Increasing levels of control by the workers demand ‘production by the masses instead of mass production’ or, in the words of Marx, “network of associated producers,” instead of giant State-owned enterprises. This demands small-scale, yet efficient, production for consumption—strengthening of local economies. It demands technologies which make small powerful, not merely beautiful.

It demands cent per cent recycling of resources and also transition to Sun as the only source of energy in the long run.

These demand conscious intervention in the development of productive forces, both in its contents and in its direction. To argue that the growth of productive forces is totally controlled by the present capitalistic relations of production is to deny its revolutionary potential. This is what the critics are doing. This is not a Marxian approach. Further, the critics make consciousness a mechanical byproduct of social existence and equates it to their own consciousness. They refuse to recognise that the social existence of humans have engendered not one official consciousness but several heretic consciousnesses –environmental, gender, marginalised, etc. They are transforming Marxism into ‘fatalism’ by denying the influence of ‘being’ on existence.

2. The Fourth World Theory rejects class struggles, promotes class collaboration. 

Nothing can be farther from truth than this statement. Here my detractors show least respect to facts. True, I have questioned their narrow concepts of class and class struggle. For them, the proletariat, in the phrase ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, means only those organised workers in modern industries rallied under the CITU and the CPI(M). Peasants, agricultural workers, workers in unorganised traditional industries, teachers, clerks, and those rallying under other parties—none of them belong to the working class. Bringing all of them together is branded as “class collaboration.” The relevant sentence in the book is this: “Instead of fighting each other rallying under caste, religion, loyalty to leadership, etc., based on parties and movements, they should form a united platform or party of their own. Politics should reflect class interests more genuinely.”

The concept of class struggle requires enrichment. Presently it is limited to protest rallies, bandhs, hartals and strikes. In a class conflict, the class enemy has to suffer and not the ally. Today, often the allies or the initiators of the fight themselves are getting hurt and not the enemy. Additional forms of struggle are indicated, such as boycott, strengthening local economy, using class rooms, offices, etc., as arenas of class struggle. All these are dismissed as revisionism, utopianism, etc. For them, the job security of the workers in Cola factories and other factories owned by transnationals and Indian big capital is more important and so boycotting their products is an anti-working class activity! I do not agree with this.

3. According to the CPI(M),China is a socialist country. I question this Party position.

I plead guilty. I do not consider China to be a socialist country. Neither do they claim it to be. Further, I do not believe that China is moving towards socialism. The opposite is the truth. I do not question their subjective intentions. But I do not accept that the ‘concept capitalism in economy and socialism in politics’ is Marxism.

Objectively, they are driving towards capitalism. I agree with the analysis of Paul Burkett and Martin Hard Landsberg (‘China and Socialism’—Analytical Monthly Review July-August 2004) that market socialism is an unstable formation whose internal logic tends to marginalize socialism in favour of the market and full restoration of capitalism, that by measuring progress in terms of mainstream criteria of success, leftists tend to discount the importance of various social ramifications of Chinese policy. The growing unemployment, inequality and insecurity, the cutbacks in communal health care and education, the worsening oppression of women, the marginalization of agriculture,  and the multiplication of environmental crises, all of these have come to be treated as inessential side effects rather than essential preconditions and inevitable outcome of Chinas capitalist development. I plead guilty of agreeing with this analysis and of differing from the Party’s understanding.

4.I  promote de-politicisation of the society.

Equally far from truth. Today politics is reserved for politicians—leaders of political parties. Ordinary citizens and even the rank and file of the Party are supposed to vote, to contribute to fund collection, to swell the rallies in numbers and to ask no questions. I do not agree with this subconscious understanding. I consider the grama sabha (village gathering) as the battle ground for the people, I consider neighbourhood groups as ideal schools for the political education of the citizens. Politics is too important to be left alone with career politicians.

5. There is no such thing as Fourth World in the CPI(M) Programme. Its economy and politics are against Party programme. It is not people’s democracy. The economic agenda of people’s democracy is “rapid economic growth.” Fourth World envisages something totally different.

True, I agree that, there is no reference to Fourth World in the Programme. It is only quite natural. It is, also different from People’s Democracy – if the latter is defined as ‘rapid economic growth’ as its predominant major objective. But it is not against the spirit of the Programme which envisages an intermediary stage between capitalism and socialism. Fourth World is suggested as the generic name for such an intermediary postcapitalistic, pre-socialist society.  

The Fourth world gives more importance to equity and sustainability than to ‘rapid growth.’ But, the Party programme too speaks about equity and sustainability. When this comes into conflict with ‘rapid growth,’ what position will be taken? Dr Thomas Isaac asserts that ‘rapid growth’ is the goal. I differ. Reducing inequity is the goal even if it leads to reduction in the growth rate.

6. The concept of ‘welfare value’ is alien to Marxism. It has only use value and exchange value.

True, there is no such term as ‘welfare value’ in Marxist or even in capitalist literature. But one can derive such a concept from his writings. I plead, again, guilty of introducing such a term. There is, however, nothing anti-Marxian and anti-people in it.

Of the millions of separate and distinct consumer products and services, there are only a few which add to the welfare of human beings. A much larger number like war equipment, narcotics, etc., are positively harmful. By far, the majority belong to the category which are wasteful, which add nothing to welfare, but for the production of which humans spend a lot of time thereby reducing leisure and increasing alienated work.

The people of the US can achieve even a higher quality of life if they reduce the production of such goods. They can reduce their working time to less than half of the present. This concept needs a more rigorous development, but it deserves such an effort.

7. The concept of participation is a subjective one.

If the type of neighbourhood democracy as indicated in the book (somewhat similar to what is adopted in Cuba) is highly objectionable because it will pass on the initiative from a few self-appointed Party leaders to the people at large, there is every reason to fear objective participation.

Source: Geocities

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Dr. M. P. Parameswaran, author of Empowering People: Insights from a Local Experiment in Participatory Planning, received a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the College of Engineering, Kerala, India in 1956, and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the Moscow Power Institute in 1965. He was a scientist with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, from 1957 to 1975. Since 1975 he has been a full-time activist with the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP). Dr. Parameswaran also currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) and as the Chair of the Total Health and Sanitation Mission, Kerala.

The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (which literally means the Science Writers’ Forum of Kerala) has earned wide acclaim for activities related to generating environmental consciousness, literacy campaigns, and decentralized, micro-level planning. The KSSP is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (dubbed the alternate Nobel Prize) in 1996, the UNESCO Literacy Award (King Sejong Prize) in 1990, the UNEP’s Global 500, and the Vriksha Mitra award.—IndiaTogether

M. P. Parameswaran is an Indian nuclear engineer and eminent science contributor. He is an atomic scientist and educationist of India. He played an important role in Indian Nuclear program. He was born on January 18, 1935 in Kerala. In 1956, he received Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the College of Engineering, Kerala. He then joined Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay in 1956 as a scientist and continued there up to 1975. From 1969 to 1973 he also worked as the assistant director of the State Institute of Languages in Kerala, on a deputation from BARC. He got PhD in Nuclear Engineering from Moscow Power Engineering Institute in 1965. . . .

MP is also a prolific writer. He has written 29 popular science books in Malayalam and two in English. His books give a panoramic view of science. Radioactivity, atomic science, Astronomy, Mathematics, political science, social science, ecology


these are some of the varied subjects he has dealt with in his books. A vision of “A New World


A New India” guides his thoughts and actions. He was the recipient of two national awards, one for science popularisation and another for literacy. Articles written by him in various periodicals run to more than 300. He has received Government of India awards for Books for Neoliterates (1962) and Basic and Cultural Literature (1964). He also received an Award for Children’s Literature in 1982.

He was also an active member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) for 33 years, before being expelled for writing an ideological book ‘Fourth World’ which envisions a world based on decentralised democracy and an economic production that is detached from consumerism, but the party views it as a rejection of Marxist principles. In 2007, he also acted in a Malayalam movie named ‘AKG’ about the Communist leader A K Gopalan in which M. P. Parameswaran donned the role of Kerala’s first Chief Minister E M Sankaran Namboodiripad (EMS).



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Social ideas of an n-scientist

While suggesting alternatives to globalisation, he said direct action, both defensive and offensive, was required and we have to clearly declare it a war-like situation. “Let us declare a people’s war against sell-out policies, against fundamentalism, against cultural degradation, against consumerism and against mafias of all form. This is a war to save the human species from self-destruction, to free human beings from animal limitations, to realise the true human potential,” says Dr. Parameswaran, the spirit behind the formation of the All India People’s Science Network

Dr. Parameswaran, who has blended Gandhism with Marxism and his own type of Socialism, has devised new forms of offensive defence against the aggression by the so called corporate world, which he calls “corporate mafia”. He suggests an extensive and intensive boycott of goods produced by the trans-national corporations. He preferred developing smaller technologies for producing quality goods for all and organising a mega network of consumers and cooperative societies involving millions of households.

He suggested that a massive citizen education programme of more than one year’s duration be envisaged to educate all about the ill-effects of forced globalisation and the benefits of local self-reliance. A cultural offensive to be used against cultural imperialism by organising scientists, artists and writers. The natural resources available in various States, he said, should belong to the people and shall not be allowed to be sold over to private profiteers. Luxury, conspicuous and extravagant consumption should be considered as unethical and anti-social. It is immoral to have a star or stylish living in a country with so much of poverty, ill health and illiteracy, he said.

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A Fourth World outlook

To know the world does not mean knowing only the word. One has to learn from interactions with the world. The literacy campaign was initiated in 1989. At a discussion in Delhi, where the UNESCO director general and many important people from the Government of India were present, it was argued that it is not possible to mount a campaign for literacy in India. This is because, elsewhere where there was such a campaign—Cuba, China , Tanzania, Burma or Russia—there had also been a major social upheaval. So a literacy campaign could only succeed either with or after a social revolution, but not before it. Since there was no semblance of any revolution in India, such campaigns could not succeed. Our own experience has been that on the basis of science we have been able to mobilize people for campaigns, ranging from the silent valley movement to lectures on astronomy. In fact, in 1987 we mobilized tens of thousands of people for a major science campaign, the Jan Vigyan Jatha. So we argued that it is not necessary for literacy to follow social revolution. Rather, literacy could accelerate social revolution. They said there was no precedence for that. I said that anything which is first cannot have precedence. So, let us try it first.

However the initial trial should be in a place where it is easiest to achieve success, viz. Kerala. This is because in Kerala, the literacy level was higher than in other places. In addition, the KSSP was a very large organization with 40,000 members and units everywhere. It had a lot of credibility, and the Ernakulam district collector at that time was a former vice president of the KSSP. He said that he would be game to such an experiment which would help make Ernakulam 100% literate. So, we joined forces and the government of India gave about Rs. 1 crore. We then had to mobilize about 15,000 volunteers to educate approximately 170,000 people. These volunteers conducted saturation propaganda through face to face discussions, multimedia and street theater. They visited every household. Ultimately 160,000 people enrolled, and of these, 130,000 became literate. This meant that they could read and understand around 35 words per minute, write 7 or 8 words per minute without mistakes, and perform numerical calculations with two digit numbers. Beyond this, we took each of them on 3-4 visits to the police station, post office, bus stand, collector’s office etc. Most of the villagers were afraid to go to these places. So this exercise helped to increase their confidence level, and reduce their fear of the bureaucracy.

This achievement in Ernakulam caught the imagination of people all over the country. Similar campaigns were started in Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu), Bijapur (Karnataka), Midnapore (West Bengal), and Durg (Madhya Pradesh). The following year, it spread nationwide.

However, the term 100% literacy is used figuratively. In reality, nothing is 100% – about 70-80% of people may be functionally literate, while the other 20% may be marginally literate. So anything above 90% should be known as total literacy and not 100% literacy. But even that term is a misnomer when expanded to the rest of India, and should instead be referred to as a mass literacy campaign.

Nevertheless, total literacy became a fashion and about 400 districts in India took it up. Every collector and minister took it up as a prestige issue. The result is that about 120 million people participated in the literacy campaign. Of these, about 20% became totally literate, while the rest could only sign their name. But even this was a massive process which required a volunteer force of more than 10 million. Each volunteer committed about 400 hours per year. During the process, the outlook of the volunteers changed by discussing with and learning from groups of people who had enrolled in the campaign. Many of the learners were more knowledgeable than the volunteers. The volunteers knew only the alphabet. So, an interesting relationship started. As a result, the demand for primary education shot up since these people wanted their children to be literate. Initially there was extreme cynicism, and to break that we needed plenty of optimism.

This achievement may not be called literacy per se. Rather it could be referred to as an increased level of awareness because of the increased demand for education and active involvement. For instance, movements like the Nellore anti arrack and the quarry workers’ women’s movement developed as a result of this campaign

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Fourth World Essays

Afro-America & The Fourth World 

The Black Middle Class & a Political Party of the Poor  (essay)

Dark Child of the Fourth World  

The Fourth World and the Marxists

The Fourth World: In the Belly of the Beast

New Orleans: The American Nightmare

On the Fourth World: Black Power, Black Panthers, and White Allies

Why I Support the Latino Demonstrators


Other Fourth World Essays

African America – A Fourth World 

(Waldron H. Giles)

Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out   (Dennis Leroy Moore)

Fourth World Introduction (M.P. Parameswaran)

 Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist  (M.P. Parameswaran)

The Fourth World Multiculturalism (Rose Ure Mezu)

Fourth World Programme M.P. Parameswaran)

Neo-Liberalism Dictatorship of the Market  M.P. Parameswaran)

The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World  M.P. Parameswaran)

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#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 26 November 2011




Home  The Economy  Amin Sharif

Related files:  Fourth World Introduction     Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist   Neo-Liberalism: Dictatorship of the Market   The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World

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