Social Scientist. v 11, no. 126 (Nov 1983) p. 3.

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Karl Marx and the Analysis of Indian Society

THE MARX CENTENARY SEMINAR organised by the Social Scientist on October 6, 7 and 8 at New Delhi attracted a very large number of participants. Twenty-six presentations, consisting of 22 papers and four oral presentations, were made in the course of the three days. In addition, a large number of participants showed a sustained interest in the proceedings; and the ensuing discussion made for a highly thought-provoking and lively seminar.

The underlying theme is of particular relevance today, when a significant trend of moving away from Marxism is discernible in Left and radical circles abroad, and has in turn found a substantial following in Indian academic circles. The bankruptcy of bourgeois academism proper has laid the basis for the emergence of this trend which seeks through the use of some Marxist analytical categories-—to the exclusion of the central revolutionary doctrine of Marxism —an ostensibly radical alternative, comfortably placed equidistance from the principal political contradictions of contemporary reality. The points of consensus and of disagreement on various issues related to the analysis of Indian society, which emerged in the course of the seminar, served to underline not only the abiding relevance of the Marxist method for the understanding of both historical and contemporary reality, but also the need for an intelligent and imaginative application of this method to the particular historical experience of India.

Pre-Colonial Society

The first session on the morning of October 6 was chaired by Prof Romilla Thapar(Jawaharlal. Nehru University). Six written and one oral presentation were made in this session, covering a diverse array of subjects relating to the legacy of Marx's analysis of the pre-British Indian society and to the issues arising out of the application of the Marxist method for analysing this period of Indian history.

Prof Irfan Habib (Aligarh Muslim University) presented a paper entitled ""Classifying Economic Formations in Pre-Colonial India". Starting from the premise that the social form of existence of labour is to a great extent determinative of the mode of production, he cautioned at the same time against making the narrow identification of a

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