ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Communist Chronicler

C S Subramanyam

C S Subramanyam, one of the founding leaders of the Communist Party of India in the south, died a year ago. With his passing, the last link with the founding generation of communists in India has snapped. While no decent account of his life exists, this tribute is based on information the author recollects from conversations, occasional correspondence, some archival data (of the colonial government of Madras) and a reading of his publications.

It is over a year since comrade C S Subramanyam, one of the founding leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in south India and the chronicler of its history, passed away. For some inscrutable reason, communist leaders either die prematurely or enjoy extraordinarily long lives. Fondly known as CS, Subramanyam had celebrated his 102nd birthday when he breathed his last.

No decent account of his life and work exists. Organs and front magazines of the CPI and Communist Party of India (Marxist)  –   CPI(M) – published notices and tributes at the time of his death in September 2011. If they are woefully inadequate, little blame will attach to them for CS was extraordinarily self-effacing and reticent about discussing what was an undoubtedly eventful life. Individuals did not count in the impersonal march of history, or so he resolutely believed. In the 1980s, Bipan Chandra tried to conduct a full-fledged interview with him but CS refused. Several attempts on my part to conduct formal interviews failed as well. It now turns out that I was able to tease out more information about him than others, and the following account is based on such tantalising information that I could recollect from conversations with him, occasional correspondence, some archival data (of the colonial government of Madras) and a reading of his publications.

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