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

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The Changing Contours of Proletarianisation

The social proletariat and the economically marginalised communities are deliberately drawn into a process of lumpenisation sans proletarianisation. The capitalist state and Hindutva combine methods and techniques to entail dropouts from the process of proletarianisation. This is to refrain them from class consciousness during the post-reform period to make the left and democratic forces alienated from these groups.

The alleged suicide of Pallakonda Raju in 2021 on the railway tracks in Warangal district, who had raped and killed a six-year-old girl in Hyderabad, is not the first such incident in recent memory to have happened in Telangana (New Indian Express 2021). In 2019, four individuals were shot dead by the police for the heinous crime of rape and murder of a veterinarian doctor (Janyala and Ananthakrishnan 2022). This is still remembered in this part of the country and is a new pheno­menon that has not been articulated and reflected upon by the left and democratic activists and intellectuals. This is not a sporadic incident that mostly happens in the urban areas but is omnipresent everywhere, threatening the very existence of a civilised society and the formation of a radical proletarianisation process as envisaged by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Instead, what one sees is that proletarianisation is being dissolved and permeated into lumpenisation.

The concept of lumpenisation was first flagged by Marx, deriving the word from the German word “lumpen,” meaning ragged, consisting of groups such as criminals, vagrants, and the unemployed who are an underclass without any consciousness of their downtrodden existence. In this article, this concept is revisited in the context of the growing number of such groups signified through events, incidents, and their numbers that threaten social formation in a capitalist society like India. The problem with some of our intellectual traditions is that most of the activists continue with received theories—either imported or given by some so-called “analysts”—who may not have the experience of encountering such situations or those who live in isolation and merely read “classics” of political economy ad nauseam. There used to be some kind of an impact of totalitarianism that inhibited our attempts to understand country-specific issues and deviations from the mainstream developments of capitalist societies. Now, things have changed and it is time that there should be some serious reflection on what is happening in India in the recent years when imperialism and religious fundamentalism got united to exploit the gullible and the unorganised groups of vulnerable people. It is in this context that we may reflect upon the changing contours of class formation in India.

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Updated On : 9th Nov, 2022
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