MANY of us may recall that more than a decade back, in the backdrop of the then rising Assam and Punjab movements, the Radical Students Union of the PWG held a seminar on nationality question in Madras. The views of the semi-anarchists on nationality question found a concentrated expression there with which we sharply demarcated ourselves. The PWG soon paid dearly for its petty-bourgeois anarchism on nationality question as a major section of their organisation in Tamil Nadu left the party on this very question, advocated separatism and subsequently degenerated into petty-bourgeois nationalist terrorism. Without taking any lessons from this, the anarchists went on to support, in a rhetorical manner, the Khalistan demand and the separatism in Assam and Tamil Nadu etc.

On the other hand, the opportunist left, led by CPI(M), completely went over to the position of national chauvinism of the bourgeoisie and supported Congress(I)’s positions in Assam and Punjab. In contrast to both these approaches, we have remained consistent in our principles of independence of the proletarian party while actively supporting the genuine aspirations of the nationalities. Based on a concrete analysis of the merits of each specific case of the nationality question we developed our positions. In contrast to the empty phraseology of the anarchists we represented an advanced practice on the nationality question. We stood in the van of several nationality movements: we actively participated in the Assam movement and made a timely demarcation with petty-bourgeois nationalist forces there to develop class-based movements; fighting against Assamese chauvinism we also developed the movements of the national minorities for autonomy there; we expanded our work in Punjab in the midst of the Punjab crisis by fighting against both Sikh chauvinism and Khalistani terrorism as well as the slate terrorism; in Jharkhand we put emphasis on developing an independent base of workers and the rural poor in the first phase and on that basis look an active role later in the movement for a Jharkhand state; and in Tamil Nadu we developed an independent assertion of workers and peasants under the left banner in contrast to the petty-bourgeois nationalists.

Our programme recognises the right of the nationalities for self-determination including the right to secede. It also calls for national unification and visualises a federal India with maximum possible autonomy for states. This offers us broadest possible scope in dealing with the nationalities question, which, in the light of this programme remains a practical question, a concrete question of demarcating ourselves from the petty-bourgeois nationalism and the national chauvinism even while actively supporting the genuine nationality aspirations of various nationalities in India. Below we are giving an analytical account of nationality question in contemporary India. Before that we'll clarify some basic positions of Marxism-Leninism on the nationality question because the misreading and misquoting of classics on this question is rampant among radical petty-bourgeois elements, especially the anarchists.


Getting the Basics Straight

The Three Historical Periods

In so far as nation, in the modern 19th century sense of the term, is a product of capitalism we basically approach this national (as well as the nationality) question in the context of evolving capitalism. The nationality question has been substantially different in the three historical periods — the era of pre-capitalist feudal empires, the colonial period and the post-colonial period.

In the first period, the nascent bourgeoisie under feudal-monarchic empires, in order to do away with all the feudal fetters for the free development of capitalism, took up the question of national freedom and fought for establishing a nation-state which can guarantee conditions for such a free development of capitalism.

In the second period, the newly emerging local bourgeoisie of the colonies, whether comprising a single nationality or many, fought against the bourgeoisie of the oppressing imperialist nation for national freedom and to establish its own nation-state that can guarantee its unfettered development.

In the post-colonial period, under the newly emerged nations with a multi-national(ity) state where the economic foundations for capitalist development have been laid and the preconditions for a modern nationhood are basically fulfilled, the nationality question is a question of general democracy, that of equality of nationalities and their self-determination.
It is obvious that the Marxist views and experiences of each epoch cannot be mechanically applied to another.

Economic Foundation of National Question

Referring to the national question in the first historical period Lenin wrote in 1914 : “For the complete victory of commodity production, the bourgeoisie must capture the home market, and there must be politically united territories whose population speak a single language, with all obstacles to the development of that language and its consolidation in literature eliminated. Therein is the economic foundation of national movements...

“Therefore, the tendency of every national movement is towards the formation of national states, under which these requirements of modern capitalism are best satisfied. The most profound economic factors drive towards this goal, and, therefore/for the whole of Western Europe, nay, for the entire civilised world, the national state is typical and normal for the capitalist period” (The Right of Nations to Self-Determination Vol. 20 pp. 396-397).

In the infancy of capitalism, the complete victory of commodity production, establishing a home-market and economic sovereignty were crucial conditions for a national formation. In the modern world these conditions can be stretched to include a centralised monetary system, regulations over foreign trade, a unified system of economic administration based on national economic policies, necessary infrastructure and a certain autonomy vis-a-vis the world economy etc.

In the later stages of capitalism when such economic foundations were laid for several nationalities collectively in a larger framework the tendency for every nationality to have ‘its own’ home-market and ‘its own’ nation-state was substantially weakened. Hut the whole national question cannot be reduced that of its economic foundation and the formal, politico-cultural side can also be equally powerful in constituting the national question.

Nation and Nationality

While formation of nation-states based on a single nationality was a general rule in Western Europe, multi-nationality national movements emerged under conditions of colonialism in other parts of the world where the nation-state was established encompassing various nationalities like in India. Since the requirements of modern capitalism are largely satisfied collectively for all these nationalities under this nation-state, the national question stands basically resolved for them. Other than in exceptional conditions they don’t manifest a real and sustained tendency towards the formation of a separate national state. In this sense it would be wrong to equate every nationality with a nation and call every nationality question a national question in the classical 19th century sense of the term. In Europe itself there were nations like Belgium or Switzerland with more than one nationality. In contrast to Western Europe, the tendency to form larger states and nations comprising many nationalities was stronger among the peoples of Southern Europe when they were faced with the challenges from the more powerful bourgeois states of Western Europe.

The Nation and the State

There is no use in arguing that they were only nation-states and not nations. There was no Chinese Wall between the two in many cases. The idea that nations pre-existed the state was a myth; rather, the states were formed first, based on nationalities in some cases, and they constituted the nation subsequently through a process of national unification and nation-building. Here, there is a need to make a distinction between the state form and the content of the state as well. Except in the case of some confederations, many of the so-called multi-national states, whether they are federations or unions in their state structures, like USA and India, for instance, constitute a single nation for all practical purposes. In present-day Europe, when the developed capitalism outgrows the confines of the small nation-state, the latter is proposed to be substituted by a larger supra-national state in the form of European Union.

Language – A Criterion for Nationhood?

History has shown that single language is no longer the criteria for national formation. In Western Europe, language became the means of national unification and consolidation, it defined the frontiers of a nation and its culture. And linguistic nations became the norm. But under colonialism, when the colonial peoples were confronted with a more powerful imperialism, small linguistic-nations were unviable propositions and larger national movements developed cutting across language lines and national formation took place on that basis. Experience has shown that a single language is not an essential condition for modern nation building as well.

On the Right of Self-Determination

There has been much confusion over the Leninist principle of the right of nations to self-determination including the right to secede. Let us quote Lenin again : “We demand freedom of self-determination, i.e independence, i.e freedom of secession for the oppressed nations, not because we have dreamt of splitting up the country economically, or of the ideal of small states, but, on the country, because we want large states and the closer unity and even fusion of nations, only on a truly democratic, truly internationalist basis, which is inconceivable without the freedom to secede” (The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination, Vol. 21).

“It is impossible to abolish national (or any other political) oppression under capitalism … By transforming capitalism into socialism the proletariat creates the possibility of abolishing national oppression; the possibility becomes reality 'only'! - with the establishment of full democracy in all spheres, including the delineation of state frontiers in accordance with the 'sympathies' of the population, including complete freedom to secede. And this, in turn, will serve as a basis for developing the practical elimination of even the slightest national friction and the least national mistrust, for an accelerated drawing together and fusion of nations that will be completed when the state wither away” (The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up Vol. 22).

In Leninist terms, the principle of self-determination including the right to secede is only a means for fusion. The principle of national unification, i.e, the unification of all nationalities and the principle of self-determination should be taken in their dialectical unity together. The communists never approach this principle of self-determination as an abstract democratic principle unrelated to any given political context but always approach it in relation to other principles like national unification and anti-imperialism, and above all, proletarian hegemony in the democratic movement.

Moreover this principle figures in our programme as part of a package of radical reforms which include expropriation of the big bourgeoisie, radical agrarian reforms and thoroughgoing democratisation of the state structure including federal restructuring the polity etc. Implementation of all other reforms will substantially do away with the basis of separatism and the self-determination principle is supposed to guarantee against any kind of oppression or coercion of nationalities. Recognition of this principle does not amount to supporting each and every separatist movement in the pre-revolutionary stage.

Real self-determination, as distinct from the formal right, is a long process, especially in the era of imperialism, and call for overthrow of imperialism and establishment of socialism. Secession, under certain conditions, may well be replacement of one form of national oppression by another. Secession of one nationality from a weak (semi-colonial) nation at the instigation of a strong (imperialist) nation is hardly a resolution of the national question. It is more of a Balkanisation. Under conditions of imperialism, strong national unity, i.e unity of all nationalities and a strong centre, even if there is some degree of internal imbalance, are inevitable for a Third World country to stand up to imperialism and these are backed by the patriotic consciousness of the people. Under such conditions a separatist demand in total insularity from the general democratic struggles of the masses but where there is a blatant intervention by the imperialist forces has the least chance of winning the support of the broad masses of other nationalities.

The Nationality Question in Some Post-Colonial States

Nevertheless, in the multi-nationality nation states that came up in the post-colonial era all over the Third World there were factors which in extreme cases could lead to the breaking away of some nationalities and emergence of new nations : a weak bourgeoisie, highly centralised state structure with excessive concentration of economic and political powers, overwhelming domination of a single nationality in the state structure and exclusion of all other nationalities from the power structure, inadequate economic integration, extreme uneven development, crisis of the ruling classes and putrefaction and decay of the state and the cultural and linguistic oppression of one nationality over others etc.

The Leninist Approach

What shall be the role of the proletariat? The proletarian party will fight against all forms of discrimination and oppression of the nationalities. According to Lenin: “The awakening of the masses from feudal lethargy, and their struggle against all national oppression, for the sovereignty of the people, of the nation, are progressive. Hence it is the Marxist’s bounden duty to stand for the most resolute and consistent democratism on all aspects of the national question. This task is largely a negative one. But this is the limit that the proletariat can go in supporting nationalism, for beyond that begins the ‘positive’ activity of the bourgeoisie to fortify nationalism” (Critical Remarks on the National Question Vol.20 pp. 34-35).

“The proletariat cannot support any consecration of nationalism; on the contrary, it supports everything that helps to obliterate national distinctions and remove national barriers; it supports everything that makes the ties between nationalities closer and closer, or tend to merge nations. To act differently means siding with reactionary nationalistic philistinism (ibid, pp. 35-36).

Thus, the positive goal of the proletariat does not lie in perpetuating nations. It supports the nationality struggles only lo obliterate nationality distinctions whereas the bourgeoisie leads the nationality struggle only to fortify nationalism. In his Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Questions presented lo the Second Congress of the Comintern, Lenin clarified that the communists must not merge with the bourgeois-national forces, but must “under all circumstances uphold the independence of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most embryonic form ...”.


The Indian Scenario

The Weakening Case for Separation

In the colonial period, the ‘victory of commodity production’, though not complete, had taken place overwhelmingly and a unified home-market was established for the whole of India. A native bourgeoisie emerged. Thus the material basis for the emergence of the Indian nation was laid. A powerful national movement emerged cutting across nationality lines.

If there had been no colonialism, perhaps some nationalities would have headed for a separate nationhood. Due to the weak material foundations for the nationalities question, the nationalisms with a distinct tendency for establishing a separate statehood, except in the case of Tamils, were mainly religious or communal — Muslim and Sikh nationalisms. Extension of the British policy of divide and rule could have played greater mischief. Taking lessons from its debacle on the Muslim question, the Congress too tried to be flexible, at least, on the Sikh question. Anyway, except Muslim nationalism, other tendencies were by and large overwhelmed by the pan-Indian national movement. They died down, at least for a while, following the basic fulfillment of laying the economic foundation that a separate nation would have created for these nationalities.

The creation of linguistic states further weakened the separatist tendency in some cases. In view of the powerful national liberation struggles against British imperialism and the considerable development of capitalism, the base for national unification remained strong and was not something artificial. The impact of the partition was traumatic and the masses could see through the imperialist designs.

This also created a strong urge for national unity.

In 1947 when the national unification was achieved it was by abolishing the feudal principalities and on the basis of creating conditions for capitalist development. Hence this historical step forward was not opposed by any nationality in a significant way. But after more than four decades of capitalist development this distorted process of capitalism itself has created new inequalities, discrimination and oppression of the nationalities. Hence the nationalities question is back on the agenda on a qualitatively new and higher plane with a qualitatively different content. So the argument that the nationalities question has already been fully solved in 1947 itself is grossly out of place.

The Indian bourgeoisie was not so weak as in the case of many other newly independent Third World countries. Though certain regional sections were relatively stronger initially they were effectively assimilated subsequently. The Indian big bourgeoisie derives its forces from almost all major nationalities and even from among the small national minorities the elites are periodically assimilated into the power structure. In India the state is not dominated by one nationality and there is no oppression by a single or a group of nationalities over others. The central presence of the political and bureaucratic elites from the Hindi-speaking regions in the political process sometimes creates resentment and alienation among other nationalities but this cannot be interpreted as full-scale national oppression. In fact, some of the more developed regions of India are lying outside the Hindi belt.

On the language question also the Indian ruling classes are somewhat flexible. After their initial attempts at imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states backfired they are resorting to subtler methods. They don’t find imposition of Hindi an essential precondition for running the affairs of the state.

Citing the collapse of USSR some people argue that India too would inevitably collapse. Their theorisation is that the multi-nationality state is characteristic of underdeveloped conditions—whether capitalist or socialist — and with the development of productive forces, whether under capitalism or socialism, it will inevitably break up, for nation state is the norm of developed capitalism. Accordingly, they argue that, with greater development of capitalism in India the latter too would break up. In the first place, the USSR collapse was a system-collapse and the nationalities issue was not central to it. Of course, if the Indian state continues to remain so centralised and if nationalities in India continue to face the kind of discrimination and oppression that they face at present, certain nationalities in India too might go to a point of no return in their alienation and at an opportune moment might breakaway from India. But here the problem is mainly political and to argue about the inevitability of it from the point of view of economic development and absolutising nation-state as the norm of developed conditions would be wrong. First, there is no reason why this should happen under a revolutionary democratic regime. Secondly, even under developed capitalist conditions there are instances of inseparable fusion of nationalities. We are against absolutising either the ‘economic’ or the ‘political’ side of the nationality question, especially abstracting them from the concrete historical stage, and arguing on that basis that either separation is inevitable or impossible. Rather we go into the concrete historic stage of development and the concrete situation in each country.

Factors Sustaining Nationalisms

When we say that the resolution of the national question through formation of a separate nation-state is no longer on the agenda for the nationalities in India we never mean that the problems posed by the nationalities in India has been solved once for all or that it is only a minor residual question which can be taken care of by capitalism itself. Far from that, the nationality question remains one of the fundamental questions of democratic revolution in India. More than four decades of bureaucrat capitalist development in the country has aggravated the inequality, discrimination and oppression of the nationalities and national minorities in India. And the unity of all the nationalities in India is to be built anew on a new basis.

In the first place, the Indian state structure is highly centralised with excessive concentration of economic and political powers. Even though the restructuring of the centre-state relations and devolution of more powers to the states is not a nationality question per se and is a general democratic question, in view of the reality of linguistic states it gets overlapped with the nationality question. The federal restructuring of the Indian state with maximum possible autonomy to the nationalities is very much on the agenda before the democratic revolution.

The distorted path of development of capitalism in India has made all-round development of nationalities impossible. Meagre resources are left at the lower levels for infrastructural or cultural development. There is also extreme uneven development among various nationalities and various regions. While a single home market for the whole of India has gone a long way in bringing about an economic integration, under this framework, those nationalities which did not posses a class of an early generation of entrepreneurs have invariably lagged behind in industrial development whereas most of the subsequent monopolists who continued to dominate the whole of the Indian market hail from a few nationalities. Under the earlier license-permit raj bourgeois sections from some nationalities lagged behind others and in some cases they invoked sub-nationalism to bargain for greater share. In some cases there were 'project nationalisms' too demanding this or that public sector project for this or that state. The free-market regime might weaken some such nationalisms in the short run but will only aggravate uneven development in the long run.

Certain superstructural factors also give rise to certain types of nationalisms. Due to the insularity of some non-Hindi-speaking nationalities, the intelligentsia from among them feel left out in the media, in the cultural establishment and in the academic world—in short, in the ‘national’ or All-India intellectual discourse—and there are periodic assertions for renewal and ‘catching up’ among those nationalities. The public funds going into the development of these areas at the state level are very meagre and all these assertions are accompanied by strong nationalist fervour. While some nationalities with extreme economic backwardness remain dormant, in other cases even such issues like religious provocation, language imposition in schools and colleges or issues like ‘foreign nationals’ have galvanised the entire nationalities, at least for temporary periods.

Let us make a brief survey of the nationalities situation in concrete terms:

Of all cases, it is only in Kashmir the basis for separatism appears to be strong, primarily because of the centre’s handling of the Kashmir question and the ruthless war it is waging against the Kashmiri people now. The historical factors as well as the external interventions are also important there. Though in principle we are in favour of the self-determination of the Kashmiri people we don’t consider separation a practical proposition now. Not only the military defeat of the Indian state out of the question. But an ‘independent’ Kashmir, sandwiched between the two hostile powers, Pakistan and India, and vulnerable to the US designs in an area of strategic importance cannot remain really independent. Since their struggle for independence is going to be a long drawn affair, in all probability it will be a protracted low-intensity conflict trapped in a political deadlock. But what is shocking about the struggle is its utter insularity from other democratic struggles in India. There are numerous forces in India who outrightly condemn India's war in Kashmir even if they don’t support separatist demand and the nationalist forces in Kashmir virtually have no dialogue or cooperation with them. The ultimate guarantee for the self-determination of Kashmir or its independence is the victory of the revolutionary-democratic forces in India and the lasting solution to the Kashmir question can be found only within a democratic confederation of the peoples of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir.

In Punjab the secessionist struggle has come to a gradual but painful end while in Assam it collapsed dramatically. The Kulaks who were backing the separatist movement in Punjab have now shifted their loyalties to the Congress (I) itself and the petty-bourgeoisie in Assam that led the movement is totally demoralised. These experiences show that there is hardly any viable basis for separatism in these states. After realising the impracticality of separatist option or simply indulging in separatist postures for some time to bargain for more powers sections of ruling class forces from these nationalities scale down their demands to autonomy or merely greater powers to the states as they did in Tamil Nadu.

In the case of Tamil Nadu, the demand fora separate nation-state came up well before 1947. The Tamil national plank drew inspiration from the Aryan-Dravidian divide and the anti-Brahminical and anti-religious ideology. The movement had strong anti-feudal overtones and stressed industrialisation of Tamil Nadu. Had it continued the anti-feudal thrust in a thoroughgoing way and laid the basis for further industrialisation it would have carried a great potential for objectively sharpening the class polarisation within the Tamil society itself. Even without the movement being crushed through repression like in Punjab or Assam and even before coming to power at the state level in 1967, the demand for separation was given up in 1962 itself. This backtracking by the Tamil bourgeoise was partly due to lure of the all-India market and a better bargain with the all-India ruling classes and also probably because the bourgeoisie recoiled at the growing mass awakening and popular character of the movement and-more radical tendencies within the movement represented by Periyar.

The two extreme cases where the separatist sentiments rose high in ’80s, Punjab and Assam, mark a contrast among themselves. Punjab is the place where the green revolution reached its climax and the crisis of green revolution was at the bottom of the Punjab crisis. But Assam is a very backward state where green revolution had not begun at all. Thus an advanced region — Punjab — preferred to break away when it felt that its assimilation within the Indian state acted as a drag and put brakes on its further development. With its productivity in wheat approaching advanced world levels it had a better option in exports than being pressed down by the Indian state. While a backward region like Assam with a predominantly backward, self-sufficient agrarian economy, also preferred to break away because it too felt that its association with India was a drag on its development, the means for the plunder of its rich raw materials. Though a backward region generally prefers to stay within the all-India framework to enjoy the greater advantages of association there were some special reasons for the alienation of the Assamese nationality. They were reduced to about 50% of the state’s population.

The parliamentary politics also throws up reactionary-populist forces which engage in such postures to make use of the nationality aspirations to come to power. Such movements are led by reactionary forces or petty bourgeois nationalist forces. Some have a democratic content and others are downright reactionary. And their class character is best expressed by the extreme forms of struggles including terrorism that they resort to and at other times by their dramatic capitulation to the centre. Such struggles go on for more than a decade with very little democratic and national renewal within these nationalities themselves. Resurgence and retrogression go hand in hand in these movements and the distinctions between right and left get blurred. Awakening of the popular masses is accompanied by blurring of class distinctions. The left-wing petty-bourgeois nationalist forces, in Tamil Nadu for instance, assume that they can exercise their leadership over these movements by taking up the nationality issues first. But the question of leadership is not decided by the sequence of who takes up such issues first or most vigorously but by the overall balance of class forces and these left-wing forces ultimately end up in effective cooptation by the right-wing forces.

It would also be wrong to think that the regional bourgeois sections or the Kulaks in such minority nationalities are inherently separatist or regionalist in nature. To cite a few examples: The truck operators, who are part of the middle and small bourgeoisie, especially in Tamil Nadu and Punjab were the most vocal in demanding the abolition of octroi and entry taxes and the powers of the states to levy different transport taxes. The mercantile bourgeoisie, the traders and shop-keepers, were the most strident in demanding that the states should have no right to collect sales tax. The Tamil traders were strongly advocating all-India collection of sales tax and abolition of multi-point sales tax. The liquor barons like Ramaswamy Odeyars and Khodays in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the most lumpenised of the capitalists, are opposing the powers of different states to levy different excise rates. The Kulaks, the capitalist farmers and landlords, who were supposedly behind every manifestation of 'nationalism' and regionalism and even separatism were the very same forces behind the vociferous demand for a common market in India in agriculture, i.e., the so-called pro-Dunkel lobby.

Likewise, as we already mentioned, the centre-state conflict is not fully a nationality issue. While many of the old regionalist forces were making a foray into national politics such demands were being voiced even in states like Bihar and Haryana, vikas munches were floated and reactionary politicians including both Laloo and Jagannath Mishra were raising such demands to serve their narrow political objectives.

And then there are various types of micro-nationalisms of national minorities, ethnic groups and tribal communities who are facing various forms of oppression and even virtual extinction of their cultural identities. They are demanding separate state within the union of India or district autonomy. Due to their weak political nature, these movements, in the process of winning some concessions are often subjected to manipulations by the ruling parties at the state or central level. The ultimate guarantee for protecting their interests lies only with the overall democratic movement.


On ‘National Unity and Integrity’

This has become the most favourite slogan of the Indian ruling classes. Under this slogan they let loose most ruthless repression on different struggles of the nationalities and bulldoze all aspirations for greater autonomy. In practical terms this slogan often boils down to invoking Article 356 to dismiss state governments, sending the army and federal para-military forces, of ten without the permission of the state government, to crush the nationality and autonomy movements and resorting to prolonged state terrorism against them in the name of fighting extremists. Under this slogan they also try to maintain the highly centralised character of the Indian state and to continue with the high degree of concentration of economic and political powers in Delhi. Through this slogan they whip up the national chauvinism and try to further legitimise their hold on the rest of India.

Ironically enough, the CPI(M) is at one with BJP in sharing this position of the Congress(l) and the Indian ruling classes. In fact, one of the most important features of the CPI(M)’s opportunism is their going over to this position of the ruling classes and this is one of the fundamental areas of difference between our two parties. We on our part have declared our irreconcilable hostility to this slogan of the ruling classes and what it stands for. Of course, we too stand for national unity but that has absolutely nothing in common with this position of the ruling classes. This never becomes a pretext for us to support the ruling class policy anywhere as it happens in the case of CPI(M). Rather we stand for a national unity to be built anew on a new basis. We stand for a national unity from below based on the common democratic struggles of the people and not for a national unity imposed from above by the ruling classes.

The CPI(M)’s policy on the nationality question is a direct retreat to the bourgeois policy of national chauvinism. In the first place they don’t recognise the fundamental nature of the nationality question in India. That is why they have given up the right of self-determination in their programme in their Ninth Congress. On the question of autonomy at the maximum they go up to restructuring of the centre-state relations. They never see the democratic content of the nationality movements and look at them as purely externally inspired. They justify state terrorism and crushing of such movements on the pretext of the separatist demand or the terrorist tendency found in such movements. Their opposition to even the demand of certain national minorities for a separate state within India is inexplicable. They consider all other identities like gender, caste and nationality antithetical to class. Apart from being a crude interpretation of Marxism this also provides them a convenient premise to side with the ruling classes and forces of the status quo. Only by fighting against the petty bourgeois nationalism and their doctrinaire interpretation of the Marxist classics as well as the opportunism of the CPI(M) on the nationalities question can we develop the correct Leninist approach to this question in the Indian context.