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Left parties in India are facing an identity crisis

Photo: Wikipedia

By Amitava Mukherjee

On the eve of elections to five state assemblies including Kerala and West Bengal, the Left parties are now in an identity crisis and have subjected themselves to two opposing pulls from within on the question of an alliance with the Congress.

In a recent article published in a mass-circulation daily, Prakash Karat, the former CPI-M general secretary, has honestly pointed out the self-contradictions that have hamstrung the communist movement of India from its inception. That the Left has now been clamouring for an alliance with the Congress is an outcome of such in-built deficiencies.

At this point, recourse to classical theories will serve the Left no purpose. Theoretically, communist parties are meant for factory workers but very few leading lights of the Indian communist movement can fit in this category. It is interesting to guess why Prakash Karat chose to do such a scathing introspection at this moment. Is it an attempt on his part to keep himself away from the hullabaloo and the shrill cries for an alliance with the Congress that some leaders of his party are raising?

In the annals of communist literature, this Karat article is exceptional. He has listed metamorphosis of the middle class leading to its inability to relate to Left ideology any more and absence of workers, poor peasants and agricultural labourers in decision making positions as the main detriments in front of his party’s expansion and wide acceptance among the masses.

This deficiency is true not just about the CPI-M. All shades of Indian communist parties are affected by it. However, Karat’s argument has also exposed his limitations. He still has great faith in the middle class. If this faith continues, the future of his party is bleak.

But Karat himself and almost the entire front-ranking leadership of his party are results of this system and it’s unfortunate that the realization about the position of the lower strata of society dawned on him after so many years – most of all after the serious drubbing that his party received from the people of West Bengal in the last assembly elections.

Instead of writing articles in newspapers, if he looks at the composition of his own party’s politburo he will realize that the job of cleansing the Augean Stables must start from the highest policy-making body of his own party.

This incomplete identification with the country’s toiling masses is now finding its manifestation among certain sections of the Left in a mad rush for an electoral alliance with the Congress which had, in fact, ushered in neo-liberal economic policies, a school of thought and practice the Left regards as an anathema.

Although some sections of the media are trying to drum up support for such an alliance, yet the CPI-M stands vertically divided over the issue with the Kerala unit being totally opposed to such an eventuality. Some constituents of the Left Front in West Bengal like the CPI and the Forward Bloc, have also expressed their reservations as they identify the Congress with a neo liberal economy.

It is really open to question whether a Left Front-Congress alliance in West Bengal will be able to deliver the desired result. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Trinamul Congress had got 39.3 percent of the votes, the Left Front 29.6 percent, the Congress 9.6 percent and the BJP 16.8 percent. The CPI-M’s calculation is that by dint of an alliance with the Congress, it will be able to match the voting percentage of the TMC and thus outsmart Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. But there is a serious flaw in this calculation.

Unfortunately for the Congress, the party has very little presence in today’s West Bengal, except in Murshidabad, Malda and South Dinajpur districts, where the party commands more than 30 percent of the votes. But in the remaining 17 districts, the Congress only enjoys around five percent of the votes per district. Will this be of any help to the Left Front in defeating the TMC? The big question remains here.

But an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal is sure to put the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala in an embarrassing situation. The LDF is now comfortably placed against the Congress-led United Democratic Front(UDF) so far as the coming election is concerned. That is the reason why not only Karat but the entire Kerala lobby of the CPI-M is uncomfortable about any alliance with the Congress as this will rob the Left of the much needed sharp edge in its campaign against the UDF.

By an alliance with the Congress, Left is certain to lose credibility. In his article, Karat castigated neo-liberal economic policies and “family enterprise” like political parties. Congress leaders may vehemently deny the charges, but both the indicators can point towards that party. It will be interesting to watch what answer the CPI-M proffers in the event of an alliance with the Congress.

In its nearly five-year rule in West Bengal, the TMC has not been able to give much good account of itself. If the Kerala model of removal of each ruling combination every five years has any justification, then replacement of the TMC-led dispensation in the next West Bengal assembly election is not undesirable. But any Left Front-Congress combination will be too opportunist in character to achieve anything good.


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CPR training for all must to save lives: Experts

Nearly 98 per cent Indians are not trained in basic life-saving technique of CPR during sudden cardiac arrest

Participants practice cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an important life skill to know. VOA

Imagine walking on the road and suddenly seeing a passerby suffering from chest pain and collapsing. Would you be able to give a lifesaving Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)? Most likely, no.

A recent survey conducted by Lybrate — a domestic online doctor consultation platform — showed that nearly 98 per cent Indians are not trained in basic life-saving technique of CPR during sudden cardiac arrest.

In India, sudden cardiac arrest is a major cause of death due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and shockingly 60 per cent of the people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest succumb to it even before they reach hospital, the survey, conducted in 2016, showed.

It is important to be trained in CPR. Flickr

The need of the hour is to make CPR training a must in schools and colleges and even at community level, as it can triple a patient’s chance of survival, if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, health experts said. CPR consists of using chest compressions and artificial ventilation to maintain circulatory flow and oxygenation during cardiac arrests and is the cost effective way to improve survival.

“In case of sudden cardiac arrest, the mortality is very high — almost 90 per cent or more if not resuscitated within 10 minutes,” Neeraj Bhalla, Director and Senior Consultant Cardiology at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, told IANS.

The American Heart Association (AHA) defines CPR as an emergency procedure to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a patient and, especially, if performed immediately, it can double or triple a cardiac arrest patient’s chance of survival.

“Any process to bring back the heart beats in the first minute is very important and CPR is one very effective and time-tested process. There should be a concerted effort to make CPR training a must,” added Piyusha Majumdar, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) University, Jaipur.

The basic technique of CPR illustrated. Pixabay

The AHA recommends uninterrupted chest compression (100 chest compressions in a minute) to the patient until para-medical support is given, which helps in supplying oxygenated blood to the brain and preventing death. Bystander CPR, and AED (automated defibrillators), are very useful in saving lives,” Bhalla said.

“The use of AED — used to diagnose life-threatening arrhythmias or irregularity of heart rhythm — can also be used to treat a dying heart by using electric shock to revive the heart’s rhythm,” Vanita Arora of Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi, told IANS.

The device is easy to use, and with some basic training, it can easily be operated by a layman. However, “it is not available at most places, unfortunately. An AED machine should be there at every place where there’s a fire extinguisher. That’s how important a role it can play in saving lives,” Arora noted.

Also Read: CPR Survival Rates Lower Than Most People Think

“The government can also come out with campaigns and such training should be given to all and sundry. Government and private hospitals should also be roped in to provide training, apart from making it compulsory in schools and colleges. Besides, NGOs can also be of great help in such an initiative,” Majumdar added.

The experts also noted that most people fail to identify when a person is suffering cardiac arrest. “A person suffering cardiac arrest will show the following symptoms: pain in the chest, palpitations or shortness of breath, collapse due to loss of consciousness and, most critical, no detectable pulse. The last two are very easy to detect and are almost clear signs of cardiac arrest,” Arora emphasised.

“When you see a person faint or become unconscious gasping for breath, the first thing is to check the pulse or beating of the heart. A person suffering from sudden cardiac arrest will not have detectable pulse, which means he has only seconds to survive. The next step is to call emergency medical service immediately. Almost simultaneously, the person should begin performing CPR,” she noted.

CPR is being administered while a second rescuer prepares for defibrillation. Wikipedia

At the same time, proper heart examination should be made part of routine health check up among the people in the country. People get heart check-ups like ECG and angiographies done only when they face problems like chest pain or any other symptom of heart attack or cardiac arrest.

One should never ignore unexplained weakness, tiredness, first onset chest burning or first onset breathlessness after the age of 40. Those with strong family history of heart disease should get themselves screened, the doctors said.

Leading a healthy lifestyle — including a daily exercise routine, eating healthy food and avoiding stress, adequate sleep — is good for maintaining a healthy heart. It must be made mandatory to teach CPR to all students, office-goers, security personal and almost every citizen of the country, the experts said. IANS