A red week in January

They flew red hammer n’ sickle pennants on every vertical object in every major street last week. The pennants are there even now, wilting. They also painted the walls in many colors, some of them after the fashion of some European graffiti I’ve seen (thick tubular letters on collage backgrounds), proclaiming the first national convention in Bangalore, of the CITU.

The paintings will live long on the walls, until sun, rain, and wind have peeled them. The walls of the palace grounds—venue of the convention—are similarly painted, with also the portraits of Che, and of Marx. The caption to Che asks the worker to rise with indignation. At the entrance to the venue, the painting is of workmen marching to revolution, their flags high and thrust forward. The workers are yellow silhouettes on red.

Seeing that scene I remembered Dr. Zhivago, the movie.

Everything went off peacefully, I think, because no paper wrote anything of the event. Nothing wrong in this democratic exercise, but I am apprehensive at all this show in red, and am nervous, knowing that some of our young workmen who were recently initiated into the union, and who are fresh from signing a settlement with the management, have spent the week there.

A fortnight ago, CITU were claiming that two hundred thousand delegates would attend, some from the former communist nations. How many came? What did our men learn from them? How will they translate that learning to action? How soon?