Last year on May 5 Party lost a veteran leader, the revolutionary movement lost a prominent voice and revolutionary cultural movement lost an iconic pillar. His mesmerizing voice still resonates and sings for the oppressed and exploited, for marginalized and neglected, for all who have no voice but much for articulation. We lost Com. Rama Rao whose association with Arunodaya got affixed to his very name. Com. Rama Rao got his melodies from the toil of the oppressed and his inspiration from the struggle to liberate humankind from oppression. His restless fingers symbolized restlessness of his soul at the oppression of the toilers but also rhythm of their struggles. His heart beat at every rhythm of their struggle, reaching out to everyone in need and making every expression of life in struggles his own need. He was friend to every toiler and toiled for every friend.
The loss suffered by the Party and the revolutionary culture is felt very acutely at the present juncture when the ruling RSS-BJP fascist offensive is being couched in cultural nationalism. The field of culture, always one of the principal arenas of sharp contest between contending classes, has emerged as a pivotal field in the present struggle against Hindutva fascism. It is the wholesale distortion of Indian culture, in the process glorifying some reactionary aspects of culture and excising the whole culture of struggle of the Indian people against oppression and backwardness, exploitation and suppression. This in fact is a wholesale manufacture and imposition of the value system in the service of the foreign and domestic reactionaries. No wonder the importance of the struggle in the field of culture cannot be overemphasized.
At this juncture Com. Rama Rao’s absence is being acutely felt. In the last meeting of the leaders of the cultural organizations held a few months before this death (He was All India Co-convenor of this Co-ordination Committee) he took upon himself the task of helping develop cultural movement in different states and building a powerful cultural movement against RSS’s ‘cultural nationalism’, to strengthen organizations in cultural field and train a large number of fighters on this front, honing their skills and developing their understanding and resolve to do everything for this urgent and necessary task. In last several meetings this used to be sole agenda of discussion with Com. Rama Rao on how to fulfill this urgent necessity in the concrete conditions of the movement and its problems and state of organization.
Com. Rama Rao’s vision of combining struggle against class exploitation and social oppression, especially caste oppression, made him the eminent vehicle of challenging the present cultural discourse of rulers. Com. Rama Rao’s grasp of the elements of people’s culture and his vision of fashioning these elements into a powerful challenge to reactionary culture of fascistic rulers made him well suited to fulfill this responsibility.
Today, in Corona times, when the anti-people character of the system stands naked, when millions of workers and poor peasants face starvation and destitution, columns of thousands upon thousands of migrant workers without work, wages, food and shelter, march homewards taking with themselves the lost hope of surviving through work far away from homes, when the divide between the rich and poor stands in sharp contrast with rich locked in and poor locked out, the voice of the singer from Rayalseema is sorely missed to sing about these miseries and also the future trajectory of the struggles of the poor, exploited and oppressed, the wretched of India.
Com. Rama Rao is not with us, but his body of work and his untiring spirit continues to inspire us. Developing revolutionary cultural movement is the best homage to him. Developing cultural organizations both qualitatively and quantitatively will be the best tribute to him. He will live in and through them.
Long Live Com. Rama Rao!
May 4, 2020