US-India Global Review

34 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JANUARY-MARCH 2018 homes. Meanwhile, Isaac worries about a shortage of housing for the poor. Less than one mile from the spot in the village of Pinarayi where the party held its first clan- destine meeting, Prasanth Cherambeth, 40, and his wife, Saniga, 36, had just arrived from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and were celebrating the opening of their six-bedroom home. Hours earlier, dozens of work- ers had been laying sod and tile by flashlight in a race to complete it. Now friends, family and a few curious villagers were walking up a red-carpeted driveway and into the home draped in garlands of marigolds. They took in the indoor fountain under the stairs, the mar- ble floors, the glass-tiled swim- ming pool and the kitchen full of stainless steel appliances that Cherambeth's aunt was saying were "all from Dubai." On the sec- ond floor, porch chandeliers flashed red and blue. At the center of the party, propped on a chair and draped in white flowers, was a picture of a communist: Cherambeth's recently deceased father, who had been a party stalwart and longtime employee of the state bus compa- ny. In a few weeks Cherambeth and his wife would drain the pool, lock up their new home and return with their three young children to Abu Dhabi, where they had spent much of the last 15 years. Someday, when their work visas expire, they plan to return to Kerala permanently. For now, Cherambeth, a mid-level adminis- trator at a nuclear power compa- ny, was going to enjoy his new home. "It's a dream," he said as guests swirled around him. Indian communism’s future Despite all the changes, the party's loyalists kept the faith. At a recent party-sponsored class for the public in the city of Kannur, a professor named K.N. Harilal was insisting that true communism would only come with the cata- strophic collapse of the global economy. "The deterioration of capitalism is an inevitability and it's happen- ing fast," he said. "Humans cannot be so narrow-minded and profit- oriented forever." Ceiling fans circulated humid air and a few dozen mostly middle- aged students scribbled notes in party-supplied workbooks. "How will we know when the permanent crash finally comes?" a student asked as the class stretched into its fifth hour. "What will the signs be?" "Nobody can predict it," Harilal replied. A big reason for the Communist Party's survival in Kerala has been its ability to adapt to the demands of electoral politics and accommodate different and even contradictory views. As a result the very meaning of communism in Kerala has become a subject of debate. For many, especially the young, communism today is more about the ideal of equal opportunity than the ideology of Marx or Lenin. "We believe all people are the same Dr. T. M. Thomas Isaac, Minister of Finance and Coir, Government of Kerala, India, leaves the house of an injured party worker in his con- stituency of Alappuzha. (Vivek Singh/For TheWashington Post)