The Oct. 29 front-page article "A communist success" touched on one key point as to why this flavor of political doctrine has survived. The fact that religious, communal and caste lines were blurred by Hindu, Muslim and Christian activists has been one of the more enduring facets of this strange flavor of communism. The birth and growth of communism in the Indian state of Kerala, as in other countries, was the result of a revolt against socioeconomic lines and was remarkable in how it kept in check strong religious biases. To that extent, probably one of the main causes of such open-mindedness and lack of stricture is how Hinduism, the dominant religion, treats other religions with respect and deference.
As one who grew up in Kerala, I recall that in our small village there was a temple devoted to the goddess Kali next to a church devoted to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the saying was that the two deities were sisters. Unfortunately, with the passing of time, this tolerance is becoming a thing of the past.
Indian political leader T.M. Thomas Isaac is an excellent example of this phenomena with his disavowing of religion in a country that is both poly- and monotheistic and where prayers and mantras are a way of life.
Kerala is unique in that in 1957, the state was the first to democratically elect a communist government, then headed by Chief Minister E.M.S. Namboodiripad . As far as I know, the only country in the world that did so in an open election was Chile in 1970, with the short-lived tenure of Salvador Allende.
Eapen "Peter" Panicker, Sterling