Communist tech start-ups in Tamil Nadu, circa 2004

On September 8, 2006, security forces in Andhra Pradesh captured a massive arms cache of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which lead to the unveiling of a guerrilla manufacturing network.

From Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country (2008):

Over the next two months, the Andhra and Tamil Nadu police cooperated to crack the modus and the network, tracing it back from the initial find in Andhra to Ambattur, a busy industrial hub in Chennai.  Investigators from Q Branch of the TN police, tasked with anti-Naxal work, recruited civilians, gave them parts of rocket launchers and shells and made them do the rounds of Ambattur, showing them to several small and medium metalworking units and asking if they could fashion similar parts.  Finally, a manufacturer eyed a part and said a person named Raghu had wanted such a design replicated.  Following this break, the police traced seven units: Everest Engineering Company, Universal Cuts, Bharath Fine Engineering, Jai Tech Engineering Company, Shanthi Engineering Company, Arun Engineering Company and Dhanalakshmi Foundry.

In November, Raghu–or Thota Kumaraswany, also called “Tech Madhu” in Maoist circles–who ran Bharath Fine Engineering…surrendered to the Andhra police.  On 4 November he appeared before media in a hurried police-managed meeting and talked about how he had trained cadre in the use of rocket launchers in the Nallamala forests, how the party had specifically given him the responsibility of developing a manufacturing network in 2004…(252-3)

This example should raise questions about the position of engineering and technology in the general dynamics of revolutionary class struggle.  Of course, this example is a bit extreme, as Maoist guerrilla warfare remains extremely controversial even in radical leftist circles; but it still points to a general need for radicals and revolutionaries to think about what popular control of manufacturing, technology, and engineering looks like.


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