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Ajit Muricken (1945-2016)
by Eric Toussaint
16 March 2016

Ajit Muricken, who passed away following a heart attack on Monday, March 14, 2016, came from a wealthy family of Kerala. As a student Ajit became a radical, broke up with his parents and decided to commit himself to the struggle against all forms of oppression. With Mercy, his partner for over forty years, he singled out India so that he could bond with the outcast, especially the untouchables from the Dalit castes. Their life reflected this choice all along. Mercy became a people’s doctor specializing in acupuncture. She worked as a doctor in Mumbai slum and then at a health center at Vagamon, Kerala. Ajit dedicated his life to social struggle giving priority to fundamental values: internationalism, rejection of the caste system and religious fundamentalism, peace, the fight for social and human emancipation, inter-culturalism and so on.

Since 1993, Ajit was the Director of a center for research and action, known as VAK. Under his leadership the association organized meetings to take action against the caste system and support various forms of expression for the Dalits. It supported actions against religious fanaticism (especially in Gujarat where the Muslim community was the victim of pogroms organized by Hindu fanatics and the far-right, including leaders of the BJP ruling the country), stood with the associations fighting against exploitation (especially sexual) of children (specially at Goa), organized regional, national and international meetings among social movements fighting capitalist globalization etc.

Ajit came into contact with the CADTM In 1998 and invited us to India. Subsequently, VAK joined the CADTM and an intense collaboration took shape in the following manner:

- Organization of various international meetings of the CADTM, encompassing activists in the region (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh). See:
Activité en Inde dans le cadre de l’atelier Asie du sud
Le premier atelier régional Asie du Sud du CADTM
2d South Asian Forum IFI and Debt crisis janvier 2009
Atelier Asie du Sud CADTM - décembre 2009 à Dhaka, Bangladesh
Inde : Le CADTM au Kerala et au Tamil Nadu ;

- Publication of 11 books from the CADTM:
Bank of the South. An Alternative to IMF-World Bank
The Debt Crisis : From Europe to Where ?
Neo-Liberal Ideology from its Origin to the present – A Retrospective
60 Questions on the IMF-World Bank and the Debt Scam
The World Bank : a never-ending coup d’État. The hidden agenda of the Washington Consensus
Tsunami Aid or Debt Cancellation
Your money or our life
Manifesto for Making Another World Possible
Globalisation - Reality, Resistances & Alternatives
The Debt Scam
Your money or your life ;

- Arranging for the CADTM International’s participation at the 4th World Social Forum held in January 2004 in Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay)

- Participation of Ajit Muricken and Sushovan Dhar as VAK’s representatives in numerous meetings of the CADTM, whether in Asia, Europe, Africa or Latin America

- Conducting workshops and training programs in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, etc.

From its side, the CADTM International brought several of VAK’s publications on the following issues to international attention: farmers’ indebtedness, water privatization, the resistance to Coca Cola, the Dalit struggle and so on.

Ajit and VAK were very active in the SAAPE network that brings together several organizations of the Indian subcontinent (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Maldives).

Accompanied by Ajit, I made trips to Nepal; to different parts of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Kenya; and to several European countries. Our camaraderie had always been immensely enjoyable. We had different temperaments and diverse views, but we exchanged and shared with warmth and happiness. Denise Comanne, my companion, breathed her last in May 2010, and our attachment to Ajit and his wife Mercy was powerful. Whenever we met, it was always an occasion for pleasure and emotions. Every time we went to Mumbai, we were almost always accommodated in the tiny and modest apartment that Ajit and Mercy held for VAK. The windows overlooked the neighboring slum just a few dozen meters away. Every day Mercy would go there for working at the health centre which she ran. Ajit put up with me when he came to Belgium and we shared intense moments.

After he left his post as VAK’s Director in Mumbai in 2011-2012, he devoted his time to local activities. Ajit and Mercy had inherited a property in the hills of Vagamon, Kerala and they introduced several activities there: organic vegetable garden, shelter, meeting hall, spiritual center and so on. Mercy was very active in the village health center. Gandhi’s vision inspired Ajit and Mercy. Denise Comanne, Victor Nzuzi (DRC), Brigitte Ponet, Sushovan Dhar and I regularly spent time there and participated in the activities, especially during 2004-2011. Ajit loved to entertain his friends and comrades in this place where he died unexpectedly on March 14, 2016.

Good bye, Ajit!

Translated by Suchandra De Sarkar

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.
He is the author of Greece 2015: there was an alternative. London: Resistance Books / IIRE / CADTM, 2020 , Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012, etc.
See his bibliography:
He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.