India needs a new foundation
Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 15th August, 2021
As the Prime Minister prepares to deliver his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day, the majority of Indian people have little to celebrate. We have lot of reasons to feel extremely angry.
After 74 years of economic development under a politically independent State, crores of able-bodied men and women in our country cannot find remunerative work. Crores of those who toil from dawn to dusk do not make enough for a decent human existence.
British rule over India came to an end 74 years ago. However, the system of exploitation and plunder they created has not come to an end. Capitalist exploitation of the working class has not only continued but grown more and more intense. So has the loot of kisans by private profiteers, headed by monopoly capitalist companies. Foreign monopoly capitalist companies are exploiting the labour and plundering the natural resources of our people, in collusion with Indian capitalist monopoly houses.
Masses of Indian people joined the anti-colonial struggle with the hope that independence from British rule will lead to their liberation from all forms of exploitation and oppression. Seventy-four years later, people continue to be victims of class exploitation as well as caste oppression. Women face increasing risk of sexual harassment and physical assaults. Religious minorities face discrimination and are frequently made the targets of communal violence.
Crores of children suffer from malnutrition. The majority of sons and daughters of workers and peasants are condemned to poor quality school education. Good quality jobs are accessible only to those privileged to have studied in high quality English medium schools. Majority of children are condemned to be fit only to do the “dirty work”, at the lowest level of wages.
The Covid crisis and lockdowns have been used as an opportunity to further intensify the exploitation of workers and loot of peasants. The net profits of monopoly companies have increased by more than 50 percent in 2020-21, a year when the majority of Indians became much poorer than before.
During the revolutionary uprising of 1857, people of all regions, all religions and from all walks of life united in opposition to the illegitimate foreign rule. They asserted that we, the toiling people of this land, have the right to rule India. Their slogan “Hum hain iske malik, Hindustan hamaara!” (India belongs to us; We are her master!) captured the hearts and minds of the masses of people. Seventy-four years after political independence, the toiling majority of people have no power, no influence over policies and laws that affect their lives.
Government policies and acts of parliament are all suited to fulfil the greed of the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas, Adanis, other Indian monopoly houses as well as Amazon, Walmart, Facebook and other foreign multinational companies. Monopoly capitalists are setting the agenda. They have become the malik while the toiling majority of people remain powerless victims.
The reason why independence has turned out to be a cruel joke for the vast majority of Indians lies in the tragedy that took place in 1947. The anti-colonial struggle ended with a compromise deal struck behind the people’s backs. Hindustan was partitioned into a Hindu majority India and a Muslim majority Pakistan. The nations of Punjab and Bengal were brutally divided in the midst of a communal carnage organised by the British colonialists. Political power was transferred from London to Delhi, but not into the hands of the people of India. It was transferred into the hands of a minority of Indians, in whose interest it has been to perpetuate the system of exploitation and oppression inherited from colonial times.
Within the anti-colonial struggle in British India, there were two opposite trends in contention. One was the revolutionary trend and the other was the compromising trend.
Organisations of the revolutionary trend fought with the aim of completely uprooting the institutions, economic system, theories and values of the British rulers. They fought for the establishment of an entirely new State that would ensure protection and prosperity for all. They considered expulsion of the British as part of the the struggle for liberation from all forms of exploitation and oppression.
Organisations of the compromising trend worked towards the goal of achieving political independence without deep going social transformations. They were opposed to any revolutionary change in the economic and political system and the institutions of the State established by the colonialists.
The compromising trend represented the interests of the big capitalists and big landlords, the classes which were groomed by the British imperialists to consolidate their rule over India. The British imperialists had encouraged the growth of these classes, through the systems of land ownership they introduced and by handing out industrial licences to propertied families which collaborated with them.
The revolutionary trend represented the interests of the workers, peasants and other oppressed masses of people. It was championed by the Hindustan Ghadar Party formed in 1913, by Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his comrades, and by numerous communist revolutionaries.
The compromising trend was championed by parties of Indian propertied interests, including the Congress Party and Muslim League. Sponsoring the formation and encouraging the growth of such parties was part of the strategy followed by the British rulers following the Ghadar of 1857. They introduced elections to provincial assemblies so as to accommodate Indian bourgeois politicians within the British colonial administration.
What happened in1947 was that British imperialism transferred the supreme power over the Indian subcontinent into the hands of classes they had groomed. They thereby made sure that the newly independent states of India and Pakistan would remain tied to the imperialist system. They made sure that the British colonial legacy would be preserved even after the British exit the scene.
Following the end of the Second World War in 1945, British imperialism faced a rising tide of struggle of workers and peasants in India. The revolt in the Royal Indian Navy, which was wholeheartedly supported by masses of industrial workers in Mumbai, Karachi and other industrial towns, raised the spectre of revolution. Inspired by the example of workers and peasants in the Soviet Union, the toiling majority of Indian people were longing for revolution and socialism.
The British imperialists had been greatly weakened by the war. They realised that they could not continue with direct rule over India. They started working out an exit strategy, aimed at preventing a revolution and at keeping South Asia disunited and dependent on Anglo-American imperialism.
The common fear of revolution brought British imperialism and the Indian big bourgeoisie together. They were united in their aim of safeguarding capitalism and the imperialist system of plunder. They wanted to prevent, at any cost, workers and peasants of India following the example of the Soviet Union, seizing the means of production from the hands of the colonialists and the Indian bourgeoisie, and marching on the road of socialism.
Negotiating separately with Congress Party and Muslim League, the British sowed mutual distrust among them. They prepared the conditions for a communal partition.
Being more opposed to revolution than to imperialism, and in their eagerness to gain control over state power, the Indian bourgeoisie and its politicians capitulated to the communal partition organised by the British.
As a result of the deal struck between British imperialism and the Indian big bourgeoisie in 1947, India remains enslaved to the colonial legacy and enmeshed in the imperialist system till today. The institutions of the colonial State, including the corrupt bureaucracy and communal regiments of the army, have been retained intact. The Rule of Law which the British established, in defence of their exploitative economic system, remain intact. Colonial laws that justify state terrorism remain on the statute books, such as the Sedition Act and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The colonial tactics of divide and rule, of state-organised communal violence side by side with the preaching of communal harmony and secularism, all these have been preserved and further refined by the Indian bourgeoisie.
The political process of multi-party representative democracy, which was introduced by the British on a limited scale, has been adopted as the political process in independent India. It is designed to keep decision-making power firmly in the hands of the capitalist class, while creating the impression that people are exercising their choice.
The monopoly houses who head the capitalist class have used the state machinery and political process they inherited from the British to accumulate enormous private wealth. They have extended their domination to all branches of the economy and all regions of the country. They have become multi billionaires, competing with the richest capitalists of the world and harbouring their own imperialist ambitions.
The bourgeoisie has preserved the feudal remnants and the hated caste system. In the Indian Union established by the bourgeoisie, the different nations and peoples constituting India are deprived of their national rights, and India is a prison house of nations. Caring only for its own narrow interests, the Indian bourgeoisie is opening all doors to increasing imperialist penetration and domination of foreign multinational companies in multiple spheres of the economy
As long as the bourgeoisie remains in power and sets the agenda, people will remain powerless victims of an exploitative economic system, an oppressive state and a criminalised political process. The role of foreign capital and external imperialist influence will keep growing. India will get more and more embroiled in inter-imperialist rivalry and unjust wars to re-divide the world.
That which was not done in 1947 needs to be done today. A clean break needs to be made with the entire colonial legacy, including capitalism and the system of British style parliamentary democracy. We need to break with the Rule of Law which defends capitalist property and “monopoly right”, while trampling on the rights of workers, peasants, women and youth.
The existing State is an instrument to empower the capitalist class and deprive workers and peasants of any means of resisting their exploitation. We need to lay the foundation of a State which would be an instrument to empower the workers and peasants and deprive the capitalist class of the means to exploit others.
From being the private property of monopoly capitalists, the means of large-scale production and exchange must be converted into social property, belonging to the whole people. From being oriented to fulfil capitalist greed, the economic system can then be reoriented towards fulfilling the needs of all human beings.
The times are calling for a new foundation, for Navnirman of the state and economic system. Workers and peasants have to unite, dislodge the bourgeoisie from power and take the reins of India’s destiny in our hands. We have to establish a Workers’ and Peasants’ State. Only then can we truly safeguard the independence and sovereignty of India and ensure protection and prosperity for all.