When British colonial rule came to an end in 1947, the people of India expected to be liberated from all forms of exploitation and oppression, including caste discrimination, women’s oppression and communal persecution. The new rulers promised to wipe the tears of the long-suffering people of our country. People hoped that the independent Indian state would treat all members of society as human beings and citizens with equal rights. However, those hopes and expectations remain unfulfilled even 76 years after independence,
Recent events in Manipur and Haryana are stark evidence of the terrible conditions in the country. People continue to be targets of violent attacks based on their religious, caste, ethnic or tribal identity. People are killed, driven out of their homes, raped, or paraded naked, with no protection from the official security forces.
Freedom from colonial rule has not brought about freedom from economic exploitation, or from poverty and hunger. The growth of capitalism has led to the emergence of super-rich billionaires at one pole and widespread poverty and unemployment at the other pole.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh and other revolutionary martyrs declared:
“Our struggle will continue as long as a handful of men, be they foreign or native, or both in collaboration with each other, continue to exploit the labour and resources of our people.”
Nobody can deny that a small number of monopoly capitalists, who head the bourgeois class, are amassing enormous wealth by exploiting the labour and plundering the natural resources of our people.
The heroes of the Ghadar of 1857 asserted that we, the people, have the right to rule India. They raised the slogan “Hum hain iske malik, Hindustan hamaara!” (India belongs to us; We are her master!). The situation today, 76 years after the end of foreign rule, is that we, the people, have no influence over policies and laws that affect our lives.
Successive governments have served the narrow interests of the bourgeois class at the expense of the working people. Laws and policies have all been suited to fulfil the greed of super rich capitalists for maximum profits. Those who criticise the government are thrown into jail, under one draconian law or another.
The ugly debates in parliament show that the so-called people’s representatives do not care about the wellbeing of the people. They are only concerned with insulting their political rivals and improving their electoral prospects.
The problem is not merely with one or a few political parties and politicians. The problem is with the entire political system and the economic system it maintains.
The root of the problem lies in the fact that political power did not come into the hands of the people in 1947. The British rulers organised the communal partition, and transferred power to their trusted collaborators in the midst of communal bloodbath.
Power came into the hands of the political representatives of the big capitalists and big landlords, who decided to perpetuate the colonial method of rule, based on communal and caste-based division of the people. The political system, including the State institutions and the Constitution, serves to maintain the capitalist system of exploitation and the rule of the Indian bourgeoisie.
While conceding the popular demand for universal adult franchise, the Constituent Assembly decided to perpetuate the political system which the British rulers had established to enslave the Indian people. The political process has continued to deprive people of the right to select candidates for election, to hold elected representatives to account or to recall them at any time.
The centralized bureaucracy and armed forces, laws, courts and jails of the British Raj have been used for the past 76 years for maintaining the rule of the Indian bourgeoisie. Divide and rule remains the guiding principle of the rulers of independent India. State-organised communal violence remains a preferred method of rule.
Over the past 76 years, increasing concentration of capital has been accompanied by increasing concentration of political power. Wielding the state inherited from colonial times, the big capitalists have developed capitalism, concentrated wealth in their hands, and grown into monopoly capitalists in pursuit of imperialist aims. They have by now embraced the imperialist prescriptions of liberalisation and privatisation.
The ruling bourgeois class is dragging the country on an extremely dangerous course, in pursuit of extremely narrow interests and imperialist aims. The exploitation of workers and robbery of peasants are reaching unbearable levels. Those who protest face brutal repression.
The people of India need to be liberated from capitalist exploitation and imperialist plunder, as well as caste discrimination, women’s oppression and state-sponsored communal and sectarian violence. The working class needs to lead the struggle for liberation, in alliance with the peasants and all other toiling and oppressed people.
Times are demanding the Navnirman of India. The clean break with the colonial legacy, which did not happen in 1947, needs to take place now. We need a new political system in which sovereignty is vested in the people and the Constitution guarantees the inviolability of democratic and human rights. The political process must be transformed to ensure that the masses of working people are able to exercise decision-making power.
With political power in hand, the working class and its allies will reorient the economy. Instead of being oriented to fulfil the greed of capitalists, the system of social production will become oriented to fulfil the rising needs of the entire people. Only then will the majority of Indian people be able to celebrate India’s independence from the bottom of their hearts.