Sixty three years ago, on 15th August, India declared its formal independence from British colonial rule. The masses of people, who had fought and sacrificed to throw out the British colonisers, hoped that this independence would bring an end to the colonial and imperialist plunder of our land, labour and natural resources.
They hoped that the oppressive and alien colonial institutions that subjugated our people, denied them their rights and kept them out of political power would be uprooted and a new political power be established in which the working people would be the decision makers and masters of their own destiny. They dreamt of a bright future, an India in which our vast material and human resources would be deployed to ensure the well being of the toiling masses as its first priority. They dreamt that our country would stand up against imperialism, in defence of the freedom and rights of nations and peoples. They dreamt of an India without caste hierarchy, where every woman and man would enjoy equal status and rights in the polity.
But these hopes and dreams of our people have been cruelly shattered over the last six decades and more. 'Independence' is hollow and meaningless for the vast masses of workers and peasants of our country, who till today are being ruthlessly exploited and oppressed, by native and foreign capital.
On August 15, 1947, sovereignty was transferred from the British colonialists in London to the Indian bourgeoisie in Delhi. The capitalists and landlords headed by the Tatas, Birlas, and others, represented by the the Congress Party, skillfully manipulated the revolutionary struggle of the workers and peasants against colonial rule, to emerge as the leader of the struggle and establish its own rule. Thus the bourgeoisie gained its political independence and over the years consolidated its political power, but this was not accompanied by the social revolution, the deep going social transformations that were necessary to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of our people.
All the colonial institutions of rule were taken over by the bourgeoisie which came to power in 1947 and these have been further perfected over the years. The state apparatus — the armed forces, the judiciary, the executive as well as the parliament elected on basis of universal franchise – all these are a continuation and development of the British colonial institutions of rule.
The Indian Union was established on the basis of the European nation state model. The existence and rights of the numerous nations and peoples who had together and separately fought to end colonial rule were brutally denied and many of them were forcibly integrated into the new Union. The savage exploitation and plunder of the various nations, nationalities and tribal peoples, the violation of even the right to life and other basic human rights in the border regions, in the name of defending the "unity and territorial integrity" of the Indian Union, has been a characteristic feature of "independent" India.
The capitalist-imperialist system of exploitation and plunder, against which the masses of our people fought during the anti colonial sruggle, has been preserved and systematically strengthened. This exploitation and plunder of our land and labour has been carried out to fatten the big capitalists, who are today expanding their global empires and seeking imperialist big power status on the world scale. The capitalist class, headed by the monopolies, dominate the economy and enjoy the social surplus created by the workers in the private and state capitalist sectors, and rob the peasants and other small producers through unequal and monopolistic trade. The ruling bourgeoisie has step by step removed all barriers to the full flourishing of capitalism in all spheres of the economy. At the same time, it has carefully preserved various remnants of feudalism, such as caste and communal oppression and discrimination, which serve to super-exploit the toiling masses and weaken their resistance. The barbaric oppression of women in all spheres of life continues unabated even today.
The bourgeoisie has used its control over the vast territory of India, its huge and young population, its immense natural resources as well as India’s strategic location in Asia, to pursue single-mindedly its goal of becoming a world class imperialist power. This has been the main consideration guiding its internal and external policies. Today India is fast emerging as one of the leading global powers. Our rulers are extremely boastful of the fact that they have joined the ranks of the big nuclear powers of the world. They take pride in proclaiming their "independent" foreign policy, which means that they are declaring that India is an imperialist power in its own right, a power that is pursuing its own imperialist ambitions in collaboration and contention with other powers. They are happy that the Anglo-American imperialists recognise India as a leading global power. They are claiming their right to a place among the leading imperialist economies of the world. They want to join the big imperialist powers in deciding the fate and future of the global economy.
Today Indian monopoly capitalists are spreading their tentacles world wide, drawing fabulous profits from the exploitation of the land, labour and natural resources in various other parts of the world, in addition to those of our own country. The armed forces are acquiring the most sophisticated arsenal of weapons for land, air and sea offensive. When India gained political independence in 1947, the people had hoped that the new India that would be a bulwark against imperialism, imperialist war and plunder of nations and peoples. But today the bourgeoisie is part and parcel of the global imperialist system of loot and plunder of nations and peoples and devastating war.
For the people the "independence" of August 15, 1947 has thus meant increasing exploitation and misery, increasing violation of rights and freedoms, a continuous vicious cycle of the rich getting richer, while the poor get poorer. Even as the bourgeoisie boasts of its growing economic strength and its increasing clout in world affairs, the masses of toiling people of our country remain victims of the worst kind of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, lack of basic conditions of human existence, illiteracy and social backwardness, environmental and other disasters resulting from private profit motivated capitalist development. Our people in different parts of the country are perpetual victims of sectarian violence organised by the various ruling class political parties, aided and abetted by the state administration. Our people are victims of brutal state terrorism. The masses of our toiling people remain entirely marginalised from the political system and process, disempowered in taking any political decisions that affect their lives and those of future generations.
In order to ensure that our people are independent in real terms, the capitalist system of exploitation has to be overthrown and replaced with socialism. Socialism is based on ownership by the working people, of the means of production. The orientation of the economy has to be changed, to provide for the ever growing needs of the working people, to ensure their security and prosperity, and not to ensure maximum profits for a handful of exploiters.
The workers and peasants of our country will have to wrest political power from the hands of the bourgeoisie and esablish their own rule. The Indian Union has to be transformed from the prison-house of different nations, nationalities and tribal peoples, which it is today, into a voluntary union of workers' and peasants' republics. The colonial state institutions, these instruments of plunder and repression of our toilers, have to be replaced with institutions that defend the rule of workers and peasants. We must replace the present political system with a new one that ensures that workers, peasants, women and youth of our country become the decision makers. Sovereignty has to be transferred from the hands of the bourgeoisie into the hands of the workers, peasants and other toiling people. Only then will our people celebrate their freedom and independence, their azadi from enslavement and plunder, hunger, poverty, disease and devastation.