I am writing to congratulate the CC of the CGPI on its immensely important and educative statement dated 10th May 2017 on the 160th Anniversary of India's First War of Independence, which is entitled 'Hail the 160th anniversary of the Great Ghadar of 1857! Onward with the struggle to vest sovereignty in the people!' Indeed, the title itself captures the essence of the statement and what the 1857 war stood for, which is that sovereignty must vest in the people, and also that this has remained an unfulfilled aspiration of the people of India. Let us recall that this war was the greatest war of the 19th century in terms of its breadth and participation, and far from being a `Sepoy Mutiny' as described by the victor.
The fact that the uprising was put down by force and the British East India company's rule was replaced by the rule of Queen Victoria, Empress of India also represents a watershed in the manner in which colonialism chose to operate from thereon until 1947, when its formal end came. The period in between was one in which colonial methods of rule became formalized, and whose legacy continues until today, albeit under the yoke of Brown Sahibs rather than White Sahibs. Let us also recall that there was a period during which Bahadur Shah Zafar was installed as the ruler of India, who did indeed rule in the name of the people, and formulated the thesis that it should be the people who should decide who should rule. This thesis remains the great unfulfilled aspiration of the fighters of 1857 and that of every fight since then that seeks a bright future for India and its peoples.
Let us contrast this with the motto of the British Monarch which reads in French 'Dieu, et mon droit' ('God, and my right'), which confers the right to rule as being a birth-right rather than as one that is earned or conferred by the people. In contrast to the vision of 1857, what is in place in India is the absolute right of the ruling circles to carry out their activities any way they deem fit, having armed themselves with a Constitution that guarantees only the rights of those in power and those with property, which vests sovereignty only in the Cabinet and the President, who claims to rule in the name of the people, while in reality rules in the name of the ruling circles, and a Constitution that recognizes the rights of no working person or a peasant to a decent human existence, by not having any enabling provisions and reducing all the rights to empty promises on paper, recognizes none of India's constituent nations and their national rights, recognizes none of the rights of the tribal peoples of India who were here long before caste society or its modern avatars.
This is a continuation of the colonial legacy which required the rule of India to be the `white man's burden'. Thus, the best way to pay tribute to the martyres of 1857 is to strive today to turn their vision into a reality. Let us unite around the banner 'We constitute India! We are her master!'.
M. Dubey, Vadodhara