People’s Empowerment is the Call of the Times
Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 23rd January, 2020
On 26th January, tanks and missile launchers will roll down Rajpath. Fighter planes will dominate the skies in the capital. The military might of the Indian Republic will be showcased before the whole world. Our rulers will boast that "All is well" with the Republic.
From Kashmir to Kerala and Maharashtra to Manipur, every Indian knows that all is not well with the Republic.
For over a month, crores of women and men belonging to different religious faiths have come onto the streets in cities and villages, demanding immediate repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which links citizenship with religion. They have demanded that the Central Government take back its decision to organize an all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) to decide "who is a citizen" and to throw out "infiltrators". Throughout the country, women and youth, college and university students, are in the forefront of this struggle against the communal and divisive politics of those in power.
Across the length and breadth of our vast country, people are challenging the executive power, declaring "India belongs to us, we are all Indians! Who are you to ask us for a piece of paper to prove who we are?"
In response to this powerful struggle of the people, almost all the parliamentary parties are now expressing their opposition to the CAA and the NRC, including some who had voted in support earlier. The state legislative assemblies of Kerala and Punjab have passed resolutions against the CAA and NRC. The Kerala government and various political parties have filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA.
The Union Home Minister has declared that the central government will not step back even an inch, no matter how much the people protest. A savage reign of terror has been unleashed to crush the people’s opposition. Lies are being spread to blame the people for the violence being unleashed by the security forces. All those who oppose the communal offensive are being called "anti-national", "terrorists", and “agents of Pakistan”, to justify the use of force to crush them.
Undaunted, people are continuing with their protests. They are boldly defying the authorities, ready to face lathis, bullets and jails.
The response to the people’s protests shows the thoroughly anti-democratic nature of the political power. While claiming to represent the “will of the people”, the Parliament enacts laws that are blatantly anti-people. The Government deploys police powers to suppress the people’s voice. The right to speech and the right to assembly are being blatantly violated all over the country. However, the Constitution claims that India is a democratic Republic.
Part III of the Constitution is supposed to protect fundamental rights. However, every article in Part III includes an exception clause that permits the State to violate the people’s rights.
Clause 1 of Article 19 states that all citizens shall have the right “to freedom of speech and expression”. Clause 2 of the same article states that nothing can prevent the State from imposing “reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of this right, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, public order, etc. This clause permits the imposition of prohibitory orders at any time. It permits arbitrary arrests and detention of whoever dares to raise his or her voice against the existing political power.
Attacks on rights under the pretext of exceptional circumstances have become the norm. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), National Security Act (NSA), the Disturbed Areas Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and other such laws under which tens of thousands of innocent people have been jailed, tortured or murdered are all legalised by the "reasonable restrictions" clause in the Chapter on Fundamental Rights.
Day in and day out, our rulers talk about the threat to the unity and integrity of India. In the name of defending national unity, the struggles of the Assamese, Manipuri, Naga, Kashmiri, Punjabi and other peoples for their national rights have been brutally attacked.
Kashmir has been converted into a virtual prison for the past five and half months. The decision of Parliament on 5th August 2019 to unilaterally eliminate the special status of Jammu & Kashmir and convert it into two union territories was accompanied by stationing of thousands of central armed troops there. The people of Kashmir were completely deprived of all democratic rights, including access to the Internet. Thousands of political activists, including MP’s and former Chief Ministers, are still under arrest. This reign of terror is sought to be justified in the name of defending the unity and integrity of India.
The threat to the unity of people and to the integrity of India does not come from the struggle of this or that nation, nationality or tribal people. It comes from the refusal of the Indian Republic to recognise the multi-national character of our country. Treating any struggle for national rights within India as a "law and order problem" and portraying it as being anti-Indian is a major factor that weakens the unity of the people. It creates conditions that can be exploited by external imperialist forces to destabilise and even break up the Indian Union.
The Preamble of the Constitution promises justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. These lofty declarations remain empty words.
The Directive Principles of State Policy, which is Part IV of the Constitution, declares that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that all men and women have “the right to an adequate means of livelihood”. The reality, however, is that crores of people cannot find jobs and peasants continue to commit suicide.
The Directive Principles are not legally enforceable. They are nothing but policy objectives which are forever out of reach of the vast majority of people. One of these principles is that the State must ensure that “the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production”. The bitter reality is that the richest 1 per cent of the population owns more than 70 per cent of India’s wealth.
On 8th January, as many as 250 million participated in a one-day General Strike called by workers’ unions. They demanded a minimum wage which ensures a dignified human existence. They demanded an end to contract labour, to privatization and pro-capitalist amendments in labour laws. They demanded waiver of agricultural loans. They demanded a universal public distribution system to provide essential consumption goods at affordable prices; and a public procurement system to guarantee stable and remunerative prices for all the produce of peasants.
If the Indian Republic truly represented the people’s will, it would have taken immediate steps to address these demands. Fulfilling these demands is not only in the best interests of the vast majority of the population. It would contribute to lifting the economy out of crisis. However, fulfillment of these demands is not suited to the interests of the monopoly capitalists, who want to pocket maximum profits at all times.
Far from addressing the demands raised by the workers and peasants, the Central Government has been busy consulting with the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and other monopoly houses, to find ways to guarantee maximum capitalist profits.
The Preamble of the Constitution refers to “we, the people” as the decision makers. However, the operative parts of the Constitution provide for the concentration of decision-making power in very few hands. Only Parliament has the right to make new laws, repeal existing laws and amend the constitution. People have no role in decision making.
The system of democracy sanctified by the Constitution is completely anachronistic. Instead of being a mechanism through which people can exercise their will, it has shown itself to be a mechanism for the rule of a tiny minority of capitalist monopolies over the vast masses of our people.
Capitalist monopolies brazenly finance the election campaign of their favorite parties and ensure that one of them comes to power. Once in power, such parties faithfully implement the agenda of the capitalist class.
Decision making power is concentrated in the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet rules by decree. It is not accountable to the legislature, which in turn is not accountable to the electorate.
This system is suitable for the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses, to ensure that the government does their bidding. It is not suitable for the working class, peasants and vast majority of people, who are kept completely out of the decision-making process.
Crores of our people are expressing their aspiration that the Republic must uphold the values and defend the principles stated in the Preamble of the Constitution. They are demanding that the Indian Republic must guarantee prosperity and protection for all members of society, irrespective of religion, caste, gender or any other consideration.
In order to make this happen, we need to wage our struggle with the perspective and aim of modernizing the system of democracy. In a modern democracy, decision-making power must be in the hands of the people. The Constitution must guarantee that sovereignty – decision-making power – is vested in the people. The executive power must be accountable to the elected legislative body, which in turn must be accountable to the people. People must have the right to propose and to reject laws. They must have the right to amend or reformulate the Constitution.
A modern democracy must recognise that India consists of numerous nations, nationalities and peoples, each with their respective rights. The Constitution must guarantee that every constituent of the Indian Union enjoys the right to self-determination. It must be based on a modern definition of citizenship. It must guarantee that human rights, including the Right to Conscience, are not violated under any pretext.
It is we workers, peasants, women, youth, the people of different nations, nationalities and tribal peoples, who constitute India. India belongs to all of us. It is our right as well as duty to bring about those changes in the system which will ensure that sovereignty is vested in the people. With political power in our hands, we will take control of the principal means of production and reorient the economy to ensure prosperity and protection for all. Only then will the Republic truly represent the people’s will and fulfill their best aspirations.