The peoples of India will be free only when we establish our rule in place of the rule of big capitalists established in 1947
Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 29 July, 2017
On 15th August, 1947, India was formally declared to be independent from British colonial rule. British India was divided into two parts on the basis of religion, to create the independent States of India and Pakistan. East Pakistan, which was geographically separated from the rest of Pakistan, broke away in 1971 to become another independent State of Bangladesh.
Today, 70 years later, the vast majority of people living in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are deprived of freedom in almost all aspects of life. The workers who produce clothing for all do not have enough clothes for their own families. The peasants who cultivate all the crops required to feed and clothe the population are in dire straits, with thousands being driven to suicide every year. Those who build multi-storied buildings and palaces for the rich and powerful live in slums, in the most unhygienic conditions.
Crores of parents wait anxiously all day, wondering whether their sons and daughters will return home safely. Will they have got into trouble with the police? Will they have fallen victim to some criminal gang which is targeting people of any particular religion or caste? Or will they have been hit by some mysterious bomb blast? In the “disturbed areas” of Kashmir, Manipur, the North East and vast tribal areas of central India, the army and paramilitary forces have been told that these are enemy territory. They have the right to shoot anyone on mere suspicion. Along with such insecurity of life, there is the terrible insecurity of livelihood. Nobody knows when one might lose one’s job or farm or small business.
At the opposite pole, a super-rich minority enjoys unlimited freedom to exploit and plunder our land and labour and grow richer. About 150 capitalist monopoly houses, headed by the Tatas, Ambanis and Birlas, own and control, both directly and through the government machinery, the bulk of the means of production in mining, manufacturing, energy, construction, finance, transport, communication, trade and other services. They operate through their trusted political parties and politicians. They make the laws and set all policies to ensure maximum profits for themselves. They are building global business empires while the toiling people remain among the poorest in the world
What is the reason for this terrible state of affairs? If we became free 70 years ago, why are we suffering from all kinds of backwardness and ever-growing exploitation and oppression till today?
The Prime Minister and other spokesmen of the ruling class will never reveal the truth. They speak as if the aim for which our martyrs fought was achieved 70 years ago.
Two lines within the anti-colonial struggle
Over the past 200 years and more, our people have risen up in revolution numerous times. In the great Ghadar of 1857, the peoples of this subcontinent had united across religious, caste, language and cultural barriers to get rid of the British Raj. They united around the slogan: “Hindustan belongs to us; We are her master!” That Ghadar was crushed brutally by the British rulers. However, it left behind the idea and aspiration for the creation of a new India where the people will be the master of their own destiny.
The British rulers adopted both cruel and cunning ways to divide the people and prevent another revolutionary uprising from taking place. They created a stratum of landlords and capitalists who were loyal to them. They actively divided the Indian people on the basis of religion, reinforced caste and tribal identities and attacked all of them one by one. They also created political parties and communal groupings including the Congress, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and many others, to divert the people and diffuse their revolutionary anger. They enacted laws to accommodate the political representatives of the propertied classes within the British Raj.
In 1913, Indian workers, students and teachers living in the US and Canada established the Hindustan Ghadar Party, with the explicit aim of overthrowing British rule over India through another armed mass uprising. This party of workers, peasants and soldiers organized such an uprising in 1915-16, in the midst of the First World War. Many regiments in the British Indian Army revolted, both within India and in many other places around the world.
The history of the anti-colonial struggle in the 20th century is the history of the clash between the two opposing lines. Workers, peasants and broad masses of patriotic people rallied around the revolutionary aim of completely uprooting the colonial State and establishing a new foundation for a liberated India. The big capitalists and big landlords, however, considered themselves as the rightful rulers of India after the exit of the British. They devised their own tactics of using the mass anti-colonial sentiments to negotiate with the British to get political power in their hands. They found the state apparatus built by the colonialists and the statecraft of divide and rule well suited for their own interests. They aspired to wield that state apparatus to exploit and plunder our land and labour so as to enrich themselves and develop into a global imperial power. Hence they opposed any rebellion that posed a threat to the colonial state apparatus.
The big capitalists bided their time for the end of Second World War. They calculated that a weakened British imperialism, threatened by a mass upsurge of anti-colonial struggles, will transfer power into their hands after the war.
Compromise and betrayal
Worldwide, the middle of the 1940s was a time when socialist revolution and national liberation struggles were advancing. The victory over the aggressive fascist axis consisting of Germany, Italy and Japan had led to a huge upsurge in the tide of world revolution. It resulted in the emergence of several newly independent States and the creation of a socialist camp headed by the Soviet Union.
In India, there were three main political interests in contention – the British imperialists, the Indian big bourgeoisie and the common interests of workers, peasants and all uncompromising patriots.
The British imperialists wanted to prevent a revolutionary outcome at any cost. They wanted to retain, as far as possible, their economic, political and military positions in this strategic part of the world.
The Indian big bourgeoisie wanted to take advantage of the world situation to replace the British rulers, gain control over the State they had built, and become the rulers of the entire territory of what had been British India. The biggest capitalist business houses formulated the “Bombay Plan” in 1944, also known as the Tata-Birla plan. It was a blueprint for wielding the colonial state apparatus to establish their own domination over the whole of India.
The workers and peasants, organized in numerous revolutionary and patriotic organisations, wanted to get rid of the entire exploitative system and the colonial State which defended that system. They aspired for liberation from all forms of exploitation, inspired by the advance of socialism in the Soviet Union.
Peasant uprisings of Tebhaga and Telangana, numerous strikes of the working class and the heroic Naval uprising in 1946, accompanied by revolts in the Air Force, thoroughly shook British rule. They hastened the negotiations between Indian big capitalists and the colonialists. The big capitalists, through their political representatives in the Congress and Muslim League, asked the heroic sailors and officers of the Indian Navy, who had turned their guns on the British, to meekly surrender. They arrogantly claimed that there was no need for anti-imperialist struggle anymore, because they, the leaders of India, were now on the doorsteps of power.
There were several rounds of negotiations between the British imperialists and the Indian big bourgeoisie. The British initially proposed a single Indian federal State which would consist of a Hindu part, a Muslim part, and the princely States, all under an overriding federal authority in Delhi. The federal authority would control defence and finance, in which the British would continue to hold a vital position. The Indian big bourgeoisie did not agree with that proposal.
The British imperialists cunningly used the factional rivalry within the Indian bourgeoisie to prepare the conditions for a communal Partition. They negotiated separately with the Congress Party and the Muslim League while secretly encouraging the Muslim League to insist on Partition. They also started a campaign of communal violence and chaos. They then presented Partition as the only viable alternative. In their lust for power and out of their fear of revolution, the big bourgeoisie agreed to the Partition imposed by the British imperialists.
On 15th August, 1947, India’s freedom was declared at midnight, even as the blood of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others were flowing like rivers in numerous parts of the country. India and Pakistan were declared to be free, in the midst of communal massacres and forced mass migration.
Millions of people, of all religions and castes, suffered unspeakable horrors. Many people witnessed their sisters being raped in front of their eyes. Crores of people had to flee across the newly created Indo-Pak borders. The nations of Punjab and Bengal were both split into two parts on the basis of religion. The fate of the people of Kashmir was left hanging.
The blood bath and chaos accompanying the Partition served to prevent revolution in the Indian subcontinent. It served to create two States that would be at permanent loggerheads with one another, which could be exploited by the imperialists. The creation of Pakistan also served the British imperialists to retain their military bases in a region of strategic importance.
The political arrangement that was established when British colonial rule came to an end did not fulfill the goal for which our martyrs fought and laid down their lives. It has not brought freedom to the peoples of India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. A compromise deal was struck between the British imperialists and the Indian big bourgeoisie, to prevent revolution at any cost. As a result, the same system of exploitation has remained and grown from bad to worse. The same State built on communal foundations is used by the big bourgeoisie to divide and rule over the toiling masses of people.
The present conditions are crying out for the fulfilment of the goal of our martyrs. The goal of the Ghadaris, of Bhagat Singh and his comrades and numerous revolutionaries across the length and breadth of India was not the replacement of one set of capitalists in power by another. Their goal was national and social liberation. They fought to establish an India where the people would rule and own the mines, factories, banks and other principal means of production and exchange.
The peoples of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will experience peace and prosperity only when we establish our own rule in place of the rule of big capitalists.
The aim of our struggle remains that of the Ghadar of 1857, expressed in the slogan: India belongs to us, We are her master! We cannot rest until that aim is achieved!