This Republic does not protect but violates our rights! It is an instrument to divide the polity on communal and caste basis and maintain capitalist dictatorship!

Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 10th January, 2018

The Republic of India will be 68 years old on 26th January this year. The experience of almost seven decades has revealed that this Republic does not protect the right to livelihood, right to conscience, right to life and other human and democratic rights of all members of society. According to Indian political theory or Raj Dharma, a raja who fails to ensure protection and prosperity for the praja loses his right to rule. Judging on the basis of this principle, the Republic of India has no legitimacy whatsoever.

This Republic defends a capitalist economic system in which the ownership of the means of production gets more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. About 150 capitalist monopoly houses own and control the bulk of the wealth of India today. At the other pole, workers and peasants who make up the majority of the population face intensified exploitation and heightened insecurity of livelihood. Lakhs of families sink deeper into debt and thousands commit suicide every year.

The program of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation which has been pursued over the past three decades, is a program aimed at accelerating the concentration of wealth and monopoly. Ministers and bureaucrats who manage the Republic at the central and state levels have been trained in the process of implementing this program of so-called free market reforms. Governments claim good performance on the basis of improvements in the “ease of doing business index” which is published by the World Bank.

Leaders of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are being invited as guests for the Republic Day this year. The real aim is not for defending peace in Asia. It is for advancing the imperialist aims of the Indian ruling class. The Indian Republic is being rapidly militarised in alliance with the US, Israel and other warmongering states. Without doubt, US imperialism is responsible for the maximum amount of wrecking of nations and unjust wars in Asia in this period. For India to be a strategic partner of the United States means to betray the interests of peace in the region.

The Republic of India is on an extremely dangerous course – the path of fascistic repression at home and imperialist aggression abroad.

Transfer of Power –
from 1947 to 1950

Bahadur Shah Zafar, placed on the throne by the Great Ghadar of 1857, had asserted that it is the people of India who will determine what kind of system they would want to have. The British exiled him and threw him in jail for upholding such a principle. In 1947, the act of transfer of power enacted by the British Parliament decided what kind of system South Asia would have during this period of formal independence.

The Constituent Assembly was indirectly elected by members of the Provincial Assemblies elected in July 1946. Elections to these Provincial Assemblies took place on the basis of a restricted franchise based on tax, property and educational qualifications that excluded the masses of workers, peasants, small shopkeepers and traders. The seats in every assembly were divided among religious communities, classified as Sikhs, Muslims and General (or all others) on the basis of the proportion of the community in the population in that province. Representatives of each community were chosen by members of that community only. It is these representatives of different religious communities who elected the Constituent Assembly.

The Constituent Assembly had 389 members. The Congress Party got 203 of the 210 general seats. The Muslim league got 72 of the 78 seats reserved for Muslims. 16 seats went to Sikhs, Scheduled Castes and other smaller groups, The Princely states had 93 representatives.

From within the Constituent Assembly, an Interim Government of India was formed on 2nd September, 1946. Jawaharlal Nehru, who was Vice President of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, became the Prime Minister. The Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, became the Governor-General. In June, 1947, Muslim League members from Sindh, East Bengal, Baluchistan, West Punjab and the North West Frontier Province withdrew to form the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Following partition, the members of the Constituent Assembly who had not withdrawn to Karachi became India's temporary Parliament as well as the body to formulate the Constitution. India remained a dominion of Britain until January 26, 1950 when it was proclaimed a Republic.

The Interim government took up the task of politically integrating the princely states into the Indian Union. The rulers of Hyderabad, Junagadh and Kashmir were coerced into joining, with the threat that the armed forces of the Government of India will not come to their rescue if their people revolted. The King of Manipur was taken to Shillong and coerced into signing a Merger Agreement.

While masses of people were killed in communal violence, the nations of Punjab and Bengal were split into two and millions of people were forced to migrate across arbitrarily drawn borders, the Constituent Assembly held its debates. The people were not presented with a draft for approval. They were not even consulted. The unrepresentative Constituent Assembly not only formulated but also adopted the constitution, all in the name of the people.

The Constituent Assembly decided not to make a break with the past. It adopted a Constitution aimed at consolidating the colonial state, to serve the new ruling class of Indian big capitalists allied with big landlords.

Capitalist growth under the domination of giant monopoly corporations is destroying more jobs than the new ones it creates. It is driving more peasants out of agriculture than it is able to employ in industry and services. Lack of jobs and insecurity of livelihood have become serious problems affecting the majority of Indian people. These problems are being manipulated by the ruling class and its parties to incite inter-caste rivalry and communal hatred, thereby preventing the exploited majority from uniting against their common exploiters.

Elections have become occasions for rival parties of the capitalist class to spread poisonous lies to incite jealousy and hatred. Some caste groups and religious communities are presented as allegedly having enjoyed unfair benefits. Winning elections on the basis of communal and caste mobilisation has become a professional business, in which the BJP, the Congress Party and others are competing with one another.

The Indian Republic acts as a mechanism for distributing privileges while denying human and democratic rights. Instead of demanding one’s rights as a citizen and as a human being, every Indian is expected to make claims on the basis of one’s caste or religious identity.

Privilege distribution in the form of reserved quotas is presented as if it is in the service of the most oppressed sections of society. It has not resulted in eliminating or even reducing the weight of the oppressive and discriminatory caste system. It has only succeeded in reinforcing caste and communal identities, and in accommodating elite from various caste and religious groups in the ruling political arrangement.

In the period of colonial rule, the British bourgeoisie distributed privileges to accommodate Indian elite from selected castes and communities in their state institutions and legislative bodies. They did this in order to consolidate their dictate. In the post-colonial period, the Indian capitalist monopoly houses have followed the same method. The State remains an instrument of communal and caste-based division of the polity, in the service of consolidating the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

The Constitution of this Republic recognises communal and caste identities but does not recognise the existence of the numerous nations, nationalities and peoples who together make up India. By treating legitimate demands and movements for national rights as being a law and order problem and a threat to the unity and integrity of India, the Republic has been wrecking the unity of the peoples of India.

While the Constitution claims that this Republic is a power of, by and for the people, it does not vest sovereignty in the people. While adopting universal adult franchise, the 1950 Constitution upholds the British bourgeois principle of parliamentary sovereignty. According to this principle, it is not the people who have the sovereign right to make laws for the country. It is only the elected members of parliament who have that right. People give up all their political rights the moment they vote.

The theory underlying this Republic is that the people must hand over their sovereignty, the power to make laws and take public policy decisions, to a set of politicians, parties and institutions which are trained to maintain the system of capitalist exploitation and implement so-called reforms to escalate the loot and plunder. Sovereignty is vested in the elected legislative body and further concentrated in the executive – that is, the Cabinet whose advice the President is duty bound to follow.

In sum, this Republic is not a political power of the people, by the people or for the people. It is an instrument of the dictatorship of the capitalist class headed by the monopoly houses. The policy and institutional reforms that are being implemented in the present period, under the banner of “free market” and “good governance”, are aimed at ensuring that the Republic serves only the biggest capitalist monopolies and defends their so-called “right” to reap maximum profits at all times.

The capitalist monopolies rule through the ballot and the bullet. They not only own the lion’s share of the means of production but also control the lion’s share of the means of communication. They own the major daily newspapers and TV channels. They mould public opinion, set up the so-called big fight, and deploy whatever additional tricks it takes to ensure the electoral result they want. They decide which of their favoured parties should be entrusted with power, which then claims to have the “people’s mandate” to implement the anti-people agenda.

The political process of multi-party representative democracy is becoming increasingly discredited, not only in our country but all over the world. More and more people can see that whichever party comes to power implements the agenda of the big bourgeoisie. Everyone can see that money power is decisive in winning elections. Accusations of manipulation of the electronic voting machines are growing stronger after every election in our country these days.

The capitalist monopoly houses are relying on the BJP headed by Narendra Modi at this time. They want the BJP to use its majority and push through the most anti-popular measures, including pro-capitalist labour reforms and anti-peasant land acquisition laws. At the same time, they are propping up the sagging image of the Congress Party so as to have an alternative ready when the BJP gets thoroughly discredited.

What is the path ahead?

We need to reject and oppose the view that the Republic and its Constitution are fine while only this or that party is to blame for all our problems. This is what the BJP and the Congress Party propagate, each blaming the other for all the problems. There are other parties which blame both the BJP and the Congress while claiming that the existing Republic is fine and must be defended and preserved.

The duty of communists is to awaken the working class and other oppressed masses to the real situation. We must tell them the truth that this Republic is an instrument of capitalist dictatorship and we have to fight for a new Republic, which would be an instrument of workers’ and peasants’ rule. For communists to keep tailing behind the Congress Party and creating illusions about the existing Republic means to betray the interests of the workers and peasants. It is precisely this harmful line that has paved the way for the fascistic anti-social offensive of the big bourgeoisie in the present period.

The only way to solve the problem is to replace the existing Republic with a new State that would vest sovereignty in the people and ensure prosperity and protection for all.

The Constitution of the new Republic must make a clean break with the old definition and treatment of rights as being things which can be given and taken away by the State. It must be based on the modern definition that human rights belong to every person by virtue of being human; and it is the duty of the State to guarantee their protection. Human rights include the right to conscience and the right to work, to secure livelihood, food, shelter, clothing, education, health care and all other requirements of dignified human existence.

Constitution does not guarantee the
people’s rights

The right of all adults to work and earn a secure livelihood was deliberately left out of the Fundamental Rights listed in the 1950 Constitution. The right to livelihood was located in the Directive Principles of State Policy, which are not justiciable. The “directive principles” are only policy objectives, which the State is advised to pursue. A person who is unable to find a job cannot go to court and demand employment as a matter of right.

As for those rights that are included as Fundamental Rights, every article has an exception clause that allows the State to deprive people of that right.

For instance, the declaration in Article 15 that discrimination is prohibited on account of religion, race, caste or sex is followed by a clause that nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making special provisions for specific castes and communities. This has been used by successive governments to inflame communal and caste passions.

The declaration in Article 16 on equality of opportunity in matters of public employment is followed by a clause permitting the State to reserve positions for members of specific castes. While the aim is presented as being to “uplift” the victims of caste discrimination, the experience of the past 68 years shows how these clauses have been used to cultivate communal and caste-based voter bases by rival parties that compete for the seats of power in the existing Republic.

The first clause of Article 25 says, “Subject to public order, morality and health … all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”. The second clause of Article 25 permits the State to interfere in the management of Hindu religious places, with a footnote stating that “reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion”. In one stroke, it introduces discriminatory treatment of different religions and violates the right to conscience of those who profess the Sikh, Jain and Buddhist faiths and do not consider themselves as Hindus.

In practice, the State has not protected the right to conscience. It has not defended the freedom of every Indian to profess any religious or non-religious belief. On the contrary, it is guilty of sponsoring and supporting violence against people on the basis of their religion, including armed assault on religious places and historical monuments.

The economy must be reoriented to maximise the degree of fulfilment of the rising material and cultural needs of the human population. Towards this aim, the new State must immediately nationalise and socialise banking, insurance, foreign trade, domestic wholesale and large-scale retail trade. It must establish a modern universal public distribution system covering all essential articles of household consumption, linked to a public procurement system covering all the crops cultivated. It must guarantee adequate and timely supply of agricultural inputs and timely procurement of farm output at stable and remunerative prices.

The new State must mete out exemplary punishment to anyone who uses religion, caste, gender, nationality or race to violate the rights of any human being in the country. It must initiate all-sided measures to assist the victims of caste oppression to overcome the historical injustices.

The new Constitution must recognize that Indian society consists of numerous nations, nationalities and peoples, each with their respective economic, political and cultural rights. It must guarantee all such national rights, including the right to secede from the union. Such a voluntary Indian Union would be a factor for peace and anti-imperialist unity in Asia and on the world scale.

The new Constitution must vest sovereignty in the people. Instead of handing over all power into the hands of those they elect, people must only delegate a part of their power. People in every constituency must have the right to select the candidates prior to elections. They must have the right to demand a rendering of account by their elected representative, and the right to recall him or her at any time. They must enjoy the right to initiate legislation and policies. All residual powers must be vested in the people, including the right to amend or re-write the Constitution.

This is the program of Democratic Renewal or Navnirman around which a worker-peasant alliance can and must be built and strengthened. It must be built and strengthened in the course of opposing the anti-social and fascistic offensive of the big bourgeoisie. It must be built and strengthened in the course of demanding and agitating for constitutional guarantees for all human and democratic rights.

Onward with the struggle for the Navnirman of India!

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Republic Day    Navnirman    Jan 16-31 2018    Statements    Communalism     Economy     History    Political Process     Privatisation    Rights     2018   

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