(DV Rao’s Death (July 12, 1984)  Anniversary is observed in July every year. His views  on the Problem of Nationalities in India are relevant and useful for students of politics , more so of democrats and revolutionaries. Hence this write-up. Part-1 was published on July 11, 2019. This is Part-2  of the two-part article.)

‘Indian nation’ and nationalism have been under intense discusssion in recent past, including in the latest elections.

Those who are critical of any policy of the ruling classes and the ruling party of the day are branded as anti-national, and charges of sedition are foisted for all and sundry reasons.

Prime Minister Modi himself blamed  some as part of , or as supporters of , tukde tukde gang (disintegrationists).

How to view this question? How to avert disintegration of India? This is related among others to the question of nationalities.

DV Rao (1917-1984), veteran communist revolutionary, was a Lok Sabha Member 1957-62, a great political theorist, a prolific writer, who explained this question in an objective and  scientific manner.

The  Problem of Nationalities in India  was amplified   and explained in  DV Rao’s  classic book:  People’s Democratic Revolution in India – An explanation of the Programme.

( The  Proletarian Line Publications,  5-5-1022/107, Mallikarjuna Nagar (North),  Chintalkuta, LB Nagar, Hyderabad-500 068.)

They are given in two parts.

Instead of merely paraphrasing classic Marxist works, DV Rao based himself on an objective study and analysed  Some of the Specific Features of the Indian Situation.

 As part of that, he dealt with various theories about the nation:                                  One Nation Theory, Two Nations Theory, Dravidasthan etc.

Part-1, written in 1971, included the above points.


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rao reddy

Part-2, written a decade later in 1981, was a part of the Foreword to the  (Second)  Telugu Edition of  book mentioned above.

In this part-2, DV Rao dwelt more on the role of imperialism vis-a-vis  the  Question of Nationalities. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to often refer to  foreign hand, and this part raised and answered related questions. In the process, DV Rao re-viewed his own views in relation to the developments as they evolved our the previous decade.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his colleagues harp on the question of Kashmir etc.,  and how they want to save the nation from disintegration. Pakistan was created as a result of partition, on the basis of religion, and not only Jinnah and Hindu communalists but also Nehru and Patel had a role in it. Kashmir too was partitioned, and that continues to be a source of turmoil in South Asia.

Indian communists too had committed a mistake on the question, messing up the  right of self-determination with religion and had supported the slogan of Pakistan. Part-2 also discusses this issue.

However DV Rao clarified in it  : “All this does not mean that we should oppose Pakistan once it was formed. Pakistan is a sovereign neighbouring state. It is our bounden duty to respect its borders. Our policy is shaped on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.”

It should be noted that Soviet Union in later part of its existence had  turned into  an aggressive, militarized, super power, interfered in East Pakistan which broke away and Bangladesh was created.

In that process, a huge immigration of refugees (from what became Bangladesh) took place and that still haunts India : The Assam movement was a result of that, and the Citizenship (Amendmend) Bill was pushed by the Modi regime, leading to many complications.

The Soviet Union had occupied Afghanistan, ostensibly to counter reactionary forces that were pro-US.It was welcomed by some people including India’s parliamentary Left.

But DV Rao in 1981 had written : “The decline of  the Soviet Union has begun with its aggression on Afghanistan.” He had asserted that it will disintegrate sooner than later. And it indeed disintegrated in December 1991.

DV Rao’s references to Soviet Union should be viewed from the perspective of those times. The role of Russia today is different from that of those days.

Sub-heads and emphases are added.

Despite his being a MP (1957-62), he was imprisoned for his revolutionary views during 1969-72 period, came out on bail, and skipped the bail when Indira Gandhi regime declared Emergency in 1975 June.  Eversince he went and lived underground from 1975 till 1984 July 12, the day he died incognito.

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DV Rao on The Question of Nationalities

 Role of Imperialism

(An extract from Foreword to People’s Democratic Revolution in India – An explanation of the Programme by DV Rao)

About the future of the question of nationalities in our country, we wrote as following:

“Excepting in Kashmir, the Naga and the Mizo areas, there is no national movement for secession, anywhere in India. At the same time, it would be wrong to say that it will never develop. A vast and densely populated country like India has already become the centre of exploitation for all the major imperialist powers. In addition to America, the Soviet Union and Britain, West Germany and the Japanese imperialists have also entered the country. As and when the contradictions intensify between these powers, each imperialist power may try to bring one or more States under its heels and encourage a movement for secession, from Indian Union, in the name of right of self-determination. Reactionary movements as they are, the present ruling classes are incompetent to face them. It is the People’s Democratic Revolution which alone is capable of facing this and keeping India united.” (Last Para of the Chapter IX of this book)

There is no change in our attitude towards Kashmir, Naga and Mizo problems. However, the experiences of the last one decade proved that the points mentioned here about the future of other States are not correct for the present. In spite of the government’s attempts to ruthlessly suppress the struggles being waged by the Nagas and Mizos, they are continuing. In addition to them, national movements have started in the Northeast and other areas. For the present, they are opposing the massive transfer of refugees into Assam, Tripura and Manipur so as to reduce the respective peoples (Assamese, Tripuris and Manipuris) into minorities. This movement is spreading to other areas as well in the Northeast. If it gradually takes the path of the Nagas and Mizos, we need not be surprised.

Though their capital has increased in our country over the last decade, the Western powers failed to gain control over the government policies. The United States, weakened as it is, is contenting itself with the export of its capital. Same is the case with other powers. In Tamil Nadu, the DMK government attempted to import more of Japanese capital but it did not succeed. The subsequent governments kept aloof. But as for Soviet Union, it is attempting to grip not only the country as a whole, but all the strategic areas within it. The Northeast is one among them. It is attempting to gain control over the east coast areas, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, as well as Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. It had established itself in at least some of them. The Congress government is rendering its services to the Soviet Union. Under these circumstances, any national movement that rises and develops against the Congress government, backed as it is by the Soviet Union, will be but an anti-imperialist movement. Soviet Union being a more aggressive super power, the movement acquires an additional significance. Though there are diversionist and reactionary forces in these movements, they are justified national and democratic movements. They may not have the demand for the right of self determination for secession in their programme. That does not however mean that local national demands are not democratic. It will be a part of the programme of communist revolutionaries to examine the concrete conditions of the respective national areas and to decide which among them are democratic or otherwise, so as to support the former.

Today no other imperialist power, with the exception of Soviet Union, is in a position to support national movements. We cannot say how it will be like in future. To say that there is the invisible hand of the US behind the national movements going on in the States of the Northeast is only to divert the real issue. To say that Britain and US are helping independence movements in that area, simply because the majority of the girijans there are Christians, is only to indirectly incite anti-Christian frenzy. Nobody (the government and the political parties) could prove till now that the movements are helped by imperialist powers.

Though the imperialist powers of the Second World (West Germany, France and Japan) have become stronger in our country by investing more capital than in the past, they are not in a position to poke their nose in the national movements, nor do they need it. Because of its limited resources, the Soviet Union had not become an obstacle to the flow of capital from US and other imperialist powers. The status quo will be continuing until this situation lasts.

It is difficult now to envisage how it will be when the situation changes and the contradictions among imperialist powers intensify leading to their encouraging national movements. Theoretically speaking, we do not support any imperialist-inspired national movement.

 Presently the two super powers, particularly the Soviet Union is acting as the representative and the leader of imperialism. So we do not support any movements instigated by them. But it is by no means wrong for the national democratic forces to utilise the inter-imperialist contradictions and to take the help of one against the other (ex: Afghanistan). We adopt the same attitude towards the countries of the Second World with greater emphasis (because their help is in opposition to one of the two super powers). However, in our country communist revolutionaries together with the national democratic forces are gradually becoming stronger today. The democratic movement is advancing. Under the circumstances, the diversionist forces cannot play a decisive role. This should be noted.

We have some linguistic States. Whether they are full-fledged or not, they belong to respective nationalities. In each State, together with the people of the concerned nationality, there are those of other nationalities who are in minority. There are exploiting classes as well as common people among the latter. Then there are exploiting classes of the concerned State, not to speak of people. In the name of national movement, persons belonging to majority are conducting struggles against exploiting classes as well as people belonging to the minority. Often the students are assuming leadership. Behind it, a section of the party of ruling class will invariably be present. It is having the support of landlords, and local traders and merchants. Labelling it as a national movement and a class struggle, a section of the communist revolutionaries is helping it and it is wrong.

Migration from one State to another had taken place over several centuries and for different reasons. Some of them assimilated themselves with the local people, while others retained their separate culture. Some among those who migrated as traders, merchants and officials became lakhiers, while others remained as common people. Exploiters are more in number in some, while in others there are more toiling people.

Will it be a national struggle if it is carried against those not belonging to that nationality in the name of their being exploiters? A national struggle is directed against the Central and State governments, but not against those of other States. The reason is: if it was the British imperialists who created this problem, it is the present ruling classes and their representatives, i.e., the Central and State governments, who left it unresolved and aggravated it. Though traders, merchants and landlords do back  these governments, all the same, the struggle being a political one, is directed against the governments, but not against ‘outsiders’ either individually or collectively. But then such struggles are going on in these days.

They say that it is a struggle against exploitation by the landlords and the wealthy. So it follows that communist revolutionaries lead it. But then such a struggle is not to be confined to those from other States. It has to be directed against the landlords and the wealthy (moneylenders) of the same State (and nationality) as well. And only then can it be called a class struggle.

It should be realised that a struggle directed against those of other States, while excluding the landlords and moneylenders of ‘their own’ State (nationality), will always get the support of the landlords and moneylenders of ‘their own’ State. They will always seek to establish their monopoly domination over exploitation by undermining their contenders. What more do they want when communist revolutionaries themselves help them in it? And if those of other States are thus driven out as aliens, who will fight for their right to stay in the State?

We formulate partial demands against exploitation and struggle to reduce it. Such demands apply equally to those of the same State as well as ‘outsiders’. The struggle also will be directed against all exploiters. Only then it will be a struggle against exploitation.

What we should keep in mind is that the majority in one State is the minority in another. If the majority harasses the minority, they should think of what happens to the minorities in other States. As the clashes are often connected with the ruling parties, they do not bother as to what happens to the people. But communist revolutionaries should think of this.

Those who do not do so are local national chauvinists. National chauvinism and opportunism are inseparably linked to each other. Those of this category bring in the excuse that we should not be isolated from the people and that we should be at the head of the people. True, we should be at the head of the people so as to channelise a misled people in a correct direction with correct slogans. But it is not meant for tailing behind the misguided people.

Mistakes committed by communists : Pakistan

There are experiences when revolutionaries adopted a national chauvinist attitude towards other important issues. When the Indian troops were at war against East Bengal, some revolutionaries did not oppose it. And what is worse, they supported it in the name of liberation of Bangladesh. They failed to recognise the fact that the war was in furtherance of the expansionist desires of the Indian ruling classes, with the initiative, plan and protective cover provided by Soviet Union.

A particular trend of national chauvinism which refused to accept experiences of the revolutionary movements of other areas has established itself in a subtle way among revolutionaries. They cannot become genuine revolutionaries simply by welcoming, praising and expressing their solidarity to the revolutionary struggles of an area. They should thoroughly study the experiences of these movements, take lessons from them and advance their own movements by applying them. This applies equally to all national areas.

It has become a common practice today to praise the struggle of an area and to say that their own areas are an exception where such struggles would not develop because similar conditions do not exist there. Likewise, to say that an ideological struggle conducted for correct line in one area is confined to that area, so as to refuse to apply it to themselves, is wrong. Wrong trends are not just local. They extend not only to all over India but internationally also. It is well known that revisionism and right and ‘left’ opportunism have swept not only our country but the whole world.

These wrong trends are an important obstacle to the development and advance of revolutionary movements in our country. It is necessary that revolutionaries realise this and rid themselves of this disease. It is only then that a revolutionary movement and a revolutionary organisation can take shape and advance on an all-India scale.

India was never a country with fixed borders

We had just indicated the mistake committed on the question of nationalities by the (united) Communist Party during 1945-46. It needs some more explanation.

We have already stated that India was never a country with fixed borders. The British imperialists split the country on the basis of religion at the time of Transfer of Power and thus attempted to keep the newly formed States weak and dependent upon them. The then Muslim League leadership wanted the same. Though the Congress leadership opposed it, it had to accept it. The then Communist Party, even while advocating that the whole country should remain as one Indian Union, supported the formation of Pakistan by theorising that Muslims had a right to have a separate country because they had developed into a nation in areas where they are in majority. Rajani Palme Dutt had referred to this in his famous work India Today in the following words:

“The demand for Pakistan as officially presented by way of ultimatum irrespective of popular wishes and with resistance to any democratic solution, became in practice a reactionary, anti-democratic and disruptive demand which played into the hands of imperialism.” (P. 477)

He wrote these lines after having shown, with the help of some statistics, how the Muslim League “presented” the demand in an anti-democratic way. For him it was a defect in the “presentation” of the demand, but he did not say that the very nature of the demand was defective and reactionary. On the other hand, he found a genuine national content in the demand for Pakistan. He wrote thus:

“This should not, however, blind us to the genuine national content concealed behind the Pakistan demand.” (P. 477)

Thus he is supporting the demand for Pakistan as justified. How it should be presented in a democratic way, he explained in the following words:

“Any final solution of this question will need to be along democratic lines. The democratic principle of self-determination recognises that, where there exists a clear national demand in a given territory for self-determination, that is, where the majority of the people of a given territory clearly demand separate political institutions on the ground of their distinctive national character and culture, then, provided this is geographically and economically possible, they have a right to such separate political institutions, since it would be indefensible to attempt to impose on them political institutions against their will.” (P. 477-478)

The difference between what the Muslim League leaders said and what he said is this: While they say that the demand for Pakistan should be accepted if the majority among the Muslims in the Muslim-majority area demand so, Palme Dutt suggests that it should be accepted if the majority of the whole people (Muslims as well as non-Muslims) of the area demand it. Thus there is no difference on the demand for Pakistan as such. It is only on how it should be realised and executed. Quoting the contents of the memorandum submitted by the then Communist Party to the British Cabinet Mission, Palme Dutt writes:

“This policy has been put forward by the Communist Party of India, originally in a resolution of 1942 which represented the first serious study of the new problems of the multi-national character of the Indian people, and more recently in the Memorandum submitted to the British Cabinet Mission in 1946:

“This acute difference between the Congress and the League on the issue of Constituent Assembly can only be settled by the just application of the principle of self-determination.

“We suggest that the provisional Government should be charged with the task of setting up a Boundaries Commission to redraw the boundaries on the basis of natural ancient homelands of every people, so that the re-demarcated Provinces become as far as possible linguistically and culturally homogeneous National Units, e.g. Sind, Pathan Land, Baluchistan, Western Punjab etc.* The people of each such unit should have the unfettered right of self-determination, i.e., the right to decide freely whether they join the Indian Union or form a separate sovereign state or another Indian Union.

“The Election to the Constituent Assembly should, therefore, be based on recognition of this fundamental right and during the elections the question of separation or union should be put by the political parties to the people. The delegates elected from each National Unit shall decide by a majority whether they will join the all-India Constituent Assembly to form an Indian Union or remain out and form a separate sovereign state by themselves or join another Indian Union;

“The Communist Party stands for a free voluntary democratic Indian Union of Sovereign Units. It is firmly convinced that the best interests of the Indian masses will be served by their remaining together in one common Union in a common brotherhood to defend the freedom and solve the problems of poverty which require the cooperation of all. It is only on the basis of the application of the principle of self-determination as indicated above that Indian unity can be preserved.”

“This line of approach offers the most favourable path towards a solution of these problems.” (P 480-481) (India Today by Rajani Palme Dutt; Second Indian edition, 1970)

In this he referred to Western Punjab as one Unit. It is a Muslim-majority area. He said it is a homeland of the Muslim nationals. It was in line with this that Punjab was bifurcated (the Muslim League wanted the same). Same was the case with Bengal. Likewise, it was suggested that more than one sovereign state could be formed rather than a single Indian Union.

Thus the then Communist Party had vulgarised the right of self-determination and recognised the right of secession based on religion. What Palme Dutt wrote was in accordance with the attitude of the (united) Communist Party towards the question of nationalities. That is theoretically wrong. The people of both the areas are suffering, even today, from the grave hardships and severe problems thrown up in practice.

All this does not mean that we should oppose Pakistan once it was formed. Pakistan is a sovereign neighbouring state. It is our bounden duty to respect its borders. Our policy is shaped on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

But there are some revolutionaries, leave alone others, who are having an anti-Pakistan attitude. They fail to understand how Pakistan is defending its independence by challenging the hegemonism of a strong Soviet Union. But they exaggerate the aid it is obtaining from the US. The Congress(I), the revisionists and neo-revisionists are doing the same.

In the same way, the same mistake (right opportunism) committed by the (united) Communist Party was being repeated in another form in the later period. The revisionists and neo-revisionists(CPI and CPI-M respectively)are exhibiting national chauvinism and right opportunism by denying the right of nations for self-determination.

Some revolutionaries are exhibiting ‘left’ opportunism and committing a mistake from another side. By participating in movements which incite the people of one nationality against those of another, they are becoming victims of local national chauvinism.

By participating in diversionist movements, they are helping one section or the other of the ruling classes. Instead of building a revolutionary movement by relentless work among people, they are joining in national chauvinist movements started by others, for cheap popularity. By doing so they are serving the ruling classes rather than strengthening mass movements.

The movements of nationalities will provide positive results only when they are conducted on the basis of right of self-determination as against the imperialism,(at the time the Soviet Union)  and its camp-followers, the Indian ruling classes.

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For Part-1 : Problem of Nationalities in India: DV Rao’s views



See also :

Veteran Communist Revolutionary  DV Rao  Remembered, (July 15, 2016)


QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT- Role Of The Communists: Telangana Followed A Revolutionary Line 



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