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(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.)

‘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?

  DV Rao says recognition of , and respect for, the right of Self-determination is a pre-requisite for India’s Unity and asserts :

All nationalities would want to live in unison, as a part and parcel of the vast country like India, because, it alone makes it possible for their all round development. The right of self-determination and the unity of India are not antagonistic. On the other hand, they are compatible with the victorious People’s Democratic Revolution, which alone can achieve this.

What is a nation? This has been an important question in political science. Real politic has little to do with what is taught as political science.

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.

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.

He made a critical and self-critical analysis of the stand taken by the Indian communists, and pointedly analysed thier mistakes too.

His ideas on the question were developed over a period of time after the first split in CPI in 1964, and the second split in 1968, post Naxalbari.

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. His comrade-in-arms T. Nagi Reddy also died on July 28, 1976. Every year in July both of them, besides Doddi Komarayya, the first martyr of Telangana People’s Armed Struggle (1946-51), are remembered in AP and Telangana  through various meetings and activities.

Hundreds of cadres have been working and carrying forward their behests, including on nationality question. National chauvinism, expansionism, and jingoism have been opposed and related education is carried on among people. Lakhs of pamphlets have been distributed on various questions including on Nationalities in AP and Telangana.

Following is an account of DV Rao’s views on the question as they evolved.

Immediate Programme , drafted by DVRao, towards the end of 1968, was  adopted by a Convention of Communist Revolutioaries of Andhra Pradesh held in April 1969. With the thrust on an agrarian revolutionary program, it gave 11 Basic Points for New Democratic Revolution, later called as People’s Democratic Revolution (PDR). It contained a point on the Problem of Nationalities in India:

“Various Nationalities in the country should have  the Right of self-determination. …Unity of the country based on complete independence and democracy should be realized.” (Immediate Programme, adopted in  1969 April). 

By the end of 1969 December, a Draft Program of CPI(Revolutionaries) was prepared, that became on of the Basic Documents that formed the basis of the foundation of UCCRI-ML, by its founders DV Rao and T. Nagi Reddy.

It said : “India is a multinational country. Most of the states are formed on the basis of language.  Still there is no genuine unification of each nationality, nor India is a union of voluntarily unified states.”

Therefore it said Indian State Structure needs to be re-organized, with a comprehensive program that included :

“Right of self-determination to nations living in India will be guaranteed. Indian Union will be a voluntary of national states.”

Com DV Rao , T.Nagi Reddy and about 40 others were arrested in December 1969, and were framed up in Hyderabad Conspiracy Case, one of the most significant such cases in India-post-1947 August.

Immediate Programme, adopted in  1969 April, was the Basis on which the whole case was framed. DV Rao and T. Nagi Reddy, the chief accused,  defended that program in the Special Court constituted for the purpose.The Defence statements they made in the Court became classic works on Indian revolution.

TN’s statement was later published as INDIA MORTGAGED, a classic focussed more the political economy, that was reprinted several times in different languages.

DV Rao’s statement  in English was published in book form (273 plus 53 pages) , later in 1982. It was reprinted in 2014. Several editions of Telugu edition appeared: Reprinted four times.

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.

The First part , given below, was written in 1971. It was a part of  DV’s Court Statement ,  originally written during  1970-71, and  was  read out in full  as a Defence Statement, on  December  14 to 18, 1971,  in the Special Court that tried DV Rao  T. Nagi Reddy and 40 others in the famous  Hyderabad Conspiracy Case , the  first of its kind after 1947.  

The later part, to be published  as Part-2, was written by  DV Rao in 1981, as a Foreword to the Second Telugu Edition of same book. In this he further revised and amplified his views, and elaborated more on the role of imperialism, national chauvinism,  the mistakes committed by the communists, including on Pakistan issue.

Both these parts were recently reprinted in the 100th Issue of The  Proletarian Line, the journal founded and edited by DV Rao during 1979-84 period.

***                       ***

Part 1

The Problem of Nationalities in India

(From People’s Democratic Revolution in India,

– An explanation of the Programme, 1971. Chapter 9)

India is a multinational country. Some of the nations are constituted into linguistic States in the Indian Union. They are West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mysore (presently Karnataka), Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh are the Hindi-speaking States. There is an opinion that Rajasthan is also a Hindi State, whereas another holds that it is a separate linguistic State. Assam is an Assamese linguistic State, while its tribal areas are constituted into separate administrative units. Tripura and Manipur, though small, are separate States, while Jammu and Kashmir are constituted into a single State. Thus, our country is divided into 17 States and 10 Union territories.*

According to the linguistic survey, our country has 179 languages and 544 dialects. When a language is not developed fully, it is called a dialect (even developed languages have dialects which are not included in this number). Whether developed or under-developed we have 700 languages in all, most of them being tribal. These are not just languages. The people speaking these languages live in contiguous areas. If we take people speaking a language to be either a nation or a nationality, we have 723 of them in all. Thus, our linguistic States are also multinational. As they are mostly tribal areas and areas of dialects, we call them as nationalities. They have not yet developed into full-fledged nations.

Stalin while saying that people belonging to a community, race or tribe cannot be called a nation, defines nation in the following words:

“A nation is a historically constituted stable community of people, formed on the basis of common language, territory and economic life, and psychological make-up, manifested in a common culture.’’ (Selected Works: Vol.2, Page 307)

In view of this, the people in the various linguistic areas are nationalities at various stages of development, developing into nations. A considerable part of our people are in the tribal stage of development. The big bourgeoisie and landlordism, in league with imperialism is the main obstacle for the people to develop into fully grownup nations. If we analyse the evolution of people into nations in various historical stages, we will be able to understand this development.

Prior to the British regime, India was under feudal empire, feudal kings and feudatories. No linguistic population could constitute into a nation. To say that people constituted into nations simply because Andhra was ruled by Andhra Kings, or Maharashtra by Maharashtra Kings, will be wrong. There was no developing capitalist system, which bound the people together, not only politically, but economically and culturally also. This is the reason why the people in our country have not developed into nations at that stage.

With the advent of British rule, the division of the country into Provinces and Native States was not based on language. They were multilingual areas. Most of the Native States had Princes of a different nationality than that of the people. This unnatural division made it impossible for the people to unite on the basis of language.

The bourgeois liberal intellectuals of those days demanded of the British to re-divide the Provinces on the linguistic basis. But it was not acceptable to the alien rulers. Their aim was to prevent the unification of people in a linguistic area and their development into a nation. It should be noted that they wanted to divide united Bengal in 1905. They retraced their steps temporarily in face of a countrywide agitation.

While the British imperialists have refused even the most moderate demand of linguistic provinces, the class of the big bourgeoisie and the landlords, leading the national movement, have failed to recognise the important fact that different people of different linguistic areas are developing into nations. The representatives of these classes have characterised South Asia as a country, and its multinational people into a nation. In fact, this theory was developed by imperialistic intellectuals, and Indian intellectuals have accepted it. It was explained in the form of ‘Unity in Diversity’ (Nehru). It meant India has been united from a long time in the past, in spite of many religions and languages. It still continues to be so. This theory does not recognise the fact and the main point that linguistic areas are developing into nations.

The British imperialists, in their own interests, have established a centralised administration in India, which was earlier divided into pieces under the feudal kings. This development has helped to create objective conditions for the people to unite and fight imperialism. Thus, the people in India united in a national movement, against imperialism.

There were no fixed borders for India under the British regime. By 1935, the imperialists had separated Burma and Sri Lanka from India, and created them into separate countries. The national movement which extended to these countries was also divided and limited to the rest of the country. Thus the Indian borders and provinces were fixed to suit the interests of the imperialists, and never in accordance with either geographical conditions, nor people’s needs. The situation was the same in the days of feudal emperors and the regime of kings.

The leadership of the national movement has refused to recognise the existence of developing nations, with their specific characteristics. In collaboration with the feudal classes it refused to extend the national movement into the Native States. It renounced the responsibility of uniting the people on the basis of nationalities. This was because it was afraid of the growth of democratic forces on the basis of unified nationalities which may turn into an obstacle for its plan of compromise with imperialism. It promised to create linguistic States for administrative convenience. The provincial leaderships had accepted this line, and followed it to the end.

The present Constitution does not accept even linguistic States in principle. Some important linguistic States have come into being, only after a movement for it had flared up in Andhra. We have the problem of Kashmir, the Nagas, the Mizos before us. There is a movement for self-determination in Kashmir. There are armed struggles going on in Naga and Mizo areas to secede from India. They have posed the main problem — What is the place that the various nationalities have in India? What is their future? It is to be noted that they are border areas. There is also a weak movement in our country for more powers to the States.

The demand for the unification of linguistic areas on the basis of nationality is a democratic one. This was, and still is necessary before and after the Transfer of Power. The present linguistic States have failed to unify the people in their respective States. A movement for separate Telangana in Andhra Pradesh, and a separate Vidarbha in Maharashtra, are the glaring examples for this. Multinational people of India can unite in an anti-imperialist and anti-landlord revolution alone.

It is necessary to know some wrong theories advocated, and still being advocated by various sections in our country.

  1. The One Nation Theory

The one nation theory is advocated by the big bourgeoisie and class of landlords, who held the leadership of the national movement. Their financial and industrial interests are not confined to any single linguistic area. Industries belonging to Tata House are not confined to former Bombay State alone. They are spread over to Bihar, former Central Provinces and other Provinces. The industries belonging to Birla House are spread over in Calcutta city and other Provinces. In the same way, the big bourgeoisie has been extending its activities to exploit the market, raw materials, transport facilities and the State Budgets, without confining them to one Province or State. The same is the case of the Banks owned by big bourgeoisie.

In the former Princely States, the rulers and the people were of different nationalities excepting in a few cases. For instance, Nizam Nawab did not belong to any of the nationalities i.e., Andhra, Maharashtra and Kannada, who constituted the overwhelming majority of the State he ruled. Maharashtrians were Princes in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Mysore, Travancore, Cochin, Patiala and some in Rajasthan had Princes belonging to the same nationality.

In the same way, the landlords and the peasants used to belong to different nationalities. It continues so even today. In Maharashtra, there is a Gujarat landlord class with Maharashtra peasantry. The same is the case in some other States.

We can see clearly that, not only imperialism and feudalism was opposed to people uniting on the basis of nationalities, but it was opposed by big bourgeoisie also. To this extent, the problem of nationalities is democratic. This is why the leadership of the national movement had advanced the theory of one nation. In continuation of their earlier stand, the present ruling classes in order to control the Central as well as State governments are advocating the one-nation theory so that they will be instruments to serve their class interests.

  1. The Two Nations Theory

There was a limited and weak unity among the people as against the British imperialists on the basis of one nation theory. A two nations theory had come into vogue, saying that Hindus and Muslims belong to two different nations. The Muslim League, which represents the Muslim feudal and trading classes, with imperialist backing, has propagated this theory. Thus, it could separate the Muslims from the limited anti-imperialist movement and the national movement. Finally it led to the partition of the country, and the formation of Pakistan as a separate state.

  1. Dravidasthan

It has become popular through Dravida Kazagam, an organisation in Tamil Nadu. According to this, all South Indian States i.e., Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala are to be formed into one independent State on the basis of Dravidian race. It is the slogan of Tamil bourgeoisie and landlords and it took root in Tamil Nadu to a certain extent. The present Dravida Munnetra Kazagam (D.M.K.) which is an offshoot of Dravida Kazagam had given a go-bye to the slogan.

Though the people speaking Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam — the South Indian languages — have some strong Dravidian racial features, the people in these four regions, have developed in the historical course, into distinct and separate nations. The movement for Dravidasthan refused to realise this important development. Thus, it has diverted the movement of these nationalities and harmed the democratic movement. The DMK which was the off-shoot of this movement is in power as an alternative to the Congress in Tamil Nadu. Representing the big bourgeoisie and landlords of Tamil Nadu, collaborating with imperialism, it is continuing its counter-revolutionary regime.

  1. The Attitudes of the then Communist Party

The Communist Party had theorised prior to partition that Muslim-majority areas were developing into Muslim nations, while people’s desire for freedom was diverted into and expressed in the form of the demand for Pakistan. It proposed self-determination for various nationalities, while clarifying that it wants a unified India based on voluntary union of free nations.

This is an opportunist line on the question of nationalities. Pakistan was the demand of the Muslim feudal and trading classes. It has a strong backing of imperialism. There is no comparison between a pro-imperialist demand for Pakistan and an anti-imperialist demand of right of self-determination. By confusing the two, the Communist Party had indirectly supported Pakistan, which is an outright opportunist line.

The slogan of self-determination for nationalities was completely taken away from the 1951 programme. The basis for this step, as clarified by the then party leadership was: the national bourgeoisie had come into power, and a system of bourgeois democracy was established in the country. So there is no possibility of one nation dominating another nation in our country. Therefore, there is no need for the slogan of self-determination for nationalities. As a result of this, the party had been demanding that Kashmir should join the Indian Union while opposing to join Pakistan, as it was a country with a pro-imperialist Military Dictatorship. The present revisionist and neo-revisionist parties are continuing the same line.

At present, Kashmir is divided into two. One part is under the occupation of India, and the other is under that of Pakistan. In addition to heavy military concentration in each part, there is a strong movement for self-determination in the Indian part of Kashmir. In the Eastern borders an armed struggle is going on by the Nagas and the Mizos for independence. We can have a correct attitude towards these movements only when we have a correct understanding of the question of nationalities. For this, we should note some of the specific features of the Indian situation.

  1. Some of the Specific Features of the Indian Situation

 

  1. The People’s Democratic Revolution in India is directed against imperialism and landlordism. US imperialism and the Soviet social imperialism are the most important powers dominating India, whose specific conditions make British imperialism also important. A national movement will have revolutionary significance, only when it is directed against imperialism. Imperialism gets weakened and anti-imperialist revolution advances, by supporting such national movements.
  2. The Indian ruling classes are collaborating with imperialism. Therefore, all anti-imperialist national movements are also directed against the ruling classes. Inspite of collaboration, some pro-imperialist forces may try secession of a nationality or nation, by leading the national movement. Even one or two imperialist countries, collaborating with the Indian ruling classes together or separately may encourage secession. In such a situation, the movement bears an anti-government character, but not an anti-imperialist character.
  3. The Indian big bourgeoisie is monopolist in form and content. But it is wrong to compare it with that of capitalist countries, where capitalism is developed into the highest stage i.e., imperialism. It has the features of export of capital, reducing backward countries into colonies and semi-colonies and waging wars to divide and re-divide them. No doubt, the Indian big bourgeoisie bears certain similarities, in that it has not confined to exploiting one State or one national area. Instead, it is plundering people of various nationalities by investing capital, setting up industries, and carrying on trade and commerce in those areas. Notwithstanding this, it is not the result of capitalism developed into the highest stage, in its respective birth places (i.e., the national areas or provinces); its development is the result of the collaboration with, dependence on and subservience to imperialism and landlordism. This is the reason why the new ruling classes are adopting the same policies as those of the imperialism and landlordism. This is the reason why the new ruling classes are adopting the same policies as those of the imperialists, with some additions and subtractions. The linguistic States are formed in an attempt to politically consolidate the landlord class of the respective regions, though the demand was democratic.
  4. The Indian big bourgeoisie is expansionist. It is anxious to export capital, machinery, consumer goods to more backward countries, and exploit their markets. A dependent big bourgeoisie, as it is, it cannot compete with imperialism for its markets. Therefore, by providing overwhelmingly a major share for them in India, it seeks to have minor share in the imperialist markets in other countries. With this it satisfied itself. It is attempting to collaborate with the ruling classes in Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Sri Lanka and dominate these countries. We know that Nepal and Sri Lanka are resisting these attempts to some extent in recent times. The establishment of ‘joint ventures’ in third countries constitutes an important part of expansionism. This is taking place in collaboration with US, UK and Soviet social imperialism in the main.
  5. The educational, cultural and technical development level of various national areas is not one and the same. The intellectual sections of a developed area are dominating over the services of a backward area, especially in the higher services. The section that was vocal in demanding linguistic States, during and after the British regime, was in the main from middle classes. With the formation of the linguistic States, the problem of the employment of the middle class has gone into the background temporarily, but it was never solved. Hindi being the official language of the Central government, there is a dominant place for the Hindi-speaking States in the Central services. In addition to them the States with a higher level of education have their own share. In the name of ‘national integration’ the higher services are filled by persons from other States, especially from the so-called ‘developed’ States. This has become a normal feature.

                There is discontentment among the intellectuals of the backward nationalities, that they are not having their due share in the Central and State services. This is the result of uneven development of national areas educationally, technically and culturally. Unemployment reaching into serious proportions and discontent of middle classes have become all India problems.

           This feature should not lead us to think that there is a Hindi imperialism in our country. Such ideas are unreal, and unscientific. The so-called Hindi imperialism has no economic foundation. The language policy of the ruling classes is a part of their reactionary and anti-people’s policies. They are following the footsteps of the imperialists in this respect also.

  1. During the British regime, the Sikhs from Punjab, and the Gurkhas from Nepal held a prominent place in the army. After the Transfer of Power, the army began to be recruited from all nationalities, and the discrimination in recruitment eased. But it is still maintained in the stationing of troops. The army men who are recruited in a national area are not stationed in the same area. Southerners are stationed in the Northern States and vice versa, to see that the armed forces are kept away from people’s lives, and the discontent of the people is not reflected among them. A people’s movement of a particular nationality is being suppressed by the armed forces recruited from other nationalities. This can be seen in West Bengal, where the people’s movement is being suppressed by the armed forces recruited from non-Bengali areas, but not by Bengali forces. The Central Reserve Police (CRP) is being recruited, and used on the same lines. Every one of us knows that when the local armed reserves fail to suppress a movement, the Central Reserve Police and the army come into the picture to do the job. To use the armed forces to suppress a people’s movement is an anti-people policy. To use the armed forces of one nationality against the people of another nationality is all the more reactionary and is a continuation of imperialist policy of national discrimination.
  2. There are tribal people living in various parts of the country. They are earning their livelihood, as poor peasants, agricultural labourers, plantation and mine labourers. The government, government officials, the landlords, the capitalists from the plains and the foreign capitalists are their exploiters. They are the primitive inhabitants of the country, with their own language and culture. Thus, they are being exploited and suppressed by exploiters of alien nationality. There is a fusion of their struggle for emancipation from exploitation and the struggle against alien national oppression.
  3. The linguistic areas of Hindi are not homogeneous. People of different dialects, having their own literature and culture, have characteristics enough to develop into separate nations. Rajasthan has already developed in that direction. It is possible that some more also develop likewise.

All these points make it abundantly clear that the Indian people do not belong to one nation, and that India is a multinational country. The linguistic States have not solved the problem of nationalities. The big bourgeoisie and the landlordism in league with imperialism are preventing and suppressing their development. Thus, the problem of nationalities remains to be solved by the People’s Democratic Revolution. The People’s Democratic State alone can create the conditions for the nationalities to develop fully and on an equal footing.

As there is an imperialist domination on our country and as the ruling classes are in league with it, the right of self-determination for nationalities applies to our country as well. It is wrong to say that imperialism does not dominate our country. It is equally wrong not to recognise the right of self-determination to nationalities.

We are for a united India in all its vastness. This is necessary to progress in all fields. We are firmly of the opinion that India can remain united only with a victorious People’s Democratic Revolution, under the leadership of the proletariat.

India appeared to be united under an autocratic centralised government by the British. Towards the end of their regime, they, for their own interests, have divided the country into two, and using them to advance their interests even today. In this condition of a still continuing imperialist domination, it is but natural, that any one or more nationalities want the right to secede. They do possess such a right to secede. They have to carry on a struggle for it against the ruling classes i.e., the bourgeoisie and the landlords who are in league with imperialism: When these ruling classes are abolished, no nationality, in spite of recognising the right of self-determination, will desire to secede. All nationalities would want to live in unison, as a part and parcel of the vast country like India, because, it alone makes it possible for their all round development. The right of self-determination and the unity of India are not antagonistic. On the other hand, they are compatible with the victorious People’s Democratic Revolution, which alone can achieve this.

In view of this, the demand for self-determination of the people of Kashmir is democratic, legitimate and justified. Kashmir was divided by a ceasefire line in 1947, just like India was divided. The people of Kashmir are fighting for the right of self-determination against the Indian ruling classes, who are in league with imperialism. Today’s Kashmir is a military centre and an occupied area of the ruling classes. In spite of spending crores of rupees (rice is being supplied even today to the people at subsidised rates) to minimise the people’s discontent, there is no change worth the name in the situation. The military concentration conclusively proves the baselessness of the propaganda that the Kashmir people had voluntarily acceded to the Indian Union.

It is impossible for the Indian ruling classes in league with imperialism to concede the right of self-determination. Therefore, the struggle for self-determination of the people of Kashmir will continue as ever. We support the struggle, because it is anti-imperialist and democratic. We are confident that the people of Kashmir voluntarily will be part and parcel of the Indian Union, with the victory of People’s Democratic Revolution.

On the eastern borders, the Nagas, the Mizos are carrying on armed struggles for independence. In spite of being tribals, they are highly educated (40 per cent among the Mizos) and culturally advanced. They are under the influence of Christian Missionaries. The policy of suppression of national movements and expansionism of the ruling classes, has led to the struggles of the Nagas and the Mizos. They are legitimate and justified. Instead of recognising their national demand, the reactionary ruling classes are waging a war against them.

Excepting in Kashmir, the Naga and Mizo areas, there is no movement for secession of nationalities in India. This does not mean 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 US, the Soviet Union and Britain, West Germany and the Japanese imperialists are also on the Indian scene. 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. 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.

FN*             Foot note (provided by R.P.Dutt):

The following is the comprehensive list of the National Units that will come into existence as suggested above and after the dissolution of the Indian States as contemplated:

Tamilnadu, Andhra pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sind, Baluchistan, Pathanland, Kashmir, Punjab, Hindustan, Bihar, Assam, Bengal and Orissa.

          (Footnote of 1981Edition : ‘Now they are 22 States and 9 Union Territories. Sikkim was annexed in 1975 and was called the 22nd State’).

See also :

Veteran Communist Revolutionary  DV Rao  Remembered

(July 15, 2016)

https://countercurrents.org/2016/07/veteran-communist-revolutionary-dv-rao-remembered

 


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