Has India Really Achieved Independence?

Mahatma Gandhi Nehru

Today the nation celebrates independence with proto-fascism at a crescendo which disguises itself as a neo-liberal democracy. At no point in history have the forces of capital been so strong or dictated themselves so ruthlessly .Hindutva fascism has penetrated every sphere of society and the semi –bourgeois democratic socio-political system at an unprecedented scale. The ruling party has thrust a sword through the belly or flesh of all oppressed sections of society, cutting the wings of all movements at the embryonic stage. Still the wrath of the people against economic oppression is simmering at a boiling point, similar to what it was against the British colonialists in the 1940’s, or later in the 1970’s.Sadly after India’s history took a major tilt in the liberalisation period,it was not only embraced by many an intellectual ,but hardly received the brunt of organised resistance.

74 years ago power was transferred from the hands of the British colonialists to the Indian big bourgeoise.The Indian National Congress betrayed the genuine national liberation Struggle by collaborating with all the big landlords and industrialists .It suppressed all the movements of class character challenging opressor classes and even patronised Hindu commmunal forces. At many junctures it consciously nullified or bent any protracted resistance .It left no stone unturned in supressing the Naval ratings Strike, the Garhwali soldiers revolt, the non-cooperation movement and never raised the issue of cancelling payment of taxes by the peasantry, scrapping debts or confiscation of land. It completely appeased the big industrialists like Birla, or Tata.Comrades like Bhagat Singh,Sukhdev and Rajguru were executed with patronage by MK Gandhi himself. China between 1949-76 was a 360 degree contrast to India in the same period, taking revolutionary democracy to unparalleled proportions.

We must recount how in so many chapters the spark of revolutionary resistance challenged the hegemony of British colonial rule in its very deathbed or on the verge of even dumping it into the graveyard. The Peasant struggles in many regions of the country are a perfect illustration of that phenomena with thousands being inducted into the  Kisan Sabhas and refusing to pay taxes or rent to landlords ,in addition to land confiscation. Peasant rebellion s erupted like an inferno in the 1940’s in Maharashtra, Congress, Orissa, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Northern and Western Bihar and Midnapore in West Bengal. They literally brought the British administration to the floor or on their knees, embarrassing it in it’s very bosom. The anger in the working class was simmering at a boiling point.However the Congress leadership gave scant respect to all these developments, with any rebellion making them feel grim. Parallel popular governments were set up in Satara(Maharashtra),Talcher,(Orissa) Miadnapore and Tamluk (Bengal),with no contribution by the Congress  leadership. Above all they were built when the British had fortified their military might at an unprecedented magnitude, employing 57 army battalions and ordering machine guns from aeroplanes.

I can’t forget my college days when we considered holding programmes exposing the true nature of Indian Independence by staging black flags in campuses.I have vivid memories of such programmes undertaken by Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union and Punjab Students union in their heydays.

Historians today forget how even MK Gandhi symbolised Hindu religious phenomena and in many phases even called for Hindus to assert themselves. His brotherly relation with Madan Mohan Malviya perfectly illustrated this. And even how he addressed the masses in Noakhali .Suniti Kumar Ghosh brilliantly illustrates how the struggles led by the Indian National Congress broke no bond or was not antagonistic to the interest of British capital. In no mass movement like the Dandi March, were any developments made in challenging landlord oppression .through abolishing rent or taxes.

Even the writings of Rajani Palme Dutt in ‘India Today’ testify the rebellious spirit in the ranks of the Indian army which sent shivers down the spine of the British rulers, threatening a major armed uprising.

In many ways the riots of partition or partition itself was a direct result of the communal politics of the Congress,which had its lineage in the ideology of the Hindu Mahasabha.The bitter supression of the Telengana uprising, Khoka movement in Punjab,Punnapra Vallayar struggle or later Naxalbari ,was a very continuation of the Congress patronising the colonial rulers. The Congress literally stood on the side of the big industrialists in putting down or diverting any militant strike. Intellectuals glorifying Nehru forget how in essence he expressed great political bias towards the Hindus and alienated the Muslims. In essence Nehru was of the same fabric as Sardar Vallabahai Patel, who was  a staunch Hindu communalist.

I wish intellectuals more exposed how morally Nehru was not a champion of non –alignment but was a supporter of Social Imperialist Soviet Union.

Today in the age of liberalization and globalist and Hindu communal Neo-fascism we must trace it’s lineage to the oppressive Congress of the Nehru-Gandhi era iteslf.Who can forget how Nehru himself betrayed his promise to Kashmiri self -determination to Sheikh Abdullah.Nehru brilliantly played the cards of deception. Most shamelessly Nehru violated the terms of the plebiscite to withdraw from Kashmir .Indian rulers declared accession “accepted’ by the people of Kashmir through the Constituent assembly of Kashmir which was elected without making accession an issue and was rather supposed to elect the national government with responsibility to hold the plebiscite.

Land reforms were superficial with no genuine agrarian distribution in the hands of the peasantry. India incurred great foreign debts and imperialist capital was never confiscated. Today still in regions landlords own thousands of acres of land and absentee landlordism flourishes.

Readers should meticulously study how the so called neo-liberalism through liberalization paved the path towards Neo-fascism, giving capital to dictate terms at an unprecedented level. The corporates had a monopoly as never before The peasantry was strangulated through debts as never before while working class retrenched at levels never traversed. A noose was tied on all people’s movements at a magnitude unscaled before .Privatization of hospitals, banks and education robbed the common man of all securities.

In commemoration of 50 years of Indian Independence I cant express my admiration of the 1997 convention of the All India Peoples Resistance forum in Mumbai, on the fake nature of India’s Independence. It was landmark or monumental event in igniting the spark of people’s liberation .in every sphere.

Today there is a predominant trend amongst liberal forces to uphold Gandhi and Nehru as genuine democrats, but they forget how morally they served the interests of the big bourgeoisie. It is a deviation within the revolutionary camp to uphold India as an Independent country in 1947 like the Communist League of India sections or forces like C.P.I. (M.L.) Red Star who class India as a neo-colony. Even Comrade DV Rao in 1981 erroneously termed India as politically independent.

In the past revolutionary groups endorsing the Chinese theory of three Worlds, gave the Indian state bourgeois democratic credibility, including forces like the C.P.I. (M.L)Peoples War Group or sections of the UCCRI(ML),who backed the non –aligned movement.

I recommend all readers to study the basic documents of the Communist Party Re-Organization Center of India (Marxist Leninist) and Suniti Kumar Ghosh’s India and the Raj-1919-47 or even ‘Freedom Struggle Betrayed’ by Research Unit for Political Economy. The writings in student magazine ‘Kalam’ of the All India Revolutionary Students Federation most illustratively and dialectically exposé the treachery of the Indian National Congress .Even pages of former C.P.I.(M.L)Peoples War organ August 1997 issue ,vividly illustrate this phenomena and the writings today of the C.P.I.(Maoist)  and other Communist revolutionary ranks.

Without fail readers should read all past issues of ‘Aspects of India’s Economy’ published by Research Unit for Political Economy .This publication makes a most comprehensive  diagnosis of    how liberalization was an integral part of an autocratic state and morally it put a complete stranglehold on all democratic movements. It also traced it’s origin to the very Congress of 1947, which behaved as a stooge of the Exploiter classes. No journal expresses such dialectical or Leninist clarity with such level of consistency, or is as lucid in analysis as ‘Aspects’ in explaining the anti-people economic framework. It is an essential part of any cadre’s library. Without doubt its publication since 1990 till today will rank amongst the most memorable achievements in the democratic revolutionary arena .

The proto-fascist economic policies of Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party have their direct origin in the pro-globalisation policies of the Narasimha Rao led Congress which in turn had its roots in the pseudo-Socialism of Indira Gandhi or earlier Jawaharla Nehru. We can never overlook the brutal suppression of working class Struggles even before 1991.The brutal suppression of the civil and democratic rights movement in the 1970’s and 80’s also illustrates the autocratic rule of that period. When I read the various reports on state repression on the democratic rights of people in all spheres, I felt it was direct continuity with the trend of colonial rule.Thus in essence the current neo-fascist tide is  a virtual continuation or is an ancestor of the Indian National Congress itself.

No doubt India has features of a bourgeois democratic state but in essence is still a semi-colony without independent bargaining powers. Today India’s bid to become a superpower or expansionist policies has its roots in the Pseudo non -alignment of the Nehru era.

Today by praising Nehru and Gandhi, well intentioned intellectuals are falling into the quagmire of ecclectism or reformism. In my view morally their politics will never cut the tumours of proto-fascism. I would love the words of late playwright Gursharan Singh of Punjab to be echoed who tooth and nail exposed the betrayal of the Indian National Congress in his lifetime .Revolutionary forces must construct a team of intellectuals to refute the trends that advocate that India achieved genuine national Independence .In the moral sense of course ‘Aspects of India’s economy’ journal has paved the path for such  a project with its most consistent contribution.


Suniti Kumar Ghosh’s ‘India and the Raj’ is one of the most illustrative classics in exposing the betrayal of the Indian National Congress and it’s support of the Comprador bourgeois. There is no equally good Marxist-Leninist diagnosis as this on the Freedom Struggle, which with the skill of a surgeon analyses the development of the anti-imperialist phenomena and the virtual subservience of the Indian Congress leaders like Nehru and Gandhi, to the interests of the British rulers. He makes a most striking contrast between the progressive and regressive forces, and classically summarizes how the Gandhian congress intervened to nullify the sharp edge of the sword challenging colonialism.Suniti most methodically dissects the various periods and most dialectically projects how the Congress morally patronised feudalism.The book is divided into 8 chapters dealing in Domains of Politics, the Indian bourgeoisie and imperialism. Goals and Strategies, Jallianwallah Bagh to Chauri Chaura, Low Depths of Non-violent nationalism, The Other domain and Civil and Criminal disobedience. Few Marxist Leninist classic shave ever portrayed historical materialistic approach so articulately or dialectical assessment of class forces. I admire how it is non –emotional but with great composure narrates the entire series of events and how they were interwoven to place revolutionary democracy into the grave.

I admired Suniti Ghosh for giving M K Gandhi his due in Noakhali during the riots, for leaving no stone unturned to save the lives of Muslims.

Arguably his book still may not have portrayed the subtle characteristics of India which differentiated from semi-colonial China or the difference in the nature of the bourgeoisie. It is arguable whether the Indian big bourgeoise had no contention or contradiction with colonialism. I feel Ghosh also did not recognise Gandhi’ s role in bringing the broad masses into the fold of the Indian National Movement or how some of his actions did morally embarrass the British rulers. The caste polarisation or oppression was also perhaps not given its due respect. I also wish it had delved more into the factor of the root of Hindu revivalist movement or the progressive aspects of Hinduism. Debatably Ghosh could have reflected more on the spiritual or cultural aspects of India and why even the Communists could not understand their idioms to win them over.

Quoting Ghosh “The main object of the elite leadership was to deflect mass struggles from their anti-imperialist objective. It is not true that they even tried to integrate at certain times the  two  domains of politics..On the contrary, it was their deliberate strategy to keep the masses removed as far as possible from the sphere of active politics and to cast them at best in passive or harmless roles when the occasions demanded. The people were asked to ply the charkha, observe hartal, fast and pray, boycott foreign cloth, manufacture slat for a few months and cast votes in elections in favour of even lamp posts which the leadership would erect When the people overlooked or ignored the limitations imposed on them and came forward to play a more active, militant role and started endowing the movements with the character of a national liberation Struggle, the movements were abruptly suspended and the sudden bottling up of great struggles gave rise to confusion, demoralisation and mutual strife.”

“Indeed elite politicians cherished deep seated hatred and hostility towards the domain of the politics of the people .By raising the smoke screen of non –violence ,which they never practise, except towards the British Raj,Gandhi and his close associates tried to combat the suppress the revolutionary struggles of the people. It is our contention that the movements as planned by the elite leadership and the struggles of the people were not complementary, as it is,often supposed, but were opposed to each other. The former were initiated primarily to forestall or divert the people’s struggles as sometimes as in 1946 and 1947, the elite leadership openly colluded with the Raj to denigrate and suppress them.”

“In order to win the masses over from the path of anti imperialist struggle when such struggle had already broken out, or was about to do so, the Congress leaders were forced to employ some anti-imperialistic rhetoric and launch some mass actions, however restricted was their scope. Although contributing to rousing the masses, they helped to confuse the people. and diffuse a revolutionary situation.”

“The use of non-violence was very much restricted. When struggles became bitter, on-violence had to be abandoned in favour of violent suppression of the peasants and workers. Gandhi and his lieutenants deprecated class war against landlords and capitalists, not the class war that the landlords and capitalists waged all the time against the peasants and workers. The creed of non-violence was designed to deprive the oppressed of the weapon of the opressors freely used.”

I would have loved to read a sequel of Ghosh’s book ‘India and the Raj’ describing post-1947 India, which would have been classic in exposing the striking similarity of regimes of Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Narasimha Rao, with the British colonialists. I doubt anyone could have given more respect to ho w later the so called liberalisation and globalisation destroyed the fabric of any remnants of rights for the working class. It would have been a thrill to read his analysis on the oppressive Brahamanical caste structure and how the caste question could be integrated within the ranks of the Indian Communist Movement. Suniti Ghosh;s views on how to formulate tactics to confront the tide of hindutva proto-fascism would have been invaluable today. I would have loved Suniti Ghosh’s diagnosis of the impact of imperialism and capitalism on feudalism in India today, and why the Communist party still remained scattered or splintered. His views would also have been most enriching on the phenomena of Hindutva as distinct from Hindu philosophy.

Quoting Ghosh “It is true that Gandhi had always the slogan of Hindu-Muslim unity on his lips and went on fast for 21 days in September 1924 in Delhi to curtail Hindu-Muslim riots, but his words and actions contributed to the growing estrangement between the 2 communities rather than bringing them together. Gandhi told Muslim friends, “For the Hindus cow protection and the playing of music even near the mosque was the substance of Hinduism, and for the Mussalmans, cow-killing and prohibition of music was the substance of Islam.”

“During these days the mahtma was constantly calling Hindus ‘cowards’ and Muslims “bullies. ‘ He was asking the Hindu to cast off fear before the Muslim bully .and ‘ ‘cultivate either of these, two-faith in God of faith on one’ s physical might. If he does either, it will spell the ruin of the community.”

In a letter to GD Birla Gandhi wrote “I was not perturbed by the Calcutta riots. I have already said that if the Hindus are bent upon fighting, then instead of finding fault with it as a symptom of cruelty, we should treat it as a virtue and augment it”.

Quoting Gandhi in Noakhali addressing Hindus during riots “You will note that for the purpose of our present discussion I have not asked you to discard the use of arms, or to follow w my type of heroism I want you to take up the conventional type of heroism. I want you to take up conventional arms like the Chiitagong heroes.”.Here Gandhi while earlier condemning the masses for undertaking revolutionary armed actions, was encouraging the Hindu masses to emulate the Chittagong heroes through deploying armed actions to confront Muslims.

“Non-violence was not also for application to the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus. Gandhi stated “They had not yet discovered a sure method of dealing successfully in a non violent maner with communal riots or goondaism.”

Gandhi supported Indian infiltration in Kashmir to repeal tribal invaders from North West. and defended the invasion of Indian troops in Junagadh.”Let us declare war. We shall fight and die if we are destined to.”


‘Freedom Struggle Betrayed India 1885-1947’ by the Research Unit for Political Economy in 1997. is another classical essay on the true character of the Independence movement. It virtually matches the historical and dialectical materialist scale of Suniti Ghosh’s work.and ranks amongst the most analytical or Marxist-Leninist historical research ever .on freedom struggle ..With incisive analysis it concluded that the Indian National Congress was a body whose leadership perfectly expressed the political sentiments of the large landowners and the Indian compradors, particularly the latter.  “The Congress was conceived of and brought into existence explicitly to defuse the possibility of an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolt.”Most analytically it assessed how the compradors were consistently alarmed at the growth of anti-imperialist movements, and intervened in Indian political life in order to divert the nationalist movement.”

Most pertinently in it’s introduction it reflects on how laws of colonial nature after 1947 were re-instated like the National Security act(Matching Public safety act of the British),Essential services Maintenance act,(resembling the Trades disputes act)Terrorist and Disruptive activities Act(matching the Rowlatt act) or Section 144.It went on to highlight indebtness of peasantry to local moneylenders and landlords, phenomenal rate of unemployment etc.In the introduction f the 1997 version of the book they elaborated how the rulers even 50 years after independence patronised imperialism and feudalism. and the decline of the Congress party. It abjectly pointed out that all the major opposition parties, including the Bhartiya Janata Party were descendants of the Indian National Congress in some way or the other. In it’s view the decline of the Congress party was the manifestation of the overall decline and degeneration today of ruling class politics itself. It brilliantly concludes that Independence still has to be won.nad that transfer of power in 1947 essentially changed nothing.”It created the internal conditions for the continuation and new methods of exploitation by imperialism in India. The foreign interest, indeed foreign constitution and all other trappings of imperial rule remained virtually intact.”

“Thus the Congress neither fought for Independence nor won it. That fight has yet to be waged and won. It is true that the Indian National Congress achieved a remarkable feat; it decided the vast majority into believing that\a, post-1947, the foreign yoke had been thrown off. But it is true that people can imbibe lessons from this experience and through treading path of revolutionary struggle can accomplish the goal of liberation. People vote for political parties not out of hope for a radical change, but to gain some minor alleviations through trading their votes. They are led to believe that the Congress and other parties in post01957 India simply betrayed their old nationalist trust.”

‘Freedom Struggle betrayed’ book also intrinsically narrates the conspiracies of the very Congress to patronise colonial policy of ‘Divide, Slaughter and Rule. ‘It described how the Congress consistently supported the Hindu exploiting classes over the exploited Muslims. It was predominant in North Western part of Punjab, with the Muslims who mainly constituted the peasantry, directly exploited by the money lenders. It firmly held the view that the Congress insisted on partition, with Gandhi literally remaining silent on the debate.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has travelled around India and written on blogs like ‘Democracy ad Class Struggle’, ‘Ottos War Room’ and ‘Frontier Weekly.’ Mainly written on politics of mass line in Communist Movement, Maoism, peasant struggles but also on blogs on Cricket and films.

Email- [email protected]

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