In August 1947,India was now self-governed or politically independent and a was established as a republic with universal suffrage, fully fledged constitution, a functioning parliament, regular elections contested by a wide range of parties and considerable level of freedom of speech and press. Although not a fully fledged bourgeois democracy, it had strong semblances to one.
Still India remains to be at the mercy of imperialist sharks with every sphere be economic, political. Since Independence India has had a series of governments but still the social base of imperialism, capitalism and feudalism remain intact. Today corporates have the license to plunder as never before. Land reforms have virtually rendered ineffective with rise of absentee landlordism and peasants still recurring huge debts. The Industrial workers are barely paid a minimum wage and virtually stripped of the right to permanency. Unemployment is soaring at an unprecedented height.
No doubt there is improvement in many spheres like access to knowledge, living conditions, health facilities, communications, clothing, transport, social awareness, availability of consumer goods, durability to face calamities like floods or droughts etc. We have had some major achievements in spheres of sport, science art or literature. However the growth is disproportionate with that of the technological development in the world.
Economic policy after 1947
From 1947-91 what was proclaimed as a Mixed economy in actual fact served the exploiter classes. Land distribution to the tiller was cosmetic. We must never forget how subservient India was to the USSR economically and militarily,before it’s collapse in .The 5 year agricultural plans did not make India self -sufficient. Even under alleged Socialistic pattern of society multinationals flourished.
Quoting Tarimela Nagi Reddy in India Mortgaged “The abolition of the zamindari system was farce with millions of acres of land left as personal property of zamindars, having allotted to them huge amounts of property, the Govt.of India paid hundreds of crores of rupees as compensation for the abolition of he zamindari system.Nehru stated in the Constituent assembly “One has to be careful of th steps one takes so as not to injure the existing structure too much –I am not brave and gallant enough to go about destroying any more.”.This illustrated that Nehru intended no fundamental change. Some have estimated tyhe amount of compensation paid out to the zamindars as Rs 670 crorers.
Quoting India Mortgaged “The Constitution was nothing but a superstructure built on the reday made foundation carefully and laboriously laid by imperialism. With the enactment of the Constitution, the Indian bourgeoisie finally took over power in India to rule without any contradiction to it’s structural integrity. It was intended to perpetuate the existing social and economic foundation of imperialist exploitation and feudal landlordism. The Directive principles of the Constitution were nothing but a sop, being ‘prompted by the fear of the masses for revolt”.
In a Government resolution on April 6th 1948, “Apart from munitions, railways, electricity and atomic energy the rest of the Industrial field will normally be open to private enterprise.”This favoured imperialist finance capital. A supplementary memorandum state “The Resolution contemplates full freedom for foreign capital and enterprise in Indian Industry while at the same time assuring that it should be regulated in the national Interest.”
Exactly 2 months after declaration of India’s Independence Nehru elaborated to the Associated Chambers of Commerce,that his government “would welcome foreign capital and technical assistance.”
Quoting the United States department of Commerce “Although agitation continued during 1947 in favour of nationalisation of Industry and in favour of restrictions, on foreign private investment ,there developed in the last quarter of the year a conciliatory attitude on the art of the govt.towards private enterprise and to some extent towards foreign capital. The need for foreign capital was recently acknowledged by a minister. Prime Minister Nehru has in a recent public statement indicated the necessity of India to seek foreign capital assistance.
Soviet Trade acted only as a competitor to Western trade, to penetrate the Indian market and broke o link with foreign monopoly capital, or the landlord bourgeois economy. Soviet leaders and publicists assured Western finance capitalists that they offered no threat to Western aid.Quting Nikita Khrushchev “I will venture to say that, if the Americans give India a loan for economic development, this loan to the extent of 60 to 70 % may be considered as a result of the existence of Socialist countries..Ironic that the monopoly capitalists greeted Soviet policies, with the Dehi daily-o Birla House, Hindustan Times and Link, praising Soviet credits for making it imperative for America to increase it’s aid to India. According to the 1970 Indo-Soviet Trade Agreement of 1970,”The Soviet Union has agreed to import specific quantities of industrial goods, particularly those aided by Russian aided projects.”
Soviet aid was not in essence anti-feudal who sold their plan of ‘state farms’ to the Indian bourgeoisie. It diverted the attention of undertaking land reforms and consolidated base of landlordism in the countryside. Soviet experimental farms laid the foundation, along with intensive cultivation programme of Western imperialists, for the Green Revolution, through mechanisation of agriculture. Soviet tractors at cheap rates created the base for penetration of Western capital into India.
However I would credit Nehru for restricting monopoly of foreign finance capital to a limited extent in areas, supporting non –alignment and promoting liberal spirit.
Political Developments after Independence
Workers continued to wage resistance from August 1947 to December 1948 in strikes of sweepers in Mumbai, Railway strike and textile workers strike in Coimbatore, the Calcutta Port Trust workers etc.
In Telengana a guerrilla army was operating of around 5000 people, and 10 lakhs of acres distributed to the peasantry,. Movements broke out for linguistic organisation like Samyukta Maharasahtra United Kerala,Maha Gujarat,Samyukta Karnataka.
Naxalbari Struggle lit a prairie fire nationwide confronting autocracy at a level never scaled after 1947, with peasants rising like an inferno.
A nationality movement emerged in Jharkhand of the Jharkand Mukti Morcha.
Confronting caste oppression Dalit Panther ushered a new landmark in liberation struggle.
In the factories inspired by naxalbari workers in Calcuttta deployed ‘gherao ‘ as an effective form .The All-India Railway workers strike in the very backyard embarrassed the ruling classes.25000 were detained without trial.
Student –youth urge reached reached a crescendo in Gujarat n the Nav Nirman movement with buses hijacked, rifle snatching from policemen in Ahmedabad, attacks on houses of Congressman, beating of a speaker etc.It succeeded in toppling the Chimnabhai Patel rule. In Bihar led by Jayprakash Narayan students fought against price rises, food shortages and corruption.
Women rose into the forefront of struggles be it the Chhattisgarh Shramik Sangh movement from 1977,Gujarat and Bihar movements, against the 178 supreme court judgement of the Mathura custodial rape case. Also notable challenging of beauty contest, sexist portrayal of women in media, conditions of women prisoners ,domestic violence ,dowry etc.In Bihar the Nari Mukti Sangh ,at the strongest point confronted feudal bondage of women,while in Dandakaranya the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sanghatana knitted powerful structures to combat women’s oppression.
Farmers struggles took place in Karnatka,Western U.P.,Haryana and Punjab. In the 1970’s and 80’s.for lowering of prices and and regular supply for agricultural input. S
Students Movements consolidated of the Punjab Students Union in the 1970’s and that of the Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union in the 1970’s and 80’s.
After the emergency workers strikes flooded the country Most impactful strikes too place like those of the Chattisgarh Shrmaik Sangh ,Kanpur Swadeshi Coton Mills in 1979, in five public sector enterprises in Bangalore in December,1980.,in 1982 in Mumbai of Textile workers ,Kanoria and Jute Mill workers in 1994,and coal miners’ strike in Singareni etc.
Nationalities extended struggle in Assam, Uttarkhand, Kashmir etc. and the Communist revolutionary movement made a significant penetration amongst tribals and poor peasants in region s of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.
Environmental movements sprung against Narmada dam project,Chipko movement in Utatarkhand, Bhoplpapatnam project in Madhya Pradesh,Tehri Dam in Himalayas and Nylon plant in Goa.c
Countrywide Dalit Assertion rose in 1978 with riots bursting in Marathwada,
Struggle for Democratic Rights intensified after Emergency, focussing on release of all political prisoners, investigation of encounter deaths, repealing of black laws etc.
Industrial workers strikes and peasants struggles were suppressed or even movements of students and youth.
The manner the cadre of the naxalbari Movement were eradicated was an ample illustration of the manner the social order functioned, as well as earlier in Telengana.peasant struggle from 1946-51 when the Indian army crushed a popular peasant insurgency.
In the 1970’s days of colonialism were rekindled during the emergency.The decade had powerful semi-fascist connotations.
Many laws were passed like ESMA, MISA,NSA or TADA which were as authoritarian as the colonial laws.
Communal politics was cooked similar to the British after opening the doors of the Babri Masjid in 1986 or creating Bhindranwale in 1981.
Thousands of Communist revolutionaries were assassinated in fabricated encounters in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar and even a handful of civil liberties activist were mowed down by the Police violating Article 21, of a citizen having Right to Life. All democrats must also recollect the murder of trade Union leader Shankar Guha Nyugi in September 1991 who waged a relentless resistance against the contract labour system in the Chattisgarh mines , ,who were part and parcel of Adivasi and peasant struggles and brutal firings or attacks on strikes of Workers in areas like Nellimarla in Andhra Pradesh in 1994.,Mumbai mill workers in 1982,Dallah Cement workers in Uttar Pradesh n 1991 ,Bhillai in Madhya Pradesh in 1991 and Jute Mill Workers in West Bengal in 1994 .
Democratic assertion of dalits through Dalit Panther movement was crushed in the 1970’s.
In 1984 Sikhs were brutally massacred in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s death.
Inspite of Article 370 prevailing, the Indian govt brutally suppressed forces like the Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front struggle for Kashmiri self –determination from the 1990’s , with Nehru in 1950’s betraying his promise to Sheikh Abdullah of vacating Kashmir.
Consistently Congress played the Hindu communal card in Ram janma Bhoomi,blessing the Rath yatra in 1990 .pacing over a lakh Shilanyas to capture votes the 1989 elections and earlier in 1986 opening the gates of the Babri Masjid. The final destruction of Babri Masjid in December 1992 by the VHP testified that fundamentally the Congress was pro-Hindu., backing it’s political interests. Muslims suffered mortal blows by communal forces in Mumbai riots of 1970 and 1984 and after the demolition of Babri Masjid.Morally even if formally secular, the Muslim community was considerably alienated and discriminated.
Bans were declared on revolutionary parties like erstwhile C.P.I. (M.L) Peoples War Group, Maoist Communist in the 1990’s Centre and later the C.P.I. (Maoist) in 2004 and mass organisation sunder their guidance like Radical Students Union, Revolutionary Democratic Front,Rytu Coolie Sangham etc..Even mass organisations like the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Samiti in Bihar in 1986 which gave a blow to feudal and caste oppression and later the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha and Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh n 1991 which challenged the Contract labour system in the mines and fought for minimum wages, faced a ban. The police firing killing 18 landless labourers in Arwal in Bihar in 1986, resurrected colonial days.
Bihar had a series of brutal caste massacres of the Ranvir Sena on dalit labourers like in Laxmanpur Bathe in 1997,in Bara in 1992 and in regions like Aurangabad and Gaya.
Whatever gross violations in the right to organise I recognize that India had considerable amount of freedom of press and speech. This is illustrated in the space in the social media to express political dissent, particularly in publications of Communist revolutionary groups .Even America did not award such freedom for Communists to profess their views.
Arguably one positive step undertaken was the nationalisation of banks that enabled the peasantry to directly receive loans.
Although the privy purses were abolished by Indira Gandhi in 1969, I feel it was enforced unconstitutionally, betraying the promise at the time of Independence.
I am also critical of Nehru’s leadership in Indo-China War of 1962, when it was India who crossed the Mcmohan line.Nehru adhered to colonial claims that Aksai Chin was part of Ladakh for centuries, aiding Tibetan separatism. China only wanted a negotiated settlement, as testified by Neville Maxwell. India’s military provocations made it imperative for Chinese People’s Liberation Army to cross the border.
From 1991 India embarked on the road of liberalisation under Narsimha Rao , backing globalization and India’s entry into the International Monetary Fund and GATT.It opened out India’s export market to the world but struck a crippling blow to any remnants of rights of the working class. and strengthened the social base of the Corporate class Workers and peasants now were completely subordinated by the tentacles of capital ,Agri-labour intensive industries were destroyed , salt pans closed, contract system patronised to turn into an integral part of the social order, Unions stripped of earlier rights , many a factory or mill dismantled, made education and medical services very hard to afford, squeezed the peasantry into indebtedness, enabled corporates to penetrate at an unprecedented level and broke the backbone of the organized working class movement with retrenchments of workers occurring on an unprecedented scale. It may have curbed bureaucratism,improved quality and production levels, created a better-paid strata amongst the educated classes and opened out India to the world , but at a huge cost. The foreign direct investment penetrating India has infused a speculative role in stock markets, jeopardising India’s economic welfare. It is regrettable that the massive protests of farmers and workers confronting globalisation could not be channelized into an organised movement by democratic forces or integrated into the anti-feudal struggles, to broaden the united front against imperialism.
Sadly after the advent of the BJP in 2014 a new era has been ushered where the very semblances of bourgeois democracy are threatened by the right-wing Hindutva agenda, which is defacing the Constitution. Neo-fascism is penetrating the authoritarian parliamentary system at degree unscaled since 1947.
The Communal fascist politics of the BJP are more supportive of foreign capital or Indian Big Business. Notable that Swadeshi ideologue Murli Manohar Joshi whle condemning the growth of foreign debts called for the return of external loans in 1992.L.K.Advani at the same time stated that the BJP fully endorsed a deregulated economy, Right from the 1950’s and 1960’s the Jan Sangh,staunchly supported American interests, particularly in foreign policy. It never laid any emphasis on confronting foreign exploitation. It’s ‘Swadeshi’ policy opposed not foreign capital, but he unfettered entry of foreign capital and multinationals, except i technology areas. The BJP’s anti-imperialist posture through Swadeshi Jagran Manch was a mere pretence as it completely supported induction of heavy industry MNC’s from the 1990’s itself and boycott of only consumer goods. .Under BJP Corporates have amassed power and control at an unprecedented magnitude.
Policies like demonetization, GST or Farmers Bills have strangled the people while beef ban or Gyan Vapsi etc have sharpened the fangs for Communal poisoning. Economic disparity has magnified to an unequalled degree.
Political dissent has been suppressed at an unsurpassed magnitude and minorities and scheduled castes isolated at levels never touched before. Laws introduced like UAPA,have escalated neo-fascism to a crescendo. Any person can now be arrested without issuing a warrant. In the nation’s history the minorities have not faced such insecurity. Repealing of Section 370 has stripped Kashmiri people of Right to Self –Determination. The life sentences passed on Maruti Workers, on Professor GN.Saibaba and the Bhima Koreagaon Urban Intellectuals are a manifestation of neo-fascism in realms not traversed before. The manner it passed the Farmers bills without any consent of opposition parties, portrayed it’s fascist overtones. Federal rights are on the verge of being stripped as never before. Tribal displacement is intensifying to facilitate mining industry, with laws passed stripping them of right to land. Caste attacks are perpetrated at higher scale of intensity, with a virtual licence given to dominant castes to unleash tyranny. In September 2014 in Hyderabad a meeting of democratic front expressing solidarity with revolutionary forces was disallowed as well as a meeting ins solidarity with Kashmir Movement in JNU campus in Delhi in March 2015.Kashmiri and Muslim activists have been victimised at height unscaled.
Even Supreme Court verdicts favour Hindu Saffron politics with regards to Babri Masjid.Textbooks are being re-written to incorporate the Hindutva agenda, scrubbing off all secular history and demonizing Moghuls .Vedic culture is glorified in all educational institutions as well as Hindu philosophers’ .and RSS leaders like Savarkar.
They are also trying to incorporate new found Hindu Scientific and economic theories reviving Vedas of 5000 years ago, tarnishing all Scientific temper. It is worth recollecting that the RSS played no role in the Indian Freedom Struggle and after Independence strongly allied itself with American interests. Today’s agricultural policies of the BJP have a lineage to the pattern of agriculture after the Green Revolution and later under a post-liberal restructuring of India’s economy.
Following legacy and in tune with character of predecessors the BJP is brainwashing people to show that they were an integral part of the freedom struggle and Savarkar as their leader. It is a well known fact that Savarkar surrendered to the British rulers and betrayed not only the freedom movement but acting as British agent introduced the Idea of Hindutva to divide the people’s movement for liberation. True to their nature of falsification and betrayal, the BJP is trying to capitalize the patriotism of the Indian people by this grand celebration of the “75th independence day” in Azadi Ka Amrit Mahostsav’.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has conducted extensive research on Indian Freedom Movement and on Indian politics after 1947.