(This is the English translation of my Hindi article titled ‘Swatantrta Diwas Ke Kartavya’ published in ‘Yuva Samvad’ and ‘Hastakshep.com’ on the occasion of 66th Independence Day in 2013. The article was reissued last year on 15 August 2021 on the occasion 75th year of the independence – with the hope that along with the exchange of greetings on Independence Day, we would also do some introspection. The government started celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ throughout the year which culminated on 15 August 2022. On this momentous occasion, this nearly 10-year-old article is being reposted so that new readers can read and contemplate on the issues raised in the article. It has been the insistence of some colleagues that it would be good if this article, in order to make it available for a wider readership, is available in English. Therefore, the English translation of the article has also been released here first time.)
My respected colleague Professor Anand Kumar had sent the following valuable comment on the article last year:
‘Dear Prem Singh,
Read your article, sent to me, carefully. I hope that on this basis, you will give a new look to this article by adding your experiences and thoughts between 2013 and 2021. This article, presented in the form of self-criticism, has three merits:
- You have reminded us of the incompleteness of our freedom.
- You have stated about the identity of patients of capitalism.
- You have concluded to correct ourselves.
But I am worried about the initial remark of your article – considering yourself as a part of a small group of people and considering this group to be neglected. I think there are multiple reasons for every underprivileged man and woman of the country to agree with your critique. How their predicament should motivate them for solidarity and activism – this problem needs to be solved. You yourself have been very active for the last three decades. You need to answer two important questions in a fresh draft of such an article – how to move forward now and how to make that movement effective?
The day of introspection
There is nothing new to add on this Independence Day other than what I wrote on this same occasion last year in my column ‘Samvad Samvad’. Whether it is about independence or freedom, the paramount value of humanity and human civilization should not have to be repeated endlessly. I did not want to write ‘Samvad Samvad’ this time since I did not want to sound repetitive but on second thought I went back on that decision. After all the ruling-class and its mouth-piece media keep on repeating things day and night, so I too should add my bit. If it’s a repetition, so be it. Let us discuss and ask some questions about the country’s independence on the occasion of the 66th Independence Day where Gandhi’s ‘last man’ was kept far removed and under heavy security cover. I write this with the hope that the crisis on the country’s independence in the sixty-seventh year will be understood and dealt with.
It is necessary to ensure that on every Independence Day the independence, which has been labeled as incomplete from the day it was achieved, progressively marches towards perfection and strength. If there has been any failing at the level of government, politics or civil society during this period so far and which has devalued or put independence in danger, then on this august occasion of Independence Day, it should be ensured that the mistake is accepted and will be fixed. The Independence Day also reminds that despite ideological and policy differences, all political parties, organizations and civil society are unanimous in the responsibility of faithfully preserving the hard earned freedom and independence. In a vast and pluralistic country like India, the concerns of different groups for their own interests are justified, but on this occasion, let us see that in totality it does not run counter to the larger narrative. It is a time to ensure that intellectuals are especially careful, so that the new generation determines and performs its duties with a proper understanding of what independence really means. Only then would singing nationalistic songs, waving the Tricolour and praising the martyrs would have any real meaning. Only with this understanding can true respect be paid to those who sacrificed and fought for it.
The question should be – is the country’s independence maturing towards perfection and strength each year? If mistakes have been made, has any effort been made to learn from them? Is there a common resolve of all governments, political parties and civil society towards that end? Usually most sections of society are concerned with their own interests. Do they ever focus on protecting independence as a whole? Are the intellectuals of the country performing their role rightfully and setting an example for the new generation? Also, do we really respect our martyrs or it is all just about tokenism?
Evidently this is not the case. Leaders and civil society activists are also to blame for this. The flag hoisted at the Red Fort for the last so many years is shadowed by the clouds of neo-imperialism. The message going out to children and youth, is not of real hope but without exceptions, most mainstream political parties, civil-society and intellectuals are uninhibitedly complicit in this devaluation of the spirit of independence.
The political independence achieved on 15 August 1947 was considered incomplete since it was said that economic independence was yet to be achieved. However, in the last three decades, even political freedom has been almost lost by embracing economic slavery. Despite lavishly celebrating Independence Day and Republic Day every year and making huge displays of patriotism, not independence it is but neo-imperial slavery that continues to grow from strength to strength. If someone would like to see the deep colours of neo-imperialist slavery, then he/she should come to India.
Here the zeal and enthusiasm of politicians, sportspersons, artists, intellectuals, civil society activists engaged in the servitude of corporate capitalism, seems as if they are the models of the advertising world! Not only team of Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi, but even APJ Abdul Kalam and LK Advani never tired of singing the songs of India becoming a super-power. The ruling-class of India, taking complete advantage of the incomplete independence, has become an object of profit of the MNCs.
The influence of this euphoric atmosphere is so great that even some senior activists and intellectuals belonging to the trickle of anti-neo-liberalism fall prey to it to the extent that it has become difficult for them to get back on track. In such a situation, the condition of the vast population that has been made a heap of waste due to neo-liberal policies can be understood easily because while it cripples and dies, it also imitates. In this way (vulgar) capitalism, along with its ruling-class, prepares the ground for the public as well.
Meanwhile, from Gandhians, socialists, Marxists, all political-ideological groups right down to the RSS have expressed concerns about the imminent crisis on the independence, and have given calls to save the same. But say the strength of neo-imperialism or the absence of true spirit of the freedom or both, the hollowness or weakness of that concern does not take long to become evident. The call to save the independence rises, and bursts like a bubble. It is not that sincere efforts in order to save the independence from the clutches of neo-imperialism have not been made or are not happening now, but, the fact is that more noise has been made in this matter. A long-term movement has not been able to come up with a solid idea and strategy. The reality today is that those who genuinely care about saving the independence are now very few and neglected.
In such a situation, on the occasion of Independence Day the phenomenon of subjugation of the country to neo-colonial networks should be considered with utmost seriousness and priority. Without this, not only our concern for the people, who have been reduced to state of beggars in the age of neo-liberalization, has no gains, our progressive, democratic and secular intellectual pursuits also have no independent meaning. It needless to say that the pitifulness of the claims of revolution are axiomatic.
Whenever the RSS attacks to grab the power of corporate India (Nigam Bharat) formed in the neo-liberal era, then the intellectuals of the secular camp get involved in exposing its ‘traitor’ character. While doing so, they not only give themselves a certificate of being a staunch advocate of patriotism and the independence, they also provide the same certificate to Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh and the Congress. This repeated exercise of them does not yield any positive results. Neither communalism becomes less, nor does neo-liberalism retreat even a little. Rather, both keep merging into each other while becoming more and more hardcore. The space of socialism, democracy and secularism gets eroded by the attack of that combined bigotry i.e., the neo-liberal-communal nexus. The defense of the values and resolve of socialism, democracy and secularism, enshrined in the Constitution of India, would be the defense of the independence. This can be the only acid-test of our politics, economy and the society.
It is true that the RSS is in nexus with the capitalists. Its new jamura Narendra Modi has been dancing in front of them so that they get enchanted. But, the fact that the Congress remains the largest compassionate party of the capitalists is never asserted by the secular camp. They dig deep into the depths of the ‘mysterious character’ of the RSS, but turns a blind eye to ‘khula khel punjivadi’ (open-game of capitalism) of the Congress. They remained a humble servant of Nehru-Indira Congress, and are now a servant of Sonia Gandhi’s Congress.
Narendra Modi is bad because he is trying to woo the corporate houses. The complaint of the secular camp is justified that the media is serving it to society as a new brand of capitalism. But this same media, long before Narendra Modi, had established Manmohan Singh as an architect of corporate capitalism in India; facilitated his adoption in civil society including among secularists. Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not bring his own capitalism. He had put his swadeshi feet in Manmohan Singh’s ‘American’ shoes. It is Manmohan Singh who has brought Narendra Modi. Of course, they have a tussle for power. The side of which the US and the corporate houses would take will win.
In such a scenario, the question can be asked that in what sense Manmohan Singh is better than Narendra Modi; except that he is at number one among those who brought and established neo-liberalism in India. Due to the same status, he is a contender to be the Prime Minister for the third time. There is still some power left in the Indian people to hunt down the communal forces. But it has been rendered helpless in the face of neo-imperialism. This helplessness of the people has to go on increasing. The direct responsibility of this lies with Manmohan Singh and his soldiers.
For the last two years, there has been a lot of anger by the civil society against Manmohan Singh. This anger should have been expressed only when he had implemented the New Economic Policies on the dictates of the World Bank, bypassing the country’s Constitution, and, thus, directly implicated the country’s independence in the neo-imperialist clutches. He was not a political figure, nor is he today. He was able to do this and became the Prime Minister of the country twice on that strength, this would not at all have been possible without the consent of the civil-society. The anger that civil society is expressing even now is not against the policies that devour the country’s self-reliance and sovereignty. The civil society of India, always on a quest for new adventures, wants a freshen face of neo-liberalism, and more benefits for itself. There will be no result of such anger in favour of the independence of the country. Even if it turns out in favour of the BJP, whose star campaigner is beating the drums of fulfilling all the aspirations of this very civil society in a jiffy.
Kumar Prashant in one of his articles in ‘Jansatta’ has described Manmohan Singh as a serious (sanjida) person. It has also been said that as Prime Minister, he has always behaved decently, due to which India’s prestige has increased abroad. He has drawn this praise of Manmohan Singh by comparing him to Narendra Modi, who made his own speech against the Prime Minister’s speech given from the Red Fort on August 15. Independence Day is not an occasion to compare personalities of leaders. Narendra Modi and the RSS have exposed themselves that there is no respect for the Independence Day in their eyes. Even LK Advani criticized this act of Modi with a suppressed voice.
There was no justification to paint the pages of ‘Jansatta’ in making comparison between Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi on the occasion of Independence Day. There is a plethora of news channels to tie the knot of comparison. They did that job well too. I did not listen the speeches of both of them. Nor listened to the debates on TV channels, which some commentators resented in the newspapers the next day. The channels could not have done this if the ‘experts’ who cited the dignity of Independence Day, constitutional obligations, democratic values, federal structure and the integrity of the country had not gone there. Here the experts have become too many, and most of them have sold themselves to anchors who are corolla and sing the unabashed praises of neo-liberalism and communalism.
The intellectuals considered to be serious should have explained what has been stated in Prime Minister’s speech regarding the completeness and strength of the independence; there was no difference between the two speeches on this count. Both spoke of the prestige of neo-liberalism as an obvious act. Both the speeches were illegitimate on the test of the Constitution. The difference between the two is that Manmohan Singh is a branded machine of neo-liberalism, pulled directly from the World Bank, and Modi is a raw (desi) machine molded into the factory of RSS. Everything else is same in both. Modi sees Muslims as ‘puppies’ (pille), while Manmohan Singh sees farmers as ‘idles’ (nithalle). He wonders why farmers do farming (i.e. suicide)! Why don’t they do some other work? In spite of already accumulating a jobless army of several crore youths and middle-aged people, only a machine can say this, in which the message has already been fed!
There is not much worth in criticizing Modi. The first name of those who brought Modi is Manmohan Singh. The RSS comes later in this act. The organization from which Modi comes did not take part in the freedom struggle. It rather supported the British when the opportunity arose. That’s an old story. But Manmohan Singh’s new feat is worth watching. He and Sonia Gandhi together have transformed the Party of the freedom struggle into a party of neo-imperialist slavery. It would have been better if intellectuals would have told this truth to the public on the Independence Day.
I wrote in one of my ‘Samvad Samvad’ columns: “The imperialist seed that had been drown/given way in the period of about thirty years of mixed economy began to flourish under the shadow of Rajiv Gandhi in the eighties. It took roots once again in the nineties, and its buds started blooming while cheering for the twenty-first century. Today the children of imperialism are pretending as if they are centuries-old banyan trees. As if 1857 and 1947 had not been happened. It will not take even next fifty years when the children of imperialism will say that 1947 should not have happened. If it was repressed like 1857, then India would not have to wait for 2020 to become a superpower. Yes, Manmohan Singh is a child born from the same imperialistic seed. Those who are contained in the structure of neo-imperialism are children of Manmohan Singh. Of course there are younger (chhote) and elder (bade) children among them.” (‘Miliye Hukum Ke Ghulam Se‘ (Meet the slave of Dictates), 2009). Narendra Modi is a younger child of Manmohan Singh, who is now set to grow up.
I had published the booklets ‘Gujarat Ke Sabak‘ (Lessons of Gujarat), 2002) on the Gujarat tragedy and ‘Janiye Yogya Pradhanmantri Ko’ (Know the Able Prime Minister), 2002) on the political ideology and style of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. All the articles compiled in the booklets had already been published in the newspapers. The secular colleagues, including Sonia’s secular soldiers, welcomed and promoted those booklets with great enthusiasm. Certain colleagues who had high approach taken them to the campaign cell and spokespersons of the Congress. The NDA was defeated in 2004 and the UPA government was formed at the center. But they all kept silence on the publication of my booklet ‘Miliye Hukum Ke Ghulam Se‘ published before the 2009 elections. The pro-imperialist stance of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, especially with reference to the Indo-US nuclear deal, has been opened up to the readers in the booklet. Colleagues neither welcomed nor publicized that booklet. This clearly shows that the concern of the secular camp is only about communalism, and not against neo-liberalism. Whereas neo-liberalism flourishes under the guise of communalism.
Extremist left groups while waging a violent struggle against the Indian state say that they do not believe in the Constitution of India. They should see that even the ruling-class of India under the leadership of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi also does not accept the Constitution of India. It is true that India’s ruling-class acts at the behest of global institutions which are pioneers of corporate capitalism. But the orders that obeyed and implemented by those who claim to be Maoists have not emerged from the stream of anti-colonial struggle of the people of India; on which basis the Constitution of India to some extent was drafted. Rather, they do not even recognize the struggle for the freedom. Their ancestral party CPI had considered the country’s independence to be the result of international events and not the struggle and sacrifices of the people. On the eve of the independence, it supported the British rule against the Quit India Movement and its revolutionaries.
The independence is incomplete, it was accepted by Ambedkar also. But there was no contempt against the independence itself in his admission. He had a dream to fulfill it on the basis of constitutional provisions. He too did not trust the Congress. He believed in democracy as the way to achieve the goal of equality. He had faith in the democratic non-violent struggle till the end. This also means that after the independence, like Gandhi, Ambedkar also did not see the utility of the Congress. He formed his own party and contested elections with the Socialist Party. Attempts to align with the Socialist Party for future politics also took place before his death.
But the Communists blamed the incomplete independence on the Congress and its leaders. Their bigger complaint, more than the incomplete independence, has been why the communist revolution was not carried out; in their view, this was the fault of the freedom fighters of India and the people who joined them. In the incompleteness of independence, they did not accept any share or obligation of theirs, and, apparently, did not accept the path of the Constitution to fulfill it. The internationalism of communists could have everything except ‘backward, orthodox, feudal, communal, casteist India’. Even for today’s official Marxists, the Constitution and parliamentary democracy are a bargain of compulsion.
The Indian state is bad, the matter does not end there for the communists. If it is not in their possession, then they intend that it should not exist at all in the world. When the Indian state could not be captured, they adopted the strategy of capturing the institutions under the leadership of the Congress. The result of the diligent execution of this strategy has been that they have become captives of that strategy. It is true that in this way the communists gained a lot of power, but that power is of no use against neo-imperialism.
In fact, they put all their strength into the fact that India, of course, remained in the hands of the Congress, with no stream of socialism or social justice which has emerged from Indian contexts could make its space. Being at the helm of education, literature, culture and research institutions, they behaved narrowly towards ideas/thinkers having different thoughts and perspectives from them. In such a situation, obviously, the place had to be made by RSS, which had been shouting ‘Bharat, Mata Bharat Mata‘ since its inception and, like the communists, used to infiltrate the Congress deeply. In fact, dissatisfied with the incomplete freedom, if RSS ran towards a distant golden world (swarnalok) in time to achieve perfection, then the communist towards a distant golden world in space. The position of both remains more or less the same till date.
It should not be necessary to clarify that this critique is not being done for debate sake. Rather, it is being done with the aim that the independence be defended; it would be more complete, stronger and higher. The independence of the country has been directly implicated in the clutches of neo-imperialism. In such a situation, the front against neo-liberalism can never be won if one’s own is not corrected before fixing the RSS.
Patients of capitalism
The theorists and advocates of the revolutionary role of capitalism, despite the orgy of violence and death on the global scene, will still not be ready to withdraw their theories. Capitalism is still considered to be ‘revolutionary’ despite it has bring the world on the verge of crisis with colonization of three-fourths of the world, plundering of resources, annexation of territories by annihilating almost entire aboriginal communities, continuous series of wars, civil wars, world wars continued till the present-day, simultaneously destroying innumerable species of flora and fauna! Gandhi, who did the most realistic and rational critique of the capitalist system, is still considered the biggest enemy of human progress in India. With this understanding of the sick mind of capitalism, one should clearly understand that Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi will come ahead. Gandhi, Nehru, JP, Lohia or Ambedkar are not going to come.
The sick mind of capitalism is still unable to accept the independent existence of India. The seed of this disease was laid in the colonial era. Because of this, the British were always right for them and the Indian fighters, whether they were princes, farmers, tribal, were always wrong. No Indian ruler has wreaked havoc on the people of India like the British. The people of India fought the first freedom struggle in 1857. The atrocities committed by the British in its suppression, cannot be found an example in the history of the world. There was no such severe famine in the kingdom of any Indian ruler as during the British period. When several lakhs of people were dying by rubbing their heels together due to famine in India, not a single bite of the British in India or England became less. An Englishman, be it a soldier or a bureaucrat, came to India, went wealthy. His splendor and prestige in India was more than any ruler here. The tales of their debauchery are no less. But the British rule was better than the rulers here, this belief has gone like a lump in the sick mind of capitalism.
The colonial exploitation had left India in economic shambles. The most exploited were the farmers, tribal, artisans and labourers. In view of that reality, Gandhi talked about creating a self-supporting labour-based decentralized economy of the country. If you don’t have your own economy, you can’t even be independent. Gandhi’s view was not accepted by a small middle-class section emerged in the process of colonial exploitation. The middle-class, only aspiring for political freedom, not only rejected this notion of Gandhi, but also termed it backward. Based on the ready-made capitalist model of development, it considered the economic independence as a thing in its palm. According to it the whole of India was to be transformed into a middle-class. That is, farmers, tribal, artisans, labourers, small traders, shopkeepers did not have to live in that developed India. The other notions served with it can only be called fantasies. For example, with this development the barriers of Varna, caste, religion, region, language etc. will be broken and removed. The extreme end of the fantasy was that the whole of India would read, understand and speak English.
The barriers of a mixed economy and a Nehruvian-socialist goal have been overcome by the capitalist mind. Its new nucleus is the United State of America. It has been lying at her feet on the lines of ‘Main Ghulam Mohi Bech Gusain‘ (I am your slave o master, sell me as you wish). For him the US is right and those who oppose its slavery are wrong. If one says to the sick mind of capitalism that some other Europeans led by the British have established this ‘golden Lanka’ by wiping out the native Red Indians of American region, plundering their nature-given land and resources, treating blacks like animals, then they will say – so what; As they say on the devastation of tribal, farmers and retail traders in India. If you tell them that the US does not respect the sovereignty and civil liberties of other countries in the slightest, but conspires against them, topples governments – even then they will say, so what? This superstitiously devoted to the US is the same mind, which was engaged in appreciating the British during the colonial era.
My friend Sandeep Sapkale has praised Nehru-Ambedkar in a Facebook post written on the occasion of Independence Day, under whose model of development they (Dalits) have been empowered. His idea is good. However, the empowerment of Dalits as a whole society would be said to be negligible in comparison to the empowerment of the feudal forces combined with capitalism. The few Dalits who have been empowered also adopt feudal methods. I was told recently by my colleague Sheoraj Singh Bechain that ‘in Dalit society being an officer of high rank is only considered to be something worthwhile. Whatever we writers-thinkers remain in ourselves, we do not get respect in Dalit society. Even in Dalit politics, only the officers have their say. Many Dalit writers and thinkers tried to reach close to Mayawati, but they did not get success.’
The problem with Sapkale’s idea is that while praising Nehru-Ambedkar, he has also criticized those who talk of socialism. That is, he considers neo-liberalism, according to him against which some people advocate socialism, as the culmination of the ideology of Nehru and Ambedkar. And consider that result to be correct as well. Nehru was known for his socialist ideas from the period of freedom struggle. When the Socialists withdrew from the Congress after the independence and in response to their sharp criticism, Nehru set the goal of the Congress Party to be socialism. Ambedkar was thinking something different than Nehru, only then he formed his own party. His goal was also to bring socialism through a democratic path. Sapkale draws Nehru and Ambedkar in support of capitalism. There is no dearth of Dalit thinkers who support capitalism by making such tussles.
If capitalism brings socio-economic emancipation to Dalits, then it has full justification at least in India. But that is not possible. If capitalism wished so, it could have made some decisive efforts only during the ‘Company Raj’. For example, if the British wanted, while implementing the zamindari system in the country, some of the zamindars would have made from the Dalit society as well. If zamindari was a big deal in the eyes of the British, who plundered the tribal forests, they would have given some land to Dalits for farming or gardening. Even if it was the leather industry, the sole right would have been given to Dalits. But they didn’t do that. Their proximity was with the feudal forces – in India as well as in England. It surprises me that Dalit ideologues glorify the US in spite of what American whites did to blacks!
While talking about Dalit discourse, Dalit identity, Dalit consciousness, it is important to keep in mind that Dalit society is not limited only to the people who have found jobs in the organized sector under the reservation policy or due to their own talent. If respect in the Dalit society comes only through officialdom, then the scope of Dalit society benefiting from capitalism shrinks even more. (Though I do not consider the reservation provided by the Constitution to be a product of capitalist system. However, the demand for reservation in the private sector now being sought will be a product of capitalist system.) It may be noted that the empowered Dalits never come forward for the upliftment of Dalits; they do not do such efforts i.e., constructive work, due to which education and consciousness are spread among the left out Dalits; they can get information about employment, proper guidance and training. By doing such constructive work on a large scale, they themselves can take the initiative that the reservation should now be given first to the left out families before those who have become empowered to some extent by taking its benefit. But they don’t do constructive work. They run NGOs, which are an integral part of capitalist system.
It is not necessary to go too deep to know the fact that Dalits who talk of capitalism can remain as pawns of the wrestlers of capitalism. How deep capitalism has penetrated and how many people of upper caste India have settled in Europe-America, one cannot join them with broken English and chawnni in knots. When taking the caste along, the big caste is already there. A caste which has been made lower for centuries can never be raised against a caste that has been made upper for centuries. Its solution is the annihilation of caste as proposed by Ambedkar.
The worship of capitalism by the empowered Dalits is, in fact, the accomplishment of self-interest in the name of Dalit society. This tendency can be found in other caste groups also, and it (self-interest) is a product of capitalism. The amount of condemnation of anti-equality Brahmanism would always be less. But with that if inequality is increasing in the Dalit society itself, then it should be understood that the fault lies elsewhere too. Getting intoxicated on getting power is not the basic feature of feudalism-Brahmanism only. Just as the forward society of India should find some reasons for being slave for thousands of years in its character, similarly the backward and downtrodden society which has been enslaved by the Varna system should also accept the need of introspection.
We do not mind the ‘British-bhakti’ of Dalit thinkers from Phule-Ambedkar till today. Those who mind it should see that it was the ‘British-bhakt’ upper caste society, which kept them occupied here for 200 years. They should see the poems of praise in the glory of Queen Victoria of England who gave them the status of her praja (subject) after the killings of several lakh Indians in 1857. Dalits had no role in the British coming to India and establishing their colony here. But if Dalit ideologues become staunch supporters of capitalism, then Ambedkar’s name may not last long with them. Ambedkar was not in favour of capitalism. He neither talked about reservation in the private sector nor made any provision in the Constitution. He wanted that soon an equitable economic-social system should be formed and there should be no need for reservation.
Gandhi said that the British did not enslave us, we ourselves became their slaves. Today we see that the society which Gandhi had engaged in the race for independence, and had also achieved the same, is running in the race for slavery. As if will achieve it in perfection! It can only be said unfortunate that Gandhi is now most abused by Dalit thinkers. But even the business of abusing Gandhi by Dalits is not going to last long. The Congress, which used to take Gandhi’s name the most, has eliminated him.
Gandhi has been drawn into the hammam of neo-liberalism many times from Narasimha Rao to Manmohan Singh. You must have heard that Barack Obama is also a devotee of Gandhi! I have written in detail elsewhere on why the sick mind of capitalism needs Gandhi. It takes the name of Gandhi to deceive itself more than to deceive others. This mind knows that it has raised a mountain of markets and weapons over humanity. It also knows that it has to keep doing the same in the future. In this venture it has killed innumerable living beings including several crore people. In Gandhi’s name it finds solace of being a human being. If the capitalist mind keeps Gandhi with it even as a medicine for its disease, then there will be no need for the coming Dalit generations to abuse him.
The RSS, which chants swadeshi, is the most sever patient of capitalism. Before the disease becomes incurable, RSS should seriously introspect. It should really think that it has not been able to produce even a single thinker, artist, litterateur in such a long time of its existence. It is apart that some writers and thinkers may join it in the greed of power and facilities. A swayamsewak, outside of RSS fold, remains a stranger and a copycat. The RSS, ostracized from the world of thoughts and art, needs to change its thinking and attitude, not to run its own bauddhik (intellectual circle) and sanskritik (cultural circle). Otherwise, its identity as a cultural organization will never be able to stand even further. The significance of its hindutva has been limited only to facilitate political power to the BJP, and will continue to be so. A juggle to grab power cannot be a culture or a philosophy of life.
Lesson of history
If the independence is lost, it will be very difficult to regain it. It is easier than that to decisively change our perceptions of capitalism. What the independence means for India and the third world, and why slavery is being re-established even after gaining the independence from colonial domination – After Lohia, Kishan Patnaik has given the most intense political thought on this subject. He also made constant efforts to create a well-grounded politics to counter the neo-imperialist attack that began in the form of New Economic Policies. There happened to be an environment of hope that an alternative politics against neo-liberalism should be created by combining the single-issue-based local people’s movements which were emerged due to the side-effects of New Economic Policies. The Dalit, Adivasi and Shudra leadership should come forward and lead it. But NGO supporters, including many prominent janandolankari, relying on foreign funds, did not allow his efforts to bear fruit.
Before concluding the discussion, a quote from Kishan Patnaik’s important and well-known essay ‘Ghulam Dimag Ka Chhed’ (Hole of the Slave Mind) is to be seen: “As many national intellectuals we have (just as some English newspapers are called national newspapers, similarly some English-knowing intellectuals can be called national intellectuals) barring a few exceptions, none of them have believed that India was ruined, it had irreparable loss due to the defeat in the Battle of Plassey of 1757. ‘Losing freedom is a bad thing, but…’ In the tone of ‘but’ our intellectuals will start saying such things as if losing freedom is not a matter of regret, at the cost of this we have gained so much that we should be grateful to the British that they made us slaves.
“How many English-speaking intellectuals are there in India who do not give credit to the British government for the modernization of India? Who does not believe that if India had not been ruled by the British, India would not have been able to take advantage of modern science and English language as much as it is enjoying today? Such people will be found only as an exception. Some of our famous historians have written about the failed revolution of 1857 that whatever happened, it was good. If the revolt of 1857 had been successful, then India would have been immersed in the darkness of ignorance and superstition, one will have to think about the minds of those who believe like this. The question is whether there is any hole in their mind, otherwise how they ignore the facts that have come to the fore. In front of them is the fact that Japan and China did not remain under European rule. Have China and Japan modernized less than India?” (‘Vikalpheen Nahin Hai Duniya’ (The world is Not Without Alternative), p. 22)
Obviously, our understanding of modernity and modernization is built in such a way that India’s independence or independent India cannot find place in it. It is a complex problem that requires a holistic and serious enterprise of all intellectual groups and political parties to solve it. Mistakes made in history cannot be undone. But a lesson can be taken from them at any time. There is a famous saying: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We have to take a lesson from history that without opposing colonialism, neo-imperialism cannot be opposed.
25 August 2013
(The writer associated with the socialist movement is a former teacher of Delhi University and a fellow of Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla)