Hindostan belongs to us, and we must organise to change its direction, its motion!
Report of Public Meeting on “Whither India?” held on 19th August in Delhi
When the President of India calls for a “second freedom struggle” today, what it means is a Second Great Betrayal. The anti-colonial struggle was betrayed in the 20th century by this same traitorous class, which now wants to embrace imperialism and betray the struggle for modernising India on the high road of civilisation in this 21st century. A new beginning, to open the road to deep-going social transformation, is the need of the hour. Only a Ghadar led by the working class can fulfil the aspirations of our revolutionary martyrs, those of 1857 as well as others before and after that great revolt. The proletarian nation-building project will establish a new zero, a new beginning for the Indian civilisation, a decisive end to the remnants of feudalism, to all forms of national oppression and human degradation, to imperialist plunder and capitalist exploitation.
These were among the concluding words of a thought-provoking speech delivered by Comrade Prakash Rao, Spokesperson of Communist Ghadar Party, at a public meeting organised by Lok Awaz Publishers & Distributors, on the topic Whither India? It was a clarion call to all communists and all Indians of conscience. It was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of the boiling cauldron of narrow-minded politics in our country.
The large hall was overflowing with hundreds of participants, who were welcomed by Comrade Chandra Bhan of Lok Awaz Publishers. He explained that this meeting was the first in a series to be held in various places. The aim is to enable organisers and activists of workers, peasants, women and youth to discuss and grasp where our country is headed, and what must be done to set it right.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is asking workers to toil long hours and make sure that the Tatas , Ambanis and other monopoly houses are able become equal to, or even surpass, the capitalists of Britain, France and other developed countries. He wants workers to be content with earning one-tenth or even less compared to the wage rates in those countries. “Why would any self-respecting worker put up with this indignity?” asked Comrade Prakash.
Referring to the Independence Day speech of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in which he declared that political differences and conflicts must not be allowed to upset the “pace of progress”, the speech of the Spokesperson of Communist Ghadar Party effectively exposed the true meaning of this “progress” as nothing but the rapid growth of capitalist monopolies and the private wealth of their owners. This rapid accumulation of wealth in very few hands is taking place through ruthless super-exploitation of labour, heightened robbery of peasants, and through large-scale plunder of natural resources of all nations and peoples within our country, including accelerated corporate land grab. The workers, peasants and majority of people will certainly oppose this kind of progress.
The speech pointed out that the fastest growing sectors in recent decades have been services for export markets, banking and other financial agencies, the land market, stock market and commodity futures markets. These are not activities that add to the real wealth of our country and contribute to raising the living standards of our people. It is obvious that not enough is being produced of the various essential food items that working people need, which is reflected in the soaring rate of food price inflation. Social planning can solve the problem, but our leaders are committed to serve the biggest private profiteers.
Ensuring the prosperity of those who toil requires enhanced production of the articles of mass consumption and their adequate availability at affordable prices. This is not being assured at all by the existing system of economy and the economic policy of the government. Only exorbitant profits in the hands of monopoly capitalists are being assured, through highly lopsided growth.
The speech stressed that the working class and toiling masses must not give up their claims. We must strive to block the path to the aggressive drive of monopoly capital, to take over public property as well small individual property, and squeeze the claims of workers, peasants and of society as a whole. We have to make the fighting people conscious that the aim of our struggle is to reorient the economy, to change its rhythm and its motive force. Fulfilling the ever-rising needs of human beings and of investing in the means of production, so as to secure the future, will become the fundamental law of the fully socialised economy that the working class and communist movement aims to establish.
The speech exposed and condemned the reality of continuing national oppression in independent India. Our country is made up of numerous nations, nationalities and peoples with distinct cultures, languages, territories and a long history of experience with statecraft. Not one of them is free from national oppression of one form or another. The post-colonial State is not qualitatively different from the colonial State, but only a further refinement of the same. It is a neo-colonial and imperial state, an instrument for foreign capital to plunder all the nations and peoples of our country and for Indian monopoly capital to do the same at home and abroad.
The speech explained that to defend and affirm national rights in our country means to demand and fight for the reconstitution of the Indian Union on a voluntary basis. This means a new Constitution that guarantees equality and the right to self-determination, up to and including secession, to every nation, nationality and tribal people. That will completely end the colonial legacy and open a new path to cooperative development of all the constituent peoples of our multi-national country.
The speech criticised the rulers of India for refusing to condemn the US-led imperialist aggression and violation of the freedom and independence of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria. The rulers of India have remained silent about the constant pressure and blackmail being carried out by the US against Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and other countries. They have no sympathy for the people of Pakistan, who are our flesh and blood, and are the victims of regular drone attacks and gross violation of sovereignty by the US.
For the sake of fulfilling the narrow-minded and self-serving aim of the big capitalists to expand globally and join the gang of biggest plunderers of the world, India is being led on extremely dangerous course, towards fascism and imperialist wars of conquest, trampling underfoot the rights of individuals, and the rights of the majority of classes, nations and peoples in the country.
The President of India, in his speech on the eve of Independence Day, defined the Lakshman rekha, the strict boundary, for people’s protests. He warned that the existing political institutions must not be challenged. He said, ““There are times when people lose their patience but it cannot become an excuse for an assault on our democratic institutions”; and hefurther said,“Parliament is the soul of the people, the 'atman' of India. We challenge its rights and duties at our peril”.
Referring to these words of President Mukherjee, Comrade Prakash Rao said that the working class and other toiling people are also extremely concerned about the institutions of democracy and political power. We are concerned that the existing institutions are alien, outdated and completely unsuitable for the purpose of empowering the people. We do not accept that nothing must be done to shake the basic foundations of the existing institutions. It is not only essential to shake them. It is necessary to completely get rid of this baggage and build new institutions of power.
The speech elaborated the communist vision and program of building a new political power from below, based on committees for people’s empowerment at the base of society, where the masses of working people live and work. Such samitis must organise well-prepared mass meetings at which candidates are proposed, discussed and approved. This, in embryonic form, presents the picture of the alternative system and political process for which we agitate.
In order to block the dangerous drive of the big bourgeoisie and re-set the course of India, it is essential for us communists to take the lead in building committees for people’s empowerment, including workers’ unity committees at the workplace, in industrial belts and modern service hubs. This was the key final message of the speech. We have already started building such institutions, and need to multiply them many fold over the coming months and years. We are preparing for the day when the working class and its allies will usher in a political alternative – not just an alternative party or coalition, but a new Constitution of a new state power and system of democracy, consistent with the principle that it is the people who are supreme and must be the decision-makers at all times.
In conclusion, the speech called on all communists to unite around the urgent task of enabling the working class to become the leader of society. It called for unity of the working class and all its potential allies around the program to reconstitute the Indian Union on a voluntary basis, redefine democracy to empower the people, and reorient the economy to provide for all. It called on the members and supporters of the Party to focus on the task of building party basic organisations in the midst of workers engaged in large-scale production, side by side with building workers’ unity committees in industrial areas, to implement the principle that An attack on one is an attack on all!
Participants in the discussion that followed this speech consisted of youthful workers as well as experienced organisers of workers’ unions from Delhi and the neighbouring states of UP, Haryana and Rajasthan. There was overwhelming support to the main thesis that India is headed on an extremely dangerous course and that there is an urgent need for the united working class opposition to grow stronger and become the force that can save our country.
Several speakers emphasized the need to rise above narrow party rivalry to unite workers as a class against the capitalist offensive. Some of them pointed to the harm caused by those who call themselves communist but conciliate with the social-democratic politics of the Congress Party and engage in narrow party rivalry that divides the workers.
The meeting concluded in a militant atmosphere, with faces of young women and men gleaming with the enthusiasm that comes from feeling that we can and must do something to save our country from being led on a disastrous course.