Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 10th March, 2018
The 23rd of March is observed as Martyrs’ Day. It is on that day in 1931 that Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Sukhdev and Shaheed Rajguru were hanged to death by the British Raj.
Ever since the Great Ghadar of 1857 and from even before, the British Raj put to death countless patriots all over the Indian sub-continent. They branded them as “enemies of the State”. Martyrs’ Day is an occasion to recall what such patriots fought for and why the British rulers put them to death.
There are many political personalities who are referred to as “freedom fighters” in our history books. However, the British rulers did not consider all of them to be “enemies of the State”. They did not send all of them to the gallows.
The truth is that there were two kinds of parties and political personalities within the anti-colonial movement. They represented two opposite lines or trends, the revolutionary line and the compromising line. They corresponded to the interests of the exploited majority and an exploiting minority within Indian society.
Bhagat Singh on Revolution
Answering the question as to what he meant by the word revolution, Bhagat Singh said at his court trial:
“Revolution does not necessarily involve sanguinary strife nor is there any place in it for individual vendetta. It is not the cult of the bomb and the pistol. By ‘Revolution’ we mean that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice, must change. Producers or labourers, in spite of being the most necessary element of society, are robbed by their exploiters of the fruits of their labour and deprived of their elementary rights. The peasant who grows corn for all, starves with his family; the weaver who supplies the world market with textile fabrics, has not enough to cover his own and his children's bodies; masons, smiths and carpenters who raise magnificent palaces, live like pariahs in the slums. The capitalists and exploiters, the parasites of society, squander millions on their whims. These terrible inequalities and forced disparity of chances are bound to lead to chaos. This state of affairs cannot last long …
“The whole edifice of this civilisation, if not saved in time, shall crumble. A radical change, therefore, is necessary and it is the duty of those who realise it to reorganise society on socialistic basis. Unless this is done and the exploitation of man by man and of nations by nations is brought to an end, sufferings and carnage with which humanity is threatened today cannot be prevented. All talk of ending war and ushering in an era of universal peace is undisguised hypocrisy.
“By ‘Revolution’, we mean the ultimate establishment of an order of society which may not be threatened by such breakdown, and in which the sovereignty of the proletariat should be recognised and a world federation should redeem humanity from the bondage of capitalism and misery of imperial wars.
“This is our ideal, and with this ideology as our inspiration, we have given a fair and loud enough warning. If, however, it goes unheeded and the present system of government continues to be an impediment in the way of the natural forces that are swelling up, a grim struggle will ensue involving the overthrow of all obstacles, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat to pave the way for the consummation of the ideal of revolution.”
Followers of the revolutionary line include the martyrs of 1857, the activists of the Hindustan Ghadar Party and of the Hindustan Republican Association. Hindustan Ghadar Party was the first revolutionary political party of Indians, formed in 1913 to overthrow British colonial rule through a mass armed uprising. Bhagat Singh and his comrades were inspired by the Hindustan Ghadar Party and guided by its line. They learnt many lessons from the Great October Revolution in Russia and the triumphant march of socialism in the Soviet Union during the decade of the twenties.Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), which subsequently renamed itself as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, was committed to the aim of completely eliminating the colonial British Indian State and building in its place an entirely new State. The 1925 Manifesto of HRA had formulated the political aim of the revolution as the creation of a United States of India, which would respect the sovereign rights of all the various nations, nationalities and peoples who had come together in the struggle for liberation from British colonial rule.
Followers of the compromising line include the leaders of the Congress Party, Muslim League and other organisations that represented the interest of different sections of the big capitalists and big landlords. They negotiated with the British rulers to accommodate their representatives within the capitalist-imperialist system and the colonial State. They were determined to preserve the existing State and reform it to suit their own selfish interests.
The revolutionaries fought for a fundamental change in the nature of political power. The compromisers fought to replace one set of exploiters by another, without any fundamental change in the system of exploitation or in the nature of the State and its communal foundation of dividing and ruling over the masses of people.
The revolutionaries upheld the right to conscience of every individual in society, carrying forward the progressive thought emanating from the Bhakti and Sufi movements. They correctly identified the colonial State as the source of communalism and communal violence. They rejected and exposed the propaganda blaming our people and their beliefs. . They worked to unite the people, irrespective of religion, caste or language, against the alien and oppressive colonial rule.
The Congress Party, Muslim League, RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and others compromised with the colonial conception of India as consisting of a “Hindu majority” and various other religious minorities. Some of them called on Hindus to take revenge against Muslims. Some called on Muslims to fight for a separate State. Some called on Hindus to be tolerant towards the minorities, in the name of Secularism.
The British rulers treated the members of the revolutionary and compromising trends very differently. They unleashed brutal repression on the revolutionaries. They handed out privileges and grants to members of the compromising trend. They lent support both to the openly communal organisations and those who advocated tolerance under the banner of Secularism.
The “transfer of power” which took place in 1947 did not lead to a fundamental change in the nature of the State and economic system. One set of exploiters replaced another. The rule of British capitalists was replaced by the rule of Indian big capitalists, allied with the big landlords and other exploiters. It was a backroom deal between the British imperialists and the Indian big bourgeoisie, to deliver political independence while preventing a revolutionary change in the State and the social system.
The colonial machinery of State , its “Rule of Law” and its communal foundation have all been preserved intact for the past seven decades. The aim of the State has remained that of preserving the system of exploitation and plunder, keeping the people divided and preventing revolution at any cost.
When Prime Minister Modi claims that his government is committed to the creation of a “new India”, he is repeating the lie that qualitative change can come about without a revolution. This lie has been fed to our people in various forms since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru.
An India free from all forms of exploitation and oppression remains the aspiration of the vast majority of our people. The reality, however, is that workers are not free from unemployment, inflation and intense exploitation at the work place. Peasants are not free from heightened insecurity of livelihood and the threat of their land being grabbed to serve corporate interests. Women are not free from discrimination, oppression and violence of old and new kinds. Student youth are not free to discuss political issues in university campuses. The social environment is not free from state and individual terrorism and hooliganism. People continue to suffer from caste discrimination and social exclusion. We are not free from the threat of communal violence.
What is the reason that the promise of creating a new India free from all forms of enslavement remains unfulfilled? The reason is that the New cannot be created without destroying the Old. The new India for which our revolutionary martyrs fought can only be created through a revolutionary overthrow of the old exploitative capitalist system and the State built to defend that system. India is crying out for a revolution that will overthrow capitalism, sweep away all remnants of feudalism and colonialism, and break free from the imperialist system. The revolution must establish workers’ and peasants’ rule. The existing State, which is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, must be replaced by an entirely new State of the dictatorship of the proletariat, a voluntary Indian Union as envisioned by our revolutionary martyrs.
The new State of the dictatorship of the proletariat would ensure freedom from exploitation for those who toil, freedom from insecurity for those who till the land, freedom from caste and gender based discrimination, national oppression and all forms of persecution. It would ensure that national wealth benefits the toiling masses of people. It would do so by eliminating the economic basis of an exploiting minority to live off the fruits of other people’s labour. It will convert the means of large-scale production and exchange from being the private property of a few into the social property of the entire people. It will make a clean break with the imperialist system and organise the construction of a self-reliant socialist economy.
To uphold the path of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and other revolutionary martyrs means to reject the false claim that a new India can be created without a revolution. Nothing new can be created by preserving and reforming the thoroughly rotten and exploitative capitalist system and the State inherited from the British colonial rulers.
To respond to the call of our martyrs means to work for the victory of a thorough-going revolution on Indian soil.