Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 53 Number 4, February 4, 2023 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

74th Anniversary of the Republic of India, January 26, 1950

People of India Continue to Lay Their Claims

J Singh

Farmers' Mahapanchayat in Jind on Republic Day, January 26, 2023

January 26 marked the 74th anniversary of the promulgation of the Indian Constitution - Republic Day. The President, the Prime Minister and other representatives of the ruling elite, many of them billionaires, made very tall claims as usual to hoodwink the people and hide the basic facts about the Constitution, constitution-making and the clash between Conditions and Authority. While disinformation and deception were being dished out with great fanfare, farmers across the country held Mahapanchayats and rallies to protest against the ruling elite, their state and government, shouting slogans Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad, Faslon Ke Faisle Kisan Karega (Long live farmer-worker unity. The farmers will make decisions about their crops).

A Constituent Assembly was created in 1946 by order of the British. Only 10 per cent of the population had the right to vote based on property, status and education. Of those designated voters, close to 50 per cent did not vote. Elections were held for assemblies and members of assemblies elected members of the Constituent Assembly. Most of the members were collaborators of the British or their representatives such as Zamindars they created, landlords, Rajas, Maharajas, money lenders, and Tatas and Birlas, who voted to create a constitution for 400 million people. It was not a representative body of the people of India by any stretch of the imagination. The total strength of the assembly was 389 so-called representatives, most of them from upper castes and supporters of Brahmin supremacy. The peoples of India did not have any say in the framing of the Constitution.

Farmers' Mahapanchayat in Jind, part of country-wide farmers' actions on Republic Day, January 26, 2023

It was no surprise to see that the new constitution was more than 90 per cent comprised of the old Government of India Act of 1935 imposed by the British Imperial Parliament. The colonial laws and penal system were kept intact. Due to the force of the independence movement the framers were forced to give certain concessions, such as universal suffrage, reservations, the right to organise trade unions and certain other civil rights in Articles 19 and 21. The high sounding Preamble and the Directive Principles were all amalgamated from the constitutions of liberal democracies here and there but they are not justiciable - they cannot be used to hold government officials to account because they are just policy objectives.

All the concessions and rights that the people gained since then by shedding torrents of blood are under attack by the ruling elite under this or that pretext. For example, the reservation quotas (a system to provide historically disadvantaged groups representation in education, employment, government schemes, scholarships and politics) have never been fulfilled but they are being attacked by the ruling elite. The Right to Be and Right to Conscience are not enshrined in the Constitution. Even though they belong to the people by virtue of being human, these rights are violated as a matter of course. The people's conscience has been criminalised continuously from the time of first Prime Minister Nehru to the present. One just has to read the official reports of the Home Ministry to see that Delhi has always behaved like Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. More than 200,000 people were killed in Hyderabad in a police action in 1948-1951. Nehru dissolved a duly elected government in Kerala in 19 59 and Indira Gandhi treated states as her vassals, declared a state of emergency and carried out genocide in Punjab. Rajiv Gandhi continued the genocide and even banned poems and songs under the black laws like the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. Manmohan Singh carried out Operation Green Hunt and, like Aurangzeb, the present dispensation besides other crimes that it has carried out against the people, has banned cartoons, books and movies.

Tractor march in West Bengal, January 26, 2023

In a statement which made it clear who the Indian Constitution would serve, the British Prime Minister Attlee stated in 1947 that "British commercial and industrial interests can look forward to a fair field for their enterprise in the changed conditions". In other words the colonial rule will continue without the colonialists. In 1947, the British investment in India was £3.3 billion. It has increased to £27 billion in the last 74 years and the collaborators of the British in India have invested in Britain with a turnover of £56 billion over the years. No wonder it has been called "From British Raj To Billionaire Raj". Today it is being done under the banner of Hindutva - a concept of "Indian cultural, national, and religious identity" under which the "true Indian" is one who partakes of this "Hindu-ness". At the time the republic was constituted the conception was of "Secularism and Socialism" which, in the hands of the ruling class opened the path for what exists today.

The latest reports point out that in this Billionaire Raj, 21 people in India own more wealth than 700 million people and close to 800 million people receive rations from the government because they are destitute. They have been reduced to beggars. The ruling elite of India and Britain are planning a Free Trade Agreement to further fleece the people of India and their natural resources. Economists estimate that the British ruling elite stole more than £38 trillion from India but the rulers of India, who do not get tired of shouting slogans against colonialism, are once again giving them free rein to plunder India. So too the United States has declared an Indo-Pacific Strategy that highlights relations with India as a means of pitting it against China and isolating China.

The last 74 years of the Republic have seen more than 65,000 incidents of state sanctioned communal violence and countless atrocities against Dalit women and men. Massive violations of rights across the country continue to take place with impunity. The Republic of India has become a prison of nations, nationalities and forest dwellers, to hand over their resources to Adani, Ambani, Tata and other members of the ruling elite. Many areas have been under army occupation for decades. Degradation of the natural environment, poisoning the air, water and soil endanger the health of millions people.

These conditions have given rise to massive revolts of people as seen in the farmers' Morchas on Delhi's borders for 14 months and the farmers' determination to continue their struggles until they achieve their aim of Faslon Ke Faisley Kisan Karega. Workers, women, Dalits, teachers, office workers, youth, artists and all the toilers have raised the banner of struggle for the affirmation of their rights.

It has also deepened the crisis of credibility and legitimacy of the political process, lack of confidence and rejection of the cartel parties of the ruling elite and the institutions governed by narrow private interests. In every protest, people do not want leaders of what are called political parties but act as mafia gangs to come there. After the 14 months of Kisan University on the borders of Delhi, a consciousness has been brought home to people that they have to take matters into their own hands, to solve their problems and affirm their rights. They are doing so on the basis of mass democracy, where everyone discusses and decides the course of action they will take. They are greeting the 74th anniversary of the Republic with great resolve and determination to continue their struggles for renewal and renovation.

Massive Kisan Mahapanchayats in Jind, Haryana and Kokri Kalan, Punjab brought hundreds of thousands of farmers and other people to protest betrayal of promises by the Modi government. They repeated their demand for a minimum support price (MSP) for all India and to make a law that the produce be bought at MSP. Kokari Kalan is a historic place. It was a centre of Ghadar Party. Farmers and other toilers, teachers, artists, doctors, scientists discussed major problems they face. They expressed their total distrust in the leaders of political parties and called upon people to take matters in their own hands. They are refusing to be reduced to just voting cattle and to become powerless the moment they cast their vote. They want to renew the political process and all other relations between humans and humans and humans and nature. I am reminded of Maithali Sharan Gupt, the great Hindi poet, who wrote:

Aao Vicharen Rashtra Ki Samasayen Sabhi
(Let's all deliberate on problems of our country)

Photos: R. Azad, K. Sundar.


Link to Full Issue of Workers' Weekly

RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Weekly Online Archive