We republish here an article written by an East Indian activist in Vancouver as it originally appeared. 2019 marks 100 years since the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre, one of the most brutal attacks on the people of India under British rule.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of Amritsar, incident on April 13, 1919, in which British troops fired on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in Amritsar, killing over a 1500 people and wounding many hundreds more. This incident was the culmination of the people’s upheaval against the black law enacted by the lord Sidney committee called ‘Rowlett’s Act’. During World War I (1914–18) the British government of India enacted a series of repressive emergency powers that were intended to combat subversive activities. By the war’s end, expectations were high among the Indian populace that those measures would be eased and that India would be given more political autonomy. The Montagu-Chelmsford Report, presented to the British Parliament in 1918, did in fact recommend limited local self-government. Instead, however, the government of India passed what became known as the Rowlett Acts in early 1919, which essentially extended the repressive wartime measures.
The acts were met by widespread anger and discontent among Indians, notably in the Punjab region. Gandhi called for a one-day strike for March 30th,1919. This was changed to April 6th later for no obvious reasons, but in Amritsar 30-35 thousand people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh. This massive rally was addressed by Dr. Saif-u-din Kichloo and demanded the Rowlett acts be suspended. British responded by banning Dr. Satpal and Dr. Saif-u-din Kichloo from addressing public gatherings. On April 6th again the gathering numbers in Amritsar reached 50,000 led by barrister Abdul Islam Khan. The British responded by removing the prominent leaders Dr. Saif-u-din Kichloo and Dr. Satpal from Amritsar and sending them to Dharmshala 160 kilometers away. In Amritsar, the news that prominent Indian leaders, Dr. Satpal and Dr. Saif-u-din Kichloo had been arrested and banished from that city sparked violent protests on April 10. A force of several dozen troops commanded by Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer was given the task of restoring order, against this revolt situation. Among the measures taken was a ban on public gatherings.
On the afternoon of April 13, a crowd of at least 10,000 men, women, and children gathered in an open space known as the Jallianwala Bagh, which was nearly completely enclosed by walls and had only one exit. It is not clear how many people there were protesters who were defying the ban on public meetings and how many had come to the city from the surrounding region to celebrate Baisakhi, a spring festival. Dyer and his soldiers arrived and sealed off the exit. Without warning, the troops opened fire on the crowd, they fired continuously reportedly shooting until they ran out of ammunition. After they stopped firing, the troops immediately withdrew from the place, leaving behind the dead and wounded. The shooting was followed by the proclamation of martial law in the Punjab that included public floggings and other humiliations. Indian outrage grew as news of the shooting and subsequent British actions spread throughout the subcontinent. The Bengali poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore renounced the knighthood that he had received in 1915.
Two days after the massacre at Amritsar, the RAF (Royal Air Force) was dispatched to bomb and machine gun people protesting against it in Gujranwala. At least 12 people were killed. The Officer Commanding the RAF in India, Brigadier General N D K MacEwen stated after the massacre: “I think we can fairly claim to have been of great use in the late riots, particularly at Gujranwala, where the crowd when looking at its nastiest was absolutely dispersed by a machine using bombs and Lewis guns.”
The first thing that immediately comes to mind is, “Why has our whole education, within the Indian education system, failed to inform us about these crimes, which many generations of our ancestors endured at the hands of “British Raj?” Then when we think about the fact, that more than 50% of the British population are still proud of their country’s colonial past, we are hit by a fit of anger. The worst part of learning about India’s colonial history is when we hear stories of some Indian people, who worked under the British administration, police or army, and who had nothing but praise for the British administrative proficiency.
As Karl Marx famously said, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force”. There is no doubt that the British Empire’s ideas held hegemony in England as well as in its colonies. The only heart-warming thing from within the empire’s colonies comes in the form of the uprisings of the people against “the empire”.
When we talk about the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, we can never forget a glowing name in India’s anti-colonial history. That name is SHAHID UDHAM SINGH. He was an activist of the Ghadar Party and a great revolutionary. The bravery and perseverance of this young man warmed the hearts of the Indian masses when he shot the perpetrator of Jallianwala Bagh, Michael O’Dwyer on March 13th,1940 just a month shy of the massacre’s 21st anniversary. For his bravery, Singh was hanged in England in July 1940.
DEVIDE AND RULE WAS THE KEY POLICY
Since the British came from a hierarchical society with an entrenched class system, they instinctively looked for a similar one in India. The effort to understand ethnic, religious, sectarian and caste differences among Britain’s subjects inevitably became an exercise in defining, dividing and perpetuating these differences. Thus, colonial administrators regularly wrote reports and conducted censuses that classified Indians in ever-more bewilderingly narrow terms, based on their language, religion, sect, caste, sub-caste, ethnicity and skin colour. Not only were ideas of community reified, but also entire new communities were created by people who had not consciously thought of themselves as particularly different from others around them.
Large-scale conflicts between Hindus and Muslims (religiously defined), only began under colonial rule; many other kinds of social strife were labelled as religious due to the colonists’ orientalist assumption that religion was the fundamental division in Indian society.
The desecration of India
The impact of colonial rule in India was extremely devastating. In 1930, American historian Will Durant published a book about the history and life in India, “The Case for India.” His study of India brought him to the following conclusion: “The more I read the more I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding of India by England throughout a hundred and fifty years. I began to feel that I had come upon the greatest crime in all history.”
Three basic policy changes towards land and crops became major reasons for the once self-sufficient food economy of India.
1 The land allotments to Individual in a family, in-place of common tilling. This was for ease of tax collection by British.
2 Changing the revenue collection in cash in-place of crop produce given as revenue.
3 Changing the crop patterns in favor of British requirements rather than the traditional agriculture geared to produce food as well as crops for trade.
All these 3 factors became the root cause of increased frequency of famines in the Indian sub-continent. This is how British engineered famines in India.
Mass starvation was a regular feature of life in India under British rule. The last ‘famine’ that was inflicted on India was in 1943 when over four million people died in Bengal. The British Army took millions of tons of rice from starving people. Even when other nations tried to send aid to the people of Bengal, Winston Churchill refused the offers. The major famines that occurred in India under British rule: The Great Bengal Famine (1769-1770) – over 10 million deaths, Madras City/surrounding areas (1782-1783) and Chalisa famines (1783-1784) – total deaths for both was over 11 million, Doji Bara Famine (1791-1792) – over 11 million deaths, Agra Famine (1837-1838) – close to 1 million deaths, Upper Doab Famine (1860-1861) – 2 million deaths, Orissa (Odisha) Famine (1866) – over 1 million deaths, Rajputana Famine (1868-1870) – over 1.5+ million deaths, Bihar Famine (1873-1874) – the relief effort for this famine was deemed ‘excessive’, it was decided future relief to be “thrift”. Other major engineered famines were: Great Famine (1876-1878) – 5.5+ million deaths, Ganjam/Orissa/Bihar (1888-1889) – hundreds of thousands of deaths, Indian Famine (1896-1897) – millions of deaths Indian Famine (1899-1900) – 1+ million deaths, Bombay Presidency Famine (1905-1906) – hundreds of thousands of deaths, Bengal Famine (1943-1944) – over 4+ million deaths
The British ran what they termed ‘relief works’ during some of the famines. Indians were worked to death.
During the Bihar famine it was declared that the relief given to the starving was too generous, and thus decided that future relief was to be ‘thrift’. Lord Salisbury was convinced by senior civil servants that it was “a mistake to spend so much money to save a lot of black fellows”.
One of the methods the British devised for starving Indians who wanted to get relief was the ‘distance test’. They would be made to walk over ten miles to and from the relief works. Less food was given at these slave labour camps than at the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald. The annual death rate in 1877 was 94%. Britain repeatedly provoked famine in India, which killed between 15 million and 29 million people. The best-known famine was that in Bengal in 1943, when 4 million Indians died.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill should be regarded as one of the cruelest dictators of the 20th century. This is what Churchill said in a conversation with Secretary of State for India and Burma Leopold Amery:
“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.” This is not what we are saying, nor are these our inventions. It’s a fact.
Tens of millions of Indians died avoidably from egregious deprivation under British rule.
The imposition of poverty kills. Poverty-derived avoidable mortality (avoidable death, excess mortality, excess death, premature death, untimely death, death that should not have happened) can be estimated as the difference between the actual deaths in a country of the same demographics.
Britain’s imperial project in India, its aims and methods, was not to prevent ‘famines’ but to engineer them.
How was Britain able to rob India? And How much did Britain rob from India?
Here we would like to quote Economist Utsa Patnaik “When renowned economist Utsa Patnaik began to sift through old tracts of British economic history in order to understand the nature of fiscal relations between London and colonial India, the fate of the Kohinoor wasn’t much in the news.
In a collection of essays published recently by Columbia University Press, Patnaik attempts to make a comprehensive estimate. Over roughly 200 years, the East India Company and the British Raj siphoned out at least £9.2 trillion (or $44.6 trillion; since the exchange rate was $4.8 per pound sterling during much of the colonial period).
To put that sum in context, Britain’s 2018 GDP estimate—a measure of annual economic output—is about $3 trillion. In the colonial era, most of India’s sizeable foreign exchange earnings went straight to London—severely hampering the country’s ability to import machinery and technology in order to embark on a modernisation path similar to what Japan did in the 1870s. Since all the earnings were taken by Britain, such stagnation is not surprising. Ordinary people died like flies owing to under-nutrition and disease. It is shocking that Indian expectation of life at birth was just 22 years in 1911. The most telling index, however, is food grain availability. Because the purchasing power of ordinary Indians was being squeezed by high taxes, the per capita annual consumption of food grains went down from 200kg in 1900 to 157kg on the eve of World War II, and further plummeted to 137kg by 1946. No country in the world today, not even the least developed, is anywhere near the position India was in 1946. The British Raj systematically transferred the wealth of the region into their own coffers. In the north eastern region of Bengal, “the first great deindustrialisation of the modern world” occurred.
After the betrayal and defeat of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-daulah, at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British installed their own puppet, Mir Jafar, as Nawab. The British extracted huge concessions from the defeated Bengalis including land, a monopoly of trade with Europe, and exemption from taxation on internal trade. The British subsequently replaced Mir Jafar with Mir Kasim as Nawab of Bengal. The Bengalis under Mir Kasim were finally driven to revolt when he was in turn sacked by the British and replaced by Mir Jafar for a second term. The Bengalis were defeated at the Battle of Buxar in 1764, and in 1765 the Moghul Emperor Shah Alam was “persuaded” to grant the power of taxation (Diwani) in Bengal to the British East India Company. The British in turn sub-contracted brutal revenue collection to Bengalis.
All the colonising powers put in place tax collection systems. The very name for the district administrator was ‘Collector’. When the Company first got revenue collecting rights in Bengal in 1765, its employees went completely mad with avarice. R.C. Dutt, a civil service officer in the British Raj, documented that between 1765 and 1770, the Company trebled the tax revenue in Bengal, compared to the erstwhile Nawab’s regime. You know what that means for a peasant who is already quite poor? The Nawab was collecting sufficiently high taxes, so when the Company took over and forcibly trebled collections over five years, people were driven into starvation.
From 1765 up to the takeover by the Crown in 1958, the Company was using a quarter to a third of net revenue collections to purchase export goods from the peasants. The Company agent who bought produce out of the tax money was a different person and did so at a different time from the Company agent who collected the tax. So, the producers did not connect the two.
The market is an amazing thing: it obscures real relationships. A large part of the producer’s own tax payment simply got converted into export goods, so the Company got these goods completely free. The later mechanism after the Crown took over was a further development using bills of exchange. The only Indian beneficiaries of this clever, unfair system of linking trade with taxes were the intermediaries or dalals. Some of modern India’s well-known business houses (Birla) made their early profits doing dalali for the British. Income tax on businesses and professionals was virtually non-existent until WWII.
The modern capitalist world would not exist without colonialism and the drain. During Britain’s industrial transition, 1780 to 1820, the drain from Asia and the West Indies combined was about 6 percent of Britain’s GDP, nearly the same as its own savings rate. After the mid-19th century, Britain was running current account deficits with Continental Europe and North America, and at the same time, it was investing massively in these regions, which meant running capital account deficits too. The two deficits summed to large and rising balance of payments (BoP) deficits with these regions.
So, Britain had complete command over all the international purchasing power that Indian producers had earned. Even if a part of it had been credited to India, we could have imported modern technology and started industrializing long before Japan did under the Meiji restoration in the 1870s.
The terms of trade are still not fair. Yet, many still adhere to the belief that the advanced countries became advanced because they are terribly innovative and entrepreneurial. Very little of real history is taught to either Indian or British students.
Colonial drain helped to create the modern capitalist world, from North America to Australia—all regions where European populations had settled. The advanced capitalist world is literally responsible, thus, for the underdeveloped world economies.
The solution for this problem lies in the total independence of the colonized or semi-colonized world. The total independence we believe is the Independence of economic, social, political and cultural independence of the people of the so-called 3rd world.
THEY DISMANTLED INDIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM
We would like to quote here from a speech delivered by Lord Macaulay to British parliament on Feb. 2nd,1835
“I have travelled across length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a bagger, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very back bone of this Nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will loose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated Nation”.
They dismantled the Indian Education system and reorganized it on the lines of communalism by opening Universities in the name of Religion, Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University and Khalsa college, etc.
Not only that, they hand picked the sell out individuals from India’s elite and educated them in British Universities, having in mind their rule to exist forever with the help of these lackeys or perhaps with the thought in mind that they might have to leave one day under rising mass movements against them. Among their favourites were the likes of Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru. They have since made their absolute favourite, Gandhi, a saint. They also created a brand-new country, out of the Indian sub-continent, Pakistan, at the cost of 10 million Indian lives through the biggest internal migration in global history, for another favourite Jinnah.
1857 INDIA’S FIRST WAR OF INDEPENDENCE (GHADAR REBELLION)
Although there were uprisings by Indian people against the tortuous British Raj before and after the great uprising of 1857. But the 1857 uprising was the greatest and most important. Its noted in the history books as a sepoy (soldier’s) mutiny, but in fact it was the culmination of freedom sentiments of Indian masses against the cruel British Raj. Out of total 160,000 British troops, 105,000 revolted against the British Raj. The major cities of the Indian upper and lower Gangetic planes, Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Jhansi and Delhi, were conquered by the Revolutionary fighters. This was mentioned as news article By Fredrick Engels in the New York Times of Dec. 5th,1857.
The great leaders of this revolt, such as Tatya Tope, Nana Phadnavis, Rani of Jhansi Laxmibai, Mangal Pandey and Finally the chosen Leader of Independent India (by the rebels) Bahadur Shah Zafar, none survived the rabid reactionary attack of the British. They lost a battle against the mightiest empire known to history till at that time. But they set an example for the revolutionaries to come against the British Empire. In this light we should see the other resistance movements against the British Empire waged by the heroic Indian People.
PRIOR TO 1857 WORTH MENTIONING RESISTANCE MOVEMENTS ARE
KOL UPRISING 1832
The Kol uprising was a revolt of the indigenous Kol people of Chhota Nagpur during 1832-33 as a reaction to unfair treatment brought on by the systems of land tenure and administration that had been introduced by British powers in the area. The Kol people were joined by other communities including the Mundas, Oraons, Hos leading to some authors also calling it the Munda uprising.
SANTHAL UPRISING 1855
The uprising of the Santhals began as a tribal reaction to and despotic British revenue system, usury practices, and the zamindari system in India; in the tribal belt of what was then known as the Bengal Presidency. It was a revolt against the oppression of the colonial rule propagated through a distorted revenue system, enforced by the local zamindars, the police and the courts of the legal system set up by the British.
Although the Rebellion was crushed with a heavy hand, some British army officers like Major Jervis who observed-
“It was not war; they did not understand yielding. As long as their national drum beat, the whole party would stand, and allow themselves to be shot down. Their arrows often killed our men, and so we had to fire on them as long as they stood. When their drum ceased, they would move off a quarter of a mile; then their drums beat again, and they calmly stood till we came up and poured a few volleys into them. There was not a sepoy in the war who did not feel ashamed of himself.”
The quote must remind us, how the Santhals fought bravely till the last one of them standing died fighting. The unmatched weapons in the favor of tyrants depicts the genocidal tenet of this battles end.
POST 1857 WORTH MENTIONING RESISTANCE MOVEMENTS ARE
TRIBAL REBELLION UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF BIRSA MUNDA (1880)
Birsa Munda’s slogan threatening the British Raj—Abua raj seter jana, maharani raj tundu jana (“Let the kingdom of the queen be ended and our kingdom be established”)—is remembered today in areas of Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh. He advised people to not to obey the police, the magistrates and the landlords and to boycott the ‘beth
begari sytem’ (a system in which you have to perform unpaid labor for the Land lords). He spoke against unlawful land acquisition and tried to unite his people against the diabolic exploitative triad of zamindars, foreigner and traders.
Thus, bullets crushed this great movement. Though Birsa was dead but his purpose was not defeated. Same as the Rebellion of 1857 was crushed but its spirit and purpose were not defeated.
THE MAPPILAH REBELLION (CALLED MOPLAH SOME TIME) (1921)
This rebellion was organised by the peasants of Malabar Region (now in kerala), notably this was a united uprising of both Hindu and Muslim peasants. It is believed that this rebellion was also against the treatment of Ottoman Empire and the way British brutally crushed the Caliphate movement. The leaders of this movement also called for armed resistance and overthrow of British Raj. Most of the leadership was dealt heavy handily by the usual British style of genocide. Most of the leaders who were not killed ended up in KALA_PANI a notorious jail at the islands of Andaman & Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal.
The Chittagong armoury raid, also known as the Chittagong uprising, was an attempt on 18 April 1930 to raid the armoury of police and auxiliary forces from the Chittagong armoury in the Bengal Presidency of British India (now in Bangladesh) by armed Indian independence fighters led by Surya Sen. It was another heroic act by the anti-colonial fighters of India.
Surya Sen, the leader and organizer of this uprising, along with Tarakeswar Dastidar were hanged by the British Administration on the 12th of January 1934 after inhuman torture in prison.
INDIAN IMMIGRANTS RESISTANCE
While we are talking about the resistance against British Colonialism, we must include in this story the efforts of Indian immigrants (against British Colonialism) in various other colonies and throughout Europe. These immigrants remained marginalized at the hands of British Colonialism. The Ghadar Party of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna founded in 1913 in Astoria, USA is a shining example of a resistance movement formed by Indian immigrants.
This is shining because, it called for an armed overthrow of British Raj. It was absolutely secular movement. It also called for the building of new India, where everyone will be economically, socially and culturally equal irrespective of their religion, caste, creed or race.
While we talk about Ghadaris we must offer their martyrs our utmost gratitude. Among them are Madan lal Dhingra, Udham Singh, Mewa Singh, Harnam Singh Kahri sari, Sohan Lal Pathak and many more who were hanged on foreign soil.
Canadian state’s character, which itself is a colonial, cannot be ignored or forgiven. The treatment of ‘KAMAGA MARU’ by the Canadian state under the racial immigration policies. The ship full of Indian migrants was forced to return to India where it faced British bullets. Many perished and many were incarcerated. The way they sided with the British Empire against Indian anti-colonial revolutionaries is well documented in history. Their role in Hanging Shahid Mewa Singh is an example which no one should forget.
THE SOCIALIST ELEMENT IN THE ANTI-COLONIAL MOVEMENT
HINDUSTAN SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ASSOCIATION
Sachindra Nath Sanyal with the help of Jadugopal Mukherjee wrote a manifesto for the HRA entitled Revolutionary. This was distributed around large cities of North India on 31 December 1924. It proposed the overthrow of British colonial rule and its replacement with what it termed a “Federal Republic of the United States of India”. In addition, it sought universal suffrage and the socialist-oriented aim of abolition of “all systems which make any kind of exploitation of man by man possible”, i.e, the right to property OR private property.
The policies of Gandhi were criticised and youths were called to join the organisation. The police were astonished to see the language used and sought its leader in Bengal. Sanyal had gone to despatch this pamphlet in bulk and was arrested in Bankura, West Bengal. Before Sanyal’s arrest, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee had also been caught by police at Howrah railway station of Calcutta, Bengal.
From 1924 to 1925, the HRA grew in numbers with the influx of new members like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad and Sukhdev.
There were many early attempts at disruption and obtaining funds, such as the robbery of a post office in Calcutta and of monies belonging to a railway at Chittagong, both in 1923, but the Kakori train robbery was the most prominent of the early HRA efforts. The Kakori event occurred on 9 August 1925, when HRA members looted government money from a train around 14 miles (23 km) from Lucknow. Significant members of the HRA were arrested and tried for their involvement in that incident and others which had preceded it. The outcome was that four leaders – Ashfaqullah Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri – were hanged in December 1927 and a further 16 imprisoned for lengthy terms. Many associated with the HRA who escaped trial found themselves placed under surveillance or detained for various reasons. Azad was the only one of the principal leaders who managed to escape arrest.
Responding to the rise in anti-colonial sentiment in 1928, the HRA became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, with the change of name probably being largely due to the influence of Bhagat Singh. Being an avid reader, Bhagat Singh had developed a significant knowledge of the affairs of the world at that time. This was to happen because the list below shows the Marxist Literature Studied by Bhagat Singh, although this is a brief list in comparison to what he had accomplished reading at the young age of 23 or so. Carlyle “French Revolution”, Karl Marx “Capital (Popular Edition)”, Karl Marx “Communist manifesto”, Fredric Engels “Socialism, Utopian and Scientific”, Fredric Engels “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”, Rosa Luxemburg “Reform or Revolution” published 1908
When the Simon Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a peaceful protest against the Commission. The police responded with violence, with the superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordering his men to lathi charge the protesters.
In retaliation, HRA comrades killed another police officer J.P. Sanders (confused him with Scott). This case of mistaken identity did not stop Bhagat Singh and his fellow-members of the HSRA from claiming that retribution had been exacted. The next day the HSRA acknowledged the assassination by putting up posters in Lahore.
Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Chandarshekhar Azad and other revolutionaries went underground. The next major action by the HSRA was the bombing of the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi on 8 April 1929. This was a provocative propaganda exercise, intended to highlight the aims of the HSRA and timed as a protest against the introduction of the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Disputes Bill, both of which had been drafted as an attempt to counter the effects of revolutionary activities and trade unionism.
Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs at the empty treasury benches, being careful to ensure that there were no casualties in order to highlight the propagandist nature of their action. They made no attempt to escape and courted arrest while shouting Inquilab Zindabad (Long Live the Revolution) and Samrajyavad ka nash ho’ (Down with Imperialism). Their rationale for the bombing was explained in a leaflet titled “To Make the Deaf Hear” (paraphrasing the words of Édouard Vaillant, one of the leaders of Peris Commune). This leaflet was also thrown in the assembly and was reproduced the next day in the Hindustan Times. On 15 April 1929 police raided the HSRA’s bomb factory in Lahore and arrested Kishori Lal, Sukhdev and Jai Gopal. Although the Communist Party of India was established in 1925, They were in mostly the party building phase. Pundit Kishori Lal with his background in Naujwan Bharat Sabha, was contemporary of Bhagat Singh and was in jail during the jail time of Bhagat Singh and other H.S.R.A comrades. He seems to have much effect on Shahid Bhagat Singh’s formative socialist Ideas.
THE REAL DANGER
So, having Bolshevik revolution just in their rear-view mirror, the British Empire was in the mode to preserve their class i.e., Capitalist class, against the rising proletariat. This is what in our view changed the empire to improvise their tactics. This made them retort to rather changing the method of Imperialist exploitation in the face of direct rule. The colonised capitalist classes till that time were their perfect allies. In no way they were ready to surrender power to proletariat.
And the balance of power was in their favor because, In the colonies the organizations of proletariat were not advanced. But the colonial powers in India, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin Americas realised this fact, i.e. the oppression will increase the resistance manifold and its matter of time when the Marxist politics can expand, which also did in some countries.
Like other colonial powers, In the face of rising people’s movements, the Britisher’s thought of the way out which was either the Indian people leading to a socialist revolution or help the ‘Imperialist Case’ of continuing the colonial domination. The rising Indian capitalist class was to be handed over the ‘political Independence’. And the Indian National Congress was ripe to be harvested. Some of us know the history of the rise of Indian Capitalist class. J.D. Birla was a Gandhian. Congress used the aspiration of masses of Indians to get to the mere power transfer in 1947. It was achieved through their policy of using Indian masses to put pressure on the British and capitulating at the same time to give up. The Indian constitution is the result of this capitulation by the leading force to eventually surrendering the aspirations of Indian working class and peasants for the Interest of Imperialism and India’s local capitalist classes. The constitution of India and its tenets must always be looked in the light of these events. The lofty words mentioned in the preamble of India’s constitution are just an eye wash.
INDIA ACT OF 1935, FREEDOM OF INDIA ACT OF 1947 & INDIAN CONSTITUTION
These 2 laws are worth mentioning because they ultimately lead to the Constitution of India.
The others were act of India 1919 etc. The Act of India became the basis of Indian constitution finally, ensuring British control economically, politically and financially on average Indian people’s life.
Broadly speaking, the Constitution had two competing goals; one was to transform India while the other was to keep things the same. Prime Minister Nehru believed that society had to face ‘two urges, continuity and change’, and that it had to keep these ‘evenly balanced’ in order to succeed. India’s Constitution accordingly aimed to preserve a Nehruvian balance between continuity and change. In the words of Granville Austin, the Constitution sought to bring about a ‘social revolution’, while at the same time trying to preserve ‘national unity and stability’.
The Constitution had another goal which sought to preserve and maintain the status quo, to seamlessly transport the political landscape of British India into India after independence. This goal embedded in the Constitution attempted to preserve stability at a time of widespread partition related rioting. Significant portions of the Constitution, e.g., the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and States, and the power to proclaim an emergency, were inspired by the Government of India Act, 1935. In the Constituent Assembly, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar admitted that there was ‘some truth in (the) remark’ that the Constitution was ‘a mere copy of the 1935 Government of India Act’. British-era institutions like the high courts were carried forward, and none of the judges who had served, loyally to the colonial regime, on courts like the Bombay High Court, lost their jobs in August 1947. Instead, many of them grew to be widely respected in India’s legal profession. In short, there was quite a lot in the Constitution which was designed to keep things as they were, to maintain, as some scholars say, ‘colonial continuity’. As K. Hanumanthaiya famously remarked in the Constituent Assembly: ‘We wanted the music of veena or sitar, but here we have the music of an English band.’
In line with the tenets of democratic socialism, the Constituent Assembly sought to transition to a liberal democratic legal order, which guaranteed rights of liberty, equality, and property, while simultaneously endeavouring to achieve social and economic transformation premised on land reform and redistribution of resources. However, the inherent contradiction between conserving existing property rights and ushering in a more egalitarian society through redistribution of land led to intense debate within the Constituent Assembly, ending in an uneasy compromise between competing interests.
But as we see it, the lofty goals of the so-called constitution of India remained unfulfilled. Thus, we must not be content with explaining the crimes of the British Empire. The history of the last 72 years or so of the Indian Sub-continent is worth mentioning.
The nature of exploitation, Plunder and subjugation of people is the same today. Black laws like sedition act, U.A.P.A(unlawful activities prevention act), A.F.S.P.A (armed forces special powers act), TADA (terrorist and disruptive activities act), POTA (prevention of terrorism act) etc., are taken out of the British law books are still applied to the revolutionary and rights activists in India. Struggles for the genuine land reforms like, Telangana, tebhaga & Naxalbari, have been waged by people of India in the so-called independent India. The point is that, people at large and working masses of India are still living in similar conditions as they lived prior to the 1947 drama of power transfer, the resistance movements against the current state & ruling classes of India are very much the continuation of struggles prior to 1947. SO, WHAT HAVE CHANGED IN 1947? WE SAY JUST THE RULERS.
Most of the working, farming and marginalized classes of Indian masses and revolutionary forces in India are still working to achieve the true Independence from Imperialism and savage exploitation. In response Indian state has come down with murder and incarceration of these revolutionaries and fighting masses. Most human rights activists are rotting in jails. Dr. G.N. Saibaba is just one example (though of the most brutal kind), where the International community has joined hands, heads and voices for his release. His health and the conditions he endure in Jail are no different from those of the Indian anti colonial activists endured at the hands of The British in Colonial jails.
In conclusion, the economic and extra economic exploitation of India’s oppressed people has not ceased but has increased many folds. Whether it was colonization or neo-colonization, Imperialism is the master of Indian ruling classes and is one of the most prominent enemy of the people of India. To end this exploitative relation between Imperialism and Indian People the New Democratic Revolution is the only hope. Indian People are fighting to achieve that goal. We must all join hands to support that fight of the Indian People against Imperialism, Feudalism and Comprador capitalism for new democracy.
LONG LIVE REVOLUTION
DOWN WITH IMPERIALISM
DOWN WITH RACISM, FASCISM & BIGOTRY
LONG LIVE THE NEW DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION OF INDIA
#489 – 13711 – 72ND AVENUE, SURREY, B.C. V3W 2P2, CANADA