Monday, December 31, 2007

Appeal By Dr. Binayak Sen's Mother

Friends, after a long gap of more than I months we are back in action.
Could not update the blog due to some unavoidable circumstances.
From now on I hope to continue blogging regularly.

(Following is an appeal by the mother of Dr. Binayak Sen, a tireless social worker and human rights activist, who has been arrested in Chattisgarh and has false fabricated charges against him.)

By Anasuya Sen

I am a woman in my eighties. When we were young, people were inspired by the examples of karmayogis who were patriotic, motivated by ideals of service, wise and virtuous. We considered ourselves blessed if we could follow in their footsteps.

I had so far been a silent spectator to the injustice and violence that pervades our free democracy today, but only because I was personally untouched by it. But now, as an aged mother, and outraged by the blows of injustice, I wish to break my silence. Inconsolable in my pain at the age of eighty-one years, I now wish to make a humble appeal to the people of free, democratic India.

As perhaps many of you are aware, my son Dr. Binayak Sen is today held in jail, a victim of extreme injustice. At the age of four years, he was troubled by questions of injustice: why didn’t the boy who helped us at home not eat with us? Why did he have to eat alone on the kitchen floor? Why couldn’t he join him at meal times?

When he graduated with his first medical degree with distinction at the age of twenty two from the Christian Medical College in Vellore, he refused to heed his father’s wish for him to go to England to study for the MRCP. Whatever knowledge he needed to practice medicine in his own country, he insisted, he could acquire right here. He was subsequently awarded the M.D. in paediatrics from Vellore, and then joined JNU as an assistant professor with a wish to study for a PhD in Public Health. But he could brook no further delay. He left his academic position to take up a position at the TB Research Centre and hospital run by the Friends’ Rural Centre at Hoshangabad (MP). After a couple of years there, he found an opportunity to work among the miners in Chhattisgarh. There he joined the late independent trade unionist Shankar Guha Neogi and devoted himself selflessly to serving the daily wage labourers of the Bhilai factories and the mineworkers and their families at the mines of Dalli Rajhara and Nandini, aiding and organizing the poor and the oppressed untiringly in their daily struggles to rid themselves of their many social ills. It was here, while working with Shankar Guha Neogi’s Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh, that Dr. Sen set up a health centre run for and by the workers of the area. Within a few years this grew to a 25 bed hospital. Dr. Sen then left this hospital in the care of the workers and a few other doctors who had been inspired by his example to work there, and joined his wife Dr. Ilina Sen in Raipur in starting a NGO called Rupantar. This organization worked in the areas of community health, ecologically sustainable agriculture, helping women become independent, and formal and informal education for children and adults. Work proceeded apace in all areas successfully. When a rice research centre had opened at Bhatagaon, a scientist cited Dr. Sen in one of his works as “Dr. Binayak Sen, a farmer”. Dr. Sen also opened community health centres in the villages of Dhamtari and Bastar districts, devoted to treating patients and training health workers for administering primary health care and raising awareness of their own communities in matters of health. Primary and adult education centres were opened at various villages.

Dr. Sen’s example inspired several other doctors from famous medical institutions like AIIMS to give up lucrative careers and comfortable lifestyles to open similar health centres in Bilaspur. These centres are now running very successfully.

While working with Rupantar at Raipur, Dr. Sen joined the People’s Union of Civil Liberties as an all-India Vice President and Secretary for the state of Chhattisgarh. In the course of his medical work among the poor and the oppressed, which was already occupying all his time, he became aware of the abuses of the state towards the poor adivasis of Bastar district, and protested against the state sponsored Salwa Judum movement that pitted adivasis against one other. The state did not take kindly towards his protestations on behalf of the poor.

When the brother of an aged and ailing prisoner of Raipur Central Jail asked Dr. Sen to visit and treat his brother in prison, Dr. Sen did so with the permission of the jail authorities. The fact that the prisoner was a Naxalite gave the state an opportunity to arrest and imprison Dr. Sen on May 14, 2007 under the state’s Public Security laws. The patriot who had devoted his entire professional life to the untiring service of the poor – a record acknowledged by the Paul Harrison Award bestowed on him by his alma mater – that very person was now in jail charged with being a terrorist waging war against the state.

When the Chhattisgarh High Court denied Dr. Sen his appeal for bail, his wife Dr. Ilina Sen appealed to the Supreme Court. The date for the hearing of the bail petition was fixed for Monday, December 10 2007.

A Bench consisting of a senior and a junior judge was appointed to hear the appeal for bail. The initial junior judge was subsequently replaced by another. On December 8, the Chhattisgarh government invited the senior member of this Bench to Raipur as the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of a Legal Aid Centre, and extended its hospitality to him till December 9 when the senior judge returned to New Delhi. The very next day, the Bench dismissed Dr. Binayak Sen’s appeal for bail in just thirty-five minutes.

Here, without casting any doubts or aspersions on anyone’s integrity, I humbly wish to pose my question to all the people and revered leaders of free, democratic India: SHOULD I REGARD AS JUSTICE the refusal of bail to one who even as a child was moved by injustice, who having devoted his entire working life selflessly to providing food and health to the poor, who without coveting wealth survived for days on dal, rice and green chillies, who is accustomed to living like the poor, who dedicated his life to serving the people of his country, and who is now arraigned for breach of public security and waging war against the state?

If this is justice, where I should I seek redress against injustice? Should I remain a victim of injustice even at this age?

Does this son of mine – a selfless, wise, virtuous, humble, peace-loving karmayogi, motivated entirely by the ideals of service, and living among the poor - have to spend his days in prison?

My simple question to all compassionate readers of this appeal is: How much longer to that day when Dr. Binayak Sen will receive justice?

I ask this question not just for myself and for my son, but also on behalf of all mothers suffering from the injustice meted out to their children. Is justice so elusive in our free, democratic country?


On December 10, 2007, the Supreme Court rejected Dr. Sen’s bail appeal. Please visit and for information and activist resources on Binayak Sen

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Students of Kolkata protest again

The following statement has been issued by USDF:-

Students in Protest again on 3rd December.....

United Students Democratic Front(a students co-ordination front comprising of
students from Jadavpur University,Presidency College,Asutosh College,Bidhan Nagar
College,Scottish Church College and many other insts.)is going to arrange a political
and cultural convention on 3rd December,2007,Monday from 11 am
to 9 pm,at"Onoshon Mancha" at Metro Channel.

The day long convention will comprise of:

1.A Panel Discussion with the following speakers:

i]Prof. Sumit Sarkar
ii]Prof. Tanika Sarkar
iii]Mr. Bibhas Chakrabarty
iv]Mr.Nabarun Bhattacharyaya
v] Mr.Arunava Ghosh
vi]Prof.Amit Bhattacharyaya
vii]Prof.Avi Datta Majumder
viii]Mr.Goutam Bhadra

Topic of Panel Discussion: Samrajyobad,Biswayon o SEZ birodhi protirodh
andoloner notun nam:Nandigram

2.A Cultural Programme with following artists:

i] Pallab Kirtonia
ii] Ganabishan
iii]Protul Mukherjee

3. Speeches on Nandigram Movement from eminent intellectuals,professors &
personalities like:

i]Ms.Medha Patekar
ii]Mr.Joy Goswami
iii]Ms.Saoli Mitra
iv]Mr.Sanatan Dinda
v]Dr.Siddhatha Gupta
vi]Prof.Sabyasachi Deb
vii]Ms.Sohini Halder
viii]Ms.Bolan Gangopadhyay
ix] Mr.Sameer Aich
x] Prof.Manas Joardar

and many others.......

4.Speeches from students of Presidency,JU,Asutosh clg,Bidhan nagar Clg,Scottish Church Clg,and many other institutions.

5.Student speakers from different organisations like:

ii] AISA
iii]Chatro Andolon Prostuti
viii]Chatro Chatri Sanhati Mancha

6.Poster Exhibition by Srijan Sen and others.

7.Street Theatre.

8. Relief Collection in cash ,medicine,food,garments for Nandigram Victims.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

CPM barbarism

For the last few days CPM criminals armed with automatic rifles taken from the police have been creating mayhem in Nandigram. They have captured villages after villages. They have burnt hundred of houses belonging to the common people who dared to stand up against the oppressive regime of CPM.
They have not even spared the domestic animals.Either burning them or shooting them.
The pinnacle of terror came on 10th November when murderers of CPM fired upon a totally unarmed procession of about 20,000 people killing scores and injuring hundreds.
Several people are still missing. Not stopping at this they took about 500 people hostage and kept them under detention in Khejuri for the whole night.
Then next morning they used those kidnapped people as human shield and captured village after village.
This is Barbarism of CPM at its worst. Following is a newspaper report.

NANDIGRAM, Nov. 11: The day Bengal celebrated Brother’s Day when sisters wished long life to their brothers through an elaborate ritual, Dipen Mondal of Gangra village, Nandigram, had to frantically search for his elder sister in the paddy fields and then rush her to the hospital when he found her lying unconscious with bullet wounds in her leg near Maheshpur Kamarpara this morning.
Even when Dipen didn’t know whether life had already ebbed away from his sister, Kalpana, he considered himself lucky as many others in Nandigram scoured the paddy fields in vain in search of their missing relatives. For the past few days Dipen had been using the cover of darkness to look for his sister. He was so desperate this morning that he continued his search even in daylight and succeeded in tracing Kalpana in the morning. Immediately, he got hold of a cycle van and pedaled her away to Nandigram Hospital where she responded to treatment. Her condition was later stated to be stable.
After the CPI-M launched its offensive in a bid to recapture Nandigram villages, supporters of Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) began a hunt for their relatives who went missing in the aftermath of the fresh cycle of violence.
“The number of missing people is going up. A total of 350 persons can’t be traced after CPI-M cadres fired bullets at our rally near Maheshpur Bazar yesterday. Again, those who were driven out of their homes in the past four days have to go without food and shelter,” said Sheikh Sufiyan, a senior BUPC member.
He said the CPI-M allowed only 11 persons of Gokulnagar, Sonachura and Southkhali villages to return home during the day. But these villagers narrated tales of brutal torture by CPI-M cadres at a primary school near Khejuri where they had been kept.
Relatives of Mr Goutam Pradhan, a resident of Sonachura who went missing after the firing, had no idea about his whereabouts till late this evening. They fear CPI-M cadres have dumped Goutam’s body elsewhere.
Relatives of Mr Abhimanyu Patra, a BUPC supporter, ran from pillar to post today to trace him, but failed in their efforts. BUPC members informed them he was last seen at Maheshpore Bazar yesterday afternoon.
“We ran for our lives after the firing began. Abhimanyu fell to the ground after a bullet struck him in the leg. We couldn’t find him since then,” said a BUPC supporter of Sonachura.
Mrs Shibani Mondal, a housewife from Gokulnagar, said she had been abducted and later kept at Amtala primary school at Khejuri along with nearly 100 BUPC supporters who were beaten up by CPI-M men for participating in a BUPC rally.
So much for the CPI-M’s efforts to help their supporters return home and exhort them “not to take revenge through retaliatory strikes, but cohabit with their adversaries.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Observe Bharat Bandh on 3th October

Scrap SEZ Act, Save the Country
Sez Hatao, Desh Bachao
Scrap all MOUs signed for large scale mining and big industrial plants.
No to Displacement, Development for People
Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) appeals to one and all in the country to observe a day’s bandh (general strike) on 30th October, 2007 to strongly protest the Government’s policy displacing millions and millions of people, through the policies of SEZs and opening up vast mining projects, big dams and so-called urban renewal benefitting the MNCs and big capitalists in various parts of the country.

The call to observe bandh was given by the first ever All India Conference on 22 & 23 March, 2007 against displacement, where about a hundred of people’s organizations and a similar number of democratic individuals came together at Ranchi to raise their collective voices against all kinds of displacement including that caused by SEZs.

The people of Nandigram, Kalinganagar, Polavaram, Jagatsinghpur (where POSCO is grabbing the land for its SEZ and captive port), Raigada, Dadri and elsewhere have put up valiant resistance even risking their lives against this day-light robbery of the poor, of making people destitute through the so-called policies of development. In hundreds of places, millions of people in the country have been fighting tooth and nail to stop the SEZs, big mining, big dams, tourist projects, national parks, highways and big industrial projects that have been rendering several millions of people homeless and destitute. The misery of the people is fast developing into a surging storm, the very thought of the spectre of which has sent shudders through the ruling classes. The ruling class elite have become restive to the resisting voices of the people.

The present displacement is an outcome of Second Generation Reform phase under the cliché of development which is nothing but an all-round attack on the toiling masses. Earlier our rulers had mortgaged the country to the imperialists. Sixty years of so-called independence and the ‘democracy’ that supposedly has come of age meant all this penury to the vast majority of people. Today, the entire country, irrespective of the urban and the rural, has been transformed into a firing range where the mercenary police and paramilitary and the goondas of the ruling parties are brutally trying to crush the agitating people who want to protect their Jal, Jungal and Jameen—their sources of livelihood. On the other hand we have a Prime Minister and his smooth talking policy pundits taking their lessons from the World Bank and Washington, laying the road map for a so-called 10 percent growth rate, turning a blind eye to the burning problems of the people.

The Prime Minister of this country gives the impression that he cannot but falter when he gets vacuous about the super power that India is going to become. In these new clothes of the emperor what is being cleverly hidden is the total naked, shameless subservience to the rapacious needs of foreign capital. Beneath the smokescreen of an India Inc.—projected by a sensation driven, sycophant media—is the blood soaked face of a beastly state that satiates on the toil of the adivasis, dalits, landless agricultural labourer, the small and middle peasant, the small entrepreneur... the list is getting longer. There is no way the real anguish of the people that erupts in a Nandigram, Kashipur, Kalinganagar, Jagatsinghpur, Singur or Polavaram can be heard as a dignified, real, response of the people. The Market driven media and the policy pundits who receive their dollops from Multinational consultancy agencies such as Mckinsey or the British run DFID or their senior patrons the World Bank and the IMF are crying hoarse depicting these protests as primitive, anti-development, against civilization itself.

People are being taken into custody under the laws of sedition! As if they are an obstruction to the forward march of development of this country! Lakhs of crores of rupees worth MoUs have been signed by various state governments with various Multi National Corporations for mining of valuable resources of the people such as bauxite, coal, iron ore, diamonds, uranium, precious stones, etc. Several MoUs have been signed with monopolies to develop urban centres that will suit the needs of big capital in the process pushing out all small and medium entrepreneurs from the urban spaces as these ventures have been identified as hazardous to a clean urban environment. Wal-Mart and Reliance are aggressively displacing the local retail and small business. Huge malls have been swallowing the rest of the business. Supreme Court orders are decimating the local retail business prospects making way for MNCs and TNCs. Jawahar Rozgar Vikas Yojana has been wiping out the poor people in the urban slums. Big mining and industrial projects along with about 500 SEZs are driving the people out of their habitats.

Today, every nook and corner of the country is thrown open to the foreign capital in close collaboration with big capital at home to tear open the veins of the rich resources of this country.
Any form of resistance is met with brutal force by the state. Paramilitary and police armed to the teeth hound villagers and adivasis who are fighting for their very survival; when they refuse to let their land and livelihood being sold to the foreign capital and the local big capital for a pittance. And there is deafening silence against these unlawful, criminal acts of the state, on the part of the judiciary not to say the civil society.

The call to OBSERVE BANDH hence as become a wake up call for all those who believe in democracy, the well being of the vast sections of the masses as they too have their rightful place in our society to lead a dignified, secure life free of domination and exploitation. The people have been resisting, fighting their struggles of survival. The people of this country have to give a resounding rebuff to these anti-people policies brought in by this blood thirsty monster of the Indian state. This BANDH CALL is also a wake up call to the powers that be to look at the issues pertaining to development and displacement from the point of view of the people. And not from the diktats of the World Bank, IMF or the US.

Hence we appeal; we urge the people of this country to come forward, to surge ahead with the bandh call as these issues have become the bane of the vast sections of the people, their livelihood, their dreams and memories. These issues are no more the vested or narrow concern of this or that organisation. They have become the life and death issues of the wretched, the poor, the worker, the toiling masses, the tribals, dalits, the small entrepreneur, the small and middle peasant and the patriotic farmer. Yes this is the burning issue of the people of this country.

We once again call upon all political parties, democratic organisations, trade unions, employees’ organisations, workers and peasant organisations, youth and student organisations, adivasi and dalit organisations and the people—the masses of people to come out on to the streets, on 30th October, 2007, to say in no uncertain terms that we will not take all this blood sucking exploitative policies of the rulers and their pay masters lying low.
Let us fight it.
Let us resist it.
Let’s smash the SEZs policy.
Let us end all kinds of displacement.
Let the dead be buried. But death should not be allowed to live!

Repeal SEZ Act, 2005 along with all approved SEZs.
Scrap all MOUs signed for large scale mining and big industrial plants.
Repeal Land Acquisition Act 1894 along with all later amendments to it till date.
Rehabilitate all families so far displaced in the last sixty years.
Abrogate 123 Nuclear Agreement with US!
Stop displacement, stop imperialist sponsored development; protect and advance peoples livelihood.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Interview with VarVara Rao

Poet, professor and Marxist critic, Varavara Rao has been the face of the Naxalite movement in AP for almost four decades now. In an exclusive interview to Daipayan Halder, he spoke on 'State terrorism' and the status of the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh

vv picture

Varavara Rao

Is the State becoming intolerant?
It is. The State has become the biggest terrorist. But in Andhra Pradesh, more than in any other state, atrocities have been the worst. If you are a Naxalite, a naxal sympathiser, an ideologue, or simply a civil rights activist, you can be put behind bars or killed in a fake encounter any time.

In 1992, for example, journalist Gulam Rasul wrote about a land scam in an Urdu daily. An additional DSP killed him in a fake encounter and branded him a Naxalite. His friend who was traveling with him in a scooter was also killed. Doctors working for the underprivileged, lawyers taking up the causes of the marginalised are being put behind bars. Civil liberties are being curbed like never before. Laxmi, a women's rights activist, was killed in a fake encounter in 2005. Since 1969, more than 2,000 people have been killed in fake encounters.

But didn't the previous Andhra Pradesh government want to negotiate with the Naxalites?
The peace talks between the government and the Naxalites broke down and the ban against them was re-imposed on August 17, 2005. This has led the cadre to look for alternative operational zones in Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The repression started in the previous Telugu Desam regime and has been continued by the Congress government in pursuance of World Bank conditions.

he police launched a crackdown on Maoists on January 6, 2005, when it became clear that there was no meeting ground between the state government and the outfit. Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy was interested in going ahead with the second round of talks, slated for November 16, 2004, with the CPI (Maoist) and the CPI-ML (Janashakti), but senior police officers advised him against it.

Why did the talks fail?
Mainly because the government wanted Naxalites to lay down arms, while carrying on their political programmes and their propagating ideology. The Naxalites rejected this. Following a series of encounters, in which 10 Naxalites were killed in a week, the CPI (Maoist) and CPI-ML (Janashakti) announced on January 16, 2005 that they were pulling out of the peace process.

Is it hard to get the youth interested in Naxalism?
It is only the petty, bourgeoisie youth who are taking to the market economy. The marginalised youth, i.e. the Muslims, the Dalits and the tribals, are not swayed by the market forces because they can see that inequality is rising. They are attracted to the movement. But there is no campus culture today. You can get a degree through distance education without ever walking into a university campus. In a campus, there is scope for healthy political debates. That culture is dying.

But the Centre now says that Naxalism is a developmental issue and plans to address it as such
These are academic talks. (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh says it is a developmental issue, but he is also supporting SEZs. SEZs will displace people, take away their livelihoods. So the problems will persist. Look at what is happening at Nandigram, at Singur, at all other places.

Finally, what is the future of the Naxalite movement? Will it continue in the face of prosperity?
The movement will continue. The forces of liberalisation and globalisation have widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. This has to be redressed.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

State Women's commission condemned in Rizwanur Rahman case

(We are publishing below a statement released by a number of intellectuals and concerned citizens, regarding the openly partisan role played by the West Bengal State Women's Commission in the Rizwanur Rehman case. ]

We are distressed to read the statement of the West Bengal State women's Commission after its visit to Priyanka Todi whose husband Rizwanur Rahman was found dead on the railway track after he had fixed an appointment with the APDR friends regarding his harassment at the hands of the Kolkata Police who were acting in blatant violation of all legal and civil norms at the behest of Priyanka's father Ashok Todi . Todi wanted her daughter to walk out of the marriage and had mobilized Kolkata police to terrorize Rizwan and his friend Sadiq who was witness to their marriage. The couple was called to the Lal bazaar Thana and was told by the police that Priyanka should go to her parents and they would ensure that she returned after a week. This was not to happen. She was forced to go her father but all efforts of Rizwan to talk to her after this period failed. Desperate, he contacted the APDR .

One must remember that Sadiq, who was witness to their marriage, was threatened by police . He had to go into hiding. Priyanka had gone to her parents on 8 September. Rizwan wrote a detailed account of his harassments at the hands of the Kolkata Police and gave it to the APDR. On 21 September, he talked to the APDR people and it was decided that they would meet in the afternoon. This meting was also not to take place. He was found dead on the Railway tracks. Prasun Mukherji, the Kolkata police Chief declared immediately without waiting for the customary autopsy report that it was a transparent case of suicide. He blatantly justified the illegal intervention of the police in a perfectly legal marriage between tow adults Priyanka and Rizwan, claiming that it was natural for the father of the girl to get upset over such marriage, as it was a marriage between unequals. After all, Ashok Todi is a man of more the 200 crores and Rizwan was only a Muslim of modest earning!

We know that a powerful people's campaign is on demanding the removal of the cops involved in the whole affair which has repeatedly been rejected by the CM, West Bengal . It is now a matter of public discussion that Todi is close to Prasun . The west Bengal government is putting shameless arguments in the high court opposing a CBI investigation. It is widely believed that the CID report has been manipulated to make it a case of suicide. The state government has violated all norms in constituting a Judicial Inquiry.

In these circumstances, the visit of the State Women's Commission to Ashok Todi's place to know about Priyanka's well being and the statements made by the members of the commission afterwards that Priyanka had come on her own to Todi and the Police were not harsh to her and she wanted to be left alone and to top it all, the appeal by the members of the commission to Priyanka that she should not let herself get harassed by the media make it very clear that the commission is being used to give legitimacy to the police and the government and also to Ashok Todi. Should one be surprised that the Commission did not think it fit to visit Rizwan's family and instead went to Todi's house which, as has rightly been said cannot be a neutral site ?
We are pained and shocked to see that despite eminent people like Jashodhara Bagchi heading the state commission it has failed to maintain an autonomous position on the case, succumbing to tow the official line of the police and the state government and that too on its own initiative without any visible pressure from outside. This is a reflection of manner in which Women's State Commissions have been undermined nationally and in states whether it is Rajasthan or West Bengal. Time and again the interests of women and protection of their rights are compromised for political interests or for maintaining the interests of those who are powerful.

We condemn strongly the move by the West Bengal State Women's Commission. They need to remember that these institutions were created after a long and difficult struggle and any move to make them subservient to the state would be resisted with the might of the people. The members of the Commission have lost their right to continue as they have, on this occasion and on many occasions like Singur and Nandigram failed to act in an autonomous manner.

Ram Puniyani, Academic, IIT, Mumbai
Uma Chakravarti, Historian, Delhi
Harjinder Singh, Academic, IIIT, Hyderabad
Manas Joardar
Imtiaz Ahmad , Academic, Delhi
Tamilnadu Women's Collective
Dilip Simeon, Academic, Delhi
Jiten Nandi
Kalyani Menon-Sen, Jagori, Delhi
Mukta Sinha, Charkha Samiti, Patna
Arshad Ajmal, Al Khair Society, Patna
Rabin Chakraborty, Kolkata
Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, Delhi
Teesta Setalvad ,Co-Editor, Communalism Combat
Sheba George, SAHR WARU: Women's Action and Resource Unit
Trupti Shah, Sahiyar, Vadodara
Meher Engineer, Kolkata
Arun Kumar, Delhi
Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Journalist, Lucknow
Ranjana Padhi, Delhi
Khurshid Anwar, Institue for Social Democracy, Delhi
Ujjwal Kr Singh, Academic, Delhi University
Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
Apoorvanand, Academic, Delhi University
Aditya Nigam, Academic, CSDS, Delhi
Nivedita Menon, Academic, Delhi University
Rupesh, Koshish, Patna
Neelu, Nari Jagaran Kendra, Patna
Persis Ginwalla
Sushma Iyengar
Dhruv Narain, Daanish Books, Delhi
Sunita Narain, Daanish Books, Delhi
Asmita Collective, Secunderabad
Nagraj Adve, Delhi
Saleem Kidwai, Lucknow .
Md. Farooque, Muscat , Saudi Arabia
Kumar Rana, kolkata
Anuradha Talwar
Shramajibee Mahila Samity
Tamil Nadu Women's Forum
Tamil Nadu Dalit Women's Movement
Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay.
Nirantar, Delhi

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Food Movement spreads all over South Bengal

[This report has been copied from website]

Food Riots Continue In South Bengal

October 7, 2007

A ration dealer’s house and the office of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were set ablaze in Burdwan district of West Bengal Sunday in the continuing protests against alleged corruption in the public distribution system (PDS) and food grain hoarding that have claimed four lives.

A group of people set on fire the house of ration shopkeeper Golam Mohammed at Nawabhat in Burdwan district, about 250 km
northwest of Kolkata, and as the mob left the area it torched the CPI-M office in the vicinity.

The group clashed with police and some CPI-M supporters alleging that the ration dealers were hoarding food grains.

Burdwan superintendent of police Piyush Pande told IANS that about 25 people, including Pradip Das, the CPI-M MLA from the area, were injured during the arson and subsequent police action.

‘The situation is now under control. We have arrested eight people,’ Pande said.

Police said Mohammed was attacked after he failed to pay up money demanded by the group. His storehouse was also set on fire. There was tension in some other areas of the district like Golshi, Itaru and Shashankha.

Murshidabad district also witnessed ration riots in some areas Sunday.

Burdwan had witnessed similar attacks on Saturday as well along with Bankura and Birbhum districts.

A ration dealer from Bankura Saturday hanged himself as he could not afford to pay the Rs.400,000 fine slapped on him by a kangaroo court.

Biman Kundu, 32, was found hanging from the ceiling at his home in Borokumira village, 230 km from Kolkata.

This was the second suicide in the district since protests against alleged corruption in the food distribution system began. A ration dealer from Raipur had killed himself on Sep 28.

The kangaroo court, called by villagers, had charged Kundu with selling wheat and rice in the black market and was asked to pay up.

The villagers have been attacking the houses of the ration dealers, their stores and looting property and food grains before torching them.

‘The ration corruption allegations should be probed by the state agencies immediately. We have to activate the anti-corruption wings of our state instead of always screaming for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry,’ said state PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami.

Earlier two protesters were killed in the police firing.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has appealed to people for peace. He asked people not to take law into their own hands and said the government had requested the centre to increase rice, wheat and kerosene supplies.

Food Supplies Minister Paresh Adhikary said a show-cause notice had been issued to Bijendra Nath Malakar, the Birbhum district controller of food, and action would be taken against Madan Mohan Mandal, the Bankura district controller of food, who has recently retired.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ranihati: Another special exploitation zone in the making

The West Bengal government plans to establish a special economic zone (SEZ) in the Ranihati area of Howrah district. Hindustan Foundries, belonging to the Hyderabad-based Ramoji International corporation is going to be the developer of this SEZ. The government plans to bring the small foundries located in the Dasnagar-Tikiapara area of Howrah into this “foundry park”. Recently, the union government has also given its go-ahead. As a result, around 1000 acres of agricultural land is being acquired for setting up this SEZ, a major part of which is fertile land bearing two crops per year. Various machinations of acquiring the land from the farmers are going on. Reportedly, already 50% of the land has already changed hands from the farmers.

The central government has been flip-flopping about the mechanism to be followed to acquire lands for SEZs. After the violence in Nandigram, the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) decided that companies setting up SEZs had to acquire land on their own directly from the farmers. Later, it decided that in order to get large tracts of contiguous land, the state governments can acquire land under “special” circumstances. With this confusion going on, land sharks are on a land grabbing spree at the sites of proposed SEZs. In the Ranihati area, the local people say that numerous land sharks and middlemen have jumped into the fray, which includes members of all political parties from the left to the right, who are out to make a profit from increasing land prices. The members of the ruling CPI(M) have been threatening the farmers with the example of Singur where a strong peasant movement has been unable to prevent the forcible acquisition of land for setting up the small car factory of the Tatas. There is a rudimentary save agricultural land committee in Ranihati, but it has not yet been successful in mobilizing the peasants on a large scale against land acquisition. However, there is considerable opposition to land acquisition in the area, mostly by small farmers who are dependent on the land for their livelihood. Although the government had organized a land acquisition camp, the farmers had not attended it. On the other hand, many absentee landlords, or landowners who feel that they are not getting the proper share of the crop from the sharecroppers or bargadars, think that it is profitable to sell off the land. The situation is similar to Singur. However, because of the prevailing confusion, misinformation and the participation of local members of all political parties in the land grab process, the farmers are not yet organized into a strong movement to oppose the acquisition of land for setting up the SEZ. They are not even aware of the polluting potential and the environmental impact of the foundry industry. Ranihati is an SEZ silently in the making, dispossessing peasants of their lands and livelihoods.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mob justice for CPM leaders

Durgapur, Sept. 16: Villagers faced with a food shortage today stormed a CPM nuclear-deal protest and beat up leaders, saying they wanted rice and not mumbo-jumbo on a subject they didn’t understand.

A mob of about 1,000 from the Bankura village — a CPM stronghold — then fought police with bombs and stones, prompting firing by the force that injured a schoolboy of 16 and a 23-year-old man.

The violence, coming at a time snap polls look a possibility, may confirm the Bengal CPM’s deepest fears. The state unit, which has to fight elections, favours caution while taking a decision on toppling the UPA government over the nuclear deal in contrast to the party’s central leaders, who have never contested polls.

A dozen villagers from Radhamohanpur, 250km from Calcutta, had come to the “anti-imperialism” meeting around 10am to complain to the CPM leaders against hoarding by ration-shop owners.

They erupted when panchayat chief Pabitra Mondal — who was on the dais trying to convince a crowd of 200 daily wagers about the dangers of the 123 Agreement — tried to shoo them away.

One man jumped on the dais, snatched the microphone and began abusing the assembled CPM leaders. “We’ll teach you a lesson. You can’t give us rice and wheat, instead you talk mumbo-jumbo. We don’t understand the nuclear deal, give us food,” he screamed. “Maar shalader maar (beat them up).”

The words will worry state CPM secretary Biman Bose, who has admitted that the anti-nuclear deal line lacks the force of bread-and-butter issues and will be difficult to sell to an electorate. This afternoon, he said he hadn’t heard about the incident but would find out what happened.

The news, however, spread fast across Bankura and violent protests against ration dealers were reported from elsewhere in the district, too.

In Radhamohanpur, news of the clash at the meeting drew men and women out of their homes, armed with sticks, knives, burning torches and even brooms. The dais, party banners and festoons were soon in flames.

“I had never seen a mob so angry. They dragged me from the dais and beat me. I ran to the panchayat office but they dragged me and four others out and beat us,” Mondal said.

The police were driven out as soon as they arrived. A bigger team, together with the Rapid Action Force, later caned the mob and rescued the CPM leaders. The police said the villagers regrouped and hurled bombs and stones, injuring an officer and four others.

“We were forced to fire three rounds,” said Bishnupur subdivisional police officer Dyutiman Bhattacharjee. The villagers claimed the police fired at least 20 rounds.

A bullet pierced the left hand of Sudhamoy Kandal and entered his stomach. Another hit schoolboy Tapas Pal.

Nine other villagers, injured in the baton-charge, are in hospital. Ten have been held.

Arjun Mondal, 30, a farmer, said: “We didn’t get rice or wheat from the ration shops for nearly a year. The dealers sell in the black market with CPM backing.”

Although Sonamukhi, the area in which Radhamohanpur falls, is a known CPM stronghold, local party officials blamed the Trinamul Congress, BJP and Maoists for the violence. Trinamul leaders denied the charge.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Latest right wing assault on academia

Jammu varsity prof loses headship over survey
Prabhjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 4
A professor of Jammu University is in trouble for conducting a survey on the Jammu and Kashmir issue, following a complaint by a political outfit which finds the scholar "anti-national". Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, Jammu University, Rekha Chowdhary, was yesterday removed from the headship on the charge of misusing her powers.

The university had received a complaint from the local unit of the Shiv Sena for action against those who had conducted the survey, vice-chancellor Amitabh Mattoo said while talking to The Tribune on the issue.

The survey "does not report the feelings of nationalist and patriotic people of Jammu". And this grudge of the Shiv Sena was mentioned in a letter, which was issued to Chowdhary by a three-member inquiry committee, constituted by the V-C, for her explanation on her "undesirable activities". She had also been asked to comment on an allegation that she was "anti-national".

Before she could reply, she was yesterday sacked from the post "in the interest of the university's administration".

"The Shiv Sena barged into my office and sought an action," Mattoo said. He said though he had not seen the raw copy of the survey report, he came to know the survey projections from news reports.

The currents in the university ran high last week following the release of the survey, which was conducted jointly by two media organisations with the help of the Political Science departments of Kashmir University and Jammu University. It said, "The valley wants azadi, but the rest of India and Pakistan does not share the sentiment".

As per the survey, 95 per cent of residents of Jammu believed that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir should be with India, while the figure on this query stood at 7 per cent in Srinagar. Significantly, Chowdhary had been assigned the task of surveying Jammu only.
Nearly 87 per cent of the residents of Srinagar responded in the affirmative to a query whether Kashmir should be an independent country, while only 3 per cent in Jammu agreed with this viewpoint.

The committee constituted by the V-C to probe into the role of the university in the survey and take "disciplinary action" against Chowdhary, also raised its reservations on senior Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq's interview conducted by her way back in 2004. The matter was published in 'Reflections', a UGC-sponsored newsletter of the university.

Sources close to the V-C said that Chowdhary was removed following her "open letter to the vice-chancellor" in which she accused him of several irregularities both at the academic administrative levels.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Forgotten Hero

Batukeshwar Dutt was an Indian revolutionary in the early 1900s. He is best known for having bombed, along with Bhagat Singh, the Punjab Legislative in the Assembly on 8 April 1929. After his arrest, he and Singh were instrumental in intiating a hunger strike protesting against the rights and state of Indian political prisoners.[1] He was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, one of the first Marxist parties in India.

Batukeshwar Dutt outlived all his comrades and died in July 1965 in Delhi. After his release from prison, he participated in the Quit India movement. But in Independent India he did not receive any recognition. He was cremated near Firozpur in Punjab where the bodies of his comrades Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukh Dev were cremated many years ago.

Batukeshwar Dutt alias BK Dutta, alias Battu, alias Mohan, son of Gosta Bihari Dutta and a resident of Oari village, Khanda, Mausu, Burdwan, UP was a member of Hindustan Socialist Republic Army who was a close associate of Chandrasekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh. Working in Kanpur for the party, he knew how to make bombs. He along with Bhagat Singh had thrown a bomb in the Central Assembly on April 8, 1929 to register protest against the Trade Dispute Bill and raised the slogan Inquilab Zindabad. Tried in Central Assembly bomb case, he was sentenced in 1929 to life imprisonment by the court of Session Judge of Delhi. He was deported to the Cellular Jail. He participated in two hunger strikes in Cellular Jail during May 1933 and July 1937. BK Dutta was repatriated in 1937. He was released from Bankipur Jail in the year 1938.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Peasants clash with police in Singur

"Farmers were working on the land outside the Tata factory boundary. Police baton-charged them........"

Singur (West Bengal), Aug 20: Two policemen and scores of villagers were injured in clashes, as farmers protested a proposed Tata Motors proposed car factory at Singur. The farmers said they were working peacefully on the land surrounding the Tata factory and police instigated them by launching a baton-charge.

"Farmers were working on the land outside the Tata factory boundary. Police baton-charged them, after which the farmers tried to hop over the wall to till the land there. Police fired 10 rounds of tear gas," claimed Becharam Manna, a member of the Krishi Jami Rakshya Committee. The police said the farmers attacked the factory wall, and therefore, they retaliated. "Around 200 to 300 villagers attacked the wall of the factory with shovels, saying they will not allow the work to go on. Police warned them, but when they paid no heed, we baton-charged them. While they ran, they pelted stones on policemen, and so, we were forced to fire teargas on them," said Kalyan Mukherjee, a police official.Mukherjee said a Deputy Superintendent of Police and a constable were injured in the ensuing melee. Tata Motors started to build its factory in Singur in January 2007 to make what the company claims will be the world's cheapest car for 100,000 rupees.There have been regular protests in West Bengal this year over the acquisition of agriculture land for industry.Trinamool Congress has been spearheading a campaign for better compensation for the farmers whose lands were acquired by the State Government for the project.he government says it has compensated most of the affected farmers.The proposed Special Economic Zone has since been scrapped by the government and they are looking for alternative land.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Independence-Real or Fake

We are reposting an article by Suniti kumar Ghosh on the occassion, India celebrates its 60 years of " Independant day" on 15 th Augest.

August 15, 1947
The Transfer of Power: Real or Formal?

-- Suniti Kumar Ghosh*

It is held as an axiomatic truth that India became an independent, sovereign state from 15 August 1947 when the British imperialists transferred power to Indian hands. Do facts bear out what is generally supposed to be true?

At the end of World War II India stood at the crossroads. One road led to genuine independence, the overthrow of colonial rule as well as its domestic props, transformation of Indian society, destruction of all the structural barriers – foreign and domestic – to her regeneration – all the barriers that inhibit her development. Genuine decolonization means that the old order of the colonial era must yield place to a new one – political, economic, social and military. The other road led to formal transfer of power to classes that were traditional Indian allies of imperialism, continued integration into the capitalist-imperialist system and revolving around metropolitan powers as a satellite, continued existence of the development-inhibiting structural barriers that colonial rule had created and consequent 'development of underdevelopment'.

At the end of World War II, British imperialism was beset with several contradictions –with U.S imperialism (on which it depended for its post-war reconstruction), international communism, national liberation struggles in colonies, its own armed forces who mutinied in some places to realize their demand for speedy demobilization, etc. Of all the contradictions with which British imperialism was confronted, its contradiction with the Indian people was no doubt the principal one.
Two forces at work
In India there were two forces at work, besides the Raj , at the end of the war. When the war in Europe ended, Viceroy Wavell released the members of the working committee of the Congress from prison and convened a conference at Simla in June-July 1945. As V.P Menon wrote, the Congress came in for co-operation without any conditions.1 The Congress leaders were eager to join the Viceroy's Executive Council (which Wavell intended to reconstitute with representatives of Indian political parties) "on the basis that they would whole-heartedly co-operate in supporting and carrying through the war against Japan to its victorious conclusion". (The Congress leaders', including Gandhi's, faith in the creed of non-violence was remarkably flexible.) Nehru felt overjoyed and said: "We feel we must succeed at Simla …I am very hopeful."2 But the Simla Conference foundered on the rock of the League's claim to nominate all Muslim members of the reconstituted Council.

Wavell wanted the Congress leaders to "see to it that a peaceful atmosphere is preserved in the country". Wavell was afraid of a post-war upheaval in the country. So was Gandhi.3 The Congress president Abul Kalam Azad wrote to the Viceroy:

"… the contacts established between the Congress and the Government had largely allayed past bitterness and marked the beginning of a new chapter of confidence and goodwill ."4

As we shall see, it was that surge of "confidence and goodwill" for the British imperialists that continued to rise and yielded the transfer of power. Congress leaders had reasons to feel "confidence and goodwill" for the British imperialists. Close co-operation between the Raj on the one hand and the Indian big bourgeoisie and Congress leaders on the other had already started. The Raj regularly invited discussions with Congress leaders on constitutional issues, the future administrative set-up, "a scheme of army reorganization" and other matters like education, industry and planning. Nehru was being consulted on constitutional questions and army reorganization. In June 1944 Sir Ardeshir Dalal, a Tata director and an author of the Bombay Plan, so much lauded by Nehru, had been appointed a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council in charge of planning and development. During the war the British Raj and the Indian big bourgeoisie were bound with close ties of collaboration, for instance, in the Eastern Group Supply Council and on various official committees.
On the other hand, after the end of the war the people – workers, peasants, the youth, office employees, even sections of the Raj's regular armed forces and the police did not share the Congress leaders' "confidence and goodwill" for British imperialism and though not led and organized by any political party, rose throughout India to liberate themselves from imperialist fetters. Nehru appraised the revolutionary situation correctly and joined hands with the imperialists and tried by all means to dissipate the revolutionary situation. Nehru said that India was on the "Edge of a Volcano" and that "We are sitting on the top of a Volcano".5 P.J.Griffiths, the leader of the European group in the Central Legislative Assembly, also said: "India, in the opinion of many, was on the verge of revolution."6

India on the "verge of revolution"
In the winter and summer months of 1945-6 India, as all sorts of reactionaries feared, was on the "edge of a volcano" – ready to erupt at any time – as Nehru said. Almost immediately after the end of the war, on 21 to 23 November 1945, Calcutta saw the first outburst of the pent-up fury of the people who had suffered incredibly under the fascist British Raj during the war. The immediate cause of it was the police firing on a procession of students demanding the release of the Indian National Army (INA) officers who were then on trial. A student and another youth became martyrs and several were wounded. That set Calcutta and the suburbs ablaze. The city was completely paralyzed. Trains were stopped. Barricades were set up and street battles took place. All communal considerations were forgotten and the people fought with primitive weapons the heavily armed forces of the Raj. Police and military vehicles were burnt down – about 150 of them. According to official estimates, 33 persons including an American, were killed and 200 civilians, many policemen, 70 British and 37 American soldiers were wounded.7 The whole of Bengal was surcharged with bitter anti-imperialist feeling.

Describing the mood of the people, Bengal Governor Casey wrote: "Both in North and South Calcutta a feature of the disturbances … was that the crowds when fired on largely stood their ground or at most only receded a little, to return again to the attack…. Throughout the forenoon and early afternoon of the 23rd [November], Congress and some Communist propaganda cars toured the affected areas dissuading the students from further participation."8

Viceroy Wavell rushed to Calcutta. On 27 November he informed the Secretary of State: "Casey was impressed by the very strong anti-British feeling, behind the whole demonstration, and considered the whole situation still very explosive and dangerous." Significantly, Commander-in-Chief Auchinleck made an appreciation of the internal situation within India on 24 November, the very day after the uprising. The Viceroy agreed generally with the appreciation. Auchinleck wrote:

"If the Indian Forces as a whole cease to be reliable, the British Armed Forces now available are not likely to be able to control the internal situation or to protect essential communications, nor would any piecemeal reinforcement of these forces be of much avail. To regain control of the situation and to restore essential communications within the country nothing short of the organized campaign for the reconquest of India is likely to suffice."9

The lesson of the November uprising went home to the British imperialists. On 24 November itself, Auchinleck met some representatives of provincial governments about I.N.A trials. In his letter to Wavell of the same day Auchinleck wrote that the provincial representatives agreed that "the trials should be limited to those involving brutality and murder of such a nature that it could not be defended as an act committed in good faith by a combatant". He added: "The evidence reaching us now increasingly goes to show that the general opinion in the Army … is in favour of leniency." On 30 November – within a week of the uprising – the Indian Government issued a press communiqué which stated: "Until all investigations are complete, it is not possible to state the number who will be brought to trial but the total is unlikely to be as many as fifty and may be as few as twenty, and, as explained above, trials will be limited to those against whom brutality is alleged."10 The charge of 'waging war against the king' was dropped and the sentences already passed were remitted.

It may be noted that in the meantime the British had brought home as captives tens of thousands of captured I.N.A officers and men and started court-martials of them. The original plan which had received the "gratified approval" of the Congress leaders11 had been to release some, sentence many others to imprisonment and execute 40 to 50 prisoners. As we have said, the plan was changed almost immediately after the November uprising.

As stories of Subhas Bose and the I.N.A, who had founded the provisional government of Free India in Southeast Asia and planted the flag of Indian freedom in Kohima, spread, they sent a thrill from one end of the subcontinent to another. As R.P. Dutt said, the example of the I.N.A and "the subsequent trials of the I.N.A leaders kindled to white heat the flame of militant patriotism and the conception of the armed conquest of power in place of the old non-violent struggle."12 The most alarming thing to the British imperialists was the impact of the I.N.A on the British Indian armed forces.13 Nehru wrote to Commander-in-Chief Claude Auchinleck: "Within a few weeks the story of the I.N.A had percolated to the remotest villages in India and everywhere there was admiration for them and apprehension as to their possible fate … The widespread popular enthusiasm was surprising enough, but even more surprising was a similar reaction of a very large number of regular Indian army officers and men. Something had touched them deeply." 14

On 26 November 1946, Auchinleck wrote to Wavell that "there is a growing feeling of sympathy [among the men of the British Indian armed forces] for the I.N.A."15 The loyalty of the British Indian armed forces was thoroughly shaken by the I.N.A; large numbers of them transferred their allegiance to their motherland.

Gandhi rushed to Calcutta immediately after the November uprising. He had a series of interviews with Governor Casey. He assured Casey that "our future long term relations would be good", that he would do his utmost in bringing about a peaceful solution of India's constitutional problem, and that he was lulling the people into the belief that "India was going to get her freedom out all right" and asking them to "work on that assumption and no other".16 The Congress working committee met in Calcutta and reiterated its faith in non-violence "for the guidance of all concerned" and clarified that nonviolence "does not include burning of public property, …" and so on. Before and after the November upheaval, Nehru went on emphasizing "the necessity of maintaining a peaceful atmosphere…" He went on telling the people that the "British are packing up", that "in the present day world the British empire has ceased to exist" and expatiated on "the folly of disorder and violence". He advised students not "to take suddenly the reins of the nation in their own hands" and "to leave political leadership to those… qualified to lead".17 On 3 December 1945 he assured Sir Stafford Cripps, an important member of the British cabinet (and through him the entire British cabinet), that he was doing his "utmost to avoid conflict and restrain the hotheads".18 Sardar Patel advised the youth not to waste their energies in "fruitless quarrels".

Again, on 27 January 1946, Nehru wrote a long letter to Cripps, in which he stated: "Elections have somewhat held people in check but as soon as these are over, events of their own motion, will march swiftly…. What happened in Calcutta two months ago and what is happening in Bombay now are significant signs of the fires below the surface. A single spark lights them". He said that any delay on the part of the British to take the initiative "might well lead to disastrous consequences". He assured Cripps (and obviously the British cabinet) that the gulf between India and Britain, which "has never been so wide", could perhaps "be bridged even now with a great effort" and that he worked "to that end". 19

Ignoring the Congress leaders' sermons upholding law and order and the creed of non-violence, Calcutta rose again from 11 to 13 February 1946. The occasion was a protest demonstration by students against the rigorous imprisonment for seven years passed on Abdul Rashid of the I.N.A. The city's life stopped because of a general strike. For two days mills and factories in Calcutta's suburbs remained closed; trains did not run; people fought bitter street battles with the armed police and army units riding armoured cars. A marked feature, like that in November, was strong solidarity among Hindus and Muslims who together directed their attacks against Europeans. The upheaval surpassed that in November. According to official estimates, 84 persons became martyrs and 300 injured. As in November, the anti-imperialist wave in Calcutta and the suburbs sent ripples throughout Bengal. Bands of Congress, Muslim League and Communist volunteers moved along the streets of Calcutta and neighbouring areas jointly and helped in restoring order. On 13 February Swadhinata, the Bengali organ of the CPI, condemned indiscipline and disorder as the Congress president was doing.
Waves of anti-imperialist struggle rose one after another in different parts of India – from North to South, from East to West _ and lashed at the regime of the imperialists. The most spectacular and most significant among them was the uprising in Bombay which began on 18 February 1946. The ratings of the Royal Indian Navy (R.I.N.) rose in revolt first in Bombay and then in Karachi, Calcutta and Madras. The rebel navymen, who had various grievances – bad food, racial discrimination, insults meted out by British officers and so on – were inspired by the deeds of Subhas and the example of the I.N.A.20

By 22 February 1946 the rebel sailors were in control of about 22 vessels in Bombay, including the flagship of the British Vice-Admiral. A total of 78 ships of the R.I.N., 20 shore establishments and 20,000 ratings were involved in the struggle. Over a thousand men in the Royal Indian Air Force camps in Bombay came out on a sympathy strike. When ordered, Indian soldiers refused to fire on the R.I.N. ratings in Bombay as well as in Karachi. On 21 February the strike by the navymen developed into a pitched battle between them and British troops who had been called in as Indian soldiers refused to fire.21 And Bombay's workers and youth, irrespective of the community to which they belonged, stood by the heroic men of the navy, carried food to them, erected barricades and fought pitched battles with armed policemen and several British battalions equipped with armoured cars and tanks. On 22 February, Bombay observed a general strike in the teeth of the opposition from big Congress and Muslim League leaders.

Ignoring the Congress and League leaders, the entire working class of Bombay came out at the call of the Naval Central Strike Committee, which was supported by the CPI. For two days there were pitched battles on the city's streets, in which, according to official estimates, there were about 1,500 casualties including more than 200 dead. "The British tanks could clear the streets", wrote B. C. Dutt, one of the leaders of the revolt, "only after hundreds had been shot down. This was the first time in the turbulent history of India's freedom movement that the rulers were forced to use tanks to battle with unarmed and leaderless people…. February 21 had been the ratings' day. February 22 belonged to the workers of Bombay."22

In his 'Foreword' to Dutt's book, S. Natarajan wrote: "What was impressive among the ratings was their complete freedom from communal or sectarian prejudices and their staunch loyalty to each other."23 To quote Dutt, "The R.I.N. mutiny was the one conspiracy against the crown in which there was no king's witness. They tried their best. They drew blank".24

Besides Bombay, Karachi was the scene of actual fighting between navymen and British soldiers. Gurkha soldiers refused to obey orders to fire on the Hindustan, an old sloop, which put up a brave fight. The Gurkha soldiers had to be replaced by British soldiers. Not only did the Indian army units refuse to obey orders to fight the navymen, they went on strike in several places in sympathy with the rebel navymen. We have noted that one thousand men of the Indian Air Force went on sympathy strike in Bombay. So did the men of the Air Force in Poona, Calcutta, Madras and Ambala. To quote Dutt, "An R.I.A.F. squadron, which had been ordered to proceed to Bombay, was grounded at Jodhpur; every aircraft had mysteriously developed engine trouble."25 Hallett, then Governor of the U.P., informed Wavell on 19 November 1945 that soldiers of the Air Force stationed in Allahabad, Bamrauli and Cawnpore had sent their contributions to the I.N.A. Defence Fund.26 The Indian Air Force stationed in Calcutta opposed the court martial of the I.N.A. men. It sent its subscription to the I.N.A. Defence fund with the words: "for the defence of the brave and patriotic sons of India."27 Penderel Moon noted: "There was also unrest at this time in the R.I.A.F. and in some of the technical units of the Indian Army."28 Not only was there unrest in some technical units of the army but army units, as pointed out before, disobeyed orders in Bombay and Karachi. In the Jubbalpur cantonment soldiers staged a revolt in March 1946 and in Dehra Dun Gurkha soldiers went on strike. In some places the police also rose in revolt. In March 1946 the police in Allahabad and Delhi went on hunger-strike. In April 10,000 policemen struck work. In September the military police went on strike in Patna and Begusarai. There was a widespread strike by policemen in Bihar in March 1947. The wall sedulously erected by the British Raj to segregrate the armed forces from the people crumbled down. At no time since the First War of Indian Independence in 1857-8 did the regular armed forces come out to defend the cause of freedom as they did now.

The brave men of the navy refused to be cowed by any threat – not even the threat of Admiral Godfrey (who had flown in bombers) to sink the navy. They appealed to political parties to lead them, promised to hand over to them the navy which they had renamed the Indian National Navy. But no political party, not even the CPI, responded to their appeal though they could have access to the rebel men of the navy.

Jinnah's appeal to them, especially the Muslims among them, to surrender came in the early hours of 23 February when their representatives were meeting to decide their future course of action. Dutt wrote: "… the overwhelming majority were for a fight to death and not for surrender."29 The Naval Central Strike Committee ultimately took the decision to surrender, stating that they were surrendering not to the British Raj but to the Congress and the League. In their last message to the people, they said: "For the first time the blood of the men in the services and the people flowed together in a common cause. We in the services will never forget this. We also know that you, our brothers and sisters, will never forget. Long live our great people. Jai Hind."30

After the surrender the man-hunt began. More than two thousands of the rebels were arrested and kept in detention camps; about five hundred were sentenced to prison terms to serve as common criminals. The top Congress leaders, who had given the pledge that "no disciplinary action" would be taken, did little to keep their pledge.31

What role did the Congress leaders play during the historic naval revolt? Sardar Patel, Abul Kalam Azad, S.K. Patil (secretary of the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee, and later, minister of the central government), Jinnah and Chundrigar of the Muslim League openly opposed the call for a strike on 22 February issued by the Naval Central Strike Committee and advised the navymen to surrender to the British. Patil had secret confabulations with the Bombay governor and the Congress and the League placed 'volunteers' at the service of the Raj to "assist the police" and British army units to fight the people.32 Colville wrote to Wavell that on 22 February he "saw several of these volunteers… and they did useful though limited work". 33

Bombay observed a successful general strike in the teeth of the bitter opposition of the Congress and the League leaders. Workers and students of Bombay fought pitched battles in the streets with British army units and the armed police, who were assisted by Congress and League volunteers.
At a mass meeting held in Bombay with the permission of the Bombay government on 26 February, Nehru and Patel strongly condemned "the mass violence in Bombay", that is, the resistance of the navymen and workers who had dared to raise the banner of anti-imperialist revolt. Addressing the press next day, Nehru thundered: 'The R.I.N. Central Strike Committee had no business to issue such an appeal [to the city of Bombay to observe a sympathy strike]. I will not tolerate this kind of thing."34 The Nehrus alone had the right to issue calls for strikes!

Gandhi, the prophet of non-violence, condemned the rebels for their thoughtless orgy of violence – not the real orgy of violence by the Raj, of which the people were victims. To him the "combination between Hindus and Muslims and others for the purpose of violent action is unholy…" 35 He went on denouncing those who disbelieved in British professions that they would grant freedom to India.

It was a country-wide anti-imperialist revolt. Wavell noted in his diary on 7 March 1946 that the victory parade that was organized in Delhi was boycotted and crowds of men burnt down the Town Hall.36

Workers were on the march everywhere despite the opposition of Congress and League leaders. The number of workers who went on strike in 1946 was 1,961,984 and in 1947, 1,840,784. There was an unprecedented upsurge of anti-imperialist struggle throughout the country, in which workers, peasants, students, other youths, office employees, navymen and sections of the Indian army, air force and police and lower rungs of the bureaucracy took part, and armed confrontations were frequent.37

Peasant revolts took place in different parts of India. In the Thana district in Maharashtra the struggle of the Warlis broke out. In the Alleppey district of the native state of Travancore (now a part of Kerala) peasants and workers launched a united struggle. In several districts of Bengal, especially in North Bengal, the Tebhaga struggle broke out under the leadership of the Communist Party. It was a struggle of the peasantry, mainly sharecroppers (who bore the expenses of cultivation) for a two-thirds share of the produce. Peasants fought heroically. In the undivided district of Dinajpur, forty peasants became martyrs. In 1946 began the historic struggles of the peasants in Telangana districts of the native state of Hyderabad (Telangana, now a part of Andhra Pradesh) under the leadership of the Andhra State Committee of the CPI. It developed into a struggle for land and power. Large areas were liberated. The struggle continued even after the march of troops of the Indian government in 1948 to suppress it, until it was withdrawn unconditionally by the CPI leadership in 1951. In several other native states ruled by princes, puppets of the British Indian government, there were revolts of the people, especially in Travancore and Kashmir.
Imperialism unable to rule in the old way
We have noted Commander-in-Chief Claude Auchinleck's appreciation, of 24 November 1945, of the Indian situation, with which Viceroy Wavell generally agreed. On 19 February 1946, Wavell recorded in his diary that he had seen Porter, Secretary, Home Department, who was all for capitulation to the I.N.A; that he had discussed with Bewoor, Secretary, Posts and Air Department, about a postal strike; that he had talks with Carr, A.O.C-in-C, about R.I.A.F mutiny; with Griffin, Chief Commissioner of Railways and Conran Smith, Secretary, War Transport Department, about a railway strike; and "finally the C-in-C, most gloomy of all, about R.I.N. mutiny in Bombay and the I.N.A trials; What a cheerful day – prospect or reality of three mutinies and two strikes", commented Wavell.38

After referring to the "serious rioting in Bombay", "a mutiny in the R.I.N., much indiscipline in the R.I.A.F., some unrest in the Indian Army" and "threatened strikes on the Railways, and in the Post and Telegraphs", Wavell wrote to King George VI on 22 March 1946: "Perhaps the best way to look at it is that India is in the birth-pangs of a new order…"39

When in late March 1946, the Cabinet Mission with Secretary of State Pethick- Lawrence, Stafford Cripps and A.V. Alexander came to India to negotiate, mainly with Congress and League leaders, a settlement of the constitutional issues and met the Viceroy's Executive Council, Edward Benthall said on behalf of it that " the Council was unanimous that a change of Government at the Centre was imperative... It [ the Council's lack of confidence] is due to the uncertainty of Indian troops and police to whom they must look for defence and support in the future."40
The role of 'the big boys of Congress and League'
Towards the end of March 1946, Turnbull, Secretary to the Cabinet Mission, wrote: "The only hope is that the big boys of Congress and League are said to be much alarmed lest their followers break loose and of Russia." 41

The "big boys of Congress and League", particularly "of Congress", did not fail the imperialists; they acted in more than one way to save the Raj from the wrath of the rebellious people. As negotiations with the Cabinet Mission started, a bitter "war of succession" began. The seemingly endless negotiations and the brave declarations with communal demands of the leaders for a larger share of the British legacy were having an insidious effect on the people, much to the satisfaction of the Raj and the Indian reactionaries. "Amidst these 'summit talks'," wrote Michael Brecher, "the poison of communalism penetrated deeper into the body politic of India."42

It is a cruel irony that Calcutta, the city of many glorious anti-imperialist struggles which the people fought shoulder to shoulder, irrespective of faiths, and other democratic struggles, the latest being the very successful general strike in sympathy with the All India Postal strike, – the city of nightmares to the imperialists and their underlings in India – became the first scene of a communal blood-bath. The people elsewhere, too, became victims of the vicious 'war of succession' between the two rival sets of compradors in the absence of a revolutionary party which could lead and co-ordinate their struggles to win victory. The imperialists, instead of trying to extinguish the communal flames, welcomed them and their Indian henchmen spread them by their acts and rhetoric. Later, on 24 January 1947, the director of the Intelligence Bureau, Government of India, noted for the benefit of the policy-makers:

"The game so far has been well played, in that (a) both Congress and the League have been brought into the Central Government; (b) the Indian problem has been thrust into its appropriate plane of communalism; … Grave communal disorder must not disturb us into action which would reproduce anti-British agitation." 43

After the communal carnage in Calcutta, Gandhi told Wavell "that if a blood-bath was necessary, it would come about inspite of non-violence."44

On 21 July 1946 he wrote to Vallabhbhai Patel: "A great many things seem to be slipping out of the hands of the Congress. The postmen do not listen to it, nor does Ahmedabad, nor do the Harijans, nor Muslims. This is a strange situation indeed."45

Again, writing to Patel on 24 July, Gandhi lamented: "There are other strikes on top of the postal strike. All this looks significant…. The Congress position may seem strong on the surface but it appears to have lost its hold on the people. Or it may be that the Congress itself is involved in these troubles if only from a distance. This must be clarified; otherwise the battle which we are on the point of winning will be lost."46

The Mahatma released a torrent of denunciation of strikes and strikers, especially political and 'sympathetic strikes', and asked Patel to do the same.47 Nehru condemned the all-India strike of one lakh extremely low-paid postal employees as "against the interests of the common people". But the fact is, the common people went on 'sympathetic strikes' throughout India on 29 July to give the postal employees their support. Those who opposed these strikes were the imperialists and the Gandhis and Nehrus. These were not adversaries but allies and they were on the same side of the barricade and the people on the other. The waves of struggle continued to rise. The situation in India was growing alarming for the British Raj and the Congress leadership. At the end of July the India and Burma Committee of the British cabinet concluded that if "some positive action" was not taken "without delay", "the initiative might pass from His Majesty's Government. The postal strike and the threatened [all-India] railway strike were symptoms of a serious situation which might rapidly deteriorate." Wavell agreed and wired to Pethick-Lawrence on 31 July: "Widespread labour trouble exists and general situation is most unsatisfactory. The most urgent need is for a Central Government with popular support. If Congress will take responsibility they will realise that firm control of unruly elements is necessary and they may put down the Communists and try to curb their own left wing." Wavell added that he disliked "intensely the idea of having an interim Government dominated by one party [Congress] but I feel that I must try to get the Congress in as soon as possible."48

From U.P. Governor Wylie reported: "This strike business, for instance, is most unsettling…. With all this strike fever about, it would be too much to expect that the police would remain totally unaffected …"49

The director of the Intelligence Bureau, Government of India, warned: "… the labour situation is becoming increasingly dangerous…. I am satisfied that a responsible government, if one can be achieved, will deal more decisively with Labour than is at present possible."50 On 6 August Wavell again wired to the Secretary of State: "I think it is quite likely that Congress [if it joins the government at the centre] would decide to take steps fairly soon against the communists, or otherwise the labour situation will get even worse.'51

British imperialism found itself unable to rule in the old way. In an undated note Attlee wrote: "In the event of a breakdown of the administration or a general alignment of the political parties against us are we prepared to go back on our policy and seek to re-establish British rule as against the political parties and maintain it for 18 years? The answer must clearly be No." Among the reasons he cited was the lack of the necessary military force.52 In a "top secret" message to the Viceroy on 25 November 1946, the Secretary of State informed him that "We could not contemplate anything in the nature of reconquest and retention of India by force against the nationally organised opposition, and quite apart from the desirability of such a decision we do not believe that it would be practicable from a political, military or economic point of view".53 In a footnote it has been stated that "the terms of this reply [to Wavell's letters] were agreed at a meeting" between Attlee, Pethick-Lawrence, Cripps and officials of the India Office.54

When the British Raj felt unable to stem the tide of revolutionary struggles, it wanted some political party or parties of India with popular support to do it for them. The Congress leaders were lending their support from the outside but that was not enough. As the Muslim League refused to join the Congress in an interim government on Congress terms, the British imperialists decided to entrust the Congress with the task of running the state machinery for them.

When British imperialists found it unwise to take extreme measures to suppress the people, Congress leaders were entrusted to do so
The Congress leaders felt no less worried at the situation as it was developing. They were only too eager to join hands with the British imperialists to fight back the revolutionary tide and suppress the rebellious people. In August the Congress Working Committee adopted a resolution condemning the growing lack of discipline and disregard of obligations on the part of workers.55

On 5 August Wavell reported to Pethick-Lawrence that, according to an unimpeachable source, "Patel… was convinced that the Congress must enter the Government to prevent chaos spreading in the country as the result of labour unrest."56 The British cabinet had decided on 1 August that 'if the Muslim League were unwilling to come in [on Congress terms], it would be necessary to proceed with the formation of an Interim Government with Congress only".57

So Congress president Nehru was invited to form an 'interim' government with himself as vice-president under Wavell. The Congress leaders undertook to fight and suppress the rebellious, anti-imperialist people – not only from the outside but also from the inside of the imperialist state machinery – to serve as imperialism's shield and protect it from the wrath of the people. There was a preliminary round of 'transfer of power' when the 'interim' government was installed in office on 2 September 1946 – the first round of 'transfer of power' through which imperialism tried to save itself. In his letter to Mountbatten, dated 18 March 1947, appointing Mountbatten Viceroy of India, Attlee wrote: "… while the Interim Government would not have the same powers as a Dominion Government, His Majesty's Government would treat the Interim Government with the same consultation and consideration as a Dominion Government…" 58

Imperialism's hopes were more than fulfilled, its reliance on the Congress leaders to extricate it from an "increasingly dangerous" situation was more than justified. On 9 October 1946 Nehru informed Wavell that "A short while ago the [U.P. Congress] Government issued an ordinance of the kind we have been issuing here to tide over the period from 1st October…" The U.P. ordinance "provided for the maintenance of public order and essential services through preventive detention, imposition of collective fines, and the control of meetings and processions." 59

On 21 January 1947 Wavell informed Pethick-Lawrence that searches, still then incomplete, had been conducted, that "the Madras [Congress] Government appear to have taken action against communists and are contemplating a conspiracy case [conspiracy against the King–Emperor] against leading members of the party…. The Bombay [Congress] Government have also written strongly for Central action or a Central directive against the party and indicating that they propose, in the absence of either of these, themselves to take strong action for detention of Communist agitators who constitute a great threat to public tranquillity in that Province."
In this holy war against the anti-imperialist people, the Congress leaders would brook no interference even from British Parliament. Wavell's message added that Home Member Patel deprecated the idea of any discussion in British Parliament of the action taken against Communists "as it can only impede the efforts of Congress to deal with the revolutionary element in the country." 60

A discussion in Parliament would expose the fascist nature of the Congress leaders' attack on "the revolutionary element in the country".
The country-wide search of the offices of the CPI, trade unions, Kisan Sabha, Students Federation, Friends of the Soviet Union, etc., was carried out "under the direction of the Government of India", of which Patel was Home Member. But in reply to R.P. Dutt's cable, Nehru unhesitatingly wired back: "The police raids on the Communists took place without the authority or knowledge of the Ministers." A similar reply he sent to Harry Pollitt.61

Even Wavell was amused. Communicating to Pethick-Lawrence on 29 January 1947 that "the Congress Government in Bombay had decided that the only way to deal with the Communists was to resort to detention without trial", Wavell had a dig at the Labour Party minister: "it may come as a shock to you if they should resort to such 'imperialistic' methods".62

On 27 February the Bombay Governor reported to Wavell that Bombay's Congress ministry "are determined to handle the communist and other extreme Left Wing elements firmly, and are bringing forward this session a new Public Safety Measures Bill which re-enacts all our Ordinances in full…"63

The Bombay Governor also wrote on 2 April to Viceroy Mountbatten that the Congress ministers of Bombay felt that "their real opponents 64 – not the British imperialists. are the Congress Socialists and the Communists"

At its twenty–second session held in Calcutta from 13 to 19 February 1947, the All India Trade Union Congress expressed its concern at the "indiscriminate firing by the police on workers" and stated in a resolution: "Firing was resorted to in Coimbatore, Golden Rock, Kolar Gold Fields, Ratlam, Amalner and Kanpur, resulting in the death of more than 50 persons including women and children and injury to more than 400."

After referring to "the suppression of civil liberties", ban on workers' meetings, arrests and internment of trade union workers, destruction of union properties and so on, the resolution added: "In Madras alone, hundreds of labour workers are in jail, and in some places, Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been applied demanding security of good behaviour from labour leaders."

The AITUC also protested against "the recent amendments to the Bombay District Police Act and the enactment of ordinances in the provinces of Punjab, Madras, Bengal, United Provinces and the Central Provinces under which persons can be arrested, externed or detained without trial."
It also condemned the governments of Madras, Bombay and the Central Provinces [all Congress-ruled provinces] for detaining trade unionists in jail without trial and for externing some of them.65

It was an all-out war against the people who were fighting against cruel exploitation and oppression and for freedom, that the Congress leaders waged before and after their assumption of office at the Centre. At the Meerut session of the Congress presided over by Kripalani and addressed by Nehru among others, held in November 1946, Sardar Mota Singh, a delegate, "thundered that the British were using Pandit Nehru and his colleagues as 'political cows' to prevent the masses from attacking the British power, standing behind the cows."66 As we shall see, it is to these "political cows" that the British transferred power in what became the Indian Union.

The Congress leaders found that along with repression other means were necessary: they tried other means also. One of these was to try to break the workers' unity, which had withstood all communal tension. On 12 August 1946 the CWC adopted a resolution drafted by Nehru to organize the Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh on an all-India basis67 This organization had been functioning in Ahmedabad under another name on Gandhian lines as a stooge organization of Ahmedabad's textile magnates. When militant working class struggles threatened the very foundations of British imperialism and the Indian big bourgeoisie, the Nehrus took upon themselves the mission of splitting the working class.

And at its meeting in Calcutta on 7 December 1945 the CWC took disciplinary action against the communist members of the AICC and asked all subordinate committees to purge the Congress of all communists. As part of their fierce onslaught against the people, they accused the communists of having cooperated with the government in order to isolate them from the people. The irony was that when they themselves were acting as willing agents of the Raj to war against the people they accused the communists of having cooperated with the Raj after Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union – which they did for ideological reasons. And what about Gandhi who pledged cooperation with British war efforts in 1944 and 1945 – and people like Rajagopalachari?

Gandhi's disciple D.G. Tendulkar observed that Gandhi "was aware of the deep hatred of the British rulers that was in the people's heart. To forestall and prevent the conflagration of the deep-seated hatred was his constant concern." 68

On 4 December 1946, Nehru said:

"There was a great urge among the masses of India for political progress. The Congress leaders had tried with some success to restrain that urge and keep it behind the Government." 69

Though essentially true, it is an understatement. Throughout the twenties and the thirties and the Second World War years and after, the Congress leaders acted as the enemy within (of all the top Congress leaders, Subhas Chandra Bose alone was a patriot and that is why he was hounded out of the Congress in 1939). The others did not hesitate to stoop to any falsehood and deception and occasional, atrocious attacks on the people (as when they held ministerial offices in eight provinces between 1937 and 1940 and again from 1946) to kill their "great urge" to become free.
Nor did the CPI emerge as a rallying point for nationalists. Its leadership strengthened the people's illusions about the Congress leaders instead of shattering them. To cite only one instance here, P.C. Joshi, then general secretary of the CPI, wrote in Congress and Communists (1944): "To us the Congress is our parent organization, its leaders our political fathers…" He described his own party men as "Communist Congressmen".70 Individual communists and groups of communists stood by the people bravely and selflessly and led many of their struggles.

But in the absence of an organized revolutionary party – the crucial subjective factor – the objectively revolutionary situation gave rise not to revolution but to counter-revolution: the most unnatural partition of India on communal lines costing enormous blood-baths and close integration of the two new states into the capitalist-imperialist system, which preserved all the structural barriers to her development. A telegram from London to Campbell-Johnson, Viceroy Mountbatten's press attaché, dated 3 June 1947, said: "A packed House of Commons listened with intense interest to Prime Minister's announcement [ of the agreement between the British Raj and the leaders of the Congress and the League to create two new states on the basis of partition of India and dominion status] this afternoon. Proposals and first reaction from India undoubtedly created profound gratification among all Parties. Sense of unity and recognition of tremendous issues and possibilities involved were comparable only with most historic moments during war.... This has been a great day for us all."71

India was regarded by the British imperialists as "the essential linchpin in the structure of the Commonwealth". 72 They devoutly wished that India would remain within the British Commonwealth. As early as 16 April 1943, when World War II raged, the Secretary of State, L. Amery, wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill: "To keep India within the Commonwealth during the next ten years is much thebiggest thing before us… [ and ] should be the supreme goal of the British policy." 73 He wrote to British Foreign Secretary Eden in a similar vein on 9 May 1943.74 The goal of the British imperialists was to have a self-governing India within the British Commonwealth and to enmesh her with Commonwealth ties – economic, political and military.

When "much the biggest thing before us" was achieved, with Nehru and Patel themselves seeking dominion status, 75 it was, no doubt, a "great triumph" of the British imperialists. The reaction of the U.S.imperialists was quite enthusiastic, though there was "the most appalling bloodshed and confusion" in India.

The Nehrus assured the British Raj that "in their view Hindustan would not ultimately leave the Commonwealth, once Dominion Status had been accepted". But they emphasized "the need for secrecy on this matter because if it became known that Congress leaders had privately encouraged the idea, the possibility of their being able to bring their party round to it would be serious[ly] jeopardized." 76

How independent and sovereign did India become after the transfer of power?
Did India become truly independent and sovereign with the transfer of power or in name only? Did she undergo a revolution – the overthrow of the rule of imperialism, big comprador capital and feudalism, the structural barriers to her development? Or, did imperialism make a formal withdrawal behind its flunkeys – the "political cows", as Sardar Mota Singh said – in order to blunt the edge of the national liberation struggle? Was the old order of the colonial era – the order the colonizers built in order to help them best to exploit and oppress the Indian people, after destroying the pre-colonial society – economic, social, political and military, refashioned by an independent, sovereign India which would lead to her regeneration?
The Indian economy had no independence of its own and remained an appendage of the economy of Britain during the colonial rule. British capital dominated every sector of Indian economy and sucked the life-blood of our people. We shall cite a few facts to point out that Indian economy did not become free from imperialist fetters after the transfer of power: the stranglehold of metropolitan capital was more and more tightened instead of being relaxed. Nehru assured the British capitalists in December 1946 that they would have full freedom to flourish here.77

In different official resolutions, speeches and so on, the Indian government extended a warm welcome to imperialist capital. An official memorandum of the Indian government in September 1949 declared: "The policy of the Government of India was to allow foreign capital to come in to operate freely in the industrial field…. Every attempt must be made to secure the maximum possible influx of foreign capital in the shortest possible time."78

The Birlas' Eastern Economist wrote in a leading article: "India for many years to come will need foreign capital and technical skill which must come mainly from the United States and Great Britain… it is clear from the Eastern Economist's recent calculations so far as India is concerned that without foreign investment, it is quite impossible now to maintain our standard of life [already quite abominable]… India's hunger for food this year is great but her hunger for capital – if less evident – is nearly as deep." 79

Some Indian magnates such as Tata and Birla had been negotiating with British and U.S. monopolies for the establishment of joint enterprises in India even before the 'transfer of power' and some deals were already concluded. On 2 May 1945, Manu Subedar, a small industrialist and leader of an anti-collaborationist group in the Indian Merchants' Chamber, Bombay, denounced in the Central Legislative Assembly the collaboration between foreign monopolies and Indian big capital as "illegitimate marriage".80 The joint ventures between imperialist monopolies and Indian big capital soon became the norm in India, encouraged by the Indian government. And trade followed the old colonial pattern.

For some years after the transfer of power the Indian rupee was tied to British sterling. When in September 1949, Britain was forced to devalue the pound in relation to the dollar by 30.5 per cent, India had to devalue the rupee in the same proportion. Announcing the devaluation, John Matthai, India's then Finance Minister, said that he "had to act, not on conviction born of logical necessity but, so to speak, by the compulsion of events; since sterling was devalued, there was no other course open to us." As a result, India's exports became cheaper and imports dearer and the people became poorer.
The sterling debts – between Rs 1,700 crore and Rs 1,800 crore in 1946 – tied the Indian economy to the metropolitan economy. These sterling balances, which Britain owed to India, represented the value of goods and services compulsorily taken away from India during World War II and in the months following it. Indian food, raw materials, textiles and other finished products were taken away not only for the army but for the civil population of England and other countries when the Indian people were victims of acute scarcity, steep inflation, sky-kissing prices, black markets and famine. The goods were taken by Britain at controlled or negotiated prices at which Indians could not get them. "The price paid by India", to quote Subedar, "runs into millions of lives."81 The British government refused to give any assurance that it would not scale down the debts: it even refused to enter into any negotiations about them. The Anglo-U.S. Financial Agreement of December 1945 made it mandatory on the U.K to scale down the debts. In his memorandum on Indian Sterling Balances, dated 5 August 1947, Hugh Dalton, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote like a super-imperialist: "The Indians have asked for releases of £48.5 millions [out of £1,160 millions estimated by him] from the blocked account for the remainder of 1947. On my instructions the request has been rejected… No commitment for further releases after the end of 1947 has been made in the present negotiations, nor are we committed to recognize the total, without further cancellation or adjustment …. More than three quarters of them earn only one-half per cent [as interest]." 82 This was one of the swindling tricks of imperialism. The Indian ruling classes collaborated in it even after the transfer of power.

In a note on India's sterling balances, Subedar wrote: "There is no reason why assets, at least those who [which] belong to Britishers non-resident in India, should not be mobilized by the British Government with a view to reducing the outstanding balance."83 He wrote to Patel, "It is most extraordinary that three Cabinet ministers [ members of the British Cabinet Mission, who came to India in March 1946] should have come here and not a word was said to them by any Indian in regard to the sterling balances."84

On 7 July 1950, Nehru said that, "our economy is obviously tied to England and other allied powers." 85

In November 1951, G.D.Birla proposed the formation of an Indo-American Development Corporation with business magnates and officials of the two countries – a kind of "supertrust directing the future of Indian economy."86 And in January 1952, B.R.Sen, then India's Ambassador to the U.S.A, "recommended an investment company in which both American and Indian private capital would participate initially on a 70:30 per cent basis".87 Both the representative of the Indian government and an outstanding leader of the Indian big bourgeoisie were keen that the future of the Indian economy should be directed not by the Indians but chiefly by U.S. big capital. Were these the voices of an independent, sovereign India or of a client state?

As regards feudal or semi-feudal relations in the vast countryside, there was no fundamental change, except that some grosser manifestations of feudalism were curbed. There was no democratic, or agrarian, revolution in India. There was no basic change in the property structure in the rural areas.

We shall confine ourselves to a few words on the changes in the political and social system in India after the transfer of power. The long-cherished aim of the alien rulers to have India within the British Commonwealth was fulfilled. The British imperialists of all hues celebrated the transfer of power on the basis of partition and dominion status as a "great triumph", as a gain not a loss.88 They were sure that those to whom they had entrusted the subcontinent would defend and preserve their long-term interests in India and in the Indian Ocean region. And this is how they resolved their bitter contradiction with the Indian people. Indian 'independence' was the new face of British imperialism in India – a manoeuvre very deceitful and very successful.

India's 'freedom' was ushered in with the playing of 'God Save the King' followed by Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka. 89 Nehru toasted the health of the British king and Mountbatten toasted the health of the Dominion government. 90 It was symbolical that Union Jack was not lowered; it flew proudly when the Indian flag was unfurled.91

The last Viceroy and Governor-General of India became the head of the new Indian state and Nehru and Patel "wanted him to stay on as long as he would".92 H.V. Hodson, a former Reforms Commissioner of India, observed: "By a strange paradox Lord Mountbatten as constitutional governor-general of independent [!] India exercised more direct executive authority in certain spheres than he had enjoyed as autocratic viceroy."93 Nehru and his colleagues sought Mountbatten's advice about the composition of the cabinet for post-colonial India, "tore up the list of cabinet" they had prepared and changed four members of the old list.94 The trust that the top Congress leaders, quite astute men, reposed in Mountbatten reflected their trust in – and their closeness to – British imperialism. Gandhi had said earlier: "The sole referee of what is or is not in the interest of India as a whole will be Mountbatten in his personal capacity."95 Leonard Mosley wrote that "from that moment on" – Nehru's first meeting with Mountbatten in India – Nehru became "Mountbatten's man".96 We shall not refer here to Patel's effusive expressions of gratitude to Mountbatten. These were the persons who, with the complementary role played by the leaders of the CPI – P.C. Joshi and his associates – left a profound influence on the course of Indian history.

Invited by the Congress leaders, Sir John Colville and Sir Archibald Nye (who became next year U.K High Commissioner in New Delhi) remained as governors of the two largest provinces – Bombay and Madras. While in 'free' India, they flew Union Jack on the bonnets of their cars. Campbell-Johnson commented that the invitation to Colville and Nye to continue as governors "gets our relations with the new India off to a start good beyond all expectations".97

As President of the Indian Constituent Assembly Rajendra Prasad requested Lord Mountbatten, the head of the new State, to convey "a message of loyal greetings from this House" to the British King. It said: "That message [ the King's message to the new dominion] will serve as an inspiration to the great work on which we launch today, and I have no doubt that we anticipate with great pleasure association with Great Britain of a different kind. I hope and trust that the interest and sympathy and the kindness which have always inspired His Majesty , will continue in favour of India and we shall be worthy of them."98

As the Congress leaders had assured the British imperialists, the Indian Union joined the British Commonwealth of Nations, which recognized the British sovereign as head of the Commonwealth, to whom all dominions had to swear allegiance. It may be noted that on 2 May 1949, almost immediately after the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in London, Attlee declared in the House of Commons "with reference to the London agreement that no distinction should be drawn between the use of the terms 'Commonwealth', 'British Commonwealth' or 'British Empire', all of which should be regarded as interchangeable".99 Appreciating Nehru's role in the 1949 London Conference, Attlee said: "Mr. Nehru for India showed high statesmanship in accepting a new relationship whereby in respect for India the [British] monarch was recognized as Head of the Commonwealth."100

Both Nehru and Jinnah agreed that India and Pakistan would fly the Union Jack on twelve days in the year but wanted that this should not be publicized. "In fact," Mountbatten wrote, "they are worried about their extremists agitating against over-stressing the British connection although they are quite willing to retain it [ the Union Jack in the upper canton of the Indian flag, as designed by Mountbatten] themselves."101

Indian society underwent no radical change. The administrative structure built by the colonizers remained. The British-trained Indian Civil Service (I.C.S.), the steel-frame of the colonial administration, continued as before. Its successor, the Indian Administrative Service (I.A.S.), to quote Francine Frankel, "retained the structure and style of its elitist forerunner, perpetuating a national administrative system that in numbers and outlook was more suitable to carrying out the narrow colonial functions of law and order than the broad responsibilities for economic development of an independent government."102 The police and the judiciary continued with little change. The same laws prevailed with few changes, only the repressive laws were given more teeth and the coercive apparatus of the State has been strengthened with the passing of years as para-military forces have proliferated. Formally, colonialism died but the colonial spirit and structure remained.

The Indian Constitution, under which we are governed, owes much to the British. The Constituent Assembly, that framed the Constitution, was constituted on the basis of the 16 May (1946) Statement of the British Cabinet Mission and the Viceroy. The members of the Constituent Assembly were not elected on the basis of adult suffrage, which Congress leaders like Nehru had promised several times. The then existing provincial legislative assemblies of 'British India', formed under the Government of India Act of 1935 (which Nehru called a "charter of slavery"), which restricted the franchise to about 11.5 per cent of the people and provided for separate electorates for different religious communities, were asked to elect their representatives by single, transferable votes of their members (except Europeans), Muslim and non-Muslim members voting separately. And, according to an agreement between Nehru and the Chamber of Princes, on the accession of the native states to the Indian Union, about fifty per cent of the seats allotted to them in the Constituent Assembly were filled by nominees of the princes (who had been stooges of the British government) and the rest were supposed to represent the people of those states.

The first session of the Constituent Assembly was convened by Viceroy Wavell and held on 9 December 1946. Speaking at the subjects committee meeting during the Meerut session of the Congress in November 1946, Nehru declared: "when we attain freedom, we shall have another Constituent Assembly."103 Deception was the name of their game. The draft of the Constitution was prepared by members of the I.C.S., chief among whom was Sir Benegal N. Rau, the constitutional adviser to the Constituent Assembly. Campbell-Johnson pointed out that dominion status made possible the maximum administrative and constitutional continuity, on the basis of the great India Act of 1935.104 "Approximately 250 articles [out of 395 articles]," wrote Michael Brecher, "were taken either verbatim or with minor changes in phraseology from the 1935 Government of India Act, and the basic principles remained unchanged."105 G.D. Birla proudly claimed that "we have embodied large portions of the [1935] Act as finally passed, in the Constitution which we have framed ourselves and which shows that in it [the 1935 Act] was cast the pattern of our future plans".106 "The new constitution accepted the basically British compromise of 1935", observed Thomas Balogh, the Oxford economist who was for some years adviser to the British cabinet.107

As regards military arrangements, the old order continued in the main. Immediately after the transfer of power Claude Auchinleck, the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army, became the Supreme Commander of the armed forces of India and Pakistan. The commanders of the three branches of the armed forces of India – the army, the navy and the air force – remained British. Until the late fifties the commander of the Indian navy was British. An appeal was made to British officers and other British personnel in India's armed forces to continue and a 50 per cent increase in 'India Allowance' was granted to British 'other ranks'. 49 per cent of the British officers and 94 per cent of 'other ranks' were retained in the armed forces of 'free' India.108 But there was no place in the Indian army for the officers and men of the I.N.A.(whom Nehru described in 1945 and 1946 as "the pick of the Indian Army", "a splendid lot", "a fine lot" – "brave, stout-hearted and capable and very politically minded" – whose "standard of… fighting is admittedly very high" and "It is possible they will be acceptable to the future army of free India").109 The navy men who rose against the British in February 1946 and the Indian soldiers who joined the Indonesians in their struggle against the Dutch imperialists who were trying to reconquer their country at the end of the war, were not reinstated for their revolt against imperialism.

The Joint Defence Council of India and Pakistan was composed of Mountbatten, Auchinleck, Baldev Singh and Liaquat Ali – two Britishers and one representative each of India and Pakistan – with Mountbatten as Chairman. Both Nehru and Jinnah "wholeheartedly welcomed" the British government's proposal to negotiate "overall Commonwealth defence arrangements". The Joint Defence Council was empowered to conduct negotiations on behalf of India and Pakistan. To quote from Mountbatten's message to London dated 8th August 1947:

"As I shall continue to be Chairman of the Joint Defence Council after 15th August, I shall hope to be able to regulate these discussions [with the British military delegation to decide on 'overall Commonwealth defence arrangements'] and trust that the desired objects will be achieved."110

India became a partner of the "overall Commonwealth" military arrangements. Besides, as L.Natarajan pointed out, "India signed its first military agreement with the United States under the Mutual Defence Assistance Programme in March 1951..."111 These military agreements were concluded not between equals but between giants and a pigmy, between powerful imperialist countries – one of them a superpower seeking to dominate the world – and India, an underdeveloped country teeming with "half-naked, half-starved" people. "Thus came to an end", wrote Attlee later, "the direct rule of the British in India."112 Do all these facts indicate that India became independent and sovereign with the transfer of power?

"…the fact is", writes Robin D.G.Kelley, "while colonialism in its formal sense might have been dismantled, the colonial state was not."113overt political domination to enforce its rule. 114 Instead of directly administering a dependent country, it dominates it through local agents and using the levers of capital (both direct investment and 'aid', a euphemism for loan-capital), technology, military hardware, etc. Besides, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other international institutions, set up on the initiative of U.S. imperialism, play the role of the colonial administration of enforcing the rules of the imperialist game. The essence of neo-colonialism or semi-colonialism lies in subordinating the dependent country's economy, politics and military strategy, to the economy and global strategy of imperialism. Imperialism today, as Thomas Balogh said, does not require
Though India did not become free, an important change occurred. From a colony India became a semi-colony: India's dependence on Britain yielded to dependence on several imperialist powers, chief among which is the U.S.A. A semi-colony is formally independent, but in reality, it is dependent on several imperialist powers. In this 'semi-dependent country' the domestic ruling classes enjoy political power but within the framework of basic dependence on imperialist powers. As part of the world capitalist-imperialist system, they cannot shake off this dependence, for they can survive and expand by collaborating with and serving imperialist monopoly capital as they did before – at the cost of the abysmal misery and wretchedness of the people.