Republic Day Special Series

SHARAD JOSHI'S BOOK: Ch. VII, Part 2

 

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH INDEPENDENCE?

Chapter VII: A Second Partition (Part 2)

Doctrine of Surplus Value:
The Marxist Doctrine propounds that the surplus value comes out of the exploitation of the labour and the working classes. How do primitive societies develop primary capital before the commencement of Industrialisation?

The post-Revolution Russia witnessed an acrimonious debate on this subject. The debate was concluded by Stalin by sending tanks against the recalcitrant kulaks to exterminate them. This operation made it clear that the capital for industrialisation comes out of the physiocratic multiplication in Agriculture. The Soviet Russia had applied this lesion in a bloody manner to bucaneering the Kulaks and collectivising agriculture,. That could not be replicated in India. The rural leadership had its own strength. They would have sternly opposed any socialistic plunder of agriculture to promote industrialisation. In India there has been no trace of a debate on the origin of capital for primary industrialisation The issue was never settled formally on paper, Little by little things developed in a manner to suit the designs of the dominant group.

Industry for Defense: 
Independence came with the Partition. Refugees arrived in millions. Communal riots flared up all over the country. Armed conflicts erupted with Pakistan. Police action was required in Hyderabad and Junagadh. Communist organised revolts in a number of places. There was a general consensus that the Indian armed forces had to be strong and well equipped

The Indian army has always been a professional outfit. Their professionalism was so ferocious that they rejected outright the idea of re-integrating the soldiers from Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army back into the Indian Army. Whatever the validity of the Gandhian system of village industries and handicrafts, it was irrelevant in the field of defense. This was the general opinion to preserve India’s independence. The Army had to be equipped with up-to-date arms and ammunition  guns, fighter planes and all. The Jawan cannot be sent to the front equipped with anything but the best guns. It would tantamount to treachery. The nation cannot remain dependent forever on super powers. India must develop its own capacity for defense production There was not one dissenting note to this line of thought. Even the strongest Gandhian did not put forward an alternative defense strategy based on popular participation of masses rather than one based on a limited professional outfit equipped with modern ornaments.

Indian Army developed on these lines was easily beaten back in 1962 by waves of Chinese soldiers who carried nothing but a fistful of oats was their rations. Later on, America’s well equipped army was humiliated Ziapes, Guerrillas in Vietnam Even the possibility of reorganising Indian armed forces other than on the British line was not even examined by the rurals of the Independent India.

The strange fact heights a vested interest of the urban westernised community. They abhorred the very idea of an all out war that hurt all the elements of the society. They could hardly stomach the idea of the Indian cities facing London-like blitzes. Such bombing would have destroyed industries and flatten the houses of all the people without distinction. They talked bravely of defending the nation. But they wanted all hostilities to remain limited to the border areas. That could happen only if the army possessed modern equipment. The army should take carte of the enemy at the frontier and not let the civil population be touched. They looked at the border wars as if they were cricket matches and enquired about the figures of the dead and wounded as if they were asking for runs scored by either sides. The excuse of the defense requirements finally flattened the Gandhian economics arguments. It was ridiculed as impractical idealistic ranting and abundant.

Dissemination of rural leadership:
The very first few years after Independence witnessed yet another major upheaval. However, it happened so smoothly and subtly that its importance was lost on most people at the time. The riots after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948 pushed out the Brahmin community out of the villages in Maharashtra and came to the cities. In many States in the south mass agitation against the past tyranny and continued domination of Brahmins were gaining strength. In those States also the Brahmins abandoned villages and the countryside and settled in the cities or even migrated to other States. The urban intellectuals and the leftist politicians had during the early vociferously post-independent propagated the slogan of”Land to The Tiller”Factories to the toilers was not insisted upon equally vociferously. There were hardly any attempt to correct the unequal distribution in urban properties. As regards the rural land, however, one legislation followed another in quick succession at the outset came the Tenancy Legislation which were followed by legislation for the separation of the Zamindari. Then there were a serious of land ceiling Acts. the class of the money lenders was also snuffed out from the villages. All this had the consequence of driving out of the village classes, who had traditionally held the leadership of the village communities. this proved to be no hestisement of the old tyrants. Quite contrarily a whole community that was socially and economically better off escaped the clutches of the rural life and became free to assimilate themselves in the urban communities, and eventually the build up their leadership. It is very doubtful, how far the tenants, farmers and landless labourers actually benefited from these measures. That question is not relevant either. The autonomous institutions of the villages was broken down by these laws and the people who provided leadership and articulation for the villages became refugees and left the villages. There is no doubt that any upheaval of this magnitude is painful for the society as a whole. But the uprooting the Brahmins, landlords and the money lenders was to have too strange consequences. 

There is little doubt that the landlords and the money-lenders plundered the farmers. But is equally true that they carried the burden of several responsibilities pertaining to the village. In times of difficulties, particularly during famines and droughts, they practically maintained the village. Leaving aside the moot point whether these classes got more from the village or gave more to the village, it is certain that whatever the quantum of their plunger, it still remained within the village. The legislation against the landlords and the money-lenders was motivated and promoted by urban interests. Their main concern was not the welfare of the landless and the poor. They were unhappy that they were not getting any share of the loot and that the entire surplus benefited the villagers, the habitants of the villages. Zamindari is no more. The village money lender has been replaced by cooperative societies. There is whole network of banking institutions in the countryside. The exploitation of peasantry, about which such a bogie as raised, continues unabated. In fact, it appears to be harder and more.. The burden of debts in farmers is becoming increasingly crushing. Migration of the villagers to the city is growing. No matter what the real intention of the authors of anti-zamindari and anti-money lenders acts, it is clear that the village poor denied the benefit of them. All this legislation does not appear to have severely hurt the Brahmins, landlords or the moneylenders than the Brahmins who left villages in the aftermath of 1948 riots, appears to have been benefited from the calamity. Agriculture is like the continent of Seirc of the Greek mythology. Anybody that in contact with it, goes through immigration and final destination These communities were caught up in the quagmire of the village life and were at a loss to know-how to escape therefrom. The communal riots and reform legislation provided them a sudden escape. Any vocation or job in the urban sector is more lucrative than the agriculture of the most fertile land. These new refugees suddenly realised that economically they were much better off than in the past. They possibly had lost in prestigious status in the clustered village life. They found that they could in fact become the political leaders even in the new set up, combining contrast with the countryside with sophisticated articulation to natural cities”strength The circumstances of their uprooting were such that most of them came to the cities, full of bitterness and venom for the village life. 

Tenancy legislation and anti-zamindari laws proved to be a bonanza for the losses against whom they were targeted In the State of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh here used to be a large number of big landlords. Implementation of new laws deprived the land holdings which were a losing proposition in any case. The rates of compensation were fixed at nominal or minimal levels. All the same, the amount that came into the hands was substantial for the epoch. If the land of all these people had come into the market for sale, simultaneously the prices would have sunk so low that they would have got nothing like the money paid by the government. The affected people came to the cities with this money and soon got into the upwardly mobile trade commerce and industries in the urban townships. Some got into the politics. Many of them did very well. Many of the politicians who talked enthusiastically about land reform it would be found that it came originally from this class of new refugee landlords. 

(... continued in Part 3)

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