With fanfare the Indian ruling circles celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Republic of India (a day chosen to coincide with the signing of the Constitution of India in 1950) on January 26, 2010. 

With fanfare the Indian ruling circles celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Republic of India (a day chosen to coincide with the signing of the Constitution of India in 1950) on January 26, 2010. 

It is a day on which the ruling circles roll out tanks, fighter jets, and all sorts of assorted armaments and parade its armed forces.  At the parade this year, the Chief Guest was Mr. Lee Myung-bak, President of South Korea.  It was noted that this comes at a time when the final environmental clearance was being

readied for the setting of a giant steel plant in Orissa by Posco, in the single biggest foreign investment in the country.  Four days earlier, the BBC carried a story on the intensification of the campaign against `Maoists’ in many parts of the country.  It takes no great intelligence to see the interweaving of the many threads of the scenario:  rapid militarization, expansion of capital into hitherto untouched regions of India, the marriage of the Indian state with big monied interests, domestic and overseas, and the deep enthusiasm for the use of force against anything that stands in the way of the promotion of this agenda.  The Forbes list of billionaires now includes several Indians who are big players in manufacturing, finance, telecommunication and virtually all spheres of economic life.

At the same time the people of India continue to face ever increasing prices, draconian laws enacted to combat `terrorism’ here, `Maoism’ there, `secessionism’ elsewhere.  The Armed Forces Special Powers Act continues to be enforced in Manipur and elsewhere, where the security forces reap the largest numbers of police medals. 
Thus to any casual observer the situation is in clear relief — vast riches and success for a numerically tiny minority through the active intervention of the state machinery which passed into its hands in 1947 and which enacted a Constitution and adopted it by 1950, while for the multitudes it is starvation, bleakness and dehumanization.

The 1950 Constitution while adopting the British colonial state and its philosophy and while negating the political experience of India over the millennia rests the entire sovereign power in the hands of the Cabinet endorsed by Parliament which is elected from time to time, with members drawn from big parties all of which are supported by big money.  The complete marginalization of the people is an indisputable fact.  It is well known that the Constitution places the `unity and integrity of India’ at the highest level and negates the rights of the peoples that make India who are from various national groups which have historically existed before the arrival of the British, indeed as have the tribal peoples of India.  The Constitution while paying lip service to the people has no mechanism to ensure that the basic needs of the people of India are met.  Even worse, while the Constitution on paper protects the life of its citizens, in reality major political parties including the Congress and the BJP organize pogroms each time there is an acute crisis in the polity and are never made to answer for their crimes. Thus even the right to life in India exists only on paper and not in reality.

The intrinsic problems of India and their historical objectivity leads, therefore, to the rise of acute crisis of the polity. The `solution’ offered by the main stream parties is more of the same: If there is a genuine problem of nationality or statehood as in Gorkhaland or Telangana, the political parties dovetail it into their own strategy to concentrate more power into their own hands, while admitting there is fierce competition amongst themselves, and over the bodies of the youth and dispossessed.  If there is a genuine recognition faced by the problems of the millions of women in India, the `solution’ is to reserve some seats in Parliament, while in reality nothing will change. The list is endless and one can fill several volumes on such phenomena.

What then is the way out of the crisis?  Having recognized that the fundamental contradiction is between the ruling circles at the helm composed of big business and the state which is at their service and the multitudes, one must place at the centrestage the demand of the multitudes for the say so.  This demand which was relegated to the backburner by the British post 1857 made a major comeback during the nationalist struggle.  While the demand did not crystallize into reality and was crushed asunder by the forces that came into power in 1947 is yet to rise from the ashes.  Whether it is in Nandigram or Singur, the Posco and Vedanta struggles, or the Best Bakery case or the 1984 riots, or the Manorama struggle or the Shopian case, what emerges is the total negation of the rights of the people of India. The struggles surrounding each of these must be seen as part of the nascent demand for the say so.  The failure to bring this to the centre stage will lead to the further marginalizing and paralysis of the people and will pave the path to more disasters.  Thus, it is imperative that with renewed enthusiasm this demand be brought to the centrestage.  When the demand for the say so is accorded its due status, in its wake will come the solution for the crisis of the polity.

By B. Ananthanarayan

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