The Lok Raj Sangathan (Rajasthan state council) organized a well attended public meeting at the Ram Manohar Lohia Senior Secondary School on May 10, 2014. This was the day the heroic soldiers of Meerut Cantonment unfurled the banner of revolt against the East India Company. The theme of the meeting was “the class character of the Indian state”.
The meeting was presided over by eminent advocates and political activists, Comrade Chanan Ramji and Shri Uday Palji Saraswat along with Guruji Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan, and Shri Dunichand, secretary of Lok Raj Sangathan Haryana Council. Many of the participants were teachers, lawyers, farmers, journalists, students and political and social activists.
Advocate Rajinder Sharma compered the proceedings. He called upon Comrade Kuldip, an active youth organizer of the LRS from Sirsa, to begin the proceedings. Comrade Kuldip sang the song of the 1857 Ghadaris “Hum hain iske maalik, Hindustan hamara.” He then called upon Professor Bharat Seth to deliver the inaugural speech on this subject.
Professor Seth declared at the outset that the class character of the state is revealed from its attitude to the great Ghadar of 1857. The centenary of this historic revolt was in the year 1957, a decade after India’s independence. Yet, the rulers of that time, refused to even celebrate it. Nehru and others looked at 1857 revolt with the same hatred as the British colonialists did. He went on to show how the British looted and plundered India to reduce it from a prosperous land to a land of destitute. People all over India rose up in hundreds of revolts to oust the British leading to the great Ghadar of 1857. He then talked of the strategy of the British to create a class of people in India who prospered in the British rule by exploiting the people and how the British systematically prepared to transfer power to this class. By creating divisions on the basis of religion and by partition of the subcontinent the British transferred power while the basic state structure of oppression and exploitation was left intact. Please see box to see some more details of Professor Seth’s speech.
Comrade Lalji, leader of the Karamchari Teachers union stressed on the need for revolution. He agreed with the main speaker that the anti-people nature of the state was clearly shown by its lack of enthusiasm for the centenary celebrations He raised the question of our rights today. He asserted that in actual practice we have no rights although a lot of things exist on paper. He appreciated the role of LRS in organising this important meeting. “What is the direction our country is going?”, he asked and concluded that we need to organize and give the right direction to our youth.
Bhawani Singh, a Karamchari Neta said that the British adopted the policy of divide and rule but the rulers of free India were also continuing to divide us. He strongly felt that at least education in each state should be in the language of people and lamented that the legacy of colonialism is continuing and English language is still dominating in education. He agreed that Constitution needs to be rewritten so that the rights of the peoples are guaranteed. He felt that only a revolution can get rid of this colonial legacy.
Adv Rajinder Singh Nemiwal felt that even what is written in the constitution is not implemented. Dr. Ambedkar had said clearly that however great the Constitution may be, if those implementing it were not good, then it would fail, and vice versa. He pointed out that SC, ST, OBC and minorities constitute 90% of the population, while even with reservation, hardly 10-15% of this section gets government jobs. He reminded that the aim of reservation was to uplift the backward classes so that in a decade there would be no need for reservations. However, upliftment of dalits and other disadvantaged castes was never done. He explained how the entire policy of reservations has been not implemented fairly. He took the example of IAS officers at the levels of Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, etc., and pointed out that there were hardly any of SC, ST or OBCs in the central administration apparatus of government of India. Discrimination against SC, ST and OBC is carrying on as before. He said that we want the caste system and caste oppression to end but it is taking a long time.
Shankar Lal Soni, AAP Zila Adyaksha said that our history is as much of revolutionary struggle as of cowardice. He pointed to the fact that in 1857 there were many kings who sided with the British, like the Patiala Raja and the Scindhias, and that is why the sacrifices of Rani Laxmi Bai and others went in vain. He went on to explain how the system of reservation under the Indian Constitution was used to create vote banks instead of addressing the question of eliminating caste oppression. He felt that today the struggle against corruption was the main struggle. Please see box to see some more details of Shankar Lal Soni’s speech.
Anna Ramji Saraswat said that all the things have deteriorated since independence. When we fought, we never realized that things will go from bad to worse. He pointed out that whether on the question of roji roti, or on social issues, the concerns of people are never addressed. He said that there are different schools for workers and poor children and different ones for people who live in bungalows. He concluded by saying that life has not improved for majority of the people.
Prakash Rao said that the character of the Indian state is not only against the interest of the country but it is against the interest of world and people in general. He explained the two two trends in India – one revolutionary trend of the Ghadaris and the other, a compromising trend led by the Indian ruling class. He emphasized that it was not merely a question of influence of money or corruption but more importantly, we have to understand that the system itself is anti-people. The system knows how to buy some from every section including the backward sections. It does not want to accept that people have inalienable rights but it wants to dole out privileges to some who want to play along. He concluded his speech by saying that the real strength is in the unity of workers, peasants and other sections – all those who want people’s empowerment. He called on everyone to strengthen our unity by continuing such discussions on the situation and problems facing our people.
Mrs Guruji spoke militantly despite her ill health and said that our country is still not free from exploitation and oppression and we will have to keep fightling like Tantian Tope, Laxmi Bai and other brave Ghadaris.
Madan Beniwal of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti, Nohar expressed his happiness in participating in this important discussion.
Shri Hansraj Sivach from Nohar said that many of us are sons of farmers who work hard to produce food for the people. He highlighted that many of the speakers had talked about the deficiencies of our constitution. He said that his view was this constitution cannot be fixed with some small changes but will have to be uprooted and a new constitution on a new foundation will have to be written.
Uday Palji Saraswat emphasized the importance of such discussions and pointed out that even ideas emerging from a small group discussion can become public opinion later. He reiterated that the State is fascist, anti worker, anti peasant and communal. What will happen if people start looking at each other from narrow interests of class, caste, religion, region etc? We should look at everything from interests of country. Gandhi got killed by a Maratha Brahmin but all Brahmins were not to blame. Nobody said that we should massacre Brahmins. But in Gujarat after the Godhra train burning, Muslims were massacred and CM there openly gave a free reign to the criminals for 72 hours. These same forces want to rule India today. Hitler also had the same method. Uday Palji felt that the biggest challenge was communalism as BJP can break the country because of its communalism.
Dunichand, Haryana LRS Secretary said that the leaders of 1857 rose up above differences of religion, caste, etc. The firmaans issued by them show this. Queen Victoria also issued her firmaan declaring that India will be ruled by British law. She went on to warn that if anyone who did not respect these laws then they would not be tolerated. The Indian constitution does not even guarantee the right to life. Workers and peasants are exploited but they are not allowed to form unions of their choice. The real power is with the bourgeoisie. Even if some good persons are elected they will be powerless in going against capitalism. I hope the intellectuals of Hanumangarh will continue this discussion. This will certainly go in the direction of change.
Comrade Chanan Ramji, Senior Advocate and member of the CC of the CPI expressed his happiness at this enlightening meeting. He felt that the discussion has been carried out in the spirit of working out solutions to problems and the interests of workers and peasants must always be kept in the front. He said that today our country is being ruled by 120 capitalist houses and we are being plundered by them and also by foreign capitalists. 1857 was against imperialism. Today the capitalists are hand in glove with imperialism and we will have to oppose both imperialism and capitalism. There are many diseases emanating from capitalism like unemployment, price rise, etc. How do we deal with the source of the diseases? The problem we face is that those who want to treat the disease are not together. It is shameful that Left comrades don’t even greet each other, although they find no problem in shaking hands with Congress or BJP members.
He talked about the many struggles that were fought together. Nallahs and rivers may be different but they all merge into the ocean, he said and the water of ocean evaporates, becomes clouds and rains in different places to feed the rivers and the nallahs. What India needs is that all those who want transformation, such as CPI and other left Parties, the Maoists, Lok Raj, Ghadar Party, Aam Admi Party must come together and fight for the interests of the working class and peasantry. In the end he appreciated comrades who have come from different places to participate in this meeting.
Guruji Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Vice President, Lok Raj Sangathan delivered the concluding speech. It was a passionate and riveting speech, which had all participants spell bound. A massive thunderstorm had broken out and it was pouring, as Guruji delivered his speech.
Guruji explained how the leaders of the Great Ghadar had a vision for India. When the revolt was finally crushed, the British cut the heads of the children and grandchildren of Bahadur Shah Zafar and presented it to him. They were shocked that Zafar did not cry. Zafar replied — rulers do not cry for their own children and their grand-children; they considered the whole country, all its people as their own. We are fighting for liberation of Hindostan, and for this we are ready to sacrifice our all. Guruji went on to relate the sacrifices made by Ghadaris and revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh. He said that the character of the Indian state emerges from what was established as the law and the administrative apparatus to crush the patriotic revolt of our people. British also established the Indian National Congress to to prepare their Indian collaborators to rule. It was established as a safety valve to prevent the outbreak of another revolt. Guruji explained how the imperialists cunningly used the communal card to partitioning the country and organize the transfer of power to their trusted representatives in Congress and Muslim League. In conclusion Guruji called upon everyone to unite together in the struggle to bring people to. He ended his speech asserting that India belonged to us – the workers, peasants, women and youth! Please see box to see some more details of Guruji’s speech.
Others who addressed the gathering included Shikhshak Neta Rambhaiyya Thinnaji, Upendra Singh Kaushik, a lady shikshak neta and Karamchari neta Jaydevji Joshi, all expressed happiness at participating in the very enlightening discussion that was taking place.
Although, the meeting concluded at the appointed time, informal discussions continued for a long time showing the interest the meeting had generated among the participants.