Here’s Why India Needs A Kind Of French Revolution
Casteism and communalism are feudal forces which must be destroyed if India is to progress, but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them. So people have to use their creativity and devise an alternative system, argues Justice Markandey Katju.
Many Pakistanis think that considering the developments in India since the BJP came to power in 2014 and the subsequent atrocities on Indian Muslims, the two-nation theory on the basis of which Partition was done (that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations) have been proven right, and Partition of India in 1947 was correct and was necessary to protect Muslims.
I disagree with this view. In my opinion it was Partition which is largely responsible for the plight of Muslims both in India and Pakistan today, as it has kept them largely poor and with high unemployment, appalling child malnourishment, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, etc. It is also largely responsible for atrocities on minorities (Hindus in Pakistan, and Muslims in India). In my opinion it would not have been so had India been united under modern-minded, genuinely patriotic leaders.
To know the truth we have to go deep into the matter and distinguish between appearance and reality.
Superficially, it seems that Partition was a good thing because experience has shown that Hindus and Muslims cannot co-exist peacefully. But superficially it seemed that the sun goes around the earth (the geocentric theory of Ptolemy and the Bible), as we see the sun arising in the east in the morning, move overhead at noon and then set in the west in the evening. But Copernicus scientifically demonstrated in 1547 that this was only a superficial understanding, and in fact it is the earth which goes around the sun (the heliocentric theory).
When we see a puppet show, we see only the movements of the puppets, we do not see the puppeteer hidden behind a screen, who is the real cause behind the movements of the puppets. So also, when we try to understand the causes of Partition and the creation of an avowedly Islamic State (Pakistan), we should not be led away by superficial explanations, like the one that Hindus and Muslims are inherently enemies because Hindus worship idols and cows while Muslims oppose idol worship and eat cows.
There was no communal hatred in India before the Mutiny of 1857, and it was only artificially created by the British thereafter (see also BN Pande’s ‘History in the service of Imperialism’ online), and it is being artificially sought to be continued by some vested interests even today.
So let me place my understanding and opinion
1. As I have said many times, this world in fact consists of two worlds – the world of the developed, highly industrialised countries (North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and China) and the world of the underdeveloped countries (which include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc).
2. The national aim of Indians (and the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh) must be to be transform and uplift India from the ranks of the underdeveloped countries to the ranks of the developed countries, as China has done. Without doing so we will remain condemned to massive poverty, massive unemployment, appalling level of child malnourishment, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses.
3. On the other hand, the secret unwritten iron rule among the developed countries is that India must never be allowed to become a developed country. Why do I say this? To understand this, we must delve into economics.
The cost of labour is a big chunk of the total cost of production, and so if the cost of labour is less, the cost of production is less. If the cost of production is less, one can sell at a cheaper price and undersell his business rival. There is competition in the market and one businessman eliminates another, not with guns or bombs, but by underselling him.
China was a very poor country before its revolution in 1949. After that, the Chinese leaders built up a massive industrial base in China. This industrial base, coupled with the cheap labour available in China, enables the Chinese to undersell the whole world in consumer goods.
Western supermarkets are packed with Chinese goods, because they sell at less than half the price at which a Western manufacturer can sell them (because Western labour is expensive). So, China has become a headache for the West.
Now, Indian labour is even cheaper than Chinese labour, and so we can even undersell the Chinese. What we lack today in India is a massive industrial base, and if we build it, will the industries of the developed countries survive when faced with Indian competition? Who will buy their expensive goods when we will be selling them at one third their price? One China has become a headache for the developed countries. Will they permit another? Certainly not. They surely do not want their industries to close down.
4. Up till 1947, India had very few engineers and very few industries. That is because the policy of our British rulers was broadly not to allow India to industrialise (for then Indian industry would become a big rival to the British industry). So, the British did not allow us to set up heavy industries like steel plants, and allowed us to set up only some light industries, like textiles and plantations, and kept us feudal and backward, retaining the zamindari system.
This situation changed after 1947. There was a limited degree of industrialisation thereafter, a heavy industrial base, for example steel plants, was set up, and many engineering colleges (like IITs) were established. Today, India is very different from the India of 1947. Today, we have thousands of bright engineers, scientists and technicians. In fact, today our IT engineers are largely manning the Silicon Valley in California, and Indians are to be found in large numbers as professors of science, engineering and mathematics in American universities.
5. Today, India is the most developed of the underdeveloped countries. If there were no impediment, in 15-20 years, it can easily become a highly-developed country, like North America or Japan. This is all the time it takes to transform a backward country to a highly developed one, as the experience of Japan after the Meiji Restoration in 1868 shows.
6. However, as I have pointed out above, the developed nations will oppose such a transformation tooth and nail as that will cause them enormous damage. And how do they do this? By making Indians fight each other on the basis of religion, caste, race and language. In view of the tremendous diversity in India (since it is broadly a country of immigrants, as explained in my article ‘What is India’) it is easy to do this, through their agents.
7. Many people blame the RSS and BJP for spreading communalism in India, but I regard RSS and BJP as only small fries, puppets being handled by the puppeteers (the developed countries, who are not seen, but whose presence one can rationally infer from what has been explained above). RSS was only a creation of the British in 1925 in pursuance of their divide and rule policy, and its purpose today also is to divide the Indian people on religious lines, so that India does not emerge as a modern industrial giant (of which it has all the potential today).
Since with its huge pool of technical talent and immense natural resources, India is on the verge of smashing its way into the ranks of the highly developed countries, the latter have stepped up their effort to prevent this, and this is the real reason why religious polarisation in India has sharply increased. RSS and BJP are the main agents, the main puppets, in this game.
8. Keeping what has been said above firmly in mind, it becomes clear that far from proving Jinnah and the two nation theory correct, recent developments in India only establish what has been stated above. Partition only further increased the artificial animosity between Hindus and Muslims created by the British and their agents.
9. The real reason for Partition was: (a) the British did not want united India to emerge as a modern industrial giant, and thus a big rival to British industry; (b) they wanted India to remain a big market for the Western arms industry (India is perhaps the biggest purchaser of foreign arms in the world). See in this connection Mission Statement and Addresses to the Indian Nation in indianreunificationassociation.weebly.com.
10. So what is the way out for us? The way out is by some kind of French Revolution.
11. How will this Revolution be achieved, how much time will it take and who will be our leaders in this historical leap forward, is impossible to predict. One cannot be rigid about historical forms. But it can certainly not be achieved under the system of parliamentary democracy. As experience has shown, this operates largely on the basis of caste and communal vote banks. Casteism and communalism are feudal forces which must be destroyed if India is to progress, but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them. So people have to use their creativity and devise an alternative system.
A revolutionary historical united people’s struggle led by patriotic modern-minded leaders, like Mustafa Kemal of Turkey or the leaders of Japan after the Meiji Restoration, is required for bringing about the transformation of India from an underdeveloped to a highly developed country, but as yet a revolutionary situation has yet to appear on the horizon.
So should nothing be done by patriots till a revolutionary situation emerges? Should they remain idle till then? To answer this question we must understand that before every real revolution there has to be a cultural revolution.
For example, before the French Revolution of 1789 there were several decades of intellectual struggle by great writers like Voltaire, Rousseau, and the French Encyclopedists who attacked the feudal system, religious bigotry, etc. This intellectual struggle is necessary before an actual revolution because in an actual revolution many persons have to sacrifice their lives.
A person will sacrifice his life willingly if he is convinced he is fighting for a noble cause, and it is the job of patriotic intellectuals to.convince the people about this. So though there is no revolutionary situation as yet in our sub continent, a powerful cultural revolution, which is preparatory to an actual revolution, is needed right now, whose aim must be to attack feudal practices and beliefs like casteism, communalism, superstitions etc.
This cultural revolution must expose the truth about the fake democracy and secularism in India.
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.