By Lal Khan
With the election of Ram Nath Kovind as India’s President and Venkaiah Naidu as the vice president, frenetic religiosity has grabbed the ‘largest democracy’ in the world. Since 1947 it is for the first time that the RSS-BJP’s Hindutva chauvinists hold all the three top political posts. The BJP also has more than a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha and is governing in 17 of India’s 29 states.
The Subcontinent’s ruling classes have always incited communal hatred and used religious bias to perpetuate their oppressive rule. The British imperialists perfected this pernicious tactic which culminated in the bloody partition of South Asia. Millions perished in the communal slaughter unleashed by religious loathing incited by the Hindu and Muslim elites to crush the revolutionary movement that had erupted in 1946. They were terrified of the prospect of the national liberation struggle metamorphosing into a socialist insurrection which could threaten the vested interests of the imperialists and the native bourgeois.
The father of post-partition India Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Hindutva chauvinistic disguised as a passive saint. Dilip Hero in his recent book, The Longest August, writes, “When push came to shove, Ghandi invoked Hinduism. A quarter century later, his injection of religion into politics would lead to undermining the unity of Indian subcontinent.
In early 1922 Ghandi remarked, “Those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means. My bent is not political but religious.
A cursory look of what is taking place in India under the BJP today shows that Modi’s policies are not very far from Gandhi’s ideological leanings. Gandhi was also an ardent supporter of property ownership and of the capitalist order.
Modi’s real motives are no different. He uses religious nationalism to implement an aggressive neoliberal capitalist onslaught for the profits of imperialists and native corporate bosses.
All over the world, the Dalit background of the newly elected president is being cynically exaggerated. The caste prejudices in today’s India were non-existent in caste origins based on division of labour in the pre-medieval ages.
It has morphed into a convulsed social discrimination but it is not the fundamental contradiction in present day Indian society. There is a crushing domination of distorted and caricatured capitalist relations. To counter-pose caste conflict against the class struggle as a means of emancipation is not only fallacious but in the last analysis it becomes a reactionary notion and ideology that can be easily manipulated by the ruling classes and the state to fracture class unity.
India’s first Dalit president was K.R. Narayanan who was in office from 1997 till 2002. His presidency provided no relief to the impoverished masses of the lowest castes. Under Narendra Modi, the oppressed masses comprising all castes are exploited and coerced on the basis of their class.
Poverty and deprivation know no castes or nations; the rich inflict them upon the impoverished classes. It is also true that the lowest castes, women, national and religious minorities suffer double or triple exploitation.
But this does not mean that they can attain liberation on the basis of caste actions and protective laws for lower castes. The Mandal commission reforms, for instance, proved to be a futile exercise.
India has the highest concentration of poverty in the world. A vast majority of its 1.23 billion populace is forced to live in absolute poverty and squalor. India has a gruesome record of rape with 40,000 rape cases reported every year. Almost sixty percent of its children have stunted growth. Unemployment is rising at about ten million a year. Safe drinking water, functional sewage infrastructure, uninterrupted electricity, decent health care and education are available to only those in the top strata of the society. Its democracy is of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.
The Indian ruling class has failed to develop a modern and united nation state. It is a vulgar class, a parasitic bourgeoisie that failed to shake off the reactionary mores of the Dark Ages — black magic, communal aversions and superstition loom large in society. The conditions in the other countries of South Asia which were partitioned by British imperialists are no different.
Most opposition parties in India have been obsessed with secularism, democracy and constitutionalism. Congress and the other secular national and regional parties have failed to address the basic issues tormenting the Indian masses.
Tragically, the Communist party and other left parties are treading the same path of secularist politics and sustaining the ‘bourgeois democratic’ status quo. The more secularism is enunciated the more Hindutva chauvinism escalates.
India’s large communist parties have witnessed an enormous decline in their social base. Their leaderships’ refusal to present a revolutionary socialist alternative has disappointed the working classes and the youth.
Workers strikes, students’ revolts and movements of the oppressed are erupting incessantly. The two general strikes in the last two years proved the revolutionary potential of the Indian proletariat. These sporadic rebellions can at some moment galvanise a mass upheaval which can create a revolutionary situation. Socioeconomic transformation requires a revolutionary party to guide one-fifth of humanity to liberation and to a socialist victory.
Daily Times, July 24, 2017