It is necessary constantly to explain and expose among the broadest masses of the toilers of all countries, and particularly of the backward countries, the deception systematically practised by the imperialists in creating under the guise of politically independent states, states which are wholly dependent upon them, economically, financially and militarily. (Lenin, Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Question, June 1920)
In any study of imperialism and the national liberation movement, India is a classic case, a touchstone to our understanding of the true meaning of political and economic independence and of “non-alignment.”
Dutt in his report suggests that, up to the time of the Sino-Indian border conflict, the Indian bourgeoisie had withstood the blandishments of Anglo-American imperialism. The implication is that it is the Chinese who, by their actions, are really to blame for the capitulation to imperialism by the Indian bourgeoisie. This is what Dutt says:
The majority of the newly independent Afro-Asian states follow the general international line of ’non-alignment’ i.e. refusal to be drawn into the imperialist military blocs (although in the case of India this has been weakened by the Anglo-American imperialist utilisation of the border question to establish considerable penetration by military missions). (Dutt, p. 10)
“Independence” in India was not followed by revolution or the formation of a people’s democracy. The national bourgeoisie remained in control. They suppressed civil rights and quite unconstitutionally dissolved an elected Government in Kerala because the people had voted in a Communist majority.
A test of true national democracy was prescribed in the Declaration of the 81 Parties in a series of five points. Apply them to India and one finds that on all five counts India comes out on the wrong side:
(a) “Consistently upholds its political and economic independence”; India has become more and more dependent on foreign especially U.S:
Foreign Aid in India’s Economic Plans
FIVE YEAR PLAN PERIODS....... First, 1951·56...... actual Second, 1956·61..... actual Third, 1961·66 (Rupees ’000,000,000’)
Planned public sector spending....................20.........................46..................................... 75
External Aid.................................................2 ......................... 11..................................... 22
Foreign aid percentage................................10..........................24..................................... 29
(b) “Fights against imperialism and its military blocs, against military bases on its territory.” The Nehru Government has accepted extensive and progressively increasing amounts of British and American military aid.
(c) “A state which fights against new forms of colonialism and the penetration of imperialist capital.” The Indian Government has systematically “liberalised” the conditions on which foreign capital can be invested in India. The Indian Finance Minister stated recently that “the stage has come when India would be justified in opening the doors even wider to foreign private investments . . . ” The Financial Times on 26th February 1964 reported “Foreign private investment in India is expected to receive much more hospitable treatment than hitherto in the next financial year.”
In June 1948 foreign investments in Indian enterprises totalled 2,560 million rupees. By 1960 the sum had risen to 6,650 million rupees.
Enterprises owned jointly by Indian and foreign capital rose by 103 in 1958; 150 in 1959; 380 in 1960; and 403 in 1961. From 1948 to 1959 British investments in India doubled; U.S. investments increased seven times.
(d) “A state which rejects dictatorial and despotic methods of government.” In 1957 a Communist Government was elected constitutionally in the State of Kerala. In July 1959 it was forcibly and illegally removed.
(e) “A state in which the people are ensured broad democratic rights and freedoms and the opportunity to work for agrarian reform and other democratic and social changes and for participation in shaping government policy.”
According to World Marxist Review for November 1963, 1,500 communists, trade unionists, peasant leaders and intellectuals have been arrested. Nine hundred have been detained without trial and a number of detainees who had been released by order of the High Court were immediately re-arrested.
Now Dutt is something of an expert on India. He opposed the policy of Dange and other revisionists in the Indian C.P. who supported Nehru’s military attack on People’s China. Dutt, therefore, of all people, must know that U.S. penetration of India in a multiplicity of forms dates back well before the military clash on the Sino-Indian border in 1962.
In fact, in his book, “The Crisis of Britain and the British Empire,” written in 1953, he himself exposed the myth of Indian non-alignment:
This extending economic and financial penetration of British and American finance-capital into India and Pakistan under the regime of formal ’independence’ was accompanied by active measures for corresponding political and strategic penetration. (p. 208).
This partial shift (towards neutralism – Ed.) in foreign policy did not mean that the Indian Government broke with its main ties with the camp of imperialism, or passed over to a consistent policy of opposition to the war plans and aggression of imperialism. Practical co-operation continued, as in the supply of arms and finance, jointly with the British, to the Nu Government for war on the Burmese people; the transport facilities to the French Government for war on Vietnam; and the provision of facilities on Indian soil for recruitment of Gurkhas for war on the Malayan people . . . Practical economic and financial co-operation with imperialism was drawn even closer, as in the agreements reached in 1951 for the establishment of Anglo-American monopoly combines in India with virtual extra-territorial rights, and the constitution of the Indo-American Technical Aid Fund in 1952. In this situation the series of abstentions or occasional opposition votes in the United Nations took on the character of platonic gestures, largely designed to appease opinion at home, rather than of advance to any positive alternative policy. As the Indian Ambassador to the United States, Mrs. Pandit, declared in New York on September 19, 1951: ’We deplore the word “neutralism” as applied to us in our situation. In recent sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, we have voted as you did thirty-eight times out of fifty-one, abstaining eleven times, and differed from you only twice.’ (p. 212.)
Has the situation improved or deteriorated since Dutt wrote his book in 1953? Has the Indian bourgeoisie not moved further and further to the right during this period as the economic situation of the country went from bad to worse and as the mass of the workers and peasants grew more restive under the appalling conditions?
In this same period the Indian bourgeoisie has come to rely more and more on American and British aid. In fact the figures of mounting U.S. aid provide a fairly accurate barometer of the swing to the right of the Indian bourgeoisie:
From 1949 to the end of July 1962 the U.S. granted to India 6,500 million dollars. Of this sum, 2,500 million dollars were given from 1949 to 1959. About 4,100 million dollars were given after India started its anti-Chinese campaign in 1959, a sum almost twice as large as the total extended in the past decade.
And what of India’s policy towards her neighbours? Michael Scott, in an article in the Observer on 25th August 1963, reported on the mood of chauvinism and referred to one of “the casualties of this Jingoism” – the Nagas:
At present the Nagas are being threatened by the Indian Government with air attacks which, failing assistance from outside, must mean physical extermination for the resisters and starvation for the villages which support them.
If you have seen your villages burned, your women raped, your crops destroyed and your unaided defence during eight years of jungle warfare reduced by jet aircraft attacks, you might look at things otherwise ...
This is the country which, in the opinion of Krushchev:
is more and more confidently advancing in the development of her economy and culture. India’s policy of non-alignment, her neutralist policy, has acquired great moral and political weight in the world. (Report to Supreme Soviet of U.S.S.R., 12th December 1962)
This is the country which stands at the top of the list of recipients of Soviet aid; the country to which Krushchev is sending MIG fighters. What can be Krushchev’s motive for consistently supporting the Indian bourgeoisie both financially and morally? Does he think that by doing so he is reducing U.S. influence in India or persuading the Indian bourgeoisie to be more liberal and less reactionary? The facts prove that the reverse is the case. All Krushchev is doing, in effect, is to relieve the U.S. of some of the burden whilst helping to keep alive the myth that India in a “non-aligned” country.
The Korean Workers’ Party have expressed their opinion of such practices:
The socialist countries must not render aid including military aid to this or that country to enable it to use this aid to oppose or attack a fraternal socialist country. Such an act is detrimental to world revolution. (Let Us Defend the Socialist Camp, October 1963)
The Sino-Indian border dispute was created by the Indian bourgeoisie with imperialist help as an issue which would divert the attention of the people from their misery and poverty, provide an excuse for further reactionary measures at home and justify their demand for additional aid. By supporting them with arms and finance, Krushchev is not only striking a blow against a socialist country, he is at the same time strengthening the hands of the bourgeoisie in repressing their own people.
The military clash in October 1962 was preceded by articles in the Western press, based on reports from India, which showed that the depletion of Indian currency reserves made it imperative for her to attract new support from the West; and details were set out of the regrouping of Indian military forces and the decision to order them to advance Northwards. By September 1962 India had established over 40 new forward posts in the border area, many of them behind the Chinese frontier. Three Chinese offers to negotiate were rejected. On 12th October 1962 Nehru issued orders “to free Indian territory of Chinese intruders.” The Indians launched an all-out attack on 20th October. The Chinese ejection of the attackers and their withdrawal after the Indian forces had been driven back caused an unforeseen disruption of Indian plans.
Dutt condemns the Chinese on the grounds that they seek to place the primary role in the world revolution in the hands of the bourgeoisie, although we shall see later the Chinese warn against this very danger (Chinese Letter of 14th July 1963, pp. 17, 18). But when, as in India, the national bourgeoisie are acting as the stalking horse of the Americans and suppressing the revolutionary forces in their country, Dutt in his report keeps silent and Krushchev gives them open support. While proletarian internationalism flies out of the window, the door is flung open to imperialism.