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Nigel Harris

India: Part One

(Summer 1964)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.17, Summer 1964, pp.4-14.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

1. The Nature of Underdevelopment [1]

A significant number of underdeveloped countries have in recent years made a shift from their post-Independence regimes to a new sort of politics. That new politics seems marked by an irresistible compulsion towards centralised State autocracy, embodied in a national dictator and based upon one group monopolising all political initiative – whether that group be military, a nationalist party or a Communist Party; with it goes national planning, a steady expansion of the public sector in State intervention into the economy, and an ideology, expressed in different sorts of terminology, of ultra-nationalism – a sort of “étatiste nationalism.” Whether it is Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, Nasser’s Egypt, Nkrumah’s Ghana, whether the process is sudden or spread over a number of years, the end product is in important respects similar. Even those countries which do not undergo a radical social change imitate important aspects of the process and on occasions even execute it under the auspices of traditional rulers – Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Cambodia are all monarchies, and all have national plans which involve expanding State initiative and the public sector.

Historically, some aspects of the same process have been visible during development in the European countries, and in earlier attempts at development in the underdeveloped. A mild autarchic nationalism was seen in Britain, a slightly more extreme version involving more extensive positive State initiative occurred in the France of Louis XIII and XIV; Bismarck’s State “Socialism” is well-known. Or take the interesting case of Mehmet Ali (1805-42) who, with the same pre-eminently military motives, tried to shift Egypt from a subsistence to a modern economy – he revolutionised land tenure, expanded communications, established State monopolies to handle crops and begin industrial projects, all behind a wall of protection and operated by an expanded bureaucracy. The process was checked by outside intervention in 1841, and Egypt did not gain sufficient political autonomy to make another attempt at étatiste nationalism until after the Second World War. Military purposes provided a major drive to modern Egypt’s second attempt, but now the purely industrial aspect alone exercises a powerful impulsion towards State direction – the concentration of resources and skills now required is much greater than ever before.

Unlike the earlier attempts (leaving aside Bismarck), the word “socialism” is applied to the modern cases, with peculiar and luxuriant varieties – Egyptian or Arab Socialism, Burmese, Indonesian, Ugandan and even Cambodia’s “Buddhist Socialism.” This “socialism” involves a key redefinition of the purposes of all “socialistic” measures – nationalisation is not to realise worker freedom, but to focus State economic mobilisation for a development blitz-krieg. Given the dominating position of the developed countries, the low level of development elsewhere and the enormous concentration of resources now required to build modern industry, it is perhaps impossible to develop quickly today while retaining the norms of bourgeois democracy. In any case, modern underdeveloped countries have no Liberal interlude which introduced the key stress on freedom, democracy and the individual – they seek to press straight through from tribalism to modern corporatism.

Only a few of the factors involved can be mentioned here, but it is important to note how very much more difficult it is to-day to develop than earlier. The position from which the underdeveloped begin is much lower, the distance they have to go (even allowing for telescopic development) and the concentrated cost involved is much greater. Per capita income levels are much lower and thus the margin for saving and investment much narrower – the demand for food and necessities is much greater, and yet, since the land is burdened with a much greater population, the slack available for expanding food production or realising a surplus for development is much smaller. Improvements in health have helped to raise population increases to record heights – so a correspondingly higher rate of investment is needed to keep pace with the population – if there is no slack in the economy, if production is relatively static, per capita income just goes down. Again, in the early phases of Western development, the gap between traditional craft techniques and new industrial ones was not great – now it is enormous, and a correspondingly greater effort is needed to train the skilled labour force. To produce goods by modern techniques demands a much greater volume of resources, and capital is very scarce – only the State can really contemplate building a modern integrated steel plant, unlike the nineteenth century ironworks. Illiteracy is much higher in poor countries today than developing Europe. Again, the world is already occupied by the rich – there are no unlimited markets to stimulate indigenous capitalists, no demand for silk as there was for Japan, for timber as for Sweden, for wheat as for Russia and Canada, no Eastern Europe as there was for Western. The development of the West, also, is shifting towards an expansion of services, so the relative demand for primary products falls – in any case, modern techniques economise to the maximum on raw materials (in 1920, three pounds of coal produced 1 kilowatt of electricity in the US, in 1955, 0.95 pounds) and generate an increasing supply of domestically produced raw materials or synthetic substitutes. The process is reflected in the steady deterioration in the terms of trade for primary products since 1870, plus the fluctuations in their pricing (more than twice as much as for manufactured goods). Finally, whereas there were substantial resources of foreign capital to develop the West (after British development), now that capital is concentrated in the rich countries and stays there.

Under imperialism, the nationalist party operates as a ‘counter-State,’ and the form it inherits on independence is the State – thus, the role of the bourgeoisie and the State are merged, and the functions and initiatives formerly divided between groups are united. The State becomes both business and the regulator of business; sometimes, it is both employer and trade union – and even arbitrates between its two selves. Along with the demands to develop, the needs of defence, and the techniques of modern industrialism, the whole adds up to a powerful compulsion towards étatisme. The native capitalists are usually too weak to resist the process, and in any case, where foreign capital continues to operate in the independent economy, they need the State to protect them. That need is purchased at a high price – the line between ‘Indianisation’ (or Ceylonisation, Egyptianisation, etc.) of business and its nationalisation becomes very fine.

The independence struggle is mainly an urban phenomena, and since the urban masses have succeeded in overthrowing the old regime, the new State needs to make concessions to retain their loyalty: a higher proportion of national production must be devoted to urban working-class consumption, limiting the investible surplus available under Western capitalism. The new State may also identify the key enemy as the rural landlord in an attempt to shift its base to the peasant majority. The overall image projected thus incorporates both nationalist and apparently socialist elements, but integrated solely by the omnipotent State. Initially, the checks on the State are limited by the absence of organised classes and institutions apart from the dominant political party – accordingly, the impulsion to autocracy is that much greater. The articulate political arena is almost wholly dominated by the educated middle class, which, since the role of the State as employers is so great, is clustered round the State. [2] Thus the middle class represents a primary vested interest in the State and its expansion – they are all ‘ socialists.’ Since they occupy the political stage – they are ‘ the people’ to whom the politicians appeal – on purely self-interest grounds, politics is likely to be very much concerned with the role of the State.

The schismatic trend in new societies, conglomerate amalgams of different tribes and peoples, is very great – even in those countries which have a high degree of homogeneity and a history of some unity. The complexity of ethnic origins is added to straight economic competition, in conditions of great scarcity, to produce substantial tensions only ‘reduced’ by State coercion. Opposition parties perpetually walk out of Assemblies, and fight with the utmost personal ferocity – such that it seems only just removed from the prelude to civil war (which also happens). Since the trends to disintegration are so great, an accordingly greater burden of compelling ‘nationality’ falls on the State and the middle class. Nationalism must provide the ideological commitment to replace sectional loyalties. So great is the need, so widespread and low the cultural poverty, that elements of ‘modernism’ towards which the middle class is striving, tend to attain magical forms, become fetishised, whether this be straightforward education, the elements of nationalism or Marxism.

2. The Village as Nation

The retention of this theological element is only one aspect of the continuation of an urbanised “ruralism” – the peasantry, still the majority class and the source of the new urban sector, pervade the atmosphere. Traditional peasant society involves very strong kinship groups which provide the immediate context for all activities of the constituent family unit, the basic social element (unlike the “individual” in the city). By contrast, in cities a multiplicity of alternative associations exist, and loyalties can be very mild and clearly limited. There are many people to depend upon lightly, and relationships are much more strictly functional – the new rural immigrant, used to intense and intimate personal relationships, feels lonely and alienated without his former absolutist commitment.

The sort of characteristics involved in shifting to the city retain or translate the village into urban terms. Workers identify less with their work-mates in the same occupational stratum, more with their kinship group [3] or caste or district. The rural origin is reflected in the formation of cities, a cluster of villages rather than an integrated urban whole. Workers come to live in districts inhabited by others from their village, take jobs in shops employing their group, form friends and marry within the same group. The class alignment is muted – loyalties go to the group or, since the wider group spans the class divide, merely to authority. This along with middle class dependence on public authority, inhibits the appearance of a clear and popular liberal critique of authority, just as it inhibits continuous and consistent opposition – those who oppose are parasitic on what is opposed, and are frequently silenced by relatively trivial concessions, bribery, promotion or just vague promises. When the inevitable hard conflict comes, fragmentation, the lack of solid organisation, makes it sporadic, disorganised and violent – a sudden outburst of fury and frustration rather than part of a sustained campaign. Even in the act of opposing the basic dependence can be reaffirmed – strikers demand not their rights, but beg the satisfaction of their needs. Implicitly, the plea assumes powerful friends, the kindness of authority, the deus ex machina who will take responsibility and permit the workers to evade achieving their demands through their own efforts. Accordingly, particular individuals assume wildly inflated importance, mystifying to outsiders. Whether it be Stalin, Gandhi, Nasser, in a religious peasant-dominated society, they come to play the role of Gods, intervening charitably from their omnipotence on behalf of the oppressed: to give them independence or economic development or war potential.

For the middle class, this type of incipient authoritarianism is a part of a wider romantic reconstruction of rural society that both serves to compensate for the loss of the presumed security and integration of the village group, and provides a rationale to buttress their own position: with the State as the pivot, society must be integrated like a village. Identification with the blood group (or the leaders upon whom one is dependent) becomes translated into an absolute commitment to the Party, or fanatical loyalty to the new fetish, (the nation). Again, as the village faction depends upon a shared hostility which enforces common sacrifices by all members, the new nationalism depends on its enemies – the imperialists in the first instance, but later more closely identifiable enemies: thus the constant friction between Arabs and Israelis, Indians and Pakistanis, Ethiopians and Somalis, Indian and Chinese Indonesians and Malaysians, etc. As group honour is the primary expression of group existence in the village, so the “honour of the nation” becomes a practical political term, and men react with violent sensitivity to imagined slights on their national integrity – personalised international relations portray the United States as an evil old man scheming with almost motiveless malignancy the disaster of the pure white virgin, “the nation.” Of course, alongside the hostility goes an unnatural deference towards the foreign bearers of modern technology.

The presumed nature of armies conforms to some of the aspired ethics: order, security, hierarchy (where all accept their place naturally), each place carrying incumbent duties and rights that demand neither debate nor change, the whole directed in one direction. Actual armies, of course, are as likely to be riven with the same divisions as the embryonic bourgeoisie at large. In addition, the rural myth implies that unanimity and harmony are autonomously generated – armies are straightforwardly commanded by generals at the top. lust as corporatism, itself a response to class disintegration in a developed society (and borrowing heavily on myths of medieval ruralism), could only achieve “harmony” through the ruthless dictatorship of fascism, so reliance on the army achieves “harmony” by destroying precisely the sorts of virtues demanded by the middle class.

Étatiste nationalism stresses popular welfare probably more strongly than its predecessors, find since it is spearheaded by the middle class State under the experience of Stalinism and Fabianism, it stresses planning and State ownership, it is called “socialism.” Insofar as working-class welfare is improved above the relative standards prevalent in early capitalism, the State attempt to force development is limited – both India and Egypt have sustained levels of living in their tiny proletariats which are probably proportionately better (given general living standards) than in nineteenth century Europe, but their rate of expansion is well below the theoretically possible. Achieving the possible involves a much more ruthless exploitation of the working-class, along with the serious risks of revolution. However, all this has little to do with socialism, and insofar as socialism is the realisation of freedom, étatiste nationalism can only be a degeneration. In. any case, the crucial test of the socialism of the new ruling classes is not how much they pay out (along with extensive police repression) to secure a docile working class, but how they treat embryonic working-class organisation. Here the picture is clear – the trade unions are either smashed or, more often, infiltrated until they become merely agents for the ruling party.

It is incidental to the main aim of étatiste nationalism, a tactic to force development in the face of enormous problems, that in common with socialism and classical liberalism, it is anti-imperialist; and, in common with socialism and corporatism, it is anti-capitalist. Both socialism and corporatism are the product of developed capitalism; both socialism and classical liberalism express the strength of a particular class against the existing State – they are creeds of revolt, not lectures on political economy. Accordingly, a different sort of description is required for a society which is both underdeveloped and also so weak that the State can encompass its totality, can monopolise all morality, ideology, all social and economic initiative and power, can be, in fact, that society for the outsider.

All this however only suggests the context of the development of a strong State – it gives no reasons why the lurch into autocracy takes place in some places and not others, why Egypt slowly developed towards it, why Ghana is only just completing the process, why India still retains some of the forms of parliamentary government and judicial independence. These answers come only from concrete studies of particular countries, but it is hoped the foregoing has suggested some of the climate involved.

3. India

India, an area roughly the size of Western Europe, without British rule would have been at best a group of countries – one of its constituent states has a population of 74 millions, and six others have populations between 30 and 40 million. It covers at least four geographical regions of considerable difference, and today has a total population of about 460 million, that is, nearly a quarter of the entire population of the non-Communist world (it receives 3.2 per cent of total non-Communist income). By virtually all the indices of level of development, India stands very low – per capita income is 69 dollars per year (compared to 2,310 dollars in the US); infant mortality rate is 142.3 per 1,000 live births (against 22.5 in Britain). Since the population is now expanding at a very high rate, increasing numbers constantly depress the rate of per capita income and consumption, and add severe urgency to the problem of development.

Ethnically, the population is very diverse, although there is a broad division between the northern Hindi-speaking Aryans and the rest, particularly the Tamil-speaking Dravidians of the south. Constant friction between the different groups forced the Government in the mid-fifties to reorganise state boundaries to correspond roughly to linguistic zones – Gujeratis in the mid-West. Marathi just south of this, and Kannada still further south; Tamil in the south-east, and north of this Telugu; in the middle east, Bengali and Assamese. To the outsider, a common culture seems to prevail, but in fact that culture is probably no more extensive than that covering Europe in the Middle Ages!

Historically, the present Indo-Pakistan subcontinent contained for several thousand years before the arrival of the British a collection of kingdoms, separated by natural geographical features, but periodically unified into three or four large empires. The basic elements in these kingdoms were relatively self-sufficient villages, widely dispersed and maintaining a high-level of relatively static agriculture; the nature of the land and the intensiveness with which single power centres were able to levy taxes produced phenomenally rich rulers. Their patronage stimulated crafts of a very high quality from very ancient times, particularly textiles which were at different times extensively exported. British domination changed this primarily cyclical pattern by unifying the entire peninsula, introducing private ownership of the land, and beginning industrial and communication development. British military autocracy maintained the former rulers where they accepted overall British rule, and gathered round itself the former functionaries of those kingdoms to maintain its rule. These, the Brahmin castes, were traditionally the bearers of culture and religion (although not the rulers proper), and association with the British tended to perpetuate the caste monopoly of knowledge – as formerly they had been differentiated by a knowledge of Sanskrit, now they were distinguished by their use of English, Western education and continuous intimacy with the foreign invader. The predominantly Brahmin bureaucracy, stemming from a relatively unified homogenous tradition, formed again a relatively uniform and united group at the head of society – but crucially their power depended upon the continued power of Britain, and their attitudes were measured and matched, to the demands of British imperialism.

The presence of a foreign power imposed on India its first social unity (in the independence movement) and also maintained public India at a cultural level appropriate to a European industrialised power. With independence, the natural cultural level and the natural power centres in the states have slowly begun to reassert themselves – in the second case, through the formation of new localised ruling groups that increasingly force the national rulers to share power. But all told, these combined groups are still very small. Take for example, the number of newspaper readers – a mere thirteen million in 1958, of which nearly ten million read newspapers in local languages; per thousand of the population, newspapers circulated to nine people in 1959, as compared to 25-30 in Egypt, 180 in Argentina, 398 in Japan. There were at least six million males who could read a local language (but not English), of which only 30 per cent were reached by newspapers. [4] The high proportion of local languages involved suggests some of the shift away from English-speaking Delhi preoccupations to the rich peasant classes of the states. Only about 79 million Indians live in towns at all (of which 35 million live in 107 cities over 100,000 population) – the other 380 million odd inhabit some 840,000 rural settlements, 81 per cent, of which have a population of 500 or fewer. Sixty one per cent, of the population between the age of 6 and 11 actually attended school in 1960-61 (state averages vary from 42 to 100 per cent), eleven per cent of the villages have access to a post office.

What this adds up to is in the first instance three layers – a highly sophisticated but minute national ruling group; very small ruling groups rooted in the states; and beneath both, the vast rural base of the iceberg, hardly seen or heard. As the local ruling groups extend their power, they increasingly infringe the freedom of action of the centre, and shift the whole climate and nature of Indian society. Gaps constantly loom up between the groups, and much energy is spent on attempts to reunify the whole – through the Congress Party, through community development to integrate urban and rural leadership and so on. Yet still the sort of economic advance that might be possible by the Westernised elite is restricted by the necessity of carrying the state’s elites.

Just as these horizontal gaps are wide, the vertical ones are even more so – ordinary standards of living appropriate in the West exist beside a sea of intense poverty; it is announced on the same day that five thousand died of cholera last year in West Bengal and that the Congress Party is spending about £75,000 on entertaining delegates to its annual conference. Advertisements for luxury flats jostle a small note that there are an estimated 60,000 beggars in India’s eight main cities, and that pavement dwellers in New Delhi are roughly 3,484 (the Opposition claimed 12,000). A minister in January claimed that some bank workers received about £3 7s. 6d. while top bank managers were given £2,250 per month. Two thirds of urban families live in single rooms or less, and eat on average 4 pounds of meat and 6 pounds of fat per annum (America: 190 and 16 respectively). Actual income distribution figures are not very reliable, but a recent estimate suggests that the top 5 per cent of the population received 26 per cent of income, and the bottom five per cent. 1.25 per cent, of income; 32.5 per cent, get 11s. or less per head per month. [5] What increases there have been in national income since independence have been absorbed by the population expansion.

But if the cities are bad, the villages are often worse, although standards differ very widely from the bustle of the Punjab or modern farming of irrigated refugee-settled areas of Rajasthan to the strange inertia of other states. Similarly, the degree to which the villages participate in national India is very varied. In some areas, scarcely any structural change has been recorded within living memory, and people are hardly aware that the British have gone. Others have seized on the beginnings of change to increase their own position, or have extended their caste group to become a political weapon. In the past, caste was less a stratum of society within which people could feel a common identity over a geographical area – rather were all areas dominated by one caste which had isolated groups of dependents of lower caste; the natural identification of the lower caste was upwards to his patron, not outwards to his caste fellows. In the past, territorial cleavages between dominant groups were the key source of rural tension but over the past fifty years, consciousness of a common caste identity has begun to produce tensions between different castes in the same area. Commensurately, new political organisations founded on a particular caste have spread out over wide areas to the limits of the linguistic zone. Even Government attempts to protect lower castes has helped to identify groups not formerly aware of their identity – just as the attempt to give special privileges to backward castes has prompted some groups to plead for inclusion in the new category. [6] The effect of the new organisation is felt all the way down the line – in the past thirty years, the dominant peasant caste has ousted the Brahmins from political control in Madras, but beneath them the lower castes also now jockey for the same privileges. The caste dimension gives a quite different underlying pattern to some Indian politics which may be expressed in orthodox Western terms but merely represent traditional conflict between two dominant castes. In Andhra, the Reddy and Kamma peasant castes have been in conflict for nearly five hundred years, but for a time their mutual hostility was expressed through the battle of the Congress and Communist Parties.

Caste has provided one of the primary flash-points for India’s politics, the clash between newly aware strata of the pyramid. Given the inevitable level of bitter hostility embedded in the social structure, given the ferocious competition for pathetically small resources and the blind loyalties involved, the conflict is marked by sporadic but extreme violence over relatively trivial matters. In particular, India has experienced enormous agitation through the fifties (periodically breaking out in the sixties as well) over the organisation of states on linguistic lines. The agitation forced the Government to revise existing boundaries in the mid-fifties, but this did not settle the question – border disputes continue today. The fact of the conflict demonstrates the growing power of the new localised rulers:

“It is the middle-class job hunter and place hunter and the mostly middle-class politician who are benefited by the establishment of a linguistic state, which creates for them an exclusive preserve of jobs, offices and places by shutting out, in the name of the promotion of culture, all outside competitors.” [7]

Counterposed to the local rulers is that section of the population educated and nationally concerned, the relatively small middle class clustered round the Government bureaucracy either as members or aspirants. The national bureaucracy offers 40,000 new jobs per year (and totals nearly one million) and is constantly expanding. The need to obtain a job with the largest single employer, the holding of such a job in the chief institutional bearer of India’s nationality, dovetails with the natural tendency to nationalism in the rising middle class. The State bureaucracy more than anything else is the embodiment of a national ruling class, relatively homogeneous and directed at the same broad ends. Students naturally aspire to a job with the Government. [8] Placed alongside substantial educated unemployment, the tensions and attractions towards a counter-nationality nationalism can be seen. In 1963, it is estimated, there were 779,000 unemployed with matriculation and above – 69,959 of them graduates. In as status-ridden a country as India, the tradition associating education rigidly with desk work prevents many of these educated unemployed taking the jobs that exist – the demand for an expansion of bureaucracy is accordingly greater. The violence of expression by students, culminating periodically in riots, denotes the same level of insecurity. Where the possibilities for mobility in the existing bureaucracy are so severely limited then the likelihood of the formation of an alternative bureaucracy aspiring through revolutionary action to overturn the existing one is accordingly higher. General middle-class frustration is very high, and provides a powerful backing for a particular sort of politics, limited under universal suffrage by being only a minority. National crises ignite the longing to belong – and the national Emergency put its finger on just this feeling. The dependence of all Indian opposition parties on just this articulate middle class makes the separation of opposition and nationalism most difficult, with particularly hazardous problems for the left parties.

4. Government

The administration reflects the changes already cited – the strengthening of the States vis-à-vis the centre, and the extensive bureaucracy. Since society at large is relatively so weak, it has very little check over the organs of the State – opposition tends to be parasitic upon what it opposes. The tight employment opportunities mean that even as desk jobs proliferate, they can only be obtained through special advantages – nepotism and corruption play a major role in compensating for the deficiencies. The new Minister of Education recently revealed that he discovered 120 committees attached to his Ministry when he attained office, committees employing 2,000 people (and education is the concern of the states, not the Central Government) he was able to abolish fifty of these committees immediately as redundant or useless.

The response of most Governments to decreased effectiveness is an extension of powers and increased demand for extraordinary rights – for the indefinite extension, for example, of the Emergency of October 1962. Despite Opposition attempts to remove this Act, which virtually suspends the Constitution and duplicates the already extensive powers of the State to imprison people without trial, despite the lack of any cogent case by the Government for its retention and the self-evident fact that it is used merely to gaol or demoralise those who oppose the State, the Emergency looks like becoming a permanent feature of the Indian scene: so much for “democracy.” Through initiating projects or taking over existing ones, the public sector has been steadily expanded. In 1950-51, the private sector expended 91.7 per cent, of national expenditure, and produced 92.5 per cent of net domestic product; in 1961-62, the same items were 85.3 and 88.9 respectively. In particular fields, the Government holding is much higher than these figures suggest, particularly in heavy industry. At present, the Government operates about one third of all the capital invested in corporations. The pressure for further extensions from the rank-and-file of the Congress Party is substantial, both to defeat national capital (in favour of local capital) and to expand the job potential. The demand for bank nationalisation, which attained substantial proportions at the turn of the year, was diverted by the wily Finance Minister who offered instead nationalisation of rice mills – a much less exciting prospect since the mills are very widely dispersed, relatively small, in the hands of local capital and without great job potential.

5. Industry

The actual industrial sector is extremely small, and even smaller within this is modern manufacturing industry, which employs not much over four million at most. Almost 70 per cent of India’s workers are agricultural (52.8 per cent peasants, 16.7 per cent agricultural labourers). Factory employment is also heavily concentrated in particular areas, two fifths of it in the two States, Maharashtha (with Bombay) and West Bengal (with Calcutta) with more than double any other state; the first five states (these two plus Gujerat, Uttar Pradesh, Madras) account for two thirds of factory employment, while the dozen or so other states take the rest. These top five states have about 202 million population, and a total of 2,657,000 in factories.

Historically, indigenous capital developed alongside the British from the 1860s of the last century, and in particular communities entered industry from trade or money-lending. Activities initially were restricted to fields pioneered by the British (particularly textiles and jute), except for India’s first steel plant set up after the turn of the century. The British pattern of company holding involved great concentration of resources in relatively few hands, through the instrument of the Managing Agency, a sort of trust covering a wide range of activities, and the Indians followed the same pattern. The first two communities, the Parsis (an immigrant Persian community from mid-west India) and the Gujeratis (particularly the members of a minority splinter from orthodox Hinduism, the Jains), were followed after the first World War by a third, the Marwaris, also from mid-west India and long active in rural money-lending. The communal aspect is important since nepotism and monopoly have produced a pattern of national industry in India today particularly restricted to identifiable communal groups – these three communities (which include the largest industrial empires, of for example the Parsi Tatas or the Marwari Birlas) comprise India’s national bourgeoisie. For obvious reasons anti-capitalism is closely muddled up with opposition to a particular community, providing a parallel with the development of anti-Semitism. Local capitalists have a vested interest in ousting “North Indan capitalism,” and can tap embryonic class consciousness in the fight. In parts of Bombay, Marathi workers face Gujerati employers, and in the villages, Marathi peasants face Marwari moneylenders; in Kerala, both local peasants and Christian merchants, along with the educated unemployed who want an expansion of the State sector, have theoretically a basis for opposing North Indian finance. The situation is as likely to produce a sort of fascism as anything else, as the development of a radical left nationalist movement, the DMK, demonstrates in Madras.

Since Independence, Indian capital has expanded quickly, but always tending at the national level to retain its very high level of relative concentration. It is said at the moment that fourteen business houses control two thirds of the total share capital in the private sector, and more than half the total private investment in the country belongs to half a per cent of the shareholders in the country. Protectionism and Government planning, the almost unlimited demand generated by the immense volume of investment involved in the Plans, plus the sheer technical characteristics of capital-intensive investment at modern standards, has tended to aid the retention of the level of concentration, if not to positively increase it.

Alongside native capital, foreign investment has continued to expand at a slower pace, attracted by the relatively high profit rates – 20.6 per cent, the average rate of return after taxation, on American investment in India, as compared to 9.1 per cent in Japan, and 18 per cent in the Philippines. [9] This new capital however is much more variegated, dispersed, and less tied closely to its foreign parent than previously. Britain still leads as major foreign investor, but since 1957, the pace of its expansion has dropped – proportionate to indigenous capital, the decline began much earlier. American investment has proportionately expanded much faster. In the past three years, about half the investment in new companies has been from foreign sources, but still foreign participation covers on average only 19.5 per cent of issued capital. Staffwise, the Government has consciously pursued a policy of Indianisation which has had substantial effects in all but the topmost category of managers in the oldest industries – in plantations, still 55 per cent of managers. getting more than £75 per month are non-Indians (the 1961 figure was 62.5 per cent), and in banking the figure is 42.8 per cent (1961 53.1 per cent). By contrast, chemicals employ 10.6 per cent, oil 8.7 per cent, and public utilities 8 per cent. The overall figure in this category of managers is 22.3 per cent. Both these factors, capital and staff, do not cover the much more substantial Government-to-Government aid, and India’s increasing dependence on American aid and food supplies.

As mentioned, the Government in the same period has expanded fastest of all, building the outlines of a heavy industry base which proportionately absorbs very large quantities of capital and skilled labour. In addition to these three sectors, small business, actively encouraged by the Government as a short-cut solution to the unemployment problem, has progressed much more slowly – employing four times as many, workers as the large firms, the rate of increase in employment by small firms has not been as fast proportionately as the increase in population.

6. Planning

Not that the pattern of growth has been smooth. The First Five Year Plan (1951-6) was mainly concerned to restore the economy after War and Independence, and to take up or complete projects already begun or designed. The Second Plan (1956-61) which really began development proper, came face to face with some of the deeper problems – it saw a substantial recession, a crisis of foreign exchange, and demonstrated the ultimate dependence of the economy on agriculture, the vagaries of the weather and the susceptibility of the peasant to change, and the world market rather than decisions made in Delhi. Finally, the Third and current Plan is facing the same succession of problems – the strain, clearly visible in mid-1962, has had an emergency and rearmament added to it, to produce, with further agricultural failures, both a recession and sharp inflation. The agricultural target of a six per cent increase per year, has been replaced by a realisation of not much over two per cent per year – which is not sufficient to keep pace even with the population growth, producing an overall decline in per capita food production and consumption. [10] Particular industrial sectors are hit by agricultural failures – cotton textiles, for example, suffer from reduced supplies of raw cotton. Decreased income has reacted back on general industry, producing a recession.

So far the Government has not sought to pay for expansion by reducing the surplus accruing to the peasant – even if the administrative problems involved permitted such a scheme. Politically, the power of the Congress party rests on the peasantry, given universal suffrage, and this has preserved them from direct taxation, although not from the redistributive effects of inflation. The gap has been met by foreign aid and a slower, more vulnerable and fluctuating rate of development. American aid in food-terms, paid for by India in rupees, has led to Washington accumulating rupee funds equal to half India’s currency (Rs. 15,000 million or roughly 3.100 million dollars) now being paid back to India in soft-currency aid or through visits of missions, tourists, etc. [11] With the Emergency, the Government did try to increase its domestic revenue, to raise domestic savings from 8 to 15 per cent of national income (the “acceptable” level for a developing country is put at 20 per cent) but almost entirely failed on the resistance of the State Governments and the tax-payers. Militarisation itself did not pull the economy out of its recession – the relative scale is still very small, and in any case tends to rely more on foreign purchases than buying from domestic industry (it is said that, at the height of the Emergency, private sector capacity was only 60 per cent utilised).

Criticisms of the planning process are legion, from mere attacks on the level of bureaucracy or inefficiency or low overall rate of return on invested capital [12], on the controls which allegedly restrict expansion or favour only the rich, to more specific ones which criticise the attempt to build a modern heavy industry base rather than merely seeking to raise employment by any means – only the Soviet Union, it is argued, with abundant coal and iron, could afford to begin with heavy industry, and then only with immense human cost.

The hints of failure in the current Plan have gathered since its second year, culminating last autumn in a formal reappraisal of the performance. The Government’s response has been limited to urging further intensification of what is already happening, plus numerous committees of inquiry, trips to secure more foreign aid, and, most recently, the liberalisation of some parts of the economy which includes an almost studied failure to combat inflation. The political implications of the failure to meet even the targets should not be missed – the national crisis, complicated by a struggle for power amongst the leaders of the Congress Party, alongside the personal problems of unemployment and inflation in the middle class, the impression of incompetence and inefficiency alongside the performance of other countries which conceal their economic failures in the euphoria of Stalinism or wild chauvinistic cults of great men, could be yet another factor in breaking the camel’s back.

7. Agriculture

The main domestic obstacle to raising the national income is then agricultural production which has stagnated around eighty million tons since the end of the Second Plan. [13] Given the smallness of the industrial and urban sectors, the problem is in fact India. Again, numerous causes are given for the failure of the peasant to expand output – from the inhibiting structure of the traditional village in some areas, to administrative failures in others. However, as suggested earlier, the overall rural picture is very varied, and the specific factors involved in some expanding and others not is obscure. Certainly, some failures belong to the administration – scarce resources, absorbed within the existing structure, have been misdirected or expended on expensive status symbols, and the Government personnel in rural areas is very sparse and overworked. It is with difficulty that the educated are inveigled into venturing into the rural areas to work – the professionals bunch together in the cities; last year, less than one per cent of India’s 25,000 agricultural graduates took up jobs in farming or allied activities. What development has taken place is restricted to particular areas. What its impact has been is unclear – estimates suggest that the proportion of income taken by the cultivator has declined somewhat from nearly 70 per cent in 1951-2 to just over 60 per cent, while the proportion of income taken by the agricultural sector as a whole has remained roughly stable. [14] Some evidence also suggests that rural indebtedness has also increased to the point where total indebtedness now covers roughly 7½ per cent of all assets held by rural households, but the figures are not very reliable. [15] Questions of changing rural conditions bear directly on the rural social structure, and particularly the structure of ownership, tenancy and landless labour. It is in this dimension that the “traditional structure” finds its roots, and, as a consequence, the incentives and willingness of the peasant to raise productivity.

Productivity at the moment is not much more than it was thirty years ago under British rule – increased production largely derives from increased acreage. But what can be drawn in economic lessons is, given the dependence of Congress on the power of those who dominate the villages, far removed from the politically practical. Eleven years ago, the rural development programme was begun to help minor irrigation works, education and other services. The low level of peasant participation prompted the introduction of Panchayat Raj, placing more power in the hands of village councils to develop themselves. Intensive efforts, propaganda campaigns, free advice and demonstrations have followed upon each other – all of which serve the incidental function of increasing the degree of integration between the ruling village clique and the urban leadership. Panchayat Raj only served to increase the error – more resources are given to the dominant group in the village to fortify its position and hold down the rest. Economic progress in developing countries has usually been the result of conflict and competition in groups, but in India, the small ruling group has consistently been afraid of the possible results of permitting more conflict than it already has – the stress lies on the pursuit of harmony, change while preserving the status quo. Accordingly no appeal to the poor peasants or landless labourers is possible. As it is, Panchayat duties are neglected and its resources monopolised by the same few; in some cases, the Panchayat is merely by-passed for important business, or packed with the powerless. All new forces entering the village are bent to fit the existing distribution of power and accordingly only serve to strengthen the inhibiting effect of a static social structure. As one commentator notes:

“One of the inner contradictions of the Community Development Programme (is) that the people directing the programme represent the interests and classes which stand to lose their status, privilege and power if the programme succeeds.” [16]

The land reform programme designed to curb the worst excesses has achieved no dramatic results. Numerous ways of escaping the provisions have been invented and are likely to be tolerated where the State government needs the support of the rich peasants, landowners and ex-Zamindars. Landowners threatened by formal legislation to give the land they hold to the tenants farming it have evicted tenants and compelled them to say that they are voluntarily surrendering their holding, and then split holdings between different members of the family. Absentee landlords have resumed direct administration of their land. Even where the Zamindari proper has been abolished, the ex-Zamindar frequently remains the richest person in the village and retains his power. Where his lands have been distributed, the unemployed have been swelled by the number of landless labourers who used to work his estates, and village services, formerly the responsibility of the Zamindar, fall into neglect. The reform was merely a legal one and has been reshaped to fit the existing distribution of power, leaving the important matters untouched. [17]

8. The Labour Movement

Certain things about the Indian labour movement will be clear from the foregoing account – its extreme smallness, its rural origin, its poverty and yet its exceedingly privileged position in a society where continuous employment is relatively rare, its cultural level, its relative isolation from what is thought of as politics in India, its enormous vulnerability and relative lack of strength.

The concentration of modern industry, both in capital and geographic terms, has already been cited. Industry in general is still dominated by the early development of the cotton textile and jute industries – cotton textiles still rate roughly three quarters of a million out of a total registered manufacturing employment of 2.5 million. But the older industries, like the new, are not protected from advances in technology in the world at large – at a given level of output, the volume of labour used is falling. In the jute industry, for example, in 1922-3, 321,000 workers produced 4 million bales of jute; by 1939, 298,967 workers produced six million bales. In 1951, 302 thousand workers were employed in the industry, and in 1960, 232 thousand – in the same period, jute manufactures rose from 849 thousand tons to over one million tons. [18]

In jute, the sharpest fall in employment takes place in the most efficient (that is, modernising and profitable firms, and since the labour force is mixed (i.e. male and female, and drawn from four or five communities), redundancies fall with maximum severity on the most vulnerable sections – female employment has fallen with maximum speed, and also employment of Biharis relative to local people, Bengalis. In cotton textiles, the same trend is visible, and the stringent controls upon firing have been evaded either by allowing the labour force just to decline “naturally” (through old age, sickness, etc.), without replacing it, or reaching secret agreements with workers to operate more than the statutory two looms (with the same labour force), or introducing two and three shifts with the same labour force. To evade the regulations governing workers, a category of “permanent worker” which receives all legal benefits has been strengthened, alongside “temporary workers” who do not, and who bear the cost of industrial fluctuations and the “flexibility” of the firm.

The key factor about the Indian labour scene is the enormous volume of unemployment which simultaneously depresses both earnings and consistent militancy. Nobody has any clear idea of the scale of unemployment – it could be over twenty million, without accounting for the even more serious problem of underemployment. Since labour is very very cheap, it is used with great carelessness, meaning that labour costs are still high – in jute, four men are employed in Calcutta for every one in Dundee.

The wage structure, if such it can be called, is a vast scarcely explored jungle of different rates and non-uniform job specifications. Since Independence, Government efforts have clarified the structure in the largest units, but this is only a relatively tiny segment. However, broadly, workers in manufacturing receive a basic wage which is quite inadequate for even bare subsistence. To this is added in different industries a cost of living allowance (Dearness Allowance), sometimes related to the quite unreliable cost of living index, sometimes only changed by periodic negotiation. This element, “in some companies at least ... (is) more important to the total wage of a worker than piece rate performance or an increase in basic wages as a new skill level is reached.” [19] In any case, it is always maintained that Dearness Allowance shall not fully neutralise changes in the cost of living index – the workers must “share” inflation. Finally, in some firms a bonus is offered on the year’s performance and this fluctuates with the type of firm and the level of worker militancy – the largest number of disputes surround this question. To try and avoid such disputes, the Government appointed an inquiry which has just reported, recommending that 60 per cent of the available surplus within a firm, that is gross profit less depreciation, tax, a return on capital of 7 per cent and contribution to reserves of 4 per cent, shall be given in bonus, subject to a minimum of 4 per cent of annual basic wages plus dearness allowance or Rs.40, whichever is higher. The size of the recommended level, a sort of poll tax on investment, suggests the balance of forces between State and business.

Within the categories of payment, there is an elaborate hierarchy of rates, correlating rather with conventions than either worker contribution or the scarcity of skills. The complexity of the subject makes for mystification, and heavy worker reliance on outside “experts,” and, in particular, lawyers. The bonus system is particularly iniquitous, being just a form of forced saving imposed on workers to give the firm financial margins for manoeuvre, the price of which is poverty and debts for workers most of the year.

The trade union movement began, unlike in the West, not as a defensive organisation of craft workers to prevent their conditions being swamped, but as a by-product of the essentially middle-class political movement to oust the British. Accordingly, the traditions of craft solidarity as well as a supply of skilled workers capable of leading mass unions were denied Indian trade unions, and the leadership was monopolised by middle-class people whose primary drive was either to use the unions as an adjunct to the independence movement, or charity or personal ambition. Similarly, Communist intellectuals organised extensively for relatively short-term political demonstrations. Necessarily, the accent of the infant movement was pre-eminently upon sporadic displays of opposition to the Government, rather than organisation and defending worker conditions. Low dues and poor organisation meant that the unions could not organise sustained strikes, nor establish a full coverage of an industry – non-solidarity failed to close a given industry, which, in any case, employers could keep open by moving in rural unemployed. The faults are obviously not just with middle-class leadership – their vested interest is only possible given the low cultural level of the workers and their continued retention of rural attitudes. Since no strong class disciplines the leadership, its sputniking is only to be expected.

The lack of worker commitment reflects the lack of a working class in the proper sense, and the conditions cited – a job in India is a great gift that stands between living and literal starvation. The rural drag prompts the maintenance within factories of the same caste and community demarcation lines, the same hereditary or familial relationship to a given job, the same dependence on authority. Union organisation succeeds best when grounded in one community. Not that the workers are not militant from time to time – but this is more a sudden surge of ungovernable rage, the final outburst of frustration, than a consistent opposition; activity, intense and violent, is followed by exhaustion and apathy. The union thus only springs to life momentarily as a strike committee, thereafter being little more than a letterhead in a lawyer’s office. However, while this is the general picture, three of the four largest and oldest Indian industries are organised – textiles, railways, iron and steel.

The general level of unionisation and the high turnover of unions means that continuity is much more closely related to outside political affiliations than worker participation. But this is far from the factory floor – Indian trade unions span the vast class divide, at one end, the federations which are entirely politicised, worrying about Cuba or fascism and very small, and only distantly reflecting anything current at the other end, Indian factories, where people are only just dimly aware of India let alone the question of playing an independent role in the national political community. Since the unions are dominated by aspirant politicians, the appearance of a fully conscious radicalism is misleading. The real level of commitment is shown in the high wastage rate of unions, their dependence on outside enthusiasm, the low level of membership and even lower level of contributions. Within the factory, there is almost sure to be some form of rudimentary organisation, particularly where the national federations have not secured a foothold, but this may be restricted to a particular community (a “caste organisation”) or a particular shop.

For the union that has managed to establish stable beachheads in the factory, these are probably in the hands of the clerks who decide most issues themselves. So far as can be seen, there is nothing as yet remotely corresponding to the shop steward organisation. At the district level, the most widespread stable unionisation is in the oldest industries located in one place, and frequently co-ordination in an area for a particular strike can be close – for a general strike in Bombay, say, or Calcutta (but there is little operative contact between the cities). Bombay textiles, Ahmedabad and Madras textiles, the iron and steel men at Jamshedpur and the railwaymen, the seamen, the dockers, have all managed to attain some stability, even if precariously maintained. In textiles and iron and steel, the “representative” union (recognised for negotiations by the State Government) is a Congress one that operates uneasily as a cross between a straight State union (on the Soviet or Spanish style) and a trade union proper. Periodically, it must become militant to keep its membership, particularly since in both cases, a Communist union is waiting to take over – and in Jamshedpur, is said to have a majority. Ahmedabad is a pre-eminent example of a Congress union, a large wealthy organisation and a regular spring-board for ambitious Congress politicians [20], the union structure is entirely monopolised by middle class professionals who have never worked in textiles ; it is more enthusiastic about ‘uplifting’ the worker through charitable welfare activities (for which the worker pays through his dues), and has had no strike since the War; all disputes are carefully extinquished in a cosy tie-up between union and management. More than this, the ideology of the union, Gandhism, consistently stresses the role of the union leader not as defender of worker interests but as impartial mediator between labour and capital. [21] Trade union leaders defend themselves against the charge that they are just another clique of outs on the make by stressing that the workers are too ignorant, too uneducated to fight their own battles – they must rely on outsiders to wage class war by proxy. [22]

As will be clear, this form of dependence of workers on leaders again repeats both the rural and the caste pattern, and receives its chief rationalisation in the ideology of Gandhi. Gandhi was more concerned to shame employers into being the sort of generous powerful people they really were at heart. He lectured workers on their need to be loyal to the employers, and loyal to him – the honour of Gandhi was at stake. In the new industrial form, all the wrong things are carefully repeated – and the continued maintenance of India’s peculiarly vicious social structure and the position of its traditional rulers is maintained.

The State is in a position to call the union leaders’ bluff, and since State and union leadership are members of the same class, the preconditions for State-wide company unionism exist. Since 1937,

‘every arrangements for keeping step with the rising cost of living, every significant wage increase, every annual bonus, every major standardisation of work relations, has been granted through the agency of the State and as a result of the intervention of the State.’ [23]

Dependence of workers on union leaders, is matched by dependence of union leaders on the State. Since Independence, the Government has sought, first through its own unions (which it split away from the main federation in 1947), and then more broadly, to centralise and control labour. It has tried to shore up the position of its own unions, taken the power to force through one union, to offer that union (‘recognised’) substantial privileges, to break unofficial strikes and prevent any disputes being settled except through the union it has nominated as ‘representative.’ In most cases, no union can expect recognition unless it agrees not to strike and accepts Government jurisdiction on all major questions. Since the Government becomes responsible for every disturbance, since it is committed to intervening, relatively weak unions have nothing to lose by raising issues and further burdening the painfully slow process of litigation: it is not surprising that it is private industry that is keen to have open collective bargaining.

The elaborate structure of regulations which govern registered manufacturing industry means that all disputes, no matter how small and simple, have to be filtered through the Government machinery – lawyers are necessary at every stage, and only those who can afford to wait during the legal process can undertake it. Again, the position of the professional ‘expert’ leadership is fortified, and the resolution of disputes further mystified. Not that the unions can provide an effective control of labour. Not only can unions not extend their organisation to effective grass roots, but also union organisation is still a free market, with different political bodies competing for support; workers can and do opt for more than one union, for the Congress union for whatever bread and butter issues can be settled through the State, and for a Communist union for questions requiring militancy and fervour (the case is from Bombay textiles). Union leaders may, as they did on the outbreak of the Emergency, make bold promises not to strike, to increase production to fight the Chinese, not to ask for wage increases – but all this is moonshine when it comes to holding the breach in the face of inflation. In fact, after the Emergency, it was the Congress that struck first, trying to retain control on the slippery ground of competition. Despite the ‘enemy at the gate’ rubbish, the course of industrial disputes got back firmly into stride.

All Unions depend ultimately on the State for their triumphs, and the main aim of their activity is to influence the State to intervene on their behalf. On its side, the Government has increasingly moved towards more direct controls and intervention. Despite vigorous tail-wagging, the Government unions have tended to be ignored or consulted only after the event. The Congress unions are rife with the same faction fights as the Congress Party, so that where Party and unions belong to different factions, consultation falls to zero and the Congress unions cannot offer even their proximity to authority as a reason for loyalty. In Madras, the State Congress even set up new unions along side the old in pursuit of faction warfare. If the Government really needed the unions at all, the energy and devotion of the Communist unions would be much more promising – at least, they can deliver some of the promised goods.

Dependence, then, is the key element – a dependence that keeps worker participation very low, and so far has prevented their arising alongside the middle-class leadership a genuine worker leadership as happened in the development of Japanese unions. The union leaders have developed a vested interest which distorts the whole pattern of Indian unions, and renders them weaker than they might otherwise have been. This has provided the opportunity and pretext for State intervention to the extent where both industrial managers and trade union leaders occasionally seem no more than functionaries of the State.

Since the War, evidence on wage movements is too thin to say definitely what the pattern has been, but some estimates suggest that real wages have hardly advanced much on pre-war levels, although this does not take account of the extensive fringe benefits conceded to avoid wage increases. Most recently, the defence effort, a stiff budget and a bad harvest have precipitated an inflation which threatens to be serious and severely erode working-class living standards. What taxation cannot achieve in redistribution, inflation is doing – real wages are being lowered to pay for defence without disturbing the current pace of development investment, producing, one newspaper says, ‘something highly explosive; its intensity is without parallel since the inception of planning.’ As, at the same time, something of a political crisis is approaching, the results could be decisive for a long period ahead, particularly for the fifty-year development upheaval that lies ahead and has, to date, hardly begun. That crisis will concern the next article.


1. The debt to T. Cliff and his works will be clear from what follows, and in particular, to suggestions contained in Permanent Revolution, International Socialism 12, Spring 1963, p.15.

2. As the State offers welfare to the workers, it offers education to the middle classes, and since the rate of expansion of the educated is greater than the increase in jobs for the educated, the problem of educated underemployment appears – as a direct threat to the State, a Bolshevik nightmare. In the early fifties, an Egyptian survey showed that 38.4 per cent of those with school certificate and above were employed by the State ; if the doctors and lawyers are excluded, the overwhelming maiority were State-employed. Cf. Egypt in Revolution, Charles Issawi, Oxford-RIIA, 1963, p.90. In 1953, roughly 46 per cent of total Government expenditure went on public wages and salaries. Cf. Bureaucracy and Society in Modern Egypt, Morris Berger, Princeton, 1957, p.83.

3. City Life in Japan, R.P. Dore, Routledge 1958, pp.218-9.

4. Annual Report of the Registrar of Newspapers for India, 1958, Minirtry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi 1959, and UN Statistical Yearbook, 1960.

5. The Economic Times, Bombay, 11 December 1963.

6. Tribe, Caste and Nation, F.G. Bailey, Manchester University Press, 1960, pp.187-191 and Caste and Territory in Malabar, E.J. Miller, American Anthropologist 56/3, June 1954, pp.418-19. The Backward Classes Commission lists 2,399 backward communities for 1953 (excluding Untouchables) – 913 of these account for 116 million people.

7. Reorganisation of Indian States, K. Mukherji, Popular, Bombay 1955, p.31.

8. Cf. the 1954 survey of Lucknow student opinion, cited in Party Politics in India, M. Weiner, Princeton, 1957, p.10. On the association between nationalism and the middle class, cf. The Growth of Nations, K. Deutch, World Politics, January 1953, and Paradoxes of Asian Nationalism, R. Emerson, Far Eastern Quarterly, February 1954.

9. Report of the US Dept of Commerce, cited The Economic Times, Bombay, 28 January 1964.

10. The highs and lows of net per capita availability of food-grains per day in ounces runs: 1950-51, 13.9 ; 1951-52, 13.6 ; 1953-54, 16.1 ; 1957-58, 14.4; 1958-59, 16.5; 1960-1, 16.2; 1962-63, 14.9; The Economic Times, Bombay, 11 December 1963. Since 1960, the whole ECAFE region has seen roughly a two per cent per annum decline in real per capita income, excluding Japan: Economic Survey of Asia and the Far East, UN, Bangkok 1963.

11. New York Times, Paris, 10 December 1963.

12. With investment averaging about Rs. 20,000 million per year, production increases by barely three per cent.

13. The index, given 1949-50 as 100, reached 139.7 in 1960-61; 141.4, 1961-2; 136.8, 1962-3 – the overall decline in agricultural production in the last year is estimated at 7-8 per cent. Economic Survey, February 1964, Government of India, New Delhi.

14. The actual figures in the first place are 68.09 in 1951-52, and 63.03 in 1960-61. Distribution of Agricultural Income in India, S.A. Shah and M. Rajagopal, The Economic Weekly, XV/41, Bombay, 12 October 1963.

15. Partly because of complex re-lending by borrowers: cf. Rural Debt and Investment Surey, 1961-62, Reserve Bank, 1963.

16. Hugh Tinker in Politics and Society in India, ed. C.H. Phillips, Allen and Unwin, 1963.

17. For discussions of land reform, cf. Rural Change in Bengal, V. D’Souza, The Economic Weekly, XVI/9, 29 February 1964, and successive articles in this journal. On community development of Democratic Decentralisation, W.H. Morris-Jones, The Economic Weekly, XIV/28-30, July 1960.

18. The first case is from The Indian Working Class, R.K. Mukerjee, 1945, p 136 ; the second from Report of the Central Wage Board for Jute Industry, IJMA, Calcutta 1963.

19. Workers, Factories and Social Chance in India, R.D. Lambert, Princeton, 1963, p.218.

20. The present Indian Home Minister, an ex-economics professor, is an ex-official of the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association, and another ex-official of the union has been since 1962 Chairman of the nationalised India Oil Co Ltd. Michael John, leader of the Jamshedpur Congress union is also a director of another public steel plant, Ourgapur.

21. Cf., for example, a southern Congress trade unionist: ‘The labour leader has to maintain the balance between the two (capital and labour) in order to achieve the objective – the trade union leader represents “the nation” in the irrationality of class conflict, or, in British terms, “the consumer”.’ Cf. Problems of Labour Leadership, K. Gurumurthi, Mainstream, 7 September 1963, p.33.

22. The forms of battle reflect the need of union leadership to retain a monopoly of initiative – thus leaders make symbolic sacrifices for the workers, like going on a fast ‘until death.’ A Communist leader recently did this, and called off the strike after nine days since the Minister had assured him ‘he would personally look into the demands of the workers.’ And all this, to avoid a break in production and the leader getting into the bad books of the State or management. The present Communist campaign against the cost of living relies almost entirely on workers going without food: why is clear only to the nuttiest Gandhian.

23. Morris D. Morris in Leadership and Political Institutions in India, ed. R.L. Park and L. Tinker, Princeton 1959, p.268.

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