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Henry Judd

A Program for Indian Independence

(March 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 12, 23 March 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“India, the largest, the longest dominated and exploited of British conquests, the richest field of investment, the source of incalculable plunder and profit, the base of Asiatic expansion, the inexhaustible reservoir of material and human resources for British wars, the focus of alt British strategic aims, the pivot of the empire and bulwark of British world domination ...”

* * *

This statement, taken from an analysis of the problem of India written by the Indian Section of the Fourth International, sums up the importance of that vast country for Great Britain and its finance-imperialist rulers. What would the empire on which the sun is now rapidly setting, be without India? An empty, lifeless shell; a small, highly industrialized group of islands; the white cliffs of Dover surrounded by the bleak seas of the North Atlantic.

Now the hordes of Japanese militarism and imperialism stand at the frontier of India. The Japanese Navy – having admittedly wiped out in a single action the entire Asiatic fleet of the “United Nations” – rules the monsoon-swept waters of the Indian Ocean. Premier Tojo, spokesman for the feudal-military-capitalist rulers of the Japanese Empire, boldly informs the people of India that “their turn is next.”

What is the situation in India, from the standpoint of that nation’s defense?

  1. Britain has deliberately, sabotaged the expansion and building of Indian industry because it did not want it to compete with British manufactures. Result – India manufactures ONLY small arms and light munitions; no airplanes, tanks, autos, trucks, anti-aircraft guns, etc.
  2. All of India’s fortified defenses face (like the famous naval guns of Singapore!) in the wrong direction. The seacoasts on the East and West are defenseless and unfortified. All the forts are in the North, facing. Afghanistan and Soviet Russia.
  3. There is no Indian Navy – only a few minesweepers, patrol boats and ferries.
  4. The Indian Army (restricted rigidly to Moslem and Sikh soldiers in pursuance of typical British divide-and-rule policy) numbers a mere million; has little or no training in modern forms of warfare and, most important of all, is dominated by reactionary and narrow-minded British officers. It is primarily an army of paid soldiers, organized to do Britain’s work. It is NOT a mass army of the Indian people.
  5. Britain has refused to give a single real concession to the people of India, designed to rally their support. How Emperor Hirohito must have rejoiced when he learned of Churchill’s refusal of nationalist demands for freedom and proposal, instead, “Dominion Status” years after the war!
  6. Britain has raised a storm of indignation over India by its criminal massacre of 10 Madras textile workers who had gone on strike. Churchill, by this act, sealed in blood his declaration to the effect that India shall not go free, so long as British imperialism lives and breathes.

The Real “Fifth Column”

Given these circumstances, the probability of a successful military defense of India from Axis attack appears remote indeed. The British – the REAL “fifth column” in India – have, by their actions, cleared the way for an easy march of the Axis troops from Calcutta to Bombay. Certainly the numerous fiascos of the United Nations in the defense of their other ill-gotten colonial possessions in Asia would hardly stand up as encouragement for what will happen in India.

In our opinion, if the defense of India is conducted on a purely military basis, without the aid of the 385 million people (and this is what British policy means) then the Japanese-German, forces will conquer India with comparative ease – unless the Allies are able to reinforce India with tremendous reserves.

But such a victory over India by Japan and its Axis partners would constitute a DISASTER for the people of the country. The Axis imperialists march not as “liberators” of the colonial slaves, but as imperialists who desire to make themselves the new masters of the present British rule.

How can this disaster be prevented, even at this terribly late hour? Will the people of India have to pay with their lives and their blood for the two centuries of criminal British action? What is necessary is to find a way of shaking off the hand of British rule, and at the same time rallying the people of India in their own defense. The people of India must defend themselves through their own independent action and initiative against the power that rules them today and against the approaching Japanese bandits.

Fourth International’s Program

This is the message being broadcast throughout India today by the revolutionary nationalists and socialists of the Fourth International, Going beyond generalizations, they offer to the people a program of action and policy in defense of their interests.

  1. No political support to their present rulers, the British; no political support to their would-be rulers, the Japanese.
  2. We, the people, the workers and peasants of India, must arm ourselves by any means for our own defense. We must organize an army based not upon the British-dominated “Indian Army,” but our own People’s Militia of defense.
  3. Reject any attempt on the part of “our” native capitalists and politicians or British agents (like Gandhi, Nehru or Chiang Kai-shek) to line India up behind the United Nations in exchange for fake promises.
  4. We must organize our mass committees of defense; councils of workers, poor farmers and soldiers who will conduct the defense of the country. To rally the great peasantry of India behind us we must urge them to take the land denied them by British landlords and rich rajahs kept in power by British bayonets. We must wipe out, by our action, the debts and burdens of these peasants. In the cities the Indian workers must seek control of the factories and run them for the country’s defense, not for British profits.
  5. We must struggle for a Constituent Assembly of the People, based upon universal suffrage – an Assembly whose first act should be to draft and proclaim the People’s Declaration of Independence from British and all foreign rule.
  6. We must organize our own self-government, based upon the broad and democratic organizations of the workers and poor people; a Workers and Peasants Government.

This is the program urged upon the people by the revolutionists of India. It demands that they take their fate in their own hands, instead of leaving it in the bloody and blundering hands of their present rulers, Does this mean they advocate revolution? Absolutely, for only a social revolution will give India something worth fighting for. The people as a whole will gain national liberation and independence; the peasantry will gain the land they hunger for; the workers will have won freedom from capitalist exploitation.

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