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John G. Wright

Tasks of the Indian Revolution

The Role of Democratic Demands
in India Today

Such Demands Are Necessary Part of the Struggle to Unite the Masses
for the Successful Carrying Out of Agrarian Revolution

(21 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 12, 21 March 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

(This is the third of a series of articles dealing with the problems facing the Indian masses today. The first, dealing with the agrarian revolution and the struggle for India’s independence, appeared in The Militant of March 7. Last week’s article discussed the slogan of the Constituent Assembly.)

The emancipation of India will be achieved only by those who base themselves on the national and the agrarian movements; by those who mobilize the Indian workers and provide them with the opportunity to play their destined role as the leaders of both these movements.

The Indian bourgeoisie cannot provide this leadership. They fear the masses and the agrarian revolution as much as do the native princes and the English imperialists.

In July 1934 Gandhi expressed the real position of the Indian bourgeoisie when in his speech at Cawnpore he flatly stated that he was “never in favor of abolition of the talukdari (feudal taxgathering) or zamindari (feudal land-owning) system, and those who thought that it should be abolished did not know their own minds.” The opposition of the Indian bourgeoisie to the agrarian revolution will become more and more pronounced as the crisis unfolds.

The Indian proletariat can rise to its role as leader of the nation only by becoming the standard-bearer of its revolutionary democratic tasks.

A campaign for the convocation of the Constituent (or National) Assembly provides, as we have already pointed out, the best opportunities for advancing the basic demands of the first stage of the Indian revolution, i.e. the revolutionary-parliamentary stage. What are these demands for India?

First and foremost is, of course, the slogan for India’s independence. The Indian workers are the only ones who can consistently advocate this slogan, linking it up not only with the abolition of British rule but also with a guarantee of the right of self-determination for all nationalities in India.

Land to the Landless

Inseparable from this struggle for independence is the struggle for the immediate abolition of all feudal rights, titles and land registers.

Confiscation of the land – Land to the landless!

It is precisely in the struggle against feudalism that the slogan for universal suffrage – the right to vote, for all men and women over the age of eighteen – will play a central role. The chief strength of the peasantry lies in its vast numbers. In periods of upsurge, the most backward peasants gravitate toward those measures which translate their numerical preponderance into elementary political terms. Their economic need for land is instinctively linked up in their minds with the democratic right to vote and thus to legalize the partition of the landlords’ estates. That is why the demand for universal suffrage cannot fail to meet with an immediate response on their part.

Centralizing the Peasant Movement

These democratic slogans become imbued with a profoundly revolutionary content above all because they provide the indispensable means for mobilizing the Indian masses. There is no way of centralizing the peasant movement except through these slogans. Unless this centralization is achieved, the peasant movement will become dissipated in the innumerable provincial areas. No graver blow can be dealt to the unfolding agrarian revolution than the one which it will suffer if any attempt is made to skip over this stage of political education of the peasantry.

This applies not only to the peasantry but to the mass of the Indian workers themselves. They too must pass through the experience of a revolutionary democratic stage. The chief slogans for the mobilization of the Indian workers in the next period are contained in the immediate demands for the 8-hour working day, better working conditions, higher wages, the right to organize, etc.

A campaign for the convocation of the National (or Constituent) Assembly with the content outlined above will be reinforced in the consciousness of the masses by the events themselves. And if the workers and peasants pass through this experience under the leadership of the Indian vanguard, no power on earth can pre-jwgpitjfhe existing revolutionary situation in the country from terminating in a victorious revolution.

(Next week: The Native Princes)


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