India 75

August 15 comes, August 15 goes. But this year it was a special occasion as Indians celebrated the 75th anniversary of Independence. Indian freedom struggle has not only shaped India as a modern constitutional democracy but also shaped the nature of state, society and citizenship. The anti-colonial and anti-feudal struggle laid the foundation of a sovereign nation state promised to pursue a society based on socialist, scientific and secular values to ensure egalitarian citizenship rights without any form of discrimination. These inalienable values are central to the unity, integrity, peace, prosperity and progress of India as a multicultural society and secular state. It is time to celebrate these values and promises of Indian independence, a product of struggles and sacrifice of millions of working-class people across the country. India at 75 is still a young nation but old enough for a critical introspection and evaluation of all the achievements, failures and challenges ahead.

The post-colonial India managed to pursue economic progress, advancement in science and society in a planned manner despite many shortcomings. The United Nations Development Programme has released its 2019 Multidimensional Poverty Index which documents that India has lifted 271 million people out of poverty in a decade. The growth of availability and accessibility to health and education has increased considerably over the years. The infrastructure for transport and communication is visible across the country. These significant improvements are testimonies of independent India. But these achievements are not enough for the masses because of unequal outcomes of a class, caste, gender and urban biased development process. The widening gap between rich and poor, men and women, rural and urban areas, rising unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger and food insecurities are crucial challenges India is facing today. These challenges are accelerated by the neo-liberal policies furiously followed by the Hindutva government led by Mr Narendra Modi. But the main danger lies elsewhere as the Modi enterprise is trying to transform the nature of state and society concomitant with exclusionary ideology of Hindutva shaped by the RSS. The Hindutva forces led by RSS did not participate in the anti-colonial struggle for Indian independence, but these forces now manage to pursue electoral democracy as a means to establish a capitalist Hindu Rashtra (state) incompatible with constitutional, liberal and secular democracy in India. The Hindutva ideas and visions are completely opposed to the ideas and visions the freedom fighters stood for during their long protracted anti-British movement. The flag waving Hindutva nationalism is historically anti-national. The farmers, youth, students, Dalits, tribals and women were the flag bearers of Indian freedom struggle whereas Hindutva forces were collaborators of British colonial rulers.

Har Ghar Tiranga campaign exposes the hollowness of Hindutva; it is therefore the responsibility of all progressive and democratic Indians to reclaim the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign to defend the values of Indian constitution enshrined in the Constitution of India that the Hindutva forces are destroying on a daily basis, because Indian Constitution is not compatible with Hindutva ideals and visions. The celebration of the 75th anniversary of India's Independence is an opportunity to defend Indian constitution and defeat the rise of saffron brand of fascism in Indian politics.

For one thing Subhas Chandra Bose seems to be a ‘tragic hero’ as veteran journalist Sumanta Banerjee calls him in his latest book “AZAD HIND”. Bose is hardly remembered in official functions. Congress buried him in history long ago and the present saffron dispensation has no moral obligation to highlight his efforts to liberate India from British colonial rule.

Meanwhile, Netaji’s daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, living in Germany demanded the Indian Government to bring Netaji’s remains to India. Actually the death of Chandra Bose is a mystery. His remains were reportedly preserved at the Renkoji Temple in Tokyo. Since then three generations of priests have cared for the relics. The 79-year-old Anita Bose said that she is ready for DNA test of the remains. She also said that the temple priests and the Japanese government also had no objection to the trial. But who is listening? Indian ruling authorities are not interested in obliging Anita Bose—Subhas Bose’s daughter.

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Vol 55, No. 9, Aug 28 - Sep 3, 2022