Birth of Indian Socialist Republican Association: Context and Aim
India, the supreme land of contradictions. Both modern and primitive, both spiritual and materialistic, home to the brightest rays of logic and darkest depths of ignorance. But none emphasise the Indian contradiction better than wealth of the country or rather how that wealth is distributed. Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen in their book, ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions’ summed it up superbly by saying that this unequal pattern of prosperity “…making the country look more and more like islands of California in a sea of sub-Saharan Africa”. In a country where the richest 1% owns wealth that is equal to bottom 58%, it is no surprise that out country continues to slip in various indicators of Human Development such as HDI. So, what is the way out ? Indian people are asking this very question before and since our country’s independence. Once majority thought Gandhian way is the path to follow, then people stood behind Nehruvian Socialism and hoped that ‘Garibi Hathao’ would not just be mere words. When that failed people stood behind liberalisation and thought that would change the days and usher ‘Achche Din’. But in reality, as hard cold facts them self show, it did not. So, now across India to subdue that shimmering discontent and to cover up the gaping hole of inequality an age old tried and true card is being played. The card of religious fundamentalism and ultra-nationalism. But one can argue, in the light of Global destabilisation, India is hardly unique. From Trump’s America to Erdoğan’s Turkey, from Putin’s Russia to Abe’s Japan, this card is being played all over the world. However, there is a key difference in India. The difference is, opposition. In America Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party and newly created party DSA or Democratic Socialists of America, in Turkey CHP and HDP along with TKP, in Russia CPRF and in Japan DP and JCP are more or less successfully countering this tendency or at least holding ground in the face of rising threat of ultra nationalism sprinkled with religious overtones.
Unfortunately, no such substantial opposition exists in India. INC has long lost the moral high ground with its policy of covert religious politics in the guise of ‘Secularism’ and Left has been decimated all most all over the country by adopting bad policies and continuously misjudging Indian socio-political scenarios. So, while substantial physical power of various parties do stand in the way physical hegemony, almost no moral power now stands which can resist the vaunted machinery of Rāṣṭrīya Svayamsēvaka Saṅgha and even the odds of this struggle for national consciousness. So, in context of rising Liberalisation of economics and polarisation to religious communities to cover it up and distract people, one needs a counter. After all as the third law of Newton states, each action produce equal and opposite reaction. And in face of cultural hegemony and dominancy one needs an equal and opposite reaction.
Almost 80 years ago, a young man from Punjab dreamt of a India. It is not the India of Gandhi, no, It is not the India of Nehru either, nor his believes conformed with Hindu Mahasabha and ‘Hindu Rashtra’. No, this man, this young man believed in fundamental change, he believed in altering existing Socio-Economic-Political order of India beyond all recognition. He believed in the way out searched by the Indians for so long, he believed in ‘Kranti’, he believed in ‘Revolution’. He said in his famous Joint Statement with B.K Dutta — “Revolution” does not necessarily involve sanguinary strife nor is there any place in it for individual vendetta. It is not the cult of the bomb and the pistol. By “Revolution” we mean that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice, must change. Producers or labourers in spite of being the most necessary element of society, are robbed by their exploiters of the fruits of their labour and deprived of their elementary rights. The peasant who grows corn for all, starves with his family, the weaver who supplies the world market with textile fabrics, has not enough to cover his own and his children’s bodies, masons, smiths and carpenters who raise magnificent palaces, live like pariahs in the slums. The capitalists and exploiters, the parasites of society, squander millions on their whims. These terrible inequalities and forced disparity of chances are bound to lead to chaos. This state of affairs cannot last long, and it is obvious, that the present order of society in merry-making is on the brink of a volcano.’’ This was the ‘Kranti’ this young man believed in. Although young of age, he was ahead of his years. Much, much ahead. He rightly predicted about Indian Independence Movement lead by Congress will end in either compromise or failure and will fail to achieve total Social-Political-Economic Independence of India — ‘I have said that the present movement, i.e. the present struggle, is bound to end in some sort of compromise or complete failure.’ This young man also judged astutely what is the nature of present Independence Movement when writing ‘To Young Political Workers’ — I said that, because in my opinion, this time the real revolutionary forces have not been invited into the arena. This is a struggle dependent upon the middle class shopkeepers and a few capitalists. Both these, and particularly the latter, can never dare to risk its property or possessions in any struggle. The real revolutionary armies are in the villages and in factories, the peasantry and the labourers. But our bourgeois leaders do not and cannot dare to tackle them. The sleeping lion once awakened from its slumber shall become irresistible even after the achievement of what our leaders aim at. After his first experience with the Ahmedabad labourers in 1920 Mahatma Gandhi declared: “We must not tamper with the labourers. It is dangerous to make political use of the factory proletariat” (The Times, May 1921). Since then, they never dared to approach them. There remains the peasantry. The Bardoli resolution of 1922 clearly denies the horror the leaders felt when they saw the gigantic peasant class rising to shake off not only the domination of an alien nation but also the yoke of the landlords. It is there that our leaders prefer a surrender to the British than to the peasantry.’ Not only that, this young revolutionary also had a clear cut plan to achieve his goals — ‘ Now allow me to state the case in the simplest manner. You cry “Long Live Revolution.” Let me assume that you really mean it. According to our definition of the term, as stated in our statement in the Assembly Bomb Case, revolution means the complete overthrow of the existing social order and its replacement with the socialist order. For that purpose our immediate aim is the achievement of power. As a matter of fact, the state, the government machinery is just a weapon in the hands of the ruling class to further and safeguard its interest. We want to snatch and handle it to utilise it for the consummation of our ideal, i.e., social reconstruction on new, i.e., Marxist, basis. For this purpose we are fighting to handle the government machinery. All along we have to educate the masses and to create a favourable atmosphere for our social programme. In the struggles we can best train and educate them.’
This young revolutionary, who represented very best of India, is Shaahed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh and while his organization HSRA or Hindustan Socialist Republican Association failed to achieve the goals by losing the battle, it definitely achieved the goal of awakening the slumbering Indian youth. That battle is now being fought again, and it has again become necessary to make the deaf hear, it has again become necessary to smash the fundamentalism that is gripping this country’s youth, whether it is Saffron or Green. And so, on this 23rd March 2017, exactly 86 years after his death, the ghost of Bhagat Singh shall haunt the Religious Fundamentalists, the Capitalists and the Reactionaries again. Or it will hope to, because people deserve the Government. And the equal and opposite reaction to RSS, the newly formed Indian Socialist Republican Association, a voluntary association of Leftists and Progressives, will do its utmost to uplift people from abyss of ignorance and falsehood, promote solidarity among people, strive to implement a direct democracy and promote socialist collective ethos of India which were now being decimated, and over all strive to fulfil the aspirations of Indian Leftist youth with whose needs most of the traditional Left is out of sync. ISRA is not a electoral political organization, nor it is a lackey of any Left party. It hopes to regain the lost moral high ground of Leftist ideology and promote the progressivism so needed in current Indian scenario. If in this mission ISRA succeeds, then and only then we as a nation will be deserving of Bhagat Singh’s Socialist India.
Political Council of the ISRA