THE INDIAN Workers’ Association and Ghadar International held a meeting last Saturday at the Redbridge Punjabi Centre marking the adoption of the Indian constitution in January 1950. It was addressed by Professor Satish Kumar, an authority on the subject and a representative of Lok Raj Sangathan, which aims to bring about fundamental change in India.
Prof Kumar’s talk was a tour de force exposing the constitution as riddled with the colonial legacy of British rule, repressive and undemocratic, designed to serve purely the interests of capitalists and landowners, and “a prison house of nations and nationalities”.
From the start the constitution aimed to preserve communal divisions, with representatives of the main religions elected to the 1946 constitutional assembly. Incredibly, some elements date back to the Court of Directors of the East India Company in the late eighteenth century! Yet the preamble contains empty borrowed phrases such as “socialist”, “liberty, equality and fraternity”.
The repressive decrees created by the British were also adopted wholesale in the new constitution, only to be enhanced in later decades with emergency powers such as “preventive detention”, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
These are the so-called “Black Laws,” which according to Prof Kumar legitimise “rape, murder and ‘fake encounters’ in Kashmir, Manipur and elsewhere”. He described Kashmir as being “under the jackboots of the Indian Army”.
The constitution also provides for presidential ordinances that bypass parliament but are equivalent to laws, such as the 2004 reversal of the nationalisation of the coal mines in 1973 and seizure of land for various purposes including “real estate”.
Prof Kumar concluded by lambasting the “simple adoption of Eurocentric rules”, pointing out: “India has a long 5,000 year history of assemblies and many examples of secular rule, equivalent to a constitution.”
He gave as an example the 2,300 year-old Arthashastra, credited to the scholar Chanakya who taught the emperor Chandragupta Maurya. It is a remarkable manual on governance, statecraft, ethics, welfare and economics which has been compared with the writings of Machiavelli.
Ghadar International is linked with the Communist Ghadar Party of India, a Marxist-Leninist party which “is committed to the restoration of unity of all Indian communists”. The GGPI was inspired by the Ghadar Party, a revolutionary organisation of Punjabis in the US and Canada which led a revolt against British rule in the Punjab in 1915.