Mainstream, VOL LIII No 6, January 31, 2015 - Republic Day Special
Netaji on India after Independence
Saturday 31 January 2015
On the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 118th birth annivarsary on January 23 this year, we offer our homage to the memory of that indomitable freedom fighter by reproducing excerpts from one of his writings.
A question which many people ask is as to what will happen when the British are forced to leave India. British propaganda has made many people think that without the British there will be anarchy and chaos in India. These people conveniently forget that British occupation began only in 1757 and was not complete till 1857—while India is a land whose history is measured, by thousands of years. If culture, civilisation, administration and economic prosperity were possible in India before British rule—they will also be possible after British rule. In fact, under British rule, the culture and civilisation of India has been suppressed, the administration has been denationalised and a land that was formerly rich and prosperous has become one of the poorest in the world...
It would be wrong to dogmatise from now about the exact form of the future Indian state. One can only indicate the principles which will underlie that state and determine its form. India has had experience of several Empires in the past and this experience will furnish the background on which we shall have to build in future. Then we shall have to consider the causes which led to our political downfall and prevent their recurrence in future. Further, we shall have to remember that the intelligentsia of India today is quite familiar with modern political institu-tions and is greatly interested in them. We shall also have to consider the political experiments made in different parts of Europe in the post-Versailles period. And lastly, we shall have to consider the requirements of the Indian situation.
One thing, however, is clear. There will be a strong Central Government. Without such a Government, order and public security cannot be safeguarded. Behind this Government will stand a well-organised, disciplined all-India party, which will be the chief instrument for maintaining national unity.
The state will guarantee complete religious and cultural freedom for individuals and groups and there will be no state-religion. In the matter of political and economic rights there will be perfect equality among the whole population. When every individual has employment, food and education and has freedom in religious and cultural matters, there will be no more any minorities problem in India.
When the new regime is stabilised and the state-machinery begins to function smoothly, power will be decentralised and the provincial governments will be given more responsibility.
The state will have to do everything possible to unify the whole nation and all methods of propaganda—press, radio, cinema, theatre, etc.—will have to be utilised for this purpose. All anti-national and disruptive elements will have to be firmly suppressed—along with such secret British agents as may still exist in the country. An adequate police force will have to be organised for this purpose and the law will have to be amended, so that offences against national unity may be punished heavily. Hindustani, which is already understood in most parts of the country, will be adopted as the common language for India. Special emphasis will have to be laid on the proper education of boys and girls and of students in the schools and in the universities, so that they may imbibe the spirit of national unity at an early age.
British propaganda has deliberately created the impression that the Indian Mohammedans are against the Independence movement. But this is altogether false. The fact is that in the nationalist movement, there is a large percentage of Moham-medans. The President of the Indian National Congress today is Azad—a Mohammedan. The vast majority of the Indian Mohammedans are anti-British and want to see India free. There are no doubt pro-British parties among both Mohammedans and Hindus which are organised as religious parties. But they should not be regarded as representing the people.
The great revolution of 1857 was a grand example of national unity. The war was fought under the flag of Bahadur Shah, a Mohammedan, and all sections of the people joined in it. Since then, Indian Mohammedans have continued to work for national freedom. Indian Mohamme-dans are as much children of the soil as the rest of the Indian population and their interests are identical. The Mohammedan (or Muslim) problem in India today is an artificial creation of the British similar to the Ulster-Problem in Ireland and the Jewish problem in Palestine. It will disappear when British rule is swept away...
While dealing with the problems of reconstruction, it would be interesting to know that in December, 1938 when I was the President of the Indian National Congress, I inaugurated a National Planning Committee, for drawing up plans for reconstruction in every department of life. This Committee has already done valuable work and its reports will be helpful for our future activity.
The Indian Princes and their States are an anachronism which must soon be abolished. They would have disappeared long ago, if the British had not preserved them in order to hamper the unification of the country. Most of the Princes are active supporters of the British Government and there is not a single Prince who is likely to play a role, similar to that which Piemont played in the Risorgimento movement in Italy. Among the people of the States who are one-fourth of the total Indian population, there is a popular movement which is closely connected with the Congress movement in British India. The Princes will naturally disappear along with the British rule, since most of them are very unpopular with their own people. But they cannot present any difficulty to the Free India Government... Young India has a gigantic task to fulfil. There are tremendous difficulties to overcome, no doubt, but there is also the joy and glory of struggle and ultimate victory.
[From the article “Free India and her Problems” first published in the German periodical Wille und Macht in August 1942 and then reproduced in Azad Hind, the official publication of the Free India Centre in Berlin]