Communism in India


The recent issue of "The Harvard Critic" ran an article titled "Communism for India." It applies strictly communistic interpretation to political cross-currents in India. It makes sweeping generalizations about their future trend. It is intercepted with unmerited flings at Ghandi. The following is offered as a corrective.

Briefly stated, the thesis of that article is this: Communism as a world phenomenon, will soon become a reality after a series of successive revolutions culminating in the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the dawn of a "classless society." To this India will be no exception. In India--land of "unhappy contrasts"--the stage is all set for such revolutions. The absence of a strong communistic party, inadequate leadership, etc., are temporarily impeding this process. But over and above all--and this is significant--Ghandi's "misleadership," his "demagogy" must be exposed by the proletariat, for "Ghandiism like German Democracy has become a stinking corpse, a superstition."

Whether Communism is an inevitable world phenomenon I do not pretend to know. Another catastrophic upheaval like the world war and Communism may be the residuary legacy. But the complacent certitude with which the writer predicts the imminent triumph of communism in India may be questioned. Here one must guard against his subjective preferences masquerading as objective reality. The political evolution of many other countries has not invariably followed along lines indicated in communistic theories. What makes India particularly amenable to communism is assumed rather than proved in the article. Even accepting the desirability of communism in India and conceding the possibility of serial revolutions there, is it judicious to advocate the overthrow of Ghandi at this juncture? He is successfully marching his people towards political emancipation from a foreign yoke--a condition that must precede any other desired change. This first revolution is not consummated yet. Its hard won gains may be easily lost in a Will o' the Wisp chase for communism now.

It is not clear what in the writer's mind constitutes "Ghandiism" that he jeers at. Is it Ghandi's adherence to the doctrine of non-violence? Ghandi needs no apologies for offering it to the world, which he aptly characterizes "sick unto death of violence." Even on grounds of political expediency its efficacy has been vindicated in India. In an incredibly short period, Ghandi has made multitudes in India politically conscious. A totally disarmed India could not conceivably have accomplished a fragment of this by any other methods except those of Ghandi. The British are finding it very uncomfortable to deal with a potent force that Ghandi has set in motion. Ghandi is anything but a "demagogue." No man since Buddha has been held with such deep reverence by his people as this frail little man. None, not even excepting Buddha, has gained such a tremendous following in that land. His bitterest political opponents ungrudgingly pay homage to his high ethi- cal and spiritual qualities. "Ghandism a striking corpso"--strange indeed! Those who have even a Faint idea of what Indian public life was like before Ghandi appeared on the scene would rapidly see the shallowness of this epithet. Then the masses accepted their wretched fate in fatalistic apathy. Ghandi has infused into this "corpse" a new life, a now hope. It no longer "stinks," it is vibrant with a fresh vigor. Tagore ascribes the present now life in India largely to the dynamic influence of Ghandi. Nor can Ghandism be justly accused for the neglect of the genuine interests of the "proletariat." True, his following is drawn from all ranks of people, and there lies the strength of his movement. It is also true that Ghandi prefers class war inaugurating a new regime. Yet none can legitimately indict Ghandi of ever bartering away the rights of the poor. He vigilantly fought for their rights in South Africa. He led their strikes in India. Today again he is risking his life for the social regeneration of oppressed classes. He has consistently championed the cause of the masses long before the word communism was ever heard in India.

Perhaps the writer thinks that Ghandi's role has been played out, and that new methods must be adopted to further accelerate the political movement in India. The introduction of discordant elements into the movement now will dilute its strength and directly help strengthen the British hegemony. What next in India, none dare predict with certainty. This much may be asserted, Ghandi's place in the hearts of millions in India in secure. Even his Indian opponents may well extend him the due credit for his long, painful services to his people.  Anup S. Dhillon