AIPSN Ask How Signature Campaign
23rd – 30th January, 2019
A pledge in Defence of the Republic:
Let us pledge as part of the Ask How campaign to bring awareness to people about the rights that are enshrined in our constitution and how these constitutional rights are to be safeguarded from fundamentalist and neoliberal onslaught.
The Constitution of India was passed in the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, and came into effect on 26th January 1950. The constitution declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality and liberty, and endeavors to promote fraternity.
This meant that all sections of people – irrespective of race, religion or caste – had full rights to the nation, including the right to a decent standard of living, embedded in the Indian Constitution. It was for a secular India that Mahatma Gandhi was martyred. The secular republics, and democracy, both social and economic, are under threat today.
It is the vision of economic democracy that united Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose with Ambedkar. In their vision, planning and building a public sector was an absolute necessity not for just industrial and agricultural regeneration of India, but also re-distributing the benefits of development to all sections of its people. It is only by state intervention in the economy that an independent India would be able to free India from absolute poverty, famine, abysmal life expectancy and illiteracy that the British colonial rule had imposed on India.
Let us remember all the four stalwarts of our Republic – Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, BR Ambedkar, and Subhash Chandra Bose – in the week of 23rd January, Subhash Bose’s Birthday, to 30th January, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Godse. It is important for us to remember these four leaders for what they represent: a truly democratic, secular republic. Particularly, when we see violent attacks on minorities and dalits, with tacit or, open support of the government.
We see repeated attempts to pit Ambedkar, Bose, Patel and Gandhi against Nehru. Sections that do this, believe that our memories are weak, and that we have forgotten our past. Yes, of course all these leaders had differences among themselves. They were leaders with strong views, and were willing to disagree, sometimes sharply with each other, on the direction that the national movement should take.
Bose and Nehru believed in planning and in science to lift India out of its desperate poverty. Both drew inspiration from the socialist experiment in Russia, which in two decades, had lifted it out of extreme backwardness, and turned into a modern nation. They were both deeply secular and socialistic in their outlook. They were united in their vision of planning the economy, economic democracy and science in a free India. Not in mumbo jumbo science, which our council of ministers led by the PM, seems to believe.
The other two planks of Indian national movement and democracy were its outlook to religious minorities and dalits. Ambedkar, Bose, Nehru and Gandhi, all believed that India must be a secular republic for all its people. The recent attack on minorities and Dalits, the movement to project the lives of cows being far more important than that of human beings, is an attack on our secular and democratic values. It is the same forces that attack minorities that also attack reservation, women’s right to love and marry freely, and the way we want to live. Every facet of our culture and democracy is today under attack, from freedom of speech to the right to practice our religion and our culture.
This is not just an attack on our minorities. These attacks are taking place when India has again become as unequal as it was under the British; or what the French economist Piketty called it: from British Raj to Billionaire Raj. When crony capitalism is ruling the country; where 1% of people own wealth equal to 73% of Indians. There is an attack on the fundamental constitutional values of the republic – social and economic democracy, and no discrimination against any section of society based on caste or creed. This is what we have to fight against; this is our campaign for a sovereign, socialist, secular democratic republic that our forefathers fought for during the independence movement.
Along with the All India Peoples Science Network, we will campaign with the people on the promise of secular democratic republic that the national movement had created, and oppose all attempts to derail it.