Hundred years back, on 13 April, 1919 Punjab bled profusely at the hands of British imperialists in Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar. It was a heinous massacre, unparalleled in the history of India, where 379 persons were killed and more than1200 were wounded, according to the figures given by the British rulers, but unofficial figures of casualties are much more. According to Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya 971 people were killed, the number of dead given by Swami Shradhanand was 1500. An enquiry committee appointed by Congress said that more than 1000 were killed andnumber of injured was much more. General Dyer, a brigadier of British army, leading a contingent of soldiers ordered the firing on unarmed, innocent people and continued firing till the stock of ammunition was exhausted. Firing was not to control some unruly mob bent upon rioting, as assembly was completely peaceful and within four walls. It was intended to teach a lesson to the Punjabis. Later on, deposing before the Hunter Commission of the British government, General Dyer said he wanted to break the morale of the people of Punjab. This massacre was a turning point in the freedom struggle of Indian people and a milestone.
Jallianwala Bagh massacre was not an isolated incident it was at the zenith of a wave of people’s struggle unleashed after the introduction of Rowlatt bill. Moreover it was perceived as somehow,a continuation of the Gadar party movement. Let us analyze the trail of events preceding the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
CONTEXT OF THIS MASSACRE
British imperialism was badly shaken in the first imperialist war, 1914-1919. It was rising imperialist power, America which mostly benefitted from the war. Invincibility of British imperialism came under question and hollowness and degeneration of British was exposed. In the situation of post war crisis people’s struggles were coming up in a big way and the British government had only one response and that was brutal repression. For this British government appointed a committee under Sydney Rowlatt. The purpose of this committee was to find out the causes of the conspiracies and was linked to the proposal for making some laws for solution of those problems. Committee submitted its report to the Government of India on 15th April 1918. One of the proposals of the committee was to enact a new law. Acting on the proposal of Rowlatt committee two bills were prepared. One was called “Amendment bill, Indian penal code and Indian criminal procedure code amendment bill“. This was known as Rowlatt Act. This bill provided that in case of some document or literature containing matter provoking revolt against the British crown or any other rebellious matter the accused could be sentenced to prison for a period of two years or internment for a definite period. Any writing against some official, employee or representative of the government shall be considered as rebellious literature. Court was entitled to ask for a bond, even after the person had undergone the punishment and can order to not to move outside a prescribed area for a definite period of time. The second bill was titled as “Criminal law emergency powers bill “. This law provided that any person could be arrested without any arrest warrant, and any premise could be searched without any search warrants. It provided for imprisonment and fine up to rupees two thousand. This bill empowered the Viceroy to bring any part of the country or the country as a whole under this law by notifying it in the gazette. Any act committed even before such area was notified, could be tried under this law. The Court was empowered to ban the public hearing of any case and could ban the publication of court proceeding.
A wave of anger and resentment spread across the country against this law. Protests erupted throughout the country. A strike call at all India level was given on 30th March, 1919 but this Call was later postponed to April 6th. But this postponement had no effect on Punjabis, they did not relent and observed strike on March 30, 1919. Punjab remained completely shut. In Amritsar a complete strike was observed and all enterprises remained close. A public meeting was held in Jallianwala Bagh. According to the reports 35 thousand people attended the public meeting. Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew was the main speaker apart from others. This meeting adopted a resolution, urging the King of England not to give assent to the Rowlatt bills.
This place, popularly known as Jallianwala Bagh, was not a garden in the real sense of the word, but a large open space surrounded by high buildings on all the side which was used by the residents to dump their trash. Owner of this space was one Hameet Singh Jalla, who was once an employee of state of Nabha and had also served under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
On all India call of strike on 6th April, a strike was observed throughout Punjab. Enterprises remained closed and life went out of gear in 45 cities of Punjab. Again a public meeting was held at Jallianwala Bagh. This time the number of people further surged to fifty thousand. People’s upsurge was fast spreading and government was alarmed. People’s upsurge was cementing the unity of people. People of all religions and communities were united in struggle against British imperialists. 9th April 1919 was Ramnavami, a Hindu festival. People of all religions, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, jointly celebrated and observed it. This unnerved the British rulers as their policy of “divide and rule” was falling flat. Afraid of the people’s surge, the administration interned Dr. Satya Pal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew to Dharmsala, 120 miles away from Amritsar. This news spread like wild fire. People were enraged and came on the streets. They were marching towards inner city, towards Jallianwala Bagh. There was a police picket on the railway bridge and police stopped the marchers. Deputy Superintendent of police and Assistant Commissioner F.A. Conner arrived there. People were firm in marching forward and Polson ordered the police picket to open fire. In this firing 22 persons were killed. This enraged people further and they went berserk on the roads. They attacked government buildings, railway go-down, the post office, banks and church. In these attacks, railway guard, Robinson, and managers of National bank and Alliance Bank were killed while one railway superintendent and the church preacher Miss. Sherwood were beaten.
It enraged the government and on 11th April it handed over the city into the hands of the military. On April 12 General Dyer, brigade commander of Jalandhar cantonment arrived in Amritsar and made an aerial survey of the city to assess where people were gathering and may gather so that he could make police arrangements. He ordered Indian passing certain areas to crawl on knees and elbows. Curfew was imposed in the city. In nineteen places, in the announcement it was stated that any person violating curfew will be shot down. At the same time some patriots were making an announcement that a public meeting will be held at Jallianwala Bagh to protest against the brutal state repression. General Dyer wanted to break the resolve and determination of Punjabis by scaring them but little did he know that he was facing a different type of people, that is why while he was announcing imposition of curfew and order to shoot, at the very same time patriots were announcing on a tonga a protest meeting. In this boiling situation people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh and this massacre occurred.
Thirteenth April was Baisakhi day, a day when tenth Guru Gobind Singh laid the foundation of people’s army called Khalsa and this day is new year day of Vikrami calendar. Large number of people, especially Sikhs visit Harmandir sahib and Jallianwala Bag is adjacent to Harmandir. So on that fateful day large number of people who came to Harmanndir also went to Jallianwala Bagh. More than twenty thousand people were gathered to hear their local leaders. When the last speaker was delivering his speech, General Dyer entered through the only and very small entrance along with a contingent of army soldiers and immediately ordered firing. At that time, apart from Durga Das, the last speaker, Rairam Singh, Abdul Majid, Hans Raj, Gopi Nath and Gurbakhsh Rai were present on the dais. General Dyer was leading 50 riflemen and forty Gurkhas armed with Khukhris. He deployed riflemen at the raised area in front of him and posted Gurkhas behind him. Without giving any warning and time to disperse, he ordered firing. Bullets were fired indiscriminately and aimed at the chest. Many people tried to save themselves by trying to scale the high walls around but were killed by firing. Many jumped into the well in order to save themselves but died of suffocation. But Dyer continued firing till his ammunition was exhausted.
Deposing before the Hunter Commission appointed by British government to enquire into the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, General Dyer gave a vivid account of the whole episode. He said, “I got information from the police at 4 pm that a large crowd is gathering in the Jallianwala Bagh. I immediately sprang into action and deployed pickets on all the gates of the city to control the situation. I had myself took 25 riflemen of 54thand 25 Jawans from 59th Rifles and 40 gurkhas armed with Khukhris, entered through a very small entrance and had to leave the armed cars outside. I saw there a dense crowd.” Commission questioned Dyer that did he not think it proper to warn the crowd to disperse? His reply was, “I ordered fire on just entering the bagh, it took just 30 seconds for me to decide that what I am to do. I did not think of warning people to disperse. I felt that my orders were not obeyed and martial law was violated. So it was my duty to order firing.” Responding to a question by Hunter Commission that why did you not think of consulting the Deputy Commissioner, who was responsible for law and order in the city, General Dyer replied that, “There was no Deputy Commissioner to be consulted. I thought it is not wise to consult anybody or take advice from anyone. I myself had to decide urgently. I thought from the military point of view and I concluded that I should order firing immediately.” The next question of the Commission was why did you not stop firing when people started dispersing? Reply of Dyer was that my opinion was that I should continue firing till all are dispersed. In a reply to another question General Dyer said, “I could have dispersed people even without firing but I wanted to forcefully establish the authority of British crown by creating a scare among the people not only in Amritsar but throughout Punjab. I wanted to break their resolve and morale, so that they cannot dare again to rise against the British empire.” Actually that was the real aim of British rulers. Though the decision for this indiscriminate and brutal firing was taken by General Dyer, as is clear from his testimony, but later on, Sir Michael O’Dwyer, Lt. Governor of Punjab, justified this act in his report submitted to Viceroy.
British rulers committed this heinous crime in Jallianwala Bagh on the one hand and let loose repression on the other. Criminal cases were registered against 852 persons, out of which 108 were sentenced to death and 265 were sent to life imprisonment. Two were jailed for long duration and five were sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years each. Rest 194 were sentenced for lesser duration. Apart from this 298 people were tried under martial law out of which 51 were sentenced to death and 48 were given life imprisonment. Two were sentenced to jail for ten years each and 79 were convicted for 7 years each, 10 for 5 years each and 11 were convicted for lesser jail terms. British imperialist wanted to break the morale of the people but little did they know that it will not only further advance the freedom struggle but will also prepare thousands of revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Sukhdev and others.
When Punjab was passing through a period of people’s upsurge and severe repression, at that time Aroor Singh (the maternal grandfather of Simranjit Singh Mann, a Khalistani leader) who was the chief of Akal Takht gave a Saropa (sign of honor) to the butcher of Jallianwala Bagh, General Dyer, at Akal Takht. These mahants asked Dyer to become a Sikh, he replied “I cannot grow long hair.” They said “We can exempt you from that.” He said “I cannot give up smoking.” They said “You can do it later on in a slow manner”. Dyer laughed it away. At the same time Majithia family of Sunder Singh Majithia, the forefather of the Akali leader who is former minister and son-in-law of Parkash Singh Badal, invited Dyer to their house for a dinner. This is the character of present day rulers.
One thing is clear from this narration, that British government wanted to teach a lesson to the Punjabis by terror and brutal repression and break their resolve. For understanding this we have to go into the background of this firing.
At a particular phase of development of capitalism in Europe emerged Colonialism for finding the markets for their goods. Britain, Portugal and France etc. embarked on expansion of their empires in colonies. This resulted in bloody wars between these powers. Thus whole world was divided into colonial empires. Indian people rose in revolt against British empire in 1857. This revolt started as a soldiers’ mutiny and later developed into people’s revolt specially peasant revolt whose titular leader was the deposed Mughal king Bahadur Shah Zafar. Some pro-imperialist people characterize this as a revolt of deposed feudals to regain their lost raj. But this is entirely wrong because only few feudals fought against British rulers and most of them supported the colonialists. Karl Marx rightly characterized it as the first war of Indian independence. Though it was suppressed but it had a long term impact on the course of history.
At the fag end of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of twentieth century, capitalism further developed to the highest stage of imperialism as a result of emergence of monopolies and merging of industrial capital and banking capital thus forming finance capital in main capitalist countries. So far these countries were exporting goods but now they started exporting finance capital too. New imperialist powers like America, Germany and Japan also emerged and came into contention on the world scene. Contention between imperialist powers intensified leading to the first imperialist world war, 1914 -1919.
War is a continuation of politics by other means i.e. military means. This situation of war is a decisive point of time when all classes take their decisive stand. At that juncture revisionist warriors of Second International gave the slogan of “defense of fatherland” which means supporting the bourgeoisie of one’s own country. On the other hand Bolshevik party led by Lenin gave a call to turn the imperialist war into a civil war against the rulers of one’s own country. They gave slogan of peace, bread and liberty, mobilized Russian people around these slogans, completed proletarian revolution and established the first durable proletariat state whereas heroes of the Second International did immense damage to the cause of revolution. Similarly, in India too different political forces took contradictory approaches towards the first world imperialist war.
British govt. learning from the first war of independence of 1857, took some steps to check the recurrence of such revolts in the future. One was Lord Macaulay introducing an education system aimed at creating such Indians whose appearance would be Indian but they would think like the English and for the English. Another step was to create a political organization which can act as a link between people and Raj. For that an Englishman, AO Hume, formed a political party named Indian National Congress. Gandhi became its main leader after returning from South Africa.
Many distressed peasants from Punjab migrated to North America to earn money and improve their fortunes at home. But living in very different condition they realized that Indians are not treated at par with other British subjects, colonial people are treated as slaves. They also realized the value of freedom. Americans also helped in this realization due to imperialist contention with England. They formed an organization named Hind Association on the Pacific coast on April 21, 1913 in a large gathering of Indian people at Astoria. They started publishing a newspaper named after the revolt of 1857 popularly known as Gadar. They were deeply influenced by the revolt of 1857. They considered it as war of independence and also that way of revolt as the path to freedom. So they named their paper as Gadar. It was known as Gadar Party after the name of its paper.
These two parties, Congress party and Gadar party took entirely opposite stands towards imperialist war. Congress, like the heroes of Second International, supported England and mobilized people for recruitment in British army and funds for war. Whereas Gadar party just like Lenin gave a call to return to India for organizing a revolt against colonialists. They collected money, purchased some weapons and tried to smuggle those into India. They sent some comrades in advance to organize units in the army to prepare soldiers for revolt. Their model of revolution was that of revolt of 1857. Their plan was to start revolution utilizing the British imperialists’ involvement in war, though war broke out earlier than their expectation.
Thus there were clear cut two opposite lines on the question of attitude towards war. One was of supporting British in war, of Gandhi and Congress, the other was utilizing war for organizing revolt for complete freedom andthat was the stand point of Gadar party.
Punjab was the province which became the field of implementation of line of armed struggle for freedom. Immediately after the war broke out, Gadar party members and follower started returning back to India in a big way. But British imperialist were already cautious about Gadarites and their movement back to India. Forces were deployed at the ports. Most of Gadarites were arrested at the ports. Some of them were put behind the bars, some others were forcefully put in trains, sent to Punjab and detained in their villages. Many could escape the police and started their assigned work of organizing revolt. Those detained in villages did not sit idle but continued propaganda in a secret way. Gadarites succeeded in forming party units in the cantonments of Ferozpur, Mian Meer, Meerut and at some other places. But British could infiltrate their ranks. The date fixed for revolt was leaked. Gadarites came to know about the leak and preponed the date but that was also leaked. Uprising detachments were disarmed and leaders were arrested. Revolt was suppressed but its impact lasted for a long time to come. Spectre of revolt continued to haunt the government.
This was the background of the events of 1919, Rowlatt bill and movement against it. Apart from this political background, Punjab had to bear the brunt of world war. In this war 12,794 military men were killed, 24,732 went missing. Their families were in deep shock. During war a large number of people were drafted into the army but after the war came to an end, a large number were demobilized. According to an estimate more than one and half lakh were these demobilized soldiers in Punjab. Govt. was realizing the potential rebelliousness in them. Apart from them, 83 % of the peasantry was in severe indebtedness and 45% of land was mortgaged. Taking 1914 as basis price index rose to 154 in 1918, 175 in 1919 and 183 in1920. In order to make up losses during war, government raised land revenue and forcefully collected it. In this situation people were seething with anger and Rowlatt bill proved to be virtually the last straw on the camel’s back.
Now the question is why did the government take such a cruel and brutal attitude towards the people of Punjab. As General Dyer had stated in his statement before Hunter Commission, he could have dispersed the crowd without resorting to firing and continuing firing till the last bullet. Why General Dyer ordered firing was because he wanted to teach a lesson and break the fighting morale of the people of Punjab. There were mainly two factors responsible for such an inimical attitude of the government. One was unlike many other places under Gandhian leadership, anti Rowlatt bill movement in Punjab did not remain confined to legal and peaceful limits but in Punjab it took a militant form. When leaders of the movement were sent out of the area, people did not lie low, but militant protest demonstration broke out. When this demonstration was met with brutal repression and fire was opened on railway bridge on demonstrators killing 22 people the anger of the people knew no bounds, it broke out like wild fire. They attacked government buildings like railway godown, post office and banks etc. killing two and beating two other Englishmen. This militancy was the proverbial red cloth before the bull for the government.
Secondly, British government was afraid of recurrence of Gadar like revolt. This was haunting the British government. On January 20th 1920, Michael O’Dwyer, then Governor of Punjab, deposed before the Hunter Commission in a secretly held meeting of the Commission in Mumbai. His deposition reflects the policy of British government. He said that there was a serious danger to law and order in Punjab in 1919. In nine/ten district of central Punjab almost ten thousand Sikhs had returned from abroad. They were deeply influenced by Gadar movement, many of them had participated in the Gadar movement in the past. They were potential revolutionaries, could jump in if there was some revolutionary movement. He said that old conspiracies like Gadar has not completely died down. He further said that a large number, nearly one and half lakh, discharged soldiers had returned to Punjab. They were well versed with weapon handling as they were well trained. If they had joined the agitating people a very dangerous situation could have emerged. Moreover, most of soldiery in Punjab was newly recruited and lacked experience in military skills. He further stated that from the very beginning government had definite information that in Amritsar few units of the army would not remain loyal in case of mass upsurge. It is more than clear from the deposition of Governor that a spectre of Gadar was haunting the British government which was a major factor for such a brutal attitude.
Jallianwala Massacre: A Historic Milestone
Jallianwala massacre had a very far reaching impact and proved to be a milestone in the history of freedom struggle of Indian people. It had multi layered impact on the freedom struggle and we will discuss a few of them. As we see that there were two clear streams in the freedom movement, one demanding some share in administration peacefully, as represented by Gandhian leadership and other was complete overthrow of imperialism through armed struggle. This started from the rebellion of 1857 and later was represented by Gadar party. Two line struggle was going on in freedom movement. This became particularly acute after this barbaric massacre. Freedom movement got radicalized in general. Movements in the field were getting radicalized and Gandhi was exposing his compromising and comprador character. In eastern UP peasants were facing acute repression at the hands of the government. It so enraged them that they attacked the police post at Chauri Chaura and Gandhi withdrew his non co-operation agitation. Later, after peasant movement in Bardoli of Gujrat took a militant turn, Gandhi backed off from his Satygraha.
With this massacre, the revolutionary movement got rejuvenated after the failure of revolt by Gadar party. By this time October revolution in Russia had led to the formation of proletarian state there, which has openly declared its support to the liberation movements and freedom struggles of colonial people against imperialism, unconditionally. Revolutionaries of Gadar party were very much impressed by it. Those who were abroad,of them many went to Soviet Union and on coming back two veteran Gadarites Bhai Rattan Singh Raipurdabba and Santokh Singh Dhardeo formed Kirti party meaning toilers party with its organ named “Kirti”. Kirti party later on merged with the Communist party. Jallianwala Bagh massacre had a very deep influence on the revolutionary youth, like Udham Singh, Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev etc. Contrary to the popular belief that Udham Singh was in the Jallianwala Bagh at the time of the massacre, was a survivor of the massacre, he pledged to take revenge and he later on killed Michael O’Dwyer in London, recent research has shown that at the time of massacre he was not in Amritsar. Rather he was in South Africa. No doubt he was deeply pained at this massacre but he was already in the freedom movement and was a member of Gadar party. He did not fire at O’Dwyer only but four others as well, who were officials in India at different times. O’Dwyer died whereas others survived. Bhagat Singh visited Jallianwala Bagh and brought some blood soaked soil in a small bottle. After coming back he could not sleep many nights. Sukhdev, who was a friend of Bhagat Singh was deeply disturbed by this massacre. They rejected the Gandhian path and decided to follow revolutionary path i.e. overthrowing imperialism lock, stock and barrel and establishing a system free of exploitation of man by man. The contacted the revolutionaries in other part of the country and organized them in a single organization, named Hindustan Socialist Republican Army, later changed to Association, whose aim was to establish Socialist Republic in India.
Inspiration for Fight for Real Freedom
The importance of Jallianwala Bagh massacre does not lie only in the fact that it is a blood soaked chapter of history, signifying the high spirit of sacrifice of people and brutality and inhuman attitude of imperialists. Its importance is not confined to the fact that it proved to be the turning point in the freedom struggle of Indian people. While observing the centenary of this massacre its importance is not only historical but it is highly relevant presently. As what happened on the midnight of 15th August 1947 was transfer of power to the trusted compradors of imperialism,imperialist rule became indirect in place of direct rule, instead of one imperialists power doors were opened for all imperialists, state power passed into the hands of comprador big bourgeoisie and big landlords subservient to imperialism. The country became a semi-colonial semi –feudal one from a colony.
Shaheed Baghat Singh was so prophetic when he said “There two possibilities, two ways before the country. One is not only imperialism but its lackeys are also overthrown lock-stock and barrel and a socialist democratic republic is established and the other is that some compromise is reached with imperialists, state power is given in the hands of imperialists lackeys or in the joint hands of both.” Second possibility materialized. Whatever change occurred was the result of set circumstances. Britain was badly shaken and considerably weakened after the Second World War. It was not in a position to hold onto the existing vast empire. America emerged as the first rate imperialist power. On the other side a wave of militant struggles was surging ahead. Great armed peasant struggle of Telangana, Tebhaga struggle and struggle of tenants of PEPSU and many more struggles were surging forward. There was a revolt in the Navy. Working class was resorting to general strike at all India level. Imperialist rulers were caught in a whirlpool of rising struggles. Ruling in the earlier way was not possible for British imperialists. So this change became inevitable. Thus India became a semi colony in 1947.
Economic structure is the foundation of whole socio-political system hence it is generally the decisive factor. Economic independence is a pre-condition for real independence, in absence of it there will be formal and fake independence. In India too completely abolishing the imperialist shackles was a pre-condition for real independence. But let us see what happened in this matter in 1947 and afterwards. Not only the existing capital of imperialists was not confiscated and was allowed to freely operate, but doors were opened for the capital of other imperialist powers also.
The first prime minister of India, addressing the Constituent Assembly on 6th April 1949, spread a red carpet for foreign capital. He said, “Foreign capital will not be discriminated against in any way, it will be treated at par with native capital. —Foreign companies shall be entitled to earn profit under rules and regulations applicable to all. — Those companies can repatriate either profits but naturally it will depend on the foreign exchange situation. — If in any situation the capital of a foreign enterprise is acquired that company will be given its fair and equitable compensation and company will be completely free to repatriate capital and profit. (Parliamentary proceedings 1948—1949, quoted by CN Vakil, Foreign Capital in India.) When demands were raised in Parliament for confiscating foreign capital, replying to that debate, Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru said, “I am surprised to hear the repeated demands that foreign capital should be confiscated. It is completely unreal, we cannot think about, it is unthinkable. I cannot even imagine that.” (Lok Sabha Debates 1955. C N Vakil) Finance minister of that time said “Our attitude towards foreign capital always had been of welcoming it. Our attitude towards foreign capital had been of hospitality.” (A.R.Negandi) Finance Minister further said, “I understand that a time has come when doors for foreign capital shall be further opened.“ (ibid)
Indian government took a number of steps between 1950 and 1960 to facilitate the flow of foreign capital into India. These included:
— A centre for investment of foreign capital in New Delhi, which has branches in New York and Dusseldorf.
–Super profit tax and some other taxes were abolished.
–Most of the foreign companies were given majority control facility.
— An investment guaranty treaty was signed by government of India with United States of America.
–Industries reserved for public sector were mostly opened for foreign investment in 1956.–Foreign companies were permitted to establish new industries and expansion of already established industries.
–Foreign companies were allowed total control in the industries established by them. –More concessions were given in the import export sector.
Plunder by imperialists not only continued but further intensified. This exploitation was through a number of ways which included direct and indirect investment, export –import, loans and joint ventures. We will present here a few examples of exploitation through all these methods. In 1947, India had a foreign debt of rupees 300 crores, which increased to rupees 456.6 crores and rupees 690 crores in 1960. Foreign debt further increased to Rs. 1542.8 crores in 1968 which meant a three-fold increase in foreign debt. In 1947 India was creditor of rupees 1600 crores and by 1968 India was purely an indebted country. By 1981, situation of foreign debt was that it had increased Rs. 25000 crores out of which debt of USA was Rs. 5701 crore, to Britain was 2401 Rs. crore and to Japan was a debt of Rs. 1838 crores. India was indebted to World Bank to the tune of Rs. 7272 crores, to Soviet Union Rs. 957 crores and Eastern Europe 263 crores. (India Today, July 1982)
Another method of imperialist plunder was exploitation through export –import. When import is more than export this results in trade deficit which is a result of exploitation. Trade deficit in 1961 was rupees 475 crores, rupees 566.7 crores in 1965—66 and expanded to Rs. 806.3 crores in 1966-67. By 1981-82 trade deficit reached to the tune of Rs. 6000 crores. In 1981-82 as stated, trade deficit was Rs. 6000 crores, apart from it Rs. 450 crores were looted as repatriation of profit on capital invested and Rs. 800 crores were taken out as interest payment on loan. By all these means imperialists looted Rs. 7250 crore rupees in year 1981-82.
Apart from methods of exploitation explained above, another method was exploitation through joint companies. Companies with five crores or more, total number of such companies was 252 and out of these 252 companies 134 were completely or partially foreign companies or jointly owned by foreign and native. Out of these 252 companies 58% of capital was invested in these 134 companies. (India Mortgaged. T Nagi Reddy.)
After the disintegration of Soviet Union and evaporation of “socialist camp” a unipolar world led by American imperialistsuper power came into existence.With this imperialist offensive and exploitation intensified and increased manyfold. Marrakesh treaty based on the draft prepared by Arthur Dunkel was signed by the most of countries, including Indian government. Ties of the economies of the backward countries to chariot wheels of imperialism were strengthened and systematized. All sectors of economy were brought under the purview of this treaty whereas it was limited to trade only, previously. It was devastating for agriculture and small and medium industries.
In 1990-91 when India had landed in foreign exchange crisis and was at the verge of default. India had to mortgage its gold reserve. Government approached International Monetary Fund for a big loan for structural adjustment. IMF agreed to lend but 14 conditions were attached to the loan. One of them was to appoint as Finance minister one out of two names given by IMF, i.e. I G Patel or Manmohan Singh, to implement the policies prescribed by IMF. As Patel refused the offer, Dr. Manmohan Singh was approached and he readily agreed. After assuming office of Finance minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh started policies of globalization, liberalization and privatization, popularly known as new economic policies. Globalization here means free flow of imperialist capital, goods and services into India. More and more sectors were opened for imperialist capital, most of the sectors were uncapped for imperialist capital. Custom duties were progressively reduced to bring them down to the level prescribed by World Trade Organization. Provision of minimum access in the WTO treaty made import of imperialist goods to a certain level mandatory.Apart from it strong imperialist powers had muscle outside the text, which they used to arm twist native rulers to accept their terms.This intensified the imperialist exploitation. For example,we have explained certain methods of imperialist exploitation,now we can examine the situation on all those fronts. Foreign direct investment in the current year is 36.75 billion US dollars. Huge amount of 144.68 billion US dollars was repatriated in the form of dividends and interest payment. Last year in July-September in the matter of foreign trade, current account deficit was 6.9 billion dollars which was 1.1% of GDP. But in the same period of current year this deficit has reached 32.5 billion dollars and is 3% of GDP.
Defence sector of any country has basic importance for the freedom of that country. In the case of India it is totally dependent on the imperialist countries for its defence supplies. Main battle tank, Arjun, of Indian army is actually T-27 supplied by Russia.Most maligned and talked of gun, Bofors, is from Sweden. Air force is an important wing of armed forces these days and the fighter planes Sukhoi and Mig are from Russia and recently acquired Rafale is from France, C Harrier cargo plane is purchased from America and helicopters from England. Submarines are purchased from Germany. Even coffins were purchased from Israel for killed soldiers during Kargil.
This is only the tip of the iceberg but it clearly reveals that imperialists are still dominating the commanding heights of our economy. Their domination is not only in economy but in all walks of life; it is not only intact but has strengthened. Real independence is yet to be achieved and the fight for that has to be fought with increased vigour. Jallianwala Bagh is a blood soaked and golden chapter in the annals of history of this struggle. It continues to be a source of inspiration in the fight for real and complete independence.
Sardara Singh Mahil