Today one fifth of the human race inhabits the South Asian subcontinent. This region has one of the oldest civilisations and rich cultural traditions. They contributed immensely in the development of human knowledge in various fields of science and the arts. Several religions and movements of enlightenment originated from this ancient society. It also has a rich heritage of architectural artifacts that are the expression of the historical periods of its social development. The literary history encompasses some of the greatest works in poetry and prose. In ancient times it was known as the land of flowing milk and honey due to its booming economy and agricultural production. When Europe was drenched in the darkness after the fall of Rome; the economy, arts and culture flourished in the Indian subcontinent. One of the ironies of this development and rich socio-economic conditions was that throughout its history it attracted hordes of invaders.
From central Asia, the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Europe there was wave after wave of invading armies. Most of these invasions ravaged its culture, economy and riches but were ultimately absorbed by its higher level of culture. It re-emerged after every invasion on a higher plane of social cultural and economic development. But due to several intrinsic social reasons and conservativeness of the ruling elites it started to stagnate and lagged behind in the second half of the last millennium. After the industrial revolution the West overtook this region in scientific and technological development. This superiority of western technology asserted itself in its superiority in technology and weaponry. This led to another spate of invasions of India by the Dutch, the Portuguese the French and by the British. These invasions led to a new form of colonialization and imperialist rule over the people of the subcontinent.
The native industry, economy and culture were ravaged and new forms of plunder ensued. Due to the reactionary character of the local ruling elites, especially the British imperialists were able to conquer India through the age-old policy of imperial Rome, namely, ‘divide and rule'.
Although heroic struggles were waged by the masses against the invaders but due to lack of a leadership and the primitiveness of their weaponry they were unable to defeat the imperialist aggressors.
After more than two hundred years of direct imperial rule a new wave of mass movement started to challenge the British Raj. The strikes and struggles of the workers and peasants; mutinies within the army and the intrinsic weakness of the British rule forced the British to abandon India. Once again in connivance with the political leaders and parties of the local ruling classes the British were able to pierce the living body of the subcontinent through this act of Partition.
But 56 years on, the subcontinent still suffers the pangs of pain from this historical wound. Literature, art, film, politics, culture has not been able to shed the impacts this trauma of partition.
The stories of partition haunt all the works of art and literature to this day. The greatest poets, writers and artists are those who have done creative works on this subject. The post partition culture and society of the subcontinent are strongly influenced by this trauma. Similarly the politics on both sides, ever since 1947 has been continually tainted by this division to check and control domestic dissent and revolt from the oppressed.
The subcontinent's economy has been eroded and ruined by the same policies that were behind the act of partition. In short the whole societies of the subcontinent are still burning in the fires ignited by the partition.
Comrade Lal Khan's work on partition is an epic. It is a unique and creative addition to a long series of works done on this subject.
He has dialectically from a materialist point of view analysed the history, culture, economy and politics of the subcontinent. This is an analysis that has rarely been produced. Lal Khan has exposed those hidden historical and factual details that were consciously omitted by most historians and analysts for obvious reasons. He has analysed the pre and post partition societies from a class perspective. No other book has dared to give such an account of the events, the betrayal of the leaders and a Marxist analysis of the movement of national liberation.
But what makes it an epic work is that for the first time he has gone deep into the future perspectives and analysed the real causes of the misery being inflicted upon the masses but also presented a viable and comprehensive solution to the daunting problems plaguing these societies.
Today the conditions of the countries of the subcontinent are even worse than those before partition. In countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; poverty, hunger, disease and ignorance has reached untold proportions. Life for most of the inhabitants in this region has become so dreadful. The ruling class in this region is incapable of developing societies and improve life. The rulers can't solve even a single basic problem. Like other colonial countries, the bourgeoisie of these countries made a belated entry into the arena of history. That is why they are doomed to play a subservient role to the multinational companies and can work only as their stooges.
In South Asian countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka the plight for democracy still goes on. In the last 56 years, even democracy could not be established in these countries, India has a so-called democratic system but for whom? It is also true that democracy in India could not do anything for masses and the working class. Hence it is not enough to harp on the slogans of democracy. Rather it will not be out of place to say that capitalism has a dual way of ruling the people by using them the continue the exploitation of the people. And India is one example of such exploitation.
Like other peoples of the subcontinent a major portion of the Indian populace has sunk into a bottomless pit of poverty. One cursory look at the industrial infrastructure and conditions of the vast majority of masses exposes the ruler's claims of development in this region.
Parliament has been dissolved in Nepal. There is no date set for the new elections as yet. Last month the parliament was suspended in Sri Lanka and a state of emergency was imposed in the country. Similarly the opposition is continuing its year long protest and boycott of the parliament in Pakistan.
In Bangladesh the democratic system is going through various experimentations. It can be surely concluded that the democratic system in the countries are nothing more than a farce which has absolutely failed the common man. During the last 56 years, rulers in the subcontinent could not develop the political system. The menace of religious fundamentalism in these countries is on the rise. The role of rebels in the greater part of Nepal and the menace of Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka indicates that the subcontinent is faced with the worst kind of civil strife.
All the dreams of developing theses societies remain unfulfilled. The backwardness and the intervention of advanced monopolies can only give rise to greater contradictions and bloodshed. This is the destiny being offered by capitalism to the masses.
India and Pakistan both are nuclear powers. Kashmir is the bone of contention between them. In the whole of the subcontinent, the rulers cannot solve any basic issue including the national question. With the passage of time this problem has been further complicated. The national question could not be addressed in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. But Kashmir is the most complicated of all. There have been three wars between the two rivals on this issue. There is a whole chapter on this issue in this book. This gives the only possible solution to the orgy of repression and conflict in Kashmir. In spite of the superficial ranting by the representatives of the ruling elites the relations are at their worst level.
Both the countries are equipped with nuclear weapons and launching missiles. Last year both armies were poised against each other eyeball-to-eyeball and anything could have happened. In these conditions if war taken place, it will bring untold disaster to both the countries. We believe that the rulers of both the countries cannot afford war because as such they will have to die along with the masses in the wake of a nuclear holocaust. But they cannot sustain durable peace as well. If the peace takes place, it will put an end to the interests of ruling classes who breed on hatred between the two countries. It will also give relief to the working people of devastating menace of war. Since the ruling class cannot solve the problems of the working class, hence the proletariat has to take the matters into their own hands.
Hence the class struggle will have to take on its own real issues and its own course of action. It is the tradition of the workers movement that whenever it erupts it tries to fight to the finish, to transform society. War is the weapon of the ruling class through which they keep the masses subjugated. Their peace initiatives are a mere demagoguery.
This book can play an important role to awaken the oppressed masses and provide a way-out for the working class to envisage and execute its revolutionary role.
This region is one of the most fertile and rich places in the world, yet hunger, starvation and poverty is on the rise. The money spent on health and education is one of the lowest in the world. It is further aggravating the situation. The industrial and the social infrastructure are obsolete, uneven and deteriorating - they cannot provide a basis for a modern industrialised state. Around 1.5 billion people will continue to suffer in this quagmire. Is this the destiny of this and future generations to come? This book very affectively answers this question. The future of this region will be total destruction if the wounds of partition and the elimination of the capitalist system that inflicted it are not eliminated through the insurrection of a socialist revolution in any of the countries leading to a socialist federation of the subcontinent that can enable the people of this great civilisation to embark on a new journey and take destiny in their own hands.
Comrade Lal Khan's book is one of the most meaningful analyses that basis itself on the great and ancient civilisations of this region, the causes of its decline and resurrection on the basis of revolutionary socialism. This analysis can enable the deprived and the destitute of this region to start a new and prosperous life, forgetting all conflicts of the past and going ahead in the quest for a greater future. On the basis of this analysis, people of the subcontinent can create a society free of misery, hunger, disease, ignorance, and unemployment. A developed socialist subcontinent may also serve as the beacon of light and emancipation for the rest of the world.
November 2003.You can order copies of the book here:
"Partition - Can it be undone?" by Lal Khan