People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 08

February 25, 2007

1857…No, No, It Is 1835 Legacy 

That The UPA Govt Is Trying To Inherit


G Mamta


THE government of India has decided on a weird way of observing the 150th anniversary of the 1857 national revolt, the birth centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, 75 years of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Chandrasekhar Azad and 60 years of Indian independence! It has decided to get the Indian bureaucrats trained by the US universities and linked their promotions to obtaining a certificate from these universities! (Hindustan Times, February 3, 2007)


The ghost of colonial hangover refuses to die down for our ruling classes. After all, not so long ago did our prime minister go to England and thanked them profusely for their benevolence on imparting good governance to our country. While it is sad that he is unable to forget that he ceased to be an employee of the Bretton Woods institutions and that he is now the head of a sovereign State, the most disheartening aspect is that he wants all the Indian bureaucrats to learn from the country of his past masters. 


What does the Indian ruling class want its bureaucracy to learn from the US when we are repeatedly told, and rightly so, that our IIMs are world standard? Nobody denies that bureaucrats need to go to various countries, learn from their experiences and enrich their understanding. Taking the best of all of these experiences and adapting them to Indian conditions should be the purpose of such exercises. But the question now is far from that. The government wants the bureaucracts to get a ‘certificate’ from the US universities and on that basis they would be promoted to higher responsibilities. This is nothing but absolutely ridiculous and reflects the slavish mentality of the rulers. 


Or is it the government’s intention that the bureaucrats learn straight from the horse’s mouth – US – how to quicken and deepen the process of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation –– the cosmetic names for the deprivation of the majority. How can a country with draconian laws, scant respect for human rights and highest rate of human rights abuse teach any other country about governance? Of course, they can teach us how to turn our prisons into Abu Ghraibs, Guantanama Bays, to detain people without trial and kill innocent children, women and citizens. For that matter they can even teach us how to suppress peoples’ movements and struggles akin to the one in Seattle and better the performance of our officers from what they have exhibited in Gurgaon, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh etc.


It is ironic that the UPA government that has come to power in the name of aam admi is doing all this when the country is remembering some of the proud movements in our history. The 1857 revolt is 150 years old. This is the revolt that has galvanised the anti-imperialist struggle all over the country. The UPA government that has announced that it is celebrating the 1857 revolt is actually following the legacy of 1835. It is in that year on February 2 that Macaulay has written his famous minutes that transformed Indian education system. To quote once again from the oft-quoted minutes, “We must at present do our best to form…a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.” 


Does the government want to show its gratitude to Macaulay by converting our bureaucrats into, ‘Indian in blood and colour, but Bretton Woods in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect’? 


But unfortunately for them the country has come a long way from 1835. It has behind it the experience of 1857, 1905, 1920, 1931, 1940s and much more, not to speak about the recently gained experiences in the struggle against imperialism. The people will not tolerate the slavish mentality of the ruling classes but will stand up to be counted for their self-respect, protection of the sovereignty and independence of the country. The people are moving on and are demanding justice, dignity and equality. The ruling classes idea of stopping them from this onward march, whatever training they impart to their machinery, will not materialise because the people are realising that


“The seed ye sows another reaps;
The wealth ye find another keeps;
The robes ye weave another wears;
The arms ye forge another bears;” 


And so, now they will


“Sow seed, -- but let no tyrant reap;
Find wealth, -- let no imposter heap;
Weave robes, -- let no idle wear;
Forge arms, in your defence to bear”.