Imperialism has undergone a change in its strategy after the world war 2. The elements of finance capital penetrates through governmental aids, loan and direct investment in the oppressed nationalities. Imperialism which Lenin described as the highest stage of capitalism is an formidable enemy of oppressed nations. According to him imperialism has “five essential features”:
The concentration of production and capital developed to such a high stage that it created monopolies, which play a decisive role in economic life. Leading to vast economic inequalities as is seen that top one percent billionaire has the wealth equal to 40 percentage of world resources.
The merging of bank capital with industrial capital, leading into the formation of “finance capital,” of a “financial oligarchy.”
The export of capital, which has become extremely important, as distinguished from the export of commodities. This comes so as to exploit the cheap labour and resources of the oppressed nations.
The formation of international capitalist monopolies, which share the world among themselves.
The territorial division of the whole world among the greatest capitalist powers is completed. The scramble of the world by US and Chinese imperialist forces can be seen.
In this framework if we look into Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and other such oppressed nationalities we find that they have been a direct victim of modern imperialism. Imperialism has used it’s prop the Indian big bourgeoisie to establish the rule of capital in these regions. The Indian big bourgeoisie, which prospered mainly because of its role as intermediaries to imperialist capital, wanted an India with a strong centre by their control over different national regions, by curbing the forces of genuine nationalism and suppressing various nations and nationalities of India. Before transferring power, the British imperialists also wanted to keep the unity of India in tact. They seriously wanted to have a ‘United India’ to serve their global strategy—political, economic and military. Moreover, the Indian big bourgeoisie aspired to become a zonal power in the Indian Ocean region as junior partners of the Anglo-American powers. The closing period of the second world war enabled them to see rosy visions of its future. This class minted gold out of the sweat and tears of the people of India during the war. The defeat of Japan in Asia, the decline in the power and prestige of the old imperialist powers like France and the Netherlands etc. whetted the appetite of the big bourgeoisie. They started dreaming of dominating not only South Asia, but also the entire Indian Ocean region.
These predatory aspirations of the Indian big bourgeoisie were voiced by one of their top political representatives—the man who was destined to be the first prime minister of ‘independent’ India. Jawaharlal Nehru was one of those who, irrespective of what his public statements were, abhorred the right of nations to self-determination. While in jail, he wrote: “…Whether India is properly to be described as a nation, or two, or more, really does not matter, for the modern idea of nationality has been almost divorced from statehood. The national state is too small a unit today and small states can have no independent existence” (J.Nehru, The Discovery of India, London, 1956, p.545). Statements such as these are in clear contravention of the UN Declaration on Fundamental Rights. He held: “…the small national state is doomed. It may survive as a cultural, autonomous area but not as an independent political unit” (The Discovery of India,p. 550). Again, he stated: “The right of any well-constituted area to secede from the Indian federation or union has often been put forward, and the argument of the USSR advanced in support of it.
That argument has little application, for conditions there are wholly different and the right has little practical value” (p.548). Nehru’s wild ambitions knew no bounds. He asserted that it was Nehru’s ‘manifest destiny’ to become the centre of a “super-national state” stretching from the Middle East to South-East Asia and to exercise “an important influence” in the Pacific region (p.550). Nehru asserted, “So it seems that in the modern world it is inevitable for India to be the centre of things in Asia (In that term, I would include Australia and New Zealand too, being in the Indian Ocean region. East Africa comes into it also)….India is going to be the centre of a very big federation…”(Nehru, Selected Works, Vol.XV,pp.562,566). Nehru was quite prompt in affirming that “India is likely to dominate politically and economically the Indian Ocean region”. In August 1945, he stated: ” I stand for a south Asia federation of India, Iraq, Afganistan and Burma…In the world of today there are two big powers, Russia and America. In the world of tomorrow, there will be two more, India and China—there will be no fifth” (Nehru, SW, pp.440,441-2). That is not the end of such tall talks and wild dreams. Nehru considered Sri Lanka to be “really part of India” and wanted her to be “an autonomous unit of the Indian federation”(SW, vol.XIV, p.450; vol.XV,p.458;vol.X,p.32;vol.XI,pp.788-89).
He also claimed that Nepal was “certainly a part of India”, though she was a nominally independent country (ibid, 2nd series vol.II,p.470). Like Nehru, Patel too was afflicted with this ‘Great Power’ syndrome. He said: ” Let India be strong and be able to assume the leadership of Asia, which is its right”( P.D.Saggi, Life & Works of Vallabhbhai Patel, Bombay n.d.p.89). On 7 November 1950, he wrote to Nehru: “the undefined state of the frontier (in the north and northeast) and the existence on our side of the population with its affinities to Tibetans or Chinese have all the elements of potential trouble between China and ourselves…Our northern or northeastern approaches consist of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling(area) and tribal areas in Assam…The people inhabiting these portions have no established loyalty or devotion to India”.
So he proposed that “political and administrative steps” should be taken “to strengthen our northern and north-eastern frontiers. This would include the whole of the border, i.e., Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal territory in Assam”(Durga Das,ed. Sardar Patel’s Correspondence, vol.X,pp.337-8,340). Toeing in the line of Nehru that small nationalities are bound to be doomed to pave the way for the creation of the ‘Indian nation’(which is but a myth), Patel advocated the establishment of Indian domination over all these countries and regions in the north and the north-east. This imagination is the imagination of Akhand Bharat based on the brahmanised idea of Hindu, Hindi and Hindustan. The feudal elements have their cultural supremacy placed in such construction. On this basis the ruling class of big bourgeoisie and big landlords jointly campaign to suppress the right to self determination of oppressed nations.
Small nationalities in the North-East
The north-eastern part of India consisting of seven small states namely, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura is the home of many small nationalities like the Assamese, the Nagas, the Mizos, the Khasis, the Bodos, the Khamtis, the Karbis etc. and many other ethnic groups of people. They were ruled by some independent feudal kings and tribal chiefs. This region is rich in such natural resources as oil, tea, gas, coal etc. The British imperialists pursued a ‘forward policy’ in these regions, suppressed by force and other means the hopes and aspirations of the people living there and sought to integrate the northeast with the central administration. They were successful only in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Mehgalaya, while the peoples of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura raised the banner of rebellion against colonial rule. In the post-1947 phase, the Nehru-led government, installed by the British, continued the same colonial legacy of national subjugation and what followed was the forcible mergers of these regions with the Indian state.
In March 1947, the maharaja and the ruling council of Manipur drafted a constitution for independent Manipur. Turning a deaf ear to the aspirations of the Manipuri people, Vallabhbhai Patel, the then home minister of India, compelled king Bodhachandra Singh to sign a document for the merger of Manipur with the Indian state. The maharaja sought to get some time to discuss the matter with his council, but was disallowed by Patel. The merger agreement was signed on 21 September 1949 and it became effective from 15 October that year.
Regarding Nagaland, Nehru wrote: ” It (the Naga territory) lies between two huge countries, India and China…Inevitably, therefore, this Naga territory must form part of India and Assam…the excluded areas should be incorporated with the other areas”(Nehru, SW, vol.XV,p.279). As part of its‘forward policy’, the British annexed one part of the Naga territory and created the Naga Hills territory and created the Naga Hills District. The British followed a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of the Naga Hills District, and the land bordering Tibet and Myanmar inhabited by the Naga people were left un-administered. But the Indian expansionists did not allow the Naga people to take their destiny in their own hands. They wanted to annex the whole of the Naga territory. On 7 August 1951, Nehru’s principal private secretary wrote to A.Z.Phizo, the leader of the Naga National Council, that “the Indian government would not allow any attempt by any section of the people of India to claim an independent state”(S.Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, vol.II, Delhi 1979,p.208). Such was the plea given by the Indian expansionists to justify their annexation of Nagaland even though the Nagas had never been a section of the people of India.
Assam historically was never a part of present-day India. The Assamese nationality, consisting of such human groups as Ahom, Moran, Matak, Koch, Deurie, Chutia etc. rather grew in isolation and endowed with a racial and cultural heritage totally distinct from that of metropolitan India. Assam was annexed by the British on 24 February 1826, by virtue of the Treaty of Yandaboo, entered into with the government of Myanmar and was brought under unified Indian administration. Neither did this treaty have the concurrence of the Assamese people, nor was it ratified by the then rulers of Assam. The Indian expansionists took Assam over as if by natural right and thus Assam became an integral part of the Indian state in 1947. The same is true of other nationalities living in Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya etc.
As discussed earlier Indian State is the monopoly of comprador big bourgeoisie of India. The comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie has thousands of ties with the feudal ruling class of the countryside and it’s their mutual dictatorship that serves the interest of imperial capital in the subcontinent of India. The lack of capitalist development leading towards a qualitative change in mode of production has made the ruling class parasitic. Indian society have not seen the revolutionary character of capitalism in which all the extra economic coercion is melted down to form relationship based largely on economics. This explains the different strategies of state formation in the spaces of oppressed nationalities. Indian state presence in regions of oppressed nationalities is not just by the economic interest of the imperialist but through different extra economic coercion. The penetration of brahmanical Hindutva ideology in these region is one such way. The tribal cultures are being assimilated into the Hindu fold.
The first struggle in any region occupied by foreign powers is the struggle to liberate the land from foreign dominance. The land grab by the imperialist forces and the big bourgeoisie of Indian must be stopped. The land belongs to the people. We must defeat the attempt by the powers to convert the community life of these regions into the capital centric life of individualism.