Justice Markandey Katju-
Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
The ongoing Indian farmers’ agitation can be likened to the Chinese Long March. Like the latter, it will face many obstacles, witness many twists and turns, and even retreats and splits, but eventually is bound to emerge triumphant, leading to the creation of a political and social order under which India rapidly industrializes and prospers, and its people get decent lives.
These are my reasons for saying so :
As I pointed out in my article ‘ The next stage of world history ‘ published in indicanews.com, this world is really divided into two worlds, the world of the developed countries ( North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, China ) and the world of the underdeveloped countries ( including India ). The underdeveloped countries must transform themselves into developed countries, otherwise, they will remain condemned to massive poverty, unemployment, hunger, lack of healthcare etc.
This historical transformation from an underdeveloped to a developed country is not possible without a mighty protracted people’s struggle, as there are powerful, forces which for their own vested interest will oppose it tooth and nail.
India will give leadership to all the underdeveloped countries in this process because it is the most developed of the underdeveloped countries. It has all that is required to become a highly developed country–a huge pool of technical talent ( in the form of thousands of bright engineers, technicians, scientists, etc ) and immense natural resources.
But it lacked two things (1) unity among our people (2) modern-minded political leadership.
The ongoing farmers’ agitation has created the first ( see my articles ‘ The Indian farmers’ agitation is the spark which will set the country ablaze ‘ published in indicanews.com, ‘ A united India in the making ‘ published in dailypioneer.com, and ‘ Historical significance of the Indian farmers’ agitation ‘ published in hastakshepnews.com ). As mentioned in these articles, the Indian people were till now divided on the basis of caste and religion, and were often fighting each other, thus wasting their energy and resources. Now this farmers agitation has risen above these feudal forces and united us, which is a real historical achievement.
But the leaders of this agitation have no modern political vision or understanding. Their only demand is economic ( Minimum Support Price for farmers ) not political. They have no doubt begun a historical process, but they will have to be later replaced by modern-minded patriotic leaders who have an understanding of historical forces and can take the country forward in its Long March ahead.
The Chinese Long March lasted for about 2 years ( 1934-36 ). Our Long March will probably last 15-20 years, with many twists and turns, splits and reverses. Great sacrifices will have to be made in this period of struggle.
History has shown that in most historical transformations about 10% of the population is wiped out. For instance, after the Chinese Revolution was victorious in 1949, a calculation was made, and it was found that about 50 million of the then total 500 million Chinese population was killed during the Chinese Revolution. Similarly, about 3-4 million of the then about 40 million Vietnamese population was killed in the Vietnamese war, first against the French, and then the Americans.
Going by these historical figures, we have to be ready to sacrifice 135 million of our 1350 million people in this coming historical struggle. One wishes the historical transformation of India from an underdeveloped to a highly developed country could take place peacefully and smoothly, but history does not move in that manner.
India’s Long March has begun. It will be long, arduous, and painful, and many will fall on the way, but ultimately it will result in creating a modern, prosperous country, with our people having decent lives.