ASocialist revolution in India would be an event of fundamental significance to the international class struggle. An immense population of 550 million whose rural and urban masses are plunged in abysmal misery and unemployment make India one of the great potential storm-centres within world capitalism. In the last decade, it has become clear that one after another the landmarks of post-independence politics are rapidly disappearing and a turbulent and uncharted future lies ahead. The split in the Communist Party of India between the cpi (Right) and cpi (Marxist) in 1964 and the subsequent split in the cpi (Marxist) which has led to the formation of the cpi (Marxist-Leninist); the formation of United Front Governments in Kerala and West Bengal embracing both the cpi (r) and the cpi (m); the peasant revolt in the Naxalbari district of West Bengal in 1967 and the present emergence of a guerrilla movement in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh; the widespread defeat of the Congress Party in the 1967 elections and the vertical national split in the Congress Party in late 1969—this chain of developments must be judged against the economic relations and class structure of Indian society which provide their fundamental background.

In the post-independence period, the Indian Government has relied mainly on social-democratic type planning to achieve economic growth. Large areas of economic life are naturally beyond the planners’ control, and their plans have in any case mainly been concerned with preparing blueprints rather than implementing them. In effect, what goes by the name of planning are various schemes for mobilizing private and public savings to accumulate capital by taxation, monetarization and credit creation. The failure of successive plans to achieve serious growth, inflationary pressure that arose after 1964 and the bad harvests of 1965–66 led to postponement of the Fourth Five Year Plan which was to have started in 1965–66. It has been shelved ever since. The result has been that the limit of growth of per capita income has been on the average one per cent per annum. But there have been excessive fluctuations. Per capita income went down during the two famine years of 1965–66 and 1966–67. The table below summarizes the record since 1951.footnote1

Per capita food availability started from the extremely low level of 13.5 ounces per day in 1951. Foodgrains output grew up to 1960–61, stagnated for the next three years, rose in 1964–65 and then a famine situation developed in 1965–66 and 1966–67, when output fell below 1961 figures. It is probably back to the 1961 level by now. It should always be remembered, of course, that the per capita figures hide the true abyss of poverty of the Indian masses, because of the great inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. The food-grains record can be seen from these computations:

Growth of industrial production has been more rapid than growth of agricultural production, but has also been very uneven from one year to the next. The industrial sector at the time of independence was extremely small. In 1950–51, mines and large scale industrial enterprises employed only 2.7 per cent of the labour force, while small enterprises and railways employed 9 per cent. In the twenty years since then, the preponderance of agricultural has been reduced from 48 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product to 40 per cent.

Planning has led to the growth of a State capitalist sector, whose role to a large extent has been to build up a cost-free infra-structure for the Indian bourgeoisie by undertaking risky and expensive investments. This sector now produces steel, machine tools, heavy electrical equipment, locomotives and aircraft. There is also a state monopoly of railways, telecommunications, and some road transport. The State sector, which currently accounts for 40 per cent of all paid-up company capital, has thus created much of the heavy machine-making industry that India lacked at the time of independence.