Educate, Agitate, Organise For Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

As we enter upon the year of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, his worst apprehensions regarding Indian society and polity seem to be coming true as never before.

“If Hindu Raj does become a fact” -- he wrote in Pakistan or Partition of India (1945) “it will no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. It is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.”

Ambedkar had the foresight to spot the danger of Hindu Rashtra on the distant skyline some 70 years ago; today that danger is at our gates, in the shape of the Modi Raj, essentially a corporate-communal fascist rule.

Modi is fond of using Ambedkar as an alibi for every assault by his Government and his party on the Constitution drafted by Ambedkar. With his Government in the dock for the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the Ambedkarite Marxist student activist branded anti-national by Modi’s Ministers, the Prime Minister is trying hard to redefine Ambedkar’s legacy to suit the BJP’s agenda.

Laying the foundation stone for an Ambedkar Memorial at Delhi, Modi said that Ambedkar called for labour reform as well as industrialization. In fact, Ambedkar staunchly opposed every reform that the colonial regime introduced to discipline and enslave labour, and today Modi’s Government is introducing labour reforms’ that take a leaf from the colonial book!

Modi said that Ambedkar resigned from the Congress Government’s cabinet over the issue of women’s rights. This is a reference to the Hindu Code Bill that Ambedkar drafted; he felt betrayed at its truncation and dilution by the Nehru Government. But Modi omits to mention that the staunchest opponent of the Hindu Code Bill was the RSS, which backed the Anti Hindu Code Bill Committee. Historian Ramchandra Guha has noted that the RSS organized a public meeting at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on the 11th of December, 1949, “where speaker after speaker condemned the bill. One called it ‘an atom bomb on Hindu society.’” (Bhagwat’s Ambedkar


Moreover, Ambedkar had burnt the Manusmriti as a symbol of casteism and patriarchy, while the BJP, RSS and ABVP defend the Manusmriti. Even Modi himself, in an article he wrote on Golwalkar in 2006, had the audacity to refer to Ambedkar as a modern Manu in a deliberate attempt to reconcile Ambedkar with Manuvad - the same Manuvad that Ambedkar was committed to annihilating.

The fact is that Ambedkar was not just a law-giver or Constitution-writer but a political visionary and activist-leader. His political and social vision as well as the Constitution he drafted are under the worst possible attack today from communal-corporate fascism.

Modi, even while laying the foundation stone for Ambedkar’s memorial, displayed his own characteristic arrogance and self-centeredness. The foundation stone had Modi’s name twice in large fonts, dwarfing Ambedkar’s own name! Modi claimed that it was his historic mission to fulfil Baba Saheb’s dream. The fact, however, was that Baba Saheb’s dreams were not for memorials for himself: his dream was to annihilate caste and transform India into a truly democratic and egalitarian society.

Ambedkar’s dream was to usher in an “ideal society” founded on “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, with the three canons seamlessly integrated into a “way of life” and a form of government known as democracy. The onus of achieving this, he insisted, rests primarily on the dalit masses, who must lead the campaign of “annihilation of caste” armed with the motto “Educate, Agitate, Organise”. And on that basis alone will India become a modern nation with a robust constitutional morality.

Democracy is Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Ambedkar did not see democracy merely in terms of its surface political forms – but in terms of its deeper socio-economic structures. He wrote, “Democracy is not merely a form of Government. … It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen.” (Annihilation of Caste, henceforth Annihilation)

Ambedkar asked us not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These … are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy.” (Speech in the Constituent Assembly on adoption of the Constitution, November 25, 1949; henceforth Speech; emphasis added)

Let us see how Ambedkar explains the three components of democracy.


The basic question he posed and answered was: liberty/freedom/ political power for whom?

Prior to independence, he wrote,

“The question whether the Congress is fighting for freedom has very little importance as compared to the question for whose freedom is the Congress fighting.” (cited by Arundhati Roy in The Doctor and the Saint)

In What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables? (1945) he observed, “… this Congress fight for liberty, if it succeeds, will mean liberty to the strong and the powerful to suppress the weak and the downtrodden …” and added that “democracy and self-government in India cannot be real unless freedom has become the assured possession of all …”

After independence, he spoke about the matter in another way:

“…political power in this country has too long been the monopoly of a few and the many are not only beasts of burden, but also beasts of prey. This monopoly has not merely deprived them of their chance of betterment; it has sapped them of what may be called the significance of life. These down-trodden classes are tired of being governed. They are impatient to govern themselves.” (Speech; emphasis added)


In the same speech he also said,

“We must begin by acknowledging the fact that there is complete absence of two things in Indian Society. One of these is equality. On the social plane, we have in

India a society based on the principle of graded inequality … in which there are some who have immense wealth as against many who live in abject poverty. On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?” (Emphasis added)

As we know, Ambedkar resigned from the first cabinet in independent India in protest against Nehru Government’s betrayal and backtracking on a crucial piece of reform legislation he drafted with great care and diligence - the Hindu Code Bill, which had clauses against caste discrimination, and providing for property and inheritance rights for women. In the resignation letter, he wrote,

“To leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, which is the soul of Hindu Society, untouched and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap.”


“The second thing we are wanting in, continued Ambedkar in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly, “is recognition of the principle of fraternity. What does fraternity mean? Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians - of Indians being one people. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life. It is a difficult thing to achieve.”

He had elucidated the idea very well back in 1936:

“An ideal society should be mobile, should be full of channels for conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts. In an ideal society there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared. There should be varied and free points of contact with other modes of association. In other words, there must be social endosmosis. This is fraternity, which is only another name for democracy.” (Annihilation of Caste)

Annihilation of Caste

While Ambedkar advocated many much-needed reforms including the Hindu Code Bill and caste-based representation and reservations, the question of the annihilation of caste was most crucial to Ambedkar’s conception of democracy. The key text where Ambedkar dealt with question has been dealt in greatest detail and most radical terms is Annihilation of Caste (Henceforth Annihilation)- a speech scheduled to be delivered at a talk organized by Jat-Pat Todak Mandal (Forum for the Break-up of Caste System) of Lahore, an offshoot of the Arya Samaj -- but later cancelled by the organizers. Here we find Ambedkar mercilessly tearing apart the varna-caste kernel of Brahmanism, in the process demolishing familiar apologetic arguments like (a) casteism is bad but varnavyavastha is good, (b) caste is necessary but untouchability is bad and so on.

To start with, read this passage from Annihilation:

“Hindu society as such does not exist. It is only a collection of castes. Each caste is conscious of its existence. Its survival is the be all and end all of its existence. Castes do not even form a federation. A caste has no feeling that it is affiliated to other castes except when there is a Hindu-Muslim riot. On all other occasions each caste endeavours to segregate itself and to distinguish itself from other castes. Each caste not only dines among itself and marries among itself but each caste prescribes its own distinctive dress.” ”

Caste, in other words, was the worst segregator - in fact “anti-national”, as he would declare soon after independence.

Gandhi on the other hand reduced the whole agenda to that of abolition of untouchability and conducted an intense ‘harijan’ campaign for the purpose. His entire emphasis was on ‘penance’ by caste Hindus for the sin of untouchability. The campaign did not allow any space for militant action by untouchables themselves. In an attempt to mobilise Ambedkar, already a rising star among dalits by the early 1930s – in his campaign, Gandhi requested the latter to send a message for his magazine Harijan. Ambedkar did not let go of this opportunity to counter the illusion that untouchability or the problem of the outcastes could be solved within the caste system. Here is the statement he sent:

““The Out-caste is a bye-product of the Caste system. There will be outcastes as long as there are castes. Nothing can emancipate the Out-caste except the destruction of the Caste system. Nothing can help to save Hindus and ensure their survival in the coming struggle except the purging of the Hindu Faith of this odious and vicious dogma.””(Harijan, 11 February 1933)

But how to proceed towards this goal? Some of the religious but progressive Hindus believed that inter-caste dining and inter-caste marriages could perhaps close the gaps. In Annihilation Ambedkar first says that the latter is more potent than the former, since “Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling, the feeling of being aliens created by Caste will not vanish.””He congratulates the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal for actively promoting this and then goes to the very root of the matter:

“Why is it that a large majority of Hindus do not inter-dine and do not inter-marry? The Hindus observe Caste not because they are inhuman or wrong- headed. What is wrong is their religion, which has inculcated this notion of Caste. “[Therefore,] criticising and ridiculing people for not inter-dining or inter-marrying or occasionally holding inter-caste dinners and celebrating inter-caste marriages, is a futile method of achieving the desired end. The real remedy is to destroy the belief in the sanctity of the Shastras. …

“Reformers working for the removal of untouchability, including Mahatma Gandhi, do not seem to realize that the acts of the people are merely the results of their beliefs inculcated upon their minds by the Shastras and that people will not change their conduct until they cease to believe in the sanctity of the Shastras on which their conduct is founded. No wonder that such efforts have not produced any results. To agitate for and to organise inter-caste dinners and inter-caste marriages is like forced feeding brought about by artificial means. Make every man and woman free from the thralldom of the Shastras, cleanse their minds of the pernicious notions founded on the Shastras, and he or she will inter-dine and inter-marry, without your telling him or her to do so.”

And further:

“If you wish to bring about [a] breach in the system then you have got to apply the dynamite to the Vedas and the Shastras, which deny any part to reason, to Vedas and Shastras, which deny any part to morality. You must destroy the religion of the Shrutis and the Smritis. Nothing else will avail. This is my considered view of the matter.”

Ambedkar did not spare the varnashram or varnavyavastha either. He interpreted the story of Shambuka in the Ramayana as a fallout of this system:

“To blame Rama for killing Shambuka is to misunderstand the whole situation. Ram Raj was a Raj based on Chaturvarnya. As a king, Rama was bound to maintain Chaturvarnya. It was his duty therefore to kill Shambuka, the Shudra, who had transgressed his class and wanted to be a Brahmin. This is the reason why Rama killed Shambuka. But this also shows that penal sanction is necessary for the maintenance of Chaturvarnya. Not only penal sanction is necessary, but penalty of death is necessary. That is why Rama did not inflict on Shambuka a lesser punishment. That is why Manu-Smriti prescribes such heavy sentences as cutting off the tongue or pouring of molten lead in the ears of the Shudra, who recites or hears the Veda.”

As an apologist for Chaturvarnya Gandhi also drew his ire:

“The Mahatma must be told that he is deceiving himself and also deceiving the people by preaching Caste under the name of Varna.”

After Annihilation was published, Gandhi wrote a critique in Harijan. In response, Ambedkar wrote ‘A Reply to the Mahatma’. He showed, inter alia, that varnavyavastha has an inherent tendency to degenerate into a caste system and that the effect of the Varnavyavastha is to degrade the masses by denying them opportunity to acquire knowledge and to emasculate them by denying them the right to be armed.

“Educate, Agitate, Organise”

These words, in the order given here (which is often misplaced), appeared as the mast for Bahishkrit Bharat -- India Excluded or Ostracized India -- the first magazine Ambedkar published. In fact this was the motto of the utopian socialist Fabian society, about which he came to learn from his Oxford teacher John Dewey. “My final words of advice to you,” he said at the end of his speech at the All-India Depressed Classes Conference (Nagpur, July 1942), “are -- educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself.” ”

Ambedkar never saw himself as the messiah of dalits and always insisted on independent rational thinking instead of blind faith on any supreme leader, including himself. “You must abolish your slavery yourself”, he said. “Do not depend for its abolition upon God or a Superman.” This approach, which stood in stark contrast against the guru worship prevalent in our country, found expression in his favourite maxim from Buddhism -- atmo deep bhavo (Be a torch unto thyself or be your own guide).

Dalits must educate themselves, fight independently for their rights and dues, and get organised to achieve their goal - this principle, very close as it is to the Marxist principle that the proletariat must secure its emancipation by itself - had its polar opposite in Gandhi’s views and modus operandi among the untouchables.

Nationalism, Constitutional Morality, Scientific Spirit

“I am of opinion that in believing that we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into several thousands of castes be a nation? The sooner we realize that we are not as yet a nation in the social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us. For then only we shall realize the necessity of becoming a nation and seriously think of ways and means of realising the goal. The realization of this goal is going to be very difficult ….

The castes are anti-national. In the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. But we must overcome all these difficulties if we wish to become a nation in reality.” (Speech) ”

Today, in addition to caste we have religious, racial/regional, and other identities which provide fertile grounds for deep-rooted prejudices and mutual animosities that need to be ironed out before India can honestly claim to be one nation. At the forefront of the vested interests and divisive forces that are systematically aggravating these faultlines for their selfish ends today we find the Sangh Parivar, out to kill all dissent and plurality in the name of nationalism and national unity. But look deeper and you will find the class forces - the ruling classes or “the governing class”, as Ambedkar often called it, playing the foul game to protect its rule. In his time Ambedkar unveiled the process in the following words:

“the governing class in India has placed itself in the vanguard of the Congress movement and it strives to bring everybody within the Congress fold. …
“[it] is aware that a political campaign based on class ideology, class interests, class issues and class conflicts will toll its death knell. It knows that the most effective way of side tracking the servile classes and fooling them is to play upon the sentiment of nationalism and national unity and realizes that the Congress platform is the only platform that can most effectively safeguard the interest of the governing class.” ”

Replace Congress with BJP/Sangh Parivar. Don’t you get a fair approximation of today’s scenario, with the additional aspect that that the BJP/Sangh Parivar, in the name of nationalism, defines that nationalism in terms of an aggressive Hindu majority united against minorities and dissenting voices.

Ambedkar’s Radical Socio-Economic Vision

When Ambedkar was unsure of his election to the Constituent Assembly, he prepared a memorandum in March 1947, published in May 1947 as States and Minorities: What are Their Rights and How to Secure them in the Constitution of Free India. This document, presented as a ‘Constitution of the United States of India,’ was far ahead, in its radical democratic social vision, of what became the Indian Constitution. This document recommended that “Key industries shall be owned and run by the State... the State shall compel every adult citizen to take out a life insurance policy commensurate with his wages as may be prescribed by the Legislature... agriculture shall be a State industry.” The same document also advocated the state acquiring all agricultural land, dividing it into farms of standard size, and letting out the farms for cultivation to residents of the village as tenants, to be cultivated collectively.

The document prophetically observed that private enterprise, if linked to industrialization, “would produce those inequalities of wealth which private capitalism has produced in Europe and which should be a warning to Indians.” Ambedkar observed how capitalism was fundamentally opposed to democracy: “Anyone who studies the working of the system of social economy based on private enterprise and pursuit of personal gain will realise how it undermines, if it does not actually violate, the last two premises (i.e that the individual shall not be required to relinquish any of his constitutional rights as a precondition to the receipt of a privilege, and that the State shall not delegate powers to private persons to govern others) on which Democracy rests.”

He brilliantly responds to the argument that State control would curb ‘liberty’: “To whom and for whom is this liberty? Obviously this liberty is liberty to the landlords to increase rents, for capitalists to increase hours of work and reduce rate of wages. …In other words what is called liberty from the control of the State is another name for the dictatorship of the private employer.”

Uphold the Legacy and Vision of Ambedkar

People of India will never forget Ambedkar’s historic role as the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, in arming them with valuable weapons like universal franchise and reservation, which have given the downtrodden a platform to take on the deeply entrenched structures of inequality, injustice and domination of the rich and the powerful.

In addition to his well-known contributions, Ambedkar has left behind many other potent ideas and insights, if only in brief outlines. We must develop these in accordance with our situations and use them as political weapons in the current struggle against obscurantism, status-quoism, intolerance, patriarchy, regional/ethnic chauvinism and all that, and also in our long-term struggle for a people’s democracy based on genuine liberty, equality, and fraternity.

He made a very important distinction between societal morality and constitutional morality. The former refers to the old, spontaneous, commonsensical morality of the dominant community -- as expressed, for example, in regressive attitudes towards women’s social and sexual freedom, LGBT rights, interfaith and intercaste marriages, beef-eating, and so on. Constitutional morality on the other hand is modern, consciously developed, progressive and based on principles enshrined in the Constitution such as egalitarianism, social justice, secularism and so on. As Ambedkar pointed out, “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated.””

In these days of frequent and concerted attacks on rationalism, another ingredient of Ambedkar’s world outlook assumes special importance: his commitment to rationality and the scientific spirit. One of the reasons behind his attraction towards Buddhism lay in its spirit of investigation, argumentation, dialectical approach and enlightenment. While summarising the essential teachings of the Buddha, Ambedkar wrote, inter alia,

“Everyone has a right to learn. Learning is as necessary for man to live as food is … Nothing is infallible. Nothing is binding forever. Everything is subject to inquiry and examination.””

To carry such noble and highly relevant ideas and insights into the realm of practice, followers of Ambedkar and of Marx must come together in the immediate fight against the fascist offensive being waged by the Sangh-BJP establishment and the Modi government and also in the larger battle against the forces and structures of social oppression, economic exploitation and political subjugation.

Born in the tumultuous second half of the 1920s, the historical twins unfortunately remained largely cut off from each other except on occasions like the Bombay textile workers’ struggle in the late 1930s. Mistakes committed by the undivided CPI, especially its refusal to support Dr. Ambedkar in the elections in 1952, have played a major part in this unfortunate state of affairs.

Since its inception, the CPI(ML) with its decisive emphasis on agrarian revolution as the axis of democratic revolution, on the leading role of the landless poor in this transformation and consistent democratization of all relations and structures, has evolved a mode of class struggle that treats the question of ending social oppression in close unity with the question of challenging and changing the material basis that fosters social discrimination and injustice, and lays the greatest of emphases on the independent political assertion of the oppressed and exploited masses, thereby making some headway in overcoming this misfortune and opening up new possibilities of expanding the frontiers of united mobilisation and assertion of the people in the revolutionary movement. Battlefields HCU and JNU (which of course extend to the whole of the country) have now brought revolutionary communists and radical Ambedkarites closer together and highlighted the urgent need to further expand and deepen the camaraderie. This will take us forward to our shared dream of a truly democratic and egalitarian India, this will be the best tribute to this great visionary at this challenging juncture. 

Ambedkar on Labour Laws and State Repression

(Excerpt from Ambedkar’s speech in the Bombay Assembly against the Industrial Disputes Bill which sought to curtail workers’ right to strike and form independent unions. Ambedkar and the communist unions had joined hands to organize textile mill workers in struggles against the Bill. His powerful defence of the basic democratic rights of workers reads as a damning indictment of the arguments advanced by today’s Governments about labour laws. His interventions in the Assembly against an enquiry committee that had justified police firing on workers, is also remarkably relevant to many debates of our day, when any criticism of extra-constitutional violence by police or military is branded as anti-national.)

“Now, Sir, taking stock of all that I have stated so far relating to the legal position involved as a result of breach of contract of service, which, I say, is merely a popular description of that forbidding word “strike”, what is the position?

..My answer is this, that the Indian Legislature does not make a breach of contract of service a crime because it thinks that to make it a crime is to compel a man to serve against his will; [and making him a slave (Hear, hear.)] To penalise a strike, therefore, I contend, is nothing short of making the worker a slave.
…If members are prepared to accept my meaning of the word “strike” as being nothing more than a breach of contract, then I submit that a strike is simply another name for the right to freedom

(Quoting from a minute written by Mr. Jamnadas Mehta, Mr. M. S. Sesha Aiyangar, Mr. S C Mitra and Mr. V. V. Jogiah ed/),

“We cannot understand why a strike in a postal, telegraph or telephone service or for the matter of that in any Railway service should be made a crime. No doubt such a strike is inconvenient and interferes with our ordinary comforts, but it is monstrous to claim that if any body of men refuses to minister to our comforts if any to claim that body as criminals especially when the strikers feel that these comforts and conveniences can only be satisfied by their own degradation and misery. Can it be seriously contended that the Frontier Mail and similar luxurious services are so vital to society that strikes thereon should be made illegal?”

…… a democracy which enslaves the working class, a class which is devoid of education, which is devoid of the means of life, which is devoid of any power of organisation, which is devoid of intelligence, I submit, is no democracy but a mockery of democracy.

Now, Sir, under this Bill there are two categories of unions which will have the right to represent labour. The first is a union which … not less than 20 per cent of the workers as its members, and recognised by the employer. Secondly, a union whose membership is more than 50 per cent. can represent labour in the conciliation proceedings. …Calling a spade a spade, what I submit is this: there are, no doubt, two kinds of representative unions under this Bill, but the important point to note is that one is a slave union and the other a free union. Sir, there is no exaggeration and there is no violence done to language if I say that a union which can have locus stand, a legal existence, a right to represent and a right to speak, only if it secures the prior approval of the employer is a slave union and not a union of freemen. …

…Of course, if my honourable friend thinks that there is nothing wrong in having unionism based upon the principle of approval of the master, I have no quarrel. It is his philosophy of life; it is not mine. If he thinks that a man who is enslaved is a free man, it is his view; if he thinks that in order that we may have peace in industry the worker ought to be chained to his master, as he will be, it is for him; I have no quarrel. But, for myself, I am not prepared to accept that position. We do not want mere peace, and I repudiate the peace, the kind of peace that we are asked to have.

…Of course, it may be pointed out that this Bill introduces equality of treatment between the labourers and the employers, because, just as this Bill penalises the strike of workmen, it also penalises the lockout by employers….Equality is not necessarily equity. In order that it may produce equity in society, in order that it may produce justice in society, different people have to be treated unequally. This equity cannot be produced, if we propose to treat the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the ignorant and the intelligent on the same footing.

…The Bill as it is, I am sure about it, should not be passed. It only handicaps labour. Labour may not now know what this Bill does. But when the Bill comes into operation and the labourer stands face to face with the Bill he will say that this Bill is bad, bloody and a brutal Bill. Sir I cannot be a party to it.” 

Ambedkar on Police Firing,

(Ambedkar made the following remarks in response to an enquiry report that justified police firing by blaming the Council of Action - of which Ambedkar was a member - of provoking workers. Ambedkar’s words here are a powerful indictment of the manner in which Governments today justify the custodial killing of Ishrat Jehan by claiming she was a terrorist; or brand it anti-national to oppose AFSPA and demand that Army men accused of rape or murder face trial; or justify Jallianwala Bagh-style massacres by police or paramilitary by blaming agitating workers/adivasis/villagers. If Bhagat Singh warned of white rule being replaced by an equally tyrannical brown rule, Ambedkar has warned of the way in which Indian rulers will simply enjoy the freedom to shoot Indians as the colonial powers did. Today, the Indian rulers are enjoying the freedom to use colonial-era draconian laws including sedition and AFSPA.)

…I am also asking therefore another question to the Honourable the Home Minister. Is he prepared to prosecute the police officers who indulged in this firing in an ordinary court of law and get the finding given by this Committee sustained by a Judge and a Jury? Sir, I like to point out to this House that so far as the law is concerned, there is no difference between an ordinary citizen and a police officer or a military officer, and I would like to read for the benefit of the House a short paragraph from a very classical document which I am sure my honourable friend the Home Minister knows, namely, the Report of the Featherstone Riots Committee. In one passage it says:

“Officers and soldiers are under no special privileges and subject to no special responsibility as regards the principle of the law. A soldier for the purpose of establishing civil order is only a citizen armed in a particular manner. He cannot, because he is a soldier, excuse himself if, without necessity, he takes human life....””

... Let us have a verdict of a judge and jury, and I put it this way that if he does not do this, if he does not prosecute the members of the Council of Action, if he does not prosecute the police officers, then this report has no greater value than a fiction or a novel written by the Three Tailors of Tooley Street.

... I refer to the evidence of the late Sir, Edward Thompson, who was for some time Governor of the Punjab and for some time a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council. On his retirement he started an organisation in England in order to support the cause of Indian home rule. As everybody in this House knows, at the time when the Round Table Conference met, the civilians who had gone back—from here were divided into two groups—one group opposed to Indian home rule, and the other supporting Indian home rule. Sir Edward Thompson was one of those who led the group in support of the Indian claim. As a member of that group, he came before the Joint Parliamentary Committee to give evidence and to support his point of view, namely, as to why India should be given home rule. We were all very pleased that at any rate a section of the Indian civilians should come forward honestly and wholeheartedly to support the Indian cause. But I frankly say that I was horrified by the argument that he advanced. What was the argument that he advanced …The one thing that convinced him, he said, in favour of Irish home rule was this: So long as the rebellion was going on, no Englishman could shoot an Irishman, however violent his action was, because if an Englishman shot an Irishman, the whole Irish country went up in arms. He said that as soon as home rule was granted, it was possible for Cosgrave to shoot Irishmen, and nobody rose in rebellion against it. He said that one advantage that the Englishman would have from home rule to India would be that the Indian Ministers would be able to shoot Indians without any qualms. This is exactly what is happening. This is not the only occasion when disturbances have taken place.

... The only question is this: Whether, in maintaining peace and order, we shall not have regard for freedom and for liberty. And if home rule means nothing else as I am thinking, it can mean nothing else than that our own Minister can shoot our own people, and the rest of us merely laugh at the whole show or rise to support him because he happens to belong to a particular party, then I say home rule has been a curse and not a benefit to all India.”

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