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India's uncertain future

Many thinking Indians fear the future.
They see India's age-old problems of illiteracy, poverty, overpopulation, food shortage worsening, not getting better!
Their experiment in democracy hasn't been a big success.
Some are beginning to ask, "Can communism solve our problems better than democracy?"
This in-depth report tells where and how India will go from here!

R. McNair — Ambassador College


Calcutta, India

Parliamentary democracy in India has been jarred by a sudden shock! The Communist Party is now in control of two of India's 17 state governments.

The Marxist-led United Front Party made a sweeping election victory in the state of West Bengal in February. This communist victory dealt a devastating setback to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Congress Party. The United Front coalition, led by a resurgent pro-Peking party, won 214 of the 280 seats in the West Bengal legislature — over 40 more than it needs to run the state. The Congress Party dropped from the 127 seats it won in 1967 to a low of 55.

The Times of India called the communist sweep in West Bengal a "debacle." West Bengal, which has India's chief commercial port, Calcutta, now joins the southern state of Kerala, for many years communist dominated, as another Red wedge to fracture India's already-weakened political structure.


Congress Party Hurt Elsewhere

In other results in India's midterm elections, the Congress Party hopes of regaining power were dashed in Bihar State, where it appeared that no party would win a majority. And the same happened in Punjab State, where the Congress Party lost 10 seats and fell before a rightist coalition.

In only one state, Uttar Pradesh, did the Congress Party even come close to the majority which would enable it to form a state government. Congress candidates won 208 of the 425 seats in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state.

There are now many fears that fractionalism in India's loose federation of states will destroy India's long fight to become a unified, self-supporting industrial nation capable of feeding, housing and clothing its own people.

"All the glib talk of unity in diversity now has a sickeningly hollow ring," said Indian Express writer Nandan Kagal. "National unity is being torn to shreds in several parts of the country."


Adrift Since Independence

Ever since India gained her independence in 1947, she has been drifting. No government has yet really been able to get its hand firmly on the helm of India's national destiny.

India's Prime Ministers (Nehru, Shastri and Mrs. Indira Gandhi) have, in vain, grappled with India's many problems.

Some Indians have already lost patience, and others are fast becoming disenchanted with India's experiment in parliamentary democracy.


These and other words by Mahatma GANDHI are found on statue of him, unveiled in September, 1967, by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Panjim, Goa. Mahatma GANDHI was the apostle of "passive resistance" that helped force British to grant India independence in 1947. Today, India's future is more uncertain than in 1947, due to mounting problems.

Westerners often fail to realize that Asiatics do not readily accept democracy as we do. To them, democracy is, at best, an unproved theory. After all, what has democracy accomplished in India?

Many have already turned to communism, and many others are leaning in that direction. They keep asking: "Can communism do for India what democracy has failed to do?" "Can communism enable India to provide a higher living standard for her millions of ill-clad, ill-fed, illiterate masses?"

Will the communists eventually gain control of India?

Can any government on earth lift India's hundreds of millions of poor out of their problems?

Before we answer these questions, we should take a brief historical look at India. Only then will we be able to understand India's destiny.


Britain and India

What caused Britain to become so deeply involved in the affairs of the people of India? When and how did British involvement in the affairs of India commence?

It can truthfully be said that India has one of the oldest histories of any nation on earth — with clear historical references going back at least three or four thousand years.

Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer and trader, first established trading posts in India in 1498-99 and 1502-03.

Then the Dutch established trading posts in India in order to get a toehold in the lucrative spice trade of the East. They finally superseded the Portuguese. But the Dutch made the fatal mistake of asking the British exorbitant prices for the spices they got from India.

It was then that a small group of British traders formed themselves into the East India Company, charter dated 31 December, 1600. They thereby secured from Queen Elizabeth I a 15-year spice monopoly.

It should be understood that, at this point in history, this was a purely commercial venture. The British had no designs to get political control of India.

Once the English East India Company began its operations, however, it felt a need to raise an armed force to protect Company warehouses from the anarchy that prevailed in much of India at the time.

Until this time, it must be remembered, India was not a united nation, but a great number of warring large and small states, each with its own language, customs and religion, and each ruled by its own rajah.

Soon, this new British force was drawn into taking sides in local Indian feuds. The British found themselves extending their influence over more and more territory as they assumed greater responsibility for law and order.

The English founded Madras and Calcutta and acquired the city of Bombay from Portugal. It was through Britain's operating the East India Company that she eventually gained control over all of India. When the French nation, under Napoleon Bonaparte, was defeated at the beginning of the nineteenth century, this gave the English a free hand in India. Before this time, British and French traders and armed forces struggled for control of India.

Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India (1774-1785), set up civil government and later established the Indian Civil Service.

The British parliament finally assumed political direction. Under Lord Bentinck (1828-35) the British began to extend their rule of law and order over all India. Under the British the corrupt misrule by the rajahs was abolished, infanticide was stopped, suttee (suicide of a widow on her husband's funeral pyre) was made illegal.

Britain began to spread the English language, culture and education among the Indians. Under British rule 25,000 miles of railways were laid by 1900, and 14 million acres of land had been brought under irrigation! This was the biggest irrigation development in the entire world.

Under the British, famines were practically stopped. Education began to thrive, an efficient Indian Civil Service was set up, a strong army was raised, factories were built, trade and commerce began to 4hrive, and in general India began to be lifted out of her millennium-old squalor, misery and human suffering.

During World War I, India provided 800,000 troops for the Allies. Of these, 24,000 were killed and 70,000 were wounded.

But the National Congress of India refused to join the Allies in World War II.


India Agitates for Self-Rule

Both before and after World War II, a number of Indians had begun to agitate for Indian self-rule. Foremost among the leaders of those who advocated this Indian self-rule was an ascetic named Mahatma Gandhi.

He had been schooled in law at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge.

In 1915, Gandhi was a very loyal subject of the British Empire — firmly believed that British rule was "an act of Providence." Not long afterward, however, he changed his mind and declared that he couldn't "cooperate with evil" and therefore decided to fight the "Satanic Government."

Much of Gandhi's life was devoted to the abolition of "untouchability" in India. In his childhood, his own devout, kindhearted mother had forbidden him to play with Uka, his "untouchable" friend. He also strove to give the women of India equality with men.

Mahatma Gandhi was a very devout Hindu, and was very broad-minded in many ways. His prayer meetings were always begun with Hindu, Muslim and Christian hymns. And he used to have "a picture of Christ" hanging in his room.

Many in India looked upon Gandhi as a great saint — a holy man. Many others looked upon him as an ascetic and a crank. He could be extremely stubborn. He preached sexual abstinence — even among married couples.

Gandhi was known worldwide for his long fasts — which were a sort of political blackmail against British rule. He made endless speeches and wrote articles in the cause of Indian self-rule. He and many others agitated and refused to cooperate with the British — and finally wore the British down.

The British announced they would leave India on the 15th August, 1947. British rule had admittedly bequeathed many good things to the nation of India, including a measure of unity, the rule of law and order, the abolition of suttee and infanticide. The British also passed laws outlawing shameful public eliminations.

But India's woes still continued during the period of British rule. Since India experienced poverty, illiteracy, hunger and wretchedness under British rule, many Indians concluded they could rule India better than the British could. They had forgotten what it had been like before the British came.

Thus, under pressure, British rule of the second-most-populous nation on earth ended in 1947. This rule of India by the British had not been consciously sought, but by a fluke of history, it would seem to many, they stumbled into an Empire — including rulership over India's hundreds of millions.

Speaking of Britain winning the rule of India from the French, Portuguese, Dutch and the Sultans, the famous historian, Seely, said that "the British won [India] in a fit of absence of mind." Truly, they hadn't planned it that way; but there is a Creator-Ruler God in heaven who rules over the nations of this earth (Dan. 4:25, 34 & 35). He builds up nations and empires with many or few. It took only 5,000 Britons to rule India.

If you want to know the real truth as to why it was the British who won control over India, and established the world's largest, most benign empire (ruling over one quarter of the earth), then be sure and write for our free book entitled The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.

But as of now, over two decades since India gained self-rule, many thinking Indians are beginning to realize their troubles were not caused by the British. They can see that twenty-two years of self-rule hasn't changed the overall picture of poverty, illiteracy and human wretchedness which has existed in India for thousands of years.