Rahimia Magazine (May,2015)
During the early half of 20th century, seeds of bigotry, hatred and intolerance among different communities were being sown in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. It was a deliberate continuation of British policy of “Divide and Rule” to prolong their supremacy in the subcontinent. During that period, different pressure groups were operating to protect their class interests. Most of the contemporary political parties were merely interested in the process of disintegration of this region on the slogan of protection of communal rights. Main purpose of this exercise was to own the right to govern in a particular region and safeguard political and economic hegemony of a particular class in a constitutional camouflage. These parties neglected the fact that actual problem of subcontinent was the economic degradation and poverty of masses as a result of subjugation to British colonialism. The real questions of that time were how to minimize the effects of Capitalism in the subcontinent and what will be the sketch of political and economic system of this nation after independence from British subjugation. Ironically, parties in the limelight failed at both these fronts. It is the hallmark of Shah Wali Ullah’s ideological platform that their prominent representative Imam Ubaidullah Sindhi categorically advocated the rights of laborers, peasants and working classes.
Ubaidullah Sindhi described the above-mentioned circumstances in the following words:
“A tiny minority has continued to oppress vast majority of humanity for centuries. This minority enjoyed all the authority and respect in society. Majority of humanity which comprised of peasants and laborers worked relentlessly while the ruling elite considered it their prerogative to live on the fruit of hardships by common man. Those who were facing all the adversities were deprived from respectable livelihood while those who bred on the earnings of others considered working by their hands a shameful act. Consequently, working class became most miserable and contemptuous portion of society while the dependent elite lost all moral values after accumulating entire wealth and resources of this world. Thus, the whole humanity lost its purpose and essence of their existence. Most ironic aspect is that knowledge, literature and religion also aligned themselves with the consent and appraisal of the ruling elite. All the enlightenment, satisfaction and cultural progress were confined to the palaces and bungalows of the affluent. Working hours and conditions were so tiresome for farmers and laborers that they were unable to think beyond the attainment of their basic necessities. If somehow, there arose some awareness and revolt among the working classes, there was a variety of options to diffuse and divert this consciousness.”
He further wrote:
“As long as the economic conditions of masses are not improved, there cannot be any political and social progress in the society. Therefore, we shall not compromise at any cost on the availability of food, clothing, education and health facilities to the working class. We categorically reject the present capitalist system in our country and our aim is to replace this oppressive system with an arrangement that will ensure the welfare of working class and give them opportunity to participate in the affairs of state.”
Time and again, he advised the leading political parties of this region that their mission statement and ultimate objective should be to raise the living standard of our farmers and laborers according to European standards. In 1924, he presented his historical manifesto by the title of “Constitutional Draft of Sovereign Subcontinent” in which he presented the following political and economic principles related to different segments of society:
Like minority factions of feudal lords and industrialists, majority occupations i.e. farmers, laborers and intellectual workers should be given representation in all departments of a democratic government according to their proportion in national population.
Economic system shall be designed so as to protect different working classes from poverty and economic liabilities (debt). Moreover, it should abstain from such foreign loans and funding that compromises the political autonomy of the country.
Unions for farmers and laborers shall be constituted to protect their economic and social rights. It will give them an opportunity to raise their collective voice regarding different affairs.
Intellectual labor unions shall be constituted for people working in offices and educational institutions. It will enable them to present their demands to government and participate in electoral process.
Farmers, laborers and intellectual workers shall have the right to nominate their representatives through their unions and platforms.
Other occupations like land lords, industrialists, brokers and businessmen shall be given representation in parliament according to their concentration in total population. At any cost whatsoever, they shall not be entitled to any larger representation on the basis of their influence in the society.
For every citizen, there shall be a limit to keep private property (both inheritable and non-inheritable). Any private property beyond the prescribed limit shall be nationalized.
Agricultural land of the whole country shall be nationalized and system of tribal land-lords and feudalism shall be abolished. None except the government or the farmer shall have any right to possess any agricultural land.
Every farmer family shall be given as much of agricultural land as can be cultivated by themselves. They shall be given rights of inheritance on these lands through laws that will be formed after consultation with farmer unions.
Farmer unions shall be given government assistance in the form of interest free loans. Moreover, in order to increase productivity and convenience, they shall be provided with modern agricultural machinery on subsidized rates.
Government shall make arrangements for the availability of free health care and neat and clean homes for rural population.
Interest-based economy shall be abolished at once. Existing loans of working class shall be cancelled out. There will be a systematic arrangement to provide interest free loans to people in the need of financial assistance.
Like European countries, daily working hours in industries and offices shall be minimized to six hours. It will enable them to improve their morals and interpersonal relations.
It is an undeniable fact that laborer, farmers and other working classes are the most troubled, neglected and exploited portions of our country. Since independence, every passing day is making their lives more and more difficult. Therefore, the above mentioned ideals presented by Maulana Sindhi about a century ago still serve as a land mark for all of us in the struggle for the rights of the weak and under privileged segments of our society.
Translation: Mr.Muhammad Usman, Faisalabad