Documents (Communist Movement in India)

Biographical Notes

Many stalwarts whose roles in the communist movement started during the period covered by this volume but continued for many more years and decades, will be dealt with in the later volumes. Here we give the notes on one whose life within the movement started and ended in this period. MN Roy Narendranath Bhattacharya was born to a priestly family in a south Bengal village on 21 March, 1887 (according to some sources in 1886[1]). During 1905-15 he was actively involved, first, with the Anushilan Samity and then with the Yugantar group — the two most (??) national revolutionary organisations of Bengal. As part of a grand plan for armed assault on the British, he made double trips to Java in 1915 to receive German arms from SS Maverick. The mission failed and Roy journeyed to the United States via China and Japan. It was in the US that he assumed the name of Manabendra Nath Roy. In New York he acquired some book knowledge of Marxism and in 1917 fled to Mexico with his American wife Evelyn to avoid police harassments. There he managed from the Germans $50,000 plus 50,000 pesos in gold coins for promoting anti-British struggles in India, a part of which he gave to different Indian revolutionaries. In 1919 he got involved in the formation of the Mexican Socialist Party and financed some of its...

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In Lieu of Conclusion

The Formative Years Summed Up The strategic perspective of the communist movement during the period under review was determined by the principal contradiction between the emerging Indian nation and British imperialism and two other major contradictions, viz., feudalism versus the broad masses, particularly landlords versus peasants; and British and Indian big bourgeoisie versus the Indian working class. The CPI operated on all three levels, but its failure (and the Congress’ success) in mobilising the peasantry, i.e., the bulk of the nation, pushed it to the sideline in the freedom movement, and for that matter in the country’s political life. Let us elaborate. In the 1920s and 30s, the struggle against British imperialism with all its ramifications was a multi-class movement that was coming more and more under bourgeois hegemony, but was also amenable to proletarian or communist influence. Bourgeois hegemony sought to establish itself both through the Gandhian peasant’ value-system and the Nehruvian socialist phraseology. And the communist movement arose as the proletarian challenge to that hegemony. In-between the two, various petty bourgeois trends like patriotic terrorism and spontaneous peasant/tribal uprisings also surfaced from time to time, but sooner or later they disintegrated as distinct trends and got merged with either of the two main streams or simply died down. The forces of both bourgeois nationalism and communism had to recognise the multi-class character of the anti-imperialist struggle (hence...

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TEXT- X : Miscellaneous Materials

1 Bolshevism And India (A note prepared by the Government of India in 1920) The danger of Bolshevism to India lies not in a military victory of Bolshevik arms but in the insidious effects of Bolshevik propaganda. This propaganda is always directed towards the exploitation of social grievances in so far as these grievances are serious so does the propaganda become formidable. Now there is no doubt that at present the lower classes in India, both in the towns and in the rural areas are going through a very hard time. The high prices resulting from the war have induced a feeling of restlessness making them discontented with conditions which previously they bore patiently. Accordingly in the country districts the peasants are grumbling that there is no reason why they should be forced to pay rent to the Zamindar or land revenue to the Sarkar, in the towns the labourers are complaining, that while rich man lives of comfort and ease, they are condemned to toil, early and late, to live in miserable hovels, to go clad in rags. And unfortunately there is no sign that the economic stress which has brought this about will pass away in the near future. This growing atmosphere of social unrest opens the door to Bolshevik propaganda, which despite the best efforts of Government, cannot be entirely excluded from a country the size...

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TEXT- IX : On The Students and Youth Front

1 A Manifesto of the Young Communist International to the Revolutionary Organisation of Youth … Youth organisation must consist of worker, peasant and intellectual youths, who participate in the everyday struggle of toilers, and who have set themselves the aim of the revolutionary emancipation of India and the solution of economic and social questions. Realising the necessity of organising the workers, peasants and intellectual youths, we must also point out the nature of such organisation. A youth organisation must be formed on the basis of centralism and discipline. Members of the Youth organisation must dedicate themselves to the cause of revolution and the liberation of the toilers from imperialist and feudal oppression, not heeding the difficulties, the conditions and the character of the work which they must accomplish. Members of the youth organisations must have close contact with the youth masses; participating and leading them in their daily struggles. The youth organisation must become the real leader of the Indian youth and avoid the dangers of becoming a sect. The work among the youth masses, to organise and to give them revolutionary enlightenment, and at the same time to train themselves to become real fighters in the Communist Party of India — leaders of the revolutionary mass movement in the country — these are the tasks which the youth organisation must fulfil and which also determine the nature of...

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APPENDIX TO TEXT VIII

Our Differences[1] There are communists who do not approve of the line we propose to follow. The founders of our party were the pioneers of the revolutionary proletarian movement in this country. They undertook the task of organising the party of the working class as soon as the masses appeared on the political field under the flag of the National Congress. They laid down the ideological foundations of the prospective party. They carried on communist propaganda when communism and socialism were strange terms in this country. … Yet they were denounced as “renegades to communism”, “traitors to working class”, because they maintained that the party of the proletariat should follow the line our party proposes to follow. “The Communist Party of India” holds an erroneous view regarding the social character and perspective (of development) of the Indian revolution. This wrong view has blinded it to the realities of the situation, and compelled it to commit tactical mistakes which have isolated it from the anti-imperialist mass movement, and even from the labour movement. … A dangerous tactical mistake of the “CP of India” has been the inability to differentiate between the leadership and the rank and file of the Congress for the faults of the Gandhist leadership. … In our opinion, as a movement, the National Congress is of revolutionary significance. It commands the confidence of the oppressed and exploited...

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TEXT-VIII : Inner Party Debates and Polemics with Other Left Forces

1 WORKERS OF THK WORLD UNITE ! GANASHAKTI English Edition Price : One Pice (Publish from GANASIHAKTI PUBLISHING HOUSE, Calcutta.) Vol. I. No 1. SUNDAY, 30th SEPTEMBER, 1934. “CONGRESS SOCIALISM”—A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS. A Crituque of the Programme of the “Congress Socialist Parties” (By R. Palmue Dutt) The appearance of a “Congress Socialist Group” in Bombay has given rise to widespread discussion in the ranks of the Indian National Movement. The programme of this group was issued in February, 1934, under the signatures of Krishna Menon, M Shetty, MR Masani and others. It was issued with an approving letter from Jawaharlal Nehru, who stated that he “would welcome the formation of Socialist groups in the Congress to influence the ideology of the Congress.” … What is the situation in which this programme appears ? In May, 1934, took place the Patna Capitulation of the National Congress to the British Government. The Civil Disobedience campaign, which had been inaugurated with a flourish of trumpets in 1930, as the opening of the fight for absolute independence, was unconditionally called off. Councilentry was decided. In June, 1934, the British Government raised the ban upon the National Congress and set the stamp of its approval upon it as a legal organisation. In July, 1934, the British Government proclaimed the Communist Party of India an illegal organisation. Here we have a chain of events,...

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TEXT-VII (Part 2, article 7-19) : Important Document on Party Line and Programme

7 Problems of the Anti-Imperialist Struggle in India There is no doubt whatever that India to-day stands at the cross roads. … The young Communist Party of India continues to make every effort to open the eyes of the masses of the people to the actual state of affairs. It carries to the masses the message of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution. It exposes the double- dealing and falsity of the national-reformist policy. It has consolidated and united the best sections of the advanced workers — although far from the majority of them — having wrested them from under the treacherous influence of national-reformism. However, it has so far not succeeded in paralysing the influence of national-reformism among the masses,it has not so far succeeded in rallying and winning over the most active and militant sections of these masses to the side of the irreconcilable revolutionary struggle, it has not succeeded in wresting these masses from under the influence of the National Congress, in spite of a number of partial successes which it has won in this respect. This is why the masses of the people in India to-day, having lost faith in the conciliatory policy of the National Congress, at the same time do not break away from this organisation, in a sense still looking upon the National Congress, headed by the national- reformist bourgeoisie and landlords, as...

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TEXT-VII (Part 1, article 1-6) : Important Documents on Party Line and Programme

1 Extracts From The President’s Address[1] — M Singaravelu [This is a long address interspersed with pieces of poetry including a stanza of the International, and contains many sub- heads which we have had to omit altogether. These include: Our Suffering Comrades, The Great Dead, Death of Lenin, Our Country’s Martyrs (on Tilak, CR Das, Siva of South India), Our Countrymen (on the wretched conditions of the masses), Communism in Action (i.e., in Russia), etc. -Ed.] Our Conference : At a time when the opponents of communism are attempting to crush our beneficent movement for making this world happier and pleasanter for all human beings dwelling in it, we communists in India are meeting in this hall today to take a general view of the political and economic situation obtaining in India, and to concert measures by which we can render the life of our own countrymen better and happier. We wish that our peaceful movement will be better understood both by our countrymen and our rulers, by means of the deliberations we are having here in this conference, and we hope that our work will be better appreciated by the general public, especially the industrial and agricultural workers for whose benefit this conference is mainly held. Our Persecutors : Judged by the persecution to which our comrades in this land and in other lands are put, we should...

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TEXT- VI : Communist Propaganda in Different Periods

(Extracts from articles, pamphlets etc.) The Initial Period (1921-25) 1 Excerpts From Gandhi Vs. Lenin — by SA Dange Gandhi and Lenin Common Aim: To destroy social evils of the day, especially the misery of the poor and to subvert despotism. Grounds GANDHI— Cause : Modern civilisation, especially modern industrialisation and the consequent vices of humanity LENIN — Cause : Seizure of the means of production, land, etc. by the capitalists, the inequality of wealth and consequent impoverishment of the proletariat, who form the majority of humanity. Remedy GANDHI— Remedy: Destroy the spirit of modern civilisation and mechanism. LENIN — Remedy : Keep modern acquisitions but make them work for common good, i.e., utilise the surplus value, which now goes to the rich, by nationalising the means of production. Steps GANDHI— 1. Despotism of capital and of every kind must go. LENIN — 1. Despotism of capital and of every kind must go. GANDHI— 2. Despotism rests on force. LENIN — 2. Despotism rests on force. GANDHI— 3. The force is made possible and maintained by those who are tyrannized over, by their participation or cooperation with the work of the army, taxation and law of the despots. LENIN — 3. The participation is not willingly given but is exacted by force, not necessarily supplied form the ranks of the tyrannised. GANDHI— 4. Let all non-cooperated and the edifice...

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TEXT-V : Document on/of The Workers’ and Peasants’ Parties

1 The Action Programme of The Labour And Kisan Party of India Labour (1) To devise means and methods to save the labour fighters and their families put to suffering while in discharge of their class duties. (2) Right to form union. (3) Recognition of right to strike as a lawful weapon in the hands of labour for their self-protection. (4) Formation of arbitration courts to deal with labour disputes composed of labour-union representatives, capitalists and state officials or neutrals in equal number. (5) Improved housing condition. (6) Minimum wages guaranteeing the value of 350 lb. of rice or wheat according to the custom of the provinces per month and 10 pairs of dhotis per year. (7) State insurance against accident, old age, ill health and unemployment. (8) Provident fund for workers. (9) Privilege and casual leave with full pay similar to that of state officials. (10) Reduced tramway and railway fare to labour and poor kisans. (11) Eight hours law, 6 hours for miners and nursing women and 4 hours for children. (12) Free medical aid. (13) Four months’ delivery leave with full pay. (14) Maternity protection. (15) Abolition of labour recruitment by sardars under whom they work and who take a percentage of their earnings and whose interest coincides with that of capitalists. (16) Adoption of labour recruitment free or through labour union. Peasant (1) Protection against...

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TEXT-IV B : CPI on the Peasant Front

1 Analysis of Bardoli The heroic struggle of the Bardoli peasantry has come to a close with the Government consenting to reduce the amount of increase in assessments from 20% to 5%. This climb down of the Government has been hailed as a political victory of the Bardoli peasantry and the personal victory of Sardar Vallabhai Patel. It is glorified as the acme of the triumph of the principle of Satyagraha, of the political intelligence and strategic ability of the astute Sardar. While admitting that for various political reasons the Government has thought it tactical and wise (the principal reason being the Government’s desire to win over the sympathy and support of the Indian politicians for the imminent Simon Commission report) to yield to the popular demand, we desire to point out that the actual achievement falls short of what could have been achieved by the militant Bardoli peasantry if it had been led by more representative, courageous and able leadership. Sardar Vallabhai who led the struggle represented the outlook and interests of the wealthy farmer class and as such the whole strategy and conception of the Bardoli struggle led by him were dominated by that outlook and those interests …. whatever has been achieved is due to the militancy and solidarity of the Bardoli peasantry and what could be achieved but had not been achieved is due to...

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TEXT-IV A : CPI Leads Working Class Movement

1 The Capitalist Offensive In India The capitalist offensive in Europe is naturally followed by an offensive of the Indian capital against native labour. The European offensive was the result of capital’s resolve to smash the strong position to which labour had reached during the war. European offensive is partially successful. The success of imperial capital of Europe means bad days for the half-developed, unconsolidated bourgeoisie of Indian and other semi-capitalised countries like India. A reduction of wages on the European labour front means cheapening of products and flooding of colonial and semi-colonial markets with white goods. If, in this competition, the Indian bourgeoisie means to hold its head, … either it must become less greedy of profits, to which it become accustomed in the war period, or it must pull labour down to the pit-level from the position to which it had reached in the days of war. The Indian bourgeoisie has decided to follow the second course. The first skirmishes of the fight will be between Ahmedabad mill-owners and workers. The mill-owners have decided upon a 20 per cent reduction in wages and refuse to decide matters by arbitration. The workers however mean to give a fight straight, in spite of the advice of some treacherous labour leaders. When the All-India Trade Union Congress was held there was high talk of giving the Indian Labour movement a...

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TEXT-III : Documents on Party Foundation and Party Building

1 Letter To CPT Regarding Formation of CPI No. 638 / 20 XII 1920 / Tashkent TURKESTAN BUREAU To : The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkestan It is hereby testified that the Communist Party of India has been organised here in accordance with the principles of the Third International. The Indian Communist Party is working under the political guidance of the Turkestan Bureau of the Comintern. Secretary in-charge (Turkestan Bureau) Roy Tech[1] Secretary sd. (illegible) Seal (who writes the minutes) Note : 1. who writes the minutes 2 Minutes of The Meeting Held On l7 October 1920 The Communist Party of India founded at Tashkent on 17 October 1920 consists of the following members : (1) M N Roy, (2) Evelyn Trent-Roy, (3) AN Mukherji, (4) Rosa Fitingov, (5) Mohd. Ali (Ahmed Hasan), (6) Mohd. Shafiq Siddiqi, (7) Acharya (M Prativadi Bhayankar). It adopted a resolution establishing the condition of, 3 months’ probation period (as candidate member) for those persons who wished to join the party. Comrade Shafiq is elected as secretary. The Indian Communist Party adopts principles proclaimed by the Third International and undertakes to work out a programme suited to the conditions in India. Chairman: M Acharya Secretary: Roy Seal 3 Minutes Of The Meeting Of The Communist Party Of India Dated 15 December 1920 At Tashkent The following three persons are admitted to...

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TEXT-II : National and Colonial Questions in The Comintern

Extracts From Second Congress Documents 1 Excerpts from Lenin’s Theses On National And Colonial Questions[1] 4. … the entire policy of the Communist International on the national and colonial question must be based primarily on bringing together the proletariat and working classes of all nations and countries for the common revolutionary struggle for the over-throw of the landowners and the bourgeoisie. For only such united action will ensure victory over capitalism, without which it is impossible to abolish national oppression and inequality of rights. 5. The world political situation has now placed the proletarian dictatorship on the order of the day, and all events hi world politics are necessarily concentrated on one central point, the struggle of the world bourgeoisie against the Russian Soviet Republic, which is rallying round itself both the Soviet movements among the advanced workers in all countries, and all the national liberation movements in the colonies and among oppressed people, convinced by bitter experience that there is no salvation for them except in union with the revolutionary proletariat and in the victory of the Soviet power over world imperialism. 6. At the present time, therefore, we should not restrict ourselves to a mere recognition or declaration of the need to bring the working people of various countries closer together; our policy must be to bring into being a close alliance of all national and colonial...

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TEXT- I : Karl Marx and Nineteenth Century INDIA

1 Excerpts from The British Rule In India London, Friday, June 10,1853 … Hindustan is an Italy of Asiatic dimensions, the Himalayas for the Alps, the plains of Bengal for the plains of Lombardy, the Deccan for the Appenines, and the Isle of Ceylon for the Island of Sicily. The same rich variety in the products of the soil, and the same dismemberment in the political configuration. Just as Italy has, from time to time, been compressed by the conqueror’s sword into different national masses, so do we find Hindustan, when not under the pressure of the Mohammedan, or the Mogul, or the “Briton, dissolved into as many independent and conflicting States as it numbered towns, or even villages. Yet, in a social point of view, Hindustan is not the Italy, but the Ireland of the East. And this strange combination of Italy and of Ireland, of a world of voluptuousness and of a world of woes, is anticipated in the ancient traditions of the religion of Hindustan. That religion is at once a religion of sensualist exuberance, and a religion of self-torturing asceticism; a religion of the Lingam and of the Juggernaut; the religion of the Monk, and of the Bayadere. I share not the opinion of those who believe in a golden age of Hindustan. … There cannot, however, remain any doubt but that the misery inflicted...

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LIBERATION - Central Organ of CPI(ML) October 2017

LIBERATION - Central Organ of CPI(ML) October 2017