Revolutionary Movements and The Left Movement

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Revolutionary Movements

  1. The Chapekar brothers, Damodar Hari Chapekar, Balkrishna Hari Chapekar and Vasudeo Hari Chapekar, were keen followers of Tilak, are known as ‘Chapekar Brothers’ in Indian history.

Mr. Rand, the ‘Plague Commissioners’ and Lieutenant Ayerst  were shot to dead by the Chapekar Brothers.

 

  1. Bhupendranath Dutta is the pioneer in spreading the ideals of Marx and Lenin in India, though he was not a member of the Communist Party. He started his career as a ‘nationalist revolutionery’ Bhupendranath Dutta. He was imprisoned for being the editor of the magazine,’Jugantar’.

 

  1. In 1912 the British had shifted the Imperial Capital from Calcutta to Delhi. On 23 December 1912 as the inaugural procession of the Viceroy Lord Hardinge passed through Chandni Chowk a bomb was hurled. Lord Hardinge was wounded and a howdah attendant was killedAmir Chand and Avandh Bihari, who had both been students of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and were teachers at a Nationalist School in Kinari Bazar, Chandni Chowk were arrested in February 1914 and charged with the conspiracy to kill Lord Hardinge in the Delhi Conspiracy Case.

 

  1. At a reception given by the National Indian Association in 1909, Wyllie was shot by Madan Lal Dhingra, an Indian student. A Parsee physician, Dr Cawas Lalcaca, who sought to protect Wyllie, was also killed.

 

  1. Bhagat Singh killed British officer John Saunders on December 17, 1928.

 

  1. On 8 April 1929, Bhagat Singh and Dutt threw a bomb in the corridors of the Legislative assembly and shouted “Inquilab Zindabad!” (“Long Live the Revolution!”).This was followed by a shower of leaflets stating that it takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear.

The bomb neither killed nor injured anyone; Singh and Dutt claimed that this was deliberate on their part, a claim substantiated both by British forensics investigators who found that the bomb was not powerful enough to cause injury, and by the fact that the bomb was thrown away from people.

 

  1. Shanti Ghosh along with classmate Suniti shot dead Stevens, the District Magistrate of Comilla. This heroic action of the two young girls thrilled the country from one end to the other.

 

  1. Surya Sen was a prominent Bengali freedom fighter and the chief architect of the anti British freedom movement, centered in Chittagong. He laid a nationwide non- cooperation movement as a revolutionary. He was, later, hanged by the British rulers following his arrest in February, 1933.


The Left Movement

The Left movement in India began originally in Russia, heavily influenced by international politics. It was a movement not very clearly understood by the Indian masses, which has evolved into many shades. The Left movement kicked off with various Socialist and Communist Partiesbeing formed, and also getting a lot of patronage within the Congress.

During the 1920s, the National Movement was in full swing in India and had viewed the rise of various streams and methods for the fight. This was the age of Gandhian politics, and the rise of the educated youth giving unprecedented support to the freedom struggle. Due to the unrest among some classes about the inaction of the Moderates, revolutionary terrorism sprouted up in various parts of the country, with the cult of the bomb under the leadership of Lokmanya Tilak and his colleagues ‐ Lala Lajpat Rai and Bakin Chandra

Add to this, the impact of the Russian revolution which drove the lesson that if common people ‐ the workers, peasants and the intelligentsia could overthrow the might Czarist empire, and establish a socialist state with no exploitation of human beings, the same could be replicated by the Indians.

Socialist doctrines became extremely popular with the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx being released in English and Malayalam almost simultaneously and spreading to further regions. Print media contributed further to the cause with various Socialist weeklys being published. Certain fractions of the populations, dissatisfied with the Gandhian policies were more attracted to the same.

A lot of youth associations were formed in Bengal, Punjab and to a certain extent, other princely states. Similar groups were formed by Indians living abroad.

The anti British attitude of the Communists favored them to win over the sympathy of the nationalists. The Congress working Committee set up a Central Defence Committee. Nehru and K.N. Katju, pleaded the defence case. Gandhiji expressed his sympathy to the Communist leaders. Consequently the Congress leaders of the Central Legislative Assembly strongly opposed the enactment of the Public Safety Bill, a bill that was directed against the Communists in India.

By 1934 the Communist Movement in India attained some respectability. During the Quit India Movement, The CPI sought to distract thepopularity of the Congress.

A number of socialist parties were also formed in the jails by a group of young Congressmen, the Congress Socialist Party, under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya Narendra Dev in 1934. It’s main objective was to transform the Congress and strengthen it, ideologically as well as in their objectives.

 

Working Class’ Movement

Industrialisation of India had started in the mid-nineteenth century. British tea companies came in Assam by 1839; Bengal Coal Company started in 1843; first cotton mill in Bombay and jute mill in Calcutta started in 1854. The first two organised industries were jute and cotton; tea plantation became other major labour employment centres.

The British established a network of railways in 1854 to transport raw materials and manufactured goods. Railways became another major employ of labour by 1860. During 1840-70, more than 5 lakh Indian workers had also been sent as labour to other British co1onies.

By 1890, about 3 lakh workers were employed in factories and mines. However, their exploitation was maximum – 16 hours workdays, many accidents, low wages. This period coincided with the early industrialization period, and witnessed the beginnings of the working class movement. The main thrust of the struggles in this period was on improving the working conditions and providing welfare facilities. Early supporters of the workers were educated philanthropists from ‘Brahrn Samaj’ in Calcutta and people like Meghajee Lokhunde in Bombay.

The first major strike took place in 1862 in Howray, with Railway workers demanded 8 hours work day. During 1882 and 1890, more than 25 important strikes took place all over the country. Most of the strikes and struggles of this period had some common characteristics –they were spontaneous, short-lived (less than 3 days) , limited to a single department or factory, focused on questions of working hours, conditions and welfare.

Between l879-81, several workers’ associations were formed around common interests of workers on wages and conditions of work. The employers also formed several associations during this period:
Bombay and Bengal Chamber of Commerce, Bombay Mill Owners’ Association, Indian Jute Manufacturers’ Association, Indian Chamber of Commerce. In 1891, some textile workers formed the Bombay Mill Hands Association.

The second phase from 1900-1914 saw the beginning of trade unions in the country. Industrialization of the country had grown significantly in this period: by 1914, there were 264 textile mills and 64 jute mills; a total of about 10 lakh industrial workers.

Introduction of electricity in 1905 prompted the employers to increase workload and working hours. The workers organised several strikes against this. A major strike of workers in Press and Machine Section of the government press in Madras launched a six month long struggle in 1903 against over time without payment.

The 1905 strike of more than 2000 workers of the government press in Calcutta led to the formation of a Press Workers’ Union – one of the first in the country. The period also witnessed a Politicization of workers who began to see the link between their struggles and those against the British rule. The then leaders of Swadeshi and freedom movement also began to recognise the importance of workers’ struggles.

The Ahmedabad textile workers launched a major struggle in 1918 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi against withdrawal of bonus by employers. The Textile Labour Association was formed. The first modern trade union was formed in Madras in 1918, called the Madras Labour Union.

By 1920, more than 125 trade unions existed in the country with more than 2.5 lakh members. In the early 1920s, more than 2 lakh textile workers of Bombay launched a major struggle for increased wages and shorter working hours, resulting in a major victory. On October 30, 1920, representatives of 64 trade unions with 1.5 lakh members met in Bombay to form the All Indian Trade Union Congress under the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai and other national leaders.

Third Round Table Conference, 1932

A total of 46 members participated in the Third Round Table conference, the Congress didn’t participated. B.R. Ambedkar took part in this conference. The British government on the basis of discussion of the three sessions drafted its proposal for the reform of Indian constitution. It was published in March 1933. This proposal was named the ‘White paper’.

The ‘White Paper’ was examined and approved by the British parliament in October 1934 and a bill based on report of this committee was introduced and passed in the British parliament, which was known as the ‘Government of India Act, 1935’.

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