The Legacy of the Russian Revolution on the Indian National Movement

The hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia, November 7, is remembered as the starting point in the life of the defunct Soviet state, the origin of receding forms of communism around the world. In the country where the Revolution took place, in Russia, it is minimized, because memories divide opinion.

In the countries of Eastern Europe, the revolution is linked to the USSR, which held back their independence for half a century. While in states with long ties to the Soviet Union, such as India, the Revolution marks economic ties to state enterprise, planning and autarky which are unpopular as well as the foreign policy of the cold war that many would like to forget.

However, it is important to recall various aspects of the history of the Revolution itself, the impulses of emancipation and liberation that it generated in its time, independently of the future communism that its leaders were to develop. By focusing on all that would come from the growth of Soviet Russia, the character and consequences of the Revolution itself are ignored: Not only the way in which the February Revolution and the fall of the Russian autocracy and the October Revolution came together in a great phenomenon, generating debates in Russia itself; but also in the outcome of this phenomenon for the eastern neighborhood of Russia, from Iran to Afghanistan, via India and China.

In this, in India, there is a strong tendency to downplay how the course of the Revolution marked the way the national movement gained momentum towards the rise of the Non-Cooperation Movement – drawing its impulse and support of the Revolution. The trend also downplays the remarkable ability of Indian nationalist revolutionaries to lure British India’s neighborhood into its own maneuvers. Deeply nationalistic in its tenor, the tendency underestimates the global factors that have contributed to the achievements of Indian nationalism.

The centenary of the revolution is therefore an opportunity to submit this trend to a critical examination. In the case of India’s involvement with the October Revolution, what happened is remarkable. The events took place against the backdrop of the First World War. As part of an overall confrontation between the Entente powers (Britain, France and Russia) and the Alliance powers (Germany, Austria and Turkey), attempts were made by the Indian revolutionaries of the Committee of Berlin (associated with the revolutionaries Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Har Dayal and others) to find a way to continue their efforts for the liberation of India from British rule and to establish a republic on the colonial territory.

As a result, revolutionaries Mohammed Barkatullah, Mahindra Pratap and Obaidullah Sindhi established a Provisional Government of India in Kabul with German assistance in 1916. This became a rallying point for opposition to British rule in India which viewed the reforms of Ottoman Turkey as a framework. reference. The government generated a series of activities to generate unrest endemic to the northwestern frontier in the Waziristan region and the tribes that inhabited this region.

The Provisional Government of India tried several times to lure the Imperial Russian government into its efforts, but with little success. This continued to hold, even after the February Revolution, although the war-inspired problems of the autonomous territories of Central Asia (in the province of Turkestan and the emirate of Bukhara) increasingly challenged a such position.

The October Revolution changed this state of affairs. Its leaders were sympathetic to anti-colonial movements, with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik party that led the Revolution, strongly affirming this support publicly in November 1917. Mahindra Pratap found encouragement in Petrograd in February 1918, en route to Germany. . After Russia’s departure from the World War in March 1918, the Bolshevik regime found itself the target of “interventionist forces” focused on its downfall and eager to aid anti-Bolshevik elements in the territories of the former Empire. Russian. From its Indian armies, Britain contributed to such an intervention in the Caucasus and the Turkmen country in Central Asia.

A strong link now cemented between Indian revolutionary nationalism and the Bolshevik regime. In January 1919, a small group formed in Moscow to develop this connection, led by an associate of Lenin and Virendranath Chattopadhyay – the Ukrainian socialist KM Troyanovsky. This connection developed further under the influence of Mohammed Barkatullah, who arrived as an unofficial emissary of the anti-British Afghan emir, Amanullah Khan. After the somewhat inconclusive Third Anglo-Afghan War (May–June 1919) and the successes of Bolshevik forces in Central Asia under Frunze, the network between Barkatullah and Bolshevism grew stronger, maintained by radio communications between various cities and a large-scale turnout of Barkatullah supporters to support anti-British propaganda. Indians became crucial intermediaries between Afghanistan and Russia in late 1919, when Bolshevik emissaries NZ Bravin and Ya. Suritz arrived in Kabul.

Full Russian monetary and ammunition support now resulted in tribal insurgencies in Waziristan in 1920 – insurgencies that British forces struggled to contain. The destabilization of the territory added to the impact of the Champaran and Rowlatt satyagrahas in British India, where post-war unrest was becoming rampant. Wide recognition existed in India of the “revolutionary” nature of the Bolshevik regime in Russia. And while the responses were negative and positive, there was agreement that a change of a radical nature was possible in world politics. Another source of support for the connection between the Indian nationalist revolutionaries and the Bolshevik state seemed promised by the arrival, in the summer of 1920, of tens of thousands of muhajirs in Afghanistan, en route to support Turkey against the powers of l ‘Agreement. Indian revolutionaries appeared on the podium of the International Congress of Bolshevism of the “Workers of the East” at this time.

The British authorities understood this emerging threat well in the context of the instability prevailing in India and mounted propaganda campaigns, taking severe military and intelligence actions on the North West border. The public would see a profile of these activities later in the Peshawar Conspiracy cases of 1923. The implications of this gathering formation faded, in part due to the stock split consequence of M. N. Roy in Tashkent of October 1920 to April 1921.

A decisive role, however, had been played by the Russian Revolution in the struggle for Indian freedom at that time. An overwhelming impression of the possibilities of the imperial crisis had been generated – as well as its emancipatory potential. The material threat of consequences had been firmly exposed. Together they would be powerful contributions to the Khilafat and non-cooperation movements and to the successful implementation of the Montague-Chelmsford reforms.

If, with the hindsight of the 21st century, the Russian Revolution can sometimes seem to have taken paths whose value is disputed, its multiple aspects and stories advise against easy judgments. India’s first encounter with the October Revolution was one such occasion.