Nationalist�Politics (Inside India)

A lot of developments were brewing during 1920s and 1930s�which had influenced the course of our national movement and�which were likely to influence our journey ahead of us.

The non-Brahman and Dalit perspective constitutes�one, among numerous, voices of India as a nation. The nonBraham movement developed in Maharastra at the turn of the�20th��country with two tendencies. One was the conservative�tendency, mostly led by the rich non-Brahmans who had�reposed their faith in the British Government for the promotion�of their interests and formed after 1919, a loyal Non-Brahman�Association. The other tendency represented a radical trend,�that of Joytiba Phule’s Satyashodhak Samaj which developed a class�content, articulating a social dichotomy between the masses and�the Brahmans. By 1930, the Non-Brahman groups drew closer�to the Gandhian Congress and joined the Congress ultimately.�In the southern India, the non-Brahaman identity rose in the�Madras Presidency, highlighting the Dravidian culture and�emerged in the form of the political group, the Justice Party in�1916 which sought reservation in the legislative bodies for the�non-Brahmans. But as the Justice Party began declining, its�place was taken over by a radical and a populist trend within the�non-Brahmans. The trend was led by E.V. Ramaswamy ‘Naicker’�”Periyar” and the movement it gave birth was the “Self-Respect”�movement.

The Dalit perspective of Indian National movement�reflects the anti-caste and anti-class phenomena. Segregated�socially, the Dalit movement dismissed the premise of the�mainstream nationalist movement that India was a nation. Dr.�Ambedkar, for example, condemned the notion of a nation as�a caste society and described each caste, a nation itself. Jyotiba�Phule used to say, “…unless all the people in the Balisthan�(Phule’s term used for India) including the Shudras, antishudras, Bhil, Koli became educated and are able to think, and�unite, they cannot constitute a nation”. However, Ambedkar’s�entry into Nehru’s cabinet in 1946 shifted his Dalit perspective�in the background. The Dalit movement, before 1947, did not�support the freedom movement. In fact, the Dalit leaders found�the colonial rule favourable to their interests. They favoured�the alien rule better than the oppressive Brahman supremacy.�The dalits, during pre-independence days, would seek favours�from the colonial British rule.

It was with this view that in�1919 Dr. Ambedkar demanded separate electorates, seeking�reservation of seats. Dr. Ambedkar sought these concessions at�the first Round Table conference in January 1931 and got them�confirmed in the second Round Table conference in September�1931, though through the Poona Pact, the provision for the joint�electorate was offered so as to neutralize the Dalits’ separate�electorate demands. Dr. Ambedkar’s Labour Party of India�in 1933 helped the dalits to elect twenty-two members to the�Bombay Legislative Council. In 1941, another political party, the�Scheduled Castes Federation (SCF) was launched by Ambedkar�with the aim of highlighting the grievances of the scheduled�castes and fighting for their rights. SCF remained active for�nearly 16 years before it was abolished by Dr. Ambedkar. In�1956, he had established the Republican Party of India (RPI).

The growth of the socialist ideas constitutes another voice�of India as a nation. With the Great Depression of 1929 , when�the capitalist system sank into disrepute, socialism and the�socialist ideas began attracting people, especially the workers,�the peasants and the young. The Bolshevik revolution of 1917�had already a positive effect on the world.�In India, our national movement had adopted from�the beginning a pro-poor stance. The coming of Gandhi in�1910s and of Nehru in 1920s helped a lot in the growth of�socialist ideas in 1920s and 1930s. The left-wing tendency�in the Congress found its reflection in the election of Nehru�as Congress President in�1929,1936,1937, and of Subhash�Chandra Bose as the Congress President in 1938 and 1939.

Nehru had already been acclaimed as a communist in the�British circles who, they felt, spoke for the emancipation of the�masses, especially the peasants and the workers. In fact, there�were certain communist-socialist leaders who had joined the�Congress Party. The Congress Socialist Party (CSP) worked as�a wing of the Congress during the early 1930s and was blessed�by Nehru, Subhash Bose and J.P. Narayan and Ram Manohar�Lohia. Outside the Congress, the socialist tendencies were led�by men like M.N. Roy, P.C. Joshi, Narendra Dev, J. P. Narayan.�After resigning from the Congress, Subhash Chandra Bose had�founded a leftist party, the Forward Bloc in 1940.

The relationship of the peasant movement with the�national movement continued to be one of a vital and integral�nature: the areas of the peasant movement were and the areas�of national movement, especially those in the states of Punjab,�Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. There could�hardly be separation between a politicized and conscious�peasantry on the one hand, and the active political workers ready�to perform the task of organization and leadership, on the other.�Ideologically, the peasant movement could not, and in fact, in�the later years of nationalist liberation, did not separate itself�from the ideology of nationalism. Bipin Chandra and others�(India’s Struggle for Independence) rightly point out, “Its (Nationalist�leaders) cadres and leaders carried the message of not only�organization of the peasantry on class lines but also of national�freedom… in most areas, Kisan activists simultaneously�enrolled as Kisan Sabhas and Congress members”.

The peasant�movement and the freedom movement went together, though�at times, occasionally; they confronted each other when the leftwing activists took extreme positions with regard to the cause�of peasantry. The workers movement, involved in its ‘breadwages’ problems sought the solution of unemployment, poverty,�insecurity of job, inadequate living conditions and thereafter�fought for the social, economic and political rights. Indeed, it�took time for the workers’ movement to take a concrete shape�in. In fact, the workers’ movement did not rise up for numerous�reasons; the workers’ unity was still a far cry because factories�and mills were not fully developed; the moderate Congress did�not consider the workers’ cause worthy enough to take up, for�it never thought of the British regime and their institutions as�inimical to the interests of Indians. However, once organized, the�workers’ movement kept contributing its lot to the nationalist�struggle. The workers had participated in the Gandhian noncooperation movement (1920).

The workers’ movement followed a slow peace between�1931 and 1936. Though the workers had begun rejoining�under the Congress leftists, the Congress socialists and the�communists after 1934 (the Congress Socialist Party had been�formed in 1934) – they all rallied with the AITUC in 1935.�Accordingly, the number of trade unions increased from 271 to�562 during 1937-39. The workers’ membership increased from�2,61,047 to 3,99,159, so increasing the number of the workers’�strike considerably. The workers participated in the nationalist�activities as and when called by the national leaders, especially�in the Quit India movement.

Written by princy

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