Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:29 am

Part 1 of 2

3: Everything That Was Good in Us, Excerpt from The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi
by Andrew Whitehead

3: Everything That Was Good in Us

Freda and Bedi made public their engagement early in 1933, in their penultimate term at Oxford. 'This was' -- she said -- 'a minor sensation'. It was certainly front-page news for the Oxford Mail, which published a photograph of the couple, apparently taken in the parks with both wearing scarves to keep out the winter cold. [1] Word also reached the student journal Isis. Its 'Dovecotes' gossip column, with its ear to the ground at the women's colleges, reported that both Freda and Bedi 'are, of course, prominent members of the October Club. Miss Houlston, who wears a very lovely acquamarine solitaire on her ring finger, told me ... that they will be married soon after Schools [final exams] and that they will live in India, where she hopes to carve out for herself a career in the writing of books about that land of mystery and promise, henceforth her own.' [2] Even at this early date, long before she had ever set foot there, Freda was coming to regard India as her country.

The couple had friends and allies among the academic community in Oxford -- notably Professor Alfred Zimmern and his wife, Lucie, of whom Freda had written so fondly in her article for the Calcutta Review. That affection was clearly reciprocated. Among the Zimmern papers at the Bodleian Library, amid letters from the prime minister, arrangements for summer schools in Switzerland and a mass of academic correspondence, is a postcard sent from 'Freda and Bedi' to Madame Zimmern in May 1933. 'Your "naughty children" want to see you. When could we come during this week?' The Zimmerns were away, so Freda followed up with a longer missive:

This is just a small note literally on the eve of Schools to tell you that our marriage has been fixed for June 21st at 11.30 A.M. My mother and father are coming up for it, but unfortunately my brother will be on the sea 'somewhere off Scotland.' We are both of us very disappointed that he can't come.

We are dividing our time at present between the last revision for Schools, and a search for a flat as we intend remaining a few weeks here until the Viva is over ...

We shall remember you both on the 21st-and hope you will remember us. [3]

Both Freda and Bedi signed the note.

'Barely a week after finishing Final Schools,' Freda wrote a decade later, 'we were married in the dark and poky little Oxford Registry Office. The registrar looked sour and pointedly omitted to shake hands with us. We came out, with my parents and a cousin from India, into a drenching downpour of rain ... "Don't worry," said my husband. "Rain is auspicious for an Indian bride."' [4] A photograph on the front page of the Oxford Mail showed Baba Bedi, wearing jacket and tie and pugri-style turban, holding an umbrella over his new wife. 'The bride, a tall slim girl, looked charming in blue and white, the dress having the merest suggestion of white epaulettes. She wore a small white cap at a fashionable angle and had a buttonhole of carnations.' [5] The Derby Evening Telegraph reported that the couple were planning to honeymoon in Italy before moving to Berlin and eventually settling in Lahore. 'They refused to discuss their plans and shunned publicity.' [6] As well as Freda's mother and stepfather, the other family member in attendance was Kuldip Chand Bedi, the groom's cousin, who later also married an English woman; few if any of their Oxford friends were present. There was a 'very simple' wedding breakfast -- 'we both decided that we were not going to have a big party or make a fuss' -- and then the newlyweds went back to Bedi's lodgings.

Freda believed that she was the first Oxford woman undergraduate to marry an Indian fellow student. Plenty of Indians had married British women, but not fellow students. The India Office in London had a file of unhappy letters from British women, often from a working class background, complaining that they had been deserted by their Indian husbands, who had returned home at the end of their studies promising to arrange for their brides to join them since when there had been silence. [7] Both Hindus and Muslims in India were at this time covered by a code of personal law which meant that they could marry in England even if they already had a wife in India, and could return with their English wife and take another wife. Seeking to annul a marriage in these circumstances was not straightforward. The Lord Chancellor's office proposed to set-up what was insensitively referred to as 'the Polygamy Committee' to address the issue, but all that was done was to urge registrars to warn would-be brides of the potential legal peril.

Tucked away in an India Office file is a cutting from a tabloid-style news magazine warning of the consequences of falling for a suave Indian student. It bore the headline: "The Lure of the Coloured Man: terrible dangers of bogus romance exposed'. [8] Scores of 'handsome' Indian students at British universities married British girls every year, the article suggested. 'In the majority of cases these men are already married to Hindu girls.' There was a parallel, if less alarmist, discussion of mixed marriages in Indian student publications. 'Not in bitterness against English women, but just as a statement of fact, it is fair to record that Indian students leaving India are warned by their parents and relatives to keep away from the women of this country,' wrote an Indian student at Oxford. "This warning is based on the consequences of marriage between Indians of social position and English women who are not equal to the situation in education, wisdom and culture -- to put it as mildly and politely as one can.' [9] On both sides, attitudes to an inter-racial romance were hardly encouraging.

'By all social laws and canons,' Freda wrote, 'it was a marriage doomed to failure'--

two students in love, refusing to recognise the barriers of race and colour, dissolving their religious differences into a belief in a common Good, united in their love of justice and freedom for the least and poorest.

... In the eyes of the world, a wild marriage without financial foundations, without social foundations, or orthodox religious foundations. In our eyes, the only marriage we could either of us bear to think about, a marriage based on everything that was good in us. [10]

As she wrote those lines ten years or so after her marriage, Freda must have been thinking back to the hostility that she and Bedi faced, and the personal crisis it provoked. However 'wild' her marriage, she was determined to make it work. Having breached the barriers of race and religion, she would not allow any of her detractors to say: I told you so.

While the racial and cultural differences between the couple were the most obvious, they also had contrasting temperaments. Bedi was large, loud, gregarious and a natural raconteur; Freda was quieter, more contained, with a personal warmth but -- at this stage of her life -- not as outgoing. They both had an impulsive streak; of the two, Freda was the more disciplined and determined. There was a class difference too. While Bedi was not as privileged by background as some Indian students at Oxford, he had grown up knowing and expecting deference. However much he may have sought to disavow this sense of inherited entitlement, traces of it remained. Bedi was also, at their marriage, much the more cosmopolitan of the two. He had been taught by Britishers in Lahore. He had travelled widely on his way to Oxford. Freda hadn't got to know any Indians, probably hadn't rubbed shoulders with any, prior to coming to Oxford, and at the end of her years there had not travelled beyond western Europe. One had seen something of the world; the other was yearning to do so.

Freda and Bedi began their married life in his room at Summertown in north Oxford. They had to wait and see if they had a viva, an oral exam sometimes required if the written papers left some uncertainty about the class of degree to be awarded. Both would have been disappointed by their degrees. Freda's 'third' was at least one step up from Bedi's fourth class honours, a classification which no longer exists and suggests a bare sufficiency of the requirements for an honours degree.

This academic setback didn't dampen Bedi's ambition to study for a doctorate. He secured a research scholarship -- in Berlin. By the summer of 1933, Hitler was already Germany's Chancellor and the Nazis were consolidating their hold on power. In July, they became the only legal political party. The communists, a mass party in Germany which attracted millions of votes, were an early target of the Nazis. They were forced underground-their leadership, and many of their elected representatives, were arrested. The German capital was not a comfortable prospect for a mixed race couple with a record of communist activity. 'The great question was: should we go? -- because the menace of fascism was then becoming very real,' Freda recalled. Her new husband thought it was worth the risk.

They decided to make their way to Germany in a leisurely manner, and to have a honeymoon holidaying across Europe with Berlin the final destination. It was a honeymoon with a difference -- Freda and Bedi travelled with a friend, an Indian from East Africa who had a car and was a keen driver. 'So we three, with a couple of tents, wandered around Europe -- in France and Belgium and Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Italy. We had a really beautiful car-and-tent tour.' One striking photo in the family album shows the couple on the beach in bathing suits. In mid-August, Freda sent a postcard from Italy to her college friend Olive Chandler. 'Tour all OK. Very brown + well. I like Venice but it's xxxx hot. Am leaving later for Dolomites + Austria (Vienna). Thence to Germany.' Her forwarding address was the Thomas Cook's office in the heart of Berlin. [11]

The newlyweds arrived in the German capital a few weeks later and Bedi formally enrolled at university in October. By then, Freda was pregnant. They managed to get a quiet place to live a little out of the centre towards Potsdam, bordering the Wannsee lakes. 'It was a really lovely place -- a charming German cottage with a lovely garden, and we had some very very happy months there preparing for the child.' This was their focus -- getting ready for the start of a family so early in their married life. Politics took a back seat, though as Hitler tightened his grip on power, the signs of racial intolerance were evident all around.

We led a very simple life. Sometimes we used to go to the big markets on Alexanderplatz to buy cheap fruit and vegetables and I remember one day coming back triumphantly with some beautiful Jaffa oranges and presented a plate-full to my landlady. But she turned up her nose and said: I don't eat Jewish oranges. So then I found out that the landlady was also a Nazi, which I didn't know before. It was all around us. [12]

She ventured to the university for her first lessons in Hindi from a Punjabi professor. 'In our class there were just three people -- two elderly ladies, one a representative of the German aristocracy, and one, although I didn't know, the wife of a Nazi. But both charming women. Politics never entered into our lives, we were just learning Hindi and we were trying to understand something at the same time of Indian philosophy.'

Another pressing priority was establishing a relationship, albeit at a distance, with her widowed mother-in-law, who spoke no English. Freda was clear from the start that with an Indian husband, she was now Indian too. After her wedding day, she made a point of dressing in Indian clothes -- often a sari, not the simplest of garments to wear. Her letters to Bhabooji, the family's name for Bedi's mother, display the charm and emotional intelligence which served her so well throughout her life. Writing in early October 1933, when Berlin must have been arrestingly new, Freda told her mother-in-law that 'our life seems to be taking on a more solid + peaceful complexion again. I will write to you as regularly as I can. It is a very great pleasure to me that you want me to write and if it gives my dear Mother pleasure I shall be delighted to do so.' She wrote of the regret in having to wait another year before meeting her Indian family, her love for her husband, and their plans for 'a quiet and studious life' in Berlin as a preparation for their work in India. [13]

What Bedi's mother would have been seeking is some sense of whether her new daughter-in-law would fit in with her Indian family or would lead her son away from it. She will have found Freda's letters reassuring:

you will want to know the little details of our life. They mean so much to a woman, I know. I am like it myself. I wear my Saree as often as I can, and only when we are leading a particularly strenuous life, as in camping or househunting, do I leave it of[ I have some amusing experiences. I wore it on all the frontiers and received an undue amount of deference from Customs officials; I wore it in towns and every waiter in the restaurant came to my feet ... I am very fond of wearing the Saree. Pyare tried to teach me himself, but being a man, he did not at all understand how women do it (bless him!) and so I was taught both by an Indian girl student at Oxford, + particularly by a very nice Indian lady, Mrs Haji ... who was visiting London

And as a further affectionate touch, Freda signed her name in Punjabi script.

A month later, the dutiful daughter-in-law was writing again -- about the warm underwear that she made sure Bedi wore to guard against the chilly Berlin winter and the sweater that her mother was knitting him for Christmas.

Now about the most important thing. You will have read in PL's letter about the baby. I am very, very happy about it, as is natural, because I love PL so much. So you will have a small grandchild to spoil when we come back to India. There is a great deal of preparation to be made, and this is all the heavier because I am alone in Berlin, separated from both you and my own mother. But it will be a labour of love.

'This is a very long letter', she concluded, 'and whoever translates it to you will have a lot of trouble. But I expect you like letters as long as possible.' [14]

Alongside Freda's personal and emotional ties to India was a political and intellectual commitment. She saw her marriage to Bedi as in part a shared collaboration; their purpose was to support India's freedom movement by personal advocacy and by creating wider awareness of the nationalist case. This joint endeavour took firm root in Oxford and persisted in Berlin and by the time the couple left the German capital they had served as the originators and editors of an impressive series of books about contemporary India, an achievement the more remarkable given that both editors were in their early twenties and one had never stepped on Indian soil.

Their first title was a selection of Gandhi's writings published in 1933 as a slim volume of eighty pages. It was in German and with a preface by a renowned Protestant theologian Rudolf Otto. The book bore the title Gandhi: Der Heilige und der Staatsmann, (Gandhi: the saint and the statesman). Freda and Bedi selected the items, which were variously spiritual and campaigning in tone, and wrote an introduction dated November 1932, early in their final academic year in Oxford. How it came about, and how it was received, is unclear -- it could well have been at Alfred Zimmern's initiative. Of all their writings, this is the title most easily available in the original edition -- so it seems to have sold well.

India was one of the primary concerns of both the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group. The latter probably devoted more time and attention to India than to any other subject. This situation reached its peak in 1919, and the Government of India Act of that year is very largely a Milner Group measure in conception, formation, and execution....

The decade 1919-1929 was chiefly occupied with efforts to get Gandhi to permit the Indian National Congress to cooperate in the affairs of government, so that its members and other Indians could acquire the necessary experience to allow the progressive realization of self-government. The Congress Party, as we have said, boycotted the elections of 1920 and cooperated in those of 1924 only for the purpose of wrecking them. Nonetheless, the system worked, with the support of moderate groups, and the British extended one right after another in steady succession. Fiscal autonomy was granted to India in 1921, and that country at once adopted a protective tariff, to the considerable injury of British textile manufacturing. The superior Civil Services were opened to Indians in 1924. Indians were admitted to Woolwich and Sandhurst in the same year, and commissions in the Indian Army were made available to them.

The appointment of Baron Irwin of the Milner Group to be Viceroy in 1926 — an appointment in which, according to A. C. Johnson's biography Viscount Halifax (1941), "the influence of Geoffrey Dawson and other members of The Times' editorial staff" may have played a decisive role — was the chief step in the effort to achieve some real progress under the Act of 1919 before that Act came under the critical examination of another Royal Commission, scheduled for 1929. The new Viceroy's statement of policy, made in India, 17 July 1926, was, according to the same source, embraced by The Times in an editorial "which showed in no uncertain terms that Irwin's policy was appreciated and underwritten by Printing House Square."

Unfortunately, in the period 1924-1931 the India Office was not in control of either the Milner Group or Cecil Bloc. For various reasons, of which this would seem to be the most important, coordination between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy and between Britain and the Indian nationalists broke down at the most crucial moments….

The Indian States had remained as backward, feudalistic, and absolutist enclaves, within the territorial extent of British India and bound to the British Raj by individual treaties and agreements. As might be expected from the Milner Group, the solution which they proposed was federation. They hoped that devolution in British India would secure a degree of provincial autonomy that would make it possible to bind the provinces and the Indian States within the same federal structure and with similar local autonomy. However, the Group knew that the Indian States could not easily be federated with British India until their systems of government were raised to some approximation of the same level. For this reason, and to win the Princes over to federation, Lord Irwin had a large number of personal consultations with the Princes in 1927 and 1928. At some of these he lectured the Princes on the principles of good government in a fashion which came straight from the basic ideology of the Milner Group. The memorandum which he presented to them, dated 14 June 1927 and published in Johnson's biography, Viscount Halifax, could have been written by the Kindergarten. This can be seen in its definitions of the function of government, its emphasis on the reign of law, its advocacy of devolution, its homily on the duty of princes, its separation of responsibility in government from democracy in government, and its treatment of democracy as an accidental rather than an essential characteristic of good government.  

The value of this preparatory work appeared at the first Round Table Conference, where, contrary to all expectations, the Indian Princes accepted federation. The optimism resulting from this agreement was, to a considerable degree, dissipated, however, by the refusal of Gandhi's party to participate in the conference unless India were granted full and immediate Dominion status. Refusal of these terms resulted in an outburst of political activity which made it necessary for Irwin to find jails capable of holding sixty thousand Indian agitators at one time. …  

From 1939 on, constitutional progress in India was blocked by a double stalemate: (1) the refusal of the Congress Party to cooperate in government unless the British abandoned India completely, something which could not be done while the Japanese were invading Burma; and (2) the growing refusal of the Moslem League to cooperate with the Congress Party on any basis except partition of India and complete autonomy for the areas with Moslem majorities. The Milner Group, and the British government generally, by 1940 had given up all hope of any successful settlement except complete self-government for India, but it could not give up to untried hands complete control of defense policy during the war. At the same time, the Milner Group generally supported Moslem demands because of its usual emphasis on minority rights.

During this period the Milner Group remained predominant in Indian affairs, although the Viceroy (Lord Linlithgow) was not a member of the Group. The Secretary of State for India, however, was Leopold Amery for the whole period 1940-1945. A number of efforts were made to reach agreement with the Congress Party, but the completely unrealistic attitude of the party's leaders, especially Gandhi, made this impossible. In 1941, H. V. Hodson, by that time one of the most important members of the Milner Group, was made Reforms Commissioner for India. The following year the most important effort to break the Indian stalemate was made. This was the Cripps Mission, whose chief adviser was Sir Reginald Coupland, another member of the inner circle of the Milner Group. As a result of the failure of this mission and of the refusal of the Indians to believe in the sincerity of the British (a skepticism that was completely without basis), the situation dragged on until after the War. The election of 1945, which drove the Conservative Party from office, also removed the Milner Group from its positions of influence. The subsequent events, including complete freedom for India and the division of the country into two Dominions within the British Commonwealth, were controlled by new hands, but the previous actions of the Milner Group had so committed the situation that these new hands had no possibility (nor, indeed, desire) to turn the Indian problem into new paths. There can be little doubt that with the Milner Group still in control the events of 1945-1948 in respect to India would have differed only in details.

The history of British relations with India in the twentieth century was disastrous. In this history the Milner Group played a major role. To be sure, the materials with which they had to work were intractable and they had inconvenient obstacles at home (like the diehards within the Conservative Party), but these problems were made worse by the misconceptions about India and about human beings held by the Milner Group. The bases on which they built their policy were fine — indeed, too fine. These bases were idealistic, almost Utopian, to a degree which made it impossible for them to grow and function and made it highly likely that forces of ignorance and barbarism would be released, with results exactly contrary to the desires of the Milner Group. On the basis of love of liberty, human rights, minority guarantees, and self- responsibility, the Milner Group took actions that broke down the lines of external authority in Indian society faster than any lines of internal self-discipline were being created. It is said that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. The road to the Indian tragedy of 1947-1948 was also paved with good intentions, and those paving blocks were manufactured and laid down by the Milner Group. The same good intentions contributed largely to the dissolution of the British Empire, the race wars of South Africa, and the unleashing of the horrors of 1939-1945 on the world.

To be sure, in India as elsewhere, the Milner Group ran into bad luck for which they were not responsible. The chief case of this in India was the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, which was probably the chief reason for Gandhi's refusal to cooperate in carrying out the constitutional reforms of that same year. But the Milner Group's policies were self-inconsistent and were unrealistic. For example, they continually insisted that the parliamentary system was not fitted to Indian conditions, yet they made no real effort to find a more adaptive political system, and every time they gave India a further dose of self-government, it was always another dose of the parliamentary system. But, clinging to their beliefs, they loaded down this system with special devices which hampered it from functioning as a parliamentary system should. The irony of this whole procedure rests in the fact that the minority of agitators in India who wanted self-government wanted it on the parliamentary pattern and regarded every special device and every statement from Britain that it was not adapted to Indian conditions as an indication of the insincerity in the British desire to grant self-government to India.

A second error arises from the Milner Group's lack of enthusiasm for democracy. Democracy, as a form of government, involves two parts: (1) majority rule and (2) minority rights. Because of the Group's lack of faith in democracy, they held no brief for the first of these but devoted all their efforts toward achieving the second. The result was to make the minority uncompromising, at the same time that they diminished the majority's faith in their own sincerity. In India the result was to make the Moslem League almost completely obstructionist and make the Congress Party almost completely suspicious. The whole policy encouraged extremists and discouraged moderates. This appears at its worst in the systems of communal representation and communal electorates established in India by Britain. The Milner Group knew these were bad, but felt that they were a practical necessity in order to preserve minority rights. In this they were not only wrong, as proved by history, but were sacrificing principle to expediency in a way that can never be permitted by a group whose actions claim to be so largely dictated by principle. To do this weakens the faith of others in the group's principles.

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

Emboldened perhaps by this initial venture into print, the couple moved on to a much more ambitious project: India Analysed. 'At that time the Round Table Conference was on and I felt that something on India must be projected,' Bedi recalled; 'by that time I had met Freda my future wife and we were collaborating intellectually. It was a joy working with her and we planned together.' [15] They approached Victor Gollancz, London's leading left-wing publisher, who agreed to a series of volumes about India. Freda and Bedi were the joint editors and enlisted renowned academics and experts in Britain and India to provide rigorous articles about India's place in international institutions, its economy, trade and fiscal situation. Four volumes were planned, each containing five essays -- though the final volume on constitutional issues never appeared.

Gollancz had an impressive list, and at this time was publishing books of such renown as J.B. Priestley's English journey and Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth as well as a wide range of current affairs tides. In all, they published upwards of a hundred books a year. India did not greatly feature, so India Analysed filled a gap. The editors dedicated all three volumes to 'the Oxford University Gandhi Group in whose discussions the need for this series was realised'. The goal, they explained, was to offer a picture of present-day India:

We have attempted to provide an interesting and detailed account of the Indian situation to-day, and the forces that have gone to make it up, but an account that is neither too technical nor lacking in general interest. It is intended first and foremost for the man with an intelligent interest in Indian affairs who is not satisfied with the scrappy and often biased accounts he finds in the newspapers; and secondly for the student who will only find such material by spending time he can ill afford among a pile of Indian journals. [16]

They certainly aimed high in the contributors they enlisted. Their friend and mentor Alfred Zimmern, Oxford's first professor of international relations, had pole position in the first volume, writing on 'India and the world situation'. His counterpart at the London School of Economics, C.A.W. Manning, examined 'India and the League of Nations'. Both were big names but not -- as they conceded -- specialists on India. Only one of the five contributors was himself Indian. This seems to be what annoyed a reviewer on a Lahore daily paper, who found the essays 'ponderous', 'cursory' and 'superficial', and 'done from an angle of vision with which majority of Indians will not see eye to eye'. [17]

Looking to the contributors to the second volume, predominantly academics who were themselves Indian, this Lahore-based critic was confident that they would provide 'a truer picture of India and her ills, which had been mostly manufactured for us by an unsympathetic oligarchy for the betterment of their own people at the expense of India and Indians'. These writers indeed displayed greater expertise, and broadly shared the nationalist perspective of the reviewer. While the tone of the volumes was progressive, this was by the standards of the October Club very mild fare. Some of the contributors were on the left, but there was no hint of communism or revolution in India Analysed. That's unlikely to have been at the publisher's behest, as Gollancz published several Marxist and communist writers, but the choice of the editors. Their aim with these volumes was more to inform than to agitate; to create an awareness of India's current difficulties, particularly economic and fiscal, which in turn would help shape discussion about the country's future.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:30 am

Part 2 of 2

The tone of India Analysed became more partisan over time, as any hopes vested in the Round Table conferences faded. Brij Narain, writing about currency in the third volume, asserted that the history of the rupee's exchange rate provided 'a good illustration of the conflict between British and Indian interests which has been the chief feature of our economic life in recent years. ... We [i.e. India] believe that we are the best judges of what is good for US.' [18] Another professor of economics, K.T. Shah, railed against the iniquity of imposing a financial burden on India to meet the costs of British wars and military endeavours. 'Mr Gandhi proclaimed, at the Round Table Conference, that India would pay with the last drop of her blood whatever was found justly to be due from her. But she cannot be asked, in fairness, to shoulder burdens which are not hers in reality, which were imposed upon her originally as a piece of injustice and inequity, and which afford no proportionate benefit to the people of India.' [19] This was a more assertive style of Indian nationalism assembling its intellectual armoury.

A multi-author project, especially with such eminent academics across two continents, would have been daunting and enormously time consuming: the process of commissioning, chasing, editing and arranging the chapters would have been anything but straightforward and Gollancz would have expected disciplined observance of the publication timetable. Freda and Bedi received no advance from the publishers, but as they were editors rather than the authors that was perhaps not surprising. For them, this was not about making money but about serving a cause. Even more, it was the joy and camaraderie of a shared project. This was, in the most literal of meanings, a labour of love. They must have used every sinew of their contacts, and of the address books of their academic friends, to attract such a rollcall of contributors, and it would also have been a huge distraction from their academic studies.

The proofs of the first volume of India Analysed, devoted to the country's international standing, reached the editors at the end of May 1933, as Freda and Bedi were preparing for their finals exams -- and for their wedding. Nevertheless, the book was ready to go to press just ten days later, and it was published in July -- at about the time that the couple were heading off on honeymoon. [20] The subsequent two volumes followed promptly. In the second volume, devoted to economic facts, Freda used her married name. The preface was written from Berlin on 5th October 1933 -- the same day as Freda's letter to her mother-in-law. The couple put the finishing touches to the third volume, about 'economic issues', in April 1934 -- by which time Freda was eight months pregnant. It appeared at about the time the Bedis and their newborn son were on their way to India. It is a tribute to their determination and resilience that they saw through these three volumes amid the turbulence of exams, moving countries, getting married and having a baby.

The series didn't attract much attention in Britain, which may have been disappointing to the editors but given the dry, academic tone of India Analysed was perhaps not surprising. The stridently nationalist temper, particularly of the third and final volume, did not however go unnoticed. It attracted a long and-hostile review in the Times of India, which argued that the essays were out of date, incomplete, biased and unduly pessimistic. [21] India Analysed had adopted an unspoken but very evident nationalist perspective, carefully argued though at times with a polemical edge. This was clearly not to the liking of those happy to place confidence in the benevolence of Imperial rule.

Seeing through all three volumes of India Analysed would have been a drain on the time of both Freda and Bedi, but it also must have given them status within the Indian student community in Berlin. Not many students in pursuit of a doctorate had such an impressive list of publications to their name. Berlin was, in the late twenties and early thirties, one of the commanding European capitals, bursting with intellectual energy. Some Indian students preferred it to London, not least because they wanted to escape the embrace of an Empire to which they were opposed. There was also an Indian emigre community in the German capital, politically engaged in ending Imperialism and sometimes working alongside Germany's powerful Communist Party. The rise of Hitler's national socialists changed all this -- but not overnight.

Bedi's research scholarship at the old-established Friedrich Wilhelm Universitat (now the Humboldt University) brought him a modest stipend of 110 Reichsmark a month, supplemented by financial support from his older brother. His research topic was about the development of classes and castes in India under the supervision of one of Europe's most renowned economists and sociologists of the time, Werner Sombart. [22] The university was popular among Indians studying in Europe. Zakir Husain, later independent India's first Muslim president, was awarded a doctorate there in the 1920s. Ram Manohar Lohia, who went on to become a commanding figure in Indian socialism, was a doctoral student at the university until early 1933.23 There was in the early 1930s an active network of left-wing and nationalist Indians in Berlin -- and of informers passing word of who was doing and saying what back to the British authorities. The British embassy in Berlin kept a close eye on the activities of Indian students and the Indian police were keen that nationalist students should not be forced out of the city, as that would disrupt the flow of intelligence. The League Against Imperialism, established in 1927 on the initiative of communists and with the active support of Nehru and the Indian National Congress, was based in Berlin until it was raided at the end of 1931. This was an important initiative aimed at creating links between nationalist movements in countries such as India, China and South Africa, western socialists who were campaigning for 'colonial freedom' and the international communist movement, and while it eventually dissolved amid political and factional recrimination, it was the sort of initiative which put the British authorities on edge.

By the time Freda and Bedi headed to Berlin there were clear indications of the worsening political atmosphere. There was a book burning at the university in May 1933, a portent of political and academic intolerance. Even more alarming, a few weeks earlier A.C.N. Nambiar was arrested, and also roughed-by by members of the Hitler Youth. He was a journalist and long-term resident of Germany who had been the administrator of the Indian Information Bureau, the rallying point for the Indian left in Berlin. The British ambassador felt obliged to protest about the ill-treatment of this British national, albeit one who was working against British rule in India. [24]

The prospect of a child and the changing political climate in Berlin discouraged Bedi from any sort of political activism which might attract the attention of the authorities. But his social circle certainly included Indian nationalists living in or passing through Berlin. Both he and Freda got to know Subhas Chandra Bose, the key figure on the radical wing of the Indian National Congress, and when in India they both published an article by him and publicly defended him from accusations of fascism. [25]

BPL refrained from any political activity in Germany, although he was keeping up-to-date with the Free India movement in India. A frequent visitor to their lakeside cottage was Subhas Chandra Bose, who went on to become one of the most prominent and controversial leaders of the independence movement. Bose was educated at Cambridge and also had a European wife – Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian. He made it a point to visit sympathetic Indian students living in Europe, and the couple had much in common with Freda and BPL Bedi.

“We came to know Bose intimately, and a deep friendship grew,” said BPL. Bose was a hard-core communist, a great admirer of the Soviet Union, who maintained that only an authoritarian state, not democracy, would be able to reshape India. (Later he was forced to resign as present of the Indian National Congress because his platform of violent resistance clashed with Gandhi’s peaceful pathway.)

In Germany, however, Bose, won the young BPL over completely. “Freda and I were both fired up with the patriotic zeal of liberating the motherland from British imperialism,” BPL said. “While we were in Berlin, an eminent journalist asked me what was my agenda for India. ‘Live dangerously,’ I replied. ‘Live dangerously for every form of exploitation of man by man. Live dangerously for every form of injustice. Live dangerously for any violation of human dignity.’”

-- The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi, by Vicki Mackenzie

1941–1943: Nazi Germany

Bose greeting Heinrich Himmler (right), the Nazi Minister of Interior, head of the SS, and the Gestapo, 1942.

Subhas Bose meeting Adolf Hitler

Bose's arrest and subsequent release set the scene for his escape to Germany, via Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. A few days before his escape, he sought solitude and, on this pretext, avoided meeting British guards and grew a beard. Late night 16 January 1941, the night of his escape, he dressed as a Pathan (brown long coat, a black fez-type coat and broad pyjamas) to avoid being identified. Bose escaped from under British surveillance from his Elgin Road house in Calcutta about 01:25AM on 17 January 1941, accompanied by his nephew Sisir Kumar Bose in a German-made Wanderer W24 Sedan car, which would take him to Gomoh Railway Station in then state of Bihar, India. The car (Registration No. BLA 7169) was bought by Subhash Chandra Bose's elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose in 1937. The car is now on display at his Elgin Road home in Calcutta, India.[53][54][55][56] He journeyed to Peshawar with the help of the Abwehr, where he was met by Akbar Shah, Mohammed Shah and Bhagat Ram Talwar. Bose was taken to the home of Abad Khan, a trusted friend of Akbar Shah's. On 26 January 1941, Bose began his journey to reach Russia through British India's North West frontier with Afghanistan. For this reason, he enlisted the help of Mian Akbar Shah, then a Forward Bloc leader in the North-West Frontier Province. Shah had been out of India en route to the Soviet Union, and suggested a novel disguise for Bose to assume. Since Bose could not speak one word of Pashto, it would make him an easy target of Pashto speakers working for the British. For this reason, Shah suggested that Bose act deaf and dumb, and let his beard grow to mimic those of the tribesmen. Bose's guide Bhagat Ram Talwar, unknown to him, was a Soviet agent.[55][56][57] [b]

Supporters of the Aga Khan III helped him across the border into Afghanistan where he was met by an Abwehr unit posing as a party of road construction engineers from the Organization Todt who then aided his passage across Afghanistan via Kabul to the border with Soviet Russia. After assuming the guise of a Pashtun insurance agent ("Ziaudddin") to reach Afghanistan, Bose changed his guise and travelled to Moscow on the Italian passport of an Italian nobleman "Count Orlando Mazzotta". From Moscow, he reached Rome, and from there he travelled to Germany.[55][56][58] Once in Russia the NKVD transported Bose to Moscow where he hoped that Russia's traditional enmity to British rule in India would result in support for his plans for a popular rising in India. However, Bose found the Soviets' response disappointing and was rapidly passed over to the German Ambassador in Moscow, Count von der Schulenburg. He had Bose flown on to Berlin in a special courier aircraft at the beginning of April where he was to receive a more favourable hearing from Joachim von Ribbentrop and the Foreign Ministry officials at the Wilhelmstrasse.[55][56][59] In Germany, he was attached to the Special Bureau for India under Adam von Trott zu Solz which was responsible for broadcasting on the German-sponsored Azad Hind Radio.[60] He founded the Free India Center in Berlin, and created the Indian Legion (consisting of some 4500 soldiers) out of Indian prisoners of war who had previously fought for the British in North Africa prior to their capture by Axis forces. The Indian Legion was attached to the Wehrmacht, and later transferred to the Waffen SS. Its members swore the following allegiance to Hitler and Bose: "I swear by God this holy oath that I will obey the leader of the German race and state, Adolf Hitler, as the commander of the German armed forces in the fight for India, whose leader is Subhas Chandra Bose". This oath clearly abrogates control of the Indian legion to the German armed forces whilst stating Bose's overall leadership of India. He was also, however, prepared to envisage an invasion of India via the USSR by Nazi troops, spearheaded by the Azad Hind Legion; many have questioned his judgment here, as it seems unlikely that the Germans could have been easily persuaded to leave after such an invasion, which might also have resulted in an Axis victory in the War.[58]

-- Subhas Chandra Bose, by Wikipedia

For Indian leftists, impatient with what they saw as the quietism of Gandhi and his allies within the Congress and demanding a more militant form of nationalism and anti-Imperialism, the rise of a race-based populist nationalism caught the eye. When in Lahore, B.P.L. Bedi wrote about the Hitler Youth in a style more descriptive than denunciatory, explaining why Hitler put such importance in organising young Germans and how he had managed to attract four million youngsters into his youth wing. [26] At the time of Bedi's stay in Berlin, his supervisor Werner Sombart -- who had once spoken of himself as a convinced Marxist -- published Deutscher Sozialismus ('German Socialism', though the English translation was published as A New Social Philosophy). This clearly looked to the Nazi party to achieve a new style of socialism which placed 'the welfare of the whole above the welfare of the individual'. Sombart asserted that "'a new spirit" is beginning to rule mankind'. There could be 'no universally valid social order but only one that is suited to a particular nation' -- and German socialism required that 'the individual as a citizen will have no rights but only duties.' [27]

During the Weimar Republic, Sombart moved toward nationalism, and his relation to Nazism is still debated today.

In 1934 he published Deutscher Sozialismus where he claimed a "new spirit" was beginning to "rule mankind". The age of capitalism and proletarian socialism was over, with "German socialism" (National-Socialism) taking over. This German socialism puts the "welfare of the whole above the welfare of the individual".[11] German socialism must effect a "total ordering of life" with a "planned economy in accordance with state regulations".[12] The new legal system will confer on individuals "no rights but only duties" and that "the state should never evaluate individual persons as such, but only the group which represents these persons".[13] German socialism is accompanied by the Volksgeist (national spirit) which is not racial in the biological sense but metaphysical: "the German spirit in a Negro is quite as much within the realm of possibility as the Negro spirit in a German".[14] The antithesis of the German spirit is the Jewish spirit, which is not a matter of being born Jewish or believing in Judaism but is a capitalistic spirit.[15] The English people possess the Jewish spirit and the "chief task" of the German people and National Socialism is to destroy the Jewish spirit.[15]

-- Werner Sombart, by Wikipedia

Freda seems to have imbibed something of this indulgence of totalitarianism. In a review of books about European fascism, she expressed understanding -- sympathy almost -- for the rise of National Socialism. 'Germany is making a determined fight for equality and national self-respect,' she declared. 'Her desire for equal arms is only an expression of it -- she has no desire to make war.' And citing her 'year of observation in Nazi Germany', she argued that one of the authors had misunderstood his topic:

He has judged Germany by the standards of democratic countries. He has seen very clearly the German love of organization, of uniform and of bands. But he has not rightly understood that the passion for discipline in Germany is a question of internal order, something ingrained in the cleanly, thorough German character -- and not an expression of an agressive [sic] spirit that is a danger to European peace. [28]

It was, alas, Freda who had failed to understand the character of German fascism.

As a chief figure in Salisbury's efforts to bolster up the Ottoman Empire against Russia, D'Abernon had always been anti-Russian. In this respect, his background was like Curzon's. As a result of the Warsaw mission, D'Abernon's anti-Russian feeling was modified to an anti-Bolshevik one of much greater intensity. To him the obvious solution seemed to be to build up Germany as a military bulwark against the Soviet Union. He said as much in a letter of 11 August 1920 to Sir Maurice Hankey. This letter, printed by D'Abernon in his book on the Battle of Warsaw (The Eighteenth Decisive Battle of the World, published 1931), suggests that "a good bargain might be made with the German military leaders in cooperating against the Soviet." Shortly afterwards, D'Abernon was made British Ambassador at Berlin. At the time, it was widely rumored and never denied that he had been appointed primarily to obtain some settlement of the reparations problem, it being felt that his wide experience in international public finance would qualify him for this work. This may have been so, but his prejudices likewise qualified him for only one solution to the problem, the one desired by the Germans. (5)

In reaching this solution, D'Abernon acted as the intermediary among Stresemann, the German Chancellor; Curzon, the Foreign Secretary; and, apparently, Kindersley, Brand's associate at Lazard Brothers. According to Harold Nicolson in his book Curzon The Last Phase (1934), "The initial credit for what proved the ultimate solution belongs, in all probability, to Lord D'Abernon — one of the most acute and broad-minded diplomatists which this country has ever possessed." In the events leading up to Curzon's famous note to France of 11 August 1923, the note which contended that the Ruhr occupation could not be justified under the Treaty of Versailles, D'Abernon played an important role both in London and in Berlin. In his Diary of an Ambassador, D'Abernon merely listed the notes between Curzon and France and added: "Throughout this controversy Lord D'Abernon had been consulted."

During his term as Ambassador in Berlin, D'Abernon's policy was identical with that of the Milner Group, except for the shading that he was more anti-Soviet and less anti-French and was more impetuous in his desire to tear up the Treaty of Versailles in favor of Germany. This last distinction rested on the fact that D'Abernon was ready to appease Germany regardless of whether it were democratic or not; indeed, he did not regard democracy as either necessary or good for Germany. The Milner Group, until 1929, was still in favor of a democratic Germany, because they realized better than D'Abernon the danger to civilization from an undemocratic Germany. It took the world depression and its resulting social unrest to bring the Milner Group around to the view which D'Abernon held as early as 1920, that appeasement to an undemocratic Germany could be used as a weapon against "social disorder."

Brigadier General J. H. Morgan, whom we have already quoted, makes perfectly clear that D'Abernon was one of the chief obstacles in the path of the Inter-allied Commission's efforts to force Germany to disarm. In 1920, when von Seeckt, Commander of the German Army, sought modifications of the disarmament rules which would have permitted large-scale evasion of their provisions, General Morgan found it impossible to get his dissenting reports accepted in London. He wrote in Assize of Arms: "At the eleventh hour I managed to get my reports on the implications of von Seeckt's plan brought to the direct notice of Mr. Lloyd George through the agency of my friend Philip Kerr who, after reading these reports, advised the Prime Minister to reject von Seeckt's proposals. Rejected they were at the Conference of Spa in July 1920, as we shall see, but von Seeckt refused to accept defeat and fell back on a second move." When, in 1921, General Morgan became "gravely disturbed" at the evasions of German disarmament, he wrote a memorandum on the subject. It was suppressed by Lord D'Abernon. Morgan added in his book: "I was not altogether surprised. Lord D'Abernon was the apostle of appeasement." In January 1923, this "apostle of appeasement" forced the British delegation on the Disarmament Commission to stop all inspection operations in Germany. They were never resumed, although the Commission remained in Germany for four more years, and the French could do nothing without the British members. (6) ''

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

In the same review, she wrote approvingly of Oswald Mosley and British fascism. 'It is useless to deny that Fascism will have a hold in England,' she declared. 'Leaving aside the personality of Mosley -- there may be differences of opinion on that -- the fact remains that a vital nationalistic policy, put forward by a group of men determined on the idea of service, has never yet failed to stir a nation to action and to progress.' She repeated this chilling endorsement of fascism in the conclusion of the review:

Fascism in its national aspect can be sure of an ultimate success, but English Fascism must beware against inheriting an imperialist tradition, with all its evils and abuses. Mosley and his men may see before them a Greater Britain, but there are others equally sincere who see before them a Greater India. And the dynamic national consciousness of India will attain its ultimate victory just as surely and thoroughly as Italy has done, and Russia and Germany. English Fascism will only succeed in so far as it limits itself to the borders of Great Britain.

Freda spoke later of the 'fascist horror', but at this stage she appeared to acquiesce in the rise of fascist movements. It was an extraordinary and unsettling argument she advanced: for its endorsement of a militaristic style of nationalism; for its insistence that this did not bring a heightened risk of war; and for the supposition that British fascism could be decoupled from Empire to the extent of tolerating the national ambitions of the colonies. While fascism was not yet tainted by the visceral anti-semitism that produced the Holocaust, by the time Freda's book review was published some of her fellow members of the October Club had been involved in pitched battles with Mosleyites at Olympia and elsewhere. Fascism had been unmasked, and the brutality that underlay it was already apparent. Freda's comments emphasise that her burning political commitment was to Indian nationalism and that her broader political outlook at this time could best be described as confused. This was a short book review not a well-developed political treatise, but it suggests an alarmingly naive and uncritical approach to the rise of the most monstrous of twentieth-century totalitarianisms.

Her most pressing task, however, was preparing for the baby -- and doing so in a new home, in a foreign country, with no family beyond her husband at hand. She made two good German friends who helped in making baby clothes and gave sound advice. One of them, Nora Morrell, recommended a nursing home -- Hans Dahlem, a well-regarded Catholic institution with its own way of doing things. 'It was an extremely good nursing home,' Freda later recalled, 'but they had this theory that one shouldn't give too much anaesthetic to young mothers. But they didn't on the other hand teach one how to have painless childbirth and give one the sort of exercises which are regularly taught these days.' [29]

The baby was born on May 13th 1934: a boy, delivered after a fairly uneventful four hours in labour. 'He was a healthy child, weighed about eight pounds, and had the most astoundingly beautiful eyelashes and a little cap of dark hair and rosy cheeks.' Freda's mother came over to Berlin for the birth-the earliest photo of the baby is at three days old, in his grandmother's arms. Mother and baby came home nine days after the birth; his cradle was Indian, swathed in cotton and blue bows. This little boy was born in the German capital to an English mother, but he was from the moment of his birth Indian. That was reflected in his name, Ranga Trilochan Bedi. Trilochan was the name of Bedi's older brother. The name Ranga, his mother recalled, was after a liberal politician who had been the editor of an Indian daily paper rooted in moderate nationalism. When news of their engagement had become public the previous year, at a time when many Indian public figures were in London in the aftermath of the Round Table conferences, it had prompted discussion about inter-racial marriages among students:

At that time we were told by friends that Rangaswami Iyengar, who was the editor of the Hindu, Madras, had staunchly supported us and had said -- 'Why shouldn't our boys marry the best English girls, why must they always marry girls who are not in the university? I think they should get married. Why not!' And hearing of that, when we went up to London next time we called on him and thanked him and we became friends. [30]

Rangaswami Iyengar had died by the time the baby was born, and the naming of the child was in part 'because it was the name of this great statesman who had helped us so much.'

Ranga's birth merited mention in the Tribune, the more nationalist minded of Lahore's English language daily papers. Its anonymous correspondent in the German capital described the Bedis as 'two very conspicuous figures in the Indian community of Berlin', destined soon to make the journey to Lahore, and gave a flattering, almost swooning, pen portrait of the couple:

Mr Bedi is a strong, impressive personality of fine manly presence. His scholarly attainments are no mere abstractions, no mental achievements that go straight to sleep after their birth in the brain of an unoriginal mind. They are blooming realities of sterling worth that struggle again and again into fruitage in the microcosm of his mind under the percussion of the macrocosm around him. In addition to his manifold activities in the University and the seminaries attached to it, Mr Bedi is doing excellent constructive work in the Executive of the Indian Students' Association. Mrs Bedi has been very busy learning the Hindi language at the University since her arrival in Berlin. She reads Premchand's short stories fluently and corresponds in Hindi with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law in India. [31]

Mother and baby 'are progressing well', the letter added more prosaically. It was an embarrassingly verbose commendation of the Bedis, but clearly well informed.

Freda and Bedi lovingly assembled two baby books for their firstborn, replete with anecdotes, photographs and letters and telegrams of congratulation from India and England. More than eight decades later, Ranga Bedi has them still. Among the letters was one from Lucie Zimmern in Oxford, who had done so much to encourage the couple to have faith in their love. 'My dear children,' she wrote, 'How happy I am for you + how much we are looking forward to meeting this little baby who carries with him such a rich + extensive heirloom. May he witness a better use made by men of their minds + spirits + may you both be inspired to guide him.' The letter was signed 'grand maman', grandmother -- the Zimmerns took an almost proprietorial interest in the romance they had helped to nurture.

The Bedi family lived a quiet life in one of the more verdant Berlin suburbs. On their first wedding anniversary, they took the baby, then five-weeks old, on his first outing-to the zoo. Another outing, with Freda's mother and stepfather, was to Sanssouci, Frederick the Great's splendid summer palace at Potsdam just outside Berlin. It must have seemed at times that the wider political situation, and above all the racial and political intolerance of Hitler's administration and the free rein given to his supporters, was receding into the distance. But inevitably, the darkening clouds intruded into their lives.

President Hindenburg, the only real constraint on Hitler's assumption of absolute power, died on August 2nd 1934. The cabinet had decreed that on his death the office of president would be merged with that of chancellor, which was already held by Hitler. He was duly declared to be Germany's fuhrer. The Bedis had been contemplating heading to India that autumn, but Bedi had kept his options open by enrolling at the university for a further year. This additional step towards a Nazi dictatorship unsettled him:

I remember B.P.L. put down the paper and said: tomorrow we get on the train and go to Geneva, it's not safe any more. He was not taking part in any active politics but he was friendly with the Indian students of Berlin ... And he knew that Hitler's ways were such that he could swoop down on the Indian students-and precisely that did happen. He had a prophetic vision of it really.

So the next morning -- literally I was packing all day. You can imagine the state I was in -- packing and getting everything ready in one day, and B.P.L. going and getting the visa to Switzerland. But he put me on the train all right, and the next morning I was on the train and Nora on the platform to wave, say goodbye. [32]

In one of the baby books, there's a photograph taken on the station platform in Berlin. Freda and Ranga are in the carriage, just visible at the window, while Bedi is standing with Nora and some Indian friends, one of whom made the journey to Geneva with them. They had been forced to take refuge from fascism. It was not a happy way of saying goodbye to their first real home as a married couple and the city where their baby was born. But in Switzerland they were safe.

Through friends, the couple had the use of a flat in Geneva, which gave them some thinking time after the hurried departure from Germany.

After their hasty exit, they spent a few pleasant weeks staying in accommodations that had been arranged by their old Oxford professor, Alfred Zimmern [Professor Sir Alfred Eckhard Zimmern, whose name is associated with the founding of the League of Nations], who ran a school there. In October 1934, they finally made the decision to go to India and make it their permanent home. They sailed on the SS Conte Verde from northern Italy to Bombay, a journey of three weeks.

-- -- The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi, by Vicki Mackenzie

Bedi had to abandon plans for a doctorate, and leaving Berlin also meant forsaking his scholarship stipend. They had always intended to make their home in India and they decided to sail east as soon as they could. After just a few weeks in Geneva, the young family travelled to the port of Trieste and embarked on the SS Conte Verde. This sizeable ocean-going liner operated by the Lloyd Triestino line called at Bombay on its way to Shanghai, and had space for more than seven hundred passengers. Ranga was just four months of age and a little young for a tough two-week sea journey. 'The nightmare was to get milk for myself to drink, because I was feeding the baby. And I remember the millions of cockroaches that used to come out at night in the ship's kitchens-I used to go in and attempt to get milk.'

The photos they took on board showed Freda in a sari looking after Ranga, and there were some group photographs-it seems that two Chinese men who the Bedis knew from Oxford were also on board. 'On the ship my chief work was to prevent the discipline of [Ranga' s] little life, his regular sleep, from being disturbed by a stream of affectionate passengers who could not resist him-in particular by a charming party of Indian girl students returning from a tour of Europe, and some young nuns going East for the first time.' The voyage also offered an opportunity for Freda to reflect on and adjust to the country and the extended family which awaited her and to talk through hopes and anxieties with those sharing the journey and the experience of an inter-racial relationship:

On the boat there were three more international marriages-- an American woman with a Bengali husband and an eight-year old son; a German girl from Munich going out to join her doctor husband, 'I have left my little girl in Munich,' she said, 'with my mother. I could not bear to bring her out to strange and difficult new surroundings. I shall send for her when I have made a home.' I have often wondered since whether they met each other again. The third marriage was a young Berlin girl, a librarian, married to a Chinese and going to Shanghai. [33]

Freda's intellectual immersion in India, her commitment to the country's freedom movement and her adoption of the Indian style of dress helped to ease the shock of experiencing India -- 'so when I arrived in Bombay I felt, at least outwardly, at home. The port was just as I had imagined it, the jostling crowd of coolies and the faces of friends at the side of the ship. It was hot and sticky.'

On disembarking, the customs officials at Bombay had an unpleasant surprise in store. 'We had been listed as "politicals" because of our activities in London, mild though they were. And we were subjected to body searches ... and even Ranga's little napkin was taken off and searched because they thought I might be carrying messages in it.' [34] Her husband recalled that for seven hours, they searched the boxes of books they had brought, their personal possessions and the baby's nappies. 'Even in Hitlerite Germany,' he commented angrily, 'the search was never so thorough as here.' [35] One of the pre-occupations of the India Office was to prevent communist and militant nationalist publications from being smuggled into India and to disrupt links between leftists in India and allies abroad. To Freda, it must have seemed as if from the moment she set foot on Indian soil, she was viewed by the Raj as suspect. It must also have reaffirmed her identification with India and its politics, and her rejection of Empire and the indignities it imposed on those it ruled.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:31 am

K. T. Shah
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/1/19



Prof. K.T. Shah at the farewell of Dr. S Radhakrishnan

Prof K.T. Shah is known for his active role in the Constituent Assembly (General, Bihar) responsible for framing of the Indian Constitution. An alumnus of the London School of Economics, he was a socialist leader.[1][2] He was the main rival candidate for the first presidential election of Independent India, though losing to Dr. Rajendra Prasad by securing 15.3% of votes.

Contribution in Constituent Assembly[3]


Prof K.T. Shah was a representative from Bihar and contributed immensely in the Constituent Assembly Debates. He was a member of Advisory Committee and Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights. He died in March 1953.[4]

He made important interventions in the Constituent Assembly. Although several of his proposed amendments were rejected then, but some of them were later adopted by coming governments.

1. Professor KT Shah made two attempts to get the word "secular" included in the Constitution but failed on both the occasions. He had moved yet another amendment that India, being a secular state, should have nothing to do with any religion, creed and/or profession of faith and would be totally detached in all matters of religion.[5]

2. Professor KT Shah envisioned a greater role for Judiciary in providing social transformation. In a debate on November 19, 1948, he said that "[The judiciary] is the only authority that we are going to set up in the Constitution to give effect to whatever hopes and aspirations, ambitions and desires, we may have in making these laws and in laying down this Constitution." [6]

3. Prof KT Shah wanted to include Secular, Federal and Socialist in Article 1 and moved amendments twice for the same, Dr. Ambedkar rejected both the amendments at the meeting of the Drafting Committee.[7]

4. Prof KT Shah also stood for equality of states in the Union of States, so following amendment was raised, India shall be Union of States which are equal inter se. This amendment wasn't passed but agreed upon that provinces and states shall be merged and given equal status but now was too soon for that to happen.[8]

5. Prof KT Shah had also suggested the formation of competent Boundary Commission, or any other body or authority to settle and decide boundary readjustments. He even suggested direct referendum to make required boundary changes.[8]

6. Prof KT Shah was in favor of the adoption of Presidential system of government.

Other Facts

• He was a playwright and wrote Gujarati plays.[9]
He was one of the members of the National Planning Committee which was set up in 1938 under the chairmanship of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru.[10]


1. Niraja Gopal Jayal (15 February 2013). Citizenship and Its Discontents. Harvard University Press. pp. 271–. ISBN 978-0-674-07099-8.
2. ... /facts.htm
3. "CADIndia". Retrieved 2018-01-16.
4. "CADIndia". Retrieved 2018-01-16.
5. Sanjay Kaushik (1998). A. B. Vajpayee: An Eloquent Speaker and a Visionary Parliamentarian. APH Publishing. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-81-7024-976-4.
6. ... 801000.htm
7. Shree Govind Mishra (2000). Democracy in India. Sanbun Publishers. pp. 187–. ISBN 978-3-473-47305-2.
8. Dr. Suman Sharma (1995). State Boundary Changes in India. Deep & Deep Publications. pp. 143–.
9. ... t_shah.pdf
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:00 am

Devendra Satyarthi
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/1/19




Devendra Satyarthi
Born 28 May 1908
Bhaduar, Barnala, Punjab, India
Died 12 February 2003 (aged 94)
Occupation Writer
Years active 1927-2003
Known for Punjabi folkore
Awards Padma Shri
Hindi Sahitya Sadhna Samman

Devendra Satyarthi (1908-2003) was an Indian folklorist and writer of Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi literature.[1][2][3] Born on 28 May 1908 at Bhaduar(Barnala) [4] he did not complete his education and started leading a roaming life from 1927.[5] He had a passion for folk songs and started collecting them to publish his first folk song anthology in 1935 under the name Giddha,[6] which is considered by many as a seminal work.[5]


Satyarthi published over 50 books composed of novels,[7] short stories,[8] poems, essays and folksong anthologies in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi languages, but reportedly on advice from Rabindranath Tagore, he wrote mostly in Punjabi language towards the end.
[5] Mere Saakshatkaar,[9] Miss Folklore,[10] Meet My People - Indian Folk Poetry,[11] Pañjābī loka-sāhita wica sainika,[12] Lanka Desa hai Kolambu,[13] Brahmaputra,[14] and Rath ke Pahiye[15] are some of his notable works.


A winner of the Hindi Sahitya Sadhna Samman,[16] Satyarthi was awarded the fourth highest Indian civilian award of Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1977.[17] He died on 12 February 2003, at the age of 94, succumbing to old age illnesses.[5] Pancham, a monthly magazine published from Lahore, brought out a 300-page special issue on him in April 2003 and his life has been documented in a biography, Satyarthi – Ik Dant-katha, written by Nirmal Arpan.[5]

See also

• Folklore of India
• India portal


1. Amazon profile. Amazon.
2. "Satyarthi, Devendra". Worldcat. 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
3. "Open Library profile". Open Library. 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
4. ਰਾਮਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਮੁੱਕਦੀ ਫੁਲਕਾਰੀ: ਦਵਿੰਦਰ ਸਤਿਆਰਥੀ
5. "Footloose darwesh Satyarthi is dead". Apna. 2015. Retrieved 27 June2015.
6. Devedra Satyarthi (1970). Giddha. Navyug. p. 223.
7. Amaresh Datta (1987). "Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo". Sahitya Akademi. p. 987. ISBN 9788126018031. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
8. "Selected Punjabi Short Stories". Diamond Pocket Books. 2004. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
9. Devendra Satyarthi. Mere Saakshatkaar. Kitabghar Prakashan. p. 192. ISBN 9788170166702.
10. Devendra Satyarthi. Miss Folklore. Pustakayan. ISBN 9788185134703.
11. Devendra Satyarthi (1987). Meet My People - Indian Folk Poetry. Navyug Publishers.
12. Devendra Satyarthi (1989). Pañjābī loka-sāhita wica sainika. Punjab University Publication Bureau.
13. Devendra Satyarthi (1991). Lanka Desa hai Kolambu. Navyug Publishers. p. 235. ISBN 978-8185267548.
14. Devendra Satyarthi (1956). Brahmaputra. Asia Publications. p. 466.
15. Devendra Satyarthi (1993). Rath ke Pahiye. Praveena Publications. p. 276. OCLC 36640372.
16. "Signposts". India Today. 1 October 2001. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
17. "Padma Shri" (PDF). Padma Shri. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:00 am

Balraj Sahni
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/1/19



Balraj Sahni
Balraj Sahni in the 1955 Hindi film Seema
Born Yudhishthir Sahni
1 May 1913
Rawalpindi, Punjab, British India
Died 13 April 1973 (aged 59)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Occupation Actor, writer
Years active 1946–73 (his death)
Spouse(s) Damayanti Sahni (1936–1947; her death)
Santosh Chandhok (1949)
Children 3, including Parikshit Sahni

Balraj Sahni (1 May 1913 – 13 April 1973), born Yudhishthir Sahni, was an Indian film and stage actor, who is best known for Dharti Ke Lal (1946), Do Bigha Zameen (1953), Kabuliwala (1961) and Garam Hawa (1973).


Dharti Ke Lal (Children of the Earth in English) is a 1946 Hindi-Urdu film, the first directorial venture of the noted film director Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (K. A. Abbas). It was jointly written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Bijon Bhattacharya, based on plays by Bhattacharya and the story Annadata by Krishan Chander. The film had music by Ravi Shankar, with lyrics by Ali Sardar Jafri and Prem Dhawan.

The film was based on the Bengal famine of 1943, which killed millions of Bengali people, and was one of the first films in Indian cinema's social-realist movement.[1] In 1949, Dharti Ke Lal also became the first Indian film to receive widespread distribution in the Soviet Union (USSR),[2] which led to the country becoming a major overseas market for Indian films.

-- Dharti Ke Lal, by Wikipedia

Bengal Lamenting by Freda Bedi


Do Bigha Zamin (lit. Two bighas of land)[a] is a 1953 Hindi film,directed by Bengali film director Bimal Roy, The film is based on Rabindranath Tagore's Bengali poem "Dui Bigha Jomi", starring Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy in lead roles. Do Bigha Zamin, known for its socialist theme, is an important film in the early parallel cinema of India and is considered a trend setter.[1]

Inspired by Italian neo-realistic cinema, Bimal Roy made Do Bigha Zameen after watching Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948).[2] Like most of Bimal Roy's movies, art and commercial cinema merge to create a movie that is still viewed as a benchmark. It has paved the way for future cinema makers in the Indian neo-realist movement[3] and the Indian New Wave, which began in the 1950s.[4]

A moderate commercial success, it was awarded the All India Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film, it became the first film to win the Filmfare Best Movie Award and the first Indian film to win the International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, after Neecha Nagar (1946), which won the Palme d'Or (Grand Prize).[5] It was also winner of the Social Progress Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.[6] In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.[7] The film was also released in China.[8]

-- Do Bigha Zamin, by Wikipedia


Kabuliwala (Hindi: काबुलीवाला) is a 1961 Hindi film based on the story Kabuliwala, by the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore. It was directed by Hemen Gupta and starred Balraj Sahni, Usha Kiran, Sajjan, Sonu and Baby Farida.[1][2]

Gupta had remained private secretary to Subhas Chandra Bose, and went on to direct many films including Taksaal (1956), also starring Balraj Sahni, and his tribute Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (1966).

-- Kabuliwala (1961 film)


Garam Hava (Urdu: گرم ہوا‎, Hindi: गर्म हवा; translation: Hot Winds or Scorching Winds)[1] is a 1973 Urdu drama film directed by M. S. Sathyu, with Balraj Sahni as the lead. It was written by Kaifi Azmi and Shama Zaidi, based on an unpublished short story by noted Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai. The film score was given by noted classical musician Ustad Bahadur Khan, with lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, it also featured a qawwali composed and performed by Aziz Ahmed Khan Warsi and his Warsi Brothers troupe.

Set in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the film deals with the plight of a North Indian Muslim businessman and his family, in the period after the partition of India in 1947. In the grim months after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, film's protagonist and patriarch of the family Salim Mirza, deals with the dilemma of whether to move to Pakistan, as many of his relatives, or stay back. The film details the slow disintegration of his family, and is one of the most poignant films made on India's partition.[2][3] It remains one of the few serious films dealing with the post-Partition plight of Muslims in India.[4][5]

It is often credited with pioneering a new wave of Art cinema movement in Hindi Cinema, and alongside a film from another debutant film director, Shyam Benegal, Ankur (1973), are considered landmarks of Hindi Parallel Cinema, which had already started flourishing in other parts of India; in Bengal, notably by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak as well as in Kerala. The movie also launched the career of actor Farooq Shaikh, and also marked the end of Balraj Sahni's film career, who died before its release. It was India's official entry to the Academy Award's Best Foreign Film category, nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, won a National Film Award and three Filmfare Awards. In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.[2]

-- Garm Hava, by Wikipedia

He came from Bhera, now in Punjab, Pakistan, and was the brother of Bhisham Sahni, noted Hindi writer, playwright, and actor.[1]

Bhisham Sahni was born on 8 August 1915 in Rawalpindi. He earned a master's degree in English Literature from Government College in Lahore, and a Ph.D from Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1958.

He joined the struggle for Indian independence. At the time of Partition he was an active member of the Indian National Congress, and organized relief work for the refugees when riots broke out in Rawalpindi in March 1947. In 1948 Bhisham Sahni started working with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), an organization with which his brother was already closely associated. He worked both as an actor and a director. As a result of his association with IPTA, he left the Congress and joined the Communist Party. Thereafter, he left Bombay for Punjab where he worked briefly as a lecturer, first in a college at Ambala and then at Khalsa College, Amritsar. At this time he was involved in organizing the Punjab College Teachers’ Union and also continued with IPTA work. In 1952 he moved to Delhi and was appointed Lecturer in English at Delhi College (now Zakir Husain College), University of Delhi.

From 1956 to 1963 he worked as a translator at the Foreign Languages Publishing House in Moscow, and translated some important works into Hindi, including Lev Tolstoy’s short stories and his novel Resurrection. On his return to India Bhisham Sahni resumed teaching at Delhi College, and also edited the reputed literary magazine Nai Kahaniyan from 1965 to 1967. He retired from service in 1980. Sahni was fluent in Punjabi, English, Urdu, Sanskrit and Hindi.

Bhisham Sahni was associated with several literary and cultural organizations. He was General Secretary of the All India Progressive Writers Association (1975–85) and Acting General Secretary of the Afro-Asian Writer’ Association and was also associated with the editing of their journal Lotus. He was the founder and chairman of 'SAHMAT', an organisation promoting cross-cultural understanding, founded in memory of the murdered theatre artist and activist Safdar Hashmi.

-- Bhisham Sahni, by Wikipedia

Early life

Balraj Sahni with his wife Damayanti, 1936

Sahni was born on 1 May 1913 in Rawalpindi, British India.[2] He studied at Government College University (Lahore), Punjab, British India. After completing his master's degree in English Literature from Lahore, he went back to Rawalpindi and joined his family business. He also held a Bachelor's degree in Hindi.[3]Soon after, he married Damayanti Sahni.

In the late 1930s, Sahni and his wife left Rawalpindi to join Tagore's Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan in Bengal as an English and Hindi teacher. It is here that their son, Parikshit Sahni was born, when his wife Damayanti was earning her bachelor's degree.[4] He also collaborated with Mahatma Gandhi for a year in 1938. The next year, Sahni, with Gandhi's blessings, went to England to join the BBC-London's Hindi service as a radio announcer. He returned to India in 1943.


Sahni was always interested in acting, and started his acting career with the plays of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA).[3] Incidentally, his wife Damayanti became well known as an IPTA actress much before Sahni made a name for himself in films.[5] He started his film career in Mumbai with the film Insaaf (1946), followed by Dharti Ke Lal directed by KA Abbas in 1946, Damayanti's first film, Door Chalein in 1946, and other films. But it was in 1953, with Bimal Roy's classic Do Bigha Zameen, that his true strength as an actor was first recognised. The film won the international prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

He followed it up with an encore in the 1961 classic Kabuliwala penned by Tagore.

Sahni's wife Damayanti, who was the heroine of his 1947 film Gudia, died at a young age that same year. Two years later, he married his first cousin, Santosh Chandhok, later known as an author and television writer.

He acted opposite heroines such as Padmini, Nutan, Meena Kumari, Vyjayanthimala and Nargis in films such as Bindya, Seema (1955), Sone Ki Chidiya (1958), Sutta Bazaar (1959), Bhabhi Ki Chudiyaan (1961), Kathputli (1957), Lajwanti (1958) and Ghar Sansaar (1958). His character roles in films such as Neelkamal, Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani, Do Raaste and Ek Phool Do Mali were well received. However, he is perhaps best remembered by the current generation for his picturisation of the legendary song "Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen" from the movie Waqt (1965). Sahni appeared opposite Achala Sachdev in the number.

He also starred in the classic Punjabi film Nanak Dukhiya Sub Sansar (1970) as well as the critically acclaimed Satluj De Kande.

His role as the angst-ridden, but stoic Muslim man who refuses to go to Pakistan during partition, in his last film Garam Hawa, has often been called his best performance by critics. Balraj, however, could not see the completed film to rate his own performance, as he died the day after he finished dubbing work. The last line he recorded for the film, and hence his last recorded line is Hindustani: "Insaan Kab Tak Akela Jee Sakta Hai?" which can be translated to English as: "How long can a man live alone?"

Later life

Sahni was a gifted writer; his early writings were in English, though later in life he switched to Punjabi, and became a writer of repute in Punjabi literature.[6] In 1960, after a visit to Pakistan, he wrote Mera Pakistani Safarnama. His book Mera Rusi Safarnama, which he had written after a tour of the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1969, earned him the "Soviet Land Nehru Award". He contributed many poems and short stories in magazines and also penned his autobiography; Meri Filmi Aatmakatha. Sahni was an extremely well-read and politically conscious person.

He and P K Vasudevan Nair worked on the idea of All India Youth Federation with firebrand Delhi communist, Comrade Guru Radha Kishan to organise the first national conference of AIYF in Delhi. Their wholehearted efforts were visible as more than 250 delegates and observers representing several youth organisations of various states of India attended this session. Balraj Sahni was elected as the first president of All India Youth Federation, the youth wing of Communist Party of India. The organisation was a huge success and strong presence of the organisation was noticed by other political groups and the senior communist leaders everywhere.

Sahni also dabbled in screenwriting; he wrote the 1951 movie Baazi which starred Dev Anand and was directed by Guru Dutt. He was also a recipient of the Padma Shri Award (1969). Balraj Sahni also wrote in Punjabi and contributed to the Punjabi magazine Preetlari.

In the 1950s he inaugurated the Library and Study Centre for the underprivileged in Delhi.

Sahni was undoubtedly one of the greatest actors to ever grace the Indian screen, a highly natural actor who reminded the audience of actors like Motilal because of his simple persona and a sophisticated style of acting. He was looked up to as a role model as he was never involved in any scandal. His acting in Do Bigha Zameen and Garam Hawa were the highlights of his career. He believed in what is known as Neo-Realistic cinema.

Balraj's brother Bhisham Sahni was a well-known writer who wrote the book Tamas. His son Parikshit Sahni is also an actor. Balraj Sahni died on 13 April 1973 of a massive cardiac arrest, less than a month before his 60th birthday. He had been depressed for some time by the untimely death of his young daughter, Shabnam.

"Punjabi Kala Kender", founded in 1973 at Mumbai by Balraj Sahni, gives away the annual Balraj Sahni Award,[7] and also the "All India Artists Association".[8]

Sahni on a 2013 stamp of India


Year / Film / Role

1946 / Door Chalen / --
1946 / Dharti Ke Lal / --
1946 / Badnami / --
1947 Gudia / --
1951 / Maaldar / --
1951 / Hum Log / Raj
1951 / Hulchul / The Jailer
1952 / Badnam / --
1952 / Rahi / Doctor
1953 / Do Bigha Zamin / Shambu Maheto
1953 / Bhagyawan / --
1953 / Akash / --
1954 / Naukari / --
1954 / Majboori / --
1954 / Aulad / --
1955 / Tangewali / --
1955 / Seema / Ashok "Babuji"
1955 / Garam Coat / Giridhari
1955 / Taksaal / Jatin Mukherjee
1957 / Pardesi / --
1957 / Mai Baap / --
1957 / Lal Batti / --
1957 / Kath Putli / Loknath
1957 / Bhabhi / Ratan
1957 / Do Roti Shyam / Masterji
1958 / Sone Ki Chidiya / Shrikant
1958 / Lajwanti / Mr. Nirmal
1958 / Khazanchi / Radhe Mohan
1958 / Ghar Sansar / Kailash
1958 / Ghar Grihasti / --
1959 / Satta Bazaar / Ramesh
1959 / Heera Moti / --
1959 / Chhoti Bahen / Rajendra
1959 / Black Cat / Agent Rajan
1959 / Chand / Mr. Kappor
1960/ Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere /Panchu Dada
1960/ Bindya / Devraj
1960/ Anuradha / Dr. Nirmal Chaudhary
1961 / Suhag Sindoor / Ramu
1961 / Sapne Suhane / --
1961 / Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan / Shyam
1961 / Batwara / --
1961 / Kabuliwala / Abdul Rehman Khan
1962 / Shaadi / Ratau
1962 / Anpadh / Choudhary Shambhunath
1964 / Punar Milan / Dr. Mohan/Ram
1964 / Haqeeqat / Major Ranjit Singh
1965 / Dak Ghar / Andhe Baba
1965 / Waqt / Lala Kedarnath
1965 / Faraar / Detective Officer
1966 / Pinjre Ke Panchhi / Yaseen Khan
1966 / Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare / Khan Bahadur
1966 / Aasra / Surendra Nath Kumar
1966 / Aaye Din Bahar Ke / Shukla
1967 / Naunihaal / Principal
1967 / Ghar Ka Chirag / --
1967 / Aman / Gautamdas' dad
1967 / Hamraaz / Police Inspector Ashok
1968 / Sunghursh / Ganeshi Prasad
1968 / Neel Kamal / Mr. Raichand
1968 / Izzat(Hindi Film) / Thakur Pratap Singh
1968 / Duniya / Public Prosecutor Ramnath Sharma
1969 / Talash / Ranjit Rai
1969 / Nanha Farishta / Dr. Ramnath
1969 / Ek Phool Do Mali / Kailash Nath Kaushal
1969 / Do Raaste / Navendru Gupta
1970 / Pehchan / Ex-Firefighter
1970 / Pavitra Paapi / Pannalal
1970 / Naya Raasta / Bansi
1970 / Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar / --
1970 / Mere Hum safar / Ashok
1970 / Holi Ayee Re / --
1970 / Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani / --
1970 / Dharti / Bharat's dad
1971 / Paraya Dhan / Govindram
1971 / Jawan Mohabbat / Dr. Sarin
1972 / Shayar-e-Kashmir Mahjoor / Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor
1972 / Jawani Diwani / Ravi Anand
1972 / Jangal Mein Mangal / Thomas
1973/ Pyaar Ka Rishta / --
1973 / Hindustan Ki Kasam / --
1973 / Hanste Zakhm / SP Dinanath Mahendru
1973 / Garam Hawa / Salim Mirza
1977 / Amaanat / Suresh


• Balraj Sahni: An Autobiography, by Balraj Sahni. Published by Hind Pocket Books, 1979.
• Mera Pakistani Safarnama (Punjabi),
• Mera Russi Safarnama (Punjabi).
• Kamey (Labourers) (Punjabi)
• Ek Safar Ek Daastaan (Punjabi)
• Gair Jazbaati Diary (Punjabi)


1. "Why we should remember Balraj Sahni". The Tribune India. 10 December 2016.
2. Singh, Paramjit (24 April 2010). "Born to act". The Tribune (Chandigarh). Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
3. Stumbling into films by chance The Tribune, 2 September 2001.
4. Parikshit Sahni turns producer Archived 8 July 2012 at Mid Day, 4 May 2006."..My dad came from a literary background and taught English Literature at Shantiniketan. My mom who was doing her Bachelor's degree there, was expecting me then, and was about to give her exams. Tagore told her that I should be called Parikshit as she was giving pariksha, while I was still in her womb.
5. BALRAJ SAHNI : The Gentleman Actor by S. S. JOHAR
6. In Jhang Manghiane, an article by Balraj Sahni Modern Indian Literature an Anthology: Plays and Prose, by K. M. George, Sahitya Akademi. Published by Sahitya Akademi, 1992. ISBN 81-7201-783-9.Page 605.
7. Balraj Sahni awards announced Archived 1 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine Indian Express, 25 November 2003.
8. Prem Chopra, Bollywood's good old bad man talks about his nomination for the prestigious Balraj Sahni Award Times of India, 10 July 2006.

Further reading

• Balraj Sahni: An Intimate Portrait, by Puran Chandra Joshi. Published by Vikas Pub. House, 1974.
• Balraj, my brother (National biography series), by Bhishma Sahni. National Book Trust, India, 1981.

External links

• Balraj Sahni on IMDb
• [1] Balraj Sahni's Convocation Address at
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:41 am

Manifesto of the All India Kisan Mahasabha
by All India Kisan Mahasabha
June 10, 2010



India is still a predominantly rural and agrarian society. Apart from feeding the entire country, agriculture also remains the main source of livelihood for the majority of Indian population. Yet agriculture continues to suffer the most from all that is backward and unjust in our country, be it the prevalence of ugly remnants of feudalism or lack of access to modern means of production or the shallowness of democracy and justice in our political system. Every government in India is elected primarily on the basis of rural votes, especially votes cast by poor and middle peasants, yet agriculture remains the most neglected sector of the national economy, and the poor and middle peasants remain effectively excluded from all official policies and priorities.

Thanks to systematic neglect and adverse policies, today Indian agriculture is trapped in a deep and protracted crisis. For the overwhelming majority of poor and small peasants, it is a question of survival, and for imperialist global capital and big corporations, it is an opportunity to appropriate and exploit India’s rich natural and human resources – fertile land, abundant water, resource-rich forests, productive yet cheap labour and a potentially huge rural market. Saving Indian agriculture and the laboring peasantry from this crisis and imperialist offensive is the need of the hour.

The key to any real democratization and modernization of India lies in a thoroughgoing democratization and modernization of all that is associated with Indian agriculture. This calls for a veritable agrarian revolution, which alone can lead us to a prosperous and progressive people’s India. The All India Kisan Mahasabha, being formed through a national peasant conference in Patna on May 10, 2010, will contribute all it can in every possible way to reach this goal for which thousands of peasant fighters have laid down their lives in the course of a whole series of glorious peasant revolts and militant peasant movements since colonial times.

May 10, 1857 marked the beginning of India’s first great war of independence, in which millions of small peasants and artisans had joined hands with Indian soldiers of predominantly peasant origin. To cherish this great heritage, the AIKM resolves to observe May 10 every year as the Indian Peasants’ Day.

Cardinal Principles of the AIKM

The AIKM will fight relentlessly for complete elimination of every aspect of landlordism and freeing Indian agriculture from all kinds of feudal vestiges. Simultaneously, the AIKM will also resist every form of corporate invasion of agriculture and every government policy subjecting agriculture and the peasantry to corporate loot and plunder. The Mahasabha will fight tooth and nail against imperialist intervention in every sphere of India’s agricultural economy or the larger domain of national life and for equitable restructuring of all our external relations of trade and exchange or scientific and technological cooperation and development.

Relying on the might of the poor and marginal peasantry, the AIKM will stand for firm unity with middle peasants on every issue of common interest. While on most issues of peasant interest, poor and middle peasants have to fight against the rich peasant lobby, the AIKM will not hesitate to explore possibilities of unity-in-action with forces of rich peasantry in struggles against feudal remnants, corporate domination or imperialist intervention. The AIKM is determined to defend the rights of the tribal and indigenous people who constitute a huge contingent of laboring peasantry and yet have been systematically evicted from their habitat and robbed of their land and traditional rights over natural resources. In pursuing its objectives and demands, the AIKM will always seek close and comprehensive alliance with agricultural labourers and other rural labourers and small artisans, fisherfolks as well as the broader class of industrial and other workers.

The AIKM will fight against all kinds of obscurantist, patriarchal and communal or parochial ideas and practices and uphold secular, modern, progressive, pro-people values in every sphere of life. While uniting and mobilizing peasants in their own struggles, the AIKM will also serve as a bridge in developing the peasant movement in close unity and coordination with other wings of the larger revolutionary and democratic movement of the Indian people. The Mahasabha will also work for international solidarity of the world people in the battle against imperialism and for the promotion of liberty, justice and people’s welfare in every part of the world.

Basic Charter of the AIKM

1) Of late, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 are being used indiscriminately by the state to grab vast stretches of agricultural land from peasants, often against their will and in lieu of meagre compensation, in the name of ‘industrialization’ and vaguely defined ‘public purpose’ which often turns out to be a veil for private profits. Coupled with systematic neglect of agriculture, this state-sponsored corporate landgrab and the resultant diversion and conversion of agricultural land has once again pushed large sections of the poor to the brink of acute malnutrition and near starvation. The spectre of food insecurity is looming large on a country that claims to be racing ahead to the status of an IT superpower!

The AIKM firmly believes that cultivable land must primarily be reserved for agriculture and the latter must be so organized as to guarantee food security in the first place. To this end, the AIKS demands immediate repeal of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and SEZ Act, 2005 and all such measures that threaten farmland and food security.

2) Most states in India have had a chronically poor record of implementation of land reform legislations. The situation has further worsened since the adoption of the neo-liberal policy package in 1991, with the limited reforms that had once been carried out being now systematically undone and reversed in many states. In spite of formal abolition of zamindari or landlordism, benami or illegal concentration of landholding continues unabated; land ceiling laws are flouted at will; and tenants and sharecroppers are routinely deprived of their basic rights and security of tenure.

The AIKM resolutely opposes every violation or reversal of land reforms and calls for rapid completion of the entire unfinished agenda of land reforms in accordance with the cardinal land reform principle “land to the tiller.” Pending actualization of the “land to the tiller” principle, the AIKM insists on legal recognition of tenants and share-croppers and mandatory provision of necessary facilities to ensure security of their tenure and profitable engagement in agriculture. Along with cultivable land, the state must also guarantee the basic right of the landless to residential plots. While fighting for tenancy rights, the AIKM is also aware of the phenomenon of reverse tenancy in areas of developed agriculture where rich peasants lease in land from poor peasants at cheap rates. In situations of reverse tenancy, the AIKM will fight for the protection of the interests and rights of small landowners. Land ceiling should apply not just on owned land but on operational holding which includes leased-in land in addition to owned land.

3) In the name of ensuring rapid technological modernization and increased productivity, the Indian state had initiated the strategy of green revolution. The strategy had initially yielded impressive results in terms of output growth and productivity increase even as it led to increasing intensification of inequality, but over the years, the strategy has run out of steam and now the green evolution areas are at the centre of an acute and persistent agrarian crisis. It must also be remembered that even in its heyday, green revolution relied on a very narrow base – it was launched in relatively advanced areas, taking the rich peasantry as the launching pad. Following the crisis of green revolution, the state is talking of second green revolution or extension of green revolution while actually following an even narrower strategy of corporatization basing on the corporate-rich farmer nexus.

The AIKM rejects such narrow bourgeois vision of agricultural development and fights for a broad-based strategy relying on the productive involvement and initiative of the broad masses of poor and middle peasants. The AIKM firmly believes that with adequate state support, the small farmer can serve as the most productive and effective base for comprehensive agricultural development. While fighting for agricultural development, the AIKM pays particular attention to the question of environmental protection and sustainability as well as the special agricultural conditions obtaining in hilly areas.

4) Even as agriculture becomes increasingly expensive and capital-intensive, public investment in agriculture is steadily declining and the reins of profitable agriculture are being systematically handed over to the corporate sector leading to gross neglect of the overall agricultural economy, indigenous agricultural research and urgent disaster-management measures. The share of investment, public as well as private, in agriculture in the total investment in the economy, which stood at around 15 per cent in 1960-61, now stands at around 5 per cent. As a share of the GDP, public expenditure on agriculture accounts for no more than a paltry 1.56 per cent. Agriculture accounts for around 60 per cent of the population, 16 per cent of the GDP but public investment in agriculture is down to 1.5 per cent of the GDP!

The AIKM is firmly opposed to this trend of dwindling public investment in agriculture and the concomitantly growing corporate invasion of agriculture. It must be the state’s job to guarantee assured supply of water, electricity, seeds, fertilisers and other key inputs and infrastructural facilities at affordable rates to the entire farming community. Public investment must be significantly stepped up to meet the whole gamut of agricultural needs from assured irrigation to cold storage, marketing and universal crop insurance. While insisting on greater public investment and promotion of cooperative and collective farming to check the growing corporate or state-corporate offensive, the AIKM also stands for ensuring greater public accountability through effective peasant participation and control.

5) Small and middle peasant agriculture in India has never really enjoyed effective state support in matters of pricing, procurement and marketing. With limited marketable surplus, the small farmer has usually been outside the pale of the Minimum Support Price mechanism of the state, left at the mercy of distress sale in the absence of any price support or procurement guarantee. Yet, there is now a growing clamour for dismantling even this limited system of price support or procurement and hand over the entire volume of agricultural produce to the ‘free play of market forces’. With increasing internationalization of trade, the so-called ‘free play of market forces’ refers, more often than not, to huge price manipulations by global players. At a time when farmers in developed countries enjoy high levels of subsidies, leaving the small agricultural producer in India to the mercy of distress sale is a sure invitation to unmitigated misery and continuing spates of suicidal deaths.

The AIKM strongly opposes this killer ‘free trade’ policy and calls for universal procurement of the marketable agricultural surplus at assured support price. Timely announcement of support price must be backed by an effective system of direct procurement from producers so as to save them from the eventuality of distress sale and reduce, if not eliminate, the profit margin accruing to middlemen.

6) Large sections of small peasants, tenants and share-croppers in particular, have no access to institutional credit and have to rely on usurers for all their credit needs. The structure of agricultural credit advanced by scheduled commercial banks is also heavily skewed in favour of agribusinesses and big ‘corporate farmers’. Between 1990 and 2006, the share of loans worth less than Rs. 25,000 fell from 58.7 to 13.3 as percentage of total outstanding advances while that of loans worth Rs. 1 crore or more rose from 5.5 to 29.5 per cent. The growing debt burden has been the number one reason driving distressed farmers to suicides – the debt-trap is turning out to be a veritable death-trap for the deprived peasantry.

The AIKM calls upon the state to extend cheap crop loans and other agricultural advances and mandatory crop insurance coverage to all poor and middle peasants including tenants and share-croppers under a differential interest regime with interest rate being directly proportional to the loan size. In times of natural disasters and crop losses, peasants and share-croppers must have a guaranteed right to full compensation for losses suffered.

7) Genetically modified crops have emerged as a major instrument for big corporations to tighten their grip on the global agricultural economy. In the name of rapid increase in output and productivity, the government of India is indiscriminately allowing the introduction of GM seeds in a whole range of crops, from a cash crop like cotton to a directly consumable vegetable like brinjal. In the process, peasants are losing all control while being forced to incur massive expenses on seeds and suffer frequent crop failure on account of allegedly spurious seeds. The seeds laws are being rewritten to free multinational seeds companies from any kind of public scrutiny and liability.

The AIKM strongly opposes the policy of indiscriminate introduction of GM crops and insists on saving India’s rich biodiversity and guaranteeing farmers’ full rights in relation to seeds. Public sector research laboratories must play the key role in developing seeds and bringing about other technological improvement s in partnership with the peasantry. While having a positive attitude to the introduction of new and safe advanced technology and the latest in modern science, the AIKM is opposed to any kind of ‘scientific adventurism’ with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and bio-diversity and driven purely by commercial considerations of multinational seed companies.

8) Ever since the inception of the WTO, Indian agriculture has been subjected to heightened imperialist offensive through a whole series of unequal multilateral as well as bilateral agreements. In the name of value chain improvement and skill development, all sections of rural India are being subordinated to the interests of the global capital. The US in particular is trying to tighten its stranglehold through controversial bilateral deals like the Knowledge Initiative Agreement signed during the Bush regime to the deal on “Agricultural Cooperation and Food Security” now being pushed through in a hurried and secretive manner. All these deals are aimed at making it easier for MNCs to enter and dominate the agricultural arena via wholesale and retail trade, contract farming and food processing industry on the one hand, and through greater imperialist penetration in the functioning of grassroot agencies like panchayati raj institutions, self help groups, micro credit agencies etc. on the other.

The AIKM is determined to thwart this imperialist game plan and save Indian agriculture and the peasantry from the clutches of imperialism and predatory global capital. Resisting the WTO-dictated anti-peasant measures and various imperialist agreements and deals will always figure high on the AIKM’s agenda. While motivating and mobilizing the broad masses of the peasantry in this direction, the AIKM will also seek to enlist the cooperation of all sections of patriotic and pro-peasant opinion in the country.

9) Nearly two decades since the 73rd Constitution Amendment Act, the panchayati raj institutions are yet to acquire real teeth in many respects, with no real devolution of powers to panchayats. For most of its role and powers, panchayats are at the mercy of discretionary powers of concerned state governments. The state governments apart, the Centre too is highly reluctant to delegate real decision-making powers to panchayats. The Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 which theoretically empowers tribal panchayats with the authority to deny land for mega projects, mining and industries is routinely bypassed by the Centre, with the Ministry of Environment and Forests approving one landgrab project after another right in the forest areas.

While panchayats remain starved of effective powers, it is also true that most rural development and employment schemes and the public distribution system administered through panchayats remain mired in systematic corruption. This is because, as a rule panchayats remain in the clutches of the nexus of dominant feudal and kulak forces, corrupt officials and criminals. The AIKM will therefore have to fight a two-pronged battle for securing more powers to panchayats as well as subjecting the panchayats and all panchayat-administered rural schemes to effective popular participation and democratic accountability.

10) In spite of decades of formal democratic governance, rural life in India continues to suffer from deep-seated caste and gender oppression and systematic violation of the basic dignity and rights of the rural poor. Protests against such oppression are often sought to be silenced by systematic unleashing of feudal-kulak violence or state repression. Time and again Bihar has witnessed massacres of the rural poor perpetrated by feudal private armies with active connivance of the state. The colonial legacy of state-sponsored killings of peasants is also very much alive in the country – Topkara (Jharkhand), Kalinganagar (Orissa), Nandigram (West Bengal), Dadri (Uttar Pradesh), Mudigunda (Andhra Pradesh) are just a few recent additions to this infamous bloody history. Implicating peasant leaders and movement activists in false cases and subjecting them to life sentences or years of imprisonment remains a common state response to radical peasant movement in almost all states.

The AIKM holds high the banner of militant, determined and organized peasant resistance against this pattern of oppression and anti-people violence. Wherever necessary and possible, AIKM will encourage the formation of self-defence and volunteer forces from among peasants, including peasant women, to resist feudal oppression, communal violence or state terror. In the event of disasters, the AIKM will work in every possible way for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the disaster-affected people.

Free Indian agriculture from all the vestiges of landlordism and feudalism!

Resist imperialist globalization, strengthen worker-peasant alliance!

Down with corporate domination and bureaucratic control, all power to the laboring peasantry!

Forward to comprehensive land reforms and rapid agricultural and rural development!

Forward to a truly democratic, free and prosperous India!
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:44 am

All India Kisan Sabha
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/2/19



For the earlier Kisan Sabha, see Kisan Sabha (1919-1922).

From 1939 on, constitutional progress in India was blocked by a double stalemate: (1) the refusal of the Congress Party to cooperate in government unless the British abandoned India completely, something which could not be done while the Japanese were invading Burma; and (2) the growing refusal of the Moslem League to cooperate with the Congress Party on any basis except partition of India and complete autonomy for the areas with Moslem majorities. The Milner Group, and the British government generally, by 1940 had given up all hope of any successful settlement except complete self-government for India, but it could not give up to untried hands complete control of defense policy during the war. At the same time, the Milner Group generally supported Moslem demands because of its usual emphasis on minority rights.

During this period the Milner Group remained predominant in Indian affairs, although the Viceroy (Lord Linlithgow) was not a member of the Group. The Secretary of State for India, however, was Leopold Amery for the whole period 1940-1945. A number of efforts were made to reach agreement with the Congress Party, but the completely unrealistic attitude of the party's leaders, especially Gandhi, made this impossible. In 1941, H. V. Hodson, by that time one of the most important members of the Milner Group, was made Reforms Commissioner for India. The following year the most important effort to break the Indian stalemate was made. This was the Cripps Mission, whose chief adviser was Sir Reginald Coupland, another member of the inner circle of the Milner Group. As a result of the failure of this mission and of the refusal of the Indians to believe in the sincerity of the British (a skepticism that was completely without basis), the situation dragged on until after the War. The election of 1945, which drove the Conservative Party from office, also removed the Milner Group from its positions of influence. The subsequent events, including complete freedom for India and the division of the country into two Dominions within the British Commonwealth, were controlled by new hands, but the previous actions of the Milner Group had so committed the situation that these new hands had no possibility (nor, indeed, desire) to turn the Indian problem into new paths. There can be little doubt that with the Milner Group still in control the events of 1945-1948 in respect to India would have differed only in details.

The history of British relations with India in the twentieth century was disastrous. In this history the Milner Group played a major role. To be sure, the materials with which they had to work were intractable and they had inconvenient obstacles at home (like the diehards within the Conservative Party), but these problems were made worse by the misconceptions about India and about human beings held by the Milner Group. The bases on which they built their policy were fine — indeed, too fine. These bases were idealistic, almost Utopian, to a degree which made it impossible for them to grow and function and made it highly likely that forces of ignorance and barbarism would be released, with results exactly contrary to the desires of the Milner Group. On the basis of love of liberty, human rights, minority guarantees, and self-responsibility, the Milner Group took actions that broke down the lines of external authority in Indian society faster than any lines of internal self-discipline were being created. It is said that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. The road to the Indian tragedy of 1947-1948 was also paved with good intentions, and those paving blocks were manufactured and laid down by the Milner Group. The same good intentions contributed largely to the dissolution of the British Empire, the race wars of South Africa, and the unleashing of the horrors of 1939-1945 on the world.

To be sure, in India as elsewhere, the Milner Group ran into bad luck for which they were not responsible. The chief case of this in India was the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, which was probably the chief reason for Gandhi's refusal to cooperate in carrying out the constitutional reforms of that same year. But the Milner Group's policies were self-inconsistent and were unrealistic. For example, they continually insisted that the parliamentary system was not fitted to Indian conditions, yet they made no real effort to find a more adaptive political system, and every time they gave India a further dose of self-government, it was always another dose of the parliamentary system. But, clinging to their beliefs, they loaded down this system with special devices which hampered it from functioning as a parliamentary system should. The irony of this whole procedure rests in the fact that the minority of agitators in India who wanted self-government wanted it on the parliamentary pattern and regarded every special device and every statement from Britain that it was not adapted to Indian conditions as an indication of the insincerity in the British desire to grant self-government to India.

A second error arises from the Milner Group's lack of enthusiasm for democracy. Democracy, as a form of government, involves two parts: (1) majority rule and (2) minority rights. Because of the Group's lack of faith in democracy, they held no brief for the first of these but devoted all their efforts toward achieving the second. The result was to make the minority uncompromising, at the same time that they diminished the majority's faith in their own sincerity. In India the result was to make the Moslem League almost completely obstructionist and make the Congress Party almost completely suspicious. The whole policy encouraged extremists and discouraged moderates. This appears at its worst in the systems of communal representation and communal electorates established in India by Britain. The Milner Group knew these were bad, but felt that they were a practical necessity in order to preserve minority rights. In this they were not only wrong, as proved by history, but were sacrificing principle to expediency in a way that can never be permitted by a group whose actions claim to be so largely dictated by principle. To do this weakens the faith of others in the group's principles.

The Group made another error in their constant tendency to accept the outcry of a small minority of Europeanized agitators as the voice of India. The masses of the Indian people were probably in favor of British rule, for very practical reasons. The British gave these masses good government through the Indian Civil Service and other services, but they made little effort to reach them on any human, intellectual, or ideological level. The "color line" was drawn — not between British and Indians but between British and the masses, for the educated upperclass Indians were treated as equals in the majority of cases. The existence of the color line did not bother the masses of the people, but when it hit one of the educated minority, he forgot the more numerous group of cases where it had not been applied to him, became anti-British and began to flood the uneducated masses with a deluge of anti-British propaganda. This could have been avoided to a great extent by training the British Civil Servants to practice racial toleration toward all classes, by increasing the proportion of financial expenditure on elementary education while reducing that on higher education, by using the increased literacy of the masses of the people to impress on them the good they derived from British rule and to remove those grosser superstitions and social customs which justified the color line to so many English. All of these except the last were in accordance with Milner Group ideas. The members of the Group objected to the personal intolerance of the British in India, and regretted the disproportionate share of educational expenditure which went to higher education (see the speech in Parliament of Ormsby-Gore, 11 December 1934), but they continued to educate a small minority, most of whom became anti-British agitators, and left the masses of the people exposed to the agitations of that minority. On principle, the Group would not interfere with the superstitions and grosser social customs of the masses of the people, on the grounds that to do so would be to interfere with religious freedom. Yet Britain had abolished suttee, child marriage, and thuggery, which were also religious in foundation. If the British could have reduced cow-worship, and especially the number of cows, to moderate proportions, they would have conferred on India a blessing greater than the abolition of suttee, child marriage, and thuggery together, would have removed the chief source of animosity between Hindu and Moslem, and would have raised the standard of living of the Indian people to a degree that would have more than paid for a system of elementary education.

If all of these things had been done, the agitation for independence could have been delayed long enough to build up an electorate capable of working a parliamentary system. Then the parliamentary system, which educated Indians wanted, could have been extended to them without the undemocratic devices and animadversions against it which usually accompanied any effort to introduce it on the part of the British.

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

All India Kisan Sabha (All India Peasants Union, also known as the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha), was the name of the peasants front of the undivided Communist Party of India, an important peasant movement formed by Sahajanand Saraswati in 1936. It later split into two organisations known by the same name: AIKS (Ajoy Bhavan) and AIKS (Ashoka Road).


The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, and thus sparking the farmers' movements in India.[1][2]

Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India. The formation of Congress Socialist Party (CSP) in 1934 helped the Communists to work together with the Indian National Congress, however temporarily,[3] then in April 1935, noted peasant leaders N. G. Ranga and E. M. S. Namboodiripad, then secretary and joint secretary respectively of South Indian Federation of Peasants and Agricultural Labour, suggested the formation of an all-India farmers body,[4] and soon all these radical developments culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress on 11 April 1936 with Saraswati elected as its first President,[5] and it involved people such as Ranga, Namboodiripad, Karyanand Sharma, Yamuna Karjee, Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, Rahul Sankrityayan, P. Sundarayya, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya Narendra Dev and Bankim Mukherjee. The Kisan Manifesto released in August 1936, demanded abolition of the zamindari system and cancellation of rural debts, and in October 1937, it adopted red flag as its banner.[4] Soon, its leaders became increasingly distant with Congress, and repeatedly came in confrontation with Congress governments, in Bihar and United Province.[4][6]

In the subsequent years, the movement was increasingly dominated by Socialists and Communists as it moved away from the Congress,[2] by 1938 Haripura session of the Congress, under the presidency of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the rift became evident,[4] and by May 1942, the Communist Party of India, which was finally legalised by then government in July 1942,[7] had taken over AIKS, all across India including Bengal where its membership grew considerably.[6] It took on the Communist party's line of People's War, and stayed away from the Quit India Movement, which started in August 1942, though this also meant its losing its popular base. Many of its members defied party orders and joined the movement, and prominent members like Ranga, Indulal Yagnik and Saraswati soon left the organisation, which increasing found it difficult to approach the peasants without the watered-down approach of pro-British and pro-war, and increasing its pro-nationalist agenda, much to the dismay of the British Raj which always thought the Communists would help them in countering the nationalist movement.[8]

The Communist Party of India split into two in 1964. Following this, so too did the All India Kisan Sabha, with each faction affiliated to the splinters.

Present organisations

Currently two organisations work under the name of AIKS:

• All India Kisan Sabha (36, Pt. Ravi Shankar Shukla Lane), attached to Communist Party of India (Marxist)
• All India Kisan Sabha (Ajoy Bhawan), attached to Communist Party of India


1. Bandyopādhyāya, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Longman. pp. 523 (at p 406). ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2.
2. Peasant Struggles in India, by Akshayakumar Ramanlal Desai. Published by Oxford University Press, 1979. Page 349.
3. Peasants in India's Non-violent Revolution: Practice and Theory, by Mridula Mukherjee. Published by SAGE, 2004. ISBN 0-7619-9686-9. Page 136.
4. Mahatma Gandhi, by Sankar Ghose. Published by Allied Publishers, 1991. ISBN 81-7023-205-8. Page 262.
5. Bandyopādhyāya, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Longman. pp. 523 (at p 407). ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2.
6. States, Parties, and Social Movements, by Jack A. Goldstone. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-01699-1. Page 192.
7. Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India: The Namasudras of Bengal, 1872-1947, by Shekhar Bandyopadhyaya. Routledge, 1997. ISBN 0-7007-0626-7. Page 233.
8. Peasants in India's Non-violent Revolution: Practice and Theory, by Mridula Mukherjee. Published by SAGE, 2004. ISBN 0-7619-9686-9. Page 347.

Further reading

• Swami Sahajanand and the Peasants of Jharkhand: A View from 1941 translated and edited by Walter Hauser along with the unedited Hindioriginal (Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
• Sahajanand on Agricultural Labour and the Rural Poor translated and edited by Walter Hauser Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
• Religion, Politics, and the Peasants: A Memoir of India's Freedom Movement translated and edited by Walter Hauser Manohar Publishers, hardbound, 2003).
• Swami And Friends: Sahajanand Saraswati And Those Who Refuse To Let The Past of Bihar's Peasant Movements Become History By Arvind Narayan Das, Paper for the Peasant Symposium, May 1997 University Of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
• Bagchi, A.K., 1976, `Deindustrialisation in Gangetic Bihar, 1809- 1901' in Essays in Honour of Prof. S.C. Sarkar, New Delhi.
• Banaji, Jairus, 1976, "The Peasantry in the Feudal MOde of Production: Towards an Economic Model", Journal of Peasant Studies, April.
• Bandopadhyay, D., 1973, `Agrarian Relations in Two Bihar Districts', Mainstream, 2 June, New Delhi.
• Judith M. Brown, 1972, Gandhi's Rise to Power: Indian Politics, 1915–1922, London.
• Chaudhuri, B.B., 1971, `Agrarian Movements in Bengal and Bihar, 1919-1939' in B.R. Nanda, ed., Socialism in India, New Delhi.
• Chaudhuri, B.B., 1975, `The Process of Depeasantisation in Bengal and Bihar, 1885-1947', Indian Historical Review, 2(1), July, New Delhi.
• Chaudhuri, B.B., 1975a, `Land Market in Eastern India, 1793-1940', Indian Economic and Social History Review, 13 (1 & 2), New Delhi.
• Arvind Narayan Das, 1981, Agrarian Unrest and Socio-economic Change in Bihar, 1900-1980, Delhi : Manohar.
• Arvind Narayan Das (ed.),1982, Agrarian Movements in India : Studies on 20th Century Bihar, London : Frank Cass.
• Arvind Narayan Das, 1992, The Republic of Bihar, New Delhi : Penguin.
• Arvind Narayan Das, 1996, Changel : The Biography of a Village, New Delhi : Penguin.
• Datta, K.K., 1957, History of the Freedom Movement in Bihar, Patna.
• Diwakar, R.R., ed., 1957, Bihar Through the Ages, Patna.
• Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1921, `The Zamindar and the Ryots', Young India, Vol. III (New Series) No. 153, 18 May.
• Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1940, An Autobiography or The Story of My experiments in Truth, Ahmedabad.
• India, 1976, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, New Delhi. JSES (Journal of Social and Economics Studies), 1976, `Sarvodaya and Development', Vol. IV No.1, Patna.
• Mishra, G., 1968. `The Socio-economic Background of Gandhi's Champaran Movement', Indian Economic and Social History Review, 5(3), New Delhi.
• Mishra, G., 1978, Agrarian Problems of Permanent Settlement: A Case Study of Champaran, New Delhi.
• Mitra, Manoshi, 1983, Agrarian Social Structure in Bihar: Continuity and Change, 1786–1820, Delhi : Manohar.
• Pouchepadass, J., 1974, `Local Leaders and the Intelligentsia in the Champaran Satyagraha', Contributions to Indian Sociology, New Series, No.8, November, New Delhi.
• Prasad, P.H., 1979, `Semi-Feudalism: Basic Constraint in Indian Agriculture' in Arvind N. Das & V. Nilakant, eds., Agrarian Relations in India, New Delhi.
• Shanin, Teodor, 1978, "Defining Peasants: Conceptualisations and Deconceptualisations: Old and New in a Marxist Debate", Manchester University.
• Solomon, S., 1937, Bihar and Orissa in 1934-35, Patna.
• Socialism in India, by Bal Ram Nanda, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Published by Vikas Publications, 1972.Page 205.
• A History of the All India Kisan Sabha, by Md. Abdullah Rasul. Published by National Book Agency, 1974.
• Peasants in History: Essays in Honour of Daniel Thorner, by Eric J. Hobsbawm, Daniel Thorner, Witold Kula, Sameeksha Trust.Published by Oxford University Press, 1981.
• Bihar Peasantry and the Kisan Sabha, 1936-1947, by Rakesh Gupta. Published by People's Pub. House, 1982.
• The Constitution of All India Kisan Sabha Encyclopaedia of Political Parties, by O. P. Ralhan, Published by Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2002. ISBN 81-7488-865-9. Page 1-10.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:33 am

Part 1 of 2

Fifty Years of Organised Peasant Movement
by Harkishan Singh Surjeet
The Marxist, Volume: 4, No. 2
April – June 1986



THE ALL INDIA KISAN SABHA, THE PREMIER ORGANISATION of the Indian peasantry is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year. It already held the Golden Jubilee Session in the third week of May.

Today, the Kisan Sabha is the biggest organisation of the peasantry with 8.4 million members, and if the membership of the All India Agricultural Workers Union is also included, the figure goes up to 9.5 million. Not a day passes without some struggle or movement being conducted somewhere in India. In many areas of the country the Kisan Sabha symbolises the aspirations and hopes of the multitude of poor and the collective will of the peasantry. The organisation is growing everywhere, and more and more peasants are joining it and taking part in its activities and struggle.

Fifty years ago, when it was founded in a Conference in Lucknow, the AIKS was a small organisation, and very few people heard about its formation. During these intervening years many heroic battles have been fought and won. The battles which were lost, also left their imprint on the organisation. Thus a great deal of blood has been shed, and many martyrs have given their lives fighting for the democratic rights of the peasants. Many comrades have sacrificed the better part of their youth in the underground or prison.

The entire history of the past fifty years has been a long history of severe repression against the organisation and its workers. But none of the sacrifices have gone waste. Each ounce of blood, energy and time given has strengthened the body and the soul of the organisation. The Kisan Sabha which we see today, with its large membership and an elaborate network of units reaching down to the village level, is a product of this history. It was founded to play a distinct role in the history of the country. For an assessment of the role played by the organised peasant movement in the last fifty years under the leadership of the Communists, it is essential to understand the actions of the peasantry, first under the feudal leadership and the later under the leadership of the bourgeoisie, and the class limitations imposed on the peasant movements by these leadership.


Though the AIKS was formally established on April 13, 1936, it had not been built in a day. The peasant movements in different parts of the country had existed for the past century. Many of the peasant struggles fought in those days were spontaneous in character, lacked proper direction and in many cases were badly organised. Still they played a role in raising the consciousness of the peasantry to fight against oppression and in defence of their rights.

The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed uninterrupted anti-colonial activity on the part of the peasantry, and tribesmen led by feudal lords who had lost their privileges. The feudal lords in the Northern Sarkars had been strongly resisting British domination ever since the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1807 the whole Delhi regime took up arms; in 1814 at Tuppan of Muneer (near Varanasi). Rajput peasants secured the abolition of the sale of land by public auction of a large village community to a stranger. In 1817 the peasants of Orissa led by local feudal lords, rose up in protest against the introduction of taxation of their rent free service lands. Poona district witnessed the uprising of the peasantry from 1826 to 1829 when the authorities were obliged to cede to them holding subject to low revenue charges. In 1830-31 British troops were sent to suppress a peasant uprising in Bedsore district of Mysore State against the tax increase. In 1835-37 there was an uprising in Gumsur in Madras Presidency. In 1842 an uprising flared up in Sagar. In 1846-47 the peasants in Karnal rose up in revolt. In 1848 Rohillas in Nagpur took up arms. In 1844 in the Kolhapur and Santavadi State bordering Bombay Presidency, there was a large-scale revolt in protest against the British decisions increasing the land revenue to pay the princes’ tribute. The peasants of Khandeth in Bombay Presidency rose up in protest against the land settlement which resulted in the increase of land tax.

There were also innumerable uprisings of tribals in this period – of the Bhils in 1818-1831 and Kolis in 1824 in Bombay Presidency, unrest in Kutch in 1815 and 1832 and revolt in Kittur in 1824-1829. In 1820, there was an uprising of the Mers in Rajputana, and of the Hos tribe in Chote Nagpur in 1831-32.

In 1846 the Khonds rose up in Orissa and 1855 witnessed the Santhal revolt in Bihar.

There was also unrest in the Indian towns usually resulting from the introduction of new taxes, which generally took the form of hartals.

These heroic struggles culminated in the First War of Independence of 1857, when the leadership of the movement was taken up by Sepys. Explaining the significance of this rebellion Karl Marx wrote:

“Before this there had been mutinies in the Indian Army, but the present revolt is distinguished by characteristic and fatal features. It is the first time that Sepoy regiments have murdered their European Officers: that Mussulmans and Hindus, renouncing their mutual antipathies, have combined against their common master; that disturbances beginnings with the Hindus, have actually ended in placing on the throne of Delhi a Mohammedan Emperor’, That the mutiny has not been confined to a few localities and lastly, that the revolt in the Anglo-Indian army has coincided with a general disaffection exhibited against English supremacy on the part of the great Asiatic nations, the revolt of the Bengal army being, beyond doubt, intimately connected with the Persian and Chinese wars.”

The uprisings were confined to northern and central India. The peasants after driving out the local representative of the colonial administration set up armed detachments for their own defence and defended the village communal lands, which had been expropriated by the British conquerors. The population in the town played an active par in the uprising. They not only liberated a number of large cities like Aligarh, Bareilly, Lucknow, Kanpur and Allahabad but set up a government in each of them.

This popular uprising of 1857-59 was defeated for various reasons the most important being that although the fighting forces had consisted of peasants and artisans, they were led by the feudal nobility, who showed themselves incapable of leading the national liberation struggle. They could not evolve a united strategy and a united command. The centres of uprising which emerged spontaneously, acted independently of each other. Moreover, the feudal lords did not take any measure to alleviate the lot of the peasantry. When the British Government made concessions to the feudal lords, they dissociated themselves from the uprising. The Sepoy commanders were not able to wage a complex war.

After the British succeeded in suppressing the uprising, they had to learn a lesion and change their tactics. The East India Company was liquidated and India became a colony of the British government. They also made a lot of concessions to the feudal lords thereby winning their sympathy and support. In spite of all this the uprisings left their imprint on the national liberation struggle, which developed in subsequent years.

Then followed the period of intensified exploitation of the country. This exploitation of India as a source of cheap raw materials as well s a commodity market for British manufactures constituted the main form of colonial loot. It helped to promote the development of commodity-money relations in both the towns and villages, and this growth of simple commodity production in a period of formation helped in the further penetration of trading and usury capital into the spheres of agriculture and handicrafts.


Discontentment among the people, especially the peasantry, was rapidly growing; the defeat of Czarism by Japan gave encouragement to the feelings national liberation; and the Russian Revolution of 1905 also made its own impact on the country. The immediate issue which galvanised the atmosphere, was the partition of Bengal which aroused universal indignation throughout the land, leading to the movement for boycott of foreign goods which began on August 7, 1905. Simultaneously, the Punjab was witnessing great unrest among the peasantry on the question of the Colonisation Act. A powerful movement developed against it, led by Lajpat Rai, Ajit Sigh and Banke Dayal.

These movements in which the peasantry participated in large numbers, were accompanied by trade union struggles in Bombay Calcutta and other places. The revolutionaries who at this time took to the path of armed struggles against imperialism helped radicalise the politics of those days. To meet the situation the British rulers resorted to repressive measures; heavy sentences, deportation banning of meetings, detention without trial, etc. But this did not deter the people from their path. The Government had to announce a review of the partition of Bengal and withdrew the Punjab Colonisation Act. These developments and their outcome signified that a new class had come onto the scene, i.e., the bourgeoisie. It was providing leadership to the movement and was able to get concessions.

The outbreak of the imperialist world war in 1914 raised hopes among the people for the liberation of all colonial peoples and Indian revolutionaries abroad, who were mostly peasants, took the initiative to organise a revolt in the Indian Army. They formed the Gadhar Party with headquarters in San Francisco. They raised the slogan of complete independence and sent hundreds of revolutionaries to India to organise a revolt against the British. Many of them were caught and hanged, large numbers had to undergo life imprisonment, and face tortures and deprivation. Although they did not succeed in their mission their impact in arousing the peasantry during the war period should not be underestimated. An overwhelming majority of them later on joined the Kisan sabha when it was formed.

By contrast with the activities and goal of these revolutionaries, the Indian National Congress for its part had expressed its loyalty to the imperialist war in all its sessions held in this period. Even on 1918 at the close of the war at its session in Delhi the Congress Party passed a resolution expressing loyalty to the King and conveying its congratulations at the successful termination of the war.


By December 1917 news of October Revolution in Russia was beginning to filter through to India and the not-too-efficient censorship allowed it to appear in the Press. Many articles appeared and demobilised soldiers returning from the fronts also brought the news. It had a tremendous impact on the Indian people, who welcomed the success of the Russian Revolution with understandable enthusiasm in particular, its slogan of the right to self-determination of a nation. At the Calcutta Session of the Congress in December 1917, Annie Besant spoke of the Russian Revolutions as one of the factors that fundamentally changed the previously existing situation in India.

As the war neared its end, having cost almost ten million lives, the Indian soldiers began returning home, by sea, on foot, through the endless expanses of the Himalayan passes, covered with blinding white snow. But these were no longer the timid downtrodden peasants and craftsmen who had cowered before the arrogant Englishman, or a conceited zamindar. They had forgotten the smell of freshly turned earth; their hands were no longer accustomed to the plough. Instead they brought with them the smell of fire bayonet, and slash with a sabre. They had acquired a sense of their own worth and dignity and came to believe in their own strength. In their native villages and hamlets they found their holdings ruined or falling into decay, and the land, which had once been fruitful, dried and barren. Clenching their teeth in anger they listened to heart-rending stories, broken by sobs, of the death from hunger of their children, wives and aged parents. They had come to understand that their trouble was caused by the greed and cruelty of the colonialists and landlords. It was no by chance that India was in the throes of an unprecedented upsurge in the post-war period.

Lenin had taken note of the situation. Addressing the Second Congress of the Communist Organisations of the East on November 22, 1919, he stated:

“In this respect you are confronted with a task which has not previously confronted Communists of the world; relying upon the general theory and practice of Communism, you must adapt yourself to specific conditions such as do not exist in European countries, you must be able to apply that theory and practice to conditions in which the bulk of the population are peasants and in which the task is to wage a struggle against medieval survivals and not against capitalism...” (emphasis added)

On February 17, 1920, the Indian Revolutionary Associations headed by émigrés like Raja Mohinder Pratap, Maulana Mohammed Barkatullah and Maulana Obeidullah Sindhi, in an Assembly held in Kabul, adopted the following resolution addressed to Lenin.

“Indian revolutionaries express their deep gratitude and their admiration of the great struggle carried on by Soviet Russia for the liberation of all oppressed classes and peoples, and especially for the liberation of India. Great thanks to Soviet Russia for her having heard the cries of agony from the 315,000,000 people suffering under the yoke of imperialism. This mass meeting accepts with joy the hand of friendship and help extended to oppressed India.”

In reply to this message Lenin wrote:

“I am glad to hear that the principles of self-determination and the liberation of oppressed nations from exploitation by foreign and native capitalists, proclaimed by the workers’ and Peasants’ Republic, have met with such a ready response among progressive Indians, who are waging a heroic fight for freedom. The working masses of Russia following with unflagging attention the awakening of the Indian workers and peasants. The organisations and discipline of the working people and their perseverance and solidarity with the working people of the world are an earnest of ultimate success. We welcome the close alliance of Muslim and non-Muslim elements. We sincerely want to see this alliance extended to all the toilers of the East. Only when the Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Persian and Turkish workers and peasants join hands and march together in the common cause of liberation – only then will decisive victory over the exploiters be ensured. Long lives a free Asia.” (Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 138)


Lenin’s prediction proved to be true. The peasantry in India was drawn into action in a big way. With the starting of the non-cooperation movement the peasantry in various parts of the country became very active. Though not strictly a part of the non-cooperation movement, at the same time, their activities cannot be separated from the movement for national liberation. Peasant struggles became linked up with the struggle for independence since it was the imperialist system of exploitation, which was the main protector of the feudal exploitation in the countryside.

In northern India the Gurudwara Reforms Movement, which started with the Nankana Massacre, brought the vast Sikh peasant masses into action against British rule, thus making it a part of the liberation movement. In UP had begun the Eka Movement of tenants who were fighting against the extortions and oppression of the landlords. In the south there was the Moplah Rebellion in Malabar (Kerala) an uprising tenants against the oppression of jenmies (landlord).

The main slogan of the Gurudwara Reforms Movement was the liberation of Gurudwaras from the control of Mahants who had the patronage of the British imperialists. Bringing the Sikh peasantry into the national mainstream, it soon took the form of an anti-imperialist movement. The Eka Movement was also widespread and militant. It raised the demands of fixed rents, receipts for payments, stoppage of beggar for the landlord, free use of water from ponds, and the freedom to graze cattle in the jungles. It was a revolt of the tenants against the unbearable oppression of the landlord.

The Moplah rebellion, again essentially an uprising of the tenants in Malabar, began on August 20 1921. The tenants were Muslims while the jenmies were Hindus. The main targets of the attack of the rebellion were the police, military, landlords and moneylenders. The police and military suppressed the rebellion with brutal violence in which 3,266 Moplahs were killed.

The period also witnessed big working class actions- in the textile and jute Mills in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras; in the North Western and Eastern Railway, the coal-fields of Jharia, the P & T Department of Bombay; plantations of Assam; tramways of Calcutta, etc.


The Fourth Congress of the communist International took note of the situation and drew attention to mobilising the peasantry in the struggle for independence. The Congress emphasised that “the revolutionary movement in the colonial countries would achieve no success unless it gets the support of the peasant masses. The agrarian programme of the Communist in the counties of the East demands the complete elimination of feudalism and all its survivals and aims at drawing in the peasant masses in the struggle for national liberation.”

The thesis on the Eastern question adopted at the Congress stated that the Communists must see to it that the national revolutionary parties adopt a radical agrarian programme.

Dealing with the agrarian question and describing the situation of the peasantry in the colonial countries the Congress came to the conclusion that

“Only the agrarian revolution aiming at the expropriation of large land owners can rouse the vast peasant masses destined to have a decisive influence in the struggle against imperialism. The fear of agrarian watchwords on the part of the bourgeois nationalists (India, Persia and Egypt) is evidence of the close ties existing between the native bourgeoisie and the large feudal and feudal bourgeois landowners and their ideological political dependence on the latter. The hesitation and wavering of this class must be used by the revolutionary elements for systematic criticism and exposure of the lack of resolution of the bourgeois leaders of the national movement. It is precisely this lack of resolutions that hinders the organisations of the toiling masses as is proved by the bankruptcy of the tactics of non-cooperation in India.

“The revolutionary movement in the backward countries of the East cannot be successful unless it is based on the action of the masses of the peasantry. For the reason the revolutionary parties in all Eastern countries must define their agrarian programme which should demand the complete abolition of feudalism and its survivals, expressed in the forms of large landownership and farming.

“In order that the peasant masses may be drawn into active participation in the struggle for national liberation, it is necessary to proclaim the radical reform of the bourgeois nationalist parties to the greatest extent, possible to adopt this revolutionary agrarian programme.” (Documents of the History of the C.I. vol. Pp. 550).


When in 1922 Mahatma Gandhi launched a mass civil disobedience movement in one district of Bardoli, it gave encouragement to the people in the rest of the country. A few days later in a little village. Chauri Chaura in UP angry peasants stoned and burnt the village police station, and the unpopular village constabulary was burnt in the flames. This unrest of the peasantry crucial to the Indian Revolution was not to the liking of Mahatma Gandhi. He lost no time in announcing the withdrawal of the movement, disappointing even congress leaders who were then in prison. The reality of the situation was that the reformist control of the movement was weakening.

This concern was reflected in the message telegraphed by the Viceroy to London on February 9, only three days before the withdrawal of the movement:

“The lower classes in the towns have been seriously affected by the non-cooperation movement…. In certain areas the peasantry have been affected, particularly in parts of the Assam Valley, United Provinces, Bihar Orissa and Bengal. As regards the Punjab, the Akali agitation…. has penetrated to the rural Sikhs. A large proportion of the Mohammedan population throughout the country are embittered and sullen… grave possibilities. The government of India are prepared for disorder of more formidable nature than has in the past occurred and do not seek to minimise in any way the fact the great anxiety is caused by the situation.”

The resolution adopted by congress Working Committed on the withdrawal of the movement, on February 12, 1922, makes clear as daylight that Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress leadership were afraid of the agrarian revolution and opposed to it. They were not interested in drawing in the working class and peasantry as classes, into the movement. After deploring the activities of the peasants of Chauri Chuara as inhuman, the working committee resolution instructed the local congress committee “to advise the cultivators to pay land revenue and other taxes due to the government and to suspend every other activity of an offensive character.”

In order that there should be no ambiguity on this question, it further stated.

“The working committee advices congress workers and organisations to inform the ryots (peasants) that withholding of rent payment to the zamindars (landlords) is contrary to the Congress Resolutions and injurious to the best interests of the country.”

The resolution then ended by coming out in open defence of the landlords as against the peasants:

“The working committee assures the Zamindars that the Congress movement is in no way intended to attack their legal rights, and that even where the ryots have grievances, the Committee desires that redress be sought by mutual consultation and arbitration.”

It is clear from the above resolution that the question here was not one of violence or non-violence. It was instead a clear question of defence of the class interests of the landlords-the exploiters against the exploited. Gandhi and the dominant leadership of the Congress called off the movement because it was beginning to threaten those propertied class interests with which they themselves were closely linked.

Thus the class limitations of the bourgeois stood revealed: though it wanted the peasantry to be drawn into the national liberation struggle, did not want the peasantry to come into action as a class. And thus began the struggle between the two approaches, the approaches of the working class, which had by now emerged on the scene, and that of the bourgeoisie.


By contrast March 1923, the Executive Committee of the Communist Internation issued a manifesto on the Chauri Chaura sentences where 172 peasants had been given death sentences, asking for protest meetings and a movement for their release.

The peasantry had already had the experience of betrayal by the landlords during the struggles of the 19th century. In the Chauri Chaura struggle they were able to se the betrayal by the bourgeoisie. The Communists and the Left in the Congress learnt from the experience of these two betrayals by the two classes, who were considered their natural leaders, and decided to organise the peasantry independently, as a class, though working in cooperation with other anti-imperialist classes and strata including the bourgeoisie.

In May 1923, the formation of the Labour and Kisan Party was announced and its action programme for the peasants included protection against eviction, 20 per cent reduction on all economic rent in ryotwari settlement areas, eventual abolition of Permanent settlement abolition of beggar, protection against oppression of zamindars, abolition of salami, free irrigation, abolition of dowry, etc. loans in seed or money without interest, etc.

This was the beginning of the preparations for a platform of action for the peasantry. Subsequently, peasant organisations also came into existence in various places. A Note of Satya Bakta, Secretary, Indian Communist Party dated June 18, 1925, states:

“In order to organise the Indian peasants, labourers and other working people and with a view to bettering their condition, the Indian Communist Party resolves to adopt the following programme:

“In these days there are several kisan sabhas (peasants’ unions) in UP and other provinces. They are striving after some reforms. But as long as landlordism exists in India, peasants cannot become happy and prosperous. That they should pay something to the Government is after all acceptable. But there is no reason why middlemen or commission agents should be allowed to exist. But until the victory of the proletarian class, landlordism cannot be abolished entirely.

“Even now the government and leaders of our country, if they really desire the betterment of the peasants can improve the present conditions to a great extent. In our opinion peasants should be entitled to pay their rent direct to the Government who may pay to the landlord their share. They should not be allowed to have any other connection with or control over the peasants. In this way while landlords will loss nothing of their legitimate income, they and especially their servants will no longer be able to rob peasants in the shape of unlawful taxes and gratuities. For this purpose the Indian Communist Party will agitate among the peasants and will urge upon all new and old kisan sabhas to work in the suggested manner.”

It is clear from this that kisan sabhas had already come into existence in many parts of the country. Subsequently the Labour Swaraj Party was formed in Bengal, on November 1, 1925. It was called the Labour Swaraj Party of the Indian National Congress. Its programme for the peasantry stated:

Land taxes to be reduced to a fixed maximum and fixity of the interest rate of the Imperial Bank on arrears of rents; fixity of tenure, no ejection cessation of illegal and extra taxation, right of transference, right of felling trees, sinking wells, excavating tanks and erecting pucca structure; fixed term of fishery rights in jolkars; fixity of maximum rate of interest to be levied by moneylenders; agricultural cooperative banks to be established to provide credit to the peasants and to free them from the clutches of moneylenders and speculating traders; agricultural machinery to be sold or lent to the cultivators on easy terms through the cooperative banks.

This organisation was a forerunner of the Workers and Peasants Party. On February 6-7, 1926 the Second Session of the All Bengal Kisan Conference was held in Krishna Nagar (Nadia District). It decided to organise a peasants and Workers Party called the Bengal Peasants and Workers Party. While the basic demand mentioned that the ultimate ownership of land would vest in a self-contained autonomous village community, it put forward the following immediate demands:

1) Fixity of rates in relation to the rents payable by the tenants: the interest charged on arrears of rent to be equal to the rate of interest charged by the Imperial Bank.

2) Cultivator’s undivided ownership be recognised on the land he tills.

3) Permanency of tenure in land (which the cultivator tills), banning of evictions.

4) Stopping of all unjust and illegal cesses.

5) Right freely to transfer the land to another without payment of salami.

6) Right to cut the trees, to dig wells and cut canals and build a house on his land without paying any salami.

7) Fixing conditions for catching fish in the ponds on the land.

8) The highest rate of interest to be charged by the mahajan to be fixed at a rate not more than 12 per cent.

9) Establishing cooperative agricultural banks to give credit to the peasant and thus to release him from the grip of the greedy and professional moneylender.

10) Machinery needed for cultivation etc. to be sold outright to the peasant or to be given to him on rent for use, and the price of the same or the rent amount thereof to be recovered from peasant in easy instalments.

11) To make arrangement for the wholesale sale of jute or other commercial crops so that a just profits rate is guaranteed to the peasant.

It was on February 24, 1927 that the Workers And Peasants Party was formed in Bombay. It resolved that “a political party of workers and peasant be established to voice the demands of these classes within the National Congress, to promote the organisation of trade unions to wrest them from their alien control, to advance the organisation of peasants on the basis of their economic and social requirements and to present a determined and pertinent opposition to the government and thus secure the social, economic and political emancipation of these classes.”

In formulating the economic demands it proposed:

12) The abolition of indirect taxation and the introduction of graded income tax on all income exceeding Rs 250 per mensem.

13) Nationalisation of land wherein all cultivable land will be leased by Government to cultivator.

14) Nationalisation of means of production, distribution and exchange.

15) Rent of land holding not to be excessive.

16) Establishment by the government of State-aided cooperative banks controlled by local organisations for the provision of credit to peasants, at a rate of interest not exceeding seven per cent.

In a programme formulated for the All India Congress Committee it proposed:

“70 per cent of the population which is engaged in agriculture is to be organised into peasant societies, by district, taluk, and village, on the lines of the village panchayat, based on universal suffrage aiming to secure control of the economic life of the rural areas. Through the agricultural cooperative banks to be established by the State for the provision of cheap credit to the peasants, whereby they will be enabled to free themselves from the grip of Saukars, and to purchase modern machinery and other equipment; limitation by law of the rate of interest at seven per cent per annum; limitation of rent to 10 per cent of the total produce to be paid direct to the Sate, and brining into cultivation by State aid cultivable land by present unused.

But the bourgeoisie leadership of the Congress was not prepared to take up the peasant demands.

When a proposal was mooted before the Subjects committee of the Congress that it should side with peasants and workers when a conflict arose between them and the zamindars and capitalists. Pandit Motilal Nehru, the then President of the Congress, contended in reply, that the Congress was not the Socialist or Communist Party. The reason for making this statement was that the Congress was by no means ready to stand up for those who produce all things by their labour.

J M Sengupta, leader of the Bengal Swarajists, made this even clearer. He said that the party includes many zamindars and that without their help so many men of their party would certainly never be able to enter the Councils. So they could by no means help the peasants, going against those zamindars. They tried to cover this defence of the interest of the landlords under the pretext that no class struggle existed in the countryside, and the congress represented the whole country.

It is not accidental that certain juridical measures of reforms in tenancy rights were introduced in India not at the initiative of the bourgeoisie, but by imperialism often in the face of nationalist bourgeois opposition.


The formation of the All India Workers and Peasants Party and the subsequent historic Meerut Trial, helped in popularising the agrarian programme among the Indian masses. The Meerut Trial went on for more than four years. The persons involved in the trial in their statements advocated the programme of the Communists in relation to the working class, peasantry and other toiling sections of the Indian population, along with their unflinching opposition to imperialist rule in the country.

This was the period when the economic crisis of the 30s had engulfed the world. India was the worst hit during this crisis and in 1931 the Central Banking Enquiry Committee registered the general conviction that

“Indebtedness leads ultimately to the transfer of land holdings from the agricultural class to the non-agricultural money-lenders leading to the creation of the landless proletariat with a reduced economic status. The result is said to be loss of agricultural efficiency as the moneylenders sub-let at a rate which leaves the cultivators with a reduced incentive.” (Enquiry Committee Report. P. 59)

The 1931 Census report reached the conclusion that

“It is likely that a concentration of the land in the hands of the non-cultivating owners is taking place.” (Census of India, 1931, Vol. 1)

Similarly, the extent of the collapse in prices of agricultural commodities was such, that whereas in 1928-29 the value of agricultural crops, taken at an average harvest price, was about Rs 1034 crore, in 1933-34 it was only Rs 473 crore a fall of 55 per cent.

In the United Provinces, the number of tenants abandoning their land because they could not pay rent, reached as high as 71 440 in 1931. The burden of debt doubled. Peasants were groaning under their heavy indebtedness, their lands were passing into the hands of moneylenders and they were being forced to live the life of paupers.

The peasant organisations emerging in various States now had a clear-cut programme not only for immediate relief but also directed against the system of landlordism. The peasants had realised the necessity of organising themselves as a class which was numerically not only strong but also the worst exploited under the triple attack of the imperialists landlords and moneylenders and traders. The Indian National Congress was desirous of mobilising them in the struggle for independence since without them it was not possible to bring pressure to bear on the imperialists but it did not want the peasantry to emerge as a class conscious of its rights and determined to put an end to the rule of the landlords.

The Congress started the Civil Disobedience movement but its 11-point charter of demar ds did not contain any demands of the working class and peasantry against the capitalists and the landlords.

The resolution of the Karachi Session of the Congress where fundamental rights were mentioned in relation to the peasant demands it did not stipulate more than a substantial reduction of land revenue and rent, and total exemption only for the necessary period in the case of uneconomic holdings. There was no reference to abolition of landlordism or even the annulment of at least a portion of the rural debt. It was clear that that Indian National congress did not want to rouse the peasantry against feudal oppression.

Gandhi’s hopes for a compromise were shattered at the Round Table Conference and he had again to continue the movement, which lasted up to 1934, drawing into its fold huge masses. Once again the movement was withdrawn without achieving its aim, and Gandhi withdrew from the Congress exercising his influence from outside.


The Communist Party was banned in 1934 but continued to exercise its influence on the working class and on the Left in the Congress. The ideas of Socialism wee becoming very popular, and left dements in the Congress, becoming disillusioned with Gandhi formed the Congress Socialist Party, in order to give the Congress a Left orientation. Coming to realise that the vast masses of the peasantry could be brought into the struggle for independence only by taking up the anti-feudal struggle and their immediate demands they were also realising the necessity of organisation the peasantry as a class. They had already come to the conclusion that the struggle for real political freedom could not be separated from the struggle of the peasantry for an end to landlordism and for radical restructuring of rural society. The Communists were already trying to develop class organisations and had popularised the ideas of independent class organisations of the working class peasants and other sections of the toiling people. Thus it was the Left Congressmen, Congress Socialists and Communists who took the initiative in organising the All India Kisan Sabha.

The First Session was held in 1936, Lucknow to coincide with the holding of the Session of the Indian National congress. The idea was to project the kisan movement as a part of the national movement though maintaining its separate identity as a class organisation.


The following list of the names of some of the participants in the first All India Kisan Sabha Session is revealing : EMS Namboodiripad, Dinkar Methta, Kamal Sarkar, Sohan Singh Josh, Lal Bahadur Shastri, K D Malaviya, Mohan Lal Gautam, B Sampooranand, Jayaprakash Narain, Swami Sahajanand, NabaKrishna Choudhury, Harekrishna Mahtab, N G ranga, Indulal Yajnik, R K Khadilkar, Bishnuram Medhi and Sarat Sinha. Many of them became prominent national and state-level personalities in subsequent years. It also suggests how broad-based the Kisan Sabha was from the very beginning and how it tried to attack people of varying political views to join together in defence of the democratic rights of the kisans.

The formation of the AIKS was preceded by a meeting in Meerut in January 1936, where the necessary preparations were made. A clear decision was taken to launch the organisation with a broad-based programme and membership to link it closely with the national movement for independence and to view the fight against imperialism as an integral part of the fight against the feudal social order since the former patronised and provided state support to the latter.

Today with the benefit of hindsight one is struck by the simplicity and directness with which the very first session set out its tasks in the main resolution. To quote:

“The objective of the Kisan movement is to secure compete freedom from economic exploitation and the achievement of full economic and political power for the peasants and workers and all the other exploited classes.

“The main task of the kisan movement shall-be the organisation of peasants to fight for their immediate political and economic demands in order to prepare them for their emancipation from every from of exploitation.

“The kisan movement stands for the achievements of ultimate economic and political power for the producing masses through its active participation in the national struggle for winning complete independence.”

It their indicted the zamindari system, “supported by the British government in India”, as “iniquitous unjust, burdensome, and oppressive to the kisans”, and declared that “all such system of landlordism shall be abolished and all the rights over such lands be vested in the cultivators.”

This was the essence of what the kisan movement stood for at the time of the launching of the AIKS. The other issues covered by resolutions included questions of rent, irrigation rates and prices of inputs, prices of marketed agricultural products, indebtedness, forced labour and illegal exactions from the tenants by the landlords and the distribution of landlords land to the landless poor peasants as also the vesting of waste land and grazing land in the village level panchayats. The AIKS also demanded minimum wages for the regulating their unionisation.

Any one reading those resolutions will immediately notice that many of the issues raised by the conference of the AIKS in its first session have remained unresolved till today.


The Bombay session of the Central Kisan Sabha Council (CKC) held in August 1936 further elaborated many of the points raised in the founding session. It categorically stated that, since the kisans constituted more than four-fifths of the population, “no political or economic programme which has the audacity to ignore their needs and demands can by any stretch of imagination, be labelled as a national programme”, and called upon the Indian National Congress to make “the solution of the problems of the peasantry the chief plank of its political and economic policy.” At the same time the CKC felt the need for a political movement, which draws “its main strength and inspiration from the peasantry.”

These two struggles --- the kisan movement and the national movement were seen as “inter-dependent, the strength of the one adding to the other.”

The CKC meeting also strongly emphasised on the need for peasant unity. The AIKS was an “expression of the awakening of the peasantry”, and should represent not only the ryots the tenants and the landless labourers but also all sections of cultivating peasantry --- “in other words, it represents, and speaks and fights for those who live by cultivation of the soil. All these different strata among the kisans will have to combine and fight for removal of all the letters imposed by British imperialism and it’s allies the landlords.”
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The Bombay Session made a separate listing of “fundamental demands” and “minimum demands”. The former included the demands for abolishing intermediary tenures, replacement of existing land revenues by graduated land tax, cancellation of old debts and allocation of land to landless and poor peasants for cooperative farming.

The minimum demands included the cancellation of the rent and revenue arrears; exemption of uneconomic holdings from land revenue; reduction of rent revenue and water rates by half; immediate grant of right permanent cultivation to tenants cultivating land held by zamindars, talukdars, etc., rent remission for these tenants; graduated taxation of agricultural income abolition and penalisation of all feudal and customary dues, forced labour and illegal exactions; a five year moratorium on debts freedom from arrest and imprisonment for debtors and also immunity from attachment for small holdings; licensing for money-lenders; arrangement of credit from the state cooperative and land mortgage banks over a long period of 40 years t five per cent interest lowering the freight on agriculture goods introduction of one paise postcards; abolition of indirect taxes on salt kerosene sugar, tobacco molasses, etc., stabilisation of agricultural prices minimum wages legislation to recognise collective action of the peasants insurance for cattle fire and health adult franchise and establishment of village panchayats for managing civic affairs and communal land among others.

These show the wide range of issues covered by the AIKS in its campaign which catered to the needs and aspirations of various sections of the peasantry.

From its very beginning the AIKS was alert and reacted to major national and international events. While striving for the country’s independence the AIKS had a distinct concept of independence, which was outlined in various resolution where along with political independence, socio economic independence was emphasised. To quote from the resolution of the Bombay CKC meeting in 1936 again it stated:

“The Kisan must fight for national socio-economic independence Indian a democratic of Britain must be transformed into a free progressive democratic India of the masses.”

There was no room for exploitation and oppression in the concept of the free Indian that the AIKS held. It was never solely concerned with narrow peasant issues and defined the interests of the peasantry in broad terms.


One of the cornerstones of its policies had always been the unity of the peasants with the workers. In its Gaya Session in 1939 the AIKS talked about the objective of building “a democratic State of the Indian people leading ultimately to the realisation of Kisan --- Mazdoor Raj”. Even earlier in its second session at Faizpur the Presidential Address stated:

“It is the sacred duty of every of our kisans to fraternise with the workers in the village and in the town… There is much to be achieved by both workers and peasants by common effort for their mutual benefit.”

The adoption of the red flag with hammer and sickle, signifying the unity of these two classes, was strongly defended by the General Secretary Swami Sahajananda at the Comilla Session in 1938 on the grounds aspirations of the exploited and the oppressed.”

Its commitment to anti-imperialism was reflected in the resolutions passed in the earlier years condemning the Italian attack on Ethiopia and the Japanese attack on China, and supporting World War began it doggedly opposed the war efforts championed the cause of world peace and later when the fascist forces of Hitler attacked the USSR it firmly came out with the slogan of defeating the fascist hordes to save humanity from fascist enslavement. It mobilised popular opinion against fascism.

On national issues too, the AIKS conferences not only passed resolutions against the colonial rulers but also fought for a determined struggle against British rule and State organised oppression. In fact, many of the leaders of the AIKS were themselves the stalwarts in the national movement and spent many years in British prisons.


The formation of the AIKS was greeted with hostility from many sides. Both the Hindu and Muslim vested interests joined hands against the AIKS and tried their best to disrupt the working of the organisation by terrorising the peasants and using communal propaganda. The British government alarmed by its growing hold on the peasantry intensified its repression by arresting key leaders, from time to time and forcing many others to go underground. A report of the intelligence Bureau of the British colonial government in India said in 1937:

“The Communist leaders are developing a strangle hold upon any future agrarian movement as well as inspiring this with their special methods and outlook of which by no means the least is the belief in mass violence and the violent overthrow of British rule.”

The right wing of the Congress party led by Sardar Ballavbhai Patel and Dr Rajendra Prasad fought against the collective affiliation of the Kisan Sabha to the Indian National Congress and strongly opposed the separate existence of the kisan organisation had produced such an atmosphere of violence in the countryside that an explosion may occur at any moment.”

In many provinces the Congress leaders took an openly pro-landlord view and used their power in governments formed in the late thirties to suppress the agitation of the peasants. In Bihar they made an alliance with the landlord lobby to fight off AIKS activists.

In its formative years therefore the AIKS had to grow fighting against such heavy odds. But it grew nevertheless. The very formation of the organisations inspired peasants all over the country to take up immediate issues and light. As opposed to the path taken by the Indian National Congress, which compromised with landlords and other vested interests, and spoke of non-violent resistance, the AIKS rallied the peasants to stand up to the attacks by the armed thugs of the landlords and the police. The Gaya Session of the AIKS in 1939 reported that “the past year has witnessed a phenomenal awakening and growth of the organised strength of the kisans in India.


To keep the mass movement under control, congress decided to implement the Constitution of 1935 and formed the ministries. Congress policy was again put to the test and again it was found that it stood by the side of the landlords against the tenant and the landless. But the organised peasant movement supported by the Congress Left was proving capable of exercising influence, and the Congress Ministries were being forced to give some concessions.

However, the Congress never defined the meaning and importance of national freedom other than as freedom from British rule. It was the Communists, Socialists and the Congress Left, which were trying to propagate the understanding that freedom from foreign rule could have real meaning only if it was followed by agrarian revolution and completion of the bourgeois democratic tasks.

The masses were getting disillusioned and impatient, and wanted the Congress leadership to launch a final assault on British rule. The leadership wanted to restrain them and use them for pressure and bargaining. The peasant movement thus came again into conflict with the bourgeois leadership of the Congress, especially on the issue of struggle against feudal and semi-feudal relations. The limitations of the bourgeois leadership were starkly revealed and it could be clearly seen that it did not want to come into conflict with the landlord class.

The leadership was prepared to accept and support certain demands of the peasantry, which were directed against the Government, but was not prepared to take up the basic issue of abolition of landlordism. In fact it was afraid of agrarian revolution. Therefore, the kisan sabhas, while supporting the struggle for national independence had not only to strengthen the independent class organisations of the peasantry but also to forge unity with the working class, the most revolutionary class for our society for completion of the agrarian revolution.


As compared to the Indian National Congress, which lent its support to the war efforts of British imperialism the AIKS came out in firm opposition to the war. Here again there were two different class approaches-one supporting the British imperialist power the other expressing its firm opposition to imperialist war being fought with the sole purpose of redividing the world for the continuation of colonial exploitation.

The AIKS gave a call for struggle against British rule and their Indian lackeys, and launched a no rent, no tax movement. The AIKS was naturally subjected to unprecedented police repression and its open functioning became extremely difficult. Its officers in Bengal and other States were raided and put under lock and key, and its main functionaries were either arrested or forced to go underground.

However, with the attack on the Soviet Union by the German Fascists in June 1914 the Sabha raised the slogan of defeating fascism to save humanity from fascist enslavement. It took the view that on the victory over fascism depended the survival of the first Socialist State as well as the independence of countries including ours. The AIKS therefore considered it the sacred duty of the organisation to support the cause of defence of Socialist State and defeat of fascism.

While the task of fighting fascism was given the priority it deserved the AIKS in its Session in 1914 reminded its members that “the struggle for India’s freedom should not be slackened even temporarily.” The CKC meeting at Nagpur in 1942 demanded transfer of power to a national Government and a declaration recognising India’s right to freedom. It identified the British colonial regime, which was working “in complete isolation from the millions on the land” as the greatest obstacle to the mobilisation of India’s millions in the defence of their country and the successful persecution of the war.”

When on August 9, 1942 Gandhi and other leaders of the Congress were arrested leading to violent protests in many parts of the country, the AIKS expressed its full support to the Congress demand for transfer of power, demanded the released of Gandhi and other national leaders, and condemned the “indiscriminate firing and repression that have been let loose by the Government on the people.”


The military defeat of the fascist powers headed by Hitlerite Germany and the decisive role played by the Soviet Union altered the alignment of class forces on a world arena in favour of Socialism. This also resulted in the general weakening of imperialism on a world scale. Inspired by this powerful national liberation struggle swept throughout the countries of Asia.

India the largest country of the British Empire witnessed a mass revolutionary upheaval against British rule-peasant revolts of which the heroic armed struggle of the Telengana peasantry was the most important general strikes of workers, student strikes and the states people mass struggle developed on an unprecedented scale. The demonstrations for the release of INA personnel took the form of a country – wide revolt against British rule. This wave of protest reached a climax with the uprising of the Royal Indian Navy in February 1946 in Bombay, Karachi and Madras. The Union Jack was removed from the ship’s masts and the Congress and Muslim League flags hoisted instead. In Bombay the naval ratings carried the Red Flag of the Communist Party along with the other two. The slogans the navy men raised showed the political nature of the action-Jai Hind, Inquilab Zindabad, Hindu-Muslim Unity. Release INA and other political prisoners. Down with British Imperialism, Accept our demands.

Rajani Palme Dutt, in his outstanding and seminal work, India Today, not only captured the spirit of the time, but gave a keen analytical insight into the significance of the event and the class reactions it engendered:

“The Naval rising and popular struggle in the February days in Bombay revealed with inescapable clearness the alignment of forces in the explosive situation developing in India in the beginning of 1946. It showed on the one hand the height of the movement the courage and determination of the people and the overwhelming mass support for Hindu-Muslims unity and Congress-League unity. It showed that the movement had reached to the armed forces and that therefore the basis of British rule was no longer secure. But it showed on the other hand the unreadiness and disunity of the existing national leadership and their consequent inability to lead the national struggle.

“But now when the masses were really in movement when Hindu-Muslim unity was being realised and practised when the armed forces had united with the civilian population in the common national movement and when the real struggle for freedom had opened the gates of British rule, the attitude of the upper leadership of the national movement revealed a marked change. The upper class leadership of the Congress and Muslim league found themselves in opposition to the mass movement and aligned with British imperialism as the representative of law and order against the people. A whole series of statements and denunciations were issued condemning the “violence” not of the imperialist authorities whose firing slaughtered hundreds in three days but of the unarmed people who had been the objects of military firing Vallabhai Patel issued a statement in which he declared that the Naval ratings ought not to have taken to arms and that he endorsed remarks of the Commander-in-Chief that there ought to be discipline in the Navy” (India Today. P. 583)

The RIN uprising however was followed by militant struggles in the countryside at the head of which, at the many places stood the Communist Party. And by 1946 the AIKS through militant struggles in Punjab, UP, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra and Andhra had drawn the attention of all on the question of abolition of landlordism. The slogan of agrarian revolutions was brought onto the agenda in the armed resistance of the peasants of Vayalar and Punnapra in the State of Travancore, the militant Tebhaga struggle of the peasants of Bengal the struggle of the Warli peasants in Maharashtra and the struggle of the Tripura peasants.

Crowning all these struggles was the epochal struggle of the peasantry of Telengana, which has no parallel in the history of the country where peasants fought with arms in hands from 1946-1951 for three years, 1948-51 against the armies of the Indian State.

In the course of the movement guerrilla squads were formed from the village to the district level, which met the terror unleashed by the Razakars, and in many instances scared away the landlords in the area. At the peak of the struggle almost 3000 villages, with roughly 30 lakh of the people and an area of 16,000 square miles were liberated and brought under the administration of Gram Raj. In this area guerrilla squads of 2000 and a people’s militia of 10,000 guarded the villages and about10 lakh acres of land were distributed among the landless. Among the reforms introduced by the revolutionary leadership was the slashing of usurious interests banning of forced labour and fixation of a minimum wage. This was the real alternative developing to bourgeois landlord rule in the countryside and its significance lay in the fact that if it had been allowed to develop a qualitative change would have come about in the situation combining agrarian revolution with the national liberation movement and the course of history would have been entirely different.


Telengana showed the direction the mass movement could have taken if it had not been checked. The completion of the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution had come onto the political agenda with the agrarian revolution as its crux. But though the ‘workers and peasants’ alliance was being forged and the Communist Party was at the head of some of these struggle it was not in a position to assume the leadership of the national movement, which still remained in the hands of bourgeoisie.

Afraid of this mass upsurge the bourgeoisie realised that if the struggle against imperialism developed into a general revolt the leadership of the mass movement would slip away from is hands. British imperialism also saw that it would no longer be possible to continue their rule. Under these circumstances the leaders of the National Congress and the Muslim League reached a settlement with the British imperialists.

With the outmoded agrarian relations not being radically changed and a path of capitalist development in compromise with imperialism and feudalism being pursued by the ruling Congress party, it was but natural that the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution remained incomplete.

Had the bourgeoisie not compromised at this stage, the situation would have gone out of its control. It would have lost its leadership and the working class would have been in a position to lead the movement and complete the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution. By now our country would have also taken the road to Socialism as has been done by China, Vietnam, North Korea and other Asian countries.


The existence of the communal and caste problems and threat of divisive forces with which we are faced today also originates from the policies pursued by the Congress party in the pre-in-dependent and post-independent period-its policy of alliance with feudalism instead liquidating it and the weakness of the organised peasant movement in leading the agrarian revolution in alliance with the working class the position which it started acquiring during the post-war period but was not able to bring to a decisive turning point.

Historical experience shows that it is only in countries where feudal and semi feudal relations have been put an end to and the agrarian revolution has been led to successful completion that the problem of caste or communalism can be overcome. It is only in the countries where the national liberation struggle was led by bourgeoisie but was not led to its completion that this problem not only remains but gets aggravated to be used by the ruling classes to divert the discontent of the masses and to disrupt the unity of the democratic movement. Experience has also shown that in the areas where the peasant movement was strong in spite of efforts made by the British imperialists riots could not be organised and the unity forged during the struggle between the Hindu-Muslim peasants stood as the guarantee of communal peace. The Kisan Sabha never allowed any scope for communalism and casteism on its platform. It not only maintained its secular character but exposed the communal ideology and fought against this virus during the riots in Punjab, Bihar and Bengal. In pursuing this policy some of its leaders and cadre laid down their lives fighting against the dark forces of communalism.

Thus, though the leadership of the national liberation movement was in the hands of the bourgeoisie, alternative political forces represented by the trade unions and kisan and other militant organisations had started emerging as a powerful force at the end of the war to offer a real challenge to the bourgeoisie. This became clear with the results of the first general election in free India. Wherever there had been strong peasant organisations, the combination of Left and other Opposition forces won a magnificent victory, becoming the main opposition in Parliament, the recognised Opposition in four State Assemblies-West Bengal, Hyderabad, Madras and Travancore-Cochin. The struggle for an alternative leadership continues to this day.


In the post-independent period the bourgeoisie continued its alliance with the landlords and the balance sheet of bourgeois agrarian policy is explained in the Programme of the CPI(M), in para 34.

“In no field is the utter failure of the bourgeois-landlord government’s policies so nakedly revealed as in the case of the agrarian question. Nearly two decades of Congress rule has proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the aim and direction of its agrarian policies is not to smash the feudal and semi-feudal fetters on our land relations, and thus liberate the peasantry from age-old bondage, but to transform the feudal landlords into capitalist landlords and develop a stratum of rich peasants. They want to depend upon the landlord and rich peasant section to produce the surplus of agricultural products to meet the requirements of capitalist development. They also want to make these sections the main political base of the ruling class in the countryside.”

Although these measures did not bring the desired resulted of making the tiller of the soil the owner of the land it made certain changes in the agrarian relations. Under the impact of the agrarian movement intermediary tenures like zaminidaris, jagirs, imams, etc., which prevailed over quite a large area of the country were abolished in the early 50s and more than 20 million tenants were brought into direct relation with the State. It was these occupancy tenants who directly benefited from the land reforms to become owners of the land they tilled. These rich and middle peasants were no longer interested in radical land reforms.

This has been shown by the subsequent developments also.

The overall result has been that even after four decades of independence the pro-landlord, anti-peasant policies of the Government have resulted in the further deepening of the agrarian crisis, which manifests itself in growing landlessness increase in disparities both inter-regional and inter-sectional in the same region, an extremely low level of consumption of food-grains despite increasing production and bourgeoning stocks held by the Government growing poverty and unemployment despite all the poverty alleviation schemes and growing indebtedness which finds partial reflection in the growth of overdues in institutional credit supplied to the agricultural sector and so on.

In spite of two rounds of Land Ceiling legislations in the 1950s and 1970s only 7.2 million acres have been declared surplus out of which 5.6 million acres have been taken over and 4.4 million acres actually distributed. This is about seven per cent of the surplus estimated i.e., 63 million acres by the Mahalanobis Committee after the first round of ceiling laws were enacted and one fifth of the surplus estimated on the basis of date made available by the NSS 26th Round.

Even if we take into consideration the 1981 Agricultural Census land concentration continues. As compared to three per cent land holders holding 10 acres and above and operating a total of 26 per cent of the land in 1976-77 in 1981-82, 2.4 per cent of land holders held 22.8 per cent of the land. It is also estimated by the Planning Commission that even now if a 20-acre ceiling is imposed and all loopholes in ceiling laws plugged about 23 million acres of land can be made available for distribution. But the Seventh Plan makes no mention of amending the ceiling laws nor about breaking the land monopoly. And typically the Central Government took more than five years to give Presidential assent to the West Bengal Land Reforms Legislation, which seeks only to plug certain loopholes.


In the first six years of the post independence period the peasant movement again had to face severe repression at the hands of the Government Afraid of the tempo of the growing revolutionary movement, it unleashed repression making the functioning of various units impossible. The All India Kisan Sabha was not able to hold any session till April 1953. But in spite of this the Kisan Sabha was busy organising the resistance of the peasantry especially on the question of evictions, and militant fights were put up in many States. Subsequently various Congress Government were forced to take measures of land reforms such as ceiling legislations security of tenure and rent reduction, consolidation of holdings, etc., but all failed to fulfil the declared objectives. On the other hand the period witnessed a large-scale eviction offensive throwing millions of tenants into the ranks of agricultural workers.

In the late fifties the Kisan Sabha fought many struggles on the issues of land fair prices for peasants produce, debt relief, in defence of the rights of tribal people and on the issue of the burden of heavy taxation. The most important of these struggles was the heroic struggle of the Punjab peasantry against the imposition of the betterment levy tax in the beginning of 1959. This was the most important struggle fought under the flag of the Kisan Sabha after the epoch-making Telengana struggle. The peasants defied firings lathi-charges, beating and all types of repression. The all in peasant unity forged during the struggle was unparalleled, when peasant united irrespective of their political affiliations. The movement ultimately forced the Government to withdraw the tax amounting to Rs. 136 crore.

The agrarian crisis further aggravated in the 60s. By the mid-1960 stagnation in agriculture and the consequent food crisis worsened. The bourgeois-landlord classes began losing their hold over the mass of the peasantry with the result that in the 1967 elections the Congress monopoly of power was broken in eight States with West Bengal and Kerala giving victory to the Left and democratic force among which the CPI(M) played an important role. Powerful peasant struggle took place in different States on different issues. In Kerala and West Bengal these struggles were most widespread and became intimately connected with political issues.

The United Front Government of West Bengal and Kerala made a big impact on the masses, not only in those States but also in the rest of the country. When the Central Government dismissed these governments hundreds of thousands of peasants actually joined the struggle for democracy in West Bengal combining this with the struggle for defending heir land and crops.

Mid-term elections gave a bigger victory to the United Front in West Bengal and the peasant movement attained wider sweep. Millions of peasants all over the State unleashed an unprecedented struggle with the backing of the United Front Government, for recovering benami land for possession and distribution of surplus lands, for loans in kind and for checking hoarding and black-marketing. In this period more than three lakh acres of land were located taken over and distributed among the landless through village level committees. Many peasants lost their lives in the battles fought on this issue, but it gave a big impetus to the kisan movement and the AIKS spread to all districts.

These struggles achieved important gains and helped in raising the political consciousness of the peasantry. It was because of this that the Kisan Sabha was able to face the semi-fascist terror of 1917 to 1977, fight back the repression and defend their interests though working in semi-legal conditions.

In Kerala, the peasants conducted a statewide movement for agrarian legislation and debt relief legislation for the rights on Government lands against threat of central intervention. As a result of the campaign one lakhs pattas were distributed to erstwhile-unauthorised occupants of the land. The ceiling was revised downwards and made family-based many exemptions were withdrawn and hutment dwellers were given rights on land on which they lived. Tens of thousands of agricultural labourers conducted powerful and successful struggle for better wages and living conditions.

The discontent found powerful expression in other parts of Indian also. In Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Tripura, etc., widespread struggles took place for occupation of forest or government lands and against eviction from these lands. In Punjab and UP widespread agitations took place on the question of sugarcane prices. Struggle took place against increased taxation on the question of food and relief rent reduction and against unjust levies. Militant struggles of agricultural labourers took place in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

This period also witnessed two splits in the AIKS one from the Right and other from the Left. While they did a lot of harm to the Kisan Sabha, it not only survived these attacks but advanced further. At the same time it also failed to properly understand the changes in the agrarian structure and work out the appropriate tasks on that basis. By 1978-79 it was able to give a new orientation to its policy, which led to its big advance. Membership of the Kisan Sabha, which had never gone beyond ten lakhs till 1968-69 after 1978-79 jumped by millions and now stands at 84 lakhs.


In this connection the question may be asked why has the bourgeoisie not been able to implement radical land reforms when the latter would serve its objective interests? The breaking of the feudal and semi-feudal relations would naturally lead to the expansion of the internal market, which would be helpful for expanding industries. The answer lies in the fact that in spite of the objective interests of the bourgeoisie, the latter dies not want the forces of agrarian revolution to be unleashed which, in unity with the working class would pose a threat to its class rule. It was from this angle that it forged an alliance with the landlords and now tries to solve its contradiction through pressure and bargaining. All conflicts and contradictions, which arise between the landlords and the bourgeoisie whether on the question of remunerative prices for agricultural produce cheep agricultural inputs and machinery or on the question of taxation the push and pull between the two remains but the alliance continues.

It is in this context that the Kisan pursues its alternative line, the line of completing the agrarian revolution, in unity with the working class, and continues to lead the mass struggle of the peasantry in this direction. Since independence the situation has changed. Although land monopoly remains a lot of changes have taken place in the agrarian structure, which require a changed approach in building peasant unity and in leading the agrarian revolution to success.

Land to the tiller and total abolition of landlordism have been the basic slogans of the Kisan Sabha since its inception. What bearing do the changes in agrarian sector have on these basic slogans? Before examining these changes, let me state here at the outset that the seizure and distribution of the land of the landlords still remains the central slogan for the kisan sabha to propagate among the peasantry and other democratic classes. Without the victory of this slogan there cannot be any solution to rural poverty unemployment, a fast development of a balanced economy in the country and so on.

But the correlation of class forces, which existed at the time when the Kisan Sabha inscribed these basic aims in its programme are not the same as exist today. It is necessary for us to understand his change since it has great relevance to the chalking out of our immediate slogans and actions.

The land reforms which the Congress Government set about to introduce after independence were not directed to end landlordism and give land to the tiller though this was the pledge the Congress had made to the peasantry during the freedom struggle. These land reforms had only very limited objectives, the main one of which was to reform, not abolish the old type of feudal landlordism by converting the absentee feudal landlords into capitalist landlords personally supervising cultivation in large farms with farms servants and hired agricultural workers. This is the new type of landlord who combines in himself elements of both feudalism and capitalism.

Another objective was to create a stratum of rich peasants. These two sections were to constitute the political base of the ruling party in the rural areas. They were also to produce the surplus food grains necessary for the Government to feed the urban people as well as to produce the raw materials for industry. With thousands of crores of rupees from the public exchequer pumped into agriculture these sections have been helped to adopt modern methods of farming.

Here, we should warn against one tendency. Earlier there was a tendency to altogether ignore the penetration of capitalism into agriculture. Now a reverse tendency is raising its head, which considers that feudal landlordism, and other semi-feudal relations have almost totally been abolished. This is wrong. The extent of capitalism in agriculture varies from State to State and even from region to region inside a State. Here a concrete study of the situation in each area is necessary.

We have also the note the phenomenon of the monetisation of the entire agrarian economy. Today, it is not only those who have a surplus who are taking their produce to the market, even the poor peasant immediately after the harvest for various reasons, sells his produce in the market and later buys even his food grains requirement from the market. It is only if this phenomenon is properly understood can we mount a struggle against the big traders and monopolists.

Even after the abolition of statutory landlordism like zamindari, jagirdari, etc. concentration of land in the hands of big landlords has not been appreciably reduced. Even today 2.5 per cent of top landlords posses 22.8 per cent of the land. The real concentration would be even more if benami transactions are included.

Congress land reforms have also resulted in the eviction of millions of tenants who have either joined the ranks of landless agricultural labourers or become tenants-at-will without any rights or protection. Only a section of the earlier tenants could by a portion of the land on which they were working either by paying compensation in instalments or outright purchase at lowers than market rates.

So, after the Congress land reforms the situation we find in the rural area is that three per cent of big owners have in their possession about one third of the cultivated land.

Another ten per cent consists of rich peasants owning roughly five to ten acres of wet, or ten to twenty acres of dry land, who contribute manual labour and employ a considerable number of farm servants and agricultural workers.

Another 15 per cent consists of middle peasants owning two to five acres of wet, or ten to twelve acres of dry land. They and their families work on the land but also hire labour in busy seasons.

Twenty per cent of the rural households are poor peasants possessing one or two acres of wet, or two to five acres of dry land. Apart from working on their own land, they have to frequently hire themselves out to earn a living.

The last 50 per cent are those who own no land at all, earns their livelihood mainly by hiring themselves out as wage workers or are engaged in handicrafts, villages’ services, etc.

Of course, it has to be borne in mind that this categorisation will pay from State to State and region to region.

What has to be noted is that unlike in the pre-Independence days, 25 per cent of peasants, rich and middle peasants are not moved any longer by the slogan of seizure of landlords land and its distribution. At the other end of the scale the 70m per cent of landless and poor peasants are not conscious and organised enough to go into action today for the seizure of landlords lands; even when they are moved into action, it is only for Government waste land, cultivable forest land etc. Regarding even surplus land above the ceiling which the landlords are keeping illegally, the struggle as in Kerala or recently in Andhra Pradesh, could not advance beyond the stage of locating such surplus land and exposing the Government’s claims. Only under the United Front Government in West Bengal in 1969, could some of the surplus land be occupied. This we will have to take into consideration when we work out our immediate tasks.

But what we have to note is that the Congress Party, which ruled the country for thirty-five years, while failing to end landlordism, land concentration and growing landlessness has successfully disrupted the pre-independence peasant unity. It is true that unity cantered around the rich and middle peasants, which today we are striving to build peasant unity cantering around the agricultural workers and poor peasants. The ruling class party, whether congress or Janata, also used its control peasantry and the disruption of their unity. The two-year of the cooperatives rural banks etc., to perpetuate the division in the peasantry and the disruption of their unity. The two years of the Janata Party government showed that its policies in regard to land reforms were no different from those of the Congress. In fact, some of the Janata State Governments were proposing to reverse even the Congress legislation to favour the landlords.

Taking note of these structural changes and their multifarious consequences we have to come to the conclusions that the slogan of complete abolition of landlordism and distribution of land of the landless and land-poor continues to be the central slogan of the agrarian revolution a slogan which we have to continue to propagate. But it is a slogan on which we cannot go into action today in most parts of the country.

While continuing to propagate this as the central slogans, while continuing struggles for surplus land, benami lands, waste land etc. the kisan sabha will have to take up for immediate action such issues as the question of wages of agricultural workers, house sites, rent-reduction, 75 per cent of the produce to the sharecroppers evictions, abolition or scaling down of rural indebtedness, remunerative price for agricultural produce, cheap credit, reduction of burdens and heavy levies like water charges, electricity rates, etc., landlord-goonda attacks with the connivance or direct help from the police the social oppression of harijans, corruption in administration etc,. These are issues which affect all sections of the peasantry-poor, middle, rich, and they can all be drawn into the movement on them. All these currents have to be brought together to build the maximum unity of the peasantry cantering around the agricultural workers and poor peasants to isolate the small stratum of landlords.

All this will, course depend on how successfully we organise the agricultural workers and poor peasants and bring them into action not only on their own specific demands but also on the general demands of the peasantry as a whole, and how far we are able to draw other sections of the peasantry into movements on issues affecting them, and on the general demands of the peasantry. There is no doubt that the middle and rich peasants can be drawn into movement on such issues. It is our task to see that while other sections of the peasantry support the agricultural workers in their struggles, the latter in turn extend support to movements on the demands of the peasantry, thus paving the way for building peasant unity.

Our earlier analyses of the agrarian policies of the Congress Governments have shown them to be anti-peasants, serving the interests of the landlords and the bourgeoisie. As compared to that the Left Front Government of West Bengal and Tripura, and the Left Democratic government of Kerala (for a brief period) with the limit power they enjoy under the constitution, backed by the organised peasant movement, have tried to alleviate the conditions of the peasantry. In West Bengal, land has been distributed to 12 lakh families 13 lakh sharecroppers have been registered and more than two lakh of them receive credit from banks in a year, more than two lakhs have been given rights over homesteads, minimum wages fro agricultural workers are regularly revised. Small farmers have been exempted from land revenue and debt relief has been given.

In Tripura more than one-lakh beneficiaries have been given land, debt relief has been given to poor peasants and artisans, while minimum wages have been fixed and sharecroppers recorded. In Kerala under the Left Democratic Front Government holdings under four acres were exempted from plantation tax, rent arrears for holdings up to 2.5 acres cancelled and subsidies given on inputs and exemptions on gifted land taken away.

This would not have been possible without the strength of the peasant organisation because without the active intervention of the Kisan Sabha, the bureaucracy would never have allowed the implementation of measures, which would have remained on paper as pious declarations. It is because of these alternative policies that the Kisan Sabha has grown so strong in West Bengal with almost 33 per cent of the adult peasant population including agricultural workers joining the organisation.

In other states also the kisan sabha has grown through struggles. Kisan Sabha units in different States have taken up different issues depending on the concrete situation in each state. In Bihar the question of eviction of sharecroppers has remained very acute and struggle fought over it; in some, states against rise in taxation and on remunerative prices in most of the states. The first half of 80s witnessed a tremendous upsurge among the peasantry where even the Congress base was drawn into struggles. This shows the tremendous possibilities for building the peasants movement.


The Kisan sabha has grown into a powerful organisation with 84 lakh members today and if we include agricultural workers the membership surpasses 95 lakh. The 50 years’ record of the All India Kisan Sabha is a record of glorious history. It played an important role in arousing the peasantry in the movement for national freedom. The All India Kisan Sabha was able to unite various sections of the toiling peasantry in the struggle against feudalism, big traders and monopolists. In its long history of 50 years it has had to face severe repression. Even after independence the bourgeois-landlord Government launched severe repression against it but the movement not only survived, it grew in influence and strength. It has emerged as a premier organisation of the peasantry.

But it should not be forgotten that the peasts organised in the AIKS and other peasant organisations under their influence are only a very small percentage of the peasant population in the country. Vast areas in our country especially in the Hindi-speaking region are untouched by the activities of the organised kisan movement. It is imperative that this grave weakness is over come as quickly as possible.

The Golden Jubilee Year of the AIKS should become the starting point of the biggest activity to expand the Kisan Sabha to all the areas, to spread the message of the agrarian revolution in even part of the country. The Kisan Sabha’s aim should be to see that there is no revenue circle in the country without an AIKS unit. Seventy per cent of our population lives in the rural areas and is engaged in agriculture handicrafts and other rural trades. Without organising the bulk of them neither their genuine interests can be defended nor can there be any successful agrarian revolution. The guarantee of the success is a powerful Kisan Sabha as the mass organisation of the peasantry championing also the cause of agricultural workers and forging unity with them and building the unity of the peasantry with the working class. Let the Golden Jubilee Year see the beginning of the efforts to fulfil this historic task.

The Golden Jubilee of the AIKS comes at a time when the national situation is bleak and the international situation is menacing because of the imperialist threat of nuclear war. Only by strengthening the organisation manifold as speedily as possible can the AIKS mobilise the peasantry to intervene in the national situation and strengthen the struggle for peace against the imperialist warmongers.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:05 am

G. D. H. Cole
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/4/19



Freda, along with many October Club stalwarts, had started out as a member of the Labour Club and then gravitated towards the breakaway group. 'The idealism of our generation was the idealism of helping the underprivileged,' she recalled. 'If the Labour Club to which I belonged ... had any meaning, it was showing that we cared if people hadn't got enough food when they took the government dole, and we did care if the hunger marchers went all the way from Reading to London, we cared if there were children in the slums with no shoes and that children hadn't got enough food.' Her years in Oxford, she said, were 'radical years ... we used to attend all the clubs like the Labour Club and later on the more extreme October Club ... The whole atmosphere was electric with social demands and social change. We were, as it were, the Depression generation.' [38] Both Freda and Bedi attended the socialist G.D.H. Cole's lectures and Harold Laski's seminars on Marx and -- in a joint activity which served to demonstrate both their intellectual and personal compatibility -- they scoured the British Library to track down Marx's journalism about India.

-- 2: The Gates of the World. The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi -- EXCERPT, by Andrew Whitehead

This article is about the English historian. For the Canadian historian, see Douglas Cole (historian).

Both Freda and Bedi attended the socialist G.D.H. Cole's lectures and Harold Laski's seminars on Marx and -- in a joint activity which served to demonstrate both their intellectual and personal compatibility -- they scoured the British Library to track down Marx's journalism about India.

-- 2: The Gates of the World. The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi -- EXCERPT, by Andrew Whitehead

G. D. H. Cole
Born George Douglas Howard Cole
25 September 1889
Cambridge, England
Died 14 January 1959 (aged 69)
London, England
Spouse(s) Margaret Postgate (m. 1918)
University College, Oxford
Nuffield College, Oxford
Field Co-operative economics
School or
tradition Libertarian socialism
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Neville Figgis[1]Sidney Webb

George Douglas Howard Cole (25 September 1889 – 14 January 1959) was an English political theorist, economist, writer and historian. As a libertarian socialist, he was a long-time member of the Fabian Society and an advocate for the co-operative movement.

One of the clear lessons to come out of the Sargant studies, and other similar profiling work by such Cybernetics Group/CCF players as Dr. Margaret Mead and her husband, LSD-experimenter Dr. Gregory Bateson, was that the most efficient means of promoting irrationalist cults was to exploit existing movements and subcultures.

In the case of the United States, the British "Liberal Imperialist" mind-benders and their "American Tory" cohorts had a three-century track record of consciously promoting such irrationalist movements, to draw upon. Thus, one of the major forms of cultural warfare, directed against the republican tradition of the American Founding Fathers, through the British Fabian Society and its later Congress for Cultural Freedom spawn, was the revival and promotion of the "Great Awakening" and related forms of subversion, including, most prominently, the "Lost Cause" ideology of the pro-British, feudalist Confederacy whose credo, taken from John Locke, was: "Life, Liberty, Property." A medievalist Catholic version of the same credo, promulgated by British Fabians G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, was later translated into "Tradition, Family, Property."

Beginning early in the 20th century, in tandem with a U.S.A. top-down revival of the racist Ku Klux Klan sponsored directly out of Hollywood with enthusiastic support from the Woodrow Wilson White House, the British Fabian Society promoted a Confederate revival, aimed not so much at secession, as at the subversion of the historical American commitment to the Leibnizian "pursuit of happiness" and the U.S. Constitution's Preamble's mandate to promote the General Welfare. Major players in this Confederate revival would later assume leading roles in the Congress for Cultural Freedom subversion.

-- The CCF and the God of Thunder Cult: British Promotion of Irrational Belief Systems in America, by Stanley Ezrol & Jeffrey Steinberg

In 1913, she co-founded with her husband the New Statesman, a political weekly edited by Clifford Sharp with contributions from many philosophers, economists and politicians of the time including George Bernard Shaw and John Maynard Keynes.

In late 1914, the Webbs became members of the Labour Party. At this time, their leadership of the Fabian Society was facing opposition from H.G. Wells, who lampooned them in his 1911 novel The New Machiavelli as 'the Baileys', a pair of short-sighted, bourgeois manipulators. They were also opposed from the left in the Labour Party by the Guild Socialists and the historian and economist G.D.H. Cole. During this time, Webb collaborated with her husband in his writings and policy statement such as Labour and the New Social Order in 1918 and his election in 1922 to the parliamentary seat of Seaham in Durham.

In 1928 the Webbs retired to Liphook in Hampshire, where they lived until their deaths. In 1932, Sidney and Beatrice travelled to the Soviet Union and later published in support of the Soviet economic experiment with Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation? and The Truth About Soviet Russia. When she died in 1943, Webb's ashes were interred in the nave of Westminster Abbey, close to those of her husband, and were to be joined subsequently by the remains of Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin.

-- Beatrice Webb, by Wikipedia

Early life

Cole was born in Cambridge[3] to George Cole, a jeweller who later became a surveyor; and his wife Jessie Knowles.[4]

Cole was educated at St Paul's School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he achieved a double first.[5]

First World War

As a conscientious objector during the First World War, Cole's involvement in the campaign against conscription introduced him to a co-worker, Margaret Postgate, whom he married in 1918. The couple both worked for the Fabian Society for the next six years before moving to Oxford, where Cole started writing for the Manchester Guardian.[citation needed]

In 1915, Cole became an unpaid research officer at the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. He advised the union on how to respond to wartime legislation including the Munitions Act. This role enabled him to escape conscription on the grounds that he was conducting work of national importance.

Having secured exemption from military service, during the war years Cole developed a political theory of guild socialism.[6]

Professional life

Cole authored several economic and historical works including biographies of William Cobbett and Robert Owen.

In 1925, he became reader in economics at University College, Oxford.

In 1929, he was appointed to the National Economic Advisory Council when it was set up by the second Labour government. In 1944, Cole became the first Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford. He was succeeded in the chair by Isaiah Berlin in 1957.[6]

Cole was initially a pacifist, but he abandoned this position around 1938, stating: "Hitler cured me of pacifism".[7] During the 1930s, Cole sought to construct a British popular front against fascism. He identified the extent of the military threat before many of his colleagues had abandoned their pacifism. Cole lent strong support to the republican cause in Spain.[4]

He was listed in the Black Book of prominent subjects to be arrested in the case of a successful invasion of Britain.[8]

In 1941, Cole was appointed sub-warden of Nuffield College, Oxford. He was central to the establishment of the Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey which collected a large amount of demographic, economic and social data. This information was used to advocate for an extensive programme of social reform.[4]


Cole became interested in Fabianism while studying at Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Fabian Society's executive under the sponsorship of Sidney Webb. Cole became a principal proponent of guild socialist ideas, a libertarian socialist alternative to Marxian political economy. These ideas he put forward in The New Age before and during the First World War and also in the pages of The New Statesman, the weekly founded by the Beatrice Webb and George Bernard Shaw.

In 1906 Orage resigned his teaching post and moved to London, following Arthur Penty, another friend from the Leeds Art Club. In London Orage attempted to form a league for the restoration of the guild system, in the spirit of the decentralised socialism of William Morris. The failure of this project spurred him to buy the weekly magazine The New Age in 1907, in partnership with Holbrook Jackson and with the support of George Bernard Shaw. Orage transformed the magazine to fit with his conception of a forum for politics, literature and the arts. Although many contributors were Fabians, he distanced himself from their politics to some extent and sought to have the magazine represent a wide range of political views. He used the magazine to launch attacks on parliamentary politics and argued the need for utopianism. He also attacked the trade union leadership, while offering some support to syndicalism, and tried to combine syndicalism with his ideal of a revived guild system. Combining these two ideas resulted in Guild socialism, the political philosophy Orage began to argue for from about 1910, though the specific term "guild socialism" seems not to have been mentioned in print until Bertrand Russell referred to it in his book Political Ideals (1917).[7]

-- Alfred Richard Orage, by Wikipedia

Cole said his interest in socialism was kindled by his reading News from Nowhere, the utopian novel by William Morris, writing:

I became a Socialist because, as soon as the case for a society of equals, set free from the twin evils of riches and poverty, mastership and subjection, was put to me, I knew that to be the only kind of society that could be consistent with human decency and fellowship and that in no other society could I have the right to be content.[9]

Neither a Marxist nor a social democrat, Cole envisioned a socialism of decentralised association and active, participatory democracy, whose basic units would be sited at the workplace and in the community rather than in any central apparatus of the state.[10]

In 1936, Cole began calling for a popular front movement in Britain, where the Labour Party would ally with other parties against the threat of fascism.[11]

Cole was a powerful influence on the life of the young Harold Wilson, whom he taught, worked with and convinced to join the Labour Party. Before him, Hugh Gaitskell was a student of Cole's.

Cole wrote at least seven books for the Left Book Club, all of which were published by Victor Gollancz Ltd. These are marked with LBC in the list of his books given below. He and his wife, Margaret Cole, together wrote 29 popular detective stories,[12] featuring the investigators Superintendent Wilson, Everard Blatchington and Dr. Tancred. Cole and his wife created a partnership, but not a marriage. Cole took little interest in sex and he regarded women as a distraction for men. Margaret documented this comprehensively in a biography she wrote of her husband after his death.[13]

Although Cole admired the Soviet Union for creating a socialist economy, he rejected its dictatorial government as a model for socialist societies elsewhere. In a 1939 lecture, Cole stated:

If I do not accept Stalin's answer, it is because I am not prepared to write off Democratic Socialism, despite all its failures and vacillations of recent years, as a total loss...Democratic Socialism offers the only means of building the new order on what is valuable and worth preserving in the civilisation of to-day.[14]

In his book Europe, Russia and the Future published in 1941, Cole claimed that however immoral the new Nazi-dominated Europe was, in some ways it was better than the "impracticable" system of sovereign states that had preceded it. In economic terms, it could be said that "it would be better to let Hitler conquer all Europe short of the Soviet Union, and thereafter exploit it ruthlessly in the Nazi interest, than to go back to the pre-war order of independent Nation States with frontiers drawn so as to cut right across the natural units of production and exchange".[15] Cole also stated:

I would much sooner see the Soviet Union, even with its policy unchanged, dominant over all Europe, including Great Britain, than see an attempt to restore the pre-war States to their futile and uncreative independence and their petty economic nationalism under capitalist domination. Much better be ruled by Stalin than by the destructive and monopolistic cliques which dominate Western capitalism.[16]

Co-operative studies

Cole was also a theorist of the co-operative movement and made a number of contributions to the fields of co-operative studies, co-operative economics and the history of the co-operative movement. In particular, his book The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society examined the economic status of the English CWS (the predecessor of the modern Co-operative Group), evaluated its possibility of achieving a Co-operative Commonwealth without state assistance and hypothesised what the role the co-operative might have in a socialist state.[17]

A second book, titled A Century of Co-operation, examined the history of the movement from the very first co-operatives to the contribution of the Chartists and Robert Owen, through to the Rochdale Pioneers as well as the movement's development (in Great Britain) over the following century.[18]

Cole contributed to An Outline of Modern Knowledge, ed. William Rose (Victor Gollancz, 1931) along with other leading authorities of the time, including Roger Fry, C. G. Seligman, Maurice Dobb and F. J. C. Hearnshaw.

Personal life

In August 1918, Cole married Margaret Isabel Postgate (1893–1980). Margaret was the daughter of the classical scholar John Percival Postgate.[4]

The couple had one son and two daughters in a marriage that lasted forty-one years. However, the marriage does not seem to have been especially happy. Cole expressed little interest in actual romantic attachment and even less in sexual relations. Friends observed that emotional attachments tended to be with men rather than women. Cole was very fond of some of his male students. They included the future leader of the Labour Party Hugh Gaitskell. There is no evidence of any homosexual encounters either before or during his marriage.[4]

Cole and his wife jointly wrote a number of books and articles, including twenty-nine detective stories.[4]


Non-fiction works

• The World of Labour (1913, revised 1920)
• Labour in War Time (1915)
• Trade Unionism on the Railways (1917) [with R. Page Arnot]
• Self-Government in Industry (1917, revised 1920)
• The Payment of Wages (1918)
• The Regulation of Wages During and After the War (1918)
• An Introduction to Trade Unionism (1918)
• Labour in the Commonwealth(1919)
• Social Theory (1920)
• Guild Socialism Restated (1920)
• Chaos and Order in Industry (1920)
• The Future of Local Government (1921)
• Rousseau's Social Contract and Discourses edited and translated in Everyman's Library (1923)
• Robert Owen (1923)
• Workshop Organisation (1923)
• Trade Unionism and Munitions (1923)
• The Life of William Cobbett (1925)
• Some Essentials of Socialist Propaganda (1932)
• The Intelligent Man's Guide through World Chaos (1932)
• The Intelligent Man's Review of Europe Today (1933) [with Margaret Cole]
• Studies in World Economics (1934)
• Principles of Economic Planning (1935)
• The Condition of Britain (1937) [with Margaret Cole] LBC
• The People's Front (1937) LBC
• Practical Economics(1937) Pelican Books, London
• Persons & Periods (1938)
• Socialism in Evolution (1938) Pelican[19]
• The War on the Home Front (1939)
• War Aims (1939) LBC
• Europe, Russia and the Future (1941) LBC
• Great Britain in the Post-War World (1942) LBC
• The Fabian Society, Past and Present (1942)
• Fabian Socialism (1943)
• Monetary Systems and Theories (1943)
• The Means to Full Employment (1943) LBC
• A Century of Cooperation (1944)
• Money Its Present And Future (1944)
• The Common People, 1746–1946 (1946) [with Raymond Postgate]
• A Short History of the British Working Class Movement, 1789–1947 (1947) ISBN 0-415-26564-9
• An Intelligent Man's Guide to the Post-War World (1947)
• A History of the Labour Party from 1914 (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1948)
• Consultation or Joint Management? (1949)
• Labour's Second Term (1949)
• The Meaning of Marxism (1950) LBC
• The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society, (London, G. Allen & Unwin 1951)
• Introduction to Economic History 1750–1950 (London: Macmillan 1952)
• Capitalism in the Modern World (1957)
• A History of Socialist Thought: 7 Volumes (London: Palgrave Macmillan (2003) ISBN 1-4039-0264-X

Detective stories

• Cole, G. D. H. (1923) The Brooklyn Murders
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1925) The Death of a Millionaire
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1926) The Blatchington Tangle
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1927) The Murder at Crome House
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) The Man from the River
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) Superintendent Wilson's Holiday
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1929) Poison in the Garden Suburb aka Poison in a Garden Suburb
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Burglars in Bucks aka The Berkshire Mystery
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Corpse in Canonicalsaka The Corpse in the Constable's Garden
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) The Great Southern Mystery aka The Walking Corpse
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) Dead Man's Watch
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1932) Death of a Star
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) A Lesson in Crime (short stories)
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) The Affair at Aliquid
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) End of an Ancient Mariner
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1934) Death in the Quarry
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Big Business Murder
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Dr Tancred Begins
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Scandal at School aka The Sleeping Death
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) Last Will and Testament
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) The Brothers Sackville
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) Disgrace to the College
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) The Missing Aunt
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Mrs Warrender's Profession
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Off with her Head!
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Double Blackmail
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Greek Tragedy
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Wilson and Some Others
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Murder at the Munition Works
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Counterpoint Murder
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1941) Knife in the Dark
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1942) Toper's End
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1945) Death of a Bride
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1946) Birthday Gifts
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. (1948) The Toys of Death

Radio plays

• Murder in Broad Daylight. BBC Home Service, 1 June 1934 (As by GDH and M Cole)
• The Bone of the Dinosaur. (Detection Club: Series 1, Episode 6). BBC Home Service, 23 and 27 November 1940 (As by GDH and M Cole)


1. Morris, Jeremy (2017). "F. D. Maurice and the Myth of Christian Socialist Origins". In Spencer, Stephen (ed.). Theology Reforming Society: Revisiting Anglican Social Theology. London: SCM Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-334-05373-6.
2. Russell, Bertrand. Proposed Roads to Freedom (PDF). p. 100. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
3. "George Douglas Howard Cole Papers", p. 3. Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam. On line.
4. Stears, Marc. "Cole, George Douglas Howard (1889–1959)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
5. Marc Stears, ‘Cole, George Douglas Howard (1889–1959)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 7 May 2017
6. Marc Stears, ‘Cole, George Douglas Howard(1889–1959)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 25 Oct 2017]
7. Martin Ceadel, "The Peace Movement Between the Wars: Problems of Definition", in Campaigns for Peace : British peace movements. Edited by Richard Taylor and Nigel Young. Manchester University Press, 1987. ISBN 0719018927 (p. 84).
8. Walter Schellenberg, The Schellenberg Memoirs, London 1956 (Deutsch: Aufzeichungen, München 1979) pp 174.
9. G. D. H Cole, "World Socialism Restated," pamphlet (1956), quoted by Margaret Cole, The Life of G. D. H. Cole, Macmillan/St. Martin's (1971); cited, Harry Barnes, Three Score Years and Ten (24 July 2006).
10. Peter Sedgwick, "A Return to First Things", Balliol College Annual Record 1980, pp.86–88 (review of A. W. Wright, G.D.H. Cole and Socialist Democracy). Marxists’ Internet Archive. Online.
11. Daniel Ritschel, The Politics of Planning: The Debate on Economic Planning in Britain in the 1930s. Oxford University Press, 1997ISBN 019820647X (pp. 282–83)
12. Marc Stears, ‘Cole , Dame Margaret Isabel (1893–1980)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 7 May 2017
13. Curtis Evans (28 November 2016). Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall. McFarland. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-0-7864-9992-2.
14. "The Decline of Capitalism". Lecture to Fabian Society, 1939. Quoted in A. W. Wright, G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy. Clarendon Press, 1979. ISBN 0-19-827421-1 (p. 226).
15. G. D. H. Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future (London: Victor Gollancz, 1941), p. 104.
16. Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future, p. 104.
17. Cole, G. D. H., "The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society: A Report for the Fabian Society", London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1951.
18. Cole, G.D.H., A Century of Co-operation, Oxford: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1944.
19. "Penguin First Editions". Penguin Publishing.


• Margaret Cole, The Life of G. D. H. Cole, Macmillan/St. Martin's (1971) ISBN 1-4191-0535-3
• A. W. (Tony) Wright, G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy New York, Oxford (1979) ISBN 0-19-827421-1
• L. P. Carpenter, G.D.H. Cole: An Intellectual Biography, Cambridge (1974) ISBN 0-521-08702-3
• C. Wyatt, "A recipe for a cookshop of the future: G. D. H. Cole and the conundrum of sovereignty" Capital and Class 90 (2006)

External links

• "Archival material relating to G. D. H. Cole". UK National Archives.
• Works by G. D. H. Cole at Project Gutenberg
• Guild Socialism (1920)
• Some Essentials of Socialist Propaganda (1932)
• The War on the Home Front (1939)
• Capitalism in the Modern World (1957)
• New Statesman article on G.D.H. Cole (2012)
• In Memory of G.D.H. Cole by Ray Challinor.
• Mike Grost on the detective novels
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