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Growth of Socialist Ideas

Growth of Socialist Ideas
  • The 1930s witnessed a surge in socialist ideas both within and outside the Congress.
  • The global economic slump of 1929, leading to widespread distress and unemployment, contrasted sharply with the Soviet Union’s successful completion of the first two Five Year Plans between 1929 and 1936, boosting industrial production by over four times.
  • The worldwide economic depression discredited the capitalist system, drawing attention to Marxism, socialism, and economic planning, especially appealing to the youth, workers, and peasants.
  • The economic downturn exacerbated conditions for Indian peasants and workers, with agricultural product prices dropping by over 50% by the end of 1932.
  • This period saw a rise in demands for land reforms, reduced land revenue and rent, and relief from indebtedness by peasants, while workers sought better conditions and recognition of trade union rights, leading to the rapid growth of trade unions and Kisan Sabhas (peasants’ unions) in various regions.
  • In 1936, the All-India Kisan Sabha, the first nationwide peasants’ organization, was established, marking increased peasant involvement in the national movement.
  • In his 1936 presidential address to the Lucknow Congress, Nehru advocated socialism as the Congress’s goal and emphasized closer ties with the peasantry and working class.
  • Despite Gandhi’s opposition, Congress re-elected Subhash Chandra Bose as president in 1938. However, Gandhi’s supporters in the Congress Working Committee compelled Bose to resign from the presidency in 1939.

Read Also: Perestroika and Glasnost

Congress and World Affairs

  • From 1935 to 1939, Congress actively engaged in shaping global affairs, developing a foreign policy centered on opposing the spread of imperialism.
  • In February 1927, Jawaharlal Nehru, representing the National Congress, participated in the Congress of oppressed nationalities in Brussels. This gathering included political exiles and revolutionaries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America who were grappling with economic or political imperialism.
  • During the Madras session of the National Congress in 1927, a stern warning was issued to the Government. It emphasized that the people of India would not support Britain in any war pursued for imperialist objectives.

Read Also: Preamble of The Constitution of India

The Struggle of the Princely States

  • Popular struggles in princely states, such as Rajkot, Jaipur, Kashmir, Hyderabad, and Travancore, emerged as movements for democratic rights and popular governance.
  • The All India States’ People’s Conference, established in December 1927, aimed to coordinate political activities across different states.
  • The Government of India Act of 1935 proposed a federal structure to counter nationalist forces, allocating 2/5th of seats in the Upper House and 1/3rd in the Lower House for the princes.
  • Princely states’ rulers, like the Nizam of Hyderabad, labeled popular agitation as anti-Muslim, the Maharaja of Kashmir as anti-Hindu, and the Maharaja of Travancore claimed Christian involvement.
  • The National Congress supported the states’ people’s struggle, urging princes to introduce democratic representative government and grant fundamental civil rights.
  • By 1938, the Congress, in defining its goal of independence, included the independence of princely states.
  • In 1939, Jawaharlal Nehru became President of the All India States’ People’s Conference, whose movement fostered national consciousness and unity across India.

Read Also: Peasant Movements in India

The Rise of Communalism

  • In 1940, the Muslim League proposed a resolution advocating the partition of the country and the establishment of a state named Pakistan post-independence.
  • Communal organizations within the Hindu community, such as the Hindu Mahasabha, contributed to bolstering the influence of the Muslim League.
  • Hindu communalists mirrored the sentiments of Muslim communalists, asserting that Hindus constituted a distinct nation and India was primarily the homeland of Hindus, thus endorsing the two-nation theory.

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