M.N. & E. Roy

The Colonies

A Review of the
Indian Situation

(10 November 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 97, 10 November 1922, pp. 757–760.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2021). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The six months following the arrest of Mr. Gandhi and the assumption of a determined policy of repression on the part of the Government towards every phase of the Indian movement have been a period of confusion, rout and a gradual reassembling of forces whose economic and social demands are being put forward for the first time in the shape of distinct political programs. The old motley political organization known as the Indian National Congress, which for the last five years arrogated to itself the right to speak for all the dissatisfied elements in the country, with the exception of the Constitutional Moderates who accepted the Montagu-Chelmsford Reform Scheme of 1918, was a heterogeneous, loosely-knit body which in reality stood for the interests of the petty bourgeoisie.

Of these interests, Mr. Gandhi was the transcendentalized, but none the less conscious spokesman, together with the other leaders thrown up from the movement in its heyday, – notably, the Ali Brothers, Lala Lajpat Rai, C.R. Das, Pundit Malaviya, Mr. Rajagopalacharia, Hanim Ajmal Khan and the rest. Not one of these men voiced the aspirations of the truly revolutionary elements of Indian society, the city proletariat, the landless peasantry and the rapidly-growing class of pauperized intelligentzia. which had been working for the overthrow of British rule through a network of secret terroristic societies since the beginning of this century.

The spirit of revolt, which stringent economic conditions fostered by the war, augmented and caused to burst forth in violent manifestations on the part of the agricultural and industrial proletariat, was seized upon by the National Congress and exploited for its own political purposes. The personality of Mr. Gandhi greatly assisted in prolonging this artificial hold of the Congress over these rebellious social elements. It was not until repeated betrayals of the interests of the Indian workers and peasants by the Congress leaders, culminating in the Bardoli Resolutions of the Congress Working Committee, which renounced all revolutionary mass-action on the part of the people and clearly repudiated their most urgent economic demands, that the true social affiliation and class-aims of the National Congress became clear.

The arrest of Mr. Gandhi shortly after the confirmation of the Bardoli Resolutions by the Congress Committee at Delhi severed the last tie which held the great masses of the Indian people within the folds of the National Congress. The heavy hand of repression exercised by the Government at this juncture prevented the immediate realization of the actual situation. Twenty-five thousand people cast into jail, and the quartering of armed soldiery and police upon all those districts in which martial Law was not openly declared, as in the Punjab, prevented the rapid readjustment to new conditions and the crystallization of new forces under different leadership.

This period of intense confusion and groping in the dark lasted throughout the summer months; the National Congress, devoid of adequate leadership, awaited the release of Mr. C.R. Das in August, while the striking city workers and riotous peasantry were too bewildered by the Congress injunctions to refrain from all manifestations of discontent, and too oppressed by the watchful forces of the Government, to take up their economic struggle independently of Congress leading strings. This period of confusion and marking time was punctuated by the futile invocations of the Congress leaders to spin, weave and wear Khadder or homespun as the Alpha and Omega of the struggle for Swaraj, – and by the solemn tour of the Khilafat and Congress Civil Disobedience Committees who went in procession throughout the length and breadth of India, to investigate and report if the state of mind of the people in each province would warrent the declaration of Civil Disobedience and Non-payment of taxes. This tour was a hollow farce, the Committees having made up their mind beforehand that the people were unfit and that mass Civil Disobedience would not be declared, but for obvious political reasons, they have deferred publishing their findings, which were held strictly in camera, until the annual session of the National Congress takes place in the third week of December at Qaya.

The Growth of a new Opposition within
the Provincial Congress Committees

While the All-India Congress Committee and the Working Committee represented the quintessence of orthodoxy to the Gandhi ideals and tactics, castigating the slightest deviation from the Bardoli Program as treason to the lost and martyred leader, the Congress Committees of several provinces which had always chafed under the “dictatorship” of the central body, began to evolve new and contrary ideas as to the policy and tactics to be pursued. This opposition found a chance for expression in the various provincial conferences which were held immediately after the arrest of Mr. Gandhi and others, during the months of April, May and June. While, with the exception of Maharashtra, a section of Bombay, the resolutions finally passed in these provincial conferences endorsed the Bardoli Constructive Program of the triple boycott of foreign cloth, government schools and law courts, and the founding of national schools, arbitration courts and the use of homespun khaddar, there was a noticeable spirit of opposition displayed by a minority in nearly all the discussions.

Maharasthra was the only region to break definitely with the Bardoli decisions and to put forward a new opposition program whose principal feature was the entrance of Noncooperators in the Reform Councils, there to constitute themselves as an opposition to the Government by practising “responsive cooperation”. It also pronounced the boycott of law-courts and schools to have failed, advocated the resumption of practice by lawyers and reentry into schools by non-cooperating students, and instead of the use of khaddar, advocated Swadeshi, or mill-made cloth produced in the country. It also pronounced itself in favor of systematic propaganda abroad to put the case of India before the world, a measure resolutely opposed by Mr. Gandhi and his followers. Thus, the Maharashtra opposition, whose members felt so strongly on the points of difference enumerated above as to resign from the All India Congress and Working Committees as well as from the provincial Congress committee offices, constitutes a very definite political tendency at variance with the orthodox Congress creed. It is modern, rationalistic, aggressive, as opposed to the outworn, religious and reactionary ideology of the Congress leaders still in power, but its opposition tends more towards the right than towards the left, – its ultimate destination is reunion with the Constitutional Moderates. It is the opposition of the nationalist lawyers, merchants and manufacturers, not fully satisfied with the amount of reforms granted by the Government, but too practical and realistic to follow the Congress leading-strings any longer through the morass of Charka, Khaddar and a boycott which never succeeded and is already a dead letter so far as observance is concerned.

The opposition in other provincial conferences was less clear and expressed, but along similar lines. Bengal pronounced for the Bardoli Progrom, but the President, Mrs. C.R. Das, advocated entry in the councils and spoke at length on the necessity of organizing peasant and labour unions for the redress of the economic grievances of the working-classes. Dictatorship exercised by one man, repudiated in principle, and the right and duty of picketing was emphasized as a means to enforce the boycott. A cry for revision of the Congress Program as laid down at Bardoli and Delhi was heard from many districts, notably in Berar and United Provinces, Berar advocating Civil Disobedience and the formation of voters’, taxpayers’, agriculturists’ and labour unions, and the United Provinces pronouncing in favor of participation in elections to Municipal and District Boards by Non-cooperators. The Punjab Conference confirmed the Bardoli Program as a temporary measure, but called for Civil Disobedience and Non-Payment of Taxes at the earliest possible moment. Gujerat, the homeland of Mr. Gandhi, upheld the Bardoli Program in all its details. Southern India, especially Madras, terrorized by the Moplah Rebellion, emphasized the need for peaceful, constructive measures and the propagation of khaddar. The Provincial Conference of the Central Provinces, held in Nagpur in April, stressed the necessity of practical measures to force the Government’s hand and advocated participation, through obstructionist tactics, in the Reform Councils, the establishment of technical schools for training efficient workers, the giving up of the boycott of law-courts as impractical and the basing of the Congress program and tactics on considerations of expediency and practicality rather than morality or spirituality. It declared: “The aims of the Congress are thoroughly worldly and for worldly happiness and have to be attained by worldly means which should be easily understandable and practicable.” Civil Disobedience was advocated.

Thus, the opposition to the Congress Program, though in the first months vague, confused and groping in the dark, reduced itself to a right and a left wing, – the right wing advocating realistic measures such as entry into the Reform Councils; the left wing urging resumption of militant tactics based on mass civil disobedience, conditional upon non-violence, but advocating the use of self-defense in the face of provocation. The right wing opposition signalized its earnestness by resuming practice in the law-courts, preaching the participation in elections through the columns of its press, and resigning from congress committees where the views of its members constituted a minority. Maharashtra is the seat of this opposition.

The Elements of the Left Opposition

It was the Left Opposition working through the provincial congress committees and expressing its voice in the minority reports of some of the provincial conferences, that made itself felt in the June session of the All-India Congress and Working Committees held in Lucknow, United Province. The All India Congress Committee, reinforced by the Central Khilafat Committee, sat in camera and discussed the measures to be taken to meet this growing spirit of opposition from right and left. To the right it dealt short shrift, – entry into the councils, the removal the Triple Boycott, were declared disloyal to the memory of Mr. Gandhi and those who had gone to jail to defend non-violent Non-cooperation. The Maharashtra delegates did not attend this session.

To deal with the left was more difficult, because its voice was more powerful. Demands came strongest from the Punjab, Bengal and the United Provinces, where government repression was the most severe, for the use of retaliatory measures of self-defense and the declaration of mass civil disobedience. The Congress Committee discussed behind closed doors the justification of self-defense, and to postpone making a final decision, appointed the Civil Disobedience Committee whose members would tour the country for two and a half months and, after a detailed investigation of the wishes and fitness of the inhabitants, issue its report on September 15th, for the Congress Committee to act upon. A long questionnaire was drawn up, containing minute questions as to the Congress program in the past and the desirability of altering it in the immediate future, and the Committee of seven members started on tour, receiving tremendous ovations at every stopping place, On September 15th, it announced its labours not yet completed, and promised a report of its findings in time for the Gaya Annual Congress, in December. Most of its sittings and interviews with prominent non-cooperators in each province were held in secret, and little publicity has been given except by a few of those interviewed, who published their replies to questions.

The Committee consists of orthodox Gandhites, and will undoubtedly pronounce against the inauguration of mass civil disobedience. It has tided over the most critical period of repression and popular resentment, and will trust to the annual session of the Congress to enforce its findings over the heads of the right and left extremists.

Some kind of a split in the Congress ranks in December seems inevitable. The right wing is heading towards reunion with the Moderates, aided by a slight reciprocal movement towards the left on the part of the latter, as a result of Lloyd George’s speech in Parliament on the Civil Service, of which more later. The left wing, representing the revolutionary nationalists behind the scene who advocate the use of violence for the overthrow of foreign rule, sees the failure of the present tactics to achieve results and watches the growing alienation of the masses, whose willingness to resist the government constituted the real strength pf the Congress movement, with alarm. The left-wing extremists have a limited political outlook and are full of petty-bourgeois ideas; they are frankly against the class struggle and hesitate to put forward a revolutionary program to capture the allegiance of the masses. But they advocate the use of mass-action to win their own demands, and the organization of the Indian workers and peasants to make this mass action more effective. If the orthodox Congress center sticks to its present program and tactics, this left-wing extremist element will probably break away and a part of them will try for the organization of a new political party of the masses.

The Revival of the Moderates

The Constitutional Moderates who participated in the elections to the new Reform Councils, represented the extreme right of the Nationalist movement, which broke away from the Congress in 1910 when the latter declared for rejection of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms and the adoption of Non-violent Non-cooperation for the attainment of Swaraj. At first socially frowned down upon by the country, which was overwhelmingly extremist, for their cooperation with the Government, they exercised little hold upon the public mind and were entirely lost sight of during the wave of extremist enthusiasm that swept India between 1919–1922. But representing as they did the most class-conscious and politically minded section of the Indian bourgeoisie, the great landholders, big financial magnates and powerful industrialists, they pursued their course of cooperation with the Government to the extent that reforms were conceded, and soon became a factor to be reckoned with in the political field.

The first decisive act of opposition to the Government on the part of the Moderates in the Reform Councils was the reduction of the annual budget by an all-round five per cent on the majority of items listed for taxation, in order to force reduction on military expenditure and a refusal to accept the proposed enhancement of the cotton excise duties. This act of independence created an enormous sensation both in India and England, where Lancashire interests and Morning Post imperialists united their voices in crying out against this working of the Reforms. In India the huge budget deficit of £6,106,000 (now increased to £10,666,000) which the new scheme of taxation was aimed to relieve, stared the Government in the face and called, either for a reversal of the Legislative Assembly’s action by the Viceroy’s veto, or a drastic reduction in military expenditure, which consumes nearly half of the annual budget. In view of the excited condition of the country, then in the throes of the Non-cooperation campaign, the Government deemed it expedient to accept the action of the Assembly and appointed a Committee on Retrenchment under Lord Inchcape, to investigate possible avenues of economy. It was the first triumph of the Moderates under the Reform Scheme, and they made much of their victory.

The second act of defiance of a really sensational character (we leave aside the non-official participation of the certain moderate elements in the “Round Table Conference” called during the Non-cooperation campaign to find a way out of the existing deadlock between Government and people, and the half-hearted resolutions of censure on Government repression and for the release of the political prisoners, voted down in the Reform Councils early this year) was the spirited debate in the Legislative Assembly and Council of State on Lloyd George’s now famous speech in Parliament on the Indian Civil Service, during the latter part of July.

The gradual Indianization of the Civil Service, now manned in the higher posts almost exclusively by Englishmen, has been one of the oldest planks in the Moderate platform, and was incorporated as a part of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reform Scheme. But the slightest attempt at the execution of this clause met with loud howls from the Die-Hards and a determined opposition from the European members of the Indian Civil Service, both active and retired. Bitterness of feeling on this score assumed a racial character, so much so that openly defiant speeches were exchanged between various prominent individuals and groups of the two communities in India, accompanied by dire predictions in the Anglo-Indian and British press as to the future of the Civil Service and British rule in India when control would pass out of the hands of the white race into the keeping of the Indians.

Matters were brought to a head by a circular letter from the Indian Government issued to the Governors of all the Indian provinces, on May 30th, (as the result of a promise made in the Legislative Assembly in February during the debate on the Indianization of the Services) asking the opinion of the local governments on the necessity and speed with which increase of the number of Indians in the Civil Service should be carried out. The news of this circular letter added fuel to the flame of controversy, and Mr. Lloyd George felt it incumbent upon himself to allay the fears of the British members of the Indian Civil Service by a very rhetorical speech in their defense delivered in Parliament in July. His references to the new reforms as an “experiment”, and to the I.C.S. as the “steel frame” of British rule in India which could never be eliminated, brought down upon his head the wrath of the entire body of constitutional moderates, and enabled the Non-cooperators to point the moral of governmental insincerity and dishonesty in its promise of self-government. So serious was the crisis, that the Viceroy received a representative deputation of moderates on the day following the telegraphic reports of the Prime Minister’s speech; and tried to explain away in soothing language the rash eloquence of Lloyd George. This explanation, repeated in the Viceregal address to the Legislative Councils on Sept. 5th, did not prevent the moving of two resolutions of censure, one in the Assembly, the other in the Council of State, upon the Prime Minister’s speech in Parliament The original strongly worded resolutions were passed in a slightly modified form, over the heads of the government ministers, who in vain warned the members of the deleterious effect of such resolutions upon the minds of British members of Parliament. This storm in a tea-cup over, a still more decisive and significant act of the moderate members of the Legislative Assembly demonstrated their awakened sense of political power. This was the repeal of the Press Act and the voting down of the Viceroy’s injunction to except the native states and ruling princes from the scope of this repeal. The Assembly negatived the Government measure for the protection of the ruling princes against attacks in the press by a vote of 45 to 41. Amid the prevailing excitement that followed this bold assumption of power, the Viceroy used his prerogative of veto and presented the measure for approval to the Council of State, where it was perforce approved.

All these straws show which way the wind blows. The Constitutional Moderates have blossomed into full political consciousness overnight and, encouraged by the chaotic debacle of the Non-cooperators, have arrogated to themselves the political leadership of the constitutional nationalists. Their minor triumphs during the last year and a half of experience in the new Councils has given them the taste of future power, and being composed of the most class-conscious and powerful of the native bourgeoisie, they will carry on the fight until their full program, Home Rule or full dominion status within the British Empire, is attained.

At this juncture, when the Moderates, flushed with their first successes, incline towards pressing for the early fulfillment of the Reform Scheme, and the right-wing Non-cooperators look with yearning eyes towards entry into the Councils, a scheme for the reunion of Moderates and Non-cooperators within a common political party has been launched under the auspices of Mrs. Annie Besant and a few of her followers of the Liberal League. A Manifesto was issued in the name of the “1921 Club”, appealing for unity of all shades of opinion to carry on the fight within constitutional limits for the attainment of Home Rule. It is too early to judge yet of the extent of the response to this latest political manoeuvre. If there is a split at Gaya in the Congress camp, the prospects of a union of all right elements seem favorable. In such a case, the Congress will be left impotent and insignificant as a factor in national politics, unless, as seems extremely improbable, it adopts a economic program in conformity with the immediate desires and necessities of the masses.

Resurgent Mass Action; the City-Proletariat

Meanwhile, following the temporary lull that visited the country after the arrest of Mr. Gandhi and enforced by the Government reign of terror during the ensuing months, a new and more vigorous movement is discernible among the city proletariat and the rebellious peasantry. Strikes have ceased to wear a political complexion, and have become purely economic struggles for better wages, improved living conditions and shorter working hours. They are prolonged and obstinate in nature, the men holding out to the last, until their demands are partially won or starvation drives them back to work. The East India Railway strike of three months duration early in this year, the Calcutta Seamen’s strike involving 30,000 men and the strike of ten thousand stevedore coolies in May and June, and the strike in six of the largest Calcutta Jute Mills at the same time, – all being fights for wage increase, – are a few typical examples of the new energy and determination that inspires the Indian workers in their economic struggle. In Bombay, the Tramway strike and the great strike in the Tata Iron and Steel Works now going on, testily to the same fact. The cases cited are but a few of the more conspicuous of the industrial unrest once more sweeping the country, – of lesser strikes involving a few thousand men and lasting from a few days to several weeks, there are more than can be enumerated.

Most of the fights end in compromise, – bad organization, traitorous leadership and lack of funds being the main causes. The spirit of the men is high and they would hold out to the end, were their leaders more revolutionary, and did they have a little financial backing. Most of the strikes which end in struggles for wage-increase, begin because of the unjustified dismissal or ill-treatment of some fellow-workmen, and demands for the reinstatement and compensation of those so ill-used always constitute a part of the stipulations. With such good spirit and instinctive solidarity, much can be expected. The growing talk of calling a general strike for the release of Mr. Miller, the Irish railway guard and organizer of the North Western Railway Union who was imprisoned for his activities, led to his early release, and 30,000 workers marched in procession to meet him.

In addition to the strike movement, a general growth and consolidation in the ranks of labour is noticeable. The unions are becoming more definitely class instead of amorphous sociopolitical bodies. Federation of unions belonging to the same industry, but in different provinces, is taking place, notably, among the miners, the textile workers and the railwaymen. A conference for the federation of the latter industry will be held in November, at about the same time that the All-India Trade Union Congress is scheduled to meet. One of the largest labour organizations is the Bengal Trade Union Federation, which claims to have fourteen unions affiliated, with a membership of 250,000 men.

Together with this growth in organization has come a development of the idea of using labour as a parliamentary political force, much as the British Labour Party is used, by semi-liberal reformists and ambitious place-seekers. Labour leaders are already in the field, of the type of Joseph Baptista, N.M. Joshi, who is labour member in the Bombay Legislative Council, W.C. Andrews, a Britisher and Christian missionary, and others, who declare the necessity of “guiding” the Indian labour movement into safe channels and giving it an outlet in some form of parliamentary action. These men are exercising a great control on the young labour bureaucracy, and are called in to mediate with the employers and government in times of prolonged strikes, their decisions being almost invariably obeyed by the Indian workers. Andrews has been elected president of the forthcoming conference of railway workers. By their dominant position and reformist ideology, they do much harm, sabotaging strikes, preventing their declaration, and dampening the enthusiasm of the men. In addition to these well-meaning meddlers, there is a great number of spies and provocators, so much so that the unsatisfactory termination of the East India Ry. strike was attributed to the distrust aroused in the men by discovering that some of their leaders were government agents, and they thereupon repudiated all leadership.

A new feature of Indian legislation is the number of bills introduced for the amelioration of the workers’ conditions. A factory Act was passed in the last session of the Legislative Assembly, and several social reform measures including a bill on Workmen’s Compensation are scheduled for introduction in the present session. Add to this the appointments of Committees on Industrial Unrest in every province, whose reports are just coming in, and the creation of Government Arbitration Boards for the settlement of industrial disputes, and one has a fair idea of the growing importance which Indian labour is playing in the national life. The attention paid to the allaying of industrial unrest by the Government at the present time is far more earnest than that dedicated to suppressing the activities of the Non-cooperators, who are no longer regarded seriously. In both the speech of Lloyd George in Parliament and that of the Viceroy on opening the Legislative Councils, the crisis in the nationalist movement created by the Non-cooperators, is announced to have been safely passed, but the Viceroy elaborated at length on the labour legislation which it was projected to lay before the house, and the prospects of industrial peace for the coming year.

The Peasantry

The temporary confusion induced in the ranks of the riotous peasantry by the withdrawal at Bardoli of the item of Civil Disobedience and Non-Payment of taxes from the Congress Program, and the injunction to respect the rights of the landlords and of private property, produced a noticeable lull in what had become a country-wide movement against both government and landlords by the peasants’ refusal to pay taxes and rents. In the Government Communique on the Non-Cooperation Movement, issued at the time of Mr. Gandhi’s arrest, stress was laid upon the menace to life and property involved in the ever-growing responsiveness of the peasants to the slogans of Non-payment of rent and taxes. The reports of the Commissioners of the various provinces account for the deficit in revenue occasioned by the refusal of the rural population to give the tax-collectors their due. Repression was swiftest and most severe in the Punjab, United Provinces, Bengal and Madras, where the peasant movement was strongest and had broken out into violent manifestations. The land of peasants refusing to pay taxes was seized and auctioned off by the Government to the highest bidder. Punitive police were stationed in those districts where unrest prevailed. Conflicts with the armed forces of the state, ending in many casualties, and wholesale arrests for the slightest breach of peace, with a declaration of martial law in the disturbed areas, brought temporary quiet.

But late in the summer, towards the end of July and the beginning of August, agrarian unrest again manifested itself in Madras, Bengal, Central India and the Punjab. Brief telegraphic despatches announced the hurrying of armed forces to the disturbed areas. The most determined efforts at revolt were made by the Bhils, an agricultural tribe of Central India, which fought for several weeks before succumbing to superior forces. In Bombay, the passive resistance movement of the Malvas of Mulshi Petha, the Mahratta peasants who were being forced off their land by the great industrial concern of Tata & Co., reached a climax, most of the leaders being sent to jail, and the Government was forced to intervene and effect a compromise.

But the most violent agitation broke out in the Punjab, where the struggle of the Akali Sikhs for control of the Gurdwaras or temples and adjacent lands broke out with fresh vigor after a temporary lull of some months. The struggle of the Akalis dates back several years, and while heralded as a religious movement for reform of the temples, it is in reality, as the Government later recognized in its Communique issued in September, an attack on the property rights of the corrupt mahants or guardians of the shrines. While the Akalis practiced passive resistance, they used direct action in seizing the temples and turning out the manants, until the latter implored government protection, and got it.

An open rupture between the Government and the Akalis took place in August at Guru ka Bagh, a shrine near Amritsar, where the attempt of the Akalis to assert their rights to the land by cutting down trees was met by their arrest, imprisonment and fine on the charge of trespassing and theft. Thousands of Akalis rushed to the spot on the call of their leaders, to continue the fight. Police and soldiers were sent to guard the properties of the temple and turn back the Akali bands, who marched in orderly bands from adjoining villages, the railroads having refused them transportation. At first open force was used, – the Akalis were beaten back by blows and fired upon if obstinate. So tremendous became the excitement, and so great was the response of the Akalis to replace those fallen, that the Government changed its tactics, ordered the arrest of those leading the movement, and threw barbed wire defenses around the property, to keep out the Sikhs, who were arrested if they approached. The affair at Guru ka Bagh is being repeated all over the Punjab, 100,000 Akalis having declared their willingness to die in the cause. Official secrecy veils the progress of the movement, which at first received much publicity. The Indian press is full of accounts of the struggle between the Sikhs and the Government, and a national issue has been made out of it, up to date, ever 4,000 akalis have been arrested and sent to jail.

The undoubted awakening among the peasantry has affected both the Nationalist movement and the policy of the Government. Signs are not wanting that an agrarian party will spring up ere long, just as the growing activity of the peasants has given rise to a strong and class-conscious organization of the landlords. In several provinces such an agrarian party already exists, the existing peasant organizations forming the nuclei. A great movement is noticeable among the nationalists to go “back to the village”, the popular cry of the hour, to found schools hospitals, organize the peasants and head their struggle for a better life. In Bengal, a strong section of the middle class intellectuals are voicing a cry for the repeal of the permanent settlement, a land act passed in the early years of British rule, which confers great privileges on the landlords and brings much harm to the peasantry. The Sikh League is the acknowledged political party of the agrarian Sikh community, and though allied with the Congress movement, has an independent program of economic reform. The Government has tried to meet the situation in its own way, partly by repression and partly by compromise and concession. Land legislation is pending in several provinces, and has been passed m others, to meet immediate crying grievances of the peasants, while Commissions of investigation nave been set up where unrest is most acute, to investigate the causes and suggest ways and means of meeting the demands of the peasants without outraging the sensibilities of the landlords. Martial law preserves peace in the interim.

Such is the general situation which confronts those seeking to preserve the status quo and those looking for means to upset it. In the peasant and industrial proletariat lie the seed of revolution, if their economic struggle be properly guided and they can be welded into a party with a clear-cut program backed up by direct action. A vague feeling urges the nationalists to keep contact with these elements, and “organize the masses” has become the nationwide slogan, but nobody knows how or to what end they should be organized, and those who know shrink from the consequences involved to life and property. A new revolutionary leadership must be evolved which can seize upon the existing unrest and direct it in proper channels.

Last updated on 4 January 2021