Social Scientist. v 14, no. 159-60 (Aug-Sept 1986) p. 127.


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SEMINAR REPORT

Indian National Movement

A SEMINAR on the Indian National Movement-its political, social and ideological dimension-was organised by the Social Scientist in New Delhi, from 27 to 29 January 1986. The keen interest that this Seminar evoked was evident not only from the presentations on the various themes, but also from the ensuing discussion in which a large number of people participated. As in the earlier Social Scientist seminars, the discussions were lively and thought provoking. Of particular relevance were issues relating to imperialism and class struggle within the National Movement, the role of the Left Movement, and the changing social and political perceptions of the various social groups during the nationalist struggle. Within these broad themes the issues relating to communalism also came up for discussion in the context of two presentations at the seminar, one relating to the Khilafat Movement, and one by B.T. Ranadive.

The Seminar was a significant one, for it successfully presented an alternative perspective. It attempted to reconstruct the history of national liberation struggle in India i.e., a history in which the motive forces of national liberation were recognised as the mass of peasants and workers and the lower middle classes. Almost every paper in the Seminar provided sufficient evidence to show how independence was won not by a handful of 'national leaders5, but by the people who came out on the streets in millions. The Seminar also showed how the Indian National Congress, although it provided leadership to the national movement, was also the chief instrument of its containment within a framework that left the economic and political power of the ruling classes intact. Also, that it refused to restructure the ideology of nationalism to a point where the hegmony of the bourgeoisie would be threatened. A majority of the papers presented at the Seminar also challenged the trend in historiography which sees the Congress as an all-people's movement that was open to ideological transformation, which according to this trend, could not take place because of the sectarianism of the left, and its inability to comprehend the real dynamics of Indian society and some of the INC led movements. The content of some of the papers also showed that popular movements were a part of the national movement, led by the bourgeoisie, though they had their own specificities and in their aspirations went far ahead of this leadership.



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