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This is people under communism a series of documentaries interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union. The series is presented transcribed by the National Association of educational broadcasters in consultation with scholars from the Russian Research Center Harvard University the Russian Institute Columbia University and the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University. The program you're about to hear is an analysis of communism in India by Dr. Harold Fischer chairman of the Hoover Institute a library. Dr. Fisher is the author of many books on the Soviet Union. He served with the American Relief Administration in Russia has traveled extensively in Asia and is a scholar on Soviet policy in the Far East. Once again he's joined on this series by his colleague from the Hoover Institute Robert C.
North editor of the Pacific spectator. Now Dr. Fisher and communism in India earlier in 1952 the Republic of India held its first national election in that election. The communist polled nearly 5 million votes. They also elected 27 many members of the lower house in the new Indian parliament. Why are they not form the official opposition party. Now does this mean that India is going communist. Prime Minister Nehru was one of the first to recognize the communist government of China. He has advocated the admission of Red China to the United Nations and he has refused to align India with the United States and the other Western powers in the anti-Soviet bloc. India and Burma were the only nations outside of the Soviet bloc to vote against the United Nations resolution branding the Chinese government as an aggressor in Korea India and Burma were the only Asian nations to
refuse to attend the San Francisco conference to sign the Japanese Peace Treaty. India and China have exchanged official unofficial goodwill missions and the Indian visitors have spoken very well of Chinese communist policies. Well all these things mean that the government of India is more friendly toward the Chinese Communist and toward communist Russia than toward the United States and the Western democracies. My colleague today Mr. Robert C. NARTH and I are going to talk to you about these questions. Mr. North is editor of the quarterly magazine the Pacific spectator. He is author of the prize novel The revolt in San Marcos and a recent study of the woman dong and Chinese Communist elites and he's the author of many articles on the communist movement in Asia. Like me Mr. North has visited India and has talked with Indian leaders in politics journalism and education.
But before we take up these matters I should like to recall to remind certain things about India that have a bearing on that country's internal and external problems. First of all India is one of the oldest and one of the newest of nations India's history which goes back some 5000 years has produced one of the world's great civilizations. But the Indian republic became independent of great Britain only in 1947. The new India is a sovereign democratic republic but it is also a member of the commonwealth of nations. India is less than half the size of the United States but it has more than twice as many people living in it. This population is increasing very rapidly much more rapidly than the means to support them. The Indian people are members of six different racial types and they speak something like 179 languages which are subdivided into five hundred and forty four dialects.
About 87 percent of the Indians are Hindus and 12 percent are Muslims. The rest are Christians Jains Sikhs parties and some of them are Aborigines who are animists and religion 85 percent of these people live in villages of less than five thousand population and some 80 percent or more of the Indian people live by agriculture. Eighty five percent of these people also are illiterate. The caste system was so long and and was so long and so deeply ingrained in Indian life has been officially abolished but it still remains in effect among a considerable part of the village population. India and its foreign relations has had 2000 years of peaceful economic and cultural relations with China and for nearly fifteen hundred years now it is probably first to the 15th century India exercised a predominant cultural influence in the countries of Southeast Asia. Countries like syre Malaysia Burma Indonesia and
Indochina because of India's geographical situation in relation to China and Russia in the north to the Middle East and Africa to the west and to Southeast Asia to the east. India's decision whether to go communist or remain free may determine whether the Middle East North Africa and Southeast Asia should go communist or stay free. Well the communist are certainly pretty well aware of this importance of India on tameness to know in. Yes they certainly are. I think that we might well examine the relationships the present relationships between India and China because these are of particular importance. Back in the summer of 1949 there was a dispute within the Indian Communist Party over Maltz dong of China and whether his successors there in China had any direct
significance for India. The quarrel seemingly ended with the anti Mao Zedong people winning but that was not the end of the story. On January 27 1950 the common form declared in an editorial that the experiences of Maltz are doing and China must be adopted as a model for communist led revolutions in India and elsewhere in Asia. Now we know of course that Maltz hadn't developed his struggle in China along two lines. First he capitalized on. Or perhaps we ought to say he exploited Chinese impulses of nationalism that is not fair. Chinese desire to drive the Western Westerner and his influences out of China. Also Mao Zedong promised reforms especially peasant reforms many of which were long overdue. What Mao and
his followers made less clear was that in many respects under a communist state a Russian influence would be substituted for the Western. And of course from our point of view it would be much worse. He did not fully explain either that in later stages of communist struggle the individual peasant might be collectivize. Fundamentally it is the same program which the communists have in mind for India was certain modifications for the difference and culture. That is exploitation of Indian nationalism and the exploitation of living conditions that are admittedly bad. The communists want to harness Indian discontent and misery for strict Clate communist purposes. Well the Communists certainly have a good deal to work on in India because mass poverty is an outstanding feature of the Indian scene and a feature
about which not much had been done until recent years. As an example of this the Government of India's agricultural labor inquiry gave a report on a typical village in a dry state farm family of five persons earns the Indian equivalent of sixty seven dollars and 83 cents per year. And that same family is likely to spend seventy dollars and fifty six cents per year. They have to make up the difference by labor outside the family for other families. In this particular village the typical village. One hundred and fourteen families do not own a single foot of land. They work on land that was owned by one hundred and forty seven other families of whom 88 families are absentee landlords who never go near their land except to collect rents. Well besides lack of knowledge and tools and the means to obtain knowledge and tools the Indian farmers lacked land on which to use knowledge and implements if they had them. 68
percent of the agricultural population have been the land. And over one third of all the cultivators of land in India are Tennent's or sharecropper's and just under one third are farm labourers. It's not surprising then that in the elections of 1952 they call them and this made very big showings in areas where the landless are most numerous and where the poverty is most appalling This has been called a double crisis. That is despite the advances of modern science and technological guilty the total food production and the production of other necessities does not necessarily increase. But in many areas like India actually seems to dwindle while the population increases at a terrific pace. Nowhere is this double crisis of less food and more people more acute than in India where the population increases are by nearly 5 millions every year or by 50
millions in 10 years. This net addition of 50 million people in 10 years would not be serious if an overwhelming majority of the population enjoyed the irreducible minimum requirements of a decent human existence. Food health clothing shelter education employment leisure for recreation. But this is simply not true in India. The level of living there is so low that any further addition to the number of poor families may well be disastrous. So we have this growing population then and what we do not have proper advances in food production. Meanwhile the people in this situation seem to be quite unaware of the dangers presented them not only by the communist movement but particularly by the Soviet Union. That is certainly one of the characteristics that we find in India and we see also that this movement this communist movement in India is
relatively new. It like other communist movements grew out of the impatience with other revolutionary movements. The Indian intellectuals who were members of the National Indian National Congress Party the party of Gandhi and Nehru thought that that party was going too slow and an Indian Revolutionary Party came into being. It was illegal and it had to carry on its agitation from outside the country. Some of it being done from San Francisco some from Afghanistan and some of the agitation from Europe. One of the radicals who was associated to this movement remarked in 1920 that since India was economically and politically the most oppressed country in the world the revolutionary tide would sweep all over India just as soon as the revolution broke out in Europe. Well it hasn't broken out in Europe but when the Communist International which was founded in 1919 decided to organize and promote revolution in Asia. They set up three centers of agitation. One of them in Baku in the Caucasus one in
Irkutsk in Siberia and the third in Tashkent in Central Asia. All of these places are in the Soviet Union of course. Now this Tashkent center in Central Asia was in charge of the the Indian revolutionary movement and all Asians were urged to rise in a holy war for freedom and independence and the happiness of all eastern peoples. A large part of this communist policy for Asia and particularly India was developed by a man I was fortunate enough to meet here a few years ago a man and man Roy who has since left the communist movement as far back as 1920 had the second Congress of the Communist International and then Roy the Indian and Lenin the Russian between them developed a world communist policy for India China and other other economically retarded areas in order to exploit the
nationalist discontent in those areas as the Indian congress party gained strength as a nationalist movement. However the Communists were simply unwilling to cooperate with it. Gandhi ism they said used vague talk about love meekness and national unity to defend the Indian capitalists. So it was that the Communists who wanted to side to harness the nationalist movement were actually isolated from the primary nationalist movement. That is the Congress party and when thousands of Congress Party Indians were courting arrest and imprisonment and the struggle for freedom the Communists were actually standing aside isolating themselves from one of the greatest mass movements in history. In 1932 the Communist International Society size the necessity
of in its own words liberating the Indian masses from the Congress Party movement later during the United Front period of the late 1930s this communist policy was modified and the Communists began working within the Congress party. This of course was the familiar Trojan horse policy with World War Two. The situation rapidly changed. The non-communist Indians no matter what course the war took stood opposed to Great Britain during the Nazi Soviet pact. The Indian communists also opposed Britain but after Hitler attacked Russia and after Great Britain and the Soviet Union were allies the Indian communists sided with Britain and this further isolated them from the great majority of their Indian countrymen during the war years when nearly every Indian patriot was in jail for
opposing the British Indian communists for using their freedom to strengthen their positions in the labor movement student movement and peasant organizations. After World War Two. The Nehru government newly in power received communist support and bussing for a very short time. Then the common foreign policy changed and the Indian communists held in Calcutta. In 1948 a so-called youth conference where communist leaders including some Russians decided that Asian communist parties should initiate and lead violent insurrections in South and Southeast Asian countries in about the same time in Calcutta. The Communist Party of India accused Nehru and his party of and I quote betraying the struggle for freedom and proclaiming a false independence from Britain. The Communists called upon all militant and
honest revolutionaries as they said to join in a final struggle for a real freedom and real democracy. Meaning of course communist freedom and communist democracy. The narrow government meanwhile lost no time in protecting itself. Within a few weeks the leading communists were rounded up and jailed in India the communist led revolution did not come off. That does not mean however that the Communists were through or done with their tactics were more subtle and probably more effective. I think that's one thing that should be emphasized Miss North and that is that the government of Nehru has taken very ruthless measures measures against the communists in India. But one of the features of this new and more subtle and more effective tactics that you mention is that the communists are now devoting themselves to an appeal to win over the Indian intellectuals who are one of the Indian Indian intellectuals himself's
says are the real ruling class in India. And he goes on to say that he thinks that the purpose of this new communist tactic to win over the intellectuals is to prepare a kind of pro-Soviet leadership which would be ready to help seize power and run the government. If a favourable occasion arises Well these Indian intellectuals are rather impatient of the Congress party because India has not made great progress in solving these enormous problems that it has to meet. And these intellectuals also believe that in communist China there they are showing a greater capacity there. They say there are no frustrated young people as there are so many in India and in China as in Russia a generation ago. They are learning how to deal with problems which are similar to the problems in India. Yes they point of view of many Indian intellectuals. China is quite disturbing especially since the
cultural missions between India and China have been accomplished. Mr. Panek car the Indian ambassador to China has sent back glowing accounts from his post. The Peking government was not a communist government he declared but a truly democratic government able unlike He said the John Kai-Shek government able to enforce its policies. Of course we would say that being able to enforce policy does not necessarily make government either Democratic or desirable by the other Indian visitors to China have sought to justify the public trials in the alleged mass murders. Clearly many Indians have wanted to believe the best of the new China but throughout most of them said there have been threads of Delf too and there have been good causes for doubt. It might be true as many Indians have
declared that China has hit upon a way for pulling itself up by its own bootstraps but there are other aspects of Chinese policy that are frankly disturbing to any patriotic Indian about Saddam's invasion of Tibet for example was certainly disturbing to the Indians. And since then Mao has made a number of claims to the effect that Nepal and butan these areas between in the mountain regions between India and China Mao said that these regions actually belong rightfully to China. And this of course has been disturbing to the Indians. You know what you are saying no it's about the feeling of the Indians toward China reminds me so much of the reports that used to be made back in the 1920s by Western Europeans and Americans who visited Soviet Russia in those days they were everyone was quite impressed or great many people were impressed
by the way they thought that the Russians were solving problems which Europeans were having great trouble in solving. Well in spite of all this and in spite of the fact that the Indians have had a great suspicion of Western nations in spite of the fact that they been rather fearful that the United States was attempting to imply apply some new kind of imperialism. I believe there has been in India an increasing recognition that the problems of India can be dealt with by aid from the United States and the West and that this may be done without the loss of Indian freedom. It's been said that if a hungry man is offered for sandwiches or for freedoms he will take the four sandwiches. But it's also true that the communists have shown that if a man is offered a chance to join others in building a better future for all men he will be willing to forego some of his sandwiches for today for the sake of pie in the sky tomorrow. American and economic and technical aid is now helping the Indians to combat communist agitation. And we're doing it successfully I think for two reasons. We've
learned to cooperate with Indians in projects that they think are of the greatest need. And secondly we've come to recognize that we must first help train people to make better use of the tools and resources they already have. Before we tried to introduce the tools of a highly mechanized society like ours we learned in other words that while we are investing in machines it may be even more important to invest in people. Yes I think some time as we have been inclined to think in this country that if we send enough economic aid if we pump enough dollars into a country like India we will necessarily save it from the pallet in asm. But developments are shown in India and other parts of the world the dollars by themselves are not enough however desirable even technical aid and assistance is not enough. It is worth noting I think that in the last election in India two of the
Indian provinces with communist pluralities one McGrath's had an exceedingly low standard of living and another Travancore Kitchin had a relatively high standard of living. This suggests Sife bank that the communist appeal in Asia is not entirely economic to a considerable extent. The communists win adherents through the ideas they present however false These ideas may be. I believe and I think most Americans would probably agree with me that the ideas of our own American Revolution have far more to offer. The Indians and the long run than anything the communists preach. Unfortunately many Indians are resentful toward us when they try to convert them to our ways of thinking and perhaps for a very understandable reason. Because the flow of ideas tends to be one way that is from the
United States to India with very little coming the other way and Indians being human cannot forget that they have a culture thousands of years old and they cannot but feel that they have important ideas too. There is I think a very human way to meet this problem namely to work for a free interchange of ideas. A cross-fertilisation if you well of American and Indian ideas there are a number of ways that this can be accomplished. We can have more exchanges of persons we can send American students and professors in greater numbers and news mannum editors labor leaders professional and businessman to India in order to observe Indian ways and we can bring their Indian
counterparts to the United States. Not so much for whirlwind tours but for a long enough time so that they can really get the feel of American life. But along with this exchange of peoples we could have an exchange of ideas and an exchange of arms. Weve already made moves in that direction but I think we have not yet gone far enough. The dancers of Bolly have received an overwhelming welcome in the United States recently. We've learned recently that Japanese movies can be not only intelligible to the American but are really outstanding works of art. Asian writers are just beginning to appear in the magazines of this country. I believe that this sort of thing carried out in both directions. That is from India to the United States and from the United States to India
ought to be expanded many times over. Well now for a look at one other aspect for geographical reasons the non-communist Indians want to follow an independent course. A third way in their international relations as well as in the transformation of their economic life. They oppose communist violence at home and abroad. They support peace and the United Nations as the best existing agency for the attainment of peace. They are the friendliest relations with their neighbors and they oppose racialism colonialism and imperialism in every form the while pretending to do sympathize with the Indian programa a third way. The communists actually denounced it in theory and oppose it in practice. The devout Hindus and Muslims are against communist atheism and communist violence. The Communist Party and the Socialist Party are both against it. American technical aid and economic aid if wisely given and given
sympathetically as it is now being done under Point 4 and by the Ford Foundation and by other private agencies. Well it seems to me enormously strengthen all of these groups but the victory over communism will not be won by bread and machines alone. It can be won only by developing this kind of interchange which Mr North spoke of just a moment ago. It can be won I'm sure by acting on the belief that the preservation and the use of freedom is everybody's business and that this kind of freedom can be preserved if it is used not only to nourish the body but also to nourish the mind and to uplift the spirit to uplift the spirit not only of the peoples of India and of Asia but the spirit of all peoples who participate in this great defense and use of freedom.
This has been an analysis of communism in India by Dr Harold H. Fischer chairman of the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University. Dr. Fisher was joined in this analysis by a colleague from the Hoover Institute Robert C. North editor of the Pacific spectator. This talk was another transcribed program in the series people under communism. The series as a whole was prepared in consultation with scholars from the Russian Institute at Columbia University the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford and the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. This is Parker Wheatley speaking. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters and are made possible under a grant from this fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the and a B
People under communism
Communism in India
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National Association of Educational Broadcasters
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents a talk by Professor Harold Fisher of Stanford University: "Communism in India" Fisher also speaks with Robert C. North.
Series Description
A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
Broadcast Date
Politics and Government
Communism--India--History--20th century.
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Advisor: Hoover Institute and Library on War, Revolution, and Peace
Advisor: Columbia University. Russian Institute
Advisor: Harvard University. Russian Research Center
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Wheatley, Parker, 1906-1999
Producer: Tangley, Ralph
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Fisher, Harold H. (Harold Henry), 1890-1975
Speaker: North, Robert C., 1914-2002
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:44
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Chicago: “People under communism; Communism in India,” 1953-04-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “People under communism; Communism in India.” 1953-04-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: People under communism; Communism in India. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from