Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 27]- 18 April

Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 27]- 18 April

Q. Discuss the factors responsible for the rise of leftism in India. How leftist ideologies grew in Congress and got reflected in its socio-economic programs? [20 Marks]


Leftism in India grew out of the special politico-economic circumstances prevailing in India towards the end of the first world war. The emergence of left can be seen in three streams:

  • Stream I:
    • Rise of left within Indian National Congress. For e.g. formation of Congress Socialist Party in 1934
  • Stream II:
    • Rise of communist on the platform of Communist Party of India formed in 1925.
  • Stream III:
    • Other party organisations (like HSRA, Royists influenced by M.N. Roy, Forward Bloc) and individuals (like Indulal Yagnik, Sahjanand Sarswati, Ranga etc.).

Factors responsible for the rise of left:

  • British rule and its colonial character.
  • Land based exploitative system and exploitation of agricultural labours.
  • Emergence of Kisan Sabha movement.
  • Rise of modern industries based on capitalistic system and exploitation of factory workers.
  • Financial burden brought by the first world war:
    • Rising prices of necessities of life, famine conditions, manipulative profiteering by the business class.
    • All exposed the evils of imperialist- capitalist domination.
  • The romantic appeal of the revolutionary ideas of Marx.
  • Formation of the new regime in the USSR was the success of Marxist ideas for the first time which fired the imagination of Indian intellectuals.
  • Gandhiji’s slogan of Swaraj gave a new orientation to the political movement even the workers and peasants were drawn into the mainstream of national life.
  • A volatile section of the new generation of the educated middle class with the spectre of unemployment had lost faith in the 19th-century liberal economic ideology.
  • A section of the radicals felt unhappy with exclusive emphasis on Swaraj without a socio-economic dimension and saw cult of non-violence as an obstructive element in the development of real revolutionary mass struggle against British imperialism.
  • Rise of leaders who developed leftist visions like M.N. Roy, S.C. Bose, J.L. Nehru etc.
  • Rise of leftist organisations, newspapers, journals etc.
  • Disillusionment after the suspension of Non Cooperative Movement.
  • Disillusionment after the end of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • Great depression of 1929.
  • Role of foreigners (like role of H.L. Hutchinson, B.F. Bradley, P Spratt in Meerut Conspiracy Case).

Rise and growth of leftism within Congress

  • The Congress during the Indian national movement covered within itself a diverse range of ideological groups, however, the left trend was most prominent.
  • The leaders of the Congress were aware of Socialism from the beginning. Dadabhai Naoroji, for example, had close contacts with British Socialists and attended the International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam in 1904. But still early leaders did not seriously concern themselves with the Socialist ideology as it encouraged class struggle.
  • The clear emergence of the left-wing group occurred during the post-First World War years of recession. – the period in which the rising prices of commodities and increasing repression of the Government played havoc with the lives of Indians.
  • During 1920’s, there was a rise of left-wing within the Congress who were inspired by the Soviet Revolution and dissatisfied with Gandhian ideas and political programme, began advocating radical solutions for economic, political and social ills of the country.
  • The Great Depression of the 1930s in the capitalist world, the Russian Revolution and the success of the Soviet Five Year Plans, and the anti­-fascist wave the world over during the 1930s made socialist ideas attractive.
  • Nehru played an important part in popularising the vision of a socialist India both within the national movement and in the Congress. Nehru argued that political freedom must mean the economic emancipation of the masses.
  • The left­wing tendency found reflection in the election of Jawaharlal Nehru as president for 1929, 1936 and 1937 and of Subhas Chandra Bose for 1938 and 1939. Nehru argued that political freedom must mean the economic emancipation of the masses.
  • Congress Socialist Party was formed in 1934 to work within the Congress, to give the national movement a socialist direction, and to organize workers and peasants in their struggles.
  • Leftism is visible in the following socio-economic agenda of the Congress:
    • Radicalism, socialist vision and freedom defined in socio-economic terms become fundamental constituent of the policy of Congress. The Congress took radical stand on economic and class issues, it took up the cause of workers and peasants, it began to show concern for agrarian problem and problems of industrial labour.
    • Gandhiji also turned radically to left in 1930’s and 1940’s. He talked about removal of vested interests, emphasised on economic equality, condemned exploitation of masses by capitalists and zamindars.
    • The impact was also felt on the right wing of leadership and lower rung of Congress cadres. They also accepted that the poverty and misery of the Indian people was the result of not only colonial domination but also of the internal socio­economic structure of Indian society.
    • During Lahore Session of 1929, after declaration of Purna Swaraj, announcement by Nehru:
      • “I am a socialist, a republican and I am not a believer in kings, capitalists and landlords.”
    • Nehru had criticized Gandhian Trusteeship Theory in the light of British role as Trustee under white men’s burden.
    • The impact of the left was reflected when Congress adopted 20 point resolution on Fundamental Rights and Economic Programme in its Karachi ses­sion in 1931.
    • In 1936 Lucknow Session with Nehru as President: Socialism is a key to world’s problems and Indian’s problems.
    • The Congress under Presidentship of Nehru accepted Agrarian Programme in its Faizpur Session in 1936. Some important components of this Programme were:
      • reduction of land revenue
      • abolition of feudal levies
      • abolition of forced labour
      • fixity of tenure
      • fixation of wages for agriculture labour.
    • Socialist impact also found expression in the election manifesto of the Congress in 1936 and 1945-46. The Congress formed in 1937 in several provinces took measures to ameliorate the conditions of the workers and peasants and protection of their rights and interests.
    • National Planning Committee was constituted during Haripura session, 1938 (under Bose) under the presidentship of Nehru. This was the first step in the direction of initiating planning process in India with socialist vision.
    • J.L. Nehru and S.C. Bose created India Independent League as a pressure group within Congress whose goals were:
      • Purna Swaraj
      • Socialist Republic
    • The Congress Working Committee accepted officially the policy of abolition of Zamindari in 1945. It also declared that removal of intermediaries was a significant part of the agrarian reforms.
    • The convening of the first All India State’s people conference in 1936 and open support to the people of Princely States for democratic and socio-economic demands was also due to the inluence of left on the agenda of Congress.
  • However, in several aspects, the radicalisation in socio-economic agenda of Congress did not happen due to necessity to reach compromise among different sections within Congress. There were conflicts within Congress regarding socio-economic agenda. Many in Congress still had pro-zamnidar views and they opposed the radical agenda of the Congress. After the formation of Congress ministry, there was some frustration among farmers and industrial workers as steps taken by Congress was not enough to satisfy them.


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