Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin (1870-1924), has been in the news since Monday when his statue in Belonia town near Agartala in Tripura was brought down by suspected Bharatiya Janata Party workers, who were celebrating their party’s victory in the Assembly elections.

The Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924.

But in India, Lenin is known more for the role he personally played in shaping the Communist Party of India. But much before that, a decade before the Russian Revolution, Lenin analysed the revolutionary movements across the world in his 1908 article “Inflammable Material in World Politics”, in which he wrote:

The British Liberal bourgeoisie, angered by the growth of the labour movement at home and frightened by the mounting revolutionary struggle in India, are more and more frequently, frankly and sharply demonstrating what brutes the highly “civilised” European “politicians”, men who have passed through the high school of constitutionalism, can turn into when it comes to a rise in the mass struggle against capital and the capitalist colonial system, that is, a system of enslavement, plunder and violence...

In India lately, the native slaves of the “civilised” British capitalists have been a source of worry to their “masters”. There Is no end to the acts of violence and plunder which goes under the name of the British system of government in India. Nowhere in the world – with the exception, of course of Russia – will you find such abject mass poverty, such chronic starvation among the people. The most Liberal and Radical personalities of free Britain, men like John Morley – that authority for Russian and non-Russian Cadets, that luminary of “progressive” journalism (in reality, a lackey of capitalism) – become regular Genghis Khans when appointed to govern India, and are capable of sanctioning every means of “pacifying” the population in their charge, even to the extent of flogging political protestors! 

Justice, the little weekly of the British Social-Democrats, has been banned in India by these Liberal and “Radical” scoundrels like Morley. And when Keir Hardie, the British MP and leader of the Independent Labour Party, had the temerity to visit India and speak to the Indians about the most elementary democratic demands, the whole British bourgeois press raised a howl against this “rebel”.  And now the most influential British newspapers are in a fury about “agitators” who disturb the tranquillity of India, and are welcoming court sentences and administrative measures in the purely Russian, Plehve-style to suppress democratic Indian publicists. 

But in India the street is beginning to stand up for its writers arid political leaders. The infamous sentence pronounced by the British jackals on the Indian democrat Tilak – he was sentenced to a long term of exile, the question in the British House of Commons the other day revealing that the Indian jurors had declared for acquittal and that the verdict had been passed by the vote of the British jurors! – this revenge against a democrat by the lackeys of the money-bag evoked street demonstrations and a strike in Bombay. In India, too, the proletariat has already developed to conscious political mass struggle – and, that being the case, the Russian-style British regime in India is doomed! 

By their colonial plunder of Asian countries, the Europeans have succeeded in so steeling one of them, Japan, that she has gained great military victories, which have ensured her independent .national development. There can be no doubt that the age-old plunder of India by the British, and the contemporary struggle of all these “advanced” Europeans against Persian and Indian democracy, will steel millions, tens of millions of proletarians in Asia to wage  a struggle against their oppressors which will be just as victorious as that of the Japanese. The class-conscious European worker now has comrades in Asia, and their number will grow by leaps and bounds.

— “Inflammable Material in World Politics” was published in 'Proletary', No. 33, July 23 (August 5), 1908.

On February 17, 1920, the Assembly of Indian Revolutionaries in Kabul passed a resolution addressed to Lenin:

“The Indian revolutionaries express their deep gratitude and their admiration of the great struggle carried on by Soviet Russia for the liberation of all oppressed classes and peoples, and especially for the liberation of India. Great thanks to Soviet Russia for her having heard the cries of agony from the 315,000,000 people suffering under the yoke of imperialism. The mass meeting accepts with joy the hand of friendship and help extended to oppressed India” (Pravda No. 108, May 20, 1920).

Lenin’s message of greetings “To the Indian Revolutionary Association” in reply was broadcast on May 10, 1920.

I am glad to hear that the principles of self-determination and the liberation of oppressed nations from exploitation by foreign and native capitalists, proclaimed by the Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic, have met with such a ready response among progressive Indians, who are waging a heroic fight for freedom. The working masses of Russia are following with unflagging attention the awakening of the Indian workers and peasants. The organisation and discipline of the working people and their perseverance and solidarity with the working people of the world are an earnest of ultimate success. We welcome the close alliance of Moslem and non-Moslem elements. We sincerely want to see this alliance extended to all the toilers of the East. Only when the Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Persian, and Turkish workers and peasants join hands and march together in the common cause of liberation – only then will decisive victory over the exploiters be ensured. Long live a free Asia!

— This was also published in 'Pravda No. 108' on May 20, 1920

Source: Marxists Internet Archive