The October Revolution

News of the revolution in the tsarist empire came slowly to British India. Most of the newspapers relied upon wire services, which were controlled by the imperial state. Reuters was the main agency. K.C. Roy, a loyal Reuters man, nonetheless said of his service: “There is no gainsaying the fact that the news we receive is of a pro-British character.” No story that laid out the viewpoint of the Russian workers and peasants, let alone the Bolsheviks—led by Lenin, who provided leadership for the revolution of October 1917—would come to India through Reuters. Little wonder then that in December 1917 The Bombay Chronicle would note in an editorial: “Our ideas about the Bolsheviks are very vague.”

Slowly, the nationalist press would get some reports of events in Russia and Central Asia. But this news came in fits and starts. But what was already clear to the nationalist press was that these revolutions—of February and October—were positive. “We recognise the fact,” noted The Bombay Chronicle, “that they could never have met with the present success had there not been something in their programme that was attractive and of promise to serve the people. The Bolsheviks came with a definite scheme which took into consideration the necessities of the peasants and promised immediate confiscation of lands for the people.” This much they grasped. It was as if the editors of this paper were sending a message to the Indian National Congress to provide a similar…

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