Hitler Germany had attacked the Soviet Union on 22nd June, 1941. Almost on the very same day a few intellectuals of Bengal (then united Bengal), led by Prof. Hiren Mukherjee took the initiative in founding the ‘Friends of the Soviet Union’ (FSU) Movement. As a part of that movement a signature campaign was launched to gather support from the leading intellectuals of Bengal, and the movement was blessed by poet Rabindranath Tagore himself. He died soon after on 7th August 1941.
Intellectuals for the Soviet
The Nazi attack on the Soviet Union has opened a new and momentous phase in the world history. The war of machines and of men rages today on a colossal front on a scale unheard-of before.
At this hour of trial we feel it is urgent that attention is drawn to the massive moral and material achievement which the Soviets have to their credit. Some of us have been critical of aspects of the Soviet regime; some, again, do not support the theory of Marxism which the Soviets have attempted to put into practice. But when one remembers the dark legacy of Czarist misrule, which was followed for years by disastrous Civil War and the intervention against the infant Soviets by nearly all the Powers on earth, the Soviet achievement can only be described at magnificent.
Rabindranath Tagore has testified to it in glowing terms, and since the two leading sociological investigators in the world today—Sidney and Beatrice Webb—brought out their book on “Soviet Communism—a New Civilisation”, information in regard to the U.S.S.R.
In the Soviet Union, all factories, mines, railway and shipping land and trading organisations are the property of the people as a whole. The economic and social life of the country is planned for the welfare of all and not for the profit of the few. The drama of Soviet planning cannot fail to grip even those who do not hold with socialist hypotheses. Complete equality of all citizens, irrespective of race or sex or nationality, enables them to participate in the business of the community.
Equal opportunity for education is provided universally, the school-leaving age is raised to seventeen, and payment is made to students at universities. Work is provided for all; unemployment does not exit; economic crises, recurrent everywhere else, have ceased. The maximum working day is 8 hours, the average less than 7. Free medical attention is provided for all; workers receive wages while sick, as though they are at work, and are besides entitled to paid holidays every year. Nowhere in the world, as impartial observers testify, are women and children so well cared for as in the Soviet Union.
Majestic in conception, practical in detail, scientific in form, the Soviet plans essay tasks never yet attempted by any state, ancient or modern.
“There is no country, we imagine, in which so large and so varied an amount of scientific research is being carried on at the public expense, alike in the realm of abstract theory and in that of technology. There is certainly none in which is so little chance of that frustration of science by the profit-making instinct of which the British and American scientists are now complaining.”
We in India cannot forget how in one grand gesture after the revolution the Soviets renounced all ‘priorities’ and ‘capitulations’ and ‘concessions’ and ’privileges’ which the Czarist Government had enjoyed in Asiatic countries along with the other great powers.
Scores of races and millions of people were condemned by the Czars to ’’Planned backwardness”, while the Soviet freedom for national and linguistic minorities has produced a high flower of culture, and new intellectual life is astir on sites where superstition and dark eccelesiastical reaction once reigned supreme. For the U.S.S.R., with its 185 peoples and 147 languages, there is no imposed privilege for a race or a language.
Emancipation of Women
The first Mohammedan State of adopt legislation for women’s emancipation was not Kemal’s Turkey, but Soviet Azerbaijan. How different is Soviet Uzbekistan from the Bukhara Khanate, where there were 8,000 witch-doctors and just one doctor for the Emir his harem and his court.
At the webbs point out, “the Soviet Union has set itself, diligently, not merely to threat the ‘lesser breeds without the law’ with equality? But recognising that their backwardness was due to centuries of poverty, repression and enslavement, has made it a leading feature of its policy to spend out of common funds considerably more per head on its backward races than on the superior ones, in education and social improvements, in industrial investments and agricultural reforms.”
Love of Knowledge
The figures for book-production in the U.S,S.R. astronomical. At the end of the first Five Year-Plan, Soviet book-production was greater than of England, Germany and Japan taken together.
Einstein, banished by the Nazis, sells more perhaps in the U.S.S.R., than anywhere else; between 1927 and 1936,55,000 copies of his work were sold in the Union.
In the land of his birth, the 375th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth passed unnoticed, while the event was celebrated by workers are peasants everywhere in the U.S.S.R. some 200,000 people saw in Moscow the performance of “King Lear” in the spring of 1939. In the small republic of Armenia, 32,000 copies of Shakespeare sold in the last five years.
The Soviet people have “cultured classes” in our sense of term and want none. They seek a wholly cultured people and try to offer leisure, security and opportunity to all.
In a little over twenty years and in face of the most stupendous odds, the common people of Soviet Union have created what we believe is a new civilisation. And even we in India, borne down by generations of insanity and degradation, cannot remain undisturbed when that civilisation is in peril. Helpless and unfree, we can at least send our good wishes to the Soviets and wait anxiously for the day when they will come out victorious over the forces arrayed against them.
The signatories to the appeal are :
P. C. Roy; Satyendranath Mazumdar, Rabindranath Ghosh (Principal Ripon College, now renamed Surendranath College), Hem Chandra Nag (editor, ‘Hindustan Standard’) Mrinal Kanti Bose (‘Amrita Bazar Patrika’), Dhirendra Nath Sen (‘Amrita Bazar Patrika’), Vivekananda Mukherjee (editor, ‘Jugantar), Bankim Chandra Sen (editor, ‘Desh’), Jyotish Bhowmich (editor, Forward’), A. R. Malihabadi (efitor, ‘Rozana Hind’), Amal Home (editor, ‘Calcutta Municipal Gazette’), P. K. Bose (Principal, Bangabasi College), Bhupendra Nath Dutta, Biresh Chandra Guha (Ghosh Professor of Applied Chemistry, Calcutta
University), Kalidas Nag, Amiya Kumar Sen, Narayan Chandra Banerjee, Jitendranath Banerjee, Tripurari Chakravarty, N. K. Sinha, Humayun Kabir, Nihar Ranjan Roy, Batakrishna Ghosh, Surendra Nath Goswami, Hirendra Nath Mukherjee, R. P. Dasgupta, L. P. Sukul, A. B. M. Habibullah, P. C, Gupta, Haricharan Ghosh, Renu R6y, Nikhil Chakravarty, Sarasi Kumar Saraswati.
From the Bar Library Club of Calcutta High Court, the following :
Arun Sen, Abany Chandra Banerjee; Sukumar Mitra, M. S. Salenjee, S. K. Acharyya, Jyoti Basu, Pramatha Chaudhuri, Naresh Chandra Sengupta, Atul Chandra Gupta.
From the Writers :
Tarashankar Banerjee, Manik Banerjee, Amiya Chakraborty, Premendra Mitra, Buddhadev Bose, Sajani Kanta Das, Bishnu Dey, Biren Kumar Sanyal, Niren Roy, Gopal Haider, Abdul Kadir, Spiprasad Upadhyaya, Samar Sen, Abu Sayyid I Ayub, Benoy Ghosh, Subhash Mukherjee, Ajit Chakravarty, Bimala Prosad Mukherjee, Chanchal Chatterjee, Chakravarty, Bimala Prosad Mukherjee, i Jyotirmoy Roy.
Famous Painter: Jamini Roy.
Prof. N. C. Bhattacharya, Sushil Chandra Dutta of Scotish Church College.
Professor Ananda Krishna Sinha, Bejoy Kumar Roy, Satish Chandra
Sengupta, Bhabatosh Dutta, Nandalal Ghosh—all of Ripon College. Professor, N. N. Sengupta, Kuranamoy Mukherjee of Bangabasi College.
Professor Provas Chandra Ghosh of Vidyasagar College.
Professor Amarendra Prosad Mitra of Victoria Institution.