Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India: 1919-1943

March 4, 2012

Sobhanlal Datta Gupta. 2011. Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India: 1919-1943 – Dialectics of Real and a Possible History (Kolkata: Seribaan, Rs. 895.00)

After the opening of Moscow’s Comintern archives and the archives of the Communist Party of Great Britain in the 1990s, this is the first full-length study of the impact of the Communist International (Comintern) on the shaping of Indian communism. Based on materials collected from these once forbidden archives, the book also takes into consideration the private papers of Horst Krueger in Berlin, a whole range of inner-party documents and the new Comintern historiography (primarily Russian and German, apart from English) that has developed over the years. The book is the culmination of the author’s research for more than a decade on the shaping of communism in India in the Comintern period. The revised and enlarged edition of the book incorporates many new materials which have come to the surface since the publication of the first edition in 2006 and also introduces a comparative perspective, highlighting how communism developed in the countries of the East, and examines how the path chosen by the Indian communists was so different from that of the Communist Parties in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Korea, for example.

A Malayalam version of the first edition of the book, under the title Cominternum Indian Communist Partiyum (Thiruvananthapuram : Prabhatham Printing & Publishing Ltd), was published in 2010. A German version of the present revised and enlarged edition bearing the title Komintern und Kommunismus in Indien: 1919-1943 (Berlin : Karl Dietz Verlag) is forthcoming in 2012.

Sobhanlal Datta Gupta (b. 1948), former Surendra Nath Banerjee Professor of Political Science at the University of Calcutta, has an abiding interest in the intellectual history of Marxism and Marxist theory. His recent works include The Ryutin Platform (Stalin and the Crisis of Proletarian Dictatorship) (ed.) (Kolkata: Seribaan, 2010) and Marxism in Dark Times : Select Essays for the New Century ( Delhi, London, New York: Anthem Press, 2012). Currently he is working on a three volume work on The Socialist Vision and the Silenced Voices of Democracy: New Perspectives on Rosa Luxemburg, Georg Lukács and Nikolai Bukharin. He can be contacted at or

For overseas orders and all commercial information about the book, please contact: Sreejoni, the book’s exclusive overseas distributor, by visiting For Indian orders please contact us at:


‘Save CLR James Library’ name – online petition

October 10, 2010

An online petition demanding that Hackney Council, London retain the name CLR James Library for the new Dalston Sq Library development has been launched online. The petition declares:

We the undersigned demand that any new library built as part of the new Dalston Square Development as a replacement for the current CLR James Library retains the name CLR James Library. We believe that the current name should stand as a tribute to the great writer and historian, and also as recognition of the literary contribution of Hackney’s African Caribbean community.

Russian State Television and Radio Archives open

October 3, 2010

For the first time in history the Russian State Television and Radio Archives will be made available across the world.

Thanks to a pioneering new deal, for the first time since their original broadcasts the Russian State Television and Radio Archives will be made available across the world. Footage from the first Russian ballets through to visits by international leaders has been documented by the Russian state broadcasters only to be locked in vaults ever since their original broadcast.

But 14 years of perseverance by one Englishman has resulted in a ground-breaking deal allowing the archives to be opened up to international media and other interested organisations across the globe for the very first time. The deal opens up opportunities for investors to take part in the unlocking of history as new partners are sought for this innovative project.

Anthony Gould, a leading Russian consultant, has negotiated directly with successive Russian Governments to ensure this valuable material is able to be shows across the world. The significance of the material is still difficult to comprehend as the gems of the last century have remained inaccessible for nearly a hundred years. As a result of the vast quantity of material available, new investors are being invited to take part in releasing these hidden gems to the rest of the world.

The archive contains over two million items including items from the 1900s showing Emperor Nicolas and his family. In addition, there is radio broadcast material dating back to 1928 and film footage that pre-dates the television era.

Commenting on the release of the archive, Catriona Kelly, Professor of Russian, University of Oxford said;

“The Russian State Television and Radio Archives, dating back to 1928, are an indispensable resource for understanding the history of the country. Now, after years of negotiation by RTR Worldwide, television and radio companies, academic institutions, and organisations will be able to access their unique holdings in the most technically advanced format available. This is a remarkable story.”

Anthony Gould has been working on this project for over 10 years. He says “I’m delighted to finally be able to unlock access to Russia’s amazing TV and film archive, detailing over 2 million pieces of footage. Throughout this ten year project to get us to this stage, I have always found the Russian archives to be something very special. It is an exciting moment for me to be able to share this with millions of people around the world”.

The exact contents are still being clarified as each individual reel is painstakingly restored identified and digitised to ensure the best quality for re-broadcast.

Archive statistics (already identified)

* 130,850 documentaries
* 7,340 musical performances
* 3,875 theatrical films
* 2,500 cartoon programmes
* 1,120 TV plays and radio programmes

Examples of the items in the archive include previous unseen footage by the Western world of footage of the Baikal Amur Highway construction. The documentaries detail the full construction of the BAM Highway between 1975-1985. This highway runs alongside the Trans-Siberian Railway. The documentary shows the secrets of the building of this immense project in the permafrost of the Siberian region as well as the stories of the workers along the line. The total cost of this highway was $14 billion and Western media has never been allowed to report on it and was not invited to the opening. Today the BAM attracts many tourists and western train enthusiasts.

There is also Footage on Emperor Nicolas and the House of the Romanovs in a significant 1992 Programme which includes WW1 Newsreels and the end of the war, footage from the 1900s showing the Emperor and his family playing sports and drill making, There are also newsreels of the Emperor talking to dignitaries at Alexander’s monument, Lenin’s emigration between 1914-1917, Dzerzhinsky in the honour guard at the tomb of Lenin in 1924 and Emperor Nicolas in St Petersburg and the Winter Palace.

New footage recently identified includes:

* film of Rasputin in Cossack outfits
* film of Nicolas, Pictures of Empress Maria Feodorovna and Prince Alexander’s Son
* There is footage of a photo session of the State Duma. There are also lots of pics of Prime Minister Stolypin: he was killed in 1911 (as foretold by Rasputin). In 2008 Stolypin came second in a TV poll of The Greatest Russians of All Time. (Stalin came 3rd)
* Footage of President Kennedy and newsreels showing President Kennedy talking with Nikita Khrushchev.
* Footage on Gorbachev with his family
* Footage of Yeltsin taking office in 1991
* Footage of Stalin from 1911
* WW1 Footage
* A 1987 film chronicling the life and work of the playwright Mikhail Bulgakov* (The White Guard was recently produced at the National Theatre in April 2010) includes WW1 footage and fragments from readings of the original production of The White Guard, Theatrical Novel and Margarita. There is footage of WW1 showing tanks, trenches and horse attacks.

For further information please contact Victoria Barton on 07989690844 or