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Evaluating Lenin in the Indian Context

Updated on June 9, 2019
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MG is an ex-senior Air force officer who is a global traveler as well as a wildlife enthusiast


Vladimir Lenin has a place in world history but as a man whose effect was baleful. Despite holding the stage for almost seven years and being the instrument of the October revolution, the title "great" will always elude him. It is more likely that he would be clubbed along with Mussolini, Hitler, and Tojo and to a lesser extent the Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung. In India, there are many people who swear by the name of Lenin.
He has greater respect in India then he has in Russia. Recently when two statues of Lenin were toppled in the state of Tripura after the defeat of the communist Marxist party a hue and cry were raised by some people. They forgot that in Eastern Europe over 150 statues of Lenin were razed to the ground and there was not even a ripple. Nevertheless, many people in India feel that Lenin was India's friend as he was opposed to imperialism. However, a perusal of his writings shows Lenin was not interested in India at all. There is no mention of India in any of his voluminous works. Lenin was an intellectual of a very high caliber but unfortunately in the balance of world history more negative thoughts and ideas can be attributed to Lenin than the positive ideas.

Lenin's failure

His biggest failure was his thinking that to remain in power one has to obliterate the intellectuals and the affluent people. He carried out these ideas and ended up by making the entire Russian state extremely impoverished and poor. He laid the foundation of the communist state but unfortunately, within 5/6 decades of his death the entire communist state collapsed like a pack of cards.

12 ft statute in Kerala
12 ft statute in Kerala

Lenin and India

Despite his formidable brain, he had no time for India and similar countries. At no stage, he advocated Independence for India and was of the view that it must remain a British colony. There is not a single paper or writing available that refers to the freedom of India. On the contrary, we learn that he held the Indian leaders of that period namely Gandhi, Gokhale, and Tilak in contempt and treated them as running dogs of British imperialism.

Lenin after death was honored by the Communist Party of Russia and his body was embalmed and kept in Red Square. After the breakup of the Soviet Union into 18 nations, there is a demand to remove his body from Red Square and bury it in the crypt close to the wall of the Kremlin. So. far this has not happened. A similar exercise was carried out with the body of Stalin. His body was also embalmed and kept alongside Lenin. After Nikita Khrushchev took the reins of power the body without fanfare was removed from the Mausoleum on Red Square and buried in the crypt close to the wall of the Kremlin.

Negative affect as a leader

Lenin has a place in world history but it is mainly negative. He was the first leader to set up the concentration camp, where political opponents were kept in sub-human condition. It is possible that in one of these camps the Indian wartime leader Subhash Chandra Bose perished, though proof of this is sketchy.

Lenin's second mistake is the murder of Nicholas II and his family while they were in the custody of the Russian communist party in Siberia. There is no way Lenin can absolve himself from the crime of killing defenseless persons who were under the protection of his party. The Indian Communist Party looked for guidance from the Russian Communist party. They considered Gandhi to be a stooge of the `English and opposed him.

Indian view

Many Indians talk of the greatness of Lenin. Lenin was certainly a powerful intellectual figure but he had a warped sense and now we can see that he had a very limited horizon. Lenin has the distinction of converting entire Russia into a vast concentration camp. This has been brought out by two famous Russian writers Boris Pasternak and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Lenin believed in dictatorship and supplanted the rule of the Tsar with a more repressive state. He was instrumental in bringing the dreaded midnight knock of the KGB into the life of ordinary Russians.

It is not a surprise that the Russian state collapsed within a few decades of Lenin's death.
When we think of Lenin in the context of the freedom movement of India we find that his contribution was a big zero. Despite antagonizing many people the general feeling in India is Adolf Hitler commitment to Indian freedom was more than that of Lenin. Lenin was extremely shortsighted and one can see he completely ignored one-fifth of the mass of humanity of the world in India.

Last word

Many Russian also feel he led them up to the garden. The anger of the left parties in India against attempts to downsize the adulation of Lenin in India is difficult to comprehend. But the fact is Lenin had no vision for `India or other people colonized by the imperialists. Many roads are named after Lenin in Delhi and Calcutta and this can make a visitor only smile with sarcasm. Lenin still commands a lot of respect in India, particularly in Bengal and Kerala. The Communist party and its supporters fail to see that Lenin did nothing for India. One wonders why they adulate him.

The Hindu revivalist party has no love for Lenin and the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, the former Harvard professor has referred to Lenin as a "terrorist."


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