Accepted Paper:

The impact of the Meerut case on the international engagements of the Indian trade union movement  


Carolien Stolte (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

In March 1929, tensions between various factions in the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) regarding AITUC’s international engagements were made urgent by the Meerut arrests. This paper examines the influence of the Meerut Conspiracy Case on AITUC’s break into to rival factions in December 1929.

Paper long abstract:

The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), established in 1920, became increasingly active in the international theater as the 1920s progressed. By 1927, these activities not only included participation in the International Labour Organization (ILO) conferences in Geneva, but also ties to other forums, such as the League Against Imperialism and the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat. The latter was explicitly affiliated to Profintern, as the Asian branch of the Red International of Trade Unions. Towards the late 1920s, tensions over the directions that AITUC's international engagements should take arose between moderate and more left-leaning factions within AITUC. In March 1929, these tensions were suddenly made urgent by the Meerut arrests.

The League Against Imperialism and the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat had been mentioned explicitly in the Meerut indictment, proving in the eyes of AITUC's more moderate members that continued engagements with these bodies would prove detrimental to the interests of the Indian labour movement. At the tenth AITUC session in Nagpur in December 1929, it became clear that reconciliation between the rival factions was no longer an option, and the moderates seceded as NTUF, the National Trade Union Federation. Given the consequences of this event for the unity of the larger Indian labour movement, this paper seeks to examine the role the Meerut Case played in AITUC's 1929 split.

Panel P16
Meerut revisited: the conspiracy case in context, 1929-1934