The Meerut Trial (1929-33): Labor, Internationalism and Cold War

Jyotishman Mudiar


The historiography of the Meerut Trial (1929-33) has regarded the Trial as a crackdown on the left-wing movement in India, notably a communist left. Those interested in global history have represented the Trial as a repressive response to revolutionary internationalism. The effects of the Trial have firmly structured the history of its causes. This paper revisits why the British colonial state in India launched the Trial in the first place. For the British colonial state, anxiety about Bolshevism was not new. Many historians and activists have considered the Trial a teleological culmination of a series of conspiracy cases against communism. Notwithstanding its merit, it effaces the importance of the historical conjuncture of 1928-9. This paper argues that what forced the state to launch the Trial in 1928-9 was the unprecedented industrial unrest in the two cities of Bombay and Calcutta. At the face of a labor movement that challenged capitalism and colonialism alike, the state felt that repressive legal-administrative actions alone were insufficient for control and order. In its broader sense, the Trial was a cold war propaganda response of the British state in India to manufacture the consent of its subjects.


Meerut trail, India, labor, internationalism, Cold War

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Journal of South Asian Studies
ISSN: 2307-4000 (Online), 2308-7846 (Print)
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