Violence, non-violent civil disobedience, and mass demonstrations have been a part of Indian politics since independence; indeed, even before 1947. Occasionally these outbursts are truly spontaneous, and, when they are, they may be accounted for by the hypothesis that more discontent exists in Indian society than has been expressed by organized groups. But such anomic movements have been rare in India since 1947, although mob violence during the days of partition may be an illustration par excellence of this phenomenon in Indian life.



“Political consciousness” is a phrase widely used in India. In Calcutta and in other urban areas politicians agree that Calcutta has one of the most “politically conscious” populations to be found anywhere in India. Unfortunately, survey data on levels of information, interest, opinion, participation, etc. are not available.


Data from

Nayar Baldev Raj , Impact of the Community Development Program on Rural Voting Behavior in India, M.A. Thesis,
University of Chicago


The turnout for the working class constituencies in Hoogly was 49.3% in 1952, 65.4% in 1957. The Howrah vote was 43.1% and 54.9%. In contrast the heavy middle class constituencies of Calcutta were far lower. Alipore was 37.1% and 44.2%; the Fort was 32.3% and 38.3%. Data compiled from Report on the Second General Elections, 1957, Vol. II (statistical).


Public Opinion Surveys, Indian Institute of Public Opinion, Vol. 1, Nos. 10, 11, 12, May, June, July 1956, pp. 14–19. On these issues, the number answering that government alone was responsible never fell below 50% and on some issues (responsibility for medical facilities) the number reached 82%. It was 51% for employment, 50% for better wages, 71% for housing, 74% for food, 58% for clothing, and 78% for education.


The Chief Minister's attitude is expressed in this statement: “If I hate anything in public life it is the creation of political sectors or groups for the sake of controlling political opinion. I am convinced that this universally practiced political manoeuvring cannot lead to the greatest good of the great number, and abuses, nepotism and dishonesty follow.” Quoted in

Thomas K. P. ,
Dr. B. C. Roy
West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee
), p.

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