100 years ago Lenin captured Petrograd: All you need to know about 'Russian Revolution'

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100 years of Russian Revolution
100 years of Russian Revolution

"Socialism isn’t just labour camps, informants, and the Iron Curtain, it’s also a bright world: everything is shared, the weak are pitied, and compassion rules. Instead of grabbing everything you can, you feel for others."

- A former Communist Party member to Noble-winning author Svetlana Alexievich

New Delhi : 100 years ago, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew existing government in Petrograd (St Petersburg) to establish communist rule in Russia, which will last almost three-quarters of a century. 

The rebellion is known as October Revolution because it was launched on October 25 of the Orthodox Julian calendar, which was followed in Russia at the time. The date corresponds to November 7 in the Georgian calendar. 

Although the events had started unfolding months ago. Led by labour class, the February Revolution had resulted in Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication and removed the Romanov line of succession. 

However, these changes were simply insufficient to quell the outpouring of popular disaffection that had accumulated under an antiquated system of governance, rampant economic and social inequality, and decades of civic and military turbulence. Further political upheaval was inevitable.

Initially headed by nonpartisan Prince Georgy Lvov, the Provisional Government was plagued by its lack of political legitimacy and popular support, and by its “bourgeois” image. 

In April 1917, Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia in a sealed train. Known for his fervent opposition to the war and incitement of violence against the ruling classes, he had previously been exiled to Switzerland by the Tsarist government. 

On November 7, the Bolsheviks launched a coup against the Provisional Government. Supported both by the Petrograd Garrison and a newly docked fleet of marines, the Bolsheviks seized key government facilities with virtually no resistance. The next day, a final assault was launched on the weakly defended Winter Palace – the seat of the Provisional Government and the former home of the Tsar.

The resonance of the October Revolution was felt across the Russian Empire, including Kiev, which saw its own uprising. The ensuing Ukrainian War of Independence (1917-1921) involved numerous internal and international players. Among the latter were France, Germany, Poland and Romania.

Impact on India 

India remained a close ally of Soviet Russia throughout the communist period. The country's ideology impacted Indian lives since the day of the revolution. 

In the pre-independence era, when the country was plagued with hunger and poverty, the news of the Russian Revolution gave hope to the poorest people. They saw the possibility of political justice and economic prosperity, and it strengthened their resolve to continue their own struggles.

A senior Congress leader then, Jawaharlal Nehru noted later: “The Soviet Revolution has advanced human society by a great leap and has lit a bright flame which could not be smothered, and it has laid the foundation for that new civilisation towards which the world could advance.”

Indian farmers and Adivasis have long drawn inspiration from the Russian revolution and the communist example set by Lenin continues to aspire the Left ideology in India.