Sunil Janah: Inside India, 1940-1975
Virtual Exhibition - SF 2000



Subsection 1.1:

Independence Movement

Part A:

Section Text and Panel 2
(Independence Movement - India, 1940's)


Page 1. 1 A

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Photographs, panels & text:   Sunil Janah 1939-2000
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Index, Introduction,
Entrance Panel...
History in
the Making
Building India's
Land and People
[ alternative ]
Dance and Temple

Subsections of Section 1 (History in the Making)
1.1:   Independence Movement Part A:   Section Text & Panel 2 (I.M. - 1940's)
Part B:   Panel 3 (Simla Conference & Elections)
1.2:   Famine, Riots & Refugees
1.3:   Political Leaders & Others


Index to Section 1.1 (Independence Movement)

  • On this page (1.1 Part A)

  • On the next page (1.1 Part B)
    • Panel 3:   Simla Conference & Elections

* Please note that Panel 1 is the entrance panel.
   It is at the end of Section 0 - the Virtual Exhibition (SF 2000) Start Page.

Section 1.1 text


1.1   Independence Movement

R.I.N. Mutiny, 1946.
See Panel 2 Captions below. India was conquered by the British and ruled by them for almost two centuries, first by the East India Company and then directly by the Crown. But there was never total submission to the Raj, as it was known. Protests and uprisings were frequent, and frequently these were ruthlessly suppressed, as was the great Indian Mutiny of 1857, when the troops rose up in revolt.

Bose & Patel, 1939.
See Panel 2 Captions below. The Indian National Congress was formed in 1885 as an association of wealthy landowners, professionals and moderates, who sought various concessions from the British. It later became the flagbearer of the freedom movement under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as the Mahatma. The masses of India were readily drawn to Gandhi's inclusive teachings and his policy of "non-violent non-cooperation" with the British. Many outstanding men and women became Congress leaders.

Punjab, 1945.
See Panel 2 Captions below. The Communist Party of India was a banned underground organization under most of British rule. It was legalized during the Second World War, when all other political parties, involved in the Quit India movement that began in 1942, opposed the British war effort. The communists were the only supporters of this effort, because they believed that fascism was the greater enemy and needed to be defeated first. When the war ended, the British reinstituted the ban.

I grew up in the 1930s in Calcutta, which was then a center of political and cultural activity. Most of my friends were political activists, writers and artists, with leftist ideas. For us, freedom meant not just freedom from British rule, but from all political, economic, social or religious tyrannies. Like many others all over the world at the time, we had put our faith in socialism. I joined the student wing of the communist party, and P.C. Joshi, the secretary of the party, picked me to work for the newspaper.

Quit India Movement, 1942.
See Panel 2 Captions below. These pictures were taken in the 1940s, during the eventful years preceding and following India's freedom from British rule. The meetings, processions and demonstrations during the final phase of the independence movement shown here were not the only important ones, but were typical of what was happening all over the subcontinent.

  - Sunil Janah

All photographs, and text:   © Sunil Janah 1940-2000
The rest of Section 1.1 (Independence Movement) follows. Part A is continued below, and Part B is on the next page.

Section 1.2 deals with the Famines, Riots and Refugees that preceded and followed Independence.

Section 1.3 - Political Leaders and Others - contains more text and images related to the Independence Movement. But please work through Sections 1.1 and 1.2 first.

Panel 1 is the Entrance Panel at the end of Section 0 - the Virtual Exhibition (SF 2000) Start Page. This Entrance Panel contains portraits of Nehru (1939), Gandhi (1945) and a riverine view of Kolkata (Calcutta).

Even if you have not seen Panel 1 earlier, please see panel 2 and panel 2 captions (below, on the current page) first, to avoid reloading delays.

Panel 2   (Independence Movement:   India, 1940's)   is directly below.
Photographs, panels & text   © Sunil Janah 1940-2000


Panel 2: Independence Movement - India, 1940's

Images from the Peasant, Labor and Anti-Colonial Movements

Scenes and Leaders from Peasant, Labor 
& Independence Movements, 
© Sunil Janah
Panel 2 and Section 1.1 text are above.   Panel 2 Captions (with slightly enlarged photographs) are below.

Because of the width and height of the Panel 2 image above, it is dificult to have captions and image viewable simultaneously on a standard screen. Each panel photograph was therefore enlarged slightly, and its caption was placed below it, for readability, in the version below.

Panel 2: Independence Movement - India, 1940's

(Scenes and Leaders from the Peasant, Worker and Anti-Colonial Movements)


sf.006: Peasant demonstration, Punjab, 1945.

sf.007:   Gandhi, under a dark arch, at a prayer meeting, Bombay, 1946.

sf.008:   Subhash Chandra Bose at the Haripura Congress, where he was elected president of the Indian National Congress, 1939. Vallabbhai Patel, who opposed Bose's election, is in the background.

sf.009:   Police van set on fire by crowds protesting British rule during the Quit India movement, Calcutta, 1942.

sf.010:   Victims of police firing on a crowd that had demonstrated in support of the mutiny by the Royal Indian Navy, 1946.

sf.011:   Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking in Calcutta.

sf.012:   Tonk movement by the Hajang tribal people in northeast India - a protest against the tax system of the time.   The red flag, with the hammer and sickle - not visible in this reduced image - is being carried on a long bamboo pole.                

sf.013:   Village schoolteacher being arrested for anti-government speeches, Uttar Pradesh, northern India.

sf.014:   All India Peasant Conference in Bezwada, Andhra Pradesh, southern India.

sf.015:   Political meeting in Calcutta, with police in the foreground taking notes on what each of the speakers said.


This is page 1.1 A of the Virtual Exhibition (San Francisco 2000) - Sunil Janah: Inside India, 1940 - 1975.

This page is section 1 (HISTORY IN THE MAKING), subsection 1.1 (Independence Movement), part A (Section Text and Panel 2) of the virtual exhibition.

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Photographs, panels & text © Sunil Janah 1939-2000
This is an online virtual approximation to the exhibition
"Sunil Janah, Inside India 1940-1975",
curated by Sunil, Monua & Sobha Janah, and held in San Francisco, 2000.
Image quality and size are much poorer and smaller here than they were in the real exhibition.
Website design and coding: Arjun Janah, 2000