USSR / Eastern Europe Vs India

There was no unified India identity,before indian independance in 1947. A lot of princely states held together by desire to be free from British. But post independance, all states stuck together , and except for a few isolated calls from Tamil Nadu ( immediately after 1947) to move out of Indian union , India remained unified.

But USSR and eastern block of countries broke up very easily into smaller nations.

Are the two comparable in first place ? What are your thoughts ??

An interesting discussion. I am only posting to subscribe, though it seems to me India has always had a vey strong sense of unity. I’m not saying the Eastern European nations didn’t, I only know the Indian side a little. Be interesting to see what people think, if this thread takes off.

It’s not true that “India remained unified” in 1947. It split into two countries, Pakistan and India, on religious grounds, and later Pakistan split into two parts. So perhaps the Soviet Union and British India are more similar than you thought.

Ye-es…but there are a dozen other states that didn’t break off. I think the OP wants to know, what about those? And even the Pakistan split was hotly contested by millions of people, particularly the border-livers.

OK. I should have excluded Pakistan which had more religious reasons for its birth.

Post independant India has still very diverse peoples,cultures ,14 official languages.

Still it sticks together !

One thing that makes groups stay together is a common enemy, and India’s common enemy is Pakistan. If India split into different countries, perhaps on the basis of different languages, how would a little country like Gujarat or West Bengal ever beat Pakistan at cricket? :slight_smile:

In the 90s there were only 3 nation-states in eastern Europe which broke up: the USSR, Czchechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Here are some very subjective thoughts:

In the USSR, I would guess that a major factor was the desire to be free of the dominating and centralising influence that Russia had exerted for centuries. It would have felt like Russia was the hub and each individual republic was a spoke on the wheel, with no particular cultural, linguistic, ethnic or religious reason to remain tied to the others. Whereas India might have felt like it was a hub (which did have cultural and other reasons to stay together) that was being controlled by one single spoke - perhaps that encouraged federalism.

Yugoslavia was in some ways like India in being a federation of states that got together (for ethnic / linguistic reasons amongst others) after the break up of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. Perhaps one main difference with India was that Yugoslavia had 40 years of totalitarianism which benefited some states over others. Then the ethnic cleansing started and things turned extremely nasty; it was by no means an easy break up.

Czechoslovakia was a throw back to the Austro-Hungarian empire and the re-drawing of boundaries in order to suit the victors of WW1. I knew Czech people at the time of the split who were sad about it - they felt that it was a carve up between the leading politicians.

There are two significant differences as I see it: the Soviet Union was united by political ideology, while India was not; and the Soviet Union was dominated by one major power, while India is not.

With regard to the first point, the Soviet Union was held together solely by Communism; once that fell apart, there was no reason for continuing union. India simply became united by a common leadership, and once Independence was achieved, there was a lot of goodwill among the people toward the democratic/egalitarian principles which made it happen.

There was resentment among many of the Soviet states over the Russians being in control of the whole thing, particularly, as I understand it, in the states which were formerly part of the Russian empire; no state was particularly dominant in India’s early history, and even today, while economic power is largely concentrated in Maharashtra, and political power is concentrated in Delhi, the population is fairly evenly spread. More importantly, in a democracy, people lgenerally like their governments much more, even if they complain just as much.


Partition was engineered by the British- it wasn’t a natural event. They essentially ordered all the Hindus/non-Muslims in what is now Pakistan to leave, and created the Pakistans as a haven for Indian Muslims who would (understandably) have felt that they might be oppressed in a Hindu-dominated superstate (India).

Had the partitioning not happened, East and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh and Pakistan) would more than likely today be part of a larger India.

I can’t say why none of these groups has been successful but there are a significant amount of separatist groups within India.
Sikhs at one time agitated for an independent Sikh homeland.
Groups have agitated for an independent Assam.
The state of Mizoram declared independence but this was quelled by the Indian Army.
I believe Kashmir at one stage had a separatist movement as well. There have been others.

Kashmir still has a separatist movement, although it’s not clear how much of it is a genuine separatist movement and how much is due to Pakistani agitants.

Still, the USSR/Russia was obviously much better equipped to quell such movements.

Hmmm. That, to me at any rate, sounds like a massive oversimplification of events.

In India, you stick together for country.
In Soviet Russia, country sticks it to YOU!

Yes. For a start, if “Indian Muslims … would (understandably) have felt that they might be oppressed in a Hindu-dominated superstate (India),” doesn’t that mean that some of those Indian Muslims (such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah) were independently pushing before independence for a separate Muslim state? The British could not have imposed a solution unless some Indians wanted that solution.

It is, although necessary perhaps for such a discussion. Don’t think for a second there weren’t prominent Hindu and Muslim political figures advocating both for and against. Don’t think there weren’t thousands and thousands of locals on both sides also.

The Wiki article on Partition is a good place to start.

But basically, I feel it is because India was moving towards a republic, and had semi-autonomous rule even under the Brits, whereas the Eastern European states were coming from Communism. Perhaps the Indian states felt they were going to have a pretty decent say in the new government, and the E. European ones felt they had been under a repressive gov’t already and wanted to make their own way.

Another thought is - how long were the E. European states held under the USSR? I don’t know, honestly. India was held under the Brits for 300 years. More than enough time for the natives to develop a sense of “us” vs. “them”, so when they broke up, it was a matter of pride for India to stay together. I know many people to this day who consider it a matter of high pride that India hasn’t broken down any further.

And what of India’s history before the Brits, and the European nations’ history before the USSR? I confess to not knowing too much about it, but perhaps therein lie more answers as to why we wanted to remain unified.

The USSR only existed for 74 years - remember the states we’re talking about were in and out of the Russian empire for centuries before the Russian revolution. Also, perhaps you already know this but the Warsaw Pact and the ‘Eastern Bloc’ shouldn’t be confused with with the USSR. Hungary, Poland, Romania etc were already independent states before the fall of communism, even if the USSR had major control over the politics of the first 2.

Do we have any dopers who lived in the USSR / communist block countries ? It will be great to hear from them

I believe Eva Luna spent a decent amount of time in Soviet Russia in the eighties, but is actually American. She’s the only person I can think of off the top of my head with firsthand experience, though.

Of course- but Partition was SOP for the British Empire when granting independence- see Ireland, Cyprus, Palestine, etc.

For a long time prior to World War I (back at least to the Revolutions of 1847 and probably before), many Liberal* Europeans had thought that each ethnic group deserved self-determination, or the ability to manage its own destiny in its own homeland built along ethnic, linguistic, and cultural lines. Sometimes this involved unification: The Germans and Italians both found a national unity in the mid-19th Century and created nation-states out of a myriad of petty fiefdoms dating back to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. In other cases, it involved separation, such as the Balkans repeatedly fragmenting and re-fragmenting, initially by destroying the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI and much later by destroying the Soviet Empire after the Cold War.

*(By Liberal I’m speaking in 19th Century European terms, which means Republicanism, Capitalism, and Rationalism, in opposition to Monarchy, Mercantilism, and (State) Religion.)

This notion of self-determination lasted well after the First World War, where it was a principle of redrawing the map of Europe, leading (among other things) to the independence of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland from the ashes of the Russian Empire. (The majority would fall under the dominion of the Soviet Empire, with Finland alone retaining a shred of quasi-independence.) The powers that be botched the Balkans (looking over the century, that is a defining theme) and created states that were not in harmony with self-determination, such as Czechoslovakia and the union of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (still alive October 29, 1918, not still alive December 1, 1918 (and you wonder why cartographers want to bomb the region off all of their maps)). This lead to a lot of trouble and is widely regarded as a bad move.

After World War Two, two things happened: The UN and the AK-47. Guess which one freed more former colonies. In any event, the concept lost a good deal of its luster with the invention of the Kleptocracy, the Murderous Kleptocracy, the Expansionist Murderous Kleptocracy, and the all-time favorite Single Expansionist Murderous Kleptocracy Seeking Nuclear Capability. Syphilitic strongmen who cook and eat their enemies has also tended to reduce the relative importance of self-determination in modern political discourse.

Like a sack of marshmallows, scorpions, and diamonds, self-determination is a mixed bag. I don’t know if India reached in quite as deeply as Europe did.

Yum… politically influenced marshmallows.