All-Union Leninist Young Communist League
March 22, 1948
The Youth Conference of Southeast Asian countries was held in Calcutta in February 1948. It was jointly organised by the World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students. The former organisation had its headquarters in Budapest and the Matter in Paris. It must be said that very little is known about the conference. From the memoir of the late Ashok Mitra who attended it we learn about the pivotal role in the conference of Ketayun Boomla (Kitty Boomla, later Kitty Menon) and Carmel Brinkman (later Carmel Budiarjo) who were based at that time in England. (Kitty Menon was to be active in the Indian communist movement whilst Carmel Brinkman was to devote her life to the Indonesian communist movement). (‘Kitty Boomla, The South-East Asia Youth Conference: Memories’, Social Scientist, July-August 2012, pp. 3-12). The document presented here is perhaps the most detailed account we now have of the conference. As is known after the 20th Congress of the CPSU the attitude of the reformist sections of the communist movement regarding Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose swiftly changed. This account as that of Ashok Mitra gives a picture of the divisions of the conference on its penultimate day on the question of Bose. It was not just the Soviet delegates who were critical of the role of Bose, who was regarded as have been close to Hitler and Tojo. The delegates from China, Vietnam, Malaya and Indonesia who were aware of the links of Netaji with Japanese fascism and could not be blind to the brutal genocidal history of the Japanese and their local collaborators to the people in their own countries demurred from giving support to positive references to Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army as demanded by a minority section of the Indian delegation headed by Aurobindo Bose, the nephew of Netaji. This contretemps led to violence in which two artists of IPTA were to be killed. The events of the Youth Conference of Southeast Asian countries, as Ashok Mitra pointed out, became blotted out of the historical record. This account by the Komsomol Secretary may help to set this omission right. Nikolai Aleksandrovich Mikhailov (1906-1982) was a member of the Orgburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) between 1932 and 1952. In 1938-1939 he was the responsible editor of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper and between 1938 and 1952 he was the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League. (Yu. V. Goryachev: Central'nyye Komitet 19171991, Istoriko-biograficheskiye spravochnik, ZAO ”Parad”, Moskva, 2005, ctr. 301).Vijay Singh.