Arvind Kejriwal’s Public Conduct-2007

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Let me now share my only experience of Arvind Kejriwal’s public conduct! It was in sometime in 2007, when I was JNU Teachers Association President. I held Prof. Amit Bhaduri, a JNU Professor in Economics since my student days in JNU, in high regards. Also held in high regard Madhu Bhaduri IFS, wife of Prof. Bhaduri,daughter of an ex Governor, retired after being Ambassador from some countries, who turned out to be Hindi novelist and wrote three novels, all published by out of which first one I reviewed in Financial Express long ago. Those days Arvind Kejriwal was RTI activist apart from other of his activities. I did not know him personally, but he was expanding his political activities, somehow I was not much impressed by him through whatever I read in media. Bhaduris were supporting him in those days and suggested if I could also join in a meeting with Chief Commission of Information(CIC),which was to be led by Arvind Kejriwal with some other activists like Bhaduris, probably Shekhar Singh, another RTI activist, who later rose to be a Information commissioner as well. CIC office in those days was at JNU old campus-campus of my student days! I went around 2.30 pm at given time, Prof. Bhaduri-Madhu Bhaduri were there, they were all waiting for Arvind Kejriwal, who came a bit late and alone perhaps in his car and looked to be in hurry. We all moved to CIC office, located in old SIS building of campus on second floor perhaps. We were told that CIC did not come that day, whether to avoid the delegation or otherwise, so we met one of the Commissioners, there were just 2 or 3 commissioners those days. We entered his office, got seated. Mostly Arvind spoke, perhaps a word or two by Shekhar Singh. But the style of speaking of Arvind was almost brazenly aggressive to say the least, which was not to my liking, despite myself being of somewhat assertive temperament. Even when talking to any University high ups or in Govt., I generally did not speak in aggressive tone, even while asserting on issues most strongly,so this kind of aggressiveness could never be liked by me. Afterwards I never showed any interest in Arvind Kejriwal, even when he got fame as Anna led activist! Bhaduris became part of 1st round of AAP rise and during first AAP govt. in Delhi of 49 days, when Somnath Bharti issue of misbehaving with African women came up; Madhu Bhaduri and some other women activists stood up for decency to African women in AAP meeting, of which she was part, she was snubbed and forced to leave the meeting and since then Bhaduris are out of AAP. Madhu Bhaduri that time wrote also in Mainstream and other papers. Lalita Ramdas and Admiral Ramdas are part of same Bhaduris like senior respected professionals/democrats in AAP. But in todays AAP national executive meeting, misconduct with Madhu Bhaduri has again been repeated with Admiral Ramdas and with Prashant-Yogender-Anand-Ajit! I remained sympathetic to AAP, despite being hurt by Madhu Bhaduri incident earlier, as Ramdas’s,also having like friends inside AAP. It was due to illusion created by AAP friends that they can stop Moditva fascist rath, strengthened by Delhi AAP victory! Ironically today’s happening in so called AAP National executive committee meeting has upheld Prashant Bhushan’s unconfirmed statements that AAP absolute victory in Delhi can turn AAP itself into fascist party in Moditva mode! All antics of Kejriwal during Loksabha and later Delhi elections by using all religious symbolism/ritualism to appeal religiously faithful voters of all religions has surely put the not only Jawaharlal Nehru or Subhas Bose to shame, even he made mockery of Periyar, Lohia and Ambedkar’s enlightened atheism/agnosticism and socialist ideas! It is three cheers for Corporate-new colonials-feudals!They have now not one but two ‘Modis’ at hand-they can play the up&down parts of the same coin-one side Modi other side Kejriwal! to keep people in blind darkness of their exploitation!
What about fate of those Indian people who got be-fooled by AK and his Moditva gang of four with help from PB-YY -Anand Kumar like people. Would the kicked out follow Subhas Bose-Jaiprakash Narain to form Forward Block(1939) or Congress Socialist Party(1934) like party to restore people’s faith in possible social change, though now in long time or they will get lost in oblivion of history! I hope and wish Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi and Prof. Sadhu Singh two MP’s of AAP from Punjab won mostly due to leftist support will stand by people and not with now totally discredited AAP by today’s conduct! Better stay in field,organize AAP(Socialist) or such party, crying need of Indian people to socially transform the society free from corporate-colonial-feudal exploitation! People and history both look to you!

Enemy of the People in Kolkata

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https://www.facebook.com/Dr.Chaman.JNU/media_set?set=a.10202716617155782.1073741928.1809775413&type=3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Enemy_of_the_People

On 21st February, watched Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen famous play ‘Enemy of the People in German adaptaion with English subtitles on Kala Mandir theatre on Shakespeare Sarani Kokata. It was an experience of life to see Kolkaya audience turning out in large nu mbers and making a beeline to enter the theatre. Some photographs of the occasion-incidentally International Mother languages day. Adding one or two photographs from Ibsen Museum from Norway, visited in year 2013!

Remembering Raghuvir Singh Khanna-Nagpur

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https://www.facebook.com/Dr.Chaman.JNU/media_set?set=a.10202777128028516.1073741933.1809775413&type=3R S Khanna-Nagpur

Raghuvir Singh Khanna has been an institute in himself-an example of dedication to revolutionary cause and selflessness. He was a professional engineer, but left his lucarative job to dedicate himself to publish revolutionaries related literature from Nagpur by establishing Vishav Bharti Prakashan. He published Muktibodh’s school prescribed but later banned text book-Bharat:Itihas aur Sanskriti! He fought court case on it. He also published Jitender Sanyal’s banned biography of Bhagat Singh, in 1946, when ban was lifted from it. Later on Muktibodh and Sanyal’s books many editions have come up. He also published Sukhdev Raj’s Jab Jyoti Jagi for first time. He established Bhagat Singh Vichar Manch in Nagpur and all comrades of Bhagat Singh visited him, whenever they were in Nagpur. He was the one who discovered Kundan Lal Gupt, comrade of Bhagat Singh who prefered to live in anonymity for many years, after coming out of jail, a monograph on him was published by Khanna ji. Everytime I visited Nagpur, I visited his modest office-cum residence of Vishav Bharti prakashan in Sita Bardi. He passed away after brief illness on 8th January at his sister’s place in Jabalpur, where he arrived a few minutes ago with her from Nagpur. Most shocking was that for more than two months, I had no information. Only on 13th March, got an sms from a friend Dr. Raghuvir Singh of Palwal, informing me of this sad news. At his invitation, I delivered lecture on Bhagat Singh in Nagpur in September 2013, of which some photographs shared in a albume then. Here his interview with Basant Tripathi and his photograph and few old photographs are being posted as a tribute to 89 years old Khanna ji! I remember him fondly and pay my tributes! He did not marry and lived alone in a small room near his book shop! Pushpender Pushpendra Phalgun‘s write on his blog also attached as link here

Reading during year 2014

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Readings in 2014

                                         January

  1. Sultan Razia, Punjabi play, Balwant Gargi, 2011 ed. Is ted. 1973, Navyug Publishers, Delhi, pages 74, price Rs. 100/

 

I am beginning the readings in year 2014 with this first book of the year. After joining in Central University in Bathinda, my interest in Razia Sultan grew, being imprisoned in fort here, which I knew from childhood, but never aware of its historicity. With the interest growing in history after leaving Bathinda in 1977, the return to the city, marks to revisit these historic monuments and their related history. Balwant Gargi, known as ‘The Bania of Bathinda’, wrote this play, but I never paid any attention, even when he was Professor of Eminence in Punjabi University Patiala for two years, appointed by then VC J S Puar. But reading his play on Razia gives satisfaction at two levels-remembering Balwant Gargi, iconic Punjabi writer from Bathinda, now being forgotten and going through Razia Sultan time events. Bathinda fort, now renamed as Razia Sultan fort, spoiled in between by Patiala kings, is more than one thousand years old, constructed perhaps during king Anangpal time, gone through many different kingdoms, Bhatti kings as well. The region may not be called Punjab in those early times, could be Sindh or Rajsthan or any other name. I have with me Mewa Ram’s huge Hindi novel of the same title-Sultan Razia-plan to read that too later.

 

Razia Sultan was the first queen of India in 13th century. Daughter of Sultan Alatmash or Ilatitmash, she was favourite of her father, whose sons were spoiled and his servant turned wife Shah Turkan was bent upon getting her son Rukan ud din made king, when king was on his dyeing bed and was not able to speak up his successor, he was trying to utter ‘Razia’, but was not able to do so. Later Rukan ud din was pronounced king, but he remained drunk and enjoyed women, not paying any attention to administration, which was misused by his mother, who was too cruel towards people and got even 12 year old innocent  brother of Razia-Kutab ud din killed. Razia rebelled and she had support in Altunia and her brother in law Gyasudin Balban, powerful feudal lords of the kingdom. Altunia wanted to marry her, but Razia, fiercely independent woman refused. Turkan, Rukan du din were killed in revolt and Razia was pronounced queen, but her path was full of thorns. She tried to be a benevolent queen, treating all citizens equally. She gave rights to black race warrior Yakut, with whom she fell in love too, which angered her supporters like Balaban and Altunia. Many of her regional lords rebelled, some of which she forgave also, but they again cheated her and stabbed her in the back. She came towards Bathinda, where Altunia was her appointed governor, who also joined rebellion. Yakut was killed and she was imprisoned in Bathinda fort, later she along with Altunia moved towards Delhi to reclaim her kingdom, but was killed on the way unknown and unsung, Altunia also being killed. She was buried in Delhi as per her desire. Behram Shah, her half brother became king. This is the event line depicted by Gargi in his play dedicated to Surekah Sikri and Manohar Singh-famous actors of National School of Drama in seventies. The play was staged in Urdu language by Ibrahim Alkazi and was later published. Gargi made revisions in the play after its stage production and wrote its introduction in Punjabi on 15th June 1973. Gargi mentioned in introduction that he had his childhood playing near the fort of Bathinda, where Razia was said to be imprisoned and which was scaring for child Gargi. He had different image of Razia, which was shattered after reading history of the period, which was a saga of betrayals, mutual killings of courtier lords.

Balwant Gargi in his interpretive historical play had also echoed today’s talk of ‘Aam Aadmi’-commom man, where Razia talks of fighting corruption and cruelty of her predecessors and ruling like aam aadmi, which of course she fails and meets a tragic end.

 

  1. Plassey se Vibhajan Tak:Adhunik Bharat ka Itihas, Sjekhar Bandopadhyay, Hindi translation of original English book, Hindi translation-Naresh Nadeem, Orient Longman(Now Blackswam), Is ted. 2007, pages 566, Price 188/rupees.

This is Hindi translation of Shekhar Bandopadhyay’s English text book prepared for New Zeeland. The historian is teaching in Victoria University Wellington in NewZeland. He has delineated History of India under British colonialism, from 1757 Plassey war to 1858 under East India Company and then from 1858 to 1947 under direct British colonial rule. This is history of Indians struggles against British colonial rule. The struggle which is just not Indian National Congress story, but all struggles, some of which hardly find reference in history text books. Book has been translated by experienced translator Naresh Nadeem.

Book is divided into eight chapters, apart from that; there are five maps of different times, introduction, terminology, Postscript, appendix-Time span of British rule in India, References and Index.

In his introduction, writer has acknowledged Sumit Sarkar’s ‘Modern India’ as his reference point for writing this book. David Hardiman, S R Mehrotra Ian Capland etc. have also impressed the writer. Writer has been teaching in Kolkata University before moving to Wellington.

Writer begins his story from focusing on Transition period of 18th century in first chapter. He refers to establishment of Moghul empire in 1526 by Babur, reaching its zenith during period of Akbar and slided to down fall after the death of last great Mogul emperor Aurangzeb in 1707. Within fifty years of Aurangzeb’s death, India came into control of East India company, who got license to trade in India from Moghul king Jehangir in 1613 after establishing factory in Surat in 1612. Bengal Hyderabad and Awadh were three main Moghul centres after disintegration of Moghul kingdom’s central rule. Sirajudaula who assumed Murshidabad throne in 1756, was defeated and killed by East India company with treachery support of Mir Jafar in 1757 and started ruling India from insideDuring East India company period, there had been lot of wars, which include Panipat’s third great war of 1761, when aggressor Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked India. Maratha rulers like Shivaji had been fighting Moghul empire earlier. In Punjab British could enter at the last. Ranjit Singh estabslidhed Khalsa raj in 1809, which continued for forty years till 1849, when in second Anglo-Sikh war, British won. In South Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan had free Mysore state till 1799, when British defeated Tipu and killed him. With 1764 victory in Buxar battle, British controlled whole East India. French controlled Pudduchery and Chandernagar and Portuguese controlled Goa, all other parts of India came under British rule till 1947.

In second chapter-British colonial power in India, writer elaborates the gradual control of British in India. They established Calcutta Madrassa in 1781, Royal Asiatic Society in 1784, Sanskrit College Benares in 1794. Fort William colee in Calcutta was set up in 1800. Different land revenue systems were in practice during British period-Permanent Settlement, Rayyatwari, Mahalwari etc. Police system was put into practice in 1800 or so. East India company recruited Indian army also from 1757 onwards under its control. Indian civil service also began during 1780-1830,leading to ICS in 1892, with a little number of Indians in it. 20 to 30 lakh people died in 1943 Bengal drought. Railways came up after 1853.During British period, Indian industry developed in Jute and textiles after 1920’s

In third chapter Shekhar begins to focus on Early Indian response: reform and rebellion. Orientalism is related to Warren Hastings. British education in India started by charity schools in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in early 1800. Press was also set up by Christian missionaries in that period for printing Bible in Indian languages.Rammohan Roy worked for English education in 1825 in Kolkata and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan by setting Scientific society in Aligarh in 1864. Derizio proclaimed atheist in Calcutta .  Pandita Ramabai in 1870 in Maharashtra reforms. Brahmo samaj in 1828 in Bengal, split many times.Arya Samaj in 1875 by Dayanand.

Tribal-peasant revolts- 1799-1805-Palagar revolt in South , Vellu Thampi in Travancore in 1800-, Rangpur revolt in Bengal in 1783, sanyasi revolt 1763-1800, Titu mir in 1831, 1855-56-Santhal-Hul revolt,leading to 1857 revolt-crushed brutally.

Fourth chapter is based on The rise of Indian Nationalism-Dinabandhu Mitra play Neel Darpan in 1860.Peasant revolts against money lenders-1907-Ajit Singh Lala Lajpat Rai movement, 1885-Congress set up by AO Hume.

Fifth chapter is- Early Nationalism: Resentment and Resistance-1893-Nagri Pracharini Sabha in Benares, Ganpati puja by Tilak in Pune from 1894, Shiva ji festival from 1896. Theosophical society set up in 1882. Singh Sabha in Amritsar in 1873, Bal-Lal-Pal politics, Bengal partition-1905-swadeshi movement-1905-11-partition annulled, Congress split in 1907. Terrorism story from 1902 in Bengal, from 1897 in Maharashtra with Chapekar brothers. Muslim population in India 20% in 1881-1855-first Mohemedan association-Anjumane Islami between 1907-9-Muslim leagues in all states.

Sixth chapter-The age of Gandhian Politics –Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915 and took over Indian leadership in 1920, after Tilak’s death. In 1918-19, due to drought one crore 20 lakh to 30mlakh people died. Indian Opinion, Young India and Harijan papers of Gandhi. Khilaft for Hindu-Muslim unity. AITUC in 1920 in Bombay. 1922 non-cooperation movement. 88communal riots during 1923-27. 1931 Irwin-Gandhi agreement controversy. Govt. Of India act 1935, 1937 elections-Congress majority in five out of 11 provinces-Madras, Bihar, Odisa, United Province and Central Province.  Bombay-Bengal also close, ministries in 8 states

Seventh chapter-Different voices of Indian Nation-Indian Muslim League in 1906, in 1924-Hindu Mahasabha. Rehmat Ali in 1933-Pakistan with four provinces-Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan. Independent Labour Party by Ambedkar in 1936.

Eighth and last chapter is Freedom with Partition-Congress Socialists and Communists’s impact, Kisan Sabha adopted Red flag in 1937.Working class movement. INA movementNaavy revolt-1946. Partition time-80% foreign investement, 25% trade with Britain.

Good Book.

February

  1. Hindi Jati, Amarnath Sharma, Yash Publications, Delhi, 2013-first ed., pages 140, price 140/ rupees

In this slim book, Kolkata University Hindi Professor Amarnath Sharma has discussed problems of Hindi nationality in 11 small chapters with introduction and conclusions. Also added is reference books list. Founder of ‘Apni Bhasha’ organisation in Kolkata, author is concerned about new languages taking shape from the web of Hindi. He is worried at Bhojpuri, Rajasthani etc. dialects in his view getting full language status, which reduces Hindi’s numerical strength. He thinks all 30 plus dialects of Hindi to remain in dialects status and not acquire full language status, which can reduce to lower levels of linguistic hierarchy. He thinks that Hindi-Urdu is one language with two styles and two scripts. But his voice is like lost in wilderness. Writer pleads rationally and not emotionally and at some places is strong on facts, still he cannot overturn the turn of events, which is more towards more assertion of suppressed identities, including of languages.

 

 

 

 

  1. Andar ki Aag’(Poetry), Shankar Shailender,edited by Rama Bharti ,2013-Ist ed., Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi, Pages 152, Price 250/rupees

Shankar Shailender, better known as Shailender alone for his film songs, was not only film song writer, he was a maker of classic film ‘Teesri Kasam’, based on Phanishwarnath Renu’s story ‘Mare Gaye Gulfam’, failure of which took his life. He was IPTA activist and good poet as well. His Dalit background is not even known much today. Born in Rawalpindi in undivided Punjab in 1923, his family came from Aarah in Bihar. He studied till 12th at Mathura and later worked as Mechanical Engineering apprentice in Matunga-Mumbai for four years, before becoming full time film song writer. Shailender wrote 850+ songs for 100+ plus in 17 years of his career. He worked mostly with Rajkapoor and musician Shankar Jaikishan. For making ‘Teesri Kasam’ he spent almost all his savings and the failure of the film cost him his life. He died young at the age of just 43 years in 1966.

Rajkapoor used to describe Shailender as Pushkin of India. Jagjivan Ram claimed his Dalit ancestry by calling him ‘Harijan poet’. Though Shailender himself never revealed or claimed his Dalit identity, he rather identified himself with working class and wrote lot many poems on working class struggles. Shailender’s younger son Dinesh Shankar Shailender preserved diaries and poems of his father and got it edited from Rama Bharti, who wrote preface to these poems. Rama Bharti tells us that real name of Shailender was Shankar Das Rao, whose Dalit family belonged to Dhuspur village of Aarah. Shailender hardly lived in his village. He married with Shakuntla Devi of his own choice at the age of 18 years. After marriage Shailender lived in one room chawl in Parel and felt the pangs of working class life. Rajkapoor listened to his poem-Jalta hua Punjab(Burning Punjab) on some function and was highly impressed by his talent and invited him to write songs for his films. He wrote first song for film Barsat, which became super hit. Later he wrote for Anari, Boot Polish, Shri 420, Madhumati, Sujata, Do Bigha Zameen, Guide, Jis Desh men Ganga Behti hai etc. He wrote dialogues for Bimal Roy film Parakh.

Andar ki Aag contains 71 poems in all, which include his well known poems like on Bhagat Singh, Jalta Hua Gulab etc. His poetic talent is expressed in simple language and style, which can be understood by working class easily. It was good to get his poems published in a collection.

During my Bombay stay in 1982-83, I visited Shailender home in Khar area and met his son, whether he was Dinesh or other I do not remember. However, was happy to meet him and now to see his collection of poems.

 March

For preparing paper for Chandigarh Ghadar party seminar scanned many books, but did not read any complete book.

 April

For two seminars on Dalit Literature and Komagatamaru scanned many books but read in full two only.

  • Komagatamaru-Punjabi play-Ajmer Rode, Third eye publications, 2013 edition, first ed. 1983, pages 115

This play was first staged in Vancouver in 1979 and latest stage presentation is scheduled for 7th May at Vancouver again for Komagatamaru centenary time. Playwright has given the background of the play, underlining the fact of 340 Sikhs out of 376 on board-24 Muslims and 12 Hindus. Play is divided into three parts and stage directions are given elaborately. Ajmer himself directed paly in 1979. Three-dimensional stage-one side ship, central Immigration office and other side Gurdwara meetings etc. There is no scene or acts division, just one interval, lighting important for stage.

Komagatamaru ventured into sea from Hongkong on 23rd May and reaching Vancouver on 23rd July, which was surrounded by armed boats of Canadian forces. An unnamed woman character narrates the atrocities of British/Canadian forces. Gurdit Singh and Daljit Siingh ship leaders, Bhag Singh, Hasan Rahim, Balwant and Mewa Gurdwara leaders, Bela Singh-Hopkinson villains. Play has lot of dramatic potential, which is exploited by director for stage.  Irish Bird is advocate for Indian fighters. Ship passengers assert their right to land and work in Canada. Canadian conservative govt. With racial mind-set, bent upon sending them back. After two months standoff and harsh struggle, ship is returned back to India, though passengers are able get some of their demands conceded, like having rations for the journey. The climax comes at Budge Budge ghat, where violent clash with British police takes place, resulting in the death of 26 people-20 Indian freedom fighters.

Play is impressive.

 

  • Zulmi Katha-Punjabi, Gurdit Singh, edited by Darshan Singh Tatla, Unistar publications, Chandigarh, pages, price Rupees 200/

Zulmi katha was first published in 1921, some part serilised also. Baba Gurdit Singh, who took Komagatamaru ship on lease to ferry the passengers to Vancouver is the hero of the movement, who lived for 95 years and put stiff resistance to British and Canadian racist officials. Zulmi Katha is narration of Komagatamaru ship struggle from A to Z. It is written in simple verbal Punjabi language and is rebuttal of British appointed fact-finding team, who put the whole blame on passengers, but Baba Gurdit Singh exposes the chinks in arms of British colonialist mindset. Daljit Singh-royal of Kapurthla and Raja Mehatab of Burdwan was also part of the committee. Gurdit Singh’s narration exposes the design of British colonialists and of collaborative role of Canadian and Japanese officials. Tatla has written long introduction, somewhat unnecessarily prolonged. However, a good documentation of the period.

May 2014

6.6.Introduction-Rodney Hilton, Aakar Books, Delhi, Ist edition by New Left Books imprint Verso, 1976, Aakar edition 2006, pages195, price 150/rupees.

This is a classic book, which I must have bought and read during my student days in JNU-1977-82 or may have ignored as ‘Trotskyite’ book. Even this time, book is with me since its publication in 2006 again in JNU, yet could not read it till 2014-such is the condition of my readings during my faculty stint in JNU-2005-13 with internet changing the life style, affecting reading habits too much.

This time also, though I have read, better say scanned the book without much concentration, as part of the book is on economy, which does not absorb me much and my attention fizzles out while eyes on the book. I acquired not much from the book, still I would say even its scanning type reading was also useful.

Rodney Hilton has written 20 long page introduction to the book, which contains a debate among great Marxists of the day in those days-most important among were Paul Sweezy editor Monthly Review, who in fact initiated the debate by his Critique of Maurice Dobb’s 1946 book-Studies in the Development of Capitalism. Karl Polanyi had reviewed in 1948 in the Journal of Economic History, R H Tawney followed his own long review in 1950 in Economic History Review. Later Journal ‘Science and Society’ carried a long and meaningful debate on the book, starting with Paul Sweezy’s ‘A Critique’ with “A Reply” by Maurice Dobb in Spring 1950 issue. The debate was followed by Kohachiro Takahashi’s ‘A Contribution to the Discussion’ in Fall 1952 issue, with Maurice Dobb’s response ‘A Further Comment’ and Paul Sweezy’s ‘A Rejoinder’ in Spring 1953 issue. This was followed by Rodney Hilton’s ‘A Comment’, also ‘A Comment’ by Christopher Hill in Fall 1953 issue of the journal. Later the debate percolated to other journals of the time as Georges Lefebvre wrote ‘Some Observations’ in La Pensee, in February 1956; Giuliano Procacci wrote ‘A Survey of the Debate’ in ‘Societa XI’ in 1955; Rodney Hilton wrote again ‘Capitalism-What is in a Name?’ in ‘Past and Present’-February 1952. Eric Hobsbawm also joined debate in August 1962 by writing ‘From Feudalism to Capitalism’ in ‘Marxism Today’, to which Maurice Dobb responded in September issue of same journal with ‘From Feudalism to Capitalism’. The last essay in debate was of John Merrington’s ‘Town and Country in transition to Capitalism’ published in September-October 1975, 93rd issue of ‘New Left Review’. This whole debate was the put together in this volume by Rodney Hilton in 1976 from New Left Review imprint Verso in London. This book has always remained in discussion since then and Aakar Books brought out its Indian edition in 2006 in 2006. Many of the contributors of the book may not be amongst us by now as Paul Sweezy, editor of Monthly Review perhaps passed away even before Indian edition came out. The book has carried out Biographical Note of authors of 1976 edition but without update of last three decades, which is little handicap.

Paul Sweezy started the debate with Maurice Dobb’s focus on Western European transition, which could not be taken as general world transition. He also underlined on the terms Serfdom and Feudal interrelationships etc. Dobb appreciated Paul Sweezy points, but tried to explain it. Japanese Marxist Kohachiro Takahashi made a valuable long contribution upholding Dobb. Dobb also responded to Kohachiro. Paul again intervened in ‘A Rejoinder’ as Takahashi also debated his observations. Rodney Hilton here with ‘A comment’ in which he appreciates the issues raised by Paul. Christopher Hills also intervenes here and this interesting debate continues in all seriousness without any personal comment or reflection. Perhaps this is one of the best debates among Marxists on very relevant issue of transition from one economic system to another, which of course is related to its socio-political-cultural ramifications also.

After the survey of the debate and Rodney Hilton final comment, another section is added in the book as ‘Further Materials’, which are related to the issue raised earlier.

In totality a very important book to understand Marxist interpretation of transition from one social system to another. Generally, we know as layman-Primitive Communism to Slavery to Feudalism to Capitalism and finally Communism in much advanced form than Primitive Communism-complete cycle of social movement. However, every phase of social system and its transformation to another social system through violent revolutions is a complex process and with the fall of socialist systems and reversal to Capitalism have made it more complex. Marx-Engels did not visualise it but Lenin and Mao had its understanding. Mao more than any other revolutionary, as he lived long to oversee the transition of society and its possible reversions in his own lifetime, which he tried to stop, but could not due to balance of forces within Communist party going against him.

Such books are necessary to understand the complexities of social transformations.

  1. Indian-Guyanese Words & phrases and their meanings, Harry T. Hergash, Blue tree Publishing , Canada, 2013, pages 50, price $12.95

Harry T Hergash, Indian descent Guyanese first batch student of University of Guyana, established in 1963. After doing some jobs in Guyana, he settled in Canada since 1974. In early sixties he learnt Hindi from Indian Cultural Council Ratna Dixit. Till that time Hindi was still in use in Guyana, now completely forgotten. Author dedicated book to his paternal great-grandmother(Paddadi-paraajee), who was born in Guyana in 1870 and passed away in 1975, lived more than hundred years. Indian migration to Guyana took place between 1838-1917.

Comments/reviews/introduction to the book has some big names, including Frank Birbal Singh, Professor Emeritus of English and novelist at York University Toronto. Apart from his own Preface, Ramperaud Tewarie, retired Civil servant and scholar has written ‘The Historical Perspective’ of the book. The main part of the book is listing of nearly 840 words and their meaning in English. But some words seems to have got wrong meaning, like ‘lasson’, which should have been ‘garlic’, but it has been put as ‘onion’, with the same meaning for word ‘pyaz’, which is correct.

The author’s effort is to preserve for his own memory of getting ‘extinct’ Hindi language and for contemporary Indian descent people. Incidentally Guyana had he longest rule of Indian descent people, from Chhedi Jagan to present President Donald Ramotar!

Book has refreshed my memories of visiting Guyana in 2011.

June 2014

 

  1. ‘Kakka Reta’(Dry Sand), a Punjabi novel, Balwant Gargi, 1993 ed., Navyug Press, Delhi, pages 100, price 70/ rupees

 

This novel’s reference I got recently in context of Bathinda life. First book of the year in Bathinda, I read was Punjabi play Razia Sultan by Balwant Gargi and it is now his this novel, whose first publication is difficult to identify, as Indian languages publishers have this bad practice of not mentioning first or earlier editions, only the present edition year is mentioned, which is at least 25-30 years later date.

   This is autobiographical novel of the writer, even name of hero, main character is kept as Balwant, whose life from early schooling of 2nd, or third class until Matriculation is depicted. Balwant studies in Bathinda and his mother’s place is at Tapa, where his grand maternal mother and maternal uncle live and where he visits in summer vacations and get the feel of first innocent love with an agricultural labourer’s daughter Rummy, who just spend few days together in vacation period, just roaming aimlessly, enjoying each other’s company. This is when he had passed eighth class exam, could be of 14 years or so and the girl may be of 12-13 years. And when he stops for a day after doing Xth class and going to join college in Patiala and stops for a day at Tapa , he gets the news that Rummy was married some time ago and no more lives there. He goes for a walk to her side, but could not meet even her father Raju, who is away to his brother’s place. Such melancholically incidents happen in most lower middle class families in early years and the literature recreates these sensitively. Krishan Baldev Vaid’s novel Uska Bachpan like novels are little more focused on this theme. Balwant Gargi has depicted school atmosphere of those days, with teachers being a terror for students, in home and around in pre partition Punjab healthy atmosphere of boys-girls playing together, even all communities children playing together. Gargi has dedicated novel to his mother, whose abuses he accepts as flow of butter…Malwai language of Bathinda region is again very fascinating. Some words may have even gone out of usage now-like “Jhagga’(Shirt), The novel is realist also in terms of depicting social reality. Balwant’s aunt dies of burns after giving birth to a male child and uncle marries few weeks after rituals are over. Presence of Bhua-father’s sister and her affection for her nephews is another interesting feature. Fairs and those of animal fairs were also regular feature of rural/semi urban life, which brought cheer for children etc. are narrated. The novel has been titled as Bathinda’s geographical feature, as the region being close to Rajasthan, had lot of sand hills and area’s defining feature. Now these hills are nowhere to be seen. This is not one of great novels, but interesting and region specific!

 

  1. Loha Kutt, Punjabi play, Balwant Gargi, 2011 ed., Is ted. 1950, Navyug Press <Delhi, Pages 58, Price 75/Rupees,

This is one of Balwant Gargi’s most known plays, which was first written in 1944 and staged. This was not allowed by Gurbax Singh to be staged at Preetnagar theatre, being ‘not moral’ as per Gargi’s introduction to 1950 edition of the play. Prof. Mohan Singh liked play and he published it with pleasure. Play was first broadcast by Lahore radio and Iqbal Mohammad played the role of its main character Kaku Lohar(ironsmith). Like today, ironsmith association as damaging representation of their class objected to it, but they did not create social tension like today, they were convinced with writer’s justification. Gargi wrote another forward for 1991 edition of play and wrote last forward for 1998 edition, when he was Professor of eminence at Punjabi University Patiala. In this forward Gargi refers to Malwai language being part of his bones. His first play was ‘Bebe’ in 1943. The play is written by inspiration from real incident of Gargi’s village. A ironsmith’s wife had run away with his lover after 19 years of marriage. Gargi has woven two real incidents into one in the play. Baino, the young girl of the play was daughter of some other person, a beautiful girl who ran away with her lover. Santi, Kaku’s wife also ran away with his lover after 19 years of marriage, Gargi liked both the women, despite negative feudal chatting in village about both. Gargi in his play made Baino daughter of Kaku and Santi, who ran away with her lover Sarban after her father, fixed her marriage. She rebels and confronts her father boldly. Kaku in the play murders her nad buries in the house. Santi who had loved Gajjan in her youth and who still lives in the same village, one-day rebels and runs away with Gajjan. Gargi recreates the story with some imagination. He does not run after Santi and kills her, rather he reconciles and just lives with his son. He is drunkard and oppressor of Santi and her daughter, First Baino, his daughter rebels and then Santi. While incident may be real, but the dialogues of Santi are intellectualised by Gargi and are not spontaneous. Overall play is good and effective. It is divided into three acts and six scenes. It has characters like Kaku, Santi, Baino, Deepa his son of 12 years, Gajjan, Bachni, Banso and his friends, 1944 in some village of Malwa is the location. The whole play at Kaku’s Bhathi iron.

  1. ‘Theth Hindi ka Thath’ a Hindi novel by Ayodhya Singh Upadhyaya, Ist ed. 1899, Fresh ed. 2011, Vaani Prakashan Delhi, pages 54, price 150/rupees

‘The grandeur of pure Hindi’ is the rough meaning of this interesting small novel, or novelette or novella of Hindi, published more than 115 years ago. Upadhyaya, one of earliest modern writers of Hindi, was known more as poet of epical poetry like ‘Priya Pravas’, wrote two novels too-Adhkhila Phool-Half bloomed flower and this one. He brought out collection of Kabir poetry also in his editorship. This narration is interesting as standard Hindi was being in the process of getting established. There were debates going on the correct or pure form of Hindi in those days among Hindi scholars and critics. By a simple idealist narrative, the writer has tried to show the pure form of Hindi for literary use.

Novelette is dedicated in long hyperbolic dedication to George A Grierson, eminent researcher on Indian languages. If the whole hyperbole is translated many of you die with laugh, it was such a way to please in those days! Sudhish Pachaury has introduced the book. In 13 Thaths, means chapters, writer narrates the anguished story of adolescent girl Devbala, who at eleven years of age is deeply attached to Devnandan, fourteen year old boy of same village and of same caste but at lower level in caste hierarchy of same group. They are in innocent love of adolescent age, Devbala’s mother likes the boy also, because of decent ways and manners and she wishes to marry her daughter to her. But Devbala’s father is too rigid in caste hierarchy and does not agree to his wife’s views. He goes in for a higher category groom of same caste group, but the boy is neither handsome nor decent. Devnandan and Devbala accept the fate and decide to transform their feelings to that of ‘brother’ and ‘sister’, typical cover of feudal hypocrisy, where even afte boy and girl ahd married and produced child, have been forced in these days in Haryana to accept the husband as brother! Devbala undergoes series of sufferings due to this mismarraige and again Devnandan, who has not married, rescues her from pitiable conditions and brings her back to life. She is mother of a child; husband had run away from home and is living in Calcutta with some other woman. But as was usual in old stories, Devnandan brings husband back and like Hindi films, make the novella a happy ending! Devnandan dies in some social cause, later Devbala’s husband Ramanath, who had become his follower, carries on his mission until the end of his life.

Therefore, it is the feudal values of society, which are established by such stories coming mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar areas of writings in those days.

In contrast if one reads Balwant Gargi’s 1944 play Loha Kutt, one sees the Punjabi woman rebelling against such feudal oppression and running away with her lover after getting out of deeply flawed and oppressive marriage!

Writer was probably a Sikh convert from Hindi speaking area, the novel was basically to focus on purity of language, that too establishing the supremacy of Khari Boli of western Uttar Pradesh as standard form of literary language, in that purpose, perhaps writer is successful. Interestingly some words in a century time have changed their meaning, like Kartoot, was considered as act, almost a good act, as Ram Prasad Bismil, the revolutionary also gave title to his book-Bolshevikon ki Kartoot in 1922 or so in positive sense. Now Kartoot is taken in negative tones meaning bad act, like badmashon ki kdartoot-act of scounderls!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Buddha and His Dhamma, Dr. B R Ambedkar, Buddha Bhumi Publication, Nagpur, pages 600, free distribution from Buddha Educational foundation Taiwan. Edition not mentioned.

The book has introduction, Prologue, Epilogue and 8 chapters of Book I to VIII. This is story of Buddha’s life and his message. Book begins with Buddha’s birth to Mahamaya, who dies soon after giving birth to a son, named later as Sidhartha Gautam. His father was Shudhodhan, a king of Kapilvastu. There are lot of mythical stories connected to Buddha, but Ambedkar did not accept those stories and gave his plausible explanation to many events of Buddha’s life. Gautma was taken care of by Mahaprajapati, elder sister of Mahamaya and another wife of the king. Dr. Ambedkar has corrected many stories interpolated by some stakes in his life narrative. Two of these are related to his renunciation of kingdom and nearing death about the food he took. It is generally put into schoolbooks that Gautam went away after seeing lot of sufferings of life and went away without informing the family etc. Maithilisharan Gupt in his Hindi epical poetry-Yashodhra has subscribed to this view. Sakhi vo mujhse keh kar jaate etc….Friend, only if he had informed me before going…! However, Dr. Ambedkar has focused on Shakya-Kollyis conflict over water of same river, flowing between two states. Gautam has become member of Shakya Sangh, in which some hot headed wanted to have war with Kolyis, whereas Gautam pleaded for negotiations. As his opinion was that, both sides may have committed some excesses, so the issues should be resolved through arbitration. However, Gautam’s views got defeated. Now either he goes with war decision of some hotheads, or face punishment. He opted for Privrajaka-leaving the state for jungle. He told that the Sangh people that he was even prepared to face death for his convictions. He was allowed to go for Privrajka, which he went in due time. The whole kingdom followed him; such was his popularity among people. His parents, wife and son, common people. Gautma had to send them back; he sent back his horse and servant as well. Later he went to various places and indulged in meditation, ultimately he got enlightened under a huge tree in Gaya, which became Bodh Gaya after his enlightenment. He became very weak, broke his fast with Sujata’s milk made kheer.

Gautma got the title of Buddha, he was Bodhisatav before, after enlightenment, he was called Buddha. He gave his first sermon at Sarnath near Banaras, where his five ascetic friends of early Parivrajka time were doing penance. They were reluctant in beginning, but later became the privileged one to listen to Buddha’s first historic sermon! After a while, Buddha became too popular, lot many kings became his disciples, he introduced Sangha, his followers were of two kinds-Upasaka and Bhikhus! Upaskas were home life people, not renouncing the home, offering alms and practising Buddha philosophy. Bhikhus were to renounce the world and become Parivrajaks first, then become Bhikhhus and live on alms. Buddha allowed women also to become Bhikhhunis at a late stage on persuasion of Anand his cousin and disciple. His mother Mahaprajapati was the first to become Bhikhhuni, followed by Buddha wife yashodhara, even Rahul, his son became Sharmner, an early form of Bhikhhu until the age of 20 years. Buddha moved around large parts of India in spreading his Dhamma until the age of 80 years, when he reached Pava and Kushaner. Yashodhra died at the age of 78 years, before Buddha. There was a Dalit disciple in last age of Buddha, the last one-Chudda. Buddha before dyeing told Anand that he must counter the false propaganda that Buddha became ill because of food given by Chudda. Again, in schoolbooks this narration is given as if Buddha died because of sick meat given to him in alms by some poor person and as a Bhikhhu has to eat whatever is given in alms, so Buddha had to eat that meat. Dr. Ambedkar had smashed this myth, which seems to had been the mischief of some Brahmanical priests to demean the poor Dalits. But Dr. Ambedkar by converting to Buddhism, along with his five lakh followers on 14th October 1956 at Nagpur, now called Deeksha Bhoomi has liberated Buddha from Brahmanical falsehoods and Buddhism became the liberator of Dalits in India!

Dr. Ambedkar has also underlined Buddhism to be the ultimate rational thought system, he does not ascribe to the concept of ‘God’ or ‘soul’. Dr. Ambedkar focuses upon causal relationship and believes that any phenomenon arises out of certain causes. In that, sense of Ambedkar and Rahul Sankartytayn interpretation of Buddhism is much enlightened and rational interpretation and presents it as liberator thought for working classes and Dalits. Dr. Ambedkar proposes that in Buddhism, there is equality of sexes, no casteism, no feudal and subordinate relations. He considers that Buddhism leads to socialist thinking. Nevertheless, the Buddhism in certain sections has also become too ritualistic, even worse than Hindutva ritualism, as has been happened with another radical religion-Sikhism.

Buddha and his Dhamma is one of important books from Dr. Ambedkar’s pen and Dalit movement should follow it quite diligently, but the irony is even the present Dalit political leadership does not pay much attention to Ambedkar’s rational and enlightened interpretation of Buddhism by dr. Ambedkar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    July 2014

  1. Chauri Chaura, Vidroh aur Swadhinta Andolan(Revolt and freedom struggle), Subhas Chandar Kushwaha, Penguin Books, Ist ed. 2014, Pages 360, Rupees 225/

It was by sheer chance that I read this book in these days, though I was keen to read it early, after buying it in World Book Fair in February this year. Prior to this I had read Shahid Amin’s book on Chauri Chaura-Event, Metaphor, Memory Chauri Chaura, published and much discussed earlier, written as part of Sub-altern studies in history. Few other books, which I wished to have, when I visited Gorakhpur-Devria-Chauri Chaura-Maghar-Lumbini in 2010 June, could not acquire that time, but whose references are in this book.

Chauri Chaura has attracted me a lot, that is why I visited the place, after reading Shahid Amin book, I think my interest has been to know the two parallel streams of freedom struggle. Bhagat Singh and Chandershekhar Azad both had got disillusioned with Mahatma Gandhi due to his withdrawal of mass Satyagraha or non cooperation movement on excuse of Chauri Chaura incident of violence, where a police station was burnt by Satyagrahis and 23 policemen were burnt alive. It was a turning point in Indian freedom struggle, as it gave birth to alternative revolutionary movement. So it becomes necessary for a student of history and of revolutionary movements to study this event more keenly. Shahid Amin’s book has also impressed me at the time of reading it in 2009 or so. But Subhas Kushwaha has perhaps done more labour and has more concern with the struggles of those people and he has brought to notice even the afterlife of the event and the movement. This new book is more elaborate study of the movement, area and after effects of the movement. Motivation of writing over this event for both writers has been to be part of that region. Shahid comes from Devria and Kushwaha from Kushinagar, both close to Chauri Chaura. Professionally Shahid is historian and Kushwaha a Hindi writer, references to both writers become imperative, if one has read both the books.

Kushwaha has divided the book in three parts and 23 chapters with appendices, references and foreword. Writer has acknowledged Manager Pandey’s motivation for him to study this subject, as Kushwaha has written books on peasant movement and literature based upon it. For material collection, he faced lot of problems, took recourse to Right to information also, and got documents from British library London mostly.

In first part of the book, writer has focused upon background of the struggle by delineating Indian freedom struggle since 1857, particularly its impact in Gorakhpur region. Chauri Chaura movement was fought by peasantry of the region, so writer has also given description of pre Chauri Chaura political activities and peasant conditions. Writer has described the impact of Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to the area almost a year earlier. After giving this background writer has concentrated on the epical struggle of Chauri Chaura in second and main part of the book. In his foreword writer has challenged official description of the struggle, which is inscribed on black granite on Chauri Chaura memorial. This inscription has mysteriously obliterated the real nerve centre of the movement-Dumri Khurd village, from where all the activities of movement took place and from where Dalits, Muslims and other backward classes people revolted in a big way. In 1857 Bandhu Singh of Dumri Kala or Dumri Khas village of Gorakhpur region has taken big part and he was hanged on a tree, many other people of the region were also victimised for revolting in 1857. In second chapter, writer has described the peasant revolts during 1918-22 and also riots in UP. Quoting from largely unknown book of Jaichander Vidyalankar, teacher of Bhagat Singh, writer has underlined the fact that even Nehru did not support Avadh peasant struggle on the excuse that ‘they don’t want class struggle in country’! There has been talk of Bolshevik revolution of Russia, happened in 1917 among peasant activists, which has even referred in Premchand’s novel Premashram. In third chapter writer has discussed Gandhi’s idea of Satyagraha and his views on non violence. Writer has also underlined the magnetic impact Gandhi had among masses, so much so that on 104 year old woman came to see Gandhi after visiting many religious places to look at him as incarnation of God! People had immense faith on Mahatma Gandhi! Mahatma Gandhi had become undisputed leader of Congress party after the demise of Lokmanya Tilak in 1920 and since then some kind of Satyagraha was being conducted by Congress party, first on Khilafat issue, then on issues of peasants etc. But whenever there was little of violence, Gandhi reacted rather strongly. Thus when Prince of Wales visited Bombay on 17th November 1921, 20 thousand strong masses became uncontrolled and in resulting violence, 53 including 45 Satyagrahis were killed in police firing. Mahatma Gandhi condemned the incident and not police repression and withdrew the movement and proceeded on fast.

From January 1922, there were lot of disturbances in the country and in United Province (UP) also. Writer has argued that it was wrong to say that Chauri Chaura incident happened out of blue, it had background and was culmination of that process. He has given data of arrests of 1921-22 peasant movements; there were 18120 arrests out of which 16719 were convicted for various offences. On the other hand M N Roy in Soviet Union was trying to use his influence to radicalise Congress programme of agitation against British colonialism by sending many pamphlets for Congress sessions.

In 1921 Mahatma Gandhi toured UP with Ali brothers-Maulana Mohammad Ali Johar and Maulana Shaukat Ali Johar. On 8th February 1921, they had reached Chauri Chaura. Traveling on train, on all stations large crowds gathered to have alook at him, 30 thousand people came on Devria station, on Chauri Chaura station he received a gift from a Marwari. Gandhi stayed for 6-7 hours in Gorakhpur and addressed a meeting of about two lakh people. To enrol for non cooperation movement Satyagarhis had to sign a pledge to remain non violent in face of even brutal attacks by police. Gorakhpur area was politically very active, 15000 people had protested against Jallianwala Bagh massacre here and when Avadh peasant movement leader Baba Raghav Das was convicted, 50 thousand people gathered at court to protest.

In the second part of the book, writer has focused on the actual events happened on 4th February 1922 leading to the burning of police station that day resulting in the death of 23 policemen. There are two villages near Chauri Chaura-Dumri Khurd or Chhoti Dumri and Dumri Kala or Dumri Khas or Badki Dumri, which are at a distance of five miles from each other. Dumri has the only Zamindari of Sikh settler Surat Singh, who was awarded this Zamindari due to his loyalty during 1857. His two sons-Umrao Singh(father of Amrita Shergill) and Sunder Singh Majithia acquired this after his death, on whose behalf their relative Harcharn Singh took care of it for two decades. In Saraya, they had established sugarcane mill in 1900. The feudal lords lived in Badki Dumri or Dumri Kala, whereas poor people, mostly Dalits from Chamar caste lived in Chhotki Dumri, which became the centre of the movement, which later came to be known as Chauri Chaura movement due to 4th February happenings there. There was lot of Muslim population in the region and generally there was peace and amity between Dalits and Muslims of the area, except for minor tensions here and there once in a while. Chauri and Chaura were two villages nearby, but railway station was named Chauri Chaura, police station is in Chaura village, which is bigger of the two. Dumri was also a big village with 2500+ population in those days. The meeting of Satyagrah committee had taken place on the morning of 4th February at this village and Satyagrahis had marched from this village to Chauri Chaura, where peasants and other people have joined from other villages too. Nazar Ali and Lal Mohammad were main leaders of the movement in this area, other prominent persons were Bhagwan Ahir, Abdulla, Inderjit Koery, Shyam Sunder and one unidentified Sanyasi were also in the lead. Shikari also played leading role in beginning, but he turned approver during trial. Lal Mohammad aged forty was from Chaura village, Nazar Ali aged 30 and Bhagwan Ahir aged 24 were from Dumri Khurd, Abdulla Sai, 40 years old was from Rajdhani village. They were all known activists and sometimes office bearers of local Congress committees. Chaura police Inspector and In charge of police station has beaten up Bhagwan Ahir without any provocation, that has created a tension in the area, which was otherwise conducting peaceful Satyagraha in the area. The local Zamindars or their agents were siding with the police, which included Harcharn Singh and Santbux Singh, who had big business interest in the area. By noon 3 to five thousand people had gathered in Chauri Chaura, the Police Station incharge had already got armed police unit from district headquarters, they were also in police station. There were many Chaukidars also in police station, which had come to collect their salaries on that day. The heated exchanges between Guptshwar Singh and processionists perhaps led to attack from police side, resulting in the death of at least two Satyagrahis, but some say it could be 26, this provoked Satyagrahis, which could not stick to their pledge of not attacking back and the earlier police repression contributed to their pent up feelings, so they burnt the police station, killing 23 persons inside, but they spared wives and children of police men.

Writer has described the events of 4th February in great detail, which confirms the firing straight on Satyagrahis resulting in the death of at least two volunteers-Kheli Bhar and Budh Ali, after this it became difficult to control the anger of Satyagrahis and they collected kerosene and other such inflammable items from the market itself and put the police station on fire. Their prime target was Gupteshwar the brutal DSP of police, another senior police officer to get burnt alive was armed police inspector or DSP Prithvipal Singh, other 21 policemen were either constables, one or two Head constables and many Choukidars, who were used by Gupteshwar to attack Satyagrahis. Another Chaukidar Surajbali Singh died of wounds, making the figure to 24. On the other hand, the number of Satyagrahis killed is recorded as two, but there were references to 26 or at least many more than the recorded number, as due to non communication times of those days, many dead bodies may have been taken to villages by the volunteers. All the feudal lords or their agents sided with British police during the clash as well as afterwards to get Satyagarhis hanged from British courts. Total of 225 persons were charged with murder, conspiracy and many other offenses. Interestingly there were very few high caste persons in this list. 90% were from Dalits, backward castes and Muslims. Not only British Government treated it as grave crime, even Mahatma Gandhi, on whose name Satyagrahis offered themselves for sacrifice and shouted all the time slogan in his name, called this incident as ‘Crime of Gorakhpur’ and ‘Crime of Chauri Chaura’ and the non cooperation was immediately suspended on the excuse of this incident, as it violated the ‘pledge of non violence’!

Police challaned initially 273 persons in lower court on 25th March 1922, out of 273, 54 persons were challaned even in absence, who could not be arrested. Later trial was conducted on 228 persons, out of whom few died during trial, few became approvers. These persons were from 30+ villages of the area. After the trial, 47 were acquitted due to lack of evidence and 172 persons were convicted to death! This created furore in the whole world. News of the revolt was carried in the world media as well. Australian newspapers carried the news, Communists world over stood for the convicted poor peasants and other rural labourers. M N Roy, wrote letter to British labour party on behalf of Indian Communists from Zurich on 2nd February 1923 demanding revocation of the sentence of death, focusing upon the condition of Indian ‘hungry peasants’. On 14th March 1923, Executive of Communist International and Red International of Labour Unions while condemning the sentence appealed the working class world over to oppose the sentence. In India, protests came in Calcutta, peasant leader Baba Raghav Das protested and he was imprisoned for some months for protesting. But the illiterate convicted peasants were not disturbed by the sentence, they used to say that after ‘ten months’ they will return on earth to continue the struggle, meaning getting ‘rebirth’ after death! After lower court conviction order in January 1923, an appeal was filed by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in High Court in third week of January itself and hearing started from 6th March 1923. Some labour members of British Parliament raised the issue in Parliament and demanded revocation of death sentence. Communist Saklatwala also raised the issue. On 30th April 1923, High Court gave its verdict and death sentence was limited to 19 persons, 38 were acquitted, few were released with short sentences, but many got long term jail sentences! Mercy petitions formality was done without any result and 19 persons were hanged from 2nd July to 11th July 1923 in different jails of UP. All the major leaders of the movement were hanged-Nazar Ali, Lal Mohammad, Abdulla, Bhagwan Ahir etc.

Those who got life sentences, their condition was pitiable, because of poverty, even Congress Government did not release them, when they came to power in 1938 for some time. Many political prisoners, including those of revolutionary movements like of Kakori were released, but Chauri Chaura prisoners waited till 1942-3 to get released. Government provided all help to killed policemen families, including giving jobs and pensions, where as no one took care of Chauri Chaura convicts. Their women’s condition in homes was much worse. Only two persons of high castes out of 170 convicted got some social position after 1947. Dwarka Pandey became MLA from 1952 to 1957. Dwarka Gosain got pension in 1949 and was honoured in 1972. Poor participants of Chauri Chaura struggle had to struggle a lot to get cleared from the tag of Goondas, Looteras etc. and their recognition as freedom fighters came as late as in 1993, when 110 families from this event started receiving pensions. For this also only Communists like Jharkhande Rai MP and CPI MLA’s UP assembly fought and not the Congress! Memorial to the killed policemen was built in 1924 itself inside police station, whereas memorial to Chauri Chaura martyrs could be inaugurated only in 1993, with many false inscriptions in names of high caste persons, who never took part in movement. Irony is that even in police station memorial salami is given, but not to executed 19 martyrs!

Subhas Chander Kushwaha has written the book with labour of love and with concern for the victims of Chauri Chaura movement. Only previous major publication was of Shahid Amin’s Event, Metaphor, Memory:Chauri Chaura, written from subaltern angle. Shahid Amin’s book and research is also appreciable, but Subhas Kushwaha has done much more elaborate research and hard work He got even the photographs of police station with dead bodies scattered and many other documents from British library London. He had  to struggle hard to get the copies of documents from Indian offices, often through RTI. But in the end, he produced a commendable volume. Yet he will not get credit from Indian academicians, as the book is written in Hindi, even though published by international publishing house-Penguin books!

Indian academicians/historians never acknowledged Pandit Sunder Lal’s great two volume history-Bharat Men Angrezi Raj, despite being proscribed by British colonial authorities, nor Chauri Chaura is going to be recognised work of great significance, just because it is written in Indian language. Many major works of Bengali on revolutionary movement history have still not been translated in either Hindi or English, though these are the source books of Indian history. Yet hopefully this book will perform its primary task of spreading awareness about the reality of Chauri Chaura, which has remained obliterated due to Indian politicians, particularly of Congress variety’s deliberate ignore as Gandhi has condemned the movement as ‘violent’ movement. Fact of the matter is that Charui Chaura movement was led by poor peasants with hatred for oppressors. Because of Mahatma Gandhi’s withdrawal of this movement, both Bhagat Singh and Chandershekhar Azad got disillusioned from Mahatma Gandhi and Congress party and decided to chart a new path of revolutionary movement. Chandershekhar Azad has got 30 lashes on his back in 1921 non cooperation movement in Banaras by every time shouting ‘Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai’! In a way Chauri Chaura proved to be a catalyst for revolutionary movement for India or one may say that had there been no chauri Chaura, there would have been no Bhagat Singh, Chandershekhar Azad and his comrades!

Kudos to Subhash Chander Kushwaha for writing this well researched book on one of the most significant episode of Indian freedom struggle!

                                 June-July

  1. Transfer of Power in India, V P Menon, Orient Longman(Blackswam), Delhi ebook from Kindle, pages 568, price 393/Rupees

This is first ebook, which I read in full, buying also first time from Amazon.com. Bought few books in print, since this book was not available in print, did not buy when it was available during JNU stay. It was necessary book to read, particular due to historic documents it has. To read this book, bought kindle reader of simple 6000/rupees popular variety, not the expensive ones available. Earlier had downloaded few free downloaded books on laptop like Confessions or Manifesto of Communist Party, but never read beyond few pages. But with spending money on kindle reader especially for reading, read this book in full on reader, there was no other way also. But the first book took almost one month to complete. The book has been digitalised from Longman edition; it has editions in 1957, 1999 and 2011. This book narrates the transfer of power process and formation of two independent nations-India and Pakistan. All the negotiations in the process and all the documents of the process are added in appendices of the book. Apart from maps, illustrations, Books and Consulted material, book is divided into 20 chapters and 12 appendixes. There are some historic pictures also, which don’t come out well in ebook edition.

The first chapter of the book is-‘The Goal of British Policy’ which was to become Dominion and member of British Commonwealth, which was later, turned into full independence by withdrawing from Commonwealth. It was no longer to remain Dependency of British Crown and Paramouncy of the British was to be over with full sovereignty of the nation to be restored. The second chapter of the book is-All India Federation-A Lost Ideal. Brtish Simon Commission in 1928 and Staford Crippps Mission in 1942 tried the formaula of Ferative units of India with Hindu and Muslim dominated areas and Defence, Currency etc four issued to remain in centre’s control. Perhaps both Congress and Jinnah failed this scheme, though Congress is used to blame only Jinnah for it, which is not testified by Sardar Patel’s close aid and writer of this book, who is quite objective in his narration. Third chapter is-War and the Deadlock-from 1939 to 1945 it was world war-II time. There was deadlock and Congress party kept its options open to deal with Japan, if it had won the war. 1942 Quit India movement time was reflective of this perception. Though Nehru and Congress party in general has kept anti fascism posture alive. Fourth chapter focuses upon-The August Offer. Fifth chapter is continuation of the subject with focus upon-The Cripps mission, sixth chapter narrated the story of-The Stalemate Continues-failure of Cripps mission. Seventh chapter is upon-A New Approach-by Viceroy Lord Wavell, after the failure of Gandhi-Jinnah talks. Eighth chapter focuses up The Simla conference with all parties in 1945. Ninth chapter describes the victory of Labour party in post war elections-The General Elections-in UK. Expectation of British quitting rose high with this development, Congress party had better rapport with Labour party. Tenth chapter is another effort-The Cabinet Mission in 1946, the narration continues in Chapter eleventh as part 2 of same subject. Chapter twelth chapter brings into focus on-The Interim Government-formed with much hard efforts with Congress-Muslim League both joining the government. Jinnah was not part of Nehru government, but Liaqat Ali Khan was his representative with four others. Chapter 13 is part 2 of the story. Chapter XIV comes to The Constituent Assembly, not agreed and attended by Jinnah and Muslim League, who were insistent upon separate Constituent assembly for Pakistan. Chapter fifteenth brings into centre stage-Lord Mountbatten as last Viceroy, joining Delhi in March 1947, who brought-The Evolution of a Plan! Chapter 16th is focussed upon-Acceptance of the Plan- which divides the country into two nations-India and Pakistan. Though efforts were made to keep both united for at least ten years, to be reviewed later. Chapter 17th focuses upon-The Implementation of the Plan-of 3rd June 1947, British will transfer power by 15th August, not waiting till June 1948, the deadline fixed earlier. Chapter 18th brings us to the stage of-The Birth of Two Dominions- which made the task of division easy, otherwise more complications would have arisen. Chapter 19th brings us to –The Aftermath of Partition-massacres on both sides, migration and more! Direct Action call for 16th August by Muslim League had brought Bengal to brink and Gandhi had to sit on hunger strike to bring back normalcy restored. Chapter 20 is-Conclusion. Writer underlines the significance of the month of August-Dewani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was awarded to British in August 1765. August 1858 brought direct rule of British in India and August 1947-transfer of power from British to Indian rulers!

In 12 appendices-1st is Sikandar Hayat Khan’s 1941 assembly lecture, trying to save the unity of the country. IInd appendix is 14th June 1945 speech of Viceroy’s address. IIIrd appendix is Secretary of State for India L S Amery’s 14th June 1945 Parliament address. 4th appendix is Cabinet mission and Viceroy’s 16th May 1946 statement, which continues in appendix 5th as his broadcast. Sixth appendix is Lord Wavell’s 17th May 1946 radio address. 7thappendix is statement of Stafford Cripps on same day. 8th appendix continues with Cabinet mission’s press conference on same day-1th May 1946. Appendix Nine brings the speech of British PM Attlee statement in House of Commons on 20th February 1947. Xth appendix is British Govt.’s 3rd June statement of dividing country into two nations from 15th August. 11th appendix is Indian Independence Act of 1947. 12th appendix carries handwritten comments of Congress party on draft independent bill, almost illegible. Final pages are Books and Publications Consulted.

V P Menon has very meticulously organised the book, putting all historic documents in one place. It is a book for researchers and for common readers also, the style of writing is neither like narrative, nor is very dry. Reader can find book interesting. There is no sense of hatred in writer’s mind. Though Menon defends 15th August transfer date, he is not convincing in saying that even with June 1948 transfer of power date, the issue of communal flare up would not been resolved.

Reading on kindle is fine, particularly in travel time with font size can be increased or decreased, yet there is difficulty for readers like me, who take lots of notes on printed book, though highlight provision is there in kindle, yet the colour of font’s etc. matters. While when writing about the book, then non underlining the book pinches, it is good for reading novels etc., but serious read-no way. May be after few readings I will be able to evolve a method of reading and taking notes from kindle read also!

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Crisis in the Punjab: From 10th May until the fall of Delhi, Frederic Cooper ESQ., C.S. Deputy Commissioner of Umritsar

With a map G.P. Smith Elder &Co., 65, Cornhill, London, 1858, pages 254

 

THE

CRISIS IN THE PUNJAB,

ff.oil

THE 10th OF MAY

umtil ihh

FALL OF DELHI.

by

FREDERIC COOPER, ESQ., C.S.,

jiiPDTir tOMMiaaicmiB. or tixaiTa™.

with a map.

LONDON: SMITH, ELDER AND CO., 65, COKNHILL.

1858.

[ The right of Translation is reserved,]

Frederic Cooper was Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar district during 1857 first war of Indian independence and in this book published within a year of the upsurge; he recollects the events in Punjab and Delhi from British colonial ruler’s angle. Yet his account underlines certain facts, which shows the brutalities and cruelties of British colonial regime. I read this book in context of Ajnala happenings on 30th July-1st August 1857, where 157 years after this event, people of the village have dug up the well, where 282 Indian rebels’ bodies were dumped after killing them brutally. The book is dedicated to brutal British officers and apart from Preface includes nine chapters and many appendices.

First chapter is story of disarming of army men at Ambala,in subsequent chapters spread of mutiny is recorded in different places-Lahore, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Peshawar, Jullundur, Sialkot, Ferozepur  etc. Chapter sixth is focussed on Ajnala, where nearly  500 army men come and get trapped by British agents and later massacred all, some drown in river. 282 bodies dumped in a well at Ajnala, became known as Kalian wala khuh later. In appendices some documents are reproduced. Writer has gleefully claimed that he had created a black hole of Calcutta  and a well like that of Kanpur here in Ajnala, in these two well, bodies of white Britishers were dumped. Thoroughly racist in nature, book is good documentation of facts.

  1. Swaraj, Arvind Kejriwal, Punjabi translation of Hindi tract of 75 pages. 2012/14 edition in Punjabi for free distribution, priced Rs.15/

In ten sections of the book Kejriwal has covered nearly sixty topics, meaning hardly one and a quarter page of the book to topics like Naxalism, Gram Swaraj concepts etc. The bok written in Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj style is but pale copy of Hind Swaraj. Kejriwal has focussed more on Gram Swaraj and Gram Sabhas, which he thinks the key all of resolving India’s problems, whether corruption or police atrocities, everything will be fine, only if Gram Sabhas start working.

Arvind Kejriwal is not academician like Yogender Yadav, Anand Kumar or Kamal Chenoy, yet his simplification of complex problems take him nowhere. Yet one need not dismiss the tract for just this comment, some of the observation made by Kejriwal are worth paying attention to! It depends upon whether Aam Aadmi Party phenomenon is going to survive or not, but it has stirred Indian society at large. It remains to be seen how much it gets stabilised and then shows what kind of results in society!

                                                   August

  1. The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates, Xenophon, ebook from Kindle Reader.

                                                                  

This is first ebook I downloaded on my kindle app in February 2012, on my Tablet or laptop, but this is the one which I have read after more than two years now. After buying Kindle Reader, bought first book by payment-The Transfer of Power in India by VP Menon, that is the book which I read first on Kindle, this is the second book which I read on Kindle Reader, this was free download like 12 or so more books I have downloaded. While I feel comfortable in reading on Kindle reader, but do not enjoy like book reading, as I am used to marking the book where I like. On Kindle also one can highlight, but that is tedious and referring to those highlights is more tedious. Highlights are saved separately, but cannot be seen on screen with full text. I bought the elementary model of kindle, may be after some time, I may go in for advance touch screen model!

Xenophon’s memoirs of Socrates are quite interesting, it shows the strength of Socrates personality, who stood by his ideas and happily gave up his life for commitment to his ideas. Socrates is perhaps first martyr of ideas. He justifies that by living more after 70 years, when he was forced to drink cup of poison to die slowly. I highlighted few paragraphs from this ebook. I enjoyed reading this book.

  1. The Confessions of St. Augustine, Kindle ebook free

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_(St._Augustine)

This ebook I downloaded after buying kindle reader in June 2014. The book divided into 13 chapters was originally written in Latin in 397-98 AD. This is narrative of first four decades of St. Augustine life and his transformation as a Christian. He like all relgiousits, keeps on harping on sins he committed of flesh etc. One observation is good that nothing is learnt by force, free will is key to acquiring knowledge. He illustrates by his own example, he dislikes Greek, since it was forced study, but he loved Latin, as he learnt it from love of the language. 9 chapters of the book are autobiographical and four are reflective in philosophy.

Not my cup of tea!

Reading on kindle reader is faster as skipping is faster than book!

  1. Junun-e-Intezar-Madness of Waiting, novelette, Mirza Hadi Ruswa, 1899, English translationKrupa Shandilya/Taimoor Shahid, Zuban first ed. 2012, pages 99+24 original Urdu pages, price 395/, international price 12&half pound and 19 Dollars

Mirza Hadi Ruswa is known for Urdu’s first novel ‘Umrao Jan Ada’ writer, the novel immortalised by film made on it. This novel is kind of sequel to it. Writtten in the form as written by Umrao Jan to expose Ruswa for exposing her in novel Umrao Jan, but that is style only. Mirza Ruswa has narrated his love affair with European girl presented in the novel as Sofia, who came in his life and left a home for him. This is old style romantic novelette full of emotional content. It is considered that it is autobiographical narrative. If one could read it in original Urdu, one could have enjoyed the beauty of Urdu language as well. Interesting novel.

  1. Bina Das: A Memoir, translated by Dhira Dhar, first Zuban editon 2010, translated from original Bengali-Shrankhal Jhankar, pages128+introduction pages, price 350/rupees

This is very interesting and historic memoir by revolutionary Bina Das, who had unsuccessfully shot Bengal Governor Stenely in early 30’s at the convocation of Calcutta University in 1932. Harikishan had done the same in 1931 at Panjab University Lahore a year earlier in 1931 and was executed for that in June 1931. Bina Das’s father was teacher of Subhas Bose and he had inspired Bina Das also. During college days she joined underground revolutionary movement resulting in shooting Stenely. She spent seven years in jail for that and her depiction of her jail days is very informative and touching. Bina has literary flavour in her writing and a rational mind as well to narrate the events in analytical manner. After her release she joined Congress party and was a MLA at the conclusion of this memoir on 10th August 1946. In her memoir she has narrated Noakhali communal events in 1946, where Mahatma Gandhi played perhaps the best role of his life, ironically at the fag end of his life, feeling completely desolate and lonely, which has been depicted very sensitively by Bina Das. Bina Das had married later and she lived long till 1997, but died in mysterious circumstances, after the death of most of her near and dear ones and she shifted to Rishikesh. Book has introduction by historian Professor Dilip Kumar Biswas, who was friend of Bina’s younger brother Amal, who predeceased Bina Das. Bina Das’s memoir is not only personal narration, it is good record of historic events of early 1930’s as well.

                 September-October

  1. Razia Sultan, Hindi novel, Mewa Ram, Bhartiya Gyanpeeth, Delhi, Isted. 2011, Pages 670, price 650/Rupees

 

Divided into 72 chapters, this huge novel of 670 pages, focuses upon the first ever queen of India. Daughter of Sultan Iltutmish, who came from slave background and became son in law to another slave background emperor of India Qutab-din Aibak. Iltutmish became emperor of India after Aibak and his four sons and two daughters were born from different wives. His eldest son Nasir was killed in some conspiracy, Rukundin became emperor against the wishes of his father, who willed Razia to be queen. Razia did become queen for two years and some months, but was ultimately killed by his another brother Muhiudin Behram Shah army near Kaithal and was buried near Turkman gate Delhi,another unnamed tomb with her could be of either Yakut, her lover or Malik Altunia, who as per novel, married Razia after keeping her imprisoned in Bathinda fort. Novel is interesting with some flaws on history and culture. Mewa Ram has written many more novels on historical characters like Dara Shikoh, Shehnshah Alam etc.

21.Chauri Chaura-Swantatroya Samar-Anil Kumar Srivastav, Leela prakashan Gorakhpur, is ted. 1986, pages 76, price This is small book on Chauri Chaura from a history student, good.

  1. Chauri Chaura-1922, Ram Murit, 1982, 44 pages, price 2/ rupees

  A small but good monograph by CPI comrade Rammurti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra(Punjabi), Pritam Saini, 1st ed. 1986, Punjabi University Patiala publication, pages 64, price Rupees 12/75.

This small monograph carries more details about Dhingra and family than many other books. Details of Dr. Sahib Dittamal Dhingra and his eight children’s details given in this narration. Migrated from Sahiwal, they settled in Lahore, where he built six kothis, 21 houses, had six buggies, his was the only car of an Indian, which ran on Amritsar roads. Madan Lal Dhingra was an oddity in this Rai Sahib British loyalist family. His younger brother Bhajan Lal also redeemed himself by becoming Sufi and dera head Lala Shah at Lyallpur (Faislabad). Dhingra’s elder brother Dr. Kundan Lal Dhingra has referred him to Curzon Wylie in London, where he went for Engineering studies and whom he shot dead and got executed on 17th August 1909. One of his brother Dr. Behari Lal Dhingra was Prime Minister of Jind State and was notorious for his atrocities. His son Dr. Baldoon Dhingra became English Professor and writer at Lahore, whose daughter Leena Dhingra became director-actress and who wrote about Madan Lal, whose name was banned in the family. Kaki Rani, Kundan Lal, Mohan LL, Behari Lal, Chaman Lal, Chuni Lal, Madan Lal, Bhajan Lal. Chuni Lal died young in ship sinking. All were either doctors and barristers. Sahiwal ancestral property was gifted to daughter by Ditta Mal of 10 Bigha fertile land and a kothi. Book has good references to books. Rajni Palm Dutt’s introduction is also there, he was Swedish Prime Minister Olofe Palme’s cousin, as his mother was Swedish, on whose name he had his second name. Indu Lal Yajnik’s book on Shyam ji Krishan Verma’s efernce is also included. The book has seven chapters-ist is on background political conditions of the times, second is on Dhingra family details and Dhingra birth refered as on 18th February, but now confirmed 18th September. Chaman Lal was married to Keshab Chander Sen’s grand daughter. Dhingra revoled did labour in Bombay and drove Tonga also, went to London, returned , went again in 1906 and stayed till end there. Joined India house set up by Krishan Verma, came close to Savarkar, who tested him by sharp edged cutter into his hand. Dhingra joined revolutionary activites and shot dead Curzon Wylie on 1st July 1909, but was hanged after a short trial on 17th August of same year. His court statement was published in Daily News due to Savarkar’s efforts, made him famous. He was buried in Pentonvile prison, but his remains were brought to India on 13th December 1976, when Udham Singh’s remains were brought. Good book.

  1. Aapa Var Amar Shahid Madan Lal Dhingra(Punjabi), Achhar Singh Kharlveer/Kulwinder Singh Sohal, 1st ed. 2009, Lok Likhri Sabha UK publication, pages 152, price 2/Pound-Essays and Poetry collection

 

Preface to the book has been written by Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hal General secretary Naunihal Singh. Book has five articles, 1st by Bhagat Singh, second by Gurbux Singh Banoana, third by Harish Mlhotra, 4th and 5th essay are in English by Radha D’ Souza and Leena Dhingra, grand niece of ML Dhingra, daughter of Baldoon Dhingra. Dhingra wanted to shoot Lord Curzon and once came close to it. In second part 35 poets and fifty plus poems have been collected, which are rather poor. Radha D’ Souza’as article-How to remember Dhingra is also not very impressive. It is martyrdom centenary tribute to Dhingra by UK Punjabi writers.

  1. Tryst with Martyrdom:Trial of Madan Lal Dhingra, Malwinderjit Singh Waraich/Kuldip Puri, Unistar publisher Chandigarh, 2003 ed. Pages156, price Rupees 195/

 

 

This book’s material was provided by Giani Kesar Singh to the editors, though Gianiji’s introduction and last chapter from his autobiography is part of the book. Book has three chapters-The Genesis, The Trial and The Perspective. Ist two chapters are contributed by Waraich and last one by Kuldip Puri, son in law of Principal Sujan Singh from Pol. Sc. Dept. of Panjab University Chandigarh. Waraich has given general background and trial details with newspaper coverings, but Puri has analysed the act and its impact. On the whole good book. Trial has been farcial, but Dhingra got praise for his stoic refusal to accept court authority and he welcomed the execution sentence, he did not hire a lawyer, his family hired only to watch and not defend. Dhingra statement exposed British colonial regime’s exploitation of India.

  1. London De Shaheed(Punjabi), Joginer Shamsher, Is ted. 1992, Ravi Sahit Prakashan Amritsar, pages 104, price 50/ rupees

 

 

This is one of better books on Dhingra and Udham Singh’s sacrifice in London. Writer has focused on fact based history as he perceives history to be. Book has reference to famous Indian Communist Rajni Palm Dutt, who lived mostly in London and whose book India Today is still considered a classic. Rajni was nicknamed as Raji and his mother was Swedish writer Palm and Swedish Premier Olof Palm was his cousin! Writer’s reference to Rajni makes his ideological position clear of left orientation. In introduction writer also refers to Banke Dyal singing his song Pagdi Sambhal Jatta on 21-22 March 1907 peasant conference in Lyallpur.

                      Book is divided into seven chapters. First chapter is focused on contemporary movements of 1925’s. Second chapter focuses upon preliminary conditions of Indian freedom struggle. Third chapter brings to light Maharashtra’s freedom struggle towards the end of nineteenth century. In  Fourth chapter writer comes to the main theme of Curzon Wylie killing in London by Madan Lal Dhingra, inspired by Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishan Verma. In fifth chapter writer presents Punjab lieutenant Governor Dangile Ibbotson report on peasant conditions in Punjab. Sixth chapter is devoted to Michael O’Dwyer’s killing by Udham Singh in Caxton Hall of London. O’Dywer was Punjab’s Lieutenent Governor during 1913-1919. Lord Zetland was Bengal Governor during 1917-22 and Secretary of State for India from 1935 onwards. They came to address meeting in this hall on 13th March 1940. Butcher of Amritsar General Dyer had already died of multiple sickness in 1927. Lord Lamington was also there. Udham Singh wanted to kill both Zetking and O’Dywer, but only O’Dwyer was killed. Udham Singh observed 42 days hunger strike inside jail following his ideal Bhagat Singh. Seventh chapter is focused on Udham Si ngh in 1940. All leaders condemned Udham Singh-Lala Ramsarandas, Sunder Singh Majithia, Sir Chhotu Ram, Hridainath Kunjru, Dewan Chaman Lal, Kapurthla king Jagjit Singh, Hari Singh Gour etc. Only German radio supported him by saying-The Cry of tormented people spoke with shots. To conclude writer reproduced Udham Singh’s one letter to Jahal Singh. Eighth chapter is focused upon the rationale of O’Dwyer killing by Udham Singh. Book has been written with right perspective.

 

27.Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra evam  Shaheed Udham Singh(Hindi), Pandit Satyanarain Sharma, Sakshi Prakashan Delhi, is ted. 2012, pages 182, price 85/ rupees.

Writer is retired lecturer and has written more with imagination than with facts. Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh have been shown thick friends and meeting often. Chuhar Ram-Narani-parents of Udham imagined to be coming from Patiali village of Etah district in UP. Later became Tehl Singh-Harnam kaur.

     Book with no credibility for historic facts.

  1. Letters of Udham Singh, ed. JS Grewal/Harish Puri, GNDU Amritsar Publication, Ist ed. 1974, pages104, price 25/ rupees

Manohar Singh Gill, IAS officer of that time gave the copy of these letters to Guru Nanak Dev University and University got it edited with introduction from eminent historian Prof. JS Grewal and Political scientist Prof. Harish Puri. There are certain documents in appendix of that book. There are references to Udham Singh staying in Srinagar at Swarn Singh house and reading Tagore’s novel Gora. As Bhagat Singh kept Sarabha picture in his pocket, Udham Singh kept Bhagat Singh picture in pocket. There are 19 documents in the book, which include hand written scanned 7 letters of Udham Singh. One letter wishes to have copy of Quran and another referring to Bhagat Singh as ‘my best friend’. All letters signed as Mohammad Singh Azad only. Complaints of maltreatment in jail are also recorded and wish to have copy of Waris Shah’s Heer for oath taking in court, as he declared him an atheist. References to good books-Piara Singh Data’s ‘Watan De Shaid’ and Suba Singh’s ‘Inqlabi Yodha Udham Singh’ are there. This was a path-breaking book; every later writer has used the letters from this book, without acknowledging.

  1. Challenge to Imperial Hegemony:The life story of A Great Indian Patriot Udham Singh, Navtej Singh, Punjabi University Patiala publication, ist ed. 1998, pages 320, price 350/rupees

By far this is the best documented book on Udham Singh, many writers of later period just used this book’s documents, which were provided by Udham Singh Trust from UK to Punjabi University Patiala, for the purpose. This book is now available in Punjabi too.

 

  1. Bharat di Azadi di Shama da Parwana: Mahan Gadri Inqlabi Shahid Udham Singh(Punjabi), rakesh Kumar, 5aab Prakashan Jalandhar, ist ed. 2013 pages 351, Price 260/rupees

Introduction Amolak Singh

Rakesh Kumar’s book on Udham Singh is media hit these days. Engineer by profession, he comes from Sunam-birthplace of Udham Singh. His writing style in Punjabi is good and readable and presentation of the book is also good, but nothing substantial has been added to what Navtej Singh had presented earlier in 1998 in his Punjabi University publication based on Shaheed Udham Singh Trust UK.

Book has been divided into13 chapters and appendices include Udham Singh’s admission to Central Orphanage Amritsar and some other documentation. Rakesh Kumar has informed in the beginning of the book that Udham Singh diaries of 1939-40 are still not released. He has used revolutionaries like Harbhajan Sohi and Jaimal Padda’s poems in between chapters that has made book popular among their admirers.

 

  1. Up from Slavery: an autobiography Booker T Washington, Doudley Page &Co.New York, 1901, pages 123

This autobiography begins with Booker’s recollection of his birth in Franklin County, Virginia, in 1858 or 1859(now established as on April 5,1856) and follows his progress through his education, his establishment of the Tuskegee Institute, and his fame as a speaker who presents the importance of good race relations to as many audiences of both races as he can reach.

  Writer has dedicated the volume to his wife Margaret James Washington and brother John M Washington and is divided into 17 chapters, apart from Preface and Introduction. Writer begins his story with-‘A Slave among Slaves and ends with Last Words in 17th chapter.

        Writer tells us in Preface that he wrote a series of articles in Outlook magazine dealing with incidents of his life, which have been given book shape. Writer explained that he had narrated incidents in simple and straightforward form. Walter H. Page wrote introduction for the book. At that time USA was divided between North and South. While North had freed slaves, South was still continuing and Black slaves had to struggle hard to attain freedom. Lincoln became hero, because he abolished slavery in Southern states, for which he was assassinated. Washington came from a slave family and worked in his childhood like all other slaves, but he got chance to study and later was sent to Tuskegee for establishing school for the slaves/blacks, which gave him name and fame. Hampton institute gave him chance to study and liberate himself and later he served the humanity and his fellow black people by bringing them education as a means to liberation. Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute earned so much name that US President the time visited and appreciated Washington’s dedicated work.

In first chapter-Slave Among Slaves, Washington describes his early life, being born in a slave family on a plantation in Franklin country Virginia. He is so uncertain about his birth place that he concludes that ‘I must have been born somewhere and at some time’! He describes his birth year as 1858 or 59, which seems to had been 1856 as per later researches! He is neither sure about his ancestors, his mother side relatives suffered during passage from Africa to America. Writer does not know his father’s name, who possibly was a white, but took least interest in his rearing. His mother was a plantation cook. Writer refers to his elder brother John, Sister Amanda and himself as three siblings sleeping on filthy rags laid on dirt floor. He got no schooling, but heard in his childhood about Lincoln’s armies getting success. War between whites and blacks refered and Lincoln as fighting for blacks. Writer’s first shoes in life were of wood, flex wear on body were also torturous. Slaves could buy freedom at almost impossible terms, that some slaves did not wish for freedom. The whole machinery of slavery was to degrade and make feel inferior for blacks. After war was over Emancipation proclamation came.

  In second chapter writer narrates the story of his Boyhood Days. Writer had intense desire to study and he learnt reading from his age boys. He had night lessons in reading. He was to work till 9 pm and then reach school for reading, where he was always late. Writer describes numerous difficulties confronting him to move forward on the path to study.

   In chapter III-The Struggle for An Education- he describes how he heard about a school for coloreds where one could work in the day and have schooling in night. Booker reached at Hampton and got hired for $5 a day and he worked and studied. In Hampton, he had great characters like General Armstrong, who helped him a lot. Chapter IVth is focussed on ‘Helping others’, writer gets exposed to public speeches through debates etc. in Hampton.Writer refers to Ku-Klux period as the darkest period. Writer throughout worked hard and reached at the height, where US President came to his college to appreciate him. He brings out first school for black students at Tuskegee with sheer hard work and discipline, though with help from well meaning white people occasionally. After establishing school, he marries one teacher there and after few years of her death, marries again. After gaining much name, he goes to Europe for tour and by now he is celebrity everywhere. General Armstrong earns the maximum respect from Washington, whose death he describes in touching words, calling him as ‘ the finest, most unselfish, and most attractive man that I have ever come in contact with’! Most pleasant surprise for writer has been Harvard University’s decision to confer honorary Master of Arts degree on him in 1896, which he received along with telephone inventor Dr. Bell! This was first degree conferred upon a negro by a New England(US) University. President McKinley visited Tuskegee school in 1897. Without even a dollar’s property, Washington in two decades made Tuskegee school worth 23 hundred acres of land, with one thousand under cultivation by students, 66 buildings built with student labour. All students from school have been getting jobs. The school property grew to seven lakh dollars worth, with endowment it comes to 17 lakh dollars at the end of nineteenth century. Beginning from 30 students it grew to 1400 students from 27 states including Africa, Cuba, Jamaica etc. The school had disciplined schedule from 5 am to 9.30 pm, every minute counted. First Negro conference was also organised by Washington here, in 1900, first Negro business league was also organised.

   Booker T Washington testifies to the role of education in elevating a oppressed and suppressed community towards freedom, that is what has happened with Negros of the South in US and they attained freedom with struggle. Indian Dalit movement has also been emphasising upon Education with Dr. Ambedkar slogan-Educate, Unite and Agitate. Education is first step towards attaining liberation for any community.

   Washington’s autobiography or life falls in the category of Christian piety or Gandhian way of changing society by change of heart. It is like Henry Beecher Stow’s novel-Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But earlier to this autobiography, there had been more radical autobiographies written. But both trends complement each other to understand Black/Negro/race problem in USA and elsewhere. Meanwhile Up From Slavery has its historic significance.

 

 

 

  1. Narratives of the life of Douglass

Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Anti Slavery Office, Boston, Ist ed. 1845, pages 111, Price not mentioned

   This is historic book in the history of human liberation struggle in all ages. Frederick Douglass was a slave himself and lived very hard and harsh life, going through all the tortures of slavery and was able to come out of it only by escaping. Electronic form of book was released on the occasion of Martin Luther King birth anniversary on 15th January 1992. The book was entered in the ‘clerk’s office’ of the district court of Massachusetts as per act of Congress in 1845. As Preface to the book, writer had produced letter from Wendell Phillips. Book is divided into 11 chapters with Appendix and A Parody.

        Preface of this narrative is written by Llyod Garrison from Boston on 1st May 1845 who gave an update on anti-slavery movement in USA at that time. He got acquainted with writer of this narrative at one such convention in 1841, whose speech in such conventions were intensely emotional. Douglass experience as slave was not peculiar, people suffered more than him in slave condition. Douglass named all the persons in his slave condition, so the narrative can be contradicted if untrue. Llyod ends his preface with the slogan-No compromise with slavery! No Union with slaveholders!

    Narrative also includes letter from Wendell Philips Esq. from Boston, dated 22nd April 1845. Wendell was worried about Douglass safety, when he was narrating his memoirs as there was no place, where a fugitive slave could feel safe. Introduction to Douglass life is given as Fredrick Augustus Washington Bailey was born in slavery, not sure of his birth year or date. He escaped slavery by running out from Baltimore in 1838 at 20 years of age and came to New York, marrying Anna Murray. He changed his name to Frederick Douglass and addressed his first convention against slavery in Massachusetts Anti-slavery society in 1841 at Nantucket and greatly impressed the audience. He was employed as an agent and he wrote his Narrative, published in 1845 and later Bondage and My Freedom published in 1855, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass published in 1881. He died in 1895.

   In first chapter Douglass narrates his birth in Tuckahoe in Maryland, no accurate date or year of birth. Mother name was Harriet Bailey, father a white man(Sharan Kumar Limbale-Akkarmashi) separated from mother in infancy. Writer saw mother only 4-5 times in whole life, that too for very short duration in night time. She died almost as a stranger when Douglass was just seven years. Douglass served under two masters-Anthony and Plummer, both held number of slaves, Anthony had thirty. Subletting of slaves, Plummer very cruel. Aunt Huster’s cruel treatment, shrieks from burning her.

In second chapter author gives description of his own sufferings in Talbot country at his master’s place. Colonel Llyod had 3 to four hundred slaves on his plantations. Monthly allowances to slaves were given here. Seven to ten years old children-both girls and boys were seen naked all around. No beds, coarse blankets for slaves. Overseer Severe true to his name was cruel man, whipped women in front of her children, blood running for hours, children crying. He showed fiendish barbarity. Severe died uttering bitter curses, slaves thought it mercy from providence. Successor Hopkins less severe, considered good by slaves. Great House farm of Lloyd. Slaves sung songs. Slaves sing most when most unhappy. Songs sorrows of their heart, aching heart relieved by tears. Crying for joy quite uncommon among slaves.

IIIrd Chapter-Father-son slaves-old Barney and young attended the establishment of Lloyd. Colo. Llyod brook no question, thirty lashes to old Barney on small excuse, all his three sons too took pleasure in whipping slaves. He had thousand slaves and 10 to 15 house servants. Slaves quarrelled among themselves too describe their master’s goodness! Being poor man’s slave was considered disgrace!

Chapter IV-

 

  1. What the Body Remembers, Shauna Baldwin Singh, Rupa&Co, Delhi, 2011 edition, pages 610, price 395/ rupees

  This novel was first published by Knopf Canada in 1999 and has won many international awards since then. Novel is dedicated to Amir, Alexander Arjan, Sheila-Anne Jaya, Piya, Ria and Toyah, Anyshka and Pravir, Ameera and Ayesha, perhaps members of Shauna family. The novel won 2000 Commonwealth Writer’s prize for best book for Canada-Caribbean. It has been translated into fifteen languages. Its base story Satya had also won Canadian literary award in 1997. Shauna’s other works include The Tiger Claw, English lessons and other stories, We are not in Pakistan etc. She lives in Milwaukee. Novel has got rave reviews in Washington Post, New York Times, The Times London etc.

  Novel begins with Prologue from 1895 of undivided India, but the story of novel begins from 1928 and concludes with an epilogue in 1965, but the story ends in September 1947. Literally, it becomes story of a two decades prior to partition of India. Divided into 8 sections and 41 chapters, novel is perhaps till now best English novel on partition. Earlier novels Train to Pakistan, Azadi etc. had not been such elaborate, chronological, sociological and aesthetic story of the great tragedy, as What the Body Remembers is.

 Novel begins from Rawalpindi in 1937 with Satya, the main character of the novel, she is becoming cooler to Roop, the second wife of her husband Sardar..Second section and chapter goes back to 1928-37 story of Pari Darwaza, in Khanewal where Roop was born and brought up by Dipty Bachan Singh along with her sister Madni and brother Jeevan. Their Mama dies, but there are servants in the house to take care. Writer begins every chapter of the novel chronologically and by 1937 brings the issue of Roop’s marriage to fore, as Madani and Jeevan are already married. Sardar Kushal Singh comes with proposal of marriage with his brother-in-law for second marriage as from first marriage with Satya, no child was born. The bridegroom is almost Roop’s father’s age, but he agrees. In October 1937, Roops’ marriage is conducted at Punja Sahib gurdwara in Hasan Abdal, hiding from Satya. There is talk of Mahatma Gandhi, Master Tara Singh freedom movement etc. Third section of novel covers phase of 1937-40

Sardarji is from landlord family with lands in rural area, he got education in England and is now Engineer in British govt. service. When Satya is told of his marriage, she boils, but had to reconcile. Later Roop gives birth to one daughter and one son, which are taken over by Satya and she is not allowed even to feed them. She gives birth to another son, but then, she rebels, goes to her parental house, gets back her children. Satya is forced to live alone; she also rebels and takes revenge by her death, through getting TB from her cousin by kissing her forcefully. Sardar ji becomes chief engineer of Punjab and at partition, time had to leave her lands, but brings the maps of Punjab with him, which Pakistani Punjab officials, his own old colleagues get back their copy by much difficulty. Sardar ji had lands in Khanewal area, one factory too. Larger part of story is in third section; forth section carries the story further of 1941-42. Vth section focuses on 1942, sixth on 1943-44, , seventh on 1945-46 and eighth and last on 1947. The story has historic events as well as partition massacres and other tortures on humankind, but the love triangle of Satya-Sardaji and Roop with its entire feudal ramification is the core of the story.

  Novel’s title is interesting, focusing on the body, which contains memory through brain, a physical entity.

    Overall, this is one of the best novel in English on partition.

 

  1. Such a Long Journey (Itta Lamba Safar) in Hindi translation, Rohinton Mistri, Penguins India

Such a Long Journey takes place in Mumbai, Maharashtra, in the year 1971. The novel’s protagonist is a hard-working bank clerk Gustad Noble, a member of the Parsi community and a devoted family man struggling to keep his wife Dilnavaz, and three children out of poverty. But his family begins to fall apart as his eldest son Sohrab refuses to attend the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology to which he has gained admittance and his youngest daughter, Roshan, falls ill. Other conflicts within the novel involve Gustad’s ongoing interactions with his eccentric neighbours and his relationship with his close friend and co-worker, Dinshawji. Tehmul, a seemingly unimportant and mentally disabled character, is essential in Gustad’s life, as he brings out the tender side of him and represents the innocence of life. A letter that Gustad receives one day from an old friend, Major Bilimoria, slowly draws him into a government deception involving threats, secrecy and large amounts of money. He then, begins the long journey that sheds new light on all aspects of Gustad’s personal and political life. The novel not only follows Gustad’s life, but also India’s political turmoil under the leadership of Indira Gandhi.

Novel was first published in 1991, which is more focused on Nagarwala scandal, who took out sixty lakh rupees from SBI, mimicking Indira Gandhi voice, later who had to pay with his life. Shiv Sena had also come under attack. Writer has used sexual terminology quite unabashedly. Novel was subscribed in BA syllabus of Mumbai University, which was removed forcibly as both Shiv Sena and Congress party joined together to oppose the novel. Rohinton’s next novel A Fine Balance also attracted lot of attention. As a novelist, he is fine, on Parsee life in India, this might be one of the best writing.

Hindi translation of the novel is not up to the mark, could not enjoy much, rather got irritated at places.

 

 

 

  1. Remembering Socialist China (1949-76), RUPE, Mumbai, 2014, Ist ed., pages 90, price Rupees 50/

Three essays compiled in this important publication by Research Unit for Political Economy, known short as RUPE as part of its periodic publication-Aspects of Indian Economy nos 59&60 is valuable addition to understanding present day China. All three essays have come from China’s own scholars in academics at Chinese or American Universities, who boldly assert the socialist qualities of Mao time China and expose the Dengist fall into Capitalist China. Introduction is by Editor Rajni Desai, who has preferred not to mention her name as editor. The volume has been brought out to mark 65th anniversary of creation of Peoples Republic of China from Tiananmen square on 1st October 1949 by Mao Ze Dong. During Mao’s time also, attempts were made to put socialist revolution in reverse gear from withing Communist party, which prompted Mao to give call for Cultural revolution, which became controversial due to many factors. After the death of Mao on 9th September 1976, the party was captured by anti socialist led by Deng Xiao Peng and full restoration of Capitalism under the rule of Communist party was acjieved in few years. But the difference between Soviet restoration of Capitalism and Chinese restoration is that there is strong resistance in China at every step and these scholars have brought out the facts unknown or suppressed by media. Within China also, patronised by Dengists, academia has tried to project the whole Mao era as a disaster, a long killing spree. But some objective scholars including Indian economist Utsa Patnaik with support of facts have debunked such motivated propaganda of either west or by Chinese present regime.

    In first essay Mobo Gao, born in small Chinese village and presently Director of Confucius Institute at Adelaide has focussed on China’s past glory. Title of his essay is-“Why is the Battle for China’s past Relevant to us Today”? He has contrasted poverty but equality of Mao era with affluence but inequality of present era. He has exposed the lies spread in the name of Great leap forward and The Cultural Revolution. Mobo Gao had through his own survey and of official Chinese Global Times survey has established that nearly 80% Chines people see more merits in Mao than demerits. There may be mistakes made in carrying forward the socialist revolution, but there was no betrayal of people as has been done y Deng clique later.

  Dongping Han, a known historian, is teaching in US, but with guest Professor at Hebei University in China also. In his essay-‘The Socialist Legacy Underlies the Rise of Today’s China in the World. Dongping Han has contrasted China’s pre revolution situation and advances made during revolutionary period after 1949 socialist revolution made under Mao. Narrating even fom his personal experiences in USA, Dongping has shown that how China regained a sense of dignity as nation after revolution, where as it was treated by westerners like ‘dogs’ before 1949, because it was weak. Dongping has discussed in detail the period of Socialist period of China during 1949-1976 and shown that despite joining Korean war at the very inception of new China, it made land reforms and fulfilled the dream of China’s peasant of ‘land to the tiller’! It led to agricultural cooperation movement and further socialist transformation of Chinese society. Dongping has shown by data that how during 1953-56 Chinese GNP ANNUAL GROWTH WAS 19.6&, unthinkable in so called neo liberal regime of today. Despite being called as disaster, Dongping has also underlined the positive aspects of The Great leap Forward, in which the scholar himself grew up in China. He has bunked the western theories and even debated with his own teachers about the number of deaths in Great leap Forward. Even about Cultural Revolution period Dongping brings out the positive aspects of education reforms, democratization of Chinese society and the growth of agriculture and industry during that period. Han calls the post Mo era as period of regression and highlights the level of corruption in this period. The scholar has exposed the so called ‘development’ model of new Chinese rulers, enamoured to Indian rulers also. As per Dongping this model ‘has been plundering the accomplishments of the Mao led Chinese revolution to get capital for its capitalist development” (Page 70). And his conclusion of this development model is-‘Any reform that only benefits the minority will not succeed, and will lead to self destruction in the end, even if it appears to be going well in the beginning’.

   His last words are-‘What is the way ahead for China? A return to socialism is only way out’!(page 70)

    The third essay by Hao Qi-‘Distribution and Social Transformation at Tonggang: China’s Workers under Socialism, under ‘Reform’ and Today’-a longish title of case study with contrast of two systems of near past. A doctorate in Economics from Massachusetts Amherst and is teaching at Renmin University. He begins his essay by mentioning massive workers protest by Tonghua steel company when it was privatised by Chinese ‘Communist’ rulers in 2009. The protest was led by some retired workers, who had worked during socialist period(1949-78) and had seen the benefits being snatched from workers by privatisation. Hao Qi shows that how workers were practically made masters of factory during socialist period,  housing, education and medical services were all provided by the factory and there was job security. In reform period the workers power was undermined, their wages started stagnating without any increase. Outsourcing to migrant workers was introduced, affecting job security. Ground was prepared for privatization in this period. Inequality if life standards came into existence.

      Today the situation is worsening. While in 1980, most of working class was working in state or collective owned enterprises; in 2013 70% of working class is migrant workers from rural areas. During socialist period, workers knew each other and they got organised easily. In post 1980 period, with introduction of outsourcing of work, make workers unknown to each other and thus chances of organising themselves became weaker. However the scholar sees the revival of workers struggles and strength in post 2007 period and he is hopeful of Chinese workers approaching new era of revival of their strength.

   All three essays are data based on based on field research, so carry mark of authenticity. These expose the anti communist propaganda and highlight the positive features of socialist era of first three decades of Chinese revolution.

         Research Unit for Political Economy, Mumbai has done very good job to bring this enlightening volume and that too at very inexpensive price.

  1. A Middle Class India?, Aspetcs of India’s Economy, no. 58, RUPE, Mumbai, 2014, pages 72, Price 40/ rupees.

This is an important long essay in six parts and discusses whether India has turned into a middle class society? The essay rather depicts the counter picture of India becoming an authoritarian state by its economic and political policies, though projecting it as growing middle class country. The essay first discusses the sudden interest in India’s middle class, which is considered as ‘engine of growth’, by neo-liberals, which is considered as wishful thinking by the authors. In second chapter The Problem of defining the middle class is discussed. Economic data, income level and consumption levels are discussed for this purpose. Quoting renowned economists, essay underlines the fact that not even 100 million people or 1/20th part of Indian population falls under middle class category and that too, much smaller group is of corporate rich. Third chapter focuses on the reality of ‘Gaping Inequalities’! There is huge gap between the earnings of lowest strata and highest strata. In fourth chapter The reality of Deformed Structure of Employment is analysed. The organised labour has declined from 17 to 12% in 2004-5. Casual or contractual work terms are on the rise than regular or formal. India’s Middle class reality is discussed in final chapter before conclusion. And the shocking fact is that top ten percent of upper Hindu castes spend most money, largest proportion of organised formal jobs are also appropriated by upper caste Hindus. In conclusion the essay sums up certain facts:

  1. Talk of giant middle class in India is to promote certain ideological agenda, only handful of middle class enters ruling class by rising to the top of bureaucracy.
  2.  Workers political movement may be on the ascent again and the middle class supporting Modi like supporting Hitler in Germany, has really benefitted the big business.

In Appendix consumption data of middle class had been put in perspective.

This is a serious study with data support and demands attention.

December 2014

  1. Rupa Bajwa, The Sari Shop (Novel), Penguin Books, 1st ed. 2004, reprint 2014, pages 242, price 299/rupees

This is debut novel of young writer of 28 years at the time of first publication. It received many accolades, including Sahitya Akademi award in year 2006. The novel also won Commonwealth Writers Prize and Grinzane Cavour prize. Novel is dedicated to two loving special men-Sardar Piara Singh and Harvinder Jit Singh Goraya. Novel is divided into two parts of 12 and nine chapters and is based on writer’s own city Amritsar. This was the last book I read in year 2014 by 31st December!

The Sari Shop title could be little deceptive, though it does relate to the action of the novel. But the novel is more a story of ‘dispossessed of the earth’ by focusing on the frivolous life of middle class through the prism of Sari house. Ram Chand is Sari Shop worker, whose father was a petty shopkeeper and who like all lower middle class people wished to see his son study and rise in social status. He put him in a school, where he could learn English and get into upper ladder of society.

Though this is author’s first novel, that too written at quite young age, yet, the grip over craft of novel is like that of a mature writer. Novel begins with Ramchand, a shop worker of Amritsar’s famous Sevak sari house has over slept and has reached shop late to get blasted by shop manager Mahajan. In the process, writer has depicted Amritsar’s cityscape-original walled city, full of bazaars-katras. The owner of shop is Bhimsen Seth, who controls it through his manage Mahajan. Ramchand’s co-workers at shop are-Hari, Gokul, Shyam, Rajesh, the last two were going to marry off their children in each other families. The clientale of Sari house include some regular upper middle class women like-Mrs Sandhu, an engineer’s wife, whose son Manu is preparing for some exam. And is utterly foul mouthed. Mrs. Gupta is wife of some business man.

Ramchand was now 26 years old, born to a shopkeeper father, who wished him to learn English and become ‘big’ man, was getting him good education, when suddenly he died along with his wife in some accident while on some religious place journey. Ramchand’s mother was very caring; she took him to temple-shivalya. . It happened in his early childhood, when he was just six years old, he did not cry. He lived with his grandmother in a village nearby. He was sent back with some distant uncle to Amritsar to be put back to school, after he completed his eighth standard, at the age of fifteen years, Ramchand was put to work in this shop, since then he was working here. His uncle died after four years and his auntie took over their house/shop and pushed Ramchand out. He later realised that they snatched his house/shop from him. He became very quiet and life became a routine while living in a rented room of another shopkeeper, whose wife sometimes fascinated him. Somehow the desire to learn English remained imbedded in him and just one incident at Sari Shop it revived his interest and he started buying English learning books from his meagre salary. He was sent to very rich man Kapor’s house to display Saris for their daughter Rina’s marriage, who was marrying a army man of her own choice and was bit independent and whose marriage ceremony he went to watch and spoke innocent lie that he was invitd by Rina memsahib, who accepted this lie and allowed him to watch. Not even that she even visted him later at sari Shop to see this ‘curious man’!

The second part of novel depicts the tragedy of his shop assistant colleague Chander, who came from nearby semi urban background and had married his village girl Kamla, who was bit educated and had middle class desires. Because of Chander’s drinking and beating habits, she herself develops drinking habit and for neighbourhood turns out to be like ‘monster’, who abuses people.She hits at the houses of Kapoors, who get the Kamla murdered and their house destroyed. Kamla does this as Kapoors had shut down a factory, where Chander was working, without paying any salarydue for months to his workers, which destroyed Chander’s life, who was pushed to penury and compelled to work at much lower level at sari Shop. After this incident, Ramchand had spit on a sari in shop in fron t of these neo-rich people and locked himself up in his rented room for many days without eating and coming out . But his protest wanes out and he returns o Sari Shop and is forgiven by the excuse that he behaved ‘nastily’ due to being drunk, which he never was. They need him more as he was a good worker at lower salary.

The novel may look to be humorous, but actually it is tragic story of the wretched of he earth and exposure of so called neo rich with hegemonic power in their hands. How the police becomes party in killing and destroying Kamla, the poor enraged woman, shows the system’s collaboration with its rich!

The first novel os Rupa Bajwa is worth commending.

Review

There has been minor improvement in 2014 reading than 2013, but not fully satisfactory for me. Most happy year in terms of reading has been year 2011 at Trinidad, when I touched almost 100 figures! This year read many quality books in literature as well as history. In history-Shekhar Bandopadhyaya’s book on freedom struggle, Chauri Chaura by Subhas Kushwaha, VP Menon’s Transfer of Power in India, two RUPE publications on Indian Middle Class and Remembering Socialist China were notable books. Two books on slavery from USA have been good read. This year I started reading on Kindle as well; few important books were read on kindle for free. Pleasant turn was reading literature quite a lot during the year in Hindi, Punjabi and English. Being in Bathinda, read most of Balwant Gargi’s classic plays in Punjabi. For knowing more about Razia Sultana read Mewa Ram’s huge novel in Hindi and Gargi play in Punjabi. Three major English novels I read-Shauna Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers, Rupa Bajwa’s The Sari Shop and Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey in Hindi translation. I was not able to write to my satisfaction on many of these books, except on Chauri Chaura, which became almost viral. I wished to write in more detail on Mewa Das novel ‘Razia Sultan’, Shauna Baldwin’s nove, ‘What the body Remembers’ and Rupa Bajwa’s novel ‘The Sari Shop’, but could not, except making note of my reading of these books. There is a conflict in mind-reading for pleasure or reading for writing? Primarily I wish to stick to my reading for pleasure, particularly of literature, the desire to write makes it conflicting, as writing demands certain discipline and organisation of thought, which is not always possible. Some books are read for writing only, particularly for writing a paper for seminar. My writing on Ajnala’s black well of 1857 also drew good attention in Hindi and English both. Scanned and read many books on Udham Singh and Madan Lal Dhingra for TV channel recording.

On the whole it has been satisfying to read and write in balanced manner during this year.

There has been minor improvement in 2014 reading than 2013, but not fully satisfactory for me. Most happy year in terms of reading has been year 2011 at Trinidad, when I touched almost 100 figure! Three more books I wished to read-1.Bharat mein Angrezi Raj(Two volumes)-Pt. Sunder Lal-classic book on Indian freedom struggle from 1757-1947, 2. Desh Ke Baat(Marathi/Hindi), 3. Desh ki Baat(Hindi)-last two edited by Manager pandey.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Observations on my CUP Bathinda stay during year 2014

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           CUP Bathinda-21st Feb.-2014-Mother Lgs (24) Year 2014 became a special time period in my life, though I did not visualise so in the beginning of the year. I returned to Punjab after nearly nine years, after retirement from JNU, where I overstayed few more months post retirement to complete pending assignments. I had wished to get fellowship in either Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi or Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla, to continue my research on Bhagat Singh and/or Ghadar party, or getting associated with Central University of Punjab(CUP) at my home district Bathinda . CUP, Bathinda Vice Chancellor  Prof. Jairup Singh invited me for a lecture on Kartar Singh Sarabha in November 2013 and subsequently offered the position of Professor in Comparative Literature. There were certain hiccups in between due to over bureaucratisation at CUP, but I was able to join the University in mid-December, initially for six months, but with the understanding of longer stint. It was a welcome break for me, as I was unhappy at the misconduct of Centre of Indian Languages, JNU Chairperson with me and Prof. Nachimuthu, despite JNU VC’s support to us, at the time of our retirement on same day in January end 2013. Prof. Nachimuthu was invited by his home state Tamilnadu Central University to join as Professor in Tamil, I also got similar offer from my state!

                    Though I wished to serve CUP with idealist ideas of contributing to its development, I had some difficulty in adjusting to entirely contrasting  too liberal academic culture of JNU to stifling atmosphere at CUP, where younger faculty was bound like factories from 9 am to 5.30 pm with bio-metric attendance and signing the attendance register as well, with no vacation at all. I came to know about it prior to joining, but made it clear to Vice Chancellor, while accepting the offer that I will compromise with these conditions only if accommodation was provided to me at campus, which was acceded to. Bio-metric or signing attendance register was not meant for us-6-7 retired Professors, who were engaged by CUP on contract, yet I always felt pinched by it and made no bone of it, always spoke openly and frankly against such indignity heaped on younger faculty. But those who suffered-the younger faculty made no protestation at any time, even during my stay at CUP. As usual I found a form of silent protest over it, never came to my office before 9.30 am, usually between 9.30 to 10 am, except when there was some meeting fixed, that may have happened rarely in whole year, though sat late till even 8 or 9 pm some times. There are about forty younger faculty members, few of them still on contract, while some were regularised after spending long time on contract. While they are expected to do quality research, they were not allowed even to attend refresher/orientation courses till recently, though obligatory by UGC instructions. Even before sending a seminar paper for consideration to any University for acceptance/presentation, in India or abroad, they were required to seek permission, even when many of the papers were never accepted. This condition has been recently waved! Faculty has accepted all these anti-academic conditions silently. Generally most of the faculty is hard working, yet favours like funding/travel grants for papers presentation abroad, got only few!

   Why I wished to be in CUP? When Central University was established in 2009 at Bathinda, I was happy and welcomed it, since it was established in my home district. The idea of establishing one central University in each state and that too in most backward region of that state was good idea of then MHRD minister Arjun Singh, in order to provide quality education to poorer students at affordable level with more facilities and financial support as Central Universities generally provide, more than State or private Universities to students. Bathinda in Punjab deserved it most. As Professor and Chairperson of Centre of Indian Languages then in 2009 at JNU, New Delhi, I wrote to then MHRD minister and his successor Kapil Sibbal, who had no pretension of Nehruvian ideal of his predecessor and was more coloured in Corporate world of privatization, to name the University as ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh Central University of Punjab’, it was published in Punjabi Tribune, Ajit and University News at that time. Till today no University in the country, even in Punjab or left ruled states is named after Bhagat Singh, even though he is considered the supreme hero of the country. Founder VC Prof. Jairup Singh was not in favour of naming it after Bhagat Singh, neither Govt. paid any attention as usual. I was invited as expert in very first interviews to select faculty at the University. Later I expressed my wish to donate my collection of books at Patiala, which was accepted by Vice Chancellor, CUP by acknowledging it personally; accordingly 2000+ books were collected from my residence in Patiala. It was but natural that after my retirement, I offered my services to CUP, Bathinda, which were gracefully accepted by then VC Prof. Jairup Singh. I had left Bathinda in 1976 to join JNU as student, and after doing PhD from JNU, served at different places in Punjab and outside Punjab, before finally joining and retiring from JNU, New Delhi as Professor in January end 2013. The other reason was that I was an activist teacher during my early period at Bathinda and I wished to refresh my contacts/friendships with many of those days’ friends/activists after nearly four decades. So despite my reservations, joining CUP was a pleasure, though my working hours or classes were just two days a week for four hours in both JNU and in West Indies for eight years! On my own I used to spend more than eight hours a day in my office and produced more than twenty books in this period in Hindi, Punjabi and English, which earned me a bit of name as well in academic world, that too more outside my professional area of literature!

    Small but green campus of CUP was most pleasing for me and it was so quiet too! Even though I was provided with just one attached bath, a single bed-cum study room accommodation, I was satisfied with that. There was shared kitchen to make tea/breakfast, while I took my lunch and dinner from only students mess on campus, other faculty and staff too took food there, when necessary. Food may not be very good there, but for me eating in mess was enjoyable, I always liked to live like a hosteller that is what CUP provided me. Then there was good gym on campus, to which I was introduced for first time in 2011 at The University of the West Indies, here it was free too! I enjoyed spending evening time in gym for at least four months, but stopped using it in summer and then did not go till the end of my term. My office facilities were as good as in JNU or West Indies, I was made administrative head (COC) of two centres-Comparative Literature and Punjabi, and also In charge of CUP Library.  I just escaped another charge of public relations being given! I enjoyed all three responsibilities, but missed teaching classes, which I could not, as younger faculty, were under compulsion to have full teaching work load. So I took special classes or classes of teachers on leave. Had I got the authority, I would have made them share teaching with me and spend more time on research! But I introduced the culture of participation of all faculty members in decision process. Like JNU, I started holding faculty meetings for every issue-academic or administrative, which I was not expected to do. In library also, I made library committee more active for discussing everything and take decision by consensus, many times my own views did not find favour with my colleagues and I never insisted to push my views upon majority view of my colleagues. While most of my colleagues were happy at participatory discourse, few were upset, who wanted me not to hold any ‘meeting and take decisions ‘on my own!’ This was my way of introducing democratisation of the institute, which badly lacked it!

    Other way of democratising the institute I adopted was to hold academic functions of such nature. For the first time in English hegemonic University, International Mother Languages Day was celebrated with much gusto on 21st February, later students were encouraged to commemorate Bhagat Singh martyrdom day, which they organised with my lecture. Inspired by this some Maharashtra students took initiative to observe Dr. Ambedkar day, the lecture was held with my support and encouragement. I was able to organise even Punjabi poet Pash Memorial Day with Rana Ranbir play based on poet’s life and poems-Khetan da Putt-on poet’s birthday-9th September!

   By that time new Vice Chancellor of the University Prof. R K Kohli had joined, who was not appreciative of my activities and though after that I organised official programmes to observe Hindi fortnight in September itself, as Professor-Coordinator of statutory Hindi committee of CUP,I was made to realise that no more support for even these official functions from VC will be available. Ironically though new Vice Chancellor joined on Teachers Day-5th September, the day turned out to be ‘On duty no pay day’ for contractual teachers and non teaching staff. Vice Chancellor joined around 12 o’ clock and all staff had marked their attendance at 9 am itself and worked as usual till 5.30 pm, yet without any rhyme or reason and without even informing them in any manner-oral or written, they were made to work ‘without pay’ in the ‘joy of new VC joining’, the fact they came to know much later, when they got their salary for September!

      My library staff colleagues were quite happy with my being in charge as I tried to enrich library with more books and journals, despite many hurdles created by audit official. I gifted some more books and journals from my personal collection further. Here too, new Vice Chancellor imposed fifty rupees per day fine on late return of books, without either informing or discussing with me, officially designated Professor-Incharge of library, for which I was paid extra remuneration per month! Reason apparently was that in interaction with students, he got the complaint of non availability of books to students. Without cross-checking about the complaint from library staff or knowing the real reasons for it, he made a sudden arbitrary declaration of imposing fifty rupees per day for non return of books by faculty or students, supposing late return to be the real cause of non availability of the books for students! The fact of the matter was that there was not even 2% rate of late return of books either from faculty or students and the real reason for non availability of books was non purchase or non display of books already purchased on shelves, which he would have been briefed had he asked for it from library staff or in charge! CUP library is not short of funds; rather it has more funds than even old Central Universities like JNU, known for its best collections. Library had not evolved proper purchase system due to non appointment of full fledged Librarian, which was a must for developing library. In absence of that, books had been purchased a lot but mostly at the fag end of every financial year, that too more in the field of sciences and less in humanities. There were few journals subscribed in humanities. During my short term as Library incharge, I did try to balance the purchase of books, but again the over bureaucratisation and hurdles created by one audit official, put even the recommendations on hold. I tried my best to improve upon and got many journals subscribed as well as books purchased in humanities. Yet many of purchased and accessed books could not go to shelves, because of technical problems of much advanced mechanised process of library.

     As per my practice, I took the matter of Vice Chancellor’s late return fine instructions to library committee, where all faculty members were upset, as no University library in the region, may be except private Universities, like DAV University, from where new VC had come, though after spending three decades at Panjab University Chandigarh, where no such provision exists. In most of the Public libraries or Govt. institutions or state or Central Universities libraries, the rate of late return fine is not more than one or two rupees a day as was in CUP. Yet to accommodate new VC’s instructions, library committee found a way out by resolving that fifty rupees per day fine for late return may be imposed after normal fine days of two weeks are over. The proceedings of library committee were sent to VC as usual, who rather than appreciating it, took affront to that and in personal meeting accused me of ‘doing trade unionism like JNU’ and getting signatures of faculty members by force! I tried to explain the reasons and actual situation and offered to hand over library charge to any new appointee of VC. I did refuse to go against library committee decision which was statutory in nature as library manual was approved by EC and refused to issue fifty rupees daily fine notice. Vice Chancellor got the order issued from library staff by himself dictating the notice, yet no new library incharge was named whom I could hand over the charge!

       I did not visualise spending more than one year in CUP. In the meantime I continued with my academic activities-presenting papers, writing, publishing books, digitalizing my own earlier published or hand written documents, which gave me great satisfaction. My relations with my younger colleagues and students were quite cheerful. I kept on recommending younger faculty for attending seminars/refresher/orientation courses, though sometimes my recommendations were turned down with impunity. COC’s/OIC’s in CUP are supposed to act as remotes of higher authorities, which I could never allow myself to. Over bureaucratisation and feudal attitude of higher officials and centralisation of power in just one person did kept on disturbing me, but I dealt with it in my own way of arguing with reason, sometimes succeeding, mostly failing in my reasoned democratic approach.

       Finally I thought it was time to leave, as a retired Professor with some name in academics, also having remained President/activist of Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) President and teacher activist/office bearer for many years at Punjabi University Teachers Association, Patiala (PUTA) too, I did not wish to compromise with the dignity of a teacher, not just my personal dignity. When few young faculty members from CUP took initiative to form a platform to develop CUP Teachers Association in future, I supported them morally, though I could not have become part of them as retired faculty.

       CUP friends and former colleagues, I wished to share my experiences at CUP with you and also unpleasant correspondence with CUP officials during my last few months, some publication links as usual. The one last presentation prepared for CUP on Nehru’s experiences with the region-Jaitu/Nabha to mark 125th birth anniversary of our first Prime Minister and founder of scientific approach of higher education was not allowed to be shared with you and students, though it was accepted for presentation by VC as early as in November 2014, while many other presentations were being made.(Sharing now in PPF) This makes me little worried about the days to come in the field of higher education, which were put to sound basis by first Prime Minister Nehru and first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, whose day was marked but not with his ideas on education! I have heard about the Vice Chancellors meetings conducted by new MHRD minister, who behaves like a headmistress and treats VC’s like her class monitors and expects them to obey her orders alike monitors do in schools. Sadly MHRD is treating 13 new Central Universities like high schools and remote controlling these from Delhi with concept of ‘University autonomy’ thrown to winds. They are trying to control old central Universities and state Universities also, but face resistance there due to institutions having been built in long time and difficult to dismantle in one go, but with new Central Universities, they find it easy with obliging Vice Chancellors, some of them, who have no self respect or respect for their profession and who try to please the masters whom they would have treated differently, if they had been part of their class as student any time earlier and the new masters have no concern for education or higher education and just wish to push their irrational unscientific mediaeval religious agenda to destroy education system built by Jawaharlal Nehru like visionaries!

   Wishing you best in 2015 and beyond…wishing the best for CUP Bathinda as well, for the students of the institution and region, who must avail the facilities of this public institution as their right and not as charity! I also wish that CUP officials accept Comparative Literature/Punjabi faculties meeting resolution of introducing at least 2000/ rupees scholarship for all M.A./MSc level students. Also wish the students and faculty to avail some vacations in coming years!

Prof.chaman@gmail.com  09646494538

Publications/Presentations/Activities-2014

Books

  1. Bhagat Singh ke Durlabh Dastavez aur Kranti ka Barahmasa, Samvad Merrut  2014
  2. Shaeed Bhagat Singh: Dastavezon ke Aaine Mein(Ed.-Urdu), Publication Division, New Delhi, 2014

 

Articles in Books/Journals

1.Pash di kavita vich jhalkda Bharat da bimb, in Bheeminder edited-Pash di Prasangikta, 2014

  1. Two letters of Bhagat Singh in The Hindu (English), Jansatta (Hindi) and Punjabi Tribune(Punjabi) on 23rd March 2014
  2. On Ajnala Black well of 1857– The Hindu, Frontier, The Milli Gzzette, Janta-English (September 2014) Samkaleen Teesri Duniya (Hindi-Septmber),
  3. Chauri Chaura (Hindi) book- review article in English and Hindi in Frontier, The Citizen(Emglish), Kathadesh, Samkaleen Janmat, Kall ke Liye Akshar Parv,(Hindi-September 2014) etc.

5.Nehru aur Nabha Jail, Dainik Bhaskar(Hindi) Chandigarh, 14th December, 2014

 

Reviews on my book-Understanding Bhagat Singh:

  1. The Hindu, The Meditative Revolutionary,by T Ramakrishna, Dec. 2013
  2. Frontline, More Light on a Hero, Kuldeep Kumar, May 2014
  3. Frontier, Suchibrata Sen, May 2014
  4. Mainstream, Useful, if Controversial, Barundas Gupta, 27th September 2014
  5. Monthly Review Website/Frontier, Left Traditions in South Asia, Radha D’ Souza, September/November 2014

 

Presentations/Lectures/Chairing Sessions

1.Organized International Mother Languages Day Discussion on 21st February 2014 at Central University of Punjab, Bathinda.

 

2.Organised Pash day function at Central University of Punjab Bathinda on 9th September 2014, delivered lecture on Pash’s life and poetry.

3.Organised  inaugural Hindi Day function in Central University of Punjab, Bathinda and delivered lecture on Official languages act on 15th September and valedictory on 29th September as Professor-Convenor of committee.

 

  1. Presented paper at Kolkata University History Deptt. National seminar on Ghadar party centenary on ‘Kartar Singh Sarabha to Bhagat Singh’ on 8th February, 2014
  2. Presented paper ‘Partition and Indian Literature’ at national seminar of Freedom Struggle and Partition by History deptt. at Vishav Bharti University Shantiniketan on 11th February, 2014
  3. Presented paper at Panjab Univesity Chandigarh on 8th March, 2014 on Bhagat Singh’s writings in Chand and Kirti, on Ghadar party centenary seminar.
  4. Made presentation on Om Prakash Balmiki and Dalit literature at Indian Institute of

         Advanced Study Shimla on 14th April 2014

  1. Made presentation on Ajmer Rode and Sukhwant Hundal plays on ‘Kamagatamaru’ on 21st April 2014 at Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Kharagpur workshop
  2. Made presentation on post graduate Syllabus of Punjabi at Punjabi dept. Punjabi University Patiala Workshop on 5th March 2014
  3. Made presentation on syllabus reforms at Revanshaw University Cuttack on 16th May 2014
  4. Presided over a session on workshop on Post Graduate Punjabi Syllabuses at Punjabi University Patiala on 5th March 2014
  5. Presided over a session on national seminar on Om Praksh Balmiki and Dalit Literature on 14th April 2014 at IIAS Shimla
  6. Presided over Chhatarpati memorial function to honor NDTV editor Ravish Kumar and Umesh Joshi at Sirsa on 22nd November, 2014, delivered address.
  7. Delivered four lectures on Black/Dalit Literature and Impact of revolutionary Nationalism on Hindi literature at Allahabad University Hindi dept. refresher course on 20-21st July 2014

 

  1. Delivered lecture on Ghadar party hero Kartar Singh Sarabha at Revanshaw University Cuttack on 17th May 2014

 

  1. Presided over and delivered lecture on ‘The significance of Books in the age of Internet’ at Mata Sundari College Mansa on 5th January.
  1. Delivered lecture on ‘The Significance of Hindi as World Language’ at CUP, Bathinda on 10th January 2014

 

  1. Delivered speech on Bhagat Singh at Ferozeshah Kotla grounds Delhi march of workers on 23rd March 2014.
  2. Delivered lecture on Relevance of Bhagat Singh at Central University of Punjab (CUP), Bathinda students function on martyrdom day-25 March 2014

20.Delivered lecture on Bhagat Singh as young man at Giani Zail Singh Engineering College, Bathinda function on 25th March, 2014

  1. Delivered lecture on Bhagat Singh birth anniversary at Panjab University Regional Centre Mukatsar on 24th September 2014
  2. Delivered lecture on Bhagat Singh’s legal knowledge at District Courts bar hall Patiala on 26th September 2014
  3. Delivered lecture on book Chauri Chaura at Shaheed Smark sansthan Lucknow on 7th October 2014.
  4. Lecture on Bhagat Singh’s ideas at Punjabi University TPD Malwa College,Rampura Phul (Bathinda) on 13 October 2014
  5. Lecture on Bhagat Singh legacy in freedom struggle at Punjabi University College Ghudda on 5th November 2014
  6. Spoke on Bhagat Singh ideas at panel on Reinventing Heritage at Chandigarh-

Literati-2014 at Lake Club Chandigarh on 8th November 2014

  1. Lecture on Ghadar party/Kartar Singh Sarabha legacy and Bhagat Singh Thought at Govt. senior secondary school, Dabwali on 23rd November 2014.
  2. Delivered lecture on visit to Cuba and Venezuela at Allahabad on 20th July at Hindustani Sabha hall.
  3. Delivered Reception committe chairman address on Bathinda’s history at All India Bank Employees meet at Bathinda on 2nd November 2014
  4. Presided over function to honour NDTV’s Ravish Kumar with Chhatarpati award at Sirsa on 22nd November 2014 and delivered presiding address.

(Eleven presentations-papers/lectures on Bhagat Singh alone)

Film/Radio interviews

  1. Interview recorded for documentary being made on Bhagat Singh by Mahesh
  2. Interview recorded by Epic channel at Delhi on 18th October on Mudham Singh and Madan Lal Dhingra.

 

 

 

Memorizing and distorting Nehru-The Tribune Pages

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Published on: Nov 26 2014 11:49AM
Lt.Gen.(Retd.) Baljit Singh’s middle article was published on 27th November in The Tribune, my response to it was published on 6th December.

Getting Jawaharlal Nehru’s autograph

My generation of Indians, who entered colleges in the early 1950s, did not have any structured education about neither the nationwide movement seeking independence from colonial rule nor the personalities who were in the vanguard of that mission. My understanding of those momentous times was gleaned chiefly from reading random pages of three books on my father’s bookshelf; biographies of Mahatma Gandhi by C F Andrews and Louis Fischer and “An Autobiography” by Jawaharlal Nehru. In due course, the latter book acquired symbolism of memorabilia.
I had arrived home on winter vacation in December, 1951, a few days prior to Prime Minister Nehru’s address to an election rally at Sangrur where my father was posted as the Deputy Commissioner. There was just one air strip in Punjab those days and Mr Nehru’s motor cavalcade was late by an hour and the crowd of several thousand peasants was becoming restive. But the moment the Prime Minister in a brown-coloured woollen “Achkan” and a white Churidar mounted the podium, there was instant hushed silence which only a charismatic and inspiring personality can infuse among his audience.
Though I was privileged to sit on one of the few chairs upon the rostrum, I was simply mesmerised to be in the shadow of the great man that I paid scant attention to his speech. He finished his exhortation with a flourish, by asking his audience to get up and join him in a full-throated chorus of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai Ho” three times over!
All this while I had sat holding a book and a pen but no sooner did Mr Nehru turn to leave than I stepped forward and, as tutored by my father, opened the book and requested him to autograph it, at the marked page. The catechism “Chacha Nehru” had not gained currency at the time but his love of  children was so evident that not only did he break into a gentle smile but also gladly autographed it and patted me on my cheek. I was to learn later in the day that recounted on that page was Mr Nehru’s arrest at Jaitaun (a village in the interior of Nabha princely state) on May 23, 1923, for inciting disorder by the agitating Akalis and his lodgement in Nabha jail. And when produced in court the following day, a kindly Sikh Magistrate ordered the police to remove the handcuffs as the accused was not a criminal. Mr Nehru was obviously pleased by the fair sense of jurisprudence shown by the Magistrate and even more so by his humanity as a few days later the Magistrate visited the jail to enquire whether he was reasonably comfortable! That endorsement of probity by Mr Nehru was intrinsically valued like a family heirloom because the Magistrate was my father’s father!
As befitting the spirit of the times, the hard binding of the first edition of “An Autobiography” had off-white ‘khadi’ cloth pasted as its outer wrap with his autograph imprinted on the upper half of the front cover which, in a manner of speaking, also symbolised the elegance of Mr Nehru, the man.
Nehru’s Nabha interlude
Lieut-Gen Baljit Singh (retd)’s middle “Getting Jawaharlal Nehru’s autograph” (November 27) has some mistakes. They include:
1. Nehru’s place of arrest was not Jaitun, but Jaitu.
2. The date of arrest as per K. Santhanam’s memoirs, Nehru’s autobiography, is: Date not mentioned, the word ‘autumn’ is used. The plaque at the Nabha high security jail mentions the period “from 22nd September 1923 to 4th October 1923.” How has the author has made it May 23?
3. As far as the conduct of the Magistrate at Nabha (author claims him to be his grandfather) is concerned, after being arrested at Jaitu on September 21, 1923, Nehru, K Santhanam and Acharya Gidwani were sent to Nabha in handcuffs. They were even marched through Jaitu bazaar in handcuffs. They remained handcuffed in the Nabha jail cell, where they were put up on September 22 for two or three days till they were produced before a Magistrate in handcuffs.
Nehru in his autobiography (chapter XVI, An Interlude at Nabha) writes: “Two or three days later we were taken to court for our case, and the most extraordinary and Gilbertian proceedings were held there from day to day. The magistrate or judge seemed to be wholly uneducated. He knew no English, of course, but I doubt if he knew how to write court language, Urdu. We watched him for over a week, and during this time, he never wrote a line. If he wanted to write anything he made court reader do it. We put in number of small applications. He did not pass any orders on them at that time. He kept them and produced them the next day with a note written by somebody else on them….”
Two cases were fostered upon them and a sentence of two and a half years given to them, which was suspended and they were thrown out of Nabha state after two weeks.
As per Nehru, the Magistrate was acting at the behest of a British administrator, who held power in the absence of King Ripudaman Singh, who was made to abdicate in favour of his minor son Pratap Singh.
Chaman Lal, New Delhi
Apart from this Tribune letter, I wish to add that- Writer mentions that at the end of speech Pt. Nehru gave slogan-‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, I doubt this very much. Nehru always gave slogan -‘Jai Hind’ thrice at the end of his public speec whether from Lal Qila on 15th August every year or at any other public speeh. This was followed by all subsequent Prime Ministers, only Narender Modi has deviated from it by calling ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ Author should not have put Modi’s word into Nehru’s mouth!

Remembering Jawaharlal Nehru on 125th Birth Anniversary

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Nabha (13) Nabha high security jail (7) Pt. Nehru Nabha jail cell area (7) Pt. Nehru Nabha jail cell area (14) ???????????????????????????????WP_20140528_052WP_20140528_053WP_20140528_060Police St. Jaitu-FIR against Nehru kept-1923 (14) Police St. Jaitu-FIR against Nehru kept-1923 (18)Pandit Nehru, Gandhi, Patel all are in RSS boiler these days. After getting absolute and unbridled power, they are at a loss how to cope up with these names, out of which two had been their target and the one whom they want to use as counter image project as to build their credibility to rule India. Mahatma Gandhi became the target of not only verbal attacks, but got bullet of RSS inspired Nathuram Godse, patronized by their hero Veer Savarkar. And Nehru the bigger enemy due to his atheism, scientific approach and socialist rhetoric, so they had to recently admit that Godse should have used his bullet on Nehru. Gandhi in any case was not going to live long, Nehru was and did live 16 years after Gandhi assassination.
Was Nehru spotless above any criticism? No Nehru was no god or flawless personality. He was also having lot of contradictions and his blunders had made India and Indians, rather South Asian people pay heavily, yet he can not be treated with contempt as present rulers are treating him, even when hypocritically doing all official drama to commemorate his 125th birth anniversary. The worst attack has been made on Nehru by Prime Minister, when he promotes Dinanath Batra like communal persons, who hoodwink publishers to pulp books, talk nonsense about ancient India’s science-of Pushpak vimans and PM chips in with his Ganesha’s elephant head like medical science stupidest comment.
Nehru’s biggest blunders were his not dealing with issues with China in rational and negotiated methods, thus falling into US imperialists trap. Ironically Nehru was instrumental in sending Medical team including Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis to China during its revolutionary struggle, appreciated by Mao Dze Dong him self, whose family is still a symbol of Indo-China kinship family and people’s friendship. Also his stubbornness in not accepting Federal and inclusive resolve of transfer of power from British colonialism, which could had avoided partition and subsequent genocide of one million people on all sides, his urge to get power sooner caused much damage to not only present India, but to pre-1947 India, which got unnaturally split into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Jinnah was not the only guilty man of partition, Nehru and Patel were no less. Yet his romance towards socialism, Soviet Union, atheism based on scientific thinking, his love for children, making him ‘Chacha Nehru’, his appeal to people at large, made him lovable personality. His admiration for revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh also added to his popularity. After Mahatma Gandhi,there had been no other persons as popular as Nehru, Subhas Bose and Bhagat Singh were among Indian people. Ambedkar’s popularity was a posthumous, though ironic. Jinnah was definitely very popular, perhaps as much as Gandhi, at least as much as Nehru, among Muslims at that time. Patel stand nowhere in popularity as compared to Nehru, despite Modi-media built posthumous created popularity or 182 feet thousand crores statue, that does not bring popularity of pre 1950 period for Patel.
This is true that Nehru suppressed Communist revolutionaries in Telangana struggle during 1946-51, as later rulers are doing till day. Nehru with all his fascination for Marxism and socialist rhetoric, was moulded in Social Democratic shape of western societies and wanted to create that kind of society through the model of Public Sector and mixed economy, which if one reviews dispassionately did bring relief and benefits to some sections of organised working classes and middle classes, the benefits which are now being sought to be snatched through corporatisation of economy.He emphasized on Industrialization, building higher education institutions like Universities for creating Scientific temper and development. Jawaharlal Nehru’s another notable contribution was creating Non-alignment movement with Panchsheel-five principles of peaceful coexistence evolved with China at Bandung conference in 1955, but it were Indian and Chinese troops, which violated these principles few years later. Abdul Gamel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Enkrumah of Ghana, Nehru and Tito of Yugoslavia were the stars on non alignment movement, their joint statues had been place in Georgetown, capital of Guyana under socialist leader Chedi Jagan during those days. Ironically even Nehru family Sonia-Rahul are afraid of claiming Nehru legacy in economy and harp on anti communalism and liberal ideas. One needs to defend most the Public sector approach of Nehru today, which is under worst attack by both BJP and Congress! The way Planning commission has been dissolved by new Govt.is an indication to that. Nehru got the idea of Planning Commission from Soviet Union and even before 1947 transfer of power, Congress party was working on the idea. In fact first Planning Commission was established under Nehru’s own Chairmanship in 1938, after Subhas Bose has become Congress President in Haripura session. Present Govt. is not only anti Nehru, it is more anti to the ideas of Netaji Subhas Bose as well and also against the ideas of Bhagat Singh like revolutionaries, whose name it has been using to attack Nehru. Bhagat Singh incidentally was admirer of both Netaji Subhas Bose and Nehru, who were also close to the ideas of these revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh had more fascination for Nehru’s scientific, rational and socialist ideas during his times.
This is also a fact that Gandhi, Nehru or such leaders like Patel etc. were treated in jails by British colonialists, as Lalus etc. are treated now in jails-VIP guests, with all the facilities, except going out of four walls. Compared to that Nelson Mandela was kept for 27 years in Robben island prison in much worst conditions in South Africa. Even Mandela’s ideal was Nehru and not Gandhi.One can see Naini jail Allahabad’s photographs to see Nehru’s VIP status in jail-which had provision for office, study, guest room etc. I had clicked such photographs from Gorakhpur jail also, which presently are misplaced or lost. However Nehru got worst police and jail treatment in feudal rule of Nabha state in 1923, when he came to Jaitu with Acharya Gidwani and another comrade K Santhanam to express solidarity with Akali Morcha against dethroning of nationalist Maharaja Ripudaman Singh of Nabha state by British colonial regime, when he was confined in a cell at Jaitu police station for few hours and for two weeks at Nabha jail, which is now in bad shape. It was in Nabha, where he faced all those sufferings, as are being suffered by prisoners even today. They were released from Nabha jail only after convicting him for two and half years but left with warning not to enter state again.Two week which they spent in Nabha district jail, were the worst experience of Nehru in Indian jails.
Nehru was an intellectual giant too, his four books are popular not only in India, rather in whole world. He is counted among world historians due to his books-Glimpses of World History , written in letter form to his only daughter Indira Gandhi. His Discovery of India, made into celluloid by Shyam Benegal is equally significant book. So is his autobiography. His writings are written from secular liberal, left of centre angel and are fascinating read in style.
Any historic personality should be evaluated in totality of his social role, which could be combination of positive and negative aspects both and in Nehru’s case, positive aspects weigh more than negative ones, though negative ones are also not negligible!
!images-NehruGlimpses Autobiography images-Letters Discovery of India

Review of Chauri Chura in Kathadesh/Aksharparv/Janmat in Hindi

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I wrote about this book on my blog, from where many journals published it. Its Hindi translation appeared in at leas three journals this months. Translation is so good as if I myself done it. Probably Subhas Chander Kushwaha, author of the book has done it but without mentioning his name. I have to speak on this book on 7th October on Durga Bhabhi birth anniversary at Lucknow in the college established by her. I am reproducing here printed from from Kathadesh, but same has been carried by Aksharparv and in some edited form by Samkaleen Janmat.

IChauri Chaura titlChauri Chaura review-Kathadesh-Sep (1)Chauri Chaura review-Kathadesh-Sep (2)Chauri Chaura review-Kathadesh-Sep (3)Chauri Chaura review-Kathadesh-Sep (4)

Remembering martyr Preetilata Wadedar-24th September(1932)

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To remember Preetilata, my review of Bedbrat Pan’s film Chittagong is re posted here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pritilata_Waddedar

 

‘Chittagong’

After many years, perhaps after my JNU student days, saw another new film on release time itself. ‘Chittagong’-film based on legendary 1932 Chittagong revolutionary movement led by Master Surya Sen, directed by Bedabrata Pain, was released yesterday itself and I went to see it today itself, as it was being shown in DLF Mall SL star cinema there. Though expensive at Rs.375/, but my interest in the movement and its already positive reporting motivated me to go for it quickly.

And I must say that 105 minute film is so well made that it enlivened the 1932 Chittagong movement on screen in very real form and without melodramizing it. Seen from the eyes of a 14 year old child revolutionary-Jhunku, who later rose to become one of the major Communist leaders of the country-Subodh Roy and whose last interview in 2006, just two weeks before his passing away is part of the film, director Bedabrata Pain has done full justice to this great revolutionary movement of India. Written by his wife and co-director Shonali Bose, the film brings into focus the one of the most progressive revolutionary movement of freedom struggle, led by legendary hero Master Surya Sen. Movement was bound to fail, as many other revolutionary movements of those times, very close to it was north Indian HSRA movement led by Bhagat Singh. Film has shown the actual happenings of movement like beginning from demonstrations against Jatin Das’s martyrdom in September 1929, led by Master Surya Sen in Chittagong, slowly developing into revolutionary network due to the oppressive British colonial structure, finally leading to raid on Chittagong armory looting arms and capturing Chittagong at least for a day or so and then retreating to hilly terrains of the thick forest land and fighting against colonial might heroically. Many children in age group of 14-18 were part of this ‘Indian Republican Army’, some were sent back homes, of which many got captured, including Jhunku, who was sent to Andamans and returns after seven years and again becomes active and becomes part of Tebhaga peasant movement, which began in 1945, at the fag end of British rule! Master Surya Sen is able to move underground for more than three years and is finally captured and executed on 12th January 1934. Preetilata Wadedar, ends her life after successful raid on European club in 1932 and killing of brutal police officers-Johnson and Ehsanulla.

Manoj Bajpayee had played role of Master Surya Sen in restrained manner, unlike films made on the life of Bhagat Singh, showing him in very loud manner. Other actors, particularly debut Delzad Hiwale playing as Jhunku has performed fantastically fine. Vega Tamotia as Preetilata has been focused more in love and her sacrificing commitment, rather in a strong revolutionary leading role.

The best part of the film is its linkage to Tebhaga peasant movement of 1945. Three major revolutionary movements of India-Gadar party movement of 1913-15, Bhagat Singh led HSRA movement of 1923-1932 and Chitttagong revolutionary movement-1930-33, produced the maximum Communist cadres and leaders from its womb. Almost all the survivors of Chittagong revolutionary movement, as of Bhagat singh led movement turned into Communists-Anant Singh, Lokentah Bal, Ganesh Ghosh, Subodh Roy(Jhunku) etc. later rose to become leading Communist leaders of Bengal.Anant Singh never compromised with his rebel spirits and continued to be jailed after 1947 as radical communist.

Surely as Bhagat Singh had the potential to become Lenin of India, so had Master Surya Sen to become Mao Ze Dong of India and both together had the potential of becoming Fidel and Che of India and could had led successful revolution even with the children army they had with them! I had thoroughly enjoyed Chittagong as a treat to my aesthetic as well as radical senses! My only wonder was that few years ago, Chittagong movement was made known to me in most impressive manner by Manini Chatterjee’s book-‘Do and Die’-perhaps still the best book on Chittagong, in film titles or credits no mention has been made of this vital book! But for me both book ‘Do and Die’ and film ‘Chittagong’ provided excellent mental pleasure, knowledge and sense of belonging to this great heritage of revolutionary freedom struggle. Irony however is that as Lahore’s great heritage as centre and symbol of revolutionary freedom struggle of India was somehow lost due to partition, so has been with Chittagong in East. Loss of Chittagong as symbol and centre is sadder, as East Bengal and now Bangladesh took pride in its secular heritage, unlike Pakistan, who discarded it. Now when even Pakistan has acknowledged Lahore as symbol with naming of ‘Bhagat singh Chow’-the execution place of martyr, should not Bangladesh follow the example by building grand memorial to the best symbol and centre of revolutionary freedom struggle in the east, with great martyrs like Master Surya Sen and Preetilata Wadedar, who, have been given less than their due even in West Bengal, where the whole symbolism has been appropriated by Subhash Bose, Tagore and Vivekanand!

Mao:Man, Not God-Memoir of personal bodyguard

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Mao-Man not God

 Mao and his daughter Ni

  1. Mao Zedong: Man, Not God, Quan Yanchi,, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, English translation Wang Wengjiong, 1st ed. 1992, sixth reprint 2009, pages 214, price 45 Yuan

 

     Li Yinqiao, the narrator of this book was Mao Zedong’s personal bodyguard for 15 years, as per his own version, Mao trusted him so much that he told him once to tell the true story of Mao family, after his death, but not before. Lin Yinqiao’s memoir of Mao as the peasant’s son, husband, father and comrade in arms have been presented here by Quan Yanchi, a member of Chinese Writers Association. The author opines that Mao himself would have given this title to this book. Mao has been presented as China’s dynamic leader and world statesman by the author.                           

                               In his brief preface to the book Quan Yanchi has described that how he got responses to his queries on Mao’s life from many people, but more importantly from Li Yinqiao. Publisher has claimed many new and unseen photographs of Mao and author has opined that ‘Mao is the greatest man China has produced in this century.’

    Book is divided into twenty chapters, through which Lin Yinquao’s memoirs have been given the shape of the book. First and introductory chapter is about how Lin became bodyguard of Mao. He was working as bodyguard to Chou En Lai, when Communist party had headquarters in Yan’an, there was a need of new bodyguard for Mao. Li has joined Chou Enlai as bodyguard in 1947, in the final phase of liberation war, fought during 1946-49. Chiang Kai-shek’s army of 2 lakh thirty thousand men led by his favorite General Hu Zongnan had pushed itself on Yan’an. Communist party headquarter at that time. Communists had to leave its HQ at Yana’n and fight guerrilla war against Chiang click. It was toughest period of war and Communist forces reached Yellow river. There were torrential rains in August and party wanted to cross river and reach at safer place, but Mao was in angry mood and did not want to leave before defeating Hu Zongnan forces. Li Desheng was Mao’s party name at that time. Li’s observation about Mao is that’ Mao always meant what he said; he was a man not to be expected to give in easily to opposition, or change his mind’.(Page 1)

    Party wanted Li Yinquao to become bodyguard of Mao, as an earlier bodyguard was dismissed by Mao. Here Li narrates that he joined People Liberation Army at the age of 11 years and worked as orderly, guard and bodyguard in ten years’ time. Li is frank in telling Mao that he does not like change from Chou and Mao likes his frankness. Both make an agreement to spend six months together, which was extended to another six months, before finally making it regular arrangement. In the due course of time Li is promoted as head of bodyguard team for Mao. He does not wish to leave Mao, who convinces him to accept higher position 15 years later and not to block his career. In the very first month, Li Yinquao is impressed by Mao’s fearlessness, who does not get perturbed, when enemy bomb explode even in front of him. Li is also impressed by Mao’s concern for other comrades, as when they had to cross the river and want Mao to cross first, Mao insists every other comrade to cross first and taking his turn last. Li is further impressed that Mao talks to him at personal level and when told that Li’s mother was a Buddhist, comments that ‘Buddhists are kind hearted and compassionate people.’(Page8) In 1956, Li was promoted as commander of Mao’s bodyguards and he stayed on till 1962, when despite Li’s reluctance to leave him, Mao persuaded him to join at higher position in Tianjin province. Their parting is sad and emotional as described by Li that he cried a lot and Mao also took him into his arms and cried by saying-“After I die, don’t forget to come to my grave…once a year.” Mao also told Li that-‘I see my children only a few times a year. You are the only one I saw every day, so you are closer to me than my own children are. But I had to think of your future….’(Page12)

       Mao Zedong was vilified by his so called personal doctor Li Zhisin in a book published by Random House under the title-‘The Private Life of Chairman Mao’, though so many scholars and members of personal staff of Mao contradicted his ‘authentic’ claims, who dubbed Mao as ‘womanizer’ etc. This book, though written in very simple narrative and somewhat emotional style by one of the persons, who had to be with Mao most of the time, due to the nature of his duties. He had to perform even most private duties like taking care of Mao’s dressing up or helping him to sleep etc. can be definitely more true account of Mao’s life, as the book has been published by the official organ of Chinese Communist Party, it could be having official sanction also. The author, not to upset present Chinese leadership has at the end of the book criticized Mao on his concept of ‘Cultural Revolution’, but has also tried to reveal Mao’s abiding human qualities in a moving manner. This is one of the rare books in post Mao China that one could find reference to Jiang Qing, Mao’s persecuted wife as part of so called ‘Gang of Four’ and tried to be eliminated from Chinese history, the reference to Jiang Qing are not exactly as villainess, as she had been projected as part of ‘Gang of Four’. The book even contains a rare photograph of Mao and Jiang Qing daughter Li Ne, hugging her father fondly. Li Ne was sent by Mao himself to work in rural side as part of Cultural Revolution campaign of ‘city intelligentsia working in farms to learn’. Author has not mentioned Mao sending Li Ne to sending to work, as the book covers 1947-62 period only, whereas Cultural Revolution was post 1966 phenomenon. However author has mentioned in detail that how Mao has not allowed his children to take any advantage of his position, thus Li Ne, who almost starved in her school mess, was not allowed having any other food than served to all other students, which was a standard meal for a common poor peasant of China. Only when she visited home, she could take full some food at dining table. Mao even snubbed his body guard for showing her any special favor, when he came to know that his official car was used to take her to school or some such thing. She was to travel on public transport; at best she was given a bicycle at his body guard’s persistence. Jiang Qing never pleaded for any favor to her daughter. Same is true of Mao’s two sons from his first wife, who was killed by Kuomintang for not disclosing Mao’s whereabouts. One of these two sons was sent to Korea war in 1950, where he was killed in November 1950 at the age of 28 years only. Mao Zedong was upset, but did not shed a tear and also did not seek his body back home for burial. He said that Mao Anying belongs to the every land of the world and he should be buried, where ever he gave his life for a cause. The memorial is built for Mao’s son in North Korea and his just few month married widow had been visiting every year to pay homage. Li’s book brings many such aspects of Mao’s life to the fore. Mao remained in touch with his in laws from first wife, but told them not to seek any favour from Government. In many cases, Mao financially helped some needy friends or acquaintances from income on his books, but showed no favour at Government level

      In second chapter with apt title-‘Mao Enjoys a Challenge’, the very first para of this chapter is worth quoting in full-‘The most outstanding trait in Mao’s character, as his writings attest, was his readiness to take on a challenge. He responded to challenges from Kuomintang with counter-challenges, never conceding an inch. A winner all his life, as far as I know, never admitted to feeling overwhelmed by his adversaries, nor retreated in face of heavy odds against him. Whatever he did, he never quit, short of total victory.’(Page 13)

    Li Yinquao proves his point with concrete examples. In 1947, when Mao’s commanders decided to quit Yan’an headquarter of the party in face of two lakh thirty thousand strong Hu Zongnan’s army advance, Mao refused to leave till he saw Hu’s forces and everyone else had left. Chou En Lai assured him. Mao left at last, but making it sure that two boxes of his books reach at safe place, while leaving Marxism Leninism books for enemy troops, as it would be ‘good for them’. Many times Chou Enlai had to use tact to persuade Mao to leave the place of imminent danger. Finally only 20 thousand People’s guerrilla army of Mao Zedong decimated two lakh plus army of Chiang Kai-shek. Li has narrated details of many battles, which Mao won by his sheer confidence and tactics against Chiang armies. Mao’s love of challenge was expressed in his adventurous swimming of dangerous seas and rivers of China. Even as head of state, when he was not allowed free movement, Mao would announce his decision to swim across dangerous rivers or sea and his personal body guards and doctors will be in tough condition. Mao will never retreat, once he decided to swim and his swimming at 70 plus age has legendary tales now. In one instance Mao angrily told his security in charge Luo Ruiqing, when he tried to stop Mao from swimming in Yangtse river-‘All that worries you is that I may drown in that river, but what is this safety business all about? You may get killed by bombs right in your own room.”

   In a chapter-‘When Bombers Came’, Li narrates that how Mao never lost his composure in face of death. Death crossed him on close quarters many times, yet it could not deter Mao from the work he was engrossed in. It is revealing to know that attempts were made on Mao’s life in post-revolutionary China too, in 1952 and 1958 by Kuomintang, the conspiracies exposed in time.

  Mao’s humanism comes out in ‘Things that upset Mao’ and ‘Mao in Tears’ like chapters. As per Li’s account, Mao could not bear poor people crying, if he saw them in tears, he could not hold his own. During Yana’n days, on road, while traveling in a jeep, he saw a poor girl dyeing in her mother’s lap. Mao asked his doctor to take her along and told him to use only one emergency bottle of penicillin to save the girl. And girl was saved. He stopped red guards from shooting birds in his complex. Mao was fond of Peking Opera, a very powerful vehicle of China’s art. While Mao did not like to watch films much, he enjoyed watching Opera and liked many performances. His last wife Jiang Qing herself was a theater performer. What affected Mao in opera was his emotional bonding with characters, in one occasion, as per Li’s account, even as Chairman of Chinese state, Mao broke into tears in full public view after watching an opera. Not only that, while watching opera, Mao had unshackled his belt and while getting up emotionally to cheer the actors, his pants came down and Li had to take care of pulling up his pants. (This incident has also recently been narrated by novelist Cao Zhenglu, author of Lessons in Democracy in an interview published in October 2013 issue of Monthly Review.)

  Mao took personal interest in the lives of his guards and help them by his advice also. According to Li, Mao wore his heart on his sleeve. He wrote a poem for Li at the time of parting, as requested by him. Mao flared up in temper, when he could not sleep for many days. Sometimes he worked for 2-3 days and nights without sleeping and then he needed sleeping piles and if some disturbance made him wake up, he will flare up at such occasions. Mao liked snow and loved to walk and watch it, but he hated money so much that he will even not touch it. Mao said-‘Money is a lousy thing. But there is nothing I can do about it; nothing anyone can do, not even Lenin. We just can’t manage without it.’(Page76)

   Mao liked Stewed Pork and also brandy some time, chain smoker he was. Mao , according to Li, sometime liked the slogan-Long Live Chairman Mao, by implying that it is for Chinese Communist party, but sometime he disliked it. Mao’s habits were from his peasant background-rustic. Constipation and insomnia were Mao’s perennial problems. Li has interesting details of Mao’s founding day routine of People’s Republic of China, when he slept till 1 pm and Li made him ready in time to be with other leaders at Tiananmen square by 3 pm and he stood for seven long hours there, responding to peoples slogans of victory, with counter slogans-Long Live Chinese People..

   Mao remained concerned to know the reality of people’s lives and the impact of his projects. He will ask his guards, when they went for holiday , the real situation of their areas. As Chairman, his security arrangements were in the hands of Government, so he was not allowed free movement, sometimes, Mao will rebel and make a trip here or there on his own. He also remained worried about factionalism in party. While he himself did not ally with any faction. According to Li, Mao was warmer with non-party writers/intellectuals, while with party people, he kept a distance or aloofness and work like relations. He was suspicious of deviations in the party as early as in 1959 and remained suspicious till the end. The Cultural Revolution came out of these suspicions only, as Mao was worried more and more about rightist tendencies in the party itself, which proved true after his death.

    What comes out of Li’s memoirs and elsewhere in the world, Communist leaders in all countries after revolution become so much imprisoned in their shells that they don’t move among people as in liberal democracies. In one such instance when people came to know that Mao is visiting a hotel, thousands of people gathered to see him, greet him, but rather than Mao coming out and greeting people, he remained confined inside for hours, till security people got him out, clearing the way. This happened in all countries. They will address lakhs of people from high risen podium, but will not meet people on roads. Perhaps attack on Lenin in such meetings, made the Communist party super sensitive to the security of their leaders, be it Castro in Cuba or at other places. Attempts on Castro’s life by US agencies have further worsened this situation. At one time in China, Chou En Lai cycled to his office, so was with Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, but later day developments made the communist countries much more security conscious than even bourgeoisie countries.

 Li has devoted one full chapter to Mao’s life with his wife Jiang Qing. They slept in separate rooms, but when guards had difficult problem, they will share it with Jiang Qing, who will handle the situation then. As per Li account, Jiang was caring of Mao and their children, even step children from Mao’s other wives. Li has tried to say Jiang was intemperate and quarreled a lot, even with guards, but as per Li’s own account, he never bothered about her and could even shout at her during dispute. Li Yin Quao acknowledged that both of them despite quarrels, loved each other lived happily during his 15 year stint as body guard. Li acknowledges her other qualities like excellent handwriting, a part of calligraphy as an art in China, good stage performer, liked by all members of central committee of Communist party. If Mao like to tame fiery rivers by his swimming, Jiang liked to tame fiery horses, even the wildest one. She was good in knitting as well and made good dresses. Interestingly she was fond of playing cards and played with guards too. Mao was irritated some time, when her quarrels with guards reached him and admonished them all for playing cards, advising them to study Marx and Lenin in their free time. From Li’s memoirs, another problem of feudal background of China comes to the fore. Perhaps there was little interest for reading among even Chinese Communists, Mao was most voracious and updated reader. Newest books will reach him in his cave at party headquarters in Yan’an. There have been party schools in party headquarters, where emphasis will be given to ideological orientation to the party cadres and leaders. But it seems, no other Chinese communist leader has as much interest in ideological issues of Marxism Leninism as Mao had, that is how he remained undisputed leader of Communist party during pre-revolutionary period and his ideas given the pre fix of Mao Zedong Thought, added to Marxism Leninism. Mao remained committed to the study and development of Communist ideology even after revolution and contributed many more philosophical essays, but after coming to power, many factions in Communist party seems to have lost interest in ideology and became involved in issues of governance, many of them losing their commitment and sincerity as well. Li seems to have some exaggerated accounts of Mao and Jiang exchanges and could have been putting words in Mao’s mouth as per his own perception. Though not vilifying Jiang, Li had projected a picture of Mao and Jiang as unhappy couple.

      In a chapter Mao’s relations with people he knew, Li describes Mao’s literary interests, as he was a poet himself. With Chen Yi in party, he had close relations. Mao will occasionally meet eminent Chinese writers like Gu Mo Ru, Zhang Li or Chen Shutong. Mao lost six of his kinfolks in Chinese liberation war and after.  Though caring father, Mao was strict in discipline with his children, when his on Mao Anying wanted to marry in hurry, Mao told him-‘You are Mao Zedong’s son, who will stick to regulations, if you don’t?’(Page 170). As his children suffered harshness of life, Mao would say that ‘it is tough luck for them as they are Mao’s children!’. At the time of Korea war, when China decided to send its troops to Korea, Mao sent his son also and said-‘He is Mao Zedong’s son. Who would go if he did n’t?’ From the earlier phase of Chinese people’s republic, Mao disliked those who had started looking for material comforts after the revolution and he made no secret of his feelings-‘A man who vies with others for material comfort and not for service to the revolution is contemptible!’(Page175). Li Ne, Mao’s youngest daughter and very close to him, was never allowed to have any extra food, apart from what she got in her school mess.

    After Mao’s death and Jiang Qing arrest, Li Ne also went through tough time, she was separated from her husband. In 1980, Li met Li Ne, who was living alone with her son and was in bad shape. When suggested of remarriage, Mao’s daughter said-“Who would marry a woman, whose mother is member of Gang of four?” Though she was married again and was more comfortable than before, but it shows that how the new Chinese Communist leadership, whose own kith and kin are now playing in billions, treated Mao’s children after his death. Though Mao’s photo is the only one to don at Tiananmen Square, perhaps only its size has been reduced, it was bigger earlier, and Chinese currency also carries Mao’s photographs. Mao’s mausoleum is also taken care by Chinese government, which still attracts long queues of people, yet Mao’s successors have already buried Mao legacy deep in sea and don’t want to even any memory of Mao’s moral legacy to be remembered by people In two small chapters, Li has focused on Mao’s sense of humor and also his love for books. Mao encouraged all his staff to study and personally set up spare time school at Zhongnanhai and selected teachers personally. Rather than his own books, Mao will encourage his staff to read books by Marx and Lenin.

  According to Li, Mao probably had two regrets in life, the things which he could not accomplish in his life time- one, he was never able to swim Yellow River, though he yearned and tried for it, secondly, he could not see the liberation of Taiwan and its integration with China. Hong Kong and Macau, also got integrated with China only after Mao’s death, but Taiwan was different.

      After revolution Mao went to seek help from Soviet Union and spent almost ten weeks there during Stalin’s time, but got very little help. Later Khrushchev started demanding its repayment prematurely, that soured Sino-Soviet relations. Though Mao described Stalin as The greatest friend of China, later the relations, which took ideological conflict also, became very tense. There is a reference to India too in the book, ascribing Five Principles of peaceful co existence-Panchsheel- as Mao’s brain child, promoted by Chou En Lai in 1955 Bandung conference. The claim of these principles is made by Nehru also.

     Li Yinquao does not indulge much in political debates of Communist party, but to keep the present rulers on his right side, he describes Mao’s concept of Cultural Revolution as a ‘mistake’–’Mao merely made a ‘mistake’, but Gang of four committed crimes’– but his observations in this regard are interesting, coming from a common man-

“Mao’s intentions regarding the ‘cultural revolution’ were honorable; he wanted to rid the Communist Party. Amongst other things, of bureaucratic practices and corruption.”(Page 212). Li continues-‘Mao was a dead enemy of bureaucracy and corruption.’ In 1950’s also he campaigned against bureaucracy, waste and corruption, he was so serious about it that he will ask his staff pointedly that if any of them pocketed government money? He will always tell them not to fall for ‘sugar coated bullets’ and resist temptations. He always appreciated honesty and will tell that ‘don’t expect to make big money for working in government’. He will tell the staff leaving him for other job that—‘Be modest and remain true to revolution, without losing your drive or becoming decadent.’(Page 213)

    The last para of the book needs to be quoted in full-“Mao did not find everything about the Communist Party or the nation which he had founded to his satisfaction, and he always tried to do something to rectify it. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why he initiated the ‘cultural revolution’.

     Li takes umbrage in Chinese official line in next lines-‘unfortunately for the Chinese nation, this ‘something’, which he did, turn out to be a mistake which triggered ten years of catastrophe.

   This was Mao’s ultimate regret and the regret of history as well’ (Page 213)

     The book ends with these official words, but what history is now proving, seeing the tide of corruption and reversal of revolution and restoration of not only capitalism, but multinational corporate crony capitalism, ironically proves Mao Zedong to be correct in his assessment that China needs not only one Cultural Revolution, but Cultural Revolution every twenty years, if socialism has to be built and protected/promoted. But he was as much aware of Chinese Communist Party’s inner composition, where capitalist roaders led by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping always held control over government and state, where Mao was just kept as figure head and show piece of Chinese Revolution. Chinese Communist Party could not do without Mao, even now, as his prestige in leading the Chinese revolution is so high that no one can contest that without Mao’s leadership Chinese Communist party could never make a revolution. Mao was so incensed with rightist elements in the party that he had to issue the personally written poster on 5th August 1966 under the title-‘Bombard the Headquarters’, sitting where Mao himself was feeling suffocated. It was another tragedy of history that due to lack of proper ideological training and also due to deep factionalism in Chinese Communist party, even among so called ‘leftist’ elements like Lin Bio and Jiang Qing, cultural revolution too resorted to excesses, which became a tool in the hands of rightists to grab power and put China back to Capitalist road, fruits of which are now there for everyone to see. In the name of Communist Party, a society has been created in China, which is much worse than even Nehruvian model of ‘mixed economy’!

    Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro etc. had conceived Socialism, not just an economic system, they had conceived it as a model of creating a ‘new man’, different from man created by capitalist society. This ‘new man’ did come into being in the initial phases of Soviet, Chinese, Vietnamese and Cuban societies and is still cringing to survive in Cuba, but no more exists in other places, Chinese creating the worst ‘consumerist’ gloated man running after ‘money’ like mad man!

      Written in student like innocent narrative style, this book does bring out Mao Zedong’s personality as a fascinating human being, as much fearless and with absolute commitment to the cause of human liberation from all kinds of oppression as were Lenin, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh or Bhagat Singh! Mao Zedong may had made ‘mistakes’ in the cause of liberation, but he made absolutely no mistake in understanding Chinese people, Chinese Communist Party and rightist tendencies in it!