27 April 2016

Bipan Chandra’s Views on Bhagat Singh in India’s Struggle for Independence: Rejoinder by the Co-authors


Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, Prof. Aditya Mukherjee and Prof. Sucheta Mahajan

A vicious attack was launched by BJP MP, Anurag Thakur in the Lok Sabha in Zero hour and in a section of the media on “India’s Struggle for Independence”, a book published in 1988, 28 years ago, by Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, KN Panikkar and Sucheta Mahajan. Deliberate misrepresentation of Bipan Chandra’s views on Shaheed Bhagat Singh is being done by saying he used the term ‘revolutionary terrorism’ to denigrate the martyr. In fact the first time the term ‘revolutionary terrorism’ is used in the book on p 142, Bipan Chandra, who wrote two chapters on the Revolutionary movement, clearly said that it is “a term we use without any pejorative meaning and for want of a different term.” In his later writings, Bipan Chandra himself   stopped using this term as the word terrorism had aquired a very negative meaning in recent years. For example, in  his introduction to Bhagat Singh’s Why I am an Atheist,  published in 2006, Bipan Chandra does not use the word terrorism and says, “Bhagat Singh was not only one of India’s greatest freedom fighters and revolutionary socialist, but also one of its early Marxist thinkers and ideologues.” Chandra added further, “Unfortunately, this last aspect is relatively unknown with the result that all sorts of reactionaries, obscurantists and communalist have been wrongly and dishonestly trying to utilise for their own politics and ideologies, the name and fame of Bhagat Singh and his comrades such Chandrasekhar Azad.” (Quoted from The Writings of Bipan Chandra: The Making of Modern India, From Marx to Gandhi,  Orient Blackswan, 2012.) 

He had also wanted to make the change in India’s Struggle for Independence and had said so publicly. However due to ill health and failing eyesight he could not revise the book as he had planned before his death.  The co-authors had planned that the volume in its revised version will use the formulation that Bipan Chandra himself made in his later writings.

To attack a great scholar when he is no more, a scholar who did so much to bring Bhagat Singh to centre stage, appears to be part of a larger design to silence critics. He was the person who first found and published in 1970 as a pamphlet at his own expense Bhagat Singh’s now famous essay, “Why I am an Atheist”. His last public lecture was the Inaugural Lecture for the Bhagat Singh Chair at JNU in April 2011, in which he said that Bhagat Singh, if he had lived, would have been the Lenin of India, and his last (unfinished) book was a biography of Bhagat Singh. 
Prof. Bipan Chandra
A completely unfounded attack on the book by a section of  is that it valorizes Jawaharlal Nehru to the exclusion of other leaders. In fact, a special feature of “India’s Struggle for Independence” is the balanced treatment of all political trends, from Liberals to Socialists and Communists, and of all movements, from 1857 to Ghadar to INA, Swadeshi to Quit India, peasant and trade union movements, anti-caste movements and states’ peoples’ movements, and of all leaders, from Dadabhai Naoroji to Birsa Munda, and Lokmanya Tilak, and from Gandhiji and Sardar Patel to Jayaprakash Narayan and Aruna Asaf Ali. 
Another completely baseless allegation made in the Lok Sabha is that while denigrating Bhagat Singh, the authors have praised Rahul Gandhi as a charismatic leader, an allegation that we strongly deny since none of the authors have written anything on Rahul Gandhi. 

2 comments:

  1. 28 years has already been passed but as claims the author wants to correct the word terrorist but it is still there why? Don't try to fool people. The reason for non correction is that it was written to glorify the one family.It might be hurt you people but it is correct that Nehru & it's family doesn't wants to come with truth about other freedom fighter who lost everything for the Nation.After grabbing the chairs of PM ,Nehru & his so called nurtured intellectuals started glorifing his contribution & in other hand rest of our real freedom fighter either ignored or words like terrorist used for them.Whenever these discrimination brought out the Sycophancy come out for Defence. The persons who are responsible must accept their fault & apologise. Recent award return group is good examples of Sycophancy.Nehru has ruined the Country in many ways to glorify himself & started family politics to turn our republic to family Raj. The person who written such type of history are attract people's punishment for corrupting younger generation mind,you people have made crime for your personal gain & growth.

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  2. vicious campaign by sangh pariwar forces has been such. historians shall come out with facts like this and expose the evil intentions of pariwar. tulasidas

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