Book Review, Historical, Non-Fiction

To make the deaf hear written by S Irfan Habib

30 Books like these are very important for a much more holistic understanding of Indian struggle for independence than what is taught to the children of this country through the official NCERT textbooks…Books like these remind us how much of our history we are unaware of and we also become aware of the fact that ‘rewriting’ of history is not something that BJP attempted during their regime but something that the Congress complete successfully during their uninterrupted rule for almost fifty years…

Today much more questions are being raised about Gandhi’s role in the struggle and there is a start to put his efforts in perspective with other people who had the same goals but differed in their methods and ideology. Gandhi is not considered the demi-god that he was projected for a long time. His flawed ideas, his hypocrisy and his ruthlessness in dealing with people who did not agree with him (He let Bhagat Singh hang, considering him a threat)  is increasingly becoming public knowledge and gaining acceptance. That is indeed a welcome change since it is time that history is retold in a more objective manner. It is also time that other people who have been airbrushed by Congress historians in favour of their own people are given the honour and the place in history that they deserve.

bhagat20For a long time, the establishment considered people like Subhash Bose, Bhagat Singh, Surya Sen to be a threat to their version of history since they openly spoke against the compromises Congress made with the British and spoke against the weakness in approach and ideology of the Gandhi camp in dealing with the imperial power. For a long time the established view of the manner of India’s getting independence was thrust down the gullible throats of children. That is slowly changing with many books (like this one) proving that quite a different scenario was present and that independence of this country did not come via Gandhi at all.

The title of this book comes from the reason that Bhagat Singh and B K Dutt gave in support of their action in throwing a harmless bomb at the Legislative Assembly. They felt that the Congress and the British Imperial propaganda were disparaging the revolutionaries (relegating them as terrorists – NCERT books still label them as such) and also that their policies were harming the common people. They courted arrest so that their ideas could be more readily disseminated to the people of India.

bkdutt The book is lucidly written and takes an approach of giving the background of the rise of the revolutionary ideals in India and their evolution from a religious nationalism to a completely scientific socialist point of making a revolution. The book is also a testimony to the maturity and the incisiveness of thoughts of the revolutionaries in understanding the situation in India especially in relation to the world scenario and their understanding that unless the core problems in ideology and approach were solved, white masters would be simply replaced by brown masters without causing much change in the ground situation (an observer today would testify to the prescience of these thoughts). Compare this with the fuzzy, hazy, metaphysical ideology of Gandhi which proclaimed the Luddite ideal of pre-industrial village economies and living off nature. chanderShekhar

It is a tragedy that someone like Gandhi gained ascendance in Congress (helped no doubt by the British and the Indian capitalist classes). His rise is naturally due to the fact that the imperial masters found easy to deal with Gandhi who easily compromised and whose actions (purely non-violent) never really threatened the established order. His was a spiritual movement completely out of tune with the requirement of the  hour. But as things stood, the British killed off the people whose ideas could have made the country much more inclusive while Gandhi continued with his fuddy-duddy approach, much to the delight of the Britishers (I mean, he wanted a dominion status late into 1930’s for India – can you imagine India as Wales?).

All of this is explained beautifully in this highly informative book. We are gradually introduced into the world and thoughts of rajguru2Bhagat Singh and his comrades. For someone who does not know, it would come as an incredible the thoughts of someone as young like Bhagat Singh and his friends. His “Why I am an atheist” could not have been written more lucidly by a learned professor of thrice his age. His mature approach to the struggle and his foresight in terms of what the Indian society needs is a refreshing read and is a proof (if any was needed) that the Indian  struggle was not a monotheistic one nor a linear one.

The book is filled with lots of pamphlets and writings by the  revolutionaries themselves which gives us an opportunity to read them without the filter of interpretation. This is one more thing that makes this book a gem…vohrafamily

All in all, a very refreshing and important read not only for a history buff like me but for anyone with an open mind who is interested in understanding our roots…and very importantly, the fact that it is written by Irfan Habib makes it very accessible to even the casual reader of history…

 

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