CONTEMPORARY India is marked by a striking paradox. India's struggle for freedom was undoubtedly one of the outstanding events of the twentieth century ; there was not only something grand about the spectacle of a people constituting a sixth of humanity moving towards liberation om alien rule which had oppressed them for nearly two centuries, but
»bat is more, this struggle also played a major role in precipitating a collapse of the entire colonial system all over the world. And yet within barely four decades of independence, this momentous event appears to have been relegated from the collective memory of the people to the oblivion of text-books. As separatism, chauvinism, casteism, communalism and even secessionism tear asunder the integrity of the nation, the arduousness of the process through which this nation came into being appears to figure no longer in our living thoughts.
A discussion of the National Movement becomes important at this point, not for sentimental reasons of harking back to the "good old days", nor as a psychological antidote to the current malaise, but in order to understand this paradox. To be sure, a prod to our collective memory cannot but be beneficial at this juncture, but intervention in the present context requires much more than such prods. It requires a process of recovery ot the past, based on analysis. Not only the National Movement, but also its sequel, the post independence experience, including the apparently evanescent nature of its unifying impact, have to be analysed with care for effective intervention in the present context. It is towards this end that Social Scientist had organised a seminar in January 1986 on the subject of the National Movement. The current number of the journal carries some of tire papers presented at that Seminar.
The different papers included in this number deal of course with different aspects of the National Movement ; all of them moreover donot share a common understanding. For instance, Bipan Chandra argues that the Indian National Congress as an organisation was open to ideological transformation towards a socialist perspective ; the task before the Left was to work towards such a transformation of the Congress and through it of the National Movement, where socialism would emerge as the accepted developmental path of free India, rather than to create alternatives to the Congress or to GandhFs leadership. Thomas Isaac on the other hand, basing himself on the Kerala experience, argues that independent mass mobilisation of the workers and peasants, without which not only