The Making of the Indian Nation
The Indian Nation in 1942 . Ed. by Gyanendra Pandey. K.P. Bagchi & Sons, Calcutta. 1988, pp.268. Rsl30.
The Indian Nation in 1942 edited by Gyanendra Pandey, although focussed on a particular period, is also concerned with the 'making* of the Indian nation. It thus enables us to trace some of the features of the socio-economic structures that emerged in post-independence India. Set largely within the mainstream politics, the 1942 movement proves to be a veritable testing ground for the tall claims made by the leadership during the anti-imperialist struggle many of which were discarded in the attempt to retain only the 'charisma* of the movement later. Even as early as January 1947, Sardar Patel felt that the display of pictures of police atrocities in 1942 was 'likely to affect the moral of the police force' (p.l5). Thus the necessity of establishing the credibility of 'national* institutions and structures was in a way a direct offshoot of 1942.
Hitesranjan Sanyal, writing on the Quit India movement in Midnapur district takes us through the gamut of the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-34) to build the momentum for 1942. He makes a reconnaissance of the Quit India movement in general which could have been avoided altogether. With the analysis of pulls at the grassroot level — for instance the tension between the jotedars and the bhagchasis in Eastern Midnapur — he situates the problem in Midnapur. As he says 'The growing tension generated by the baghchashi, movement brought the inner contradictions of the broad front of the Congress into the forefront' (p.37). It thus gets established that these developments had strengthened the ranks of the Kisan Sabha which had attracted the more militant of the baghchashi activists. It was perhaps to retain its popularity among the peasant masses that the local Kisan Sabha took the risk of defying its official stance of keeping away from the 1942 agitation.
What comes out evocatively is the strength of the Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar and the sense of struggle, power and optimism that must have swept through the region. For instance, he quotes from Biplabi, 'Everyone will die in famine, but how many persons can be killed by bullets? Those who will be killed by bullets will receive the exalted
^Department of History, Miranda House, Delhi University