Understanding Modern Orissa
Biswamoy Pati, Resisting Domination: Peasants, Tribals and the National Movement in Orissa 1920-50, Manohar Publications, Delhi, 1993, (Pages 273 + xi + 2 maps. Price Rs. 250).
This treatise is indeed a welcome addition to the existing lot on modern Orissa. Most of the volumes published in the last fifteen years largely concentrate on the activities of the Congress, the role of the regional leadership in the formation of the state of Orissa, the organization of the peasants, tribals, etc. from above and their linkages with or submission to thfe hegemony of Gandhian politics. But the cross-currents in the course of the struggle for independence, aspirations of different social categories and the specificity of the regional experience have been the major casualties in such conventional, stereotyped works. Biswamoy Pati presents a different picture by shifting the terrain of discussion from the traditional sets of questions and views to more recent historiographical concerns.
Pati's discussion focuses on popular perceptions and aspirations, the different and at times divergent visions of various classes and the regional traditions, among other things. The work situates the role of the Congress/PCC in perspective, at places undoing the exaggerated claims of traditional writings and exploding myths associated with individuals. The Congress* claims to be the representative of all people's aspirations has been contested. The problems of the peasants and tribals have been amply demonstrated in the regional context. The work shows how the peasants and tribals were pitted not only against colonialism but also against feudalism which the Congress leadership tried to wish away and consciously ignore. Pati discusses the three mass movements (i.e. Non-cooperation, Civil Disobedience and Quit India) in three successive chapters and presents them in all their complexities. He illustrates how popular perceptions of swaraj and the national movement were both shaping and being shaped by the Congress. The emergence of the Kisan Sangha and the Prajamandala movement in course of these struggles, their long-term contribution in enlarging the meaning of the freedom movement and their inherently
Social Scientist, Vol. 22, No. 5-6, May-June, 1994