Socialism and the Re-Making of Man:
A Far Cry? Yet the Prime Proud Quest^
It is a pleasure to respond to an invitation I just could not decline. Puran Chand Joshi, notable in our time, was to me a dear friend through the ups and downs of our life in the Communist movement. I could also not escape Professor Panikkar's kindly summons since I had assisted at the birth of this University, whose first Vice-Chancellor, my friend since 1930 in Oxford, G. Parthasarathi, died the other day—a wrench that hurts still.
Two disparate personalities—P.C. Joshi, unusually sensitive for a 'professional' politician, and Muzaffar Ahmad, staunchest among our Communist pioneers—helped me most to find my feet in the party where, in spite of many unhappinesses, I have had my being for some sixty years. I can reminisce over PCJ's experience of 'democratic centralism', unexceptionable in theory but in practice sometimes damaging to its aims, as Irfan Habib ^nd Ashok Mitra (in whose eminence I rejoice, being almost in loco parentis) have noted from this podium. In early 1948, breaking an undeclared quarantine in party headquarters, I had seen a shattered PCJ in an agony of 'self-criticism'. In February-March 1948 at the 2nd Party Congress in Calcutta I watched his pitiful 'confession' of political error which, even as I agreed with the then party 'line', filled me with a certain dismay. In a perpetual 'war' with the class enemy, discipline—even on occasion 'regimentation' (a bad word)—was obligatory, but there should be no forgetting Marx's humane vision of 'the Party in the grand historical sense of the term' (cf. letter to the writer Freiligrath, Feb. 29, 1860). Hindsight has taught that the 1948 slogan: 'Yeh Azadi Jhooti Hai' ('this freedom is a fake') was correct and at the same time incorrect, but dialectical understanding was beyond us. B.T. Ranadive was not too far wrong, inveighing against PCJ's alleged view of the Party as 'a happy family' while it was, BTR stressed, 'a fighting revolutionary
Prominent Communist Leader. '" P.C. Joshi Memorial Lecture 1995.
Social Scientist, Vol. 23 Nos. 7-9, July-September 1995