Book Review Alternative Perspective
Biswamoy Pati (ed), Turbulent Times, India 1940-44, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, 1998, pp. xviii + 223, Price Rs. 300.
The history of the Quit India Movement and the years immediately preceeding and succeeding it have aroused much interest and attracted the attention of historians in recent years. There is a growing literature on the dynamics and varied facets of the powerful mass movement, and historians have perceived and characterised it differently. This anthology, in this context, is a significant intervention. It brings together eight essays which collectively focus on a wide range of issues related to the times and take cognizance of the tensions, pressures and internal conflicts that characterised much of the developments at various levels. The change in focus over the years, from macro generalizations and hegemonic assertions to delineating the interplay of multiple processes at the regional and local theatres, from the political and economic to the social and cultural dimensions, is amply mirrored in these essays.
The Introduction by Biswamoy Pati provides a brief historical background and historiographical survey, interminglingly, of these momentous years. 1940-44 were the years of turbulence. They saw the nation being drawn into the second World War, the resignation of the Congress Provincial ministries, rising political expectations, failures and frustrations. Never had the gulf between the common people and the colonial state been so great; never had the concerns of the rulers been so removed from the concerns of the ruled. It is this sharp contradiction between the common people and colonialism and its internal collaborations, along with the economic misery and social suffering, which produced the widespread tremulousness and rebellion which shaped the political (and to a lesser extent the social) terrain of