Social Scientist. v 7, no. 78 (Jan 1979) p. 78.

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as such programmes had much later in China during the May Fourth movement. Sen does not see that it is not simply a matter of breadth of social support (does that explain his suggestion that since Gandhi appealed more to the masses of rural India, his programme somehow made sense? See p 10), but of a radical and revolutionary transformation of society.

Sen is good at laying bare the confusions and shoddy compromises of the semi-feudal and professional middle class dependent on the imperialist regime. He also argues that this class neither heralded an advance in social production like the classical capitalist class, nor challenged orthodox customs and ideas like a truly revolutionary intelligentsia. Within the very narrow limits of its scope for mobility it faced a deepening crisis that Sen chronicles admirably. The colonial government presided over a process of urban decay and industrial decline in India, it discouraged independent native enterprise in trade, and both increased the pressure on labouring people of the land and added to the feudal burden of the peasantry. The only way out for the sons of the peculiar gentry under those circumstances was to compete for government service and the professions. But even there opportunities were getting drastically reduced: the tragedy of Vidyasagar was repeating itself on an immense scale. It followed that the strength of the earlier liberal humanism also waned with the shrinking of material opportunities. The programme of progressive social reform confidently launched by Bentinck finally ground to a halt. The Hindu revival and nee-Hindu fanaticism were on their way (pp 108 ff). The crisis of the middle class accelerated the pace of disillusionment with colonialism, but it did not lead to a discovery of the correct road to freedom (pp 94 ff).

The collapse of his hopes notwithstanding, Sen believes one can draw from Vidyasagar's life the lesson of the overriding importance of practice. In his view, Vidyasagar's refusal to rest content with a merely intellectual solution of the contradictions of social being blazed the trail for all later intellectuals in search of authenticity (p XIV, p 140). But on his own, showing a commitment to practice is not enough, one needs must have a correct revolutionary theory for resolving and overcoming those contradictions.


1 Suprakash Ray, Bhwater Krishak-bidroha 0 Ganatantrlk San^rain^ Calcutta, 1966 vol I,

pp XV-XVIII, pp 183-211. 8 Suprakash Ray, opcit^ pp 405-407.

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