About the Book :
This is a path-breaking work on the political life and times of Bhagat Singh and his associates, and the organizations of which they were a part the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) and the Naujawan Bharat Sabha. It highlights many hitherto neglected aspects of the evolution of Bhagat Singh as a national hero, including the definite shift towards socialism in his outlook. This is also among the best works on the revolutionary nationalists and their role in Indias freedom movement. Documents and short writings crucial to understanding the essential core of their ideology and programme are included as appendices. This is that rare book of history that scholars and the general reader alike could enjoy and appreciate, and which no student of modern south Asian history can do without. Above all, it describes incredibly well those momentous decades of the 1920s and early 30s when the left-radical agenda came to occupy a huge space on the Subcontinent. S. Irfan Habibs book on Bhagat Singh and his comrades is among the best books on modern Indian history in a long time. It unabashedly and without reservations describes those momentous decades in our history when options were more open and popular aspirations ran high, and revolution and national liberation were current in the political vocabulary of the times, and more intrinsic to the national agenda than todays historiography on modern India acknowledges. It also describes the life and activities of that remarkable set of people whose deeds made them natural heroes and who by their words and actions exposed the weaknesses of the national movement in those very years that it was becoming a mass movement. In a sense therefore this is a book on Bhagat Singhs life and times, and shows him to be among the best representatives of his times even as he influenced those times in a significant way. In showing this this book is a fitting tribute to Bhagat Singh in his 100 birth centenary year and to sixty years of Indias freedom. Based on rich archival material and conversations with many former members of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha and the HSRA, many of them saathis of Bhagat Singh, this is a definitive work on the ideology and programme of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. It highlights many hitherto neglected aspects crucial to understanding the evolution of Bhagat Singh as a national hero. It lays stress on the activities and campaigns of the organizations of which Bhagat Singh was a leading member, and the definite shift towards socialism in their world view and programme. It underlines the central role of Bhagat Singh and his comrades in popularizing the left-radical agenda of the national movement and giving visibility to this agenda in the national political life of those years. Irfans book also shows that Bhagat Singh and his comrades were a significant stream within the communist left and by their heroism and deeds played a central role in both broadening the scope of the Congress led movements to include popular demands, and in popularizing the slogans and goals of the communist movement in India. One cannot think that revolution and socialism could have become as popular as they did then, or that Gandhi could have felt the challenge that he did then were it not for the political intervention of Bhagat Singh and his comrades and their firm alignment with communist politics of the time. In its language, vocabulary and in the way it describes what the archival and other sources used by him in his research say, the book reads like it were written not today but two decades ago, which in fact it was, and it contains the flavour of those timeswhen options were not hedged in by the pressures of globalization and collapse of many socialist regimes. Unencumbered on these accounts, the book is able to describe inspiring times and deeds in just they way they need to be described today.
About the Author :
S. Irfan Habib works with the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS). He has researched in the area of history of science, and issues in science, society and education.His books include 'Domesticating Modern Science' (co-authored with Dhruv Raina). He has also co-edited with Dhruv Raina 'Situating the History of Science: Dialogues with Joseph Needham' and 'A Social History of Science in Colonial India'.