This book is based on the dissertation submitted by Comrade Chandrashekhar for his M.Phil in Political Science Department at JNU. Some extracts of Bidesiya translated into English by Chandrashekhar are given at the end of the book as appendix. These translations not only reveal another aspect of Chandrashekhar’s personality but also seem to be special contribution to the art and craft of translation. These translations have importance of their own. Effort of translation in verse can be seen in it. The religious colour of Bidesiya has been done away with to get a reliable picture of people’s life. The translation has been brought closer to the sensuousness characteristic of the language of Bidesiya.
In formal documents, author’s name was Chandrashekhar Prasad which he wrote as Chandrashekhar in ‘Acknowledgement’ of dissertation. So, the book is being published bearing the same name. If the feudal lords had broken Bhikhari Thakur’s teeth, Chandrashekhar’s one teeth was also half-broken in a like incident. His affection to Siwan is well expressed by his decision to return and work there. This dissertation was the result of the same commitment.
In context of Culture, folk culture, popular culture, people’s culture, mass culture etc. are technical terms. Mass denotes the state of people’s community in cities where people are converted into crowd, thus losing their individual identity. To cater to their cultural tastes, culture industry is established. Cultural diversity vanishes and a nursery of uniform cultural products is sustained through market. By dint of plagiarism of popular culture, it is produced and reproduced at larger scale with the help of big capital. Unaware of this difference in Hindi, people mostly continue studying and analyzing mass culture in the name of popular culture and at times they also make efforts to explain it in terms of people’s culture.
It is the author who distinguishes between folk culture and popular culture. Creations of folk culture generally originate from community life and their writers are anonymous, whereas a writer of popular cultural products is a person. This author expresses feelings of community using various forms of vernacular language and communication. Therefore the latent aspiration of resistance also becomes manifest here. Though the writer of popular culture is a person, a bit of roughness is always present there since he is deeply connected to his folk culture. Elements of public struggle are mingled with elite effects. An aware political cultural activist creates ‘people’s culture’ from it by seeking and purifying the elements of struggle. This is very well said in a poem of Gorakh Pandey:
Sadiyon purana hai unka gussa
Sadiyon purani hai unki nafarat
Main to sirf unhen tuk aur laya kesath lauta raha hoon.
(Their anger and hatred for upper class is very old, I am only restoring it with the help of rhyme and rhythm.)
In this book, Chandrashekhar calls Bidesiya a ‘cultural politics’. It is amazing to see that in Lal Bahadur Verma’s novel ‘Uttar Poorva’ also, it has been said that to understand Manipur it is vital to develop a political understanding where man should appear cultural also instead of pure political. Third example can be taken from the poems of Dinesh Kumar Shukla, where peasant of Baiswada is not only a labourer but he is also expert in composing poetry. The structure of solution proposed by Chandrashekhar for Saran is found correct by Lal Bahadur Verma for Manipur and Dinesh Kumar Shukla understands peasants of Baiswada through the same tool. This means that the problem is not area specific, but it is connected with broader aspects to understand Indian realities. This tool is not only useful for explanation but it is invariably connected with revolutionary politics. Revolutionary politics never sees a man only as a unit of physical labour. Man produces things but he also produces the culture in which he lives. That’s why the change in his condition that takes place physically also has mental and cultural aspects. Revolutionary politics is not merely a number game of seats, and it’s political cultural activists may not be mere ‘artists’. To imbibe this point more illustratively, we must go through the political journey of Chandrashekhar.
Chandrashekhar could live for 32 years in all, out of which he stayed in JNU for seven years. His schooling took place at Tilaiya Army School where he started thinking about his people and particularly about the troubles of his mother. His father was a soldier. His mother sent him to the renowned Army School with a dream that he will become an army officer. But while he was in his initial thinking process, some left activist met and influenced him. Consequently, he was expelled from Army School. He actively joined AISF and Bihar politics. He wanted to politicise his mother in the way Pavel Blasov politicised his mother in Maxim Gorky’s novel. In fact he had written a letter to his mother with this purpose from the school itself. But to politicise such an emotional and sensitive relation is not a cakewalk. Mother understood the son and started attending CPI programmes. Chandrashekhar became state vice president of AISF. But he was not satisfied with the party. He wondered whether this is the communist party of India. Some doubts were there in his mind. Coincidently, an ML comrade met him in Siwan. CPI(ML) Liberation was then underground, so contacts could not remain continued. One CPI leader writes in his memoirs that Chandrashekhar was very anxious to know and learn from revolutionary experiences and theories of other countries. He participated in ABSU-AISF talks with this dilemma. Completing his M.A. from Bihar, he reached JNU. Initially, the conflict remained in his mind here also. Some of his friends were free thinkers of Neo-Leftist stream. He had some debates with them for few days but being a follower of practical left politics, he very soon fed up with those idle thinkers. Finally, when AISA initiated some activities on the campus, he started participating in them. Soon, he joined practical political activities of the organization.
The group of AISA was very big and multidimensional. Chandrashekhar was the only member of the group having maximum experience of traditional left politics. His name in the group was lovingly shortened as ‘Chandu’. This group became unique in itself with the motto of casting ML’s whole political programme according to the campus. Members of this group were from different places, cultures and backgrounds. While working together in the campus their personal problems and worries were not limited to them as one’s private concerns. Their relations were governed by political goals only. They used to gather at Ganga Dhaba daily in the evening and participated in political debates singing revolutionary songs etc. AISA itself was then Union in spite of not being in JNUSU. They contacted each aware student, evaluated and planned to make him active in organization. Chandu was most political of them all.
His presence in campus politics itself proves this. Chandu was a candidate for the post of Joint Secretary when first time AISA contested on all the posts of JNUSU in alliance with independents’ . He made his presence felt in this election. In next election, he was a candidate for the post of General Secretary and this time he got more votes than earlier. In his third contest, he was elected Vice-President. While contesting for third and fourth time he was elected President twice for the first time in the history of JNU. It is not a child's play to be popular among students at such extent.
In its long political career, the group did not remain unchanged. Some diverted, some became passive, some other went for some jobs and some went abroad for further studies. In this age of ‘Moral Relativism’ we may even take risk of saying that some became ‘corrupt’ also. But Chandu is still present in everyone’s life. A person doing wrong could not face him.
Chandu went Seoul as president of JNUSU to participate in a convention of students-youth convened by UNO. There he made efforts to form a front of student representatives of third world countries to oppose the document submitted and supported by USA and western countries. Finally, being alienated, he walked out. At that time, the ‘free thinker’ General Secretary of his own Union was presiding. We see daily that even migration out of state prevents people to dare to resist. But there was something in him which could provide him energy to resist even in an alien atmosphere.
It was indissoluble commitment to overcome troubles of his own people which inspired him to stand firmly against any form of suppressive violence from Siwan to Seoul. Policemen beat him badly snatching his hair in Delhi in Markandey Singh’s house in an incident similar to Siwan where his teeth were broken. Eve teasing in Delhi buses is very common. It was bus no. 620, in which the conductor was misbehaving with some lady. Chandu reacted at this. Bus operators stopped bus in the residence of Markandey Singh (the then Governor of Delhi). Security personnel and the bus conductor-driver beat Chandu. Complaint in this regard could be registered in a police Gypsy after efforts of many hours but nothing was done. While sleeping in top floor room of Jhelum hostel, his hair continued falling into bunches. Chandu did not discuss it much as he did not want any special attention for him. JNU students loved him for his spirit of remaining ordinary in spite of being special. This spirit can be seen here in acknowledgement of this dissertation where he mentions name of his typist. Beside the guide, Chandu mentioned only his name. This love towards ordinary people led him to Siwan. Earlier also he used to campaign for CPI (ML) Liberation in Siwan during elections.
His affection for the peasants of Siwan is obvious in this dissertation. One more thing needs to be mentioned here. Any Indian revolutionary politician requires integration with peasants but he also needs to provide them a modern world view. In post-independence India, three forms of modernity are seen chiefly. One was the Nehruvian modernity which was made of symbols of factories and temples. Both of these were huge, suppressive and dominant form of ruling culture in their time. On the other hand, the stream emerged in opposition of this identified problems and solutions thereof in field of culture only. This concept of culture was mostly nearer to Hindu culture. We can include Lohiya, Agyey and Nirmal Verma in this stream. Unsurprisingly, BJP got political and cultural counterparts from this stream. They created such essentially opposed concepts of ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ that ‘Eastern’ went much near to Hindu culture. Both of these streams sought solutions of India’s problems in western bourgeoisie modernity. The former opted for its industrialisation and the latter went with its cultural aspect. But, this was the reason why Nehru was limited up to temple and Lohiya also could not go beyond ‘Draupadi.’ Contrary to this, there was the stream of left politics. Sometimes it faced some illusions and confusions and reduced itself to number game of seats only but generally in rising days of movement, it conducted thorough proletarian politics of social change with the help of working class base. Cultural activities were part and parcel of its political movement. Chandu was political leader of the same stream.
He became a headache for feudal powers rooted in tradition and their patrons in Siwan. In Bihar, there was a complete team of young leaders with CPI (ML) Liberation. Before Chandu could jointly draw a map of ‘new Bihar’ with them, criminal protectors of feudal lords murdered him. Therefore this was not a murder of an ML activist only, but this was also foeticide of hopes of new Bihar. Students and intellectuals all over India reacted with anger because they all identified themselves with Chandu and his dreams. Martyrdom of chandu was personal loss for all law-loving, democratic people of India. That’s why, people of Bihar will never forgive his murderers at any rate and at any level wherever they are, no matter, at which height they are sitting or in which protected garrison they are living .
Ambedkar University Delhi