In the evening of my life, as I look back I find that my early years were very interesting and crucial in the history of the development of the idea of India and Indians. I understand that my sensitivity and sensibilities were shaped by the events of these years.
An object, a person or a situation is said to be interesting when it arrests your attention. It is never monotonous, never dull. A comment by a British journalist during fifties would be said to be interesting.” Eisenhower is great because U.S.A. is great, Khrushchev is great because U.S.S.R. is great, India is great because Nehru is great.” An observation regarding Indian statesman V.K.Krishna Menon is also interesting, “ He is a diplomat who is either much acclaimed or wholly hated in different world capitals, nobody ignores him.”
"May you live in interesting times" is an English expression purported to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is always used ironically, with the clear implication that 'uninteresting times', of peace and tranquillity, are more life-enhancing than interesting ones, which from historical perspective usually include disorder and conflict. as a child and teenager I had no inkling of what is understood and known as peace and order.
I was a child of six years in the year 1940, Second world war had started in the previous year. At home the congress ministry formed in 1937 had resigned in 1939 in protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow's action of declaring India to be belligerent in the Second World War without consulting the Indian people.
Early years of forties decade of the last century were quite interesting and exciting. Voices of discontent and protest reverberated everywhere. There was excitement mixed with apprehension due to ongoing Second World War, protest against the rise of Nazis and fascists. Even though the war was being fought in distant lands; at home the independence struggle from foreign occupation was at the climax stage. The country was on fire with the slogans of ‘Do or Die” and “Quit India” were reverberating everywhere. In 1943 Bengal was gripped with the great famine accompanied with deadly infectious diseases such as cholera and small pox. People, mostly small children were dying in large numbers, assurance of victory over incurable tuberculosis with the invention of streptomycin in 1943. Use of a great achievement of science the nuclear energy as the most destructive atom bomb for as a solution to human problems was made in this period.
In India this time- period had suffered widespread famine, epidemic, adulteration and black-marketing.. Brazen display of the brutal and contemptible face was accompanied with the expression of humane face of giving precedence to the concerns of the country and fellow countrymen. Intense struggles to arouse consciousness against the prevailing obscurantism, superstition, injustice and oppression were going on. The movements and struggles were inspired by the works, breakthroughs of leaders such as Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar among others. Triumvirate of Gandhi, Nehru, Bose and Aruna Asif Ali, Achyut Patwarhan , Jayaprakash were talked of like popular lore and myth.
Quit India movement in !942, devastation of Hiroshima and Nagashaki in 1945 by atom bomb resulting in the end of second world war, but peace was not established. Amiable ambience remained a pipe-dream. Instead cold war got entrenched.
Twin events of partition and end of foreign rule in 1947--- our perception had sprouted during this decade. Evolution of the idea of independent, sovereign and secular India was just in initial stage that father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. It was a numbing experience. The assassin swore by an Contrarian idea of India.
A country named USSR was dazzling the consciousness of humanity across the international horizon. It allured the deprived, exploited and weak to dream for them, to hope for a classless society, to dream to have dignity.
This is the collage of forties of my awareness.