Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Spreading Bhagat Singh’s ideas: Through Military Literary Festival

                           Bhagat Singh in Military Literary festival!

                                                     Chaman Lal*

    Spreading Bhagat Singh’s ideas : The Tribune India

              It was a bit perplexing for me when I got a call from Sports University Patiala Vice Chancellor Lieutenant General (Retired) J S Cheema inviting me to be part of a discussion panel in a session on Bhagat Singh in Military literary festival, as I could not see any connection, since the military literary festival concentrates more on defence related books and matters, national and international. Among other panellists, he named Major General (Retd.) and Mahavir Chakra awardee Sheonan Singh, who is nephew of Bhagat Singh, but who never let it known during his whole military service, of this close relationship, as he thought it will be construed as seeking favour or privilege! Only after retirement, he let it be known in an interview in a national daily. That made me immediately accept the invite. He is not joining the panel due to urgent family function, but among mong all close relations of Bhagat Singh, he is one of most well read about Bhagat Singh and his ideas, as Ranbir Singh, his father and younger brother of Bhagat Singh had penned a biography of the great martyr in Urdu!

      Few other pleasant coincidents happened around. While planning to write a short piece for The Tribune, I received author/editor’s complimentary copies of 11th reprint of the book from National Book Trust (NBT), New Delhi, few days before I got a copy of another book Jail Notebook and other writings from another publisher leftword, mentioning it as 12th reprint. Yet another instance was of pleasant surprise was an award given by a Pune organisation recently for my writings on Bhagat Singh, while I accepted the honour, but returned 10 thousand rupees award money to be used for purchasing books for libraries on Bhagat Singh and other revolutionaries. A youth group from Khed, birth place of Rajguru, the martyr with Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev, now named Rajguru Nagar, close to Pune, had come to the function, which is running a mobile library of lending books on revolutionaries to youth in many towns and villages around, which was more pleasant to know than even the award for me! Marathi translation of Bhagat Singh’s complete writings from my edited book in Hindi of same title by Datta Desai has again run into ten reprints. This book has introduction and released by late Supreme Court Justice P B Sawant during Bhagat Singh birth centenary. Another pleasant coincident is that as Publication Division, Govt. of India, which had published my edited volume in Hindi of complete writings of Bhagat Singh, released in 2007 in presence of two nephews of Bhagat Singh and late Kuldip Nayar, has updated it into four volume edition, which was brought out in the beginning of celebrations of 75th anniversary of independence! And then they invited me to write a biography of Bhagat Singh-Life and Legend of Bhagat Singh: A Pictorial volume! I was more in collecting and researching on Bhagat Singh’s writings and was in a dilemma how to plan it since there were already a number of biographies in print! It suddenly struck my mind that since decades, I have been collecting documents, writings, images of monuments etc. in order to focus on the authenticity of Bhagat Singh’s life and writings, so I accepted the invite and pleasant coincident is that book has just come out in print on this occasion! HarperCollins published The Bhagat Singh Reader edited by me is in the process of bringing out its updated edition shortly, as I found more documents since its first publication in 2019. In 2019, I had included 130 writings of Bhagat Singh along with Jail Notebook, three more writings are now added to upcoming edition!

    My best experiences in my mission to spread Bhagat Singh’s ideas are with Gopal Roy, minister of Delhi Govt., who inaugurated Bhagat Singh Archives and Resource Centre, with my gifted collection on freedom struggle of India and which is located in Delhi Archives of Delhi Govt., who, while being in charge minister of freedom fighters cell in Delhi,  holds functions on  every 23rd March and 28th September-martyrdom and birth anniversaries of the three martyrs, by free distribution of books by or on Bhagat Singh to the audience from children to old people in thousands. In one year, he got distributed one thousand copies of Bhagat Singh nephew Jagmohan Singh and mine edited volume of Bhagat Singh and his comrades writings and in another function he got 1500 hundred copies of my four volume collection of Bhagat Singh’s writings published by Publication Division, which has now come out with latest biography of Bhagat Singh in English! This is the best way of spreading Bhagat Singh’s ideas of free India to enlighten the youth! I hope Punjab Government also follows this example of their colleague in Delhi!

*Chaman Lal is retired Professor from JNU, ex Dean of Panjab University Chandigarh and Honorary advisor to Bhagat Singh Archives and Resource centre New Delhi.

    Prof.chaman@gmail.com   whatsapp no 9868774820 

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