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So who really spearheaded India’s Freedom Struggle? Millions of ordinary people-farmers, labourers, homemakers, forest produce gatherers, artisans and others-stood up to the British. People who never went on to be ministers, governors, presidents, or hold other high public office.
They had this in common: their opposition to Empire was uncompromising.
In The Last Heroes, these footsoldiers of Indian freedom tell us their stories. The men, women and children featured in this book are Adivasis, Dalits, OBCs, Brahmins, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. They hail from different regions, speak different languages and include atheists and believers, Leftists, Gandhians and Ambedkarites.
The people featured pose the intriguing question: What is freedom? They saw that as going beyond Independence. And almost all of them continued their fight for freedoms long after 1947.
The post-1947 generations need their stories.
To learn what they understood. That freedom and independence are not the same thing. And to learn to make those come together. This episode of BIC Talks is adapted from a conversation between P Sainath and Indu Prasad at Bangalore Literature Festival 2022.
Palagummi Sainath is the founder-editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI). A journalist and reporter for over four decades, Palagummi Sainath has covered rural India for over 30 years. His new book, The Last Heroes: Foot Soldiers of Indian Freedom, is about the last fighters in India’s struggle for Independence.
After an MA in history from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Sainath joined the United News of India in 1980. He went on to become the foreign editor of The Daily and deputy chief editor of the weekly Blitz in Mumbai. He then left Blitz to work full-time on reporting rural poverty.
Sainath has won over 60 national and international reporting awards and fellowships. These include the Fukuoka Grand Prize 2021, the World Media Summit award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, UNFAO’s Boerma Prize, Amnesty International’s Global Human Rights Reporting Prize, the European Commission’s Lorenzo Natali Media Prize, and the Ramnath Goenka Journalist of the Year award. He currently teaches journalism at the Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai and the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai. He was McGraw Professor of Writing in Princeton in 2012.
In December 2014, Sainath launched the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI), a unique online site on rural India. Publishing in 14 languages, PARI is an independent multimedia digital platform, whose reporting mandate is to cover every region and section of rural people. In 7 years, PARI has won over 50 journalism awards.
His previous book, Everybody Loves a Good Drought is now in its 60th reprint.
Indu Prasad is the Vice Chancellor of Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. She is also the Director of the School of Continuing Education and University Resource Centre (SCE-URC) at the University.
Indu has been part of Azim Premji Foundation since 2005 and has worked in school education across several states in India.
Indu’s main areas of work are Teacher Education (policy, curriculum, practice) and working on Education Policy with Central and State governments.
Indu has worked with children with disability for about fifteen years before this.
She has a Master’s degree in Education (MEd) and a Bachelor’s degree in Education (BEd), both in teaching children with disability, along with a Master’s degree in Political Science.