- This event is over. However, time travel possible through our Audio & Video! See upcoming events
What was India’s Freedom Struggle about?
The Narayan Dutt Memorial Lecture
The celebrations around the 75th year of India’s Independence seem devoid of any recall of who and what it was the Indian people fought against to win freedom and Independence. Official websites dedicated to the subject tell young readers nothing about what colonialism did to this country. Nor is there any debate on who won India its Independence. A bunch of returning Oxbridge elites? Or, as Gandhi observed, ‘the people themselves’?
P Sainath’s new book The Last Heroes: Foot Soldiers of Indian Freedom records the life stories of 15 very ordinary Indians – representative of millions of others like themselves – and how they took on the British Raj. Farmers, labourers, cooks, couriers, homemakers, artisans, students and others played astonishingly courageous roles without ever gaining personally. They came from a diverse social spectrum: Dalits, Adivasis, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, OBCs, Brahmins, atheists, among others.
What motivated these freedom fighters? And why do they tell us that Freedom and Independence are two different things? In 5-6 years, not a single one of them will be alive. Our younger generations will never get to meet, talk to, listen to, ever engage with anyone who fought for their country’s Independence. How do we address that loss?
About Narayan Dutt:
Mr Narayan Dutt was a Hindi journalist. He retired as the Features Editor of PTI Hindi division. He was earlier Editor of Navaneet, a Hindi digest, for many years. He was highly regarded by his peers and received honours such as the Sri Ganesh Shanker Vidhyarthi Puraskar bestowed by the President of India, and an Honorary D. Lit by Makhanlal Chaturvedi Rashtriya Patrakarita evam Sanchar Vishwavidyalay, Bhopal. His date of birth is 17 February 1929. The last few speakers have included the film-maker Mr Girish Kasaravalli, the sociologist Prof Amita Baviskar of Asoka University and Prof Krishna Achuta Rao of the Department of Climate Change,IIT Delhi.
This event is in collaboration with Devagitam Charitable Trust (R), Mysuru & Abhijnana, Bengaluru:
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.