To Make the Deaf Hear

Ideology and Programme of Bhagat Singh and His Comrades

First Edition

ISBN(s) 81-88789-56-9, 81-88789-61-5
Pub. Date September 2007
Pages xx, 232
Dimensions 8.5 in x 5.5 in
Rights All Rights Available
  India Elsewhere
Paperback 81-88789-61-5
₨. 300
$15.00
Hardcover 81-88789-56-9
Out-of-print
Out-of-print

This is a path-breaking work on the political life and times of Bhagat Singh and his associates, and the organizations of which they were a part – the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) and the Naujawan Bharat Sabha. It highlights many hitherto neglected aspects of the evolution of Bhagat Singh as a national hero, including the definite shift towards socialism in his outlook. This is also among the best works on the revolutionary nationalists and their role in India’s freedom movement. Documents and short writings crucial to understanding the essential core of their ideology and programme are included as appendices. This is that rare book of history that scholars and the general reader alike could enjoy and appreciate, and which no student of modern south Asian history can do without. Above all, it describes incredibly well those momentous decades of the 1920s and early 30s when the left-radical agenda came to occupy a huge space on the Subcontinent.

Contents

Preface

Essays

  1. Chapter One: Programme and Ideology of the Early Revolutionaries
  2. Chapter Two: Towards a Revolutionary Programme and Socialist Outlook
  3. Chapter Three: Trials, Congress and the Revolutionaries
  4. Chapter Four: Ideology and Programme of the HSRA
  5. Chapter Five: Conclusion

Appendices

A - The Reading list of Sardar Bhagat Singh

B - Some important Statements and Writings of Bhagat Singh

  1. To Make the Deaf Hear: Notice of Hindustan SocialistRepublican Association (Army)
  2. Statement in the Sessions Court (Read out by Mr Asaf Ali)
  3. Why I Am An Atheist
  4. Introduction to The Dreamland
  5. To the Young Political Workers

C - Some important documents

  1. Manifesto of the Hindustan Republican Association
  2. Manifesto of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha
  3. Philosophy of the Bomb: Manifesto of the Hindustan

D - Socialist Republican Association

Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Front cover: Bhagat Singh with Batukeshwar Dutt. The couplets in Urdu, in Bhagat Singh’s handwriting, are from his prison diary. Back cover: young Bhagat Singh. Pictures courtesy Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.

Reviews

I was extremely excited by what I read in the book. We have all known Bhagat Singh as a gun-toting revolutionary but he was also somebody who thought deeply about revolution and the kind of society that would emerge as a result of the revolution.

— Romila Thapar in The Indian Express

It is an excellent treatise on the subject, which is a difficult one….I find it extremely informative, analytical and illuminating on different events that happened during a very important and critical period of our history.

— Somnath Chatterjee, former Speaker, Lok Sabha.

There is much about the militant side of Indian nationalist movement in Habib’s book. It is well researched and well written.

— Khushwant Singh in The Telegraph

S Irfan Habib’s account is a meticulously documented and analytical work which takes particular care to portray the political and intellectual evolution of Bhagat Singh as a revolutionary. The focus of this well-researched work is not on events, but on the ideological processes which enabled Bhagat Singh to espouse a revolutionary philosophy and a programme of political action.

— K N Panikkar in The Hindu

Habib has made a valuable contribution to the literature on pre-1947 political traditions in India by emphasizing that the overwhelming aspect that emerges regarding the ideas of Bhagat Singh and his associates is that they moved unambiguously to the perspective of ‘scientific socialism’….An important achievement of this book is that it has been able to show convincingly that Bhagat Singh was a serious political thinker and a visionary.

— Pritam Singh in The Journal of Punjab Studies

Mainstream historians have ignored the revolutionaries who fought the British Raj in their own way: the Gandhian Congress has attracted most of the attention at the expense of those who believed in violent means and offered their freedom or even their life for this fight. Focusing on Bhagat Singh and his comrades, this book presents an untold history of India. It also gives us access to their own words by reproducing key, fascinating documents which are not easily accessible.

— Christophe Jaffrelot

S. Irfan Habib’s book on Bhagat Singh and his comrades is among the best books on modern Indian history in a long time. It unabashedly and without reservations describes those momentous decades in our history when options were more open and popular aspirations ran high, and ‘revolution’ and ‘national liberation’ were current in the political vocabulary of the times, and more intrinsic to the national agenda than today’s historiography on modern India acknowledges. It also describes the life and activities of that remarkable set of people whose deeds made them natural heroes and who by their words and actions exposed the weaknesses of the national movement in those very years that it was becoming a mass movement. In a sense therefore this is a book on Bhagat Singh’s life and times, and shows him to be among the best representatives of his times even as he influenced those times in a significant way. In showing this this book is a fitting tribute to Bhagat Singh in his 100 birth centenary year and to sixty years of India’s freedom.

Based on rich archival material and conversations with many former members of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha and the HSRA, many of them saathis of Bhagat Singh, this is a definitive work on the ideology and programme of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. It highlights many hitherto neglected aspects crucial to understanding the evolution of Bhagat Singh as a national hero. It lays stress on the activities and campaigns of the organizations of which Bhagat Singh was a leading member, and the definite shift towards socialism in their world view and programme. It underlines the central role of Bhagat Singh and his comrades in popularizing the left-radical agenda of the national movement and giving visibility to this agenda in the national political life of those years.

Irfan’s book also shows that Bhagat Singh and his comrades were a significant stream within the communist left and by their heroism and deeds played a central role in both broadening the scope of the Congress led movements to include popular demands, and in popularizing the slogans and goals of the communist movement in India. One cannot think that revolution and socialism could have become as popular as they did then, or that Gandhi could have felt the challenge that he did then were it not for the political intervention of Bhagat Singh and his comrades and their firm alignment with communist politics of the time.

In its language, vocabulary and in the way it describes what the archival and other sources used by him in his research say, the book reads like it were written not today but two decades ago, which in fact it was, and it contains the flavour of those times—when options were not hedged in by the pressures of globalization and collapse of many socialist regimes. Unencumbered on these accounts, the book is able to describe inspiring times and deeds in just they way they need to be described today.

— Nalini Taneja, Associate Professor, School of Open Learning, University of Delhi

About S. Irfan Habib Read full profile ›

S. Irfan Habib has worked for many years with the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS). He is currently holding the Maulana Azad Chair at National University of Educational Planning and Education (NUEPA), New... Read more

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