Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
India History

If Premchand has really touched Modi, why are so many scholars rotting in jails?

July 31 marks 140th birth anniversary of a renowned Indian author, the late Munshi Premchand.

Gurpreet Singh 03 Aug 2020

Munshi premchand

Born as Dhanpat Rai in British India, he was forced to adopt an immortal name after his collection of short stories was seized by the authorities who found them to be seditious. These stories reflect the struggle of the working class and the oppressed groups under British occupied India and highlighted the freedom movement, which were provocative enough for the foreign rulers. By all standards, it was an assault on free expression. One such collection, translated in Punjabi, bears the title that reads Munshi Premchand’s stories that were confiscated by the British.   

Apart from focussing on the liberation struggle, Premchand, who was among the founding fathers of progressive literature, showcased the richness of pluralist culture of India through his novels and short fiction.  

His work has become even more relevant today under a right wing Hindutva nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ever since he came to power in 2014, attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown. So much so, the authors and scholars are being frequently detained and thrown in jails for questioning the power.  

Ironically, Modi is a Member of Parliament from Varanasi, the birthplace of Premchand. It is not surprising to see how he is trying to appropriate the late writer who continues to dominate the literary landscape of the country. Last year, he went to the extent of claiming that he was deeply touched by the stories of Premchand in his radio address to the nation.         

If Modi really means what he says then he should start releasing all the scholars and intellectuals who have been detained by his government for questioning the power. Among them is an 81-year-old revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, who was hit by Covid-19 in jail and a Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist. The list is long and includes published authors, like Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha. These individuals were arrested on trumped up charges for merely raising voices for the poor and marginalised.  

Also, Modi’s ideology completely contradicts that of Premchand. Whereas Modi wants to transform India into Hindu theocracy, Premchand’s work stands for an inclusive and tolerant society.  

Modi government is behaving no differently than the British rulers who had seized the short stories of Premchand to crush resistance. If he cannot do this, then he should at least stop lying about his feelings in public.  

Related:

Prof Hany Babu is NIA’s 12th arrest in Bhima Koregaon case
How is Varavara Rao’s health?

If Premchand has really touched Modi, why are so many scholars rotting in jails?

July 31 marks 140th birth anniversary of a renowned Indian author, the late Munshi Premchand.

Munshi premchand

Born as Dhanpat Rai in British India, he was forced to adopt an immortal name after his collection of short stories was seized by the authorities who found them to be seditious. These stories reflect the struggle of the working class and the oppressed groups under British occupied India and highlighted the freedom movement, which were provocative enough for the foreign rulers. By all standards, it was an assault on free expression. One such collection, translated in Punjabi, bears the title that reads Munshi Premchand’s stories that were confiscated by the British.   

Apart from focussing on the liberation struggle, Premchand, who was among the founding fathers of progressive literature, showcased the richness of pluralist culture of India through his novels and short fiction.  

His work has become even more relevant today under a right wing Hindutva nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ever since he came to power in 2014, attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown. So much so, the authors and scholars are being frequently detained and thrown in jails for questioning the power.  

Ironically, Modi is a Member of Parliament from Varanasi, the birthplace of Premchand. It is not surprising to see how he is trying to appropriate the late writer who continues to dominate the literary landscape of the country. Last year, he went to the extent of claiming that he was deeply touched by the stories of Premchand in his radio address to the nation.         

If Modi really means what he says then he should start releasing all the scholars and intellectuals who have been detained by his government for questioning the power. Among them is an 81-year-old revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, who was hit by Covid-19 in jail and a Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist. The list is long and includes published authors, like Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha. These individuals were arrested on trumped up charges for merely raising voices for the poor and marginalised.  

Also, Modi’s ideology completely contradicts that of Premchand. Whereas Modi wants to transform India into Hindu theocracy, Premchand’s work stands for an inclusive and tolerant society.  

Modi government is behaving no differently than the British rulers who had seized the short stories of Premchand to crush resistance. If he cannot do this, then he should at least stop lying about his feelings in public.  

Related:

Prof Hany Babu is NIA’s 12th arrest in Bhima Koregaon case
How is Varavara Rao’s health?

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Archives