ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Biography of Chandrashekhar Azad

Interrogating a Methodology in Writing Political History

Waiting for Swaraj: Inner Lives of Indian Revolutionaries by Aparna Vaidik, Cambridge University Press, 2021; pp 240, `795.


Chandrashekhar Azad is one of the most fascinating heroes of Indian revolutionary movement for freedom from British colonialism. Though Bhagat Singh’s name remains on top among the Indian revolutionaries in social media, Azad is no less a popular hero. In fact, they were both leaders of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association/Army (HSRA) in their own right. If Bhagat Singh’s position was of the political ideologue of the HSRA, Azad was the commander-in-chief of its armed wing. There was perfect harmony between the two within the orga­nisation and outside too, acknowledged by the author herself in the book. Both were martyred within one month of each other in 1931 and both turned into icons for the Indian youth for times to come, and after 90 years of their martyrdom, they continue to inspire the youth as they did during the time of their revolutionary life and martyrdom for the cause of Indian freedom from the colonial clutches.

Aparna Vaidik, a renowned historian focusing on revolutionaries and their movement, has chosen to focus on Azad first as she thinks that there has been an overplay of attention on Bhagat Singh. Perhaps she and a few others, including the descendants of some revolutionaries such as Mathura Das Thapar, brother of Sukhdev, also think that way and somewhat resent that it has been at the cost of other revolutionaries. While revolutionaries themselves cannot be blamed for the degree of public attention on their lives and actions or images, it was the task of historians or other public figures to pay attention to their lives and actions, which build their images. The irony of the matter is that historians did not make much attempts to focus on the revolutionary aspect of the freedom struggle and remained focused on the Congress-led movement.

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Updated On : 12th Feb, 2022
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