Bilders of Modern India Lajpat Rai Life and Work
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Bilders of Modern India Lajpat Rai Life and Work

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Item Code: NAT930
Author: Feroz Chnad
Publisher: Publications Division, Government of India
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788123016030
Pages: 622 (1 B/W Illustration)
Other Details: 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 760 gm

"You somehow must snatch time for a volume of memoirs time and again I pressed this suggestion on my chief, particularly when I found him reminiscing, offering bits out of a rich storehouse. I fancy many others made a like request. What reply the others got I do not know. To me it used to be-"Let that be your care" or words to that effect. Now and then, though (and at times without the suggestion being made to him), after narrating an interesting reminiscence he would add-"I'd include this in my memoirs."

The request I made in all earnestness. The reply I never took seriously-neither his No, nor the alternative proposed.

Had I taken it seriously I would naturally have sought his guidance as to how to go about it, where to look for my material and how to collect it, which sources were to be tapped. And which persons to be requested for information or letters, etc. And, of course, as the prime source for the needed material I would ply him with volley after volley of questions- and at times make him lose patience with me-all which I never did. Nothing of the kind ever crossed my mind. His customary reply I took as convenient terse formula just to put me off.

The guidance from the prime source one day became unavailable and the loconic reply had to be taken seriously. What had seemed an evasive formula began to assume the aspect of a testament and a command. Well aware that the life story of Lajpat Rai was an epic theme, I was aware equally of my own very limited capability. I had never done any biographical writing even in a small way, but what is more I regularly felt that something in my temperament disqualified me for venturing here-that biography was not just my cup of tea-except as a reader.

Still the epic theme beckoned. It persisted, and so did hesitancy for I had not done even the minimum that had rested just with myself-jotting down my own recollections and, for the future keeping some sort of a journal nothing down therein whatever seemed worthwhile.

Particularly dear to Lalaji, C.F. Andrews had kept very close to him since his return from the war-time exile, and, besides had taken the keenest interest in our weekly. The people, from its very birth and, therefore, had full opportunity ‘to assess my capability. He was best fitted to measure it against the epic theme. He offered to guide me, to help me with counsel at every stage, to go through the MS, to sponsor it, to place it with a good publishing house.

The credit for the launching surely goes to his generous offer and insistence; but after a preliminary pre-launching, discussion it was agreed between us that a more fruitful session must wait till a substantial part of the first draft was ready and by that time that noble soul had departed.

The story of a succession of delays may be a tedious narrative and a futility. In such a situation it is much simpler for an author to accept the entire blame leaving the rest to the reader.

The partition damage, however, has to be mentioned not to absolve the writer of any portion of blame, but for a different reason - to warn the reader that the bulk of valuable papers was irretrievably lost, including Lalaji’s own correspondence files and clippings albums. Many of the other sources that had to be tapped became either useless or inaccessible. It is under this severe handicap that the project-uprooted by partition and transplanted-has had to be completed. In retrospect it looks providential that the first draft that had somehow been salvaged contained copious excerpts from many of the papers no longer available after the ‘47 tragedy.

At different stages of this long-drawn project. I have been helped by many in my family and my circle of friends in various ways. On the literary side gratitude is due first and foremost to the late Mr. Arthur Moore. He had come in contact with Lala Lajpat Rai as a fellow member of the Legislative Assembly. My personal-contact with him began in Delhi when Lahore had ceased to be part of this country. He had already retired from the editorship of The Statesman. We planned a journalistic venture in which we were to collaborate. That collaboration did not materialise but the planning had fostered friendly contacts resting on mutual esteem. He read through the MS. with great care purely as a labour of love, and I even began to feel that he had in a way given me much of what I might have sought from C.F. Andrews. Like Andrews he was interested not merely in literary improvement but also in publication; he strongly commended the MS. to the editor of a leading daily paper, Suggesting its serialisation. I had never sought such help from him, and he never let me know (or suspect) what he was doing in this behalf. I heard about his having initiated the move only after he had finally gone back to England. The move resulted in a substantial part of the MS. being serialised simultaneously in three leading dailies in‘English, and in one leading daily each in a good many of our own language, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Oriya. The series ran into more than a dozen longish instalments (of about 5000 words each). The Lajpat Rai series became thus an outstanding national release of that period. The planning of a release on such a scale was largely due to the keen interest of my friend, the late Shri K. Iswar Dutt, then of The Hindustan Times.

I must mention also that the late Prof. Madan Gopal Singh (Registrar of the Panjab University), my teacher in my college days (who kept up affectionate interest in his pupil, and was, besides, very keenly interested in the theme being handled by him), had gone through the first draft of the early chapters and made valuable suggestions. He could not complete what he had offered to do as he was murdered in the 47 orgy of bloodshed.

Friends of the Servants of the People Society have naturally shown keen interest in the project. The late Shri Mohan Lal urged my laying aside other work to complete the biography project-and in this he was clearly the spokesman of all his colleagues. I feel sad that the delay made so dear a friend lose faith in me for certain things even though he was too indulgent towards me ever to say so plainly.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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