Born in 1929 in a distinguished westernized Brahmo Samaj family in Calcutta Mohit Sen educated in Calcutta and Cambridge. It was at Cambridge that Sen met mathematics scholar Vanaja Iyengar and the two decided to marry. His also received his party card at Cambridge.
From 1950 to 1953 Mohit Sen was in People's Republic of China where he attended the International Communists School in Beijing. Subsequently he worked at the central office of the CPI, being eventually elected to the party's Central Executive Committee. He later parted with the CPI, persuaded by his thinking that the Communist movement should ally with the nationalist stream in India' s public affairs. He then founded the United Communist party of India.
Mohit Sen passed away in 2003 shortly after the publication of his autobiography. Of Sen's memories, Eric Hobsbawm, the celebrated historian of the twentieth century has noted that"
It is a most remarkable book written with unremitting passion and love with acute observation of those who gave their lives to the cause but with skeptical judgment. In my view no more illuminating first-hand book on the history of Indian Communism has been written nor is likely to be written
Indian was lucky to enter independence with service of the people as he.
A widely acknowledged intellectual communist Sen wrote for India's leading journals. His other writing include Revolution in India: Problems and Perspectives Glimpses of the History of the Communist movement in India Maoism and the Chinese Revolution Congress and Socialism and Naxalites and the Communists.
I started writing my autobiography in the autumn of 1997. It began because of Vanaja's persuasion and pressure. When she died at the end of 1999, I had written more than three-quarters of it. I could not continue for many months. It took inner struggle before I started again.
As the reader will find out this is a chronological narrative of my life. It tries to combine, as it should the developments in the Communist movement with life as I lived it. The communist autobiographies which I have read tend to avoid the personal life. I have not through I hope I have been able to maintain the necessary reticence.
I could not have in any case produced just an impersonal record. Vanaja and my friends formed so large a part of my life that to leave out my relationship with them would be to distance and deform the narrative. As it happened, the cause I served acquired shape and identity through persons. Books and participation in movements made the cause come alive but it was persons who did this most of all. I have been lucky in my love and my friends. I do not think I made enemies though some of my comrades have disliked me and I have disliked them. This has mattered little however. Love and friendship have. I thank whatever gods there be for the unconquerable kindness and grandeur of life.
National Book Trust has great pleasure in publishing this slightly abridged edition of Mohit Sen's autobiography originally published by Rupa & Co. under the title 'A Traveller and the Road'.
We felt the need to do so because this is one of the best autobiographies by an Indian who was deeply involved in Indian political life during the last 60 years.
Intellectually open-minded Mohit Sen, fully committed to the objective of brining about social and political revolution in India, led a rich and varied life.
This autobiography written with ease and frankness and in an engaging style is also a literary masterpiece and can easily be compared with that of Jawaharlal Nehru. Of particular interest are the passages dealing with his interaction over the years with some of the leading Indian and British intellectuals and Indian Communist and other political leaders with Indira Gandhi in Particular.
Despite major political ups downs a serious near-fatal accident, and near political isolation Mohit remained a very happy and optimistic person-and that even in his old age when persons find solace in dark cynicism and autobiography of dark to come. This is also evident in his autobiography where he has recorded many happy remembrances of all his friends and coworkers, in fact even of those who caused him harm at some stage or the other.
The NBT is thankful to Shri R.K. Mehra of Rupa & Co. for giving it permission to bring out this edition of Mohit Sen' autobiography and to Shri Anand Kishore Sahay for abridging the original edition.
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