In India Ajoy Ghosh decided to make full use of P.C. Joshi'sarchival interest and enthusiasm for the 1857 Great Revolt. Joshi was commissioned to organise research articles reflecting different perceptions on 1857. This volume was officially published by the Peoples Publishing House in July 1957 under the title ?Rebellion-1857 : A Symposium?. In this volume we find, besides a long research paper contributed by Satinder Singh under the pseudonym Talmiz Khaldun, a 103 pages long well documented article by P.C. Joshi himself under the title ?1857 in Our History?. In this article Joshi referred to four articles published unsigned in the NYDT on July 15, August 14, September 10, 1857 and July 25, 1858 (fn. 3, 20, 25, 91, 129, 149, 210) and attributed them to Karl Marx. Interesting, in the footnotes Joshi claims to have received the photocopy of every article from the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, Berlin. Did he really forget that he himself had reproduced one article dated August 14, 1857 in India Today of September 1952. At that time he had claimed that he had received its copy, along with many others, from Syed Sibte Hassan. He was able to publish only two of them in India Today and had kept the rest of them with himself. Joshi was known for his sharp intellect and strong memory. It could not have been possible to forget those articles. Was he deliberately trying to conceal his association with this discovery of the so-called ?Marx articles? on 1857? Similarly, by keeping out Mosocw and bringing in the Berlin Institute of Marxism-Leninism was he trying to convey a message to the Indian Left intellectuals and Party cadres that the discovery of these ?hitherto undiscovered articles on 1857 Indian Revolt by the founder of Marxism? after a gap of almost a century was the result of parallel and independent research done by the Institutes situated outside India in Berlin and Moscow? But a footnote on page 351 in the article ?China and India in the mid-19th century? by Yu-Sheng-Wu and Chang Chen-Kun included in this book goes to prove the two articles reproduced in India Today in September 1952 under the title ?Marx on Revolt of 1857? had not completely been lost in oblivion. (P.C. Joshi (ed), Rebellion 1857, PPH, July 1957 p. 351).
In August 1957, a special number of New Age, the political monthly of the CPI with Ajoy Ghosh, the general secretary as its editor and assisted by Mohit Sen, was brought out. This special number also reproduced four articles on 1857 originally published unsigned in the NYDT on June 15, 1858, June 26, 1858; July 21, 1858; and Octoebr 1858. The name of Karl Marx was printed as their author. The endnote said, ?Four of a number of unsigned articles by Marx published in the NYDT…? (New Age, August 1957, p. 37) It also claimed, ?Photostat copies were kindly sent by the Marx-Lenin Institute, Berlin?. (ibid, p. 37) How ridiculous that the above four unsigned articles which were attributed in 1957 to Marx by the IML of Berlin were attributed to Engels in 1959 by the IML of Moscow in the (First Indian War of Independence, Moscow 1959)! By what methodology were they assigned to Marx and on what basis were they transferred to the account of Engels is not explained anywhere by both of them. Shockingly, Indian Marxists were not at all burdened with any of such doubt. They had convinced themselves that if something was coming from Moscow or Berlin in the name of Marx or Engels, it must be accepted as a gospel truth. That is why one of the tallest Marxist historians?Sushobhan Sarkar writing under the pseudonym Amit Sen in the New Age Special Number (August 1957), instead of raising such questions, pointed it out as an omission in the bibliography given in S.N. Sen'sEighteen Fifty Seven (Publication Division, Government of India, 1957) and complained that ?Even the published notes and letters of Marx bearing on the subject have been left unnoticed? (New Age, Special Number, on 1857, August 1957 p. 68), Perhaps, the ?eminent? historian did not remember that the ?notes? were prepared by Marx at the fag end of his life on the basis of a book written by Robert Sewell in 1877 and were published posthumously in 1947. Therefore it did not reflect Marx'sown views or his own writing. Similarly, the authenticity of the letters was open to question. But it showed his blind faith in any thing attributed to Marx coming via Moscow or Berlin.
Emboldened by the unquestioned acceptance by the Indian Marxist intellectuals of the attribution of the authorship of these unsigned articles to Marx and Engels after more than a century of their publication in the NYDT, Moscow dared to publish in 1959 a collection of articles by Marx and Engels on India under the title ?First Indian War of Independence,? henceforth FIWI). This collection included 28 articles on 1857 and also some letters exchanged between Marx and Engels referring to 1857 Indian Revolt. All these articles were published either as ?unsigned? or as ?leading articles? in the NYDT during the years 1857 and 1858.
The very title of the book smacks of a political motive, because nowhere in the articles included in this book such a nomenclature was used to describe the 1857 uprising and even in India there was no unanimity on this question. A debate was still going on whether to call it a ?Sepoy Mutiny? or ?a Rebellion? or a ?Revolt? or a ?War of Independence?. Moscow by declaring it the ?First Indian War of Independence?, tried to win over the Indian national sentiment to its side, which appeared to be the need of the Russian foreign policy. Chinese occupation of Tibet had compelled the Dalai Lama with his large following to take refuge in India. Consequently, Indian masses were seething with rage against China. Nehru Government had dismissed the first Communist ministry in Kerala. The CPI was badly fractured internally between pro-Soviet and pro-China factions. In this situation Soviet Union wanted to send a friendly message to the Indian government and also to strenghten the pro Soviet faction in the CPI. The national fervour which the centenary of the 1857 Revolt had aroused all over the country did not go unnoticed and most probably influenced Moscow to believe that if Marx and Engels could be presented as great supporters of 1857 uprising and if Moscow went a step ahead by calling it the ?First Indian War of Independence?, it would serve the purpose of Moscow very well.
The introduction written on behalf of the IML, in a way, reflects this thinking. It says, ?The people of India marked the centennial of the 1857-58 revolt in circumstances when the prophecy of the great proletarian leader (Marx) about India'sliberation from colonialism had come true.? (FIWI, Moscow 1959 p. 13). But the seven pages long introduction nowhere spells out the methodology which led the IML to attribute the authorship of unsigned articles to Marx and Engels and that too after the gap of a century.
The Publishers? Note in the beginning makes an interesting statement that ?This English edition of the First Indian War of Independence is based on the Russian edition prepared by the IML of the CC of the CPSU in 1959.? Are we to believe that the original articles in English were first translated into Russian and then again into English?
Further, it claims that while ?The text of the articles which were printed in the NYDT has been reproduced from that newspaper…? certain sentences inserted by the editors of the Daily Tribune… have been eliminated?. Further, in annotation no. 1 (p. 217) we are told, ?In some cases: The NYDT editors took considerable liberties with the articles contributed by Marx and Engels, publishing many of them unsigned in the form of editorials. There were also cases, when they tempered with the text and dated the articles at will.? But nowhere in the book any case of tempering has been pointed out nor we are able to find which sentences were eliminated, where and on what basis.
(To be continued)