Binay Ghosh

Yet another Centenary

Asok Chattopadhyay

This year witnesses the celebrations of the centenary anniversary of the November Revolution and the fifty years of Naxalbari uprising. Red flags are flying high in the winding tower. But the birthday anniversary of the renowned Marxist Sociologist Binay Ghosh remains unsung, unchanted.

Just a year back, a pre-anniversary celebration was organised on the 14th June at the Abanindra Sabhaghar premises, Kolkata, where huge people were assembled to pay their homage to this centenarian Marxist Sociologist in presence of the luminaries like Chittatosh Mukhopadhyay, Dr Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and others among whom Dhiman Ghosh, son of Binay Ghosh, was present. Came out of the hall all the promises and wordings got lost and no further cultivation in this subject evidenced in media prop during a long fifty-two week period later. Well, emotions are not recollected in tranquility, rather a hot wind passes by.

Binay Ghosh was acquainted with Marxism while a college student and came in contact with the Marxist writings of Ralph Fox, Spender, Caudwell, Cecil De Louis etc. And this youth time Marxist remained unchanged even in the sun set days of his life. And never did he compromise with his left-winger stand in any circumstances whatever adverse it might be. He could be a professor by profession or a prominent journalist but didn’t pay to it. His father Vishweshwar Ghosh was a very uncompromising person and left his job for several times. Binay Ghosh inherited it from his father and practised it all throughout his life. He was attached to the Forward under Subhas Chandra Bose only for two years or less and then joined Jugantar, Arani, Basumati etc but nowhere did he stay long. He had to leave Basumati for his political mindset. Never did he belittle his views in spite of his higher-ups’ command, rather he preferred leaving the desk.

Once he was attached to IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association), Anti-fascist Writers’ Association, Friends of Soviet Union etc. He is stated to be the very one attracting Bijan Bhattacharya to Marxist ideology and encamped him into IPTA.

In his thirties Binay Ghosh branded poets like Buddhadev Basu, Sudhindranath Dutta, Bishnu De and even Samar Sen to be the propagandists of Arts for Arts Sake , a bourgeois ideology. On the contrary he praised much the poets like Arun Mitra, Subhas Mukhopadhyay, Saroj Dutta etc for their communistic attitude towards life. And all these he did fearlessly and unhesitatingly. What he considered right as his Marxist mindset he translated them into his writings which at times gave birth to sharp controversy. But never did he step back. Though being a Communist Party member he could not share the Party-views in regards of the national and international questions in the fifties of the last century. He distanced himself from the party itself and practised his Marxist views in his own way in thought process and writings. His article entitled Automatic life and Society (‘Automated jiban o samaj”) invited controversy and this article was badly criticised in the Swadhinata, the then CPI mouthpiece, where his friend Golam Kuddus, perhaps at the behest of the party, branded Binay Ghosh anti-communist. The said article of Binay Ghosh was published in the Sanibarer Chithi, a Bengali journal, edited by Sajanikanta Das. It was the year 1958. It’s not known the reaction of Binay Ghosh to this effect but he later published this criticism of Golam Kuddus as appendix to his new title Automatic life and Society (‘Automated jiban o samaj’) in 1978 without comment. This juxtaposition after a long lapse of twenty years was self-explanatory.

Binay Ghosh, not unlike a scientist, used to check the updates of the Marxist analysis on the socio-political aspects and as such reviewed his stands on the Bengal Renaissance (‘Banglar Nabajagriti’) that came into light in the year 1948-49 in the late seventies of the last Century, after the spring thunder of Naxalbari, and upped with branding it a myth. This time he stood for his views reflected in his earlier books entitled Art Literature and Society and New Literature and criticism (‘Shilpa Sahitya o Samaj and ‘Natun Sahitya o Samalochana’, both published in the year 1940, and said in the seventies that he wrote nothing worse and committed nothing mistake of serious type. Thus he Okayed his earlier Marxist stand in his late fifties.

The Naxalbari uprising made a great impact on Binay Ghosh. He hailed the role of the revolutionary students not only of Calcutta but also of the different parts of the then world. The incidents of students’ movement of France, Cultural Revolution in China, distortion of Soviet socialism, food movement in West Bengal of mid-sixties, divisions of Communist Party/Parties in India, hawking bourgeois ideology of the left-in-power under united front ministry in West Bengal and the Naxalbari uprising got him a new horizon of intellectualism. He began revisiting the role of the nineteenth century Bengali intelligentsia and befriended with Samar Sen to ventilate his views in the pages of the Frontier, much of it in the flaming seventies.

Marxism taught Binay Ghosh to question and to seek proper answers all through. And this he did undaunted. His questioning irritated some of the Communist leaderships and all-knowing party boss. He was the prey of sharp attack at times but he did never subdue. Though sided with the valiant youths on-road in the bloody seventies in Calcutta, he did not but question their Utopia as to how much could it match with the Marxism-Leninism. But he flagged high their valiancy and unputdownable courage. Stood on the bloody battle field this fifty six years old leftwinger could neither join the warring youth nor leave the ground. Stood aground he untiringly sought the way out into the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism.

Born on June 14, 1917 in Kolkata, Binay Ghosh took his primary lessons in the Nirod Master’s pathshala at Manoharpukur, Calcutta, and obtained Matric degree from the Cathedral Mission School, did his IA from Ashutosh College, later graduated in economics and did masters in ancient history and culture. This great research scholar trotted several hundred villages on foot to have fieldwork-coins and translated them in the sable words of his writings which are the precious collections of Bengali literature. Wedded to Marxism he got it en masse into his life style and became a foot soldier.

He quoted Karl Marx saying, ‘Social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which mislead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.’ And he himself did have an essential practice in his social life away with misleading theories and was untired of comprehending this practice against all odds.

Binay Ghosh passed away on July 24, 1980. Thirty seven years have passed since he left the world and a hundred years have passed since he came on earth. Now he falls among the queer people unnoticed, blind-eyed. Centenary of the November Revolution is remembered tending to the cause and emancipation of exploited working people, so in the case of remembering fifty years of Naxalbari. But the Marxist Sociologist, standing all through for the cause and emancipation of the toiling people remains in dark, unattended, unsung, unchanted.

May 19, 2017

Vol. 49, No.48, Jun 4 - 10, 2017