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Saturday , July 9 , 2011
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A life & legacy revealed
Sen unveils ‘exciting’ book on Netaji

A Nobel laureate from Bengal, a noted historian and the grandnephew of one of Bengal’s greatest heroes, and Bengal’s modern agent of change — the Town Hall stage on Friday evening was a pride-of-Bengal freeze frame.

“It’s a very exciting person’s life history. There’s enormous new material for even those who know a good deal about Netaji and it reads like a really exciting piece of history that is dynamic and makes you reflect,” was how Amartya Sen summed up His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire at the Town Hall.

That makes Sugata Bose’s book on his granduncle, published by Penguin India, a must read.

Something that Mamata Banerjee must have quickly realised, seated between Sen and Bose on the dais. For, she wasted no time in flipping through the first copy of His Majesty’s Opponent unveiled by the economist-philosopher and handed over to her with a smile.

Unveiling over, the grandson of Acharya Kshiti Mohan Sen and the grandnephew of Subhas Chandra Bose settled down for a discussion on the life and legacy of Netaji.

“This is a book of considerable depth and gravity. Subhas Chandra Bose was an inspirational figure who also had to court many controversies through various stages of his life, in his pursuit of India’s independence or in establishing international alliances that were questioned at that time. The book had to address various complexities and I couldn’t think of anyone else other than Sugata Bose who could have done justice to it,” said Sen in his introduction before going on to prod the Harvard history professor on some interesting insights into the book’s celebrated subject.

After a collage of black-and-white video footage from Netaji’s INA days, his address to his “countrymen” and his travels around the world, was screened, the author clarified: “Those were images of Subhas Chandra Bose as a warrior statesman but there were other facets to his personality.”

The gathering got glimpses of some of those facets as the author read out passages from his 325-pager. The discussion on Netaji between Sen and Bose then veered towards the other Bengali icon: Rabindranath Tagore. When Santiniketan’s most famous son today — named Amartya by Tagore — raised questions about the tensions and concerns between Tagore and Netaji, Bose clarified: “Netaji understood that Tagore was a patriot who loved his land and did not want India to imitate the nationalism of the West.”

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