Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal releases book on Champaran Satyagraha in Ahmedabad

A book capturing the voice of peasants of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 through their statements was released by Union Minister of State for Culture Arjun Ram Meghwal in Ahmedabad on Monday. 

The book ‘Thumb Print-Champaran Indigo Peasants Speak to Gandhi, Volume-1′ was printed by Navjivan Trust with archival documents from the National Archives of India. It documents the oral testimonies of Champaran peasants on being forced to shift to indigo cultivation and includes around 350 peasants’ accounts. Around 7,000 peasants’ testimonies were taken by Mahatma Gandhi and his team of eight lawyers in 1917. 

Meghwal asked the Navjivan Trust and National Archives of India to draw a roadmap for the next 25 years and said that PM Narendra Modi’s initiatives find their roots in those of Mahatma Gandhi.

“On our Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, we need to deliberate and consider — be it any organisation, ministry, trust, NGO — that what have we achieved in the past 75 years and how, what remains lacking and how we can remedy it, and the roadmap for the next 25 years for 2047 when we would celebrate 100 years of independence. I feel today’s programme is about what the roadmap will be for Navjivan Trust and the National Archives of India for the next 25 years. PM Modi has envisioned from this place (Gujarat) that when India celebrates its centenary year of Independence, it is a developed country, a world leader.”

Historian and scholar Tridip Suhrud said that another eight to nine volumes are expected of such testimonies. “When I talk about our country where education was not available or allowed across communities, in that farmers, Adivasis, Dalits, their histories were not documented. For documenting it, a level of empathy and ear is required… Gandhi tried to capture the significance of silence at Champaran. A lot of people don’t know what happened at Champaran…,” he said, adding that this would possibly be “globally the largest peasant testimony archive.” 

Meghwal launched two other books — Repair and Preservation of Records and Abhilekhan ka Parirakshan evam Pratisanskar — and a mobile app ‘Abhilekh Patal’ by the National Archives of India which will grant online access to 3.3 million pages of digitised records. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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