‘Borda’ is No More

V eteran communist leader and a member of CPI(ML) since its inception, Comrade Prabodh Bhattacharya breathed his last on 8 January evening at Kolkata. He was 98. Popularly known as ‘Borda’ (elder brother) in the CPI(ML) circles, Comrade Prabodh Bhattacharya was born on 5 July 1905 in Harinarayanpur village of Kusthia district (now in Bangladesh). As a member of Communist Party of India, he was arrested under the draconian Defence of India Rules (DIR) Act in 1962, during the India-China war. Following the split he joined CPI(M) and in 1967 he was a member of Kolkata District Committee of CPI(M). He was also elected a member of the Calcutta Municipal Council from Beleghata. Later, he found embraced revolutionary politics and got deeply involved in Naxalbari Movement and the newly born CPI(ML). He was again arrested in 1969 for his involvement in revolutionary politics. Since 1972, he played an active role in the reorganisation of the Party. His nephew Comrade Biplab Bhattacharya embraced martyrdom facing police bullets in 1971.

Being the senior-most Party member, he was honoured by the Party to inaugurate the Fourth All India Party Congress of CPI(ML) held in the underground conditions in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand (then Bihar) in 1988. At that time he was 82. Braving old age he undertook all the trouble of traveling a long distance on foot to reach the venue. Comrade Prabodh also attended Party’s Fifth Congress held in Kolkata in 1992. However, owing to his ill-health he could not reach Varanasi to take part in the Sixth Congress held in 1997.

When the Party was in the underground, Comrade Prabodh took the responsibility of publishing “Reports from the Flaming Fields of Bihar” in 1985 in his name. Comrade Borda’s intense dedication to the cause of revolution and the people earned him popularity and affection not only in the Party circles but also among the common masses. He was and will remain a source of inspiration for the comrades. During his later years Party comrades in his area used to visit and take care of him.
Bereaved at the demise of this senior revolutionary comrade, CPI(ML) salutes his memory and pays sincere tributes to him.Long live the memory of Comrade Prabodh Bhattacharya!

Dr. Krishna Raj Passes Away

Dr. Krishna Raj, noted economist and Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly, passed away all of a sudden in his sleep on the night of 16 January 2004, in Mumbai. He was 67.

Krishna Raj’s took over the editorship of the Economic and Political Weekly, familiarly known as the EPW, in 1968, only two years after it had begun publication. The EPW was an avatar of the Economic Weekly, founded in 1949 by Sachin Chaudhuri, once Union Finance Minister of India. Krishna Raj, an alumnus of the Delhi School of Economics, guided a small team of dedicated assistants producing a unique journal in a class of its own.

There was a time when some industrialists were trying to take over the Economic Weekly after Sachin Chaudhary’s death. But a few top intellectuals came together and formed the Sameeksha Trust.

He combined a commitment to conscientious, painstaking research in social sciences with a dedication to diversity of expression. The EPW under his stewardship provided a liberal platform for the sharing of research and the dissemination of opinion, and became one of India’s most prestigious social science journals, where young researchers as well as established figures were proud to publish.

During the nearly four decades of Dr. Raj’s stewardship, the EPW expanded its scope to embrace development economics as well as debates in post-colonial historiography; money markets and the history of trade as well as studies of poverty; agriculture as well as management and industry. During the 1980s and 1990s, it placed on its agenda the urgent themes of gender, urbanisation, the ideology of politicised religion, and popular culture. Dr. Raj’s abiding concern was that the journal ought to reflect, as well as reflect upon, the changing preoccupations of social sciences in India as the nation-state passed from the early post-colonial era into the epoch of globalisation.

Like the journal, its Editor too bridged the realms of journalism, academia and activism. He was actively involved in academic publishing, serving on the editorial boards of journals such as Gender, Technology and Development. He supported the initiatives of liberal-secular activism against the threat of a majoritarian ascendancy, and was a member of the advisory board of the Centre for the Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai.