17 June, 2021

Reassessing History

A brilliant attempt to put Chauri Chaura in perspective

Reassessing History
THE French historian Fernand Braudel said there were two kinds of historians: the eagles and the truffle-hunters. The first had a broad vision and their accounts spanned centuries and continents. The latter were practitioners who excavated the details around a single event and wove these into a story.

But Chauri Chaura had, and has, very different meanings for different people. For the defenders of the Empire, the burning down of a thana and its 23 policemen on February 4, 1922, was an event to be avoided at all costs. A strikingly similar notion of irresponsible madness was held by Mahatma Gandhi and his apostles, who urged the guilty to surrender before the law. Disappointed by the violence, the Mahatma withdrew the Non-Cooperation Movement. Shahid Amin takes us beyond these two versions.

The confrontation of peasants and police is now a well-worked theme in Indian history with evidence that shows how the former were anything but a 'mob' waiting to be led. What is compelling...

In this article:

Latest Magazine

June 21, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section