The Chaudhuris of Bharenga
                                       The death of the eminent sculptor, Sankho Chaudhuri, las...
razor-sharp intellect. Perhaps because of     was, besides, a constant movement of            irresponsible behaviour; kin...
published from Dacca. A man of dazzling        taking into account the financial difficul-         It was the mid-1930s, S...
Once ensconced in the Churchill Cham-         shallow. On his return home, he kept            walls and the ceiling of his...
meanwhile travelled far, from terracotta to        considered it a fabulous thing and began        he branched out to star...
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Chaudhuris Of Bharenga

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Article by Dr Ashok Mitra, Published in EPW of 11th Nov, 2006

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Chaudhuris Of Bharenga

  1. 1. The Chaudhuris of Bharenga The death of the eminent sculptor, Sankho Chaudhuri, last August, has brought an end in some ways to the saga of the Chaudhuri siblings. Scions of a brahmin landowning family in Bharenga, now in Bangladesh, the Chaudhuris were characterised by a restless, freewheeling, ever inquisitive spirit. Sachin Chaudhuri, the eldest among them became the founding editor of the Economic Weekly, that later became the EPW. As the youngest of his siblings, Sankho Chaudhuri was drawn to the creative arts, never hesitating to experiment with new forms and mediums of expression. AM remarkable nature of the saga is not diminished thereby. T he death last August of the Narendra Narayan Chaudhuri, born in sculptor, Sankho Chaudhuri, has 1873, was a landowner with his roots in brought to an end the saga of eight the village Bharenga in the district of Pabna siblings closely knit to one another. The in what is now Bangladesh. He was scion annals of this octet of brothers and sisters of the varendra sect of brahmins. Accord- and of the family they belonged to – as ing to one version, the Maithili brahmins, well as of similarly situated families – once they crossed from Bihar settled in occupy a space in India’s 20th century the upper reaches of the Indo-Gangetic economic and social history. Views valley in Bengal, took to the sobriquet may differ on the relative significance varendra. Whatever their other attributes, of their particular contributions; the the varendra brahmins were reputed for a Economic and Political Weekly November 11, 2006 4653
  2. 2. razor-sharp intellect. Perhaps because of was, besides, a constant movement of irresponsible behaviour; kind-hearted the numerical smallness of the sect, their friends and cousins, some of whom chose ones would have chosen to describe the sense of close kinship was also widely to stay on for long periods. None of these escapades as youthly pranks. talked about. set a problem for the Chaudhuri siblings; The eldest of the children, Sachindra The brand of feudalism flourishing under share-and-share-alike was the unspoken Narayan, later famous as Sachin Chaudhuri, the colonial sky in Bengal, otherwise known but well understood family motto. During possessed an exceptionally agile mind. He as the Permanent Settlement, was, by the school vacations and at festival times, provided evidence very early of an un- end of the 19th century, about to lose both the family would visit Bharenga; the canny ability to explore, simultaneously, its use- as well as exchange-value. Land link with the ancestral village and the different frontiers of knowledge. He loved in the control of intermediaries was both responsibilities going with landlordship to wander along the gorgeous corridors of shrinking in size and getting increasingly continued to be considered as basic Sanskrit kavya, he was thoroughly ac- fragmented. The heraldic pageantry asso- priorities. Of equal concern was arranging quainted with the trends in Bengali litera- ciated with landlordism however refused appropriate education for the children. ture and could recite from memory Tagore’s to wither away despite the lack of funds. They were sent to good schools in the city. poetry and prose for hours on end. He The Chaudhuris were no exception; the For the daughters, ‘ustads’ would come could hold a discourse on eastern philo- ostentation they practised also stemmed, home to provide vocal training. Narendra sophy and, in the same breath, offer weighty some suggest, from a generosity of the Narayan was well read in Bengali, Sanskrit, comments on western political thought. He heart which was the particular by-product Persian and English literature. Kiranmoyee could as easily wade into the abstruse of a riverine culture. Narendra Narayan Devi was 13 years younger than her recesses of economic theory. If the testi- had studied in Calcutta’s Presidency husband. She nonetheless had a mind of mony of his classmate, A K Dasgupta, is College and had a degree in law. He could her own, coming as she did from a radical- to be accorded due respect, Sachin not quite make ends meet with rentier minded, equally sophisticated family. (One Chaudhuri was by far the most brilliant income alone. To augment earnings, he of her nephews, Amiya Chakravarty, was student to walk the lawns of the University decided to enrol as a lawyer. He crossed a major Bengali poet in the post-Tagorean of Dacca in the first decade of its existence. the Padma – the principal flow of the phase; he was also, for long years, personal What was breathtaking though was his Ganges after its bifurcation on entering secretary to Rabindranath Tagore; later in total disinterest in the conventional Bengal –, set up an establishment at Dacca, life, he taught in a number of American criteria of academic excellence. Mahatma and joined the bar there. Both he and his universities.) Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement was wife, Kiranmoyee, were extraordinarily at its peak. Sachin Chaudhuri registered radical specimens for their times. Their The Chaudhuri Household himself as a Congress volunteer and radicalism was as much sparked by what began to don khadi, the habit stuck with is described as the 19th century Bengali Love for scholarly and artistic activities him till the last day of his life. He cared renaissance as by the generally liberating was synonymous with the Chaudhuri little for syllabi and examinations. The influence of the Brahmo movement. But household, which was accompanied by a university result was therefore disappoint- perhaps there was a bit more too in it. fierce regard for free thinking. This pre- ing. That did not worry Sachin Chaudhuri Their adherence to the rituals of the dilection for freewheeling thoughts and the least. For a while, he disappeared from varendra brahmins notwithstanding, the acts conceivably had something to do with the scene, some said to seek the inner couple imbibed the ethos of Enlighten- the family’s financial circumstances. Earn- meaning of life in the repose of the ment the British-administered new educa- ings from landed property were dimini- Himalayas. He resurfaced in Calcutta after tional system and the Brahmo cult jointly shing and subject to the climatic cycle of some months, was the talk of the town as engendered. Feudalism, they were fully good or bad harvest. Income from law a top order unemployed intellectual, and aware, was a dying culture and was practice – particularly for one who came managed to eke a living from private swiftly being supplanted by the emerging to the profession somewhat late – was tuitions. ideology of nationalism. They were ready equally chancy. For one or two months, Other things were meanwhile happening to greet the change. Their ardour for there would be a rush of cases, leading to in the family. The second child and the literature, music and the arts went hand windfall income for Narendra Narayan; eldest daughter, Shanti, got married into in hand with their interest in classical this would however be followed by a long an affluent varendra family settled in Gaya Sanskrit. Having sailed through Michael stretch of lean months, with income redu- in neighbourly Bihar. The rest of her life Madhusudan Dutt and Bankim Chandra ced to a driblet. The family learnt quickly was remarkably tranquil; she raised a happy Chatterjee, they soon discovered to cope with the tidal idiosyncrasies of family and lived what, in the context of Rabindranath Tagore. fortune. The parents and the children would the Chaudhuris, was an “ordinary” exist- Between January 1904 and February spend lavishly – often extravagantly – and ence. The third child was another daugh- 1916, Narendra Narayan and Kiranmoyee enjoy a measure of good life when family ter, Dharitri, often addressed as Kamala. begot eight children, four sons and income soared. Once a financial reverse She was married to the son of a family four daughters. The sequence was as took place, they adjusted to the situation. friend who too hailed from Bharenga, a follows: Sachindra Narayan (son), Shanti Such vicissitudes in family fortunes civil servant rising to the rank of a district (daughter), Dharitri (daughter), Shakuntala taught the children to be at home with magistrate. The groom was an income tax (daughter), Deb Narayan (son), Hitendra the mystique of risk and uncertainty; they officer, and was a powerful writer of both Narayan (son), Swapnamoyee (daughter), took delight in exploring the outer hori- prose and poetry in Bengali. He was closely and, finally, Nara Narayan, better known zons of challenges and adventures. The associated with the post-Tagore literary as Sankho (son). It was a large family, manner they went about every now and stirrings in Calcutta, finding expression at accommodation in the rented house at then could, according to some social the time in the literary magazine Kallol Dacca was always under a squeeze. There mores, be considered as bordering on published from Calcutta and Pragati 4654 Economic and Political Weekly November 11, 2006
  3. 3. published from Dacca. A man of dazzling taking into account the financial difficul- It was the mid-1930s, Sachin Chaudhuri charm, he was nature’s wayward offspring, ties the family was passing through, joined alighted in Bombay as a full-fledged temperamentally unstable. The bouts of a multinational concern which offered him vagabond. He would billet sometimes with wild encounters he loved to entangle an attractive pay package. He was posted Debu and sometimes with Hitu. His pref- himself often led to devastating sequels. in Bombay, where the sixth of the siblings, erence was to move into Debu’s apart- He soon lost his job and, after a while, set the third brother, Hitendra Narayan – Hiten ment, for Hitu’s unconventional ways of himself up as an income tax lawyer, but or Hitu – had already turned up. In some life did not always receive the senior was never quite out of financial strains. ways, Hiten was the most unusual amongst brother’s approval and this despite his Dharitri, the long suffering wife, coped the siblings. Although a bit short in stature, professed – and otherwise frequently stoically with the consequences of his he was exceedingly good looking, with demonstrated – liberalism. The feudal capers. She bore these not only with equa- dreamy eyes, a soft voice and captivatingly mindset apparently dies hard. That apart, nimity, but also with some pride. A blend impeccable manners. The pursuit of rou- Debu had got married and had a stable of genius and eccentricity, after all, ran tine academic studies was not his cup of household. There was a problem though, in her husband’s family; Ritwik Ghatak, tea. In his early youth in Dacca, he worked Debu’s wife, Hena, had her own ideas how the film director, was her husband’s as an earnest cadre, with the Congress as a bourgeois household should be run. A younger brother. Dharitri herself had a well as with a number of terrorist groups, most affectionate and understanding remarkable writing talent and had pub- participating in programmes for boycott- woman, she was unstintingly tireless in lished some prose and poetry in early life. ing foreign goods and acting as courier, taking care of the welfare of the senior She sacrificed her literary aspirations to sworn to secrecy for terrorist groups. Given brother-in-law, who was de facto head of look after the husband and children. his innate charms, he was also a most the household and addressed by the younger Mahashweta Devi, the writer, is her eldest successful fund-raiser for different causes. ones, in true feudal tradition, as ‘apni’ and daughter. The examination season and the narrow not by the more familiar ‘tumi’. Even so, The fourth child and third daughter of confines of Dacca however rendered him Sachin Chaudhuri’s rampant bohemianism Narendra Narayan and Kiranmoyee, restless. He left home and, after stray raised her hackles; while polite and def- Shakuntala, fell for the charisma of Leela adventures en route, ended up in Bombay. erential, she could be no less outspoken. Nag (later Roy), the revolutionary leader, He made his way into the households of A crisis seemed to brew. The two younger while still in high school. Leela Roy, the both important Congress leaders in the city brothers conferred among themselves and first woman to pass out of the University and Gujarati and Marathi business tycoons. thought it wise to hunt for an apartment of Dacca, was closely associated with He was Sarojini Naidu’s particular where the senior brother could lead a life the underground terrorist activities con- favourite; every time she was in Bombay, of his own. They located a third-floor stituting a counter-force to Mahatma she would seek him out, listen to his patters apartment in a building – Churchill Cham- Gandhi’s creed of non-violence. She was, and dreams and introduce him to people bers – immediately to the rear of the Taj at the same time, one of the pioneers of who mattered. In due course – never mind Mahal Hotel: Sachin Chaudhuri moved in, the women’s liberation movement in the how – Hiten found himself enmeshed in and, for the next quarter of a century, country. She presided over the secret the Bombay film industry. Whether he first reigned there in splendour befitting a political outfit, Srisangha, and established befriended Devika Rani who introduced grandee. a string of educational and social insti- him to her husband, Himansu Rai, or In fact this is where the strength of the tutions for the spread of women’s welfare. whether it was the other way round is a family bond revealed itself. The parents Shakuntala joined Leela Roy’s organisation history yet to be unravelled. At this time had moved from Dacca to Calcutta, the and for a number of years played a major Bombay Talkies was producing such siblings had gone their different ways. The role in it. When Leela Nag was impris- hits as Achhut Kanya, Kankan and senior brother might be earning little or oned, Shakuntala took charge and edited, Bandhan; Hiten was very much a part of nothing, he was still the senior brother. with great competence, the literary-cum- the scene. A fact rarely in the knowledge Besides, about everybody acknowledged political journal Jayashri. Accidents, of outsiders, a callow youth from Punjab, the quality of his mind and the depth of though, are accidents. A young Indian arriving in the tinsel world of Bombay in his learning. Whatever the strains and Civil Service officer came to interrogate search of fortune, is said to have got his difficulties, the junior brothers in Bombay her. They fell in love and got married. first chance in films through the courtesy considered it their duty to look after Sachin That ended effectively Shakuntala’s of Hiten Chaudhury; the young man, Chaudhuri who however was apparently political career. She passed into oblivion Yusuf Khan, later came to be known as not particularly concerned about the pre- and stayed there for the rest of her life. Dilip Kumar. dicament he was the cause of. Within Whether she was content with the In his heydays, Hiten struck it rich from months of his arrival in Bombay, he had dénouement is a question nobody is around his involvement in film production. But established a wide circle of friends in to answer. the family trait refused to disappear, he different circles: politicians, artists, would fall victim to all sob stories, writers, journalists, businessmen, society Bombay Talkies whether likely or unlikely, and generously ladies. A natural conversationalist and give away his money. He was a confidant raconteur, witty, sharp enough to catch the The fifth child and second son, Deb to stars and starlets in distress, and, nuances of political and social develop- Narayan – Debu – stood first in the first alternately, their heart-throb. When ments, equipped with a sense of sarcasm class in physics in both his honours and Sadhona Bose was an alcoholic wreck, which did not bite though, and with a master’s degree examinations, and was and about almost everybody had deserted raucous open-hearted laughter that would Satyendra Nath Bose’s special pet in the her, the ever-loyal Hiten Chaudhury ensnare into friendship even those who University of Dacca. To Bose’s great would go over, console her and humour arrived in a combative mood, he was disappointment, Deb Narayan, partly her wild tantrums. constantly in great demand. Economic and Political Weekly November 11, 2006 4655
  4. 4. Once ensconced in the Churchill Cham- shallow. On his return home, he kept walls and the ceiling of his lawyer’s cham- bers flat, his conquest of Bombay was pestering his senior brother: if that econo- ber in the house with replicas from the complete. He had no or little income, but mist from New Delhi, whose quality of Ajanta murals. Sankho found a natural so what. He would occasionally earn thinking was so ordinary, could still enjoy abode in Santiniketan. Restlessness, the twenty-five or fifty rupee bits by writing a reputation and edit a successful eco- family trademark, however kept implant- notes on economic issues for this or that nomic journal, why could not his vastly ing its imprimatur on him. Part-dilettante, newspaper, or a film review for a cinema more learned and far more sophisticated part-rebel, he underwent a term of im- magazine, or a commentary on share market brother, Sachin Chaudhuri, do so too? prisonment during the uprising in August twists and turns in a financial journal. Finances should not be a worry, he, Hiten, 1942, returned to Santiniketan to resume Gossip had it that he would even contribute would talk to his business associates and painting, equally dividing his time between wisdom-laden advice very now and then arrange the money. The younger brother’s oils and watercolour. But Ramkinkar’s for rags carrying racing tips. The uncertain persistence bore fruit; Sachin Chaudhuri magnet proved irresistible, Sankho soon state of his financial affairs did not prevent capitulated. That was how the Economic migrated all the way to sculpture. In that him from being close to Yusuf Meherally, Weekly was born on January 1, 1949, era, teachers and students from all over the Ram Manohar Lohia, Asoka Mehta, sponsored by a private limited company country congregated in Santiniketan. Achyut Patwardhan, or, for that matter, in which a business firm, with interests in Nandita and Krishna Kripalani became Harindra Nath Chattopadhyay, Shanti cotton and groundnut marketing, was the close family friends. There were others Sadiq Ali and Aruna Asaf Ali. At some sleeping, but major, partner. too, such as Jaya Appasamy, Nirmala stage in the early 1940s, his friend Patwardhan, Sabita Amin, Usha Bhagat A K Dasgupta introduced Sachin to A Weekly Is Born and of course Indira Nehru, later Gandhi. D Ghosh, the economist from Cambridge, These bonds endured. The Tagorean ethos, who was then reader in the Bombay School His friends in the academic, political and stressing the indivisibility of the home and of Economics and Sociology. Ghosh ar- journalist friends cheered Sachin along; the world, was for Sankho Chaudhuri not ranged for him a research scholarship D P Mukherji, the doyen of India’s social just the cliché of a credo; it was something fetching a monthly stipend of perhaps one scientists, wrote the first editorial for the he fiercely believed in. Ira – daughter of hundred rupees. Sachin had to register as inaugural issue, ‘Light without Heat’; an Jehangir Vakil, whom Tagore persuaded a PhD student at the university. But that exhilarating time set in for young scholars to come over to Santiniketan to lecture on was end of the story; the research did not all over the country, who were now able English literature – was a determined progress. After a while, both Ghose and to have an outlet for their ideas and views, woman. She chose him as her husband and, Chaudhuri stopped talking about it. They however inchoate or immature. There was over the next 70 years, managed with great nonetheless remained great friends. no pecking order in the Economic Weekly’s competence to cajole Sankho’s explosive Sachin obviously was hugely enjoying puny little office on Dalal Street or in the brilliance into accepting a structure of himself. For a while, he was, maybe at the Churchill Chambers flat. It was an open discipline. (An aside. When Sankho broke suggestion of Hiten, made general manger house in all seasons. Sachin himself was to the family the news of his engagement of the Bombay Talkies. This involved a devout Nehruvite. But as far as his and the date of wedding was announced, bidding temporary adieu to khadi apparel contributors were concerned, their ideo- Sachin Chaudhuri, the unemployed and and donning stylish double-breasted suits logy did not matter the least, what mattered seemingly unemployable genius of a and natty ties imported from Oxford Street. was “good copy”, brightly written and senior brother roaming the by-lanes of That interlude too, as was only to be intelligently argued. Bombay, borrowed money from a expected, of a brief duration. Toward the Back to the events taking shape with the mysterious source and bought the most closing years of the second world war, other siblings. The fourth sister, expensive Benarasi sari for the bride.) Sachin had some windfall earnings from Swapnamoyee – nicknamed Kuchi – was Sankho travelled from Santiniketan to writing scripts for BBC war newsreels for sent to Santiniketan along with her young- Europe, spending long months in France, the south-east Asia region. Anyway, the est brother, Sankho. While there, she some more time in England, absorbing the Churchill Chambers apartment always showed great promise in music, dance and nuances of forms and ideas from foreign overflowed with guests. Hiren Mukherjee, painting. Ramkinkar Baij, legend says, fell sculptors, but never deviating from the in Bombay to attend the first Congress of for her charms. It is difficult to gauge legacy of Ajanta, Ellora, Khajuraho and the Communist Party of India in 1943, had whether the infatuation was mutual. Konarak. His fascination for the adivasi such a rollicking time as Sachin’s guest Quickly realising that it could not but be mode of living and art forms, which he during that week that he would ever fondly an impractical conjunction, Swapnamoyee considered to be the purest of the pure remember it. withdrew from Santiniketan and opted for Indian inheritance, was equally un- Some months following independence, a tranquil domestic existence in Calcutta. wavering. His works began to be widely Hiten was on an non-official trade delega- The person she got married to was from talked about; that is to say, he became a tion touring Europe and the United States the town of Rangpur in northern Bengal. celebrity. The department of fine arts at to explore prospects of developing com- The Communist Party, during its begin- the M S University of Baroda grew, under mercial relations with parties in the two nings, had set up its first cell in the town his guidance, into a hub of creativity, where continents. The delegation was led by a in the house owned by Swapnamoyee’s experiments proceeded with media and professional economist of considerable in-laws. That is a different story. material – Sankho spent, in all, 15 years standing who edited an economic periodi- Sankho stayed on in Santiniketan. His at Baroda. All of a sudden, somebody or cal from New Delhi owned by a business passion for fine arts was discernible even something rubbed him in the wrong, the group. For nearly three months Hiten when the family was still in Dacca: federal ire was rekindled, he chucked his suffered the company of this gentleman, Narendra Narayan, the great liberal, al- professorial slot and arrived in New Delhi whom he found to be both opinionated and lowed his youngest son to paint the four to start a new chapter in life. He had 4656 Economic and Political Weekly November 11, 2006
  5. 5. meanwhile travelled far, from terracotta to considered it a fabulous thing and began he branched out to start a television bronze, from bronze to cast and wrought to write for it. In the colonial climate in assembling unit. But he too was a sophis- iron, to alloys of diverse metals, to stone which post-colonial India thrived, that fact ticate, a good and proper Chaudhuri sibling. chips and mortars, and finally, romance helped. The Economic Weekly scaled to He presided over an informal ‘adda’ where with the Makarana quarries. It was hard greater heights of fame. Visiting scholars, the city’s more interesting specimens would going initially, but, as the years rolled by, such as Joan Robinson, Michal Kalecki, foregather: poets, politicians, painters, he proved his point: a creative artist – any Nicky Kaldor, Oskar Lange and John musicians, doctors, lawyers, philo- creative artist – must be given by society Galbraith, would call on him and sign up sophers, film stars, do-gooders, crooks and the dignity he deserves. Society, meekly as his contributors. P C Mahalanobis too certified mad men; the flavour was and humbly, accepted his point – at least would drop in whenever in Bombay. quintessentially Chaudhuri-esque. up to a point. Sachin Chaudhuri, the spell-binding Following Sachin’s death, however, the It was undoubtedly Sachin Chaudhuri, conversationalist, would enthral them. yeast that bound the family together seemed the revered elder brother and former He, the confirmed bachelor, became the to have lost some of its quality. The next tramp, now editor of the Economic Weekly, natural target of a bevy of pretty, vivacious generation had arrived on the scene. They around whom however the family pride scholars of the female species from were conscious of the legacy left behind revolved. Once it became public know- American academic institutions; he by the senior uncle and would also bask ledge that Jawaharlal Nehru had passed treated them to excellent cuisine and sent in the reflected glory of the increasing instructions that the fresh issue of the journal them home. recognition the junior uncle Sankho’s be placed on his table each week, the All this was too good to last. For 16 long works were being accorded at home and culture proliferated. The finance minister years, the business group who helped Hiten abroad. Even so, with the patriarch gone, at the time, Chintamani Deshmukh, was Chaudhury to keep the Weekly afloat it was a different ambience. Hiten equally attentive to Sachin’s editorial had remained quiet. With their prosaic Chaudhury’s various magnanimities ruminations, including the admonitions he minds, they nonetheless could not quite proved his undoing. Most of his past savings administered. Sachin was incorrigibly understand the worth of celebrity status had been dissipated by the 1960s. His independent-minded, partly because of if it did not bring in any monetary subsequent business ventures failed one the family tradition and also because he returns. They were polite people and after another; all that he was left with simply did not care whose amour propre maintained their distance from the affairs was the imposing bungalow at Pali Hills. he wounded. There was one occasion of the Weekly. However, even the worm While gradually withdrawing into his when a union government directive, he turns; they made a mild suggestion for shell, he still considered it his duty to was convinced, had compromised the revamping the financial management of take on the responsibility of managing dignity of the Reserve Bank of India; if the the journal. That was enough to hurt the Sameeksha Trust after the senior incumbent governor of the RBI possessed Chaudhuri’s pride in suzerain rights. He brother’s death. Since he was overly any sense of self-respect, he, Sachin closed down the journal, abruptly, in conscious of his non-academic background, thundered, should immediately resign. January 1965. it somewhat cramped his style. Krishna The governor did resign the following Perhaps the wanderer in him preferred Raj, were he around, would have vouch- morning. that kind of sudden disappearance. The safed for the generosity he received from Official advertisements for the journal Economic Weekly was his major achieve- Hiten, his managing trustee. Hiten too, if began to creep in. The business world ment; in life in its own manner; it enriched he were still alive, would have acknow- though was still in an uncertain frame of the nation too. But the concept of fixity ledged the quiet firmness and abiding time. The two younger brothers did their was to Sachin Chaudhuri – and generally imagination with which Krishna Raj bit to canvass for advertisements. The to the Chaudhuris – an alien proposition. carried forward what he considered the maverick nature of the editorial comments In any event, because of the irregularities nearly holy inheritance Sachin Chaudhuri the journal printed perhaps intimidated the bachelor living is often responsible for, he had left behind for him. private sector bosses. That constituted no had developed a cardiac problem and got The other siblings survived the senior problem for Sachin; he got intense satis- easily tired. Friends and admirers would brother by nearly two decades. They then faction in describing his journal as a “shoe- not however let things reach this denoue- began to depart, in quick succession, one string” operation, the Economic Weekly ment. They gathered the necessary funds after another. Sankho Chaudhuri, the was his personal cottage industry, others to set up the Sameeksha Trust. Thus began youngest, was also the longest living. With could keep their hands off it. Both the new incarnation of the journal, the his departure, the saga of the Chaudhuri Kiranmoyee Devi and Narendra Narayan Economic and Political Weekly. Sachin siblings has now come to a surcease. passed away in the 1950s, they died with Chaudhuri went along with the rituals of Their parents were born in the Victorian the satisfaction that their hunch was right, a fresh beginning. He was not terribly age; they themselves grew up amid the their first offspring did indeed possess a interested though. He was gone within six many exciting phases of the freedom riveting, intellectually superior personal- months. movement, some of them were active ity and was going places. Other things had been happening to the participants in it, they contributed, in The scholarly crowd swarmed round family since the 1950s. Debu, bitten late their own manner, to shape the contours Sachin. The juxtaposition of commentaries in life by the bug of escapades which was of post-independent India. In the broad on current political and economic events the outstanding distinguishing attribute of grey canvas on which the nation’s history with learned academic articles, incorpo- the family, chucked his job with the is or will be charted, the spasmodic events rating mathematical formulae and formi- multinational company and went back to which were the contributions of a parti- dable-looking diagrams, made the journal Calcutta to start a business venture. It cular family within a particular time frame a cause célébre. Economists and other was at first a distributional network for perhaps add up to nothing. Or, who social scientists from distant shores electric and electronic goods; subsequently knows, perhaps it is otherwise. EPW Economic and Political Weekly November 11, 2006 4657

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