ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pradhan H Prasad (1.11.1928 - 28.3.2001)

The only hope for third world countries such as India, according to Pradhan H Prasad, was mass mobilisation and getting rid of the pre-bourgeois state which was a colonial legacy and replacing it with people's power. Abolishing the pre-bourgeois state and the bureaucratic order was a prerequisite for ushering in a better order.

I had gone to meet him while leaving for Delhi to enquire about his health and to hand over Philhal’s special issue on imperialism. The issue carried Prabhat Patnaik’s Annual Philhal Lecture: 2000 on ‘Imperialism Today and Marxism-Leninism’ and the two-day discussions that followed it. Pradhan H Prasad had presided over the lecture and his presidential comments were also in this issue. Preeti Sinha, Philhal’s editor had wanted me to take the issue along when I went to see him. He was just out from his bath and looked dapper in white trousers and a navy blue T-shirt. Anxiously he enquired whether the issue was out. In reply I handed over his copy. Instantly his child-like smile was on his face. He said “Aaj ka din achchha bitega. Aaj subah subah Philhal mila hai.” He had been keen that the issue come out as soon as possible. He flipped through the pages and said “I think the issue will be very well received. Tell Preeti I will be at Philhal’s office on Tuesday [March 27] at 4 pm.”

I enquired about his health. (The previous day, he had to go for a medical check-up and so our planned visit to Philhal’s office had to be given up. He greatly enjoyed pillion-riding my motorcycle and I was to pick him up and later drop him back at his residence. Pillion-riding with me took him to his young days when he rode a red motorcycle as a lecturer of the local college of commerce.) He said “Reports are okay but I know my state of health more than anybody else. I have fallen chronically sick thrice. First time in Angola, second time in UK and third time in Patna. And each time doctors wrote that ‘he has a strong will to survive’. I have lost that will now. And so any day the end will come.” I said “No sir, I feel, your best is yet to come”. “You may think so”, he said, and “added now I have just to write one piece for EPW on the equation [during one of his regular visits to Philhal, with his characteristic enthusiasm he had discussed with me and Preeti Marx’s famous equations on surplus value and said that people did not realise that for the rate of surplus value to go on increasing, capitalism required some external sources of exploitation]. Then I have to translate Lenin’s State and Revolution [we had decided to take up some paid translation work and contribute the proceeds to build up a corpus fund for Philhal and Pradhan Prasad had chosen to translate State and Revolution]. If you people could bring out that volume [the planned second and enlarged edition of his book Vikas Ki Chunauti] then perhaps that might give me a fresh lease of life.” “We will try, sir”, and I had proceeded to extract a promise from him “but please do promise that you will not take any liberties with your health”. At this point, his wife Kanak Lata Pradhan had intervened, “today also he is going to deliver a lecture. [It was the anniversary of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom and he was to deliver a lecture that afternoon.] He just does not care!” He did go for the lecture. But his tired body declined to keep pace with his resolute determination. Soon after the lecture, he was in trouble. But on the 25th again he went to deliver a promised lecture. In the evening he suffered a massive heart attack and had to be hospitalised, as it turned out, for the last time. Neither the promised visit to Philhal’s office nor the planned last piece for EPW materialised. He could not translate State and Revolution either. Pradhan Prasad died on the morning of March 28.

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