|Politicians & Literature|
Manish Kunjam | 46 | Chhattisgarh
Former MLA, CPI
MY ACQUAINTANCE with literature started in my teens. The autobiography of legendary Hindi author Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, which was part of my Class VII syllabus, impressed me a lot. The freedom movement and the struggle for Independence influenced his writing. It taught me the importance of struggle, honesty and morality.
Sukma, where I come from, is a backward area, but I was lucky to have very good teachers in school. In 1983, when I was in Class IX, I was given Lenin’s biography — a book that changed my life completely.
Lenin’s opinions on inequality, exploitation, corruption and starvation made me think differently. I realised that we had to face our problems, and that it was not possible to solve them through the present (capitalist) system.
After Lenin came the Communist Manifesto, and the works of Karl Marx, including Das Kapital. With these, the change was complete.
Initially, communist authors guided me, but in higher secondary school, I had also started reading the Mahabharata and the Gita. It was not easy for a village boy to absorb these classics, so I asked my teachers for help. I have drawn inspiration from karmavad, the action-oriented philosophy of the Gita. It also teaches us to stand up to injustice and exploitation.
In Jagdalpur College, where I went for higher studies, I found a big library. It was like finding a treasure. It was here that I read progressive Hindi writers, like Baba Nagarjun, Rahul Sankrityayan, Bhagwat Sharan Upadhyaya, Jaishankar Prasad Nirala and Harishankar Parsai. All of them wanted to rid the society of evils like corruption and discrimination. They were demanding a new dawn for the common man.
There’s so much to read that it could fill many lifetimes. When I was younger, I particularly enjoyed reading cheap crime fiction, but that’s a luxury I can no longer afford. I can’t read books only for fun. My reading now is focussed on tribal issues and problems.
I have recently read BD Sharma’s Bejuban, Gulsher Khan Shani’s Kalajal and Sal Vano Ke Dweep Se, which are about Bastar.