Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: As part of celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the First War of Independence, the National Book Trust has re-launched "Rebellion 1857", a symposium edited and in large part written by the late Communist leader P. C. Joshi published in 1957.

Speaking after releasing the new edition at India International Centre here, eminent historian Irfan Habib said the book's importance lay in the fact that for the first time it took a view of the events of 1857 that was completely different from those existing then.

"It was different from Tarachand's account, the Nehruvian view and others. It also included elements that were new. Mr. Joshi relied on Indian resources and took into account most of the elements which were earlier not focussed upon," said Prof. Habib.

Prof. Habib also pointed out that despite being a Marxist, Mr. Joshi tried to look at India's history on its own terms.

"He stuck to this position in coming out with the book," he said.

Earlier, Kurukshetra University Professor Emeritus V. N. Datta said Mr. Joshi was disenchanted with accounts of the history of 1857 existing then because most of them came from "historians of the Empire": "Joshi's view was an antidote to the extant British and Indian historiography. It also took into account that the contribution made by the peasants and the artisans during the 1857 War of Independence was unique and great," said Prof. Datta.

Prof. Datta, however, added that his account of the 1857 events was a Marxist interpretation and he probably made too much of the peasants contributions.

He also added that Joshi's account made the Mughal court look treacherous.