A Curious Coincidence: Frontier, Samar Sen, Manu Kothari

by Sthabir Dasgupta

Frontier | Autumn Number 2018 | Vol. 51, No.14 – 17, Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2018

Frontier started its journey with Samar Sen as its founder-editor, in April, 1968; but this essay is not a customary remembrance of that event. Samar Sen was already well known in our intellectual world. This essay however, is to draw the readers’ attention to a mutually unrelated, but a very curious coincidence.

If we recall, the year 1968 was witness to a number of historical events, social and political, having far-reaching consequences across the globe. In the very beginning of that year North Vietnam launched the ‘Tet Offensive’ against South Vietnam and the United States. It has been regarded as the onset of the end of American involvement in Vietnam war. In the same month, i. e. in January, North Korea captured the American surveillance ship and refused to free the crewmen, until the United States acknowledged that it was a spying ship and promised not to spy in the future. The year 1968 was indeed a year of nightmare for the US.Read More »

Growing with Frontier

by Sandip Bandyopadhyay

Frontier | Autumn Number 2018 | Vol. 51, No.14 – 17, Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2018

Many of us who were in their teens in the 1960s, grew up with Frontier. Leftism was the hallmark of intellect and sensitivity in those days. Developing leftist leanings was as natural as, say, fondness for football. And reading Frontier in the 1970s was as essential as reading the daily newspaper. We would rely on the dailies for news and look forward to the weekly Frontier for its views. News without views makes no sense, we had learnt meanwhile.

But Frontier was important for us for another reason. There was a time when the guardians and teachers would advise the youth to read The Statesman to have an idea of good English. We learnt about Frontier‘s brilliant linguistic style from some of our teachers. We would try to emulate Frontier‘s English. We, of course, failed but would boast of some words and phrases picked up from Frontier‘s editorials. Interestingly, we loved Samar Sen’s poems as much as Samarbabu’s style of English. He seemed to be two selves combined into one.Read More »

Frontier at 50

by Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak

Frontier | Autumn Number 2018 | Vol. 51, No.14 – 17, Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2018

In 1968, as the liberal plans made immediately after Indepen dence seemed well and truly gone, and in the shadow of Naxalbari, Samar Sen founded Frontier, a journal for socialism and democracy.

Samar Sen died in 1987. Timir Basu had already started working at Frontier before that date. After Sen’s death he has kept Frontier going almost singlehandedly. We celebrate Sen and Basu as we celebrate Frontier.Read More »

50 Years Later

Frontier editorial | Autumn Number 2018 | Vol. 51, No.14 – 17, Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2018

That Frontier has survived to celebrate 50 years of publication is a puzzle. But there are people who are not in favour observing anniversary ritual. They think rationalists should not indulge in such ritualistic exercise. Then there are people who would like to observe anniversary. They think it is an occasion to reflect on the past. As for Frontier the past is riddled with too many odds. The long journey has never been a smooth one. Over the years Frontier has demonstrated what press freedom means. Frontier is in crisis. But the print media in general is in crisis. The world is changing very fast. This is the age of robotics and artificial intelligence. Advanced communication technology has opened up new fields of capital accumulation in culture and the arts and in the privatisation of public services, including health and education, and in the commodification of human sociality by way of mobile devices and social networking. All these trends are in turn accompanied by the dramatic restructuring of work rearrangement, paving the way for emergence of new contradictions, affecting the print media.Read More »

Fifty Years of Frontier

by Santosh Rana

Frontier |Autumn Number 2018 | Vol. 51, No.14 – 17, Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2018

In 1967, in the fiftieth year of the Great October Revolution, the Spring Thunder over Naxalbari created a revolutionary upsurge among the workers, the peasants, the students, and youth and revolutionary intellectuals all over India. The peasants were in revolt against the exploitation and tyranny of the landlords, money-lenders and other exploiters. One could hear the resonance of Naxalbari in far-off Srikakulam, Mushahari, Lakhimpur-Kheri, Debra-Gopiballavpur, Birbhum and other places. The students, many of them with brilliant academic achievements, abandoned their career and went to the villages, forests and mines to integrate with peasants, adivasis and workers and build the revolutionary movement.Read More »

Frontier 50: Reflections on Frontier

by Nirmal Brammachari

Frontier | Vol. 51, No.13, Sep 30 – Oct 6, 2018

The weekly Frontier has completed its fiftieth year in April, this year. I do not know of any Bengali or English periodical published from Kolkata to have played a progressive role on Indian and international affairs for such a long time. It is particularly remarkable that its publication was started by the illustrious poet, Samar Sen. Frontier was not published as the organ of any political party or group, and it continues to retain its independence till date. Samar Sen wielded his strong pen in the then existing political situation. His razor-sharp language, criticims and comments on important events were already well-known. In editing Frontier, he transformed with elegance this work into regular and professional journalism. At that time, the Bengali Deshabrati and other political journals were being published regularly. But Samar Sen filled a need, that of spreading radical thought among readers beyond Bengal’s border. In other states of India, many English dailies and weeklies were published; but most of them were organs of political institutions or servants of exploiting and ruling classes. As against them, this English weekly, published from Kolkata and embodying an original approach, undoubtedly evoked a good deal of response. By focusing on the popular struggles, whether of the peasantry or of workers or of students and youths, then going on in different states including West Bengal, Samar Sen set a bright example of honest journalism through Frontier.Read More »

First Decade of Frontier

by Aloke Mukherjee

Frontier | Vol. 51, No.12, Sep 23 – 29, 2018

[This year Frontier is celebrating 50 years of its continual struggle for survival. Autumn Number 2018 is actually 50th anniversary number. And this special issue which will be out in the second week of October, carries a number of articles on the theme “Frontier 50”. Aloke Mukherjee’s article ‘First Decade of Frontier’ may serve as a curtain-raiser.]

It was early 1968. The news spread among the revolutionary democrats like wild fire that in the first half of April, Samar Sen’s new magazine would hit the news stands. The D Day came and my friend Asim (Asim Datta) brought a copy for me. It was an exciting experience. The flavour coming out of the new magazine was not that of a new paper only, but of the boldness and never-give-up attitude of its editor, of good wishes of the readers.Read More »

Remembering Samar Sen in Centenary Year

by Chaman Lal

Frontier | October 15, 2017

I met Samar Sen only once in life in February 1980 on my first visit to Calcutta. But I knew his name from much earlier period, perhaps from 1969 or so, when I may have seen Frontier for first time at my home town Rampura Phul in Bathinda district of Punjab. I became regular reader of ‘Frontier’ from 1971, when I joined Panjab University Chandigarh as a student of M.A. in Hindi. Some of my friends in Chandigarh at that time were readers of Frontier, like Hindi poet Kumar Vikal. Frontier was available in those days in Chandigarh at English Book Depot or shop in Sector 22. It was famous shop in those days for intellectual gathering as well. Punjabi and Hindi writers of the city used to sit in Sector 22 Coffee house and visit English Book Shop nearby. There was a corner around the shop, which was perhaps called ‘Lovers Corner’ also, though it was used more by writers in evening. I knew in those days also that Samar Sen was a well-known Bengali poet, apart from being editor of Frontier, but his Frontier editor image over shadowed his poet image. His poetry was not easily available in Hindi or English and those were the days of ‘Spring Thunder’ and Frontier represented it most widely throughout the country.Read More »

Naxalbari Galvanized A Generation Ready To Sacrifice And Dismantle The System: Timir Basu


Countercurrents.org | September 01, 2017

Red Salutes.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the “Naxalite” revolutionary peasant uprising in northern India, named for the locale in which it first appeared, Naxalbari. What follows is an interview with a prominent Bengali intellectual who recalls his youthful foray into the countryside to organize poor peasants. His unromanticized recollections have a descriptive honesty that takes them far beyond the Indian context; for example, echoes of Turgenev’s Virgin Soil (1877) are inevitable for anyone familiar with that work. It needs be pointed out that the revolutionary upsurge that began in Naxalbari has several times been nearly extinguished, as in the experience of Timir Basu recounted here. But the armed struggle has always flared back to life, and continues today. The vast misery that is the ground of the struggle continues unabated, and selfless revolutionary youth continue to “go to the people.” The political ignorance that Timur Basu and comrades encountered two generations ago has decreased, as proved by the apparently ineradicable persistence of widespread struggle in the face of hideously brutal repression; their efforts were not in vain. —Monthly Review Eds.

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As A Poet, Or A Journalist?

Samar Sen beyond 100 Years!

by Bibekananda Ray

Frontier Vol. 49, No.39, April 2 – 8, 2017

Samar Sen. Source: Frontier

He was born 100 years ago in British India on 10th October 1916, in a cultured middle-class family of Bagbazar (Bishwakosh Lane), his father and grandfather, born in East Bengal, were professors. In 1916, Kolkata ceased to be the capital of British India. Delhi wrested the glory in 1911. The British afterglow was still very bright in the city, as it harked back to the commercial ethos that Job Cbarnock endowed it in 1692. His mother died in 1928, when he was 12; three years later his father remarried to his shock. A literary atmosphere prevailed in their home in Bagbazar, with Rabindrapath’s influence being the strongest. Rabindranath wrote to him 14 letters, the last on 20th August 1930. To grandfather, Prof Dinesh Chandra Sen, writer, collector of Bengali folklore and chronicler of Bengali literature, the poet wrote 56 letters across 41 years.Read More »