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 »

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 »

Samar Sen revisited

by Asok Chattopadhyay

Frontier | October 11, 2017

Come October 10 and history shall seal on the date as hundred and one-year after Samar Sen, the renowned journalist and esteemed editor of Frontier, was born. His birth centenary year had passed almost unceremoniously. August 23 last was his 30th death anniversary which has gone lost in the abyss of oblivion. It’s more painful than surprising to have seen the so-called left-wingers’ apathy towards a daring, conscientious and uncompromising left intellectual of West Bengal like him.

History had recorded the dots of a famous and unbending rural journalist who, in the seventies of the nineteenth century Bengal, taught the lesson how to wage war against both the tyrant zaminder and the profiteering ruling class in the general interest of the peasantry of Bengal. And just a century latter we found another one who had held his head high in spite of state-terror and heinous political goons in West Bengal. Of the two, first one was Kangal Harinath Majumder, the renowned editor of Grambartaprakashika, a Bengali weekly published from Kumarkhali, and the other one was no other than Samar Sen himself.Read More »

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 »

Frontier and Samar Sen

by Timir Basu

Frontier | Vol. 49, No.13-16, Oct 2 – 29, 2016

I used to read Frontier from the very beginning, but did not know where its office was located. Even in the seventies of the last century, when I began writing for Frontier, I had no knowledge of it. I heard that the office of Frontier was situated in an old building, 61, Mott Lane, in the lane behind the Jyoti cinema hall. The Bengali weekly Darpan was also published from that building. The Jyoti cinema hall no longer exists. The alley Mott lane has long been renamed Manilal Saha Lane by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, although Frontier has been using “Mott Lane” as its address. Once a Bengali daily called it ‘Frontier’s lane’. I first went to the office of Frontier possibly at the end of 1978 or in the beginning of 1979. But my first appearance in Frontier was, however, in 1975. It was a piece on the contract labourers of the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation. I was then trying to organise contract labourers by using the Contract Labour Act of 1972. The EPW published that very piece at about the same time and CALL, the central organ of the RSP, reprinted it from the EPW. Read More »

Samar Sen –Champion of ‘Lost Causes’

by Sushil Khanna

Frontier | Vol. 49, No.17, Oct 30 – Nov 5, 2016

It was in late 1977 that I first saw Samar Sen. I was visiting the Frontier office with friends to collect records and evidence of police atrocities on political activists. This was immediately after the defeat of Indira Gandhi post the Emergency and the coming to power of the Left Front government in West Bengal. I was in awe of Samar-da, but he hardly spoke to me or even noticed me immersed over the older issues of the Frontier.

I had encountered the incisive writings of Samarda in the early 1970s when we were students at the management school in Calcutta. Ranajay Karlekar (popularly known as Toto) who gave a few lectures at our Institute promised to take us to meet Samar Sen and was convinced that Samarda would be happy, if we wrote for Frontier, to publish good analysis of the political economy. However, I and some other left-leaning students were too timid and hesitant of our own capabilities.Read More »

The Reluctant Hero

By Partha Chatterjee

Frontier | Vol. 49, No.13-16, Oct 2 – 29, 2016


At a time when we are daily being treated to the blood-curdling spectacle of a celebrity talk show host threatening to unleash the mobs on other journalists for their “anti-national” news reports, it seems a little futile to even bring up the question of the ethics of journalism. But Frontier has always been a journal that has stood apart from the so-called mainstream. Its founder, Samar Sen, gave it a foundational strength of character that still, a full century after his birth, allows us to use its columns to remember him as a soft-spoken, unheroic, but resolute defender of the simple virtues of truthful journalism.Read More »

Legacy Of Samar Sen, Founder-Editor, Frontier, Kolkata


Countercurrents.org | 11 October, 2016


It was March 1969. Andhra Pradesh State Assembly was in its budget session. T Nagi Reddy was delivering a speech in the Assembly. While announcing his resignation as member of the Assembly and the path he was choosing to carry forward the struggle for emancipation of the people he was making his observations on the condition of the country, policies the state machine was following and its implications on the people. Nagi Reddy said:

“We are meeting today in the midst of the extremely serious crisis all around. We can see it right in Andhra Pradesh. If we keep in our mind that we are in a great crisis not only here in Andhra, but throughout India, it will be possible for us to carefully understand all these phenomena.” (T Nagi Reddy, “To move the people into revolutionary action is our task”, India Mortgaged, A Marxist-Leninist Appraisal, Tarimela Nagi Reddy Memorial Trust, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India, 1993)Read More »

A City Falls Apart

by Samar Sen

Frontier | Vol. 49, No.13-16, Oct 2 – 29, 2016

[This article published in The Times of India in 1973 may be of interest in the context of the controversy over dying ‘Calcutta’. In truth Rajiv Gandhi’s derogatory remark was highly criticised by many in Calcutta’s vernacular papers. So Froniter in its April 20, 1985 issue reproduced the TOI article to raise fresh controversy.]

There was a time when one thought it a privilege to grow up in Calcutta, never mind even if the imperial capital had shifted to the glorified secretariat city that is Delhi. People still collect with pride the role that their not-too-elegant city once played in the economic, political and intellectual movements of the country. Even in the early sixties, when this writer returned on leave to Calcutta after an absence of three years abroad, the stop-over in Delhi was pleasant but marked by an impatience to be back home. The journey from Dum Dum to downtown Calcutta was not roses all the way, squalor and poverty were very much in evidence, but one could believe that Calcutta did not bother to make the approach road from the airport look as impressive as possible, as all cities trading in tourism do. Read More »

Samar Sen: Poetry and Frontier

By Anirban Biswas

Frontier | Autumn Number, Vol. 48, No. 14 – 17, Oct 11 – Nov 7, 2015


It is true that even after nearly three decades since his death, Samar Sen, the founder-editor of Frontier, is not entirely forgotten, but this gentle colossus is remembered only by a very limited number of people. After his death, he received a good deal of publicity in the press, but the emphasis was much more on his achievements as a poet and a brilliant student of English language and literature than his standing as a radical journalist, although he had bidden farewell to the world of poetry four decades earlier and in his lifetime scarcely wrote anything on English literature. He remarked in his memoir, Babu Brittanta (A Babu’s Tale), that one of the reasons for his reputation as a poet was that he was a good student of English. For the last two decades of his life, he lived in penury, editing Frontier and ruining himself economically. In between the end of his life as a poet and the start of Frontier, there lies a period of twenty-two years. And during those years, there was hardly any remarkable event in his career, except his resignation from the lucrative post of joint editor of the daily Hindustan Standard (later revived as The Telegraph) in protest against what he considered a cunning device employed by the proprietors to foment communal disturbances. Considering the spinelessness of the general run of journalists in this country, it was definitely an act of exemplary courage and committment to secular ideals.Read More »