By: A B Bardhan
Time flies. Life moves on. Old memories fade away. But all of a sudden something happens, some incident gives you a shock, and you are jolted back to the old days long gone by.
The news that, on January 7, Perin Chandra passed away at the ripe old age of 96 rekindled the memory of a day when 1941 was coming to a close. The All India Students Federation (AISF) was holding its conference in Patna. I had joined the previous year, and had come to attend the conference as a delegate from old Madhya Pradesh. Two women delegates (there were several more of course) from Lahore impressed all of us very much. One was Perin Bharucha and the other was Litto (who was later to marry Ajoy Ghosh).
Perin was a Parsi girl from an obviously affluent family. She was acting as a high office-bearer, since the elected general secretary could not attend. Her competent performance and popularity paved the way for electing her as the general secretary of the AISF in Patna. World War II was on and, in 1941, the Hitlerite fascists attacked the Soviet Union. Perin led the debate on the change in the character of the war as a result of this attack.
The war years were tumultuous for the country. Widespread repression was let loose by the British. The last decisive fight for freedom overtook the whole country. Perin remained the general secretary till 1943. Following 1947, a new situation arose. The colonial chain started to break and newly independent countries began to emerge. The imperialists tried to thwart this development. Armed conflicts loomed over the horizon. The Vietnam War was the most vicious and prolonged.
Against this background, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation sprang up. It required the organisational ability of capable leaders and Perin was a natural choice. For several decades, she worked as its general secretary. In the course of the job, she displayed diplomatic flair in dealing with the ambassadors and leaders of many countries.
Above all, Perin was like an elder sister to a host of activists in various fields. Her office room was always open to them, especially during lunch hours. I remember that I enjoyed her hospitality often. She is now no more. May she rest in peace.
The writer is former general secretary of the CPI.
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