In a compelling conversation with our team, author Krishna Kumar sheds light on the inspiration behind his latest book, “1942,” delving into the intricacies of India’s struggle for freedom. With a focus on the pivotal year of 1942, Kumar’s narrative weaves together historical facts, personal anecdotes, and strategic analyses, offering readers a deep dive into the events that shaped India’s independence.

1. What sparked the initial idea for “1942,” and how did you decide to focus on this specific period in history?

Krishna: this is not my first book. The first one that I wrote was not approved by a publisher, and I will move forward with that after some changes. Meanwhile, I had proceeded with a book on the freedom struggle, which is nearing completion, and that is when I got the idea of writing a book focusing only on 1942, whose events, as per my analysis, were the seeds that led to Indian freedom. So, there are a few more books coming soon.

2. Were there any unexpected discoveries or challenges you encountered during your research?

Krishna: yes. Even though I knew that a lot of prevailing narratives are incorrect on the basis of various books and articles read over a period of time, from what I heard from my father and his friends – it was still a shock to discover the extent to which incorrect notions are prevalent. I was also pleasantly surprised that some of the US-based historians were honest and hit the analysis correctly, but the most impressive is the honesty with which Major Toye, who was MI-6 Chief, wrote a book on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Though I had read many books about Indian history, I had not read this till I started on my research. Imagine praise from an adversary.

3. The book seamlessly weaves historical facts, personal accounts, and strategic analyses together. How did you strike a balance between these different narrative elements?

Krishna: I edited the book to shorten it and keep the narrative flowing fast to ensure that today’s people, who are under time pressure, can read it easily. Also, I took care to put events in chronological sequence to make it easier and not cause confusion. The book is more of an analysis book than a narration of history, which was my goal in writing. I blended these elements as decision makers are influenced by all of these and one must understand why certain actions were done.

4. Your book delves into the human stories amid the historical events. Can you share an anecdote or story from your research that particularly resonated with you?

Krishna: As a person who moved from India to the United States, a totally different country, three decades back, I resonate most with Subhas Bose and his courage of going to Germany without a dime in his pocket, taking a high-risk route and then pushing the Germans to help him in the cause of India’s freedom and succeeding. Hitler giving a submarine for two months to Bose, complete with 53 people at the time when Germany was short of resources, is a truly miraculous achievement. The providence also helped Bose convert his earlier exile from India to Europe into productive use as he met Italians and Germans and started speaking German, which helped him greatly. But his courage, determination, and actions are admirable.

5. How important was it for you to humanize the historical narrative and bring the experiences of individuals to the forefront?

Krishna: I have not tried to either humanize or dehumanize the individuals, preferring to bring them out with all their strengths and warts for the reader to judge. You will notice that the book has minimal opinions and comments from me and has extensive citations.

6. Did you face any challenges in translating historical facts into a compelling and accessible narrative for readers?

Krishna: Fortunately not. All that I have tried to do is to keep the focus on the main story, which in this case was the impact on India’s freedom struggle by the events of 1942. In the process, some of the events are not covered or given minimal space. The fight for freedom is itself, a very compelling narrative. I also took care to provide the context of features of British rule to explain the points.

7. The geopolitical dynamics of 1942 play a crucial role in the narrative. How did you navigate through these complexities to present a cohesive and engaging story?

Krishna: Although I did not pursue a career in journalism or being an author earlier, I have had an interest in world political events and Indian history particularly. I have seen many events, heard multiple narratives, and examined them over the years. Also helpful is the fact that I have traveled across the world and especially spent time in museums in Britain to understand India. As I said earlier, this is more of an analysis book than a history book. I have attempted to provide information on some of the topics that had always left me curious, e.g., Why was the Indian Army in Singapore, Malaya, and Hong Kong? I have cited the Chatfield doctrine that governed this.

8. The Quit India movement and the formation of the Indian National Army are pivotal in your book. How did you approach exploring these aspects, and what significance do they hold for you?

Krishna: Quit India movement was crushed within two months. It was a movement done to keep Gandhi relevant and done with hesitation and reluctance. This gave an excuse to Gandhi that he was imprisoned and could not do anything more. The fact that almost 90,000 Indians were imprisoned and many lost lives and broken limbs to no use disturbs me.Such a waste. Indian National Army is the reason India breathes in free air. British records make it crystal clear. This book does not cover much about Netaji’s leadership due to its narrow focus, and I will cover this in detail in my next books.

9. The collapse of the British Empire is a central theme. How do you perceive the role of 1942 in the decline of British rule in India?

Krishna: My analysis is that by destroying the myth of invincibility, the British rule was dealt a fatal blow. This enabled the subdued people to rise and protest and get their freedom. The events of 1942 started the process, and the naval mutiny of 1946 escalated these to the extent that the British got scared and started exiting.

10. In what ways do you think the events of 1942 remain relevant to contemporary India and the global landscape? Are there lessons from this historical period that you believe are particularly pertinent in today’s socio-political context?

Krishna: The events remain relevant to understanding interrelationships among countries. For India today, it is very important to perceive its place as a leader of nations in Asia, given the size of its population and economy. Further, it emphasizes the role of the military even when one does not want to invade others. But the fact we must not forget is what was said in Ramayana: “Bhay bin hoye na preet”. There is no love without fear. For India to succeed, it must have matching military might.

As we conclude our interview with Krishna Kumar, his words echo with relevance, reminding us of the profound impact that historical events can have on the present. Through “1942,” Kumar not only commemorates the heroes of India’s freedom struggle but also underscores the importance of understanding our past to navigate the complexities of the present.

To delve deeper into the events of 1942 and their lasting significance, consider purchasing Krishna Kumar’s book “1942” available on Amazon.


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