Patna boy traced Swami Vivekanand’s lineage, 70 other bloodlines of ‘forgotten martyrs’ of India’s first struggle for independence
Patna(BiharTimes): Very little could we read into hearts and minds of an adolescent newspaper hawker, much less artistry and great skill for creative endeavors? But the boy born in Darbhanga and raised in Spartan streets of Patna defied a series of disadvantages to emerge with the right stuff.
A proud peddler of the roller-coaster ride, Shivnath Jha is an iconoclast in many ways. For the past eleven years, he has been making news through his painstaking efforts at locating and rehabilitating the descendants and lineage of the forgotten heroes and martyrs of India’s struggle for independence through various books.
Besides locating 70 such lineage and giving new lease of life to seven such families, Shivnath has recently located the fourth generation lineage of Narendranath Dutta alias Swami Vivekanand (His elder sister Smt Swarnamayi Devi, the one and only family member of Vivekanand’s 10-brothers and sister who was married)),
Eleven-year ago when Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan did not have money and had to give a charity show for his own cause at the winter of his life, Shivnath Jha alongwith his wife, Neena Jha, a teacher, launched “Aandolan Ek Pustak Se” to identify, locate and provide a new lease of life to them living in anonymity and penury.
A post-graduate alumnus of Patna University, Shivnath is currently associated with Special Broadcasting Service SBS Radio, Australia.
Shivnath said: “It’s also a journalism, but with a difference. We have come a long way since India became independent on 15th August 1947. But it is ironical that the present generation of India does not even know how many young people and freedom fighters laid down their lives for the sake of the country,”
The 57-year-old Shivnath feels that our government and the society have shown complete "apathy" towards them. Some of them are ‘virtually bagging on the streets.
“How ironical it is that in every nook and corner of our cities, the statues and memorials of sundry politicians are erected, annual functions too are held with huge fanfare in their memory and remembrance but the people who died for the nation have been confined to the memory of their equally neglected heir!”, he said.
It was a seven-year-itch for Shivnath between 1968 and 1975 before he could wriggle out of hawking to undertake long-haul reportage for English daily, The Indian Nation.
At tender age of 8, Shivnath was condemned to experience economic martyrdom. When he was denied admission to a prestigious school for lack of admission fee, he felt crucified. He stole Rs. 5 from his father's wallet to buy newspapers and sell them at State Bus terminus near historical Gandhi Maidan in Patna. Four hours of rough-house slugging, he earned Rs. 9.60. The adventure paid off good dividend, earning his admission to T.K.Ghosh Academy, Patna, where studied once upon a time the first President of Independent India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
Shivnath’s father, late Gopal Dutta Jha, was a salesman with a publishing house (Novelty & Company, Ashok Raj Path, Patna). While his son Shivnath was a tea and escalator boy with vaulting ambition in his eyes, selling about 280 copies of newspapers - The Indian Nation, Aryavarta, The Searchlight (now The Hindustan Times) and Pradeep (now Dainik Hindustan) each day.
However, the wheel of fortune turned for the blitzkrieg in 1989. M.J.Akbar spotted him and assigned him stringership of The Telegraph. Thereafter began the fighting warfare in mainstream media for never-say-die Shivnath.
He said, "India spends Rs 645 crore per annum freedom fighters pension scheme. On an average a freedom fighter’s account is being credited with Rs 18,000/- per month. Ironically there is no official record of the revolutionaries and martyrs with the Home Ministry of the Government of India. This in itself pointed to a massive scam."
"The least one would expect from any government and society to do is to identify these families and to give them a pride of place in the society. Needless to say, their education and medical care should be the responsibility of the state. It is the government’s moral responsibility to see that their issues and outstanding tasks are taken up," Jha said.
Meanwhile, as India will celebrate 70th year of its independence, they are trying hard to give new lease of life to another four such through four other books – ‘’1857-1947 MARTYRS BLOODLINES’’, ‘’VARANASI: From Time Immemorial’’, ‘’LUCKNOW: The Golden City of the East’’ and INDIAS AT 70: The Prime Ministers of India”.
“I know the business of the books. I know the potential of my efforts. I can also be a billionaire by selling the martyrs and their lineage, but I will not”, Shivnath said, adding that “we request individuals, philanthropists, administrative heads of public sector banks and companies and request them to come forward and support the mission.”
“Due to paucity of funds, we are moving pillar to post to mobilize financial resources to get published all four coffee-table books to give a new lease of life to three neglected descendants,” he added.
In 2007, they identified and rescued Sri. Vinayak Rao Tope, the third generation descendants of Tatya Tope. Vinayak Rao Tope along with his wife Smt. Saraswati Devi and three children – Pragati, Tripti and Ashutosh – were living in penury and obscurity in Bithooor. He was running a small grocery shop in order to make both ends meet along with conducting religious ceremony for the ‘jajmans’.
The duo moved ahead in January 2009 with steely determination to discover the sorry plight of Sultana Begum, the great grand daughter-in-law of India’s last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Sultana is living in a slum of Howrah (West Bengal) and runs a tea-stall to earn a living.
It was 13 April 2011 Shivnath and Neena got another providential chance to provide a new lease of life to Jeet Singh, grandson of Shaheed-e-Azam Udham Singh. Jeet Singh was working as a labourer at a construction site in Punjab. Hailing Jha couple’s efforts, Lokmat media group chairman Vijay Darda presented a cheque of Rs 11.5 lakh, collected through contributions by his media group and from some individual philanthropists.
In 2013, the duo again made an infusion in the life of Bijendrs Singh, the third generation bloodline of Martyr Ram Prasad Bismil. The founder of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation Dr Bindeshwar Pathak handed over a cheque worth Rs 200,000 for performance of marriage of his Singh's daughter - Priyanka.
In 2015 Shivnath and Neena was again instrumental in giving a new lease of life to a widow of a fourth generation bloodline of a Kakori train martyr through their book India’s Abandoned Mothers: Widows of Banaras and Vrindavan. It was seventh in the series of Aandolan: Ek Pustak se.