|Born||5 February 1905|
Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India
|Died||5 August 1992|
|Organisation||Indian National Congress, Socialist Party of India|
|Movement||Indian Independence movement, Quit India movement|
Achyut Patwardhan (5 February 1905 – 5 August 1992) was an Indian independence activist and political leader and founder of the Socialist Party of India. He was also a philosopher who believed fundamental change in society begins with man himself.
Achyut's father, Hari Keshav Patwardhan, was a prosperous legal practitioner at Ahmednagar. He had six sons of whom Achyut was the second. When Achyut was a boy of four years, Sitaram Patwardhan, a retired Deputy Educational Inspector, adopted him. Sitaram died in 1917, leaving considerable property for Achyut.[clarification needed]
After finishing his primary and secondary education at Ahmednagar, Achyut passed the B. A. and M. A. examination from the Central Hindu College of Benares. His subject was economics and he obtained a first class. Achyut’s own and adoptive fathers were both Theosophists and, therefore, he was sent to the college founded by Dr. Annie Besant. He was in contact with Dr. G. S. Arundale, the Theosophist Principal of the college, Dr. Annie Besant and Professor Telang. Their influence made him studious, meditative and ascetic. It must also be the reason of his lifelong bachelorship.
After passing his M. A. he worked as Professor of Economics at the College till 1932. During this period he thrice visited England and other European countries and came in contact with Socialist leaders and scholars. He studied Communist and Socialist literature, resigned his Professorship and plunged in 1932 into Gandhiji’s civil disobedience movement. He was imprisoned several times during the next ten years.
His aim in joining the Congress, like his associates Acharya Narendra Deb, Jayaprakash Narayan and others, was to turn the Congress to Socialism. In 1934, he and his associates in jail formed the Congress Socialistic Party with a view to working for socialistic objectives from within the Congress. Achyut was taken on the CongressWorking Committee by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1936, but he resigned in a few months and thereafter resisted Nehru’s invitations to join it. From 1935 to 1941 he organised Shibirs (education camps for young men), to teach them Socialism and to prepare them for socialistic activities.
He took a prominent part in the Quit India movement which started in 1942. In 1945–46 he went underground, and evading arrest, he ably directed the movement of a parallel government mainly in the Satara district. He was thereafter called ‘सातार्याचा सिंह’ (The Lion of Satara) by many people. The parallel government was established by terrorist methods. It was called ‘Patri Sarkar’. ‘Patri’ was the name given to the terrible and torturous punishments administered to Government servants and people who dared to obstruct the parallel government.
These punishments disabled people for life. The ring-leader of the gangs who looted Government offices, treasuries and trains was Nana Patil. The parallel government thus collected a loot of more than a lakh. Some of the associates in these atrocities were mere desperadoes who knew little of politics or socialism. The Government penetrated into the villages where the Government machinery broke down completely.
Achyut personally served the workers in this movement by washing their clothes and cooking their food. He became a popular hero thereafter, not so much for his Socialism as for his bravery and skill in carrying out this underground movement and establishing people’s government in the Satara district for over two years.
Annual Sessions of the Congress Socialist Party were held from 1934 onwards. But it was found difficult for Achyut and his co-workers to promote Socialism from within the Congress. In 1947 they formed the Socialist Party of India, independently of the Congress. In 1950, Achyut retired from politics and worked again as Professor in the Central Hindu College till 1966. After that patios, he led an entirely secluded and retired life in Pune, not appearing in public at all, and not even responding to correspondence.