"'False Truth": Disillusionment and Hope in the Decade after Independence

Rotem Geva
Bloomsbury Academic
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This chapter explores the portrayal of the postcolonial moment in Jhootha Sach (“False Truth”), one of the most acclaimed novels of twentieth-century Hindi literature, published by Yashpal in two volumes in 1958 and 1960. If Yashpal’s earlier novels articulate visions of social justice and equality at home and in the world in anticipation of independence, then Jhootha Sach, written a decade after independence, is a fictional commentary on the extent to which such expectations had materialized. The novel’s first volume probes the growing tensions leading up to Partition and concludes with the violence of 1947. The second volume explores the nation's trajectory after 1947, interweaving the lives of its protagonists with the main historical landmarks of this decade—from the assassination of Gandhi in 1948 to the second general election of 1957. It narrates these events through a focus on refugee rehabilitation, thereby illuminating how the Partition crisis interlinked with the process of nation- and state-building. Doing so, the novel offers an expansive view of partition as a process, and simultaneously, intervenes in contemporary debates about the postcolonial Nehruvian state. While the novel articulates the Communist criticism of the Nehruvian state, it simultaneously represents a sober assessment of the CPI and its failure to factor partition into its politics and historical analysis. Furthermore, the narrative comes to a close on an optimistic note that is somewhat discordant with the body of the novel. I suggest that this incongruence marks the ambivalence of the text and of progressive writers and left-wing ideologues more generally at this moment—ambivalence that is already set up by the title and extends to the novel's formal aspects. The novel thus captures a sober yet optimistic moment, before a more profound disillusionment set in during the 1960s. In the subsequent decade, the theme of disenchantment would come to dominate Hindi literature more unequivocally. www.academia.edu/38428510/_False_Truth_Disillusionment_and_Hope_in_the_Decade_after_Independence