Early Life of Basawon Singh
Basawon Singh or Basawon Sinha was born on 23 March 1909 in Jamalpur (Subhai), Hajipur, in a poor family. He successfully completed his matriculation exam from the local school, but was unable to continue his higher studies as he was rusticated from college for his involvement in the Indian freedom struggle. After Mahatma Gandhi visited Hajipur in the year 1920, Basawon Singh participated in the Non Cooperation Movement when he was merely 13 years of age.
Revolutionary Activities of Basawon Singh
Basawon Singh became a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA), which was led by Yogendra Shukla in the year 1925. Later in 1929, he escaped after the well known Lahore Conspiracy Case. He was a part of various other conspiracy cases such as Deluaha, Bhusawal, Tirhut and Kakori cases. Singh carried on the independence struggle along with Keshav Chandra Chakravarty and Chandrashekhar Azad. He was eventually arrested by the British Indian Police and was imprisoned in Bankipore Central jail in June, 1930. He served a 7 year sentence, after he undertook a 57 day hunger strike. Basawon Singh, also known as Basawon Sinha, was released in June, 1936 as his health had declined due to fasting. He became a member of the Congress Socialist Party in December 1936 and later became the Labour Secretary of the party.
He also formed trade unions in the mica mines, sugar mills, coal fields and the railways of Bihar. Singh established the Japla Labour Union in the year 1937 and Baulia Labour union in 1937. He also organized the workers of Jamalpur Workshop along with Shivnath Bannerjee and formed the Labour Union in Gaya cotton and Jute Mill. Later he founded the Tata Collieries Labour Association with the support of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Basawon Singh was appointed as its president after Subhash Bose left the country in the year 1941. Basawon Singh was again arrested in Patna by the British Indian Police in April 1937, along with Benipuri, Jayaprakash Narayan and others for participating in revolutionary activities.
During the World War II, he was the first person to be detained in Husainabad, Palamu under the Defence of India Ordinance on 26 January 1940 in Bihar. He was released after 18 months. Singh was again arrested in Delhi on 8th January 1943 and was released on 3rd April 1946. He still continued his Trade Union and nationalist work. Basawon Singh was a member of the National Executive of the Socialist Party and was also founder of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS).
Later Life of Basawon Singh
After the nation achieved independence from the rule of the British Empire in India on 15th August 1947, Basawon Singh, alternatively known as Basawon Sinha, entered into politics. He contested from Dehri-on-Sone in the first General Elections held in the year 1952 and won, becoming the first leader of the opposition from 1952 until 1962. Singh also became a Member of the Legislative Council from the year 1962 to 1968. He was amongst the most influential Cabinet Ministers (Cabinet Minister of Labour, Planning and Industry) in the Coalition Government of 1967. Basawon Singh died on 7th April 1989 at the age of 80 years.