Readings in 2014
- Sultan Razia, Punjabi play, Balwant Gargi, 2011 ed. Is ted. 1973, Navyug Publishers, Delhi, pages 74, price Rs. 100/
I am beginning the readings in year 2014 with this first book of the year. After joining in Central University in Bathinda, my interest in Razia Sultan grew, being imprisoned in fort here, which I knew from childhood, but never aware of its historicity. With the interest growing in history after leaving Bathinda in 1977, the return to the city, marks to revisit these historic monuments and their related history. Balwant Gargi, known as ‘The Bania of Bathinda’, wrote this play, but I never paid any attention, even when he was Professor of Eminence in Punjabi University Patiala for two years, appointed by then VC J S Puar. But reading his play on Razia gives satisfaction at two levels-remembering Balwant Gargi, iconic Punjabi writer from Bathinda, now being forgotten and going through Razia Sultan time events. Bathinda fort, now renamed as Razia Sultan fort, spoiled in between by Patiala kings, is more than one thousand years old, constructed perhaps during king Anangpal time, gone through many different kingdoms, Bhatti kings as well. The region may not be called Punjab in those early times, could be Sindh or Rajsthan or any other name. I have with me Mewa Ram’s huge Hindi novel of the same title-Sultan Razia-plan to read that too later.
Razia Sultan was the first queen of India in 13th century. Daughter of Sultan Alatmash or Ilatitmash, she was favourite of her father, whose sons were spoiled and his servant turned wife Shah Turkan was bent upon getting her son Rukan ud din made king, when king was on his dyeing bed and was not able to speak up his successor, he was trying to utter ‘Razia’, but was not able to do so. Later Rukan ud din was pronounced king, but he remained drunk and enjoyed women, not paying any attention to administration, which was misused by his mother, who was too cruel towards people and got even 12 year old innocent brother of Razia-Kutab ud din killed. Razia rebelled and she had support in Altunia and her brother in law Gyasudin Balban, powerful feudal lords of the kingdom. Altunia wanted to marry her, but Razia, fiercely independent woman refused. Turkan, Rukan du din were killed in revolt and Razia was pronounced queen, but her path was full of thorns. She tried to be a benevolent queen, treating all citizens equally. She gave rights to black race warrior Yakut, with whom she fell in love too, which angered her supporters like Balaban and Altunia. Many of her regional lords rebelled, some of which she forgave also, but they again cheated her and stabbed her in the back. She came towards Bathinda, where Altunia was her appointed governor, who also joined rebellion. Yakut was killed and she was imprisoned in Bathinda fort, later she along with Altunia moved towards Delhi to reclaim her kingdom, but was killed on the way unknown and unsung, Altunia also being killed. She was buried in Delhi as per her desire. Behram Shah, her half brother became king. This is the event line depicted by Gargi in his play dedicated to Surekah Sikri and Manohar Singh-famous actors of National School of Drama in seventies. The play was staged in Urdu language by Ibrahim Alkazi and was later published. Gargi made revisions in the play after its stage production and wrote its introduction in Punjabi on 15th June 1973. Gargi mentioned in introduction that he had his childhood playing near the fort of Bathinda, where Razia was said to be imprisoned and which was scaring for child Gargi. He had different image of Razia, which was shattered after reading history of the period, which was a saga of betrayals, mutual killings of courtier lords.
Balwant Gargi in his interpretive historical play had also echoed today’s talk of ‘Aam Aadmi’-commom man, where Razia talks of fighting corruption and cruelty of her predecessors and ruling like aam aadmi, which of course she fails and meets a tragic end.
- Plassey se Vibhajan Tak:Adhunik Bharat ka Itihas, Sjekhar Bandopadhyay, Hindi translation of original English book, Hindi translation-Naresh Nadeem, Orient Longman(Now Blackswam), Is ted. 2007, pages 566, Price 188/rupees.
This is Hindi translation of Shekhar Bandopadhyay’s English text book prepared for New Zeeland. The historian is teaching in Victoria University Wellington in NewZeland. He has delineated History of India under British colonialism, from 1757 Plassey war to 1858 under East India Company and then from 1858 to 1947 under direct British colonial rule. This is history of Indians struggles against British colonial rule. The struggle which is just not Indian National Congress story, but all struggles, some of which hardly find reference in history text books. Book has been translated by experienced translator Naresh Nadeem.
Book is divided into eight chapters, apart from that; there are five maps of different times, introduction, terminology, Postscript, appendix-Time span of British rule in India, References and Index.
In his introduction, writer has acknowledged Sumit Sarkar’s ‘Modern India’ as his reference point for writing this book. David Hardiman, S R Mehrotra Ian Capland etc. have also impressed the writer. Writer has been teaching in Kolkata University before moving to Wellington.
Writer begins his story from focusing on Transition period of 18th century in first chapter. He refers to establishment of Moghul empire in 1526 by Babur, reaching its zenith during period of Akbar and slided to down fall after the death of last great Mogul emperor Aurangzeb in 1707. Within fifty years of Aurangzeb’s death, India came into control of East India company, who got license to trade in India from Moghul king Jehangir in 1613 after establishing factory in Surat in 1612. Bengal Hyderabad and Awadh were three main Moghul centres after disintegration of Moghul kingdom’s central rule. Sirajudaula who assumed Murshidabad throne in 1756, was defeated and killed by East India company with treachery support of Mir Jafar in 1757 and started ruling India from insideDuring East India company period, there had been lot of wars, which include Panipat’s third great war of 1761, when aggressor Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked India. Maratha rulers like Shivaji had been fighting Moghul empire earlier. In Punjab British could enter at the last. Ranjit Singh estabslidhed Khalsa raj in 1809, which continued for forty years till 1849, when in second Anglo-Sikh war, British won. In South Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan had free Mysore state till 1799, when British defeated Tipu and killed him. With 1764 victory in Buxar battle, British controlled whole East India. French controlled Pudduchery and Chandernagar and Portuguese controlled Goa, all other parts of India came under British rule till 1947.
In second chapter-British colonial power in India, writer elaborates the gradual control of British in India. They established Calcutta Madrassa in 1781, Royal Asiatic Society in 1784, Sanskrit College Benares in 1794. Fort William colee in Calcutta was set up in 1800. Different land revenue systems were in practice during British period-Permanent Settlement, Rayyatwari, Mahalwari etc. Police system was put into practice in 1800 or so. East India company recruited Indian army also from 1757 onwards under its control. Indian civil service also began during 1780-1830,leading to ICS in 1892, with a little number of Indians in it. 20 to 30 lakh people died in 1943 Bengal drought. Railways came up after 1853.During British period, Indian industry developed in Jute and textiles after 1920’s
In third chapter Shekhar begins to focus on Early Indian response: reform and rebellion. Orientalism is related to Warren Hastings. British education in India started by charity schools in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in early 1800. Press was also set up by Christian missionaries in that period for printing Bible in Indian languages.Rammohan Roy worked for English education in 1825 in Kolkata and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan by setting Scientific society in Aligarh in 1864. Derizio proclaimed atheist in Calcutta . Pandita Ramabai in 1870 in Maharashtra reforms. Brahmo samaj in 1828 in Bengal, split many times.Arya Samaj in 1875 by Dayanand.
Tribal-peasant revolts- 1799-1805-Palagar revolt in South , Vellu Thampi in Travancore in 1800-, Rangpur revolt in Bengal in 1783, sanyasi revolt 1763-1800, Titu mir in 1831, 1855-56-Santhal-Hul revolt,leading to 1857 revolt-crushed brutally.
Fourth chapter is based on The rise of Indian Nationalism-Dinabandhu Mitra play Neel Darpan in 1860.Peasant revolts against money lenders-1907-Ajit Singh Lala Lajpat Rai movement, 1885-Congress set up by AO Hume.
Fifth chapter is- Early Nationalism: Resentment and Resistance-1893-Nagri Pracharini Sabha in Benares, Ganpati puja by Tilak in Pune from 1894, Shiva ji festival from 1896. Theosophical society set up in 1882. Singh Sabha in Amritsar in 1873, Bal-Lal-Pal politics, Bengal partition-1905-swadeshi movement-1905-11-partition annulled, Congress split in 1907. Terrorism story from 1902 in Bengal, from 1897 in Maharashtra with Chapekar brothers. Muslim population in India 20% in 1881-1855-first Mohemedan association-Anjumane Islami between 1907-9-Muslim leagues in all states.
Sixth chapter-The age of Gandhian Politics –Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915 and took over Indian leadership in 1920, after Tilak’s death. In 1918-19, due to drought one crore 20 lakh to 30mlakh people died. Indian Opinion, Young India and Harijan papers of Gandhi. Khilaft for Hindu-Muslim unity. AITUC in 1920 in Bombay. 1922 non-cooperation movement. 88communal riots during 1923-27. 1931 Irwin-Gandhi agreement controversy. Govt. Of India act 1935, 1937 elections-Congress majority in five out of 11 provinces-Madras, Bihar, Odisa, United Province and Central Province. Bombay-Bengal also close, ministries in 8 states
Seventh chapter-Different voices of Indian Nation-Indian Muslim League in 1906, in 1924-Hindu Mahasabha. Rehmat Ali in 1933-Pakistan with four provinces-Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan. Independent Labour Party by Ambedkar in 1936.
Eighth and last chapter is Freedom with Partition-Congress Socialists and Communists’s impact, Kisan Sabha adopted Red flag in 1937.Working class movement. INA movementNaavy revolt-1946. Partition time-80% foreign investement, 25% trade with Britain.
- Hindi Jati, Amarnath Sharma, Yash Publications, Delhi, 2013-first ed., pages 140, price 140/ rupees
In this slim book, Kolkata University Hindi Professor Amarnath Sharma has discussed problems of Hindi nationality in 11 small chapters with introduction and conclusions. Also added is reference books list. Founder of ‘Apni Bhasha’ organisation in Kolkata, author is concerned about new languages taking shape from the web of Hindi. He is worried at Bhojpuri, Rajasthani etc. dialects in his view getting full language status, which reduces Hindi’s numerical strength. He thinks all 30 plus dialects of Hindi to remain in dialects status and not acquire full language status, which can reduce to lower levels of linguistic hierarchy. He thinks that Hindi-Urdu is one language with two styles and two scripts. But his voice is like lost in wilderness. Writer pleads rationally and not emotionally and at some places is strong on facts, still he cannot overturn the turn of events, which is more towards more assertion of suppressed identities, including of languages.
- ‘Andar ki Aag’(Poetry), Shankar Shailender,edited by Rama Bharti ,2013-Ist ed., Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi, Pages 152, Price 250/rupees
Shankar Shailender, better known as Shailender alone for his film songs, was not only film song writer, he was a maker of classic film ‘Teesri Kasam’, based on Phanishwarnath Renu’s story ‘Mare Gaye Gulfam’, failure of which took his life. He was IPTA activist and good poet as well. His Dalit background is not even known much today. Born in Rawalpindi in undivided Punjab in 1923, his family came from Aarah in Bihar. He studied till 12th at Mathura and later worked as Mechanical Engineering apprentice in Matunga-Mumbai for four years, before becoming full time film song writer. Shailender wrote 850+ songs for 100+ plus in 17 years of his career. He worked mostly with Rajkapoor and musician Shankar Jaikishan. For making ‘Teesri Kasam’ he spent almost all his savings and the failure of the film cost him his life. He died young at the age of just 43 years in 1966.
Rajkapoor used to describe Shailender as Pushkin of India. Jagjivan Ram claimed his Dalit ancestry by calling him ‘Harijan poet’. Though Shailender himself never revealed or claimed his Dalit identity, he rather identified himself with working class and wrote lot many poems on working class struggles. Shailender’s younger son Dinesh Shankar Shailender preserved diaries and poems of his father and got it edited from Rama Bharti, who wrote preface to these poems. Rama Bharti tells us that real name of Shailender was Shankar Das Rao, whose Dalit family belonged to Dhuspur village of Aarah. Shailender hardly lived in his village. He married with Shakuntla Devi of his own choice at the age of 18 years. After marriage Shailender lived in one room chawl in Parel and felt the pangs of working class life. Rajkapoor listened to his poem-Jalta hua Punjab(Burning Punjab) on some function and was highly impressed by his talent and invited him to write songs for his films. He wrote first song for film Barsat, which became super hit. Later he wrote for Anari, Boot Polish, Shri 420, Madhumati, Sujata, Do Bigha Zameen, Guide, Jis Desh men Ganga Behti hai etc. He wrote dialogues for Bimal Roy film Parakh.
Andar ki Aag contains 71 poems in all, which include his well known poems like on Bhagat Singh, Jalta Hua Gulab etc. His poetic talent is expressed in simple language and style, which can be understood by working class easily. It was good to get his poems published in a collection.
During my Bombay stay in 1982-83, I visited Shailender home in Khar area and met his son, whether he was Dinesh or other I do not remember. However, was happy to meet him and now to see his collection of poems.
For preparing paper for Chandigarh Ghadar party seminar scanned many books, but did not read any complete book.
For two seminars on Dalit Literature and Komagatamaru scanned many books but read in full two only.
- Komagatamaru-Punjabi play-Ajmer Rode, Third eye publications, 2013 edition, first ed. 1983, pages 115
This play was first staged in Vancouver in 1979 and latest stage presentation is scheduled for 7th May at Vancouver again for Komagatamaru centenary time. Playwright has given the background of the play, underlining the fact of 340 Sikhs out of 376 on board-24 Muslims and 12 Hindus. Play is divided into three parts and stage directions are given elaborately. Ajmer himself directed paly in 1979. Three-dimensional stage-one side ship, central Immigration office and other side Gurdwara meetings etc. There is no scene or acts division, just one interval, lighting important for stage.
Komagatamaru ventured into sea from Hongkong on 23rd May and reaching Vancouver on 23rd July, which was surrounded by armed boats of Canadian forces. An unnamed woman character narrates the atrocities of British/Canadian forces. Gurdit Singh and Daljit Siingh ship leaders, Bhag Singh, Hasan Rahim, Balwant and Mewa Gurdwara leaders, Bela Singh-Hopkinson villains. Play has lot of dramatic potential, which is exploited by director for stage. Irish Bird is advocate for Indian fighters. Ship passengers assert their right to land and work in Canada. Canadian conservative govt. With racial mind-set, bent upon sending them back. After two months standoff and harsh struggle, ship is returned back to India, though passengers are able get some of their demands conceded, like having rations for the journey. The climax comes at Budge Budge ghat, where violent clash with British police takes place, resulting in the death of 26 people-20 Indian freedom fighters.
Play is impressive.
- Zulmi Katha-Punjabi, Gurdit Singh, edited by Darshan Singh Tatla, Unistar publications, Chandigarh, pages, price Rupees 200/
Zulmi katha was first published in 1921, some part serilised also. Baba Gurdit Singh, who took Komagatamaru ship on lease to ferry the passengers to Vancouver is the hero of the movement, who lived for 95 years and put stiff resistance to British and Canadian racist officials. Zulmi Katha is narration of Komagatamaru ship struggle from A to Z. It is written in simple verbal Punjabi language and is rebuttal of British appointed fact-finding team, who put the whole blame on passengers, but Baba Gurdit Singh exposes the chinks in arms of British colonialist mindset. Daljit Singh-royal of Kapurthla and Raja Mehatab of Burdwan was also part of the committee. Gurdit Singh’s narration exposes the design of British colonialists and of collaborative role of Canadian and Japanese officials. Tatla has written long introduction, somewhat unnecessarily prolonged. However, a good documentation of the period.
6.6.Introduction-Rodney Hilton, Aakar Books, Delhi, Ist edition by New Left Books imprint Verso, 1976, Aakar edition 2006, pages195, price 150/rupees.
This is a classic book, which I must have bought and read during my student days in JNU-1977-82 or may have ignored as ‘Trotskyite’ book. Even this time, book is with me since its publication in 2006 again in JNU, yet could not read it till 2014-such is the condition of my readings during my faculty stint in JNU-2005-13 with internet changing the life style, affecting reading habits too much.
This time also, though I have read, better say scanned the book without much concentration, as part of the book is on economy, which does not absorb me much and my attention fizzles out while eyes on the book. I acquired not much from the book, still I would say even its scanning type reading was also useful.
Rodney Hilton has written 20 long page introduction to the book, which contains a debate among great Marxists of the day in those days-most important among were Paul Sweezy editor Monthly Review, who in fact initiated the debate by his Critique of Maurice Dobb’s 1946 book-Studies in the Development of Capitalism. Karl Polanyi had reviewed in 1948 in the Journal of Economic History, R H Tawney followed his own long review in 1950 in Economic History Review. Later Journal ‘Science and Society’ carried a long and meaningful debate on the book, starting with Paul Sweezy’s ‘A Critique’ with “A Reply” by Maurice Dobb in Spring 1950 issue. The debate was followed by Kohachiro Takahashi’s ‘A Contribution to the Discussion’ in Fall 1952 issue, with Maurice Dobb’s response ‘A Further Comment’ and Paul Sweezy’s ‘A Rejoinder’ in Spring 1953 issue. This was followed by Rodney Hilton’s ‘A Comment’, also ‘A Comment’ by Christopher Hill in Fall 1953 issue of the journal. Later the debate percolated to other journals of the time as Georges Lefebvre wrote ‘Some Observations’ in La Pensee, in February 1956; Giuliano Procacci wrote ‘A Survey of the Debate’ in ‘Societa XI’ in 1955; Rodney Hilton wrote again ‘Capitalism-What is in a Name?’ in ‘Past and Present’-February 1952. Eric Hobsbawm also joined debate in August 1962 by writing ‘From Feudalism to Capitalism’ in ‘Marxism Today’, to which Maurice Dobb responded in September issue of same journal with ‘From Feudalism to Capitalism’. The last essay in debate was of John Merrington’s ‘Town and Country in transition to Capitalism’ published in September-October 1975, 93rd issue of ‘New Left Review’. This whole debate was the put together in this volume by Rodney Hilton in 1976 from New Left Review imprint Verso in London. This book has always remained in discussion since then and Aakar Books brought out its Indian edition in 2006 in 2006. Many of the contributors of the book may not be amongst us by now as Paul Sweezy, editor of Monthly Review perhaps passed away even before Indian edition came out. The book has carried out Biographical Note of authors of 1976 edition but without update of last three decades, which is little handicap.
Paul Sweezy started the debate with Maurice Dobb’s focus on Western European transition, which could not be taken as general world transition. He also underlined on the terms Serfdom and Feudal interrelationships etc. Dobb appreciated Paul Sweezy points, but tried to explain it. Japanese Marxist Kohachiro Takahashi made a valuable long contribution upholding Dobb. Dobb also responded to Kohachiro. Paul again intervened in ‘A Rejoinder’ as Takahashi also debated his observations. Rodney Hilton here with ‘A comment’ in which he appreciates the issues raised by Paul. Christopher Hills also intervenes here and this interesting debate continues in all seriousness without any personal comment or reflection. Perhaps this is one of the best debates among Marxists on very relevant issue of transition from one economic system to another, which of course is related to its socio-political-cultural ramifications also.
After the survey of the debate and Rodney Hilton final comment, another section is added in the book as ‘Further Materials’, which are related to the issue raised earlier.
In totality a very important book to understand Marxist interpretation of transition from one social system to another. Generally, we know as layman-Primitive Communism to Slavery to Feudalism to Capitalism and finally Communism in much advanced form than Primitive Communism-complete cycle of social movement. However, every phase of social system and its transformation to another social system through violent revolutions is a complex process and with the fall of socialist systems and reversal to Capitalism have made it more complex. Marx-Engels did not visualise it but Lenin and Mao had its understanding. Mao more than any other revolutionary, as he lived long to oversee the transition of society and its possible reversions in his own lifetime, which he tried to stop, but could not due to balance of forces within Communist party going against him.
Such books are necessary to understand the complexities of social transformations.
- Indian-Guyanese Words & phrases and their meanings, Harry T. Hergash, Blue tree Publishing , Canada, 2013, pages 50, price $12.95
Harry T Hergash, Indian descent Guyanese first batch student of University of Guyana, established in 1963. After doing some jobs in Guyana, he settled in Canada since 1974. In early sixties he learnt Hindi from Indian Cultural Council Ratna Dixit. Till that time Hindi was still in use in Guyana, now completely forgotten. Author dedicated book to his paternal great-grandmother(Paddadi-paraajee), who was born in Guyana in 1870 and passed away in 1975, lived more than hundred years. Indian migration to Guyana took place between 1838-1917.
Comments/reviews/introduction to the book has some big names, including Frank Birbal Singh, Professor Emeritus of English and novelist at York University Toronto. Apart from his own Preface, Ramperaud Tewarie, retired Civil servant and scholar has written ‘The Historical Perspective’ of the book. The main part of the book is listing of nearly 840 words and their meaning in English. But some words seems to have got wrong meaning, like ‘lasson’, which should have been ‘garlic’, but it has been put as ‘onion’, with the same meaning for word ‘pyaz’, which is correct.
The author’s effort is to preserve for his own memory of getting ‘extinct’ Hindi language and for contemporary Indian descent people. Incidentally Guyana had he longest rule of Indian descent people, from Chhedi Jagan to present President Donald Ramotar!
Book has refreshed my memories of visiting Guyana in 2011.
- ‘Kakka Reta’(Dry Sand), a Punjabi novel, Balwant Gargi, 1993 ed., Navyug Press, Delhi, pages 100, price 70/ rupees
This novel’s reference I got recently in context of Bathinda life. First book of the year in Bathinda, I read was Punjabi play Razia Sultan by Balwant Gargi and it is now his this novel, whose first publication is difficult to identify, as Indian languages publishers have this bad practice of not mentioning first or earlier editions, only the present edition year is mentioned, which is at least 25-30 years later date.
This is autobiographical novel of the writer, even name of hero, main character is kept as Balwant, whose life from early schooling of 2nd, or third class until Matriculation is depicted. Balwant studies in Bathinda and his mother’s place is at Tapa, where his grand maternal mother and maternal uncle live and where he visits in summer vacations and get the feel of first innocent love with an agricultural labourer’s daughter Rummy, who just spend few days together in vacation period, just roaming aimlessly, enjoying each other’s company. This is when he had passed eighth class exam, could be of 14 years or so and the girl may be of 12-13 years. And when he stops for a day after doing Xth class and going to join college in Patiala and stops for a day at Tapa , he gets the news that Rummy was married some time ago and no more lives there. He goes for a walk to her side, but could not meet even her father Raju, who is away to his brother’s place. Such melancholically incidents happen in most lower middle class families in early years and the literature recreates these sensitively. Krishan Baldev Vaid’s novel Uska Bachpan like novels are little more focused on this theme. Balwant Gargi has depicted school atmosphere of those days, with teachers being a terror for students, in home and around in pre partition Punjab healthy atmosphere of boys-girls playing together, even all communities children playing together. Gargi has dedicated novel to his mother, whose abuses he accepts as flow of butter…Malwai language of Bathinda region is again very fascinating. Some words may have even gone out of usage now-like “Jhagga’(Shirt), The novel is realist also in terms of depicting social reality. Balwant’s aunt dies of burns after giving birth to a male child and uncle marries few weeks after rituals are over. Presence of Bhua-father’s sister and her affection for her nephews is another interesting feature. Fairs and those of animal fairs were also regular feature of rural/semi urban life, which brought cheer for children etc. are narrated. The novel has been titled as Bathinda’s geographical feature, as the region being close to Rajasthan, had lot of sand hills and area’s defining feature. Now these hills are nowhere to be seen. This is not one of great novels, but interesting and region specific!
- Loha Kutt, Punjabi play, Balwant Gargi, 2011 ed., Is ted. 1950, Navyug Press <Delhi, Pages 58, Price 75/Rupees,
This is one of Balwant Gargi’s most known plays, which was first written in 1944 and staged. This was not allowed by Gurbax Singh to be staged at Preetnagar theatre, being ‘not moral’ as per Gargi’s introduction to 1950 edition of the play. Prof. Mohan Singh liked play and he published it with pleasure. Play was first broadcast by Lahore radio and Iqbal Mohammad played the role of its main character Kaku Lohar(ironsmith). Like today, ironsmith association as damaging representation of their class objected to it, but they did not create social tension like today, they were convinced with writer’s justification. Gargi wrote another forward for 1991 edition of play and wrote last forward for 1998 edition, when he was Professor of eminence at Punjabi University Patiala. In this forward Gargi refers to Malwai language being part of his bones. His first play was ‘Bebe’ in 1943. The play is written by inspiration from real incident of Gargi’s village. A ironsmith’s wife had run away with his lover after 19 years of marriage. Gargi has woven two real incidents into one in the play. Baino, the young girl of the play was daughter of some other person, a beautiful girl who ran away with her lover. Santi, Kaku’s wife also ran away with his lover after 19 years of marriage, Gargi liked both the women, despite negative feudal chatting in village about both. Gargi in his play made Baino daughter of Kaku and Santi, who ran away with her lover Sarban after her father, fixed her marriage. She rebels and confronts her father boldly. Kaku in the play murders her nad buries in the house. Santi who had loved Gajjan in her youth and who still lives in the same village, one-day rebels and runs away with Gajjan. Gargi recreates the story with some imagination. He does not run after Santi and kills her, rather he reconciles and just lives with his son. He is drunkard and oppressor of Santi and her daughter, First Baino, his daughter rebels and then Santi. While incident may be real, but the dialogues of Santi are intellectualised by Gargi and are not spontaneous. Overall play is good and effective. It is divided into three acts and six scenes. It has characters like Kaku, Santi, Baino, Deepa his son of 12 years, Gajjan, Bachni, Banso and his friends, 1944 in some village of Malwa is the location. The whole play at Kaku’s Bhathi iron.
- ‘Theth Hindi ka Thath’ a Hindi novel by Ayodhya Singh Upadhyaya, Ist ed. 1899, Fresh ed. 2011, Vaani Prakashan Delhi, pages 54, price 150/rupees
‘The grandeur of pure Hindi’ is the rough meaning of this interesting small novel, or novelette or novella of Hindi, published more than 115 years ago. Upadhyaya, one of earliest modern writers of Hindi, was known more as poet of epical poetry like ‘Priya Pravas’, wrote two novels too-Adhkhila Phool-Half bloomed flower and this one. He brought out collection of Kabir poetry also in his editorship. This narration is interesting as standard Hindi was being in the process of getting established. There were debates going on the correct or pure form of Hindi in those days among Hindi scholars and critics. By a simple idealist narrative, the writer has tried to show the pure form of Hindi for literary use.
Novelette is dedicated in long hyperbolic dedication to George A Grierson, eminent researcher on Indian languages. If the whole hyperbole is translated many of you die with laugh, it was such a way to please in those days! Sudhish Pachaury has introduced the book. In 13 Thaths, means chapters, writer narrates the anguished story of adolescent girl Devbala, who at eleven years of age is deeply attached to Devnandan, fourteen year old boy of same village and of same caste but at lower level in caste hierarchy of same group. They are in innocent love of adolescent age, Devbala’s mother likes the boy also, because of decent ways and manners and she wishes to marry her daughter to her. But Devbala’s father is too rigid in caste hierarchy and does not agree to his wife’s views. He goes in for a higher category groom of same caste group, but the boy is neither handsome nor decent. Devnandan and Devbala accept the fate and decide to transform their feelings to that of ‘brother’ and ‘sister’, typical cover of feudal hypocrisy, where even afte boy and girl ahd married and produced child, have been forced in these days in Haryana to accept the husband as brother! Devbala undergoes series of sufferings due to this mismarraige and again Devnandan, who has not married, rescues her from pitiable conditions and brings her back to life. She is mother of a child; husband had run away from home and is living in Calcutta with some other woman. But as was usual in old stories, Devnandan brings husband back and like Hindi films, make the novella a happy ending! Devnandan dies in some social cause, later Devbala’s husband Ramanath, who had become his follower, carries on his mission until the end of his life.
Therefore, it is the feudal values of society, which are established by such stories coming mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar areas of writings in those days.
In contrast if one reads Balwant Gargi’s 1944 play Loha Kutt, one sees the Punjabi woman rebelling against such feudal oppression and running away with her lover after getting out of deeply flawed and oppressive marriage!
Writer was probably a Sikh convert from Hindi speaking area, the novel was basically to focus on purity of language, that too establishing the supremacy of Khari Boli of western Uttar Pradesh as standard form of literary language, in that purpose, perhaps writer is successful. Interestingly some words in a century time have changed their meaning, like Kartoot, was considered as act, almost a good act, as Ram Prasad Bismil, the revolutionary also gave title to his book-Bolshevikon ki Kartoot in 1922 or so in positive sense. Now Kartoot is taken in negative tones meaning bad act, like badmashon ki kdartoot-act of scounderls!
- The Buddha and His Dhamma, Dr. B R Ambedkar, Buddha Bhumi Publication, Nagpur, pages 600, free distribution from Buddha Educational foundation Taiwan. Edition not mentioned.
The book has introduction, Prologue, Epilogue and 8 chapters of Book I to VIII. This is story of Buddha’s life and his message. Book begins with Buddha’s birth to Mahamaya, who dies soon after giving birth to a son, named later as Sidhartha Gautam. His father was Shudhodhan, a king of Kapilvastu. There are lot of mythical stories connected to Buddha, but Ambedkar did not accept those stories and gave his plausible explanation to many events of Buddha’s life. Gautma was taken care of by Mahaprajapati, elder sister of Mahamaya and another wife of the king. Dr. Ambedkar has corrected many stories interpolated by some stakes in his life narrative. Two of these are related to his renunciation of kingdom and nearing death about the food he took. It is generally put into schoolbooks that Gautam went away after seeing lot of sufferings of life and went away without informing the family etc. Maithilisharan Gupt in his Hindi epical poetry-Yashodhra has subscribed to this view. Sakhi vo mujhse keh kar jaate etc….Friend, only if he had informed me before going…! However, Dr. Ambedkar has focused on Shakya-Kollyis conflict over water of same river, flowing between two states. Gautam has become member of Shakya Sangh, in which some hot headed wanted to have war with Kolyis, whereas Gautam pleaded for negotiations. As his opinion was that, both sides may have committed some excesses, so the issues should be resolved through arbitration. However, Gautam’s views got defeated. Now either he goes with war decision of some hotheads, or face punishment. He opted for Privrajaka-leaving the state for jungle. He told that the Sangh people that he was even prepared to face death for his convictions. He was allowed to go for Privrajka, which he went in due time. The whole kingdom followed him; such was his popularity among people. His parents, wife and son, common people. Gautma had to send them back; he sent back his horse and servant as well. Later he went to various places and indulged in meditation, ultimately he got enlightened under a huge tree in Gaya, which became Bodh Gaya after his enlightenment. He became very weak, broke his fast with Sujata’s milk made kheer.
Gautma got the title of Buddha, he was Bodhisatav before, after enlightenment, he was called Buddha. He gave his first sermon at Sarnath near Banaras, where his five ascetic friends of early Parivrajka time were doing penance. They were reluctant in beginning, but later became the privileged one to listen to Buddha’s first historic sermon! After a while, Buddha became too popular, lot many kings became his disciples, he introduced Sangha, his followers were of two kinds-Upasaka and Bhikhus! Upaskas were home life people, not renouncing the home, offering alms and practising Buddha philosophy. Bhikhus were to renounce the world and become Parivrajaks first, then become Bhikhhus and live on alms. Buddha allowed women also to become Bhikhhunis at a late stage on persuasion of Anand his cousin and disciple. His mother Mahaprajapati was the first to become Bhikhhuni, followed by Buddha wife yashodhara, even Rahul, his son became Sharmner, an early form of Bhikhhu until the age of 20 years. Buddha moved around large parts of India in spreading his Dhamma until the age of 80 years, when he reached Pava and Kushaner. Yashodhra died at the age of 78 years, before Buddha. There was a Dalit disciple in last age of Buddha, the last one-Chudda. Buddha before dyeing told Anand that he must counter the false propaganda that Buddha became ill because of food given by Chudda. Again, in schoolbooks this narration is given as if Buddha died because of sick meat given to him in alms by some poor person and as a Bhikhhu has to eat whatever is given in alms, so Buddha had to eat that meat. Dr. Ambedkar had smashed this myth, which seems to had been the mischief of some Brahmanical priests to demean the poor Dalits. But Dr. Ambedkar by converting to Buddhism, along with his five lakh followers on 14th October 1956 at Nagpur, now called Deeksha Bhoomi has liberated Buddha from Brahmanical falsehoods and Buddhism became the liberator of Dalits in India!
Dr. Ambedkar has also underlined Buddhism to be the ultimate rational thought system, he does not ascribe to the concept of ‘God’ or ‘soul’. Dr. Ambedkar focuses upon causal relationship and believes that any phenomenon arises out of certain causes. In that, sense of Ambedkar and Rahul Sankartytayn interpretation of Buddhism is much enlightened and rational interpretation and presents it as liberator thought for working classes and Dalits. Dr. Ambedkar proposes that in Buddhism, there is equality of sexes, no casteism, no feudal and subordinate relations. He considers that Buddhism leads to socialist thinking. Nevertheless, the Buddhism in certain sections has also become too ritualistic, even worse than Hindutva ritualism, as has been happened with another radical religion-Sikhism.
Buddha and his Dhamma is one of important books from Dr. Ambedkar’s pen and Dalit movement should follow it quite diligently, but the irony is even the present Dalit political leadership does not pay much attention to Ambedkar’s rational and enlightened interpretation of Buddhism by dr. Ambedkar.
- Chauri Chaura, Vidroh aur Swadhinta Andolan(Revolt and freedom struggle), Subhas Chandar Kushwaha, Penguin Books, Ist ed. 2014, Pages 360, Rupees 225/
It was by sheer chance that I read this book in these days, though I was keen to read it early, after buying it in World Book Fair in February this year. Prior to this I had read Shahid Amin’s book on Chauri Chaura-Event, Metaphor, Memory Chauri Chaura, published and much discussed earlier, written as part of Sub-altern studies in history. Few other books, which I wished to have, when I visited Gorakhpur-Devria-Chauri Chaura-Maghar-Lumbini in 2010 June, could not acquire that time, but whose references are in this book.
Chauri Chaura has attracted me a lot, that is why I visited the place, after reading Shahid Amin book, I think my interest has been to know the two parallel streams of freedom struggle. Bhagat Singh and Chandershekhar Azad both had got disillusioned with Mahatma Gandhi due to his withdrawal of mass Satyagraha or non cooperation movement on excuse of Chauri Chaura incident of violence, where a police station was burnt by Satyagrahis and 23 policemen were burnt alive. It was a turning point in Indian freedom struggle, as it gave birth to alternative revolutionary movement. So it becomes necessary for a student of history and of revolutionary movements to study this event more keenly. Shahid Amin’s book has also impressed me at the time of reading it in 2009 or so. But Subhas Kushwaha has perhaps done more labour and has more concern with the struggles of those people and he has brought to notice even the afterlife of the event and the movement. This new book is more elaborate study of the movement, area and after effects of the movement. Motivation of writing over this event for both writers has been to be part of that region. Shahid comes from Devria and Kushwaha from Kushinagar, both close to Chauri Chaura. Professionally Shahid is historian and Kushwaha a Hindi writer, references to both writers become imperative, if one has read both the books.
Kushwaha has divided the book in three parts and 23 chapters with appendices, references and foreword. Writer has acknowledged Manager Pandey’s motivation for him to study this subject, as Kushwaha has written books on peasant movement and literature based upon it. For material collection, he faced lot of problems, took recourse to Right to information also, and got documents from British library London mostly.
In first part of the book, writer has focused upon background of the struggle by delineating Indian freedom struggle since 1857, particularly its impact in Gorakhpur region. Chauri Chaura movement was fought by peasantry of the region, so writer has also given description of pre Chauri Chaura political activities and peasant conditions. Writer has described the impact of Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to the area almost a year earlier. After giving this background writer has concentrated on the epical struggle of Chauri Chaura in second and main part of the book. In his foreword writer has challenged official description of the struggle, which is inscribed on black granite on Chauri Chaura memorial. This inscription has mysteriously obliterated the real nerve centre of the movement-Dumri Khurd village, from where all the activities of movement took place and from where Dalits, Muslims and other backward classes people revolted in a big way. In 1857 Bandhu Singh of Dumri Kala or Dumri Khas village of Gorakhpur region has taken big part and he was hanged on a tree, many other people of the region were also victimised for revolting in 1857. In second chapter, writer has described the peasant revolts during 1918-22 and also riots in UP. Quoting from largely unknown book of Jaichander Vidyalankar, teacher of Bhagat Singh, writer has underlined the fact that even Nehru did not support Avadh peasant struggle on the excuse that ‘they don’t want class struggle in country’! There has been talk of Bolshevik revolution of Russia, happened in 1917 among peasant activists, which has even referred in Premchand’s novel Premashram. In third chapter writer has discussed Gandhi’s idea of Satyagraha and his views on non violence. Writer has also underlined the magnetic impact Gandhi had among masses, so much so that on 104 year old woman came to see Gandhi after visiting many religious places to look at him as incarnation of God! People had immense faith on Mahatma Gandhi! Mahatma Gandhi had become undisputed leader of Congress party after the demise of Lokmanya Tilak in 1920 and since then some kind of Satyagraha was being conducted by Congress party, first on Khilafat issue, then on issues of peasants etc. But whenever there was little of violence, Gandhi reacted rather strongly. Thus when Prince of Wales visited Bombay on 17th November 1921, 20 thousand strong masses became uncontrolled and in resulting violence, 53 including 45 Satyagrahis were killed in police firing. Mahatma Gandhi condemned the incident and not police repression and withdrew the movement and proceeded on fast.
From January 1922, there were lot of disturbances in the country and in United Province (UP) also. Writer has argued that it was wrong to say that Chauri Chaura incident happened out of blue, it had background and was culmination of that process. He has given data of arrests of 1921-22 peasant movements; there were 18120 arrests out of which 16719 were convicted for various offences. On the other hand M N Roy in Soviet Union was trying to use his influence to radicalise Congress programme of agitation against British colonialism by sending many pamphlets for Congress sessions.
In 1921 Mahatma Gandhi toured UP with Ali brothers-Maulana Mohammad Ali Johar and Maulana Shaukat Ali Johar. On 8th February 1921, they had reached Chauri Chaura. Traveling on train, on all stations large crowds gathered to have alook at him, 30 thousand people came on Devria station, on Chauri Chaura station he received a gift from a Marwari. Gandhi stayed for 6-7 hours in Gorakhpur and addressed a meeting of about two lakh people. To enrol for non cooperation movement Satyagarhis had to sign a pledge to remain non violent in face of even brutal attacks by police. Gorakhpur area was politically very active, 15000 people had protested against Jallianwala Bagh massacre here and when Avadh peasant movement leader Baba Raghav Das was convicted, 50 thousand people gathered at court to protest.
In the second part of the book, writer has focused on the actual events happened on 4th February 1922 leading to the burning of police station that day resulting in the death of 23 policemen. There are two villages near Chauri Chaura-Dumri Khurd or Chhoti Dumri and Dumri Kala or Dumri Khas or Badki Dumri, which are at a distance of five miles from each other. Dumri has the only Zamindari of Sikh settler Surat Singh, who was awarded this Zamindari due to his loyalty during 1857. His two sons-Umrao Singh(father of Amrita Shergill) and Sunder Singh Majithia acquired this after his death, on whose behalf their relative Harcharn Singh took care of it for two decades. In Saraya, they had established sugarcane mill in 1900. The feudal lords lived in Badki Dumri or Dumri Kala, whereas poor people, mostly Dalits from Chamar caste lived in Chhotki Dumri, which became the centre of the movement, which later came to be known as Chauri Chaura movement due to 4th February happenings there. There was lot of Muslim population in the region and generally there was peace and amity between Dalits and Muslims of the area, except for minor tensions here and there once in a while. Chauri and Chaura were two villages nearby, but railway station was named Chauri Chaura, police station is in Chaura village, which is bigger of the two. Dumri was also a big village with 2500+ population in those days. The meeting of Satyagrah committee had taken place on the morning of 4th February at this village and Satyagrahis had marched from this village to Chauri Chaura, where peasants and other people have joined from other villages too. Nazar Ali and Lal Mohammad were main leaders of the movement in this area, other prominent persons were Bhagwan Ahir, Abdulla, Inderjit Koery, Shyam Sunder and one unidentified Sanyasi were also in the lead. Shikari also played leading role in beginning, but he turned approver during trial. Lal Mohammad aged forty was from Chaura village, Nazar Ali aged 30 and Bhagwan Ahir aged 24 were from Dumri Khurd, Abdulla Sai, 40 years old was from Rajdhani village. They were all known activists and sometimes office bearers of local Congress committees. Chaura police Inspector and In charge of police station has beaten up Bhagwan Ahir without any provocation, that has created a tension in the area, which was otherwise conducting peaceful Satyagraha in the area. The local Zamindars or their agents were siding with the police, which included Harcharn Singh and Santbux Singh, who had big business interest in the area. By noon 3 to five thousand people had gathered in Chauri Chaura, the Police Station incharge had already got armed police unit from district headquarters, they were also in police station. There were many Chaukidars also in police station, which had come to collect their salaries on that day. The heated exchanges between Guptshwar Singh and processionists perhaps led to attack from police side, resulting in the death of at least two Satyagrahis, but some say it could be 26, this provoked Satyagrahis, which could not stick to their pledge of not attacking back and the earlier police repression contributed to their pent up feelings, so they burnt the police station, killing 23 persons inside, but they spared wives and children of police men.
Writer has described the events of 4th February in great detail, which confirms the firing straight on Satyagrahis resulting in the death of at least two volunteers-Kheli Bhar and Budh Ali, after this it became difficult to control the anger of Satyagrahis and they collected kerosene and other such inflammable items from the market itself and put the police station on fire. Their prime target was Gupteshwar the brutal DSP of police, another senior police officer to get burnt alive was armed police inspector or DSP Prithvipal Singh, other 21 policemen were either constables, one or two Head constables and many Choukidars, who were used by Gupteshwar to attack Satyagrahis. Another Chaukidar Surajbali Singh died of wounds, making the figure to 24. On the other hand, the number of Satyagrahis killed is recorded as two, but there were references to 26 or at least many more than the recorded number, as due to non communication times of those days, many dead bodies may have been taken to villages by the volunteers. All the feudal lords or their agents sided with British police during the clash as well as afterwards to get Satyagarhis hanged from British courts. Total of 225 persons were charged with murder, conspiracy and many other offenses. Interestingly there were very few high caste persons in this list. 90% were from Dalits, backward castes and Muslims. Not only British Government treated it as grave crime, even Mahatma Gandhi, on whose name Satyagrahis offered themselves for sacrifice and shouted all the time slogan in his name, called this incident as ‘Crime of Gorakhpur’ and ‘Crime of Chauri Chaura’ and the non cooperation was immediately suspended on the excuse of this incident, as it violated the ‘pledge of non violence’!
Police challaned initially 273 persons in lower court on 25th March 1922, out of 273, 54 persons were challaned even in absence, who could not be arrested. Later trial was conducted on 228 persons, out of whom few died during trial, few became approvers. These persons were from 30+ villages of the area. After the trial, 47 were acquitted due to lack of evidence and 172 persons were convicted to death! This created furore in the whole world. News of the revolt was carried in the world media as well. Australian newspapers carried the news, Communists world over stood for the convicted poor peasants and other rural labourers. M N Roy, wrote letter to British labour party on behalf of Indian Communists from Zurich on 2nd February 1923 demanding revocation of the sentence of death, focusing upon the condition of Indian ‘hungry peasants’. On 14th March 1923, Executive of Communist International and Red International of Labour Unions while condemning the sentence appealed the working class world over to oppose the sentence. In India, protests came in Calcutta, peasant leader Baba Raghav Das protested and he was imprisoned for some months for protesting. But the illiterate convicted peasants were not disturbed by the sentence, they used to say that after ‘ten months’ they will return on earth to continue the struggle, meaning getting ‘rebirth’ after death! After lower court conviction order in January 1923, an appeal was filed by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in High Court in third week of January itself and hearing started from 6th March 1923. Some labour members of British Parliament raised the issue in Parliament and demanded revocation of death sentence. Communist Saklatwala also raised the issue. On 30th April 1923, High Court gave its verdict and death sentence was limited to 19 persons, 38 were acquitted, few were released with short sentences, but many got long term jail sentences! Mercy petitions formality was done without any result and 19 persons were hanged from 2nd July to 11th July 1923 in different jails of UP. All the major leaders of the movement were hanged-Nazar Ali, Lal Mohammad, Abdulla, Bhagwan Ahir etc.
Those who got life sentences, their condition was pitiable, because of poverty, even Congress Government did not release them, when they came to power in 1938 for some time. Many political prisoners, including those of revolutionary movements like of Kakori were released, but Chauri Chaura prisoners waited till 1942-3 to get released. Government provided all help to killed policemen families, including giving jobs and pensions, where as no one took care of Chauri Chaura convicts. Their women’s condition in homes was much worse. Only two persons of high castes out of 170 convicted got some social position after 1947. Dwarka Pandey became MLA from 1952 to 1957. Dwarka Gosain got pension in 1949 and was honoured in 1972. Poor participants of Chauri Chaura struggle had to struggle a lot to get cleared from the tag of Goondas, Looteras etc. and their recognition as freedom fighters came as late as in 1993, when 110 families from this event started receiving pensions. For this also only Communists like Jharkhande Rai MP and CPI MLA’s UP assembly fought and not the Congress! Memorial to the killed policemen was built in 1924 itself inside police station, whereas memorial to Chauri Chaura martyrs could be inaugurated only in 1993, with many false inscriptions in names of high caste persons, who never took part in movement. Irony is that even in police station memorial salami is given, but not to executed 19 martyrs!
Subhas Chander Kushwaha has written the book with labour of love and with concern for the victims of Chauri Chaura movement. Only previous major publication was of Shahid Amin’s Event, Metaphor, Memory:Chauri Chaura, written from subaltern angle. Shahid Amin’s book and research is also appreciable, but Subhas Kushwaha has done much more elaborate research and hard work He got even the photographs of police station with dead bodies scattered and many other documents from British library London. He had to struggle hard to get the copies of documents from Indian offices, often through RTI. But in the end, he produced a commendable volume. Yet he will not get credit from Indian academicians, as the book is written in Hindi, even though published by international publishing house-Penguin books!
Indian academicians/historians never acknowledged Pandit Sunder Lal’s great two volume history-Bharat Men Angrezi Raj, despite being proscribed by British colonial authorities, nor Chauri Chaura is going to be recognised work of great significance, just because it is written in Indian language. Many major works of Bengali on revolutionary movement history have still not been translated in either Hindi or English, though these are the source books of Indian history. Yet hopefully this book will perform its primary task of spreading awareness about the reality of Chauri Chaura, which has remained obliterated due to Indian politicians, particularly of Congress variety’s deliberate ignore as Gandhi has condemned the movement as ‘violent’ movement. Fact of the matter is that Charui Chaura movement was led by poor peasants with hatred for oppressors. Because of Mahatma Gandhi’s withdrawal of this movement, both Bhagat Singh and Chandershekhar Azad got disillusioned from Mahatma Gandhi and Congress party and decided to chart a new path of revolutionary movement. Chandershekhar Azad has got 30 lashes on his back in 1921 non cooperation movement in Banaras by every time shouting ‘Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai’! In a way Chauri Chaura proved to be a catalyst for revolutionary movement for India or one may say that had there been no chauri Chaura, there would have been no Bhagat Singh, Chandershekhar Azad and his comrades!
Kudos to Subhash Chander Kushwaha for writing this well researched book on one of the most significant episode of Indian freedom struggle!
- Transfer of Power in India, V P Menon, Orient Longman(Blackswam), Delhi ebook from Kindle, pages 568, price 393/Rupees
This is first ebook, which I read in full, buying also first time from Amazon.com. Bought few books in print, since this book was not available in print, did not buy when it was available during JNU stay. It was necessary book to read, particular due to historic documents it has. To read this book, bought kindle reader of simple 6000/rupees popular variety, not the expensive ones available. Earlier had downloaded few free downloaded books on laptop like Confessions or Manifesto of Communist Party, but never read beyond few pages. But with spending money on kindle reader especially for reading, read this book in full on reader, there was no other way also. But the first book took almost one month to complete. The book has been digitalised from Longman edition; it has editions in 1957, 1999 and 2011. This book narrates the transfer of power process and formation of two independent nations-India and Pakistan. All the negotiations in the process and all the documents of the process are added in appendices of the book. Apart from maps, illustrations, Books and Consulted material, book is divided into 20 chapters and 12 appendixes. There are some historic pictures also, which don’t come out well in ebook edition.
The first chapter of the book is-‘The Goal of British Policy’ which was to become Dominion and member of British Commonwealth, which was later, turned into full independence by withdrawing from Commonwealth. It was no longer to remain Dependency of British Crown and Paramouncy of the British was to be over with full sovereignty of the nation to be restored. The second chapter of the book is-All India Federation-A Lost Ideal. Brtish Simon Commission in 1928 and Staford Crippps Mission in 1942 tried the formaula of Ferative units of India with Hindu and Muslim dominated areas and Defence, Currency etc four issued to remain in centre’s control. Perhaps both Congress and Jinnah failed this scheme, though Congress is used to blame only Jinnah for it, which is not testified by Sardar Patel’s close aid and writer of this book, who is quite objective in his narration. Third chapter is-War and the Deadlock-from 1939 to 1945 it was world war-II time. There was deadlock and Congress party kept its options open to deal with Japan, if it had won the war. 1942 Quit India movement time was reflective of this perception. Though Nehru and Congress party in general has kept anti fascism posture alive. Fourth chapter focuses upon-The August Offer. Fifth chapter is continuation of the subject with focus upon-The Cripps mission, sixth chapter narrated the story of-The Stalemate Continues-failure of Cripps mission. Seventh chapter is upon-A New Approach-by Viceroy Lord Wavell, after the failure of Gandhi-Jinnah talks. Eighth chapter focuses up The Simla conference with all parties in 1945. Ninth chapter describes the victory of Labour party in post war elections-The General Elections-in UK. Expectation of British quitting rose high with this development, Congress party had better rapport with Labour party. Tenth chapter is another effort-The Cabinet Mission in 1946, the narration continues in Chapter eleventh as part 2 of same subject. Chapter twelth chapter brings into focus on-The Interim Government-formed with much hard efforts with Congress-Muslim League both joining the government. Jinnah was not part of Nehru government, but Liaqat Ali Khan was his representative with four others. Chapter 13 is part 2 of the story. Chapter XIV comes to The Constituent Assembly, not agreed and attended by Jinnah and Muslim League, who were insistent upon separate Constituent assembly for Pakistan. Chapter fifteenth brings into centre stage-Lord Mountbatten as last Viceroy, joining Delhi in March 1947, who brought-The Evolution of a Plan! Chapter 16th is focussed upon-Acceptance of the Plan- which divides the country into two nations-India and Pakistan. Though efforts were made to keep both united for at least ten years, to be reviewed later. Chapter 17th focuses upon-The Implementation of the Plan-of 3rd June 1947, British will transfer power by 15th August, not waiting till June 1948, the deadline fixed earlier. Chapter 18th brings us to the stage of-The Birth of Two Dominions- which made the task of division easy, otherwise more complications would have arisen. Chapter 19th brings us to –The Aftermath of Partition-massacres on both sides, migration and more! Direct Action call for 16th August by Muslim League had brought Bengal to brink and Gandhi had to sit on hunger strike to bring back normalcy restored. Chapter 20 is-Conclusion. Writer underlines the significance of the month of August-Dewani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was awarded to British in August 1765. August 1858 brought direct rule of British in India and August 1947-transfer of power from British to Indian rulers!
In 12 appendices-1st is Sikandar Hayat Khan’s 1941 assembly lecture, trying to save the unity of the country. IInd appendix is 14th June 1945 speech of Viceroy’s address. IIIrd appendix is Secretary of State for India L S Amery’s 14th June 1945 Parliament address. 4th appendix is Cabinet mission and Viceroy’s 16th May 1946 statement, which continues in appendix 5th as his broadcast. Sixth appendix is Lord Wavell’s 17th May 1946 radio address. 7thappendix is statement of Stafford Cripps on same day. 8th appendix continues with Cabinet mission’s press conference on same day-1th May 1946. Appendix Nine brings the speech of British PM Attlee statement in House of Commons on 20th February 1947. Xth appendix is British Govt.’s 3rd June statement of dividing country into two nations from 15th August. 11th appendix is Indian Independence Act of 1947. 12th appendix carries handwritten comments of Congress party on draft independent bill, almost illegible. Final pages are Books and Publications Consulted.
V P Menon has very meticulously organised the book, putting all historic documents in one place. It is a book for researchers and for common readers also, the style of writing is neither like narrative, nor is very dry. Reader can find book interesting. There is no sense of hatred in writer’s mind. Though Menon defends 15th August transfer date, he is not convincing in saying that even with June 1948 transfer of power date, the issue of communal flare up would not been resolved.
Reading on kindle is fine, particularly in travel time with font size can be increased or decreased, yet there is difficulty for readers like me, who take lots of notes on printed book, though highlight provision is there in kindle, yet the colour of font’s etc. matters. While when writing about the book, then non underlining the book pinches, it is good for reading novels etc., but serious read-no way. May be after few readings I will be able to evolve a method of reading and taking notes from kindle read also!
- The Crisis in the Punjab: From 10th May until the fall of Delhi, Frederic Cooper ESQ., C.S. Deputy Commissioner of Umritsar
With a map G.P. Smith Elder &Co., 65, Cornhill, London, 1858, pages 254
CRISIS IN THE PUNJAB,
THE 10th OF MAY
FALL OF DELHI.
FREDERIC COOPER, ESQ., C.S.,
jiiPDTir tOMMiaaicmiB. or tixaiTa™.
with a map.
LONDON: SMITH, ELDER AND CO., 65, COKNHILL.
[ The right of Translation is reserved,]
Frederic Cooper was Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar district during 1857 first war of Indian independence and in this book published within a year of the upsurge; he recollects the events in Punjab and Delhi from British colonial ruler’s angle. Yet his account underlines certain facts, which shows the brutalities and cruelties of British colonial regime. I read this book in context of Ajnala happenings on 30th July-1st August 1857, where 157 years after this event, people of the village have dug up the well, where 282 Indian rebels’ bodies were dumped after killing them brutally. The book is dedicated to brutal British officers and apart from Preface includes nine chapters and many appendices.
First chapter is story of disarming of army men at Ambala,in subsequent chapters spread of mutiny is recorded in different places-Lahore, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Peshawar, Jullundur, Sialkot, Ferozepur etc. Chapter sixth is focussed on Ajnala, where nearly 500 army men come and get trapped by British agents and later massacred all, some drown in river. 282 bodies dumped in a well at Ajnala, became known as Kalian wala khuh later. In appendices some documents are reproduced. Writer has gleefully claimed that he had created a black hole of Calcutta and a well like that of Kanpur here in Ajnala, in these two well, bodies of white Britishers were dumped. Thoroughly racist in nature, book is good documentation of facts.
- Swaraj, Arvind Kejriwal, Punjabi translation of Hindi tract of 75 pages. 2012/14 edition in Punjabi for free distribution, priced Rs.15/
In ten sections of the book Kejriwal has covered nearly sixty topics, meaning hardly one and a quarter page of the book to topics like Naxalism, Gram Swaraj concepts etc. The bok written in Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj style is but pale copy of Hind Swaraj. Kejriwal has focussed more on Gram Swaraj and Gram Sabhas, which he thinks the key all of resolving India’s problems, whether corruption or police atrocities, everything will be fine, only if Gram Sabhas start working.
Arvind Kejriwal is not academician like Yogender Yadav, Anand Kumar or Kamal Chenoy, yet his simplification of complex problems take him nowhere. Yet one need not dismiss the tract for just this comment, some of the observation made by Kejriwal are worth paying attention to! It depends upon whether Aam Aadmi Party phenomenon is going to survive or not, but it has stirred Indian society at large. It remains to be seen how much it gets stabilised and then shows what kind of results in society!
- The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates, Xenophon, ebook from Kindle Reader.
This is first ebook I downloaded on my kindle app in February 2012, on my Tablet or laptop, but this is the one which I have read after more than two years now. After buying Kindle Reader, bought first book by payment-The Transfer of Power in India by VP Menon, that is the book which I read first on Kindle, this is the second book which I read on Kindle Reader, this was free download like 12 or so more books I have downloaded. While I feel comfortable in reading on Kindle reader, but do not enjoy like book reading, as I am used to marking the book where I like. On Kindle also one can highlight, but that is tedious and referring to those highlights is more tedious. Highlights are saved separately, but cannot be seen on screen with full text. I bought the elementary model of kindle, may be after some time, I may go in for advance touch screen model!
Xenophon’s memoirs of Socrates are quite interesting, it shows the strength of Socrates personality, who stood by his ideas and happily gave up his life for commitment to his ideas. Socrates is perhaps first martyr of ideas. He justifies that by living more after 70 years, when he was forced to drink cup of poison to die slowly. I highlighted few paragraphs from this ebook. I enjoyed reading this book.
- The Confessions of St. Augustine, Kindle ebook free
This ebook I downloaded after buying kindle reader in June 2014. The book divided into 13 chapters was originally written in Latin in 397-98 AD. This is narrative of first four decades of St. Augustine life and his transformation as a Christian. He like all relgiousits, keeps on harping on sins he committed of flesh etc. One observation is good that nothing is learnt by force, free will is key to acquiring knowledge. He illustrates by his own example, he dislikes Greek, since it was forced study, but he loved Latin, as he learnt it from love of the language. 9 chapters of the book are autobiographical and four are reflective in philosophy.
Not my cup of tea!
Reading on kindle reader is faster as skipping is faster than book!
- Junun-e-Intezar-Madness of Waiting, novelette, Mirza Hadi Ruswa, 1899, English translationKrupa Shandilya/Taimoor Shahid, Zuban first ed. 2012, pages 99+24 original Urdu pages, price 395/, international price 12&half pound and 19 Dollars
Mirza Hadi Ruswa is known for Urdu’s first novel ‘Umrao Jan Ada’ writer, the novel immortalised by film made on it. This novel is kind of sequel to it. Writtten in the form as written by Umrao Jan to expose Ruswa for exposing her in novel Umrao Jan, but that is style only. Mirza Ruswa has narrated his love affair with European girl presented in the novel as Sofia, who came in his life and left a home for him. This is old style romantic novelette full of emotional content. It is considered that it is autobiographical narrative. If one could read it in original Urdu, one could have enjoyed the beauty of Urdu language as well. Interesting novel.
- Bina Das: A Memoir, translated by Dhira Dhar, first Zuban editon 2010, translated from original Bengali-Shrankhal Jhankar, pages128+introduction pages, price 350/rupees
This is very interesting and historic memoir by revolutionary Bina Das, who had unsuccessfully shot Bengal Governor Stenely in early 30’s at the convocation of Calcutta University in 1932. Harikishan had done the same in 1931 at Panjab University Lahore a year earlier in 1931 and was executed for that in June 1931. Bina Das’s father was teacher of Subhas Bose and he had inspired Bina Das also. During college days she joined underground revolutionary movement resulting in shooting Stenely. She spent seven years in jail for that and her depiction of her jail days is very informative and touching. Bina has literary flavour in her writing and a rational mind as well to narrate the events in analytical manner. After her release she joined Congress party and was a MLA at the conclusion of this memoir on 10th August 1946. In her memoir she has narrated Noakhali communal events in 1946, where Mahatma Gandhi played perhaps the best role of his life, ironically at the fag end of his life, feeling completely desolate and lonely, which has been depicted very sensitively by Bina Das. Bina Das had married later and she lived long till 1997, but died in mysterious circumstances, after the death of most of her near and dear ones and she shifted to Rishikesh. Book has introduction by historian Professor Dilip Kumar Biswas, who was friend of Bina’s younger brother Amal, who predeceased Bina Das. Bina Das’s memoir is not only personal narration, it is good record of historic events of early 1930’s as well.
- Razia Sultan, Hindi novel, Mewa Ram, Bhartiya Gyanpeeth, Delhi, Isted. 2011, Pages 670, price 650/Rupees
Divided into 72 chapters, this huge novel of 670 pages, focuses upon the first ever queen of India. Daughter of Sultan Iltutmish, who came from slave background and became son in law to another slave background emperor of India Qutab-din Aibak. Iltutmish became emperor of India after Aibak and his four sons and two daughters were born from different wives. His eldest son Nasir was killed in some conspiracy, Rukundin became emperor against the wishes of his father, who willed Razia to be queen. Razia did become queen for two years and some months, but was ultimately killed by his another brother Muhiudin Behram Shah army near Kaithal and was buried near Turkman gate Delhi,another unnamed tomb with her could be of either Yakut, her lover or Malik Altunia, who as per novel, married Razia after keeping her imprisoned in Bathinda fort. Novel is interesting with some flaws on history and culture. Mewa Ram has written many more novels on historical characters like Dara Shikoh, Shehnshah Alam etc.
21.Chauri Chaura-Swantatroya Samar-Anil Kumar Srivastav, Leela prakashan Gorakhpur, is ted. 1986, pages 76, price This is small book on Chauri Chaura from a history student, good.
- Chauri Chaura-1922, Ram Murit, 1982, 44 pages, price 2/ rupees
A small but good monograph by CPI comrade Rammurti.
- Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra(Punjabi), Pritam Saini, 1st ed. 1986, Punjabi University Patiala publication, pages 64, price Rupees 12/75.
This small monograph carries more details about Dhingra and family than many other books. Details of Dr. Sahib Dittamal Dhingra and his eight children’s details given in this narration. Migrated from Sahiwal, they settled in Lahore, where he built six kothis, 21 houses, had six buggies, his was the only car of an Indian, which ran on Amritsar roads. Madan Lal Dhingra was an oddity in this Rai Sahib British loyalist family. His younger brother Bhajan Lal also redeemed himself by becoming Sufi and dera head Lala Shah at Lyallpur (Faislabad). Dhingra’s elder brother Dr. Kundan Lal Dhingra has referred him to Curzon Wylie in London, where he went for Engineering studies and whom he shot dead and got executed on 17th August 1909. One of his brother Dr. Behari Lal Dhingra was Prime Minister of Jind State and was notorious for his atrocities. His son Dr. Baldoon Dhingra became English Professor and writer at Lahore, whose daughter Leena Dhingra became director-actress and who wrote about Madan Lal, whose name was banned in the family. Kaki Rani, Kundan Lal, Mohan LL, Behari Lal, Chaman Lal, Chuni Lal, Madan Lal, Bhajan Lal. Chuni Lal died young in ship sinking. All were either doctors and barristers. Sahiwal ancestral property was gifted to daughter by Ditta Mal of 10 Bigha fertile land and a kothi. Book has good references to books. Rajni Palm Dutt’s introduction is also there, he was Swedish Prime Minister Olofe Palme’s cousin, as his mother was Swedish, on whose name he had his second name. Indu Lal Yajnik’s book on Shyam ji Krishan Verma’s efernce is also included. The book has seven chapters-ist is on background political conditions of the times, second is on Dhingra family details and Dhingra birth refered as on 18th February, but now confirmed 18th September. Chaman Lal was married to Keshab Chander Sen’s grand daughter. Dhingra revoled did labour in Bombay and drove Tonga also, went to London, returned , went again in 1906 and stayed till end there. Joined India house set up by Krishan Verma, came close to Savarkar, who tested him by sharp edged cutter into his hand. Dhingra joined revolutionary activites and shot dead Curzon Wylie on 1st July 1909, but was hanged after a short trial on 17th August of same year. His court statement was published in Daily News due to Savarkar’s efforts, made him famous. He was buried in Pentonvile prison, but his remains were brought to India on 13th December 1976, when Udham Singh’s remains were brought. Good book.
- Aapa Var Amar Shahid Madan Lal Dhingra(Punjabi), Achhar Singh Kharlveer/Kulwinder Singh Sohal, 1st ed. 2009, Lok Likhri Sabha UK publication, pages 152, price 2/Pound-Essays and Poetry collection
Preface to the book has been written by Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hal General secretary Naunihal Singh. Book has five articles, 1st by Bhagat Singh, second by Gurbux Singh Banoana, third by Harish Mlhotra, 4th and 5th essay are in English by Radha D’ Souza and Leena Dhingra, grand niece of ML Dhingra, daughter of Baldoon Dhingra. Dhingra wanted to shoot Lord Curzon and once came close to it. In second part 35 poets and fifty plus poems have been collected, which are rather poor. Radha D’ Souza’as article-How to remember Dhingra is also not very impressive. It is martyrdom centenary tribute to Dhingra by UK Punjabi writers.
- Tryst with Martyrdom:Trial of Madan Lal Dhingra, Malwinderjit Singh Waraich/Kuldip Puri, Unistar publisher Chandigarh, 2003 ed. Pages156, price Rupees 195/
This book’s material was provided by Giani Kesar Singh to the editors, though Gianiji’s introduction and last chapter from his autobiography is part of the book. Book has three chapters-The Genesis, The Trial and The Perspective. Ist two chapters are contributed by Waraich and last one by Kuldip Puri, son in law of Principal Sujan Singh from Pol. Sc. Dept. of Panjab University Chandigarh. Waraich has given general background and trial details with newspaper coverings, but Puri has analysed the act and its impact. On the whole good book. Trial has been farcial, but Dhingra got praise for his stoic refusal to accept court authority and he welcomed the execution sentence, he did not hire a lawyer, his family hired only to watch and not defend. Dhingra statement exposed British colonial regime’s exploitation of India.
- London De Shaheed(Punjabi), Joginer Shamsher, Is ted. 1992, Ravi Sahit Prakashan Amritsar, pages 104, price 50/ rupees
This is one of better books on Dhingra and Udham Singh’s sacrifice in London. Writer has focused on fact based history as he perceives history to be. Book has reference to famous Indian Communist Rajni Palm Dutt, who lived mostly in London and whose book India Today is still considered a classic. Rajni was nicknamed as Raji and his mother was Swedish writer Palm and Swedish Premier Olof Palm was his cousin! Writer’s reference to Rajni makes his ideological position clear of left orientation. In introduction writer also refers to Banke Dyal singing his song Pagdi Sambhal Jatta on 21-22 March 1907 peasant conference in Lyallpur.
Book is divided into seven chapters. First chapter is focused on contemporary movements of 1925’s. Second chapter focuses upon preliminary conditions of Indian freedom struggle. Third chapter brings to light Maharashtra’s freedom struggle towards the end of nineteenth century. In Fourth chapter writer comes to the main theme of Curzon Wylie killing in London by Madan Lal Dhingra, inspired by Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishan Verma. In fifth chapter writer presents Punjab lieutenant Governor Dangile Ibbotson report on peasant conditions in Punjab. Sixth chapter is devoted to Michael O’Dwyer’s killing by Udham Singh in Caxton Hall of London. O’Dywer was Punjab’s Lieutenent Governor during 1913-1919. Lord Zetland was Bengal Governor during 1917-22 and Secretary of State for India from 1935 onwards. They came to address meeting in this hall on 13th March 1940. Butcher of Amritsar General Dyer had already died of multiple sickness in 1927. Lord Lamington was also there. Udham Singh wanted to kill both Zetking and O’Dywer, but only O’Dwyer was killed. Udham Singh observed 42 days hunger strike inside jail following his ideal Bhagat Singh. Seventh chapter is focused on Udham Si ngh in 1940. All leaders condemned Udham Singh-Lala Ramsarandas, Sunder Singh Majithia, Sir Chhotu Ram, Hridainath Kunjru, Dewan Chaman Lal, Kapurthla king Jagjit Singh, Hari Singh Gour etc. Only German radio supported him by saying-The Cry of tormented people spoke with shots. To conclude writer reproduced Udham Singh’s one letter to Jahal Singh. Eighth chapter is focused upon the rationale of O’Dwyer killing by Udham Singh. Book has been written with right perspective.
27.Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra evam Shaheed Udham Singh(Hindi), Pandit Satyanarain Sharma, Sakshi Prakashan Delhi, is ted. 2012, pages 182, price 85/ rupees.
Writer is retired lecturer and has written more with imagination than with facts. Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh have been shown thick friends and meeting often. Chuhar Ram-Narani-parents of Udham imagined to be coming from Patiali village of Etah district in UP. Later became Tehl Singh-Harnam kaur.
Book with no credibility for historic facts.
- Letters of Udham Singh, ed. JS Grewal/Harish Puri, GNDU Amritsar Publication, Ist ed. 1974, pages104, price 25/ rupees
Manohar Singh Gill, IAS officer of that time gave the copy of these letters to Guru Nanak Dev University and University got it edited with introduction from eminent historian Prof. JS Grewal and Political scientist Prof. Harish Puri. There are certain documents in appendix of that book. There are references to Udham Singh staying in Srinagar at Swarn Singh house and reading Tagore’s novel Gora. As Bhagat Singh kept Sarabha picture in his pocket, Udham Singh kept Bhagat Singh picture in pocket. There are 19 documents in the book, which include hand written scanned 7 letters of Udham Singh. One letter wishes to have copy of Quran and another referring to Bhagat Singh as ‘my best friend’. All letters signed as Mohammad Singh Azad only. Complaints of maltreatment in jail are also recorded and wish to have copy of Waris Shah’s Heer for oath taking in court, as he declared him an atheist. References to good books-Piara Singh Data’s ‘Watan De Shaid’ and Suba Singh’s ‘Inqlabi Yodha Udham Singh’ are there. This was a path-breaking book; every later writer has used the letters from this book, without acknowledging.
- Challenge to Imperial Hegemony:The life story of A Great Indian Patriot Udham Singh, Navtej Singh, Punjabi University Patiala publication, ist ed. 1998, pages 320, price 350/rupees
By far this is the best documented book on Udham Singh, many writers of later period just used this book’s documents, which were provided by Udham Singh Trust from UK to Punjabi University Patiala, for the purpose. This book is now available in Punjabi too.
- Bharat di Azadi di Shama da Parwana: Mahan Gadri Inqlabi Shahid Udham Singh(Punjabi), rakesh Kumar, 5aab Prakashan Jalandhar, ist ed. 2013 pages 351, Price 260/rupees
Introduction Amolak Singh
Rakesh Kumar’s book on Udham Singh is media hit these days. Engineer by profession, he comes from Sunam-birthplace of Udham Singh. His writing style in Punjabi is good and readable and presentation of the book is also good, but nothing substantial has been added to what Navtej Singh had presented earlier in 1998 in his Punjabi University publication based on Shaheed Udham Singh Trust UK.
Book has been divided into13 chapters and appendices include Udham Singh’s admission to Central Orphanage Amritsar and some other documentation. Rakesh Kumar has informed in the beginning of the book that Udham Singh diaries of 1939-40 are still not released. He has used revolutionaries like Harbhajan Sohi and Jaimal Padda’s poems in between chapters that has made book popular among their admirers.
- Up from Slavery: an autobiography Booker T Washington, Doudley Page &Co.New York, 1901, pages 123
This autobiography begins with Booker’s recollection of his birth in Franklin County, Virginia, in 1858 or 1859(now established as on April 5,1856) and follows his progress through his education, his establishment of the Tuskegee Institute, and his fame as a speaker who presents the importance of good race relations to as many audiences of both races as he can reach.
Writer has dedicated the volume to his wife Margaret James Washington and brother John M Washington and is divided into 17 chapters, apart from Preface and Introduction. Writer begins his story with-‘A Slave among Slaves and ends with Last Words in 17th chapter.
Writer tells us in Preface that he wrote a series of articles in Outlook magazine dealing with incidents of his life, which have been given book shape. Writer explained that he had narrated incidents in simple and straightforward form. Walter H. Page wrote introduction for the book. At that time USA was divided between North and South. While North had freed slaves, South was still continuing and Black slaves had to struggle hard to attain freedom. Lincoln became hero, because he abolished slavery in Southern states, for which he was assassinated. Washington came from a slave family and worked in his childhood like all other slaves, but he got chance to study and later was sent to Tuskegee for establishing school for the slaves/blacks, which gave him name and fame. Hampton institute gave him chance to study and liberate himself and later he served the humanity and his fellow black people by bringing them education as a means to liberation. Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute earned so much name that US President the time visited and appreciated Washington’s dedicated work.
In first chapter-Slave Among Slaves, Washington describes his early life, being born in a slave family on a plantation in Franklin country Virginia. He is so uncertain about his birth place that he concludes that ‘I must have been born somewhere and at some time’! He describes his birth year as 1858 or 59, which seems to had been 1856 as per later researches! He is neither sure about his ancestors, his mother side relatives suffered during passage from Africa to America. Writer does not know his father’s name, who possibly was a white, but took least interest in his rearing. His mother was a plantation cook. Writer refers to his elder brother John, Sister Amanda and himself as three siblings sleeping on filthy rags laid on dirt floor. He got no schooling, but heard in his childhood about Lincoln’s armies getting success. War between whites and blacks refered and Lincoln as fighting for blacks. Writer’s first shoes in life were of wood, flex wear on body were also torturous. Slaves could buy freedom at almost impossible terms, that some slaves did not wish for freedom. The whole machinery of slavery was to degrade and make feel inferior for blacks. After war was over Emancipation proclamation came.
In second chapter writer narrates the story of his Boyhood Days. Writer had intense desire to study and he learnt reading from his age boys. He had night lessons in reading. He was to work till 9 pm and then reach school for reading, where he was always late. Writer describes numerous difficulties confronting him to move forward on the path to study.
In chapter III-The Struggle for An Education- he describes how he heard about a school for coloreds where one could work in the day and have schooling in night. Booker reached at Hampton and got hired for $5 a day and he worked and studied. In Hampton, he had great characters like General Armstrong, who helped him a lot. Chapter IVth is focussed on ‘Helping others’, writer gets exposed to public speeches through debates etc. in Hampton.Writer refers to Ku-Klux period as the darkest period. Writer throughout worked hard and reached at the height, where US President came to his college to appreciate him. He brings out first school for black students at Tuskegee with sheer hard work and discipline, though with help from well meaning white people occasionally. After establishing school, he marries one teacher there and after few years of her death, marries again. After gaining much name, he goes to Europe for tour and by now he is celebrity everywhere. General Armstrong earns the maximum respect from Washington, whose death he describes in touching words, calling him as ‘ the finest, most unselfish, and most attractive man that I have ever come in contact with’! Most pleasant surprise for writer has been Harvard University’s decision to confer honorary Master of Arts degree on him in 1896, which he received along with telephone inventor Dr. Bell! This was first degree conferred upon a negro by a New England(US) University. President McKinley visited Tuskegee school in 1897. Without even a dollar’s property, Washington in two decades made Tuskegee school worth 23 hundred acres of land, with one thousand under cultivation by students, 66 buildings built with student labour. All students from school have been getting jobs. The school property grew to seven lakh dollars worth, with endowment it comes to 17 lakh dollars at the end of nineteenth century. Beginning from 30 students it grew to 1400 students from 27 states including Africa, Cuba, Jamaica etc. The school had disciplined schedule from 5 am to 9.30 pm, every minute counted. First Negro conference was also organised by Washington here, in 1900, first Negro business league was also organised.
Booker T Washington testifies to the role of education in elevating a oppressed and suppressed community towards freedom, that is what has happened with Negros of the South in US and they attained freedom with struggle. Indian Dalit movement has also been emphasising upon Education with Dr. Ambedkar slogan-Educate, Unite and Agitate. Education is first step towards attaining liberation for any community.
Washington’s autobiography or life falls in the category of Christian piety or Gandhian way of changing society by change of heart. It is like Henry Beecher Stow’s novel-Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But earlier to this autobiography, there had been more radical autobiographies written. But both trends complement each other to understand Black/Negro/race problem in USA and elsewhere. Meanwhile Up From Slavery has its historic significance.
- Narratives of the life of Douglass
Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Anti Slavery Office, Boston, Ist ed. 1845, pages 111, Price not mentioned
This is historic book in the history of human liberation struggle in all ages. Frederick Douglass was a slave himself and lived very hard and harsh life, going through all the tortures of slavery and was able to come out of it only by escaping. Electronic form of book was released on the occasion of Martin Luther King birth anniversary on 15th January 1992. The book was entered in the ‘clerk’s office’ of the district court of Massachusetts as per act of Congress in 1845. As Preface to the book, writer had produced letter from Wendell Phillips. Book is divided into 11 chapters with Appendix and A Parody.
Preface of this narrative is written by Llyod Garrison from Boston on 1st May 1845 who gave an update on anti-slavery movement in USA at that time. He got acquainted with writer of this narrative at one such convention in 1841, whose speech in such conventions were intensely emotional. Douglass experience as slave was not peculiar, people suffered more than him in slave condition. Douglass named all the persons in his slave condition, so the narrative can be contradicted if untrue. Llyod ends his preface with the slogan-No compromise with slavery! No Union with slaveholders!
Narrative also includes letter from Wendell Philips Esq. from Boston, dated 22nd April 1845. Wendell was worried about Douglass safety, when he was narrating his memoirs as there was no place, where a fugitive slave could feel safe. Introduction to Douglass life is given as Fredrick Augustus Washington Bailey was born in slavery, not sure of his birth year or date. He escaped slavery by running out from Baltimore in 1838 at 20 years of age and came to New York, marrying Anna Murray. He changed his name to Frederick Douglass and addressed his first convention against slavery in Massachusetts Anti-slavery society in 1841 at Nantucket and greatly impressed the audience. He was employed as an agent and he wrote his Narrative, published in 1845 and later Bondage and My Freedom published in 1855, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass published in 1881. He died in 1895.
In first chapter Douglass narrates his birth in Tuckahoe in Maryland, no accurate date or year of birth. Mother name was Harriet Bailey, father a white man(Sharan Kumar Limbale-Akkarmashi) separated from mother in infancy. Writer saw mother only 4-5 times in whole life, that too for very short duration in night time. She died almost as a stranger when Douglass was just seven years. Douglass served under two masters-Anthony and Plummer, both held number of slaves, Anthony had thirty. Subletting of slaves, Plummer very cruel. Aunt Huster’s cruel treatment, shrieks from burning her.
In second chapter author gives description of his own sufferings in Talbot country at his master’s place. Colonel Llyod had 3 to four hundred slaves on his plantations. Monthly allowances to slaves were given here. Seven to ten years old children-both girls and boys were seen naked all around. No beds, coarse blankets for slaves. Overseer Severe true to his name was cruel man, whipped women in front of her children, blood running for hours, children crying. He showed fiendish barbarity. Severe died uttering bitter curses, slaves thought it mercy from providence. Successor Hopkins less severe, considered good by slaves. Great House farm of Lloyd. Slaves sung songs. Slaves sing most when most unhappy. Songs sorrows of their heart, aching heart relieved by tears. Crying for joy quite uncommon among slaves.
IIIrd Chapter-Father-son slaves-old Barney and young attended the establishment of Lloyd. Colo. Llyod brook no question, thirty lashes to old Barney on small excuse, all his three sons too took pleasure in whipping slaves. He had thousand slaves and 10 to 15 house servants. Slaves quarrelled among themselves too describe their master’s goodness! Being poor man’s slave was considered disgrace!
- What the Body Remembers, Shauna Baldwin Singh, Rupa&Co, Delhi, 2011 edition, pages 610, price 395/ rupees
This novel was first published by Knopf Canada in 1999 and has won many international awards since then. Novel is dedicated to Amir, Alexander Arjan, Sheila-Anne Jaya, Piya, Ria and Toyah, Anyshka and Pravir, Ameera and Ayesha, perhaps members of Shauna family. The novel won 2000 Commonwealth Writer’s prize for best book for Canada-Caribbean. It has been translated into fifteen languages. Its base story Satya had also won Canadian literary award in 1997. Shauna’s other works include The Tiger Claw, English lessons and other stories, We are not in Pakistan etc. She lives in Milwaukee. Novel has got rave reviews in Washington Post, New York Times, The Times London etc.
Novel begins with Prologue from 1895 of undivided India, but the story of novel begins from 1928 and concludes with an epilogue in 1965, but the story ends in September 1947. Literally, it becomes story of a two decades prior to partition of India. Divided into 8 sections and 41 chapters, novel is perhaps till now best English novel on partition. Earlier novels Train to Pakistan, Azadi etc. had not been such elaborate, chronological, sociological and aesthetic story of the great tragedy, as What the Body Remembers is.
Novel begins from Rawalpindi in 1937 with Satya, the main character of the novel, she is becoming cooler to Roop, the second wife of her husband Sardar..Second section and chapter goes back to 1928-37 story of Pari Darwaza, in Khanewal where Roop was born and brought up by Dipty Bachan Singh along with her sister Madni and brother Jeevan. Their Mama dies, but there are servants in the house to take care. Writer begins every chapter of the novel chronologically and by 1937 brings the issue of Roop’s marriage to fore, as Madani and Jeevan are already married. Sardar Kushal Singh comes with proposal of marriage with his brother-in-law for second marriage as from first marriage with Satya, no child was born. The bridegroom is almost Roop’s father’s age, but he agrees. In October 1937, Roops’ marriage is conducted at Punja Sahib gurdwara in Hasan Abdal, hiding from Satya. There is talk of Mahatma Gandhi, Master Tara Singh freedom movement etc. Third section of novel covers phase of 1937-40
Sardarji is from landlord family with lands in rural area, he got education in England and is now Engineer in British govt. service. When Satya is told of his marriage, she boils, but had to reconcile. Later Roop gives birth to one daughter and one son, which are taken over by Satya and she is not allowed even to feed them. She gives birth to another son, but then, she rebels, goes to her parental house, gets back her children. Satya is forced to live alone; she also rebels and takes revenge by her death, through getting TB from her cousin by kissing her forcefully. Sardar ji becomes chief engineer of Punjab and at partition, time had to leave her lands, but brings the maps of Punjab with him, which Pakistani Punjab officials, his own old colleagues get back their copy by much difficulty. Sardar ji had lands in Khanewal area, one factory too. Larger part of story is in third section; forth section carries the story further of 1941-42. Vth section focuses on 1942, sixth on 1943-44, , seventh on 1945-46 and eighth and last on 1947. The story has historic events as well as partition massacres and other tortures on humankind, but the love triangle of Satya-Sardaji and Roop with its entire feudal ramification is the core of the story.
Novel’s title is interesting, focusing on the body, which contains memory through brain, a physical entity.
Overall, this is one of the best novel in English on partition.
- Such a Long Journey (Itta Lamba Safar) in Hindi translation, Rohinton Mistri, Penguins India
Such a Long Journey takes place in Mumbai, Maharashtra, in the year 1971. The novel’s protagonist is a hard-working bank clerk Gustad Noble, a member of the Parsi community and a devoted family man struggling to keep his wife Dilnavaz, and three children out of poverty. But his family begins to fall apart as his eldest son Sohrab refuses to attend the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology to which he has gained admittance and his youngest daughter, Roshan, falls ill. Other conflicts within the novel involve Gustad’s ongoing interactions with his eccentric neighbours and his relationship with his close friend and co-worker, Dinshawji. Tehmul, a seemingly unimportant and mentally disabled character, is essential in Gustad’s life, as he brings out the tender side of him and represents the innocence of life. A letter that Gustad receives one day from an old friend, Major Bilimoria, slowly draws him into a government deception involving threats, secrecy and large amounts of money. He then, begins the long journey that sheds new light on all aspects of Gustad’s personal and political life. The novel not only follows Gustad’s life, but also India’s political turmoil under the leadership of Indira Gandhi.
Novel was first published in 1991, which is more focused on Nagarwala scandal, who took out sixty lakh rupees from SBI, mimicking Indira Gandhi voice, later who had to pay with his life. Shiv Sena had also come under attack. Writer has used sexual terminology quite unabashedly. Novel was subscribed in BA syllabus of Mumbai University, which was removed forcibly as both Shiv Sena and Congress party joined together to oppose the novel. Rohinton’s next novel A Fine Balance also attracted lot of attention. As a novelist, he is fine, on Parsee life in India, this might be one of the best writing.
Hindi translation of the novel is not up to the mark, could not enjoy much, rather got irritated at places.
- Remembering Socialist China (1949-76), RUPE, Mumbai, 2014, Ist ed., pages 90, price Rupees 50/
Three essays compiled in this important publication by Research Unit for Political Economy, known short as RUPE as part of its periodic publication-Aspects of Indian Economy nos 59&60 is valuable addition to understanding present day China. All three essays have come from China’s own scholars in academics at Chinese or American Universities, who boldly assert the socialist qualities of Mao time China and expose the Dengist fall into Capitalist China. Introduction is by Editor Rajni Desai, who has preferred not to mention her name as editor. The volume has been brought out to mark 65th anniversary of creation of Peoples Republic of China from Tiananmen square on 1st October 1949 by Mao Ze Dong. During Mao’s time also, attempts were made to put socialist revolution in reverse gear from withing Communist party, which prompted Mao to give call for Cultural revolution, which became controversial due to many factors. After the death of Mao on 9th September 1976, the party was captured by anti socialist led by Deng Xiao Peng and full restoration of Capitalism under the rule of Communist party was acjieved in few years. But the difference between Soviet restoration of Capitalism and Chinese restoration is that there is strong resistance in China at every step and these scholars have brought out the facts unknown or suppressed by media. Within China also, patronised by Dengists, academia has tried to project the whole Mao era as a disaster, a long killing spree. But some objective scholars including Indian economist Utsa Patnaik with support of facts have debunked such motivated propaganda of either west or by Chinese present regime.
In first essay Mobo Gao, born in small Chinese village and presently Director of Confucius Institute at Adelaide has focussed on China’s past glory. Title of his essay is-“Why is the Battle for China’s past Relevant to us Today”? He has contrasted poverty but equality of Mao era with affluence but inequality of present era. He has exposed the lies spread in the name of Great leap forward and The Cultural Revolution. Mobo Gao had through his own survey and of official Chinese Global Times survey has established that nearly 80% Chines people see more merits in Mao than demerits. There may be mistakes made in carrying forward the socialist revolution, but there was no betrayal of people as has been done y Deng clique later.
Dongping Han, a known historian, is teaching in US, but with guest Professor at Hebei University in China also. In his essay-‘The Socialist Legacy Underlies the Rise of Today’s China in the World. Dongping Han has contrasted China’s pre revolution situation and advances made during revolutionary period after 1949 socialist revolution made under Mao. Narrating even fom his personal experiences in USA, Dongping has shown that how China regained a sense of dignity as nation after revolution, where as it was treated by westerners like ‘dogs’ before 1949, because it was weak. Dongping has discussed in detail the period of Socialist period of China during 1949-1976 and shown that despite joining Korean war at the very inception of new China, it made land reforms and fulfilled the dream of China’s peasant of ‘land to the tiller’! It led to agricultural cooperation movement and further socialist transformation of Chinese society. Dongping has shown by data that how during 1953-56 Chinese GNP ANNUAL GROWTH WAS 19.6&, unthinkable in so called neo liberal regime of today. Despite being called as disaster, Dongping has also underlined the positive aspects of The Great leap Forward, in which the scholar himself grew up in China. He has bunked the western theories and even debated with his own teachers about the number of deaths in Great leap Forward. Even about Cultural Revolution period Dongping brings out the positive aspects of education reforms, democratization of Chinese society and the growth of agriculture and industry during that period. Han calls the post Mo era as period of regression and highlights the level of corruption in this period. The scholar has exposed the so called ‘development’ model of new Chinese rulers, enamoured to Indian rulers also. As per Dongping this model ‘has been plundering the accomplishments of the Mao led Chinese revolution to get capital for its capitalist development” (Page 70). And his conclusion of this development model is-‘Any reform that only benefits the minority will not succeed, and will lead to self destruction in the end, even if it appears to be going well in the beginning’.
His last words are-‘What is the way ahead for China? A return to socialism is only way out’!(page 70)
The third essay by Hao Qi-‘Distribution and Social Transformation at Tonggang: China’s Workers under Socialism, under ‘Reform’ and Today’-a longish title of case study with contrast of two systems of near past. A doctorate in Economics from Massachusetts Amherst and is teaching at Renmin University. He begins his essay by mentioning massive workers protest by Tonghua steel company when it was privatised by Chinese ‘Communist’ rulers in 2009. The protest was led by some retired workers, who had worked during socialist period(1949-78) and had seen the benefits being snatched from workers by privatisation. Hao Qi shows that how workers were practically made masters of factory during socialist period, housing, education and medical services were all provided by the factory and there was job security. In reform period the workers power was undermined, their wages started stagnating without any increase. Outsourcing to migrant workers was introduced, affecting job security. Ground was prepared for privatization in this period. Inequality if life standards came into existence.
Today the situation is worsening. While in 1980, most of working class was working in state or collective owned enterprises; in 2013 70% of working class is migrant workers from rural areas. During socialist period, workers knew each other and they got organised easily. In post 1980 period, with introduction of outsourcing of work, make workers unknown to each other and thus chances of organising themselves became weaker. However the scholar sees the revival of workers struggles and strength in post 2007 period and he is hopeful of Chinese workers approaching new era of revival of their strength.
All three essays are data based on based on field research, so carry mark of authenticity. These expose the anti communist propaganda and highlight the positive features of socialist era of first three decades of Chinese revolution.
Research Unit for Political Economy, Mumbai has done very good job to bring this enlightening volume and that too at very inexpensive price.
- A Middle Class India?, Aspetcs of India’s Economy, no. 58, RUPE, Mumbai, 2014, pages 72, Price 40/ rupees.
This is an important long essay in six parts and discusses whether India has turned into a middle class society? The essay rather depicts the counter picture of India becoming an authoritarian state by its economic and political policies, though projecting it as growing middle class country. The essay first discusses the sudden interest in India’s middle class, which is considered as ‘engine of growth’, by neo-liberals, which is considered as wishful thinking by the authors. In second chapter The Problem of defining the middle class is discussed. Economic data, income level and consumption levels are discussed for this purpose. Quoting renowned economists, essay underlines the fact that not even 100 million people or 1/20th part of Indian population falls under middle class category and that too, much smaller group is of corporate rich. Third chapter focuses on the reality of ‘Gaping Inequalities’! There is huge gap between the earnings of lowest strata and highest strata. In fourth chapter The reality of Deformed Structure of Employment is analysed. The organised labour has declined from 17 to 12% in 2004-5. Casual or contractual work terms are on the rise than regular or formal. India’s Middle class reality is discussed in final chapter before conclusion. And the shocking fact is that top ten percent of upper Hindu castes spend most money, largest proportion of organised formal jobs are also appropriated by upper caste Hindus. In conclusion the essay sums up certain facts:
- Talk of giant middle class in India is to promote certain ideological agenda, only handful of middle class enters ruling class by rising to the top of bureaucracy.
- Workers political movement may be on the ascent again and the middle class supporting Modi like supporting Hitler in Germany, has really benefitted the big business.
In Appendix consumption data of middle class had been put in perspective.
This is a serious study with data support and demands attention.
- Rupa Bajwa, The Sari Shop (Novel), Penguin Books, 1st ed. 2004, reprint 2014, pages 242, price 299/rupees
This is debut novel of young writer of 28 years at the time of first publication. It received many accolades, including Sahitya Akademi award in year 2006. The novel also won Commonwealth Writers Prize and Grinzane Cavour prize. Novel is dedicated to two loving special men-Sardar Piara Singh and Harvinder Jit Singh Goraya. Novel is divided into two parts of 12 and nine chapters and is based on writer’s own city Amritsar. This was the last book I read in year 2014 by 31st December!
The Sari Shop title could be little deceptive, though it does relate to the action of the novel. But the novel is more a story of ‘dispossessed of the earth’ by focusing on the frivolous life of middle class through the prism of Sari house. Ram Chand is Sari Shop worker, whose father was a petty shopkeeper and who like all lower middle class people wished to see his son study and rise in social status. He put him in a school, where he could learn English and get into upper ladder of society.
Though this is author’s first novel, that too written at quite young age, yet, the grip over craft of novel is like that of a mature writer. Novel begins with Ramchand, a shop worker of Amritsar’s famous Sevak sari house has over slept and has reached shop late to get blasted by shop manager Mahajan. In the process, writer has depicted Amritsar’s cityscape-original walled city, full of bazaars-katras. The owner of shop is Bhimsen Seth, who controls it through his manage Mahajan. Ramchand’s co-workers at shop are-Hari, Gokul, Shyam, Rajesh, the last two were going to marry off their children in each other families. The clientale of Sari house include some regular upper middle class women like-Mrs Sandhu, an engineer’s wife, whose son Manu is preparing for some exam. And is utterly foul mouthed. Mrs. Gupta is wife of some business man.
Ramchand was now 26 years old, born to a shopkeeper father, who wished him to learn English and become ‘big’ man, was getting him good education, when suddenly he died along with his wife in some accident while on some religious place journey. Ramchand’s mother was very caring; she took him to temple-shivalya. . It happened in his early childhood, when he was just six years old, he did not cry. He lived with his grandmother in a village nearby. He was sent back with some distant uncle to Amritsar to be put back to school, after he completed his eighth standard, at the age of fifteen years, Ramchand was put to work in this shop, since then he was working here. His uncle died after four years and his auntie took over their house/shop and pushed Ramchand out. He later realised that they snatched his house/shop from him. He became very quiet and life became a routine while living in a rented room of another shopkeeper, whose wife sometimes fascinated him. Somehow the desire to learn English remained imbedded in him and just one incident at Sari Shop it revived his interest and he started buying English learning books from his meagre salary. He was sent to very rich man Kapor’s house to display Saris for their daughter Rina’s marriage, who was marrying a army man of her own choice and was bit independent and whose marriage ceremony he went to watch and spoke innocent lie that he was invitd by Rina memsahib, who accepted this lie and allowed him to watch. Not even that she even visted him later at sari Shop to see this ‘curious man’!
The second part of novel depicts the tragedy of his shop assistant colleague Chander, who came from nearby semi urban background and had married his village girl Kamla, who was bit educated and had middle class desires. Because of Chander’s drinking and beating habits, she herself develops drinking habit and for neighbourhood turns out to be like ‘monster’, who abuses people.She hits at the houses of Kapoors, who get the Kamla murdered and their house destroyed. Kamla does this as Kapoors had shut down a factory, where Chander was working, without paying any salarydue for months to his workers, which destroyed Chander’s life, who was pushed to penury and compelled to work at much lower level at sari Shop. After this incident, Ramchand had spit on a sari in shop in fron t of these neo-rich people and locked himself up in his rented room for many days without eating and coming out . But his protest wanes out and he returns o Sari Shop and is forgiven by the excuse that he behaved ‘nastily’ due to being drunk, which he never was. They need him more as he was a good worker at lower salary.
The novel may look to be humorous, but actually it is tragic story of the wretched of he earth and exposure of so called neo rich with hegemonic power in their hands. How the police becomes party in killing and destroying Kamla, the poor enraged woman, shows the system’s collaboration with its rich!
The first novel os Rupa Bajwa is worth commending.
There has been minor improvement in 2014 reading than 2013, but not fully satisfactory for me. Most happy year in terms of reading has been year 2011 at Trinidad, when I touched almost 100 figures! This year read many quality books in literature as well as history. In history-Shekhar Bandopadhyaya’s book on freedom struggle, Chauri Chaura by Subhas Kushwaha, VP Menon’s Transfer of Power in India, two RUPE publications on Indian Middle Class and Remembering Socialist China were notable books. Two books on slavery from USA have been good read. This year I started reading on Kindle as well; few important books were read on kindle for free. Pleasant turn was reading literature quite a lot during the year in Hindi, Punjabi and English. Being in Bathinda, read most of Balwant Gargi’s classic plays in Punjabi. For knowing more about Razia Sultana read Mewa Ram’s huge novel in Hindi and Gargi play in Punjabi. Three major English novels I read-Shauna Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers, Rupa Bajwa’s The Sari Shop and Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey in Hindi translation. I was not able to write to my satisfaction on many of these books, except on Chauri Chaura, which became almost viral. I wished to write in more detail on Mewa Das novel ‘Razia Sultan’, Shauna Baldwin’s nove, ‘What the body Remembers’ and Rupa Bajwa’s novel ‘The Sari Shop’, but could not, except making note of my reading of these books. There is a conflict in mind-reading for pleasure or reading for writing? Primarily I wish to stick to my reading for pleasure, particularly of literature, the desire to write makes it conflicting, as writing demands certain discipline and organisation of thought, which is not always possible. Some books are read for writing only, particularly for writing a paper for seminar. My writing on Ajnala’s black well of 1857 also drew good attention in Hindi and English both. Scanned and read many books on Udham Singh and Madan Lal Dhingra for TV channel recording.
On the whole it has been satisfying to read and write in balanced manner during this year.
There has been minor improvement in 2014 reading than 2013, but not fully satisfactory for me. Most happy year in terms of reading has been year 2011 at Trinidad, when I touched almost 100 figure! Three more books I wished to read-1.Bharat mein Angrezi Raj(Two volumes)-Pt. Sunder Lal-classic book on Indian freedom struggle from 1757-1947, 2. Desh Ke Baat(Marathi/Hindi), 3. Desh ki Baat(Hindi)-last two edited by Manager pandey.