August 31, 2006

Validity of Newspapers as Primary Source Material

On Sunday, August 27, 2006, in the Spectrum issue of the Tribune, published from Chandigarh, India, a review by Gobind Thukral on the book titled Myth and Reality of the Sikh Militancy in Punjab by Dr. Joginder Singh has appeared.

I have not read the book under review but the review by Gobind Thukral contains some such observations on the use of the newspaper as the source for writing history of a particular period, which invite attention. The statements are relevant for understanding the role of the newspapers as the source material and on that as primary source.

I am taking out those statements out of context and place them in the following order.

"newspapers mirror society and play their role according to their respective ideological positions. This role could be constructive or destructive and here perceptions of scholars and readers would vary. If one could question the objectivity and motive of newspapers, one could always question the assessment of the scholars."

While using the newspapers as the primary source, in case of the book under review, where the author has used only the newspapers and even confined only to two specific newspaper being published from one place which is also a place of another newspapers like Punjab Kesari, Hind Samachar, Vir Partap etc, the caution given by Gobind Thukral is very important.

The next two statements selected are also very important. They are as follows:
"The interpretation and projection by the media then (the period for which the author of book had used two specific newspapers) by and large suffered from myopia, lack of information and self-interest. While complete objectivity may not be possible, only a section of the media tried to achieve that."

The second statement is :
It is also normal that a large section of the media—newspapers, magazines, radio, television and now the Internet—try to project the part as a whole. Worst, the mass media is no longer purveyor of the complete reality and public sphere journalism in most cases has been replaced by crass commercialism. Objectivity and free press are now more of myths."

And finally, Thukral concludes:
"Were these newspapers busy cooking stories and leading some campaigns or were these simply caught in a pincer between the militants and the state (both acting as tools of terror), which denied them the breathing space to report fairly and accurately? What happened to the other newspapers, big and small, during that period, when militants would come calling and dictated everything at gunpoint, can be ignored at the loss of arriving at fair and credible assessment. The media mediates between the reality and us, as the mediation more and more replaces reality for us. What happens when the media fabricates even a small part of the reality?"

I have not read the book. I can not comment on the central theme of the review. I had talked to a senior professor about the nature of the review. His views were diametrically opposite to the impression which I had developed after reading the review. Hence, I am now confining to that aspect of the review only which is related to the methodology of research in history. No doubt, I have omitted some of the comments of the reviewer on the author’s preference for particular selection as well his arguments to justify his selection as well as the omission of some aspects which could have been considered while using the selective newspapers.

It is not that Professor Joginder Singh is the first person to adopt this methodology for describing a particular period in history for a particular community, a separatist movement and a particular place. The topic, which he has chosen, was taken up by other scholars also and from different countries. They had used other sources also. One of the book which comes to mind is one written by H. Deol for the same period with the similar topic.

There had been many instances which could be mentioned when the scholars went to archives or Raddeewalas (scrap dealers), collected old copies of a particular type of publication, employed compilers and then developed their thesis on the basis of such sources.

One book which also comes to mind is "Social history of India" by K. K. Dutta. In that book, in order to describe the social character of people, the effect of changing times on the society, K. K. Dutta has extensively used the letters to the editors and the editorials of the newspapers in order to describe the change. The book is about the social history of India in nineteenth century.

Similarly some incidences also come to mind wherein the newspaper had played major role to define and decide a particular direction of the events. One event which had come to my mind while reading the review for the first time was the Emm Telegram which was manipulated by Bismarck. It is also an important study to describe that how far the newsprint media was instrumental in becoming the cause of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Similarly, the American Spanish War 1899 is also studied wherein the role of newspapers is taken in determining the start of war. Similarly, there are numerous conspiracy theories which are product of news media. One of the best examples is Watergate Scandal of America.

Anyhow, Thukral’s comments on using newspapers as the primary source for putting up some thesis is definitely of great importance for those who use newspapers and also other available sources in form of Video and Audio records with T. V. Channels as well as the digital forms on internet. It will not be out of place to mention that it will be worthwhile to see that how the reporting on Iraq on internet can be used to describe the event say after fifty years or after five years when America would have closed its operation in Middle East.

It is not any kind of disrespect or negative remark. I desire to mention one thing here. It may be taken with open mind.

There are four professors in Punjab with the same name. They are Joginder Singh Garewal, Joginder Singh Dhanki, Joginder Singh Dhillon and Joginder Singh. All of them have been talking of Modern India and especially about Punjab. All of them have contributed to the subject in a substantial manner. However, if you read them without knowing them, you may develop an impression that they have common ideology of promoting a particular view of Sikh history. They may vary on one or two aspects of interpretation but soon you start feeling that somewhere their objectivity comes under strain while evaluating the sources or picking up the sources to use or taking up of the topic for verification and research.

August 26, 2006

Winner’s Delight

An issue always crops up again and again that why should one blog. The motives, aims and purpose of blogging as well as providing information and sharing it on internet, developing understanding of a topic on community basis open to all wherein rest of the observers keep a discerning eye on what and to what extend you can explain and provide a solution are all such issues which are made redundant by a sleight of hand and declaring that such a pursuit is useless and those who indulge in blogging or making web sites in their field of knowledge are merely wasting the time.

One of a senior teacher in a university in Sweden, David Richardson who writes on Education Forum and use web sites and community blogging as a tool in pursuit of knowledge once even remarked that we are just playing with these tools (the electronic gadgets like computer, audio visual blogs etc.) like a small child. It was not a criticism or some disenchantment. It was said in particular reference but if his statement is taken separately, it gives a different meaning and substantiate the argument of those who are not able to visualize that one aspect of ICT and that is blogging, can be really useful and satisfying experience.

Long back, Miland Brown showed his exuberance when he found a leading history scholar placed his lecture on the web. He had in his comment lamented that such an activity was not taken on a wider scale and the real potential of sharing information and knowledge through the technological advancement in form of Internet remained untapped. He had also commented that the activity of sharing information and knowledge on regular basis had its own reward.

Now if some of bloggers can really rejoice in the happiness of other people when such people achieved a success through sharing of a knowledge with others then they should check the Helping Hand on the site of Kevin M Levin and exhilaration and exuberance of the writer on finding that his work is really making rounds because he is able to reach people through blogging.
Without his permission I am here reproducing some of his comment which are oozing out the happiness the person has received when his research work has earned him that happiness for which no one rewards you but that is reward in itself.

Levin writes "Over the past few months I've had three graduate students contact me to talk about archival sources and my work on William Mahone, the Crater, and postwar Virginia politics and memory."

Then he further exclaims "My position on sharing my ideas and files is very simple: What's Mine Is Yours."

Further, he continues, "I should say that I am both surprised and pleased that my work is beginning to make the rounds. The ego gets a bit of stroking which is fine as long as it remains in check."
These lines are just an expression of happiness which he has felt on happening of sharing.

Then the historian in him comes out with a finest gem in form of explanation on the methodology of research in history. One can write such lines after reading good books. They can be written only after putting into practice the methods learned to undertake the research in history. But such lines do not come out easily. They sprout and then poured out only during an excitement and great emotional wave. The rest of the world receive in its hands a good definition and explanation. He writes, "More importantly, however, the contacts serve as a reminder that doing serious history is a joint venture. In my view all interpretation is incomplete. This does not mean that all interpretation is subjective; I have little patience with post-modernist theory that reduces everything down to the text or some type of pragmatic epistemology. It simply means that what the historian brings to the interpretive table is based on a relatively narrow reading of both primary and secondary sources. Because of this we share rough drafts as a way to bounce ideas off one another and we inquire into the location or availability of various sources. Behind it all - at least in my own case - is the hope that someone will share an interpretation that I've overlooked. … I guess it's some kind of rite of passage. In short, we learn as a community by disagreeing and challenging one another."

Similarly, Bill Turkel has expressed a sense of satisfaction and shared what he has been able to achieve recently with his students. He writes, "The summer is over and the first five digital history interns at Western have completed the projects … ." Bill has given fabulous definition on history in Department activity link which I am going to use in my class an notes.

The above extracts are surfeited with happiness gained through activity on Internet. It shows that how this medium is a revolution in itself and going to change the coming times. People are apprehensive about news changes impending in nano technology field – the new in thing. But herein, they are totally oblivious of a happening that is going to change the coming days. The bloggers are rejoicing in the rewards which they have received through their action. No institution is going to give them any commemoration, recognition and certificate for it. Their work has turned out be a reward in itself. It just shows that what is going to come in future.

August 18, 2006

Conspiracy History in India: Case of Netaji

Well I am not writing about any new finding.

It is a post consisting of some links about Netaji and my views.

In India, it seems that everything is settled about her history. There is never a debate over any issue on the contents that are presented as the history of India. Therefore, there is no controversy about the history of India. If some groups raise the question that the Aryans did not come to India from outside, then the group is branded as taking political mileage out of a non-existing issue or an issue which is already settled. Even the group which raises the question, does not come out with any scientific validation of the claim and ultimately leave the issue as if it is already settled. There are no conspiracy theories in India. In America, JFK assassination case is still being debated as if it has just happened last year. The people are coming out with arguments and evidences in favour of their stand and questioning the government on various aspects which the government can not escape without answering. But in India, there is nothing like that. I am sure, the Americans would be ardently remembering 9/11 even in 2101.

However, many of the issues of Indian History have remained unsettled. One among them is the case of Netaji. The contribution of Netaji was not less than any other freedom fighter. He was the finest and brightest son of the country. However, the countrymen have not treated rightly with his memory. They took decades to confer Bharat Ratan upon him whereas he should have been recognized as the Pride of Nation. In the history books, he is shown as one who opposed Gandhiji and won the election to the post of President of INC. When he found that on opposing Gandhiji, he was not getting the support of the elder Congressmen, he demitted his post and formed a Forward Bloc. Then, later, he left India and headed Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj as it should be rightly called. When the country was passing through a period of great expectations and uncertainty in 1946, the whole nation of undivided India came together for Shahnawaj, Shegal and Dhillon of INA. Only this much is told but rest no body knows.

Zaffar Anjum, a student of AMU, JNU and IIMS Delhi, attended a seminar titled "The Forgotten Army in a World at War: Subhas Chandra Bose’s INA and its Effect on Asia’s Independence" on August 13, 2006 in Singapore. The seminar was organised by Institute of South East Asian Studies. The resource persons were Professor Sugata Bose, Professor A. Mani, P Ramasamy and Mr Prasenjit K Basu. It was also attended by INA veterans Ms. Rasammah Bhupalan, Ms. Janaki Nahappan, and Mr Ajit Kumar Guhatakurta. Zaffar Anjum had presented the life history of Subash Chandra Bose in chronological order like a historian. He might have prepared notes during the seminar or consulted some book but the information provided in his post "Remembering Netaji" is quite exhaustive even if it is brief. He had touched the major events of the life of Netaji. Apart from that he has given a link to a supplement of the Hindustan Times titled The Enigma of Subash Chander Bose. The supplement of the newspaper, The Hindustan Times is quite exhaustive and detailed. There are numerous links which requires exploration. It is a good link for the record.

I reached link through DesiPundit.
Another good link is:
The Enigma of Subash Chander Bose : The Hindustan Times. A Typical Conspiracy Theory discussed in Indian Print Media.

Looking at Indian History through Vellore Revolt

For sometime by now, I have been emphasizing that there is a need to redefine some of the historic concepts as found in the Indian history and more specifically the Colonial India. I have been pleading that there is need to rewrite some of the aspects of the Indian history or in other words some chapters of Indian history. I have given my views in my posts like Need of Rewriting Gandhian Era, then in Quasi Mutiny of 1824 by 47 Native Infantry at Barrackpore and also in Bindee Tiwari. Earlier also, I have given similar views in another post in Colonial Interpretation Requires Revision.

Recently I have come across some posts suggesting the same thing. I have come across a post at Varnam in the post An Independence Day Story. In the post, the author had described the incidence of the Mutiny of the Vellore in year 1806. He had described in detail the incidence and finally gave his conclusions also. He wrote, "In fact this was not the first revolt. On the eve of Buxar (1763), the company’s Indian Sepoys refused order and were horribly executed by Hector Munro. Also during the during the Burmese (1824), Sindh, and Punjab war (1840-49), sepoys staged mutinies when denied compensation for the loss of caste while serving overseas." This had been borrowed from "The First Mutiny, India: a history by John Keary" by the aforesaid blogger.

On the other hand, R. C. Majumdar, in British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance_Part I, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan Bombay, Third Edition, 1988, had written that Vellore Mutiny was one of the most serious mutiny having similarity to the Mutiny of 1857. In the same book he had finally concluded that the 1857 was not the first war of independence. In his arguments he had referred to the all such cases which he had traced since 1740 while tracing the genesis of "Discontent and Disaffection" among the civilian and military people of India in the chapter 13 of above mentioned book.

The blogger at Varnam had also concluded that it was a result of Vellore Mutiny that the British administration had started recruiting from Bihar, Bengal and United Provinces. He had also pointed out that the flogging as a punishment was also stopped. But these conclusions are not correct. In his book, Forty One Years in India by Frederick Sleigh Roberts, it is mentioned that the flogging was still practiced during the second Afghan War as a punishment. The book by Robert is available on Guttbenberg site at the link Frederick Sleigh Roberts. Similarly, the issue of avoiding interference in customs and traditions of sepoys was adopted as a policy by Board of Directors of the East India Company. It was the Secretary of State of Board of Control which was influencing the working of the governor generals in India. It have tried to bring out this aspect in two of my posts written in Hindi on this blog itself.

Varnam blogger who had written the post on Vellore Mutiny had borrowed the links from Instant Kaapi at the First Mutiny. Therein another issue had been touched upon. Karunanidhi of DMK had taken the issue of giving the right place to Vellore Mutiny in history text books. But such issues when taken up by politicians always acquire a different hue. Similarly BJP had also tried to touch this issue. They had even brought into the Text Book by NCERT that 1857 was even spread to South India also. But the Communist historians strongly contended and gave it a political touch to this issue.

I here speak as a student of history. I am not affiliated to any political party as such. The issue is not that which party want to project which aspect of Indian history in what form. The issue is that there is need of rewriting of Indian history in post 1947 period. There is need to visit the original sources once again and seek afresh the data and details about India as it had emerged during the Modern Period.

The link on Varnam has been traced through DesiPundit.

August 16, 2006

Opinion Makers of British Colonial India

On the site of the Center of the South Asian Studies of University of Cambridge, which also forms the part of the British Library, a log of the microfilms of Newspapers of Colonial India is given.

I have made an extract of the data given there on the Newspaper of the Colonial India. It is reproduced below with some modification.

If one tries to just survey the data, numerous fascinating things emerge. It also raises many questions for further research.

I make some observation on the basis of the following data.

1. The Tribune, which is presently published from Chandigarh, was earlier published from Lahore. In the list of the Cambridge University, it is shown as Tribune, but the one which is published from Chandigarh is called The Tribune. I hope that it is the same paper.

2. Milap, another important newspaper of colonial India, in Urdu, was earlier published from Delhi. It was later published from Jalandhar.

3. Lahore and Delhi were the major publishing centres before partition. But later, Jalandhar emerged as the Publishing centre.

4. Three papers, Kesari, Khalsa Advocate and Khalsa Samachar were published from Amritsar. These were the papers which were in the forefront of the rise of Akali Movement and also the formation of Akali Dal, a regional party of Punjab.

5. In case of Kesari Newspaper, the place of publication has been shown as Kesari, which it seems, is the wrong entry. I do not think that there is any place called Kesari in Maharshatra. If it is so, then I have to check it.

6. There are more numbers of English newspapers. It raises the question that whether all of them were viable publication or not. Some of them like Hindu, Times of India and Hindustan Times have continued up to present day.

7. The library has a copy of the one of the oldest paper namely Calcutta Gazette dated back to 1792.

8. There are nearly 24 titles from nineteenth century. It is other thing, that the library does not have any copy of nineteenth century Amrit Bazar Patrika. Why is so?

9. There are copies of Poona Sarvajanik Sabha also which was in forefront of social reform movement in Bombay Presidency. I do not know whether the organization published any newspaper. It may be probably the souvenirs of Poona Sarvajanik Sabha.

10. Yogaksheman in Hindi was published from Trichur, a non-Hindi area.

11. Nizam Vijay, a Marathi publication was issued from Hyderabad.

12. Indian Nation, in English was published from Patna. Whereas, most of the publication of Bengal Presidency were published from Kolkatta.

13. Indian Hindustan was published from San Francisco, the only paper in the list which was published from outside British India.

14. The publications in Urdu being published from Delhi and Kolkatta were more in number than what was published from Lahore.

15. As mentioned in point 6, another issue rises. It will be of interest to investigate that what was the actual number of readership of English paper. In most of the cases, the time period of publication belongs to same time band. There are nearly 129 publications. It suggests that there was a huge readership. Some of the papers like Hindu and Amrit Bazar Patrika were quite radical in their editorials. It suggests that these paper can be studied for ascertaining the public opinion of that time band.

Any how, the list has attracted me. I have kept it in record for a long time. I have not been able to make any further breakthrough about the outline editions or articles on such papers. I have reproduced the list below. I hope that those engaged in South Asian Studies and Colonial Period studies, will definitely find it interesting data.

Titles of South Asian Newspapers

Serial No.TitlePlace of publicationLanguageDetails of holdings
4Akashvani LahoreHindi1922-23
5Al BalaghCalcuttaUrdu1915-16
6Al HilalCalcuttaUrdu1912-17
7Aligarh Institute GazetteAligarhUrdu
and English
9Amrita Bazar PatrikaCalcuttaEnglish1905-42
10Andhra PatrikaMadrasTelugu1914-30, 1932-40
12Arya MusafirLahoreUrdu1898-1915,
13Bangladesh ObserverDhakaEnglish1987,
14Benares RecorderBenaresEnglish1846-47
15Bharat DharmaKashiHindi1924
16Bharat JiwanBanarasHindi1884-1911
17Bharat WeeklyAllahabadHindi1928-30
18Bombay ChronicleBombayEnglish1913-59
19Bombay SentinelBombayEnglish1934-59
21Calcutta GazetteCalcuttaEnglish1792-93
22Calcutta SamacharCalcuttaHindi1914-25
25Congress SocialistBombayEnglish1934-38
27Deccan TimesMadrasEnglish1945-49
30Din Bandhu1893-1912
31Din Mitra1910-18,
32Dnyan PrakashPuneMarathi1914-50
34Eastern TimesLahoreEnglish1942-48
35Economic WeeklyBombayEnglish1949-50
37Forward (New Forward/Liberty)CalcuttaEnglish1923-29,
39Gujarat Mitra
& Gujarat Darpan
43Hindi PradipaAllahabadEnglish1877-1908
45Hindu OutlookNew DelhiEnglish1938-61
46Hindu SansarDelhiHindi1925-30
47Hindustan TimesNew DelhiEnglish1924-51, 1978,
50IndependentAllahabadEnglishFeb. 1919
- Dec. 1921
51Independent HindustanSan FranciscoEnglish1920-21
52Independent IndiaBombayEnglish1937-49
53Indian Election
- Manifesto Collection
54Indian MirrorCalcuttaEnglishJan. 1880,
May 1880,
Oct. 1880,
July 1881,
Jan 1882,
Sept, 1882,
Jan. 1883,
March 1883,
May 1883,
Jan. 1884
55Indian NationPatnaEnglish1931-35
56Indian National Herald
and Sunday Edition
57Indian OpinionEnglish1903-1914
58Indian PeopleAllahabadEnglish1903-09
59Indian Social ReformerBombayEnglish1908-49
60Indian SpectatorBombayEnglish1883-1901
61Indu PrakashBombayMarathi-English1883-95
64Janata WeeklyNew Delhi1946-80
71Khalsa AdvocateAmritsarEnglish1903-30
72Khalsa SamacharAmritsarPunjabi1899-1930
74Krishna PatrikaMachilipatnamTelugu1902-44
75Lahore ChronicleLahoreEnglish1858-59
77Madras Mail,
The Mail
and Weekly Mail
80Marwari AgarwalCalcuttaHindi1921-25
81Marx PanthiCalcuttaBengali1934
82Marxist MiscellanyBombayEnglish1945-46
86Morning News, DaccaDaccaEnglish1968-71
88National FrontBombayEnglish1938-40
89National HeraldLucknowEnglish1938-50
90Native OpinionBombayMarathi-English1867-89
92New AgeDelhiEnglish1936-39,
93New IndiaMadrasEnglish1914-28
94Nizam VijayHyderabadMarathi1921-39
95Pakistan TimesLahoreEnglish1950-51
96Pakistani Newspapers Selected IssuesEnglish1970-71
97PanjabeeLahoreEnglish3 Oct. 1904
- 28 Dec 1907;
1 July 1909
- 30 Dec. 1909
98The PeopleLahoreEnglish1925-29, 1931-34
99People's AgeBombayEnglish1945-48
100People's WarBombayEnglish1944-45
101Poona Sarvajnik SabhaPoonaEnglish1878-95
102Rangoon GazetteRangoonEnglish1901,
106Sapru Correspondence
109Servant of IndiaPuneEnglish1918-23
110Servant of India Society (Reports)PuneEnglish1905-79
111Servants of the People SocietyEnglish
112Sholapur SamacharSholapur1929-39
114Statesman WeeklyCalcuttaEnglish1979
115Subodh PatrikaBombayMarathi-English1899-1940
118Times of IndiaBombayEnglish1878-79,
120Varad SamacharAkolaMarathi1868-1898,
122Vijay MarathaPoona1921-31
123Workers WeeklyBombayEnglish1930
124Working People's DailyRangoonEnglish1969
126Yogaksheman (Weekly)TrichurHindi1935-37
127Young IndiaAhmedabadEnglish1919-31

The original list can be accessed here.

Later Edited Inclusion dated August 18, 2006:
There are nearly nine publications from Madras or Madras Presidency Area. There are only two publications in Telugu in the list. I have another post on the publication in Telugu which may be of interest to research scholars. It is about V. Ramaswamy Sastrulu which had been taken from a site of Telugu enthusiast. However it has changed its format since my last visit. Fortunately, the blogger administrator has retained the original article under the title "He Left His Imprint on Telugu Printing".

August 13, 2006

Need of Rewriting the Gandhian Era


Prof. Khanna has tired to tackle some of the major questions concerning Indian history in his article Mohammad Ali Jinnah which remain unanswered to this day. He has adopted a contextual theme to present his view on the basis of secondary sources. However, I am here, trying to emphasis a different dimension which also has relevance for Indian History and its teaching in India. Prof. Khanna has raised the following questions and tried to answer them in a befitting manner.

The questoins which he had tried to answer are as follows:
What were the factors that within three years of the elections he openly announced the two nation theory, and made the formation of a separate State as the goal of the Muslim League.
a. Did the failure in the elections forced him to think otherwise?
b. Did the British rulers influence over him for this goal?
c. Was the short-sightedness of the Congress leadership responsible for Jinnah turning his path from a nationalist leader to a communal and separatist leader?
d. Had he become a puppet in the hands of the communal Muslim leadership?

One of the major theses he has given is that the electoral politics had laid the ground for a game plan for Jinnah and Muslim League. He has tried to bring out this thesis on the basis of figures on the election results. The election result of 1937 has always remained a major research point for the Indian historians and those who tried to study the history of India. On this issue, Prof. Khanna had touched the right chord but did not elaborate much on it. However, he has reached a conclusion. He writes, " Thus the League, after its failure in the 1937 elections had decided to wear the communal garb and it clicked." I modify it. I say that Jinnah wore the garb of communal politics after the failure in the 1937 elections and it clicked.

The second question is more pertinent and sensitive. It asks about the responsibility of Congress itself in inducing repulsion among the Muslim electorates against the policies of Congress and finally gave credence to Muslim League’s ‘Two Nation Theory’. Now, the Congress critics may grimace and Congressmen would yearn to twist the neck of Prof. Khanna. But there is truth in the elucidation given by the author. In Tara Chand version of history, the working of Congress government had been eulogised. But it never satisfies a researcher who tries to seek exact reports of the policies adopted and works done by Congress. Jwahar Lal Nehru might have given glowing account in his ‘Discovery of India’ of the exuberance of the common man visiting the offices of ministers held by Indians, but the question remains that whether it had also turned away another section from those offices wherein the ministers with Gandhi caps and Khadi were holding their darbars. The second point which the author has taken is the alliances of parties which was planned for United Province. Congress had betrayed Muslim League at that point when they did not go for allied rule at that time. It just reminds us about the recent alliance with NCP in Maharashtra wherein encouraged by election result it has forced the NCP to give away CM seat to Congress and also the failure of BJP when it became overconfident of itself before 2004 elections and broke away with Chauthala INLD party in Harayana and Karunnidhi DMK in Tamil Nadu. No doubt, Prof. Khanna has made a pointed remark that "it had a disastrous impact on the future course of history."

The apologist for Congress decisions may give numerous arguments in favour of 1937 decisions. Somewhere, by loosing Jinnah, the Congress lost the case of united India. If they try to stretch their argument too far then only one conclusion can be reached. They had lost the united India by saving India for the Hindus. This theory has never come up in case of Congress but it had definitely came up for the Muslim League. Muslim League thus obtained the slogan that they were saving Pakistan for the Muslims.

The third issue of the role of British rulers in using the rift between League and Congress for the benefit of the war efforts of allies is also very important. They issued August Declaration that "no constitution should be enacted by His Majesty’s Government and the Parliament without the consent and approval of Muslim India." It gave courage to Muslim league to follow up their Yaum-i-Nijat with Pakistan declaration. Somewhere, a feeling emerges that Congress did the wrong thing by demitting the office at that juncture. It gave grounds for manipulation for the British administration. They tried to play with both Gandhi and Jinnah and they succeeded in their game. All the talks of Cripps Mission, his returning back, Quit India movement, Wavell, Rajgopalacharia formula etc do not appeal to reasoning. They all emerge as justification for the Congress activities and nothing else. The fact was that Britain got the chance to play ‘Divide and Rule’ policy with vengeance and their main task at that time was to checkmate fascist forces in the interest of their own nation and Allies. It is a mere issue of debate whether there was any stuff in demand for Pakistan. Was the Muslim League really serious about it? The fact remains that Congress lost Jinnah and the ground realities and contemporary situation helped the British government to play Jinnah and Gandhi against each other for their own safeguards. The events which took place after 1945, just adopted a natural course of happenings. The die was cast well in 1937. The transformation of Jinnah from nationalist to separatist can be an issue and debate for the Indians but as for Pakistan, he became the saviour. One may discuss it in either of the way. One may debate that Jinnah was against communal politics but later became a separatist. One may say that he was always in favour of Muslim dominated rule and forced Congress to bend to his whims which the latter refused to oblige. But the fact remains somewhere, in 1930s, it was a loss to India when the Congress lost Jinnah. Now, when Congress lost Jinnha, it can say that Jinnah was not a secularist but the history tells something else.

However, Prof. Khanna has left one question incomplete. The question is Had he become a puppet in the hands of the communal Muslim leadership? He has tried to answer it to some extent but it would have been better had he studied it separately.


Now the article of Prof. Khanna has another dimension also. He is a teacher of history for the last 22 years. I am teaching history at undergraduate and postgraduate level for the last 16 years. As per the course of Punjab University Chandigarh, we get the opportunity to teach history of Modern India. Therein, we teach the period from 1919 to 1947 in detail. This portion of Indian history is also an inseparable part of All India Civil Services examination. It forms an important part of General Studies Paper I in Mains. It is quite crucial for the aspirants of Civil Services.

However, we never teach the Jinnah story in our classes. In Indian history, we term 1919 period onwards as Gandhi Era. Some of the major headings for elaboration are Philosophy of Satyagraha, Gandhi’s Earlier Satyagraha’s in India, Rowlatt Act, Jallianwala Bagh tragedy, Khilafat movement wherein we never point out that it did not have the support of Jinnah, Non-Cooperation Movement, Nagpur Session and Working Committee of Congress, Chaurichaura Incidence and Gandhi’s Declaration from Bardoli, Constructive Programmes of Gandhiji, Activities of Swarajist Party and Gandhi view on participation in electoral politics at that stage, Simon Commission, Nehru Report and for the first time we bring Jinnah through his Fourteen Demands, Lahore Session and Puran Swaraj Resolution, Second Civil Disobedience Movement and Dandi March, Gandhi-Irwin Pact and Round Table Conference wherein we do not refer that Jinnah participated only in the first Round Table Conference, Communal Award, Poona Pact, rise of Socialists in Congress, rise of Dalit movement, Freedom Struggle in Princely States and view of Gandhiji, in between we also discuss Armed revolt or revolutionary movements different from Congress political activities and thus we reach 1937, that crucial year when the course of the history of India changed.

From there onwards, we try to trace activities upto Quit India Movement. For this, we discuss Government of India Act 1935, Provincial Elections and formation of Congress ministry wherein we avoid discussing the process of forming ministries in United Province and Bengal Province, Faizpur Session and peasants demand, then the Second World War and the reason of Congress Demitting the office wherein in we make special mention of separatist activity of Muslim League when they declared their Pakistan resolution, then the Cripps Mission and finally the Quit India movement.

After Quit India Movement, the debate always remains confined to Gandhi politics and Jinnah’s adamant stances on demands from the British rule vis-i-vis Muslims. With the discussion of Cabinet Mission plan, the discussion includes the role of Muslim League, their arm twisting techniques for constitutional assembly and interim government, their direct action day and finally the Mountbatten Plan. At this stage, there remains a full stress on the Congress activity and as teachers we fear that some student may not ask some uncomfortable question concerning the actual reason of accepting the partition of India.

Now in light of the article by Prof. Khanna, it may be apparent to some knowledgeable people that there is need to cover the story of Jinnah along with the freedom struggle under the Congress. It will not bring down the significance of the role of Congress but on the other hand, emphasis its contribution. Similarly, the role of Revolutionaries as well communist should also be made part of the general history of Modern India. They are completely missing.

Nowhere, it is being desired and suggested here that there Congress committed a fault. History does not pass judgement like that. It tries to study the things as it happened. The problems arises when under some wrong notion, some facts are hidden. It never helps. Rather, it damages one or the other groups. In the present geo-political situation, there is a need to reframe the contours as being taught in Modern Indian history.


Finally, I direct the attention to the bibliography which Prof. Khanna has given. His has pointed out the citation from various secondary sources. I consider it an important feature. During my course of developing of this blog, I have been concentrating on the dependable write ups as available on the net. There is need that whosoever writes on history, he must follow the rule of history. The Blogger must mention or cite the source from where he is deriving his argument. With the digitization of sources, it has become easy now. It is acquiring a practical shape. Some teachers, like William J. Turkel, who are equally comfortable with Information and Communication technology, are developing good models which will be mainstay of such academic activities on internet. The people who have some objection against activities like Wikipedia should try to evaluate the activity of Prof. R. K. Khanna. They should look at the manner, as the academic article should be presented.

I also hope, that those, who have this objection and they are right in raising that objection, that there are no good articles and source materials on net for Indian history, will find it useful.

August 10, 2006

Domesday Book

Domesday Book is the first public record of England which was got prepared by William the conqueror in 1085.

I am making a note here because I have surveyed the history of Europe from Lower Middle Ages. In India, the pre-Renaissance period of Europe is generally taught as the Dark Ages. However, from various references I had come to a conclusion that it was not the right interpretation. On the other hand, I found that many changes in the intellectual field which were showed as the causes of the Renaissance or defined as Renaissance itself, had taken place quite earlier in the Middle Ages. I had collected some references to the literary work of that period. I had also made a post "Was Middle Ages in Europe a Dark Age?". My conclusion was confirmed when I shared my opinion on H-Net. Frank Conlon was kind enough to introduce me to another expert on European history. From there, I learned that the European researchers as well American historians had already reached that conclusion. Since then, I am always in look out for examples wherein I try to collect such references where some major administrative work, or literary work or some scientific development had taken before the Renaissance period. In other words, I try to check that how the civilization developed in Middle Ages in the field of literature, science, and cultural sphere. No doubt, I am bit hindered by limitation of knowing only one European language that is English.

It is not that I am interested in European history as such. In India, we try to depict Gupta period as a Golden Age. But after that, there was gradual decline in the cultural, social and intellectual sphere in India. I always fear that some intelligent student may ask that if India had reached a zenith of intellectual and technological achievement in the works of Aryabhatta, Charak, Sudrak, and intellectual field in works of Kalidasa, Vishakhadatta, Samhita of Yakvalkya, Narad, Vishnu etc, then it did not keep that pace of development of civilization. Why was there a general decline? Is it true that any advance in intellectual field does not assure continuos development? Therein, I have learned that somewhere we are interpreting our history wrongly. On the other hand, India was always in forefront of economic development during the Middle Ages of Europe. It was because of this attraction that people like Ghazni to Babur invaded India. It is now nicely elaborated in ‘India and World Civilization’ by D. P. Singhal. I believe that there was regular march of civilization in Europe, Asia and Africa (North Coast) towards progress. There is need to study and rewrite the history of this period. It is this interest and endeavour that had made me to make a note of this book here. (I am deriving a lot from the postings of Miland Brown.)

Now here is another example from England wherein it is showed that the Europe was not that uncivilized and the kings had the plans and ideas of undertaking the administrative work. There is no need to emphasize the exclusive place to Englightened Monarchs like Louis XIV and Ferdinand II.

Reference: National Archives of UK
Alecto Publications
Domesday Post on World History Blog

August 07, 2006

Prof. R. K. Khanna

R. K. Khanna is presently the Head of the Department of the Post Graduate Department of History, D. A. V. College, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India, affliated to Punjab University, Chandigarh. His full name is Rajneesh Kumar Khanna. He is in teaching profession for the last 22 years. He is author of five major text books which cover the History of India for +1 level, History of Punjab, History of Ancient India, History of Mughal India and History of Modern India. He is M. Phil from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He did his post graduation from D. A. V. College, Jalandhar. His dissertation at M. Phil level is on Mohammad Ali Jinnah under the guidance of Prof Indu Banga, presently professor in Punjab University, Chandigarh. He has been guided in his books by illustrious academician and historian Dr. Satish Kapoor, presently with Layalpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar. He had attended numerous conference and is a regular participant in Punjab History Conference, organised by Punjabi University, Patiala, India, every year.

He is son of an illustrious journalist, Sh. S. D. Khanna. Sh. S. D. Khanna is presently a News Editor of Hind Samachar, an Urdu daily being published from Jalandhar more famous for Punjab Kesari. Hind Samachar is one of those leading Urdu dailies of India which had emerged along with the Freedom Struggle of India. His younger brother, Satish Khanna is also in journalism, and presently working with a leading Hindi daily. He is a resident of Jalandhar.

I have introduced him to academic blogging in month of June 2005. He was impressed by this medium but it required lot of persuasion by me that he had now taken this actively seriously. As a result, the outcome is before you. He is now active and had come out with number of substantial write-ups. I have won a co-worker. Somewhere, I have fulfilled my commitment with John Simkin of Education Forum who has asked me about Indian Teachers writing blogs. Now here is one Indian gem before you.

Some of the recent posts published by him are as follows:
1. Was Mohammad Tughlaq Really a Fool?
2. Uprising in 1857
3. Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
He has also brought out on the cyberspace an article written by his father who is a M. A. in Urdu and with a standing of 45 years in journalism. The article is Allama Iqbal : The Poet and Philosopher.

In coming days, I will comment on the above mentioned articles. Somewhere, his ‘Idea of History’ is similar to one held by me. I have been talking about re-writing of Indian history. I have now a supportive argument in the article Mohammed Ali Jinnah by Khanna. I have raised this issue in one of my article, Why was Gandhi not given Nobel Prize?

Similarly, in his article "Was Mohammed Tughlaq Really a Fool", he had raised some issues on methodology in history, historiography of India and issue of interpretation in Indian history.

Now, I have some one to respond to who will write about Indian perception of sources on history, interpretation and constraints on historian in India and methodology in history.

Kajari Teej (कजरी तीज)

Bharatendu Harishchandra had pointed out three main origins of the Raga Kajari.
1. The people of Central India invented the Raga Kajari, when they were overwhelmed by the grief of the sudden death their famous and popular King Dadurai followed by death of Queen Nagamati, who performed the custom of Sati.
2. The dense and sylvan forest of the kingdom of King Dadurai of Central India was called Kajali. The people had sung the pleasant beauty of the deep forest and the songs were named as Kajali. Later the word Kajali metamorphosed into the word Kajari.
3. The third origin of the word Kajari is the Teej of July August Monsoon season. The festival falls on the third day of full moon. On this day, the Kajari Songs are sung and therefore, Madhursravani is also called Kajari Teej.

As per another view, the origin of Kajari is identified with blackish shades of the clouds which rises during the Monsoon before raining down in the month of August.

The Kajari Teej is more famous in Central India covering Madhya Pardesh and Uttar Pardesh. No doubt, the Kajari of Mirzapur and Varanasi (Benaras) is part of folk heritage of India. In central India, Kajari Teej is associated with Kajari Songs and Swings. Both the swing and the Kajari songs are so much identified each other that during Janamashtami, even God Krishna in his Child incarnation, is shown on swing accompanied by Kajari songs.

It is pertinent to note that the Kajari Songs have to facets. Some of the songs exults the happiness of union with ones own lover and life partner. On the other hand, there are enough songs in this categories which depicts the pangs of separation and denial of union with the lover in the month of rainy season when there is greenery all around and even birds mate and enjoy the rain.

There are numerous other shades in Kajari Songs. The Songs include the historic references, social, economic, religious, spiritual and cultural heritage of India. Even the poets like Surdasa had written songs on the line of Kajari Songs.

The Kajari songs are mainly built around God Krishna. The Teej however, is based upon the mythological story of Shiva Purana and the union of Paravati and Shiva after a long separation.

कजरी तीज
Abhivyakti - An Online Hindi Magazine

The above posting is basically an extract of a Hindi article "Jhula Lagal Kadam ki Dari" written by Bhagwati Prasad Diwedi. He has given excerpt of some folk songs of Kajari category. The article is a part of an online Hindi Magazine Abhivyakti.

August 04, 2006

Teej Festival

Teej Festival is mainly a festival of Indian women, both married and unmarried. It is festival of swings, bangles, dance, sweet dishes prepared by parents for their daughters, receiving and buying gifts in from of bridal clothes, bangles and indulgence in joy and happiness.

There are three Teej festivals in a year. These three Teej festivals are Haryali Teej, Kajari Teej and Hartalika Teej. In Haryali Teej, Moon is worshipped. In Kajari Teej, the whole community worships the Neem tree in which women sign songs in praise of Paravati and Lord Shiva. The pooja on this occasion is done with milk, curd and flowers. The toughest festival for women is Hartalika Teej. In this Teej, the fast is kept for three days. On the second day, not even water is taken for the whole day. This festival is equated to Karvachauth, another festival of married women in India.

Main Customs and Rituals:
The married women visit their parent’s house. The parents give gifts to the women and wish a fruitful and successful married life. The married women pray to Paravati and Lord Shiva. The Paravati idol is decked with new clothes. She is worshipped and prayed for giving long life to their husbands. The unmarried women pray for the prospective husbands. The newly engaged women (In India, arranged marriage, or Brahma Vivaha is considered the right marriage out of the eight form of marriages) receive gifts from their future in-laws and married women of their own family. The women apply henna and Mehndi on their hands and feet and sign folk songs accompanied with vigorous folk dances and playing on swings. They tie swings from a Vat tree and singsongs in praise of goddess Parvati, dance vigorously and wish for the long married life. In Rajasthan, the women perform Ghumar dance as an essential ritual.

Another important ritual is to worship Nyagrodha tree (Ficus Bengalensis) or Vat Vrikhsha. The tree is considered symbol of knowledge. The Vat tree is with its hanging branches is considered auspicious and origin of the city Baroda in Vidharbha region of Gujarat.

The main ceremony is to keep fast at the parent’s home by the married women. They go for shopping and receive bridal clothes from the parents and in-laws. They tie swings from Vat Brikhsa and dance and sing songs. In evening, they receive Baya (a pious food as a gift and present considered highly auspicious) from their parents. They gather at one place. They establish an idol of Paravati or visit Shiva Parvati temple. They propitiate Mata Parvati. They then break their fast with Baya received from parents and in-laws and then bust in dance making it a festival of joy and dance.

The Teej festival, especially Haryalli Teej is celebrated on the third days of Shravan month (July August generally identified with arrival of monsoon in India). The festival is more popular in Rajasthan and among the Rajput women. As many of the Jat families of Punjab have their origin in Rajput families since the days of Guru Har Rai, therefore, it is also popular among the Jat women of Punjab. The festival is equally popular in Maharashtra, Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pardesh, Harayana and Madhya Pardesh. It is also a very popular festival in Nepal where Pashupatinath is the propitiated during the festival. In Nepal also it is mainly a festival of women. The Teej of rainy season is more popular. It has variation from place to place and state to state. In Haryana, it is celebrated on arrival of monsoon when an insect "Teej" appears near the trees. In Rajasthan, it is mainly popular for buying season and dance of Ghumar with ghagra decked with shinning bits by the Rajasthani women. In Uttar Pardesh and Maharashtra, it is mainly popular for the sweets which are made during this occasion.

The mythology Reference – Historic perspective:
According to Hindu Mythology, it is a festival which celebrate the union of Mother Paravati with Lord Shiva. As per the mythology, Parvati, the daughter of Parvat, the king of Himalaya, reached the house of her husband on 3rd day of Saravan or Shukla Tritiya of Saravan that is third day of full moon (Rainy season, Shukal Paksha) after completing a long penance of one hundred years during which even Lord Shiva had also went into a deep meditation. It was during such separation, that Lord Shiva appeared in his incarnation of Lord Hanuman as per the Shiva Purana. On the day, Mata Parvati again united with Lord Shiva after a long period of separation. Therefore, it is also known as Madhursravani. Hence, it is considered an occasion for unmarried women to sing song and wish for an ideal husband. The married women thus wish long lasting union with their husbands. It is considered highly auspicious and essential that the women receive fresh bridal dress from their parents. The Songs are considered as symbol of future happiness. The swings are symbols of serenity and noble life of perfect union.

National Efforts on Teej:
Indra Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) had used Teej of Shukla Tritiya of Saravan or Haryali Teej as day for organising seminar for Folk heritage and art in association with JNU and Jamia Milia Islamia in year 2002. The scholars sat together, shared their research and planned for future research in field of folk heritage and art.

Teej on Wikipedia

Rajasthan Travel Guide

Surf India

Harayana Online (non-official)

Welcome Pal


Ibbetson, Caste and Tribes of Punjab, Vol 1. (Kindly note, that reference to this source in above articles is mainly based on my personal notes during college days. At that time, I was not all that trained to maintain the right references.)

Manasullas, Thirteen century dictionary. (Kindly note, that reference to this source in above articles is mainly based on my personal notes during college days. At that time, I was not all that trained to maintain the right references.)

Shiva Purana, Gita Press, Haridwar.

Manu Samriti and Yakvalkya Smriti.
Kindly check Kajari Teej for more details.

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