September 16, 2007

The Indra Gandhi National Centre for the Arts - IGNCA

The site says:
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) was established in 1987 as an autonomous institution under the Department of Culture, and envisioned as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts. ‘The Arts’ as a wide spectrum, encompassing subjects from archaeology to dance and anthropology to the photographic art, enveloping them in a complementary and non-demarcated vision. In its functioning, the IGNCA has met its mandate and continues to work in this direction."

It is stated on the site that it has six functional units viz Kalanidhi, Kalakosa, Janapada Sampada, Kaladarsana, Cultural Informatics Lab, and Sutradhara. Apart from that, there is Digital Library in addition to Kalanidhi which is also library sources. Further, there is a link to Newsletter which in itself is storehouse of culture and heritage of India. One can find many reports on different festivals, rites and folk’s faith practices.

The site also has given links to some saleable items which are about the heritage and cultural activities of India. Then there are resources for learning Hindi. It contains links to additional sites.

I am exploring this site from time to time. I have found that it is one such online source on India which can be explored by the researchers interested in South Asian history. It contradicts my repeated groaning that there are very few and restricted online resources on internet. That is other thing, that while giving links to other sources, it has given links to the online activities of other countries, a thing which should have taken place in India also.

I hope those interested in research in South Asian History will not be disappointed as they would get many leads as well raw data ready for processing for their different questions.

September 08, 2007

Indian Academy of Sciences: A Part of Indian Heritage

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Indian Academy of Sciences was founded by Noble Prize winner in Physics Dr. C. V. Raman in year 1934. As a student of history, I find the years 1922 to 1936 as a period of heightened Indian Nationalism. I understand that some of the scholars would frown at my comment. The years from 1922 to 1928 is generally identified as the years of subdued activities by the Indian National Congress. However, I have found that if you adopt only that angle to study the Indian period of nationalism, then you do injustice to the Bhartiyata. This was the period, which the people of Subaltern group had tried to study for tribal movements. Secondly, it was the period of ‘organized revolutionary’ movement well represented by Hindustan Socialist Revolutionary Party identified with people by Chander Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh etc. No doubt, those who adopted this period (1919 to 1947) as Gandhian Era, they rather identify it as the period of heightened communalism. Anyhow, here I am just making post to emphasis the availability of the website of Indian Academy of Sciences. The rest of the issues which I have touched upon, are the main themes on which I have discussed on this blog upto this day. May be, whereas I have called my blog as discussing the philosophy and methodology of History, HNN blog Cleopatra has included it in the list of Regional History.

Coming back to the site of Indian Academy of Sciences, it introduces itself as

"The Academy, founded in 1934, aims at promoting the progress and upholding the cause of science in pure and applied branches. Major activities include publication of scientific journals and special volumes, organizing meetings of the Fellowship and discussions on important topics, recognizing scientific talent, improvement of science education and taking up other issues of concern to the scientific community."

Further, it is not only for this, it is being mentioned here. It is mentioned here, as it is been said on the site itself that:

"The Academy's journals are 'open access' and full text is available as PDF files on each journal's website. See the Publications page for links to the journals and other Academy publications (including the newsletter Patrika, annual reports, and documents)."

No doubt, the open sources available on the site are related to General Science, however, the Current Sciences Journal has many articles related to Indian research scenario, education policy and such related issues.

September 06, 2007

Hungary and History of Science

History of Science is among the latest and well founded stream of history. I am not much conversant with the topics of the history of science. I know only this much that in the university syllabus there is one paper by that name. Secondly, I am made to prepare notes for the development of medicine, art and music for the social history paper which I have not developed even to my own satisfaction. It is other thing, that most of the training in history is in the field of the political history which is not being relegated to second place by established historians in post modernistic period. However, being the student of student or field of knowledge, if you come to learn about a new thing or development in the field of your own interest then you are bound to become attentive when you are laying the fundamental basis of learning that new stream. (No doubt, I am now more involved in learning about digital history. Should it be called digitization of history or hacking of history sources?)

Recently, I came across a new fact, (new at least for me) that how Hungary holds an important place in the development and history of science. For me, Hungary was always read as Austro Hungarian Empire. If any thing had to be said about it, then it was Habsburg family, their relation with other royal families of Europe and extend of their properties in different parts of Europe. In case of Hungary, the only thing which was learnt was that in the middle of nineteenth century, they took place a revolt for separate identity for this region.

Kindly read on the following facts given by Mr. Akshay Kumar and Ms. Seema Goswami in one of the course material of Indra Gandhi Open University, New Delhi.

" … some of the twentieth century most exceptional scientists and mathematicians – Theodor von Karman, George de Hevesy, Michael Polanyi, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, John von Newmann, Edward Teller, Fejer, Haar, Riesz, Koing, Rado etc came from Hungary."

Further, the reason of such effloresce was the tradition of tradition of competition at high school graduate level. The main role was played by one competition named Eotvos Competition organised in honour of a physicist Baron Lorand Eotvos.

The second important institution instrumental in development of mathematicians in Hungary was "Journal" a mathematics problem magazine edited by Laszlo Racz.

Well, it is only this much for Hungary in the history of science. I was just overwhelmed by this fact while making some searches on the net for the names given above, I was just flabbergasted to learn that there is so much to learn about this field. All these facts, though they belong to different field of knowledge but it definitely form the part of historic evaluation wherein one tries to study the activity to man on the basis of the records. It had raised so many question about the actual definition of sources in the field of history.

I am writing down whatsoever is coming to my mind on the issue of the actual nature of the sources in history and the field of study in history but here I have only squeeze out a assemblage or rather an assortment of words which I hope will convey to the one who is interest in pure history the nature of inquiry in the field of history as well as history of science.

Just to wind up without reaching a conclusion, I was earlier highly impressed by the achievement of Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo and Raphel who belonged to Florence (They were raised there and patronized there though they were born at different places.) in one country. However, I now find that it is not one place or Grecian or Roman lineage which is impressive but there are other places and institutions at different places which had added to the chapters of the achievement of humanity.

September 04, 2007

Seeking History for Understanding Present

"Seeking History for Understanding Present" is what a teacher of the philosophy of history while explaining the aim of the history would tell his students while teaching his/her class.

Well, here, I would not this unexplainable proposition. It is matter of the premises and submit from where you evaluate the sources of history.

I am here is reference to one of the post titled "Sources on 1857" posted on November 16, 2006. It was a result of a set of emails on H-Asia List and in a way a remix of articles which had appeared elsewhere. However, it received very good response. Various websites even made comment on it and gave the post a link on their site. It had also received and still receiving regular visits which I learn from the site meter installed in the site. It has also received three very relevant comments. One of the comment was by a blogger Sachin who has not made his blog public. His comment was titled "How to read 1857 today: The Relevance of 1857." As he has denied visit to his site, I am not able to confirm about his identity. However, a large part of his exposition is in line with the historic facts and interpretation.

Apropos, now, I intend to comment on the contents of the comment of Sachin. Here I am just reproducing the comment as a separate post. There are two reasons behind it. Firstly, the comment by Sachin is too long in itself. Now if I add my views on his comments, the post will become too long. It will not sustain the casual reader. Secondly I believe that it may attract the attention of Sachin and he may like to come back again or at least contact me.

Hence, Firstly read through the comment of Sachin. I would like to add, that it can be useful for students or general public to carve out a speech out of his article. This comment is also available in the comment section of the above mentioned post.

How to read 1857 today: The Relevance of 1857 a comment by Sachin

2007 is the 150 anniversary of India’s First War of Independence and there is a flurry of activities on this issue. Several seminars and discussion panels are being organized and papers being presented on 1857, recorded as a turning point in Indian history. For most of the work being done on 1857, the underlying theme appears to be biased or limited in their scope and readings. Some, written by Eurocentric/British historians describe 1857 as a "Sepoy Mutiny" while those of the "Swadeshi and feudal mindset" tend to overplay the role of the feudal princely estates and "Rajwadas". Their heroes such as Jhansi ki Rani and Tatia Tope are often represented as front line heroes of 1857, such perceptions have been perpetuated by pop-history readings through sources such as "Amar Chitra Katha". Other wrong representations have been made by over playing the issue of greased cartridges, religion, caste and creed. The term, "National Rebellion" was used for the first time in the British Parliament debates where the attempts by the ruling parties to underplay the uprising as a simple "mutiny" were contested by the opposition parties, who wanted the rebellion to be put down with the severest possible means.
Though the exact events of 1857 are important to understand, it is even more important to contextualize 1857 in today's India. Right across different ruling class parties there has been a serious attempt to water down the relevance of the 1857 uprising, both in terms of its scope and relevance to our present times. The CPI (M) oriented camp of historians have even gone to absurd lengths to force down their own concepts of modern political thought by insisting that 1857 contained within it the idea of "Nation State". Nevertheless, all the ruling class parties seem to converge on one point that, 1857 was an anti imperialist struggle which was successfully concluded in the 1947 Independence of India.
The primary point of the thesis being outlined is that 1857 was definitely an anti-imperialist struggle, but its tasks have not been completed as yet, since 1947 was only a formal Independence and India is still in the grip of neo-colonialism and its policies are still being dictated by the imperialist powers and its agents. These current economic, social and political policies can clearly find their roots in the brutal suppression of the 1857 and the rise to power a class of Indians who aided the British in ruling India till 1947 and continue to aid and assist foreign imperialist interests even today.
In the first place: 1857 was largest ever armed uprising in the British colonial empire, and the impact of the uprising was such that it shook the foundations of the empire.1857 was a peasant rebellion, the underlying cause was the increasing land settlement laws being introduced by the British. In earlier times, before the British implemented the idea of land settlement; land was an inalienable right and the zamindar, feudal lords and the king had only rights over revenue collection. By introducing the principle of "Eminent Domain" the British had in one stroke reversed centuries of security over land tenure granted to the peasant. The principle of "eminent domain" declares the "ownership" of all land to reside in the crown, thereby allowing the eviction of rightful owners from their land, with only the need to pay due compensation. The growing insecurity of the peasantry over the probable loss of land quickly engulfed the regions of North India and even bringing the sepoys into the fray. Since the sepoys employed by the British army were peasants, they could directly relate to the issue of growing insecurity over land rights and took up the cause for armed resistance. In the second place: it was only after the initial success of the peasantry and the sepoys that the feudal estates such as Jhansi came into play, for most of the feudal estates, it was a struggle against the increasing strangle hold of the British and to retain their dominion and their alignment with the peasantry was taken after due thought and consideration. They assumed that the whole of British India would rebel successfully and after kicking the British out, they would continue to rule. These feudal estates did not enter the fight with any sense of any progressive values which would have led to the emancipation of the toiling peasantry. In the third place and most the important point, is to be able to understand and place 1857 within the context of our current era. There is little point in us celebrating 1857, if it does not carry some relevance for us today. The most important lesson that we can get from readings on 1857 is the "institutionalization of traitors". Traitors have always been the part and parcel of history, be it Jai Chand or Mir Jaffer, but eventually they get relegated to a foot note of history. It is only after 1857, we can clearly find, that those who sided with the British in defeating the Indians were felicitated, given appointments in administration, business contracts, judiciary, land, zamindari, princely tutelages, "Rai Sahib Titles, provided secure residences (the concept of "civil lines" came up only after 1857). The lesson to be learnt is that it is this class of traitors, who first of all took sides with the British in defeating our people, also took over as the rulers of India in 1947 and continue to rule over us even today. We can even directly trace numerous families such as the Scindias and many other "Maharajas" who continue to rule India today. All such families who claim the title "Maharaja" were those who either continued to sit quietly on the sidelines during the war or they actively supported the British in quelling the rebellion and for that favour, were bestowed with numerous privileges by the British. Not one among these traitors of the feudal brigade have had the courage to speak up against their ancestors or retune the land and estates bestowed upon them by the British. It is their tacit support of the imperialist powers that have ensured their retention in the current political arena even today. It is this class and their obvious alignment towards propagating and protecting the interest of western economy and politics, which has ensured that agents of foreign capital such as World Bank continue to dominate the political and economic agendas of our country. It is this class of traitors who enabled the British to rule over India for the next 90 years till 1947 and then were left to rule as British colonial agents till today. It is these very same families who continue to rule as Shaheed Bhagat Singh called them, "The Black British" (Kaale Angrez).
If we see the economic, social and political policies of our current times we can see that they favour the developed and nations at the cost of the Indian polity. In each and every point of intervention, whether it is the support for multi national corporations to find India a point of cheap labor, or the development of SEZs (tax and customs duty free zones), or recent shameful statements by Man Mohan Singh in Oxford, where he praised colonial rule over India! Is our PM blind or illiterate that he does not know about the devastation of Indian business and economy by British colonialism? The problem is not in incorrect assessment of the ills of the colonial rules, the point to note is that this class of people have aligned themselves with the ruling class interests of the developed nations and not with the toiling Indians.
Lets take a small case to explain: It is India's open door iron ore export policy which is enabling Mittals and TATAs to buy European steel mills. Since European mines are now almost depleted and will soon lead to a closure of the steel mills in Europe their mills are up for grabs. The terms of sale inset on the buyer showing a guaranteed supply of iron ore. So TATA and the Mittals have bought Corus and Arcelor, with the assurance given by the Indian government that they will be given captive mines for exporting ores in Orissa!! Great news, first the Europeans colonized us and raped us and our economy, now that their economy is facing a meltdown, here comes the native cavalry to their support. How are all these insane policies being implemented? Why must Delhi never be cleaned for its citizens, but more than 300000 slum dwellings be demolished for beautifying Delhi for the 2010 Common Wealth Games, it is a shame and a blot on the nation's people.
Traveling down U.P., Bihar, M.P., Haryana, A.P. and almost any other corner of India one has to only see the manner in which the policemen treat the "poorer natives" of this country, exactly as they did during the British Colonial era, the same goes for the administration and the Judiciary. It is quite common to see the police hanging working class people upside down and beating the soles of their feet, false encounters, custodial rape and deaths, false cases being framed.. These remnants of the Raj still continue and are being perpetuated by the same class of people who traditionally sided with the stronger side and oppressed the weak. An oppressive and arrogant administrative machinery acts as a very effective tool in suppression any form of dissent which directly affects their economic stakes and greed for more profits.

It is only in reading 1857 and contextualizing it within the current ills that plague India, that we can clearly see that the roots of this oppressive and anti-people administration, development policies and continuing poverty, lie within our current ruling classes who learnt to fear the strong and oppress the weak in 1857. It is only then, will we be able to understand the struggles in Kalinganagar, Nandigram, Sigur, Barnala, Gurgaon, Amritar, Narmada basin, Pen Tehsil, Telangana, Bajhera Khurd, where the peasantry is still fighting to complete the unfinished tasks of the martyrs of 1857.

Sources on 1857
Comment of Sachin in the Comment section of Sources on 1857 in fourth part.

H-Asia of H-NET

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