December 10, 2008

Dinesh Kannambadi on Wikipedia

Dinesh Kannambadi is an Electronic Engineer by profession. He has interest in history and contributed to the wikipedia articles on Kannada and Karanataka History or to be more specific Hoysala, Vijayanagar Empire and Later Chalukya (Kalyani or Western Chalukyas). His interest is in architecture of the temples of Karnataka.

He does not belong to group called historians. However, I am just wondering that how he has been able to develop historic thinking on cultural aspect and then placed in the right words. I am still reading his discussions and articles on Wikipedia. There sheer depth of some of the works has made me to make this noting in form of the post. I intendly marking that he can be accessed at

October 25, 2008

Alberuni on Indian Historic Thinking and Historiography

“The Hindus do not pay much attention to the historical order of things; they are very caeless in relating the chronological succession of things, and when they are pressed for information and are a loss not knowing what to say, they invariable take to tale-telling”. Alberuni (As described in Sachau, Alberunis India, Vol. II, P. 10 and quoted in Rama Shankar Tripathi, History of Ancient India, 1992, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi.)

Motive of above Reference:
I found the need of quoting the above statement of Alberuni many a time while discussing Indian historiography and historic thinking in India. Somehow, I did not get hold of this quotation. I presently do not remember that if I had made any effort to locate the above quotation on internet but, I did not find this quotation whenever I found the need of quoting it. I have read R. S. Tripathi during my college days but I did not remember that it was written. Recently I came across a copy of it and located this above quotation in the very first chapter.

I believe, those who are interested in Indian history may be equally interested in the quotation. Secondly, it is one of the purpose of this blog to collect such quotations which have need for those engaged in the craft of history writing and teaching. I also aim at identifying some highly significant sentences written by established scholars and bringing it on this blog. Therefore, I am writing this quotation here in a form of a post.

It is mere a quotation. However, the scholars know the great significance in field of history of India and Orientalist studies.

External Reference:

  • Abu Rayhan Biruni

  • (Here you can access the book by Dr. Edward C. Sachau Vol. I)
  • One Check Books Google here

  • A Side Talk
    (I have a funny story revolving around this quotation concerning the thesis of one of a scholar. Unfortunately that is not meant for this blog.)

    October 08, 2008

    Captain Indra Passes Away

    On October 6, 2008, Captain Indra Rani Jhansi Regiment of INF alias Laxmi Panda had passed away. With her, the tragic aspect of Indian History and history writing have been fixed for its one sided emphasis.

    Laxmi Panda was denied her dues till the end. The tragic story was that she was not given her dues because of red tapism. She was denied her dues because she did not have any jail record.

    With her demise, the conspiracy theory and Indian history re-writing case has become more strong. One can not deny the place of eminence given to those people who had remained with non-violent Gandhian course of struggle for independence. However, it is wrong to deny the place to those struggles which had been undertaken with the same spirit with which satyagrahis had exerted. But alas, History is mistress of the power that matters.

    However, it was the present Honourable President Pratibha Patil, who helped her to get her dues. But alas, she had suffered much by that time and did not learn even that her status had been restored. After Jalianwala Baugh episode, wherein, a local deputy commissioner failed to understand the real nature of the contributions of such freedom fighters, it is the second case which has come to light. These cases emphasis that India needs to re-examine its historiography and records. Presently when the country is again engulfed in communal mind set, there is need to find a common glue which only a right course of history writing can provide.

    The Hindu

    September 29, 2008

    Who was Indra of Subash Chandar Bose?

    The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Nation

    Laxmi Panda was a member of Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj. She was named Indra by Netaji.

    It is better to remember the name of one's own father because that is required to claim the right of ancestral property. What is the need of remembering History? History is the mistress of politics. Do we remember Netaji?

    September 23, 2008

    Kumrahar Palibothra, Patliputra, Patna

    Urbanization is an important subject in itself. In making of history of any region, country and social group, the urbanization and its process determine the contours of the development effecting every aspect of the life of inhabitants.

    Similarly, to know the history in right order is as important as making of a nation and its existence. This statement may not be comprehensible to many people and nor it is going to be further dilated upon here. However, there is need to emphasis that there are some cities which are more important for remembering the history and heritage of ones own country than remembering and establishing the title of the property papers of your plots in which you have indulgently invested your hard earned or luck earned money. One of such city is Kumrahar and Rajgriha.

    It is Kumrahar, from where the very political identity of India as a nation has started emerging. That is other thing, many scholars will object to this statement because there is a group of scholars who believe that the very concept nation is nineteenth century concept and in India, the India as a nation started emerging only after 1870. There is need of debating on Euro-Centric and Euro-Defined and Euro-Oriented paradigm and I am ready to debate on what I have said here. This very Kumrahar then became the Patliputra of Ajatsatru, then of Sungas, Dhana Nanda, Vishnu Gupta and finally of Chandragupta Maurya. It was the same Patliputra, which was Palibothra of Sandrocotus in the Indica of Magasthense as referred to in the writing of Strabo. It is the same Pataliputra which later became the Patna.

    In a news item of Times of India, it is being announced that the Bihar Government is about to bring out a book titled ‘Patna: A Monumental History’. It is coming out at a time when Bihar is suffering from the curse of Kosi. Any how, some of the extracts of the news item is reproduced below.

    “Patna is pioneer among selected towns of India having run horse-drawn trams as urban mode of transport.”

    “Now trams run only in Kolkata.”

    “The founder of Kolkata Job Charnock spent more than a decade as the chief of Patna factory before founding the city of Kolkata in 1699 AD by integrating three adjoining villages — Sutanati, Kolikata and Govindpur.”

    “The present day Patna Saheb is the oldest station of Patna. Its name changed several times, starting from Begampur, to Patna, to Patna City and now Patna Saheb.”

    “The Danapur railway station, just outside Khagaul, later became the headquarters of the then `Company of East Indian Railway Volunteers.”

    It is a reposting of the post which has already appeared at History in News.

    September 20, 2008

    A Glimpse at the Inaugration of the Supreme Court of India Building

    Dr. Rajendra Prasad, H.E. the President of India, Hon'ble Shri S.R. Das, Chief Justice of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Vice-President of India, Shri Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, Speaker, Lok Sabha and Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India on the occasion of inauguration of the Supreme Court of India Building - August 4, 1958

    Source and Acknowledgement:
    Photo Gallery as shown on the Website of Supreme Court of India. Kindly note that this site is quite useful for the research scholars who undertake research on the judiciary, supreme court judgements and jurisprudence.

    September 09, 2008

    Russell, R. V. : The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India

    Shiva Temple

    The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India by R. V. Russell is now available on Gutenberg Project from the last year.

    It was one of the book coveted by me. I have read one volume by Ibbetson but when I reached this Volume, I developeKanvariasd some conflict with the library people. I did not return to the library. Since then, I was just repenting my decision. Now, along with J. Mills Book (that book is yet not available on Gutenberg Project but readily available from different sources), I have two books which I will read thoroughly.

    The book was published in 1916. The project of such surveys had started by 1881 when the first Census of India was published. This book has been highly criticized by the nationalist historians. There is some valid arguments which Upnayan Yajna by Arya Samajisthey have used. By mere survey of the bibliography, it can be seen, that it was mere a work of civil servant. The very diction while discussing various castes, tribes, clans of different states, one can observe that the writer is giving mere opinion.

    Further, it is only after 1920, that nationalist historians started writing about India. They started with criticism of the contents of the history. There was no serious research as such. There were many reasons for that. Even today we find that new titles are published in which totally untouched sources are used. However, the proximity of the time of publication of this book and the emergence of Nationalist HistoriographyShiv Devotees at Panchmari of Modern India, makes it an important book. One should remember that the Discovery of India, the books by Bhandarkar, R. K. Mokerjee, and later J. N. Sarkar, et al came later.

    In addition to that I have plucked out some photographs. The photographs in itself are a treat to the eyes. In the hand of a research scholars, they can be very good source especially, the upanayan yagyana photograph by Arya Samajis whom Russell had treated with supportive terms.

    August 31, 2008

    24 Books online: Courtesy of the UK

    British Council Library India has nearly 2500 books on India. According to the website of the British Council Library in India, they possess some rare books on India. Those books were published from the 17th century to 1947. Out of that collection, the Library has displayed 24 complete books (The news section claim that it has displayed 25 books.) in pdf. format.

    Some of the major authors and titles are listed below.

    Joseph Davey Cunningham: A History of the Sikhs. 1849

    Andrew H.L. Fraser: Among Indian rajahs and ryots: a civil servents recollections and impressions of thirty-seven years of work and sport in the Central Provinces and Bengal, 1911

    Edward Balfour: Cyclopaedia of India 1885

    Sir William Jones and others: Dissertations and miscellaneous pieces relating to the history and antiquities; the arts, sciences and literature of Asia - Vol.1 1792

    Joseph Dalton Hooker: Himalayan journals; or, notes of a naturalist in Bengal, the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas, the Khasia mountains etc. - Vol.1, 1854

    Dosabhai Framji Karaka: History of Parsis; including their manners, customs, religion and present position, 1884

    There are in this manner twenty four titles available online.
    It is further reported that it is a pilot project. If the readers will respond, then they may bring more books from their collection online. The email for the feed back is

    August 29, 2008

    Controversies of Historiography of Indian Subcontinent from 1960 to 1970s

    To a Question that what does Marxist History actually mean, Dr. Upinder Singh had given an elaboration to Malvika Singh. It had been published in Tehelka of Tarun J Tejpal, Vol 5, issue 33, Saturday, August 23, 2008, New Delhi.

    According Dr. Upinder Singh, “Well, I think there is a lot of diversity within what we describe as Marxist historiography. Marxist history writing of the 1960s and 1970s was truly path braking. It brought in an important focus on economic and social processes. It brought in marginalised and subordinated social groups. It brought in a focus on agrarian relations, class structure, forms of labour. At the same time, it is important to recognise that Marxist historiography, especially in forms in which it percolated down into classrooms and public consciousness, also did have major problems. One of the limitations was the fact that religion, for instance, was generally treated as something that was a reflection of existing social and political power relations and certainly the aesthetic dimensions of the past were not given the kind of treatment they deserved. When an ideology, - any ideology - becomes dominant, deeply entrenched in research and education institutions, and is given state patronage, it can become a major obstacle to fresh creative thinking. I think without disagreement and dissent there can be no progress in any discipline. It is also important to look at other strong ideological positions that exist in our times. You have right-wing interpretation of the past, which are constantly trying to impose a very monolithic view of Indian culture on us and are very intolerant of anyone who thinks differently.”

    The above definition is complete in itself to some extent. However, Dr. Upinder, a teacher of Ancient History at Delhi University India, has obliquely referred to some controversies. The readers would be able to develop good picture of Indian Historiography in post independence India by referring to another statement made by S. Gopal, another established historian and son of Honourable President of India, S. Radhakrishanan. Dr. Upinder Singh is daughter of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The statement of S. Gopal is given at the following link.
    The Fear of History.

    Further, an obituary by K. N. Pannikar, another established historian, which contains reference to debates of 1960s and 1970s plays another dimension and it can be accessed at the following link.
    A Great Historian

    Source: TEHELKA, VOL 5, ISSUE 33, AUGUST 23, 2008, TEHELKA

    Frontline, Volume 19 - Issue 09, Apr. 27 - May 12, 2002, India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU

    Seminar 221, January 1978

    August 28, 2008

    Indian history on UK school syllabus-UK-World-The Times of India

    Indian history on UK school syllabus-UK-World-The Times of India

    It is reported that from September 2008, the student of secondary education in Britain learn that there was not something good about British Empire.

    Kevin Brennan, the children's minister, said: "Although we may be ashamed to admit it, the slave trade is an integral part of British history. It is inextricably linked to trade, colonisation, industrialisation and the British Empire".

    Apart from that, it learns that how did British occupy India.

    It will deal with questions like, "How was it that, by 1900, Britain controlled nearly a quarter of the world?"

    No doubt, one of the definition of history that it is a collective consciouness and consciousness sometimes leads to some realizations also.

    Gender Studies Deserve a Fair Deal

    Manveen Sandhu is the author of Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Personalitas Extraordinaire. While doing research on the book, she learnt about the significance of Moran in the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. She had gathered so much information on her, that according to Aruti Nayar, if someone refers to her, then Manveen narrates numerous episodes on Moran and can talk on and on.
    Manveen Sandhu herself remarked, “The character of Moran played hide and seek with me while I was researching my book on the maharaja.”

    Moran, The Mystery Woman, which had appeared in The Spectrum, dated August 24, 2008, is based on a narrative by Manveen Sandhu and as listened by Aruti Nayar, is mainly a report on the incidences related to Moran.

    The gender studies is now an important subject in history. However, one of the major hurdle related to gender studies is the scarcity of the sources. Geraldin Forbes, who had written Women in Modern India had referred to this problem in emphatic words. She had also pointed out in one of her interview that when she was about to start her research, she was discouraged by others by directing her attention to the scarcity of sources. Then, she had demonstrated in the book itself that how she had overcome that shortcoming. She was able to collect material on Tarabai, mother of Raja Rammohan Rai, from the writings of Raja Rammohan Rai and episode related to mother son relations. In the above mentioned report also, something similar has been reported. The female characters play hide and seek in the available sources. It is for the scholar to hold their hand and pull them out in open. Hence, this report is made a part of noting on this blog.

    It is reposting of the similar post which appears on History in News, an associated blog.

    August 27, 2008

    Harneet's Definition of Pre-Hisory and Proto-History

    Harneet Singh Kahlon, the author of His-Story at

    Harneet Singh, the author of His-story or Vibrant History has written following definition of Pre-History and Proto-History.
    I am reproducing them here for my definition section.

    Pre history

    The word Prehistory has been formed of two words - Pre (Latin) which means 'before' and Greek word 'historia' which means History. the term is often used to describe the period before written history. Paul Tournal originally coined the term Pré-historique in describing the findings he had made in the caves of southern France. It came into use in French in the 1830s to describe the time before writing, and was introduced into English by Daniel Wilson in 1851.Prehistory can be said to date back to the beginning of the universe itself, although the term is most often used to describe periods when there was life on Earth; dinosaurs can be described as prehistoric animals and cavemen are described as prehistoric people.

    Proto history

    Protohistory refers to a period between prehistory and history, during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing, but other cultures have already noted its istence in their own writings. For example, in Europe, the Celts and the Germanic tribes may be considered to have been protohistoric when they began appearing in Greek and Roman texts. Protohistoric may also refer to the transition period between the advent of literacy in a society and the writings of the first historians. The preservation of oral traditions may complicate matters as these can provide a secondary historical source for even earlier events. Colonial sites involving a literate group and a non-literate group, are also studied as protohistoric situations.

    Evoke History to Seek Heritage Status

    In a report appearing in The Hindustan Times, dated August 27, 2008, Chandigarh Edition, page 4, it is conveyed that Punjab Government will claim heritage status for Sultanpur Lodhi because it has historic association with Guru Nanak. The Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal stated “that the original architecture and grandeur of the town of great religious and cultural importance would be preserved while implementing various development projects.
    It is added here that Sultanpur Lodhi and Ludhiana came into existence during the period of Sikandar Lodhi in order to counter the attack of Khokhars. Such historic facts should also be given due place while getting motivation for preserving heritage which is the only surety of preserving ones existence.

    If Hindustan Times people happens to this post, then it is requested that they should not insist the users of their internet users to register first in order to access the links. There is no such bar in case of The Tribune and The Hindu. As a result, one may find numerous references to those newsprints on this blogs as well its associated blog like

    It is a reposting of a post which appears on History in News.

    August 22, 2008

    Inculcate Historical Thinking as an Important Attribute of Citizen

    How I wish that I could have been the author of following lines:
    “In other words when an event or even a process that shapes up, it does so in a social, economic, political and cultural context. And these socio-economic, political, cultural factors impinging on an event have to be studied, recognized and understood as materializing or actualizing in time or over a period of time. This according to me is historical thinking which can be nurtured and needs to be nurtured for the kidsR. S. Krishna Banglore, India and adults as well, for historical thinking is actually an important attribute of citizenship.”
    The author is S Krishna Bangalore, Karnataka, India at Developing a pedagogy for History.

    The essay deals with the issue of the basic craft of the historians. It deals with the issue of using the primary and secondary sources to develop the historical thinking. Historical thinking is ability to study the facts in the perspective of time and space on the basis of the ability to learn facts from primary sources. S Krishna has been able to take the issue in a nice manner.

    August 05, 2008

    Nineteenth Century: An Age of Historians

    The essay which is being reproduced for being a classic essay on philosophy of history, was a part of inaugural address to the students of King's College for Women, University of London, October 8, 1909 and delivered by Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall.

    I have intentionally borrowed a phrase from the essay itself to make it title of this post. That actually sums up my understanding of this essay. However, on further criticism and elaboration, any reader, interested in philosophy of history, may find many more points.

    The essay follows:

    Since I have accepted, at the request of your Warden, the honour of delivering an inaugural address on this occasion, it has appeared to me appropriate to choose, for such an audience, some literary subject. And I propose, with some diffidence, to offer a few observations on the reading of history, because in these latter days, when education has come in upon us like a flood, rising higher and spreading wider every year among our people, no part of literature is more sedulously studied than the field of history. On the other hand, this field is being very rapidly enlarged. It has been said that the output of histories during the nineteenth century has exceeded in bulk and volume the production of all previous centuries. And in all the countries now standing in the forefront of civilisation, the chief product of their serious literature is at this time historical and biographical—for I take authentic biography to be a kind of handmaid of history. It has been reported that during the ten years ending 1907 there were published in England 5498 books under the head of history, and 1059 biographies. Moreover, of those who are not actually writing history, an important number are occupied in criticising the historians.

    Now the first observation that I submit to you is that the production of all history has been almost entirely the work of Europeans, among whom I reckon the American writers, as belonging by language and culture to Europe. So far as the African continent has any trustworthy history, it is in some European language. In Asia there have been annalists, chroniclers, and genealogists, mostly Mohammedan, who narrate the wars and exploits of great conquerors, the succession of kings, and the rise and fall of dynasties. And I believe that in China official record of public events and transactions has been kept up from very early ages. But if we measure these Asiatic narratives by the standard of literary merit and the demand for authentication of facts, I fear that they will be found wanting; though they may be relied upon to give the general course of important events, and an outline of the result of battles and the upsetting of thrones.

    When these Asiatic chroniclers wrote of the times in and near which they were living, they were fairly trustworthy. But whenever they attempted to write of times long past and of countries unknown to them personally, their narratives became for the most part fabulous and romantic, confused and improbable, with some grains of truth here and there. Our best information regarding the earlier ages of Asia is derived, I think, from Greek and Latin literature, and latterly from the researches of quite modern scholars and archæologists. So that it may be affirmed that authentic history began in Europe, and that to Europe it has ever since been practically confined. At this day the history of all parts of the world is being written by Europeans. The result has been that for the last 2500 years historical material, collected from and relating to all parts of the world, has been accumulating in Europe.

    Such masses of records and monuments necessarily require methodical treatment by men of trained intelligence and of untiring industry, learned, and accurate. Their systematic labours, their acute and intelligent criticism, have created what is now usually termed the Science of History, which abstracts general conclusions from the mass of particulars. And so, I think, we may agree with Renan, who has declared that to the nineteenth century may be accorded the title of the Age of Historians, and that this has been the special distinction of that century's literature.

    Now I believe that the question, whether history is an art or a science, is not yet universally settled. But whatever may be the case in these modern days, I submit that in earlier times, and certainly when history began to be written, it was mainly an art. Indeed, it could hardly have been otherwise. In all ages and countries, from the time when men first attained to some stage of elementary culture, they have been curious about the past, they have enjoyed hearing of the deeds and fame of their ancestors, of far-off things and battles long ago. But the primitive chronicler had very slight material for his stories of bygone times—he had few, if any, documents—he was himself creating the documentary evidence for those who came after him; he could only compile his narratives from tradition, legends, anecdotes of heroic ancestors, from information picked up by travel to famous places, and so on. Yet from sources of this kind he composed tales of inestimable value as representing the ideas, habits, and social condition of preceding generations that were very like his own. Herodotus, who is our best example of the class, reconstructs, revives, and relates conversations that neither he nor his informants could have actually heard; but he does this in order to give a dramatic version of great events. In the opening sentence of his first book he says that he has written in order that the actions of men may not be effaced by time, nor great and wondrous deeds be deprived of renown. And one may notice the same style and method in the historical books of the Old Testament. In both these ancient histories the narratives represent life, action, speech, situations.

    It is futile, I may suggest, to subject work of this sort to critical analysis by attempting to sift out what is probably true from what is certainly false. You only break up the picture, you destroy the artistic effect, which is at least a true reflection of real life. Moreover, it is dangerous for learned men sitting in libraries to regard as incredible facts stated by these old writers. The legend of Romulus and Remus having been suckled by a wolf has been dismissed as a childish fable. Yet it is certain that this very thing has happened more than once in the forests of India within the memory of living men. You cannot be particular about details, you must take the story as a whole.

    From this standpoint we may agree, I think, that in illiterate times, and, indeed, throughout the middle ages of Europe, history-writing was practised as an art. The unlearned chronicler wrote in no fear of critics or sceptics; he drew striking scenes and portraits; he described warlike exploits; he related characteristic sayings and dialogues which completely satisfied his audience or his readers. The society in which he lived was not far different, in morals and manners, from that which he portrayed, so that he can have committed very few anachronisms or incongruities; and in sentiments and character-drawing he could not go far astray. He produced, at any rate, vivid impressions of reality, just as Shakespeare's historical plays have stamped upon the English mind the figures of Hotspur or Richard III., which have been thus set up in permanent type for all subsequent ages. At any rate portraits of this kind have not been modernised to suit the taste of a later age, as has been done with King Arthur in Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King.' And when work of this sort has been finely executed, the question whether the details are untrustworthy or even fictitious is immaterial, particularly in cases where the precise facts can never be recovered. We do not know exactly how the battle of Marathon, or, indeed, the battle of Hastings, was fought, but we have in the chronicles something of great value—a true outline of the general situation, and some stirring narratives of the clash and wrestling of armed men, compiled either at first hand from the recollections of those who were actually on the field, or else taken at second hand from others who made notes of what had been told them by those present at the battles. This, then, is what I meant when I said that in early times history was an art. Its method was picturesque.

    Now my next observation is that, although the science of history has since been invented, we have, among quite modern English writers, men of singular genius, who have to some extent followed the example, adopted the manner, of the ancient annalist. Like him, they are artists, their aim has been to depict famous men, to reproduce striking incidents and scenes dramatically. Their technical methods, so to speak, are entirely different from those of the old chronicler, who sketched with a free hand, and trusted largely to his inspirations, to his own experience of what was likely to have been said or done, or to popular tradition, which is always animated and distinct. The modern historian, of what I may call the school of impressionists, has no such experience, he knows nothing personally of violent scenes or fierce deeds; he composes his picture of things that happened long ago from a mass of papers, books, memoirs, that have come down to us. Yet although style and substance are quite different, the chief aim, the design, of the ancient and modern artist in history is the same. They both strive to set before their reader a vision of certain scenes and figures at moments of energetic action—not only to tell him a story, but to make him see it. Let me give an example. Every one here may remember the story in the Old Testament (2nd Book of Kings) of Jehu driving furiously into Jezreel, how on his way he smote Ahaziah, king of Judah, with an arrow, and how Jezebel, the Phœnician Queen, was hurled down out of her palace window to be devoured by dogs in the street. And some of you may have read in Froude's History of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth his description of the murder of David Rizzio by the fierce Scotch nobles, how he was killed clinging to Queen Mary's knees in her chamber in Holyrood Palace. Now the manner, the artistic presentation of ferocious action, are in both cases alike; we have the words spoken and the deeds done; we can look on at the bloody tragedy; we have a dramatic version of the story. The ancient writer of the Old Testament probably did his work naturally, instinctively; he tells the story as he received it by word of mouth, briefly—laying stress only on the things that cut into the imagination of an eye-witness, and remain in the memory of those to whom they were related. He troubles us with no moral reflections, but goes on quietly to the next chapter of incidents. The modern historian has composed his picture from details collected by study of documents; he puts in adjectives as a painter lays on colour; yet the effect, the impression, is of the same quality: it is artistic.

    Now the principal English historians of the modern school, who revived what one may call the dramatic presentation of history, I take to be Macaulay, Froude, and Carlyle. They all worked upon genuine material, upon authentic records of the period which they were writing about. Lord Acton mentions that Froude spoke of having consulted 100,000 papers in manuscript, at home and abroad, for one of his histories. Macaulay was industrious and indefatigable. Yet Ranke, the great German historian, said of Macaulay that he could hardly be called a historian at all, judged by the strict tests of German criticism. And Freeman, the English historian, brought violent charges against Froude of deliberately twisting his facts and misquoting his authorities; though I believe that Freeman's bitter jealousies led him into grave exaggerations. Then take Carlyle. His Cromwell is a fine portrait by an eminent literary artist. But is it a genuine delineation of the man himself, of his motives, of the working of his mind in speech and action? Later investigation, minute scrutiny of old and new material, suggest doubts, different interpretations of conduct and character. Take, again, his description of the battle of Dunbar, Cromwell's great victory. Carlyle explains to us the nature of the ground, the movements of the troops, the tactics, the points of attack, with admirable force and clearness—it is a marvellous specimen of literary execution. Yet recent and very careful examination of the locality, and a comparison of the evidence of eye-witnesses, have proved beyond doubt that Carlyle had not studied the ground, had made some important errors. He was, in fact, giving a dramatic representation of the battle, which, if it had come down to us from some mediæval annalist, would have been universally accepted as genuine. In short, these three artists have all suffered damage under scientific treatment.

    Now I am not here to disparage Macaulay, Froude, or Carlyle. They were all, in my opinion, authors of rare genius, whose places in the forefront of the literature of the nineteenth century are permanently secure. Yet I fear that the tendency of the twentieth century is unfavourable to the artistic historian. It seems to me probable, much to my personal regret, that the scientific writing of history, based upon exhaustive research, accumulation and minute sifting of all available details, relentless verification of every statement, will gradually discourage and supersede the art of picturesque composition. In the first place the spirit of doubt and distrust is abroad, every statement is scrutinised and tested. The imaginative historian cannot lay on his colours, or fill up his canvas, by effective and lively touches without finding his work placed under the microscope of erudite analysts, some of whom, like Iago, are nothing if not critical, are not only exact but very exacting. In these days a writer who endeavours to illuminate some scene of ages past, to show us, as by a magic lantern, the moving figures brought out in relief against the surrounding darkness, is liable to be set down as an illusionist, possibly even as a charlatan or conjurer. Yet one feels the charm of the splendid vision, though it may fade into the light of common day when it falls under relentless scrutiny, and one is haunted by the doubt whether the scientific historian, with all his conscientious accuracy, is after all much nearer the reality than the literary artist. For it is seriously questionable whether the precise truth about bygone events and men long dead can ever actually be discovered, whether, by piecing together what has come down to us in documents, we can resuscitate from the dust-heap of records the state of society many centuries ago. And in regard to historical portrait painting Lord Acton has warned intending historians to seek no unity of character—to remember that allowance must always be made for human inconsistencies; that a man is never all of one piece. But cautious conclusions, nice weighing of evidence, do not satisfy the ordinary reader. The vivid impressions that are stamped on his mind by the power of style are what he mostly requires and retains; and these we are all reluctant to lose. We must concede to the writer, as to the painter, some indulgence of his imaginative faculty. Otherwise we must leave the battle scenes and the national portrait gallery to the poets and romancers of genius—to Shakespeare and Walter Scott, whose art had nothing to gain from accuracy, who have only to give us the types, the right colouring and strong outline of life and character in days bygone.

    However, I think we shall be compelled to accept the change from the artistic to the scientific school of historians, though we may regret it as unavoidable. It is the vast enlargement of the field of historical study, the strong critical searchlight that is turned on all the dark corners and outlying tracts of this field, that is irresistibly affecting the work of writers, enforcing the need of caution, of scrutinising every point, of weighing evidence in the finest scales, of assaying its precise value. The contemporary writer has to deal with the huge accumulation of material to which I have already referred; he must ransack archives, hunt through records piled up, public and private, must decipher ancient manuscript, must follow the labours of the wandering collector of inscriptions and the excavator of old tombs. He has to make extracts from correspondence, diaries, and notes of travel which are coming for the first time to the light; he must keep abreast of foreign literature and criticism. The mass and multiplicity of documentary evidence now at his disposal, most of which may not have been available to his predecessors, is enormous. Some twelve years ago Lord Acton wrote: 'The honest student has to hew his way through multitudinous transactions, periodicals and official publications, where it is difficult to sweep the horizon or to keep abreast. The result has been that the classics of historical literature are found inadequate, are being re-written, and the student has to be warned that they have been superseded by later discoveries.'
    What has been the effect of this altered situation upon the writer of history at the present time? On such an extensive field of operations, which has to be cultivated so intensely, he finds himself compelled to contract the scope of his operations; he can only take up very narrow ground. So in many instances he limits himself to a period, or even to a single reign, to a particular class of historical personage, or to some special department of human activity. He looks about for a plot that he can work thoroughly; he concentrates his attention upon some line or aspect of a subject in which he may hope that he has not been anticipated by others. Lord Acton has laid down that 'every student ought to know that mastery is acquired by acknowledged limitation'—he must peg out his small holding and keep within its bounds. Histories are now written by many and various hands—as in the case of the Cambridge Modern History, which already counts numerous volumes—and so the general area is divided and subdivided among experts, each of whom dips deeply into his particular allotment, and takes heavy crops off his ground. Yet the productiveness of the field at large seems still inexhaustible, for there is always some new theory to be established, some fresh vein of facts to be opened, some corrections or additions to be made. Moreover, the experts, while they toil at their own special work, while they attack a difficult problem from different sides, must nevertheless co-operate with each other. Sir William Ramsay, a noted archæologist, tells us that for a new study of history there is needed a group of scholars working in unison; that the solitary historian is doomed to failure. He adds that the history of the Roman empire has still to be re-written. The late Lord Acton, when as Professor of Modern History at Cambridge he drew out his plan for a modern history that would satisfy the scientific demand for completeness and exactitude, proposed to distribute the work among more than a hundred writers. He observed that the entire bulk of new matter which the last forty years have supplied amounts to many thousand volumes. When history becomes the product of many hands and various minds the artistic element is likely to disappear.
    One obvious result of this state of things is that we hear no more of the old-fashioned histories embracing vast subjects, the work of a single author—of histories of the world, or a history of Europe like Alison's in thirty volumes. Indeed it is not long since Buckle found his History of European Civilisation unmanageable; he died before he could finish it. At the present time historical subjects are divided and subdivided by classes, periods, or even single events. Art, literature, philosophy, war, diplomacy, receive separate treatment. We have colonial histories in numerous thick volumes; though no English colony has a long past. We have histories of the queens who have reigned in their own right, like Queen Elizabeth, and of Queens Consort: we have even a book on the bachelor kings of England, written by a lady who proves undeniably that these unlucky bachelors—there were only three of them—all came to a bad or sad end. As to military historians, Kinglake's History of the Crimean War takes up, I think, some eight volumes. The whole course of the recent Boer War has been related in five substantial volumes. Neither of these wars lasted more than two years, yet both histories are many times larger than Schiller's History of the Thirty Years' War in Germany. The only edition of Schiller's work that I have found in the library of this University is in four small volumes.
    Now, the drawback to the composition of histories on this ample and elaborate scale is obviously this—that the ordinary man or woman can hardly be expected to read them, or at most to read more than two or three of them. So there has sprung up a natural demand for something lighter and shorter; the amplification has produced a supply of abbreviation. The massive volumes, the heaps of material, are taken in hand by very capable writers with a clear eye for the main points, for striking incidents and personalities. The big books are sliced up into convenient portions, and served up in attractive form and manageable quantities. The work is often done with admirable skill and judgment. You thus obtain a bird's-eye view of the past; you have the loftier prominences and bold outlines of the historic landscape.
    In these serials, which are deservedly popular, you can read short biographies, for example, of English Men of Letters, of English Men of Action, of famous Scotsmen, Rulers of India, Heroes of the Nation. You have also a story of all the nations in series, and thus you can limit your mental survey to separate periods, events, countries, and figures. You are carried swiftly and adroitly over the dry interspaces which lie between startling incidents or between supremely interesting epochs.
    Now I have no doubt that these series, which contain much sound information very skilfully condensed, have been of real service in the propagation of historical knowledge. On the other hand, we have to consider that this kind of reading is disconnected in style and subject. The reader can make a long jump from one period to another, or from the statesman of one century to another who flourished in a very different country and age. And the handling of these diverse subjects is not uniform; the points of view or lines of thought are various, and may be contradictory. It may be expedient to warn those who use these excellent summaries against the habit of neglecting the great English classics for short biographies or compendious sketches of periods and personages, as if one could learn enough of Edmund Burke, or Milton, or Oliver Cromwell, or master the events of some important period, from a well-written serial in some two hundred pages.
    The demand for these historical handbooks has evidently been created by the spread of general education, which stimulates the laudable desire to learn something about subjects of which it is hardly respectable, in these days, to be ignorant. Such knowledge is very useful to those who have no leisure for more; and it is far superior to mere desultory reading, to the habit of picking out amusing bits here and there. Yet I hope it is unnecessary to impress on earnest students of history that they must go further; must push up as near as possible to the fountain heads of the rivers of knowledge; must make acquaintance with the masterpieces of literature—that their reading must be continuous and consecutive.
    Now those among you who are studying for University honours have no need for any advice from me; they are well aware that the wide expansion, in these days, of the field of history has raised the standard of examinations, and that they must be prepared for questions testing a candidate's critical acumen, the breadth and depth of his reading, much more closely than was required formerly. But there must also be many here present who have no examinations in front of them, who have no ardent inclination or even leisure for abstruse labours. And I presume that all of you read history for a clear understanding of past ages, of the acts and thoughts of the great men who illustrate those times. You all desire to comprehend the sequence and significance of events. You feel the intellectual pleasure of appreciating rightly the character and motive of the men and women who stand in the foreground of our country's annals, and also of those who are famous in other countries, to know how and why they rose or fell, whether they deserved the success that they won, or won it without deserving it. Moreover, for us English folk, who live at the centre of an empire containing races and communities in various stages of political development, the lessons of history have a special value. They teach us to judge leniently of acts and opinions that appear to us irrational and even iniquitous as we see them in other backward countries at the present day. We learn that manners and morals may not be unchangeable in a nation; that fallacies and prejudices are not ineradicable; that even cruelty, tyranny, reckless bloodshed, are not incurable vices. For history tells us that some of the nations now foremost in the ranks of civilisation have passed through the stages of society in which such things are possible. And thus we can study the circumstances and conditions of political existence which have retarded the upward progress of certain nations and accelerated the advance of others. Such inquiries belong to the philosophy of history. When we read, for example, the history of England in the fifteenth or sixteenth century, we find that our ancestors, born and bred in this same island, kindly men in private life and sincerely religious, intellectually not our inferiors, yet, when they took sides in politics or Church questions, did things which appear to us utterly cruel, against reason, justice, and humanity. To remember this helps us to realise the difficulty of passing fair judgment not only on the conduct of our forefathers, but upon the actions and character of other peoples and governments that are doing very similar things at the present time in other parts of the world. We shall find it an arduous task to assign motives, to weigh considerations, to acquit or condemn. So that, to the politician of to-day, history ought to be an invaluable guide and monitor for taking an impartial measure of the difficulties of government in troubled or perilous circumstances. Yet one sometimes wishes that the record of the fierce and bitter struggles of former days had been forgotten, for it still breeds rancour and resentment among the descendants of the people that fought for lost causes, and suffered the penalty of defeat. The remembrance keeps alive grievances, and the ancient tale of wrongs that have long been remedied survives to perpetuate national antipathies. Moreover, in some of the most celebrated cases known to our own annals, we are never sure that we have the whole case before us, for the historians give doubtful help, since the best authorities often take opposite views, as, for instance, on the question whether Mary Queen of Scots was her husband's murderess, or a much injured and calumniated lady. The admitted facts are valued differently, interpreted variously, and made to support contradictory conclusions. The latest historian of Rome, Signor Ferrero, sums up a long and elaborate dissertation on the acts and character of Julius Cæsar by a judgment which differs emphatically from the views of all preceding historians. On some of these disputed questions we may make up our minds after studying the evidence; but many historical problems are in truth insoluble; the evidence is imperfect and untrustworthy.
    These, then, are some of the warnings we may take from history. We must not be hasty about condemning misdeeds of past generations, whether of the rulers or their people. The times were hard, so were the men; they were encompassed by dangers, while we who criticise them live in ease and safety. And when we hear at the present day of misrule and strife and bloodshed among other races—in Asia, for example—we may remember our own story, and we may trust that they also will work their way upward to peace and concord.
    But the truth is that, as our knowledge of the past is very imperfect, so also our predictions of the future are very fallible. The best observers can see only a very short way ahead. History shows us how frequently the course of affairs has taken quite unexpected turns, for good or for ill, forward or backward. On the whole, we may believe that the main direction is certainly toward the gradual betterment of the world at large, though the theory of progress is quite modern, for the ancients looked behind them for the Golden Age. Nowadays we trumpet the glory of our British empire; yet at intervals our confidence in its fortunes is shaken by some sharp panic; the decline and fall of England is predicted. It is, indeed, perilous to be overconfident, to live in a fool's paradise, for some of us have seen in our lifetime the sudden catastrophes that have overtaken great empires. But history may comfort us when we read how often the downfall of England has been predicted, how we have been on the brink of shooting down Niagara, as Carlyle declared, or threatened with imminent invasion, with total loss of commerce and colonies, with defeat abroad and bankruptcy at home. And yet our country is still fairly prosperous and free, and as for invasions, we may still trust that, as Coleridge has written:

    'Ocean 'mid the uproar wild
    Speaks safety to his island child.'

    But on the whole history gives political prophets little encouragement—we cannot foretell the future from the past. Nevertheless, there is some truth in the saying that history is like an old almanac, if we may take this to mean that, although the same events never happen again in the same way, yet in the great movements of the tide of the world's affairs a sort of periodical recurrence, an ebb and flow, may be noticed. For example, we know that from the fifteenth until near the end of the seventeenth century the Asiatic armies of the Turkish Sultans were invading and conquering South-Eastern Europe—they reached the gates of Vienna. Then followed a swing backward of the pendulum, and from the eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century the European Powers, Russia and England, were each extending a great dominion over Asia. Again, up to a few years ago, the Turkish empire was a barbarous despotism, and we all believed that it must break up and be extinguished. Yet it has now revived in a new form, which may possibly restore its power and prosperity. To search for and distinguish the operating causes, the powers that underlie these incalculable changes, is a task for the student of history.
    There must be many of you for whom these high problems have a strong attraction, who enjoy rapid flights over the broad surface of history, wide outlooks over the past and future. Now, I admit that bold generalisations are hazardous, unless founded upon very solid knowledge; but in historical as well as in physical science they are needed to sum up results, to bring facts into focus. They enable us, so the late Lord Acton has said, to fasten on abiding issues, to distinguish the temporary from the transient.
    The late Lord Acton, who, as you may remember, was Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, is reckoned by general consent to have surpassed all his contemporaries, at least in England, by his encyclopædic, accurate, and profound knowledge of history. His reading was vast, his learning prodigious, his industry never slackened. Yet the literary production of his life is contained in three volumes of essays, lectures, and articles; he has left us no complete book. Indeed, his writing is so disproportionate to his reading that one is tempted to liken his luminous intellect to a fire on which too much fuel had been heaped; the ardent mind glowed and shot up its streaks of radiance through the weight of erudition that overlaid it. Among Lord Acton's published papers is a 'Note of Advice to Persons about to Write History,' of which the first word is Don't. But he then proceeds to jot down some hints and maxims, brief and caustic, for the benefit of those who nevertheless persist in writing; and to some of these I commend the attention of readers, since upon readers as well as upon writers lies the duty of forming careful opinions, of judging impartially, in working out their conclusions upon the events and personages of past times. For Lord Acton was an indefatigable researcher after truth; his standard of public morality was austere, lofty, and uncompromising. I myself venture to think that he was too rigid; he admitted no excuse for breaches of the moral law on the pretext, however urgent, of political necessity; he refused to allow extenuation of violence or bloodshed even in times of great emergency. 'The inflexible integrity of the moral code,' he said, 'is to me the secret of the authority, the dignity, the utility of history.' Now this is hard doctrine for most of us to follow when we set ourselves, as students, to condemn or acquit, to blame or to praise the prominent actors in the drama of our national history. On that stage, as we all know, the real tragedies that stand on record were sanguinary enough, and the parts occasionally played in them by our ancestors were of a sort that now appear most unnatural and indefensible to their descendants. Yet most of us are disposed to regard with some leniency even the crimes of a violent and lawless age.
    But however this may be, some of Lord Acton's counsels are undoubtedly valuable as warnings or for guidance, either as lamps to show the right road, or as lighthouses to keep us from going wrong. His inaugural lecture at Cambridge on the Study of History is full of precepts, maxims, warnings, injunctions, all of which may be pondered by students with advantage. We are enjoined, for example, to beware of permitting our historic judgment to be warped by influences, whether of Country, Class, Church, College, or Party; and it is said, by way of driving home the warning, that the most respectable of these influences is the most dangerous. But very few writers, and, I suspect, not many readers, can hold their mental balance quite steadily, can weigh testimony on either side of a question quite dispassionately, when our Church, or our Country, perhaps even our University, is concerned. Nor is it easy for students to find historians who are entirely unmoved by bias of these kinds, who have neither a theory to prove, nor a cause to support, nor a hero to be exalted, nor a sinner to be whitewashed. Indeed, the wicked men of history have always found some ingenious advocate to defend them by attempting to justify bad acts on the ground of excellent motives and intentions, of the exigencies of the situation, or other excuses and explanations. It is certain that some of the worst crimes on record, assassinations and savage persecutions, have been defended on pretexts of this kind, by allegations of patriotism or devotion to a faith. Not many weeks have passed since a dastardly murder was perpetrated in London, close to this spot, by a crazy wretch who declared himself a patriot.
    So we may profitably lay to mind Lord Acton's stern denunciation, not only of criminals in high places, but of all, high or low, who pretend that foul deeds may be justified by asserting pure motives. Let me quote again from Lord Acton. He has said: 'Of killing, from private motives or from public, eadem est ratio, there is no difference. Morally, the worst is the last; the fanatic assassin, the cruel inquisitor, are the worst of all; they are more, not less, infamous, because they use religion or political expediency as a cloak for their crimes.' He affirms elsewhere that crimes by constitutional authorities—by Popes and Kings—are more indefensible than those committed by private malefactors. And he holds that the theorist is more guilty than the actual assassin; that the worst use of theory is to make men insensible to fact, to the real complexion and true quality of conduct. He would probably have insisted that journalists and others who instigate political crimes are at least quite as bad as the actual criminal. Herein, at any rate, we may thoroughly agree with him, though the question whether the intercourse of nations and their Governments can be strictly regulated by the same moral standard which rules among individuals, does raise difficult points for the conscientious student of history. We have to remember that no power exists to enforce international laws or police, so that every Government has to rely upon its own strength for the defence of its people and the preservation of its rights.
    On the whole, I do not know any recent works that may be more profitable for advice and guidance in reading history than these three volumes of Lord Acton's. They contain the essence of his unceasing labours in collecting, comparing, and testing an immense quantity of historic material. They are particularly valuable for the flashes of insight into the deeper relations of events, for brief, sententious observations in which he sums up his judgments upon men and their doings. They are not to be taken lightly; they demand all your attention, for the style is compressed and packed with meaning; and the author seems to expect his readers to be prepared with more knowledge than, I think, most of us possess. His allusions take for granted so much learning that they occasionally puzzle the average man. For example, in one of his essays he makes a passing reference to 'those who in the year 1348 shared the worst crimes that Christian nations have committed.' What these crimes were he does not say; and how many of us could answer the question off-hand? Certainly I could not. But the lectures and essays abound in far-ranging ideas, and show profound penetration into historic causes and consequences. Some of the essays, written in comparative youth, betray here and there a natural leaning towards the Church of Rome, in which he was born, and against Protestantism; yet his hatred of intolerance and despotism, spiritual or temporal, was sincere and intense. In politics he was a Liberal, yet he saw that Liberal institutions, representative government, are by no means a sure and speedy remedy for misrule in all times and countries, as in our day simple folk are apt to suppose. In writing of the condition of Europe during the earlier middle ages he observes: 'To bring order out of chaotic mire, to rear a new civilisation and blend hostile and unequal races into a nation, the thing wanted was not Liberty, but Force.'
    Here is a bold and clear-sighted deduction from the lessons of history, which revolutionary politicians in Asia, where no nationalities have yet been formed, may well take to heart. Parliamentary institutions, as Lord Acton has well said, presuppose unity of a people.
    Scattered through these volumes may be found, indeed, certain brief paragraphs which, as they contain the essence of much learning and deep thought, may well set us all thinking. In a remarkable essay on the historical relations of Church and State Lord Acton observes: 'The State is so closely linked with religion, that no nation that has changed its religion has ever survived in its old political form.' Here again is a striking generalisation which a student might set himself to verify by careful examination of the facts.
    And now I will make an end of my address by quoting one more remark of Lord Acton, in which he gives his definition of history taken as a whole. 'By universal history,' he says, 'I understand that which is distinct from the combined history of all countries, which is not a rope of sand, but a continuous development, and is not a burden on the memory, but an illumination of the soul. It moves in a succession to which the nations are subsidiary. Their story will be told, not for their own sake, but in subordination to a higher series, according to the time and the degree in which they contribute to the common fortunes of mankind.'

    Post Script:
    The above essay, being a part of the Philosophy of History and especially the Cambridge School of History which is the core of Colonial History, will be referred to again and again in this blog at appropriate places.

    April 27, 2008

    An Act of Public History by TATA STEEL in India

    Before I begin with the actual contents of this post, I desire to make some points.

    The Trend of Centenary Celebrations: What is Missing?

    In India, 2007 and 2008 are becoming years of commemoration. I believe that this trend will continue now because every new year is a centenary year of some historic event related to India’s Struggle for Freedom. It is rather an understatement because this thing had been taking place every year. I was a young collegiate when I heard about the centenary year of founding of Indian National Congress. This year, or rather 2007, had been 150 anniversary of 1857 Indian Uprising. It was also a centenary year of Shahid Bhagat Singh which the film industry had already celebrated somewhere in 2000 to 2003 when five movies on Shahid Bhagat Singh had been released. However, as a student of history, I remember 2007 as the 150 anniversary of University Education. There was no celebration as such. I have written about it here and there. I have located very few references to it even in the press. Similarly, 2007 is also historic centenary of corporate and capital market world. No body is celebrating it. However, the inheritors of that legacy have done a commendable work by bringing alive a website celebrating that event. It is called Celebrating 100 Years TATA STEEL 100.

    Case for Public History in India:
    Before I talk about the website of celebration of 100 years of steel making in India, I seek attention to another dimension which has come into play with this site. The Public History is a full fledged subject now. It has been taught in foreign universities and activities are being undertaken as per the findings and theories of Public History. However, same thing is not happening in India. There had been some movies in India which can been identified as a case in practice as per the craft and theories of Public history. There was Rang De Basanti, Maine Gandhi ko Nahi Mara and Gandhi My Father. Now this site is another chapter which follows the norms and rules of Public History in India. Public History may not be a subject in Indian Universities at present but with such activities going on the side line, I believe that soon there will some papers or specialization in the Public History in India in Indian University academic world.

    100 Years in Defining a Nation
    Now let me share with you some of the contents of the site of 100 Years of TATA STEEL which for me as a student of history and a teacher, conveys more meaning as a subject of history than a display by the owner of his own story.

    There are twenty web sheets on the history of the Tata Steel related story under the link History embed in the title Heritage. Each sheet contains precious capsule of historic information. The second sheet titled “The birth of a pioneer” traces initial years of Jamsetji Nursserwanji Tata and coming of an opportunity of starting an iron industry in India facilitated by the surveys of the British government in India. In the third sheet the story takes you to Charles Page Perin. The fourth page brings to the site where presently the Bhilai Steel plant has come up. The fifth sheet is about the research of P N Bose in Mayurbhanj. The sixth sheet talks of locating of Sakchi. The seventh sheet can be identified for the tribute paid by Jwahar Lal Nehru to Jamsetji N Tata. The eighth sheet talks about the Swadeshi Movement and its relation to the rise of the Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO as it was known earlier) - a dimension which should have been a part of the general history but it is not. No doubt, with the rise of the capital market and shift in study of the history of economic and corporate growth in India, this story has become an important chapter therein. The ninth sheet talks about the historic day of February 16, 1912, when the first steel ingot was rolled out the plant. The sheet tenth contains that proverbial statement of Sir Frederick Upcott wherein he vowed to eat every steel that the TISCO plant was supposed to produce and which once the Tata Steel Industries made a part of its advertisement jingle. The eleventh sheet tried to remember the hard times for the company and the commitment of the management to pawn their own assets to keep the dream alive. The twelfth sheet is somewhat out of order because it again takes back to 1910 to record another dimension of expansion of the company when it tried to acquire colliery. Secondly this sheet again have the photograph of Sir Dorabji Tata which also appear on sheet eleven. On the other hand every other sheet displays an exclusive rare picture related to TATA STEEL. The thirteenth sheet moves fast in narrating the contribution of TATA STEEL during the Second World War and to independent India upto founding of new cities and dams. The fourteenth sheet tells about the coming up of a family of steel companies which was using the TATA STEEL. The fifteenth sheet introduces to all encompassing vision of TATA STEEL wherein the company has established training institute for the men of steel. The fifteenth page again elaborates upon the future looking vision of the company responding to shifting paradigm in ever changing technology driven history. The sixteenth page talks about the vision of Jamsetji for making Sakchi a Jamshedpur. The seventeenth page continues with the saga of coming up of Jamshedpur. The eighteenth page talks about the social business policy with its historic significance and relevance. The last page ends with hope of continuing with the same zest based on nationalism, furthering social cause mixed with business.

    Apart from a textual and snapshot narration of the saga of TATA STEEL, there is a link which displays the landmarks of this saga in flash display which however has to be operated through mouse. It displays the sage of TATA STEEL up to 2007 when the company has become a global player in the steel industry.

    Then there is use of flicker show also where the whole story is again repeated with the photographs.

    With three type of display available with Information Technology, the company has given a good display of Public History activity which I, as a teacher of history, find quite impressive and informative. There is need to stress here that in India, even the universities have not yet exploited the idea of Public History.

    Exploiting the sources of video display there is a set of small movies which however include some advertisements also. However, I am not able to watch these movies because of small internet connection (browsing only with a 112 kbps channel) which I use to access the net.

    In Gallery section, one can virtually go through a picture album which again I am not able to exploit because of the slow speed and large quantity of data available there. Apart from the album, there is history of advertisement used by the company. In people section, three pioneers have been venerated in a befitting manner.

    In the vanguards section, one can study the second rung of leadership something similar to the nobles of Delhi Sultanate study which had been a trend in medieval India history in academic field.

    Similarly Story of Steel is also a good reading section.

    It is a good activity in the field of Public History. It is also a centenary of an activity in the life of a nation apart from the sacrifice of martyrs. Such activities have also made the nation. I believe that it was such activities which had defined the nation.

    April 12, 2008

    Unexplored Documents, Conspiracy, Lahore and Indian History

    It has been reported that the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Committee had requested the Chief Justice of India to request his counterpart in Pakistan for details of contents of 10 cases related to Lahore Conspiracy Case and photographs of 40 convicts who were transported to the ‘Kalapani’ - Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    It is reported that the committee had sought the details of the following cases:
    Lahore conspiracy case (September, 1915)
    Lahore supplementary conspiracy case (March, 1916)
    Lahore second conspiracy case (January 5, 1917)
    Lahore third conspiracy case (March 2, 1917)
    Lahore fourth conspiracy case (May 26, 1917)
    Lahore city conspiracy case (June 11, 1917)
    Anarkali murder case Lahore (February 20, 1915)
    First Akali conspiracy case (November 8, 1921)
    Babbar Akali conspiracy case first supplementary (May 18, 1922)
    Babbar Akali conspiracy second (November 8, 1921-22)

    Conspiracy as a Term:

    In present days, the Conspiracy as a term has acquired a selective meaning. However, many of the historic events during the colonial period of Indian History are identified with the term conspiracy. There is a need to change this term which could only be done in rightly full manner if the research is undertaken after re-interpreting the history. I borrow from another article which appeared in the same newspaper few days back as a right comment on the need of bringing such documents immediately under the scrutiny of the historians. Chaman Lal wrote in his article Stamp of Martyr as follows:
    “Bhagat Singh’s correspondence makes for an interesting, unexplored and significant area of research in context of the Indian revolutionary movement.”

    I reframe this comment. There are numerous documents that have remained untouched which are required for unexplored and significant research in context of the Indian Revolutionary Movement.

    The sources used:

    The Tribune, Chandigarh, India
    April 10, 2008 and March 22, 2008.

    March 21, 2008

    Was it an Administrative Blunder by British East Indian Company against Sikhs during the uprising of 1857?

    A battle was fought in Chattra District in October 1857. The rebels were defeated and their two leaders, Jai Mangal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan were executed in Chattra. During the battle the European soldiers had also died. A contingent of Sikhs soldiers, who were part of Rattary’s Battalion (Presently, 3 Sikh Battalion of Indian Army) had also fought to suppress the uprising in Chattra. Some of the Sikhs soldiers of Rattary Battalion had also died. It is on record that those Sikhs soldiers were buried along with English soldiers near Catholic Ashram, which is one kilometre away from Chattra city. There is a Divisional Forest Office nearby. The inscription on the cemetery reads,
    “In the grave are buried "The 56 men of Her Majesty's 53rd Regiment of foot and a party of Rattrys sikhs who were killed at Chatra on October 2, 1857 in action against mutineers of the Ramgarh Battalion.”

    Rattrays Sikhs was a battalion raised by Captain Thomas Rattray of 64th Regiment of Bengal Army as per a decision of British East India government taken in 1855. The battalion was to be a Corps of Military Police. It was raised in Punjab out of the Sikhs soldiers who had fought in Anglo Sikh war against the British forces. It was raised as Bengal Military Police Battalion.

    It is known fact that the as per the Sikhs religious rites, they are cremated. They are not buried. However, in the episode mentioned above, the Sikhs were buried. The same fact is displayed on the Government website of the District of Chattra.

    A Disclaimer
    I understand that the Pandits of History would strongly object to the above type of posting. It is in a way, a journalist kind of reporting wherein in a scoop is being reported. The readers may find a motivated reporting here. However, my only intention is to bring out an activity or an incidence which went against the established belief of one community. I accept somewhere by nationalism is working behind the site to report this. However, even then, I will plead that it is an attempt to bring out an incidence which could be used as an evidence and argument by those historians who want to counter the Cambridge or Pan Britannica History.

    Official Site of Chattra District of Jharkhand State of India.

    Rattrays Sikh on Sikh Philosophy Network.

    March 09, 2008

    The Quasi Commercial Library of Gods

    I have been browsing this site for long.

    It is all Nine:

    Exactly nine years back, on ninth March, 1999, this site became alive on the cyberspace.

    It is a library of “electronic texts about religion, mythology, legends and folklore, and occult and esoteric topics.”

    I kept thinking about writing about this site. I thought out numerous titles for this site. During the course of the tumult in thoughts, I had been going through the contents of this site. The site owner, John B. Hare, California, equates it to a ’Public library’. I had thought of calling it Gyan Marga as per Advita Philosophy of Shankaracharya. I had even thought of calling it a Concert of Gods. I had been thinking of similar titles also. Finally, I decided to make a noting on this site on this very day, which is an anniversary of the site. I however, call it Quasi Commercial because I am unable to break away from the present realities. The owner has called it Sacred-Text.

    I was undecided about writing on the contents of this site. It is beyond my capabilities and learning. Hence, I am only making a note of it here on my blog for the time being. No doubt, I will definitely come out with separate posts on the contents of this site which as per the owner is all about the texts and the texts written by dead people a long time ago. However, there are text which were not written at all by any identifiable being. In order to use the terminology of scholars of Linguistics, in which the owner of the site himself is trained, it is site of texts which is full of Shrutis and some Smritis (revealed and written out of memory).

    March 05, 2008

    Desired Ethics and Norms for Internet Scholarship

    Manan Ahmed had commented on the resolve of Danah Boyd as follows:
    Danah Boyd wrote her resolve to publish only in open access journals. I couldn't agree more - being an ardent supporter of scholarship that is freely accessible. One of my biggest complaint about our academic world is about the inaccessibility of research to anyone without institutional affiliation or a hefty bank account. The impact of which is that, academic work in the humanities remains largely confined to a handful of readers and commentators.

    Continuing with the ethics desired from the internet scholars, rather scholars as such, Ahmad had taken two case studies of Harvard University Resolve and the mission and motive of JSTOR. He mentioned about the help he had rendered to his friends in Delhi and Karachi. He had done so because he knew that there in Delhi (or may in Karachi also, apologies as I am from India) it was not all that smooth to get “institutional affiliation or a hefty bank account.”

    He had pointed that “the Sciences were so far ahead of the Humanities on the Open Access issue.”

    He also observed that “JSTOR results were already included in Google searches (through but, often, also in normal search).”

    All his observations are sounding music to my ears.

    The open Access issue had attracted my attention when Google launched Google Print (Now Book Google.) The Google was threatened with legal warnings.

    The Google Book is online now. There are many books which are available online. I have collecting such links wherein one can find the whole book or an article online.

    Now wonder that whether I have stopped buying the books and journals. The answer is big “NO”. It is rather that I have bought more books, journals and magazines (I have other interests also and most of new subscriptions are related to other fields) after taking to blogging where I usually collect links to complete books. The only change in my reading activity that had occurred is that I have reduced my visits to the libraries. There is so much on the internet now that one can develop his arguments and material provided he has the right knack for mining the internet. The reduced visits to Libraries is also a different issue as such. It is not that the need of Library has been reduced. It is a different story that why I do not visit library now. However, the actual activity in pursuing your sources for developing an argument in order to write an article or notes for your professional use has remained the same. The availability of appropriate material through internet is an added facility. The actual activity of reading, collection, classification, deriving inferences, and then writing has remained the same. Getting a PDF of a good article does not reduce your activity for pursuing the knowledge. No, not at all. You have to undergo the same process in order to learn and then disseminate. I believe that Open Access just make you more effective by reducing the time to acquire the required material. It also reduce the cost. The main beneficiary is the society for which all such resources were generated through huge grants on which the copy right claims have been acquired by the practitioner. As one of my friend jokingly commented on a work of a scholar when he published the letters of Lala Lajpat Rai as his research work that the letters belonged to Lala Lajpat Rai and now copyright would be enjoyed by the bugger whereas the funds came from the taxpayers money. Joke apart, the Open Access is something which appeals and demands for new norms in the field of learning, education and research with the advent of new technologies which facilitate the communication among the scholars.

    Sources Used:
    Cliopatria: A Group Blog on History New Network

    Seed of Varna System in Purush Sukta

    बराह्मणो.अस्य मुखमासीद बाहू राजन्यः कर्तः |
    ऊरूतदस्य यद वैश्यः पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत |

    The above lines belongs to 10th Mandal of Rig Veda as 90th Sukta. It has been attributed with the status of religious sanction to the social differentiation of Indian society in four varnas or classes. It is argued that the four classes later became the anchor sheet of complex caste system based on Jatis in the social order and social differentiation of Indian social system. This theory is propounded by Marxist Historians and carried by the NCERT books adopted by CBSE board in India. It has become the basis of various thesis of the Indian scholars for explaining the development of caste system in India. According to the thesis of A. L. Basham, the tenth Mandal was compiled around 1000 BCE and it is the latest mandal. The caste system of India developed later as an edifice of Indian social system with Purusha Sukta forming the foundation of the system.

    In the above mentioned lines, the word rajanya is used for the Kashtriyas. Now it is a question to be verified that when did the word Kashtriya replaced the word Rajanya. The Punjabi form of Kashtriya is Khatri. I am not an linguistic expert and can not explain this transformation. However, those Punjabis who generally call themselves as Punjabi belong to Khatri class. They are supposed to be the warrior class of the Indian society. The warrior class of medieval period call themselves as rajputs. The word Rajputs has more affinity with the word rajanyas. On the other hand, the Khatris are not generally found among the warrior class now these days. They do not divide themselves into castes or jatis. They divide themselves into Parivars. They are mostly found in the field of business which is a field meant for Vasiyas and Sudras. In case of film industry of India, especially Mumbai film world, we find Kapoors, Puris, Chopras, Chawlas, Khannas, Mehras etc who are all Khatris. The other Parivars which considers themselves of a superior scales like Sonis, Jalotas, Sobtis, Suds and some parivars of Malhotras are mostly found in business field of India. The Arora Khatris who generally call themselves as Soods, Sahdevas, Chadhas, Vermas and many of them call themselves as Chugs, Chopras, Chawlas etc but with different gotras in order to form a Parivar are found in the field of trading and artisans class. I understand that some of my observations are subject to criticism by the Khatri clans but this is what I have learned from Khatri class people at the time of organising their marriages and death rites.

    Further, the word Shudras has appeared in the above mentioned richa. The scholars declare that this word appears only here in the whole of Rig veda. It means that the ideas of Shudra had appeared by 1000 BCE. The earlier words are Panis, Dasu and Dasuya.

    Anyhow, my only motive is to identify the above mentioned Richa which is considered to be a starting point in the field of social history and sociological explanation of Indian Society.

    Internet Sacred Text Archive

    February 28, 2008

    Indian Carnival

    Indian Carnival on history or in other words, Carnival of Indian History has appeared on the cyberspace. By now, two editions have appeared. It is notified that the new carnival will appear on 15th of every month.

    It seems that it is well received by the world of bloggers. I have learned about it from an established blogger at Secondly, a noting is also made on the site of History News Network.

    In the second carnival, JK of Varnam had included posts under twelve points. With such a carnival, the readers will find articles totally related to Indian history and historiography. It is a good thing to happen.

    The Carnivals on history are there for some time by now. They are quite popular. It is an effective activity in the field of intellectual exchange in the field of history. As per the History Carnival Aggregator, there are eight such carnivals. All of them are quite popular. They are well organized and planned. I have found The History Carnival of great interest to me. It is also a fortnightly affair and well participated. Then there are carnivals like Carnivalesque, Asian History, Military history, Four Stone Hearth, Genealogy, Biblical Studies and Bad History.

    Bill Turkel had once written a post similar to carnival which was well received.

    I have found the appearance of Indian History Carnival quite interesting. However, it has made me to think about some related issues. Is it a sign of progress or a development in the field of carnivals? There is a carnival of Asian History. It appears quarterly. I have found that the organizers keep on encouraging the participant to host the next carnival. The Asian carnival is generally hosted by Frog in the well. They take up the posts which are mainly related to Fast East. In the recent carnival, there was no post on Indian History as such. They have covered the posts on China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and some related issues. But there are many regions which have never found any representation on the carnivals. Should it be believed that there is a kind of fragmentation in such an activity? Similarly, the History Carnival takes issues which are Euro Centric or Western world oriented. They do cover many issues. But there are some such topics about which the people of other regions are not familiar with. Similarly, there are some civilizations like Incas, Aztec and Mayas which are not commented upon or written about more frequently. I have found a little mention about the African continent. If we consider and welcome the Indian Carnival, then it can be appreciated only if we expect that it is a positive branching out of carnival culture in history. Soon, there may appear more carnivals dedicated to nations, regions, culture, civilization and trends. The carnivals like Military history, Four Stone Hearth, Genealogy, Biblical Studies and Bad History are dedicated carnivals. Therefore, similar branching out of carnivals should be welcomed and appreciated. I consider the coming of Indian History Carnival from that perspective. It is a branching out of the carnival culture.

    However, some care should be taken about such branching out. There should not be overlapping of the carnivals. It has been taking place but it is a difficulty which can be well tackled if some activity continue to take place in that direction. I mean to say that there should be more branching out of similar carnivals. There should be carnival dedicated totally Chinese history. In case of H-Asia email listing, I have found scholars taking issues on Chinese history more than other issues. Similarly, there should be carnival on African continent and may be on Arab countries also. I hope that such carnival will remain in the realm of intellectual activity as the present carnivals have remained quite balanced and mostly unblemished.

    Similarly, trend based and period based carnivals should also emerge. I suggest that the scholars may take a clue and tips from email listing on H-Net.

    On the whole, I welcome the Indian History Carnival.

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