Governor,West Bengal

An old acquaintance!

Gopal Krishna Gandhi

I just read the recent  convocation address of  Mr.Gopal Krishna Gandhi,the Governor of West Bengal at the University of Burdwan. It makes interesting reading and also it kindled my meories of the days past when I got to know the  current Governor  in his young age,perhaps in his teens near Geneva!

Before that anecdote,I want to share how much I enjoyed his convocation speech.He starts with the few anecdotes himself, friends and admirers calling him as a direct successor to Willam Bentinck and Lord Curzon! “One person got mixed up with the phrase”Excellency”and some notions of family distinction  as to say to me,”Sir,I am honoured to meet someone from so extinguished  a family!

“Such  humour apart,Gandhi says one historian wrote him to say that the Bengal Governor now is in a position now,that was once occupied by Nawab Sirajuddaowla! The word, nawab,we are told,is a name for a deputy,the deputy of the Emperor in “Dillee”as it was originally known.And then the Governor goes to the fateful date in Indian history:23rd June 1757,on that day the battle of Plassey(Palashee) was fought and lost! India became once more a slave country! Gandhi is a sensitive person and he traces our historic shame in some detail and tells us how much the British learnt to tell lies, lies about Black Hole of Calcutta and other lies.This is a lie,tells the Governor,for he points out to the fact that the cell into which was stuffed one hundred and forty-four persons measured eighteen feet by four feet and they  all died the next day after  Nawab Sira juddowlah’s  troops took control of Calcutta in June 1757.This story,the Governor tells his audience, had not been fully investigated, not many historians believe this story,no monument for the tragedy exists and only one historian stuck to the version and yet the Black Hole story dominates the imaginations of the British as well as the Indian public. Read More →

By David Crystal, Cambridge, pp 200,2003

A timely book for India,  for educators as well as  the general readers. English today is spoken by some 15 crore people world wide. English is a mother tongue in USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and in South Africa and several Carribean countries. Spanish is spoken in some twenty countries in Latin America. French lost its status,in Algeria French was replaced by English in schools. English is an official language in several countries notably in India. Yet, English language as a global language faces resistance in several countries by language riots, hunger strikes. Language deaths, again India is an example.

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By O.P. Kejriwal, pages 293, 1999, OUP

O.P. Kejriwal

This  is a rare book. A history of the history books on India. A band of Englishmen who came to India as servants of the Empire, went on to make their names immortals, as discovers of the Sanskrit language, translators of Sakuntala, Bhagavad Gita, Rig Veda and other classics that wee till then lying in palm manucripts or in the possessions of brahmins who didn’t show them to any outsiders.

I want Indians to remember this; there was also already in existence in Caclutta itself for half a century the Asiatic Society of Bengal (founded on January 15, 1784). Under the leadership of Sir William Jones (1746 – 1794) had made the first discoveries of India’s past and established a scientific chronology of Indian rulers and their dynastie. Jones who assembled around him, in his lifetime (he died a premature death in his 48th year) and after him a succession of Englishmen all turned into remakable individuals and great scholars who mastered Sanskrit, skills in deciphering Asokan edicts and other obscure inscriptions that all turned out to be landmarks in Indian history and scholarship. Each name is worth writing about in details. Such was the pioneering work that later proved to a historic step and a revolution in knowing India’s past. This story of the half a century of a legacy of establishing and provding India as a world  civilization makes Macaulay now a pigmy.

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Aruna Roy

There are already reports in the newspapers that the Employment Guarantee Bill is watered down. There is also the letter of Aruna Roy and her colleagues in their letter to Sonia Gandhi on the Right to Information (RTI).

There is a sort of old-fashioned orthodoxy surrounding the PM’s coterie, if we can so use the term.  The PM/FM and the Planning Commission Deputy are giving clear signals (we haven’t seen anything contrary to this view) that strict fiscal deficit control is the very basis of ensuring a high economic growth rate!

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What British colonial histories said of India was not true!

Ethnology and travel in Renaissance Europe visitors to South India 1250 – 1625

This is a very important  publication for all  Indians who are interested to know the India as it evolved in the last 700 years. The development of knowledge in Europe as arose in the European (Italian) Renaissance  to  the  18th century European Enlightenment. How the European travellers to South India,Tamil Nadu, as missionaries encountered the Hindu religion, how the Christian belief system encountered the Hindu customs like sati,caste hierarchies, how the Indian languages. Sanskrit contained new wisdom,  how  the  missionaries Renaissance experiences led them to learn the local languages,write treatises on Christian faith and in the process wrote first the  Indian  languages grammar, then develop the prose writing. They printed Tamil books in Tamil character as early as 1576.

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