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BOOK CORNER: SAHIB’S WHO LOVED INDIA … compiled & edited by Khushwant Singh

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

SAHIBS WHO LOVED INDIA

Compiled & edited by Khushwant Singh

    For far too long we have despised the English as unwanted rulers. Who exploited India and kept their distance from Indians.  And as soon as their tenures ended, they went back to their homes in England and were happy to forget the time they had spent in India.

This asymmetrical image of the English in India persists in the mind of most Indians. It is true that the majority of those who came here came because they could not find jobs in their own country. They hated everything about India: its climate, mosquitoes, flies, the filth and finally its dirt consummating into reek.

Plainly speaking they hated Indians. There were others who enjoyed the luxury of spacious bungalows with servants, shikar, riding, pig-sticking, drinking, dancing. But even they kept themselves aloof from Indians with their ‘whites only’ clubs.

However, there was a third variety that liked everything about India, stayed away from the racists club, went out of their way to befriend Indians and maintained contacts with them even after returning to England.

Some even lent tacit support to the freedom movement. They stayed on in India after the country gained independence, reluctantly returning to England when their bread winners retired.

Khushwant Singh was quite fortunate in knowing quite a few of this breed. Both, whom he befriended during his long years in England and those whom he got to know in India.

This book, therefore, is a collection of articles written by people who enjoyed India I would say and went back with pleasant memories.

In all there are about twenty-two articles in this book written by renowned Britishers such as Lord Mountbatten of Burma—as he calls him, Taya Zinkin—a prominent French born journalist and author. She was married to ICS officer Maurice Zinkin, J.A.K Martyn—the Head Master of Doon School and many other distinguished personalities.

The flavour that you get is quite contrasting. Like in present times you find so many Indians going abroad to work. Well … in those days of the British Raj, there were many Britishers who came to India to work. Some through the bureaucratic process and some on their own.

Initially they entered India with a lot of apprehension, of it being primitive but when they started working here they started enjoying the country. Especially, the open surroundings, the spacious bungalows and above all the warm people.

While zooming past the articles you’ll find some of them being even critical about the British establishment and the racist culture that they spread in India.

Some even disagreed with the thought process that India was not ready for ‘independence.’ That also brings me to the point that there is always a logical disconnect between the rulers and its citizenry.

It is a rare collection of essays that invites to revisit a vanished era of the sahibs and memsahibs. From Lord Mountbatten to Peggy Holroyde to Maurice and Taya Zinkin.

Britishers who lived and worked in India reminisce, about topics and points of interest as varied as the Indian Civil Service, the Roshanara Club, shikar and hazari, the amateur cine society of India, the Doon School, Rudyard Kipling and of course Mahatma Gandhi.

Selected from a series of articles commissioned by Khushwant Singh when he was editor of the illustrated weekly of India. These delightfully individualistic and refreshingly candid writings reveal a fascinating array of British attitudes, experiences, observations and fond memories. The occasional short-lived grouse and above all, a deep and abiding affection and respect for India.

It’s a less than a lengthy book of around a hundred and ninety pages full of fun. Especially, if you are interested in knowing about episodes that happened during the British Raj.

The articles are by ICS officers, journalists, technocrats, architects, teachers, BBC correspondents, government servants, army officers and bureaucrats.

I would give the book nine out of ten.

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Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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WATCH BOOK TALK: ‘TRAIN TO PAKISTAN’ by Khushwant Singh

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COULD THE BRITISH RAJ HAVE BLUNTED THE INTENSITY OF CASTEISM IN INDIA?

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     It is said—‘In India you can change your religion but not your caste.’ But this reality almost met with a challenge from the Britishers at the time of the British Raj which is largely unknown. In fact, had the British Raj, pushed its way through, it would have shown the way for abolishment of the caste system, all together. But they began only with criminals, by sending them to Andamans, better known as Kala Pani. (Literal meaning is ‘black waters’. But ‘Kala’ also signifies ‘kaal’—that signifies the time of death).

    If the British so wanted. In the eighty nine years of their dictatorial rule. They could have at least blunted the ferocity of the caste system in India, if not completely uprooted. But they had other nefarious designs that was to divide and rule. So, while on one hand they exploited the caste rivalry in the mainland, on the other they got rid of it by sending criminals to islands in Kala Pani. Where, they could rid them of their caste. But sadly, most of them were freedom fighters whom they had held as prisoners.

        These remote islands in Andamans, were considered suitable to punish the ‘India Independence’ activists—called the freedom fighters. Not only were they isolated from the mainland. The overseas journey to the islands (Kala Pani) also threatened them with loss of caste that could have resulted in social exclusion. Sadly, this is also corroborated by Hindu religious scriptures. These convicts were largely used in chain-gangs, to construct prisons, buildings and harbor facilities. Many were finally hanged and many died while building these structures. Where, they largely served to colonize the island for the British.

    That brings us, to the moot point. What about those Hindus, who were not prisoners? But have travelled overseas, either on business or pleasure. Have they also lost their caste identity like those prisoners, just because they crossed the seas? Because, as per the scriptures. Those Hindus who have travelled overseas, automatically lose their caste, and to retrieve it they need to go in for deep penance. Further, if we are to believe in the caste system. We also need to believe in the scriptures with equal measure. As both are ancient and part of our tenets. For it can’t be that on one hand we believe in the caste system but give the other theory a grand miss. For our religious scriptures below, say it all.

    The offense of crossing the sea is known as “Samudrolanghana” or “Sagarollanghana.” The Dharma Sutra of Baudhayana (II.1.2.2) lists sea voyages as first of the offences that cause the loss of varna (caste). The Dharma Sutra suggests a person can wipe away this offense in three years by eating little at every fourth meal time. By bathing at dawn, noon and dusk; standing during the day; and seated during the night.

    The reasons behind the taboo include the inability, to carry out the daily rituals, and the sin of contact with the mlecchas (barbarians). The fear of crossing the seas also derives from the notion. That it entailed the end of the reincarnation cycle as the traveler was cut off from the regenerating waters of the Ganges. Such voyages also meant breaking family and social ties. And, according, to another belief in the pre-modern India the Kala Pani (sea water) was inhabited by the houglis, bad spirits and monsters.

    During the Age of Discovery, Portuguese sailors noted that Hindus were reluctant to engage in maritime trade due to this taboo. In the eighteenth century, the Banias of North India, considered, even the crossing of the Indus River, at Attock as a taboo, and underwent purification rituals upon their return. However, not all Hindus adhered to the taboo, especially the Hindu merchants located in Burma, Muscat and other places.

    So, can we, then say. All those Hindus, who have traveled overseas, are now devoid of any caste?

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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                                                       https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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RSS- a necessary counter balance ideology

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

    In the annals of Indian history compiled by historians who pledged their prolonged allegiance to Congress. RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) was always projected as an untouchable organization along with its off-shoots. One of which was even held responsible for the gruesome murder of Mahatma Gandhi—father of the nation. That is Nathu Ram Godse. And collectively they all are blamed for fueling communal disharmony in the country. So much so. That very recently, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha M.P. Ghulam Nabi Azad mindlessly compared RSS with ISIS. But, be that as it may. It may not be out of context to say. That Indian history was wrongly written on several pages by these historians. Reason being: Because it was biased, and cunningly against the RSS and not at all in sync with what was happening in the neighbourhood of newly born India. It did not even deal with the regional demography and its likely effect on India. So quite frankly it was devoid of prospective anticipation, of how the troublesome neighbourhood of India is likely to be after a bunch of few decades.

    I always feel. Any historical perspective should always be dipped at leisure in the demographic paste of the past the present and the anticipated gush of future. Much before it is presented to the world. To have an unbiased view. But unfortunately out here. It was not presented in that manner. Therefore, RSS & Co remained a villain of all times. RSS, was formed on 27th September 1925 on the day of Vijay-Dashmi, and would be celebrating its centenary in less than a decade. Thus, it has come a long way since then. It was banned during the British Raj and thereafter thrice in the post independence era. More for political reasons. But RSS couldn’t care less. As recently it has decided to graduate into trousers replacing those vintage shorts in an attempt to jerk off some of its ancient looks. But will it also change its inveterate mindset? Is something we need to wait and watch, but I’m sure. It’ll surely try and bolster its global image across the world.

       For Congress and other left-of-center pseudo-secular parties. RSS remains that untouchable ball of fire that will only disintegrate the country. But then the moot question is, who brought about the painful disintegration of India in 1947? For RSS was just about twenty-two years old then. When Congress was about fifty two and definitely more matured and resourceful. Moreover, Congress continues to plot. That typical, slippery and conniving kind of a mindset for a very long period of time now. That is, support the Muslim minority, but get the Sikhs massacred in riots, and still label yourself as secular. This is what Congress did in 1984 Sikh riots. So, can one call Congress a secular Party?

    As of now RSS bashing is vital and important for pseudo-secular parties. To survive and trade on vote bank politics. And, it will continue to be so as long as they can fool the Muslim minority of the country. That RSS is a threat to them. But with the continued peaceful co-existence of both RSS and the Muslims. The fear and misunderstanding falsely crafted by these parties, will only subside as per the law of time.

     The mission statement of RSS says it was formed:

    ‘For the welfare of entire mankind, Bharath must stand before the world as a self-confident, resurgent and mighty nation. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has resolved to fulfill this age-old national mission by forging the present-day scattered Hindu Society into an organized and invincible force both on the plane of Adhyaatma and on the plane of material life. Verily this is the one real practical world mission – if ever there was one.

    The mission of reorganizing the Hindu society. On the lines of its unique national genius, which the Sangh has taken up is not only a great process of true national regeneration of Bharat. But also the inevitable precondition to realize the dream of world unity and human welfare.  Our one supreme goal is to bring to life the all-round glory and greatness of our Hindu Rashtra.

    In order to take our nation to the pinnacle of glory, the first and foremost prerequisite is the invincible organized life of the people without which even the highest national prosperity will crumble to dust in no time.

    Expressed in the simplest terms, the ideal of the Sangh is to carry the nation to the pinnacle of glory through organizing the entire society and ensuring the protection of Hindu Dharma.’

    While some may find the mission statement to be bearable. Some others may find it as incendiary, but that’s up to them. But to me it appears. It delves more in uniting, the otherwise fragile Hindus and their ethos. Hitherto divided so much by caste, class, language and even state. In fact both the British Raj and Congress instead of bridging the gap. Tried their best to widen it. This is what RSS wants to rectify. So it should not be misunderstood as aggression, or a lurking danger against any minority community as often projected by pseudo-secular parties and the media. Hindus were never receptive to unite under any single temple or deity. Like the Muslims do under the name of ‘Allah.’ So in some ways RSS tried to act only as a counter balance in the demographic space of India, and I doubt if it will ever go ballistic first, and that too like ISIS.

    Political parties can’t be relied upon for protection of a particular religion or faith completely. As they first nurture their own selfish needs. Where, their first priority is always their vote bank. Congress today doesn’t know where to look at. Ever since other pro Muslim parties have sprung up. Because of which their own Muslim vote bank has shrunk (In Lok Sabha only 44 seats) and for the majority they never ever bothered. Most Muslims and Christians, even when they lean on left wing parties. Still cannot afford to stay away from their mosques and churches. That issues diktats about whom to vote. Which is not the case with Hindu temples. Political parties confine you to geographical boundaries and nations whereas mosques and churches make you global but that is not the case with Hindu temples.

    Hindus, though, intelligent, were never a marshal race. Rather for over four hundred years they have been gullible and subservient. Be it under the rule of the Mughal Sultanate or the British Raj. They were always naive and never united under one religious banner. They also had big individual egos. Therefore were always exploited individually by their opponents. Their temples never united them. On the contrary their day-to-day living only separated them by caste wars. As compared to Islam and Christianity where mosques and churches were heard and acted upon. Temples had practically no say in arriving at important milestones decisions of Hindus. Except for milestone rituals. So no temple could have brought Hindus together. And that is where RSS came into picture to hold the hands of Hindus and fill the gap. But the idea was not to launch an onslaught on any other religion. Earlier Sikhism was formed as a marshal force and religion to protect Hindus from the onslaught of Afghan and Mughal invasions.

    If we compare the world demographics and religions across various countries and colonies. We will find there are 161 countries where Christianity is in a majority; 49 where Muslims are in a majority. In 7 countries unaffiliated religions rule the roost; 3 countries where Hindus are in a majority; 7 where Buddhists are in a majority; 3 countries where Folk Religion guides the majority and 1 where Jews are in a majority. Whereas, Christianity is more predominant in other continents such as Europe, America, Australia, New Zealand just to name a few. Islam and Hinduism on the other hand largely dominate Asia and the Middle East, and that to neck-to-neck. As compared to Muslim adherents of 1.12 billion in the region. Hindus number around 1.03 billion. I’m placing these vital statistics on the table. As that will only expose the tilt of the heft and the crucible required to balance the heft.

    66% of the world’s Muslims reside in Asia and the Middle East. They are 27% of the total population of Asia and the Middle East. With around 1.12 billion adherents and thus the heart of Muslim civilization on earth. And it is noticeable. They share space with over a billion Hindus in the same region. But there is always a tug-of-war between the two on strength and mettle.

    If we further zero in on South Asia. That includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. We will find 48 crore Muslims stay in South Asia which is about 28% of the world’s Muslim population and 30% of the population of South Asia and in comparison there are around 102 crore Hindus residing in South Asia. Which is around 98% of the total Hindu population of the world and around 64% of the total population of South Asia. And with a little over 95% of world’s Hindus living in India alone, a mind game of sorts is always on the prowl. Where RSS plays the card of Hindu saviour, and where Congress and other pseudo-secular parties are considered minority protectors.

    RSS came into wider relevance and recognition ever since terrorism escalated in J&K. Where Kashmiri Pandits had to flee the valley and the Congress government in the centre did nothing effective about it. It also raised its voice whenever Hindu minorities were crushed in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries. Even the illegal entry of Bangladeshis into Assam was overlooked if not encouraged by the Congress government. That changed the demographic pattern of Assam. Thus, one can say. It was also because of the Congress that RSS started gaining traction in India. Today the antenna of RSS goes even beyond the borders of India and stands as a peaceful Hindu insignia. Whether you like it or not.

    But times have changed. Besides trousers RSS should also think of broad banding their base. To get in their fold dalits and minorities. And India needs to realise. As long as you have vote bank politics, organisations like RSS will come up to take the cause of the neglected.

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‘ARROGANT INDIA’ INTIMIDATES THE ‘MEEK INDIA’ – THE CURSE OF LAL BATTI- VVIP CULTURE

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India belongs to we the VVIP and the rest can go to hell by drowning themselves in the sufficiently large Arabian sea or the Bay of Bengal, and for the rest who can’t reach there umpteen rivers are there or climb atop those lofty mountains or any sky-scraper and jump from there, for there is no place for NON-VIPS in India anymore. This is what the meek India is coaxed to feel by the arrogant India, shamelessly, personified by these VVIPs in flesh and blood. This VVIP class (Politicians-Bureaucrats-Judiciary) is not even 1% of the Indian population; but in the manner 1% of the world’s population controls 48% of the world’s wealth, these VVIP’s too control the entire India.

Perhaps, some of these VVIPs must also be feeling that Mahatma Gandhi, our father of the nation was perhaps an idiot, to have travelled third class and roamed in loin cloth, to live a life of simplicity; which we are not. And, so grab everything out, of the frail guts of this cattle class, of meek India.

And, for the meek India, Maharajas of the ancient India or Viceroys of the colonial British Raj, as if had never left but only got swapped by the arrogant India. Today, arrogant India very blatantly exploits the meek India by the sledgehammer of VVIP-ISM; by blocking roads for endless hours, taking their vehicles right up to the tarmac where their aircrafts are parked, by having separate lanes for themselves and also insulting senior citizens, differently abled persons and children who are made to stand in long queues while they walk in at the last moment by-passing security cordons, with their gun toting security guards. They delay lacs and lacs of workers going to office and factories by their stupid traffic movement and then talk of industrial output. They kill patients in ambulances by halting ambulances and then talk of health.

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In the British Raj, in many cities of India there were some roads and lanes, where Indians could not enter during certain hours (such as main roads and mall roads in many cities) and pitifully we find the same atrocious culture seeping back to haunt the meek India in a more aggressive manner, just to satisfy arrogant India’s egos.

Today, meek India is standing at a crowded crossroad, not knowing which way to go and whom to look at, as all look to be the same, and in the process is losing faith in the institution of democracy that comes through the windows of these elected representatives of political parties and their cahoots in bureaucracy and even the judiciary. For starting from Congress that invented the VVIP-ISM post British Raj; today even BJP sings the same tune after having promised to go the other way, and who knows, tomorrow AAP that started primarily on anti- corruption an anti- VIP culture too may get lured to VVIP-ISM.

And what is more mystifying is the posture in which ‘arrogant India’ approaches ‘meek India’ with folded hands with a promise to serve as a dutiful ‘Public Servant’ thereby exploiting the simplicity of the meek India and once they are elected they show their real ugly face and feudal mindset.

They do everything under the sun to justify the VVIP-ISM- the hateful Lal Batti culture. They operate like parasites on hard earned tax payer’s money and refuse to reform themselves. They inculcate venomous values in their children too and would never bury the skeleton of being called the lord and master.

So what did ‘meek India’ get post-independence? They got Bapu’s- third class, his loin cloth and above all his simplicity and values; and the arrogant class? Well they became the modern day Maharajas and didn’t let the Britishers leave India in the real sense.