Life Back Then

Memories of Village Bihar

Author: 
F. Tomasson Jannuzi

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I arrived in Bihar in 1956 as a student from USA. I was excited at the prospect of getting to know “village India” – I was on a mission to understand the dynamic features of India’s rural economy. I had got to know a little of India as a Senior Fellow at Dartmouth College in the United States, and as a post-graduate student at the School of Oriental and African Studies and at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London.

As it turned out, I had no idea how incomplete and fragmented was my knowledge of India, and especially “village India.” My sense of rural India did not differentiate between the descriptions of villages in the Punjab articulated by distinguished representatives of the British Raj like Sir Malcolm Darling (author of Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt) and the writings of Harold Mann (who described agrarian conditions in Maharashtra).

What is more, my perceptions of village India were wrapped, in a sense, in the Khadi of Indian nationalism and the modernizing ideals enshrined in the Constitution of India, the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, and the polemics of some of the politicians and urban intellectuals who led India to freedom from the British. I was assuming, naively, that “village India” was infused with commonalities: twin bullocks pulling a plow, Persian wheels lifting water from wells, mud huts of uniform design, thatched with straw.

The Thrill of the 1937 Election

Author: 
R C Mody

Category:

R C Mody

R C Mody is a postgraduate in Economics and a Certificated Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. He studied at Raj Rishi College (Alwar), Agra College (Agra), and Forman Christian College (Lahore). For over 35 years, he worked for the Reserve Bank of India, where he headed several all-India departments, and was also Principal of the Staff College. Now (2009) 82 years old, he is busy in social work, reading, writing, and travelling. He lives in New Delhi with his wife. His email address is rmody@airtelmail.in.

 

The year 1937 was, in a way, a turning point in my life. I was 11 years old and not expected to know much about or be interested in politics. Yet the happenings of that year created in me an interest that normally would have arisen when I was many years older.

Early that year, India held its first general election to its eleven provincial Assemblies: Bombay, Madras, Bengal, United Provinces, Punjab, Central Provinces, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Sind and North West Frontier Province. This was under the Government of India Act of 1935, which granted ‘Autonomy' to the provinces. This Act created two new provinces, Sind and Orissa, and made Burma, an Indian province until then, a separate country.

Satara’s Hanging Banyan Tree फांशीचा वड

Author: 
Arvind Kolhatkar

Category:

arvind kolhatkar

Arvind Kolhatkar spent his childhood in Satara, and later studied at Fergusson College, Pune and the University of Pune. After getting his MA in Mathematics, he joined the Indian Revenue Service, served in the Income Tax Department for about 30 years, rose to the rank of Commissioner, and retired voluntarily. He was an Executive Director of the Bombay Stock Exchange for 3 years. He and his wife Aruna currently live in Toronto. His email address is kolhatkar@hotmail.com.

Until the 1960s, our home at 77 Shukrawar Peth was at the northern end of Satara, Maharashtra. Beyond it, there was a large barren grassy wilderness called Genda Mal, so named after the rhinoceros kept there in Chhatrapati Shahu’s menagerie. 

Our family members would occasionally go there for a morning run or evening walk. A lonely one-branch old Banyan tree standing there had a story behind it.

Some Judges and Lawyers Whom I Knew

Author: 
K N Katju

Category:

K N Katju

Kailash Nath Katju (1887-1968) was one of India's prominent lawyers. He fought for India's freedom from the British and spent several years in jail. He defended the accused in the Meerut Conspiracy Case in Allahabad High Court in 1933. Later, he defended the military officers accused at the INA trial at Red Fort in Delhi. He was a Union Home and Defence Minister, and then the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh 1957-62.

Editor's note: This article is taken from the website of the Allahabad High Court. It is a speech delivered on the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of the Allahabad High Court in Novermber 1966. http://www.allahabadhighcourt.in/event/SomeJudgesLawyersKNKatju.pdf

Only selected excerpts from the original article are presented below. The full article is available in the attached pdf file. 

I started my career of legal profession in Kanpur in the year 1908 and shifted to the High Court Bar at Allahabad in March 1914. At that time there were 7 Judges in the Allahabad High Court, the Chief Justice being Sir Henry Richards.

The 1957 West Bengal Elections

Author: 
Jyoti Basu

Category:

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Jyoti Basu

Jyoti Basu, (born 1914), a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was the Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1977 to 2000.

Editor's Note: These reminiscences originally appeared on http://www.ganashakti.com/jb/preface.htm, from where they have reproduced without any changes.

PREFACE

My longtime associate, Comrade Saroj Mukherjee, had requested me to write about my political experiences in Bengali.

After giving it a long thought, I had decided to do so and Ganashakti serialised them which were later compiled as a book "Janaganer Sangey" ("With the People"). I have had to face many complex problems during my career which centred wholly on the liberation of the people at large. I have seen the people rise in victory as much as I have been witness to their defeat at times. These memories themselves imbibe a sense of achievement. This new book has been updated since then. If my experiences are of any help to all those who are striving to make this world a better place to live in, then I will consider my efforts a success.

Finally, I would like to repeat what I have always believed in: it is man, and man alone, who creates history. Despite the many crests and thrusts, the people will finally emerge victorious and gain freedom in a classless society free from exploitation of any form.

Chikka Narsappa

Author: 
M P V Shenoi

Category:

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.

In the 1940s, in Mysore, Chikka Narasappa operated a small (10 feet by 10 feet) grocery shop, which covered half the frontage of the rented house we lived in.

It was a modest house, perhaps around 700 square feet, and part of a vatara (what could be called as a gated community). Our home had a hall (multi-purpose room), a bedroom, and a kitchen and a bath. The bath was large enough to include a copper water container encased in brick, in which water could be heated with firewood.

A Fish-eyed Goddess from Madurai

Author: 
T.S. Nagarajan

Category:

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T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.

Editor's note: This story is reproduced, with permission, from Mr. Nagarajan's not-for-sale book of his memories, A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf &amp\; Other Memories, 2010.

I decided to marry at 25, two years after I got a job in Delhi as an official photographer in the Information Ministry. I wrote to my parents in Mysore asking them to look for a suitable girl for me, preferably from Tamilnadu.

I had nothing against Kannada-speaking girls. But, somehow, I felt Tamil girls were smarter, had classical looks and above all they were very photogenic.

Early Years in Mysore

Author: 
K S Krishnaswamy

Category:

Dr. K. S. Krishnaswamy, an economist, was at the center of economic policy formulation in post-Independence India, working initially in the Planning Commission, and later at the Reserve Bank of India, from where he retired as Deputy Governor in 1981. Throughout his career and later, he remained deeply committed to the task of improving the life of the common man in India. He grew up in the small towns of the state of Mysore (now Karnataka). He recalls in his book the experiences of small-town traditional life, its charms and shortcomings.

Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared in Dr. Krishnaswamy's autobiography WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY-Memoirs of an Economic Advisor and is reproduced from there with permission.

There is not much that I can remember very exciting about my early childhood. My brother (who was a couple of years older than me) and I spent our days mostly in or near the house. My father, Kadur Shamanna, was a sub-assistant surgeon in the medical service of the state of Mysore, posted in a taluq headquarters. We lived in a modest house across the street from my father's dispensary, which we could visit only occasionally, under the care of a servant.

The dispensary was not by any means large and catered only for outpatients. But it constituted our entire concept of a “hospital”. Apart from catching a glimpse of our father at work, the attraction for us was the large compound in which we could play without hindrance when the sun was not severe.

Youthful days in India

Author: 
John Feltham

Category:

John Feltham

John was born in East Yorkshire, England on 21 August 1937. After studying in India, he became a Cadet Officer in a well-known shipping company, the British India Steam Navigation Company. He migrated to Australia at the beginning of 1969. He retired as the Head of Computer Studies at an all-boys High School in Townsville, North Queensland, where he now lives. He last visited India in 2001.

Editor's note: This story is based on materials on John Feltham's website http://vsdh.org/, which are reproduced here with his consent.

Before WWII broke out, my father was an apprentice "loom tuner" at a factory in Marfleet, Hull, East Yorkshire, England owned by Fenner. When the War broke out, many of the men at Fenner's joined up, and my Dad was promoted to Foreman for the duration of the war.  When the War ended, some of these men returned, and Fenner's told my father that he would no longer be a Foreman.

Raman family by Meera Balasubramanian

Author: 
Meera Balasubramanian

Category:

Kerala, Singapore, Madras, 1957

Meera Balasubramanian

 

Meera was born and brought up in Madras, Tamil Nadu. She graduated from Stella Maris College with a BA in Sociology, and got her MBA from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila. She has enjoyed living in Manila, Istanbul, and Bethesda, MD., a suburb of Washington, D.C. She is currently in Hong Kong with her husband, while two sons are students in the U.S.

 

This is a portrait of the Raman family taken in a studio in Singapore in 1957. Seated at the centre is Lakshmi Raman, my mother, who was about 33 years old at that time. In the photo, we have her children (from left to right): Balu (sixth oldest), Vimala (third oldest), Leela (oldest), Lakshmi Raman, Kamala (second oldest), Savithri (fourth oldest), and Chandra (fifth oldest).

Raman family

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