Events Vol5, Issue 1

63 yrs on, Haryana’s village of martyrs faces police action 
Anatomy of the ghadar by Rudrangshu Mukherjee 
Binsar Seminar on Traditional Knowledge Systems

63 yrs on, Haryana’s village of martyrs faces police action 
Anatomy of the ghadar by Rudrangshu Mukherjee 
Binsar Seminar on Traditional Knowledge Systems

63 yrs on, Haryana’s village of martyrs faces police action 
TOI, TNN, Aug 18, 2010


BHIWANI: Residents of Rohnat village, also known as the village of martyrs in acknowledgment of its contribution in the 1857 against the British, woke up to a new surprise this Independence Day – a day they have been boycotting for the last 63 years. Police have booked 38 of them for showing disrespect to the national flag and hoisting a black flag on August 15. 

SP Bhiwani Ashwin Shainwi said a case was registered under relevant sections of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, and the National Flag Code-2001 after SHO of Bawani Khera police station Pratap Singh came to know of the villagers hoisting a black fl ag in the government school. Only three accused have been identified — Prithvi Singh, Meer Singh (former sarpanches) and one Palaram. 

Meanwhile, even as the villagers deny the allegations, a DSP has been deputed to probe into the matter. Police have not made any arrests, nor seized a black flag. 

The villagers have been demanding the restoration of their ancestral land, which was snatched by the Britishers after the 1857 revolt.


Anatomy of the ghadar by Rudrangshu Mukherjee 
August 19, 2010,


If the truth be told, till a fi ranghi came along, no historian or 1857 enthusiast had given too much attention to the rebellion in Delhi, its course and its significance. Bahadur Shah’s capture in Humayun’s Tomb and Hodson’s cruel execution of the princes had become the stuff of popular lore but there was no detailed analysis of what had happened in the Mughal capital once the rebels had captured it and in the aftermath of the British reconquest.

William Dalrymple’s The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 drew attention to the revolt in Delhi and to the rich documentation about it that existed in the National Archives in Delhi. It is thanks to his book and its graphic description and analysis that we now know what happened in Delhi between May 11, 1857, when the sepoys fi rst arrived in Delhi from Meerut, and the end of September 1857, when the British reconquered the capital and began to sack it.

Mahmood Farooqui worked with Dalrymple to translate the Persian and Urdu documents in the National Archives. These documents gave Dalrymple’s narrative its very special fl avour. It was possible on the basis of these documents to reconstruct the events of 1857 in Delhi between the fateful months of May and September almost from one day to another. In this book, Farooqui comes into his own and discovers his own voice on not only the great uprising but also on Delhi in the last days of the ancien regime.

The most important service that Farooqui renders is that he makes many of the important documents concerning the revolt in Delhi available to historians and readers who have no Urdu and Persian. He also arranges these documents in chapters so that they actually provide an outline of a story. What these documents actually convey, even without the historians’ annotations and commentaries, is an ambience. They allow us an entry into the world of the rebels: their actions, sometimes their feelings, a glimpse into their aims and aspirations and a knowledge of the dramatis personae, from the noble to the tinker to the beggarman. Through these documents, the rebellion moves from the Lal Qilla to the streets and lanes of Delhi. In Farooqui’s words, “The book retrieves the unsung, the ordinary, and the unheroic from the uprising of 1857.”

An important point that he makes is that not every one in Delhi, or any other theatre of the revolt, was involved in the rebellion or its suppression. But everyone in the city felt the impact of the uprising. The quotidian was ruptured but the quotidian also continued. The documents collected in this book are located in that strange intersection.

While the documents lie at the heart of the book, they are prefaced and followed by commentaries by Farooqui. These contain his own views on Delhi and the rebellion there. Historians who have written on 1857 since the centenary year — Eric Stokes, Tom Metcalf, Ranajit Guha, Tapti Roy and this reviewer — have all concentrated on the rural dimensions of the rebellion. Their work analysed the impact of landrevenue settlements, the nature of peasant mobilisation, modalities of peasant action, the complexities of the peasant-magnate relationship and so on. The revolt in Delhi or the ghadar, as Farooqui prefers to call it, was by defi nition an urban phenomenon. Because of this, the documents that Farooqui read and analysed spill over beyond a history of the rebellion.


Many of them relate to a government’s attempts to restore some kind of order within the melee and chaos of a rebellion. They should thus be of some interest to those who are interested in understanding how a pre-colonial city in India was run and administered.

A word about the translation of the documents. Farooqui writes in a note that he has made no attempt while translating the documents “to conform to scholarly accuracy”. “I have,” he continues, “interpreted the texts before me and interposed between them and the reader in English, giving to the latter a fluency which necessarily carried a different flavour in the original.” Thus, the scholar interested in textual authenticity may like to go back to the original documents. One can only hope that Farooqui in his quest to render fluency has not deviated too much from the original and that meaning has not been distorted through his interpretation and interposition.

That fear notwithstanding, through Farooqui’s presentation of the documents, the rebellion of 1857 in Delhi comes alive. His account of it is rich in detail. His analysis is often tantalising as he conveys the impression that he has more to say than what he puts down on paper. This maybe due to an inexplicable modesty on his part since he allows Farooqui the storyteller to always prevail over Farooqui the historical analyst. Farooqui prefers to see himself as belonging to the long tradition of dastangos who have been an intrinsic part of Delhi’s literary culture and have enriched Delhi’s history.

Binsar Seminar on Traditional Knowledge Systems


The seminar on  Traditional Knowledge Systems and Development was held at the Khali Estate, Binsar, near Almora from 21 to 24 November 2010. In a way it was quite a unique and interdisciplinary seminar covering a variety of traditional technologies, history, archaeology, and socio-economic development. The focus of the seminar was to document and preserve the fast vanishing Traditional Knowledge Systems and use them for sustainable development. Even the fi nancial support came from two diverse agencies: the Uttarakhand Council of Science and Technology (UCOST) and Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR).

The seminar was attended by more than thirty delegates from the Kumaun University campuses of Nainital, Almora and Someshwar, Govt. Degree College, New Tehri, Lok Vigyan Kendra, Himlok, Indian Archaeological Society, University of Goa, Regional Research Institute of Himalayan Flora, Tarikhet, Allahabad University, State Department of Archaeology, Almora, Nilambar Joshi Educational Trust, SOS Organics Foundation, Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory, Spardha NGO etc. 

Dr. R.S. Tolia, former Chief Information Commissioner of Uttarakhand, inaugurated the seminar. Dr. Tapan Mukherjee of (NISCAIR, CSIR) was the special guest. Dr D P Aggarwal presided over the seminar. Ms Sunita Arya was the convenor on behalf of the Lok Vigyan Kendra. 

The sessions were divided into the following categories: 
I. Traditional Knowledge and Development: General papers 
II. Traditional medicine and biodiversity 
III. Traditional water management and architecture 
IV. Traditional Metal and other Technologies 
V. Concluding Session 
VI. Panel Discussion on chalking out the plan of action

The deliberations took place under the benign eyes of the Nandadevi-Trishul-Kamet-Shivling peaks of Uttarakhand in the scenic Khali Estate.

It was decided to publish the proceedings of the seminar edited by Dr O C Handa.

Sunita Arya
Lok Vigyan Kendra
Almora 263601   






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