Kashmiri Pandits, Vidyasagar & the Great Men of Media

It has been months since I have written a blog post but this article of Swaminathan S Aiyar provoked me to do it.

A tale of two ethnic cleansing in Kashmir

The article is assumed to be about the cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley. Even as the title suggests there is a counter balancing view. Cleansing of muslims from Jammu. To quote from the article –

Today, Jammu is a Hindu-majority area. But in 1947, it had a Muslim majority. The communal riots of 1947 fell most heavily on Jammu’s Muslims; lakhs fled into what became Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. That turned Jammu’s Muslim majority into a Hindu majority. In sheer scale, this far exceeded the ethnic cleansing of Pandits five decades later.

A lay reader would assume that are no muslims today in Jammu. The truth is it is 65% Hindus, 31% Muslims. Muslims have not been cleansed. And Pakistan occupied Kashmir is not all Kashmir. It also includes parts of Jammu. And 1947 was not a normal period. If one has to raise 1947 as cleansing of Jammu, one would also have to simultaneously discuss what happened in Punjab, Bengal and Sindh. To both Hindus & Muslims. In both East & West Punjab / Bengal.

But those were tougher times. Partition and its aftermath.

But what happened in 1989 / 1990 to Kashmiri Pandits were during ordinary times. There were no retaliation unlike in Jammu of 1947 when to use the (allegedly) BJP excuse – Action & Reaction or the more well documented Congress excuse – when a big tree falls.

But in all this what did the Kashmiri Pandits do? The Jammu Hindus are Dogras & the Kashmiri Pandits always felt closer to Kashmiri Muslims than the Jammu Dogras. Something the Kashmiri Muslims or their apologists in media never bothered to acknowledge. The Kashmiriyat is only for TV Debates and has hardly been practiced on the ground.

But what does all these have to do with Vidyasagar?

An incident from his life explains the reaction of Media perfectly. He had gone to his village once and whenever he went to his village he used to give away all his earnings to the suffering villagers. A band of robbers thought if he gave away so much money how much he should have? So they decided to rob him that night. Vidyasagar seeing the large number of bandits took his parents & brothers and vanished leaving behind whatever little he had.

When he came back to Calcutta, the Deputy Governor Hon. Haliday called him & chided him for his cowardice in fleeing. To quote his reply:

Your Honour may now accuse me of cowardice. But supposing, I had faced the numerous armed robbers single-handed, I was sure to lose my life. In that case, your honour would have been the first to say, what a fool Vidyasagar was to meet rashly so many robbers and sacrifice his life for the sake of trifles. Now that I have saved my life and have been able to appear before you, your honour calls me a coward. From this it is clear, that it is no easy thing to please you, great men.

   The Media currently has its most golden period. It consists of only such great men.

Art 370 – How Nehru let down Patel after his death

V Shankar was, apart from V P Menon and Maniben closest to Patel during his last few years. This is an extract from His book *Reminiscences of Patel – Vol 2* Pg 62 – 63. Incidentally Gopalaswamy Ayyangar was close to Nehru and had caused some friction between Nehru and Patel.

Finally, this view prevailed and Gopalaswamy Ayyangar’s draft with necessary modifications was adopted. A last minute plea of Maulana Azad to endorse Sheikh Abdullah’s point of view was turned down summarily and the Constituent Assembly without much debate and with the non-participation of Sheikh Abdullah adopted the Article which later figured as Article 370. I was somewhat taken aback at Sardar’s acquiescence in the draft formula of Gopalaswamy Ayyangar and strongly felt that Sardar had compromised the position of the Indian Union and other States in accepting that formula as the basis. Frankly speaking, I was resentful of Sardar’s attitude and when we returned to his residence during the lunch break, I was silent and sullen and repaired straight to my office room. Maniben came to call me for lunch; I declined to go and told her about the pain and anguish I inwardly felt, adding that for the first time I nursed a grievance of betrayal on the part of Sardar. She conveyed my feeling of resentment to Sardar who sent her back to tell me that I should join lunch table atleast for a talk. I did so, accordingly. As soon as I was seated, Sardar spoke: ‘So you are annoyed with me for having accepted Gopalaswamy’s formula.’ I queried that if he felt that way why did he not indicate his mind earlier. He said, ‘I was deeply concerned at the situation. Gopalaswamy had acted under Panditji’s advice. If Jawaharlal were here I could have had it out with him. But how could I do so with Gopalaswamy who was only acting under orders? If i did, people would have said that i was taking revenge on his confidante when he was away. Gopalaswamy had appealed to me for help. How could I have let him down in the absence of his Chief?”

I then asked why he had left down the country and the other States whose Constituent Assemblies had been scrapped in accordance with his advice and policy. He conceded the validity of the criticism but pointed out the delicate international position of the State and the issue of its relationship with India. We felt that the present situation had to be tided over without giving up the eventuality and this has been done under the formula. He said that after all, neither Sheikh Abdullah nor Gopalaswamy was permanent. The future would depend on the strength we do not deserve to exist as a nation.’

With this high-minded explanation of his action I had no further arguments to put forward and conceded that he had shown both strength and statesmanship in dealing with the problem and acknowledged the sense of chivalry which had prompted him to come to the aid of a colleague in trouble even though the latter had been opposing him virtually as a matter of routine in order to keep Panditji company.

I am happy to state that Gopalaswamy fully appreciated the nobility of Sardar’s action. I was fortunate to have won Gopalaswamy’s affection after Sardar’s death and was a recipient of both his trust and confidence in an unusual measure. When I was working as his Joint Secretary in July 1952 the self same article came in for criticism in the Lok Sabha. In defence, Pandit Nehru took the stand that the Article was dealt with by Sardar in his absence and he was not responsible for it. I met Gopalaswamy the same evening as he was walking on the lawn of his residence. I questioned the bonafides of Pandit Nehru’s stand. Gopalaswamy’s reaction was one of anger and he said ‘It is an ill return to Sardar for the magnanimity he had shown in accepting Panditji’s point of view against his better judgement.’ He added ‘I have told Jawaharlal this already.’

A Lesson never learnt

In recent times I have been reading Indian History so much that most of my responsibilities / commitments have been neglected. Despite the huge volume of quality material that I have been reading the following paragraphs has left a lasting impression in my mind. Thought will share with you. 

The extract is from the Book *House of Shivaji – Studies and documents on Maratha History: Royal Period* by Shri Jadunath Sarkar. The last Chapter is titled *What Maharashtra teaches us*. The last few paragraphs extracted here has the sub heading *Internecine Feud*.

At the end, it is the impartial historian’s duty not to conceal the the defects of the Maratha racial character. They have been strong, they have been free but they have not been united. Like the Afghan tribes or the clans of the Scottish biglands, Maratha family has fought Maratha family, clan has fought clan, in selfish personal feuds. The result has been disastrous to the interests of a nation as a whole. That perfect type of Maratha cavalry leader and organizer of tactics, Santaji Ghopare, was killed not by a Muslim but by another Maratha, Nimbalkar, whose brother this Santa had killed in an earlier internecine battle!

Even today caste-squabbles are not dead in Maharashtra, though the newspapers carefully exclude information on this unsavory subject. Brahman-Prabhu wrangles about religious claims are still boiling up; even the Brahmans are not a happy family in all their branches. Are Karhara Brahmans totally at ease about Chitpavan hostility, say in Ratnagiri? Let those who know the facts ponder on the consequences.

After all, there cannot be a truer message to the Maratha people even today than the advice given by Ramdas Swami nearly three centuries ago:

Unite all the people, fill them with one spirit.

Wherever Marathas are, unite them;

extend the spirit of our Maratha ‘dharm’.

Bahut lok milavave, ek vichare bharave.

Aakar Patel & History as tool for revenge – Part 1

Bharatpur, the royal house of former foreign minister Natwar Singh had only one king, Suraj Mal Jat.

Suraj Mal won a little land south of Delhi as the Mughals rapidly declined in power after the death of Aurangzeb. The family was promised they would be made rajas by Syed Hassan Ali Khan of Barha (one of the two famous/infamous Syed brothers). The Syed had no authority to do this and was killed before he could try. But the Jats were desperate for the title of king. Suraj Mal’s father, Badan Singh sent Rs 5,000 to the defeated and bankrupt, but still proud former governor of Gujarat, Sarbuland Khan, to please address him in his letters as ‘raja’.

Khan returned the money, addressing Singh only as ‘thakur’. This was in the 1730s. Suraj Mal made his money mainly from robbery. He died a rich man, leaving behind a full, bursting treasury and an army of peasant Jats, whose wages were 18 months in arrears.

It is not surprising that the heir to such a history is equally colourful. One of the Congress party’s most literate leaders (which may not be saying much in these days), Natwar Singh has become a rebel at age 83. Despite decades of service to the Nehru-Gandhi clan, his ministry was taken away a few years ago after a United Nations report on an oil scandal. His son later joined the BJP.

 Aakar Patel wrote an article on Natwar Singh and the above paras are the first few from that article. The article can be read in full here.

There is one person who comes out smelling sweet in the above story narrated by Aakar Patel – Sarbuland Khan. I had never heard of this Paragon of Virtue, so I immediately searched for him, till I located him in the book *Later Mughals – Vol 2* written by William Irvine. The book was later edited and augmented with the portions relating to *History of Nadir Shah’s Invasion* by Jadunath Sarkar and the volume I have was published in the year 1922.

At page 213 of the book, the incident of Rs. 5,000 mentioned above by Aakar Patel finds a place. The previous pages actually gives a much better picture of this Sarbuland Khan, who had had a very ordinary career before he ended up as Governor of Gujarat. The Mughal Emperor sent Maharajah Abhai Singh of Marwar to replace him as Governor of Gujarat but Sarbuland refused to move out. From Irvine’s records it is clear that Sarbuland gave a good fight to Abhai Singh and finally moved out after extracting Rs. 100,000 from Abhai Singh to vacate. Abhai Singh paid him Rs. 80,000 and cheated him out of the rest.

Sarbuland meanwhile had reached Agra and was detained indefinitely by his troop who mutinied because they had not been paid. This forced Sarbuland to borrow from Money lenders. It was at this point, Badan Singh sent two of his officers with a promised present of Rs. 1,00,000 if he would take up residence in Jat territory till Sarbuland gained the Emperor’s favour. Sarbuland made them wait for a week and laughed at them when they made their offer. He replied that he had not reached such a stage of destitution that he should apply to his equals. He sent a horse and jewelled sword to Badan Singh along with a letter addressing him as *Thakur*. Inexplicably the, Badan Singh sent a letter (along with Rs. 5,000) pleading he be called Raja as he had been promised so. Sarbuland returned it with another letter saying he did not need it and would press Badan Singh’s claim when he had the favourable ear of the Emperor.

It is not clear why Badan Singh sent Rs. 5,000 when his offer of Rs. 1,00,000 had been spurned. Also at this point of time, Sarbuland was not in the good books of the Emperor. In fact per R. C. Majumdar, he had amassed a fortune of close to Rs. 10 crore by the time he died (1756). Also by 1752 Emperor Ahmad Shah made him Raja, with a title Mahendra. It is not clear from where Aakar Patel gets his information that Badan Singh had kept his soldiers in arrears.

But more about Sarbuland Khan. After a long stay at Agra, he finally managed to endear himself to the Emperor but he could not leave his house, because of his creditors. Whenever the Emperor needed to see him, he sent an Imperial letter with Imperial Attendants to ward off the violent Creditors. But the story doesn’t end here. In February, 1739 Nadir Shah of Persia invaded India and defeated the Mughal army. Nadir Shah spent nearly 60 days in Delhi and collected a ransom worth anywhere around Rs. 70 Crores. Of this an amount of Rs. 2 Crore was collected from the public of Delhi. It is that Rs. 2 Crore that is relevant to Sarbuland Khan.

Nadir Shah divided the city of Delhi into 5 sections and called 5 nobles and gave them a list of citizens with their details and amount to be collected from each of them. The five nobles were – The Nizam, The Wazir, Azim-Ullah Khan, Sarbuland Khan and Murtaza Khan. In the two sections, assigned to the Nizam and the Wazir, the citizen were treated humanely and the Wazir, in fact paid most of the amount from his own treasury. But in the other three the treatment was inhuman, especially by Sarbuland Khan. Most people in these sections killed themselves out of desperation.

The Wazir was tortured and paid Rs. 1 crore along with jewels and elephants. His Diwan Majlis Rai was handed over to Sarbuland Khan to be tortured and money extracted from him. The ears of Majlis Rai was cut off in the Court and he went home only to commit suicide. So much for the *Proud Former Governor of Gujarat*.

Not much is known from Irvine of what Badan Singh was doing during this period . But when Nadir Shah went back to Persia, the Sikhs and Jats en route harassed the rear guard of his army and plundered a part of the wealth Nadir Shah had plundered from India.

But Sarkar gives a bigger picture of Badan Singh in a later book – Fall of the Mughal Empire (Vol 2). Badan Singh was the nephew of Churaman, the first Jat who wanted to weld that community into a kingdom and obviously wanted to be its king. Churaman arrested Badan Singh who managed to escape and lie low till the death of Churaman and the subsequent failure of his cousin Muhakam Singh. His only asset was his cunning. He had no inherited wealth or was not the descendant of a family that ruled.  He got into the good graces of Sawai Jai Singh who had razed the city of Thun built by Churaman. His humuility unlike that of Jats endeared him to Jai Singh who gave him the tika, nishan, kettle drum, five coloured flag and the title Braja Raj (Lord of Holy land of Mathura). Despite this he preferred to be called the vassal of Raja of Jaipur and called himself Thakur, never using the title Raja. (Contradictory to what Irvine says).

Badan Singh, reduced all the rich Jats to those of commoners and usurped all their wealth. He soon became very rich and was no longer a Zamindar but a petty Rajah. But the disruption caused in Delhi by the Sayyid brothers helped him amass more wealth by plundering Delhi. He used all this wealth to build large forts and towns.

R.C. Majumdar has this to say about him:

He organized a strong army, consisting of infantry and cavalry, constructed four strong forts, viz., Dig, Kumbher, Ver and Bharatpur, and provided them with ample provisions and sufficient artillery.

It was Badan Singh who laid the foundation of a new ruling house, viz., that of Bharatpur, with an enlarged territory. In 1752 he was created “a Raja with the title of ‘Mahendra’ by the Mughul emperor Ahmad Shah”

Badan Singh was also a patron of architecture. He constructed a temple at Vrindavan, known as Dhir Samir, fine palaces in the fort of Dig, a beautiful house with a large garden in the fort of Ver (Wair), and palaces at Kamar and Sahar.

But in spite of all his infantry and wealth, he refused to attend the Emperor’s Court calling himself a vassal of the Raja of Jaipur. He attended the Dasahara Durbar of Jaipur every year till old age curtailed his movements. So it is not clear why Irvine says he sent a request to Sarbuland Khan to call him Rajah. But both the books referred here – Later Mughals – Vol.2 and the Fall of Mughals – Vol.2 has a common thread. The first was edited by Jadunath Sarkar and the second written by Jadunath Sarkar.

One thing is clear – Sarbuland Khan was not the paragon of virtue that Aakar Patel makes him out to be. He after all collaborated with an invader who murdered and plundered so much in a short period of 57 days. Badan Singh again was not as bad as Aakar patel makes him out to be. A man who had his army in arrears and at the same time sent Rs. 5,000 to be called a Rajah.

But for the body blow – Was Suraj Mal the son of Badan Singh as claimed by Aakar Patel?  


Madras 375 Year old – Is that not against Dravidian Culture?

Three seemingly unrelated events.

First, the outrage against a City Club enforcing a No Dhoti – Only Trouser code.

Second, the outrage against Sanskrit Week. It was no body’s case that Sanskrit was imposed. The very presence of Sanskrit seemed to be nauseating to those outraged. 

Third, August 17th – 24th will be celebrated as is usual in the last few years as *Madras Week* because Madras was founded 375 years back on August 22nd, 1639.

But then what is the connection between the three – In the first case, we are told Tamizh (read dravidian) pride will be hurt if Dhoti clad people are not allowed inside a club. In the second case, the very fact that Sanskrit is promoted (not imposed) makes Politicians and other froth at the mouth. The Tamizh culture must either be too fragile to not bear a week of Sanskrit promotion or too fascist to even tolerate a week of Sanskrit.

But when I see the same set of people who outraged against the English & the “Aryans” celebrate founding of Madras in 1639 by the same English,  

I will try and extract from the book *The Early History of Madras Region* by Shri K V Raman, published in 1957 based on his Thesis of same name for which he was awarded the *Masters of Letters* by the Madras University. 

From *The Introduction*

In India, the importance of the study of the history of certain regions for the reconstruction of the full history of the country can hardly he exaggerated. For instance, the early history of the vicinity of Madras city is a fertile field. The history of the city of Madras as such, has only a life of three centuries; Scholars like Talboys Wheeler, W Foster, H.D. Love and C. S. Srinivasachari have written on the history of Madras and its surroundings from the advent of the English to recent times. But the hoary past of the area and the historic significance of ancient places like Mylapore, Triplicane, Egmore which form part of the city as well as those like Pallavaram, Velachcheri, Tiruvanmiyur, Kunnattur, Mangadu, Poonamalle, Tiruvorriyur, Padi, Tirumullaivayil, Ambattur, Korattur, Pujal (Red Hills), Puliyur, that are at the outskirts of the Madras City (within 20 miles) are striking. All these places and many more like Nungambakkam, Chetpet (Serruppedu), Tambaram (Tampuram) and others formed a good part of the ancient Tondamandalam. The early history of this region has not been undertaken in a full measure so far. The present thesis seeks to provide such a study and bring out the importance of the region in her political, administrative, economic, social, literary, religious and architectural history from the earliest times up to 1650 A. D.

In the matter of administration, the epigraphs of the region also reveal the prevalence of the essential features of a sound administrative system, both central and local. They also tell us about the active functioning of the village assemblies (sabhas) in Manali and Adambakkam. These were working well even in the 9th century A. D., during the Pallava rule. In later times, under the Chola and Vijayanagar rulers, the – village assemblies functioned in many other places of the region. The economic and social history of the region may be gleaned from the epigraphs and other sources, as also many interesting details of information relating to taxation, agriculture, irrigation, land tenure,  trade and commerce wages, weights and coins, land-value, land-measures, interest-rates, community life, customs and manners of the people etc. The vital part that the prominent temples like those of Tiruvorriyur  and Triplicane, played in the economic, social and religions life of the villages is also striking.

In the field of literature and learning the history of the region has its contribution. On the Tamil side, tradition associates Tiruvalluvar, the author of the immortal, Tirukkural, with Mylapore. Sekkilar, the renowned minister of Kulottunga II and the author of the famous Periapuranam hailed from Kunnattur and Mayilainathar and Jnanaprakasr, noted commentators, were from Mylapore and Tiruvorriyur respectively. Similarly, Sanskrit learning flourished in this region, as is borne out :by the fact that in the Tiruvorriyur temple there was a special hall in which a regular school was conducted for the teaching of Sanskrit grammar and the exposition of the doctrines of several schools of philosophy.

The religious history of the area is indeed very eventful. Vaishnavism, Saivism. Buddhism and Jainism has each played its part here. Some of the heralders of the Vaishnava wing of the Bhakti movement, were either born in this region or were closely associated with it. Pey Alvar, one of the earliest Alvars, came from Mylapore. Tirumalisai Alvar was born in Tirumalisai near Poonamalle. Bhudattalvar and Tirumangai Alvar visited Tirunirmalai and Triplicane. They, it may be remembered, were renowned composers of· exquisite devotional poetry, enshrined in their pasurams. Tirukkachchi Nambi, the elder contemporary and a close .associate of Sri Ramanuja, the famous philosopher of the Visishtadvaita school, came from Poonamalle, and later, the great Ettur Kumara Tatacharya, one of the leaders of Vaishnavite sect, made Tirunirmalai one of the centres of his activities. Saivism contributed alike, its own share to the religious importance of the region. The Tevaram hymners, associated with the Saiva wing of the Bhakti movement have visited temples in the region and found inspiration for their padigams. Pattinathar, the poet ascetic, lived and died in Tiruvorriyur. Niranjanaguru, Vagisvara Pandita and Chaturanana Pandita, the exponents of the Somasiddhanta or the Pasupata cult of Saivism were active in this region. Epigraphical, archaeological and literary sources reveal that Buddhism and Jainism once had a hold on this region. Mylapore had a Jain pagoda for Tirthankara Neminatha to whom was dedicated later, Neminatham, the Tamil grammar work of the 12th century.




From Chapter – 1 : Antiquity of the Madras Region

Coming to historical times, we find that this region, along with the modern districts of chlngleput, South Arcot and North Arcot, came under two ancient divisions – Aruvanadu and Aruvavadatalainadu, Aruva south and Aruva. north.  Even Ptolemy, has noted this territory roughly extending between South Pennar and North Pennar, as Aruvarnoi or Arvarnoi. These two divisions. Aruvanadu and Aruvavadatalainadu together came to be called as Tondaimandalam or Tondainadu perhaps after the conquest of this place by Tondaiman Ilam Tiraiyan, a contemporary of Karikala Chola, who has been ascribed to the second century A.D.· Even though the Perumbanarrupadai, a work of the Sangam Age, informs us that Ilam Tiraiyan was ruling at Kanchi when Karikala was adorning the Chola throne, we do not get much information about the conquest of the territory round Kanchi by  Ilam Tiraiyan and also about the people whom he conquered. But a very late tradition preserved in the famous Mckenzie collections seems to throw some light on the early inhabitants of Tondaimandalam whom Ilam Tiraiyan conquered.

The Manuscript has it that the ancient territory known as   Tondaimandalam, was first inhabited by wild tribesmen, Kurumbas by name who began to evolve gradually a certain form of civilization and also political organisation. Fierce people as they were, they built a number of forts, and at one time practically dominated the Tondaimandalam region which was then known as Kurumba Bhumi. The ancient Tamil work Purananuru describes the Kurumbas as warlike people of whom even kings were afraid.  The learned editor of the Purananuru Dr. V. Swaminatha Iyer,  translated the term Kurumba, to mean a fort. Perhaps because of this close association with a vast network of forts, they got that name – Kurumba.

The Mackenzie Manuscripts point to Madavaram or Puzal near Madras as the headquarters of the Kurumbas. The Kurumbas are said to have divided the Tondaimandalam into 24 districts or Kottams in each of which was built a fort. The twenty four districts are…… From Inscriptions of the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries A.D., we know that the place where the present Madras city is situated and its immediate surroundings, were included partly in PuJal Kottam and partly in Puliyur Kottam. Thus while Tiruvorriyur, Pujal, Ayyanapuram (the modern Ayyanavaram which is a part of the Madras city) were in Pujal Kottam places like Ejumur (the Modern Egmore), Mayilarpil, (the Modern Mylapore), Pundamalli, Pallavaram! and Tampuram (the Modern Tambaram) were all in Puliyur Kottam. Puliyur l{ottam seems to have derived its name from a small village called Puliyur near the modern Kodambakkam, Madras and the Pujal Kottam derived its name from Pujal a village near the modern Red Hills. These villages, now insignificant, were probably important centres of the Kurumbas who built their forts there. The Mackenzie Manuscript says that Pujal had a fort. Without Some such thing as the existence of forts in these places, the naming of the whole district after the small villages is inexplicable.




Confused Desi – Young India & Gandhi

The year 1919. Jalianwala Bagh had just happened. B. G. Horniman who was mentioned in the earlier post as Motilal Nehru’s chief advisor wrote fiery articles in his paper “The Bombay Chronicle”. The paper was placed under official censorship and Horniman whisked to Britain. The Directors asked Gandhi to take over and run the paper. Before he could, the paper was suspended. The Directors also controlled another paper called “Young India”. They asked Gandhi to run the same.  Gandhi also wanted a Gujarati daily, which was also made available to him. But by then Bombay Chronicle was free to be published. This allowed Gandhi to run Young India and Navajivan (Gujarati) from Ahmedabad. The first issue of Navajivan under Gandhi came out on Oct 7th, 1919 and Young India, a day later.

On the second page of the first issue (dated Oct 8th, 1919) appeared Gandhi’s editorial, “To the Subscribers and the Readers”:

Young India from this week enters upon a new stage. It became a bi-weekly when Mr. Horniman was deported and The Chronicle was strangled. Ever since the Chronicle’s rebirth, the syndicate and I have been considering the advisability of reverting to the weekly issue. The conversion of Navajivan into a weekly and its coming under my charge has hastened the decision. “The burden” of conducting a biweekly and a weekly is too great a strain on me and a weekly Young India will now serve almost as well as a bi-weekly. The annual subscription will now be Rs. 4 instead of Rs. 8 and the price of single copy will be one anna instead of two, without postage. Subscribers may either have the balance due to this change returned to them or the amount may be credited to the next year’s account. Those subscribers who be dissatisfied with the change can have the proportionate payment refunded to them on application.

The headquarters of young India have now been transferred to Ahmedabad for better management, and in order to enable me to devote some time to the Satyagraha Ashram which due to my continued absence from it was being somewhat neglected by me. Moreover, it was obviously uneconomical in every respect to edit two papers at different places. This deprives me of the privilege of being with Bombay friends as much as I have lately been. But I hope they will forgive me, if the new arrangement results, as I hope it will, in greater service to the country. Young India has hitherto been chiefly occupied in dealing with the Punjab affairs. But one may reasonably hope that the cloud will lift in the near future.

What will Young India then present to its readers? I frankly confess that to me editing a newspaper in English is no pleasure. I feel that in occupying myself, with that work, I am not making the best use of my time and but for the Madras Presidency, I should now leave the work of editing Young India. It is true that I should at times like to make my views in matters of general interest known to the Government. But I do not need to control a newspaper merely for that purpose.

The editing of Navajivan has been a perfect revelation to me. Whilst Young India has little more than 1,200 subscribers, Navajivan has 12,000. The number would leap to 20,000 if we would but get printers to print that number. It shows that a vernacular newspaper is a felt want. I am proud to think that I have numerous readers among farmers and workers. They make India.  Their poverty is India’s curse and crime. Their prosperity alone can make India a country fit to live in. They represent nearly eighty per cent of India’s population. The English journals touch but the fringe of the ocean of India’s population.

Whilst, therefore, I hold it to be the duty of every English knowing Indian to translate the best of the English thought in the vernaculars for the benefit of the masses, I recognise that for a few years to come, until we have accepted Hindustani as the common medium among. the cultured classes and until Hindustani becomes compulsory in our schools as a second language, educated India, especially in the Madras Presidency, must be addressed in English. But I will not be a party to editing a newspaper that does not pay its way. Young India cannot pay its way unless it has at least 2,500 paying subscribers. I must appeal to my Tamil friends to see to it that the requisite number of subscribers is found, if they wish to see Young India continued.

The more so now, because the proprietor of Young India have decided to give up all advertisements. I know that they have not been entirely, if at all, converted to my view that a newspaper ought to be conducted without advertisements. But they are willing to let me make the experiment. I invite those who wish to see Young India free from the curse of advertisements to help me to make the venture a success. The Gujarati Navajivan has already demonstrated the possibility of conducting a newspaper without advertisements soiling its pages. What a financial gain it would be to the contrary, if there was for each province only one advertising medium – not a newspaper – containing innocent unvarnished notices of things useful for the public. But for our criminal indifference, we would decline to pay the huge indirect taxation by way of mischievous advertisements.  Some readers who are interested in the purity of journalism recently sent me a most indecent advertisement extracted from a well-known newspaper. I have refused to soil the pages of Navajivan by reproducing it. Anyone turning to the advertisement sheets of even leading journals can verify the aptness of my criticism.

A word as to the policy of Young India.  Apart from its duty of drawing attention to injustices to individuals, it will devote its attention to constructive Satyagraha as also sometimes cleansing Satyagraha. Cleansing Satyagraha is a civil resistance where resistance becomes a duty to remove a persistent and degrading injustice such as the Rowlatt Act.

The Young Indian was published for more than 12 years as a weekly Journal. First Gandhi, then Rajaji and later George Joseph were the editors. Gandhi again became its editor in 1925. The Journal was finally replaced by “Harijan” as the official weekly that would carry Gandhi’s messages.

Confused Desi more confused on National Herald – Motilal Nehru

My attempts to find some justification for the Sonia G / Rahul G family take over of National Herald is getting desperate by the day. The more I try to find a logical reason the more I realise there is very little justification on moral grounds. 

But every congress spokesman on TVCs say how Jawaharlal Nehru started National Herald & nurtured it. Does the Nehru / Gandhi family’s ties with Journalism start there?

But before that a small extract from the Memorandum of Association of Young India (The Main object to be pursued by the Company on its incorporation):

To inculcate in the mind of India’s youth commitment to the ideal of a democratic and secular society for its entire populace without any distinction as to its religion, caste or creed and to awaken India’s youth to participate in activities that may promote the foregoing in any manner whatsoever including, without limitation, participating in all democratic activities through open and transparent electoral process, so as to conform to the ideals of the founding fathers of India, Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. 

I am not able to understand how these could be translated into any meaningful activity but probably that reflects my back ground. I have been a bean counter (euphemism for accountant) all my life. Probably it takes a better mind than that of a Shylock to understand such lofty ideas. But there is a man who is more to my taste. A man who was willing to spend his hard earned money for the Nation and for the Son whom he doted.

The Extract below is from Pages 187 – 190 of the book *The Nehrus – Motilal and Jawaharlal* by B R Nanda published by The John Day Company, New York, first published in 1963. It is a biography of Motilal and ends with his death – surprisingly a very objective analysis of the Nehrus. The portion extracted deals with a Newspaper that Motilal started. 

‘What is matter of great concern to me’, Motilal wrote to Gandhi soon after the Calcutta Congress, ‘is not the giving up of the [legal] practice, but the fate of the Independent.’ The Independent started its career on February 5, 1919, before the passage of the Rowlatt Bills and the Satyagraha movement brought Gandhi to the forefront of national politics. Motilal had thus defined the aims of his newspaper :

‘The Independent has come into existence, to lay bare the soul of a nation, of a people ripening into nationhood, of communities merging into a people, of individuals growing into a community. How shall it approach its noble work? or better still, how not? Not along the facile line of opportunism, the fatal line of least resistance. . . But by bringing the fierce light of day to play upon dark spots wherever they exist By striving to press home the eternal truth that . . . while on the one hand national rights cannot be withheld to be doled out in little bits with a consciousness of high-minded generosity, those rights cannot, on the other hand, thrive in an atmosphere of religious cleavage and racial antagonism. Thus alone can the Independent fulfil its mission.’

Not all Motilal’s idealism nor all his money could make the venture a success. The high salaries which he offered created a stir in the world of Indian journalism and even succeeded in weaning some journalists from the local rival, the Leader, but financial mismanagement ultimately sealed the fate of the Independent . B. G. Horniman, the editor of the Bombay Chroncle, who was Motilal’s chief adviser in starting the new paper, was a fiery journalist, but he had little insight into the business side of a daily paper.

The first editor of the Independent was Syud Hossain, who had served on the Bombay Chronicle. Under his editorship the Independent made a promising start, but it soon ran into difficulties and became a great drain on Motilal’s bank balance just when, owing to his preoccupation with politics, his own income was dwindling. By the beginning of 1920, the Independent had become a headache to Motilal. It had not been easy to find a suitable editor after Syud Hossain’s departure, Jawaharlal tried to step into the breach, but he had too many other interests. And even Jawaharlal found that it was easier to dash off an article than to unravel the managerial and financial tangles of the paper.

Motilal was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ‘Nationalist Journals’ which owned the Independent. The other directors were Syed Hyder Mehdi, Syed Nabi Ullah, Janki Nath Chak and Jawaharlal. Early in February there was a crucial meeting of the Board of Directors at Allahabad, but Motilal was unable to leave Arrah even for a few hours.

Motilal to Jawaharlal, February 10, 1920: Tour note on the “lad” [Independent]. I am sorry I do not follow your figures. It is easy to pass a resolution to continue the paper, but difficult to do so in decent form. What arrangements have been made for the supply of paper, types, etc.? Where is the money to come from? Who is to do the editorial work? I am thoroughly dissatisfied with Ranga Iyer, and cannot give him a free hand to put in any nonsense he likes … For the last nine months we have been playing at this stupid game. You say Joseph is out of the question [as editor]. He is a thousand times better than Ranga Iyer, who cannot be trusted to write a single line without pre-censorship either by you or someone else . . . Lajpat Rai is a good idea for the editorship . . , but by the time he is ready to fake charge (if at all) the “Ind” will be buried and forgotten. You cannot go on with your present bank balance and income even for a month…. Had I been present at the meeting I should have voted for complete suspension for a time . . ‘

A few days later Motilal tried to sell some shares in ‘Nationalist Journals’ during his visit to Calcutta, but without success. He could not interest financiers, but was able to enlist the services of Bipin Chandra Pal for regular editorial assignments. Since the partition of Bengal, Pal had been a popular hero in Bengal and indeed in the whole of India; in 1920 his name was still one to conjure with. He was modest in his demands and offered to write four articles a week for sixty rupees. ‘He expects payment punctually every Saturday,’ Motilal wrote, ‘the poor man is really hard up.’ In May Pal became editor of the Independent at a monthly salary of Rs. 500; one of his sons was appointed a sub-editor at Rs. 100 a month, and another son who was in England was to work as a foreign correspondent for £6 a week. At the same time Motilal appointed his energetic nephew Mohan Lai Nehru as the manager of the paper. The hope that these appointments would bolster up the prestige of the Independent and bring in fresh capital was not to be realized. B. C Pal’s politics were out of step with those of the Nehrus; his flamboyance outran his discretion, and the guns of the Independent, to Motilal’s consternation, were turned on Gandhi and the Congress. Within ten days Motilal was asking his son to ‘take Bipin Pal in hand. He has run amuck, abusing all nationalists without any distinction. His last attack on Gandhi is about “the limit”. The Ind appears to be doomed. Whoever comes to it loses his head’.

The Independent lingered on for another three years. By October, 1920, Motilal had sunk Rs. 80,000 in the paper, which needed a lakh and a half to work off its liabilities. He addressed a confidential appeal to friends :

‘I have given away freely from the earnings of my practice at the Bar whatever was necessary to keep it afloat, but these earnings have now ceased and I cannot possibly give what I do not possess. I can therefore no longer give to the Independent anything like the help I have so far given single-handed.’

It would be incorrect to regard the story of the Independent as merely one of editorial ineptitude and financial mismanagement. It provided a useful, perhaps essential, outlet for the political and literary enthusiasms of Jawaharlal, whose articles gladdened his father’s heart ‘The leading article in the “Ind”, which Nagu brought was excellent,’ Motilal wrote from Airah (February 26, 1920), ‘I smelt Jawahar in every word and sentence.’ In spite of all the headaches it gave to the Nehrus, the Independent was decidedly a political asset in the autumn of 1920. ‘It is the only English daily in India,’ Motilal proudly wrote to Gandhi on September 17, 1920, ‘to support the full programme of non-cooperation.’

  In the next post we will see what is *Young India* and Mahatma Gandhi role in it.