Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Mar 18, 2020 10:41 pm

Andrew Harvey (religious writer)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/18/20

Andrew Harvey
Born: 1952 (age 67–68), Coimbatore, India
Occupation: Author, religious scholar, mystic
Language: English and French
Citizenship: British
Alma mater: Oxford University
Period: 1970–1977

Andrew Harvey (born 1952) is a British author, religious scholar and teacher of mystic traditions, known primarily for his popular nonfiction books on spiritual or mystical themes, beginning with his 1983 A Journey in Ladakh. He is the author of over 30 books, including, The Hope, A Guide to Sacred Activism, The Direct Path, the critically acclaimed Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, The Return of the Mother and Son of Man.[1][2] He was the subject of the 1993 BBC documentary "The Making of a Modern Mystic"[3] and is the founder of the Sacred Activism movement.[4]

Harvey lives in a rural area of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, where he continues to write when he is not lecturing. Harvey conducts workshops on Sacred Activism, the teachings of Rumi, yoga and practices that will lead to deeper spiritual awareness. Harvey travels with students to sacred sites in India, Australia and South Africa, and offers personal spiritual direction. Harvey was listed as number 33 in the Watkins' Mind Body Spirit magazine as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in 2012.[5] In 2012, he was nominated for the Templeton Prize, which was eventually awarded to the Dalai Lama.

Early life and education

Harvey was born in Coimbatore, India in 1952[6] and lived there until he was nine years old. He was educated at English boarding schools and then Oxford University, where he later taught Shakespeare and French literature until 1977. He wrote his dissertation on madness in Shakespeare and Erasmus.[7]


At 21 in the early 1970s, Harvey became a fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford.[8] By 1977 he had become disillusioned with life at Oxford and returned to his native India, where a series of mystical experiences initiated his spiritual journey. Over the next thirty years he plunged into different mystical traditions to learn their secrets and practices. In 1978 he met a succession of Indian saints and sages and began his study and practice of Hinduism. In 1983, in Ladakh, he met a Tibetan adept, Thuksey Rinpoche,[9] and undertook with him the Mahayana Buddhist bodhisattva vows; later, in 1990, he would collaborate with Sogyal Rinpoche and Patrick Gaffney in the writing of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.[10] In 1984, Harvey began a ten-year-long exploration and explication of Rumi and Sufi mysticism in Paris with a group of French Sufis under the guidance of Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch, the translator of Rumi into French.[11] In 1992, he met Father Bede Griffiths in his ashram in south India near where Harvey had been born. It was this meeting that helped him synthesize the whole of his mystical explorations and reconcile Eastern with Western mysticism.

While in India, Harvey encountered Mother Meera, who became his guru and the subject of his book Hidden Journey.[12] His memoir, The Sun at Midnight, describes their subsequent break and his disillusionment with gurus.

For the last 30 years, Harvey has travelled widely, living in India, London, Paris, New York and San Francisco, studying, teaching at university level and in seminars and workshops. A prolific writer, Harvey has authored or co-authored over 30 books. His focus since 2005 has been the advocacy of what he terms "Sacred Activism". He is the founder and director of the Institute of Sacred Activism, which trains leaders and social justice advocates.[13]


Harvey is a scholar of mystic traditions. He envisions true spirituality to be the divinisation of earthly life through spiritual practice. These practices can take many forms and can be taken from religious traditions. Harvey sees six poets and religious figures as having universal appeal:

Buddha as portrayed in the Dhammapada
Jesus as portrayed in the Gospel of Thomas
Rumi, a 13th century Sufi poet.
Kabir, a 15th century Indian poet
Ramakrishna, a 19th century Hindu sadhu
Aurobindo, a 20th century Hindu philosopher-sage

Harvey also emphasises the Divine Feminine, as expressed in the Virgin Mary, Kali, the Black Madonna and Mother Earth.

Since 2005, Andrew Harvey's work has focused on teaching Sacred Activism around the globe. Harvey describes sacred activism as "the product of the union of a profound spiritual and mystical knowledge, understanding, and compassion, peace and energy, with focused, wise, radical action in the world."[14]


• Hidden Journey: A Spiritual Awakening, 1991[15]
• The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: A New Spiritual Classic from One of the Foremost Interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism to the West (co-editor), 1992[16]
• The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi. North Atlantic Books/Frog, 1994.[17]
• The Divine Feminine: Exploring the Feminine Face of God Throughout the World, 1996 ISBN 1-57324-035-4[18]
• Light upon light: inspirations from Rumi. North Atlantic Books, 1996. ISBN 1-55643-206-2[19]
• Mary's Vineyard: Daily Meditations, Readings, and Revelations. with Eryk Hanut. Quest Books, 1996. ISBN 0835607453[20]
• The Essential Mystics: The Soul's Journey Into Truth. Castle Books, 1998[21]
• The Essential Gay Mystics, 1998 ISBN 0-06-250905-5 (cloth), ISBN 0-06-251524-1[22]
• Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ, J.P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1998[23]
• Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom, with Eryk Hanut. Quest Books, 1999. ISBN 0-8356-0767-4[24]
• The Return of the Mother, 2000[25]
• A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism, 2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000. ISBN 0-618-05675-0[26]
• The Direct Path: Creating a Personal Journey to the Divine Through the World's Traditions, 2001 ISBN 0-7679-0299-8[27]
• The Sun at Midnight: A Memoir of the Dark Night, 2002 ISBN 1-58542-179-0[28]
• A Walk With Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, And Ramakrishna. SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1594731381[29]
• The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, Hay House, 2009. ISBN 1-4019-2003-9[30]
• Heart Yoga: The Sacred Marriage of Yoga and Mysticism, North Atlantic Books. 2010. ISBN 9781556438974[31]
• Radical passion : sacred love and wisdom in action. North Atlantic Books. 2012. ISBN 9781583945032[32]


1. Author Biography Hay House.
2. O'Reilly, Jane (11 August 1991). "Soul Searching". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
3. The Making of a Modern Mystic (1993), retrieved 18 December 2019
4. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2009). The hope : a guide to sacred activism (1st ed.). Carlsbad, Calif.: Hay House. ISBN 978-1-4019-2003-6. OCLC 262892403.
5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 June 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
6. "Conscious TV - Andrew Harvey – The Death and the Birth". Retrieved 18 December2019.
7. Harvey, Andrew (3 October 1993). "The Merry Mystic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
8. Andrew Harvey Random House.
9. ... y_Rinpoche
10. Rolston, Dean. "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
11. Harvey, Andrew (30 September 2010). The Direct Path. London. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-4090-0388-5. OCLC 1100655877.
12. Shawn, Author (19 August 2016). "Mother Meera". Retrieved 18 December2019.
13. "Home". Andrewharvey. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
14. "Sacred Activism". Andrewharvey. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
15. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (1991). Hidden journey : a spiritual awakening (1st ed.). New York: Holt. ISBN 0-8050-1454-3. OCLC 22278056.
16. Sogyal, Rinpoche. (1992). The Tibetan book of living and dying. Gaffney, Patrick, 1949-, Harvey, Andrew, 1952-. [San Francisco, Calif.]: Harper San Francisco. ISBN 0-06-250793-1. OCLC 25552286.
17. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2001). The way of passion : a celebration of Rumi. Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, Maulana, 1207-1273. (1st Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam ed.). New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. ISBN 1-58542-074-3. OCLC 44573434.
18. The divine feminine : exploring the feminine face of God throughout the world. Harvey, Andrew, 1952-, Baring, Anne, 1931-. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press. 1996. ISBN 1-57324-035-4. OCLC 34151580.
19. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (1996). Light upon light : inspirations from Rumi. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-206-2. OCLC 33983720.
20. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (1997), Mary's vineyard, Quest Audio, ISBN 0-8356-2009-3, OCLC 39665695
21. The essential mystics : the soul's journey into truth. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (1st ed.). [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco. 1996. ISBN 0-06-250904-7. OCLC 34742352.
22. The essential gay mystics. Harvey, Andrew, 1952-. Edison, N.J.: Castle Books. 1997. ISBN 0-7858-0907-4. OCLC 39865383.
23. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (1999). Son of Man : the mystical path to Christ (1st trade pbk. ed.). New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam. ISBN 0-87477-992-8. OCLC 40954120.
24. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (1999). Perfume of the desert : inspirations from Sufi wisdom. Hanut, Eryk, 1967- (1st Quest ed.). Wheaton, Ill.: Quest Books. ISBN 0-8356-0767-4. OCLC 39810984.
25. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2001). The return of the mother. New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam. ISBN 1-58542-073-5. OCLC 44613074.
26. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2000). A journey in Ladakh (1st Mariner Books ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-05675-0. OCLC 43978270.
27. Harvey, Andrew (30 September 2010). The Direct Path. London. ISBN 978-1-4090-0388-5. OCLC 1100655877.
28. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2002). Sun at midnight : a memoir of the dark night. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. ISBN 1-58542-179-0. OCLC 49719105.
29. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2003). A walk with four spiritual guides : Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Ramakrishna. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Pub. ISBN 1-893361-73-X. OCLC 51177404.
30. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2009). The hope : a guide to sacred activism (1st ed.). Carlsbad, Calif.: Hay House. ISBN 978-1-4019-2003-6. OCLC 262892403.
31. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2010). Heart yoga : the sacred marriage of yoga and mysticism. Erickson, Karuna. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-55643-897-4. OCLC 430839021.
32. Harvey, Andrew, 1952- (2012). Radical passion : sacred love and wisdom in action. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-58394-503-2. OCLC 775415649.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:12 am

Tibetan Buddhism and Mass Monasticism
by Melvyn C. Goldstein1
[1In Adeline Herrou and Gisele Krauskopff (eds.), Des moines et des moniales dans le monde. La vie monastique dans le miroir de la parenté. Presses Universitaires de Toulouse le Mirail]


Monasticism is fundamental to both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist philosophies and is present wherever Buddhism existed. Tibet was no exception and possessed a monastic establishment that adhered to the basic Buddhist ideological and vinaya norms. At the same time, however, Tibetan monasticism differed markedly from other forms of Buddhist monasticism in its utilization of a philosophy that I have called “mass monasticism”—an emphasis on recruiting and sustaining very large numbers of celibate monks for their entire lives.2 This essay will examine Tibetan monasticism and the institution of mass monasticism as it existed in the modern era (before socialist institutions replaced them in 1959).3

Monasticism in Tibet

Political systems have ideologies that summarize and rationalize their basic premises. In Tibet, the modern state headed by the Dalai Lama and his Gelug ("yellow hat") sect was founded in 1642 after decades of bitter sectarian conflict with a rival (Kargyu) sect. The new polity was based on a value system in which religious goals and activities were paramount. Not only was the ruler, the 5th Dalai Lama (and after him succeeding Dalai Lamas), considered an actual incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avaloketisvara, but monks served alongside laymen as officials and jointly administered the country. In addition, beginning in the 18th century, regents who ruled during the Dalai Lamas’ minority also came to be chosen from the ranks of the incarnate lamas Because of this, Tibetans conceived of their polity as one in which “religion and politics/government were joined together.”4

A prime goal of the Dalai Lama’s new theocratic government was to support and enhance Buddhism, particularly of its own Yellow Hat sect. Fostering Buddhism was seen as a key measure of Tibet’s worth, and as late as 1946, the Tibetan government conveyed this poignantly in a diplomatic a letter it sent to the Chinese government: “There are many great nations on this earth who have achieved unprecedented wealth and might, but there is only one nation which is dedicated to the well-being of humanity in the world [through its practice of monk conducted Buddhist prayer rituals] and that is the religious land of Tibet which cherishes a joint spiritual and temporal system.”5

This religiosity was measured by the number of celibate monks and monasteries, that is to say, by the numbers of males who had renounced having wives and families to join monastic communities and thereby take the first step on a long journey toward spiritual development and enlightenment. There was, therefore, a strong value given to creating as many monks as possible.6 Every male who became a monk was a victory for Buddhism and a reaffirmation of Tibet’s commitment to exalt religiosity. Tibetans, not surprisingly, not only believed that celibate monkhood per se was superior to secular status, but that all monks, even those we might classify as “marginal” or “bad” monks, were superior to their lay counterparts. Several Tibetan sayings expressed by monks reflect this, for example, one monk said: 'jig rten rab la chos ba'i mtha' skyes (“the worst in the religious life is better than the best in secular life”). And another said: gang zhig gser gyi ri la bsnye 'gyur na/ de yi 'dabs chags thams cad gser la 'gyur. (“whatever comes to lean against a golden mountain will become gold"), meaning that the intrinsic value of monasticism was so great (“gold”) that just the fact of being in a monastery would greatly enhance the male.

The theocratic state in Tibet, consequently, existed not simply to administer its territories for the material welfare of its people or to develop Tibet’s wealth and power vis-à-vis its neighbors, but rather primarily to encourage and facilitate large numbers of males to renounce marriage, family and secular life and accept monastic vows for the salvation of the individual and the glory of Tibetan religiosity. The monastery stood physically and metaphorically as a wall keeping out the immediacy of kinship that imbues secular life in village communities and replacing it with an alternative culture where the immediacy of religious rites and practices dominated social life. Traditional Tibet, in essence, measured its success—its pre-modern GDP if you will—spiritually in terms of the number of monks, monasteries and prayer rituals it produced, not materially in terms of the amount of wool, skins and other products it produced and exported. For the Tibetan religious elite, Tibet’s unique contribution to humanity and the world was its maintenance of an enormous system of monasteries and monks—“mass monasticism.” Monasticism in Tibet, therefore, was not the otherworldly domain of a minute self-selected elite, but a mass phenomenon. Size rather than quality was the ultimate measure of the success of monasticism.

The demography of monasticism

There are no real data on how many monks and monasteries existed in Tibet when the 5th Dalai Lama came to power four hundred years ago in 1642, although his chief minister, Desi Sangye Gyatso, wrote in his history of the Yellow Hat sect (Vaidurya Serpo (Yellow Beryl)) that there were 1,807 monasteries and 97,538 monks (of all sects) in 1694 (including Kham but not Amdo).7 For later periods, the Tibetan exile government has estimated that their were 2,700 monasteries and 115,000 monks in 1951 or about 10-15% of the population and 20-30% of all males.8 This figure must have included many temples (lhakhang) where one or two monks presided as overseers since the average number of monks per monastery otherwise would be only 40 and that is far too few. Chinese government reports also state that surveys conducted in the 1950s revealed more than 2,700 monasteries and temples and 120,000 monks, or about 24% of the male population.9 Although these are obviously just crude guesstimates, they show interesting similarities and generally reveal the extent of mass monasticism in traditional Tibet. By contrast, in Thailand, another prominent Buddhist society, only about 1-2 percent of the total number of males were monks and most of these were not life-long permanent monks.10

Another way to assess at the magnitude of Tibetan monasticism is by looking at its great monastic centers. It is clear that Tibet was the home to the largest monasteries in the world in the modern era and of the many Tibetan monasteries in the 1950s, a number, perhaps as many as 15, were large establishments with over one thousand monks. It is these that Tibetans saw as exemplifying and providing proof of the greatness of the Tibetan monastic system. In and around Tibet’s capital Lhasa, for example, there were three huge Yellow Hat monastic seats—Drepung, Sera, Ganden— that together housed about 20,000 monks. Drepung alone had about 10,000 monks. By contrast, Lhasa, the capital and largest city, had only about 30,000 inhabitants. Major monastic centers also existed in other parts of political Tibet such as Tashilhunpo monastery in Shigatse as well as outside of political Tibet in Qinghai (Kumbum monastery), Gansu (Labrang monastery) and in Kham (Litang, Derge, Batang). Other Tibetan Buddhist sects such as Sakya and Karmpa also had large monasteries, although the focus in this paper is on the dominant Yellow Hat sect.

To create a Buddhist society with a large monastic segment, however, meant there had to be thousands upon thousands of men willing to cut attachments to lay society and family life and adopt lives in an alternative culture—a community of celibate monks each of whom in their eyes stood on his own like a single stick of incense. To facilitate this, Tibet developed effective mechanisms for recruiting large numbers of monks, socializing them into an alternative culture, and retaining them in lives of celibacy.

Monastic recruitment and organization

In Tibet, monks were almost always recruited as very young children through the agency of their parents or guardians. It was considered important to recruit monks before they had experienced sexual relations with girls, so monks were brought to the monastery as young boys, usually between the ages of 6-12. On the other hand, it was not considered important what these boys themselves felt about a lifetime commitment to celibate monasticism and they were basically made monks without regard to their personality, temperament or inclination.

Parents sometimes broached the subject with a son but usually simply told him of their decision. Monastic rules officially required that monks enter of their own volition and the monastery formally asked each entrant whether they wanted to be a monk but this was actually just a token inquiry. For example, if a young monk found the transition to monastic life unpleasant and tried to run away, the monastery did not take this as evidence that the boy did not want to be a monk and therefore let him leave. To the contrary, it invariably sent older monks to search for and forcibly return the runaway child monks. Parents agreed with this view so even if a runaway child monk managed to reach his home, he typically received not sympathy and support but a scolding and the immediate return to the monastery. Interestingly, the process of monastic socialization ultimately worked and all of the many monks who related incidents of running away, in retrospect, did not see this as abusive. Rather, they laughed at how stupid they had been to want to give up being a monk when young. Tibetans traditionally felt that young boys could not comprehend the privilege of being a monk and it was up to their elders to see to it that they had the right opportunities.11 All of this, of course, greatly facilitated the operationalization of mass monasticism.

This system of recruitment through child monks occurred not only in the three great Yellow Hat monastic seats around Lhasa, but also in the thousands of smaller monasteries scattered throughout Tibet proper and the ethnic Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan.

Recruiting young boys as lifelong monks made sense from the viewpoint of the mass monastic ideology, but posed practical problems in terms of daily life. Tibetan monasteries were not run as communes with monk canteens providing food for all monks. Neither did monks make daily begging trips to secure food. Rather, individual monks were responsible for securing their own foodstuffs and cooking their own meals.12 Consequently, young child monks needed an adult to take care of them, at least until they reached their late teens when they would be able to live independently. The mechanism used to achieve this was to incorporate young monks into what we can think of as monk households (shagtshang), that is to say, young monks moved in with an older monk. These monk households operated much like lay village households in that they had an internal authority hierarchy and combined co-residence and economic cooperation. The older monk who was the head of the monk household was responsible for the economics of the household and for raising the boy—for providing housing, food, discipline, etc. In turn the junior monk was obligated to turn over any income he received from alms or monastery salary to the household head, just as members of lay families turned over any income they earned to their household. And, like lay households, the junior monk worked at whatever the monk household head instructed, e.g., sweeping, fetching water, etc. Lay and monk households, therefore were structurally and functionally similar, the obvious key difference being that monk households were comprised of only males and reproduced themselves not via marriage, sex and reproduction, but by conscious selection of the household head.13

Consequently, Tibetan parents seeking to make a son a monk had to search among friends and relatives to find an older monk who was willing to take in their son and assume responsibility for the boy’s livelihood. In some cases, the older monk would be related to the boy and would likely have met him previously, but in other cases, e.g., if the boy was the child of a friend of a friend, they would have had no prior contact or connection. Thus, although the members of monastic households were sometimes related through kinship, this was not at all necessary.

Moreover, the relationship between the senior and junior monks in a household was not couched in terms of lay kinship terminology nor was kinship terminology used in the monastery between monks.14 Rather, monks in households used the core monastic idiom of “teacher-disciple” in a fictive manner. For example, the younger monk(s) in a monk household all referred to the senior monk as their “teacher” (gegen or gen) and the senior monk would in turn say that he had one or two “disciples (gidru). However, no one in the monastery mistook the “guardian” gegen heading the household for real “teachers” and the official term of reference for them was actually dopderra gegen (lto ster ba’i dge rgan) which translates as “the gegen who gives food.” In contrast, the real teachers were known as beja gegen (dpe cha dge rgan) or “a gegen who teaches religious texts.” Sometimes a single older monk in a monk household played both roles, but usually they were separate.

The duration of monk households varied but usually they lasted until the senior monk died. If there were only two people in the household, normally the younger monk inherited the property and apartment, but if there were more than one, the late household head would have selected one to become the new household head. Often the household by that time would have taken in another young monk so in these cases the household had continuity across generations. Generally, therefore, these monk households stayed together for many decades with mutual sentiments of attachment and affection developing. Ironically, therefore, while the institution of monk households served to allow child monks to sever their attachments to lay society at a young age and be readily incorporated into monastic communities, at the same time it created, to a degree at least, a system that fostered lasting attachments and dependence.

At the same time, the ties of real kinship were not totally severed when boys became monks. Not only, as mentioned above, were some boys placed in monk households with an older relative, but monks maintained loose ties with their families. At some stages of the life cycle of a monk, the families of monks might help to support the monk by sending food to the monk household, whereas at other stages, a successful monk might assist his relatives family, as the following example illustrates.

In this example, an adult monk who had just risen in the monastic hierarchy used his new position to help a poor relative by taking two of her sons into Drepung monastery so as to eliminate two mouths for her to feed.
He explained how this occurred:

Just after I became the steward (nangnyer) for the Loseling Chiso [the head manger of the entire monastery]. I heard that my maternal aunt who was [a nomad] living in Damshung had become very poor. So when they asked me to visit them, I took a 15 day home-leave and went. They … wanted to show the others in the community that their nephew was now a powerful official. …

When I arrived, I found that they were extremely poor. They had no sheep or goats of their own and only a few head of livestock on lease. They were so very poor. The father sewed fleece-lined dresses (bagtsa) and the mother dug up droma (wild sweet potatoes) and sold them. They had more children than animals.... I made one of the young boys a new fleece-lined dress and then took him to Lhasa as part of my monk household [in the monastery]. This boy was very clever so I thought it was better not to make him a monk at once. Instead, I sent him to a private school in Lhasa where he would learn to read and write [the cursive script]. Later he could be made a monk and could become a high official in the monastery [from his household] because he would know how to write the cursive script well.15 The next year I told my aunt to send me another of her sons. He wasn’t as clever as the first son so I directly made him a monk in Drepung. I found a poor monk who was living alone and told the poor monk, "Please keep this boy as your disciple. I am the servant of someone [the Chiso] and can’t help much at home now, but every year I will give you 2.5 khe16 of flour and 2.5 khe of barley to help with his subsistence. Later [as you get older], this boy will be a help to you. The poor monk said okay and took him." He agreed to be the gegen [so this boy became part of a household with an unrelated dopderra gegen].17

A separate category of monk households were the great households (labrang) of incarnate lamas. Unlike the households of ordinary monks, these always continued across generations with leadership being passed on by reincarnation succession. In other words, when the incarnate lama who was the head of the labrang died, that lama was believed to reincarnate into an infant who, when discovered a few years later, became the new head/owner of the labrang. Although actual control rested with monk stewards and managers during the new incarnation’s minority, when he became an adult he assumed control.

Parental motives

There were many reasons why parents made a son a monk. As was indicated earlier, making one’s son a monk was culturally valued, even if the boy never became a great religious thinker or practitioner. Just his presence in a monastery would benefit him in this and future lives. It was, therefore, a way of giving a son a prestigious status which required little of the hard manual labor that permeated village life while also, as mentioned earlier, exempting the boy from all corvée obligations to his lord. At the same time it created positive “merit” for the parents. One nomad monk related that in his region making a son a monk was considered equivalent to building a stupa in terms of merit gained.18

A second motivation for enrolling one’s son derived from the divination of lamas or monks. Parents frequently sought divination when their children were ill. Sometimes the remedy prescribed by the practitioner involved propitiating some god who was causing the illness but on other occasions, the prescription called for the parents to promise to later dedicate this boy to religion—to a monastic life. Similarly, in times of sickness, parents sometimes prayed on their own to their protective deity and promised that if he spared their son they would later make him a monk.

A third type of situation occurred when a young boy showed a liking for monks. This type of boy might hang around a monk uncle when he was visiting the family and might cry when his monk relative left asking to go with him. If the uncle encouraged this and urged the family to make the boy his disciple-ward in his monastic household, the family often would agree. In some cases, there were family traditions of uncles and nephews joining a monastery (and monk household) generation after generation.

A fourth, and extremely common, type of situation occurred when parents made a son a monk as part of a strategy for organizing their family’s human resources so as to minimize the likelihood of family fragmentation and land division in the next generation.
The basic family in rural Tibet was (and still is) is an extended stem family formed through the mechanism of fraternal polyandry (2 or more brothers jointly taking a bride) or monogamy. Fraternal Polyandry is a functional equivalent of primogeniture in that it seeks to produce only one heir. As there is only one wife per generation and all the brothers are jointly considered the father, all the children of the wife are considered a single heir. In the next generation, the multiple male children will also together marry polyandrously. This type of stem family precludes each of several sons taking his own bride either within the natal family or by setting up new neolocal families.

However, marrying all sons polyandrous is not always possible because of age differences between the brothers. For example, if the eldest of three brothers was 23 and the next brother 17 and the youngest brother only 12 years old (several daughters having been born between the sons), the parents might decide it will be too difficult for the youngest son to become incorporated into the marriage when he matures so will only marry the eldest two sons polyandrously. Because they are seeking to create only one set of heirs per generation, they will not bring a second bride into the household for the youngest son but rather will send him out of the household either by making him a monk or by sending him later as a bridegroom to a family with only daughters. An unintended consequence of this system is an excess of unmarried daughters. Roughly 25% of females age 20-40 do not marry and live separately either as spinsters or single mothers (if they have had affairs and children). 19

Poverty also was very important in motivating parents to make sons monks. Very poor Tibetans with many children had two main mechanisms for balancing their income with subsistence needs. One was making one or more sons a monk as the above mentioned case of the nomad illustrated. Another was to send young sons and daughters as servants to other households. In such cases, the children lived with the other family and were fed by them. Often there was also a small annual salary in grain that went to the parents.

Finally, another very different type of monastic recruitment derived from the right of some monasteries to conscript boys as a corvée tax if the number of their monks fell below a certain limit. This was called tratre (grwa khral) or "monk tax".

Structure and function of a large monastery

Tibet is a large country with important regional differences and four major Buddhist sects each of which had its own monasteries. In addition there is a non-Buddhist sect known as Bon which also had a monastic tradition. Within these traditions there were major large monastic seats as well as many small monasteries located in remote areas. Some of these were completely independent but others were branch monasteries of larger monastic seats such as Drepung, Sera and Ganden. Consequently, it is difficult to generalize about “all” monasteries, although regardless of size and fame, Tibetan monasteries recruited monks as children. However, for the purpose of further illustrating Tibetan “mass monasticism,” the mega-monastery Drepung with its 10,000 monks will be used as an example.

Large monasteries like Drepung were complex institutions that were internally structured like segmentary lineages being divided internally into semi-autonomous sub-monastic units called tratsang of which there were four in Drepung: Gomang, Loseling, Deyang and Ngagpa. Tratsang are normally called “colleges” in the literature due to certain similarities with English universities like Oxford which also were made up of a number of semi-autonomous units. Just as students enrolled in one of Oxford’s colleges, young boys enrolled in one of Drepung’s colleges, although the use of the term college is misleading since tratsang were not schools per se, but rather communities of celibate males who remained there their entire lives.

Drepung monastery as a whole had little control over its four constituent colleges each of which had their own estates, serfs, capital funds, endowments, officials, teaching curriculum, monks and an abbot. On the other hand, the monastery as a whole also had its own estates, capital funds and administrative officials and was headed by a committee of current and ex-abbots (from the various colleges).

Each monastic college, in turn, was internally sub-divided into a number of named semi-autonomous residence units called khamtsen which also had their own resources and officials. Gomang College, for example, had 16 khamtsen in 1959, one of which, Hamdong, alone had about 2,000 monks. New monks were affiliated to khamtsen units based on their natal region so that monks coming from distant areas with non-standard dialects would be housed together with others from their same region.20 Individual monks, therefore, belonged to a khamtsen, which was part of a college, which was part of the overall monastery. Individuals, therefore, had cross-cutting allegiances. Two monks could have the same overall institutional allegiance (Drepung) but different college allegiances, or the same college affiliation but different khamtsen affiliation. Nevertheless, despite this similarity to a segmentary kinship system, no kinship ideology was used, just as none was used in universities like Oxford.

At the level of the individual, Drepung’s ten thousand monks were divided into two broad categories—those who studied a formal curriculum of Buddhist theology and philosophy and those who did not. The former, known as pechawa, were a small minority, amounting to only about 10 percent of the total monk population. These “scholar monks,” pursued a long curriculum that took approximately fifteen years to complete.21 The curriculum in each college used a slightly different set of texts, although in the end they all covered the same material. The scholar monks in Gomang, Loseling, and Deyang met three times a day to practice debating in their respective college’s outdoor walled park called a chöra, or dharma grove. Monks came to Drepung from all over the Tibetan Buddhist world (including Mongolia) to see if they could master the difficult curriculum and obtain the advanced degree of geshe. The intellectual greatness of the Yellow Hat sect’s monastic tradition was measured by the brilliance of these scholar monks.

The overwhelming majority of monks, the so called “common” monks (tramang or tragyü), however, did not pursue this arduous curriculum and were not involved in formal study. Many could not read much more than one or two prayer books, and some, in fact, were functionally illiterate, having memorized only a few basic prayers. These monks had some intermittent monastic work obligations in their early years (as a kind of “new monk tax”), but otherwise were free to do what they liked within the overall framework of monastic (vinaya) rules).

Despite the monastic segment’s commitment to the ideology of mass monasticism, Tibetan monks had to support themselves. In general, their income came from a combination of sources: 1) salary from their monastery/college/khamtsen (which in itself was normally not sufficient to subsist), 2) alms given to individual monks at the time of the prayer assemblies, 3) income from their own labor, and 4. support in food from their natal family. Many monks in Tibet actually spent a considerable amount of time engaged in income-producing activities including crafts like tailoring and medicine, working as servants for other monks, engaging in trade, or even leaving the monastery at peak agricultural times to work for farmers.

This is surprising since mega-monasteries like Drepung were owners of huge estates and serfs. According to 1959 Chinese statistics, 36.8 percent of the total amount of cultivated land in Tibet was held by monasteries and lamas (and another 24% by aristocratic families, and 38.9% by the government itself). Drepung Monastery itself is said to have owned 185 manorial estates, 20,000 serfs, 300 pasture areas and 16,000 nomads each of which had a population of hereditarily bound peasant families who worked the monastery’s (or college’s) land without wages as a corvée obligation.22 Moreover, since there were no banks in Tibet, monasteries like Drepung had huge capital funds which lent out money and grain at high interest. Scores of monks went out yearly to rural Tibet to collect payment of interest and principal at harvest time. The income from these resources and activities could have supported the subsistence of the monks fully had it been allocated predominately for that purpose, but it was not.

Drepung (and its constituent colleges, etc.) instead allocated a substantial portion of their income to support rituals and prayer chanting assemblies. Such prayer ceremonies were formal meetings in huge assembly halls that involved all of the monks belonging to the sponsoring unit (the monastery as a whole, the college or the khamtsen). Thousands of monks sitting in long rows intoning prayers together for the benefit of humanity is an image Tibetans cherished and was considered as one of the most important functions of the monastery. However, these prayer sessions were also expensive since each of the monks attending was served butter-tea during breaks in the chanting. Consequently, sponsoring the prayer assemblies meant providing tea for many thousands of monks daily which required the monastery to use large amounts of butter, tea and firewood. This was one of the monastery’s biggest expenses.

Mega-monasteries like Drepung, of course, could have restricted the number of monks they accepted in order to both fund all its monks adequately and still do the prayer ceremonies. In fact, the Tibetan government at one point had tried to place limits on the number of monks (e.g., Drepung’s limit was set at 7,700), but the monasteries ignored this and allowed all who came to join. In the ideology of mass monasticism, having large numbers of monks took precedence, so how monks financed what they needed in addition to their monistic salary was, by and large, seen as the monks own problem.

The monks most affected by the insufficient funding were those who had made a commitment to study Buddhist theology full-time, that is, the scholar monks. They received no special funds from the monastery and had no time to engage in trade or other income-producing activities because of their heavy study burdens. Consequently, they typically lived solely on their monastery salary and alms and were forced to lead extremely frugal lives unless they were able to find wealthy patrons to supplement their income or were themselves wealthy, as in the case of the incarnate lamas. Tales abound in Drepung of famous scholar monks so poor that they had to eat the staple food—tsamba (parched barley flour)—with water rather than tea, or worse, who had to eat the leftover dough from ritual offerings (torma).

Consequently, in the traditional era, the great monasteries like Drepung, Sera and Ganden were full of very different sorts of monks, some rich, some poor, some devoted to study, some involved in administration and others doing a wide range of labor and trading, and some doing very little and just barely subsisting.

Leaving the monastery

Enrolling young monks without regard to their wishes or personalities meant inevitable problems of adjustment. Monks had the right to leave the monastic order, and as they became young adults in their twenties, had the ability to do so. Consequently, powerful mechanisms were needed to retain most of the young adult monks who were unsure about living a lifetime of celibacy. The monastic system was structured to facilitate this. On the one hand, while monks enjoyed high status, ex-monks were somewhat looked down on. On the other hand, the great large monasteries generally did not place severe restrictions on comportment or demand educational achievement. Rather than diligently weeding out all novices who seemed unsuited for a rigorous life of prayer, study, and meditation, the Tibetan monastic system expelled monks only if they committed murder or engaged in heterosexual intercourse. There were also no exams that novices or monks were required to pass in order to remain in the monastery (although there were required exams for higher intellectual statuses within the monastic ranks). Monks who had no interest in studying or meditating were as welcome as the virtuoso scholar monks. Even totally illiterate monks were accommodated because, in the ideology of mass monasticism, they too had made the critical break from the attachments of secular life. The monks of Drepung conveyed the great diversity of types of monks in their monastery with the pithy saying: “In the ocean there are fishes and frogs.”23

Furthermore, leaving the monastery posed economic problems. Monks lost whatever rights they might otherwise have had to their family’s farm when they entered the monastery, so monks who left the monastery had to find some new source of income. They also reverted to their original serf status when they left so were liable for corvée service to their lord. By contrast, if they remained monks, their basic economic needs were met without having to work too hard. All these factors made it both easier and more advantageous for monks to remain in the monastery.

As mentioned above, the monastic leadership espoused the belief that since the Tibetan state was first and foremost the supporter and patron of religion, the needs and interests of religion should take primacy. And since mass monasticism represented the greatness of Tibetan religion, they believed that the political and economic system existed to facilitate this and that they, not the government, could best judge what was in the short- and long-term interests of religion. Thus, it was their religious duty and right to intervene whenever they felt the government was acting against the interests of religion. This, of course, brought them into the mainstream of political affairs and into potential conflict with the Dalai Lama/regent and the government. And while the Dalai Lama and the rest of the government agreed with mass monasticism in principle, there was often disagreement on specific issues. For example, in 1946 when the government hired an English teacher and opened a modern school in Lhasa to better prepare Tibet to deal with the modern world, the monks in Lhasa perceived this as a threat to the dominance of religion and protested, threatening the students with bodily harm. The government quickly backed down and the school was disbanded after a few weeks.24

The domination of the mass-monastic ideology in traditional Tibet is illustrated vividly by a serious dispute that occurred in Drepung in 1958, the year before the uprising in Lhasa that ended the traditional system.

The Gomang dispute

As indicated earlier, Drepung monks did not have to pass examinations to remain part of the monastic community, and only about 10 percent of the monks were actively engaged in the Buddhist study curriculum leading to the geshe degree. This became a problem for Drepung’s Gomang College when the number of monks annually receiving the geshe degree became so low that it embarrassed the abbot of the college. The Gomang College prayer chant master (umdze) of the time explained,

During the six-year term of each abbot, it was expected that 60 geshes would be produced. But in recent years in Gomang College, only two, three, or four were graduating each year. Because of this, the government asked Drepung why there were so few geshes now whereas in the past there had been so many. When we looked into this, we found…that the number of geshes produced was declining because in general only 100 to 200 of Gomang College’s over 4,000 monks were engaged in active study. So we decided that we had to do something to reverse this trend.25

Part of the reason for this dearth was Drepung’s policy of not providing special financial support for monks engaged in full-time theological studies. As explained earlier, these monks had no time to engage in income-producing work like ordinary monks and faced lives of hardship and poverty unless they had some other source of support.

Nevertheless, there was very little support in the monastery for providing extra income to scholar monks or, alternatively, for forcing all monks to study and pass exams. Most of the monks, particularly the common monks and monk administrators, in fact, felt that the scholar monks were studying for their own benefit, not for the welfare of the monastery, so deserved nothing special. They were not considered better than the “common monks.” Consequently, the Gomang College reformers decided that the best way to proceed was indirectly. They convinced the abbot to make a new rule shifting the site of the monastic salary payments to the dharma grove where the scholar monks debated. The logic behind this move was explained by one of the leaders of the reform faction: “We thought that if we distributed salaries in the dharma grove, more monks would come to it, and if we did this continually, then some of these monks would get used to the dharma grove [and come even when there was no salary distribution and get interested in studying].”

The abbot’s new order meant that all monks, even monk-administrators, had to go to the dharma grove and sit through the prayers that preceded the debating session before collecting their salaries. Although they did not have to study, or participate in the debates, or even attend the dharma grove during the rest of the year, this order produced an outcry of protest from the monk officials who handled the college’s administrative work. At their instigation, the mass of common monks became involved, insisting that the rules of the monastery were sacred and could not be changed.

This controversy polarized Gomang College’s monks and eventually led to violence when a mob of angry monks broke into a meeting on this issue and dragged three of the reform leaders outside where they tied them to pillars, beat them, and then locked them up as prisoners. Ultimately, the Dalai Lama’s government intervened and freed the monks, but while it expelled the leaders of both the pro and anti reform factions, it did not force the monks to go to the dharma grove to collect their salaries. The reform program, therefore, had failed because the fundamental premise of the mass monastic ideology gave equivalence to all monks regardless of their knowledge or spirituality.

In conclusion, therefore, the Tibetan monastic system was a distinctive form of Buddhist monasticism that gave priority to recruiting large numbers of young boys into an alternative monastic culture and society that included a commitment to a lifetime of celibacy. It was an orientation that I have called mass monasticism because its priority was to provide an opportunity for very large numbers of males to become monks, even though many of these would never study religion deeply or engage in serious meditation. As mentioned earlier, about 90% of the monks in the great monastic centers like Drepung were not “scholar monks” actively studying Buddhism philosophy to attain the advanced degree of geshe. However, in the dominant emic perspective, all monks were viewed as having equally made the critical first step in religious progress by cutting their attachments to wife, children, and secular life and becoming part of monastic communities. Monasticism in Tibet, therefore, was not focused on creating a few great scholar monks, but rather on creating the conditions wherein large numbers of boys could have an opportunity to become monks for their entire lives. Some would study and debate at the highest intellectual levels, others would only participate in prayer assemblies where they chanted memorized texts and some would not even do that. But they were all seen as having successfully made the difficult commitment to follow the Buddha’s teaching and leave the secular world behind them.

Until its demise in 1959, this system of mass monasticism was extremely successful, creating and sustaining the largest monasteries in the modern world and the largest proportion of full-time celibate monks.



1 Melvyn C. Goldstein is the John Reynolds Harkness Professor in Anthropology and Co-Director of the Center for Research on Tibet, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.

2 Goldstein and Kapstein, 1998, p. 15.

3 Tibetan monasticism still exists in Tibet although in an attenuated form due to government limitations on the numbers of monks. For a broad discussion of Buddhism in contemporary Tibet see Goldstein, 1998a and b.

4 In Tibetan, chos srid gnyis ldan or chos srid gnyis 'brel.

5 Goldstein 1989, p. 816.

6 There were, of course, also nuns and nunneries in Tibet, but these were fewer in number and not considered as important.

7 Dunggar 1991, p. 75. Data from a Qing dynasty survey reported in 1733 that there were 3,477 monasteries and 356,230 monks (Dunggar 1991, p. 76) but this seems too high.

8 Goldstein 1998, p. 15.

9 Information Office of the State Council. “Tibet’s march toward modernization.” White Paper China Daily , 8 November 2001. At present there are limitation on the number of monasteries and monks in China but the Chinese government still reports that there are 1,700 monasteries, temples and other sites of religious activity, with over 46,000 Buddhist monks. (white paper ... tibet.html).

10 Tambiah 1976: 266-67.

11 Another category of monks came to the Three Great Monastic Seats in Lhasa as young adults after spending their childhood monk years studying the basics in distant monasteries. They were called tharingga (“ones from far away”) and were organized slightly differently from the normal monks who entered directly as children since they were self-sufficient and were expected to return to their home monasteries after completing their advanced studies.

12 Monks received a salary from the monastery several times a year but this was typically not enough to subsist.

13 Actually, homosexual relations between the older monks and their young wards was not unknown in the great monastic seats and there were also some long-term “sexual” relationships among older monks living in households, but that issue goes beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice to say here that Tibetan monks considered homosexual sexual relations a breach of the vow of celibacy only if it involved penetration of an orifice such as the anus. Homosexual intercourse, therefore, was normally done between the thighs, and while not completely acceptable, was widely tolerated in the large monastic seats.

14 See Herrou, 2005 for an case where pseudo-kinship was utilized in a Taoist monastery in contemporary China.

15 Drepung did not teach its monks the calligraphic cursive writing script that was used by Tibetan government officials and higher monastic officials who dealt with managing monastic resources, so monks who wanted such positions had to learn it on their own.

16 A khe (khal) is a traditional volume unit that was equal to about 31 pounds of barley.

17 Interview, 1991, M.0142.01, Drepung, Tibet.

18 Interview, 1991, M.0030.01, Drepung, Tibet.

19 For discussions on Tibetan polyandry and the family see Goldstein 1971, 1976, 1978, and 1987.

20 Monks coming from distant regions were older and had already entered the monastic order in their home area so were treated very differently with respect to guardian teachers and monk households.

21 Anon. 1986.

22 White paper ( ... tibet.html), page 1. Epstein 1991 cites 151 estates and 540 pasture areas.

23 White paper ( ... tibet.html), page 1. Epstein 1991 cites 151 estates and 540 pasture areas.

24 See Goldstein 1989.

25 Goldstein 1998b, p. 34.


Anon. The Education of a monk. Chöyang: The Voice of Tibetan Religion and Culture. 1(1): 41-45. *

Israel Epstein. Tibet Transformed. Beijing: New World Press, 1983.

Dunggar, Losang Trinley. The Merging of Religious and Secular Rule in Tibet. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1991.

Melvyn C. Goldstein. Stratification, Polyandry and Family Structure in Tibet." Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 27, no. 1: 64-74, 1971.

________________. Serfdom and Mobility: An Examination of the Institution of 'Human Lease' in Traditional Tibetan Society. Journal of Asian Studies. Vol. XXX, No. 3, pp. 521-34. 1971.

_______________. Fraternal Polyandry and Fertility in a High Himalayan Valley in Northwest Nepal. Human Ecology. Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 223-233, 1976.

________________. Adjudication and Partition in the Tibetan Stem Family. In D. Buxbaum (ed.), Chinese Family Law and Social Change. University of Washington Press, 1978.

________________. Pahari and Tibetan Polyandry Revisited. Ethnology. 17(3): 325-347, 1978.

________________. When Brothers Share a Wife. Natural History. March, 1987

________________. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951: The demise of the lamaist state. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1989.

________________. The Revival of Monastic Life in Drepung Monastery. In Goldstein and Kapstein (eds.) Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival & Cultural Identity. pp.16-52, 1998a.

_______________. Introduction. In Goldstein and Kapstein (eds.) Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival & Cultural Identity. pp.1-15, 1998b.

Melvyn C. Goldstein and M. Kapstein. Eds. Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and National Identity. U. of California Press, 1998.

Melvyn C. Goldstein and P. Tsarong. Tibetan Buddhist Monasticism: Social, Psychological and Cultural Implications. The Tibet Journal. 10(1): 14-31, 1985.

Adeline Herrou. La Vie entre soi les moine taoister aujourd’hui en China. Société d’ethnologie. Paris, 2005.

Stanley J. Tambiah, World Conqueror and World Renouncer. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1976.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Mar 19, 2020 7:55 am

Henry Louis Vivian Derozio
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/19/20

Henry Louis Vivian Derozio
Bust of Derozio at the Esplanade
Born: 18 April 1809, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died: 26 December 1831 (aged 22), Calcutta, India
Resting place: South Park Street Cemetery, Mother Teresa Sarani
Occupation: Poet and teacher
Language: English and Bengali
Citizenship: British Indian
Genre: Academic, Educator
Literary movement: Bengal Renaissance
Notable works: To India - My Native Land


Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (18 April 1809 – 26 December 1831), was an Indian poet of Portuguese origin and assistant headmaster of Hindu College, Kolkata. He was a radical thinker of his time and one of the first Indian educators to disseminate Western learning and science among the young men of Bengal.

Long after his death (by cholera), his legacy lived on among his former students, who came to be known as Young Bengal and many of whom became prominent in social reform, law, and journalism.


Early life

Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was born on 18 April 1809 at Entally-Padmapukur in Kolkata. His parents were Francis Derozio, a Christian Indo-Portuguese office worker, and Sophia Johnson Derozio, an Englishwoman.[1][2] His original family name was 'De Rozario'.[3]

Derozio attended David Drummond's Dhurramtallah Academy school, where he was a pupil from the age of six to fourteen.[1][3][4] Derozio later praised his early schooling for its liberal approach to education, and particularly for its unusual choice to teach Indian, Eurasian and European children from different social classes together as peers.[4] Derozio's later religious skepticism is sometimes attributed to influence from David Drummond, who was known as a freethinker.[4] Derozio was a successful student: notices in the India Gazette and the Calcutta Journal at the time mentioned Derozio's academic excellence (including several academic prizes) and his success performances in student plays.[4]

At age 14, Derozio left school to work.[1] He initially joined his father's office in Kolkata, and later shifted to his uncle's indigo factory in Bhagalpur.[1] Inspired by the scenic beauty of the banks of the River Ganges, he started writing poetry, which he submitted to the India Gazette.[1] His poetic career began to flourish, with poems published in multiple newspapers and periodicals, in 1825.[4]

In 1827, when Derozio was eighteen, the editor John Grant took notice of Derozio's poetry, offering to publish a book of his work and inviting him to return to Kolkata.[1] He soon became an assistant editor for Grant, as well as publishing in several other periodicals, and founding his own newspaper, the Calcutta Gazette.[1]

Hindu College and Young Bengals

In May 1826, at the age of 17, he was appointed teacher in English literature and history at the new Hindu College. Derozio's intense zeal for teaching and his interactions with students created a sensation at Hindu College. He organized debates where ideas and social norms were freely debated. At the age of 18, became a Professor of English Literature and History at the Hindu College.[1] In 1828, he motivated his students to form a literary and debating club called the Academic Association.

This was a time when Hindu society in Bengal was undergoing considerable turmoil. In 1828, Raja Ram Mohan Roy established the Brahmo Samaj, which kept Hindu ideals but denied idolatry. This resulted in a backlash within orthodox Hindu society. Derozio helped release the ideas for social change already in the air. Despite his youth, he was considered a great scholar and a thinker. Within a short period, he drew around him a group of intelligent boys in college. He constantly encouraged them to think freely, to question and not to accept anything blindly. His teachings inspired the development of the spirit of liberty, equality, and freedom. They also tried to remove social evils, improve the condition of the women and the peasants, and promote liberty through freedom of the press, trial by jury, and so on. His activities brought about the intellectual revolution in Bengal. It was called the Young Bengal Movement and his students, also known as Derozians, were fiery patriots.

Due to backlash from conservative parents who disliked his wide-ranging and open discussion of religious issues, Derozio was dismissed from his post in April 1831, shortly before his death.[1]

His students came to be known as Derozians. In 1838, after his death, members of the Young Bengal movement established a second society called the Society for the Acquisition of General Knowledge. Its main objective was to acquire and disseminate knowledge about the condition of the country.


Derozio died of cholera at an early age of 22 on 26 December 1831 in Calcutta. His body was buried in South Park Street Cemetery of Kolkata.


Derozio was generally considered an Anglo-Indian, being of mixed Portuguese descent, but he considered himself Indian.[2] Derozio was known during his lifetime as the first 'national' poet of modern India,[4] and the history of Anglo-Indian poetry typically begins with Derozio.[2] His poems are regarded as an important landmark in the history of patriotic poetry in India, especially "To India - My Native Land" and The Fakeer of Jungheera. He is influenced by Romantic poetry, especially the orientalism of poets like Lord Byron and Robert Southey.[5]


• Poems (1827)[1]
o "The Harp of India"[1][5]
o "Song of the Hindoostani Minstrel"[5]
• The Fakeer of Jungheera: A Metrical Tale and Other Poems (1828)[1]
o The Fakeer of Jungheera[1]
o "To India - My Native Land"[1]
• The Poetical Works of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, ed. B.B. Shah (1907)[1]
o "To the Pupils of the Hindu College"[1]


Commemorative stamp of Derozio issued in 2009

Derizio's ideas had a profound influence on the social movement that came to be known as the Bengal Renaissance in early 19th century Bengal. And despite being viewed as something of an iconoclast by Alexander Duff and other (largely evangelical) Christian Missionaries; later in Duff's Assembly's Institution, Derozio's ideas on the acceptance of the rational spirit were accepted partly as long as they were not in conflict with basic tenets of Christianity, and as long as they critiqued orthodox Hinduism.

Derozio is generally believed to be partly responsible for the conversion of upper-caste Hindus like Krishna Mohan Banerjee[6] and Lal Behari Dey to Christianity. Samaren Roy, however, states that only three Hindu pupils among his first group of students became Christians, and asserts that Derozio had no role to play in their change of faith.[7] He points out that Derozio's dismissal was sought not only by Hindus such as Ramkamal Sen, but also by Christians such as H. H. Wilson.[7] Many other students like Tarachand Chakraborti became leaders in the Brahmo Samaj.[8]

Derozio's political activities have also been seen as crucially important to the development of a public sphere in Calcutta during British imperialism.[4]

A commemorative postage stamp of Derozio was issued on December 15, 2009.[5]

See also

• Poetry portal
• Young Bengal
• To India - My Native Land


1. Black, Joseph; Conolly, Leonard; Flint, Kate; Grundy, Isobel; Lepan, Don; Liuzza, Roy; McGann, Jerome J.; Prescott, Anne Lake; Qualls, Barry V.; Waters, Claire, eds. (4 December 2014). "Henry Louis Vivian Derozio". The Broadview anthology of British literature (Third ed.). Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-55481-202-8. OCLC 894141161.
2. Reddy, Sheshalatha (2014). "Henry Derozio and the Romance of Rebellion (1809-1831)". DQR Studies in Literature. 53: 27–42. ISSN 0921-2507.
3. Bhattacharya Supriya (1 September 2009). Impressions 8, 2/E. Pearson Education India. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-81-317-2777-5. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
4. Chaudhuri, Rosinka (2010). "The Politics of Naming: Derozio in Two Formative Moments of Literary and Political Discourse, Calcutta, 1825–31". Modern Asian Studies. 44 (4): 857–885. doi:10.1017/S0026749X09003928. ISSN 0026-749X.
5. Roberts, Daniel Sanjiv (2013). ""Dark Interpretations": Romanticism's Ambiguous Legacy in India". In Casaliggi, Carmen; March-Russell, Paul (eds.). Legacies of Romanticism: Literature, Culture, Aesthetics. Routledge. pp. 215–230.
6. Das, Mayukh (2014). Reverend Krishnamohan Bandyopadhyaya. Kolkata: Paschimbanga Anchalik Itihas O Loksanskriti Charcha Kendra. ISBN 978-81-926316-0-8.
7. Jump up to:a b Roy, Samaren (1999). The Bengalees: glimpses of history and culture. New Delhi: Allied Publishers. p. 119. ISBN 81-7023-981-8. OCLC 45759369.
8. "Derozio And The Hindu College". Hindu School, Kolkata. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019.

External links

• Derozio section
• Old Poetry
• Poetry of Derozio
• Works by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Mar 19, 2020 8:01 am

Presidency University, Kolkata [Hindu College] [Presidency College]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/19/20

Presidency University
Former names: Hindu College (1817–1855); Presidency College (1855–2010)
Motto: Excellence since 1817
Type: Public
Established: 20 January 1817; 203 years ago
Founders: Raja Rammohan Roy; David Hare; Sir Edward Hyde East; Raja Radhakanta Deb; Baidyanath Mukhopadhya; Rani Rashmoni; Rasamay Dutt
Chancellor: Governor of West Bengal
Vice-Chancellor: Professor Anuradha Lohia
Students: 2,198[1]
Undergraduates: 1,462[1]
Postgraduates: 736[1]
Alumni: Full list
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Campus: Urban
Affiliations: UGC, NAAC, AIU

Presidency University, Kolkata, formerly known as Hindoo College and Presidency College,[2] is a public state university located in College Street, Kolkata.[3] It is probably the oldest institution in the world to have no religious connection, having being established in 1817.[4] The institution was elevated to university status in 2010 after functioning as a top constituent college of the University of Calcutta for about 193 years. The University had its bicentenary celebrations in 2017.[5]

In its first cycle as a university, Presidency received the A grade with a score of 3.04/4.00 by the NAAC.[6] Presidency has been recognized as an "Institute of National Eminence" by the UGC.[7] It appeared in the inaugural top 50 of NIRF rankings in 2016. However, NIRF rankings in 2017 and 2018 excluded universities like Presidency University which taught only science and humanities but not engineering, commerce, agriculture, etc.[8]


The main entrance of the university at College Street

The Main Building corridor

With the creation of the Supreme Court of Calcutta in 1773 many Hindus of Bengal showed an eager interest in learning the English language. David Hare, in collaboration with Raja Radhakanta Deb had already taken steps to introduce English language education in Bengal. Babu Buddinath Mukherjee advanced the introduction of English as a medium of instruction further by enlisting the support of Sir Edward Hyde East, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Fort William, who called a meeting of 'European and Hindu Gentlemen' at his house in May 1816.[9] The purpose of the meeting was to "discuss the proposal to establish an institution for giving a liberal education to the children of the members of the Hindu Community". The proposal was received with unanimous approbation and a donation of over Rs. 100, 000 was promised for setting up the new college. Raja Ram Mohan Roy showed full support for the scheme, but chose not to come out in support of the proposal publicly for fear of "alarming the prejudices of his orthodox countrymen and thus marring the whole idea".[10]

The College was formally opened on Monday, 20 January 1817 with 20 'scholars'. The foundation committee of the college, which oversaw its establishment, was headed by Raja Rammohan Roy. The control of the institution was vested in a body of two Governors and four Directors. The first Governors of the college were Maharaja Tejchandra Bahadur of Burdwan and Gopee Mohan Thakoor. The first Directors were Gopi Mohun Deb of Sobhabazar, Joykissen Sinha, Radha Madhab Banerjee, and Gunganarain Doss. Buddinath Mukherjee was appointed as the first Secretary of the college. The newly established college mostly admitted Hindu students from affluent and progressive families, but also admitted non-Hindu students such as Muslims, Jews, Christians and Buddhists.

At first, the classes were held in a house belonging to Gorachand Bysack of Garanhatta (later renamed 304, Chitpore Road), which was rented by the college. In January 1818 the college moved to 'Feringhi Kamal Bose's house' which was located nearby in Chitpore.[11] From Chitpore, the college moved to Bowbazar and later to the building that now houses the Sanskrit College on College Street.[12]

Transformation to University

Memorial plaque of Ram Eqbal Singh

A part of the university

In 1972, an unsigned article was released by the faculty members of the college demanding that the college be given full university status. It is an open secret that the author of the article was Dipak Banerjee, the legendary economics professor of the college. The state government, then under the chief ministership of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, showed the willingness to listen to the demands of the faculty members, but it was still too early to grant full autonomy to the college. In 2007, the state government, under the chief ministership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Higher Education ministership of Sudarshan Raychaudhuri, appointed a seven-member committee, under the leadership of Chittotosh Mookerjee. The other members of the committee included Ashes Prasad Mitra, Barun De, Bimal Jalan and Subimal Sen, to look into the possibility of upgrading the status of the college. The report of the committee suggested that the state government, while granting the college partial autonomy, should create more professorships and scholarships for meritorious students, thus making it possible for the grant of full autonomy to the college in the future.

In 2009, the Governing Body of the college unanimously adopted the proposal that the college should be given full university status. On 16 December 2009, the Government of West Bengal tabled a bill in Bidhansabha titled the Presidency University Act, 2009, in which the West Bengal Legislative Assembly granted full university status to the college. The bill stated that once the college becomes a full state-aided university it will be renamed Presidency University.

The new logo of the Presidency University has been created by Sabyasachi Dutta (সব্যসাচী দত্ত) as reported in a letter to the Editor of Anandabazar Patrika on 1 April 2013.

On 19 March 2010, the West Bengal Government passed the Presidency University Bill, 2009 in the State Legislative Assembly.[3] On 7 July 2010, the governor of West Bengal, M K Narayanan gave his assent to the Presidency University Bill.[13] On 23 July 2010, the Government of West Bengal published the gazette notification completing all the legal formalities for Presidency to become a full university.[14] Amiya Bagchi was given the responsibility of chairing a committee set up to select and appoint the first vice-chancellor of the university. Amita Chatterjee, a retired professor of philosophy at Jadavpur University, was appointed as the first Vice-Chancellor of Presidency University on 5 October 2010.[15]

In 2011, Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu suggested that a mentor group, along the lines of the Nalanda mentor group, would be formed to oversee the work of the university. At the beginning of June 2011, the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, announced that a committee would be formed with Amartya Sen as its chief mentor and Harvard-based Sugata Bose as its chairman to oversee the running of the college and perform the task of appointing all its officials and faculty members. The Presidency mentor group [16] also includes as its members 2019 Economics Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Banerjee, Ashoke Sen, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Nayanjot Lahiri, Himadri Pakrashi, Rahul Mukerjee and Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Swapan Kumar Chakravorty. Sukanta Chaudhuri resigned from the committee in 2012.[17]

In October 2011, Malabika Sarkar, formerly Professor of English at Jadavpur University, was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Presidency University. During her term as Vice-Chancellor more than 150 faculty members - Presidency University's first faculty - were recruited and joined. Presidency's first officers and the first set of the non-teaching staff were also recruited. A new logo was created by an alumnus, infrastructural projects were initiated and the Presidency University Vice-Chancellor's Fund for Excellence was set up. In December 2012, UGC recognized the Presidency as an Institution of National Eminence. MOUs for international collaboration with Trinity College, Dublin, Groningen University, Netherlands, and D'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po, Paris) was signed. Presidency University's First Convocation was held on 22 August 2013 and the Foundation Stone for Presidency's Second Campus at Rajarhat was unveiled by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on 6 February 2014. Presidency's First Statutes were completed. Sarkar's tenure as Vice-Chancellor ended in May 2014.

After Sarkar's time-period expired, a new search committee was built by the state govt. and Chancellor of West Bengal. The search committee published a list of 3 Professors and sent it to the Chancellor. The first person in the list Sabyasachi Bhattacharya refused to join the administration and choose to teach at Presidency as the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Distinguished Chair Professor in the Department of Physics. Ultimately the position went to Anuradha Lohia, a past graduate of Presidency College, who was a senior professor at Bose Institute, a premier institution of research and scholarship in Kolkata. Lohia had taught a number of students for their Ph.D. research over many years in Bose Institute, affiliated for its Ph.D. degree with the Calcutta University.

The entrance of the campus is marked with a small guardhouse on the left. On the wall of the guard room is a plaque dedicated to durwan (guard) Ram Eqbal Singh, who died defending the institute from the rioters.[18]

Organisation Structure

Like every state university in West Bengal, Presidency is headed by the ceremonial post of the Chancellor. The Governor of West Bengal is the Chancellor of every university in the state. Jagdeep Dhankhar is presently incumbent in this post.[19]

The Vice-chancellor is the academic and administrative head of the institution. The post of the Vice-chancellor replaced that of the Principal after the Presidency received University status. Professor Anuradha Lohia is the first permanent vice-chancellor of the institution.[20] Administratively, Presidency is further headed by the Registrar. Dr. Debajyoti Konar is incumbent in this post.[21]

Academically, the University is composed of two faculties - Faculty of Natural and Mathematical sciences and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Both Faculties are headed by the respective deans. A total of 16 departments function under the university. They are: Bengali, English, Hindi, History, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, Life Sciences, Chemistry, Economics, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics.[22]

The Controller of Examinations, the Chief Librarian, the Finance Officer and the Dean of Students are other important office holders of the university.[22]

The University is guided by a mentor group. The Mentor Group is chaired by Sugata Bose, the Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University. Nobel Laureate and economist Amartya Sen serves as the Advisor to the Chair.[23][24]

List of Principals and Vice Chancellors

Principals of Presidency College

• J. Kerr, 1842–1848
• David Lester Richardson, 1848–1849
• E. Lodge, 1849–1852
• J. Sutcliff, M.A., 1852–1856
• Leonidas Clint, 1856-1857
• E. Lodge, 1857-1858
• J. Sutcliffe, M.A., 1858–1863
• W. Grapel, 1863-1864
• J. Sutcliffe, M.A., 1864–1875
• H. Woodrow, 1875
• C. H. Tawney, 1875
• J. Sutcliffe, M.A., 1875
• Alfred Croft, 1876
• C. H. Tawney, 1876–1881
• G. Bellet, 1881–1882
• John Elliot, 1882–1883
• Alexander Pedler, 1883
• John Elliot, 1883
• G. Bellet, 1883
• John Elliot, 1884-1885
• C. H. Tawney, 1885
• W. Griffiths, 1885-1886
• C. H. Tawney, 1886–1887
• Alexander Pedler, 1887
• C. H. Tawney, 1887
• Alexander Pedler, 1887-1889
• C. H. Tawney, 1889
• Alexander Pedler, 1889
• Frederick James Rowe, 1889
• C. H. Tawney, 1889
• W. Griffiths, 1892–1896
• Alexander Pedler, 1896–1897
• J .H. Gilliland, 1897
• Frederick James Rowe, 1897-1898
• J.H.Gilliland, 1898
• Frederick James Rowe, 1898
• William Booth, 1898
• A. Clarke Edwards, 1899-1902
• Prasanna Kumar Roy, 1902
• A. Clarke Edwards, 1902–1903
• Prasanna Kumar Roy, 1903
• A. Clarke Edwards, 1903
• M. G. D. Prothero, 1904-1905
• Prasanna Kumar Roy, 1905-1906
• Alexander Macdonnell, 1906
• A. Clarke Edwards, 1906–1907
• Henry Rosher James, 1907–1909
• Hugh Melville Percival, 1909
• Henry Rosher James, 1909–1911
• C. W. Peake, 1911-1912
• Henry Rosher James, 1912–1916
• William Christopher Wordsworth, 1916–1917
• John Rothney Barrow, 1917-1924
• William Christopher Wordsworth, 1924
• H. E. Stapleton, 1924-1926
• T. S. Sterling, 1926-1927
• H. E. Stapleton, 1927–1928
• R. B. Ramsbotham, 1928–1929
• John Rothney Barrow, 1929–1930
• Jahangir Cooverjee Coyajee, 1930–1931
• Bhupatimohan Sen, 1931-1934
• Bhupatimohan Sen, 1934–1936
• Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, 1936
• Bhupatimohan Sen, 1936–1942
• Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, 1942
• Bhupatimohan Sen, 1942–1943
• Apurbakumar Chanda, 1943
• Jyotirmoy Ghosh, 1943-1944
• Apurbakumar Chanda, 1944
• Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, 1945-1946
• Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, 1946–1947
• Muhammad Qudrat-i-Khuda, 1947
• Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, 1947
• Jogischandra Sinha, 1947
• Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, 1948
• Jyotirmoy Ghosh, 1948–1950
• Jyotishchandra Sengupta, 1950
• Jyotirmoy Ghosh, 1950–1951
• Jyotishchandra Sengupta, 1951–1956
• F. J. Friend-Pereira, 1956–1958
• Sanat Kumar Basu, 1958–1967
• Rajendralal Sengupta, 1967–1969
• Samerendranath Ghoshal, 1969–1970
• Sudhir Chandra Shome, 1970
• Pratul Chandra Mukherjee, 1970–1975
• Sudhir Chandra Shome, 1975–1976
• Pratul Chandra Mukherjee, 1976–1979
• Bijoy Shankar Basak, 1979–1982
• Achinta Kumar Mukherjee, 1982–1986
• Sunil Kumar Rai Chaudhuri, 1986–1991
• Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, 1991–1997
• Nitai Charan Mukherjee, 1997–2000
• Amitava Chatterjee, 2001–2005
• Mamata Ray, 2005–2008
• Sanjib Ghosh, 2008–2010
• Amitava Chatterjee, 2010

Vice Chancellors of Presidency University

• Amita Chatterjee, 2010–2011
• Malabika Sarkar, 2011-2014
• Anuradha Lohia, 2014–present


Admission to this institution for undergraduate and postgraduate courses is currently granted on the basis of marks secured in admission tests, PUBDET and PUMDET respectively. Both PUBDET and PUMDET are organised by West Bengal Joint Entrance Examinations Board.

Notable alumni

See also: List of Kolkata Presidencians

Presidency University has many notable alumni. They include at least four heads of states, five Chief Ministers of West Bengal, four Chief Justices of India, one Governor of RBI, one Oscar winner, multiple Padma awardees, at least six Sahitya Akademi Awardes, Several national award winning Film Directors, at least 15 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar laureates, one Breakthrough Prize winner, two Nobel laureates (Presidency is the only institution in India to have provided foundational education for more than one), one Kyoto Prize winner, multiple academics serving as professors in premier Universities of the world and several civil servants serving in senior capacities.


1. CU information brochure for MSc, BTech Retrieved 25 November 2011
2. Chakraborty, Rachana (2012). "Presidency College". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
3. Our Bureau (20 March 2010). "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | CM beats Mamata to Presidency". Retrieved 1 August 2012.
4. Jan 6, Subhro Niyogi | TNN |; 2017; Ist, 6:00. "Presidency University, probably world's first secular institute: Amartya Sen | Kolkata News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 January2020.
5. "200 Years of a Legacy". Tribune India. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
6. "Presidency university gets top NAAC rating - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
7. "Legacy of Presidency University". Retrieved 26 June 2018.
8. "'Presidency University missed rank as it offers only arts, science' - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
9. "Presidency University". Retrieved 26 June 2018.
10. "Presidency University". Retrieved 26 June 2018.
11. This building is a historic one because Raja Ram Mohan Roy inaugurated his Brahma Sabha there and Alexander Duff of the Scottish Missionary Board started his educational establishment, the General Assembly's Institution there as well a few years later in 1830.
12. "Ad Age Homepage - Ad Age". Retrieved 26 June 2018.
13. Presidency varsity bill gets governor's assent
14. Express News Service (24 July 2010). "Presidency University legal steps complete". Express India. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
15. "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | Comfort factor confines Presidency to home pool". 6 October 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
16. "Presidency Mentor Group". Retrieved 26 November 2013.
17. "Sukanta Chaudhuri quits". Retrieved 26 November 2013.
18. Our Bureau (14 April 2013). "Presi guardian angel". The Telegraph, Calcutta. Retrieved 6 May2014.
19. "Presidency University vice-chancellor meets Governor, Partha - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
20. "Decks cleared for re-appointing Anuradha Lohia as the VC of Presidency University - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
21. "Presi Registrar invites nominees for VC". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
22. "Presidency - Organisation Structure". Retrieved 28 June 2018.
23. "Quality faculty top priority: Presidency mentor group". The Hindu. Special Correspondent, Special Correspondent. 26 August 2011. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
24. India, Press Trust of (24 December 2017). "Presidency Mentor Group to reach out to brilliant students in". Business Standard India. Retrieved 28 June 2018.

External links

• Official website
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 3:19 am

Puran Chand Joshi
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/19/20

Puran Chand Joshi
General Secretary, Communist Party of India
In office: 1935–1947
Preceded by: Position established
Succeeded by: B.T. Ranadive
Personal details
Born: 14 April 1907, Almora, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, British India
Died: 9 November 1980 (aged 73), Delhi, India
Occupation: Leader

Puran Chand Joshi (14 April 1907 – 9 November 1980), one of the early leaders of the communist movement in India. He was the first general secretary of the Communist Party of India from 1935–47.

Early years

Joshi was born on 14 April 1907,[1] in a Kumaoni Hindu family of Almora, in Uttarakhand. His father Harinandan Joshi was a teacher. In 1928, he passed his M.A. examination from the Allahabad University. Soon, he became the General secretary of the Workers and Peasants Party of Uttar Pradesh, formed at Meerut in October 1928.[1] In 1929, at the age of 22, the British Government arrested him as one of the suspects of the Meerut Conspiracy Case. The other early communist leaders who were arrested along with him included Shaukat Usmani, Muzaffar Ahmed, S.A. Dange and G.V. Ghate.

Portrait of 25 of the Meerut Prisoners taken outside the jail. Back row (left to right): K. N. Sehgal, S. S. Josh, H. L. Hutchinson, Shaukat Usmani, B. F. Bradley, A. Prasad, P. Spratt, G. Adhikari. Middle Row: Radharaman Mitra, Gopen Chakravarti, Kishori Lal Ghosh, L. R. Kadam, D. R. Thengdi, Goura Shanker, S. Bannerjee, K. N. Joglekar, P. C. Joshi, Muzaffar Ahmed. Front Row: M. G. Desai, D. Goswami, R.S. Nimbkar, S.S. Mirajkar, S.A. Dange, S. V. Ghate, Gopal Basak.

The Meerut Conspiracy Case was a controversial court case initiated in British India in March 1929 and decided in 1933. Several trade unionists, including three Englishmen were arrested for organizing an Indian railway strike. The British Government convicted 27 leftist trade union leaders under a false lawsuit. The trial immediately caught attention in England, where it inspired the 1932 play Meerut by Manchester street theatre group the 'Red Megaphones', highlighting the detrimental effects of colonisation and industrialisation....

The main charges were that in 1921 S.A. Dange, Shaukat Usmani and Muzaffar Ahmed entered into a conspiracy to establish a branch of the Comintern in India and they were helped by various persons, including the accused Philip Spratt and Benjamin Francis Bradley, sent to India by the Communist International. The aim of the accused persons, according to the charges raised against them was under section 121-A of the Indian Penal Code (Act 45 of 1860)...

Though all the accused were not communists, the charges framed against them portrayed the British government's fear for growth of communist ideas in India. In the trial the accused were all labeled as Bolsheviks. During the trial of four and a half years, the defendants turned the courtroom into a public platform to espouse their cause. As a result, the trial saw strengthening of the communist movement in the country.

-- Meerut Conspiracy Case, by Wikipedia

Joshi was given six years of transportation to the penal settlement of Andaman Islands. Considering his age, the punishment was later reduced to three. After his release in 1933, Joshi worked towards bringing a number of groups under the banner of the Communist Party of India (CPI). In 1934 the CPI was admitted to the Third International or Comintern.

As the General Secretary

After the sudden arrest of Somnath Lahiri, then Secretary of CPI, during end-1935, Joshi became the new General Secretary. He thus became the first general secretary of Communist Party of India, for a period from 1935 to 1947. At that time the left movement was steadily growing and the British government banned communist activities from 1934 to 1938. In February 1938, when the Communist Party of India started in Bombay its first legal organ, the National Front, Joshi became its editor.[1] The Raj re-banned the CPI in 1939, for its initial anti-War stance. When, in 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the CPI proclaimed that the nature of the war has changed to a people's war against fascism.

War was declared in September 1939. The tensions within the Congress Socialist Party between communists and others were by now acute. But all agreed, initially at least, on the need to oppose the war -- the Congress because Britain's Viceroy in New Delhi had declared that India was at war with Germany without the agreement (or indeed seeking the agreement) of India's political leaders, and the communists because Moscow, in the wake of the Nazi-Soviet pact, had declared that this was an imperialist war. By the end of October 1939 more than 150 Punjabi politicians were in jail, and by the end of the following year that number had swelled to many hundreds. Punjab led the rest of India in the number of communists and socialists detained -- generally on the grounds of their anti-war and anti-recruitment activities.

B.P.L. Bedi was, by his own account, publishing anti-war literature and using his contacts in the rail unions to help get the leaflets circulated around the country. He was not among the early wave of arrests, but he knew that he was likely to be detained before long. That knock on the door came in early December 1940. 'I had just come from Lahore and the British Superintendent of police had arrived,' Bedi recalled. 'Soon after my servant told me that there seemed to be some peculiar movement of people round the bushes so I immediately sensed that the moment of my arrest had come. Within ten minutes of his announcing this, he arrived and in a very British way said, "I am afraid I have to arrest you.''' In an even more British manner, Bedi asked the police officer to sit down and have a cup of tea while he packed a blanket, some clothes and a few books. Bedi was at this time on the national executive of the Congress Socialist Party and his arrest under the Defence of India Act was front page news in the Tribune. It reported that as he was being driven away in the police car, 'Mrs Bedi raised loud shouts of "Inquilab Zindabad"' -- a communist slogan which best translates as 'Long Live the Revolution'.

Bedi was held briefly in the jail in the town of Montgomery (now Sahiwal), still in Punjab but some distance from Lahore, and then was sent more than 400 miles away to Deoli, a remote spot on the edge of the Thar desert in what is now Rajasthan. A Victorian-era military base there had been turned into a detention camp -- a concentration camp, the communists complained -- for political detainees from across India. It had a long history of being used to lock-up 'undesirables', and continued to fulfil that role in later years. From 1942, the camp housed prisoners of war -- and in 1962, it was used to intern Indians of Chinese origin during a brief India-China border conflict. As soon as he reached Deoli, Bedi began to protest against his detention -- refusing to carry his bags into the camp as a statement, in his own words, that the 'revolutionaries' had arrived. 'At Deoli were nearly four-hundred persons, who were all Leftists ... From the moment we arrived we started planning to create more trouble and a hunger strike was on the agenda.'

Freda can hardly have been surprised by her husband's arrest, but she was certainly angered by it.....

A couple of days later, she announced that she too intended to flout the wartime emergency regulations and was happy to take the consequences. The Tribune reported that she had sought Gandhi's permission to give herself up for arrest. 'Should Mahatma Gandhi's permission be secured, Mrs Bedi will be the first English lady to offer satyagraha in the civil disobedience campaign.' Freda regarded Gandhi's campaign as 'halting and incomplete' -- but it was at least action on a nationwide scale. 'There should have been a great, a magnificent up-surge of the nation. Gandhiji decreed otherwise, and chose his men with the greatest care. Only the few were to go to jail to protest for the many. It was to be a demonstration to the world of India's national right.'

At the end of January, Freda heard that Gandhi had agreed to her request -- she believed she was the fifty-seventh volunteer to be chosen as a satyagrahi in this stage of the civil disobedience campaign. This was Freda's boldest political act -- she was putting herself forward for arrest and imprisonment to protest against her native country's treatment of her adopted country. 'She said that she was born in England but had adopted India as her mother country,' the Tribune reported, 'and would wish to be known as an Indian woman.'... In the carefully choreographed way of these protests, Freda wrote to the district magistrate in the town of Gurdaspur to tell him exactly when and where she intended to stage her act of civil disobedience. 'Mrs Freda Bedi left for Dera Baba Nanak,' the Tribune announced on its front page, 'where she will offer satyagraha on 21st [February] at 11 a.m.'...

'We wrote a letter to the district magistrate,' Freda recalled, 'saying that we would break the law by asking the people not to support the military effort until India became democratic and that India must get her elected government first. But since we sent the letter, we effectively prevented ourselves from speaking because on the day we were supposed to speak we were naturally arrested before this happened.' Exactly what happened in the village that February morning is difficult to establish beyond doubt through the layers of valorous nationalist narrative and family folklore. Freda's own account is both the most straightforward and most credible. Her intention was to shout anti-war slogans in Punjabi in the village streets. She heard that the local inspector had summoned an English officer from Amritsar, thinking it best to have an Englishman to hand when an Englishwoman was placed under arrest. 'At eight-thirty they arrived. In the centre was the local Inspector with a beard. He came forward politely, "regretting that it is my duty but I must arrest you." The turbanned police-officer on his left had a half-smile. To the right was the European Inspector from Amritsar in an unwieldy topee [hat]. He was surprisingly small and had a walrus moustache. He looked like Old Bill: I wanted to laugh, and the corners of my mouth twitched. "Yes, I am quite ready. Take me along with you.'"...

A few weeks after Freda emerged from Lahore jail, the war took a turn which had direct repercussions for both her and her husband. Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and attacked the Soviet Union, his erstwhile ally. Communist parties which had already carried out one contortion when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact became public knowledge and changed overnight from describing the conflict as a war against fascism to an imperialist war were again wrong-footed. The British party quickly fell in line with Moscow and came to hail a people's war which needed to be prosecuted zealously, not least to protect Soviet communism from the Nazi aggressor. The Indian party was slower to respond to the changing contours of the conflict -- in part because of a reluctance to make common cause with the Imperial power, and in part because the detention of so many leading left-wingers hampered debate and decision making. By the close of 1941, Indian communists were coming to accept the need to support the allied war effort against Germany and Japan. In April 1942, the communists confirmed their change of strategy, and so decided to support the war and all it entailed. Three months later, the Communist Party of India was legalised. This support for the prosecution of the war was not a popular move in India. 'It alienated us completely from the national movement ... ' Bedi recalled, 'but at the same time the conviction was so deep that anti-fascism struggle had to be carried on.' It also sharpened the distinction between communists and other progressive strands of nationalism. In August 1942, Congress launched the Quit India agitation which placed achieving independence ahead of fighting Germany and Japan, and which also entailed the detention of most Congress leaders for the remainder of the war; in that same month, the more radical nationalists led by Subhas Bose established the Indian National Army to fight alongside the Japanese in an attempt to evict Britain from India. The communists stood aloof from both endeavours.

Towards the close of 1941, a Friends of the Soviet Union association was established in Calcutta. Freda Bedi promptly took to the platform to endorse the campaign... 'The spirit that animates Russia in her magnificent resistance to Nazi barbarism will never die,' she told a students' conference at Lahore's Bradlaugh Hall at the end of November.
She read a telegram from Bedi sent from Deoli, and passed by the censors there so in a sense approved by the British authorities: "'Convey students glowing greetings towards peace and progress through vigorously functioning Punjab Friends of Soviet.''' Within weeks, the new association had established a regional organisation in Punjab and Freda became the provincial organiser. It was the most prominent position she took in Indian politics, ... she had a standing and reputation which helped the pro-Soviet, anti-Nazi, message percolate beyond the immediate ranks of the still underground CPI and its supporters....she was an exceptional organiser as well as an accomplished orator. The British communist intellectual Victor Kiernan was in Lahore at this time and regarded Freda highly, considering that she was 'emerging as one of the most effective of a new generation of Party leaders'....

No meeting was held in Lahore those days where Bedi did not speak or Freda Bedi did not speak....

'Our platform is non-party,' Freda insisted, not entirely convincingly, when seeking support for the initial conference of the Punjab section of the Friends of the Soviet Union, 'and the object of the organisation is to draw together all those who sympathise with the Soviets in their epic struggle against the Nazi hordes, whether on cultural, political or humanitarian ground.' On another occasion she spoke of the Second World War as an 'international civil war' and asserted that 'it is to Russia that the poor and neglected of the world look'. She spoke widely, warning that India would have 'greater troubles' if Japan triumphed while also raising money for medical supplies for the Soviet Union and -- as a civil liberties activist -- continuing to campaign for the release of political detainees.

The detention camp in Deoli served, as Imperial jails and detention camps so often did, as a recruiting ground for communism. The factionalising on the left evident before the war was played out behind the barbed wire too. But the communists were the best organised and intellectually the most confident, and the bulk of the detainees rallied to their standard. The communists had already made a determined attempt to take control of the Congress Socialist Party at its conference in Lahore in April 1938. Bedi's own account was that, in Punjab at least, there was no real need for the party to capture the provincial CSP, because most of its members had been won over to communism. He also details, however, how the CPI acted as a caucus within the wider party -- establishing its own line on issues of policy and organisation and distributing secret circulars not to be shared with those with non-communists in the CSP....

By his own account, he was an important figure in the excited debates about communist strategy which helped wile away the long hours in the barracks. And he aligned himself with the hardliners in the party, such as B.T. Ranadive, and urged loyalty to Stalin and active support for the defence of the Soviet Union.

With communists now one of the few organised political groups in India to support the allied war effort, there was little purpose in keeping so many of their leading cadres locked up. A handful of Punjabi communist leaders were released in April 1942 -- even before the ban on the CPI was lifted. Bedi appears to have been part of the group....

By early May 1942, B.P.L. was back in Lahore. He was guest of honour at a function arranged by 'prominent citizens' where he thanked the people of Lahore and all those 'who had helped detenus [sic] by keeping up the agitation for release and rendered other help.' Far from being chastened by his sixteen months in detention, he was back on the podium and even more militant than before. He presided over an 'anti-Japanese Day' meeting in Lahore and stormed that 'guerilla bands should be formed in the Punjab, especially among the rural area for the protection of their hearths and homes. Mr Bedi declared that he would enrol ten lakhs of guerillas in the Punjab.' ... it was a declaration of militancy, or political fervour in repulsing the Axis powers and so defending Soviet communism.

-- The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi, by Andrew Whitehead

Expulsion and rehabilitation

In the post-freedom period, the Communist Party of India, after the second congress in Calcutta (new spelling: Kolkata) adopted a path of taking up arms. Joshi was advocating unity with Indian National Congress under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru. He was severely criticized in the Calcutta congress of the CPI in 1948 and was removed from the general secretaryship. Subsequently, he was suspended from the Party on 27 January 1949, expelled in December 1949 and readmitted to the Party on 1 June 1951. Gradually he was sidelined, though rehabilitated through making him the editor of the Party weekly, New Age. After the Communist Party of India split, he was with the CPI. Though he explained the policy of the CPI in the 7th congress in 1964, he was never brought in the leadership directly.

Last days

In his last days, he kept himself busy in research and publication works in Jawaharlal Nehru University to establish an archive on the Indian communist movement.

Personal life

In 1943, he married Kalpana Datta (1913–1995), a revolutionary, who participated in the Chittagong armoury raid.

Chittagong armoury raid, also known as the Chittagong uprising, was an attempt on 18 April 1930 to raid the armoury of police and auxiliary forces from the Chittagong armoury in the Bengal Presidency of British India (now in Bangladesh) by armed Indian independence fighters led by Surya Sen.

The raiders were members of revolutionary groups who favoured armed uprisings as a means to achieve India's independence from British colonial rule. They were inspired by the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and led by Surya Sen. However, they were ideologically influenced more by the Communists in Soviet Russia. Many of these raiders later became Communists. The group included Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Bal, Ambika Chakrobarty, Harigopal Bal (Tegra), Ananta Singh, Anand Prasad Gupta, Tripura Sen, Bidhubhusan Bhattacharya, Pritilata Waddedar, Kalpana Dutta, Himangshu Sen, Binod Bihari Chowdhury, Subodh Roy, Monoranjan Bhattacharya.

Sen devised a plan to capture the two main armouries in Chittagong, destroy the telegraph and telephone office, and take as hostages members of the European Club, the majority of whom also to be raided, while rail and communication lines were to be cut in order to sever Chittagong from Calcutta. Imperial banks at Chittagong were to be looted to gather money for further uprisings, and various jailed revolutionaries would be free.

The plan was put into action at 10 p.m. on 18 April 1930. The police armoury (in Police Line in Dampara) was captured by a group of revolutionaries led by Ganesh Ghosh, while another group of ten men led by Lokenath Bal took the Auxiliary Forces armoury (now the old Circuit House). Some 65 people took part in the raid, undertaken in the name of Indian Republican Army, Chittagong Branch. They failed to locate ammunition but did succeed in cutting telephone and telegraph wires and disrupting train movements.

About 16 of the group captured the European club's headquarters (in Pahartali, now the Railway Office next to Shahjahan Field) but there were few club members present because of it being Good Friday. Upon learning of the situation, the Europeans were able to get the alarm out to troops, which the revolutionaries had not expected. After the raids, the revolutionaries gathered outside the police armoury, where Sen took a military salute, hoisted a national flag, and proclaimed a Provisional Revolutionary Government. The revolutionaries left Chittagong town before dawn and marched towards the Chittagong hill ranges, looking for a safe place to hide.

A few of the members including Ganesh Ghosh, Ananta Singh and the teenagers Ananda Gupta and Jeebon Ghoshal were elsewhere, and almost captured at Feni railway station but managed to escape. Later they stayed in hiding in a house in Chandannagar.

After a few days, the police traced some of the revolutionaries. They were surrounded by several thousand troops while they took shelter in Jalalabad hills near Chittagong Cantonment on the afternoon of 22 April 1930.

Over 80 troops and 12 revolutionaries were killed in the ensuing gunfight in the Battle of Jalalabad Hills. Sen dispersed his men to neighbouring villages in small groups and thus some escaped. A few fled to Calcutta while some were arrested. An intense crackdown on the resistance ensued. Ananta Singh gave himself up in Calcutta coming away from his hiding place in Chandannagar, to be close to the young teenagers captured and under trial in Chittagong. A few months later, Police Commissioner Charles Tegart surrounded their hideout and in the ensuing exchange of fire, Jiban Ghoshal was killed.

Some of the revolutionaries managed to reorganise. On 24 September 1932, Debi Prasad Gupta, Manoranjan Sen, Rajat Sen, Swadesh Roy, Phanindra Nandi and Subodh Chaudhary led by Pritilata Waddedar, attacked the Pahartali European Club, killing one woman and injuring several police officials. However, the plan wasn't entirely successful. After the attack, the revolutionaries fled but Pritilata who got wounded consumed cyanide to evade arrest and killed herself. The police searched the rest of the absconders. In Kalarpole encounter Deba Gupta, Manoranjan Sen, Rajat Sen and Swadeshranjan Ray were killed while the other two, Subodh and Phani were wounded and arrested. During 1930-32, 22 officials and 220 others were killed by revolutionaries in separate incidents. Debi Prasad Gupta's brother, was sentenced to transportation for life.

The mass trial of those arrested during and after the raids concluded in January 1932 and the judgement was delivered on 1 March 1932. Twelve of the defendants were sentenced to deportation for life, two received three-year prison sentences and the remaining 32 individuals were acquitted. The twelve deported to Andaman included Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Bal, (in 1932) sixteen year old Ananda Gupta, and Ananta Singh.

The Chittagong revolutionary group suffered a fatal blow when Masterda Surya Sen was arrested on 16 February 1933 from Gairala village after a tip-off from an insider of the group. For the reward money, jealousy, or both, Netra Sen told the British Government that Surya Sen was at his house. But before Netra Sen was able to get his 10,000 rupee reward, he was assassinated by the revolutionaries.

Surya Sen along with Tarakeswar Dastidar were hanged by the British Administration on the 12th of January 1934 after inhuman torture in prison.

-- Chittagong armoury raid, by Wikipedia

They had two sons, Chand and Suraj. Chand Joshi (1946-2000) was a noted journalist, who worked for the Hindustan Times. He was also known for his work, Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality (1985). Chand's second wife Manini (née Chatterjee, b 1961) is also a journalist, who works for The Telegraph. Manini Chatterjee penned a book on the Chittagong armoury raid, titled, Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34 (1999).[2]

See also

• Kumaon
• Kumauni People


1. Chandra, Bipan (22 December 2007). "P.C. Joshi : A Political Journey". Mainstream weekly. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
2. "This above All". The Tribune. 5 February 2000. Retrieved 19 May 2010.

Further reading

• Chakravartty, Gargi (2007). P.C. Joshi: A Biography, New Delhi: National Book Trust, ISBN 978-81-237-5052-1.

External links

• The Hindu report on P.C. Joshi denying split in CPI
• Biography of Puran Chand Joshi
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 3:50 am

Victor Kiernan
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/19/20

A few weeks after Freda emerged from Lahore jail, the war took a turn which had direct repercussions for both her and her husband. Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and attacked the Soviet Union, his erstwhile ally. Communist parties which had already carried out one contortion when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact became public knowledge and changed overnight from describing the conflict as a war against fascism to an imperialist war were again wrong-footed. The British party quickly fell in line with Moscow and came to hail a people's war which needed to be prosecuted zealously, not least to protect Soviet communism from the Nazi aggressor. The Indian party was slower to respond to the changing contours of the conflict -- in part because of a reluctance to make common cause with the Imperial power, and in part because the detention of so many leading left-wingers hampered debate and decision making. By the close of 1941, Indian communists were coming to accept the need to support the allied war effort against Germany and Japan. In April 1942, the communists confirmed their change of strategy, and so decided to support the war and all it entailed. Three months later, the Communist Party of India was legalised. This support for the prosecution of the war was not a popular move in India. 'It alienated us completely from the national movement ... ' Bedi recalled, 'but at the same time the conviction was so deep that anti-fascism struggle had to be carried on.' It also sharpened the distinction between communists and other progressive strands of nationalism. In August 1942, Congress launched the Quit India agitation which placed achieving independence ahead of fighting Germany and Japan, and which also entailed the detention of most Congress leaders for the remainder of the war; in that same month, the more radical nationalists led by Subhas Bose established the Indian National Army to fight alongside the Japanese in an attempt to evict Britain from India. The communists stood aloof from both endeavours.

Towards the close of 1941, a Friends of the Soviet Union association was established in Calcutta. Freda Bedi promptly took to the platform to endorse the campaign... 'The spirit that animates Russia in her magnificent resistance to Nazi barbarism will never die,' she told a students' conference at Lahore's Bradlaugh Hall at the end of November. She read a telegram from Bedi sent from Deoli, and passed by the censors there so in a sense approved by the British authorities: "'Convey students glowing greetings towards peace and progress through vigorously functioning Punjab Friends of Soviet.''' Within weeks, the new association had established a regional organisation in Punjab and Freda became the provincial organiser. It was the most prominent position she took in Indian politics, ... she had a standing and reputation which helped the pro-Soviet, anti-Nazi, message percolate beyond the immediate ranks of the still underground CPI and its supporters....she was an exceptional organiser as well as an accomplished orator. The British communist intellectual Victor Kiernan was in Lahore at this time and regarded Freda highly, considering that she was 'emerging as one of the most effective of a new generation of Party leaders'....

No meeting was held in Lahore those days where Bedi did not speak or Freda Bedi did not speak....

'Our platform is non-party,' Freda insisted, not entirely convincingly, when seeking support for the initial conference of the Punjab section of the Friends of the Soviet Union, 'and the object of the organisation is to draw together all those who sympathise with the Soviets in their epic struggle against the Nazi hordes, whether on cultural, political or humanitarian ground.' On another occasion she spoke of the Second World War as an 'international civil war' and asserted that 'it is to Russia that the poor and neglected of the world look'.

-- The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi, by Andrew Whitehead


Edward Victor Gordon Kiernan (4 September 1913 – 17 February 2009) was a British Marxist historian and a member of the Communist Party Historians Group. He was recognised as one of the most wide-ranging of global historians. While his middle name came from one of British imperialism's greatest heroes, General 'Chinese' Gordon of Khartoum, he emerged as one of Britain's foremost ideological warriors against empire.[1]


Born in Ashton-on-Mersey, a southern district of Manchester, Kiernan was one of three children born to Ella née Young and John Edward Kiernan, who served as a translator of Spanish and Portuguese for the privately owned Manchester Ship Canal. His family came from a congregationalist, non-conformist religious tradition that he later suggested played a role in his socialist formation and that of many of the Communist Party Historians Group founded in 1946.

A scholarship student at the Manchester Grammar School, Kiernan developed a passion for the classics, as he added ancient Greek and Latin to the modern European languages he had already learned at home. Propelled with three new scholarships, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge where he achieved a double-starred First in History (B.A.,1934; M.A., 1937). Recruited by Guy Burgess during a time of radical ferment among Cambridge students, Kiernan joined the Communist Party in 1934.

Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess (16 April 1911 – 30 August 1963) was a British diplomat and Soviet agent, a member of the Cambridge Five spy ring that operated from the mid-1930s to the early years of the Cold War era. His defection in 1951 to the Soviet Union, with his fellow spy Donald Maclean, led to a serious breach in Anglo-United States intelligence co-operation, and caused long-lasting disruption and demoralisation in Britain's foreign and diplomatic services.

-- Guy Burgess, by Wikipedia

He found his radicalism subsequently reinforced by what he regarded as the treachery of Britain's elites. Perhaps the greatest influence on Kiernan was Maurice Dobb. A lecturer in economics at Cambridge, he had joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920 and was open with his students about his communist beliefs. Kiernan later wrote: "We had no time then to assimilate Marxist theory more than very roughly; it was only beginning to take root in England, although it had one remarkable expounder at Cambridge in Maurice Dobb."

Dobb joined the Communist Party in 1920 and during the 1930s was central to the burgeoning Communist movement at the university. One of his recruits was Kim Philby, who later became a high-placed mole within British intelligence. It has been suggested that Dobb was a "talent-spotter" for the Comintern.

-- Maurice Dobb, by Wikipedia

In 1938, as a junior fellow, Kiernan departed for Bombay in to continue his political activities and to teach at the Sikh National College and Aitchison College in Lahore, India (now Pakistan). Shortly after his arrival he married the theatre activist and childhood friend of Indira Nehru, Shanta Gandhi.

Shanta Kalidas Gandhi (20 December 1917 – 6 May 2002) was an Indian theatre director, dancer and playwright who was closely associated with IPTA, the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India. She studied with Indira Gandhi at a residential school in the early 1930s, and remained close to the prime minister in later life. She received many government awards and sinecures under the Indira Gandhi administration, including the Padma Shri (1984) and being made chairperson of the National School of Drama (1982–84)....

She joined Pupil's Own School, an experimental residential school in Pune in 1932, where she became friends with classmate Indira Nehru. She later moved to Bombay, when her engineer father found her becoming too involved in the left-wing student movement in the 1930s and sent her to England to study medicine. In London she stayed at a Fairfax Road boarding house across the hallway from Indira. Feroze Gandhi lived nearby, and the three of them would go out on the town together. When Indira and Feroze secretly became engaged in 1936, Shanta was the only other person to know about it. Soon she started frequenting India House, meeting up with Krishna Menon and his young 'Free India' associates, and even joined a dance troupe to raise funds for the Spanish Civil War. But before long her father called her back, as the World War II in Europe was starting, thus ending a possible medical career....

In 1952, she started working with a group of children in the village Nikora, on the banks of the Narmada River, in South Gujarat with an informal curriculum. Later, an experimental school attached to the B.M. Institute of Child Psychology and Development, Ahmedabad, adopted this format and in the 1970s at the Bal Bhavan, Delhi took it as well, eventually Avehi was formed in 1981 and in 1990 in 1990 when AVEHI took up the programme, and named it ABACUS with Shanta Gandhi as Director.

In 1958, Shanta Gandhi was called to Delhi as Asian Theatre Institute was being set up, she joined a Professor of Ancient Indian Drama, in the following year when it merged with the National School of Drama, she continued teaching and in the coming years revived ancient Indian plays starting with Sanskrit drama masters, Kalidasa, Bhasa, Vishakhadatta and Bhavabhuti. She was first to revive 4th century BC, Sanskrit playwright, Bhasa's through her productions of Madhyamavyayoga (1966) (The Middle One) and Urubhanga (The Broken Thigh), a decade before Pannikar and Ratan Thiyam began working with them.[12] She later directed Vishakhadatta's Mudrarakshasa, Virkam Varman's Bhagavadajjukam (1967) all in Hindi. In 1967, she wrote Jasma Odan in Gujarati based on a folk tale, subsequently she translated it in Malavi Hindi with Dr. Shyam Parmar, the result was her most noted production of the Bhavai-based musical Jasma Odhan in 1968, with NSD Repertory Company featuring actors like Manohar Singh and Uttara Baokar. She also did the design for the play, and it resurrected the Bhavai folk theatre from Gujarat.

-- Shanta Gandhi, by Wikipedia

Though they remained friends, they split up when Kiernan returned to Cambridge in 1946 to complete his Fellowship.

Spurned by both Cambridge and Oxford, Kiernan was offered a lectureship in 1948 at the University of Edinburgh, thanks to the intervention of the distinguished historian Richard Pares. In 1970, Kiernan was given a Personal Chair in Modern History; a position he held until his retirement in 1977. Having joined the CPGB in 1934, he finally left in 1959, chiefly in disgust at the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, after which, he said: "I waited in hopes the party might improve. It didn't."

In 1993 at the age of 80, Kiernan produced Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen a book he had been working on since 1947. A second volume, Eight Tragedies of Shakespeare, followed in 1996. His final book, Horace: Poetics and Politics appeared in 1999. Kiernan died peacefully in his sleep, aged 95, in Stow, Scotland.

Intellectual legacy

Kiernan made immense contributions to the post-war flowering of British Marxist historiography that transformed the understanding of social history. Seeking escape paths from a congealing Stalinism, this intellectual movement grew from several figures among them - E.P. Thompson, Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton, Kiernan and Eric Hobsbawm. Brash and confident in wielding the best of the British Left's cultural arsenal, they welcomed open-ended dialogue with non-Marxist traditions. Some of this dialogue was on display in the journal Past & Present, a journal of social history that became the most prestigious in the English-speaking world. Kiernan wrote a major essay in 1952 for the first issue of the journal ("Evangelicalism and the French Revolution"), produced several landmark articles, and later served on its editorial board from 1973 to 1983. He also contributed to New Left Review throughout the journal's transitions. While Thompson, Hill and Hilton were rooted in English social history, Kiernan and Hobsbawm practised a historical craft with more global aspirations. Kiernan's distinctive contributions included the study of elites in history, the mythologies of imperialism, the folklore of capitalism and conservatism, and literature and social change.

Kiernan and Urdu poetry

While steeped in Western literature and the classical heritage of Horace, Kiernan called for an appreciation of Urdu poetry, as he translated works from its literary golden age spanning from Ghalib (1796-1869) to Iqbal (1877-1938) to Faiz (1911-1984). He elevated writers from the East who had been largely banished by guardians of the Western canon and then overlooked by stylish post-modern literary figures looking for more transgressive exemplars of literary craft.


He was married twice: to the Indian theatre director, dancer and playwright Shanta Gandhi (Bollywood actress Dina Pathak's sister), from 1938 to 1946; and to the Canadian scholar Heather Massey, from 1984 until his death.

Selected works/articles

• The Dragon and St. George: Anglo-Chinese relations 1880-1885 (1939)
• British diplomacy in China, 1880 to 1885 (1939)
• Poems from Iqbal, Translation (1955)
• The revolution of 1854 in Spanish history (1966)
• The lords of human kind. European attitudes towards the outside world in the Imperial Age (1969)
• Marxism and imperialism: studies (1974)
• America, the new imperialism: from white settlement to world hegemony (1978)
• State & society in Europe, 1550-1650 (1980)
• European empires from conquest to collapse, 1815-1960 (1982)
• The duel in European history: honour and the reign of aristocracy (1988)
• History, classes and nation-states (edited and introduced by Harvey J. Kaye (1988)
• Tobacco: A History (1991)
• Shakespeare, poet and citizen (1993)
• Imperialism and its contradictions (edited & introduced by Harvey J. Kaye; 1995)
• Eight tragedies of Shakespeare: a Marxist study (1996)
• Colonial empires and armies 1815-1960 (1982, 1998)
• Horace: poetics and politics (1999)

See also

• History & humanism: essays in honour of V.G. Kiernan (edited by Owen Dudley Edwards; 1977)
• Across time and continents: a tribute to Victor G. Kiernan (edited by Prakash Karat; 2003). ISBN 81-87496-34-7.


1. Tariq Ali (20 February 2009). "Victor Kiernan: Marxist historian, writer and linguist who challenged the tenets of Imperialism". The Independent.

External links

• Obituary by Eric Hobsbawm
• Profile in The Hindu
• Obituary in The Scotsman
• Review of America, the new imperialism
• Obituary by James Dunkerley, History Workshop Journal, 69, (Spring, 2010).
• Obituary in The Times, 14 May 2009


Victor Kiernan: Marxist historian, writer and linguist who challenged the tenets of Imperialism
by Tariq Ali
Friday 20 February 2009 01:00


Victor Kiernan, professor emeritus of Modern History at Edinburgh University, was an erudite Marxist historian with wide-ranging interests that spanned virtually every continent. His passion for history and radical politics, classical languages and world literature was evenly divided.

His interest in languages was developed at home in south Manchester. His father worked for the Manchester Ship Canal as a translator of Spanish and Portuguese and young Victor picked these up even before getting a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School, where he learnt Greek and Latin. His early love for Horace (his favourite poet) resulted in a later book. He went on to Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied History, imbibed the prevalent anti-fascist outlook and like many others joined the British Communist Party.

Unlike some of his distinguished colleagues (Eric Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton, Edward Thompson) in the Communist Party Historians Group founded in 1946, Kiernan wrote a great deal on countries and cultures far removed from Britain and Europe. A flavour of the man is evident from the opening paragraphs of a 1989 essay on the monarchy published in the New Left Review:

In China an immemorial throne crumbled in 1911; India put its Rajas and Nawabs in the wastepaper-basket as soon as it gained independence in 1947; in Ethiopia the Lion of Judah has lately ceased to roar. Monarchy survives in odd corners of Asia; and in Japan and Britain. In Asia sainthood has often been hereditary, and can yield a comfortable income to remote descendants of holy men; in Europe hereditary monarchy had something of the same numinous character. In both cases a dim sense of an invisible flow of vital forces from generation to generation, linking together the endless series, has been at work. Very primitive feeling may lurk under civilized waistcoats.

Notions derived from age-old magic helped Europe's 'absolute monarchs' to convince taxpayers that a country's entire welfare, even survival, was bound up with its God-sent ruler's. Mughal emperors appeared daily on their balcony so that their subjects could see them and feel satisfied that all was well. Rajput princes would ride in a daily cavalcade through their small capitals, for the same reason. Any practical relevance of the crown to public well-being has long since vanished, but somehow in Britain the existence of a Royal Family seems to convince people in some subliminal way that everything is going to turn out all right for them... Things of today may have ancient roots; on the other hand antiques are often forgeries, and Royal sentiment in Britain today is largely an artificial product.

Kiernan's knowledge of India was first-hand. He was there from 1938-46, establishing contacts and organising study-circles with local Communists and teaching at Aitchison (formerly Chiefs) College, an institution created to educate the Indian nobility along the lines suggested by the late Lord Macaulay. What the students (mostly wooden-headed wastrels) made of Kiernan has never been revealed, but one or two of the better ones did later embrace radical ideas. It would be nice to think that he was responsible: it is hard to imagine who else it could have been. The experience taught him a great deal about imperialism and in a set of stunningly well-written books he wrote a great deal on the origins and development of the American Empire, the Spanish colonisation of South America and on other European empires.

He was by now fluent in Persian and Urdu and had met Iqbal and the young Faiz, two of the greatest poets produced by Northern India. Kiernan translated both of them into English, which played no small part in helping to enlarge their audience at a time when imperial languages were totally dominant. His interpretation of Shakespeare is much underrated but were it put on course lists it would be a healthy antidote to the embalming.

He had married the dancer and theatrical activist Shanta Gandhi in 1938 in Bombay, but they split up before Kiernan left India in 1946. Almost forty years later he married Heather Massey. When I met him soon afterwards he confessed that she had rejuvenated him intellectually. Kiernan's subsequent writings confirmed this view.

Throughout his life he stubbornly adhered to Marxist ideas, but without a trace of rigidity or sullenness. He was not one to pander to the latest fashions and despised the post-modernist wave that swept the academy in the 80s and 90s, rejecting history in favour of trivia. Angered by triumphalist mainstream commentaries proclaiming the virtues of capitalism he wrote a sharp rebuttal. "Modern Capitalism and Its Shepherds" was published once again in the New Left Review in October 1990:

Merchant capital, usurer capital, have been ubiquitous, but they have not by themselves brought about any decisive alteration of the world. It is industrial capital that has led to revolutionary change, and been the highroad to a scientific technology that has transformed agriculture as well as industry, society as well as economy. Industrial capitalism peeped out here and there before the nineteenth century, but on any considerable scale it seems to have been rejected like an alien graft, as something too unnatural to spread far. It has been a strange aberration on the human path, an abrupt mutation. Forces outside economic life were needed to establish it; only very complex, exceptional conditions could engender, or keep alive, the entrepreneurial spirit. There have always been much easier ways of making money than long-term industrial investment, the hard grind of running a factory. J.P. Morgan preferred to sit in a back parlour on Wall Street smoking cigars and playing solitaire, while money flowed towards him. The English, first to discover the industrial highroad, were soon deserting it for similar parlours in the City, or looking for byways, short cuts and colonial Eldorados.

The current crisis would not have surprised him at all. Fictive capital, I can hear him saying, has no future.

Victor Gordon Kiernan, historian and writer: born Manchester 4 September 1913; Married 1938 Shanta Gandhi (marriage dissolved 1946), 1984 Heather Massey; died 17 February 2009.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 6:49 am

Unite to Defend Motherland: Communist Party National Council Resolution
New Age Communist Party Weekly
Vol. X, No. 44, New Delhi, November 4, 1962
Approved for Release: 8/27/2000: CIA-RDP78-03061A000100070014-0
by Central Intelligence Agency





The National Council of the Communist Party of India, meeting in New Delhi in the present grave period of national emergency, appeals to all sections of the Indian people to unite in defence of the motherland against Chinese aggression. The Communist Party joins hands with all our patriotic people who stand behind the Prime Minister’s stirring appeal for national unity in defence of the country, says the National Council of the Communist Party of India, in its resolution entitled “National Emergency Arising Out of Chinese Aggression” adopted in New Delhi on November 1. The resolution further reads –

The National Council pays its humble tribute to the remarkable heroism of our soldiers in the face of extreme odds. The National Council salutes the memory of those sons of India who have given their precious lives for the defence of our borders.

The last few weeks have seen an unprecedented mass upsurge of our people against Chinese aggression and for the defence of the country. In various parts of the country, State and District Committees of the Communist Party have joined hands with other patriotic forces to mobilize and unite the masses for national defence.

Violation of Solemn Undertaking

In violation of the solemn undertakings given by the Chinese Government during the last three years, not to cross the McMahon Line, Chinese armed forces in large numbers have openly crossed this international frontier and are today in many places inside Indian territory. The Chinese forces have also simultaneously launched big offensives against our positions in Ladakh.

The claims which have again and again been put forward by the Chinese Government on the grounds that the McMahon Line is “illegal” because it was the result of an agreement made at a time when British imperialists ruled over India, are completely untenable and on no account can such arguments justify their launching aggression on India. The crossing of this line, under any excuse or pretence whatsoever, indisputably constitutes aggression and violation of our territory.

The National Council congratulates the members and supporters of the Communist Party who have joined the national defence efforts in large numbers and participated in different forms of patriotic action.

The National Council calls on every Party member and supporter to intensify his efforts in support of the defence of the country – in unity with all people.

The National Council extends its full support to the position taken by Prime Minister Nehru in regard to the conditions for the opening of negotiations for the settlement of the border dispute. India had all along declared its willingness and its desire to settle the border dispute by peaceful negotiations, and even today, in the face of the invasion of our territory, the Prime Minister has reiterated his willingness to negotiate with the Chinese Government, while taking all the necessary measures for the defence of the country. But such negotiations can take place obviously on the basis of the withdrawal of Chinese forces at least to the positions they held before the present aggressive actions began – that is, as the Government of India has suggested, to the positions held before September 8, 1962.

Appeal To Friendly Countries

The National Council of the Communist Party appreciates the efforts of friendly countries and Governments to end the present conflict and pave the way to negotiations. It appeals to them and to all progressive and peace-loving forces in all parts of the world to throw their weight in favour of stopping of hostilities, to secure the withdrawal of Chinese forces as proposed by the Government of India so that an atmosphere for negotiations is created.

It should now be clear to all that the continuation of this conflict disrupts Afro-Asian solidarity, weakens the common struggle against imperialism and for national independence, and threatens world peace.

While defending the sacred soil of our country from aggression, our people are conscious of the fact that a full-scale war between two such big powers of Asia is a disaster that everyone must exert his best to avoid.

Chinese Propaganda

The National Council totally rejects and repudiates the characterization made by the Chinese authorities in their press and radio propaganda, of Prime Minister Nehru as “an agent of U.S. imperialists” and the leader of “reactionaries” and an “expansionist”, and of the Government of India acting as a “tool of U.S. imperialism” in order to secure more dollar aid.

The Communist Party in its Sixth Congress at Vijayawada had already stated that the Government of India under the leadership of Nehru, is pursuing a policy of peace and non-alignment and of opposition to war and colonialism; it is not expansionist nor serving the interests of U.S. imperialism, though there have been errors in the consistent execution of such a basically correct policy.

In his broadcast to the nation, Prime Minister Nehru has reiterated that India will continue to pursue a policy of non-alignment. The Communist Parties of the world have again and again acknowledged the contribution to peace of the non-aligned countries and particularly India.

As long ago as last December, our late General Secretary Ajoy Ghosh publicly repudiated the wrong Chinese understanding of the character of the Indian Government and the policies pursued by it.

The National Council of the Communist Party of India never expected a socialist country like China to settle a border dispute with India by force of arms, and make astounding claims against a country which is engaged in peaceful consolidation of its newly-won independence, which belongs to the peace camp, which follows a foreign policy of non-alignment, which has all along maintained friendship with China, and whose Government is run by a parliamentary democracy and not a military dictatorship.

By its wrong and mistaken attitude, the Chinese Government has facilitated the strengthening of the Right-wing reactionary parties and groups in this country, strengthening of the opponents of non-alignment. The result of Chinese aggression has been to give a tremendous fillip precisely to these forces.

Reaction’s Game

These reactionary forces seek to take advantage of the situation created by the Chinese aggression, to make India give up its policy of non-alignment, foment war hysteria and drag India into the imperialist camp. To this end, they are spreading panicky rumours and slanders to discredit the defence administration and leadership; they are openly accusing the Government and the Prime Minister of ‘appeasement’ and ‘vacillation’ and calling for a total reversal of foreign policy.

The Communist Party of India stands for the strengthening and building of the unity of all patriotic forces in this national emergency. The Communist Party of India is not opposed to buying arms from any country on a commercial basis. But it is opposed to the import of foreign personnel to man the defences of this country. The people and armed forces of India are capable enough to defend their country once they organize and move in their millions as a solid united force. Supreme efforts both by the Government and people will have to be made in this direction.

PM’s Call Responded

The people have responded splendidly to the call of the Prime Minister for united national effort, for stepping up production, mobilizing funds for the armed forces, etc.

The Communist Party pledges itself to participate fully in all activities for the promotion of national unity, defence and the strengthening of the morals of the people.

In this situation, the National Council draws the attention of all to the warnings given in the Prime Minister’s Appeal against anti-national vested interests who will try to profit by raising prices or hoarding, etc. The Council hopes that the Central and State Governments will take stern measures against the vested interests, who, as past experience shows, utilize such situations of national and international crises to enrich themselves at the cost¬ of the toiling people, to the detriment of the defence of the country.

Revoke Anti-People Measures

The great common mass of toiling people, who already live in poverty but who by their labour on land and in factories will be working in the rear to fulfil the needs of production, also need to be protected against the anti-social vested interests.

While sharing the tasks of the defence of the country, the people want to be assured that all the burdens of defence are not cast on the poor toiling people. Hence the Council hopes that those unpopular measures which have been on the anvil of the legislatures are set aside and the defence efforts are so organized¬ as to enthuse the mass of people and unite them for greater voluntary sacrifices for the defence of the country.

China’s Astounding Claims

The Council notes that reactionary elements in the country are trying to misuse popular indignation against Chinese aggression to rouse felings against the Communist Party of India. In the present situation, this amounts to nothing but national disruption and defiance of the Prime Minister’s call for national unity. The Council is confident that the patriotic and democratic forces in the country will give a fitting rebuff to all such attempts.

The Council calls on Communist Party units, members and supporters everywhere:

• To take an active part in the work of the popular committees which are being set up in support of the defence efforts;
• To exert their best to build up the National Defence Fund;
• To work resolutely for increase in production for defence and people’s needs;
• To mobilize public opinion against price rises, blackmarketing and profiteering and other anti-social activities, which hit the working people and the nation;
• To campaign tirelessly against those groups, parties and elements which seek narrow political advantage out of the present crisis;
• To oppose attempts to force India to give up her foreign policy of non-alignment and peace and thereby put her at the mercy of the imperialist camp and involve India in a prolonged full-scale war;
• To support all moves taken by the Government of India to bring about a peaceful settlement, consistent with the honour and dignity of the country.
The National Council is confident that all Communists will stand at their posts of duty and work, together with the rest of the Indian people, to the greater glory of the Motherland.


“In the Interest of Peoples, For the Sake of Universal Peace”

Text of Pravda Editorial

Moscow, October 25:

The following is the full text of Pravda editorial entitled “In the Interests of the Peoples, For the Sake of Universal Peace”, published today:

The Soviet Union and the other socialist countries regard it as the chief aims of their foreign policy the ensuring of peaceful conditions for the construction of a new society and for the development of the world socialist system, consolidation of friendship among all peoples, and the ridding of mankind from the threat of a new world war.

This position is consistently adhered to by the Soviet Union and countries of the socialist community in settling all world policy problems. Counterposing to imperialism the new type of international relations, the socialist states persistently and purposefully uphold the principles of freedom, national independence, sovereignty and the possibility for the people of every country to decide their destiny. The countries of the socialist camp act as genuine friends and allies of the peoples in their struggle against colonialism and the intrigues of the imperialist powers.

The young sovereign states have inherited many unsolved problems from the grievous past. The imperialist quarters never miss an opportunity of taking advantage of difficulties connected, specifically, with all kinds of border issues and disputes. In their aggressive aspirations U.S. imperialism and its allies in NATO, SEATO and other military blocs pin special hopes on exploiting the unsettled border issue between the People’s Republic of China and India.

The question of the Sino-Indian border is a legacy of the times when the British colonialists held sway on Indian territory, arbitrarily cutting and recutting the map of Asia.

The notorious McMahon Line, which has never been recognized by China, was imposed upon the Chinese and Indian peoples. The imperialist quarters did their utmost to use border conflicts connected with this line for provoking an armed clash. The imperialists dream of setting these great powers against each other, and also of undermining the Soviet Union’s friendship both with fraternal China and with friendly India.

The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China are bound by many years of unbreakable friendship. This friendship rests on the community of aims: the building of socialism and communism, its firm foundation is constituted by a uniform economic base, a uniform political system, a common ideology – Marxism-Leninism. The Soviet Union, China, and all the countries of socialism are at one in the struggle against imperialism, for peace all over the world. The joint forces of the socialist camp reliably guarantee every socialist country against encroachments by imperialist reaction. When four years ago, in 1958, the Chiang Kai-shek clique started, in collusion with U.S. military, provocative activities in the Taiwan Strait, the Soviet Government sternly warned the fanciers of playing with fire, stressing that in the struggle against the intrigues of imperialism the Soviet Union was fully on the side of great fraternal China. This warning was confirmed by the head of the Soviet Government, N.S. Khrushchev, in his radio and TV address on July 2, 1962.

Profound satisfaction is aroused in Soviet people by the development of the Soviet Unions’ cooperation with India. We rejoice over the successes of the Indian people, we understand their difficulties and readily broaden our cooperation which helps develop the economy and culture of the country which has cast off the colonial yoke. Soviet people highly appreciate sovereign India’s contribution to the struggle for peace and international security, against colonialism and imperialist military blocs.

Soviet People Are Worried

Soviet people, as all peace-loving public, are worried by the development of events on the Indian-Chinese border, especially in the recent period, when things came to armed clashes. Such a development does not accord with the spirit of relations existing between China and India. It runs counter to the national interests of both states. Aggravation of relations between China and India is only profitable to the common enemy of these states, international imperialism.

The Soviet Government and the Soviet people have always advocated the peaceful adjustment of this frontier dispute through negotiation. All lovers of peace adopt this view. There is no question that they will be gratified to see the new move which the Chinese Government has taken to peacefully settle its dispute with India. This is the statement issued by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the full text of which is published in today’s Pravda.

“It is absolutely impossible to imagine the solution of the question of the Chinese-Indian border with the help of armed force,” the statement says. “China and India are two major Asian countries and they bear great responsibility for peace in Asia and the world generally. They initiated the five principles of peaceful coexistence and took part in the Bandung Conference. And though present Sino-Indian relations are rather strained there is still no reason to jettison the five principles and the Bandung spirit.”

The Chinese Government has suggested embarking on negotiations to settle the question of the Sino-Indian frontier. It has expressed the hope that the Indian Government will be agreeable to having both sides respect the line between territories actually controlled by both sides along the entire Sino-Indian frontier and, to avoid contact, will withdraw their armed forces to within 20 kilometres distance. The Chinese Government believes that there should be another meeting between the Chinese and Indian Prime Ministers at a reciprocally suitable moment.

The Chinese Government has called on the Indian Government to energetically respond to its proposals. It has urged the Afro-Asian governments to exert an effort to facilitate their realization. It has likewise called on all the peace-loving countries and peoples to bend their efforts to promote Sino-Indian friendship, Afro-Asian solidarity and world peace.

The fomentation of the conflict between the two great Asian powers brings grist to the mill not only of imperialism in general but also of certain reactionary circles inside India, most intimately associated with foreign capital and imperialist forces inimical to the Indian people. To adjust the conflict peacefully India’s progressives must redouble their efforts. One, of course, must realize that when relations are strained as they are now, even some progressively minded people may succumb to nationalism and become jingoists. However, one cannot do that, when questions of the struggle for peace, of the solution of international issues, are at stake. In this case, one must be an internationalist and strive not to fan animosity and exacerbate the conflict but settle it peacefully through negotiation. Of course, there can be misunderstandings in relations between states. But it is imperative from the point of view of plain common sense to show good-will on both sides and not dictate any preliminary terms when adjusting disputes.

As for the Soviet people, they take the Chinese Government’s statement as an expression of its sincere concern for its relations with India and of its desire to end the conflict. We think the Chinese Government’s proposals constructive. Without impairing the prestige of either side, they provide an acceptable groundwork for starting negotiations and for peacefully settling controversies in a way taking account of the interests of both the People’s Republic of China and India.

Together Against Imperialism

A friendly settlement of the Sino-Indian frontier problem would once again demonstrate the great power of the principles of the peaceful co-existence and cooperation of states with different systems. It would also promote the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Indian peoples and largely facilitate the consolidation of international security in Asia and the world generally. Further, it would strike a fresh blow at the forces of imperialism and colonialism and against the machinations of the aggressive quarters of the U.S., who in the last few days have embarked upon an extremely perilous venture, which is directed not only against Cuba and the socialist states but against all lovers of peace in general.


Yemen Republic Victorious

The Yemeni Premier Abdallah al Sallal told a Cairo correspondent on October 27 that the Republican Government of the Yemen had been able, in the month since the beginning of the revolution, to put down the unrest provoked in the frontier regions by King Saud, King Hussein and the ruler of Beihan.

“Now”, he said, “we are dedicating all our efforts to the economic advance of Yemen. We hoped to set about doing this from the very first day of the revolution, but the conspiracies of our enemies hampered us. Of course, the defeat which Saud, Hussein and the Beihan ruler sustained, will not stop them. They will continue sending their mercenaries, arms and gold to Jauf and Marib regions in order to provoke unrest. That is why we shall continue enhancing our vigilance.”

”Our government”, Abdallah al Sallal said, “has already drafted an economic programme. It has been submitted to an economic conference now taking place at Sanaa. Above all, we must set up a central bank. We have also started various agricultural reforms. Above all, we must enlarge cotton crops and new markets for our farm produce. We shall try to obtain loans from various countries since the treasury had been empty at the time of the revolution. We shall invite specialists from the whole world and ask for their help.”

Meanwhile, MEN Agency correspondent from Marib reports that after bitter fighting, troops of the revolutionary Government of Yemen captured a height dominating Marib. In the course of the engagement, which lasted an hour, 170 rebels were killed and wounded and 100 others were taken prisoner.

Yemen aircraft discovered and strafed mercenary forces near the road between Marib and the British Protectorate of Beihan.

The Al Ahram correspondent reports from Sanaa that Yemen revolutionary troops have blocked another attempt by mercenaries to enter Yemen from the North-East.


Supplement to WPC Bulletin 10

Stop Press News on Cuba – 24 October 1962

Think – Act – Before It is Too Late

The peoples’ will to peace must halt US Cuba blockade and safeguard peace

Message to the Chairman of the UN Security Council from Professor J.D. Bernal
Chairman of the WCP Presidential Committee

In this house, when the outbreak of world war has never been so imminent, I address through you the members of the Security Council in the name of the hundreds of millions throughout the world who have steadily supported the cause of peace.

The orders given to the US Navy to stop and search all shipping to Cuba are completely illegal. Their implementation would be equivalent to a blockade. The military measures which accompany them are provocative and highly dangerous to peace.

The reasons alleged for these orders are totally irrelevant at a time when no city in the whole world is out of range of nuclear ballistic missiles. As to the proximity of the alleged missile bases in Cuba to the United States providing any justification for these actions, the Soviet Union and other Socialist countries have been ringed for years with nuclear bases round their frontiers without producing the hysterical military reaction which the US Government is now exhibiting. The other actions ordered by President Kennedy, particularly the intense military build up, cannot fail to be seen also as preparation for an invasion of Cuba.

Nevertheless, the US Government is actually asking the Security Council to justify its actions and even to reinforce them. We earnestly hope you will reject this motion and demand instead the calling off of the blockade and the military threats which accompany it. Only in an atmosphere free from such tension and incitement can the whole question of Cuba be dealt with by the United Nations so as to secure the right of its people to govern themselves free from blockade and threats of intervention.

The United Nations can only vindicate its original purpose of preserving peace by acting now to avert the gravest threat it has faced since its creation and save the world from the horror of nuclear war.



from Juan Marinello, President of the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples

In the face of imminent war danger provoked by the aggressive statement of President Kennedy ordering the Naval blockade of Cuba, we most urgently request appeal of world peace forces to urge new public condemnation of war-provoking actions by US Government, the sending without delay of messages to UNO and organization of powerful national movements in support of the cause of Cuba which is the cause of peace based on the respect and sovereignty of nations.


Eight hundred American women of Women Strike for Peace gathered in front of the UNO buildings in New York and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the blockade measures announced by President Kennedy. They shouted slogans and carried banners saying: Take care President Kennedy! Blockage leads to war!

Youth too demonstrated before the UN buildings shouting: Give up the blockade! To prevent world war – negotiations not provocations!

There were protest demonstrations as well in Berkeley (California) and Columbus (Ohio) at which youth and students protested against the Government announcement. In Columbus the demonstrators adopted a statement declaring the blockade an act of war and stating that the safety, not only of the United States, but also of the whole world is threatened by these measures.

Brazil and Argentina

The trade-unions of Latin America’s largest country, Brazil, have expressed their indignation at this “attack on the right to self-determination of a small people” and have declared their solidarity with the Cuban people. The Argentine trade-unions stated in a telegram to UNO: “The Cuban people is sovereign and has the right to shape its life independently and to take measures in its own defence. The war danger originates, not from Cuba, but from the USA which does not wish to respect this right”.

Great Britain

Action in support of Cuba has already started in Britain. Two thousand people demonstrated in front of the US Embassy. They broke through police cordons and 126 were arrested. Other demonstrations took place in Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol. The British Peace Committee is calling a protest march through Central London on Saturday 27 October; the Hands off Cuba Committee has called a meeting for Saturday afternoon in Hyde Park and the CND will protest on Sunday with a public meeting in St. Pancras Town Hall.

The British Peace Committee issued a statement on 23 October and published a second one the following day to convene the Saturday march.

In a telegram to Premier Macmillan the Executive Committee of the South Wales branch of the National Union of Minors states that the British Government must not support the action of the United States against Cuba. The Executive Committee points to the necessity of removing all foreign bases and withdrawing all troops from foreign territories. The pursual of the present course of the US Government, the telegram states, will finally lead to war.


Throughout the whole day on 23 October, deputations from all districts of Paris and the outlying towns flocked to the United States Embassy in Paris to protest against the measures decided on by President Kennedy against Cuba.

The National Council of the Peace Movement sent a telegram to the French delegation at the UN Security Council. It also sent the following telegram to the Security Council itself:

“To the Security Council of the United Nations Organisation.

“Cuban blockade by the USA creates situation dangerous to peace. Demand withdrawal war measures decided by Kennedy and condemnation by Security Council of decision which could lead to nuclear war. Urge you reaffirm right of peoples for free choice of destiny.”

-- French Peace Movement


The Presiding Committee and the Secretariat of the Italian Peace Committee, at an emergency meeting following the very grave situation brought about by the US initiative taken on the night 22-23 October, condemned the acute danger to world peace of such an action. The United States, with its military bases and rocket stock-piles stationed in all areas of the world, in Italy and even in Cuba itself, has deliberately created a threat and launched a challenge directed, not only against Cuba and the Soviet Union, but also against the whole world by taking military measures, violating all norms of international law and defying outright the principle of the sovereignty of the peoples it states.

In the face of this extremely grave threat, all the peoples must act to defend peace.

The Italian Peace Committee considers it essential to impel the Italian Government to take a clear and firm stand without delay on the situation. The Government must refuse to submit to such an irresponsible military blackmail; it must take action in all possible fields to re-establish peace and law and give assurance that no Italian territory whatever be used to support in any way, directly or indirectly, the US action and that in no case Italian military units be engaged as a possible consequence of the insane threat.

As soon as President Kennedy’s speech had become known there were impressive demonstrations in the big cities of Italy. In Rome, thousands demonstrated shouting “Hands off Cuba!”. Similar demonstrations took place in Milan, Genoa, Turin, Forli, Bologna, etc. The people of Italy are demanding that their Government take effective measures to safeguard peace.

Many leading politicians and intellectuals have made statements in support of the freedom and independence of the Cuban people.


The President of the Belgian Senate, Paul Struyo, declared that there was not the slightest legal ground which would allow US to threaten ships en route for Cuba. Paul Struyo stressed that these measures announced by the USA were contrary to international law.


In neutral Sweden, the leading newspaper Stockholms Tidningen has condemned US action on the grounds that the blockade could bring with it the most grave consequences for world peace and that in any case the already tense international situation will be seriously worsened.

World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches, which represents protestant, orthodox and Anglican churches from 53 countries, has published a statement in Geneva condemning the act of aggression by the USA against Cuba. In its statement it declares that the World Council of Churches regards it as its duty to express its grave concern and regret at the measure which the United States Government has taken against Cuba.


Excerpts from the Soviet Government Statement

“… In this hour of grave anxiety the Soviet Union considers it its duty to direct a most solemn warning to the Government of the USA that, with the implementation of the measures announced by President Kennedy, the US Government would be taking upon its shoulders a grave responsibility for the fate of peace and would be playing an insane game with fire …

“… The Soviet Union has always remained true to the principles of the United Nations Charter; it has consistently followed, and will continue to follow, a policy aimed at maintaining and strengthening peace. The whole world knows what colossal efforts the Soviet Union makes to achieve the relaxation of international tension, the elimination of focal points of conflict and strife between states, the implementation of the principles of peaceful coexistence between states with various social systems. It was the Soviet Union that developed and founded the programme of general and complete disarmament, the achievement of which would open up real prospects for a world without war, a world without weapons.

“… These proposals meet with ever increasing support throughout the world; they have captured the imagination of men and have become the order of the day …

“… The US Government accuses Cuba of creating a danger for the security of the United States. But who will believe that Cuba could constitute a danger for the USA? On considering the size and the resources of both countries, of their armaments, it could not occur to any rational-minded statesman to imagine that Cuba could represent a danger to the United States of America or any other country…

“… Is it not convincing that the Cuban Government has officially stated that it wanted to settle all outstanding problems with the US Government by negotiations? …

“As for Soviet help for Cuba, this serves the sole aim of strengthening Cuba’s defence capacity…

“… If the USA today attempts to prohibit other countries from trading with Cuba and using their ships to carry goods and freight to Cuba, then leading circles of the USA could tomorrow demand similar measures against any other state whose policy or social system does not meet with the approval of ruling US circles …

“… The Soviet Government decisively rejects such claims. The crass actions of US imperialists could lead to catastrophic results for the whole of mankind, and no peoples in the world, including those of the USA, want this…

“… The Soviet Union appeals to all governments and peoples to protest against the aggressive actions of the United States of America against Cuba and other countries, resolutely to condemn these actions and to prevent the US Government from unleashing a nuclear war…”

(Unofficial translation)


The London Times on 10 October published a letter from certain eminent British personalities on the question of Cuba. Following are extracts:

“The American calls for armed aggression against Cuba are so strident, the justifications given for it so unconvincing to reasonable people outside the United States, that it is tempting to dismiss them…”

“It may, therefore, be as well,” continues the letter, “to state what we believe to be the feeling of the great majority of Britons. Whatever we think of Fidel Castro, we have no sympathy for the hectoring of a small country by a great power. We find the American arguments for intervention unacceptable. We do not believe that any good can come to world peace, or, for that matter, to America’s standing in the world (and especially Latin America), from intervention in Cuba. Finally, we would strongly oppose any attempt by the United States to involve this country by asking British ships to participate in a blockade or by requesting any other interference with the normal peaceful relations between states…”


Robert Bolt; George Devine; Penelope Gillialt; Willis Hall; Richard Hoggart; Paul Johnson; Christopher Logue; Louis Mae Neice; John Osborne; J.B. Priestley; Herbert Read; Philip Toynbee; Kenneth Tynan; Anthony Wedgwood Benn; Arnold Wesker.

3 October


Reproduction authorized. Please acknowledge source

Eigentumer, Herausgeber und Verieger; Gazzetta Zeitschriften Ges. m. b. H. Fur den Inhalt verantwortlicht: Dr. Heinz Bodner, samtliche Wien IV, Mollwaldplatz 5 Erschelnungsort Wien, Verlagspostamt 50 – Druk: Globus, Wien XX, Hochtstodtplatz 3
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:26 am

The New Age
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/20

Issue number 1 of the relaunched The New Age 2 May 1907

The New Age was a British weekly magazine (1894-1938), inspired by Fabian socialism, and credited as a major influence on literature and the arts during its heyday from 1907 to 1922, when it was edited by Alfred Richard Orage. It published work by many of the chief political commentators of the day, such as George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton and Arnold Bennett.


The New Age began life in 1894 as a publication of the Christian socialist movement, but in 1907, as a radical weekly edited by Joseph Clayton, it was struggling.[1] In May of that year, Orage and Holbrook Jackson, who had been running the Leeds Arts Club, took over the journal with financial help from George Bernard Shaw. Jackson acted as co-editor only for the first year, after which Orage edited it alone until he sold it in 1922.[2][3] By that time his interests had moved towards mysticism, and the quality and circulation of the journal had declined. According to a Brown University press release, "The New Age helped to shape modernism in literature and the arts from 1907 to 1922".[4][5] It ceased publication in 1938. Orage was also associated with The New English Weekly (1932–1949), as editor, during its first two years of operation (Philip Mairet took over at his death in 1934).


The magazine began as a journal of Christian liberalism and socialism.[6] Orage and Jackson re-oriented it to promote the ideas of Nietzsche, Fabian socialism and later a form of Guild socialism. But The New Age did publish opposing viewpoints and arguments, even on issues upon which Orage had strong opinions. Topics covered in detail included:

• the role of private property - in a debate between H. G. Wells and Shaw against G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc
• the need for a socialist party (as distinct from the newly formed Labour Party)
• women's suffrage

On this last point, the editorial line moved from initial support to bitter opposition by 1912
. As The New Age moved away from Fabian politics, the leaders of the Fabian Society, Beatrice and Sydney Webb founded the journal The New Statesman to counter its effect in 1913, and this, combined with the growing distance between Orage and the mainstream left, reduced its influence. By then, the editorial line supported Guild socialism, expounded in articles by G. D. H. Cole and S. G. Hobson among others. After World War I Orage began to support the Social Credit theory of C. H. Douglas.

The New Age also concerned itself with the definition and development of modernism in the visual arts, literature and music, and consistently observed, reviewed and contributed to the activities of the movement.

The journal became one of the first places in England in which Sigmund Freud's ideas were discussed
before the First World War, in particular by David Eder, an early British psychoanalyst.


The journal appeared weekly, and featured a wide cross-section of writers with an interest in literature and the arts, but also politics, spiritualism and economics.

With its woodprint illustrations reminiscent of artwork by the German Expressionists, its mixture of culture, politics, Nietzschean philosophy and spiritualism, and its non-standard appearance, The New Age has been cited as the English equivalent of the German Expressionist periodical Der Sturm, a journal to which it bore a striking resemblance.

Notable contributors

• Boris Anrep
• Michael Arlen (Dikran Kouyoumdjian)
• Belfort Bax
• Hilaire Belloc
• Arnold Bennett
• Cecil Chesterton
• G. K. Chesterton
• G. D. H. Cole
• C. H. Douglas
• Arthur Kitson
• David Eder
• Havelock Ellis
• Florence Farr
• Beatrice Hastings
• T. E. Hulme
• Herbert Hughes
• Holbrook Jackson
• Oscar Levy
• Anthony Ludovici
• Hugh MacDiarmid
• Katherine Mansfield
• Edwin Muir
• Alfred Orage
• A. J. Penty
• Marmaduke Pickthall
• Ezra Pound
• Herman George Scheffauer
• Hugh Pembroke Vowles
• H. G. Wells
• Herbert Read
• Clifford Sharp
• Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji
• George Bernard Shaw
• Walter Sickert
• Dimitrije Mitrinovic
• Ramiro de Maeztu
• P. D. Ouspensky


1. John Carswell, Lives and Letters, London, 1978, ISBN 0-571-10596-3, p 32.
2. Modernism In and Beyond the “Little Magazines”: course syllabus (posted at the Modernist Journals Project) by Professor Ann Ardis
3. The New Age in Encyclopædia Britannica article on Orage
4. Modernist Journals Project Has Grant to Digitize Rare Magazines: Brown University press release (April 19, 2007)
5. Scholes, Robert. Short description of The New Age at the gateway page for the MJP's digital edition
6. Martin, Wallace. The New Age Under Orage (chapter 2) at the Modernist Journals Project

External links

• Complete archive of The New Age under Orage (1907–1922) at the Modernist Journals Project. PDFs of all 783 weekly issues (and 42 supplements) may be downloaded for free at the MJP website.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:39 am

Maurice Dobb
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/20

Maurice Dobb
Born: 24 July 1900, London
Died: 17 August 1976 (aged 76)
Nationality: British
Field: Political economy
School or tradition: Marxian economics
Influences: Karl Marx

Maurice Herbert Dobb (24 July 1900 – 17 August 1976) was a British economist at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is remembered as one of the pre-eminent Marxist economists of the 20th century.


Maurice Dobb was born on 24 July 1900 in London, the son of Walter Herbert Dobb and the former Elsie Annie Moir.[1] Dobb and his family lived in Willesden, a suburb of London. Dobb was educated at Charterhouse School in Surrey, an independent boarding school.[2] He began writing after the death of his mother, during his early teenage years, and his covert, introverted personality prevented him from building a network of friends. His earliest novels were fictional fantasies. Much like his father, Dobb initiated practice in Christian Science after his mother's death; the family had previously belonged to the Presbyterian church.

Saved from military conscription by the Armistice of November 1918, Dobb was admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1919 as an exhibitioner to study economics.[3] Dobb gained firsts in both parts of the economics tripos in 1921 and 1922 and was admitted to the London School of Economics for graduate studies.[3] Following his achievement of a PhD in 1924, Dobb returned to Cambridge to take up a post as University lecturer.[3]

In 1920, after Dobb’s first year at Pembroke College, John Maynard Keynes invited Dobb to join the Political Economy Club, and after graduation Keynes helped him secure a position at Cambridge. Dobb was open with his students about his communist beliefs. One of his students, Victor Kiernan, later reported: "We had no time then to assimilate Marxist theory more than very roughly; it was only beginning to take root in England, although it had one remarkable expounder at Cambridge in Maurice Dobb." [4] Dobb's house, "St Andrews" in Chesterton Lane, was a frequent meeting place for Cambridge communists that it was known locally as "The Red House".[5]

Dobb joined the Communist Party in 1920 and during the 1930s was central to the burgeoning Communist movement at the university. One of his recruits was Kim Philby, who later became a high-placed mole within British intelligence. It has been suggested that Dobb was a "talent-spotter" for the Comintern.[6] Dobb was one of the great communist revolutionaries in Britain at the time. He was very politically active and spent a considerable amount of time organizing rallies and presenting lectures on a consistent basis. The economist commonly focused on vulnerability to economic crisis, and pointed to the United States when referring to capitalist money assisting military agendas instead of public works.


Dobb's position at Trinity helped him stay connected to the college for more than 50 years. Dobb was elected as a fellow of Trinity College at Cambridge in 1948, at which time he began joint work with Piero Sraffa assembling the selected works and letters of David Ricardo.[7] The result of this effort was eventually published in eleven volumes.[8] He did not receive a University readership until 1959.

Over the span of his career he published twelve academic books, more than twenty-four pamphlets, and numerous articles meant for general audiences. He often wrote on political economy, drawing a connection between the social context and problems in society and how that influences market exchange. "Economic relations of men determine social associations of men" he said in his Marxian economics class. Dobb believed the capitalist system created classes, and with class comes class warfare. After his 1925 trip to Russia with Keynes, Dobb refrained slightly from his interests of political conflict; he was notorious for long and dull lectures with fewer attendees each class.

Other positions held by Dobb around 1928 include teaching in a summer school, acting as the Chairman of the Faculty of Economics of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and even helping to launch the party's own film company. He encountered differing opinions with people in the party, pushing that intellect and political activity are not mutually exclusive.

In 1931, Dobb married Barbara Marian Nixon, and unlike his first marriage stayed with Nixon for the rest of his life. She never claimed herself a communist, but was an active member of the Labour Party and held a seat on London's County Council while pursuing a career in acting. Dobb's personal life was of particular interest to his colleagues, and due to the controversy Pembroke College dropped Dobb as the Director of Studies and withdrew his dining rights. In the same year he had given a lecture describing a recent trip to Russia, which prompted some to call him a "paid official of the Russian government", and in turn caused a small scandal at Cambridge. Dobb responded by writing an article in The Times claiming he had no connection to the Soviet Union.

The Hogarth Press

The Hogarth Press, founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf, was a printing press intent on publishing items that encouraged free exchange of ideas. Leonard Woolf himself was an anti-imperialist. He also believed intellectual exchange was the same as economical exchange in material form; Dobb’s publications were both intellectual exchange through introduction and defense of Marxism, as well as a pieces of work that could be sold. Publications possibly reflected the opinions of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Leonard Woolf later commissioned The Political and Social Doctrine of Communism, and originally asked Maurice Dobb and another author, who both refused. Between “1924 and the late 1930s, the Hogarth Press published eight pamphlets on Russia, communism, and Marxism… the motives, supported by Leonard Woolf, were political and educational."

Dobb published two pamphlets with the Hogarth Press. The first, Russia To-day and Tomorrow (1930), was written after his return from Russia with Keynes. Dobb comments on the Soviet Union’s economy, politics, industry, and culture. Russia To-Day and Tomorrow was a bestseller during the 1930s. His second publication, On Marxism To-Day (1932) was another pamphlet meant to be a rudimentary introduction to communism directed to the general public.

Death and legacy

Maurice Dobb died on 17 August 1976. Before his death in 1976 and the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Dobb started to question his earlier devotion to Russia’s economics.

His communist ideals, however, did not die with him. Dobb had two notable students, Amartya Sen and Eric Hobsbawm. Sen won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 and Bharat Ratna in 1999 for his work in welfare economics, as well as the inaugural Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize in recognition of his work on welfare economics. Sen is also a fellow at Trinity College, much like Dobb was. Hobsbawm attended the University of Cambridge, like Dobb, and was a Marxist historiographer who published numerous works on Marxism and was also active in the Communist Party Historians Group and the British Communist Party.

Economic thought

Dobb was an economist who was primarily involved in the interpretation of neoclassical economic theory from a Marxist point of view. His involvement in the original economic calculation problem debate consisted of critiques of capitalist, centrally planned socialist, or market socialist models that were based upon the neoclassical framework of static equilibrium. Dobb charged the market socialist model of Oskar Lange and the contributions of "neo-classical" socialists of an illegitimate "narrowing of the focus of study to problems of exchange-relations." (Economists and the Economics of Socialism, 1939.)

Many of his works have been published into different languages. His short publication Introduction to Economics was translated to Spanish by the Mexican intellectual Antonio Castro Leal for the leading Mexican publishing house Fondo de Cultura Economica, which has gone through more than ten editions since 1938.

For Dobb, the central economic challenges for socialism are related to production and investment in their dynamic aspects. He identified three major advantages of planned economies: antecedent co-ordination, external effects and variables in planning.

Antecedent co-ordination

Planned economies employ antecedent co-ordination of the economy. In contrast a market economy atomises its agents by definition, the expectations which form the basis of their decisions are always based on uncertainty. There is a poverty of information which often leads to disequilibrium that can only be corrected in a market ex post (after the event), and thus resources are wasted. An advantage of antecedent planning is removal of significant degrees of uncertainty in a context of coordinated and unified information gathering and decision-making prior to the commitment of resources.

External effects

Dobb was an early theorist to recognise the relevance of external effects to market exchanges. In a market economy, each economic agent in an exchange makes decisions on the basis of a narrow range of information in ignorance of any wider social effects of production and consumption. When external effects are significant, it invalidates the information transmitting qualities of market prices so that prices will not reflect true social opportunity costs. He claimed that contrary to the convenient assumptions of mainstream economists, significant external effects are in fact pervasive in modern market economies. Planning that coordinates interrelated decisions before their implementation can take into account a wider range of social effects. This has important applications for efficient industrial planning, including decisions about the external effects of uneven development between sectors, and in terms of the external effects of public works, and for development of infant industries; this is in addition to widely publicised negative external effects on the environment.

Variables in planning

By taking the whole complex of factors into consideration, only coordinated antecedent planning allows for fluid allocation where things that appear as "data" in static frameworks can be used as variables in a planning process. By way of example one can enumerate the following categories of "data" that under coordinated antecedent plan would assume the form of variables that can be adjusted in the plan according to circumstances: rate of investment, distribution of investment between capital and consumption, choices of production techniques, geographical distribution of investment and relatives rates of growth of transport, fuel and power, and of agriculture in relation to industry, the rate of introduction of new products, and their character, and the degree of standardisation or variety in production that the economy at its stage of development feels it can afford.


1. Ronald L. Meek, "Portrait: Maurice Dobb," Challenge, vol. 22, no. 5 (Nov./Dec. 1979), p. 60.
2. Meek, "Portrait: Maurice Dobb," pp. 60–61.
3. Meek, "Portrait: Maurice Dobb," pg. 61.
4. Victor Kiernan, London Review of Books (25 June 1987)
5. Biography of Maurice Dobb
6. Phillip Knightley, Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy, Andre Deutsch, London, 1988, pp 30–31, 36–37, 45.
7. Antonio Callari, "Maurice Herbert Dobb (1900–1976)," in Robert A. Gorman (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of Marxism.Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986; pp. 95–97.
8. Piero Sraffa and M.H. Dobb (eds.), The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo. Eleven volumes. Cambridge University Press, 1951–1973. Available online.


• Capitalist Enterprise and Social Progress, 1925
• Russian Economic Development since the Revolution. Assisted by H. C. Stevens. London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1928.
• Wages, 1928
• "A skeptical view of the theory of wages", 1929, Economic Journal.
• Russia To-Day and Tomorrow, 1930, The Hogarth Press
• On Marxism To-Day, 1932, The Hogarth Press
• "Economic Theory and the Problems of a Socialist Economy", 1933, Economic Journal.
• Political Economy and Capitalism: Some essays in economic tradition, 1937.
• Soviet Planning and Labour in Peace and War: Four Studies. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1942.
• "How Soviet Trade Unions Work." San Francisco: International Bookshop, n.d. [1942]. —Leaflet.
• Marx as an Economist: An Essay. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1943.
• Soviet Economy and the War. New York: International Publishers, 1943.
• Studies in the Development of Capitalism, 1946
• Soviet Economic Development Since 1917, 1948
• Reply (to Paul Sweezy's article on the transition from feudalism to capitalism), 1950, Science and Society.
• Some Aspects of Economic Development, 1951
• On Economic Theory and Socialism: Collected Papers. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1955.
• An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning, 1960
• Economic Growth and Underdeveloped Countries. New York: International Publishers, 1963.
• Papers on Capitalism, Development and Planning, 1967
• Welfare Economics and the Economics of Socialism, 1969
• "The Sraffa System and Critique of the Neoclassical Theory of Distribution", 1970, De Economist
• Socialist Planning: Some Problems. 1970
• Theories of Value and Distribution Since Adam Smith: Ideology and Economic Theory. London: Cambridge University Press, 1973.
• "Some Historical Reflections on Planning and the Market," in Chimen Abramsky (ed.), Essays in Honour of E. H. Carr, London, Macmillan Press, 1974.
• An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976.
• The Development of Socialist Economic Thought: Selected Essays. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2008.

Further reading

• Dubino, J. (2010). Virginia Woolf and the Literary Marketplace. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
• Eatwell, J., Murray Milgate, & Peter Newman, (eds.) (1990) The New Palgrave. Marxian Economics. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.
• Feinstein, C. (ed.) (1967). Socialism, Capitalism and Economic Growth: Essays Presented to Maurice Dobb. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Hobsbawm, E.J. (1967). "Maurice Dobb." In Feinstein (1967).
• Hollander, Samuel. (2008). The Economics of Karl Marx: Analysis and Application. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Howard, M.C. & King, J.E. (1992). A History of Marxian Economics, Volume II: 1929-1990 Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
• Maurice Dobb Memorial Issue. (1978). Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2(2), June.
• Meeks, Ronald. (1978). Obituary of Maurice Herbert Dobb. Proceedings of the British Academy 1977, 53, 333-44.
• Pollitt, B.H. (1985). Clearing the path for ‘Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities’: Notes on the Collaboration of Maurice Dobb in Piero Sraffa’s edition of ‘The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo’. Mimeographed.
• Sen, Amartya. (1990). "Maurice Herbert Dobb." In Eatwell, Milgate, & Newman, (1990).
• Shenk, Timothy. (2013). Maurice Dobb: Political Economist. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
• Shenk, Timothy. (2013). "A Marxist in Keynes’ Court". Jacobin Magazine. October 9 issue.
• Sraffa, P. (1960). Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities: Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Sraffa, P., with the collaboration of M.H. Dobb. (1951–73). Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo. 11 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links

• Papers of Maurice Herbert Dobb
• The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism: A Contribution to the Sweezy-Dobb Controversy H. K. Takahashi and Henry F. Mins Science & Society Vol. 16, No. 4 (Fall, 1952), pp. 313–345
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:32 am

[Victor Gordon] Kiernan: British Historian of Imperialism
by Bhupendra Yadav
(Parts of this essay were published as ‘Kiernan: Historian of Imperialism’ in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLIV, No. 24, June 13, 2009: 26-29)

A few weeks after Freda emerged from Lahore jail, the war took a turn which had direct repercussions for both her and her husband. Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and attacked the Soviet Union, his erstwhile ally. Communist parties which had already carried out one contortion when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact became public knowledge and changed overnight from describing the conflict as a war against fascism to an imperialist war were again wrong-footed. The British party quickly fell in line with Moscow and came to hail a people's war which needed to be prosecuted zealously, not least to protect Soviet communism from the Nazi aggressor. The Indian party was slower to respond to the changing contours of the conflict -- in part because of a reluctance to make common cause with the Imperial power, and in part because the detention of so many leading left-wingers hampered debate and decision making. By the close of 1941, Indian communists were coming to accept the need to support the allied war effort against Germany and Japan. In April 1942, the communists confirmed their change of strategy, and so decided to support the war and all it entailed. Three months later, the Communist Party of India was legalised. This support for the prosecution of the war was not a popular move in India. 'It alienated us completely from the national movement ... ' Bedi recalled, 'but at the same time the conviction was so deep that anti-fascism struggle had to be carried on.' It also sharpened the distinction between communists and other progressive strands of nationalism. In August 1942, Congress launched the Quit India agitation which placed achieving independence ahead of fighting Germany and Japan, and which also entailed the detention of most Congress leaders for the remainder of the war; in that same month, the more radical nationalists led by Subhas Bose established the Indian National Army to fight alongside the Japanese in an attempt to evict Britain from India. The communists stood aloof from both endeavours.

Towards the close of 1941, a Friends of the Soviet Union association was established in Calcutta. Freda Bedi promptly took to the platform to endorse the campaign... 'The spirit that animates Russia in her magnificent resistance to Nazi barbarism will never die,' she told a students' conference at Lahore's Bradlaugh Hall at the end of November. She read a telegram from Bedi sent from Deoli, and passed by the censors there so in a sense approved by the British authorities: "'Convey students glowing greetings towards peace and progress through vigorously functioning Punjab Friends of Soviet.''' Within weeks, the new association had established a regional organisation in Punjab and Freda became the provincial organiser. It was the most prominent position she took in Indian politics, ... she had a standing and reputation which helped the pro-Soviet, anti-Nazi, message percolate beyond the immediate ranks of the still underground CPI and its supporters....she was an exceptional organiser as well as an accomplished orator. The British communist intellectual Victor Kiernan was in Lahore at this time and regarded Freda highly, considering that she was 'emerging as one of the most effective of a new generation of Party leaders'....

No meeting was held in Lahore those days where Bedi did not speak or Freda Bedi did not speak....

'Our platform is non-party,' Freda insisted, not entirely convincingly, when seeking support for the initial conference of the Punjab section of the Friends of the Soviet Union, 'and the object of the organisation is to draw together all those who sympathise with the Soviets in their epic struggle against the Nazi hordes, whether on cultural, political or humanitarian ground.' On another occasion she spoke of the Second World War as an 'international civil war' and asserted that 'it is to Russia that the poor and neglected of the world look'.

-- The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi, by Andrew Whitehead

Victor Gordon Kiernan (1913-2009) died of heart failure on 17th February 2009 at the ripe age of 95. We remember Kiernan fondly in South Asia not because he was one of the founders of the Historians’ Group of Communist Party of Great Britain (hereafter Historians’ Group) or because he was a Professor Emeritus of History at Edinburgh University (Scotland). In Edinburgh University, Kiernan inspired students like Prakash Karat, General Secretary of CPM and Dr James Gordon Brown (1951-), present Prime Minister of UK. Karat tried to repay his gratitude by editing a Festschrift entitled Across Centuries and Continents on the 90th birthday of Kiernan. Brown, who was a student of the History Department of Edinburgh University, reportedly edited The Red Paper on Scotland in 1975 with help from Kiernan. All this is important but not of pressing consequence to us here and now.

Owen Dudley Edwards edited the first Festschrift presented to Kiernan on his retirement in 1977. In his tribute to Kiernan, Edwards called him ‘a devoted scholar, a kindly teacher, an austere lecturer, an inspirational companion and a passionate anti-imperialist.’ (February 20, 2009 in In our estimate, Kiernan was both a Marxist historian and a scholar with eclectic interests. The ‘linguistic turn’ in social sciences and new cultural history passed Kiernan by, without even so much as an appreciative nod from Kiernan. The history of gender relations and environmental degradation did not interest Kiernan in any sustained way either. This makes Kiernan a chip of the same old ideological block. However, Kiernan made a unique contribution and had his distinct niche in Marxist historical writing. He studied the relationship of imperialism with society, in Europe and outside. He was interested in knowing what imperialism meant for its victims and which attitudes shaped it in the metropolis. When Kiernan wrote on Europe, it was with the regret that it had ‘imposed so much of itself and its discordance on the world’. (Kiernan (1980): ix.)

Kiernan’s scholarship was formidable but his personality was endearing. In his message at the Memorial service for Kiernan, Hobsbawm declared that the life of Kiernan confirmed that goodness, honesty and virtue are still found in the world. In 1986, Christopher Hill (1910-2003) dedicated Volume Two of his Collected Essays (featuring Religion and Politics in 17th Century England) to Kiernan. The dedication said “For Victor Kiernan – wit, provocateur and generous friend for fifty years.” (Hill (1986).) Before we proceed let us see the following example of Kiernan’s wit. In State and Society in Europe, 1550-1650, Kiernan observed that while Chinese magistrates were chosen for their learning and Turk officials, from the Sultan down, learned some useful occupation, the Badge of Gentry in Europe was idleness and hypochondria because upper classes ‘did not know how to spend their time’. Consequently, Kiernan inferred that ‘nine tenths of Europe (meaning peasants and artisans) was being steeped in misery in order that the other tenth (the Gentry and the feudal lords) might be miserable’. (Kiernan (1980: 260.)

Kiernan was a part of the Historian’s Group but his interests were different. For us, ex-colonial subjects of Britain, Kiernan is important because we were important to him. We, victims of imperialism, occupied a large part of his work. Kiernan spent eight precious years of his youth (1938-46) in Lahore, his first marriage was with the danseuse, Shanta Kalidas Gandhi (1917-2002), and he was a multi-lingual Marxist historian who took imperialism more seriously than his ilk. Kiernan blazed a trail of research on cultural imperialism with his The Lords of Human Kind (1969). Edward Said, the famous literary critic and linguist, systematically followed this theme later. Said’s legendary book Orientalism (1978) has just about two references to Kiernan but Said accepts gratefully Kiernan’s characterisation of Orientalism as ‘Europe’s collective day-dream of the Orient’. (Said (1978): 52.)

Kiernan was born on 4th September 1913 in a lower middle-class family. Apart from English, he picked Spanish and Portuguese at home because his father worked as a translator in the Manchester Canal company. He learnt Greek and Latin in the Grammar School at Manchester. Kiernan was multi-lingual before he joined Trinity College, Cambridge for his graduation (1931-6) in History. He worked there later as a Fellow in two tenures, viz. 1936-8 and 1946-8. Remembering his academic and political life then, Kiernan wrote poetically (Kiernan (1974b): 24):

…Doubtless the youthful world we inhabited contained, like all others, regions of illusion and self-deception, over which Saharas have long since crept. Much nevertheless is left from that time of common endeavour and common hope that few of the survivors would willingly forget.

Kiernan is survived only by his wife, Heather Massey – a Canadian academic. Kiernan’s book The Duel in European History: Honour and Reign of Aristocracy (1988) was dedicated to Heather. Both married in 1984 when Kiernan was 70 years old. Kiernan was married earlier to an Indian, Shanta Kalidas Gandhi (1917-2002), in 1938. Shanta was a friend and contemporary of Indira Gandhi. Both were studying in England when Indira fell in love with Feroze and Shanta met Kiernan. Kiernan famously followed Shanta to India. The highpoint of their whirlwind romance was marriage at the Bombay railway station, just when Kiernan was boarding a train to join his Lectureship at Sikh National College, Lahore. Kiernan later shifted to Aitchison College also in Lahore. His love for Urdu and Persian literature and friendship with Faiz Ahmed Faiz also started in Lahore. The marriage with Shanta ended in divorce in 1946 where after the lady went on to join Uday Shankar’s Dance School in Almora and Kiernan travelled back to his work as Fellow in Trinity College, Cambridge. (Kapur Chishti (2005))

The firm Marxist commitments of Kiernan came in the way when he was looking for a regular teaching assignment. He was refused jobs in the leading institutions because his own referees wrote something which did not endear him to the educational establishment in Oxford and Cambridge University. Finally, he joined the History Department in Edinburgh University in 1948 and retired from there in 1977. Speaking of Kiernan, Geoff Eley says (Eley (2005): 28):
..(Apart from Hobsbawm) Kiernan was also a true polymath, publishing widely on aspects of imperialism, early modern state formation, and the history of the aristocratic duel, as well as British relations with China and the Spanish Revolution of 1854, with an imposing wider bibliography of essays on an extraordinary range of subjects.

Dissident with a difference

Historians, as a vocational group, have not been keen to generalize their findings and this has led history to be classified as an ideographic social science as compared to sociology which is nomothetic. Consequently, most historians are net consumers of social theory produced by scholars in other disciplines. It is only two historians who reportedly contributed concepts to social theory, viz. E.P. Thompson (1924-93) who gave us the concept of ‘moral economy’ and E.J. Hobsbawm (born 1917) who helped create the concept of ‘invention of tradition’. (Peter Burke (1992): 1- 2.) Coincidentally, both the aforementioned innovative historians were Marxists by persuasion and British by descent. They, along with several others, were the leading lights of the Historians’ Group. Most members of this Group were Euro-centric. Some among them (like Maurice Dobb(1900-76)) highlighted the class relations perspective in the debate about the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Others (like Eric Hobsbawm) celebrated the peasant resistance to capitalist transformation by calling them ‘social bandits’ because Robin hood robbed the rich, distributed the booty among the poor and never killed except in just revenge. Still others (like E.P. Thompson) pioneered ‘history from below’ by letting workers to speak for themselves and thereby, save them from the ‘condescension of posterity’. Kiernan was a part of this group. He said that Marx gave him ‘tentative and fragmentary information on the past’ and he learnt from historians with a ‘Marxian outlook’. But, he added, students of the past must grope among approximations because sometimes the solid ground of interpretations dissolves before her ‘from a chaotic pile to mere nebulosity’. ‘Then history-writing becomes a struggle to chart a phantasmagorical cloud-procession, or build with mists and vapours instead of bricks and mortars.’ (Kiernan (1980): ix-x.)

The good thing about Kiernan is that he is as open as Thompson when it came to intra-left ideological and political problems. He is, however, less celebrated than Thompson because Kiernan was a trifle less polemical, more focussed on historical themes, less spread-out on other agendas like pacificism and could not earn the halo Thompson did as a ‘public intellectual’. Harvey J. Kaye left Kiernan out from his seminal book The British Marxist Historians (1984) but more than compensated for it by editing and writing an introduction to History Classes and Nation-states: Selected Writings of V.G. Kiernan (1988). He noted that all the British Marxist historians were creating the ‘historical aesthete’. But while others (like Rodney Hilton (1916-2002), Christopher Hill (1910-2003), Eric Hobsbawm, George Rude (1910-93) and Edward Thompson (1924-93)) were primarily strategists of socialist politics ‘fanning the spark of hope’, Kiernan’s vision of history was tragic. He reminded us that the ‘the enemy (the ruling class) has not ceased to be victorious’ with the triumph of capitalism. (Harvey J. Kaye (1988): 27.) Kiernan was convinced that the losers of history will not be safe even after they are dead. The losers will not be left alone by the victorious ruling class; they will be systematically misrepresented in history. Therefore, it was on behalf of the losers that Kiernan took up cudgels in his life and work.

The association of Kiernan with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) lasted twenty-five years. He joined the Left party in 1934 at Cambridge and left it in 1959. He was appalled that CPGB was in the habit of shielding USSR from real and imagined capitalist onslaught, like the one in 1918. Kiernan thought that the party grew in public esteem and organisational membership when it took an independent stand against Spanish Fascism, Mosley at home and the misery caused by unemployment. Writing in London Review of Books (September 17, 1998), Kiernan said that he was disappointed at the Party’s paralytic response to the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and a report of the three member committee (one member out of which was fellow historian Christopher Hill) that there was no democracy in the organisation. Most of his Comrades in Edinburgh joined the Labour party, one or two became Trotskyites, one turned into a supporter of Maoism but Kiernan ‘lingered inactively for three years’ ‘waiting in the hope that the party might improve’. But when it did not, from 1959 Kiernan decided to be a ‘one-man party of liberal-Marxist principles’.

During his membership of CPGB, Kiernan was engaged with the communist underground in India between 1938 and 1946. In September 1938, he carried a ‘lengthy document from the Communist International’ which said that Moscow was seeking a collective security agreement with Britain and hence, was unable to campaign for the legalization of Communist Party of India (CPI). He met PC Joshi secretly, after disguising himself by shaving off his moustache, in the lounge of the Prince of Wales Museum at Mumbai (then Bombay). The first time Kiernan went to a secret meeting of the CPI he was made to wait for half an hour outside a cinema in an Indian area and to cover up his loitering he knew of no better thing than ‘keep tying a shoelace’. (Kiernan (1987): 61- 2.) Apparently, the cell-phone serves much the same purpose these days!

For most of the period he was in India, Kiernan was in Punjab which he describes as ‘a backwoods province run for the British and for themselves by a coalition of landowners called the Unionist Party’. During the wartime, CPI grew because it took up mass grievances like housing shortage/ high rentals in Lahore, Punjab’s capital; scarcity of commodities and inflation in prices; and shortage of food-grains. The Punjab unit of Friends of Soviet Union was formed with Freda Bedi, the mother of cine-star Kabir Bedi, as provincial organiser in Punjab. Kiernan wrote a letter calling for opening official/ academic contacts with USSR and it was published in The Tribune on 20 September 1942. A humorous incident took place when the Commissioner called up Kiernan to loan a Russian flag for hoisting at the victory celebrations, after the War. (Kiernan (1987): 63, 69-70.) The Punjab unit of Friends of Soviet Union or Kiernan did not have a Russian flag to loan the Government for celebrating the victory of allies over fascism!

Kiernan was just an onlooker of the political goings on in India who also managed to play a small role in them. He found many splendid qualities among the CPI comrades but he was exasperated at the ‘wooden dogmatism, bureaucratism and aggressive national self-esteem’ in the party. Most of the party members were talented, educated people and some of them belonged to rich, elitist families. Yet, at the party ‘commune’ in Andheri at Mumbai, the whole-timers, lived on a monthly wage of Five rupees, ‘slept on thin mats on hard floors’, ‘ate sparse meals sitting in rows on the ground’ and used a foul-smelling latrine to ease themselves. Despite facing these odds while visiting them, Kiernan declared, ‘Living and working among them was on the whole the most exhilarating experience of my life.’ (Kiernan (1987): 67-68.) Such admirable sacrifice and self-effacing simplicity was the hallmark of the life of the men and sprinkling of women, veterans and beginners, plebeians and aristocrats, Hindus and Muslims, poets, writers, activists and leaders of CPI.

The way CPI worked was exasperating, says Kiernan. There was little room for discussion because the theory came from Marx and the party-line from the top. Hence, Kiernan did not hear even once a point of theory being discussed in the eight years he was in India. Kiernan noticed that young intellectuals were recruited by CPI but they either wore out quickly or turned into party hacks. To counter the self-assumed anarchic Indian national temperament, seriousness was imposed on CPI members in schoolmasterly ways. ‘At Lahore at one stage all members were called on to fill in weekly time-table details of how every hour of each day had been employed.’ Consequently, communists thought of themselves as practical men with no time for idle chatter or interest in cultivating a sense of humour. Kiernan records that ‘I used to make up limericks, on topical subjects, for the wall-newspaper, and as a connoisseur of this genre was disappointed to find that only the least subtle were applauded.’ (Kiernan (1987: 66 & 68.)

Kiernan was clear that the stand Indian nationalists took against the Second World War was sounder than the vacillation communists showed during this period. In his entry on ‘Nationalism’ in A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Kiernan wrote that Marx and Engels under-estimated nationalism because they were German immigrants living outside and they were internationalists out to unite the workers of the world! He appreciated that the Third Communist International supported colonial liberation movements. Kiernan also admired the Chinese and Vietnamese communists for blending their socialism with nationalism and backing this clearer theory with a better organisation to carry the day in the politics of their respective countries. But, he regretted, the Indian communists missed the bus due to their indecisiveness towards the on-going national movement. Kiernan wrote (Bottomore et al eds. (1983): 349):

…(Communists won in China and Vietnam but) India was an exception; there, with the Western connection so old, and political activity tolerated, a national movement on liberal lines had a long start. There were chronic debates among Indian Marxists as to whether they should collaborate with it, and on what terms; their failure to gain more ground owed much to their seeming to stand aloof from the national struggle.

Understanding Imperialism culturally

In 1999, Encyclopaedia of Historians and Historical Writing classified Kiernan as the ‘British historian of Imperialism’. After his death, Tariq Ali called Kiernan a ‘Marxist historian, writer and linguist who challenged the tenets of Imperialism’. (The Independent, February 20, 2009) Eric Hobsbawm captioned his obituary of Kiernan as ‘Historian with a global vision of Empires, Marxism, Politics and Poetry’. (The Guardian, February 18, 2009). In a memorial service at Edinburgh on February 28, 2009, the message of Hobsbawm proclaimed, ‘If God were to ask me for a good deed entitling me to admission in Heaven, I would say ‘I knew there was only one man capable of writing The Lords of Human Kind and I got him to write it.’ (John Trumpbour, “V.G. Kiernan: Historian of Humankind,” The Nation, March 2, 2009.)

The word imperialism, as we know, is derived from Empire and was first used in France in the 1830s. This term was popularized by journalists of Europe in the 1890s, after the Partition of Africa. An empire could be defined as a political system in which authority is vested in an emperor, like say the Roman Empire, in India, China etc. Empire is now most often used for the lands brought under the control of various European powers after 1500 CE. There can be situations of informal empire when one state controls another without claiming sovereignty over it, like say the British control over China in the 19th century. There can also be situations of cultural imperialism where control is exercised without political domination about which Edward Said has written and we see around us in the ‘Macdonald-isation’ of middle class culture. There can be neo-colonialism where imperial influence is perpetuated in nominally independent countries. Kiernan was interested in all these forms of imperialism.

Kiernan came from a family which was devoted to the empire. One of his brothers was called Edward after Edward VII and another Gordon after General Gordon of Khartoum. Victor, his own first name, was from Queen Victoria (Owen Dudley Edwards (2009), “Kiernan: Historian of Human Kind”, News., February 20, 2009.) It is, therefore, strange that Kiernan rebelled against the family heritage by becoming a critic of the British Empire quite early in his life. His earliest study of the British Empire was Metcalfe’s Mission to Lahore, 1808-1809. Kiernan thought the outcome of the diplomatic offensive, called Mission of Charles T. Metcalf to Ranjit Singh in 1808-1809, was a ‘small meal for imperialism’. The Mission helped British troops move from Yamuna (and territories around Delhi occupied in 1803) to 200 kilometres West up to the Sutlej, just six years later. Such expansion was matched by the ill-will among the parties concerned. Kiernan noted (Kiernan (1943, 1971 reprint): 109-110):

…All Englishmen of his (Metcalfe’s) time underrated all Sikhs: with some excuse, for they came in touch with the robber barons, not with the newly-emerged democracy, and knew very little of its religion or its outlook. “In my long acquaintance with mankind,” wrote Ochterlony, “I have never seen a race so strongly characterised by an almost brutal ignorance, selfish depravity, shameless falsehood, unprincipled cunning and a suspicion so excessive that even benefits must be long felt before they are received as unconnected with some sinister design.”

(Colonel Ochterlony was put in command of an expeditionary force to advance up to the Sutlej and even handled diplomatic parleys in the absence of Metcalf. Kiernan (1943): 32 & 82.)

Some scholars have undertaken intensive studies on the economic force driving imperialism and its effects (Peter J. Cain and Anthony G. Hopkins (1993). Some other scholars have been happy exploring the political and strategic compulsions behind imperialist expansion (William Roger Louis ed. (1976).) The cultural and psychological effects of imperialism were studied first in Francophone Africa in the late 1950s. Frantz Fanon was the first to note cultural domination and he said that imperialists did not only economically exploit and politically oppress their colonial subjects. Imperialism destroyed the consciousness of the history and culture among colonized people. The colonial subjects were stripped of their identity and represented in ways that made them more vulnerable to their new masters, said Fanon. Amilcar Cabral noted that the cultural loss of colonial subjects led to two responses, viz. a tame acceptance of the colonial stereotypes and a resistance to cultural domination by a return to the source.

Imperialism of the British variety ruled India and while the West was enriching itself since 1500, we were undergoing a phenomenon Andre Gunder Frank called ‘the development of underdevelopment’. In the popular perception, however, British colonialism is still considered a blessing. Protesting the indifference in the upkeep of old statues of British colonialists, Khushwant Singh, the doyen among Indian journalists, wrote in his column, “With Malice Towards One and All” (Hindustan Times, 14 March 2009):

While glorifying our freedom movement, we harped on the racist-colonial aspect of British rule. We erased from our memory the good they did. Ruling over the entire country, they made us conscious of being one people, Indians. We forgot our racial, religious and linguistic divisions and came closer to each other. The British introduced democratic institutions in the country: elected municipalities, legislatures including the Parliament. They gave us our judicial system, civil and criminal laws. They gave us the telegraph, railways, canals and roads. They gave us New Delhi, one of the most beautiful and greenest capitals of the world. There was more respect for law and order in the British days than there is today. And they left the country in good grace…

To such simplistic understanding of imperialism Kiernan may have responded sharply. Kiernan called the conquest and occupation of the world by Europeans as a very painful era; it was ‘old-style surgery without anaesthetics’, he said. When some Marxists thought this conquest harbingered progress in Asia and Africa, Kiernan said the real contribution of European imperialism ‘was made less by imposing its rule on others than by teaching others how to resist it’. (Kiernan and Kaye (1988): 16.) Kiernan endorsed the belief of Renan that a nation was both a memory and a purpose. Nationalism in the 20th century in Asia, he said, was a constructive force and spread, like communism, due the search of ‘bewildered multitudes for new ideals’. Created by the educated professionals, Indian nationalism got teeth with the support of urban middle strata, like petty traders, discontented clerks, swarms of lawyers and students anxious about their future. Gandhiji was acknowledged to be the personification of ‘united front’ of Indians against their colonial adversary. (Kiernan and Kaye (1988): 139 &155). Gandhi, said Kiernan (ibid: 159):

… worked out a philosophy to meet the needs of a country striving towards advance, but still entangled in the past and all its ways. It diluted cautious reformism with old-world religious views: it allowed conservatives to be mildly progressive, and restrained radicals from being too progressive. It admitted that India must fit itself for Independence by some degree of social reconstruction for the benefit of the underprivileged, including women and Untouchables, but insisted that traditional Indian life and thought contained treasures not known to the materialistic West. Under Gandhian tuition, in short, a hesitant India could take up its bed and walk without having to feel that it was leaving home.

The Lords of Human Kind: European Attitudes towards the outside world in the Imperial Age (1969) was not the first book by Kiernan. Apart from a number of historical research articles, he had already published two books on diplomatic history, viz. British Diplomacy in China, 1880-1885 (1939) and Metcalfe’s Mission to Lahore, 1808-1809 (1943). With The Lords of the Human Kind, however, Kiernan graduated to a large canvas and big themes. Apart from research articles on specific themes, he started writing books on such general themes like Marxism and Imperialism (1974), America: The New Imperialism (1978) and European Empires from Conquest to Collapse, 1815-1960 (1982). In the world of scholars, Kiernan came to be taken seriously after his The Lords of Human Kind. Incidentally, Kiernan dedicated The Lords of Human Kind to his friend Nazir Ahmad ‘lately Principal, Government College, Lahore in memory of excursions east and west’. The title of this book was taken by Kiernan from the following lines in Oliver Goldsmith’s poem The Traveller (1765):

Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of human kind pass by.

European civil servants, explorers, archaeologists, educationists, missionaries, profiteers, mercenaries and even convicts descended on the outside world in the Imperial Age. The Lords of Human Kind was a survey of European attitudes ranging from paternalistic, censorious, acquisitive, conscientious, righteous and condescending towards the ‘inferior races’. The Europeans felt moral outrage at the sight of mixed bathing in Japan (pp. 180-1); they were bewildered at the sight of Chinese who invented the gunpowder but used it only in celebrations as fireworks (pp. 171- 2); they had mixed feelings towards the amorous freedom among Tahitian women (pp. 244-5); and they were savage-like in repressing the rebellions, like the one by Chinese Boxers and the Indians in 1857.

Europe, after its heyday in Greek and Roman times when others in the east were called ‘barbarians’, had to start from a low cultural level in the Middle Ages (Kiernan (1969): 4). Seafarers like Columbus in 1492 and Vasco de gamma in 1498 found lands far from Europe. Interest in the outside world was nourished by tales of travellers, reports of missionaries and other accounts from Spanish colonies. Defoe gave matter-of-fact travelogues but Shakespeare’s Othello narrated cock-and-bull stories to Desdemona about the outside world (ibid: 16). Gulliver was a satire on how Europeans looked at or behaved with others. The sources, Kiernan said, of The Lords of Human Kind ‘are a random mixture of miscellaneous readings, unpublished British and French diplomatic records, conversations with many people from many lands and literature, predominantly English’.

Out of the 14 sovereign states in Europe in 1914, eight had colonies and Spain had just lost theirs few decades ago. The Europeans may have been moving from ‘compulsion to assent’ in organising their own social system but they were conducting themselves in the opposite spirit abroad. Ultimately, this cost the Europeans themselves quite dearly. More than just friendships and goodwill were lost by Europeans around the world. For instance, more lives were lost in World War I because people like Colonel G.B. Malleson suppressed the Revolt of 1857 in India and framed the golden rule that the ‘true mode to fight the Asiatics is to move straight on’. Now, faced with machine-guns and barbed wires in Europe, the infantries of combating enemies moved straight on and met certain death in monstrous proportions. These deaths took place in a measure larger than necessary and could be reduced if alternate battle tactics were used to outflank the enemy and then trap it or overpower it. The division of the world into ‘martial’ and ‘non-martial races’ also proved disastrous because it bound European vision less to military tactic and strategy and more to innate might and inherent fervour (Kiernan (1969): 314.)

The colonies were built and kept on a whole edifice of illusions and fanciful convictions. For instance, it was believed by colonialists that India would fall prey to anarchy and invasion without British rule. All sorts of emotions were expressed regarding people from different parts of British colonial Empire but it was thought that all Indians were stuck in the mud of the past. Richard F. Burton said East Indians were ‘the most antipathetical companion to an Englishman’; J.R. Seeley despaired that ‘no one could be more alien to one another than the English and the Hindus’; G.O. Trevelyan said the inner life of Bengalis is a sealed book to us’ etc. It was thought that there was some temperamental affinity of the English with the chivalrous Rajput, sturdy Punjabi and idol-hating Muslim. India’s narrow specialisations of caste and community increased manifold during the colonial rule. Bengalis took to English literature, Parsis to English commercial methods and Panjabis to English bayonets and all three moved much further away from one another than ever before. But, it was emphatically noted that the English did not know ‘the inner and instinctive feelings and modes of thought among large classes of the native community’. (Kiernan (1969): 51 & 69)

In the context of India, two myths Kiernan helped break were about British impartiality and colonial godlike superiority. Kiernan noted that the British administration was known to be expensive and blundering but seldom capricious or prone to favouritism. The reason for this had less to do with belief in equality of rights before law or setting up an ‘administrative machinery dealing impersonally with objective facts’. At home the Europeans were moving from a society based on compulsion to one founded on consent of the ruled. But abroad the tendency was in the opposite direction with W.P. Andrew, a self-proclaimed pacifist, epitomizing the sentiment by saying (in 1880) that it was Britain’s mission ‘to spread among the savages (of North-West Frontier Provinces) the power of that great civilizer the Sword’. The administrators in India could put up a face of impartiality because s/he had fewer associations and kins in India to get swayed by affections or interests, says Kiernan. In the mid-19th century, Lord John Russell took oath as Minister in England and he was expected ‘to remember his relatives while not forgetting his friends’. The same feelings may have prevailed in India provided the administrators had family and friends in India. (Kiernan (1969): 56 & 312.)

The absence of Indian women from the social scene imparted the British Godlike aloofness, adds Kiernan. Women in India were confined to domesticity because paternalism prevented the intermingling of women with men outside their family, caste system forbade intermarriage outside one’s social group and without modern education women had no reason to move out of home. Indian women of all classes remained inaccessible to the British. The only women they met were sex workers or dancing girls in brothels. This cut the British off from Indians very harmfully. Mughal rulers married Rajput princesses but if a Viceroy were to do so, such a marriage would be considered as disgraceful as one with an English parlour maid. Racialism caused this phenomenon and sustained the standoffishness among the civil/ army officers and it percolated down to their British subordinates. Kiernan noted (Kiernan (1969): 57-8):
…When the Englishman turned his back on the invisible Indian beauty, as on a poisonous orchid or sour grape, he was in a way turning his back on India altogether. His wife, whose susceptibility to the Indian climate was notorious, was less uneasy about him because he ostentatiously avoided Indian society. It may be surmised that a broad moat between the races helped the white paterfamilias also to feel easy in the mind. …Altogether, the peace and quiet of the family was safer if Indian company was excluded from the spacious bungalow. And the peace and quiet of the empire were safer if the bungalow set a good example to the barracks; for Tommy Atkins to go wandering among women would foment endless rows, and undermine discipline.

Other Interests

Kiernan, like many others, stood resolutely with labour in its contest for hegemony with capital, sang paeans to the peasants and condemned imperialism. This he proved by his academic writings and political activism. But Kiernan was among the very few who understood the language and idiom spoken in the South Asian sub-continent. We know about this aspect from his translations of sublime poetry. Kiernan was the earliest translator of the Urdu poems of Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The lovely poem “Capital and Labour” was translated thus (Iqbal (1947): 47):

Oh, the crafty man of capital has gnawed you to the bone,
And the ages have gone by, and your reward has been a stone!
In the hand that forges all wealth has been dropped a grudging pay,
As the poor receive in charity what rich men toss away.
Like the Old Man of the Mountain they have fed you with hashish,
And you thought it sugar candy, you silly spaniel on the leash;
For the bourgeoisie is cunning, and from Patriotism and Creed,
Colour, Culture, Race and Kingship, has brewed drugs to serve its need;
For these false gods, oh poor witless, you have rushed upon your doom,
You have thrown away life’s treasure for the taste of this mad fume.
Your sharp paymasters have swept the board, they cheat and know no shame –
You, for ever unsuspecting, have forever lost the game;
But now rise! New ways are growing in the assembly of the earth,
In the Orient and the Occident your own age comes to birth!

To the lofty soul all ocean is too mean a gift: will you’
Like the careless bud, much longer be content with drops of dew?
To those legends of Sikander, to the old myths, for how long
Will you listen, when all joy is in democracy’s loud song?
From the old womb of the universe a new red sun is born:
How much longer, oh dull skies, for stars extinguished will you mourn?
When the human mind has made all his chains a broken heap,
For how long must Man his banishment from Paradise beweep?
How much longer, of the garden’s old attendant asks the Spring,
For the red wounds of the rose your idle ointments will you bring?
Foolish moth! that age-long fluttering round the candle’s flame forswear,
In your true being’s brightness your own dwelling-place prepare.

Iqbal’s poem “To the Punjab Peasant” was translated by Kiernan as follows (ibid: 86):

Your existence – what is it, tell! what is its mystery?
Rolled in the dust is your thousand years history!
And deep in that dust has been smothered your flame;
Now wake! for Dawn’s minarets their summons proclaim.
We creatures from dust from the earth may draw bread –
But the Fountain of Life by its glooms is not fed;
And slight is his mark or his name on this earth
Who puts not to trial his innermost worth!
Let the idols of race and of caste be destroyed!
Let the old ways that fetter men fast be destroyed!
For this only is Victory, this the Faith’s power,
That among the world’s peoples true union should flower!
On the soil of your clay cast the seed of the heart;
From that seed the tomorrow’s great harvest shall start.

In response to the so-called Indian ‘Reforms’ of 1935 Iqbal wrote in his “Psychology of Rulers” (ibid: 113):

The pity is the pitiless fowler’s mask.
All the fresh notes I sang – of no avail!
Now he drops withered flowers in our cage,
To reconcile the captives to the jail.

We, in the sub-continent, will miss Kiernan, scholar-activist and the anti-imperialist translator of our melodies, for a long time!

Notes, References and Bibliography:

Bottomore, Tom et al eds. (1983), A Dictionary of Marxist Thought (Oxford: Basil Blackwell)
Burke, Peter (1992), History and Social Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press)
Cabral, Amilcar (1973), Return to the Source (New York: Monthly Review Press)
Cain, Peter J. and Anthony G. Hopkins (1993), British Imperialism: Innovation and Expansion, 1688-1914 and British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction, 1914-1990 2 Vols (London and New York: Longman)
Eley, Geoff (2005), A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press)
Fanon, Frantz (1968), Black Skin, White Masks Translated C.L. Markmann (London: MacGibbon and Kee)
Frank, Andre Gunder (1971), Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil (Harmondsworth: Penguin)
Harvey J. Kaye (1988), “Introduction V.G. Kiernan: Seeing Things Historically,” in Harvey J. Kaye (ed.) (1988), History, Classes and Nation-States: Selected Writings of V.G. Kiernan (Cambridge: Polity Press)
Hill, Christopher (1986), The Collected Essays of Christopher Hill Volume Two Religion and Politics in 17th Century England (Brighton: The Harvester Press Limited)
Iqbal (1947), Poems from Iqbal Translated by V.G. Kiernan (Bombay: Kutub Publishers)
Kapur Chishti, Rita, “The Vanishing Indian: Remembering Shanta Gandhi,” Seminar, 549, May 2005.
Karat , Prakash ed. (2003), Across Time and Continents: A Tribute to Victor G. Kiernan (New ‘Delhi, Leftword Books)
Kiernan, V.G. (1939), British Diplomacy in China, 1880 to 1885 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
__________ (1943), Metcalfe’s Mission to Lahore, 1808-1809 Monograph 21 (Lahore: Punjab Government Record Office)
___________ (1966), The Revolution of 1854 in Spanish History (Oxford: Clarendon Press)
__________ (1966), “India and Pakistan: Twenty Years After,” R. Miliband and J. Saville (eds.), The Socialist Register 1966 (London: Merlin Press): 305-20.
________ (1969), The Lords of Human Kind: European Attitudes towards the Outside World in the Imperial Age (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson)
________ (1974a), Marxism and Imperialism: Studies (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul)
Kiernan, V G (1974b), “Mohan Kumaramangalam in England,” Socialist India, Vol VIII No 13, 23 February, 1974: 5-7 & 36; Socialist India, Vol VIII No 14: 13-17 & 24.
_________ (1978), America, The New Imperialism, From White Settlement to World Hegemony (London: Zed Books)
____________ (1980), State and Society in Europe, 1550-1650 (Oxford: Blackwell)
___________ (1982), European Empires from Conquest to Collapse, 1815-1960 (London: Fontana)
___________ (1987), “The Communist party of India and the Second World War,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies Vol X, No 2, (December 1987): 61-73.
__________ (1988), The Duel in History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Idem and Harvey J. Kaye (1988), History Classes and Nation-states: Selected Writings of V.G. Kiernan (Cambridge: Polity Press)
__________ (1990), Poets, Politics, and the People ed. Kaye (London: Verso)
___________ (1991), Tobacco: A History (London: Radius)
__________ (1993), Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen (London/ New York: Verso)),
__________ (1995), Imperialism and Its Contradictions ed. Kaye (New York: Routledge)
__________ (2003), “Reminiscences of India,” Prakash Karat (ed.) (2003), Across Time and Continents: A Tribute to Victor G. Kiernan (New ‘Delhi, Leftword Books): 228-43.
William Roger Louis ed. (1976), Imperialism: The Robinson and Gallagher Controversy (New York: Viewpoints)
Said, Edward (1978), Orientalism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul)
Soderlund, Richard J (1999), “Kiernan, V.G. 1913 - : British historian of Imperialism,” Kelly Boyd ed (1999), Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing Vol I (London & Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers): 646-7.
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