Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:29 am

Derby Telegraph
by Wikipedia
accessed: 2/10/20



Freda relished the camaraderie of college life. We talked endlessly, mainly between nine and midnight over large cups of cocoa or Bourneville made in the College pantries. Everything from socialism to Karl Marx, Proust, D.H. Lawrence, the family, to the new fields of Birth Control and travel were the subjects of conversation.' Initially, she worked hard -- the 'first year was one of study,' she recounted. But her enthusiasm for the course waned. 'Suddenly, I couldn't be bothered ... I could speak French fluently already. I wanted to learn other languages, to understand the world.' She was also concerned about what a modern languages degree would point her towards: 'It was the flash of understanding which showed me French could only lead me to becoming a teacher or lecturer. And I passionately did not want to go back into the world of childhood that being a teacher meant.' She was closing in on what she did wish to pursue as a career. 'My eyes were on journalism, writing [and] interpreting that incredible international adult world that poured into magazine and newspaper.' She even met the editor of the Derby Daily Telegraph who promised her an opening once she had her degree, but she never went back to her home city. She did eventually carve out a reputation as a journalist, and demonstrated curiosity and social concern as well as the ability to communicate, but only after several years in the line of work she had been so keen to avoid: teaching and lecturing...

In the summer of 1932, perhaps while recuperating from her ill health, Freda travelled in northern Germany. She wrote articles for the Derby Evening Telegraph about German family life and about the merits of German men, their cheerfulness, domesticity and love of order...

'Barely a week after finishing Final Schools,' Freda wrote a decade later, 'we were married in the dark and poky little Oxford Registry Office. The registrar looked sour and pointedly omitted to shake hands with us. We came out, with my parents and a cousin from India, into a drenching downpour of rain ... "Don't worry," said my husband. "Rain is auspicious for an Indian bride."'... The Derby Evening Telegraph reported that the couple were planning to honeymoon in Italy before moving to Berlin and eventually settling in Lahore. 'They refused to discuss their plans and shunned publicity.'...

News of Freda Bedi's arrest and sentence once again made the front page of the Tribune, complete with a posed portrait photograph. The following day's paper offered a fuller account of her arrest and sentence- - which emphasised the level of local interest in and support for her action, reporting that she was 'profusely garlanded by the public' after sentence was passed in a trial in which she had refused to participate. The Reuters news agency eventually picked up the story -- and a few weeks after the event, the jailing of 'the first Englishwoman to join Mr Gandhi's passive resistance movement' made front page news back in Freda's home city [Derby Telegraph] with the headline: 'Derby Wife of Indian Sentenced'...

Early in 1947, shortly after Kabir's first birthday, Freda chose to make a journey back home to Derby... The end of the war made international travel feasible once more, and Freda wanted to show off her new child. Leaving Bedi, Binder and thirteen-year-old Ranga behind, Freda and her baby set off for London...

It was at that time that stories came of Independence being given to India in 1948, and Papa felt I should go home and see Mother who had not met me since her visit to India in 1936-7. 'There might be trouble during the transfer of power,' he said, 'and we [Freda and her mother] should be together. So go now...'

Before boarding the plane, Freda dropped a line to a friend asking for advice about what to do in London. Jawaharlal Nehru, who by the end of the year was to become the first prime minister of independent India, sent a brief reply to her at The Huts. 'I hope you will enjoy your visit to England after 14 years,' he wrote. 'You should certainly meet Krishna Menon. I cannot suggest what you might do there, but Krishna Menon will, no doubt, be able to do so.'...

Freda had occasional reporting assignments. Derby's evening paper noted that she was covering the British Labour Party's annual conference for an Indian newspaper and included a photograph of her in Punjabi-style salwar kameez...

She took advantage of the ... time to meet old Oxford friends. At the beginning of December, she sent Olive chandler a postcard -- the picture of their old college -- thanking her for a memorable visit: "Had lunch with Barbara [Castle] today ..."

A year later, her mother received a last minute invitation to meet India's new prime minister. 'Summoned to a reception at India House, London, to meet Jawaharlal Pandit Nehru, Mrs. F.N. Swan ... cooked a meal for four, prepared the next day's food and then found time to go out and buy herself a new dress and a new hat for the occasion before catching a train to London less than seven hours after receiving the invitation,' reported the Derby Daily Telegraph. Mrs. Swan told the paper that her daughter was 'well known to Pandit Nehru' and she said her proudest moment came when Nehru stopped at her table and shook her hand.

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

Derby Telegraph
Type Daily newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Trinity Mirror
Editor Julie Bayley
Founded 1879
Headquarters Derby

The Derby Telegraph, formerly the Derby Evening Telegraph, is a daily tabloid newspaper distributed in the Derby area of England. Stories produced by the Derby Telegraph team are published online under the Derbyshire Live brand.


In 1857, Richard Keene was publishing the Derby Telegraph every Saturday. His business was in the Irongate district of Derby. His family was to include Alfred John Keene who was a local painter whose work is displayed in the Derby Art Gallery.[1]

Another paper was first published in 1879 by Eliza Pike. It was known at the time as the Derby Daily Telegraph and was a four-page broadsheet which cost a halfpenny. Historical copies of the Derby Daily Telegraph, dating back to 1879, are available to search and view in digitised form at The British Newspaper Archive.[2]

The first editor was W.J. Piper who stayed in the post until he died in 1918. He was succeeded by William Gilman who in 1927, saw the paper sold three times in a series of months, eventually ending up in the hands of Northcliffe Newspaper Group, which was part of Daily Mail and General Trust plc. The same company also publishes the Telegraph Lite - a weekly advertising-funded free newspaper.

The paper was originally based at the Corn Market in the town centre, It was refurbished in 1918 after the First World War but it outgrew these premises in 1929 and moved to the Corn Exchange. It stayed there until 1981 when it moved to purpose-built premises in Meadow Road.

In November 2014 it moved to its present office location at 2, Siddals Road.[3] Printing had been sourced from Birmingham since 2011.[4]

In 2012, Local World acquired Northcliffe Media from Daily Mail and General Trust.[5]

In November 2015, Local World was acquired by the Trinity Mirror Group.[6] In May 2018 the Derby Telegraph's website changed its name to Derbyshire Live, falling in line with other titles' websites which are owned by the same group, including Nottinghamshire Live (previously Nottingham Post) and Leicestershire Live (Leicester Mercury).


Until the late 1990s, the newspaper ran the annual Miss Derby Evening Telegraph competition. Entrants had to be female, aged 17–25, never married and never had children.

In 2012, the Derby Telegraph launched the Local Business Accelerator competition with the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce. The businesses deemed to have most potential won mentoring, free advertising and chamber membership. Mackney Photography, Splash Fit Gym and Essere Bella beauty salon were the winners in 2012.[7] In 2013, the winners were Eve of St Agnes, Status Social and the Derby Brewing Company.[8]


Before the 1970s, the newspaper (in its broadsheet form) often had national news stories on its front page, with weighty current affairs stories. The coverage of national and local news stories was almost 50:50.


It is published daily from Monday to Saturday and is the principal local newspaper for Derby and surrounding parts of south Derbyshire. The newspaper has a local focus with usually just two pages reserved for national and international news. Back issues from 1879 until the present day can be viewed at the Derby Local Studies Library or the British Library Newspaper Collection at Colindale, London. Current average circulation is 20,090 daily (as of 01/10/2015)[9]

The paper was known as the Derby Evening Telegraph until April 2009 when it changed its name to simply the Derby Telegraph. This was because only one edition was now published per day and available in the morning, which would have rendered the use of the word "Evening" in the title as misleading. For many years, the name "Derby" had not featured in the paper's front page masthead. The change of name involved the word "Evening" being substituted by "Derby" in the masthead. The masthead font has been unchanged since 1975.


1. "White's 1857 Directory of Derby". Archived from the original on September 28, 2011.
2. Digitised copies of the Derby Daily Telegraph
3. [1] Archived 2015-03-26 at the Wayback Machine Derby Telegraph: Derby Telegraph staff counting down to the big day,November 14, 2014
4. [2] BBC: Nottingham Post and Derby Telegraph printed in Birmingham
5. Daily Mail sells regional newspapers to Local World BBC News, 21 November 2012
6. ... ealTrinity Mirror confirms £220m Local World deal
7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-27. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-27. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
9. ... aperid=285

External links

• Derbyshire portal
• Derby Telegraph web site
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:49 am

Tribune (magazine)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/10/20



Tribune magazine cover
Format Quarterly magazine and website
Publisher Bhaskar Sunkara
Editor Ronan Burtenshaw
Founded 1937
Political alignment Democratic socialism
Headquarters 46-48, New Road, Dagenham, London, United Kingdom
ISSN 0041-2821

Tribune is a democratic socialist political magazine founded in 1937 and published in London. While it is independent, it has usually supported the Labour Party from the left. From 2009 to 2018, it faced serious financial difficulties until it was purchased by Jacobin in late 2018, shifting to a quarterly publication model.


Tribune was founded in early 1937 by two wealthy left-wing Labour Party Members of Parliament (MPs), Sir Stafford Cripps and George Strauss, to back the Unity Campaign, an attempt to secure an anti-fascist and anti-appeasement United Front between the Labour Party and socialist parties to the left. The latter included Cripps's (Labour-affiliated) Socialist League, the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

The paper's first editor was William Mellor. Among its journalists were Michael Foot and Barbara Betts (later Barbara Castle), while the board included the Labour MPs Aneurin Bevan and Ellen Wilkinson, Harold Laski of the Left Book Club and the veteran left-wing journalist and former ILP member H. N. Brailsford.

Mellor was fired in 1938 for refusing to adopt a new CPGB policy—supported by Cripps—of backing a Popular Front, including non-socialist parties, against fascism and appeasement; Foot resigned in solidarity. Mellor was succeeded by H. J. Hartshorn, a secret member of the CPGBP. Meanwhile Victor Gollancz, the Left Book Club's publisher, joined the board of directors. For the next year, the paper was little more than an appendage of the Left Book Club, taking an uncritical line on the Popular Front and the Soviet Union.


With the Nazi-Soviet pact and the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Tribune initially adopted the CPGB's position of denouncing the war as imperialist. After the Soviet invasion of Finland, with Cripps off on a world tour, Strauss and Bevan became increasingly impatient with Hartshorn's unrelenting Stalinism.

Strauss fired him in February 1940, replacing him as editor with Raymond Postgate. Under Postgate's editorship, the Soviet fellow travellers at Tribune were either dismissed, or in Postgate's words, "left soon after in dislike of me".[1] From then on, the paper became the voice of the pro-war democratic left in the Labour Party, taking a position similar to that adopted by Gollancz in the volume Betrayal of the Left he edited attacking the communists for backing the Nazi-Soviet pact,

Early 1941 Tribune flier

Bevan ousted Postgate after a series of personality clashes in 1941, assuming the role of editor himself, although the day-to-day running of the paper was done by Jon Kimche. The Bevan-Kimche Tribune is revered as one of the greatest left-wing papers in British history. It campaigned vigorously for the opening of a second front against Adolf Hitler's Germany, was consistently critical of the Winston Churchill government's failings and argued that only a democratic socialist post-war settlement in Britain and Europe as a whole was viable.

George Orwell was hired in 1943 as literary editor. In this role, as well as commissioning and writing reviews, he wrote a series of columns, most of them under the title "As I Please", that have become touchstones of the opinion journalist's craft. Orwell left the Tribune staff in early 1945 to become a war correspondent for The Observer—he was replaced as literary editor by his friend Tosco Fyvel—but he remained a regular contributor until March 1947.

Orwell's most famous contributions to Tribune as a columnist include "You and the atom bomb", "The sporting spirit", "Books v cigarettes", "Decline of the English Murder" and "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad", all of which have appeared in dozens of anthologies.

Other writers who contributed to Tribune at this time include Naomi Mitchison, Stevie Smith, Alex Comfort, Arthur Calder-Marshall, Julian Symons, Elizabeth Taylor, Rhys Davies, Daniel George, Inez Holden and Phyllis Shand Allfrey.[2]

Kimche left Tribune to join Reuters in 1945, his place being taken by Frederic Mullally. After the Labour landslide election victory of 1945, Bevan joined Clement Attlee's government and formally left the paper, leaving Mullally and Evelyn Anderson as joint editors, with Foot playing Bevan's role of political director. Over the next five years, Tribune was critically involved in every key political event in the life of the Labour government and reached its highest-ever circulation, of some 40,000. Foot persuaded Kimche to return as joint editor in 1946 (after Mullally's departure to the Sunday Pictorial) and eventually himself became joint editor with Anderson in 1948 after Kimche was fired for disappearing from the office to Istanbul to negotiate the safe passage of two Jewish refugee ships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.

In the first few years of the Attlee administration, Tribune became the focus for the Labour left's attempts to persuade Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, to adopt a "third force" democratic socialist foreign policy, with Europe acting independently from the United States and the Soviet Union, most coherently advanced in the pamphlet Keep Left (which was published by the rival New Statesman).

After the Soviet rejection of Marshall Aid and the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Tribune endorsed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and took a strongly anti-communist line, with its editor declaring in November 1948: "The major threat to democratic socialism and the major danger of war in Europe arises from Soviet policy and not from American policy. It is not the Americans who have imposed a blockade on Berlin. It is not the Americans who have used conspiratorial methods to destroy democratic socialist parties in one country after another. It is not the Americans who have blocked effective action through one United Nations agency after another".

Bevanism and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Foot remained in the editorial chair until 1952 when Bob Edwards took over, but he returned after losing his parliamentary seat in Plymouth in 1955. During the early 1950s, Tribune became the organ of the Bevanite left opposition to the Labour Party leadership, turning against the United States over its handling of the Korean War, then arguing strongly against West German rearmament and nuclear arms. However, Tribune remained critical of the Soviet Union as it denounced Stalin on his death in 1953 and in 1956 opposed the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Revolution and the British government's Suez adventure. The paper and Bevan parted company after his "naked into the conference chamber" speech at the 1957 Labour Party conference. For the next five years, Tribune was at the forefront of the campaign to commit Labour to a non-nuclear defence policy, "the official weekly of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament" (CND) as the direct actionists in the peace movement put it. CND's general secretary Peggy Duff had been Tribune general manager. Among journalists on Tribune in the 1950s were Richard Clements, Ian Aitken and Mervyn Jones, who related his experience on the paper in his autobiography Chances.

1960s and 1970s

After Foot was re-elected to Parliament in 1960 for Bevan's old seat of Ebbw Vale, Richard Clements became editor. During the 1960s and 1970s the paper faithfully expressed the ideas of the parliamentary Labour left and allied itself with the new generation of left-wing trade union leaders that emerged on the back of a wave of workplace militancy from the early 1960s onwards.

As such, it played a massive role in the politics of the time. Although it welcomed the election of Harold Wilson's Labour government in 1964—"Tribune takes over from Eton in the cabinet", exclaimed a headline—the paper became rapidly disillusioned. It denounced the Wilson government's timidity on nationalisation and devaluation, opposed its moves to join the European Communities (EC) and attacked it for failing to take a principled position against the Vietnam War. It also backed the unions' campaigns against the government's prices-and-incomes policies and against In Place of Strife, Barbara Castle's 1969 package of trade union law reforms.

The paper continued in the same vein after Edward Heath won the 1970 general election, opposing his Tory government's trade union legislation between 1970 and 1974 and placing itself at the head of opposition to Heath's negotiations for Britain to join the EEC. After Labour regained power in 1974, Tribune played a central part in the "no" campaign in the 1975 referendum on British EEC membership.

However, Tribune in this period did not speak to, let alone represent, the concerns of the younger generation of leftists who were at the centre of the campaign against the Vietnam War and the post-1968 student revolt, who found the paper's reformism and commitment to Labour tame and old-fashioned. Circulation, around 20,000 in 1960, was said by 1980 to be around 10,000, but it was in fact much less.

Brief support of Tony Benn

Clements resigned as editor in 1982 to become a political adviser to Foot (by now Labour leader), a role he continued under Foot's successor as Labour leader, Neil Kinnock. Clements was succeeded in the Tribune chair by Chris Mullin, who steered the paper into supporting Tony Benn (then just past the peak of his influence on the Labour left) and attempted to turn it into a friendly society in which readers were invited to buy shares, much to the consternation of the old Bevanite shareholders, most prominent among them John Silkin and Donald Bruce, who attempted unsuccessfully to take control of the paper. A protracted dispute ensued that at one point seemed likely to close the paper.[3]

Paper of the soft left

Mullin left in 1984, with circulation at around 6,000, a level it roughly remained for the next ten years). He was replaced by his equally Bennite protege Nigel Williamson, who surprised everyone by arguing for a realignment of the left and took the paper into the soft left camp, supporting Kinnock, a long-time Tribune contributor and onetime board member, as Labour leader against the Bennites. The next two editors Phil Kelly and Paul Anderson took much the same line, although both clashed with Kinnock, particularly over his decision to abandon Labour's non-nuclear defence policy.

Under Kelly, Tribune supported John Prescott's challenge to Roy Hattersley as Labour Deputy leader in 1988 and came close to going bust, a fate averted by an emergency appeal launched by a front page exclaiming "Don't let this be the last issue of Tribune". Under Anderson, the paper took a strongly pro-European stance, supported electoral reform and argued for military intervention against Serbian aggression in Croatia and Bosnia. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Tribune acted as a clearing house for arguments inside the Labour Party, with contributions from all major players.

Back to basics

From 1993, Mark Seddon shifted Tribune several degrees back to the left, particularly after Tony Blair became Labour leader in 1994. The paper strongly opposed Blair's abandonment of Clause Four of the Labour Party constitution and resisted his rebranding of the party as New Labour.

After Labour won the 1997 general election, the paper maintained an oppositionist stance, objecting to the Blair government's military interventions and its reliance on spin-doctors. In 2001, Tribune opposed the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan and it was outspoken against the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The paper under Seddon also reverted to an anti-European position very similar to that it adopted in the 1970s and early 1980s and campaigned for Gordon Brown to replace Blair as Labour Leader and Prime Minister.

Tribune changed format from newspaper to magazine in 2001, but remained plagued by financial uncertainty, coming close to folding again in 2002. However, Seddon and Chairman of Tribune Publications, the Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle led a team of pro-bono advisers who organised a rescue package with a consortium of trade unions (Unison, Amicus, Aslef,[4] Communication Workers Union, Community, T&GWU),[5] who became majority shareholders in return for a significant investment in the magazine in early 2004.

While editor, Seddon was elected several times to the Labour Party National Executive Committee as a candidate of the Grassroots Alliance coalition of left-wing activists. Seddon resigned as editor in summer 2004 and was succeeded by Chris McLaughlin, former political editor of the Sunday Mirror.

During 2007, Tribune spawned two offshoot websites, a Tribune Cartoons blog, put together by cartoonists who draw for the magazine; and a Tribune History blog.

In September 2008, the magazine's future was again in doubt thanks to problems with its trade union funding. An attempt by the Unite trade union to render Tribune its wholly owned subsidiary had a mixed response,[6] but on 9 October it was announced that the magazine would close on the 31 October if a buyer could not be found.[4] The uncertainty continued until early December 2008 when it emerged that a 51% stake was being sold to an unnamed Labour Party activist for £1 with an undertaking to support the magazine for £40,000 per annum and debts written off by the now former trade union owners.[7]

Tribune's cartoonists were Alex Hughes, Matthew Buck, Jon Jensen, Martin Rowson and Gary Barker.

Changes of ownership and relaunches

In March 2009, 100% ownership of the magazine passed to Kevin McGrath through a new company, Tribune Publications 2009 Limited, with the intention of keeping Tribune a left-of-centre publication though broadening the readership.[5][8][9]

In late October 2011, the future of Tribune looked bleak once again when McGrath warned of possible closure because subscriptions and income had not risen as had been hoped.[10] Unless a buyer could be found or a cooperative established, the last edition would have been published on 4 November.[11] McGrath committed to paying off the magazine's debts. Another rescue plan saved the magazine at the end of October.[12] In 2013, Tribune claimed a circulation of 5,000.[13]

In the autumn of 2016, the journal was owned by the businessman Owen Oyston, who acquired its parent company London Publications Ltd.[14] Oyston filed for bankruptcy and stopped publishing Tribune in January 2018.[15]

In May 2018, it was announced that the Tribune IP had been sold to the American socialist magazine Jacobin.[16] In August 2018, Jacobin publisher Bhaskar Sunkara confirmed the purchase of Tribune in media reports, stating that he aimed to relaunch the magazine ahead of the Labour Party Conference in September.[17][18] At the official re-launch in September 2018, Tribune was announced as a bimonthly magazine with a high-quality design, concentrating on longer-form political analysis and industrial issues coverage, so differentiating Tribune from Novara Media and Morning Star.[15] Tribune had 2,000 subscribers, with an aim of reaching 10,000 within a year.[19] The magazine is currently published quarterly.[20]

Tribune Group of MPs

The Tribune Group of Labour MPs was formed as a support group for the newspaper in 1964. During the 1960s and 1970s it was the main forum for the left in the Parliamentary Labour Party, but it split over Tony Benn's bid for the deputy leadership of the party in 1981, with Benn's supporters forming the Campaign Group (later the Socialist Campaign Group). During the 1980s, the Tribune Group was the Labour soft left's political caucus, but its closeness to the leadership of Neil Kinnock meant that it had lost any real raison d'etre by the early 1990s. It ceased to promote a list of candidates for shadow cabinet elections.[21]

The group was reformed in 2005, led by Clive Efford, MP for Eltham. Invitations to join the newly reformed group were extended to backbench Labour MPs only.[22] The group, which included former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper and former Labour policy coordinator Jon Cruddas, relaunched themselves in April 2017 aiming to reconnect with traditional Labour voters while also appealing to the centre ground. They supported "opportunity and aspiration" being central to the party’s programme, with policies supporting the "security of its people at its heart". While not critical of leader Jeremy Corbyn, it was considered as a group of centre-left and moderate Labour MPs who would resist a left-wing successor being selected.[23] The group has no connection with the current incarnation of the newspaper, currently lists more than 70 MPs as members and has begun publishing policy papers.

List of editors

1. William Mellor (1937–1938)
2. H. J. Hartshorn (1938–1940)
3. Raymond Postgate (1940–1941)
4. Aneurin Bevan and Jon Kimche (1941–1945)
5. Frederic Mullally and Evelyn Anderson (1945–1946)
6. Jon Kimche and Evelyn Anderson (1946–1948)
7. Michael Foot and Evelyn Anderson (1948–1952)
8. Bob Edwards (1952–1955)
9. Michael Foot (1955–1960)
10. Richard Clements (1960–1982)
11. Chris Mullin (1982–1984)
12. Nigel Williamson (1984–1987)
13. Phil Kelly (1987–1991)
14. Paul Anderson (1991–1993)
15. Mark Seddon (1993–2004)
16. Chris McLaughlin (2004–2017)
17. Ronan Burtenshaw (2018–present)


1. Bill Jones, The Russia Complex : the British Labour Party and the Soviet Union. Manchester : Manchester University Press, 1977. ISBN 0719006961 (p. 48-9)
2. Paravisini-Gebert, Lizabeth (1996). Phyllis Shand Allfrey: A Caribbean Life. Rutgers University Press. p. 61. ISBN 0-8135-2265-X.
3. For a detailed account of the Silkin takeover attempt, see articles by Chris Mullin, New Statesman, January 11 and 18, 1985.
4. John Plunkett, "Tribune set to close by November", The Guardian, 9 October 2008. The first cited reference is slightly misleading, Amicus merged with the TGWUin 2007 to form Unite.
5. Paul McNally (17 March 2009). "Sale of Tribune to Labour party activist is completed". Press Gazette. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
6. Paul Anderson "Better read than dead", The Guardian (Comment is Free website), 11 September 2008.
7. Keith Richmond "Tribune’s future: unions and buyer agree deal for sale", Tribuneblog, 5 December 2008.
8. "Tribune Saved – Weekly Political Journal Under New Ownership". Tribune. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
9. Chris McLaughlin (26 March 2009). "Tribune's new board and plans for expansion are unveiled". Tribune. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
10. Alice Gribbin "Tribune magazine to close", New Statesman, 25 October 2011
11. James Robinson "Tribune, journal of the left, faces closure after 75 years", The Guardian, 25 October 2011
12. Peyton, Antony (31 October 2011). "'Tribune' magazine saved from closure at eleventh hour". The Independent. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
13. "Don't you know who we are? Tribune cries foul over Tory press 'snub'". Evening Standard. London. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
14. Private Eye, issue 1464 (26 February 2018), "Street of Shame", p. 10.
15. James Walker, Dorothy Musariri (1 October 2018). "New owner of relaunched bi-monthly Tribune magazine says 'Morning Star will cover the beat and we'll do more analysis'". Press Gazette. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
16. Maguire, Kevin (3 May 2018). "Commons Confidential: How Amber's voyage to No 10 turned rudderless". New Statesman. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
17. Di Stefano, Mark (31 August 2018). "An American Publisher Wants To Unite The British Left With George Orwell's Old Magazine". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
18. Waterson, Jim (31 August 2018). "US journalist to revive Labour left magazine Tribune". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
19. Waterson, Jim (27 September 2018). "New owners of Tribune shrug off criticism from former staffers". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
20. "Subscribe". Retrieved 2019-03-22.
21. Richard Heffernan, Mike Marqusee (1992). Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Inside Kinnock's Labour Party. Verso. p. 135. ISBN 9780860915614. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
22. "Commons Confidential: November 2005". BBC News. 30 November 2005.
23. Helm, Toby (2 April 2017). "Labour MPs revamp centre-left Tribune group to win back middle-class voters". The Observer. Retrieved 19 June 2017.

Further reading

• Anderson, Paul (ed.), Orwell in Tribune: 'As I Please' and Other Writings. Methuen/Politico's, 2006. ISBN 1-84275-155-7
• Hill, Douglas (ed.), Tribune 40: the first forty years of a socialist newspaper. Quartet, 1977. ISBN 0-7043-3124-1
• Thomas, Elizabeth (ed.), Tribune 21. MacGibbon and Kee, 1958.

External links

• Tribune magazine
• Tribune Cartoons
• Tribune Cartoons (until May 2009)
• Tribune History
• Tribune of the People 1 - a Marxist history of Tribune from 1937-1950 by Chris Harman in International Socialism 21 (1965)
• Tribune of the People 2: The Wasted Years - a Marxist history of Tribune from 1950-1965 by Chris Harman in International Socialism 24 (1966).
Site Admin
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:11 am

Dyal Singh Majithia
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/10/20



Dyal Singh Majithia
Born: 1848, Banares
Died: 1898, Lahore
Occupation: Banker
Spouse(s): Rani Bhagwan Kaur

Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia (1848–98) was a Punjabi banker and activist in progressive and social reform measures in Punjab. He established The Tribune newspaper in Lahore in 1881, and later remained founder chairman of the Punjab National Bank, established in 1894. He established dyal singh trust society.


Born in Benares, Dyal Singh was the only son of General Lehna Singh. He got his early education in the Mission School at Amritsar and was later self-educated.

He founded the newspaper The Tribune and managed the affairs of the Harmandir Sahib ("Golden Temple") for nearly thirty years. He took up business in real estate and diamonds and earned huge wealth. He was the first president of the Indian Association of Lahore and continued in that capacity till his death. He was a founding Trustee of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.

He was Chairman, Board of Directors of the country's first indigenous bank, the Punjab National Bank. The Bank was founded on 23 May 1894 (its first meeting was held at 6:30 PM at Dyal Singh's house). At the second meeting on 27 May 1894, Dyal Singh was appointed Chairman and Lala Harkishen Lal, the Secretary of the Board. He was also a pillar of the Brahmo Samaj and donated liberally for educational institutions and libraries, including numerous colleges all over Northern India, like Dayal Singh College, Lahore and Dyal Singh Memorial Library, Lahore. He was closely associated with Punjab University. He also founded The Tribune newspaper (now HQ in Chandigarh)

Raja Rammohun Roy's greatest follower in Upper India was Sirdar Dyal Singh, in whose person the two strands (of Western ideas and Indian thought) seem to have been fused. Born nine years after Ranjit Singh's death and fifteen years after Rammohun Roy's demise, this scion of the family that helped Ranjit Singh carve out a Sikh kingdom was one of the greatest Brahmos in the Punjab.[1]


The Tribune newspaper founded by him is still a popular English daily. He willed his property for establishing college for secular education, initially resulting in creation of Dayal Singh College (Lahore), later also Dyal Singh College, Delhi and Dyal Singh College, Karnal.[2]


1. Madan Gopal: Vol.28, March 1994, "Builders of Modern India series" Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt of India. ISBN 81-230-0119-3
2. "Amid uproar, old Dyal college files scoured.", The Tribune, 21 November 2017.

External links

• Biography at Dyal Singh Memorial Trust Library, Lahore
• Dyal Singh College Lahore
• Dyal Singh College Delhi
• Dyal Singh College Karnal
• Dyal Singh Public School Jagadhari
• Dyal Singh Public School Karnal
• Dayal Singh Trust Library Lahore
• Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia
Site Admin
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:26 am

Sadharan Brahmo Samaj
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Accessed: 2/11/20



The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj (Bengali: সাধারণ ব্রাহ্ম সমাজ, Shadharôn Brahmô Shômaj) is a division of Brahmoism formed as a result of schisms in the Brahmo Samaj in 1866 and 1878 respectively.

The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj

The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was formed in a public meeting of Brahmos held in the Town Hall of Calcutta on 15 May 1878 (2nd Jaishta 1284 of the Bengali calendar). A letter from Maharshi Devendranath Tagore communicating his blessings and prayer for the success of the new Samaj was read in the meeting. At the time of its foundation the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was headed by three men universally esteemed in Brahmo society for their high moral character. They were Ananda Mohan Bose, Sivnath Sastri and Umesh Chandra Dutta. Of those three Ananda Mohan Bose was the youngest, scarcely more than 31 years at the time, yet he was placed at the head of affairs.

Sadharan Trust Deed of 1880

The intrinsic Primary ('Adi') Principles for Brahmo Assembly and Worship are reiterated by the next Deed of Trust of 1880.

Original doctrine and principles

that faith in a Supreme Being and in Existence after Death is natural to man;
• that we regard the relation between God and men to be direct and immediate;
• that we do not believe in the infallibility of any man or any scripture;
• whatever book contains truths calculated to ennoble the soul or elevate the character is a Brahmo's scripture, and whoever teaches such truths is his teacher and guide.
• We regard the fourfold culture of man's intellect, conscience, affections, and devotion as equally important and equally necessary for his salvation.
• We consider love of God and doing the will of God as equally imperative in the routine of a Brahmo's life.
• We regard the culture of faith at the sacrifice of reason, or the culture of reason at the sacrifice of faith as equally defective, and as fruitful sources of evil in the religious world.
• We regard the worship of one God as the highest of a Brahmo's duties and as the best of means to improve the soul and the neglect of it as a way to spiritual death.
• We look upon the enjoyment of uncontrolled authority by a single individual in any religious community as a calamity, and far from looking upon freedom of thought as reprehensible, we consider it to be desirable, and regard it as a safe-guard against corruption and degeneracy.
• We regard the belief in an individual being a way to salvation, or a link between God and Man, as a belief unworthy of a Theist, and those who hold such belief as unworthy of the Brahmo name.
• We consider it to be blasphemy and an insult to the Majesty of Heaven to claim Divine inspiration for any act opposed to the dictates of reason, truth, and morality.


From this day we intend devoting ourselves to the propagation of Brahmoism and to the furtherance of the interests of our Church, apart from some of those with whom we have so long acted, but relying for aid and support on Him in whose hands are the destinies of man who supports every noble purpose, and has all along invisibly regulated the course of our Church who, in His inscrutable ways, has given strength when our Church languished from very feebleness, has vouchsafed life when her very vitality seemed ebbing away, and who has led her out from the darkness and superstition that eclipsed her face. May He enable us to discharge this sacred mission may He once more fill all the members of our Church with new life and resuscitated energy may He cause the day of hope to dawn upon the darkness of despair may He lead us out of the regions of discord and disunion into those of peace and tranquillity may He bless our cause and lead the millions of our countrymen into truth and salvation.

Brahmo Samaj of South India:

The faith and Principles of Brahmo Samaj had spread to South Indian states like Andrapradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and Kerala with a large number of followers.

In Kerala the faith and principles of Brahmosamaj and Raja Ram Mohun Roy had been propagated by Rao Sahib Dr. Ayyathan Gopalan in the year 1898 January 17th at Calicut (Now Kozhikode) region. He was a doctor by profession but dedicated his entire life towards Brahmosamaj and was an active executive member of Calcutta Sadharan Brahmosamaj till his death.

The Calicut (Kerala) branch of Brahmomandir was opened to the public in the year 1900 (Now Ayathan School which runs under the patronage of Brahmosamaj at Jail road, Calicut). The Second Branch of Brahmosamaj at Kerala was established at Alappuzha (South Kerala) in the year 1924 with a Brahmomandir established at Poonthoppu, Kommady (now Grihalakshmi Gandhi Smaraka seva sangam).

DR. Ayyathan Gopalan was a great social reformer of Kerala and was also the founder of Sugunavardhini movement which was established in order to foster human values in children and to protect the rights of women, children, and the downtrodden sections such as the Harijan communities (Dalit's) of the society and educate them. He established the Lady Chandawarkar Elementary School with the aim to educate girls and the underprivileged section of society.

Dr. Ayyathan Gopalan was the one who translated the "Bible of Brahmosamaj"- "Brahmodarma" written by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore to Malayalam in the year 1910.


• The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj = The General Community of Worshippers of the One God.
• The movement was originally known as the Brahma Sabha (or Assembly of Brahman).
• A new premises at Chitpore (Jorasankoe) arranged by Dwarkanath Tagore.
• The appellation Brahmo Samaj (or Community of Brahman) was introduced in 1843 by Maharshi Devendra.Nath.Thakur for the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj. The First Brahmo Schism of 1866 engendered the 2 modern branches of Brahmoism viz. "Adi Brahmo Samaj" and "Sadharan Brahmo Samaj" (previously the general body of erstwhile Brahmo Samaj of India).

External links

• The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj
• Brahmo
• Brahmo Samaj in the Encyclopædia Britannica
See Also:[edit]
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Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia: A Tribute: From the Tribune
September 9, 1998




A broad-minded liberal
by Madan Gopal

SARDAR Dyal Singh Majithia was the son of a family that had played a very important part in the history of the Sikh state founded by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. For three generations the family had provided generals to the Maharaja's forces, and Dyal Singh's father was the head of the kingdom's ordnance. His uncle, Gujar Singh, who had been deputed by Maharaja Ranjit to go to Calcutta on a diplomatic mission, was accompanied by 200 armed men specially chosen by the Maharaja. And when Dyal Singh's father, Lehna Singh, left Lahore for a pilgrimage, his adversaries at the darbar at Lahore said that he too had gone with an escort of 200 people and taken gold worth a crore of rupees. Lehna Singh went to different pilgrimage centres and finally bought an estate in Kashi (Benaras).

One yardstick of the importance in society of the family in the British times was the placement in the list of protocol. And so eminent was Dyal Singh's family that when the Viceregal darbar was held in Lahore in 1864, of the 603 people invited, Dyal Singh, then aged 16, was allotted the 55th seat, his uncle Ranjodh Singh being 103rd.

While some members of the erstwhile ruling class lived a life of ease and indulgence, hankered after titles and jagirs, some others took up such jobs as that of tehsildar or extra-assistant commissioner, Dyal Singh decided to carve out a career for himself. Tall, well-built and handsome with refined tastes and aristocratic bearing, he became a shrewd business man dealing in real estate and precious stones and jewellery.

The areas outside the walled city of Lahore had barracks for the British soldiers. Once the British decided that a cantonment should be built in Mian Mir, the barracks were to be pulled down and the plots auctioned. Dyal Singh's agents bid for the plots whereupon he constructed buildings to be rented out to high British civilians. When he died in 1898 he owned 26 prestigious properties, including Dyal Singh Mansion of 54 residential units on The Mall, scores of lawyers, chambers on Fane Road, the exchange building which was later sold to Ganga Ram Hospital, and a property in Karachi which was sold after his death and the earning invested in the purchase of land on the road to Mian Mir, where today stands the new campus of Panjab University. Most of the buildings, plots of land and villages in Lahore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts were bequeathed to the trusts that set up Dyal Singh College and Dyal Singh Library.

His other business activity concerned the purchase and resale of precious jewellery. With his deep knowledge of the history of the Sikh kingdom and the riches of the once important and wealthy families now in dire straits, he sent agents to buy these out for him. He was a connoisseur of precious stones and told his friends how lucrative this business was.

From the real estate created by him and the trade in precious stones he earned a huge fortune. The assets created by him and bequeathed in a will drawn up in 1895 were worth Rs 30 lakh, Rs 7 lakh more than the assets bequeathed in 1893 by Sir Dorabji Tata to the House of Tatas.

A great advocate of Western education, he was largely responsible for the setting up of Panjab University. He made a handsome donation to Sir Syed Ahmed's Anjuman-i-Islamia, and set up a Union Academy at Lahore, the nucleus of Dyal Singh School and College.

Dyal Singh was a great philanthropist. He gave much in charity. It is significant that he decided on the amount to be given away to charities in advance, depending upon the earnings in the previous month. And this amount, once fixed, was not to be exceeded. Also if he promised to give a certain amount in the following month this was as good as given, there seldom being any delay in disbursement. He was so meticulous that once when he detected a mistake of a few pies in the total he told the person sending it about the carelessness and warned if a mistake was made again, he would stop all donations so long as the latter was in position.

Dyal Singh lived like a prince. He had the hobbies and failings of the class that he belonged to. His luncheon was a prolonged affair, sometimes continuing for more than a couple of hours. As per the practice, while he and the guests ate, there was some show of entertainment or music or tricks by a madari, or some other activity of this kind. He was a patron of wrestling and a keen kite-flyer. Chess was also his favourite game. He was a great player, and, with plenty of money to spend, he would invite well-known chess players even from Delhi and paid hefty fees.

Dyal Singh was fond of classical music and himself played sitar. A man of great refinement, he was also a poet and wrote in Urdu under the pseudonym "Mashriq". Three of his "Sihafis" are kept in the British Library in London. He wrote flowery prose too and was proud of it. In his ancestral house in Amritsar, he built special rooms for guests.

Dyal Singh was an unorthodox person. He had Muslim and Christian cooks. At his dining table sat Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Parsis. The wine dealers' bill for himself and guests was substantial.

A scion of the family that had held charge of the affairs of the Golden Temple for decades, Dyal Singh returned from Kashi to Majitha. Instructed by a British governess and then educated at the Christian Mission School at Amritsar, he had an inquisitive mind. He knew more about Christ and Christianity than even the pastors. With a religious bent of mind, he studied the Gita with the help of a Sanskrit teacher from Ferozepur, and studied the Quran too. At this time, there was an exchange of letters between a Sunni Muslim converted to Christianity and a Muslim divine in Lucknow. These letters related to the basic theological issues. Dyal Singh edited the letters and brought out a 115-page booklet, "Naghma-a-Tamboori". His house was the venue of serious discussion and debates on such issues, and for these he would forego even his evening outings. Cool and composed, he seldom lost his temper even with the large retinue of domestic servants at Lahore and Amritsar.

Dyal Singh's first wife died in 1876 or so. His plans to marry a Bengali Brahmo woman did not bear fruit, and he was persuaded to marry Rani Bhagwan Kaur. This did not prove to be a happy union. She observed pardah, and was not normally seen. In fact, Dyal Singh maintained three establishments, one each in Lahore, Amritsar and Karachi. As the work that he had chosen for himself required him to stay in Lahore, he was in Amritsar only for brief periods. He had no issue. He was the most important Brahmo leader of Punjab and the principal financier of the Brahmo Samaj. He was made a trustee of the Brahmo Samaj Mandir in Calcutta.

He was accessible to all those who were seekers after truth. He rendered financial assistance to the needy, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

The only other important Punjabi Brahmo leader was Shiv Narayan Agnihotri, who later left the ranks and set up a rival organisation called the Dev Samaj. Once he approached Dyal Singh for help to build a temple. Dyal Singh obliged him by supplying bricks to the founder of a movement that was antagonistic in nature compared to the one to which he belonged. This gesture was unusual but, then, Dyal Singh himself was, in some ways, an unusually generous, broad-minded and liberal person.Top


Dyal Singh Majithia: A genius with foresight
by B. K. Nehru

SARDAR Dyal Singh Majithia was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable pioneers who led India out of the darkness of ignorance to the enlightenment of modernity. He did for North India what Raja Rammohun Roy had done for Bengal three quarters of a century earlier. It is unfortunate that we know so little about his contribution to liberal education, a factor which was instrumental in India's freedom.

Sardar Dyal Singh had come to the conclusion well before 1880 that India's salvation lay in the education of the masses. He insisted on spreading English education, and established a college of the most modern kind. He made available the latest books to the Indian people. This the Sardar did through the establishment of a public library well endowed with books.

The establishment of The Tribune was another noteworthy contribution by him. The aim of the newspaper was to spread the doctrine of Indian nationalism and to bring about unity in a society that was afflicted by differences on questions of religion, caste, language and region. His nationalism was also reflected in his strong support for the foundation of the Indian National Congress.

A man who could analyse so clearly, a century and a half ago, the reasons for the downfall of the people of our country from the very top of the civilised world to its very bottom and then establish the institutions which would generate the forces to restore it to its old position, can only be regarded as a genius with great foresight and courage. He died on September 9, 1898.Top


A visionary with a difference
by V. N. Datta

THE 19th century Punjab was at the bottom optimistic and melioristic and believed that something radical could be done about all sorts of arrangements in society that would promote material well-being and intellectual advancement. Each age leaves its mark on its generation. Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia had a different cast of mind from those of his forefathers. This was so because he belonged to an era of vital social and economic changes as contrasted with the period which was marked by military adventurism and political chicanery.

Dyal Singh Majithia had a lively and questioning mind. He had influential social connections which gave him entree into every political and intellectual sphere partaking fully in the life around him. The whole story of Sardar Majithia cannot be reconstructed without recourse to conjecture and imagination as the documentary evidence helpful for some parts of his life is almost wholly lacking for others.

He belonged to the family of the distinguished ruling chiefs of Punjab, who had held high positions in the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his successors. His grandfather, Sardar Desa Singh, was Ranjit Singh's trusted military general who was later appointed the Governor of the hill states of Mandi and Saket. He also acted as the civil administrator of Harmander Sahib in Amritsar, a responsibility he discharged with fervour. Because of his meritorious services Ranjit Singh conferred on him the title of "Kisrul-Iktdar". Sir Lepel Griffin estimated Desa Singh's income from various jagirs and other sources at 1,24,250 per annum. Desa Singh died in 1832, leaving behind three sons: Lehna Singh, Gujar Singh and Ranjodh Singh.

Dyal's father, Lehna Singh, was an extraordinary man and, in many ways, an innovator. He was highly respected for his integrity of character, mild manners and amiable disposition. He inherited a major portion of his father's estates. He acted also as the Governor of the hill states and was the chief administrator of Harmandar Sahib. Deeply interested in science, he set up his own laboratory for conducting experiments. Through his contacts with the British he acquainted himself with scientific knowledge in England and procured some literature on the subject for his own studies. An engineer, he improved the Punjab foundries and invented the clock which showed the day, the month and the changes in the moon. Though deeply interested in astronomy he was not converted to the Copernican system and still continued to believe in the earth's immobility.

Ranjit Singh was greatly impressed by Lehna Singh's diplomatic finesse and, therefore, sent him on several diplomatic missions to negotiate with the British on important political matters. In this connection he met Lord William Bentinck, Lord Auckland, Lord Ellenborough and Alexander Burnes. He was conferred the title of Hasham-ud-Daula (Lord of the State). During Chand Rani's brief regime of violence and disorder it was proposed to appoint him as Prime Minister, but he was considered too mild a person for such a challenging task which needed ruthlessness and twisting of politics. When he witnessed how Punjab was breaking up due to the sinister designs and high-handedness of a few self-aggrandising and self-destructive individuals overpowered by overweening ambition during Mesar Julla's regime, he left Punjab to settle in Benaras where Dyal Singh was born in 1849.

Henry Lawrence, the British Resident, who had much sympathy for the Punjab Chiefs, persuaded Lehna Singh to return to Punjab and appointed him a member of the Council of Regency in August, 1847. Henry Lawrence had high opinion of him and thought him the "most sensible Sardar in the Punjab", but also noted his timidity in recourse to action when it was needed. Lehna Singh avoided controversies and loathed pettyfogging and intrigues. He foresaw the rolling clouds of disaster for Punjab and, therefore, left for Benaras again on January 14, 1848, and never to return. Lehna Singh died in 1854 leaving his five-year-old son, Dyal Singh, under the tutelage of Sardar Teja Singh, formerly the Commander-in-Chief and a member of the Council of the Regency. Dyal Singh inherited a large patrimony from his father. The most significant feature of the history of Punjab in the 19th century was its remarkable process of modernisation, and in this transformation certain aspects of urbanisation gained prominence, the various channels producing the changes were education, the Press, the means of transport and communications, the bureaucratic set-up and land settlement. It is not often realised that in the transformation of Punjab the Punjabi elite played a vital role to which Kenneth Jones in his studies has drawn our attention.

Dyal Singh kept himself substantially in touch with some of the influential members of the Bengali elite in Lahore. He had great admiration for the Brahmo Samaj which had initiated social and educational reform in Bengal. It was Surendranath Banerjea who had suggested to Dyal Singh the idea of setting up an independent paper for creating an enlightened public opinion in Punjab. In his memoirs, Surendranath Banerjea wrote about Dyal Singh: "He was one of the truest and noblest men I have come across. It was perhaps difficult to know him and to get the better of his heart for there was a certain reserve about him which hid from public view pure gold that formed the stuff of his nature."

Seetalchandra Mookerjee served as the first Editor of The Tribune who was followed by Seetalakanta Chatterjee and B.C. Pal. During the 1919 disturbances Kalinath Ray was the Editor who was tried and arrested. Gandhiji had to intervene on his behalf and send a petition to the Viceroy about his release.

The Tribune became a success within a short time so much so that when Dennis Fitzpatrick was the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab a civilian wrote to The Pioneer of Lucknow that Punjab was ruled by the Lieutenant-Governor and The Tribune. It remained Dyal Singh's cardinal principle not to interfere in the working and management of the paper, and he left complete freedom to the Editor to use his discretion in running the paper. He emphasised in his Will that the paper should remain entirely free from any taint of communalism which was vitiating the atmosphere in Punjab.

Aristocratic in bearing, Dyal Singh was a reserved and taciturn person. He was a man of few words. Not a profound thinker, ideologue or scholar of the library, he possessed immense Punjabi commonsense of seeing the reality of things. He disdained controversies. This does not mean that he kept himself aloof when important issues of national interest were involved.

Dr G.W. Leitner, Principal of the newly created Government College, founded the Anjuman-i-Punjab with the objective of reviving oriental learning, particularly the study of Sanskrit and Arabic. His objective was like that of orientalist H.H. Wilson to promote Western learning through the medium of classical languages and vernaculars. The old Macaulay-orientalist controversy was being revived in Punjab. Dyal Singh differed from Leitner's views. He regarded the English language as the "key to all improvements". He firmly believed that Western knowledge could only be imparted in India through the medium of English. That he thought was the only way to regenerate Indian society as had been previously shown by the experiment in Bengal.

The very first issue of The Tribune on February 2, 1881, stood for the promotion of modern knowledge through the English language. About 25 articles supported by strongly-worded editorials in The Tribune knocked down Leitner's argument and created a strong public opinion in favour of Dyal Singh's stand on higher education. Ultimately, the government had to yield! Though separate arrangements for imparting oriental learning were made, instruction in higher education began to be given through the medium of English.

Dyal Singh Majithia, a public spirited liberal imbued with lofty ideals, left a rich legacy of a creative force calculated to produce far-reaching consequences for generations to come. His institutions continue to function in Punjab and elsewhere and act as a stimulus to the lives of so many people. Unfortunately, political developments took a different turn from what he had envisioned. He was out-and-out a liberal person, but his liberalism got swamped by the rising tide of communalism which led to the Partition of India. The value system he had projected with his insightful intellect has much relevance for us. He had the vision of a secular, prosperous Punjab, free from conflicts, and bustling with ideas and verve.


An educationist par excellence
by Justice Dalip K. Kapur

SHAKESPEARE, perhaps better than anybody else, gave expression to the fundamental emotions and desires of humanity. Heroes or villains, lovers or warriors, kings or politicians, valiant heroines, ghosts, murderers, and, above all, patriots; he had them all. Splendidly displayed in evocative iambic pentameter. Fate and Destiny were two ideas he often referred to. Yet scholars doubt that he wrote the poems and the plays he did. But who wrote them? That is a question that has puzzled scholars over the years.

Our own Kalidas was said to be an idiot, but he was suddenly blessed with overwhelming poetic brilliance. His poetry was filled with brilliant imagery. How did he get his powers?

One of the ideas that obsessed Shakespeare was Immortality. How does one live after death? It is a universal idea. Does one go to heaven or hell or fade into oblivion? Is one reborn? Shakespeare's ideal was to live through his work. He expressed himself best on this point in his sonnets. This is what he said in Sonnet LV Lines 1-4:

Not marble nor the gilded monuments

Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme;

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time.

Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia lives even today. So we remember him on his 100th death anniversary. We also remember him on occasions. Some persons live in history books, some by writings, some by their preaching of ideas, some are poets or philosophers, writers, religious leaders and so on. Sardar Dyal Singh lives through the institutions he created. Few mortals have managed to do this. How did he do what he did? He was an unlikely person to create enduring institutions. He did, however, achieve immortality.

His first creation was The Tribune. The only other worthwhile Indian-owned newspaper of those times was The Hindu of Madras. It is quite remarkable that Dyal Singh could achieve the impossible, create a newspaper in a foreign language, only a few years after Punjab was annexed. And what a newspaper!

How did it come about that a person like Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia conceived the idea of a newspaper? One must remember that he was a land owner; he was educated up to the school-level. There were no university degrees given in Punjab at that time. He was financially very rich; he bought jewels; he bought property. He constructed several buildings in Lahore, Amritsar and Karachi. He was honoured by the British as the head of the Shergil clan. He was rich but unsatisfied. He was part of the Indian revival. He had many Bengali, Christian or Brahmo Samaji friends. He was convinced that he had to do something more than live a life of luxury, which a Punjab chief might ordinarily have lived. He had ideas, which were broadened by visits to Europe. He brought those ideas to life.

The newspaper started as a weekly, but expanded into a nationalist daily of tremendous power and prestige. It was bold and fearless, which refused to be cowed down by the British. It was given to investigative journalism at a time when that expression had not even been invented. Its leading articles shook the Empire and brilliantly evoked the idea of the poor Indian oppressed by the greedy Englishman. Every misdoing, every misdemeanour, every act of misgovernment was fully exposed to the public. It is not possible to reproduce the substance of the editorial writings, which were outstanding, in this short article. It is sufficient to say that one can be proud of what was said, particularly, at the time it was said, when Indian self-esteem was at its lowest ebb.

The newspaper grew from strength to strength during the life-time of the founder. Now it was time to do something different. Sardar Dyal Singh launched Punjab National Bank, the first Punjabi bank. He was the principal shareholder and Chairman. Lala Harkishan Lal, a kindred spirit, was the secretary. This bank soon gained strength and popularity. It became major bank in Lahore. It had a huge building on Mall Road, next to the General Post Office.

Sardar Dyal Singh had vast property in Lahore, Amritsar and Majitha. He made a will creating three trusts. These were the Tribune Trust, the Dyal Singh College Trust and the Dyal Singh Public Library Trust. He appointed three eminent lawyer-friends to be the trustees of The Tribune, but included some educationists, and among them was Dewan (later Raja) Narendra Nath in the College Trust. In the Library Trust, he included some well-known persons. The college and library took shape quite a long time after the Sardar's death, as the will was challenged by the widow and another lady, Mrs Catherine Gill, who claimed to be Dyal Singh's wife. The case was fought up to the Privy Council. The judgements upheld the Trust and give a good picture of Sardar Dyal Singh's philanthropy and reputation.

The college was very successful. Though not the leading college in Lahore, it came to be known as one of the better colleges in Punjab. The library was housed in a lovely building and was the second public library in Lahore, the first being Punjab Public Library. They both had collections of about 30,000 to 40,000 books. Undoubtedly Punjab Public Library was bigger, but Dyal Singh Library was catching up, though it was established about 40 or 50 years later.

Then came Partition. All the three Trusts were wrecked, as they were located in Lahore, and had nowhere to go in East Punjab. Now was the time for action by the trustees. The Tribune was financially well off, so it opened a new office in Ambala, bought a new press and started anew. Naturally, the fact that most of its readers were left in Pakistan meant that its operations were smaller, but at least it became a national paper. Unfortunately, its pre-eminent position as the leading national paper of India was lost, as it was located in a small town.

The College Trust was well-endowed with property in Majitha and Amritsar, so it was able to start functioning again at Karnal and in New Delhi. Dewan Anand Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University, who was the main Trustee, was responsible for opening the college at both places. The Karnal college had a small beginning but went on improving. The New Delhi college was very well housed. It had a beautiful building, and was doing well, but the government put some restrictions which forced the trustees to give up the college. It was the hardest decision to make. Huge amounts of money, the college building and all its assets were given to Delhi University. This was one of the blackest deeds of the national government. It was forced because the trust could not run the college under the University Grants Commission. It had no way to meet the deficit, all the income was taken by the commission and the trust was required to meet the deficit from "other sources", which was impossible as there were no "other sources". When the college was set up in New Delhi, the Central Government had done its best to rehabilitate the refugee college through the Rehabilitation Ministry, but later the government evolved an unworkable scheme, which led to the trust giving up its assets to save the college from closure. The college is still called Dyal Singh College, New Delhi, but no longer under the trust.

The Karnal college, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength. The 10+2 policy, and the creation of the university at Kurukshetra, had led to the college having only a two-year B.A. course. That is not enough. The trustees with immense vigour and enterprise have set up Dyal Singh School, which is one of the leading schools of the area providing education up to the secondary level. A huge new building is under construction. The efforts regarding the college and the school principally of Dewan Anand Kumar and now Dewan Gajendra Kumar, have resulted in the creation of an institution of which the Sardar would be proud. There is now a move for some post-graduate courses. Some have already been started.

The library has had the worst deal in Partition. All its assets were buildings in Lahore. Even after Partition, Dyal Singh Library, Lahore, is functioning, but now it is run by the Pakistan Government. All that the trustees, who all came to India, had brought was a small liquid deposit. With severe constraints, the trustees put up a building in the Rouse Avenue area, New Delhi (now Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg). There were no funds, no books, only efforts and more efforts. The building had to be let out to various other institutions, the meagre funds available had to be husbanded and the income carefully used to increase the assets. A reading room was opened at Connaught Place. It was open and free to the public. A reading room with a small collection was also opened in the main building. Gradually, an improvement took place. A writ in the High Court, which is still pending, led the Government of Delhi paying increased rent. Later the building was vacated and greater rent received. So after a 50-year struggle, the library has become functional. Now it has big plans. A multi-purpose library is proposed, with a media section, using all the latest techniques. Internet connections, film shows, lectures, demonstrations, CD-Roms, audio-video-visual media will be there. Great hopes and aspirations are there.

The Sardar founded these trusts with great care. His trustees were well-chosen, and they have tried to keep his inspiring philosophy alive. Even Partition has not killed the trusts. They are alive. Sardar Dyal Singh lives on. He still inspires.


The Tribune, Chandigarh

How The Tribune was launched

SEVERAL people have claimed the credit for giving Dyal Singh the idea of starting a newspaper in English from Lahore. The foremost among them was Surendranath Banerjea, who wrote that he persuaded Dyal Singh to start the paper. Rai Bahadur Mul Raj wrote that he and Jogendra Chandra Bose requested Dyal Singh to start a newspaper to carry on the crusade for education in Punjab on Western lines through the medium of English. This, he says, was in 1877 or 1878.

Bipin Chandra Pal, a member of the famous Lal-Bal-Pal trio, who was on the staff of Dyal Singh's paper for a few months, says that the Sardar started the paper at the suggestion of his Bengali friends in Lahore. One issue of The Tribune said that the idea was the Sardar's own. This could well be so.

During his sojourn abroad for two years, Dyal Singh had seen the importance of the role played by an independent Press. Within months of his return from Europe, he came into contact with Surendranath Banerjea and discussed his ideas in regard to starting an English language newspaper from Lahore. Soon he was involved in the controversy over the Vernacular Press Act.

The Indian Association's meeting in the Town Hall in Calcutta had nominated him to be a member of the steering committee set up to oversee the implementation of the Press Act. This was in 1878. Surendranath Banerjea was certainly the person who encouraged him. So also were his close Brahmo Bengali friends in Lahore, particularly P.C. Chatterjee, a senior member of the Lahore Bar, who later rose to be a Judge of the Chief Court; and Jogendra Chandra Bose, another member of the Lahore Bar.

The launching of a newspaper in Punjab was not an easy task at that time. Printing machinery had to be procured and the staff had to be recruited. Dyal Singh solicited the help of Surendranath Banerjea. The latter promised all help. Banerjea arranged the printing Press. He also recommended the name of Sitalakanta Chatterjee for appointment on the editorial staff. Being young, he was appointed Sub-Editor, because the newspaper must have some maturer person for the Editor's job. Thanks to Dyal Singh's Brahmo Bengali friends' help, he was able to get the services of Seetalchandra Mookerjee of Bhowanipore in Calcutta, who lived in Upper India and was editing his own paper, The Indian People, from Allahabad. He promised to edit the proposed Lahore paper from Allahabad itself.

Trained journalists being scarce in those days, Dyal Singh agreed to the arrangement. Seetalchandra Mookerjee sent the editorials and special articles from Allahabad, Sitalakanta Chatterjee looking after the work at Lahore. Dyal Singh himself made the other appointments. He recruited P.K.Chatterjee who had done some scissoring and pasting job at The Pioneer's sister publication in Lahore, The Civil and Military Gazette. For the job of the printer he fixed up with R. Williams, who had worked for The Indian Chronicle.

The first issue of The Tribune, which came out on February 2, 1881, took up the cause of modern education in Punjab through the medium of English. Week after week it carried as many as 25 articles in addition to editorials demolishing the arguments of the "orientalists", Dr Leitner and his supporters. The other members of the Panjab University College Senate asked how Dyal Singh could continue to be a member of the Senate when his paper was opposing the policies of Panjab University College, which supported Dr Leitner. Dyal Singh resigned his membership of the Senate, and The Tribune continued its crusade. As the President of the Lahore branch of the Indian Association, he involved the headquarters of the organisation in Calcutta to take up the issue with the Secretary of State for India in London. The crusade was crowned with success when the British government agreed in 1882 to the establishment of Panjab University on the lines of the universities in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The battle was won.

Dyal Singh's Bengali Brahmo friends played an important role in making The Tribune more than a mere provincial paper. Modelled on The Bengalee, it was a paper which claimed to represent the whole of Upper India. It took up not only all-India issues but also international issues, such as they were in the last century. The number of the copies of The Tribune sold outside Punjab was more than the number of the copies sold inside the province.

Significantly, the first issue championed the cause of The Statesman Defence Fund, being raised to fight for The Statesman's pro-India Editor, Robert Knight, who had been sued by a Hyderabad nobleman at the instance of diehard British bureaucrats in India, who had been upset at the exposure by The Statesman (through its London edition) of the working of British bureaucrats here. Dyal Singh himself was a member of The Statesman Defence Committee. The Tribune took up all the public causes, and its voice was taken note of. It is said that one Lieut-Governor of Punjab advised a delegation meeting him to ventilate their grievances through the columns of The Tribune. British civilians of Punjab felt so unhappy as to tell their compatriots that the province was being ruled by the Lieut-Governor and The Tribune, and the civil servants were nowhere.

The exposure of public wrongs once led to a famous defamation case, filed in 1890, by a Superintendent of Police against Dyal Singh and the Editor of The Tribune. One of the factors mentioned by the Superintendent of Police was that Dyal Singh was a nationalist and had allowed the compound of his baronial mansion in Amritsar to be used for a lecture by a Congress agitator named Allah Ram.



Spreading the light of learning
by Brig Yash Beotra (retd)

"PROPAGATION of sound liberal education and dissemination of knowledge to inculcate pure morality", was one of the cherished obsessions with Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a many splendoured personality. And to achieve this lifetime wish of his, he bequeathed assets worth over Rs 30 lakh way back in 1895, through a will, the last will and testament of his, to establish three premium institutions in Lahore (now in Pakistan):

(1) The Tribune, to spread knowledge through the print medium.

(2) Dyal Singh College, to disseminate knowledge through formal education.

(3) Dyal Singh Public Library, to spread knowledge through books.

The library was closer to his heart, as Sardar Majithia was himself a voracious reader, with a personal collection of more than 1000 volumes on various subjects. He dedicated his palatial building in the elite area of Lahore for establishing a premier public library.

This selfless action distinguishes him as a rare philanthropist of the country in the 19th century. It is a fact, though unfortunate, that in these days of greed and selfishness very few have the predilection to launch ventures for the benefit of humanity suffering for want of the bare necessities of life. Though numerous saints and sages have delivered sermons to humanity to renounce wealth for the good of mankind, little tangible has been achieved. Deepening greed has prevented people from undertaking munificent projects. In our own lifetime, Vinoba Bhave tried his utmost to inspire people to philanthropy but, alas, the exercise was short-lived. Seen in the light of all this, the movement of philanthropy spearheaded by the late Sardar should be a great source of inspiration and set an example for other Indians to follow. It may be worth mentioning here that bequeathing assets for the purpose of spreading knowledge was uncommon even in western countries then.

Sardar Majithia had the foresight to visualise that the charity of "Vidya Dhan", wealth of knowledge, was the highest deed one could do. He was of the firm view that instead of spending his wealth, which he had earned so assiduously, on building temples and dharamshalas, he should use it for the dissemination of knowledge and the spread of liberal education, the best use one can think of. This was the dire need of Punjab then, as it was plagued by superstition and useless customs.

But what made his mission a great success was his commendable foresight. He was able to find people having a high sense of commitment, dedication and, above all, unquestionable integrity for maintaining the three trusts as conceived by him. The trustees functioned in an exemplary manner, making the trusts premier institutions. The Partition of the country in 1947 forced their temporary closure in Lahore. But this did not dampen the spirits of the dedicated trustees, who managed to get the three institutions revived in India, the tireless efforts put in by the late Dewan Anand Kumar for re-establishing the college and the library trusts need special mention. Today, Dyal Singh Public Library is the only institution of its kind which is functioning as per the wishes of the late Sardar both in Pakistan (Lahore) and India (New Delhi).

Dyal Singh Trust Library, Lahore, was established in 1928, in pursuance of the will of Sardar Majithia. It enjoyed great popularity before Partition. In 1947, it suffered a considerable loss due to riots in Lahore, and a good number of its books and furniture were damaged. It remained closed for 12 years due to the migration of its non-Muslim trustees. It started functioning in 1964 when its control was taken over by the Evacuee Trust Property Board, Government of Pakistan, Lahore. Today, it is managed by the Education Department, Government of Punjab, Pakistan, through a board of trustees, under the chairmanship of the Commissioner, Lahore Division. The library has a collection of over 1,40,000 volumes, both in English and oriental languages. It has a research cell which has so far brought out 26 publications, both in Urdu and English, apart from publishing a quarterly journal, Minhaj.

After Partition, through the efforts of Dewan Anand Kumar, the first Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, and other trustees, the Dyal Singh Library Trust Society was established afresh in India, on August 2, 1948. The purpose of the society was to establish a library for the use of the general public subject to such rules and regulations as the trustees might frame, provided no charge would be levied for the perusal of books and newspapers and magazines in the library during its hours of business.

The library was set up in the institutional area of Bahadurshah Zafar Marg, New Delhi, not far from the ITO, the busiest crossing overlooking Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, by undertaking the construction of a sprawling building during 1954-55, on a 1.3 acre plot of land, leased out by the government for the purpose. Since it is located at a very central place, well connected by road and rail networks, users find it convenient to visit the library.

Though, initially, the library functioned at a low key due to the paucity of funds, since 1993 the Trust Society under the chairmanship of Mr B.K. Nehru launched itself on a massive programme with much improved financial health, achieved as a result of sound planning and assistance from government agencies as allowed under the rules. This action to enlarge the scope of its activities has enabled it to take a few steps on the path to becoming a premier library in Delhi in particular and the country in general.

The library has over 35,000 volumes, some of these being rare, mainly in English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. It subscribes to 91 magazines/journals, including 12 foreign journals and 23 daily newspapers. With the availability of such a large number of books, newspapers and magazines free of charge, the membership of the library has shown a steady growth over the past few years. Today it has over 4,600 members, including over 1500 lending members, a category which has deposited Rs 300 per head as a refundable security amount and which allows such a person to borrow at a time two books and two old magazines for study at his/her residence. Over 150 members visit the library daily.

The management has undertaken a number of plans to modernise the library. The process of its automation was launched some time back. Today, the English section is fully automated. This has enabled it to become a member of the Delhi Library Network, Delnet, which provides Dyal Singh Public Library the added advantage of resource sharing among the member-libraries in Delhi. In addition, through a well-planned and organised "Perspective Plan of Action", covering the visualised expansion of the library over the next 15-20 years, a state-of-art auditorium, seminar/committee rooms and a cafeteria are proposed to be provided soon. The Internet facility is also there for use by the members as well as the library staff who can now effectively carry out bibliographical search.


A pioneer in banking sector too
by Prakash Tandon

Soon after the new British regime settled down to governance, the Punjabi elite were looking for creating a modern educational, industrial, banking base to activate the Punjabi enterprise with the needed wherewithal to develop. The man who made a unique contribution to this process was a scion of an elite Jagirdar Punjab family, Dyal Singh Majithia, a new born liberal. He realised the importance of creating a wide base of institutions to develop the new Punjab.

Lehna Singh, his father, was quite remarkable in his time for his fondness of mechanics. He paid much attention to his battery of guns in which he brought about great improvements, and made some very efficient pieces of ordnance which were captured by the British in the Battle of Aliwal. He is also said to have invented a clock which showed the hour, the day of the month, and the changes in the month. He was an expert linguist and took keen interest in mathematics and astronomy. At the request of Ranjit Singh he reformed the calendar, for which he won a name among Hindu astronomers.

After Lehna Singh's death in 1854 at Benaras, his family moved back to their substantial jagir at Majitha. Competent tutors were appointed for Dyal Singh in a government Court of Wards before he went to a Mission School, and was placed under an English governess. In his early years he displayed considerable charm, intelligence and eagerness for knowledge. He was tall, graceful in figure, with sharp well-cut features, and fond of both sports and learning. Dyal Singh was installed with proper ceremonies as the head of the Shergil clan, which through the next century produced ministers, administrators and an early remarkable modern painter, Amrita Shergil, born of a Hungarian mother.

Dyal Singh made, what was at that time, a startling decision, to go abroad to complete his education and to learn about the West, especially Britain, their mode of living and their institutions which fascinated him. The conservatives in the community regarded it an unholy act that the son of the great Lehna Singh should cross the seas and eat, live and drink with the Kiranis (Christians) in their distant land. Like Maharaja Dalip Singh, the first Sikh to go abroad, he would surely embrace Christianity, they feared. He spent two years in England, visiting Europe, where he experienced the new wave of nationalism and forces of thought of the period following the Franco-Prussian War. His lineage, name and noble figure made him popular in the Victorian society among persons of both ranks and scholarship.

Upon his return from England, he decided to move from Majitha to Lahore, where he could take active interest in the new movements that were sweeping the city. He combined the life of a Sikh nobleman with patronage of sports, mushairas and music, sumptuous hospitality, and new ideas. He came under the influence of the Brahmo Samaj, a movement founded in Bengal in 1828 by Raja Rammohun Roy.

In 1877, when Swami Dayanand visited Punjab, he met the Sardar and they discussed the question of the infallibility of the Vedas, but Dyal Singh was not convinced. He had already studied the Bhagavad-Gita with a Ferozepur pundit and the Bible, evincing great interest in the crucifixion of Christ.

In the early 1880s, the Indian Association was organised at Lahore and as its first President, he began to guide and influence the new youth movement. He also took active interest in the new Indian National Congress and was made Chairman of the Reception Committee on the occasion of the first Congress session at Lahore in 1893. He believed and stated that political rights must be deserved by his countrymen by liberalising their social customs, shedding their shackles, and spreading liberal education.

His greatest contribution perhaps was in the area of institution building. The rugged individualism of the Punjabis made them averse to forming and working together in voluntary associations. Dyal Singh, on the other hand, was an admirer of British institutions and their parliamentary system, though he did not like the bureaucracy and never cultivated its executive officers. He saw the need to build institutions in Punjab and in less than two decades founded a number of them; the Dyal Singh High School, College and Library. He helped all institutions with which he was associated with wisdom and guidance.

In his inaugural address as the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the Indian National Congress in Lahore in 1893, he made a moving appeal to Indians and the British alike, perhaps the first of its kind at a time when their relationship was already beginning to show strain. He said: "What the Congress contends is not that the country should be transferred from English to Indian hands; no, not change of hands, for it would be entirely suicidal, but that the people should be governed on the broad principles which have been held by the eminent British statesmen and administrators themselves to be the most conducive to the interests of both rulers and the subjects".

Punjab National Bank emerged in the late nineteenth century, inheriting the traditions of ancient trade and banking and influenced by the impact of modern British banks, depicting the resurgence of the new Punjab. One of the ideals of the new elite was to start their own modern bank, professionally run with Indian capital and management, wide public participation and no personal control or ownership. Lajpat Rai, the great political leader, wrote: "Rai Mul Raj of Arya Samaj specially had long cherished the idea that Indians should have a National Bank of their own." He was keenly concerned with the fact that though Indian capital was being used to run English banks and companies, the profits went entirely to the British, while Indians had to contend themselves with a small interest on their capital.

Mul Raj described the idea of Punjab National Bank, as it took shape in his mind (Beginning of Punjabi Nationalism: autobiography of R.B. Mul Raj thus: "In the year 1891, when I was the Judge of the small Causes Court at Amritsar, I was living in a house in Mohalla Khatikan. I had set apart one room as my study for reading books on Dharma-Shastras. There I conceived the idea of organizing a National Bank in the Punjab. It struck me that it was necessary to have a national bank for the development of industries in the country, and that we should have the custody and final say in the investment of our money.

To keep this idea foremost in my mind, I wrote 'National Bank' on a piece of paper and fixed it on the wall. I used to talk on the subject daily with my friends and acquaintances. It was not easy to convince my friends that it was practicable to have a bank managed and controlled by Punjabis. Gradually I succeeded in making some of them take interest in the subject. One of these gentlemen was Lala Bulaki Ram Shastri, Bar-at-Law, who was practising at Amritsar those days. He designed the cheque which is still being used by Punjab National Bank Ltd. The five wavy lines represent the five rivers of the Punjab, the three peaks of mountains represent Tirathkoti, while Devi Shir represent Lakshmi - the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, and the monogram PNB for Punjab National Bank Ltd. Many other friends came round to my views. I met Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, who agreed to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank."

On May 23, 1894, the founders, Mr E C Jessawala, Babu Kali Prasono Roy, Bakshi Jaishi Ram, Lala Harkishan Lal, Lala Bulaki Ram and Lala Lal Chand, met at the Lahore residence of Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia and resolved to go ahead with the scheme. The new Bank had then the most remarkable feature of being held by public shareholders and run by professional board of directors, consisting of a banker, three lawyers, a barrister and a businessman, chaired by Dyal Singh. They met on alternate Sundays. It had a staff of eight : an accountant, a treasurer, a clerk, a daftari, two chaprasis and two chowkidars on a total monthly wage bill of Rs.170.

It was open to the public from 10.00 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. The Bank's success was immediate and in two years its paid up capital rose from Rs.41,500 to Rs.1,09,495; deposits from Rs.1,65,337 to Rs.7,27,447; net profit from Rs.1,555 to Rs.15,536 and dividend from 4% to 5%.

Thus was born the first Indian public bank, which today is over a century old and the largest Indian bank in its operations within India.

Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia left us a hundred years ago, during which his bank's contribution to Punjab has been remarkable to its farmers: small, medium and large industrialists; the middle class savers and investors. The question today is how we take the past into the future, the next century and soon the next millennium.


His role in the birth of Panjab University

SARDAR Dyal Singh Majithia was largely responsible for the setting up of Panjab University, Lahore, in 1882. Punjab was annexed in 1849. The Education Department was set up in 1854. Students travelled to Calcutta for examinations. Panjab University College, as it was called, was affiliated to Calcutta University, but it gave only diplomas, not degrees.

Punjab was among the last to be annexed to the British empire. It was to be the gateway to the Central Asian region which the British wished to advance to. For the administration of Punjab, the British had brought along with them civilians, lawyers and teachers from Bengal. And Bengal had seen the advance of education, enlightenment and national awakening. British officials did not want Punjab to be affected. And one way to ensure this was to impart education not through the medium of English but through Indian classical languages. In effect, it meant the imposition of a pattern different from that of the Calcutta, Bombay and Madras Universities. Dr W.G. Lietner, a Central European Jew, who had mastered Arabic and Islamic theology, was sent out to India to take charge of educational advancement in Punjab. An important person already there was Col W.R.M. Holroyd, Director of Instruction, who had made Lahore take the place of Lucknow and Delhi as the principal centre of Urdu learning. That is why he had invited Hali and Muhammed Hussain Azad to emigrate to Lahore.

Leitner and Holroyd and their British friends were strongly opposed to the adoption of English as the medium of instruction. Their move was opposed by the younger generation which wanted education to be given on the lines of that in London, Madras, Calcutta and Bombay. The debate was on when Dyal Singh returned from a two-year sojourn to the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe. His closest friends in Punjab were not the Sikh nobility but Bengalee Brahmos. Dyal Singh, who played host to all the Brahmo leaders visiting Punjab, enlisted their help and support in starting The Tribune, which was to espouse the cause of education on Western lines. The Tribune launched a campaign for the setting up of Panjab University modelled on the universities at Calcutta, Bombay, Madras or London, the medium of instruction being English. Editorially, week after week it rebutted the arguments of the orientalists. Some 20 articles appeared.

Now Dyal Singh was a nominated member of the Senate of Panjab University College as it was then called. The Senate consisted of the Sikh aristocracy, most of them without much education. The other members of the Senate, under the influence of the orientalists, drew the attention to the fact that one of the members was opposing their policy. Dyal Singh resigned his membership of the Senate, and continued with the campaign. His stand was supported by the Indian Association, whose Lahore branch he headed. While the Indian Association's President and Secretary and others sent petitions to the Secretary of State for India in London, Dyal Singh and his friends continued the pressure on the Lieut-Governor and the Viceroy.

It was a hard battle. Ultimately, however, Dyal Singh's side won, and the British decided in 1882 that the medium of instruction and the pattern of teaching at Panjab University will be the same as that in the three presidencies in Eastern, Western and Southern India. As Jogendra Bose, an important member of the Lahore Bar Association, wrote later, "Dr Leitner backed by immense influence tried his best to orientalise education in the Punjab, but Sardar Dyal Singh proved instrumental in saving the situation. A battle was won."
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:33 am

Part 1 of 3

The Tribune (Chandigarh)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/10/20



To eke out a living, both Freda and Bedi wrote school and college textbooks. Freda recalled that she wrote one about the art of precis writing. Bedi took on some more ambitious commissions, the most successful being his biography of the Sikh civil engineer, architect and philanthropist, Sir Ganga Ram. This remains the work for which he is best known in Punjab.17 There was another new publishing project, a new political paper, which engaged much of Bedi's energies and Freda's too -- and which added to their reputation in Lahore. Contemporary India had been highbrow; his new title Monday Morning was determinedly popular. As the name suggests, it was a weekly. They had spotted a gap in the market. The Lahore daily papers did not at that time work on Sundays and so did not publish a Monday edition. So a weekly hitting the newsstands first thing on Monday didn't have much in the way of direct competition.

No copies of Monday Morning have been located so it's difficult to judge its style and political agenda but for a while, at least, it sold well. 'Some English friends at the time called it laughingly a rag -- I suppose it was a bit of a rag,' Freda said, 'but it was a very outspoken, interesting weekly paper which came out on Monday morning and successfully deprived us of every bit of rest that we might have had on Saturday and Sunday as a result .... I learned a tremendous amount ... about how to bring out papers and press schedules and proof reading and a number of other things and we got a lot of fun out of it. And this helped the family finances somewhat because advertisements began to come in.'18

Monday Morning became a serious irritant to the authorities. 'This magazine had a very profound effect, because it was very militant,' Bedi recalled, 'totally anti-fascist in character, because anti-fascism was the wave of the times, and naturally it had to be anti-British, and it became one of the big exposure magazines. Any exposure which nobody would publish, we would publish.' Bedi claimed, with perhaps a measure of exaggeration, that the weekly achieved a circulation of 40,000 after six months, and so alarmed Lahore's main nationalist daily, the Tribune, that the paper tried to coerce newsagents into not selling their weekly rival. Bedi's main collaborator on the paper was Jag Parvesh Chandra, later a prominent Congress politician in Delhi. He recalled gathering with others at the Bedis' huts to work out how to start the paper, and the excitement of its early impact:

'the paper became a mouthpiece of the nationalist movement and was a success from the start.'19 Another of the Monday Morning team was the actor Balraj Sahni, then in his mid-twenties and something of a political innocent. Bedi insisted that he warned Sahni against getting involved in the messy world of political journalism. 'I said, "My Dear Balraj, look here. This is politics. If it were a literary magazine, I would say gladly come. Running a political weekly without any funds is a dog's job and we are dogs, we are out to be whipped by our own choice. You are an artist."'20 Balraj duly bailed out after three months. His younger brother, the novelist Bhisham Sahni, gave a somewhat jaundiced account of the hand-to-mouth launch of the paper:

the editors had neither the resources nor the know-how of a weekly journal. Their enthusiasm and youthful energy were their only assets. It was planned that the paper would cover, besides news, cultural events and contain stories and poems, as also articles projecting socialist thought and ideology.

We waited eagerly for the first issue of the paper, but when at last it came, my heart sank. It was a two-sheet paper, full of printing mistakes .... The second issue, a week later, was even worse, so far as printing mistakes were concerned and we feared that such a paper was not destined to last long. ... Meanwhile we received a letter from a relative living in Lahore, saying that he had met Balraj inside a printing press, where he sat on the floor, unshaven, in high fever, correcting proofs and that Balraj looked tired and exhausted.21

The family was greatly relieved when they learned that Balraj had walked out on Monday Morning. 'The experience had left him sad, but a good deal wiser.'

As the international situation became more tense, and the prospect of war loomed, the left in Punjab organised against military recruitment. This deeply alarmed the Imperial authorities who were in any event finding the enlistment of new soldiers more difficult, in part because of the growth of nationalist sentiment. Recruits from Punjab constituted fully half of the soldiers in the British Indian army.22 They had proved their worth in France and Flanders in the First World War and were again to be conspicuous on battlefields far from India in the Second World War. In September 1938, Bedi's involvement in anti-recruitment activity prompted his most serious clash with the authorities -- as Freda explained in a letter to her old friend Olive Chandler:

Bedi got arrested on a political charge ... Some hirelings of the Punjab Government broke up an Anti-Recruitment meeting at which Bedi was presiding (also breaking his head from behind, quite a nasty cut!). Later they had the audacity to arrest him, along with twenty-seven others, for rioting!! Just a ruse to prevent Anti-Recruitment propaganda, at a time when it was quite legal ... To cut a long story short, Bedi + the others were finally allowed bail + the case has been dribbling on (without coming to any conclusions) for the last nine months. It is what is known as a 'harassment case', trying to put everyone to the maximum amount of trouble. When it will end, + with what result we don't know -- they have only a very rocky concocted case again[st] them all, but the Government has got away with worse.23

The saga ended eighteen months later, when Bedi was convicted by a magistrate in Lahore of 'delivering an alleged anti-war speech in a public meeting outside the Railway Station' and was sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment -- though by then he was already behind bars.24

By the time Freda wrote that letter to her old Oxford friend in the summer of 1939, Monday Morning had folded: 'after terrific hard work, sometimes from eight in the morning to eight in the evening, with scarcely a day's break, it has had to stop. Journalism in India is a tragic struggle against advertisers + newsagents who sit on bills + never pay up + it's practically impossible to carry on without strong financial backing which, as all over the world, a "left" newspaper can rarely get!'25 It had survived for about eighteen months.


Freda Bedi's wartime incarceration in Lahore Female Jail is the act of valour which forged her reputation as a nationalist icon. Thousands of Indian nationalists and leftists were detained for opposing India's participation in the Second Wodd War. Vanishingly few of these were English and white skinned and so identified in the public mind with the coloniser rather than the colonised. Freda was, of course, both undeniably English and unequivocally on India's side. She was jailed as a deliberate act of protest and renunciation -- offering herself up for arrest under an initiative launched and overseen by Mahatma Gandhi, who personally approved all those who were to be his satyagrahis, or disciples of truth. She was the first, and perhaps the only, European woman to be part of this phase of Gandhi's nonviolent protest against the Imperial power. For her, as for so many others, jail strengthened political resolve and extended the network of nationalist sympathisers. It also provided a window on the lives and tribulations of those so often beyond the view of middle-class India -- the women who shared the prison grounds with her not out of political commitment but because of the desperate acts they had been pushed to by a profoundly unequal and patriarchal society. That, as much as the informal political meetings and study classes, was a part of Freda's education in jail.

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.1

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.'''2 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'.3

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 Victorianera 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.'4

Freda can hardly have been surprised by her husband's arrest, but she was certainly angered by it. 'On December 4th, 1940, the lights in the huts went out,' she recalled:

Bedi was taken away for indefinite detention for being a Socialist, for hating Fascism, for hating the Imperialist exploitation of India. There was no oil in the lamps when the police came, and we groped around in the dark getting a few clothes together. Pug drooped his tail dejectedly when he said goodbye.5

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.'6 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.'7

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.'8 It was also an impetuous move. She had a six-year-old son whose father had just been detained indefinitely, and rather than be around to offer support and reassurance, she decided that the political imperative was what mattered most. She admitted being torn about what to do. 'It was a terrible blow to lose B.P.L. and his cheery daily support in life's problems. And his mother, my son, the adopted boy Binder and myself were left alone in the huts. I didn't want to make things worse on the domestic side but on the other hand I felt that I should back up the nationalist movement in whatever humble way I could, even if it meant suffering some months in prison. I felt I could trust my mother-in-law to look after the boy and my brother-in- law to see that the family did not lack support at that time.'9 So the family arranged to move from the huts to Bedi's home village where they would be able to live comfortably with many members of the extended family there to help. 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.'10

'So I packed up my little household, put that furniture with this friend, that with another, here my crockery and there my few loved possessions,' Freda wrote. 'I left Lahore station, in a welter of photographs and flower garlands. The women in the women's compartment were inquisitive ... "It is degrading that Indians should be treated like this," I said. "Somebody had to do something: we can't just all sit down and keep quiet about it." "But what does your husband say about it?" one matron asked. "He is in jail himself," I replied. "Ah ... " her eyes were turned in pity towards me, "now I understand." It was the wife following her husband. That was as it should be.'11 Freda was following in her husband's footsteps not out of blind loyalty; rather in a marriage which was based on intellectual and political camaraderie, she saw it as the natural course of action. Bedi of course did not offer himself for arrest; he was detained as an anti -war activist. It's not at all clear whether they had discussed what the family should do in his absence, but Freda never suggested that he had endorsed her intention to become a satyagrahi.

In writing about the eve of her arrest, Freda lapsed into a reflective mode which points to the complexity of her political commitment and the awareness that she was about to make an act that would come to define her. In the Bedi household in Dera Baba Nanak, she slept alongside Bhabooji, Ranga and Binder in a room lit by a spluttering oil lamp -- but she felt lonely and vulnerable:

Little bodies and one big round body were lumped under the fluffy cotton-stuffed quilts. There was somebody still banging pots and pans in the kitchen. I could hear Pug and Snug barking somewhere in the garden. Suddenly, I felt alone, agonisingly alone. I could have wept for my sheer aloneness. I wanted to talk to Bedi, to have his cheery voice near me. What I wanted to say I could not say in my limited Punjabi. I doubt if I could have said it in English, or even mentally told myself what I felt. I suppose in all crises of our life we get that feeling of isolation as though we are treading a path into the future and are treading it, for all the love that surrounds us, quite alone. When we first leave home, when we marry. When we have a choice to make at some cross-roads of our life and endeavour .... And on the borders of that aloneness, of that feeling of smallness in the face of the immensity of the unknown, there comes another feeling, which is interwoven with it and part of it and yet not part of it, of being given the strength to carry on, of not being alone any more. Of being a part of something greater than the mere individual human body.12

This was written within a couple of years of Freda's imprisonment and a decade before she became interested in Buddhism, but there is a pronounced spiritual aspect to her account. Freda became comfortable with the feeling of isolation she describes -- it was another border she chose to cross -- and instinct, or faith, guided her at what she calls the crossroads of her life, which gave her a sense of comfort that she was on the right track.

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.13 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.'"

The little procession started towards the Police Station winding its way back through narrow brick-paved gulleys of the village. The shopkeepers came to the door of their shops, with their hands folded in greeting. The women crowded on the flat roofs to see us go, and sighed in the doorways. A few young men and boys began to attach themselves to the little group and shouted wildly 'Freedom for India. Long live Gandhiji. Long live Jawaharlal Nehru. Long live Comrade Bedi. Release the detenues.' We reached the elegant grey Amritsar car parked under the peepul tree near the only pucca road. Garlands were thrown over the radiator of the car, through the windows. They were removed immediately: 'garlands not allowed'.14

At the village police station, Freda was questioned by the police officer she had nicknamed Old Bill, who she later discovered had 'Irish blood and a kind heart' -- though the interrogation was limited to questions along the lines of 'What colour would you call your hair?' Under the wartime regulations, trials under the Defence of India Act could be held straightaway and without any legal formality or indeed representation. Freda was taken from the police station to the dak bungalow, the guest house where visiting officials stayed, and that's where her trial took place that same morning:

It was finished in fifteen minutes. The man on the other side of the table was quite young still, and looked as though he had been to Oxford. His face was red.

'I find this as unpleasant as you do,' he murmured.

'Don't worry. I don't find it unpleasant at all.'

'Do you want the privileges granted to an Englishwoman?'

'Treat me as an Indian woman and I shall be quite content.'

... The room was deserted but there was a noise, and two Congressmen walked in. They had been allowed at the last minute to attend the 'public trial'. They carried a round shining brass tray filled with flowers and sweetmeats.

Wait until you have heard my judgment, perhaps you will not want to give them then.'

Six months Rigorous Imprisonment.

'She cannot have the garlands. Give her one or two of the sweets.'15

Freda had expected the jail sentence, but not the specification of rigorous imprisonment. 'Hard labour was the point,' she said many years later, 'and none of the Indians arrested got hard labour in the Punjab except myself None of the women at least. Whether it was the ignorance of the young civil servant, Englishman, who gave the sentence, very regretfully and with many apologies .... Or whether it was that they wanted to make an example of me because I was the first, maybe, western woman to offer satyagraha at that time.' Once the sentence was pronounced, Freda was put back in the car which was mobbed by well-wishers, many of them members of the Bedi clan, as it set off to Lahore jail.

News of Freda Bedi's arrest and sentence once again made the front page of the Tribune, complete with a posed portrait photograph. The following day's paper offered a fuller account of her arrest and sentence- - which emphasised the level of local interest in and support for her action, reporting that she was 'profusely garlanded by the public' after sentence was passed in a trial in which she had refused to participate. The Reuters news agency eventually picked up the story -- and a few weeks after the event, the jailing of 'the first Englishwoman to join Mr Gandhi's passive resistance movement' made front page news back in Freda's home city [Derby Telegraph] with the headline: 'Derby Wife of Indian Sentenced'.16 Freda of course regarded herself as Indian but her act of protest gained attention and achieved impact precisely because she was not Indian. It's a paradox which didn't greatly perturb her. She seems to have managed to negotiate these conflicts of identity without a lot of soul-searching. However much she might seek to forsake the special status accorded in colonial India to those with white skins, it was an indelible aspect of her life there. Inspector Price, the moustachioed Irishman, had been sent from Amritsar to Dera Baba Nanak to be present at Freda's arrest because it felt inappropriate for a white woman to be detained simply by Indian policemen. It was another example of the awkwardness of the British authorities in India in the face of a British woman who had sided with India. They had dealt with British men who had allied with and supported Indian leftist and nationalist movements -- indeed there were three British communists among the defendants in the long-running Meerut conspiracy case which was widely discussed in both India and Britain in the early 1930s and for which Oxford's October Club had collected money -- but a white woman directly challenging Imperial rule was a much rarer phenomenon.

Freda wrote luminously about her time behind the mud walls of Lahore's female jail (after her release, she and a fellow prisoner persuaded the authorities to rename it, with greater verbal precision, as Lahore women's jail). Within days of her release, she began a short series 'From a Jail Diary' in the Tribune, concerned particularly with the 'criminal' prisoners -- she was a 'political' -- she met there. This developed into a much more ambitious account of her time behind bars -- a day-by-day jail diary which is the spine of her book Behind the Mud Walls, and is the most resonant and affecting of her writings. She weaves into her account of imprisonment the personal, the political, the observational, with reflections of the temper of Indian nationalism and more so about the inequity, the gender injustice, which consigned so many of the non-political inmates to long terms of confinement. It is one of the most remarkable and readable accounts of Indian nationalist endeavour at this time. The jail diary is a well-established literary form and as the struggle against colonialism led to the detention of intellectuals who would otherwise be unlikely to land in jail, there are many nationalist narratives of imprisonment. Few are quite as compelling, as simple and unadorned, as the account Freda Bedi published as 'Convict No. 3613'.17

'The mud road to the "Female Jail" was long and dusty,' Freda wrote. 'The gates looked like the Lion House at the Zoo.'

The gates opened. We went in. They shut. It was cool like a cellar in the entrance room. Beyond was a second door: a sheet of solid iron like a safe. To the right the Deputy Superintendent's room. I was motioned towards the door. It was bare and depressing. A cold stare came from the aging woman in a drab frock on the other side of the table.

'What is her crime?'

'Political ... Six Months Rigorous Imprisonment,' said 'Old Bill'. After a few minutes, he turned and left.

The world beyond the barred gate seemed a long way away.

'Give over all your jewellery and money,' said the Deputy Superintendent.

'I haven't got any jewellery.'

She pointed to my left hand.

'That is my wedding ring.'

'It is also counted as jewellery,' she replied.

I looked at my wedding ring. It had never left my hand since that day in Oxford when Bedi put it on. Reluctantly, I used my last weapon.

'I am an A Class prisoner. Are you within your rights in taking it away?'

... There was a shuffling sound, a sort of subdued commotion, on the other side of the inner iron door. I could see an eye glittering through the peep-hole. Shouts of 'Gandhiji ki Jai' [Long live Gandhi] and lots of 'Zindabads'. It seems the 'politicals' had found out that I had arrived.18

The small group of political prisoners in the women's jail banded together: on Freda's first evening 'behind the mud walls', they spun together, 'our common badge and discipline as satyagrahis'. On one occasion they staged a twenty-hour spinning relay -- Freda declared herself 'not very thrilled at the idea, but doing something has got its moral exhilarations ... I took my turn at 4.30 a.m.' There was also collective reading of Hindu scriptures and talks, meetings and education sessions. The camaraderie among these women activists was intense and nourishing. They were responsible for their own cooking, and the jail regime was sufficiently relaxed to allow them to meet fairly freely, staging informal political gatherings and on one occasion having a picnic and dance in the prison grounds.

Freda practised yoga in the mornings. 'I am doing them with no "spiritual" intent, only to keep healthy in the roasting months ahead of me. Find they are simple, rhythmical, and invigorating.' She read alone from Hindu religious writings and from novels by Aldous Huxley and John Steinbeck -- 'feel the lack of political books,' she noted, 'we forget how dependent we are on them.' She described herself on entering the jail as a professor of English and college connections sometimes resurfaced in surprising ways. 'The new Deputy Superintendent came to-day,' Freda wrote in her diary. 'It seems she was one of my old B.A. pupils. She is touched that 1 am here. 1 feel amused.'

Alongside the fairly unexacting routine, for the political prisoners at least, was the hardship of the raging summer heat which turned the very basic sanitary facilities into a 'horrible' ordeal. 'I was trying to decide the other day what annoyed me most, physically, here, and I decided it was the dilemma of sitting in the latrine with (1) either my face in a dirty sacking curtain; or (2) throwing up the curtain and being frightened of somebody arriving quietly and catching me. The latrines are uncovered to sun and rain and we are exposed to the elements .... One can get used to anything, and one has to shut one's eyes and ears and brain to it, but if I give way to what I really felt, I could be sick every time I go near the place.'19

Freda made two strong political friendships -- with the peasant leader Bibi Raghbir Kaur, described by Freda as 'my political mother-in-law', and with the renowned Arona Asaf Ali, who was about Freda's age and had form as a political prisoner (after her release from Lahore jail she famously went underground as a pro-independence activist). Aruna was from Delhi, and housed in a different block, but they arranged to meet regularly. 'Aruna came for tea,' Freda wrote in her account of jail life a month into her imprisonment. 'She is a comfort, and I am happy with her. With her I can exchange thoughts -- she's the only one who can give me that satisfaction. Although I manage in Hindustani, I know so few words that it is a continual frustration to try and express myself. Besides which, quite apart from speaking to her, or any question of language, I am fond of her.' As a team they worked well, all were leftists as well as admirers of Gandhi, and they managed to hold a May Day meeting inside the prison:

A few words from me on its significance. Attari Devi sang 'Inquilab Zindabad'; Raghbir Kaur spoke in Punjabi on the peasant and the worker; Aruna a little on Lenin and the significance of the Russian revolution. A funny rambling affair, but we did manage to celebrate it. Had a gnawing feeling inside me because of newspaper reports on Deoli, couldn't eat properly, felt like vomiting. The temperature has gone to 116. Mentally, it doesn't worry me.20

Concern about the plight of her husband was a constant preoccupation -- she was anxious about reports of a hunger strike at the much more spartan and remote Deoli camp and worried when she didn't hear from him for weeks on end. 'In his confinement, he must be thinking of me, and indeed I have felt him almost physically with me these last stirring days,' she wrote on the second day of her detention. The occasional telegram from Bedi gave her a big boost. One came on Ranga's seventh birthday -- 'Congrats for Bunny Heart'. 'Such a silly telegram and so nice to get it.' Freda missed her son too and was delighted when permission was given for him to spend a few days with her, sharing her bed. Ranga too -- who still has notes he sent as a child to his parents in their separate jails, one in Punjabi and the other in English -- was thrilled to spend time with his mother. But he wasn't allowed to accompany her during the day as she worked, and some children of the non-political detainees jeered and mocked him, so it was a short stay.

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Part 2 of 3

Freda shared a cell with 'two very lovely women of the old type', as she described them -- both were brahmins and vegetarians as well as political campaigners. She gave them English lessons, and in return was helped in her Hindi. 'Both Lakshmi and Savitri remain for me an example of beautiful Indian womanhood: self-sacrificing, simple, cheerful. Naturally pure. And it was a great privilege to spend three months sharing a room with them. I shall never forget it. They both excelled in simple Indian cookery, making maize cakes and vegetables, and insisted on doing this little service for me. And I found time in the early mornings to meditate, at dawn under the trees in the jail compound, before my labour started -- which took the form of gardening.'

She was fortunate that her hard labour consisted of running the prison gardens -- a much more congenial option than the laundry or picking ropes or other punishment labour. 'It's still delirious with young leaves and the scent of orange blossom, the cooing of doves, the screech of parrots, an early owl hooting,' she wrote in mid-March. In a replication inside jail of the class hierarchy outside, she was put in charge of a group of ,criminal' prisoners in tending to the flowers and vegetables in the small prison grounds. Freda liked the work, which brought to mind the huts in Model Town, and she relished the opportunity to get to know the other inmates and something of the circumstances that led to their jailing. Repeatedly in her jail diary, she relates life stories which were stacked against the women. 'Find our fellow prisoners in the "criminal" barracks most interesting. Seems a good many of the better-looking are young wives in jail for killing old husbands. Consensus of opinion seems to be that jail is preferable to an old husband.'

Among these prisoners, one in particular stood out -- by her appearance, and the curious and exceptional story that surrounded her:

Met one beautiful woman -- yes, really beautiful, of a beauty that pulled strings inside you. Lallo is a Pathani, from the wild frontier, cream of skin and undarkened by the sun of the plains.

She wore the brilliant yellow basanti [spring-like] clothes of those who have been in jail a very long time, and her veil was thrown twice over her head, as if to suggest purdah, and some sweet modesty. Her long-lashed eyes had the mystery of beauty in them, and every movement of her slim erect body had a grace that cried to the prison walls. 'She has been thirteen years in prison, since her early teens, when she killed an old husband' I was told.

There were even more unusual stories about the Pathani. The young lover who had put the poison into her mind and her hands had not been convicted: to shield him, she had named another, and that man, innocent as he was, had suffered with her fourteen years of exile and disgrace. But in the court-room he had fallen in love with the girl who had wronged him, and taken his life in her hands. He had applied for interviews with her every year, and told her that he was suffering for her, and she must reward him at the end of his long penance by becoming his wife. And his devotion was not in vain, because she too fell in love with him.

In another six months, he will leave the prison and its routine. Six months after that, she too will leave the mud walls, and put her life in his hands, as once he put his in hers.21

There is an innocence about the story and the manner in which it is told that reflects an aspect of Freda's personality: accepting, trusting, caring. It's difficult to imagine that the young prisoner's tale is quite as Shakespearean as is related here, but Freda clearly wants this story to be true, and wants the woman to find redemption.

On other occasions she was simply angry at the blatant gender injustice. 'Saw an Arab girl in the garden,' she wrote. 'Sixteen, married to a 78 year-old husband who had sent her and other "wives" on the streets to beg and for prostitution. He bit off the top of her ear when she ran away with another man, who has since joined the army. Now he has framed this abduction case against her. I really wonder if European jails would be big enough if every woman who ran away with a man was prosecuted and jailed for a few years.... A stranger in a foreign land. Nothing to go back to; nothing to look forward to. We told her to demand divorce through her lawyers. Anything better anyhow than that old satyr.' This spell in jail, and the insight it gave her into the lives and difficulties of the most marginalised women in Indian society, pushed her towards a feminist emphasis on the need to tackle the built-in power bias towards men and to encourage women to challenge male authority and take control of their own destiny. 'The dread of having daughters is so real, the financial burden of marrying them so great. The social system is Sinner No.1.' As so often for nationalist and left-wing detainees, jail proved to be part of her political education: 'reactionary' Indian Civil Service rule, she wrote, 'is worse than the most reactionary popular government.'22 She also, perhaps for the first time, got to know well women from underprivileged backgrounds, and was moved by their plight and on occasion sought to advocate on their behalf. Her time in jail set her on course to the social work she took up in Kashmir and, more determinedly, in Delhi.

In mid-May 1941, word began to circulate in the jail that some of the women were to be released, because of a ruling that an intention to challenge the wartime regulations was not a sufficient basis for conviction. If activists had not publicly challenged India's involvement in the war, then they had not broken the law. The rumours turned out to be true. In her entry for 24 May 1941, Freda wrote:

My last day in jail. Got up and went into the garden very early; did my exercises. Packed, with some difficulty, my little household. All went and had a breakfast of pooris and vegetables and halwa with the Delhi people in Aruna's tiny courtyard opposite the cell. We sat on mats on a white sheet with the thalis [plates] in front of us. The Superintendent arrived half way and sat talking to us. There was an atmosphere of regret: we were parting, after so long together, in an intimacy that only jail life gives. Who knows which of us will meet again, have the same talks.23

After a little over three months in detention, Freda emerged from behind the mud walls. A large number of male political detainees were being released in Lahore on the same day, and for the same reason: in all, fifty-three satyagrahis emerged from Lahore jails, thirteen of them women.24 The local Congress party wanted Freda and other women set free to go to the men's borstal and journey with them to a big rally at the Bradlaugh Hall. She didn't feel like a big fuss, so she made her excuses, phoned and sent telegrams to give word of her release, and then went to Fateh Chand College: 'the girls crowded round me like bees: we were so happy to see each other again.'

A few days later, Freda travelled to Dera Baba Nanak, where Bhabooji had been presiding over the family. The local Congress committee, led by one of her husband's relatives, organised a grand procession which welcomed Freda at the railway station and paraded her across the village.25 'A terrific fuss, including a brass band and innumerable garlands to welcome me,' Freda recorded.

They did it out of love, but I felt embarrassed, with so much motia Uasmine] round my neck, walking through the almost unbreathable dust in a procession back to the village. All the village seemed to be there, making a deafening noise. They carried Ranga shoulder high and took us first to the Darbar Sahib [Sikh temple] to offer a rupee and get the sugar in return. We went on to uncle Ram Das's house and still the crush continued, the women and children flooding the rooms and refusing to go, although I folded my hands in entreaty, longing to be left alone. They called it darshan but after an hour or two it [felt] like being in a zoo.26

During the procession, Freda addressed the crowd: she urged them to wear homespun cloth, join the Congress and appealed to Hindus and Muslims to join together to achieve India's freedom. Immediately on her release, Freda rang Mian Iftikharuddin, a friend, fellow leftist and president of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee. She was seeking political instructions. She told him that she was 'ready to do whatever the Congress wanted me to do. He said I should first go and interview Bedi, and see him on my return.' So Freda planned a journey to visit her husband at the Deoli camp, and decided to take seven-year-old Ranga with her.

Ranga's recollection is that Freda had to fight for permission to make a family visit to Deoli, and that they made the trip 'in the blistering heat of June' by third-class train, buses and then a lengthy walk.

The camp was run and administered by the army, not the police, and they had no information regarding our visit or the permissions granted. There was perceptible discomfort among the British junior officers in the guardroom, caused by Ooggee being British. They were certainly overawed by her being in a khadi [homespun] salwar kameez and the fact that she was the wife of a dangerous political criminal. They were polite, made us comfortable under a fan, and got some tea and nice biscuits. A short while later, we were escorted to the office of the commandant, a strapping British colonial. The commandant's discomfiture was greater than that of his juniors, he could not permit the visit without confirmation from the local headquarters.

Freda's skin colour worked to her advantage. She and Ranga were put up in a room set aside for senior officers on inspection visits; she declined an invitation to dine in the officers' mess. The visit to Bedi the following day didn't happen -- Ranga's memory is that his father and other political detainees were on hunger strike, and an attempt to force feed Bedi ended with him grabbing the medical officer and dislocating his shoulder. '"Didn't you know he holds the all-India hammer throw record and was a wrestler in his college days?'" Ranga recalls his mother telling the camp commandant when she was informed why the visit wouldn't be possible.

The following day, a compromise was reached -- Bedi agreed to call off his hunger strike, and Freda and Ranga were given exceptional permission to visit the detainee, still weak but adamant that he would not use a wheelchair, in his room.

Two junior British officers were assigned to escort us to ensure that we did not communicate with any other prisoners or political detenues. Papa's barrack was quite a distance ... He was in the last corner room, right next to the security fence and a watchtower, the sole occupant of a ten-by-ten foot room with a mattress on the floor, no furniture of any description, no curtain on the solitary window, no attached bathroom. Papa received us with hugs and kisses. Two rickety collapsible steel chairs were brought for us to sit on. One could see why the M.O. had refused permission for him to walk to the visitors' room. He was positively unstable on his feet.

They had ninety minutes with Bedi. All their books and gifts were seized for inspection. The camp provided a truck to drop Freda and Ranga at the main road, where they could catch a bus. She thanked the commandant, and left a small packet of raisins -- a welcome gift in wartime -- for the injured medical officer.

Freda went back to teaching at Fateh Chand College. She was allowed to live in at the college and -- an even bigger concession -- to bring Ranga to live with her. He was bored by the absence of playmates, but fussed over and spoiled by the other staff and the students. He remembers with particular affection Teji Suri, another lecturer and close friend of Freda's who lived close to the college. 'Aunty Teji was a commanding personality, young, vibrant, beautiful and always immaculately turned out. The girls idolized her. Even at that age, I thought she was God's gift to man.' Teji Suri had visited the Bedi family in the village when both parents were detained, and had looked after Ranga in Lahore on his visit to his mother. When Freda was working late at college or going out, Ranga would go home with Teji Suri, and often served as a young chaperone when suitors came to call. He always imagined that the dashing, smartly dressed army captain would win out over the soft-spoken poet in a crushed kurta pyjama and well-worn open sandals. He was wrong. In 1941, Teji Suri married Harivansh Rai Bachchan and left Lahore. In October of the following year, their son Amitabh was born; he became the biggest Bollywood star of his era.

The notoriety that Freda had attained, both by her own activism and time in jail and her marriage to a prominent communist, made her a target for police surveillance. Ranga's recollection is that plainclothes police officers came regularly to the college and questioned staff about what his mother was up to.

Administration staff members were called to the police station to check whether Ooggee was preaching sedition. Friends and relatives were not permitted to visit us in college, and our room was subjected to surprise searches to monitor her writings. At the college gate, a book was maintained in which Ooggee would have to log where she was going and for what and who she would be meeting. On one occasion, a hostel sweeper was manhandled in the local police station. She marched off, with me in tow, to take the police inspector to task. She also forcibly made an entry in the complaint book. That evening, a British police officer visited college and threatened to arrest her for defiance.

This pattern of intimidation did not prevent her recommencing writing for the papers. Within days of her release, she resumed writing for the Tribune, for which she once more became a regular contributor. She commented, in a more nuanced manner than a card-carrying communist would, about the Soviet Union. 'Let us not think of Russia as a paradise,' she wrote as part of a 'Spotlight on Russia' feature in the Tribune. 'It had the debris of the past to clear away. It worked with ordinary human beings, and human beings make mistakes. Russia has made mistakes. Some she has admitted to and some she has not. To name a few of the most publicised, she collectivised agriculture too rapidly and too tactlessly, she invaded Finland, she antagonised world opinion with her "man hunting" purges.'27

There was no such ambivalence a few weeks later when she expressed her sorrow at the death of the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who had helped to arouse her interest in India and its culture and beliefs. 'I first saw him at Oxford lecturing on the highest philosophy before some of the greatest savants and philosophers of the West. He sat on a low platform with the rare light of the late evening falling on his face and making an aureole round his white head. I was very moved by his understanding, his dignity, the way in which he seemed to distil the essence of India into the small hall and with it the essence of all that is highest and universal in man.' And she made a political point of out Tagore's passing. 'It was a pity ... that a country which could produce such a great man and a genius could still be denied the right of freedom.'28

Her main political concern, however, was Deoli, and the fate of her husband and hundreds of other leftists who remained locked up there. She became a member of a Central Aid Committee, set up amid reports of another hunger strike. At a regional gathering of the All-Indian Women's Conference she 'drew a sorrowful picture of the difficulties encountered during the journey to such a distant place ... under dust and burning sun and held that the expenses incurred in going to Deoli and coming back to the Punjab were such which were beyond the means of the wives of the prisoners. If anything, the Government should at least open a separate camp in the Punjab so that the miseries of the poor wives of the hunger-strikers were not augmented.'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. Hider 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.30 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.'31 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; her earlier misgivings about aspects of Soviet policy were set aside. '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.'''32 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, and her profile was eminently suitable for a communist front organisation of this period. She was not publicly associated with the party and 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 had another considerable advantage -- 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'.33

Victor Kiernan's comment prompts the question of whether Freda Bedi ever held a party card. If she did, that was more out of deference to her husband than devotion to the party. To judge from Bedi's own comments, it seems she was a member of the CPI, though briefly:

No meeting was held in Lahore those days where Bedi did not speak or Freda Bedi did not speak. She joined the communist party just out of loyalty to me, because I had joined the communist party. The party did not utilize her even to this extent. I do not think Freda Bedi addressed more than two/three meetings in the big city of Lahore after her association with the party which lasted for a limited time because they did not want her name to be more and more popular among the people. That was their small heartedness.34

'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.'35 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'.36 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.37

It was at Deoli that Bedi's allegiance to the CPI deepened. He entered the camp as a party sympathiser; he left it as a party apparatchik. 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. There were extenuating personal circumstance. Ranga was ill with a prolonged bout of typhoid which led to unsightly abscesses, and Freda strenuously sought her husband's release on compassionate parole.

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.'38 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.'39 This was more rhetorical than practical, and perhaps not the wisest of declarations from a former political prisoner released just days earlier. Although the Japanese threat to British India was real, and an invasion was attempted from Burma, Japanese troops never got within a thousand miles of Lahore. But it was a declaration of militancy, or political fervour in repulsing the Axis powers and so defending Soviet communism.

On a personal level, Freda and Bedi had overcome a long period of enforced separation. They now had to re-establish their household in Lahore and offer their son and Binder a sense of security and stability after a couple of turbulent years. Bedi had come out of detention still more committed to political activity and to communism. Freda now had an opportunity to gather breath and reassess her priorities, and to spend more time on an activity she found still more rewarding than organising and addressing meetings -- her writing.


When early in 1947 Freda Bedi applied in Lahore for a British passport, she described herself as a journalist. She had spent years teaching English at a girls' college, and was to resume that line of work in Kashmir, but in the mid-1940s, writing and reporting was her main occupation. The family circumstances changed for the better. Bedi's writing and publishing, ranging from textbooks to ghost writing, started delivering an income and that, Freda said, 'enabled me to take a rest from the rather hard routine of lecturing in the college and travelling backwards and forwards so many miles a day. So the years '42 to '46 were years when I was more at home and writing.'! She relished the chance to have a calmer, more settled domestic life. Indeed she commented of the political activity in Lahore which now became a less prominent part of her life: 'I didn't particularly enjoy doing all this. I would have preferred, frankly, to sit at home and have a more peaceful family life. But it was the way life was, and there was no choice.' Whether this was a downplaying of the political expressed later in life when the spiritual aspect was foremost, or reflected a disdain for the rough-and-tumble of a political existence which was born more of duty than conviction, it's difficult to say -- probably a bit of both. She also faced another political difficulty -- as the Communist Party, and so her husband, fell out of step with the rest of the nationalist movement, husband and wife were also increasingly at odds about how best to achieve an independent India committed to social justice.

As a writer, Freda achieved a prominence to match her political reputation -- and it was the work she most relished. In her student days, when her friends were talking excitedly of their personal ambitions, Freda's goal was to write. She published two books, largely collections of her writing for newspapers and magazines. As a columnist, she addressed women's issues with a directness which was startling. Throughout 1943, she had a weekly column in the Tribune entitled 'From a Woman's Window which tackled issues -- such as childbirth and breast-feeding -- which rarely surfaced in the mainstream media at that time. But her focus on gender, and the unfair and unequal burden on India's women, was evident much earlier. Throughout her adult life, she sought to extend the bounds for women in public life. It would be difficult to describe Freda as a feminist. In her marriage, she willingly embraced a subservience to her husband and his personal and political ambitions. When she argued for women's interests, it was not on the basis of a principled demand for equality but of a measure more equity and respect. As a Tibetan Buddhist, she eventually found a comfortable niche with a distinctly patriarchal spiritual tradition which -- as with most major religions -- limited and confined women's role. Yet her championing of women, and her campaigning for the redress of women's grievances, was a consistent aspect of her life, and first became evident as an activist and writer in pre-independence Lahore.

In the spring of 1936, eighteen months after arriving in India and just a few weeks before Tilak's death, Freda was prominent in a public debate on the desirability of birth control clinics. The event was organised by the medical college students' union, and addressed a pressing issue in an era of large families and high infant and maternal mortality. 'Mrs Freda Bedi said that birth control did not mean no babies, it meant better babies; it did not mean no motherhood, but sensible motherhood. Birth control clinics should really be called "sensible motherhood clinics". Motherhood should be a glorious fulfilment of all that is best in woman and a source of vitality and joy and woman should not be condemned through relentless and machine-like production of children. The way to ensure this was to have efficient birth control clinics established in the Punjab where the service should be absolutely free.'2 There was lively opposition to her argument, with speakers expressing concern about birth control being sinful, leading to sterility and frustrating India's need for a large army, but the chair of the meeting declared that the general sentiment was in support of the clinics.

A couple of months later, Freda wrote for the Tribune's magazine section as part of a debate about the segregation of the sexes. 'All healthy minded people must agree,' she declared, 'that it is best if girls and boys can mix freely socially, while keeping a good attitude towards one another .... To my mind, co-education from childhood upwards is the only solution.' But swayed by her experience as a college teacher, she was also concerned that women students were ignoring skills such as cooking and sewing.

The trouble with the present system is that a young man is usually faced with the alternative of a young modern educated wife, who has no idea of running a home intelligently or of bringing up children well, or on the other hand of a pretty girl, very uneducated, who can cook, sew and manage and bring up children but will live a life very apart from him, and be quite unable either to act as a hostess to his friends or to educate his children in the way he would like. I believe that in modern India, a wife, if she is to be useful must be educated, but I am shocked at the way girls in college here neglect learning household affairs. After all, the majority of girls are going to be married and it is only kindness to their husbands to be and their children that they should know something of the more practical things of life.3

In comments that must have upset some of her students, Freda went on to say that the 'trouble is that, because higher education is something of a rarity here still, girls become swelled-headed and think that they are sure to marry rich husbands and that it is below their dignity to work in the house.' This combination of progressive and traditional outlooks was a hallmark of Freda's take on life, and evident in it is how she saw her own role in the household, as her husband's companion and collaborator, but also as the homemaker.

As for the role of women outside the household -- and particularly whether in such a conservative society, where purdah was still common, educated girls should pursue careers -- Freda encouraged young women to seek out occupations which did not excite 'undue opposition from the family and society'. When asked which avenues were open to women, she replied: 'All avenues, ultimately. They have to be fought for, or even just recognised. At present teaching, medicine and nursing hold the field. Journalism is also beginning to attract writers .... Journalism for women, the development of a women's angle in a daily newspaper is a work of which any woman might be proud. It is a national service.'4

That drew a sharp riposte from a student at Fateh Chand in an article provocatively headlined 'The Amazon, grave danger to womanliness':

It is significant that in its most loathsome and unacceptable form the suggestion for feminine careers has come from Mrs Freda Bedi, a Western-bred lady. Though, happily, she has united herself to an Indian, and she may be thinking she has 'naturalised' herself to Indian sentiments of life and living, yet the Western influences that moulded her in her childhood and adolescent years have indelibly determined the make-up of her mind and by the very laws of her being she cannot but look upon things with a vision that must needs have a taint of Westernism in it. Mrs Freda Bedi, let us not forget, has a good deal of selfless socio-political public service in Indian interests to her credit, and we revere her on that account. But we should be wary of accepting her views that may tend to disturb our accepted notions of social propriety that are peculiar to our native genius.5

That must have stung. A student at her own college insisting that Freda was not Indian, could never be Indian, and dismissing her arguments not simply on their merits but because they were tainted by her roots in an alien and uncomprehending West.

The opportunities particularly for educated young women, and the need to balance the desire for a career with domestic and household skills, was becoming an increasing focus of Freda's writing. In the summer of 1938, she published a 150-page book entitled the Modern Girl's Guide to Home-Making -- an advert declared that this 'profusely illustrated and practical book should be given to every bride in her dowry and to every growing girl for her birthday'. She also became chief advisory editor to a new Lahore-based monthly journal, Modern Girl.6 No copies of either have been located, so their contents have to be gauged on the basis of reviews. The market for English books and journals was necessarily restricted to Lahore's educated elite. This was not an attempt to address village India, or even the emerging lower middle class, but more the graduates of Fateh Chand and their families.

The reviewer in the Tribune was unconvinced by Freda's Guide. The book addressed the problems of home-making and how they could be surmounted; included recipes, 'exclusively English'; and dealt with home decorating, furnishing and colour schemes in a manner which suggested that 'only a large house and a lot of furniture of different kinds can make a home'. That wasn't the only aspect of the book that jarred. 'She has given an illustration of a typical English kitchen which is rare in India, as also the bath-room and the lavatory. It is submitted that such things are not suited to this country where the poor constitute an overwhelming majority. Besides it is not possible, except for the very rich, to have a sitting-room, dining-room or a bed-room of the type illustrated.' When Freda herself lived so simply in the Model Town huts, it's surprising that she chose to commend a vastly more expensive lifestyle -- this was perhaps the brief that the publisher had insisted upon. The book also offered advice about diet and menus, though the food recommended was expensive and made no provision for vegetarians; there was a 'slimming without tears' section; and a guide for domestic staff about 'how to wait at tables'.7

The monthly magazine appears to have had a similar style and agenda -- though it was received more warmly by the Tribune, which said it filled 'a long-felt want in Lahore society circles and should be eagerly read by educated women all over India. As Mrs Freda Bedi has put it, the "Modern Girl" aims at pointing the way to the true modern girl, the Indian wife and young mother, who has the future of the nation in her pretty hands.' The articles in the first issue covered fashion, the 'place of art in Indian homes', and a topic 'dear to every young girl ... "How to become a Modern Venus"'.8 The journal didn't prosper. A year after its launch, Freda wrote on 'Modern Girl' headed paper to tell Olive Chandler that the magazine had closed.

I had no financial interest, being in an advisory capacity only, but it had a lot of me in it, + really fulfilled a long felt need -- practical home-keeping, child-upbringing, modern news + views, for that rather pathetic creature the 'educated' Indian girl, who is brought up on books + examinations + is often unable to create a new + satisfactory home life for herself in the midst of old prejudices + antiquated methods. It was widely appreciated + quite unique but alas! However, I don't despair. They are seeds, + somewhere, somehow, they will bear some kind of fruit.9

Freda had identified a need, and a way of addressing it, but the readership simply wasn't there in sufficient numbers. It was another twenty years before Femina found a way of making a women's magazine work in the Indian market.

She was on safer ground with the broader agenda that she addressed in the Tribune, and a range of other publications, including film magazines and short broadcasts on All India Radio. Book reviews were initially her staple contributions, along with the very occasional short story. Factual writing, though, was her forte, and particularly the personal reportage that constitutes the finest of her published work. In the summer of 1941 she wrote a series of articles 'From My Village Window' for the Tribune which were quite the opposite of the 'Modern Girl' approach. These were not about how the Anglophone elite should mould their lifestyle, but vivid, compassionate pieces about the lives of the rural poor, and of women in particular -- often based on first-hand experience which would be unfamiliar to many of her readers, such as travelling in what she described as the 'poor man's club' of third-class train carriages:

The little one and myself had to sleep in the women's compartment, as the mixed compartments were overcrowded with men returning from a big fair on the banks of the Ganges at Hardwar. As usual we had a very jolly time.

When I first got in and spread our beds on the seat, there was nobody there. Soon two 'burquas' came in, 'walking tents.' From the young-looking shoes and the fashionable bordered sa/war peeping out at the bottom, I guessed they were young women. Soon afterwards came a happy party of hill women, also returning from Hardwar. They were two young wives, very smiling and peaceful, with a son and a daughter each.

Their menfolk invaded even the sacred precincts of the women's compartment to give the last rupees to the children, the last glass of water, the last treasured words before an unfeeling ticket collector with an eye on the rules shuffled them out.

Back in the village they would have so many tales to tell of Lahore, and the children would wear their shining rubber slippers until the last shred had come off their feet.

When the train started, there was yet another surprise. From inside the 'burquas' emerged two very lively young persons who made the whole compartment ring with their laughter. The children responded, and soon the whole train was like a fairground.10

In her writing as in her life, Freda displayed compassion and humanity. There is at times a sentimentality, a reluctance to address the rougher, ruder, uglier side of life, but as a columnist she helped the urban Indian elite to see another vantage point on the village and on villagers, with whom she had such an evident affinity.

The personal turbulence surrounding Freda's and her husband's detention forced a pause to her writing. With B.P.L.'s release from Deoli in April 1942, the Bedis were together as a family for the first time in eighteen months. The priority was to re-establish a domestic routine. Freda had moved out of the Model Town huts shortly after Bedi was arrested. They now decided to move back there, and retrieve something of the arcadian style of life which they both treasured. And that meant -- Ranga Bedi recalls -- building new huts. 'After two years "in the wilderness", we moved into our real home the other day,' Freda wrote in the Tribune. We lit the kitchen fire in the huts again on Basant, the first day of Spring. It was a beautiful day, lyrical. All around us the young corn was making the countryside green, and we took a handful of the surson [mustard] and placed it in the hut where its living colour lit up the neutral reed walls. It was, quite simply, home.' And the lyrical turn of phrase also extended to her 'reckless marriage' -- as she imagined the world might see it -- 'because the only thing I or my husband cared about was that we loved one another.'11

It was not an easy time. In recordings made towards the end of her life, Freda recalled that the period when the family 'went back to our huts in the green belt of Model Town and tried to pick up the threads of life again' was also 'the gloomiest time of all really -- the time when the national movement went into the 1942 stage and when the movement within the Indian states became acute.'12The gloom was above all political. The Congress launched the 'Quit India' movement that summer and most of its leadership was put behind bars. Communists kept their distance -- their priority was to defend the Soviet Union from Germany's invasion and so to support the allied war effort. It was a dramatic political about-turn. The political force which regarded itself as the most militant was now making common purpose with India's rulers and criticising those who were detained for putting the national issue ahead of prosecuting the war. Freda remained active in the Friends of the Soviet Union -- though much less vigorously so after her husband's release from Deoli -- but this acute tension between communists and Congress must have caused some domestic friction. Bedi was now publicly and firmly allied to the communist cause; Freda's foremost concern was freeing India of British rule and she must have had an instinctive sympathy with the Quit India campaign. It was just the sort of mass mobilisation that she had wanted to see in the early stages of the war. The family's recollection is that she was uncomfortable with the CPI's repudiation of Congress and of Gandhi, and distanced herself from it. 'He was the more radical Marxist,' Ranga says, 'whereas she was supporting him by being a member of the party.'

Once Bedi was back in Lahore, he resumed his publishing work and had some success in securing writing commissions. There were other ventures; the Bedis' advertised a writing service in the Tribune: 'HAVE YOU WRITTEN A BOOK? Is it on your table or at the bottom of an old trunk? Are you press shy? If so, we can help you. We can prune, polish and publish it for you.'13 Away from the routine of teaching English to college students, Freda had the time and space to take on more ambitious writing assignments. The first of her weekly columns under the title 'From a Woman's Window' appeared in the Tribune in January 1943. As with so much of her most effective writing, the tone was often personal and reflective. 'For me, the Old Year was a strange patchwork. I sat a good part of it away by the side of a sick-bed. But it brought the blessing of a completed family again. That is saying a good deal, when half of it is submerged in the dangerous whirlpool of the West, and the other wove into the tempestuous East.'14

'From a Woman's Window' continued for much of that year. It was unusual for a woman journalist to have a weekly column devoted to women's issues. Freda used it well. Her style was gentle and persuasive. Her range of topics included a fierce denunciation of dowry, Punjabi women's dress and her own adoption of Indian garments and the striving for greater space for women in public and professional life. Some of the sentiments expressed were almost apologetic about women and their shortcomings. In an article entitled 'Our Sillier Qualities', she accepted that 'the majority [of women] can be depended upon to behave in an illogical way, and mix argument with emotion' -- but then went on to pose a wider question of why women were that way, and what potential could be realised if bars to their development were removed.

Freda's column repeatedly addressed personal issues about women's lives and choices (or the absence of choices) in a manner that was arrestingly direct. Women's education was a particular concern. 'My own mother, who was very wise in such matters ... used to say "The time comes for every bird to flyaway from its nest". If all mothers could understand things as she did, a good many of the tragedies of daily life could be avoided,' she declared in advocating access to higher education. 'I know a good deal about the kind of education that is given in the average college, not only in the Punjab but all over India, and I have my very serious doubts about the worth of the very mechanical book-knowledge imparted to the girls who throng there. But if I had a daughter, I would never hesitate for a moment to send her to college because, as I see it, girls who go there do get the very atmosphere of freedom about them. And freedom I mean in a good sense. It is as though some stillness leaves their bones.'15 In writing that, Freda must surely have had her in mind her own years at St Hugh's and the manner in which that exposed to her a different world, and to the people and causes that brought her to India.

The column touched on still more personal issues, delving deep into her own experiences of motherhood and its joys and discomforts. It was almost nine years since she had given birth in Berlin to Ranga and the memory remained potent.

I remember my own feelings when I saw the face of my baby for the first time, when I was giving it milk and my body was racked with pain. It was a symbol to me not only of the beauty of life, but its cruelty, its mystery, its fierce struggle. Here was this little being scarcely conscious that it was yet alive or separate, feeding itself avidly, careless of the pain that was shooting through my body. Eager to live. To breathe. To move. To kick. To survive. And as a mother, there was no resentment in the pain I suffered. It was full of pity and longing and an almost unbearable tenderness for the little atom that was so much part of me, and yet starting on its own stony path, alone, as every human being is alone.16

She returned to this issue of the pain of childbirth in an article with the unsettling title 'Going to Bed with a Coffin'. 'I remember lying in child birth with waves of pain seizing my body, and as the crest of the wave went down, and the other was gathering strength, turning the world over in my mind. . .. It darted through my mind that all the girl child grows to, and blossoms for is just this, this lying in torment.'17 She believed that in these 'moments of great love or great agony' a sensitivity develops which means that 'many things in life which were hidden to us we see in a blinding flash of understanding.' There was a searching aspect to some of her columns in the Tribune which points to her turn to a spiritual path a decade later.

'The Edge of a Naked Sword' was the title of a column devoted to marriage -- and Freda wrote in a manner which must have carried some echo of her own experience.

Marriage is such an intimate affair that, ultimately speaking, it is impossible for two normally constituted human beings to get on together unless they have a very strong physical attraction for one another to begin with, and some other bond of the spirit that will hold them together whatever ill or catastrophe may befall them. Common interests are a good deal. But they are not always essential, as a wife can and does often grow into her husband's life and ways of thought.18

Freda had certainly adapted to Bedi's 'life and ways of thought' -- without all that much sign of a commensurate adaptation by her husband. She once commented that 'nearly seven years of rubbing about in what is known as "the outer world" has worn off some of my sharper corners. But the process was not a painless one.'19 And the 'passive demeanour' of the wife could turn into a powerful force once galvanised into action, 'whether it demands simple things like grain for a hungry family or whether it demands great and difficult things like the expulsion of an enemy from a native soiL'20

She also reflected on the difficult political situation of a country unwillingly at war. She wrote powerfully of the emotions aroused by one of Gandhi's fasts in support of political demands, reflecting that the response demonstrated the distinction between what might loosely be called a political leader and a truly national figure. 'In every town and village of India the menace of losing Gandhiji, with India a threatened island in a world at war, had shaken people, more than they ever dreamed they could be shaken. During the worst days of the fast I happened to be at Sialkot. There, in spite of efforts to stop it, women and children gathered night and morning in their dozens to pray for the precious life. I also went one night, and leaving aside the quibble of whether or not prayer is any help, the very passionate urge of the heart of those who went shook the air around us. Gandhiji's suffering united India in those twenty-one days.'21 She understood the political importance of moral authority -- indeed, her political outlook was more moral and ethical than ideological.

Towards the close of 1943, Freda assembled a selection of her journalism and writings; it was published by her husband's imprint in Lahore, Unity Publishers. Behind the Mud Walls consists of more than twenty articles, mainly written for the Tribune and other papers -- though the greater part of her jail diary, the centrepiece of the volume, appears to have been previously unpublished. The more personal of her pieces -- coming to India, getting to know her husband's family, and then the perils of arrest and jail -- are a powerful and elegant account of defining chapters of her life. The book was dedicated 'to the two who have mothered me in England and India', her mother and her mother-in-law. The exigencies of wartime publishing limited the reach and impact of Behind the Mud Walls, and (to date) it has never been republished. It is without question the most impressive and revealing of Freda's books and pamphlets. 'Freda Bedi, though an Englishwoman, is one of us,' commented the reviewer in the Tribune, 'sharing with us our joys and sorrows in our march to freedom .... Under the veil of her simple and touching descriptions runs the enthusiasm of the socialist and the reformer.'22 Once again, the dominant element, besides the personal, was the plight of Indian womanhood, and the often inspirational manner they responded to the challenges they faced. The 'national service' that Freda had identified as an option for her students -- journalism by women, about women and for women -- was one that she herself undertook with determination.

[Cont'd. below]
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:34 am

Part 3 of 3

Freda Bedi's increasing profile as a writer opened new opportunities, the most challenging of which was an assignment to report at first hand on the most terrible of India's wartime tragedies. From the summer of 1943 onwards, newspapers carried accounts of famine in Bengal, where crop failures and cyclone damage were exacerbated by official indifference, a preoccupation with the war effort, and a determination to ensure that if the Japanese army -- already well established in Burma -- managed to invade they would be denied stockpiles of rice and the boats so essential for local transport. A huge number of Bengalis -- perhaps as many as four million, Freda believed -- died of starvation or succumbed to diseases which if well-fed they would have resisted.1 The Communist Party was particularly active in drawing attention to the famine and demanding relief. In December 1943, both Bedi and Freda addressed meetings in and around Lahore on behalf of the Bengal Central Relief Committee.2 By the end of the month, she was on the spot, sent by the Tribune to give a sense of the human consequences of the disaster. Freda didn't speak Bengali and she was almost certainly accompanied when travelling from village to village. Her job was 'to make the famine a reality' for newspaper readers in Punjab rather than 'a bundle of figures' by writing reflective and descriptive columns from the areas worst affected.

In a letter to her old Oxford friend Olive Chandler, Freda recounted that she spent a month 'tramping the villages and seeing the worst spots, something so horrible that an Airgram can't hold it.'3 She had seen plenty of human suffering, but nothing remotely like this. The paper carried Freda's articles as a series under the title 'Bengal Today' and within a matter of months these were compiled as a slim book. Bengal Lamenting was published not by the Bedis' own imprint but by the much larger Lion Press in Lahore. Accompanying the articles were deeply unsettling images. The cover was designed by the progressive artist Sobha Singh whom the Bedis would have known from Andretta. It was a stark and arresting drawing, depicting a naked and emaciated woman with the wasted body of her son on her lap. Pinned in to the book were five photographic images of the famine, one of which showed a dog gnawing on human remains.

In her travels across Bengal and Orissa (now Odisha), Freda made a point of venturing off the beaten path. At times, she travelled by bicycle, 'a perilous affair with inactive brakes. It was in addition a man's cycle and I couldn't get off easily. So I quietly fell off whenever the crowd got too great.' This allowed her to see something of life and suffering in the villages, 'always the barometer of Indian life. There, in one of the hundreds and thousands of huddles of mud huts away from the main road, barely reachable by a muddy path, lies India's destiny, her life, her death, her intolerable longings, her inertia, the remnants of her joy of living, and her last and most bleeding despair.' Her account of the individual stories of loss and destitution gave particular force to her writing.

At every door I stopped to hear the same pitiful theme, with its hundred variations. 'Here the men have gone away to work in Assam: the women have nothing. They make a bare occasional living working at marriages and festivals. In between they starve' ... 'Here they have all run away: the men to the town, the women to beggary and destitution and the gruel kitchens.' I shuddered. There was a lot behind that inadequate word, destitution. Humiliation, demoralisation, casual prostitution, disease. And behind it the face of abandoned children.

We came across a hut without its corrugated roof. It had been casually torn off, the room gaped dully to the sky. In reply to my half-formed question they pointed out a dried up husk of a woman cowering in the next hut. 'Her husband died a few days ago,' they said. 'Her children died before that. She sold the roof, her last possession, to buy him a coffin.'4

As so often, her particular focus was village women: those who had seen their menfolk head out to 'get food' and had no idea whether they were alive or dead; those forced by despair and the plight of their children to sell themselves. She reported on the manner by which young girls, some of them infants, were sold for sex. 'The need to take people from beggary to self-supporting work is a real one. In the case of women, it is the only road open to them if they are not to become mere cattle in the markets of human flesh.'

Freda was more an essayist and columnist than a reporter and she was not used to disaster journalism. Her writing from Bengal was vivid, compassionate and resolutely non-sensational. Her challenge was to break through with her prose the barrier that she herself identified -- that middle-class readers on the other flank of India had become 'famine weary', She spoke warmly of the Friends' Ambulance Unit, the People's Relief Committees and all the other local efforts -- religious, secular and military -- to provide food and medical relief to those in gravest need. There is also a pervasive anger running through Bengal Lamenting at the greed and hypocrisy she witnessed amid the many generous and selfless initiatives. 'Doctors who profiteer on patients, and traders who profiteer on foodstuffs and medicines, deserve no mercy at the hands of the people. Peaceful as I am by temperament, by the time I had been round a few villages and heard [the] same stories I felt even transportation for life would be too mild a sentence for them.'5 In Calcutta, Bengal's capital, the poor and emaciated had been pushed out of the city to harvest the next rice crop -- and also, she surmised, to be hidden from the view of the urban middle class. 'Calcutta is a lady with a painted face,' Freda wrote. 'She is hiding her ugliness and her sores under a coating of powder and the red on her lips is die red of the people's blood.' And even as one famine was starting to ease, everyone was talking about the next one round the corner.

In the foreword to Bengal Lamenting, Freda declared that her book 'is more than a cry of pain, a call to pity, a picture of another tidal wave of tears that has wrenched itself up from the ocean of human misery. It is a demand for a reconsideration on a national scale of that problem that cannot be localised, a plea for unity in the face of chaos, one more thrust of the pen for the right of every Bengali and every Indian to see his destiny guided by patriots in a National Government of the People.'6 This was reportage with a political purpose. She dismissed conspiracy theories that the British had allowed Bengal to slip into famine to punish the home province of Subhas Chandra Bose, whose supporters were fighting alongside the Japanese. But she argued that the official response to the Japanese invasion of the rice-exporting regions of Burma, and the policy of 'denial' to ensure that advancing Japanese troops would not be able simply to commandeer river transport and grain, 'meant the sealing up of Bengal from the world rice market.'

Actually what happened was that artificial scarcity in Denial and cyclone areas ... combined with dislocated transport, overburdened with war responsibilities, created local panics that translated themselves into, on the one hand, exaggerated private-hoarding by the middle classes and, in particular by the big rice-growing landlords who are the king of Bengal's rice, and on the other, profiteering and hoarding by local trades people, backed up by the big commercial rice firms. Add to this inflation, and you have chaos complete. Money flowed into the Stock Exchange; rice became a commodity of scarcity value; and the sharks of Big Business made their daily thousands by trading in the people's life-blood -- their staple food.

From this she made the obvious argument that if India was governed by those whose first concern was the welfare of India's citizens, the tragedy would not have been on anything like the same scale. 'There is no argument left for the status quo when it has failed so miserably, and there is no doubt about it that any patriotic team of Indians could have averted such a terrible loss of life. The Indian demand for a National Government at the Centre has become not only insistent, but a matter of life and death.'7

Freda ended the book with a quote, unacknowledged, from one of the great political poems to come out of the Spanish Civil War. Cecil Day-Lewis's 'Nabara', published six years earlier, was an account of a fascist-aligned warship intercepting and destroying a convoy carrying relief supplies to the Republican-controlled Basque country.

Freedom is more than a word, more than the base coinage
Of statesmen, the tyrant's dishonoured cheque, or the dreamer's mad
Inflated currency. She is mortal, we know, and made
In the image of simple men who have no taste for carnage
But sooner kill and are killed than see that image betrayed.

She implied some moral equivalence between the brutality of the supporters of Franco in Spain and of the misery British imperialism forced on Bengal.

Freda also began to spend more time in another of India's troubled regions, Kashmir. The family travelled to Kashmir occasionally from the late 1930s, in part as a summer retreat from the scorching Lahore summer but also to support the nascent progressive nationalist movement in this princely state. After Bedi's release from Deoli, Kashmir loomed increasingly large in their lives-and their engagement with the Kashmir Valley merits separate attention. It was while in Kashmir Valley in the summer of 1945 that Freda discovered she was pregnant. Ranga was by then eleven. The family's more settled life near Model Town made this a propitious moment to have another child. 'I got to know I was having a child when I was up in Haji Brar beyond Pahlgam ... where we often used to pitch our tents during the summer months,' Freda wrote nineteen years later in a 'coming of age' letter to the son she bore:

... when the signs came on my body and I knew that a child was really coming ... I also knew that it would be another son -- a third, because little Tilak had died that cruel summer of 1936. Everyone said you must be wanting a girl and I smiled, because I knew the time for the coming of a daughter had not yet arrived. We were still in the straw huts and tents, and girls don't like that sort of thing.

Later in the summer I came down to Srinagar to Nishat Bagh, a little garden cottage full of cherry trees. I could feel you inside me, kicking quite hard. It was a beautiful autumn. I had not had a baby in my arms for so long, that you were more than welcome. Sometimes I would meditate + a stream of bliss would run through my body ... I read the lives of the mystics, Gita, Koran, the conversations of Sri Rama Krishna. There was something warm and peaceful and beautiful.8

Back in Lahore a few weeks before the birth, another newcomer joined the family -- a Great Dane pup called Rufus. 'Papa said "That's the baby's chowkidar'. He was such a huge good-natured bumbling creature, and when he tried to be puppy-like and sit on people's laps he looked like an elephant on a stool.' Kabir Bedi was born in a Lahore nursing home on the 16th January 1946. His name came from a book by Rabindranath Tagore -- the Songs of Kabir was his translation of the poems of Kabir, a fifteenth-century poet and mystic, whose writings influenced or reflected Hinduism, Sikhism and Sufism.

In the final stages of Freda's pregnancy, Bedi was once again preoccupied by politics. The end of the Second World War, and the return of a Labour government in Britain, heralded India's independence. The Bedi family were 'all hoping that the New World will have something for India,' Freda wrote to Olive Chandler. 'She has suffered enough.'9 Few expected, however, that the pace of change would be so rapid and overwhelming. In January 1946, provincial elections were held across India. The communists decided to contest and hoped to poll well in Punjab with Bedi among their candidates. This was unduly optimistic. The party had very limited strength in the province -- the British communist Rajani Palme Dutt, in private notes made during his visit to India later that year, suggested that out of a total CPI membership of 53,700, just 1,600 were in Punjab.10 'I hope Bedi is successful in the elections,' Freda's brother Jack wrote from on board ship in Australia, 'there is a worldwide swing to labour and about time to[o]'.11 He wasn't successful. The outcome was humbling for the communists. Across India, they took less than three per cent of the vote and won only eight seats -- none of them in Punjab.12 It was widely seen as a punishment for their support of the war effort and repudiation of mainstream nationalism. In Punjab, the Muslim League emerged as the largest party in the assembly, a result which enormously strengthened Jinnah's hand in his pursuit of a separate Pakistan.

Although communists had lost out at the ballot box, the temper of political activity was intense. The Bedis were part of a lively left-minded social circle in Lahore which included poets, writers and academics. It was an exciting time. Pran Chopra, then a journalist in his mid-twenties, recalled B.P.L. Bedi as 'a florid individual, physically as well as mentally. You never had a dull moment in a half-hour sitting with others where he was present too.' He was not at all sure how well Bedi fitted in with the disciplined structures of a highly centralised party. 'B.P.L. would not be a cadre person for any organisation; he was too much his own man'. He knew Freda better and was impressed by her. 'One knew that she was a very serious person -- serious in pursuit of her interests. ... She was in fact a force behind B.P.L. ... She was quieter. She was the disciplining force behind B.P.L. ... '13 London-born Rajni Kumar met the Bedis in Lahore in 1946 and recalled Freda as a very intelligent and determined woman with 'very deep, penetrating eyes and soft expression'. But she found B.P.L. more fun:

Bedi, her husband, was delightful. I loved Bedi. He was huge -- absolutely huge. He was a scream. I remember going to some of these big rallies, kisan [peasant] rallies, in Jalandhar and Ambala and Ludhiana. And there was a big communist movement in the villages and politicising the rural peasantry and I used to go with the girls, the Communist group ... Oh, they were so exciting for me, when I saw those big peasants going round, you know, 'Inquilab Zindabad', and the shouts and the excitement and the feeling of revolution, it was really very exciting.14

She also heard of another side to Bedi -- his reputation with women. 'It was inevitable in a way because he was that kind of person, he was that kind of personality .... Freda was much more, you know what I mean, controlled. She was a controlled person. She did not give vent much to her emotions outwardly as Bedi [did]. Bedi was outgoing. So he could also indulge.'

Bedi's reputation as a communist activist was considerable. He wasn't a national figure but in Punjab he was well known and widely respected. Som Anand, who as a youngster used to sell the communist paper People's Age in Model Town, considered Bedi to be 'an orator of some standing'.15 With his prominence as a leftist came the renewed attention of the authorities. 'The residence of Mr B.P.L. Bedi, organiser of the provincial Communist Party, was searched by the police last night,' the Tribune reported in January 1947. 'A contingent of women police was also present. The search lasted nine and a half hours. Nothing incriminatory is reported to have been recovered, but the police removed certain books and papers.'16 Such a protracted search was clearly a warning to the Bedis -- that they were being watched and had better tread carefully.

Early in 1947, shortly after Kabir's first birthday, Freda chose to make a journey back home to Derby. It was fourteen years since she had left England, and a decade since she last saw her mother. Nellie had endured some difficult years during the war -- Freda had at one point told a friend that her mother was 'very very ill' -- and there was no prospect of her coming out again to Lahore. The end of the war made international travel feasible once more, and Freda wanted to show off her new child. Leaving Bedi, Binder and thirteen-year-old Ranga behind, Freda and her baby set off for London. Travelling that huge distance with a year-old infant was a daunting prospect -- but nothing like as difficult as the ship journey out had been with a still younger Ranga. Many years later, Freda set down for Kabir how that journey came about:

It was at that time that stories came of Independence being given to India in 1948, + Papa felt I should go home + see Mother who had not met me since her visit to India in 1936-7. 'There might be trouble during the transfer of power' he said, 'and we should be together. So go now.'

I remember giving you your last little drop of Mother's milk in the hut. You were looking up to me with a very sweet expression in your eyes. And I thought: 'He does not know he is not going to get any more.' You were one year old: I could imagine the horror if I arrived in England feeding a year old baby. Out of the jungle! All English babies are weaned on to bottles at nine months. But I really hadn't the heart to stop the milk before. You liked it too much!

So still in your wicker Moses basket we boarded the Boat Plane in Karachi, February 1947. We landed in England in the middle of a terrible snowstorm + you celebrated your first fortnight in Derby, near your adoring Grandma + Grandpa, by getting measles, which you had caught from a child with the snuffles on the Lahore-Karachi train.17

Before boarding the plane, Freda dropped a line to a friend asking for advice about what to do in London. Jawaharlal Nehru, who by the end of the year was to become the first prime minister of independent India, sent a brief reply to her at The Huts. 'I hope you will enjoy your visit to England after 14 years,' he wrote. 'You should certainly meet Krishna Menon, I cannot suggest what you might do there, but Krishna Menon will, no doubt, be able to do so.'18

Having made the arduous journey back to Britain for the first time, Freda planned to stay in England for several months. Kabir was clearly feted by his Derby family, as the surviving photos from the visit demonstrate. Freda had occasional reporting assignments. Derby's evening paper noted that she was covering the British Labour Party's annual conference for an Indian newspaper and included a photograph of her in Punjabi-style salwar kameez. In her absence, the pace of political developments in India picked up furiously. Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy, set a much earlier date than expected for independence. Freda must have been anguished to be out ofI ndia when its national aspirations were finally realised on 15th August 1947; and anguished also that India was to be partitioned and that her home city of Lahore was to be in Pakistan. Communal tension and killings erupted in Punjab in March 1947, and became much more intense in the weeks after Partition as huge caravans of refugees made their way in both directions across the new international border. It's now believed that in Punjab alone more than two-million people may have been killed amid the mayhem which accompanied Partition. Somewhere approaching fifteen-million Punjabis became refugees.19 Lahore, the provincial capital, was in flames. It had been a lively and diverse city with a Muslim majority, but where the large Hindu and Sikh minorities had made a conspicuous contribution to culture and commerce. It became almost exclusively Muslim.

For the return leg, Freda and Kabir were on the passenger list of a P&O liner which had served during the war as a troop ship, the 'Strathmore', departing Southampton for Bombay on 26th September 1947. But they didn't make the journey. The turmoil in Punjab was so severe, with Lahore suffering such acute upheaval, that returning there with a baby would have been reckless. Freda stayed in England a few weeks longer -- no doubt anxiously reading the reports of communal violence in Punjab and waiting for word from her husband. She took advantage of the extra time to meet old Oxford friends. At the beginning of December, she sent Olive Chandler a postcard -- the picture was of their old college -- thanking her for a memorable visit: 'Had lunch with Barbara [Castle] today + fly tomorrow.'20 She had been away for nine months.

Freda's visit had a charming codicil. A year later, her mother received a last minute invitation to meet India's new prime minister. 'Summoned to a reception at India House, London, to meet Jawaharlal Pandit Nehru, Mrs. F.N. Swan ... cooked a meal for four, prepared the next day's food and then found time to go out and buy herself a new dress and a new hat for the occasion before catching a train to London less than seven hours after receiving the invitation,' reported the Derby Daily Telegraph. Mrs Swan told the paper that her daughter was 'well known to Pandit Nehru' and she said her proudest moment came when Nehru stopped at her table and shook her hand.21

Bedi's firm intention was to stay in Lahore after Partition. He was in Simla on independence day, in what was to become the Indian part of Punjab, but was determined to return to Lahore and resume his political activity. 'There was grave danger to my life, I realised it, but I felt my duty was there.'22 Amid the spiralling violence, Ranga, Binder and Bhabooji were sent to stay with Bedi's brother, then a sessions judge in Jalandhar, on the Indian side of the Partition line. Bedi on several occasions helped families to safety. Anela, the European wife of his friend Hafeez Jullundhri, found herself on the wrong side of the new border along with her seven-year-old daughter Zia. Her husband was a Muslim, and indeed a proponent of Pakistan, and they were at acute risk in Indian Punjab. Anela abandoned her salwar kameez for European dress. Both Bedi and his brother came to their aid. Zia recalls a shot through the window of the house in which they took refuge. They were brought to Jalandhar and put on a train, but even then they were still in peril:

I remember my mother was wearing a dress then which I thought very odd, and we were in a carriage in Jalandhar, we were going somewhere, and a door opened and a Sikh was there with a sword, and he said: 'Voh Musalmaan --' [You Muslim]. And Baba [Bedi] lent his dog to my mother-he was called Rufus, he was a Great Dane -- to be our helper and security guard. ... I was under my mother's skirt, underneath, and I could see. And he was looking for Musulmaan [Muslims]. And my mother said: 'Jao, jao, idher koi Musulmaan nahii hain. Dafar ho jao.' [Go away, there are no Muslims here. Get out.] And Rufus barked ... and he went away.23

On another occasion, Bedi travelled to Kapurthala to help a Muslim family make a safe return to Lahore, and required all his powers of oratory and persuasion -- and of Punjabi idiom -- to quell a restive crowd.24 Som Anand, who related that story of Bedi's bravery, was also the beneficiary of his help. A few weeks after Partition, the family's home in Lahore was targeted by a group of Pathans, and Bedi along with Hafeez Jullundhri ensured that everyone was moved out. 'Hafeez Sahib made a hurried trip to our house to see the situation. He came back with the news that it was still dangerous for us to go back. Someone in the neighbourhood had told him that the Pathans were still keeping a watch on the area. What then was to be done? Mr Bedi suggested that we should go to Delhi by air, leaving everything in Hafeez Sahib's charge. There seemed to be no other way, and father agreed to it. By the afternoon of that day, we were in Delhi telling my brother the story of our narrow escape.'25

Partition ruptured some longstanding allegiances. Hafeez Jullundhri not only embraced Pakistan; he became the country's unofficial poet laureate and author of its national anthem. The friendship was strained almost beyond repair. Even a month or two after Independence, with by far the greater number of non- Muslims forced out of Lahore, Bedi was still minded to stay. He said later that it was Pakistan's decision in October 1947 to fight in Kashmir, to repulse not only India but also the progressive strand within Kashmiri nationalism which Bedi championed, that finally persuaded him to leave. A few weeks later, he managed to make the hazardous journey across the new border to Jalandhar. When Freda and Kabir finally managed to get a flight back to India, they also went straight to Jalandhar. The Bedis never lived again in Lahore. B.P.L. made one visit back years later26 but Freda never returned. She never saw the Model Town huts again. The independence she had so eagerly and enthusiastically sought had brought down the curtain on the family home where she and Bedi were happiest. It must have been a sour-sweet moment. But they quickly had a new mission -- personal and political. Within days of assembling together in Jalandhar, the Bedis flew to Kashmir, the former princely state which was being fought over by India and Pakistan. It was to be their home for the next five years.

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

The Tribune
Front page of a historic 1931 edition
Type Daily newspaper[1]
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Tribune Trust
Publisher Tribune Trust
Editor Rajesh Ramachandran
Founded 2 February 1881
Political alignment Center Left
Language English
Headquarters Chandigarh, India (previously Ambala)

The Tribune is an Indian English-language daily newspaper published from Amritsar, Bathinda, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. It was founded on 2 February 1881, in Lahore (now in Pakistan), by Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a philanthropist, and is run by a trust comprising five persons as trustees.[2] It is a major Indian newspaper with a worldwide circulation.[3][4][5][6] In India, it is among the leading English daily for Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.[7] The present editor of The Tribune is Rajesh Ramachandran. He was appointed on 14 May 2018. Previously he was editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine. Ramachandran succeeded Harish Khare, who was appointed editor-in-chief of the Tribune Group of newspapers on 1 June 2015,[8] serving until 15 March 2018. [9]

The Tribune has two sister publications: Dainik Tribune (in Hindi) and Punjabi Tribune (in Punjabi). R. K. Singh is the Editor of Dainik Tribune and Sahitya Akademi Award winner and prominent Punjabi playwright Swaraj Bir Singh is the editor of the Punjabi Tribune. The online edition of The Tribune was launched in July 1998, and the online editions of the Punjabi Tribune and Dainik Tribune were launched on 16 August 2010.[10]

All three newspapers are published by the Tribune Trust. Narinder Nath Vohra is the president of the Tribune Trust, which comprises S. S. Sodhi, S. S. Mehta, Naresh Mohan, and Gurbachan Jagat as trustees.

The Tribune has had Kali Nath Roy, Prem Bhatia, Hari Jai Singh, H.K. Dua, and Raj Chengappa among others, as its editors-in-chief in the past.

Similar to most Indian newspapers, The Tribune receives the majority of its revenue from advertisements over subscriptions.[11]

See also

• Yog Joy


1. "Chandigarh Tribune - daily newspaper in Chandigarh, India with local news and events". Mondo Times. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
2. Chhina, Rajinder Mohan S. (2 February 2016). "The Tribune Founder's Day: Visionary who helped shape modern Punjab". The Tribune. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
3. "India national news media". Mondo Times. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
4. "India Tribune available". Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
5. Katoch, Avnish (15 March 2007). "Himachal Tribune launched". Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
6. Bains, Satinder (18 November 2007). "Tribune Trust Chairman Justice R.S. Pathak passes away". Punjab Newsline. Archived from the original on 19 November 2007. Retrieved 13 May2018.
7. "The Tribune Trust places another order with QI Press Controls". Indian Printer and Publisher. 8 February 2010. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
8. "Harish Khare is new Editor-in-Chief". The Tribune. 1 May 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
9. Guruswamy, Mohan (18 March 2018). "Harish Khare Forced Out Again: Exit Casts Shadow Over The Tribune's Independence". The Citizen. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
10. Dua, Rohan (13 August 1978). "Varinder Walia made Editor of Punjabi Tribune". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
11. "Newspapers in India: Will subscription revenue overtake ad revenue?". Campaign India. Retrieved 19 November 2018.

External links

• Official website
• Facebook - The Tribune
• Twitter - The Tribune
• Instagram - The Tribune
• YouTube Channel - The Tribune
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:15 am

Debendranath Tagore
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/11/20



Debendranath Tagore
Portrait of Debendranath Tagore
Born: 15 May 1817, Calcutta, Bengal, Bengal Presidency[1]
Died: 19 January 1905 (aged 87), Calcutta, Bengal, British India
Nationality: British Indian
Occupation: Religious reformer
Movement: Bengal Renaissance
Children: Dwijendranath Tagore, Satyendranath Tagore, Hemendranath Tagore, Jyotirindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, Birendranath Tagore, Somendranath Tagore, Punyendranath Tagore, Budhendranath Tagore, Soudamini Tagore, Sukumari Tagore, Saratkumari Tagore, Swarnakumari Tagore and Barnakumari Tagore.

Debendranath Tagore (15 May 1817 – 19 January 1905) was a Bengali philosopher and religious savant, active in the Brahmo Samaj ("Society of Brahman"). He was the founder in 1848 of the Brahmo religion, which today is synonymous with Brahmoism. Born in Shilaidaha, his father was the industrialist Dwarkanath Tagore.

Debendranath was a deeply religious man. His movement, the Brahmo Samaj, was formed in 1843 by merging his Tattwabodhini Sabha with the Brahmo Sabha, ten years after the death of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, founder of the Brahmo Sabha. The Brahmo Sabha had fallen away from its original aims and practices, as stated in its Trust deed of Brahmo Sabha. However, Tagore aimed to revive the importance of this deed.

Although Debendranath was deeply spiritual, he managed to continue to maintain his worldly affairs – he did not renounce his material possessions, as some Hindu traditions prescribed, but instead continued to enjoy them in a spirit of detachment. His considerable material property included estates spread over several districts of Bengal; most famously, the Santiniketan estate near Bolpur in the Birbhum district, a later acquisition, where his eldest son Dwijendranath Tagore set up his school.

Debendranath was a master of the Upanishads and played no small role in the education and cultivation of the faculties of his sons.

Family History

The original surname of the Tagores were Kushari. They were Rarhi Brahmins and originally belonged to a village named Kush in the district named Burdwan in West Bengal. Rabindra-Biographer Shri Prabhat Kumar Mukherjee wrote in page no.2 of the first volume of his book named Rabindrajibani O Rabindra Sahitya Prabeshika that, "The Kusharis were the descendants of Deen Kushari, the son of Bhatta Narayana; Deen was granted a village named Kush (in Burdwan zilla) by Maharaja Kshitisura, he became its chief and came to be known as Kushari."[2]

Thakur Bari (House of Tagores)

Debendranath Tagore was born to the Tagore family in Jorasanko, popularly known as Jorasanko Thakur Bari in North-western Kolkata, which was later converted into a campus of the Rabindra Bharati University. The Tagore family, with over three hundred years of history,[3] has been one of the leading families of Calcutta, and is regarded as a key influence during the Bengal Renaissance.[3] The family has produced several persons who have contributed substantially in the fields of business, social and religious reformation, literature, art and music.[3][4]


Debendranath married Sarada Devi (died 1875) and they together had 15 children.[5] They included:

Dwijendranath (1840–1926) was an accomplished scholar, poet and music composer. He initiated shorthand and musical notations in Bengali. He wrote extensively and translated Kalidasa's Meghdoot into Bengali.

Satyendranath (1842–1923) was the first Indian to join the Indian Civil Service. At the same time he was a scholar.

Hemendranath (1844–1884) was the scientist and organiser of the family. He was a spiritual seer and Yogi and he was responsible for development of modern Brahmoism which is now the Adi Dharm religion. He was a "doer" of his Tagore generation and worthy successor to his grandfather Dwarkanath and father. He sided with his "conservative" siblings Dwijendranath and Birendranath in the family disputes against "modern" Satyendranath, Jyotindranath and Rabindranath.

Jyotirindranath (1849–1925) was a scholar, artist, music composer and theatre personality.

Rabindranath (1861–1941) was his youngest son. A Nobel laureate in Literature, his poems have been adopted as national anthems of India and Bangladesh. Rabindranath founded the Vishwabharathi University in the Shantiniketan Estate acquired by his father.

His other sons were Birendranath (1845–1915), Punyendranath, Budhendranath and Somendranath.

His daughters were Soudamini, Sukumari, Saratkumari, Swarnakumari (1855–1932) and Barnakumari. Soudamini was one of the first students of Bethune School and a gifted writer. Swarnakumari was a gifted writer, editor, song-composer and social worker. All of them were famous for their beauty and education. His part in creating the legacy of Thakurbari – the House of Tagore – in the cultural heritage of Bengal, centred in Kolkata, was not negligible. It was largely through the influence of the Tagore family, following that of the writer Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, that Bengal took a leading role on the cultural front as well as on the nationalistic one, in the Renaissance in India during the nineteenth century.


As son of Dwarkanath Tagore, a close friend of Ram Mohan Roy, Debendranath came early into the influence of Brahmoism through the Brahmo Sabha, a reformist movement in Hinduism formulating as Adi Dharma (Original Dharma) what it considered as the original pristine principles of Hinduism corrupted over time.

Upasana Griha, Prayer Hall, built by Debendranath Tagore in 1863, Santiniketan.

But even earlier, deeply affected in childhood by the death of his grandmother to whom he was greatly attached, Debendranath was drawn to religion and began contemplating the meaning and nature of life. He commenced a deep study of religious literature, particularly the Upanishads. In 1839, with tutelage from Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyabageesh, a leader of the Brahmo Sabha, he formed his own active Tattwabodhini Sabha (Truthseekers' Association) to spread his new experiences and knowledge.

In 1843, Debendranath started the Tattwabodhini Patrika as mouthpiece of the Tattwabodhini Sabha. In the same year, he revived the Brahma Sabha, fallen in vigour and following since the death of Ram Mohan Roy in 1833. The Brahmo Sabha was formally absorbed into the Tattwabodhini Sabha and renamed as Calcutta Brahma Samaj. The day Pous 7 of the Bengali calendar is commemorated as the foundation day of the Samaj. The Patrika became the organ of the Samaj and continued publication till 1883.

In 1848, Debendranath codified the Adi Dharma Doctrine as Brahmo Dharma Beej (Seed of the Brahmo Dharma). In 1850, he published a book titled Brahmo Dharma enshrining the fundamental principles. These principles emphasise monotheism, rationality and reject scriptural infallibility, the necessity of mediation between man and God, caste distinctions and idolatry.

With the influence of Brahmoism under Debendranath spreading far and wide throughout India, he gathered reputation as a person of particular spiritual accomplishment and came to be known as Maharshi.


Sivanath Sastri has paid glowing tributes to Debendranath Tagore in History of the Brahmo Samaj:

Maharshi Debendranath Tagore was one of the greatest religious geniuses this country ever produced. He was truly a successor of the great rishis of old. His nature was essentially spiritual. ... He was a devout follower of the Upanishadic rishis, but was no pantheist on that account. Debendranath in spite of his real sainthood never put on the grab or habits of sadhu or saint. His piety was natural, habitual and modest. He hated or shunned all display of saintliness...

He was a true and living embodiment of that teaching of the Gita where it is said: “A truly wise man is never buffeted by his trials and tribulations, does not covet pleasure, and is free from attachment, fear and anger; the same is a muni.” Maharshi Debendranath was a true muni in that respect. He calmly bore all; even the greatest griefs of life. After having done his duty, he quietly rested, regardless of consequences.

Though personally not much in favour of the idea of female emancipation, he was one of the first men in Bengal to open the door of higher education to women. Valuing conscience in himself, he valued it in all about him. Religious life was growth to him; not an intellectual assent but a spiritual influence that pervaded and permeated life; consequently, he had not much sympathy with merely reformatory proceedings.

From the west he took only two ideas: first, the idea of fidelity to God; secondly the idea of public worship; in all other things he was oriental. His idea was to plant the Samaj in India, as the Hindu mode of realising universal theism, leaving the other races to realise that universal faith according to their traditional methods.



• Bangla Bhashay Sanskrita Vyakaran (1838, now lost)
• Brahmodharma (1st & 2nd parts, 1849)
• Atmatattvavidya (1852)
• Brahmodharmer Mat O Biswas (1860)
• Paschim Pradesher Durbhiksha Upashame Sahajya Sangraharthe Brahmo Samajer Baktrita (1861)
• Brahmodharmer Byakhyan, Part I (1861)
• Kalikata Brahmosamajer Baktrita (1862)
• Brahmo Bibaha Pranali (1864)
• Brahmo Samajer Panchabingshati Batsarer Parikshita Brittanta (1864)
• Brahmodharmer Anusthan-Paddhati (1865)
• Bhowanipur Brahmavidyalayer Upadesh (1865–66)
• Brahmodharmer Byakhyan, Part II (1866)
• Masik Brahmo Samajer Upadesh (A collection of eighteen lectures delivered during 1860–67)
• Brahmodharmer Byakhyan, Epilogue (1885)
• Gyan O Dharmer Unnati (1893)
• Paralok O Mukti (1895)
• Atyojivani (1898)
• Patravali (A collection of letters written during 1850–87)


• Vedantic Doctrines Vindicated (1845)
• Autobiography (Translated from the original Bengali work, Atmajivani, by Satyendranath Tagore, 1914)


1. Chaudhuri, Narayan (2010) [1973]. Maharshi Debendranath Tagore. Makers of Indian Literature (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 11. ISBN 978-81-260-3010-1.
2. ""
3. Deb, Chitra, pp 64–65.
4. "The Tagores and Society". Rabindra Baharati University. Archived from the original on 26 June 2009. Retrieved 24 April 2007.
5. [1]

External links

• Works by or about Debendranath Tagore at Internet Archive
• Debendranath Tagore at Encyclopædia Britannica
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Dwarkanath Tagore
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/11/20



Dwarkanath Tagore
Born: 1794, Calcutta, Bengal, British India (Now in West Bengal)
Died: 1 August 1846, London, England
Nationality: British Indian
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Parent(s): Rammoni Tagore (father) Menoka Devi (biological mother) Alokasundari Devi adopted Dwarakanath as son. Alokasundari was elder sister of Menoka Devi.

Dwarkanath Tagore (Bengali: দ্বারকানাথ ঠাকুর, Darokanath Ţhakur) (1794–1846), one of the first Indian industrialists[1] and entrepreneurs, was the founder of the Jorasanko branch of the Tagore family, and is notable for making substantial contributions to the Bengal Renaissance.

Family History

The original surname of the Tagores was Kushari. They were Rarhi Brahmins and originally belonged to a village named Kush in the district named Burdwan in West Bengal. Rabindra-Biographer Shri Prabhat Kumar Mukherjee wrote in page no.2 of the first volume of his book named "Rabindrajibani O Rabindra Sahitya Prabeshika" that, "The Kusharis were the descendants of Deen Kushari, the son of Bhatta Narayana; Deen was granted a village named Kush (in Burdwan zilla) by Maharaja Kshitisura, he became its chief and came to be known as Kushari."[2]


Dwarakanath Tagore was a descendant of Rarhiya Brahmins of the Kushari (Sandilya gotra) division. Their ancestors were called Pirali Brahmin, as they were connected to a Brahmin family which had converted to Islam.[3][4]

He was the biological son of Rammani Tagore, son of Nilmoni Tagore, through Menoka Devi. But with the death of his mother, early in his birth, he was adopted by Rammani's brother Ramlochan Tagore and his wife Alokasundari Devi, who was incidentally the sister of Menoka Devi. Dwarakanth was the half brother of Radhanath and Ramanath Tagore, sons of Rammoni Tagore through Menoka Devi and Durga Devi respectively.

He was named so, because the Tagores were Baishnavites and Alokasundari, Devi considered him as a boon of their "kuladevata" i.e. home deity -- Radhagobinda, hence named the child as a name of Lord Krishna.

Dwarakanth's mother [aunt], Alokasundari Devi was a woman of strong personality, which greatly influenced him in his childhood.

His early education and upbringing was within the family home (Thakur Bari) by Gayanth Bhattacharya "Tarkalankar", a pandit from Agradwip. He and his half-elder brother, Radhanath also studied Arbi and Farsi under a "maulavi" at home. At age 10 in 1804, realising the importance of English education, he was admitted to Sherbourne's school on the Chitpur Road by Ramlochan Tagore. Mr. Sherbourne, a self-confessed half Brahmin (because of his Bengali Brahmin mother and English father) influenced Dwarakanath deeply with his liberal thoughts and eventually, he became one of Mr. Sherbourne's favourite pupils.

On 12 December 1807, Ramlochan died leaving all his property to his adopted son Dwarkanath, who was then a minor. This property consisted of zamindari estates governed by the complicated Regulations of Permanent Settlement introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1792. The Zamindars were the ruling authority of a certain sub-division or region under The British ruling authority in India and they (the Zamindars) had the authority to collect tax or to rule their fellow residents inside the territory of their Zamindaris on behalf of the British Government in India. Therefore, to participate in the Zamindari left by his adopted father Ramlochan Thakur as the forthcoming Zamindar, Dwarkanath left school in 1810 at the age of 16 and apprenticed himself under a renowned barrister at Calcutta Robert Cutlar Fergusson and shuttled between Calcutta and his estates at Behrampore and Cuttack.[5]

His tryst with district magistrate William Willsby, while setting a dispute in Birahimpur, was a testimony to the courage and personality of a 16-year-old standing up to a tyrannical and hot-headed magistrate.

On 7 February 1811 Dwarkanath was married to Digambaridevi (then 9 years old) from Jessore.

Dwarkanath and Zamindari

Dwarkanath attained the rare quality of being well versed in languages like English, Bengali, Arabic, Farsi, etc. & also in the legal matters, which he studied under Robert Cutlar Fergusson. He quickly realised the opportunity of enormous income to increase the family wealth (which was not much, compared to the other big zamindars) through translation jobs of property wills & other official documents.

He took upon his first assignment from the wealthy zamindar of Jessore, Baradakanta Roy, who promised him 2 guineas per line to translate a firman by Murshid Quli Khan from Arabic to English.

"As a zamindar Dwarkanath was mercilessly efficient and businesslike, but not generous".[6] Dwarkanath looked upon his investment in land as investment in any other business or enterprise and claimed what he deemed a fair return. In later years Dwarkanath would appoint European managers for his estates at Sahajadpur and Behrampore. In time Dwarkanath would convert his estates to integrated commercial-industrial complexes with indigo, silk and sugar factories. In the cut-throat world of zamindari politics Dwarkanath took no nonsense and gave no quarter to either European or native. His knowledge of the tenancy laws stood him in good stead. Unlike his good friend Rammohan Roy, who pleaded for the rights of the poor ryots, Dwarkanath Tagore was the best corporate-minded entrepreneur of his contemporary age. His innovative ideas, sharp intelligence, disciplined approaches and dedication established his greatness in the history of Indian entrepreneurs of all time.

Service with the company

In 1822 Dwarkanath, while carrying on his private ventures, took additional service in the British East India Company as Shestidar to Trevor Plowden, Collector for the 24 Parganas. Although the pay was meagre at under Rs.500 per year, the prestige and avenues for additional income were considerable and gave Dwarkanath an intimate insight into the functioning of the government. Trevor Plowden formed a lifelong friendship with Dwarkanath. In 1827 there arose a great scandal in the Salt Revenue department, centred on a dishonest Dewan. Because of Dwarkanath's own personal integrity and character, he was requested to take over as Dewan of the Board. He did not take long to rend asunder the network of corruption which resulted in a counter-petition against him to the Board accusing him of defalcation. To clear his name an enquiry was ordered which at each stage of enquiry — by the Board, by the Governor General and finally by the India Office at London — cleared him unreservedly. By then Dwarkanath had had enough of Government service and resigned in June 1834 to launch into his spectacular career as a full-time entrepreneur.

Bust of Dwarkanath Tagore at the National Library, Kolkata

Business life

Tagore was a western-educated Bengali Brahmin and an acknowledged civic leader of Kolkata who played a pioneering role in setting up a string of commercial ventures—banking, insurance and shipping companies— in partnership with British traders. In 1828, he became the first Indian bank director. In 1829, he founded Union Bank in Calcutta.

While empire figured in metropolitan consciousness in London to an uneven degree, Calcutta was undoubtedly first and foremost an imperial city. The 'second city of the empire' and the British capital in India until 1911, Calcutta constituted the most important political and administrative centre of British power in India. Calcutta was also the most important commercial centre of the East India Company, acting as the trading hub for the opium, textile and jute industries. By 1856-7, Bengal contributed 44 per cent of the total British Indian revenue; in 1884-5 the figure remained as high as 25 per cent.35 The degree of revenue generated by the region has led Pradip Sinha to characterise Bengal as 'the most exploited region in colonial India, with Calcutta as the nodal point of this process of exploitation'.36 In the early nineteenth century, joint commercial enterprises between Europeans and the emergent Bengali bhadralok elite -- who has prospered as monied purchasers of estates following the Permanent Settlement of 1793 -- led to the creation of business networks which brought colonisers and colonised into mutual collaboration.37 The 1830s and 1840s have been characterised by Blair Kling as a 'Age of Enterprise', symbolised by Calcutta's largest business enterprise of the period, the Union Bank, which operated under joint European and Indian management with both European and Indian stockholders, and whose policy, until 1844, was essentially controlled by the zamindar (landowner), businessman and social leader Dwarkanath Tagore.38 Commercial collaborations of this kind were, of course, restricted in general to Calcutta's rich and powered elite.

When the trade and business connections between British and elite Bengali businessmen continued throughout the nineteenth century, the global financial crisis of 1848, which led to the collapse of the Union Bank and, ultimately, to the end of Calcutta as an independent centre of capital accumulation and investment, profoundly altered the nature of commercial relations between Britons and Bengali elites in the city. Post 1848, collaboration between Bengali and British businessmen became less common, capital investment came increasingly from Britain, and the economy of Eastern India was divided increasingly into an agrarian social order and a Calcutta-centred commercial world.39 As Andrew Sartori has observed, 'The Calcutta-centred commercial world would be marked as constitutively white and Western by the marked exclusivity of European control and management of capital-based enterprise -- in the sense of the profound subordination of the regional economy to the metropolitan capital market and in the sense of the racial exclusivity of the locally based business interests that were no longer dependent on native investment'.40 By the 1870s, the commercial collaboration evident in the 1830s and 1840s had been fractured irrevocably along racial lines.

The racial divisions which became increasingly apparent in the commercial sphere from the mid-nineteenth century were evident earlier in the spatial division of Calcutta into a 'White Town', based around Chowringhee, and a 'Black Town', located in the north of the city. Sinha has contended that the 'White Town' and the 'Black Town' were separated to such a degree that the former exerted little impact, at a 'cognitive level', on the latter.41 However, other historians have stressed the extent to which a variety of 'contact zones', facilitating interaction between Europeans and Calcuttans of all classes, emerged in the city in spite of the divisions between the two 'towns'.42 Such contact, however, always took place within the context of fundamental inequalities of power immanent in the imperial relationship.

The economy and topography of Calcutta, along with its status as the centre of British administrative power in India, lent the city an overtly imperial character in comparison to other Indian urban centres. The impact of Western culture was also particularly pronounced. The Calcutta bhadralok elite came to prominent not only as a result of economic opportunities generated by the Permanent Settlement, but also due to their access to English education, which facilitated their employment in a variety of lower-level Company and government positions. Calcutta was affected more than any other Indian city by the proliferation of institutions offering English education, which resulted from the triumph of the Anglicist camp in the Orientalist/Anglicist debates of the 1830s.43 A vast literature exists exploring the effects of English education in Bengal, and the role which Indian exposure to 'Western' knowledge played in engendering the 'Bengal renaissance'.

-- Keshab: Bengal's Forgotten Prophet, by John A. Stevens

He helped found the first[1] Anglo-Indian Managing Agency (industrial organizations that ran jute mills, coal mines, tea plantations, etc.,[7]) Carr, Tagore and Company. Even earlier, Rustomjee Cowasjee, a Parsi in Calcutta, had formed an inter-racial firm but in the early 19th century, Parsis were classified as a Near Eastern community as opposed to South Asian. Tagore's company managed huge zamindari estates spread across today's West Bengal and Odisha states in India, and in Bangladesh, besides holding large stakes in new enterprises that were tapping the rich coal seams of Bengal, running tug services between Calcutta and the mouth of the river Hooghly and transplanting Chinese tea crop to the plains of Upper Assam. Carr, Tagore and Company was one of those Indian private companies engaged in the opium trade with China. Production of opium was in India and it was sold in China. When the Chinese protested, the East India Company transferred the opium trade to the proxy of certain selected Indian companies, of which this was one. In 1832 Tagore purchased the first Indian coal mine in Raniganj,[1] which eventually became the Bengal Coal Company. Very large schooners were engaged in shipments. This made Dwarkanath extremely rich, and there are legends about the extent of his wealth.

Dabbling in politics

Dwarkanath Tagore was of the firm conviction that at those times "the happiness of India is best secured by her connection with England". Dwarkanath was no doubt a loyalist, and a sincere one at that, but he was by no means a toady. Servility was as far from his character as was lack of generosity from his nature. He was also firm in defending the interest and sentiments of his people against European prejudices. With this in view, he established on 21 March 1838 an Association for Landholders (later known as the Landholder's Society). The association was overtly a self-serving political association, founded on a large and liberal basis, to admit landholders of all descriptions, Englishmen, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. What is interesting is that it cut across racial and religious divides being founded along with his old rival Raja Radhakanta Deb with whom he had earlier founded the Gaudiya Sabha. It was the first political association in India to ventilate in a constitutional manner the grievances of the people or a section of them that were outspoken. From this grew the British Indian Association, the precursor to the Indian National Congress.


Monument of Dwarkanath Tagore at Kensal Green Cemetery London clicked on 11 August 2018.

A commemoration to Dwarkanath Tagore at Kensal Green Cemetery on 11 August 2018 was organised by Bengal Heritage Foundation.

Dwarkanath Tagore died "at the peak of his fortune"[1] on the evening of 1 August 1846 at the St. George's Hotel in London during a tremendous thunderstorm with hail the size of walnuts.

He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery on 5 August 1846 in a private ceremony without any religious observances. His heart, which had been previously extracted, was sent to Calcutta to conduct the Brahmo rites amidst great controversy. After his death, a Death mask was made. However, the remains of the death mask and his heart have not yet been found in England or India and are presumably lost.

In his obituary, The London Mail newspaper of 7 August wrote:

"Descended from the highest Brahmin caste of India his family can prove a long and undoubted pedigree. But it is not on account of this nobility that we now review his life but on far better grounds. However gifted, his claims rest on a higher pedestal — he was the benefactor of his country... [T]hey testified to his merits in the encouragement of every public and private undertaking likely to benefit India."[8]

A commemoration, organised by Bengal Heritage Foundation, was held on 11 August 2018 at Kensal Green Cemetery to celebrate Dwarkanath's life and completion of phase 1 of conservation of his monument. Scores of people joined in the commemoration and with eulogies reflecting on business, social and philanthropic contributions. Jnanadanandini Devi, wife of India's first Civil Servant Satyendranath Tagore, elder brother of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, claimed in her book that while she was in London in 1878, she gave birth to a still-born baby and the baby was buried in Dwarkanath Tagore's grave area. Another two-year-old son of Jnanadanandini Devi, named 'Chobi' died in England during that tour. But it is not clear whether he was also buried in this grave or not.


1. Wolpert, Stanley (2009). A New History of India (8th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford UP. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-19-533756-3.
2. ""
3. Thompson, Jr., E (1926), Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Dramatist, Read, p. 12, ISBN 1-4067-8927-5, The [Tagores] are Pirili Brahmans [sic]; that is, outcastes, as having supposedly eaten with Musalmans in a former day. No strictly orthodox Brahman would eat or inter-marry with them.
4. (Dutta & Robinson 1995, pp. 17–18).
5. "History of the Adi Brahmo Samaj (1906)"
6. Kling, Blair B., Partner in Empire: Dwarkanath Tagore and the Age of Enterprise in Eastern India, p. 32. University of California Press, 1976; Calcutta, 1981. ISBN 0-520-02927-5
7. Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (2004). A History of India (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. p. 265. ISBN 0-415-32920-5. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
8. Kripalani, Krishna (1981). Dwarkanath Tagore, A Forgotten Pioneer: A Life. New Delhi, India: National Book Trust, India. pp. 246–7. Retrieved 18 September 2011.

Further reading

• Blair B Kling, Partner in Empire: Dwarkanath Tagore and the Age of Enterprise in Eastern India, University of California Press, 1976; Calcutta, 1981. ISBN 0-520-02927-5
• NK Sinha, The Economic History of Bengal 1793–1848, III, Calcutta, 1984.
• Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), 1976/1998, Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, (in Bengali), p223. ISBN 81-85626-65-0

External links

• Islam, Sirajul (2012). "Tagore, Prince Dwarkanath". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
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