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Attending a talk by Dr. Guha


By: Seram Rojesh *


"Why India is the most interesting country in the world?"
Dr RamChandra Guha.


Under the initiatives of the Vice chancellor, Deepak Pental, university of Delhi, Universities a lectures series was organized in V.C auditorium, Delhi University by 4 pm on 8th July 2006. One of the progressive historians Dr. Ramchandra Guha became the first speaker of the talk series.

Dean of Delhi University, Nanjot Lehari had the privilege to introduce Dr Ramchandra Guha, a student of economics in St. Stephen College in 1974-1977, MA economics in 1977-1979 from Delhi School of Economics. His range of writing is from social history of Forest to about Cricket, Ecology, History of Tribes, Sino Indian Dispute and many more.

Later, Ram Chandra Guha left Delhi School of Economics after he was told one of the professors "if you leave economics it will be good for you and better for economics!" He left Delhi and started his career as an MBA and than became Sociologist and Historian. Dr Ramchandra Guha's topic was on "Why India Is the Most interesting country in the world?

After the introduction, Dr Ramchandra clarified the reason he joined Delhi School of Economics was, "I wanted to be a cricketer as a student of Delhi School of Economics, But it did not happen because to become a cricketer was the aims of million of people."

Dr. Guha reminds about a lesson he was told by Basu Dev Chatterjee, "If you want to protest on the street, you can be a Marxist but don't be a Marxist if you study History of India". Dr Guha describes Delhi University is the only "National University" in India because of two reasons: 1) Delhi Universities has a cosmopolitan character. Many students across the country came to study in Delhi University. 2) Many Undergraduates colleges are affiliated with all disciplines.

Dr Guha says "India is the most interesting country in the world and also India is the most educated country in the world" Dr. Guha showed one 50 rupees to the audience and said, "in this 50 rupees, on one side there is a picture of Mahatma Gandhi – The Father of Nation and on the other side, there are 17 scripts of major Indian languages with larger concepts. This is the very simple example why India is interesting in the world." Dr. Guha talks about four profound transactions in twentieth century. From colonial to independent nation is one of them.

He says "India has extra-ordinary diverse characters. India is a 'un-natural' nation". The British were wondering about the planning to have a nation like India. He referred to one British remark "How could people of Madras, Bengal, people of Punjab become a nation". 'India was not supposed to exist like United States of America. India is unlikely a democratic country."

Dr. Guha further explained; In India the first Adult Franchise was conducted in 1951 where Indian women were allowed to vote whereas in Switzerland women were allowed to vote only in 1971.

He further talks about Indo–china war in 1960. "Nehru was not in the position to command. In 1961 trouble with china was beginning." Guha pointed out by referring to London Times in 1967, "one journalist from London reported in London Times that India will only have 4th election but 9th parliamentarian election was already done".

He says "India is somewhat united and somewhat democratic.' 'India produces Extraordinary characters in the world. In the partisan India faced millions of refugee, it was a great challenge for India to integrate 500 princely states in India."

He asks, "What are the differences between B, R Ambedker and Mulayam Singh Yadev? Differences between B.R Ambedker and Mulayam Singh Yadev are equal to differences between Abraham Lincoln and George Bush."

About the provincial leaders, Dr. Guha talks about Sikh Abdullah of Kashmir and Phijo of Nagaland. He says, in 1946 Naga nation was set up and followed by Naga national army. After the military expedition of India Army Many of the Naga armies were arrested. Mr. Phizo escapes to Bangladesh and reached London. He organized press conference in London and started his mobilization. He died in 1990. He works for a Naga country.

"If India is a un-Democratic Nation, Why India does survive?" He says. It is because of 4 reasons, 1) Because of game of cricket. 2) Some Legacy of British Railway. 3) Territorial Hardness. 4) Integrated India with constitutional India.

He describes about Manipur with a remark of Mr.Lyndo, former chief election commissioner of India, "People of Manipur think as a part of India on the day of election". He says about Manipur as 'Violent torn part of country Manipur'.

Dr. Guha says, 'India's greatest contribution to the world is that Indian is a wonderful experiment of multi culture and it is the closest approximate of free world'.

As, Dr .Ramchandra Guha concluded his speech, he was greeted with warm clapping by the audience. Prof. Nanjot Lehri opened to the audience which were comprises with full of academic communities of Delhi University, research scholar, students and journalist including BBC news radio. In Delhi Universities, every department organizes seminar, talk program once in every week. This University lecture series is planning to organize once in every year.

During the question hour, I took an opportunity to ask a supplementary Question to Dr. Ramchandra Guha, My question was, "since you are talking about India's extraordinary character in the world, about multi cultural identity and so on, I think you missed one point to mention about another extra political character of India that is, you know Military rule and Democracy are contradictory to each other, do you know India Is the only country in the world where both military rule and democracy are existing in the last 50 years. You know Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 is operating in some part of the country."

Before I concluded my supplementary question he answered to the audience, "Yes I don't say Indian democracy is the perfect democracy. Indian democracy is 50/50. Imperfect democracy is also good. Yes you are right. It is also happening in Chatishgarh." Many Questions were asked from audiences. University lecture series 2007 was ended with a tea break.

Outside the hall, many people discusses about the talk. In the corner of lawn, some new books were displayed. This is a new book by Dr. Guha Called "India- The largest democratic country in the world". In this book, he wrote about AFSPA, nude protest, Chittaranjan's Self Immolation with his remarks.

I asked Dr.Guha, "Sir, since you are talking about 1950 election, the first Adult Franchise was held in 1948 in Manipur where women were allowed to vote before Indian election. V.P Menon's book 'Integration of Indian states' there is no chapter about Manipur." Dr. Guha responded, "About Manipur Election, I want proper documents. I am a historian; we are based on proper documents. If 1948 election of Manipur have proper documents, it will be great for Manipur and us. I can't take it about Nagas' referendum of 99% vote for independence without proper document".

Q. Sir, in your book title, 'India the largest democratic country in the world' Why you say so since there is colonial legalization of AFSPA in India. AFSPA was not made to counter the militant rather it is to suppress the whole population and colonized the people. Do you find home minister Sader Patel's letter to Nehru presumption about the areas, says 'this people may have Mongoloid prejudices so they should be keep under surveillance'... ".

Dr. Guha responded, 'don't say colonized, it is very easy to blame India but it is very difficult to look upon our self" AFSPA was to counter the Naga rebels". I said, 'No sir, AFSPA was made in 1958, if you look 1958 records, you will find 'The armed forces special power act 1958 (Manipur and Assam)" With surprise Dr. Guha indicates, Oh! Really, is it so? Oh! Really, .Yes Sir, Please have a look.

It was a good initiative taken by Deepak Pental, V.C, and University of Delhi. Dr. Ramchandra Guha is a highly respected, and one of the profound historian in India.


* Seram Rojesh contributes for the first time to e-pao.net . He is doing M. Phil at Delhi School of Economics, Department of Sociology. The writer can be contacted at dajes_m(at)yahoo(dot)com . This article was webcasted on September 20th, 2007.


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