Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Little Pockets of History

This was published in The Statesman, kolkata-Delhi, under the title LITTLE POCKETS OF HISTORY on 5 January 2010
Showing respect to the dead is common to societies all over the world. ‘Speak not ill of the dead’, is what we are taught from our childhood. ‘Let them rest in peace’ comes instantly to mind as we pass a grave. Encroaching and vandalising their final resting place can therefore be viewed as sacrilege. Shakespeare sounded a grim warning in the epitaph inscribed into his gravestone at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon in England:
"Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones,And cursed be he that moves my bones."Shakespeare supposedly wrote it himself because in his time old bodies were dug up and burned to make room for new burials. Many British men and women of the Raj era would have aspired to borrow from Shakespeare's epitaph and wished their final resting places to remain untouched by the encroaching, marauding hand.
There are few well kept graveyards, such as the Bhowanipore Cemetery in Kolkata, Viceroy Lord Elgin's memorial at McLeodgunj in Himachal Pradesh, the Nuns' cemetery near St Bedes College for Women in Simla, and the War cemeteries at Kohima, Delhi, Pune and Comilla in Bangladesh. Most, however, have fallen prey to encroachment, vandalism and pilferage. Some have disappeared due to the vagaries of nature or to the greed for land. It is the same story from Peshawar to Chittagong, Baramula to Trivandrum. Peshawar’s Gora Qabristan, witness to the Afghan Wars, and the cantonment cemetery in Meerut, where the Indian Uprising of 1857 began, are typical of the decay now facing old British graves. As a result, it is nearly impossible to put an exact number, far less to decipher the inscriptions on them. Criminals take away headstones making it difficult to identify the tombs as has happened with the graves of Bethune and Michael Madhusudan Dutt in Kolkata’s Lower Circular Road Cemetery.
Non-British cemeteries have fared no better. The Jewish cemetery, located off Lloyd's Road in Madras, now Chennai, is adjacent to the Chinese cemetery and both cemeteries have clusters of vendors and squatters with vegetables displayed on the road itself at the entrances. Portuguese, Spanish and French tombs have all but disappeared from the Indian soil.
Whereas most of the inscriptions on the grave stones speak of the survivor’s grief and loss, some speak of the vanity of their occupants ignoring Thomas Gray’s famous Elegy “… The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” In most cases, the tombstones are not of Viceroys and other high and mighty of the British Raj but of the countless British civil servants, soldiers, merchants, missionaries, townspeople and teachers, their spouses and children most of whom succumbed not to sword but to summer heat and tropical diseases. They are all part of India’s past. If some headstones contain doggerels we also come across some fine quotes and original compositions. At least some of the tombs can claim to be fair representatives of Indo-European architecture. Much has been lost but not all. If properly maintained these cemeteries can become virtual 'al-fresco museums'.
The care of these graves has become no body’s baby. Lack of interest and resources lie behind this callous neglect. But it is more a question of mindset. This was amply reflected in the adverse media reaction to the restoration in Delhi of the tomb of Brigadier-General Sir John Nicholson, whom William Dalrymple, a British himself, has portrayed as the villain of the 1857 uprising aftermath. Local sensitivities have of course to be taken care of. The Indian public and their representatives in parliament and government have to be sensitised to the fact that conservation of the Raj era cemeteries is not meant to glorify and perpetuate British imperial history but to give us a valuable perspective on India’s heritage. We have to look at these graveyards as ‘little pockets of history’, a who’s who of the British Raj. However much we may resent the British rule in India we cannot wish it away.
The conservation of these tombs and cemeteries is simply beyond the capacity of local church committees. A concerted effort is called for lest this valuable source of history is lost for ever. Sadly, in India the Central and State Minority Commissions and the nominated Anglo-Indian members of state assemblies have been indifferent. The least they can do is to pressurise the government to have pucca boundary walls erected to prevent further encroachment as the hunger for land can drive people to any length. The British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA), a London-based charity, has done a great job in listing out a large number of graves and even pays for the upkeep of some. Lately, Lt. Col. Lake has launched a trust in UK with an ambitious target to raise £700,000 a year from corporate donors such as HSBC, Rothschild, Lloyds and other major foundations so that these places can be maintained in perpetuity throughout the erstwhile British empire. India-based NGOs and public authorities may also pitch in and play a coordinating role.
An estimated two million graves of the Raj era, lying in isolation or in clusters in designated cemeteries, dot the Indian sub continent. If the government can catalogue and put them on the net many of the present generation Britain may want to visit India to connect with their ancestors and put a wreath on their tombs. In the process they will be unwittingly promoting what can be crudely termed as "graveyard tourism".
Most of all, we must create public awareness to defer to the dignity of the dead for, to borrow from the epitaph on Viceroy Lord Elgin’s grave, “He being dead yet speaketh”.
Dr. Sudhir Kumar Jha
NIRVANA’ Buddha Colony
Patna 800 001
(The author is a former Director General of Police, Bihar and a free-lance researcher. He can be contacted at

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Personal Vigilance Is The Answer
Crime on the internet, or cyber crime in trendy parlance, is no more confined to the pages of science fiction. It has truly arrived, leaving the law enforcement agencies baffled. This is a new type of cat and mouse game they have not played earlier nor been trained for. Hackers no longer need violent weapons or accomplices to commit felonies. What they need now is a computer, a screen name, and intent to mutilate one or many computer systems.
Anonymity of the internet and its decentralized global nature helps them to manoeuvre through web pages, access credit card numbers and passwords, or just keep on stalking. Often the only clue is their e-mail address. Fraud has always been around; computers give it a new dimension. What if the numbered Swiss accounts can be compromised? The rise in e-commerce, and soon m-commerce, is bound to present a bounty to the scam artist. What is really disturbing is the wide, and ever increasing, scope of crime through the internet. Be it pornography, blackmail, extortion, drug traffic, terrorism or sheer vandalism, a computer can be exploited.
Minors attack computer systems out of curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and while exploring, exceed bounds of what is legal. Adults do it for reasons that can vary from greed to revenge to sheer mischief. Megalomania or delusion or grandeur is at times the driving force. While commercial, military, government and home computers are vulnerable, the easiest targets are often those at educational institutions. Any effort at building the network defences must start with fixing these weakest links. Favourite targets have been the computers in South Korea, China, the Philippines, Russia, Eastern Europe and US. Can India remain unscathed for long?
While the new medium is a haven for criminals, the anonymity of the web cuts both ways. The cloak of electronic facelessness is the perfect tool for police to run decoys and keep an eye on the bad guy. In a case reported from UK, a sleazy character found an underage girl in a chat room on the internet and tried to lure her into having six at some prearranged location. At the destination a 50-year old policewoman with a shiny pair of handcuffs greeted him. She was the “young girl” all along. India’s police in the metros can take note.
The much-hyped “Love Bug” virus that swept the world recently took the internet world by storm and unnerved the computer security experts. The Philippines police arrested a man suspected of helping to create the crippling virus but had to set him free for want of evidence. Close on the heels came a new and dangerous computer virus dubbed “killer resume”. It was so named because it arrived pretending to be a “resume” from a potential job applicant. The virus was carried in a file attached to an e-mail system using a Microsoft outlook programme. In a not-too-late response Microsoft has come out with an anti-bug patch which prevents the users from running any “executable” programme attachments to e-mail and flashes a warning if there is an attempt.
The authorities complain that their probe is hampered by a lack of laws covering the new global computer network delaying arrest and allowing the suspects time to dispose of key evidence. In the United States, the FBI is alarmed at cyber crimes doubling in a year. Their survey of Fortune 500 companies revealed that 62 per cent of all reported computer breaches till date occurred last year. It feels frustrated at not being able to keep up its excellent track record. In his recent testimony before a subcommittee of the US Senate, FBI director Louis Freeh listed lack of manpower, technology (computer architecture), hazy jurisdictional issues and weak laws as the main hindrances to effective cyber policing. He recommended tougher laws including doubling jail time and fine.
The question of jurisdiction is crucial since internet crimes will often cross state and national boundaries. The US proposes to have Law Net, which would be an online investigating agency that could cross local, state and even international borders. It is imperative that not one but all countries have adequate laws and they enter into treaties of mutual cooperation, like the extradition treaties. Interpol is in a unique position to play a pivotal role, both detective and instructive. Its advice should be taken and listened to.
In India, our economy is going to be driven by e-commerce. Computer is crucial in the running of infrastructure public utilities such as telecom, power and gas distribution, banking, railways and aviation. E-mail is fast replacing fax and conventional mail (derisively called the “snail mail”). And yet, India is only at the threshold of an internet revolution. According to a guesstimate, only about 15 per cent of a million internet connections are at homes. More cyber cafes and information kiosks will come up once the problems of bandwidth shortage and slow dial-up connections are taken care of. This gives us time, but not much time, to put our cyber policing in place.
Fortunately, so far nothing more serious than software piracy and theft of internet time has been reported to the police. To make our large police force, a few lakh strong, computer literate will be neither easy nor cheap. To start with specialized cells should be created in the central and state police organizations. The ministry of Home Affairs should take the lead, though there is now a separate ministry of Information Technology. One hopes the IT law-in-making will have enough bite. Success will, however, depend not on the stiff penal provisions but on strict enforcement. Also on the anvil is a convergence law, to be called information, communicator and entertainment bill or some such thing. It has to be ensured that the two laws do not work at cross purposes.
IT minister Pramod Mahajan has returned from the United States quite taken in with what the Americans are doing in this regard. He is all praise for the FBI-led National Infrastructure Protection Centre he visited in Washington and has proposed a committee on similar lines. He has said nothing about India having something like the American NetLaw. The central intelligence agencies will have to hone their cyber skill and employ it increasingly for routine espionage and counter-espionage. Surveillance and monitoring will be vital inputs in any future plan for cyber policing.
The telecommunications and the postal departments intercept transmissions when asked to do so. Why can’t there be a law to make the internet service providers install the data equivalent of wiretaps? The tap must, however, be used sparingly as it involves the infringement of citizen’s privacy. Sensitive issues such as these, one hopes, have been addressed in the proposed information technology bill. Till such time, and it can be a long time, that the police agencies are geared up, the business houses will have to use the protective and investigative cover made available by the private security agencies. Once having vetted these agencies, the police should cooperate with them rather than making their work difficult.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has assumed the entrepreneurial role of introducing the country’s police forces to e-policing. The bureau is in the process of collecting and collating the literature available on cyber crime and distributing the same to the country’s police forces in the form of CD-ROM. It has also planned training and orientation programmes for its own and state police officers. The SVP National Police Academy at Hyderabad has also planned special courses in combating Net-crimes for Indian and foreign police officers.
What is required is to generate security awareness among the computer users through a sustained campaign. Personal vigilance will preempt much of the trouble. Keep changing your password. Enjoy online shopping but be discreet in disclosing your credit card number. The computer must remain user-friendly but should have enough built-in safety to deter the prowler. To this end the designers and the security experts much work in tandem.
The author is a former Director General of Police, Bihar.

The Interpol Saga - limits of global policing

Limits of Global Policing
Our mega-scams have made the Central Bureau of Investigation a household word. But the CBI can go so far and no further. It can do precious little once scam money has been stashed away in foreign accounts and the dramatis personae have found sanctuary abroad. CBI then takes the help of Interpol. Even to those who have heard of Interpol, it is a mysterious presence, bordering on fantasy, handling operatives in the James Bond mould. The truth is nothing as exciting.
Interpol stands for international police cooperation and not for international policing. Countries are sensitive about their national sovereignty and no country will tolerate a foreign police agency or even an international police body snooping into its affairs however friendly its intentions may be. The constitution of Interpol therefore emphasizes that police cooperation must be limited to criminal offences and that too within the limits of the laws of different countries, in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Interpol initiatives are invalid when dealing with fugitives seeking asylum from political or religious persecution. The other day Interpol had to turn down China’s request to arrest Li Hongzhi, the leader of the banned Falun Gong sect, as it could not have involved itself in a case of political or religious nature. Interpol has no branches. Every member country has to designate one of its several police agencies as the national central bureau to liaise with Interpol. It is through these NCBs that Interpol operates. In India, CBI is the designated NCB.
Interpol is a contrivance born out of necessity. The giant strides taken by science and technology in the present century offers increased opportunities for international criminal activity. For instance, preparations for a crime may be made in one country and committed in another; an offender may escape across a border after committing his offence; or he may transfer his illicit gains abroad. Tracing and detaining such offenders, and their eventual extradition, may prove extremely difficult. If these problems have to be overcome police agencies must work together.
A concerted attempt was made to improve police cooperation through the International Criminal Police Commission in Vienna in 1923. It was essentially a European organization and met annually. A degree of mystery still surrounds the years of World War II. The Germans moved its headquarters offices from Vienna to Berlin, but most records have vanished, leaving the allegation that it became an arm of the Nazi state largely unproven. This did not stop the former French President, Mitterand, saying at the opening of the new Interpol buildings in Lyons in 1989 that “the Nazi invasion (of Austria) led to the institution being used for unacceptable ends, against the wishes of its founders and most of it’s members”. After its uncertain wartime history, a broad-based ICPC moved its headquarters in 1946 from Berlin to Paris. New statutes were adopted and Interpol was chosen as the telegraphic address. In 1956 ICPC became International Criminal Police Organisation – better known as Interpol.
Interpol is not an agency of the United Nations though it does collaborate with the latter in certain areas. Like the UN, the membership of Interpol is voluntary. It has become a truly global organization with the number of member countries jumping from 50 in 1955 and 177 in 1997. As an estimated 80 per cent of the traffic going through Interpol’s communication is between European countries, they make a bigger financial contribution. Irrespective of their size and financial contribution all members enjoy equal rights. The supreme governing body of Interpol is its Central Assembly which meets annually and takes all major policy decisions. An executive committee elected by the assembly meets thrice a year to monitor the implementation of the policy decisions.
The General Secretariat is Interpol’s implementing arm and its permanent presence. The Secretary General heading the secretariat is the chief executive officer of Interpol and its moving spirit. The Secretary General is elected by the General Assembly for five years at a time. The secretariat has four divisions – the executive office, the financial controller and the European liaison bureau report directly to the Secretary General. The 300-strong secretariat staff are police officers or administrative and technical personnel.
The areas of principal interest to Interpol are offences against persons and property including murder, kidnapping for ransom, terrorism and hostage-taking, traffic in human beings, aerial hijacking, traffic in stolen motor vehicles, clandestine business in firearms and explosives etc; economic and financial crime including currency and document counterfeiting and forgery, fraud of various types involving banking operations and other commercial activities, money laundering, traffic in radioactive substances and environmental crimes; offences involving cultural property such as art theft and trafficking in endangered species of wild life; and drug trafficking and related offences including illicit cultivation, manufacture, transport and sale of drugs. Of the above, narcotics and money-laundering use up the better part of Interpol’s time and resources. It is in respect of these two that our CBI and the Narcotics Control Bureau have the most to do with Interpol.
International conferences on fraud and money-laundering organized by Interpol have strongly urged the member countries to make laws to confiscate the alleged proceeds of crime, even unexplained wealth, using the principle of “reverse onus”. India’s Law Commission has reportedly taken the cue. Lately Interpol has also been collaborating with India’s forest officials and agencies concerned with preservation of endangered species in preventing poaching and smuggling of tiger skins, elephant tusks, rhino horns, etc.
Interpols’ bread and butter is the circulation of crime-related information in what are known as “international notices”. Of the various kinds of notices the red-cornered notice is of utmost concern and urgency to Interpol. It is issued to secure the arrest and the extradition of accused persons.
Remember CBI activating the red-corner and look-out notice against Quattrocchi (Bofors case) through Interpol in the wake of the Supreme Court upholding the warrant of arrest against him? And for the arrest of Kim Davy in the Purulia arms dropping case? In response to Interpol’s red alert notices, Chandraswamy’s aide Babloo Srivastava was arrested in Singapore, a JKLF leader in Belgium, and drug lord Iqbal Mirza in London. The twin resolution adopted unanimously at the 66th Interpol General Assembly Meet in Delhi in October 1997 – to give legal status to the red alert notices and to create a universal convention on extraditions – may some day become a reality.
Interpol was never intended as an operational force but was concerned to see general cooperation achieved between national police systems and facilitate that by acting as a clearing house of information. Some critics of Interpol see it as Eurocentric. Others find it bureaucratic and cumbersome, besides being remote and distant from on-the-ground policing.
Despite Interpol having moved more directly into tackling terrorism doubts have remained due to a feeling that its worldwide membership could still lead to information in the Interpol network getting into wrong hands. Interpol rejects the criticism but it came in for some defamatory comment when it was alleged that it had withheld information about a Palestinian “guerrilla chief” who visited France for medical treatment in the early 90s. No one, however, questions its pre-eminence in international police matters. It has remained apolitical by and large.
With its high-profile professional image Interpol can step into the next millennium with confidence. If Shengen and Trevi gradually take over Europolicing, Interpol will be able to pay better attention to the rest of the world.
25th November 1999
The Statesman


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There is no harm in imbibing the good, even from those we hate. If we look at our erstwhile colonial masters with unbiased eyes, there is a lot we can learn from them and adopt to our advantage. Private financing for public good is one of them.
Much as we may hate the British rulers, we ought to be beholden to them for the monuments, institutions and systems they bequeathed us. Some of the buildings they built to house colleges, hospitals and Government offices are beautiful specimens of architecture and are landmarks in our cities today. Yet the British were no philanthropists. In fact, they were penny-pinchers at core. But they were clever and resourceful enough to know when to tap funds and get things done without dipping into profits. The British Governors, Commissioners and Collectors involved the local Rajas, landlords and businessmen in this task, cajoling or coercing them as was considered expedient. The Indian ‘haves’ readily responded and donated in cash and kind. In most cases, the motive was a mixture of altruism and self-interest. They wanted to leave behind something for which the posterity would remember them, they also wanted to ingratiate themselves with the British officialdom in the hope of certain favours, most of all for honorifics such as titles of Maharaja, Raja Bahadur, Rai Bahadur, Khan Bahadur, Rai Saheb and Khan Saheb, etc.
As early as the mid nineteenth century, the British prevailed upon these potentates to open a chain of Anglo-vernacular schools in their jurisdictions, this facilitating the introduction of western education in India. The Government also made them partners in promoting higher English education. Premier institutions such as the Patna College in Bihar and the Ravenshaw College in Orissa developed through donations and endowments from the native Sates and local zamindars. The reputed Patna Medical College Hospital would have been stillborn but for the local donors pitching in. Clearance was received from the Government of India in 1921 to set up a medical college at Patna. The project involved heavy capital expenditure but how to palm it off to others? The Prince of Wales was visiting India around the same time. The Government was quick to seize the opportunity and promptly created a Prince of Wales Medical College Fund. A donation in excess of Rs. 15 lakh was collected in no time. While the college was named the Prince of Wales, the donors had to remain content with wards and facilities named after them.
While heath and education were on the top of the agenda, the Government sought private contributions in other fields equally readily. That was how many district towns got their magnificent Town Halls. When the earthquake hit Bihar in 1934, the Government heavily depended on private donations in cash and kind to meet the twin tasks of rehabilitation and reconstruction, in some cases of an entire township. Even memorials to the British monarch and viceroys were raised with the money so collected. The Victoria Memorial of Calcutta, the Taj Mahal of eastern India, are the most outstanding specimens of this exercise.
The Akipur Zoo in Calcutta could not have become the attraction it is without continuous flow of private donations. The Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai (shortly to be named after Chhatrapati Shivaji, if the Government of Maharashtra has its way) owes much to the munificence of people like Ibrahim Ramitulla, Cowasjee Jahangir and the Nawab of Junagadh. The pattern was the same throughout the country. Ironically, these carried the name of a British monarch, Viceroy or Governor. At the best, a plaque in some corner acknowledged the donor.
The Raj had no pretences of being a welfare State. It was a police State and it knew its limitation where public spending was concerned. During over 50 years as a free nation we have stretched the concept of “welfare” State to ludicrous limits. In the process the Government bit more than it could chew. It was suspicious of involving private players in the task of nation-building. Always cash-strapped but still wanting to do everything by itself, it slipped in the core areas of mass literacy and primary health care. The Government failed to nurture even the IITs and IIMs set up during the Nehru era now appealing to their alumni and fishing for sponsors. Centrally funded Delhi University and Jawaharlal University are to follow suit. To add insult to injury while the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research are languishing for want of funds, the Government has decided to endow a chair of Indian history and culture at the Oxford University at a cost of 1.8 million pound sterling.
Equally said is the story of our heritage sites. Far from erecting new monuments that would make the coming generations proud, we have not been able to look after the ones we have inherited. Rather than throwing its hands up in despair, the Government should draw a lesson or two from the Raj. Fortunately, it does seem to be waking up. The Department of Culture, Government of India, set up the National Culture Fund in 1996 as a funding mechanism “different from the existing sources and patterns of funding for the arts and culture in India”. Donations to the fund, exempt from income tax, are to be used for maintaining the historical sites and developing them as tourist spots. In exchange, the sponsors get advertising space the quantum of which is to be decided by the Department of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India acting in tandem. The Taj Mahal is not up for grabs but the others are. Only in the year 2K have some offers been forthcoming. Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, a world heritage site, is to be illuminated by the Oberoi group. After Hyatt shied away, the Hotel Association of Northern India has come forward to take over the Red Fort. The Indian Oil Corporation is interested in Qutb Minar. Though the list is long, the restoration of the Sun Temple at Konark and the Ajanta and Ellora caves are the priority. Any sponsors?
But maintenance is not enough. Some long-lasting institutions and monuments ought to be created as also some new facilities developed. One such area crying for help is higher education, technical and professional. Not everyone needs to go to a college. Let institutions of higher professional education be fewer but they be real centres of excellence. Setting them up and then running them efficiently will obviously be an expensive proposition and the State will do well to invite individual promoters of consortia to take up these projects. These should be run as any other business enterprise and not as charitable institutions. Fees will understandably be high and admissions to these will have to be restricted to those who can afford to pay and to the meritorious poor through Government and privately endowed scholarship. Let the institute be named after the promoters if they so wish. In any case, it is not a good practice to name the colleges and universities after political personalities. (We can keep Mahatma Gandhi as an exception). Setting up an Indian School of Business at Hyderabad is a step in the right direction.
We received the legacy of the National Library, National Archives and Natural History Museum in places like Calcutta, Delhi and Mumbai. They have reached a point of saturation and decay. Huge recurring expenditure is involved in preserving and updating the contents and maintaining the structure. Horizons of knowledge have expanded and we need many more archives and museums devoted to subjects such as space technology, oceanography, microbiology etc. For that matter, is a Birla Planetarium in Calcutta or a Tarporewala Aquarium in Mumbai enough for a country of India’s dimensions? Surely we need many more. We talk of environment and global warming but how many botanical parks, comparable to the Shibpur Botanical Garden in Calcutta, have we added during our existence as an independent nation? The Jahangir Art Gallery in Mumbai reportedly remains booked for two to three years in advance, thus denying many potential MF Hussains the opportunity to display their talent. There is need for more art galleries not only in Mumbai but in other cities as well. There must be art lovers among our business barons who will love to set up such galleries and go down in history as patrons of art.
The scope is unlimited. The Government should be the catalyst, offer suggestions and help, and leave the rest to the sponsors (no mailed fist, no pinpricks, please). Once the Government has established its bonafides a generous response can be expected. Our private and public sector behemoths are the present-day Maharajas. The tribe has grown beyond the Tatas and the Birlas. We have Ambanis, Azim Premji, Narayana Murthy and many others and funds can be comfortably taken care of. If the Raj (British) could do it, why can’t we? In fact, we can do better by allowing the promoters and donors to name these after themselves, unlike the British who appropriated the name and sent the benefactors into oblivion.
7th April 2002
HT Sunday Spread


Sudhir Kumar Jha IPS was already a familiar name for his book “Raj to Swaraj: Changing contours of police”, which he had come out with in 1995. But for this police officer, who has joined a long list of writers from the bureaucracy, it was a privilege to present his second offering ‘A New Dawn: Patna reincarnated’ to no less than the president Dr. APJ Kalam on his visit here on December 30.
Jha is understandably elated as the Prez while appreciating the effort commented “It was appropriate that the book comes at a time, when there are changes on the horizons of Bihar”. What’s more, he registered his appreciation by calling Jha for a photo-op which Jha says “I’ll never forget”.
The book itself is a tribute to the various greats who built Bihar. Even as it dwells on a smaller time-frame i.e. modern Patna, the running theme is Patna’s transition from tradition to modernity, the ripple effect of western education, the birth of a professional middle class, the social dynamics and the urban sprawl et al.
The book brings out for the first time the enormous contribution made by Anglo Indian, Bengali, Punjabi and Sindhi communities to the cultural and social life of Patna. The book essays back and forth drawing on recollections while adding value to research and is certain to evoke nostalgia among those who had any direct link to the events that shaped Bihar.
The book published by Veerendra Printers, New Delhi is worth a good read.
HT Patna Plus
3rd January 2006