Book Discussion

A Memoir of Pre-Partition Punjab - Ruchi Ram Sahni , 1863-1948

Edited by Neera Burra

Time:06:30 pm

When and Where

Date:21 September 2017
Time:06:30 pm
Organizer: ICCR
Location: London

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A Memoir of  pre-Partition Punjab is  is the autobiography of Ruchi Ram Sahni (1863-1948) – social reformer, science educator and, in later life, active participant in political affairs. It weaves a rich tapestry of life in colonial Punjab, starting with a colourful description of Sahni’s childhood in a Hindu business family in Dera Ismail Khan. It follows him after an adventurous education to a long career as a teacher of Chemistry in Government College, Lahore, offering a fascinating account of the social, political and intellectual ferment in the Punjab of his day.

Sahni’s independence of mind caused conflict both with orthodox Hindus, who attacked his  Brahmo liberalism, as well as with Europeans against whom he asserted his rights as a self-respecting Indian. The memoir recounts these conflicts, as well as many other facets of a remarkable life – ranging from pioneering work as a science educator in the vernacular, to encounters behind the scenes during the Congress Enquiry Committee on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. 

Neera Burra is a great granddaughter of Ruchi Ram Sahni. Trained as a sociologist, her previous publications include  Born Unfree: Child Labour, Education and the State in India  (co-authored with Myron Weiner and Asha Bajpai, OUP 2006) and  Born to Work: Child Labour in India (OUP1995). She is now an amateur historian of the Punjab. Neera will be in discussion with Prof. Ian Talbot from South Hampton University.

Professor Ian Talbot is a Professor of Modern British History at the University of Southampton. He has recently completed a co-authored major study of the 1947 Partition of India and its aftermath for the Cambridge University Press series New Approaches to Asian History.  It builds on the monograph he published in 2006 with Oxford University Press entitled  Divided Cities: Partition and Its Aftermath in Lahore and Amritsar 1947-57.  He is currently working on a study of the Punjab region of the subcontinent in the decade which followed independence. He is also contributing to a number of edited volumes as well as acting as the Guest Editor for a special issue on the 1947 Partition by the  Journal of Cultural and Social History.   

Chair : Prof Ian Talbot 

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