Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Dear readers

History as a discipline hitherto was neglected even though the study of history created a tunnelling effect in reconnecting to our past and understanding the way we think and act today. The emergence of vocational based education giving credence to technical and commercial skill camouflaged the importance of the social sciences in the early period  of globalization. However social analytics is back on stage again due to the ill effect of globalization with human lives taking a market driven roller coaster ride with rise of inequality particularly in the emerging economies of India and China. The study of history has a discipline always analysed the development of societies and social progress based on the background of historical events and derived conclusions for a better tomorrow. These studies were based on traditional sources of learning like interpreting an old insignia , or from reading an inscription or book etc and concluding ones own analysis of the same. These analysis often had a flavour of the analysers prejudices to the event or was based on what he saw in his kaleidoscope of facts. Hence we have various version of the same event. For example the first independence war of 1857 is not a national uprising as far as western and non nationalistic historians are concerned where they call it a local mutiny by the sepoys. However nationalistic historians view this as the emergence of a proto nationalism. Similarly Aryans were emigrants and was in conflict with natives as far as traditional historians are concerned while ultranationalists believe that Aryans are an indigenous race. These dichotomies always intrigued the student and it could be seen that polarization of historical interpretation has now taken a left-right divergence and spread across universities in india.

The development of the discipline of Oral history in the western world has to be analysed in the background of these developments where historian interviewed the affected people and concluded rather than his own personalized interpretation. It is indeed the development and practice of this discipline that helped western historians to interview the holocaust victims and derive the real story behind those deadly days, rather than depending on any fascist or Fabien literature.

In India application of oral history has now been initiated by a US based NGO named Arise Free India and their representatives have been documenting the testimonies of freedom fighters in India in understanding the political scenario of pre independent India. This has given insights into many path breaking interpretations where the stereotype of ‘’glorification” of our national leaders are challenged. The technological developments in archiving has now made it possible for the historian to interview and document the contemporary events to posterity without prejudice .

In this background it is worth reading the book published by dodgears and authored by the Baroda based historian Dr Sujata Menon an encrypt of which is pasted below for my readers


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