“…It is a aberration his not giving his Parsee names at large. I took him for an Englishman until I saw he was K.D Cooper…I consistently accuse this as a bossy aspersion of their medical degrees & diplomas; & I dont [sic] like to see Parsees screening their blue-blooded allegiance abaft the English masks of ‘Cooper’ — ‘Ashburner’ &c…A Wadia I accept is aggravating to name himself Wady!!!”
This is an extract from a letter accounting by George Birdwood (1832-1917) on 27 February 1904 from London, addressed to one of the aboriginal affecting nationalists and a arresting amount in the accumulation of the Indian National Congress, Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917), cogent his antipathy at the Parsi accomplishing of anglicised surnames. The above K.D. Cooper was a Parsi doctor and a citizen medical administrator at a hospital in Bradford amid 1903 and 1904, and had requested Naoroji to seek Birdwood’s aid in applying for a job at the East Indian Railway Company. The letter is allotment of the book blue-blooded Dadabhai Naoroji: Selected Clandestine Affidavit (Oxford University Press), appear aftermost year — a alternative of accord amid Naoroji and several seminal leaders and intellectuals — edited by S.R Mehrotra and Dinyar Patel. The annotated accumulation not alone throws ablaze aloft facets of Naoroji’s life, but additionally lends insights into the thoughts and preoccupations of his correspondents and confidantes, and their accord with Naoroji.
Matters of intrigue
Birdwood, for instance, alike against the actuality that Indians had accepted a ‘Western’ appearance of dressing. An English civilian servant, he resided in Bombay in the 1850s and ‘60s, and during his break in the city, was appointed as a abettor at the Grant Medical College; played a key role in the enactment of the Victoria Gardens and the Victoria and Albert Museum [currently Jijamata Udyan and the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum respectively]; was the abettor at the University of Bombay; and a affiliate of the Royal Asiatic Society. While his accord with Naoroji spanned about six decades, it wasn’t afterwards its allotment of differences, and the belletrist exchanged amid them are a absolute adumbration of this fact.
A abiding and abiding Conservative, Birdwood, contested Naoroji’s arguments about his approach on the ‘drain of wealth’ from India, and was affronted at the enactment of semi-representative Indian political institutions. Nevertheless, Birdwood contributed badly to the amusing and bookish activity of Bombay. One of his belletrist to Naoroji in 1898 makes acknowledgment of his amateurish arrangement on Indian art, tentatively blue-blooded Arya Silpa Darpana [or ‘The Mirror of Indian Art’], of which he had already accounting “1200 pages of foolscap MS”. Birdwood was additionally arrive by the London-based Zoroastrian Fund of Europe in 1901 to bear a commemorative address on the history of Zoroastrianism at the Parsi cemetery in burghal Brookwood, an contrarily aberrant honour from the community. Besides belletrist exchanged with Birdwood, the book reproduces Naoroji’s accounting advice with some of his aeon such as Henry M. Hyndman, Allan Octavian Hume, Erskine Perry, Behramji Malabari, R.M.H Griffith, William Wedderburn, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, amid others.
Reconstructing absent histories
The missives appear in this book are about alone a soupçon of an all-embracing accumulation of about 25-30,000 letters. Says Patel, abettor assistant of history at the University of South Carolina, who has additionally completed his argument of the political anticipation and career of Naoroji, “The atom of this aggregate comes from an abstruse arrangement that R.P Patwardhan [a retired educationalist from Pune] larboard abaft in 1980 back he died. There is addition abstruse volume, which we’ll be application as a starting point for a additional volume, and I ahead that at atomic one added aggregate can be calmly completed with the absolute collected.” Patwardhan advised Naoroji’s accord for abutting to a decade and appear two abstracts in 1977, but anesthetized abroad afore he could accept two added manuscripts published.
While best of the belletrist are in English, there is a abundant cardinal in Gujarati, and a scattering in languages like Marathi, Urdu, Hindi, Persian, French, and Bengali. Patel says, “Since the Naoroji Affidavit are so all-inclusive and almost unexplored, and back bags of belletrist accept not been catalogued, I still blunder aloft absorbing finds every time I search. Aftermost August, for example, I was at the National Archives of India [in New Delhi], and begin a letter from the 1890s area one of Naoroji’s daughters was talking about how benumbed bicycles was communicable on in Bombay, amid both men and women, and amid both Hindus and Parsis. She mentioned that she was accepting acquaint from her husband, who would advice her practise in the lanes of Khetwadi afterwards dinner, and told Naoroji not to be afraid about her safety!”
Naoroji advised Robert Morgan Holt Griffith — the freeholder of the Weekly News and Clerkenwell Chronicle appear from arctic London — as ‘one of my best accompany and supporters’, abnormally during his acclamation campaigns for continuing for Parliament from Central Finsbury, London. Griffith served as Naoroji’s accurate acclamation abettor in 1892 and 1895, and their correspondence, amounting to about 2,000 letters, is apparently the bigger accumulating in the Naoroji Papers.
An aggrandized repository
The Naoroji Affidavit accept been housed in the National Archives of India (NAI), and afar from accord on beefy issues, additionally accommodate miscellanea such as a hand-drawn map accouterment admonition to Naoroji’s abode in Anerley Park in London; Parsi bells invitations and Navroze greeting cards; attic diplomacy for the ancestors abode in Bombay; a map of the Buenos Aires tram network; and several bi-weekly cuttings and drafts of speeches.
All of the letters, however, were at one point, kept in Bombay — in Versova [present-day Seven Bungalows] at Naoroji’s abode during his retirement, or conceivably in a godown about in the burghal thereafter, as acreage of the Dadabhai Naoroji Prize Trust. Patel began alive at the NAI with the ambition of not alone researching the Naoroji Affidavit but additionally evaluating them from the angle of preservation, and accouterment any advice that he could in anecdotic absolute that bare repair. “After Patwardhan was done alive with them in Pune, he abiding for them to be beatific to the NAI in Delhi. It is apparently best that they were beatific to Delhi, because they were kept abundant bigger than they would accept at any ability in Bombay. Runs of abundant non-English newspapers artlessly do not abide anymore. Bombay is still in charge of a proper, enclosed, temperature-controlled archival ability which uses archival best practices,” says Patel.
Deciphering the accounting word
In 1854, while still in his late-twenties, Naoroji became a abettor of mathematics and accustomed aesthetics at Bombay’s Elphinstone College, the aboriginal Indian to attain such a position. An agog pedagogue, he fabricated abundant efforts to brainwash aural his acceptance a faculty of concern by organising visits to the docks as able-bodied as the anchor that already operated in abreast Colaba. His role as a babysitter can conceivably be continued to appreciate his appearance of writing. The belletrist he drafted were alloyed with different characteristics, and accommodate a glimpse into his alternative of syntax. “Naoroji’s English autography was not too bad, actually; it was almost accessible to aces up, admitting his Gujarati autography still eludes me in places. His Hindi autograph was impeccable. But others, such as Malabari or Birdwood, were acutely difficult to decipher! Both, absolutely obviously, wrote belletrist in abundant haste. On added than one instance, Naoroji or Wedderburn would accuse about not actuality able to apprehend Malabari’s handwriting. Naoroji wrote in the archetypal backward 19th century-style of English (some words would be capitalised, which we would not today, such as “Election,” or “Campaign”; accepted abbreviations of aboriginal names, such as “Wm” for “William”; bodies were referred to absolute formally, so George Birdwood was consistently “Sir George” and William Wedderburn “Sir William”, in animosity of the actuality that they were absolute abutting friends) but there were a few accepted spelling eccentricities. He consistently active off as “Your’s truly”, for example,” shares Patel.
Letters that Naoroji wrote himself were absolute abrupt and succinct, and came beyond as rather formulaic. This, according to Patel, is conceivably a adumbration of how active he was. “Naoroji kept to a accepted architecture and wrote as briefly as possible. His belletrist were not meant to be eloquent, quotable documents, such as Nehru’s — he artlessly capital to get his point across. Alike Dinshaw Wacha, one of Naoroji’s abutting confidantes, accustomed that he could alone apprehend one abrupt letter from Naoroji in acknowledgment to several continued apparent letters,” he adds.
However, there were a few exceptions “His belletrist to Malabari are absolute claimed (Malabari referred to Naoroji as “Dad”), back Malabari was not alone a alive colleague, but addition who was abutting to Naoroji’s accouchement and helped attending afterwards their diplomacy while Naoroji was in London. Naoroji was a accoutrement in the letter-writing allowance of the National Liberal Club in London — he apparently wrote a few bags of pages actuality (when I visited in 2013, I couldn’t abide autograph off a few belletrist from the aforementioned room, application the aforementioned jotter with the aforementioned letterhead),” explains Patel.
The ‘epistolary’ as a arcane anatomy plays a basic role to advice accept the architecture of bookish and absolute research. According to Patel, abundant historians that had ahead looked at Naoroji’s activity alone advised a few of his appear works, and appropriately corrective a absolute abridged account of the man and his ideas. Strangely, they did not seek out his clandestine papers. Many Indian/South Asian historians are abnormally accusable of relying too abundant on approach and too little on absolute archival evidence, abnormally claimed correspondence.
As Patel puts it, “Much of the theory-driven scholarship on aboriginal Indian nationalism, or the Anglophone Indian political and bread-and-butter elite, avalanche to pieces already one absolutely reads Indians’ clandestine accord rather than careful account of a scattering of their English-language publications. Certain archival collections in India — again, abnormally the case for claimed affidavit — are abnormally neglected. We charge added historians to booty these collections seriously; there is a lot of exciting, adopted absolute that helps add to, and alike change, our anecdotal of how Indians responded to colonialism.”
Dadabhai Naoroji: Selected Clandestine Affidavit accessible on Amazon India for Rs 1289
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