S.B. Bhattacharje: Encyclopaedia of Indian Events & Dates, Sterling Paperbacks, 153 pp, Rs 300.00
The book divided into four parts contains a chronology of events year-wise, with cross-references to their years; arrangement of events by calendar dates; list of important dynasties; and lastly, the index.
India has been witness to events of paramount importance responsible for changing and contributing to its growth and development before the Partition of 1947. The encyclopaedia takes off from 1424 BC, the year widely accepted by historians with the entry on the Mahabharata war. The author has possibly begun from this point because of its singular importance in the panorama of Indian history. Since the exact date of the incident is open to speculation, the date given in the Puranas and historians like M.M. Krishnamachari (History of Classical Literature), C.V. Vaidya, Varahamihira, Kalhana, Meghnad Saha and others have been taken. There are some very interesting entries but most of them begin from 1824 when Madhusudan Dutt was born in Jessore district of Bangladesh and Dayanand Saraswati was born in Tankara in Gujarat. Unfortunately very little is given about the latter who founded the Arya Samaj in 1875. Plenty is told about Raja Ram Mohan Roy who founded the Brahmo Smaj in 1828, left for England in 1830 and died in Bristol in 1833. In 1838, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who wrote the Vandemataram song, was born and became one of the most creative litterateurs of Bengali prose during the century. In March 1919, Gandhi announced his desire to launch the satyagraha against he proposed Rowlatt Act to curb civil and political liberties. It is rather strange that only one line is given to Jamshedji N. Tata who was born in 1939, founded one of the largest integrated steel mills in the world, apart from setting up textile mills in Bombay and Nagpur, before passing away in 1904.
Other entries which holds interest are given for the year 1950, when ?Jana gana mana?? was adopted as the national anthem of India; on January 24, Vandemataram? became the national song with the same status as ?Jana gana mana??; on January 26 India was declared a sovereign democratic republic; Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected the first President of India; the Government of India adopted the national emblem of the lion on Ashoka'spillar; the words satyameva jayate from the Manduka Upanishad were inscribed below the emblem in Devanagri script; the Supreme Court was inaugurated in January 28; Bhoodan movement was launched by Vinoba Bhave on April 18; Syama Prasad Mookerjee became the first Central Cabinet Minister (Industries and Supplies) to resign of April 19; Sri Aurobindo died on December 5; Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of India died on December 15; Syama Prasad Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh on October 21.
It is seen that at the end of 17th century, mostly historical events with reference to religion and personalities are covered. Since 18th century onwards the trend changes to embrace various aspects of the national panorama like social reforms, law, politics, education, sports, cinema, etc.
This encyclopaedia will prove quite handy for the upcoming generation who are keen to keep themselves abreast with the country'sevolutionary process.
(Sterling Paperbacks, A-59 Okhla Industrial Area, Phase II, New Delhi-110020.)