Rediscovering India by Dharampal

Courtesy and Copyright Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas (SIDH)

Dharampalji is an accomplished researcher, writer, thinker, sociologist, historian & philosopher. It is his ability to question what looks like obvious, to delve behind it and unravel intriguing and insightful details of Indian history, society & polity that makes Dharampalji very special. A Gandhian & long time associate of Mirabehn & Jayaprakash Narayan, the Dharampal flavor is manifest in each of the articles in this collection – rich in research, delectable insight, and revelations which are spicy & invigorating.

Friends I have taken excerpts from the book and reproduced them verbatim. Spellings are as in the book and may be different from spellings currently used. Every chapter begins with a 3-4-line summary by me. Chapter wise contents are –

Chapter Title Chapter Contents
About SIDH Tells you briefly about the activities of SIDH.
Bullet Points If you want to read through quickly.
Interview Dharampalji Is Summary of chapters below, gives his views on state of Indian social, agricultural political economy when British came to India, why they called Indians ignorant and criticized caste system.
Misconception Sudras Tells you why the Brits called Indians ignorant, Sudras were artisans, astrologers etc and primary steps initiated by new political system of the British.
Land Revenue System Changes brought about the British impact.
Community Living Explains how village community existed new revenue policy led to indebtedness, unemployment.
Lowering of Wages British deliberately lowered wages of Indians.
Caste made into Evil Benefits of caste system, why British demonized caste, how they made caste watertight compartments, backward caste socio-economic backwardness is post 1800, use of the term Backwardness to demoralize.
Indian Education in 1820 Results of app 1820 survey in South India showed large number of schools, sudras lower castes were 70% of students, large nos of Muslim girls went to school in Malabar.
Understanding India Tells you about the British inability to accept understand lace India’s cohesive social structure, joint ownership of property etc very different from theirs.
Agricultural Productivity Gives egs of high productivity as seen by the Brits reasons for same i.e. variety of seeds, sophistication of tools and care of land. Export of Indian agricultural implements to lace England
Warriors into Backwards Ref to Bihar Backward Classes Commission 1976, today’s notified tribes were actually warriors who succumbed to British power.
Census 1881 Gives the Index of Caste prepared by the British in 1831, effect of Conversions Islamic conquest on caste and excerpts from the Punjab Census.
Reindustrialization of lace India Gives you % of population engaged in which industry, most imp industry was mining of metals, disruption started app 1800, Brit type of industrialization started app 1880. NET, tells you how the Backwards of today came into being.
Rebuilding India Priority to agriculture education, develop close relations with Far East S.E.Asia, understand our nature, traditions systems.
Killing local Americans North America to kill local population.
Intro Indian Society Tells you about Community based living in, consensus thereafter, concept of Chakravartin explained, satyagraha in Varanasi in 1810-11.
India's Material Progress Was made in lace cloth, steel furnaces, sugar, ice. Brits borrowed from India modern plastic surgery, steel manufacture practices etc.
Decay Indian Society Tells of the impact of British rule on the Indian economy and people.

About SIDH

A bit about Sidh, “Since 1989, the journey at SIDH has been about negotiating spaces through education for a more meaningful exploration and dialogue, not only in social & political spheres but within individual mindsets. Ideally shiksha, or education, is about understanding the relationship of the self with the body, with the family, with society, with nature and all that exists. It is about eliciting a samajh, or understanding, and to live our lives accordingly.

However, during the course of our work at SIDH, we could clearly see that present day education was having a negative effect on most children. They began mindlessly rejecting their own – be it their traditions, beliefs, lifestyle – while aspiring for lifestyles and other objects that were associated with being modern. By alienating the child from his/her land, family, community, culture, belief systems etc education was creating low self-esteem and lack of confidence in the educated child. Parents were equally unhappy with the impact of such education upon their children.

The scope of education, therefore, should shift from just copying some curriculum and producing ‘literates’ to a more fundamental understanding of the human being with respect to his immediate environment, from which he/she can draw comfort & confidence. However, this is a challenging task, because contemporary education has trapped all of us in a set of questionable assumptions, leading many times to frustration & unhappiness.

At SIDH, we feel it is important to challenge today’s dominant notions of who is ‘civilized’, who is ‘backward’, or what is ‘scientific’ and what is ‘modern’. We hope to enhance the low self-esteem and self-confidence through our experiments at Bodhigram, a space to explore and identify ‘relevant’ education, which includes:

• Sushiksha  : Village Education Centres.
• Sanjeevani & Sanmati : Youth Programs.
• Sanshodhan  : Research & Advocacy.
• Samvad : Discussion forum with thinkers & activists from different fields.
• Samridhi : Income generation units & a retail outlet “Himalaya Haat”. 
• Vimarsh : Programs to reach out to people.
• Sarthak : Publications.”

If you like to know more about SIDH write to Pawan Gupta or or call 91 0135 2630338, 2621304 ie Mussoorie, Uttaranchal, India.

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