Saturday, October 5, 2002
M A I L  B O X

Historical research: Punjabi style

THIS refers to the write-up "Historical research: Punjabi style" (September 14) by Khushwant Singh. When I read the article I decided to see the books myself. To check things for myself I laid hands on the very first book on the list, edited jointly by S.P Singh, the VC, and Harish Sharma, Head, Department of History. Except a two-page, non-historical editors note, not a word has been written by either of them in this book.

The book is a collection of articles written by historians like Ganda Singh, Fauja Singh, Grey etc, who are no longer alive. This adds not only to the disappointment of the reader but also to his consternation, as he asks himself if he needs such recommendations to reach those fine scholars.




The article throws a flood of light on the scam in intellectual circles. When I heard that GNDU had brought out 20 books on Maharaja Ranjit Singh, I thought what an honour! Now after seeing those glossy volumes, I say what a waste! GNDU has no right to use Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s name to get grants and attention. Nor does it have any right to meddle with history. Maharaja Ranjit Singh and history both need to be spared from the hands of such people.



Last year Guru Nanak Dev University held a seminar on the occasion of bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. I still remember that the banner at the venue read Indian Council of Historical Research Seminar on Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Even the invitations sent to scholars said the same. One expected a lot, especially the general audience like us. But what pricked one the most was that there was no paper or representative of the ICHR. It left one wondering about the way the ICHR functions. The seminar lacked freshness both of thought and intellectual debate. Now after reading the article, it makes me wonder whether was it ICHR’s shortcoming or did GNDU use the name of the former to gain popularity and to mislead the general audience? History is to guide us. Let the average person not think that it is there to fool us.


Good motoring

This refers to Kishie Singh’s "Driving on the other side" (September 21).

The reasons given by the writer about driving on the other side do not appeal much neither has he explained as to why the vehicles are driven on the right side of the road in many other countries of the world.

In England when road rules were framed the police was equipped with swords. To protect the travellers from highway robbers, the police rode the horses or walked along the road on the left side because it is more easy for a person to assault with a sword towards his right as compared to the left. So wherever the Britons went they carried the concept of walking/driving on the left side of the road.

Contrary to the above, in the countries where people drive on the right side, the police was equipped with guns at the time when road rules were framed. The police patrolled on the right side of the road to provide safety to the travellers from highway robbers because it is more convenient to effectively use a gun towards one’s left side.

In present times driving on the right side is a logical necessity whereas using the left side of the road is a habit.