Legacy of a patriot
Randeep Wadehra

Problems of Indian Nationalism
by Bhagwan S. Gyanee. Unistar.
Pages 140. Rs 295.

Several Indian freedom fighters had a vision of what an independent India should be like. One is not talking of great men like Gandhi, Nehru, Bose or Ambedkar alone. There were others who, while engaged in the battle for freedom, had kept the intellectual aspect of their struggle intact. Bhagwan Singh Gyanee was one such visionary. He was the President of US-based Gadar Party and an active freedom fighter. He nurtured a dream of what the independent India would be like. Accordingly, after India attained Independence, he set about his cherished task of developing the country’s youths’ intellectual energies. His projects had the blessings of Jawaharlal Nehru who actually attended some of the seminars and programmes organised by him.

This book is a collection of the author’s thoughts on a wide range of topics such as Scientific Pattern of Education for Modern India, India’s Minority Problem, Our Wasted Genius etc. These issues, explicated by the author in the late 1950s and early 60s, are relevant even today. The author’s grandson Surinder Pal Singh should be thanked for preserving these documents and getting them published.

A Story of the Sikhs
by Har Jagmandar Singh.
Pages 320. Rs 250.

Refer to any decent encyclopedia and you will know that Christians form the largest population group in the world at about two billion and Muslims second largest at slightly more than one billion. In India, too, Muslims form the second largest religious group after Hindus. Yet the author states in the opening lines of the chapter, Advent of Islam (page 26), "Islam is the fourth most widely followed religion after Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism." The worldwide population of Buddhists is not even 500 million and that of Hindus is less than one billion. As if these howlers were not enough to put off an informed reader, Prof. Singh discovers that Punjab was never a part of India but of Mesopotamia!

This book is a fine example of how not to approach a serious subject like history that demands a scientific mindset, rigorous research, objective analysis and a passion for truth and not drawing-room gossip, stale PJs and insidious prejudices. Since the author has specialised in English literature, the lacunae are understandable but he could have, at least, read A.L. Basham’s The Wonder That Was India and John Keay’s A History of India, if not the more scholarly works by K.M. Panikkar or the action oriented Bhagvadgita, before contemplating this collection of dubious history.

Silent Flows Danube
by Harish K. Thakur. Radha Publications.
Pages 77. Price not mentioned.

Danube is Europe’s second longest river that begins its 2900-km-long journey from Germany’s Black Forest and ends at Romania’s Black Sea coast. It has witnessed many a historic event but one of the less celebrated aspects is the existence of the Roma community in the countries through which the famous river passes. Who are Romas? Are they actually Egyptian tribes, as many believe, or is their ancestry linked to Rajasthan and Punjab as some others advocate? What have been their experiences as perennial outsiders always on the move? These and other aspects of their lives have been dealt with in readable verse, which conjures up vivid images. The evocative poem From the rags to rule just about sums up the plight of Romas.