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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Adrija Roychowdhury


Adrija writes long, researched features on history, world and national politics, as well as social issues. Follow her on Twitter @AdrijaRoychow

Delhi rewind: How Delite, among Delhi’s first cinemas in Independent India, came up following Nehru’s call
Tue, May 17, 2022

A plot was purchased in an auction by the Delhi Improvement Trust, for an exorbitant Rs 6 lakh, to make way for the hall with about 1,100 seats

It all started with a bulldozer in Jahangirpuri
Wed, May 11, 2022

The site of the contested demolition drive carried out by North Delhi Municipal Corporation recently, Jahangirpuri, was born ironically out of a somewhat similar exercise. Here's how.

From Demosthenes to Nehru… why free speech remains stuck in debate
Sat, May 14, 2022

The concept of free speech has evolved since its first version in ancient Athens and Rome to be fiercely contested over the many centuries even though it has made its way into the constitutions of US and India.

How Shanti Niketan and Vasant Vihar came up for retd central govt officers
Sun, May 01, 2022

The colony of Shanti Niketan, lying close to the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, was built on the request of a few government servants, for allotment of some land at a subsidised rate for their post-retirement years.

Using heritage to improve people’s lives: The Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Nizamuddin
Sat, Apr 23, 2022

In the last decade and a half, the AKTC has conserved about 60 monuments in the vicinity, the most recent being the 16th-century turquoise domed tomb located on Mathura Road called Sabz Burj, which was opened for public view in November 2021.

Delhi Rewind: How DLF built colonies in Delhi for aspirational Partition migrants
Sun, Apr 17, 2022

Long before the DLF turned Gurgaon from a humble hamlet to one of the fastest growing cities in India, it was in Delhi that the company created some of the city’s most opulent neighbourhoods.

Delhi Rewind: How Partition migrants made Daryaganj a hub for Hindi publishers
Tue, Apr 05, 2022

When Amarnath Varma, 87, and his family decided to move out of Multan in the wake of the Partition, the most prized possessions they transferred to Delhi beforehand were thousands of books that lined their bookstore. Varma’s grandfather had started the books business, selling titles in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi.

‘A fabric woven of air’: In Bangladesh, an attempt to resurrect the famed Dhakai Muslin
Sun, Mar 27, 2022

The Dhaka muslin was the fabric of the emperors, worn not only by the Mughals but also flaunted by the French queen Marie Antoinette. Some called it ‘woven air’, while others described it as the “skin of the moon”.

Delhi Rewind: How a mosque in Khirki village survived, with help from local Hindus
Sun, Mar 20, 2022

The Khirki Masjid is known to have been built in the 14th Century by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the prime minister of Firoz Shah Tughlaq. For residents of Khirki though, the identity of the mosque was rather vague, given that no religious rituals were held on its premises.

Delhi Rewind: How C R Park was almost named Purbachal — till Indira Gandhi govt intervened
Sun, Mar 13, 2022

In order to make a democratic choice of name, the EPDP association called for a referendum and put ‘Purbachal’ and ‘Chittaranjan Das’ to vote. Bandopadhyay recalled how Purbachal won the popular vote. However, it was not the name the neighbourhood eventually got, on account of the political interventions of the Indira Gandhi government.

Named after friends of India, how Delhi’s roads are a reminder of country’s non-aligned movement
Sat, Mar 12, 2022

While it was Nehru who was the real driving force behind the non-aligned movement, it was only after his death and under the prime ministerial tenure of his daughter that several roads in Delhi came up in honour of leaders of countries who were part of the movement.

Behind India’s repeated abstentions against Russia at UN, legacy of policies past
Sat, Mar 05, 2022

India’s abstention is being explained by experts as a balancing act of maintaining friends and partners of both sides. It is also a legacy of the Nehruvian foreign policy of non-alignment and the ways in which the two countries have interacted with each other in the United Nations.

Delhi Rewind: How Sahitya Akademi found its name, purpose, and Nehru as first president
Tue, Mar 08, 2022

“Sahitya Akademi held a place of pride in the world of Indian literature. There was no comparable institution at that time,” said Satchidanandan. “Every Indian writer wanted to be connected to it in some way or the other.”

How the French and Portuguese territories had contrasting paths to merger with India
Sat, Feb 26, 2022

France was already thinking of a federal union of its territories, while Goa had become a part of NATO and presented a more complicated problem.

How a Bengali theatre group brought West Bengal politics to the Delhi stage
Sun, Feb 20, 2022

It was 1969, and Dilip Basu (79) had just returned to Delhi after spending a few years in Kolkata to complete higher education. A professor of English Literature at Rajdhani College at that time, he was particularly interested in the genre of novel and poetry.

Delhi Rewind: How an agricultural fair that attracted Eisenhower and the Queen gave rise to Delhi’s Shivaji College
Tue, Mar 08, 2022

The fair that marked the beginning of the first college in rural Delhi lies lost in the pages of history. It was held between December 11, 1959, and March 11, 1960, and was inaugurated by President Rajendra Prasad along with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the US President Dwight D Eisenhower.

How a rare earth deposit fuelled Travancore’s dreams of Independence and later powered India’s atomic plans
Sat, Feb 12, 2022

The narrative as presented by the makers of Rocket Boys does shed light on the lesser-known story of Travancore’s Thorium reserves and its bid for independence. It is also true that Nehru along with Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar and Homi Bhabha did have to negotiate and convince the Travancore state to hand over access to its monazite reserves.

Delhi Rewind: How Sir Ganga Ram Hospital stood the test of Partition in Lahore as well as Delhi
Tue, Mar 08, 2022

In April 1951, the Ganga Ram Hospital was inaugurated by Nehru. It was a small hospital with 50 beds and minimal infrastructure.

To All the Men Who Never Loved Us: Shrayana Bhattacharya’s new book delves into the cult of Shah Rukh Khan and how it shaped the aspirations of Indian women
Sun, Feb 06, 2022

India’s leading superstar becomes the starting point in this delightful book that examines gender relations in a post-liberalised India

Explained: Jinnah in political discourse—the father of Pakistan who continues to cause controversy in India
Thu, Feb 03, 2022

Jinnah has surfaced in Indian political discourse several times in the past, especially at the time of elections. To the votaries of Hindutva, Jinnah has always stood as the man who must be blamed for the partition of the country along communal lines 75 years ago.

Delhi Rewind: When Deshbandhu College was built for educating kids of Partition refugees
Tue, Mar 08, 2022

Deshbandhu College, as it came to be named after freedom fighter Deshbandhu Gupta, had been established by the Ministry of Rehabilitation in the refugee colony of Kalkaji, with the specific purpose of educating children of those displaced by the Partition.

Respect despite the discord: Subhas Chandra Bose’s relationship with Nehru, Gandhi and the Congress
Mon, Jan 24, 2022

The Bose-Gandhi rivalry is frequently understood as the biggest dichotomy of the Indian nationalist movement, its narrative often picked up by parties now to futher their own agenda.

Long before Sarojini Nagar, there was Vinay Nagar, providing accommodation to Delhi’s ‘polite’ clerical staff
Tue, Mar 08, 2022

🔴 In the pre-liberalised era of the mid-1950s, the government remained the biggest employer of educated and aspirational young men and women, and Delhi welcomed a majority of them. Following the departure of the British, the scope and responsibility of the government had expanded greatly, and there was a sharp increase in government jobs.

Why the East India Company opposed Christian missionary activity in India
Sun, Jan 16, 2022

The foundation of the opposition was both religious and political, and rooted as much in the East India Company’s territories in India as in their home country.

Layer after layer, how Kashi became special to Hindus across the subcontinent
Sat, Jan 01, 2022

Unlike most other organised religions of the world, very little in Hinduism is all-encompassing. What explains then the allure of Kashi to almost every sect and linguistic community among Hindus?  Mythological texts tell us that Kashi is where Shiva dwells and where one can attain moksha. The Mughals, Marathas, Bengali zamindars, and British officials and travelers have built the image of Kashi as the 'quintessential Hindu city' over centuries.