All posts by shekhar

Broadcasting Revolution: “Quit India” & Underground Radio in WWII Bombay

This is the abstract for a workshop paper accepted for the international workshop The Indian Predicament: South Asia in World War II held in June 2016 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel organised by Dr Rotem Geva and Prof Dan Diner through their project Judging Histories: Experience, Judgement and Representation of World War II in an Age of Globalization.

 The Indian Predicament: South Asia in WWII

1942 marked a turning point during World War II in India and Asia, as in rapid succession the Japanese occupied and expelled the British from Malaya, Singapore and Burma, and within colonial India widespread rumours and panic ensued of an impending invasion and demise of the British Empire in India. In August 1942, following the failure of the imperial “Cripps Mission” to solicit nationalist support for the war campaign in exchange for post-war home rule, Gandhi and the Congress Party issued their final, militant call for the British to “Quit India” and for Indians to “Do or Die”.

Portrayed in post-war nationalist historiography as a heroic movement to end colonial rule, “Quit India” was in fact quickly and violently suppressed by a paranoid colonial state, at the height of its fear of internal rebellion and external attack. The “9th Augusters” including Gandhi, Nehru and other leaders, as well as thousands of Congress Party activists were jailed for the subsequent years of WWII until 1945, with significant consequences for post-war politics of Independence and Partition, and the history of anti-colonial nationalism.

Non-Congress politicians and parties such as Jinnah’s Muslim League used the subsequent years to offer competing visions of the future nation-state(s). Younger and radical nationalists like Aruna Asaf Ali, Rammanohar Lohia, and Achyut Patwardhan evaded arrest and internment by escaping underground or abroad, to continue their anti-colonial activities through clandestine and virtual means. While its leadership had disappeared soon after the call to “Quit India”, nationalist resistance and sabotage continued, a mass mobilisation conducted through new technologies of communication and the politicisation of everyday life during WWII in South Asia.

Wireless telecommunication and radio broadcasting grew rapidly prior to WWII in India, with the establishment of All-India Radio in 1936, the creation of the Government Department of Information and Broadcasting in 1941, and the proliferation of licensed and illegal radio transmission and listening sets during WWII. The formation and recruitment of Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) and Provisional Government of Free India in Southeast Asia was communicated to the masses in the sub-continent entirely via “enemy” broadcasts from Japan and Germany, and re-transmitted through amateur and illegal radio operators.

My paper will focus on “Congress Radio” illegal broadcasting from late 1942 to early 1945, based on ongoing research in the wartime police and intelligence archives in Bombay/Mumbai. “Congress Radio” regularly transmitted wartime news and rumours, speeches, songs and poetry with a distinctly radical content, while constantly evading detection or interception by police and military wireless censors both within and outside the city. Studying both the radio intercepts in Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati, and police testimonies of radio operators, engineers and their collaborators, my paper will demonstrate how this emerging field of political communication and popular discourse shaped the everyday experience and understanding of WWII in South Asia beyond the nationalist mythology of “Quit India”.

Education, Society & Science in Modern India

I taught this course for doctoral students in the Graduate School in Science Education at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, in the fall semester of 2015.

Click here to download the full course syllabus as a PDF. All the course readings listed below are available to download on Google Drive.

About the Course

This graduate course is designed to expose doctoral students to the history and sociology of modern science education in colonial and post-colonial India, with a focus on ideas and institutions, concepts and thinkers, and major debates in this emerging field.

The seminar will meet twice per week for four months, and is spread over three units or themes of five weeks each on 1. “Colonialism & Modernity”, 2. “Nation & State” and 3. “Education, Policy & Society”.

Participants shall take turns writing three 500-600 word review/discussion papers on the assigned readings for prior circulation via the mailing list, as well as to lead discussion in that day’s seminar session.

The main requirement is a long essay or research paper of 5,000-6,000 words, comprising a literature review, social, demographic or other data with a theoretical argument on education, science and society in India. Rough drafts are due mid-way in the term.

All seminar participants are expected to complete close reading of assigned texts in advance in every session, and be prepared to participate in person and online via the course mailing list.

Continue reading Education, Society & Science in Modern India

Happy Birthday, Mr Commissioner

Published in Mumbai Mirror as “Happy Birthday, Mr MC” on 2 July 2015.

It is a year of missed anniversaries in Mumbai. The downpour which shut down the city on 19 June 2015 not only forced the Shiv Sena to cancel its Golden Jubilee celebrations, but to answer for more than two decades running a municipality larger than many state governments. While the ruling party must indeed be held to account, another, much older, anniversary that passed unnoticed should help explain why India’s oldest and wealthiest civic body remains such a mess. In 150 years there has been hardly any structural change in the institutions of municipal government in Mumbai.

Arthur Travers Crawford, first Municipal Commissioner of Bombay (1865-71)
Arthur Travers Crawford, first Municipal Commissioner of Bombay (1865-71)

On 1 July 1865, the first “Municipal Commissioner for the Town and Island of Bombay”, Arthur Trawers Crawford, was appointed by the Government of Bombay, along with the predecessor to today’s municipal Corporators – a body of “Justices of the Peace”. The city until then was a swampy archipelago focussed on trading, where government was minimal and ad-hoc. JPs had scant powers over policing and conservancy, to collect taxes, or keep the streets drained and swept. Funds were vested in three commissioners answering directly to government, a “triumvirate” which often worked at cross-purposes.

While moving the new Act of 1865 for a single “Chief Executive” for Mumbai along with Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy in the Governor’s Council, its co-sponsor Walter Cassels commented that “the town does not want municipal officers with the pen of a ready writer, but with brooms that sweep clean”. Crawford set about his task with zeal – laying out streets and markets, improving sanitation and water supply. The JPs soon complained they had no power over his purse strings. Much like today’s appointees, Crawford was then transferred, the “man at the top” whose “head must roll”.

Indian landlords and merchants also demanded their say in civic affairs proportionate to Crawford’s hiked property taxes. It was in the wake of this agitation against hiked rates that a young Pherozeshah Mehta returned from England in 1869 to take up their cause of “no taxation without representation”, and with K.T. Telang helped create the “local self-government” we know in Mumbai today. With the liberal Viceroy Lord Ripon – who laid the founding stone for the BMC Head Office where his statue now stands – Sir Pherozeshah authored the 1888 BMC Act, still the city’s current constitution. This trod a wise path between a colonial executive and the few wealthy Indians who qualified to vote or be elected to the corporation.

By the time “Sir PM” passed away in 1915, Gandhi had just returned to discover his “real India” in the villages, not colonial cities like Bombay. As he toured the countryside to mobilise the masses, by 1922, the British began opening voting to rent-payers, not just property tax-payers. In 1936 the minimum qualification to vote was further reduced from Rs 10 to Rs 5 rent. But beyond expanding the voter franchise and the extending the city limits in 1950 and 1956, by Independence, reforms to urban governance remained stillborn. Even as “Greater Mumbai” grew in size and scale, it was and remains governed by the same 1888 Act, based on the 1865 idea of vesting all executive power in a single, unelected MC.

While Independence did little to transform urban governance, globalisation has now made cities pivotal to the development of their regional and national economies. Today most of Mumbai’s municipal wards are now more populous than most US or European cities, but are still overseen by a single Assistant Commissioner. In Britain – where Lord Ripon’s reforms originated – the Corporator-Commissioner system was replaced with Town Councils in the 70s, though elected urban bodies have made a comeback, especially in London. In the US, popular elected government – especially for city Mayor – has long been a fact of urban life.

In the past decade national laws such as the 74th Amendment and RTI have helped transform urban instititions through slow and constant citizen pressure. Even as “Smart Cities” are being planned all over India, and new cities like Vasai-Virar are created on the same old Victorian model, serious proposals for urban reform remain absent.

India has had an elected Prime Minister under a democratic Constitution for more than sixty years, and the State of Maharashtra its own Assembly and Chief Minister for more than fifty years. Though the Sena briefly experimented with Calcutta’s Mayor-in-Council system in Mumbai in 1989, Mumbai’s Mayor has since 1931 been a ceremonial leader of the House. While Commissioners may come and go, a popular Mayor elected by and responsible to all citizens of Greater Mumbai would be a belated birthday gift for the old Urbs Prima in Indis.

हॅपी बर्थडे, मिस्टर कमिशनर! | शेखर कृष्णन

Marathi translation by Avadhoot of “Happy Birthday, Mr MC” originally published in Mumbai Mirror on 2 July 2015. 

मुंबईसाठी हे वर्ष वर्धापनदिन, जयंती वगैरेंसारखे अनेक दिवस चुकवणारं ठरलं. १९ जून २०१५ रोजी झालेल्या पावसाने शहर बंद पाडलं आणि शिवसेनेला आपला सुवर्ण महोत्सवी समारंभ रद्द करावा लागला. कित्येक राज्य सरकारांपेक्षाही मोठ्या असलेल्या इथल्या महानगरपालिकेवर गेली दोन दशकं शिवसेनेचीच सत्ता होती, त्यामुळे पावसाने शहर बंद पडल्यावर पक्षाला अनेक प्रश्नांनाही सामोरं जावं लागलं. भारतातील ही सर्वांत जुनी महानगरपालिका एवढ्या अनागोंदीमध्ये का आहे, याचं एक उत्तर सत्ताधारी पक्षाच्या अकार्यक्षमतेमध्ये आहेच, पण त्याहूनही तपशीलवार उत्तर हवं असल्यास विस्मरणात गेलेल्या एका जयंती दिवसाची दखल घ्यावी लागेल. मुंबईच्या महानगरपालिका प्रशासनातील विभागांमध्ये गेल्या दीडशे वर्षांत क्वचित रचनात्मक बदल झालेले आहेत.

Arthur Travers Crawford, first Municipal Commissioner (1865) आर्थर ट्रॉवर्स क्रॉफर्ड, पहिले शहर महागरपालिका आयुक्त (१८६५)

तत्कालीन मुंबई सरकारने १ जुलै १८६५ रोजी पहिले ‘म्युनिसिपल कमिशनर फॉर द टाउन अँड आयलँड ऑफ बॉम्बे’ (मुंबई शहर व बेट महागरपालिका आयुक्त) आर्थर ट्रॉवर्स क्रॉफर्ड यांची नियुक्ती केली. शिवाय आता नगरसेवक म्हणून ओळखल्या जाणारे सदस्य- ‘शांततेचे न्यायदूत’ही याच दिवशी नियुक्त करण्यात आले. तोपर्यंत या बेटरूपी शहराचा प्रशासकीय कारभार त्या त्या कामापुरता आणि अतिशय अल्प हस्तक्षेप करणारा होता. पोलीस प्रशासन व मच्छिमारी आणि नाविक व्यवहार असोत की रस्ते स्वच्छ व सुके ठेवण्यासाठीची कार्यवाही असो, यांपैकी कशासंबंधीही पुरेसे अधिकार न्यायदूतांकडे नव्हते. प्रशासकीय निधी तीन आयुक्तांच्या अखत्यारित येत असे आणि हे प्रशासकीय ‘त्रिकूट’ अनेकदा एकमेकांच्या विरोधी जाणाऱ्या कारणांसाठी कार्यरत राहायचं.

गव्हर्नर मंडळामध्ये शहराचे प्रतिनिधित्व सर जमशेटजी जीजीभॉय करत असताना, मुंबईसाठी एकसंध ‘मुख्य कार्यकारिणी’ही असायला हवी यासंबंधीचा नवा कायदा १८६५ साली करण्यात आला; त्यावेळी या कायद्याचे सहप्रवर्तक वॉल्टर कॅसेल्स म्हणाले होते की, ‘एखाद्या तयार लेखकासारखे लेखण्या वागवणारे महानगरपालिका अधिकारी या शहराला नको आहेत, उलट स्वच्छ फटकारे मारणाऱ्या केरसुण्या त्यांच्या हातात असणे जास्त गरजेचे आहे.’ क्रॉफर्ड यांनी आपले काम उत्साहाने सुरू केले- रस्ते व बाजारपेठांची व्यवस्था लावणं, स्वच्छता व पाणी पुरवठ्यामध्ये सुधारणा यांसंबंधी कार्यवाही तत्काळ सुरू झाली. लगेचच आयुक्तांच्या आर्थिक बटव्यावर अंकुश ठेवण्यासंबंधी आपल्याला काहीच अधिकार नसल्याची तक्रार न्यायदूतांनी करायला सुरुवात केली. आजच्या काळाप्रमाणेच क्रॉफर्ड यांची बदली करण्यात आली, ‘वरिष्ठ पदावरील व्यक्तीच्या डोक्यावर टांगती तलवार राहायलाच हवी’.

शिवाय, क्रॉफर्ड यांनी वाढवलेल्या मालमत्ता कराच्या प्रमाणात नागरी व्यवहारांमध्ये आपल्याला अधिकार द्यावेत, अशी मागणी भारतीय जमीनदार व व्यापारी वर्गाने केली. वाढलेल्या कराला झालेल्या या विरोधामधूनच ‘प्रतिनिधित्व नसेल तर कर नाही’ ही मागणी पुढे आली; इंग्लंडहून १८६९ साली परतलेले तरूण फिरोझशहा मेहता यांनी या मागणीसाठी पुढाकार घेतला. आता मुंबईत रूढ असलेल्या ‘स्थानिक स्वराज्या’च्या निर्मितीसाठी के.टी. तेलंग यांचा हातभार लागला. मुंबई महानगरपालिका मुख्य कार्यालयाच्या इमारतीचा पाया रचणारे उदारमतवादी व्हाइसरॉय लॉर्ड रिपन (ज्यांचा या कार्यालयात पुतळाही आहे) यांच्यासोबत सर फिरोझशहा यांनी मुंबई महानगरपालिका कायदा १८८८ तयार केला आणि हाच कायदा शहराची घटना म्हणून सध्याही वापरला जातो. यामुळे वसाहतिक सरकारी कार्यकारिणी आणि मत देण्याचा वा पालिकेत निवडून जाण्याचा अधिकार असलेले मोजके श्रीमंत भारतीय यांच्यातील सामोपचाराचा मार्ग हुशारीने बनवण्यात आला.

सर पीएम’ (फिरोझशहा मेहता) यांचे १९१५ साली निधन झाले, त्याच दरम्यान देशात परतलेल्या गांधींना ‘खऱ्या भारता’चा शोध खेड्यांमध्ये घ्यायचा होता, मुंबईसारख्या वसाहतिक शहरांमध्ये नाही. जनतेमध्ये ऊर्जा पेरण्यासाठी गांधी ग्रामीण भागाचा दौरा करत असताना, ब्रिटिशांनी मालमत्ता करदात्यांसोबतच भाडे देणाऱ्यांनाही मतदानाचा अधिकार प्रदान केला. १९३६ साली मतदानाच्या किमान अर्हतेसाठीचे भाडे दहा रुपयांवरून पाच रुपयांपर्यंत खाली आणण्यात आले. स्वातंत्र्यानंतर मतदारांच्या अधिकारांची कक्षा वाढलीच, शिवाय १९५० व १९५६ या वर्षांमध्ये शहराची सीमाही वाढवण्यात आली, परंतु शहरी प्रशासनासंबंधी सुधारणा लगोलग झाल्या नाहीत. ‘बृहन्मुंबई’ आकाराने आणि प्रमाणाने वाढत गेली, पण तिचे प्रशासन १८८८च्या कायद्याद्वारेच करण्यात येत होते; आणि सर्व कार्यकारी अधिकार एकाच महानगरपालिका आयुक्ताकडे असण्याच्या १८६५ सालच्या कल्पनेवरच हा कायदा आधारलेला होता.

शहरी प्रशासनातील बदलासाठी स्वातंत्र्याचा तसा फायदा नाही, पण आता जागतिकीकरणामुळे शहरांची भूमिका त्या त्या प्रांतीय व राष्ट्रीय अर्थव्यवस्थांसाठी अत्यंत महत्त्वाची ठरणार आहे. सध्या मुंबईतील अनेक पालिका विभाग हे अमेरिका व युरोपातील एखाद्या शहरापेक्षाही जास्त लोकसंख्येचे आहेत, पण त्यांच्या देखरेखीचे काम एकटा सह-आयुक्त करत असतो. लॉर्ड रिपन यांच्या सुधारणा जिथून सुरू झाल्या त्या ब्रिटनमध्ये नगरसेवक-आयुक्त अशी व्यवस्था जाऊन १९७०च्या दशकात ‘टाउन कौन्सिल’ (शहर कार्यकारी मंडळ) अस्तित्वात आले; आणि विशेषकरून इंग्लंडमध्ये लोकनियुक्त शहरी मंडळं उभी राहिली. अमेरिकेमध्ये शहरी जीवनात लोकनियुक्त सरकार- विशेषतः ‘मेयर’ (महापौर) हे पद आधीपासूनच रुजलेले आहे.

गेल्या दशकामध्ये ७४वी घटनादुरुस्ती व माहिती अधिकार कायदा अशा काही राष्ट्रीय कायद्यांमधून शक्य झालेल्या धीम्या पण नियमित नागरी दबावामुळे शहरी आस्थापनांमध्ये काही बदल झालेले दिसतात. देशभरात ‘स्मार्ट सिटी’ उभारण्याच्या योजना आखण्यात येत असताना वसई-विरारसारखी नवी शहरं मात्र त्याच जुन्या व्हिक्टोरियन प्रारूपावरून उभी राहत आहेत. शहर नूतनीकरणासाठी काही गंभीर प्रस्ताव मात्र तयार केले जात नाहीत.

भारतामध्ये साठहून अधिक वर्षं लोकशाही राज्यघटनेच्या चौकटीत लोकनियुक्त पंतप्रधान देशाचा कारभार पाहण्याची कामगिरी पार पाडत आहेत आणि महाराष्ट्र राज्याचा कारभार पाहण्याचे काम पन्नासहून अधिक वर्षं विधानसभा व मुख्यमंत्री करत आहेत. शिवसेनेने १९८९मध्ये मुंबईत कलकत्त्याप्रमाणे ‘कार्यकारी मंडळातील महापौरा’चा तात्पुरता प्रयोग करून पाहिला, अन्यथा १९३१पासून मुंबईचा महापौर हा सभागृहाचा औपचारिक नेता राहिलेला आहे. आयुक्त येतील आणि जातील, परंतु बृह्नमुंबईच्या सर्व नागरिकांनी निवडून दिलेला व त्यांना उत्तरादायी असलेला महापौर हीच भारतातील या सर्वांत जुन्या पहिल्या शहराला दिलेली वाढदिवसाची भेट ठरेल.

Seize the DP, Don’t Scrap It

Published in Mumbai Mirror as “Don’t Scrap the DP, Seize It” on 22 April 2015.

The first draft of the 2014-2034 Development Rules and Plan for Greater Mumbai were published online and in print by the BMC three months ago. Since then, an apparent profusion of errors has proved its undoing – many of which were themselves mis-reported. At first the media exposed some genuine but minor bloopers, which the BMC quickly corrected. But soon news came daily, and in the rush to outdo each other, editors failed to verify the alleged mis-marking of roads proposed through building societies, vanished heritage buildings, and commercial and residential zoning. Reporters did not seem to know that the BMC has limited planning authority in areas under the Collector, MMRDA or MbPT. Headlines were based on misunderstandings of terms like “permissible use”, “public purpose”, and the difference between “R-C” and “C-R”.

While technocratic lingo is not easily decoded, the BMC should have intervened more in the media, especially after journalists abandoned their responsibility to check the DP before reporting “errors”. They could have pointed out that many of these roads were already proposed in DP 1991 but never built, that Banganga and GPO were never shown as hospitals, and that Azad Maidan Police Station is indeed inside the Esplanade Court. Instead they issued a gag order to their planners. In the meantime, some Corporators proudly claimed that they opposed the draft DP from the moment it was published by their own agency, the BMC. Our elected representatives should have instead taken part in its preparation from the time they were elected in 2012, when land-use mapping for DP 2034 began.

The media and political uproar was welcome in some ways. Until recently, hardly anyone who was not an architect or engineer knew what the DP was. Most citizens will still have not seen their local sheet of DP 1991, by which we may remain governed for years to come. What is sad is that while the urban planning process has now been irreversibly democratised, nobody now wants to own the next DP. NGOs who had organised public consultations with the BMC in 2013-4 to demystify the planning process and input on the draft have since opposed it. When last week the BMC claimed that the few thousand complaints received until then were not enough to justify “dumping” the DP, a few shifted to attack mode, engulfing the BMC with objections to force the CM’s hand.

The DP’s “scrapping” is being hailed across the ideological spectrum from political parties to heritage activists, builders to environmentalists. Their political victory is an economic disaster for the city. Until a new DP is drafted, accepted and framed, Greater Mumbai remains governed by DP 1991, a tattered patchwork of rules and policies first conceived more than thirty years ago. It is this policy framework that sustains the city’s famous builder-politician nexus. With no new DP, housing redevelopment across Mumbai – in the lurch for years – will remain stalled, while projects such as the coastal road, Metro 2 and 3 (including the symbolic car shed at Aarey) and opening up NDZs will now be implemented without reference to any wider design and planning considerations. This is a policy vacuum which even the most ardent free-marketeer would abhor, and is no reason to celebrate.

Not Just Bose, but Bombay Too

Published as “Not Just Bose, Bombay Too” in Mumbai Mirror, Cover Story, Sunday 19 April 2015.

Nehru and Patel’s Government not only authorised snooping on the extended family of Subhash Chandra Bose well after Independence, but many other ex-Indian National Army (INA) veterans, including prominent Mumbaikars who served as Union and State ministers.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Gen Jagannath Rao Bhosale, (Bombay Chronicle, May 1946)
Jawaharlal Nehru and Gen Jagannath Rao Bhosale, ex-Chief of Staff of Bose’s Indian National Army and later Union Minister for Rehabilitation (Bombay Chronicle, May 1946)

Jagannath Rao K. Bhosale and S.A. Ayer together led the Bombay branch of the Indian National Army (INA) Relief & Enquiry (R&E) Committee established in 1946 at Congress House with Sardar Vallabhai Patel as its chair and patron. Remembered for his work with displaced Partition refugees and returning WWII veterans – and the road named for him in the sixties at Mantralaya – Bhosale was Netaji’s Chief of Staff in the INA, and served as Deputy Union Minister for Rehabilitation in Nehru’s cabinet from 1952.

Ayer was the Director of Information of the Government of Bombay from September 1946 until 1951, when he joined the Censor Board. A Bombay journalist since 1918, and the first Indian to head Reuters and Associated Press India, Ayer was a correspondent in Bangkok at the outbreak of WWII. He soon became a close associate of Bose and in October 1943 was appointed as both Propaganda Minister and member of the War Council of Netaji’s Azad Hind Sarkar.

S.A. Ayer, Propaganda Minister of Bose's Provisional Govt of Free India, and later Publicity Minister of the Govt of Bombay
S.A. Ayer, Propaganda Minister of Bose’s Provisional Govt of Free India, and later Publicity Minister of the Govt of Bombay

After the fall of British Singapore in 1942, almost 50,000 Indians became prisoners of war (POW), and of these around 25,000 had joined the INA – soldiers who served the Azad Hind Fauj or civilians in Azad Hind Sarkar based in the Andamans. By the end of WWII in August 1945, the drop of atomic bombs, Japan’s immediate surrender, and the mysterious death of Subhash Chandra Bose a few days later, his myth had reached its peak just as the Allies (and ex-colonisers) deployed the tired and near-mutinous Indian Army to re-occupy the arc of territory under Mountbatten’s South East Asia Command (SEAC), derisively known as “Save England’s Asian Colonies”.

Continue reading Not Just Bose, but Bombay Too

सुभाषबाबूंसोबतचे मुंबईकर साथी | शेखर कृष्णन

Marathi translation of Not Just Bose, But Bombay Too by Avadhoot. Originally published as the cover story in  Mumbai Mirror, Sunday 19 April 2015.

नेहरू आणि पटेल यांच्या सरकारने स्वातंत्र्यानंतरही सुभाषचंद्र बोस यांच्या एकत्रित कुटुंबावरती पाळत ठेवायच्याच सूचना केल्या होत्या असे नव्हे, तर आझाद हिंद सेनेमध्ये (इंडियन नॅशनल आर्मी-आयएनए) सामील झालेल्यांपैकी अनेक माजी सैन्याधिकारी व नेत्यांवर पाळत ठेवण्याचे आदेश देण्यात आले होते. केंद्रीय व राज्य पातळीवर मंत्री म्हणून काम केलेल्या काही मान्यवर मुंबईकर व्यक्तिमत्त्वांचाही यात समावेश होता.

 

Jawaharlal Nehru and Gen Jagannath Rao Bhosale, (Bombay Chronicle, May 1946)
Jawaharlal Nehru and Gen Jagannath Rao Bhosale, ex-Chief of Staff of Bose’s Indian National Army and later Union Minister for Rehabilitation (Bombay Chronicle, May 1946)जवाहरलाल नेहरू व बोस यांच्या आझाद हिंद सेनेचे ‘चीफ ऑफ स्टाफ’ आणि नंतर केंद्रीय पुनर्वसन मंत्री झालेले जनरल जगन्नाथराव भोसले. (बॉम्बे क्रॉनिकल, मे १९४६) 

काँग्रेस भवनामध्ये १९४६ साली स्थापन झालेल्या आझाद हिंद सेना दिलासा व चौकशी समितीच्या (रिलीफ अँड इन्क्वायरी कमिटी) मुंबई शाखेचे नेतृत्त्व जगन्नाथराव के. भोसले आणि एस. . अय्यर यांनी केले. सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल हे या समितीचे अध्यक्ष आणि पुरस्कर्ते होते. फाळणी काळातील निर्वासित आणि दुसऱ्या महायुद्धातून परतलेले सैनिक यांच्यासंबंधी केलेल्या कामासाठी भोसले ओळखले जातात आणि त्यांच्या स्मृती जागवण्यासाठी मंत्रालयाजवळच्या एका रस्त्यालाही त्यांचे नाव देण्यात आले. आझाद हिंद सेनेमध्ये भोसले हे नेताजींचे ‘चीफ ऑफ स्टाफ’ होते आणि १९५२ पासून त्यांनी नेहरूंच्या मंत्रिमंडळात पुनर्वसनाचे केंद्रीय उपमंत्री म्हणून काम पाहिले.

अय्यर हे सप्टेंबर १९४६पासून १९५१पर्यंत मुंबई सरकारचे माहिती संचालक होते. त्यानंतर ते सेन्सॉर मंडळाचे सदस्यही झाले. मुंबईत १९१८सालापासून पत्रकारितेत कार्यरत असलेले आणि ‘रॉयटर्स’ व ‘असोसिएट प्रेस इंडिया’ या वृत्तसंस्थांचे पहिले भारतीय अध्यक्ष राहिलेल्या अय्यर यांनी दुसऱ्या महायुद्धाच्या काळात बँकॉकहून युद्धाचे वार्तांकन केले होते. त्याच काळात ते बोस यांचे जवळचे सहकारी बनले आणि ऑक्टोबर १९४३मध्ये नेताजींच्या ‘आझाद हिंद सरकार’चे प्रचार मंत्री व युद्ध मंडळाचे सदस्य म्हणून त्यांची नेमणूक झाली.

S.A. Ayer, Propaganda Minister of Bose's Provisional Govt of Free India, and later Publicity Minister of the Govt of Bombay
S.A. Ayer, Propaganda Minister of Bose’s Provisional Govt of Free India, and later Publicity Minister of the Govt of Bombayएस. ए. अय्यर. बोस यांच्या हंगामी आझाद हिंद सरकारमधील प्रचार मंत्री व नंतर मुंबई सरकारमध्ये प्रसिद्धी मंत्री म्हणून काम. 

ब्रिटिशांच्या सत्तेखालील सिंगापूरचा १९४२मध्ये पाडाव झाल्यानंतर सुमारे ५० हजार भारतीय युद्धकैदी बनले आणि त्यापैकी सुमारे २५ हजार सैनिक आझाद हिंद सेनेमध्ये दाखल झाले होते. त्यातील काहींना आझाद हिंद सेनेत सैनिक म्हणून काम केले तर काहींनी अंदमानस्थित आझाद हिंद सरकारमध्ये नागरी सेवेत योगदान दिले. ऑगस्ट १९४५मध्ये दुसरे महायुद्ध संपत आले असताना अणुबॉम्बच्या हल्ल्यामुळे जपानने तत्काळ शरणागती पत्करली आणि त्यानंतर काही दिवसांनी सुभाषचंद्र बोस यांचा गूढ मृत्यू झाला. त्या दरम्यान थकलेल्या व बंडखोरीच्या उंबरठ्यावर असलेल्या भारतीय सैन्याला मित्र राष्ट्रांनी (व तत्कालीन वसाहतवाद्यांनी) माउंटबॅटनच्या अखत्यारितील आग्नेय आशियाई प्रदेशावर पुन्हा ताबा मिळवण्यासाठी धाडले; या मोहिमेला ‘इंग्लंडच्या आशियाई वसाहती बचाव’ असे अपमानास्पद नाव देण्यात आले.

Continue reading सुभाषबाबूंसोबतचे मुंबईकर साथी | शेखर कृष्णन

Why You Should Download the Mumbai Development Plan Today

Mumbai's New Development Plan? Cartoon by Raj Thackeray, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), February-March 2015
Mumbai’s New Development Plan? Cartoon by Raj Thackeray, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), February-March 2015

The publication of the proposed Greater Mumbai Development Plan for 2034 over the past month has seen a rare coalition emerge to condemn it, from NGOs and political parties, to celebrities and artistes, and in the past week even the BMC’s own Heritage Conservation Committee. Aggrieved residents and alert activists are seeing dark conspiraces in the details of road alignments, land use reservations, and hikes in FSI (Floor Space Index) across the city. While high FSI has become central to the debate on DP 2034, what matters most for Mumbaikars is how policies like FSI, TDR (Transferable Development Rights) and other Development Control Rules (DCR) can be harnessed to create greater public goods and a better urban environment in the next twenty years.

Portrayed from Left to Right as a sell-out to the construction industry, DP 2034 is in fact a paper template, referred to when permissions are sought for development or redevelopment. Together with the DCR, they define the guidelines and recipe book of policies by which land use, building, zoning, amenities and infrastructure are regulated. DP 2034 will only be the third for Greater Mumbai. The first DP was proposed in 1964 and sanctioned in 1967 for a decade until 1977. It was a broad land use plan, a response by engineers and planners who were horrified by the Island City’s runaway population growth and industrial concentration, even after the annexation of the suburbs to Greater Bombay in the fifties, and the statehood of Maharashtra in the sixties.

Continue reading Why You Should Download the Mumbai Development Plan Today

The Swayambhu Lingam of Sandhurst Road

Shorter version published as “Squaring the Circle”, Mumbai Mirror, Sunday Read, 22 February 2015.

11018634_10153697947729852_1556617658135858432_o

“I need not dilate on the urgent necessity in the interest of our work of removing temples, where necessary, otherwise than by force. In laying out schemes I exclude every religious edifice that I can. But in the case of Hindoo temples it is not possible to exclude all, for they are sprinkled over the City like pepper out of a castor. And if our schemes are not to suffer, we must treat each case liberally”.

Proceedings of the Trustees for the Improvement of the City of Bombay, Special Meeting, 15 January 1907, T.R. 11

On this week’s festival of Maha Shivratri, devotees annually offer prayers in Mumbai’s oldest temple dedicated to Shiva, the Nageshwar Mandir at Sardar Vallabbhai Patel (SVP) Marg. Popularly known as the “Gol Deval”, few who circle around its swayambhu (self-manifested) ling are aware of how this “Round Temple” came to be in the middle of a busy main road. Known before 1955 as Sandhurst Road, this arterial avenue was named after the Governor who tackled the outbreak of bubonic plague in western India in 1896. Lord Sandhurst created the Bombay Improvement Trust (BIT) in 1898 to immunise the city in the wake of the epidemic, arming it with draconian powers of acquisition, demolition and redevelopment, to unclog the city’s arteries and increase its circulation by redeveloping its slums, swamps and streets.

Continue reading The Swayambhu Lingam of Sandhurst Road

सँडहर्स्ट रस्त्यावरचे स्वयंभू शिवलिंग | शेखर कृष्णन

Marathi translation of The Swayambhu Lingam of Sandhurst Road by Avadhoot.

 

Round Temple (Gol Deval), Sandhurst Road (S. Patel Marg)
Round Temple (Gol Deval), Sandhurst Road (S. Patel Marg)

 

‘‘आपले काम सुरळीत पार पडायचे असेल, तर आवश्यक वाटेल तिथे आणि गरज भासल्यास बळाचा वापर करून मंदिरे हटविणे अत्यंत निकडीचे आहे. या आवश्यकतेवर मी आणखी उहापोह करण्याची गरज नाही. मी एखादी योजना आखताना कोणत्याही धार्मिक स्थळाची जागा त्यातून वगळतो. परंतु हिंदू मंदिरांच्या बाबतीत, सर्व स्थळे वगळणे शक्य नाही, कारण ती शहरभर गवतासारखी पसरलेली आहेत. आपल्या योजनांना बाधा यायला नको असेल, तर आपण यातील प्रत्येक स्थळाचा स्वतंत्रपणे विचार करायला हवा.’’

  • मुंबई शहर सुधारणा विश्वस्त संस्थे’च्या (द बॉम्बे सिटी इम्प्रुव्हमेंट ट्रस्ट) विशेष बैठकीच्या कामकाजातून, १५ जानेवारी १९०७, टी.आर.११.

रदार वल्लभभाई पटेल (एसव्हीपी) मार्गावरील नागेश्वर मंदिर हे मुंबईतील सर्वांत जुने शंकराचे देऊळ आहे. दर वर्षी महाशिवरात्रीच्या सप्ताहात भक्तमंडळी इथे येऊन प्रार्थना करतात. ‘गोल देऊळ’ या नावाने प्रसिद्ध असलेल्या या मंदिरात स्वयंभू शिवलिंगाभोवती प्रदक्षिणा घालणाऱ्या फारच थोड्या लोकांना हे मंदिर गर्दीच्या या मुख्य रस्त्यावर कसे उभे राहिले याची माहिती असेल. १९५५ पूर्वी सँडहर्स्ट रोड या नावाने हा वर्दळीचा रस्ता ओळखला जायचा. पश्चिम भारतात १८९६ साली आलेल्या प्लेगच्या साथीला सरकारच्या वतीने हाताळणाऱ्या गव्हर्नर सँडहर्स्टवरून हे नाव देण्यात आले होते. लॉर्ड सँडहर्स्ट यांनी या साथीच्या पार्श्वभूमीवर १८९८ साली शहराचे निर्जंतणुकीकरण करण्यासाठी बॉम्बे इम्प्रुव्हमेंट ट्रस्टची (बीआयटी) स्थापना केली. शहराच्या वाहतूक मार्गांमध्ये मोकळीक आणण्यासाठी व झोपडपट्ट्या, दलदलीची ठिकाणे, रस्ते यांचा पुनर्विकास करून हे मार्ग अधिक प्रवाही करण्यासाठी या विश्वस्त संस्थेला अधिग्रहण, पाडकाम व पुनर्विकासाचे राक्षसी अधिकार देण्यात आले.

Continue reading सँडहर्स्ट रस्त्यावरचे स्वयंभू शिवलिंग | शेखर कृष्णन