This Day in History (28-Dec-1885) – The Indian National Congress was founded

At the close of the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, the British government established an imperial headquarters on the subcontinent at Kolkata. Over the next twenty-plus years, administrators set out to engage the natives in order to avoid the rebellions which forced the East India Company to relinquish control in the first place. By 1883, the responsibility for developing this coalition became the personal mission of a retired district officer named Allan Octavian Hume. Capitalizing on the simmering desire amongst Indians for independence, he composed an open letter for a carefully-chosen group of graduates from the University of Calcutta explaining they would have to “make a resolute struggle to secure greater freedom for yourselves and your country.”

The idea of the Congress took concrete shape during a meeting of the Theosophical Convention in Madras in December 1884. In March 1885 a notice was issued convening a meeting at Pune in December of the same year, but due to a severe plague outbreak there, the meeting was later shifted to Bombay. Granted permission by the governor, the Viceroy understood Hume’s intention — coupled with that of natives like Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee and others — to be the creation of a single point of contact for the varying concerns locals might bring to the colonial government.

On December 28, 1885, a group of 72 delegates gathered at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Mumbai to form the Indian National Congress (INC) with W.C. Bannerjee in the chair and Hume assuming office as the General Secretary. Other important delegates included Dadabhai Naoroji, Justice Ranade, Pherozeshah Mehta, K.T. Telang and Dinshaw Wacha. Defining the objective of the Congress, the president spoke of the “promotion of personal intimacy and friendship among all the more earnest workers in our country’s cause in the parts of the empire and eradication of race, creed or provincial prejudice and fuller development of national unity”.

Subsequently, the Congress led India to Independence in 1947 after a long but remarkably peaceful struggle.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/december-28-1885-the-indian-national-congress-is-founded-in-mumbai-

http://www.indianetzone.com/41/history_indian_national_congress.htm

This Day in History (6-Oct-1889) – Moulin Rogue opens in Paris

In October 1889, Paris was all abuzz concerning the opening of a new music hall. The owners of this new establishment, Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, who had chosen the name Moulin Rouge (Red Mill) for their Moulin Rouge, Paris theatre, gave it the nickname “Le Premier Palais des Femmes” (The First Palace of Women) and claimed that Moulin Rouge would soon become “a temple of music and dance”.

Moulin Rouge quickly gained a reputation for being the place where men could view young Parisian girls whose unique and amazing dance moves were as flexible as their morals. And though the famous Can-Can dance had been present in working class ballrooms since the 1830s, the early days of the Moulin Rouge cemented its popularity, though during the first few decades that the establishment was open, it was little more than a bawdy dance performed by courtesans to entertain their male clientele. At times it was downright vulgar and what went on inside the Moulin Rouge caused much public outrage. During this time period, one of the music hall’s most notable patrons was artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who painted a number of famous Moulin Rouge scenes.

In later years, the establishment cleaned up its act, eventually lost its reputation as a brothel, and became a fashionable music hall known for its extravagant cabaret shows, attracting a high-class clientele. The Can-Can itself was toned down as well. Still, it’s the main reason patrons come to Moulin Rouge and they always go away entertained by the dancers’ high-kicking moves, cartwheels, splits, and other amazing acrobatic tricks.

Today, a visit to the Moulin Rouge is still very popular with adult visitors to Paris. The show features more than 100 performers decked out in the most extravagant costumes, which include lots of feathers, rhinestones, and sequins. The sets are equally as spectacular. There are two English movies with the name and shot on the backdrop of Moulin Rogue, one was released in 1952 and other in 2001. Parineeta movie had a glimpse of Kolkata based Moulin Rogue.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/october/6

http://www.aviewoncities.com/paris/moulinrouge.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulin_Rouge_(1952_film)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulin_Rouge

This Day in History (13-Sep-1929) – Jatindra Nath Das died on the 63rd day of hunger strike in Lahore Central Jail

Jatindra Nath Das was a freedom fighter and revolutionary. He joined Anushilan Samiti, which was a revolutionary group in Bengal. Jatindra participated in Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement in 1921. In November 1925, while studying for a B.A. at Vidyasagar College in Kolkata, Jatindra Nath was arrested for his political activities and was imprisoned in Mymensingh Central Jail. Protesting against the ill treatment of political prisoners, he went on a hunger strike. After 20 days, when the Jail Superintendent apologized, Jatin gave up the fast. He was contacted by and agreed to participate in bomb-making for Bhagat Singh and comrades. On 14 June 1929, he was arrested for terrorist activities and was imprisoned in Lahore jail to be tried under the supplementary Lahore Conspiracy Case.

In the Lahore jail, Jatin Das, along with other prisoners, started a hunger strike demanding jail reforms and rights of prisoners and under trials. The conditions of Indian people of the jails were terrible. The uniform that Indian prisoners were required to wear in jail with were not washed for several days, and rats and cockroaches roamed the kitchen area making the food unsafe to eat. Indian prisoners were not provided with any reading material such as newspapers, nor were they provided paper to write. In contrast, the condition of the British prisoners in the same jail was noticeably different.

This unforgettable hunger strike started on 13 July 1929 and lasted 63 days. The jail authority took many measures to feed Jatin, including attempts to feed forcefully. However, Jatindra did not eat and died on 13 September without breaking the hunger strike. As his body was carried from Lahore to Kolkata by train, thousands of people rushed to every station to pay their homage to the martyr. A two-mile long procession in Kolkata carried the coffin to the cremation ground. The hunger strike of Jatin Das in prison was one crucial moment in the resistance against illegal detentions, and highlighted cold-hearted brutality of British colonialism. Of millions in the country who swore by Gandhism, Jatin Das alone walked till the end of path.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/13th-september-1500-portuguese-explorer-pedro-alvarez-cabral-lands-in-calicut-and-opens-the-first-european-factory-in-india

http://www.proud2bindian.in/patriots-patriotism/8418-jatindra-nath-das.html#.VAqH4sKSxWQ

http://satyameva-jayate.org/2011/09/13/jatin-das/

This Day in History (20-Aug-1828) – Brahmo Samaj, the first movement to initiate religio-social reforms, was founded by Ram Mohan Roy in Calcutta

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a popular social and educational reformer in India who paved the way for progress in India under British rule. Though born in an orthodox brahmin family, Rammohan Roy had shown great sympathy for Islam and Christianity. He had gone to Tibet in search of the Buddhist mysteries. He had extracted from Christianity its ethical system, but had rejected the divinity of Christ as he had denied the Hindu Incarnations. The religion of Islam influenced him, to a great extent, in the formulation of his monotheistic doctrines. But he always went back to the Vedas for his spiritual inspiration. The Brahmo Samaj which was launched into its eventful career on August 20, 1828, gave a concrete expression to Roy’s concept of universal worship. Weekly service was held originally, a practice which has been retained to this day at the Brahmamandir of Tagore’s Shantiniketan.  It consisted of three successive parts, viz. recitation of the Vedas by Telegu Brahmins in the closed apartment exclusively before the Brahmin members of the congregation, reading and exposition of the Upanishads for the general audience, and singing of religious hymns. the only custodian of Vedic rituals in Calcutta at that moment was the orthodox Telegu Brahmin community and its members could not be persuaded to recite the Vedas before Brahmins and non-Brahmins alike.

The Brahmo Samaj is credited with being one of the most important reform movements in India which led to the foundation of modern India. The Brahmo Samaj was a community of people who worship the Brahman, which is referred to as “The unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world”, something which cannot be defined and is the highest reality. It was a reflection of the Bengal Renaissance and took active participation in social emancipation, which included the abolition of sati, the caste system, child marriage, dowry and the betterment of the status of women in society. Brahmosim as a tool to tackle the prevalent dowry system was addressed in noted Bengali writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s famous 1914 novel, Parineeta.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/20th-august-1828-the-first-session-of-ram-mohan-roys-brahmo-samaj-is-held-in-kolkata

http://www.thebrahmosamaj.net/history/history.html

http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/gospel/introduction/brahmo_samaj.htm

This Day in History (13-Jul-1830) – The Scottish Church College is Established by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Alexander Duff

Alexander Duff was a young missionary inspired by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, who came to Kolkata (the then Imperial capital) to set up an English-medium institution. Apart from Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Duff was also helped by Lord William Bentink, the Governor-General of India. Roy helped Duff by organizing the venue for the college and bringing in the first batch of five students. Roy also went ahead to pacify the parents and guardians of the students that them reading the King James Bible was not an attempt to convert them to Christianity. Duff was unlike other missionaries and wanted to introduce his students to the best of European religion, science and literature. He was also very selective in hiring teachers for his new institute and made sure he had the right amalgamation of European and Indian teachers who would do justice to both Christian and secular understanding. Duff wanted his teachers to encourage in their students a questioning attitude and rational thinking. The Scottish Church College was one of the oldest colleges for liberal arts and sciences in India.

With the right vision, Duff established a strong education system in Bengal which succeeded in spreading progressive values across the state. Though Duff wanted to spread English education as far as he could, he realized that it would not be possible until the students mastered their vernacular language first, due to which a lot of emphasis was placed on learning the Bengali language. The Scottish Church College was also one of the earliest institutes to promote women’s education and was co-ed from the beginning. When Duff introduced political economy as a subject in the curricula, he faced his church’s criticism.

Till today, the Scottish Church College remains one of the most popular institutes for higher education in Kolkata and has famous alumni, such as Swami Vivekanand, Subhash Chandra Bose, Gopinath Bordoloi, Derek O’Brien, Mithun Chakraborty and Nirad C. Chaudhuri among others.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/july-13-1830-the-scottish-church-college-is-established-by-raja-ram-mohan-roy-and-alexander-duff

http://www.scottishchurch.ac.in/the-college.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Church_College

This Day in History (7-Jul-1901) – J. Watsan Harod started a branch of Gramophone Company at Calcutta

Considering the great potential of recording industry in India, the Gramophone Company set up its office in Calcutta in 1901. Within a year or so, its leading technical expert F.W.Gaisberg landed in Calcutta with his recording team. At that time, they had to go wherever the performing artistes were located. Within six weeks they travelled to different parts of India and recorded over 600 titles. Over 500 artistes were recorded in different regional languages all over India. Most of them had to be trained to record songs from one minute to three minutes. Most of the artistes were professional female singers who agreed to special training required for gramophone recording.

The earliest recording made in India was that of Gauhar Jan, a Hindustani vocalist, in the year 1902. Although the recording was made in India, the disc was manufactured in England. So, at the end of the record she announced her name, to enable the technicians abroad to fix the right label to the disc. This practice of announcing one’s name at the end of a song continued until 1908, when the Gramophone Company of England set up manufacturing facilities in Sealdah, Calcutta. Many renowned maestros of classical music refused to record as they thought this would adversely affect the attendance at their concerts. That is why there is no recorded voice of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Bhaskarboa Bakhle, Alladiya Khan and other famous singers.

In the early years all recordings were done through acoustic technology through brass horns and the artistes were expected to sing in a loud voice. It was later in 1925, that the electric carbon microphone brought into fashion a new practice of recording folk and comic songs, devotional numbers and even full drama series with dialogues. Within a few years, many recording companies appeared on the scene but the Gramophone Company, with its trademark of an image of a dog listening to a gramophone horn with a ‘His Master’s Voice’ label enjoyed a virtual monopoly in India until the 1970s. In 2000, controlling RPG group changed the company’s name to ‘Saregama India Ltd’.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20080413/spectrum/main1.htm

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/saregama-india-ltd/infocompanyhistory/companyid-13704.cms

http://www.recordsindia.com/companies_hmv.html