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Padam Shree to Dr. J. S. Garewal

Sumir Sharma

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Padam Shree has been conferred upon noted historian Dr. J. S. Garewal on the Republic Day (January 26, 2005) of India for his outstanding contribution to academics.

Padam Shree is one of the highest national honour conferred upon distinguished personalities who contribute to the nation in their field of expertise in India. There are four major national honour viz Padam Shree, Padam Bushan, Padam Vibhushan and Bharat Ratana. Bharat Ratana is the highest National Honour in India and present President of India, Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, a noted aeronautical scientist and Missile Man of India, himself is a Bharat Ratan Awardee.

Dr. J. S. Garewal is presently Chairman of Governing Council of the Indian Institute for Advance Studies (IIAS) (http://www.iias.org/contact.html), Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India. He was earlier Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak University Amritsar. He was also on the committee of the National Education Curriculum established by present government in order to correct and review the contents of the History books in India at school level which were mired into controversy during the reign of previous government.

Dr. J. S. Garewal is an expert in the field of Medieval India. However, he had also earned his place in history writing through his writings on History of Punjab.

The first notable contribution in the field of Punjab History was Guru Nanak in History, published in 1969 by Publication Bureau (now less active as compared to Punjabi University, Patiala), Punjab University Chandigarh. It had gone into reprints and second edition appeared in 1979 and then in 1998.

Guru Nanak in History is one of the most balanced work on Guru Nanak as a historic persona. The book is divided into too sections. The first Section is “The Milieu” having four chapters and the second section is “The Response” having corresponding four chapters and one Epilogue. It is written in the style which has been perfected by New Cambridge History Scholars under the new plan of writing history for South Asia. (I have referred to this aspect in my another posting “Working of Ideology in History Writing” in Philosophy of History section.)

The second book which has established its place in history resources is “The Sikhs of the Punjab” under The New Cambridge History of India, Vol II.3, in 1994 (India Edition ISBN : 81-85618-48-8). At that time he was director of IIAS.

He was conferred upon a D. Lit degree by University of London for his above mentioned work.

His third recent publication is Akalis - A Short History, Chandigarh, 1996. It is work of a Sikh who is a historian also. The most important chapter is second one “Sikh Tradition: The Historic Context” which may be useful for the French Government for taking a balanced view about the Sikhs.

He has also contributed to Encyclopedia Britannica.

In his interview to The Tribune (http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20050128/punjab1.htm#6), he has mentioned that his next publication, ‘History of Medieval India’ will be published by Oxford University Press. The first volume, ‘State and Societies in Medieval India’ will be released next month by OUP.

Dr. Garewal had made important observation on ‘saffronisation’ of history in above mentioned interview. He said, “the past regime (NDA led by BJP) did try to indulge in it, but by and large a majority of historians in India tow what the west historiographically calls the liberal writing.” He further emphasized that major attack against saffronisation led by leading Leftist historians like Irfan Habbib, Sumit Sarkar, (The Fascism of the Sangh Parivar: http://sacw.insaf.net/DC/CommunalismCollec...GHPARIVAR.html) but that should not be construed to mean that mainstream liberal historians had adopted a leftist view.

Dr. Garewal has given number of leading historians to field of study of history. One of his student, Dr. Indu Banga, who is an established historians in her own right, had pioneered the trend of Urbanization studies in India.

Edited by Sumir Sharma
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