ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ideas, Institutions, and Individuals in Colonial Bombay

The Collected Works of J V Naik: Reform and Renaissance in Nineteenth Century Maharashtra edited with an introduction by Murali Ranganathan, Mumbai: Asiatic Society of Mumbai, 2006; pp 380, ₹ 750.


The volume under review is a collection of the scholarly essays by J V Naik, who retired as professor and head of University of Mumbai’s Department of History, and has been one of the leading historians, over the last few decades, of 19th century Maharashtra. This collection, edited with an introduction by Murali Ranganathan, an independent scholar with his own considerable knowledge of the world of print and publishing in colonial Bombay, brings together 21 of Naik’s essays between the 1970s and the present. Nearly all are focused on the period of intellectual ferment, socio-religious reform and political awakening in the Bombay Presidency from the 1830s onwards. They are organised under the rubrics of Ideas, Institutions and Personalities associated with these processes.

Under “Ideas,” thus, the essays explore diverse intellectual influences such as the American writer and theologian Theodore Parker or the British political critic and letter-writer Junius on the new generation of Western-educated middle-class men in Bombay, or the career of the concept “divine providence” among commentators on British rule in the subcontinent. Under “Institutions,” Naik examines the history of crucial ventures of the early Bombay government such as the first engineering institution intended to impart scentific and practical knowledge to Indians in their native languages, as well as reformist efforts of the new intelligentsia through the Prarthana Samaj, the Paramahansa Sabha, or the Ganesh festival. The final section on personalities has detailed profiles of Bhau Daji, R G Bhandarkar, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and R D Karve, one of the pioneering advocates of birth control and sex education in India.

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Updated On : 12th Jul, 2019
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