Saturday, 8 March 2014

Laxmi Kumari Chundawat, famous Rajasthani writer and former Member of Parliament, but already forgotten in the English-speaking world

Sheer good luck that, in a 2nd hand bookshop in Portland, Oregon, I came across a copy of Laxmi Kumari Chundawat's autobiography FROM PURDAH TO THE PEOPLE (Edited by Frances Taft), and promptly bought it because it looked so interesting as the memoirs of a Rajasthani writer from the last century (the book was published in 2000 - so not that long ago, but the Kumari was born in 1916, and was still living last year, as far as I can work out).

The curious thing is that a Google search reveals not only NO review of the book, but not even any other reference to the book - and only a couple of stray references to her as a famous Rajasthani writer (which, by the way, give the date of her birth as 1911 - apparently wrongly!).

Apart from being a famous writer, she was for three terms a Member of the Rajasthan State Legislative Assembly, and a Member of India's national Parliament from 1972 to 1978.

In any case, as a member of an Indian royal family, one would have thought that there might be some basic information on her: at least parentage and family, perhaps a list of her books and other achievements - but no such luck.

By the way, that Google search also led me to the Rajasthan Studies Group (now, apparently, defunct)....

I am unpopular for holding the view that the Internet is only a very partial source of information, specially on anything to do with the entire period before the rise of the Internet (say about 1995).

This book is evidence that the Internet is only a very partial source of knowledge even on the period up to the year 2000.

Anyway, I've just finished reading FROM PURDAH TO THE PEOPLE, and I find it very well told. Moreover, it reveals a wise and admirable woman.

FROM PURDAH TO THE PEOPLE should be compulsory reading for all Rajasthanis and for all Indian women - though it is of course far more widely instructive on a vast array of subjects from purdah itself, to Hindu-Muslim relations, sati, the contemporary influence of Jainism and Arya Samaj, and indeed almost all subjects impacted by the transition from pre-Independence to post-Independence Indian life, cultures, society and history.

An enormous pity that the book was published by a small outfit from Jaipur.

If any member of her family comes across this post, may I urge them to scan the whole book and put on the Internet.

If no other site is available, I will happily arrange for my own site to host it.

No comments:

Post a Comment