Planning the City – Urbanization and Reform in Calcutta, c. 1800 – c. 1940

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Planning the City

Partho Datta

9.5 x 6.25 inches
348 pages
ISBN: 978-81-89487-90-4
Rs 650

In 1820, an unusual letter was published in the Bengali newspaper Samachar Darpan. It was a plaintiveappeal from the rats of the city of Calcutta saying they were being unfairly displaced from their ancientdwellings. Calcutta was indeed going through momentous changes – new roads and neighbourhoods werebeing planned, channels for draining were being dug, new structures were coming up and existingbuildings refurbished. These changes were not random. A new spatial order was coming into its ownbacked by the powerful ideology of town planning. Planning encompassed not only the regulation ofphysical spaces, but also the multiple concerns of health, policing and commerce.

Planning happened largely in the guise of ‘improvement’ and the intervention of the colonial government was important. Despite resistance and skepticism, and some reversals, the task of imposing a rational urban order on the city continued. The history of this colonial initiative can be traced through three sets of archival documents which have so far been sparingly used by historians of Calcutta.

Lord Wellesley began the process with his prescriptive Minute on Calcutta in 1803, which led to the setting up of the Lottery Committee in 1817 – so called because funds for the city were raised through public lotteries. The investigation of the Fever Hospital Commission followed in the 1830s and, as the name suggests, the locations of epidemic fevers determined areas for urban restructuring. The Municipality, throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, had to reckon with bustis which housed the labouring poor. But it was only after the plague epidemic in 1897 that an autonomous organization to plan the city came into being: the Calcutta Improvement Trust was set up in 1911.

This book examines and assesses the continuity of colonial urban policy and its impact, particularly in terms of the social costs to the displaced population and its implications for understanding planning history generally.

Partho Datta teaches history at Zakir Husain Evening College, University of Delhi, and has published essays on labour and medical history.


Rethinking Work – Global Historical and Sociological Perspectives

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Edited by Rana Behal, Alice Mah & Babacar Fall

October 2011

9.75 x 6.5 inches
ISBN: 978-81-89487-85-0
Rs 400

This edited volume brings together global interdisciplinary perspectives on work from different regions of the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia, drawing on both historical and contemporary examples.  The contributions address wide-ranging theme such as work and life cycle , work transformation, precarious work, informalization of work, labour migration, labour conflict and labour relations.The book is timely and innovative in its theoretical, empirical and methodological scope, providing key insights for rethinking work through interrelated global, interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives.

Foreword by Andreas Eckert, Director, International Research Centre ‘Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History’, Humboldt University, Berlin, and Professor of African History.

Rana Behal, Associate Professor, Department of History, Deshbandhu College, University of Delhi, India.

Alice Mah, Assistant Professor in Sociology, University of Warwick, UK.

Babacar Fall, Head of the History and Geography Didactic Department, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal.

The National Movement- Studies in Ideology and History

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Irfan Habib

August 2011

8.5 x 5.5 inches
128 pages
Rs 150

This volume consists of 5 essays on the National Movement that arose to overthrow the British rule in India. 3 of these essays are devoted to the two men, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, whose divergent ideas dominated the National Movement and to different degrees influenced its course. A fourth essay studies in detail how ideas and practice enmeshed to produce the Civil Disobedience Movement in its initial phase, 1930-31, being undoubtedly the most powerful mass agitation organized by the Congress. The final essay studies the contributions made by the Left, especially the Communists, to the National Movement, seeking to fill a gap quite often found in conventional histories.

Irfan Habib is Professor Emeritus of History at the Aligarh Muslim University.

The Making of History- Essays presented to Irfan Habib

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Edited by- K.N. Panikkar, Terence J. Byres, Utsa Patnaik

August 2011
(First published in 2000)

x+ 678 pages
Rs 750

First published in 2000, this festschrift was presented to Irfan Habib on the occasion of his sixty-eighth birthday. As Marxist scholar and historian, Irfan Habib has been a towering presence on the India intellectual scene for over four decades. His truly formidable intellectual reputation, already firmly established in the 1960s with the publication of The Agrarian System of Mughal India, has gained in depth in the succeeding years as the boundaries of professional specialization were broken. Habib’s Intellectual project has broadened to cover the entire area of Indian history, from ancient to modern, and his undiminished commitment to the cause of socialism is reflected in highly original and bold analyses of Marxist historiography and theories of socialist construction.As a mark of esteem and affection for Irfan Habib, scholars in India and abroad have come together to offer him this volume. Thefestschrift reflects the range of Irfan Habib’s interests and contributions in great measure. It includes essays by not only historians but political scientists and economists, not only those specializing in the medieval period but also theorists of modern India, theorists of culture and socialist systems.

K.N. Panikkar was Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, until recently. He is now Vice-Chancellor of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kerala Terence J. Byres is Professor of Political Economy in the University of London and has been teaching at the School of Oriental and African Studies for many years. Utsa Patnaik is Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she has been teaching since 1973


All told, The Making of History is a most appropriate tribute to Irfan Habib’s unrelenting commitment to history and the social sciences. Several of the contributions in the volume, one is tempted to suggest, are bound to make history!

– Ashok Mitra, Frontline