This Week That Year
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
I. 19th June 1901 - Raj Chandra Bose, Indian mathematician and statistician is born
Born in Hoshangabad and brought up in Rohtak, RC as he was fondly called, was one of India's premier mathematicians and statisticians. He had a rough adolescence having lost his mother to the spanish Influenza - the pandemic which kill as many as 17 million in India, about 5% of the population at that time. Losing his father shortly thereafter, he had to fend for himself as well as his younger siblings surviving via taking tuitions.
After completing his Master's degree in Applied Mathematics from the Hindu College in Delhi, he moved to Bengal and got a first class in the M.A. examinations in mathematics at the University of Calcutta. Thereafter he had stints at the Indian Statistical Institute where he became the department head before finally returning to Calcutta to get his D. Litt. in 1947. He thereafter moved to the United States stating Indian jobs involved very heavy administration, which he saw as the end of his research work and in 1949 he joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Professor of Statistics.
Here he made important discoveries on coding theory (with D.K. Ray-Chaudhuri) and constructed (with S. S. Shrikhande and E. T. Parker ) a Graeco-Latin square of size 10, a counterexample to Euler's conjecture that no Graeco-Latin square of size 4k + 2 exists. One of his discoveries with other collaborators was the BCH code, a Bose-Chaudhuri-Hocquenghem error correcting code, discovered in 1960. Second, to explain "Euler's Spoilers" from the quote in J Gani (ed), The Making of Statisticians :-
The proof of falsity of a conjecture of Euler about the non-existence of two mutually orthogonal latin squares of order 2 modulo 4 by Bose and his co-workers, Parker and Shrikhande made it to the front page of the Sunday Edition of the 'New York Times' of April 26, 1959! This result earned them the nickname "Euler Spoilers."
He was also passionately interested in history, art and culture, visiting the major art galleries of the world during his travels. After a few more positions at various universities, he finally retired at age of 79 He then accepted a chair at Colorado State University of Fort Collins from which he retired in 1980. His final doctoral student finished after this second retirement. Bose died in Colorado, aged 86, in 1987.
From C S Yogananda, Raj Chandra Bose (1901-87), Resonance :
He was an inspiring teacher and many of his students went on to make remarkable contributions to mathematics and statistics. He had a flair for languages and could recite verses in Arabic, Bengali, Persian, Sanskrit and Urdu. One of his friends said of Bose "... he was a great conversationalist in spite of the fact that he would hardly allow anybody else to speak!"
II. 20th June 1858 - Gwalior fort was captured during the 1857 revolt
India's first war of independence was triggered by the sepoys in the East India company's army in May of 1957 and lasted till July 1859. There were several reasons for it, not least the treatment meted out to the Indian soldiers who were treated as inferior with lesser pay and no hope of moving up the ranks apart from the post of a subedar. Lack of opportunities amongst the troops for overseas duty to get better remuneration also added to their gripe.
It spread to the civilian population as well with farmers unhappy with the heavy taxes levied on them, eventually making them landless. Also, the indigenous handicrafts business was decimated and Indians were made consumers of the cheap mechanized products made by the British in their own country. The erstwhile rulers of many provinces were getting their territories annexed without notice. Conversion by missionaries was another reason with the British granting property rights to those individuals who converted.
Eventually it broke out over the incident of greased cartridges. A rumour had spread that the cartridges of the new Enfield rifles were greased with the fat of cows and pigs. There were six main centres of revolt in these regions namely Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Jhansi, Gwalior and Arrah in Bihar. Jhansi ki Rani in Gwalior, Mangal Pandey in Meerut along with other brave-hearts fell in the ensuing battle across the country. It was the Rani's demise on 17th June and the eventual capture of Gwalior that was deemed as the suppression of the resistance.
III. 21st June 1912 – Vishnu Prabhakar, Indian author and playwright (d. 2009)
Vishnu Prabhakar was born in 1912 in the Miranpur village of Uttar Pradesh. He was a famous short story-writer, novelist, travel writer, and a playwright in the Hindi literary world. His works had elements of patriotism, nationalism and messages of social upliftment. He completed his higher education while sustaining himself through a clerical job in government service. Among the many degrees he earned, an examination for one called Prabhakar in Hindi, is where he got his last name.
He was initially inspired by Munshi Premchand and later on by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya. His wife Sushila Prabhakar was another major source of inspiration for him which is why you see many female characters portrayed in his works. His Gandhian nature made ahimsa one of his common themes and as well showcasing humanitarian values in all. His love for travel took him to far off places such as Burma and of his famous works was the biography on Sarat Chandra called Aawara Masiha for which he travelled extensively for 14 years. His literary works during his lifetime were over a hundred.
He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993, Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan Award in 1995 and the Padma Bhushan (the third highest civilian honor of India) by the Government of India in 2004.
IV. 22nd June 1897 - Chapekar brothers, Indian revolutionaries assassinate W. C. Rand
The third plague pandemic originated in the Yunnan province of China in 1855 and over time spread to India. This bubonic plague hit port cities such as Mumbai first and then later reached Pune, Kolkota in 1896. An estimated 12.5 million people lost their lives due to this deadly plague.
The British government's measures to control the disease included quarantine, isolation camps, forced entry into private houses, forced stripping and examination of occupants (including women) & a ban on India's traditional medical practices. Many thought the measures were culturally intrusive and essentially repressive. This raised the ire of many across the country and the Chapekar brothers planned to exact revenge from the person who oversaw it, namely W.C. Rand.
The brothers Damodar Hari and Balkrishna Hari had limited formal education growing up supporting their musician father while he performed across the country as kirtankar. But they had a strong independent streak like their father and were committed to the cause of the nation.
On 22 June 1897, the Diamond Jubilee of the coronation of Queen Victoria was celebrated in Pune is where they assassinated commissioner Rand. Damodar Hari said that atrocities like the pollution of sacred places and the breaking of idols were committed by European soldiers at the time of house searches in Pune, during the plague.
Even Bal Gangadhar Tilak, wrote: "Her Majesty the Queen, the Secretary of State and his Council, should not have issued the orders for practising tyranny upon the people of India without any special advantage to be gained. ...[T]he government should not have entrusted the execution of this order to a suspicious, sullen and tyrannical officer like Rand.
V. 23rd June 1661 - The British got Bombay as dowry from Portugal.
In 1534 AD when the Portuguese gained possession of Bombay, after the Treaty of Bassein was signed between them and Bahadur Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate. Bombay was an archipelago of seven islands back then with the Portuguese given it the name Bombaim. The Portuguese then indulged in growing the influence of the Roman Catholic religious order in Bombay.
On this day the marriage contract on behalf of the British King Charles II and the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza was signed with Britain receiving the then colony of Bombay as dowry from the Kingdom of Portugal. In addition, Britain got the port Tangier in North Africa along with a large amount of money, trading and religious freedom in Portugal even though Britain was mostly Protestant.
In return, the Portuguese obtained military and naval support against Spain from the British and Princess Catherine received the right to retain her Catholic faith after moving to London.
VI. 24th June 1564(d.) – Rani Durgavati, Indian queen (b. 1524)
Rani Durgavati was born at the fort of Kalinjar (Banda, Uttar Pradesh) in the Chandel Dynasty, famous for building the Khajuraho group of temples and for the defense of king Vidyadhar who thwarted the attacks of Mahmud of Ghazni. She married Dalpat Shah whose kingdom of Garha Katanga was abundantly rich with 70,000 flourishing villages. After his demise in 1548, Rani Durgavati became the regent and ruled the kingdom.
Her state was in close proximity to the area controlled by the Mughals who couldn't resist capturing it. Against her ministers advice, she decided to go to war instead of living a life of ignominy. It was an unequal battle with trained soldiers and modern weapons in multitude on one side against untrained soldiers with old weapons on the other side.
She was accompanied by her son as well who was mortally injured and eventually carried off to a safe place upon the Rani's request. She fought on beside her crumbling army, managing to push the Mughals back thrice but finally succumbing to the repeated attacks. After being badly wounded she decided to take her life on the battlefield avoiding capture.
VII. 25th June 1975 – Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has a state of internal Emergency declared in India.
One of the darkest days in post independent modern India when a unilateral imposition of a state of emergency took place on the pretext of "internal disturbances" from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977. Civil liberties were curbed, political opponents were imprisoned, elections were suspended, press was censored and mass sterilization program was carried out by Sanjay Gandhi.
Indira Gandhi, the commander in-chief had been proved guilty of using the state machinery for electoral gains and the then Allahabad High court declared her election null and void and removed her from her seat in the Lok Sabha. She was also banned from contesting elections for another six years. President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declared a state of internal emergency upon Indira Gandhi told him to on the night of 25 June 1975, just a few minutes before the clock struck midnight.
What followed is what many consider as the most controversial decisions in young democratic India's history. According to Amnesty International, 140,000 people had been arrested without trial during the twenty months of Gandhi's Emergency. The Emergency lasted 21 months