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A Memoir of Pre-Partition Punjab: Ruchi Ram Sahni, 1863–1948

Neera Burra
OUP India
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A Memoir of Pre-Partition Punjab is a richly annotated autobiography of Ruchi Ram Sahni (1863–1948)—social reformer, scientist, science educator, and, later, active participant in political affairs. A riveting account of life in nineteenth-century colonial Punjab, it covers Sahni’s growing up in a Hindu business family in Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, and captures the social, political and intellectual ferment of the times. Sahni belonged to the first generation of Punjabis educated in English. The book recounts his confrontation with orthodox Hinduism and the ostracism he faced because of his secular and liberal Brahmo Samaj values. A close confidante of Dyal Singh Majithia, founder of The Tribune, he was for nearly thirty years a trustee of and contributor to this influential newspaper. Sahni also describes the discrimination practised by Europeans against Punjabis and his responses to maintain his self-respect. His close association with Motilal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, and other freedom fighters provides a behind-the-scenes record of the early phase of India’s freedom struggle.