A rose is a rose is a rose

The list of contributors to the book Bengaluru, Bangalore, Bengaluru: Imaginations and their times edited by Narendar Pani, Sindhu Radhakrishna and Kishor G Bhat (Sage, New Delhi 2010) is impressive. M K Gandhi, Mirza Ismail, Thomas Munro, U R Ananthamurthy...

Probing into history beyond mere historical facts, this book focuses on the ‘imaginations’ that have determined the course of Bengaluru over the last two-and-a-half centuries. It puts together contemporary accounts of the imaginations of those who were heard at each point of time. This approach is particularly relevant in the India of the current time where debates on history are largely a matter of choosing one set of historical facts over the other.

The imaginations in the book relate to those of the Bengaluru of the eighteenth century that the British colonised; the nineteenth century Bangalore they ruled, directly or indirectly; the post-Independence Bangalore of the twentieth century; and the Bengaluru of the twenty-first century. It identifies the events that marked the turning points in the history of the city over those centuries, from the Battle for Bangalore in 1791 to the battles on the city’s roads in the twenty-first century. It then picks the ‘words’ that capture the vision that prompted each event, whether it was in the form of Thomas Munro’s letter home, Seshadri Iyer’s report to the Assembly on the plague or the prospectus of the Initial Public Offer of shares by Infosys.

This work, which provides a new picture of Bengaluru’s history as well as a method of looking at the past is quite different from most Indian historical studies.

In hardcover, 316 pages, Rs 795. ISBN: 9788132103035