October 30 – Happy Birthday, Barun De

Posted October 30, 2016

Today we celebrate an Indian historian who was born on this date in 1932.

Barun De was a senior professor, an editor, and an academic in a variety of organizations and universities. He was the founder and director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta, and he served as member and chairman for museums and heritage conservation committees.

He researched in particular the colonial conquest of India and the national movement that ended India's time as a British colony.

Indian history is, of course, long and complex. The Indus Valley is famous for early civilizations, and a lot of impactful world religions got their start in India. Inventions of everything from rulers to shampoo (the word shampoo is derived from a Hindustani word!); from chess to Pachisi; from the spinning wheel to fabrics such as calico, chintz, and muslin; from yoga to zero – many aspects of our world were first invented, discovered, or used in India.

Barun De was born in Bengal. This region is mostly a low-lying river delta system that has been partitioned into different nations – Bangladesh (once East Pakistan) to the east and India to the west. The portions of Bengal that are in India make up the state that has been called West Bengal for years – but apparently has been newly renamed Bengal. The capital city of that state is Kolkata (once called Calcutta) – and that is the city where De was born, where he died, and where he studied and worked and lived most of his 80 years. 

Kolkata is a mix of serene and frenetic busy-ness.

Check out Kolkata:

Kolkata is even more a blend of past and present than most cities. The hand-pulled rickshaw is associated in many people's minds with the city – but it is also associated with cruelty to the rickshawwallahs. Apparently they are being replaced with battery-operated modern vehicles.

The widest tree in the world in the Great Banyan Tree in Kolkata's botanic gardens. Strangely, it still lives and grows, even though it no longer has a trunk! Check it out!

Kolkata has a lot of “biggest in the world” / “largest in India” / “biggest in Asia” bragging rights. One of the ones that interests me the most is the fact that its book fair is the world's largest non-trade book fair, and it is the most-attended book fair in the world, as well. It is recognized as the world's third-largest conglomeration of books, and it is Asia's largest book fair.

In other book-lover's-paradise news, Kolkata's College Street is often called the world's second largest second-hand book market in the world.

Also on this date:


Anniversary of the Declaration of the Slovak Nation 

International Magic Week

Haunted Refrigerator Night

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