Monday, January 15, 2007

Inventing India: A Documentary based on the works by Kosambi

Arvind N Das, who died seven years ago at a tragically young age at 52, nevertheless packed a lot in his intense life. A product of the "Spring Thunder over India" in the late 1960s, he was part of the brilliant team at the Times of India in the late 1980s which is when one became acquainted with his insightful writings.

Trained as a historian, he moved, first to print journalism and then to the medium of TV setting up Asia Pacific Communications to produce a nuanced documentary on the history of India. In the documentary, as in his writings, he showed himself as a student of DD Kosambi to whom he dedicated the documentary that appeared in 13 parts on Doordarshan. He remained an engaged social historian in the tradition of DD Kosambi and EP Thompson.

In his book "India Invented", he made the observation that India is not something waiting to be discovered, as Jawaharlal Nehru had treated it in his Discovery of India, but something that is to be constantly invented in the process of understanding it- that was his statement of praxis.

The first part of the documentary is now available at google videos. It is also available from Asia Pacific Communications and can be ordered, I believe, from the address given at the google videos site.

Link to Google Videos

Needless to say, it is a very ennobling, and educative experience to be able to watch this documentary once again. One of the best in the series is the one where Das delves into the emergence and decadence of Buddhism (part 5), though this one doesn't seem to be available online as yet. DD Kosambi had himself written very insightfully on the decline of Buddhism in India in his collection of essays Exasperating Essays.

Cross posted here

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Purple Vaangi said...

I tried to buy the series for personal use, especially for teaching and was really shocked by the prices. Is there some way to convince the marketing people of this series that students and teachers may be able to purchase there for a bit more affordable prices?

1. India invented (DVD) Episode 1-13 @ 20000 Per Set (13 Episodes)

2. India invented (DVD) Episode 1-18 @ 23000 Per Set (18 Episodes)

3. India invented (VCD) Episode 1-13 @ 15000 Per Set (13 Episodes)

4. India invented (VCD) Episode 1-18 @ 18000 Per Set (18 Episodes)

Anonymous said...

@Purple e: Please write to Arvind Gupta at: and I am sure he will be able to help you. You can mention that you were referred to him via this blog.