Land of my fathers: Why I am Indian

From Facebook:

 

Subroto Roy  says to Mr Tripathi: “An oath is an oath. For myself, my love for America, where I lived some 16 years, age 25-41, was enough for me to wish to become an American — if I did not have to abandon the land of my fathers which needed me perhaps more.”

 




see too https://independentindian.com/life-of-mk-roy-19152012-indian-aristocrat-diplomat-birth-centenary-concludes-7-nov-2016/


Advertisements

Of young and old

Subroto Roy said at Facebook on Jan 24 2010

“As we as infants and children need to be helped to find courage to face the start of life, we when very elderly can need to be helped to find courage to face life’s end.”

My grandfather’s death in Ottawa 50 years ago today

Manindranath Roy, my grandfather, died at Civic Hospital, Ottawa, fifty years ago today, September 3 1958.   He was the first Hindu gentleman to die in Ottawa and no cremation  was possible there at the time, so we had to go to Montreal.   I was three years old and my grandfather was the first person I knew who really “died” (as opposed to die from fake gunfire on TV in a cowboys-and-indians serial).  His death meant something very sad and foreboding, the room where he slept at our home at 73 Riverdale Avenue becoming empty, and very scary indeed as if he was still there though he was not.  Death meant leaving the living corporally  — though obviously not  leaving their memories or their consciousness, or we would not have been remembering him today.

The photographs below were at the funeral-home in Ottawa.  My father was reading from The Bhagavad Gita.  My mother and sisters were distraught as they had known him and loved him well.   I only knew him as someone who urged me to fight back when bullied by an older and stronger boy who was our neighbour.  “Dadu, mere dao, dadu, mere dao!”, (“Grandson, hit him back!  Hit him back!” )  my grandfather would urge when he saw me being pummelled into the lawn — crossly tapping his walking-stick on the ground.   And fight back is,  I suppose , what I have done when attacked or attempted to be tyrannised ever since.

The Roys of Behala 1928

roy28fnl1doc.jpg

This is a 1928 photo of the male members of the Roy Family of Behala, south of Calcutta, along with the children. Adult women would have been behind an effective “purdah”. The bearded patriarch in the middle is my great grandfather, the Hon’ble Surendra Nath Roy (1860-1929), an eminent statesman of Bengal of his time  https://independentindian.com/2008/06/17/surendranath-roy-1860-1929/ (We did not know until recently he was present and badly injured, along with Ardeshir Dalal, by Bhagat Singh’s bomb thrown in the Central Legislative Assembly on 8 April 1929 during the Simon Commission deliberations. He died seven months later.)

Surendranth was the eldest son of Rai Bahadur Umbik Churn Rai (1827-1902). The Golden Book of India published at the time of the Victoria Jubilee said Umbik was the twelfth descendant of one Raja Gajendra Narayan Rai, Rai-Raian, a finance official under the Great Mughal Jahangir.

Surendra Nath’s second son, my grandfather, Manindranath Roy, is seated second from the right in the second row with spectacles and moustache.

The bright lad fourth from the left in the last row would grow up to be my father.


Surendranath Roy (1860-1929)


Surendranath Roy was my paternal great grandfather. He was an eminent statesman of his time, sometime President of the Bengal Legislative Council, and close political friend of CR Das who led the Indian National Congress before MK Gandhi. SN Roy was a pioneer of primary education, and a legislative expert on local and general public finance as well as the federal politics of his time, authoring books on the “Princely” States of Gwalior and Kashmir, and proposing the origins of what became the Rajya Sabha. He also protested the Salt Tax as early as 1918. SN Roy Road in Kolkata is named after him.  The first photograph is of him as a newly graduated advocate-at-law, the second may have been after his book on Gwalior was published in 1888.   He also gave the Tagore Law Lectures in 1905, on the subject of customary law; these are available at India’s National Library.  His role in the development of the legislative process in Bengal after the Morley-Minto reforms will be described further here in due course, as will be his role as a pioneer of primary education.

.

Postscript: We did not know until recently he was present and badly injured, along with Ardeshir Dalal, by Bhagat Singh’s bomb thrown in the Central Legislative Assembly on 8 April 1929 during the Simon Commission deliberations. He died seven months later.

1538863_10151885443752285_1531841034_n

see also

Origins of India’s Constitutional Politics: Bengal 1913

Carmichael visits Surendranath, 1916

MK Gandhi, SN Roy, MA Jinnah in March 1919: Primary education legislation in a time of protest

Bengal Legislative Council 1921

Jaladhar Sen writes to Manindranath at Surendranath’s death, c. Nov-Dec 1929

Sarat Chandra visits Surendranath Roy 1927

The Roys of Behala 1928

Manindranath Roy 1891-1958

Two scientific Boses who should have but never won Nobels

Pre-Partition Indian Secularism Case-Study: Fuzlul Huq and Manindranath Roy

Life of my father, 1915-2012

“I’m on my way out”: Siddhartha Shankar Ray (1920-2010)