Rajmohan Gandhi's latest book, Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten, was launched on 18 September 2013 in Chandigarh, capital of Indian Punjab, at an event organized jointly by the publishers, Aleph of New Delhi, and Aitihasiki, Chandigarh's historical society, with Shivraj Patil, the Punjab Governor, as the chief guest.
Researched in India, Pakistan and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the book narrates a 240-year story of what old-timers know as undivided Punjab, beginning with the 1707 death of Emperor Aurangzeb and ending with the 1947 division into West Punjab and East Punjab.
Post-1707 instability, invasions by Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali, Afghan-Sikh clashes, half a century of Sikh rule, a century of British rule, the movements for independence and majority rule, the carnage of 1947, and the humanity that countered the carnage -- all this and more is covered and interpreted.
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<strong>Error in Irfan Habib's generous review</strong>
In his otherwise generous review in the Indian Express (Oct. 19, 2013) of my Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten, Professor Irfan Habib writes:
"That Bahadur Shah I granted to Guru Gobind Singh the service-rank (mansab) of 5000 and he accepted it (p. 62), a statement also found in some modern writings, is not supported by either Persian sources or authentic Sikh tradition."
Professor Habib slips into a mistake here. All that my book says on the subject (p. 62) is the following:
"According to Latif's History of the Panjab (1889), Bahadur Shah gave "tents, elephants and horses" and the title of a commander of 5,000 to the Guru."
Thus I merely refer to what Latif said in 1889. Moreover, I do not state at all that the Guru accepted the service-rank from Bahadur Shah.
Reviews of this book
Excerpts from several reviews are available in this PDF file.
He said that in the history of every nation, two forces remained at work — the unifying and the divisive. "The divisive forces destroy and the unifying forces lead to progress. We need to focus on the unifying forces," he said.