About the present volume I can only say that it is a scholarly and unique work written in a style which makes it not only highly informative and educative but also immensely readable" says Dr. C.P. Srivastava, Secretary General Emeritus, International Maritime Organisation, U.N. in his Foreword to the book. Recipient of decorations from Kings of Sweden, Norway and Spain and a Knighthood from the Queen of England, Sir C.P. adds, "Furthermore, it is the only book which provides a complete history of India's many-faceted maritime activity from the earliest times right upto the present day". The author, referring to the glorious era of Indian Shipping in Southeast Asian region, asks: "Why the Hindu kingdom of Funan fell, Srivijaya collapsed, Shailendras bowed out ?... They had raised powerful navies, conducted successful expeditions and were not wanting in the art of warfare." And answers, "Geography was against them and played a major rore in shaping history... Perhaps it is the eternal discontent in the human heart which compels man to move up, reach a plateau, and again make a push to climb another peak. How long he manages to stay at a peak depends upon how wide a plateau the peak has". The book was completed under the auspices of the Indian National Commission for History of Science, Indian National Science Academy, Government of India.
Born at Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan) in April 1918, Baldeo Sahai received his education at Lucknow and Lahore. After serving in the External Publicity Division, Ministry of External Affairs, he was selected for the Indian Information Service. He retired in 1976 as Director (PR) in the then Ministry of Transport and Shipping. He served as an art critic for the Illustrated Weekly of India for about 8 years and a music critic for the Hindustan Times for more than 12 years. Baldeo Sahai has written about 200 articles on various topics in English and Hindi and taught Public Relations in the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and the Bharatiya Vidya Bha van for over 15 years. He has authored several books including Public Relations—A Scientific Approach, Ports of India, Hindustan Shipyard, Public Sector in India, Saga of Sindri, and Manthan—a collection of poems in English, Hindi and Urdu.
It is difficult for those living in the present to write about the past. The more distant the past, the more imponderable is the task. Yet the people are prone to undertake the exercise n the hope that they may add a strand or two to the multi coloured tapestry of human history. The present to a great `tent has emerged out of the past, and both are of considerable significance in fashioning the future
The history of shipping an I shipbuilding began in an age .then writing was ot known. For that period our main
sources are archaeological finds, anthropological and ethnic studies: artistic, numismatic and epigraphic evidences and analysis of the evolving social, economic and political ideas To these has been added the new discipline of marine archaeology* We have to examine the drawings on pottery and potsherds, or what is hauled up from the seabeds. Help as been taken of cuneiform tablets and hieroglyphs The seals of Indus valley are of greater relevance to us but no one as yet has been able to 'read' them. In the case of archaeological material, since some of the earlier opinions have been modified in the light of later excavations, all attempt has been made to go by the latest• There is a possibility that even these may be revised when fresh finds become available. Sometimes the same material has been -.interpreted differently by various scholars edge over those who wrote subsequently. But the contemporary authors are more likely to be influenced by those around and may not have been in a position to view events in the right perspective. Those who write later with the advantage of a hindsight, may have already formed their opinions and would naturally highlight them. Some may be openly biased for or against a region or a regime and present ast events in a manner so as to buttress their own bias. India has certainly been a prey of such prejudice from several quarters. As such, it is difficult to expect an entirely objective interpretation of the past. Whenever an authority has been quoted, it is to be taken as illustrative -- to elaborate, explain or emphasise a point. It is only one aspect of truth which has many facets. The ages differ, the contexts differ and with that the interpretation of ideas and events differs.
For a long time only kings and queens made history. The accounts of battles they fought, the imposing buildings they constructed, the arts and architecture they patronised, the style of their administration and the type of justice they dispensed, formed the bulk of books on history. The people at large were mostly marginalised. It is only in recent times that the common man a most elusive person - also started commanding some attention. With that the social and economic developments also earned a few pages. The interaction of technology and society is now being studied and a more balanced view taken of the various actors on the world stage . The next phase in the handling of history giving greater emphasis to the evolution of ideas is now emerging. This development is the most difficult to discern as in the same culture the people in the Stone Age may be found rubbing shoulders with those splitting the atom or designing a gene.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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