Like many I have a reasonable personal library, consisting of books on history, philosophy, religion, art, and, finally, science and technology. But my bobby of "collections" is somewhat uncommon. In addition, as and when I find time and feel the urge, I prepare and give lectures to my students on Indian Heritage. Let me attempt to describe this aspect of mine.
COLLECTION OF LITERATURE ON OUR HERITAGE
Early in my life I developed an interest in collecting certain kind of literature; these are mostly from available sources and these sources were rather limited. The aim at the time was to use them as reference for writing articles, and even for authoring a book, which every young man dreams. By now I possess enormous collection of articles, pictures, political cartoons etc., on a host of subjects. I can not say much about the value of the contents of my collection; but to me it is of great importance. This collection -the collation, sorting, arranging, cataloguing and indexing - not only gave me great satisfaction, but also helped me in appreciating the unity in diversity of Indian culture.
Material from my collection are consulted by many. This ranges from the students of nursery class to the research students (for their "project")
This collection can be classified into the following categories:
Personalities; People and Places; Vintage India; Taj and Delhi; Places of historical interest; Our Heritage pictures; Indian Sculpture; Miniature Paintings; Thanjavur Paintings; Other traditional and folk paintings; Calligraphy; Development of Scripts; Art – Painting and Performing Arts; Modern Indian Painting containing art criticism; Dance and Music containing articles; Humour; Current Events; Others
COLLECTION OF LITERATURE ON SOCIETY AND DEVELOPMENT
This collection is on those topics, which would be relevant to understand the relation between man and environment, science and development etc.
In the recent past serious thinking people have started asking some pertinent questions: why is that, when we have made technological progress, a large section of the people does not get a decent living? Why is that men become meaner and meaner, tensions increase, there is ever greater danger of war and annihilation? Or simply what is development? In other words development at what price? Can we save our environment? One needs to just look at India for knowing what happens to a country, which steps directly into consumerism from colonial rule.
These questions are relevant in understanding our culture. This prompted me to collect and study the effect of development on culture and vice versa. This is one among my extensive collections. This contains ramifications of rural poverty, rural and appropriate technology, strategies suggested by a number of sociologists, social workers, professionals etc. Commentaries on plans and executions, energy needs of the villages, interaction between the rural population and the environment, forestry, environmental degradation and strategies against environmental degradation.
In the last 10 years there is some change in the mood of educated youth including those who have returned from the West. They are asking the question: how far the Western kind of development model is suitable to India. Many of them have organized themselves into pressure groups, voluntary organizations etc. There is a lot of meaningful experiments being conducted in alternate science, alternate medicine etc. A number of people are seriously attempting natural farming, influenced by "The One Straw Revolution" of Fukuoka.
LECTURES ON INDIAN HERITAGE
I have felt that our youth have inadequate understanding of our heritage, and this may be one of the reasons for their lack of identity with their country of origin. It is toward this, I have been giving lecture-demonstrations to the students of IIT Delhi, on those subjects in which I have some familiarity. Being a layman and not an expert, is also an advantage as the students are not put off by jargon, and interact with the speaker without inhibitions.
I have put in considerable effort in the preparation of these lectures, with adequate slides and demonstrations. The lecture on "Ajanta paintings" is supported by an exhibition of Ajanta paintings mounted on specially prepared panels, capable of being used as a reference book also. The lecture on "Indian Music" given at IIT Delhi was followed by a series of workshops on certain aspects of music not covered in the lecture.
For various reasons the youth of to-day have very little awareness of Indian history and Indian culture. In an attempt to assist them I give lectures (and lecture-demonstrations where possible) on topics shell have some understanding. Though in none of these subjects shell can claim any scholarship these lectures perhaps helped in introducing the subject matter to the young people, who would not get any exposure at all. The following are topics:
Indian Musical Heritage; Appreciating Sanskrit Literature; An Introduction To Tamil Prosody; A Layman's Introduction To Ajanta Paintings; A Short Guide To Sittannavasal Monuments; Towards Understanding Gandhian Approach