Blog

Sugar in Milk: The Parsi Tryst with India

By Mr Dennard D’Souza, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

We have often heard stories of the jovial, dhansak eating and the overtly philanthropic Parsis. We have sometimes even swayed our heads to the medley “my name is Jeejeebhoy Jamshedjee” and never realised the person was an actual Parsi gentleman who made it big during the Raj. Parsis are everywhere from enterprise to entertainment. Though a miniscule minority, they have influenced us in a good way. We drive (Trucks and Cars) and drink Tata products(Starbucks) , we safeguard our jewels and food products in Godrej cupboards and fridges. Guess what…. these all are Parsi made products. Continue reading “Sugar in Milk: The Parsi Tryst with India”

The Tiger, The People and The Forest: Humans and Beasts in Conflict

By Mr Dennard H D’Souza, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

The Sundarbans are a land mass formed by the large deposits of silt carried by Ganga and Brahmaputra from the hinterland and the relentless sculpting of silt mounds by the tides of the Bay of Bengal. This geological phenomenon gives birth to large clusters of Islands which are tightly bound and separated by narrow channels and stream. The slit composition of the Sundarbans Islands makes it an unstable landmass which are prone to disintegration caused by the vagaries of climatic fluctuations. The vast tracts of Sundarban lands are of such geological formation that has given rise to an expansive mangrove forest.

Continue reading “The Tiger, The People and The Forest: Humans and Beasts in Conflict”

Vanguard of the Skies and the Seas: INAS 300

By Ms Sadaf Khan, Archive and Collection Associate, Maritime History Society

Leading Fighter Air Squadron of the Indian Navy, the White Tigers was commissioned on 07 July 1960 by Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, the then High Commissioner of India in Brawdy, Whales UK. During the commissioning ceremony Mrs. Pandit gave the Squadron its Crest- ‘White Tiger of Rewa’. With nine gallantry awards and unaccountable achievements in many major operations, White Tigers is one of the only squadrons to have operated in all three fighter aircrafts of the Indian Navy, the Sea Hawks, Sea Harrier and MiG-29K; and from all three Aircraft Carrier Ships I.e. INS Vikrant (R11), INS Viraat (R22) and INS Vikramaditya. Continue reading “Vanguard of the Skies and the Seas: INAS 300”

Enduring legacy of INS Kunjali

By Amruta Talawadekar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

At the very end of the Navy Nagar in Colaba, Mumbai is a naval establishment that overlooks the southern tip of Mumbai called INS Kunjali. INS Kunjali is the naval base set up to administer the Regulating School of the Navy, the School of Music, the Provost Headquarters of the Navy at Mumbai, the IN-Detention Quarters, and the Indian Naval Band. 01 Jul 1954 marks the 68th commissioning anniversary of the Indian Naval base INS Kunjali. On this day let us revisit the saga of its meritorious service. Continue reading “Enduring legacy of INS Kunjali”

Traversing the Oceans: Indian Seafaring through the Eons

By Mr Dennard H D’Souza, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Figure 1 A Harappan seal depicting a reed boat coupled with oars. The presence of avian figures alludes to the historic disa-kaka used by seafarers in long distance travel. Source: Harappa.com

India has a long tradition of indigenous seafaring which is well attested from the late chalcolithic period to the late medieval period. Seafaring in India was a continuing practice contrary to the edicts of the Manusmriti That prohibited the crossing of seas especially those by Brahmins. Seafarers became the conduit through which Indian culture and religious traditions seeped into territories beyond the frontiers. In this article, we shall broadly speak of seafaring traditions from the earliest period up until the late medieval Continue reading “Traversing the Oceans: Indian Seafaring through the Eons”

REVISITING HMS MINDEN

By Ms Saba Purkar, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Shipbuilding in India gained momentum in the nineteenth century when the East Indian Company built the Bombay Dockyard and started the construction of ships. The British initially used the Indian shipbuilding ports for repairs to deal with the increasing piracy threats from Indians and Europeans and other foreign powers. The constant sea battles and the rapid building of ships lead to the shortage of oakwood in Britain, which forced them to build ships in their overseas colonies. Hence, the company was sanctioned to build ships in India. In March 1736, the arrival of Lowjee Nusserwanjee Wadia in Bombay from Surat marks the start of the ‘golden age’ of shipbuilding in Bombay.

Continue reading “REVISITING HMS MINDEN”

The Anathema to Narcissus

By Ms Gargie Kode, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Nautical Fiction is a genre that has intrigued the masses with its larger-than-life representation of sea voyages, the life of the seamen and bringing forth various aspects of nautical culture. This is a genre that is filled with the finest details of the voyages and expeditions, elucidation of the roaring deep blue sea, narratives of the struggles of the sailors together laced with lores of the maritime expanse. As the genre evolved, it became synonymous with Joseph Conrad- one of the most famous exponents of this genre. Popular among readers for his works like the “Heart of Darkness“, “Lord Jim“, “Typhoon” and one of his distinguished works which was disputable for its contentious title: “The Nigger of the Narcissus“. Continue reading “The Anathema to Narcissus”

Spirit of Adventure at Sea

By Ms Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

It has been a little over 500 years completion of the first-ever circumnavigation under sail undertaken by Magellan. While he succumbed to death before the completion of his historic voyage, it was eventually concluded by Juan Sebastian Elcano. While this pioneering attempt is hailed for the sheer enormity of the vision, the changes in Indian maritime perspective towards the spirit of adventure also deserves an equal applause. Continue reading “Spirit of Adventure at Sea”

Three Stories of Sea Voyages from the Buddhist Jatakas

By Mr Dennard H D’Souza, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Stories act as a conduit through which the complexity of human expression can be transmitted through simple narratives. They are also used as a medium to project broad contours of metanarratives that can be barely reproduced through other modes of communication. India has a large repository of stories that fall in this genre of literature. At face value, they appear to be fantastical in their composition but beneath the surface, they tell a story which is embedded in the cultural, political and social milieu of the Indian past. Continue reading “Three Stories of Sea Voyages from the Buddhist Jatakas”

Importance of INS Dweeprakshak: India’s Naval Sentinel

By Swapna Nair, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Many islands in the Indian Ocean and Pacific were the appendages of the imperialist metropolises in the days of colonial expansion. And Lakshadweep, located on a centuries-old trade route that connected South India to West Asia and Europe, had to curl up with the vestiges of the ‘global dynamics’ of the European colonial powers. Continue reading “Importance of INS Dweeprakshak: India’s Naval Sentinel”