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Wit & Humour

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:Mushirul Hasan, an eminent historian, has authored Legacy of a Divided Nation: India’s Muslims Since Independence (1997); John Company to the Republic: A Story of Modern India (2001); Islam in the Subcontinent: Muslims in a Plural Society (2002); From Pluralism to Separatism: Qasbas in Colonial Awadh (2003); A Moral Reckoning: Muslim Intellectuals in Nineteenth-century Delhi (2004); The Nehrus: Personal Histories (2006) and Partners in Freedom: Jamia Millia Islamia (Niyogi Books, 2006). He edits the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, a project of the Nehru Memorial Fund, and Towards Freedom (1939), a project for the Indian Council for Historical Research. In 2007 the Padma Shree was conferred on him.

:Wit and Humour in Colonial North India: In today’s world, cartooning is becoming a contentious issue, unfortunately perceived as a deliberate attempt at demonising the ‘other’. This was not so in late 19th-century colonial India, when a fine cartoonist could summarise a welter of perspectives. The Avadh Punch, a weekly from Lucknow, under the stewardship of its formidable editor, Munshi Sajjad Husain, was published from 16 January 1877 till its closure in 1936. Virtually the first Indian newspaper to publish cartoons as we know them today, it provided a platform for some of the greatest comic writers in Urdu literature. Inspired by, and like the London Punch (1841-2002), it became a household name notable for dignity, geniality of satire and good taste. It laid the foundation of the Urdu short story and of literary journalism, and rendered the same service to the Urdu novel as The Tatler and The Spectator did to the English novel. Wit and humour as pacifist tools of devastation constituted an apt response to the situation. A thought-provoking tome, Wit and Humour in Colonial North India also presents a selection of Wilayat Ali Bambooque’s writings, and Archibald Constable’s commentary on some of the illustrations that appeared in the The Avadh Punch.

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