Our ongoing project, The Generation 1947 Project, aims to record and archive the personal stories of Indian citizens who have witnessed life in pre-independent India, as well as the subsequent formative nation-building years. The focus of the project goes well beyond the political climate of the time. Citizens tell us about their personal lives, their social lives, about the culture and community they grew up in, and how times have changed. The project also digitally preserves various records such as letters, newspapers, documents, personal pictures, historical pictures, and other memorabilia from this period.
Mrs. Suman Desai drives in style
1st November, 2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Suman Desai recalls a time when she was one of very few people who drove a Mercedes around Bombay.
“I bought this Mercedes second-hand from a foreigner who was leaving, so I got it really cheap. I used to drive it to work at Glaxo Labs, Worli. The policeman at the corner used to salute me, and stop traffic to let me through. After I sold off the car, he never even recognized me!”
Mrs. Saroj Khade talks about her parents’ marriage
17-Apr-2019, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Khade showed us a photograph of her parents’ wedding day. Her grandchildren, she told us, get very upset when she puts it on their family WhatsApp group.
'It was my father’s second marriage. There was a large age-gap. My mother was 8-years-old. Anything she told us about her marriage was very sad. She was treated very badly. She was so young, she could not even get up early in the morning. She was assigned so many tasks. It was too much to do for such a young girl. She used to sleep on the staircase, and my father would come and kick her and ask her, “How can you sleep, when everyone else is working?” She always used to say, she never even had the chance to be happy. And a major problem was that she only had girl children…All the women in that family had a miserable life. But my father was a little different. When his grandchildren asked him about his life, he said, “I will start with the mistakes in my life. I am really very upset because, when I first got married, I decided that all the ladies in this world are like my mothers and sisters. Why did I marry her and ruin somebody’s life? I should not have accepted Grihasta Ashram again.” He repented…at that time he admitted that she was a great, great soul. He realised this later, and he said it.'
Mr. Vishwanath Sachdev remembers the 1957 General Election
5-May-2017, The Citizens' Archive of India
As this year's general election takes place, we bring you Mr. Vishwanath Sachdev's memories of the 1957 #election being fought. He lived in Sirohi at the time.
Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times, The Times of India
Mrs. Raviprabha Burman on getting her education
20-Feb-2019, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Raviprabha Burman, 92, grew up in Mathura. She was educated against all odds – her father and uncle opposed it, and later, so did the people of her caste and community. It was the women in her life – her uneducated mother, and her aunt, who supported her and fought their family and society in small-town North India in the 1930s to ensure that their girl went to school.
04-Mar-2019, The Citizens' Archive of India
“My husband had an export business in Singapore. He lived there while I lived in our village in Saurashtra. We saw each other every few years, throughout the 55 years of our marriage. Once in a while, we would send each other pictures of ourselves, to show the other how we looked. That’s why this photograph of me was taken. And he sent me this photograph to show me that he had grown a moustache.” – Mrs. Rekha Shah
“They killed Humanity.”
03-Feb-2019, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Sudesh Kohli was born in Miani, in the Sargodha District of Punjab, modern-day Pakistan. She migrated from Lahore to Malikpur, near Pathankot, during the Partition. This photograph was taken when she was four or five years of age, outside her house in Lahore. She says, “Is there any way we can make the British aware of what they did? They killed humanity. I think they should pay for it. They haven’t.”
Mrs. Mira Unakar remembers 30th January 1948
05-Apr-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Mira Unakar recalls scenes from her neighbourhood of Santacruz, Bombay, on the 30th of January, 1948.
The Parade on 26th January 1950
01-Nov-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mr. Kishore Desai, a keen photographer, watched the first Republic Day parade in Delhi and was able to photograph Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s carriage. “I remember they barely had any security then. The president and prime minister would travel with a pilot motorcyclist at the most. I saw them on many occasions on the streets of Delhi.”
Lt. Rama Mehta is comforted by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
16-Mar-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
"(During my training) I was on sentry duty, and my left foot went into a ditch and I got terribly hurt. I had to stay in the hospital. At that time there was no penicillin. We used to dress the wound and then it would take a long time (to heal). Netaji came to see me in the hospital. As soon as Netaji came, I started crying, and he said, “Why are you crying, you still have to fight. You have come to fight for your country’s freedom. What good will crying do? Get well quickly and come back.” I felt very good, and my spirits were lifted. Netaji was so nice and he encouraged me so much. I got well and immediately joined the training again." - Lt. Rama Mehta (now Mrs. Rama Khandwala), of the Rani Jhansi Regiment, Indian National Army
Fr. Albert Menezes on the Liberation of Goa
21-Aug-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
On 19th December 1961, the then-Portuguese territory of Goa was annexed by India. Fr. Albert Menezes, a Goan studying in a seminary in Bombay at the time, and a self-described beneficiary of Indian Independence, tells us of his reaction to the events.
Mrs. Rajeshnandini Krishna meets Sardar Patel and the Kriplanis
23-Aug-2017, The Citizens' Archive of India
At a time when a debate over a controversial statue being built in Sardar Patel's honour rages on, Mrs. Rajeshnandini Krishna recalls his and his colleagues' principles regarding government spending.
When Dr. Patravali had Dr. Ambedkar over for tea
19-Apr-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
We remember the greatness Dr. Ambedkar achieved, and the sort of prejudice he was subjected to despite it by bringing you Mrs. Asha Patravali's story about the time her father-in-law met Dr. Ambedkar.
Mr. Shivram More and the RIN Mutiny of 1946
14-Sep-2017, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mr. Shivram More, who was in Karachi at the time of the Royal Indian Naval Mutiny in 1946, which began in Bombay. We will never forget what he told us, "Why do you call it a mutiny? It was our fight for freedom!"
Mealtimes at the Malviyas’
01-Aug-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Asha Sheth, born Asha Malviya, a descendant of Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, and the daughter of KD Malviya, recalls how meals were eaten in the chaste Brahmin Malviya household in Allahabad. The order in which family members ate, what they wore while eating their meals, and the way the food was cooked played an important part in their lives. Mrs. Sheth's father moved away from this household and did not believe in caste restrictions. However, the way they ate remained the same.
Mrs. Shashikala Shankar remembers Nehru
14-Nov-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Shashikala Shankar spoke to us about the criticism Jawaharlal Nehru has faced in recent years, and said, "We forget he was given nothing to work with. My family used to travel across the country then, and I remember no roads, villages with absolutely nothing, and a country that wasn't even united yet. People forget that. There was always a lot of respect for him then."
Mr. Jayant Shah meets Jinnah
28-Sep-2017, The Citizens' Archive of India
he History we learn in school is often black-and-white. Characters are depicted as heroes and villains rather than as ordinary people with a point of view.
Take a look at what happened when Mr. Jayant Shah, a khadi-clad Gandhian, went to ask Muhammad Ali Jinnah for an autograph at a rally in Karachi. You might be surprised.
Wg. Cmdr. Jag Mohan Nath receives the Maha Vir Chakra
07-Sep-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
Wg. Cmdr. Jag Mohan Nath received his first Maha Vir Chakra in 1962 for his service in the war against China. He received the medal once more in 1965. Wg. Cmdr. Nath told us that the photographer was a close friend, and told his sister, Rajmohini, to kiss the medal. He was most embarrassed by this, and reluctant to let this photograph be taken. Funnily enough, the photograph became famous and has been featured in a number of newspaper articles over the years.
An envelope from 1947
26-Jun-2017, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Pushpa Bhatia has kept this envelope for years, though the letter within it is long gone. "This must have been one of the first few letters sent after Independence. Look, it's dated 29th August 1947", she tells us. What we really love about this envelope is its stamps. While the stamps used still bear the profile of King George VI, there is an almost defiant 'Jai Hind' stamped right across it!
Mrs. Sushila Narula’s 1947 Story
09-Apr-2018, The Citizens' Archive of India
Mrs. Sushila Narula recalls how she spent the day of 15th August 1947. Her school put up a play, in which she played the part of Lord Mountbatten. Ms. Sushila Narula-Mountbatten had to sing a song about leaving India, which she very kindly sang for us.
Vaidya Suresh Chaturvedi remembers the Quit India Movement
11-Aug-2017, The Citizens' Archive of India
Vaidya Suresh Chaturvedi recounts what he saw at Gowalia Tank on 9th August, 1942.