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Book Details

Under the Frontier Sky

Dewan Jagdish Dass Sehgal
Bibliography : 258pp., Demy 8vo.
HB ISBN (10) : 8188629014
HB ISBN (13) : 9788188629015

(HB) List Price US$ :

About the Book:

From the slopes of the Frontier to the bustling bazaars of Delhi, this account of Jagdish Sehgal?s early life tells the story of a family affected by personal tragedy and displaced by political turmoil. Left fatherless at a young age, Sehgal found himself beholden to relatives, a circumstance that affected his decisions and his overall outlook on life. However, his writings are not restricted to his lot. He comments on life in the 1930s and 40s in North India (much of which is current day Pakistan), on the political situation and on the evolution and traditions of Hinduism.

The childhood years spent at the Frontier were perhaps the happiest, illustrated through vivid descriptions of activities in the close-knit community. The book provides a new view of the Frontier, a region that is currently very much in the world news and is notorious for its anarchy and its lack of development. Clearly, there were, and probably still are, pockets of well-organized, vibrant communities. Despite their segregation, there also appeared to be a general sense of harmony between the Hindus and the Muslims until partition fervor took over.

Although told from the perspective of a child and then an adolescent, the political background is never far from the surface. Amazingly there is little discussion of the British Raj or of any intrusive effects of it on day-to-day life. This may speak to the British style of government, which was hierarchical and largely "hands off". Sehgal comments that the British preferred to stay aloof, let their henchmen enforce the rules and then act like benevolent rulers whenever called upon to do so. Indeed, his own encounters with the British were pleasant, as exemplified by the time a British superintendent helped Sehgal escort his mother to his grandmother?s funeral.

The Indian political leaders were of greater interest than the British. Jinnah?s visit to Sehgal?s college (Islamia College, Peshawar) and Nehru?s journey through Ahmedi Banda on the Frontier were significant events in Sehgal?s life. The Hindu-Muslim strife and the ensuing partition of India, attributed largely to the political agenda of the leaders, caused him distress. He writes about the violence perpetuated, and did what he could to protect Muslims in his area. The book ends with a commentary on Muslim leaders at the time of partition, with Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan singled out for special praise.

About the Author:

Dewan Jagdish Dass Sehgal was born in 1924 in Tehri, Kohat,in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. He spent his early life there and reflections of that part of his life are expressed in this book. He was a strong, determined man and seeds of that determination were sown early on in his childhood. It was his determination, belief in himself and undaunted spirit that helped him through some adverse conditions early in his life.

After the partition when he and his family moved to India, he joined the Indian Navy and later on moved to the Department of Tourism, Government of India, where he stayed till he retired in 1983. From 1983 till he passed away in 2000 he lived with his family in New Delhi.

Jagdish Sehgal had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and perhaps this is why he enjoyed reading and travelling so much. An avid reader, he read books on every and any topic. Travelling was another passion of his. Besides opening up vistas of knowledge and information, it provided him with an opportunity to enhance what he had read. His work with the Department of Tourism provided him with the opportunity to further this interest. He took his family to see the places he had read about, because he knew he was providing them with a wealth not easily acquired - a wealth of knowledge, opportunity and experience.

He was a straightforward, honest man who valued integrity. He was an idealist who sometimes was disillusioned with the way things worked. He had his principles and adhered to them rigidly but at the same time possessed a sensitivity so rare in a man of his stature. During his later years, his center of existence was his family, a wife, three daughters and four grandchildren. The softness and sensitivity within him manifested itself when he was with his grandchildren whom he adored and doted on.

Under the Frontier Sky, by Dewan Jagdish Dass Sehgal


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