This report has appeared in the March 5 edition of DNA in Mumbai
As the noted university press celebrates its centenary in India, it brings out its family heirlooms
New Delhi: The first title that Oxford University Press rolled out in India in 1912 was noted phillospher, public intellectual and former president of India Sarvepally Radhakrishnan's “Essentials of Psychology”, priced at “Eight Annas” (50 paise) at that time. The book is not on sale but it was put on show at the OUP stall at the World Book Fair in New Delhi which ends today (Sunday). Radhakrishnan was then a young man of 24. The book is not however on sale at the moment , but a limiteed edition is to be issued later this month.
In 1931, it published Jawaharalal Nehru's “Letters from a Father to his Daughter”. Mahatma Gandhi is also an OUP author, which should thrill many of the others on the university's press list. Gandhi's “My Early Life 1869-1914” was published in 1932. It was adapted by the then editor at OUP, R.E.Hawkins to reach a wider reading public. OUP sources said that Gandhi's book will be on sale later this year.
The other treasure that OUP has in its archives is an unpublished story by Jim Corbett, which it has decided to print. Corbett's first book, “Maneaters of Kumaon,”, first published in 1944 continus to be a favourite and is in print. It is also publishing the Indian school atlas first published in 1915, and which continues to be in print. The school atlas still has brisk sales, and it is now priced at Rs 350. The OUP's profits come mainly from its school textbooks, including the atlas.
Girish Karnad's celebrated play “Tughlaq”, U.R.Anantamurthy's “Samskara” -- translated by A.K. Ramanujan, and Vijay Tendulkar's plays are being resissued as part of the printing press' centenary celebrations.
The OUP has been in the news last year for the wrong reasons. When Delhi University dropped poet-translator A.K.Ramanujan's essay, “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts”, which became part of the collection of essays by different people in Paula Richman's “Many Ramayanas”. under pressure from right-wing elements, there was talk that the press had wanted to drop the essay from the edition of Ramanujan's works. There was outrage among authors and academics who accused the OUP of cowardice and playing it safe instead of supporting scholarly work and encouraging intellectual debate.
Both “Many Ramayanas” and Ramanujan's collected essays are available in OUP paperbacks. The press had also to bow to public pressure in Maharshtra and withdraw James Laine's book on Shivaji, called “Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India”, published in 2003, is not in print. OUP gave an undeertaking to the court that it would re-issue the book in the interest of public order.