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Clueless India fumbles again

Shanthie Mariet D'Souza
Indians like to call themselves terrorism's biggest victims. After the bungling  

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Is RG taller than Bardoloi?

Dhruva Saikia
Though 'Assam Tribune' is an integral part of Assam's tradition, owners of this oldest newspaper

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New evidence could rewrite the history

Dr Alwyn Ruddock, a former reader in history at the University of London, was the world expert on John Cabot’s discovery voyages from Bristol to North America (1496-98). What she was said to have found out about these voyages looked set to re-write the history of the European discovery of America. Yet, when Dr Ruddock died in December 2005, having spent four decades researching this topic, she ordered the destruction of all her research.

In an article published on 4 April in Historical Research, Alwyn Ruddock’s extraordinary claims are explored by Dr Evan Jones of the University of Bristol.

In Spring 2006, all Dr Ruddock’s research material was destroyed, in line with the instructions in her will. However, her correspondence with her intended publisher, the University of Exeter Press, survived. Using this correspondence Dr Jones has investigated the research that Dr Ruddock had worked on, and kept secret, for so many years.

‘To describe Alwyn Ruddock’s claims as revolutionary,’ said Dr Jones, ‘is not an exaggeration.’ Her apparent findings include information about how John Cabot persuaded Henry VII to support his voyages and why the explorer was able to win the backing of an influential Italian cleric: Fr. Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis, an Augustinian friar who was also in charge of collecting the Pope’s taxes in England.  

Dr Ruddock’s most exciting claims, however, involve John Cabot’s 1498 voyage to America. While the fate of this expedition has long been a mystery, Dr Ruddock appears to have found evidence of a long and complex exploration of the American coastline, which culminated in Cabot’s return to England in the spring of 1500, followed shortly by his death. During this voyage, Dr Ruddock suggests that Cabot explored a large section of the coastline of North America, claiming it for England in the process.  

Dr Ruddock intended to reveal that while Cabot was sailing south down the coast of America his chief supporter, Fra Giovanni, was establishing a religious colony in Newfoundland. Having disembarked from his ship, the Dominus Nobiscum, Fra Giovanni apparently established a settlement and built a church. This church, the first to be built in North America, was named after the Augustinian church of San Giovanni a Carbonara in Naples.

Dr Jones said: ‘Ruddock’s claims about the 1498 voyage are perhaps the most exciting of all. For while we have long known that Fra Giovanni accompanied the expedition, along with some other “poor Italian friars”, nothing has been known of what happened to their mission. If Ruddock is right, it means that the remains of the only medieval church in North America may still lie buried under the modern town of Carbonear.’

Dr Ruddock’s claims are clearly extraordinary but are they all correct? This is an issue that remains, in large part, to be resolved. In his article, Dr Jones shows that in many cases Alwyn Ruddock’s claims can be substantiated by reference to previously unknown material. However, much remains to be done.

Dr Jones continued: ‘In publishing this article now my intent was to put into the public domain what appear to be the last vestiges of Dr Ruddock’s research. While her correspondence does not give all the answers, it does provide many clues that historians can use to investigate her claims. I also hope that the publication of this article might persuade people who possess knowledge of Dr Ruddock’s research to come forward. For it is clear from her correspondence that many people must possess useful knowledge, ranging from her ex-students at the British Library to the “old and historic families in Italy” who gave her access to their private archives.’

As to why Alwyn Ruddock should have chosen to have all her research destroyed on her death, Dr Jones confesses that he has no clear answers. In her obituary in the Guardian newspaper, it was suggested that she destroyed the first draft of her book ‘because it did not meet her exacting standards.’ This does not explain, however, why she wanted everything destroyed – including her microfilms, her photographs and the transcripts of the documents she used.  

‘What is clear,’ said Dr Jones, ‘is that she had a great sense of possession for her work and she felt this gave her the moral right to take her secrets to the grave. But even if all the documents she claimed to have found do come to light eventually, the mystery of why she sought to suppress her own basic research may never be resolved.’

April 2007                                                                                           -In association with Asia Research News

CHT Land Dispute Issue Put on Ice

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The military-controlled government seems reluctant to reconstitute the Land Commission to settle the longstanding disputes over land ownership in the Chittagong

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Nepal- End of Kingship & Rise of Maoism

Tanveer Jafri
Nepal, a kingdom in the foot of the Himalayas in South Asia has area about 147181 square kilometers, is passing through a phase of historic political change these days. Nepal is surrounded by China & Tibet in the North & by India in the South West & Western areas. It is about 800kms long & 200kms broad. The kingship that has been in this small country for the last hundreds of years is going to meet an end. Nepal is the only country of the world that has more than 85% of its population having the Hindu faiths. This percentage is even more than the percentage of Hindus in India. That's why Nepal was known & recognized as a Hindu nation. But this neighbour of India is going to write a new dictation of political change, that's being seen with wonder by the whole world. Last days, the general elections were held in Nepal & the Nepal Communist Party (Maoism) got a great success. The elections were held on the 601 seats of Nepali parliament. There was a direct election of the candidates on its 240 seats & on 365 seats; there was election by proportional representation. In the election by proportional representation, the voters elected the preferred parties instead of the candidates. In these elections the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) got a fair success & came out as the major political party of the country. There is a great possibility that the Maoists will propose the name of their chief, Pushp kamal Dehal Prachand as the Prime Minister of Nepal. As there is no office of the President so it is expected that after the organization of the government by the Maoists, they would amend the constitution of Nepal & keep an office of the President & make Prachand the first President of Nepal.

It is known that Prachand 54, who is going to decorate the highest office in Nepal, has been a school teacher & a Brahmin by birth. Under his leadership, the Maoists had challenged the kingship. He has created the circumstances of civil war for Nepal government & Nepal army. About 13000 persons lost their lives in this civil war. After a long struggle for many years, in November 2006, the Maoists had decided to be active in the main stream of politics & leave the path of violence. After that, because of intermediation of the United Nations Organisation, there was an attempt to put trust among the Nepal government being run under the Nepal kingship, the Nepal Army & the Maoists. Under these attempts, the Maoists were made to agree to end the civil war in Nepal, to leave the path of violence & to have discussion with the Nepal public by taking part in the democratic elections. In 2006, an interim government was established under the agreement between the Maoists & Nepal government. The Maoists also joined it. This interim government declared the end of the kingship in Nepal & the word, a Hindu nation with Nepal was also abolished. It was declared as a secular state.

As the time of handing over the power to the Maoism in Nepal is drawing near, all the world is looking curiously at this historical political change in Nepal very minutely. The persons who were in lakhs, who were known as terrorists in the past, who ran the training camps in the forests & who possessed many illegal weapons are going to take over the reins of government in Nepal. The world is observing the fact that how the Nepal Army & Nepal security agencies that were struggling against the Maoists will sing their tunes together. One thing that worries, the results of the general election reveal that Maoists have entered the Nepal Parliament as the biggest political party but according to the fresh results they have not secured the absolute majority. After the declaration of complete results, if they get the absolute majority, then they would be able to make one party government, otherwise they will have to take help of the other political party to run the government. If such situation arises, a problem may come to forefront that the Maoist thoughts don't agree with the thoughts of other parties. The main reason is that there is basic difference between their thoughts & the Maoists can't work on cooperation basis.

Will the attitude of the Maoists be aggressive after coming into power as before & during the struggle with the Nepal government & the Nepal Army? Or there will be a revolutionary change? To know this, the statements of the Maoist leaders given about the Nepal king Raja Gyanendra have to be observed minutely. As the end of kingship was declared with the formation of interim government but the drawing near of the time of election made the Maoists feel that they would win the power in elections. As the time passed, the attitude of the Maoists became stern against the king Gyanendra. Even it is said that the Royal Palace of King Gyanendra, 'Narayanhiti' at Kathmandu will be got vacated. There was also the news that the king could be arrested & put in jail. A few days ago, there was news that king Gyanendra would leave Nepal & take asylum in India. The fresh statement given by a senior Maoist leader about King Gyanendra states that the king would be asked to vacate this palace as it represents the kingship, but he will be given a chance to live in another palace in Nepal. It can be guessed that there is a possibility of a revolutionary change in the thought & actions of the Maoists when they were not in power & when they are in power.

Anyhow the Nepal Communist Party is going to take the powers in Nepal. As this party claims to be representative of the workers, the labour & the poor, so there is a great hope among the workmen when this party takes the power into its hands. If the Maoists come true to the hopes of the workmen, the labour & the farmers & are able to give them structural relief, as is hoped by them, then they must be given a warm welcome in the governments. But with that they need to fill their gap of difference with the high class, the capitalists & the industrialists. Because for the progress of the country, they must establish cooperation among the high & the low, the rich & the poor, the haves & the haves not, the landlords & the tenants & the industrialists & the workers. It should be hoped that the Maoists will give a happy & progressive rule in Nepal & at the same time, they will strengthen the bonds of friendship & love that are there for last hundreds of years between Nepal & their neighbor & cooperative country India. 
April 2008

Author Tanveer Jafri is a columnist based in India.He is related
with hundreds of most popular daily news papers/portals in India and        
abroad. Jafri, Almost writes in the field of communal harmony, world
peace, anti communalism, anti terrorism, national integration, national &
international politics etc.He is a devoted social activist for world peace,
unity, integrity &  global brotherhood. Tanveer Jafri is also a member of
Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy (state govt.
bodies in India). Thousands articles of the author have been published in
different newspapers, websites & news portals throughout the world. He
is also a receipent of so many  awards in the field of Communal Harmony
& other social activitie.        
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