Princely regions clubbed together. The zone of industrial development. The home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gujarat has a special significance on the India map.
Meet Kenneth X Robbins who records and archives hidden history. According to a certain section of the media, the historian has published three volumes that documented the history of all the ‘Princely States’ of Gujarat using pictures, photographs, paintings, maps, documents, and all sorts of ephemera from his collections.
Over five decades, Robbins and his wife, Joyce Robbins, have collected more than 1,00,000 items on the history of South Asia, Africans in the greater Indian Ocean world, and the Jewish diaspora in India, the media highlighted.
The home of this historian is like a museum. Apart from books, manuscripts and medals, the materials on history open a doorway into the past, social, and cultural.
He is keen to present this work to PM Modi as he arrives in the US on his first visit there.
Robbins expects that through PM Modi, the Indian diaspora and scholars would engage, interact with his published collection, and take an interest in the state’s history.
“Prime Minister Modi came from Gujarat and my work is to establish the importance of Gujarat in the formation of India. The preservation of Indian culture, and many of the preservation and furthering of Ayurvedic medicine and the particular contributions that particular maharajas have had as a cultural icon,” Robbins was quoted as saying.
Last October, Robbins’s family, during their estate planning, had designated the Pen Library (the library system of the University of Pennsylvania) as the recipient of their entire collection.
“One of my books deals with Indian and jazz American jazz musicians. I’d like to be able to give a copy to Kamala Harris because I understand she’s a great jazz fan of my great idol, Charlie Mingus,” he told the media.
“India is the only place where sub-Saharan Africans ruled over non-Africans in several places, and we’ve documented this. Now the idea is to talk about India, the global Indian diaspora and its interactions with other groups. And I’m working on a book now about interactions between Bengalis and people of African origin in five continents.”