GS Cheema


GS Cheema’s latest work, ‘The Ascent of the John company’ is a work of thorough research. It is highly readable and describes the consolidation of the East India company in one of the most transformative periods of India’s history. He is well known for writing books based on historical subjects. This is the fourth book of author G S Cheema, a former civil servant, who retired from Punjab cadre in 2009.He was also awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in the year 1998. Moreover, he harbours deep love for travelling and numismatics.
The first edition of the Valley of Words, International Literature and Arts Festival 2017 has been organized from November 17-19, 2017 in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
We look forward to your ideas, and your valuable suggestions to make this a truly interactive festival of and for Dehradun !

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What inspired you to take up this subject for the book?

Many people today believe that ‘Raj’, the practice of ruling, was a worthy notion and that it was better administered than the present republic. So the idea of contradicting such a notion encouraged me to choose this subject. And also that I felt the need of exposing the correct impression regarding the governance in the 18th Century.I believe that the rule of the Company Bahadur was scandalous and in the first few decades after Plassey it was as if Bengal and the Carnatic had been taken over by a criminal mafia

What all difficulties did you face while researching for the project?

The regular difficulties of tight resources crossed my path. To not have been able to afford sponsors due to the sad fact of being poor at Public Relations, which further abstained me from using illustrations in my book, is one such difficulty. Moreover, I could not make a visit to the places I mentioned in my book, namely, Murshidabad, Buxar, Patna and Faizabad. And also that the substantial fees of the British libraries and museums denied my access into them. All these instances sum up as the difficulties I faced prior to the release of the book.

How do you think the British ruled the country despite being foreigners?

One must read ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ by Hannah Arendt, to understand that ever a foreign rule can neither be benign nor impeccable. I admit to the fact that all governments post 1947 may have been corrupt in a degree lesser or greater, however, John Company’s Raj and that of the British Crown that followed was undoubtedly far worse.

When and how did you start with coin collecting?

There were a few old copper coins which my mother had. Then I discovered by chance that they were fairly easy to collect. So I began to do so forty long years ago. And numismatics is closely related to History. Reading and deciphering the legends can be quite a challenge!

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