(Now known as The Association for English Studies of India) By: Prof. Amlendu Bose
It was early in the nineteen-thirties that Indian educationists in general and University teachers of English in particular began to feel the necessity of carefully scrutinising the schemes and methods of teaching English in the country. On the occasion of the golden jubilee festivity in the University of Allahabad held in 1937, the English Association of U.P. brought out a decennial report. The Association had its centre in the University of Allahabad, with the late Professors Amarnath jha, Satish Chandra Deb, Phiroze Dastoor and K.K Mehrotra as the Key-figures who, however, received active cooperation from Dr. U.C Nag of Banaras Hindu University, Professor C.V Mahajan of Agra University and most valuably, from Professor N.K Sidhanta of Lucknow University. Among scholars from other States who were closely associated with the U.P. Association were Professor D.C. Sharma of Lahore, Professor Mahmud Hasan and Professor P.K. Guha of Dacca, Professor M.M Bhattacharjee of Calcutta. Presently, the English Association of U.P. was wound up and the English Association of India was formed. The first conference was held in 1940 at Lucknow. With Professor Amarnath Jha as the President while Professor Sidhanta combined within himself the functions of the Hony. General Secretary and the Hony. Treasurer. The next two Conferences- not annual but held at times that the early organisers found convenient- were held at Lahore (1941) and Allahabad (1947). Those were the war years; there was no firm list of the members of the Association; membership was confined to only university teachers.
Membership of the AESI has been opened to all persons who are or have been engaged in the teaching of English language, literature, linguistics in recognized institutions, colleges, teaching departments in the Universities in India, and who subscribe to the ideals of the AESI and abide by the regulations and bye-laws of the AESI in force. Such person can be made a Regular Member of AESI.
Membership of the AESI has also been opened to all persons who are interested in English language; literature and linguistics, such as Research Scholars, Scholars of Eminence, Creative Writers, Journalists, Editors and Translators. The spouses of the Regular Members of the AESI, who attended the conferences, can be eligible to become Members of the AESI. All such persons can be made the Associate Members of the AESI.
A brief History of The INDIAN Journal of English Studies
(By: Prof. Naresh Chandra)
Since the Indian Journal of English Studies is the official organ of the Indian Association for English Studies (Now known as The Association For English Studies Of India), it is logical to suppose that the Journal should date from a time later than the founding of the Association, but in actual fact the Journal is older than the Association though not under that name. The All India English Teachers' Conference was, to quote the words of its first President, Late Prof. Amarnath Jha, "a happy idea of Professor N.K. Shindhanta's". It held its session in Lucknow in December , 1941, with only eighteen delegates ,prominent among whom were Prof. Amarnath Jha(President), Professor N.K. Sidhanta (Secretary) , Mr. R.R. Shreshta (Local Secretary and Editor), Dr. Mahmood Hassan and Mr. P. K . Guha of Dacca, Prof. M.M. Bhattacharjee (Culcutta,now Kolkata) and Prof. S Pandey, the famous Shakespeare scholar of Allahabad. The proceedings of that Conference, compiled and edited by the late Mr. R.R. Shrestha of Lucknow, printed all the papers in their entirety. It also carried an Editorial and so it may be hailed as the first number of the Indian Journal of English Studies. Nor was the publication undeserving of notice. Prof. Jha in his Presidential address took a definite stand on the issue of Indian English maintaining that any literary work in English by an Indian author must have a distinctive flavour to set it apart from English English. As a side issue to his thesis, Prof. Jha criticised Nehru for writing English like an Englishman. This became a thorny issue and the leading articles in the newspapers remained involved for sometime in its brambles. Among other papers of note were one by Guha (then a lecturer at Dacca) on "Courtesy in Hamlet ", showing how 'Courtesy' literature of the Renaissance had influenced Shakespeare in moulding the character of the great tragic heroes; another by Mr. Ahmad Ali (then a lecturer at Lucknow, later a well known man of letters and diplomat of Pakistan) on the unrealistic examination papers in English in our Universities, which do not seek to test the candidate's knowledge of prescribed authors but want to find out what he knows of comments of a critic on the criticism of the prescribed author by another critic. He also raised the question of the prossibility of fully realising the values of a literature which comes from a country the geography, the natural phenomena , social concepts and cultural tradition of which are so different from ours. I also recall Prof. Mahmood Hassan's sharp reaction to this stand, and his vitriolic remark, "Do we have to have incestuous mothers in order to appreciate Hamlet?" All this and much else went into the proceedings, which attracted more attention to the doings of the Conference than any subsequent formal issue of the Journal has done. I hail the Proceedings of the first English Conference as the first number of Indian Journal of English Studies. The formal resolution for founding the Journal was moved at the Ajmer Conference. The Sponsors were Prof. V.V. John and late Prof. S. C Deb. Among those who lauded and encouraged the project was Mr. Bruton, the then Education Officer of the British Council, New Delhi. Everyone felt the need of a permanent record of the papers presented at the conference.