The poet, newspaper editor and politician, Hasrat Mohani (1878-1951) left a diary covering the period January 1947 to December 1949. Over this period Hasrat was much engaged in politics at the Kanpur municipal board, the UP Legislative Council and the Constituent Assembly in Delhi, playing a full part in all these arenas. At the same time we learn much about his daily life: his family life, his work for his constituents in Kanpur; the central role of news media (newspapers and the radio) in his existence; his continuing role as a poet reciting his poems on All India Radio and publishing collections of his works; and his willingness to live like a gypsy, staying in mosques, newspaper offices as well as in Farangi Mahall as he travelled between Delhi, Kanpur and Lucknow.
Through exploration of this diary, we have a real sense of how the world changes for UP Muslims after Independence and Partition, the discrimination they experienced and the attacks on their culture and position by a Hindu-dominated Congress. Hasrat himself was in the forefront of trying to protect their interests. In this context we witness his responses to Independence, to political re-alignments post-Independence and to the annexation of Hyderabad. Throughout he emerges as a man of courage and principle, but also as a devout Sufi. The diaries come from the private papers of Maulana Jamal Mian Farangi Mahalli (1919-2012) who was his close friend.
Francis Robinson is the Professor of the History of South Asia at Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2006 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for contributions to Higher Education and the History of Islam. He has particular interests in religious change, learned and holy men and Islam in South Asia. He is currently writing a biography of Maulana Jamal Mian Farangi Mahalli.