Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
The first impressions about the contents


The contents of this book (Malabar by William Logan) are about a very miniscule geographical location inside the South Asian Subcontinent. The current-day geopolitical location of this place is the northern parts of the State of Kerala in South India. Even though the place was made into a single district by the English East India Company administration, as of now, the location has been divided into a number of small districts.

Beyond that, till around 1957, this location was a part of the Madras Presidency and then later on after the formation of India, a district of the Madras State. This location had only very minimal connection with the southern parts of current-day Kerala. However, on reading this book, one may not feel so. This book seems to have attempted to create a Kerala-feeling right from the middle of the 1800s. How this could come about should remain a mystery. However, on reading the book with some insights, one might be able to smell a rat. Actually there is more than one item in this book that gives a feeling that there is indeed something fishy about this book, and it’s very aspirations.

The digital copy of this book that came into my possession is the government of India

printed version of 1951. It does claim to have made changes into place names to make them to be in sync with the modern names of the places. It seems a silly logic to doctor critical elements in a book of historical importance. Names are like the DNA codes in a genetic code string. A change in them can create so many changes in what the names stands for and what they signify. Connections and directions change.

It would be extremely silly to rename ancient cities with their modern names in history books. However, generally there is an attitude among formal academic historians to do as they please to please the modern political leaders of India. In fact, one can find words like India, Indians etc. cropping up in ancient and medieval histories of the subcontinent. Instead of saying the Moguls or the Rajputs had a fight with some other population group, words like: ‘Then the Indians attacked the Europeans’ &c. are frequently seen.