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Roja Muthiah Research Library

Lecture series

Simeon Mascarenhas


Date: 2nd January 2010
Time: 5.00 p.m.

Roja Muthiah Research Library
3rd Cross Road, Central Polytechnic Campus
Taramani, Chennai 600 113
Telephone: 2254 2551 / 2254 2552



Beginning with the arrival of Vasco da Gama on the west coast of India in 1498, Portuguese exploration blazed a pioneering trail of trade and cultural exchange never seen before in human history. Almost all later trade practices, and even some vital current ones, owe their origin to the early Portuguese explorers, traders, soldiers and, above all, administrators. Much credence, however, is given to the British, and in particular the English, for India's connection to the modern world. In fact the English, like the Dutch, only copied the Portuguese model of shipping and protection. Proof of deep Portuguese involvement, rather than meddling, in local affairs, no matter where they went, is seen in the centuries-old links between their so-called colonies although they were thousands of miles apart. After all, the Portuguese empire, the first European one to be established, outlasted all the others, ending only with the voluntary handover of Macau in 1999. "To understand India one must leave India". That involves leaving the comfort of the familiar English-speaking world, one of which we Indians are sometimes prisoners. Mascarenhas's lecture is an attempt to open minds to non- propangandist history and set the record straight, without in any way diminishing the achievements and contributions of any nation.

About the Speaker

Simeon Mascarenhas is an educator in one of Melbourne's Flagship State secondary schools. He teaches English, humanities and philosophy, and is a freelance writer with many published articles to his credit. Most of his research is centered on European-Indian relations in the Coromandel / Malabar area from the 15th to the 19th centuries, with specific reference to the neglected Portuguese component. Having a rich ethnic background of Portuguese, English, Scottish and South Indian blood, his area of interest comes as no surprise. After migrating to Australia in 1993, Simeon has carried out continuous and very fruitful research in Eur-Indian relations with often surprising results. He now also researches the India-Australia connection since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. He is currently in India to conduct teaching-learning workshops at The CVCTV Meenakshi Achi Matriculation School, managed by the CT Education Foundation, in Kanadukathan, Chettinad. He is a talented amateur singer and pianist and enjoys travelling.

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