n India today, Tipu has become a marketable commodity, in politics
as well as in the community. This series, published by the India
Book House Education Trust, is intended to acquaint children with
their own Indian history, pointing out that Tipu was the only eighteenth-century
ruler who never sided with the British against his fellow countrymen.
The comic strip format is a development of a much older didactic
form, seen, for example, in 'improving' texts and games
for the 19c nursery. The Indian text is based on the accounts of
M H Khan, Denys Forrest, Fazal Hasan, T T Sharma and B S Gidwani's
'The Sword of Tipu Sultan.'
With some notable exceptions, such as Sheik Ali and Mohibbul
Hasan, the recent revival of Indian interest in Tipu mainly
dates from the early 1980s. Initially, research in India
focussed on Tipu's achievements as an enlightened ruler;
on his secular administration; his agricultural policies,
his coinage and economic developments.
The Tipu Sultan Research Institute and Museum, established
at Seringapatam in 1983, published an excellent Journal,
presenting current research in Urdu, Kannada and English.
A rather different emphasis came from two British scholars,
Anne Buddle and Robin Wigington, both of whom focussed on
surviving objects and works of art associated with Tipu.
For the first time, Tipu was discussed as a patron of artists
and craftsmen, who decorated Tipu's possessions with tiger
motifs and tiger stripes - elegant, ingenious and technically
In the past three or four years, Tipu research in India
has often been more sharply embroiled with politics. Alliances
are as critical in Karnataka today as there were in Mysore
200 years ago, and unresolved differences delayed even the
official inauguration of the bi-centennial events in 1999.
Fortunately, no similar problems arose with an international
The Tipu Sultan Bi-Centennary Commemoration, held in Bangalore
5/6th May 1999. The Programme Foreword seemed to offer one
explanation for the delay in finalising the official bi-centennial
tribute to Tipu: 'During his life Tipu Sultan evoked curiosity,
admiration, jealousy, anger and hatred in all his contemporaries.'
The Foreword concludes much more optimistically: 'He died
only for a moment to live for ever in history, in art, in
literature, in theatre, and the same curiosity about this
King continues even after 200 years.'
Some indication of how widely that 'curiosity' has now spread is
evident from the immense success of Sanjay Khan's dramatisation
of the Life of Tipu, shown in over one hundred episodes on Indian
television. Also from the wide range of academic interest in Tipu,
resulting in a truly international platform of speakers at the bi-centennial
meetings in Bangalore and Calcutta. In America; Australia; England;
France; Scotland; Sweden and Switzerland, as well as in India, 'curiosity'
about Tipu continues to encourage research and debate.