Born in 1937 in undivided East India, I migrated to Calcutta (India) at the age of 10 during the 1947 partition. Despite facing challenges, I was determined to pursue my education and received admission to a school in Calcutta where the headmaster permitted me to sleep on the floor of his quarters.

Over the years, I helped my relatives migrate and went on to earn three degrees from Calcutta University. In 1960, I started teaching history at a rural college near Calcutta, and in 1962, I married Ranu Saha and had our first child, Sikha, in 1964.

In 1966, my family and I left India for what was supposed to be a one-year teaching assignment in Ethiopia. It became a step in a journey where I spent 18 years in Africa, and the rest in the US. Our experiences in Africa broadened my teaching and research work to include World, US, and Indian history and Developmental studies.

Throughout my career, I authored 13 books and numerous other publications, and retired as Professor Emeritus at Mount Union University (Ohio). In 1988, my family and I migrated to the US, where I became a US Citizen in the category of "Individual with Exceptional Ability." We also had the opportunity to travel the world, visiting 39 countries along the way.

My unique experiences as a migrant and educator have shaped my perspectives and approach to teaching and writing. I am proud of my accomplishments and look forward to continuing to share my knowledge and experiences with others.


Birthplace in Boliadi District of undivided India


I was part of the largest migration ever, from Dhaka to Calcutta.


A 5 hour oral history of my journey through the Partition migration.

Conducted by the Partition Archives Project (Stanford University)

Life story from Birth to Migration (Age 10)
(Click here)

Mr. Santosh Chandra Saha was born in Baliadi, a village on the river Bansie in East Bengal. The nearest big city was Dhaka, which became part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) at the time of Partition and is the capital of present-day Bangladesh. He lived in a joint family consisting of his paternal grandparents, his mother, father, brother, sister, paternal uncle, and his uncle’s wife and children. Village life in East Bengal at that time was strictly organized on the basis of caste. Baliadi had about three thousand inhabitants. Those that belonged to the highest caste occupied one part of the village, the middle caste of traders occupied another area, and the lowest caste (consisting of barbers, cultivators, and artisans) lived just outside the village. Baliadi was part of a cluster of three villages in a seven-mile radius, altogether forming a large community of about ten thousand people. There were nearly equal amounts of different religious communities, all overseen by a Zamindar (landowner) called Javed Ali.

Their village did not have a school, and if a family could afford it, they hired private tutors and sent their sons to a neighboring village for secondary school education. This school had been set up by Mr. Meghnad Saha (no relation, but a well-known member of the same Saha community – also known for the Saha ionization equation). At that time, Mr. Saha’s uncle was the only man in the entire village of Baliadi who had matriculated. Formal education for women started later, when the same luminary from the neighboring village – Meghnad Saha – created another school for women.

The Sahas were part of the business community; they traded in jute – the golden fiber of Bengal. They bought jute locally, collected and packaged it, and transported it using their own fleet of eleven boats to a nearby port city of Narayanganj, East Bengal. They were the main suppliers of jute to a Marwari (another business community) company called Tularam & Co., which in partnership with a British company called Jardine, exported jute to Dundee, England. This was a lucrative business for the Saha family, making them the richest residents of Baliadi village. As such, they gradually took on a leadership role in the community, funding community events and resources.

One of Mr. Saha’s earliest memories of this time is the way the village would come together for festivals like Durga Puja (a religious festival). The Sahas built a temple in the village and would invite the priests to conduct the worship of Goddess Durga. This was an elaborate affair since there are many details that have to be done just right for this sort of event. Every year, an idol of Durga is sculpted, dressed, decorated, and worshipped. After the festival is over, the idol is taken with much fanfare to a nearby river and immersed in it. The worshippers would then bid a fond farewell to the goddess and pray for the next year when she would grace them with her presence again. The days before the festival were spent in feverish activity; the entire village would get caught up in tasks set by the priests in preparation for the big event. Young children would be sent in quest of shiuli flowers (night-flowering jasmine) used for worship, and older boys would be asked to collect mud to construct the idol. Mr. Saha remembers that one boy would dive to the bottom of the river every year in quest of a handful of clay from the riverbed. As the financial sponsors of this event, the Saha family would also arrange for food to be cooked and distributed to all in the village. His uncle would procure saris (traditional Indian dress) for all the women in the village in honor of the goddess. Segregated as the village was on the basis of caste, during Durga Puja, everyone could participate.

Apart from religious festivals, the Sahas also sponsored cultural events called Jatras. These included debates, storytelling, plays, poetry, and singing. Societal norms at that time didn’t allow for women to be in the public eye, so female roles in plays were portrayed by men dressed as women. Occasionally, they would invite performers from different faiths to perform who were highly regarded and respected for their art and philosophy.

Resources were still very scarce at this time. There was no electricity in the village, so people walked or used bullock carts or palanquins if they had the money for transportation. There was only one well to supply water and a wood-fired forge that was able to make very simple implements. There were only two doctor’s assistants available in the combined area of the three villages. People relied on a local Kaviraj (a naturopath who would prescribe medication prepared from local plants). Medical care was very primitive: when it was time for a woman to give birth, her family would build a small thatched hut outside the house and call in the one midwife in the area. The mother would give birth and then stay with the baby in the thatched hut for 40 days. During this period, family members would deliver food and water to the temporary dwelling but would not touch the mother and baby who were both considered unclean at this time.

At this time, a Mukhtar (Lawyer) from Dhaka came to the village. He inspired the creation of a Polli Unayan Samiti – an unelected village council. Again, playing a leadership role in this council, the Saha family sponsored the creation of a library and a local soccer team consisting of players from the three villages. About 5,000 people would come and watch these matches. At times like this, traveling fairs would visit the village with snake-charmers, doll-makers, and purveyors of delicacies like spun sugar treats. Silent films like those of Charlie Chaplin were sometimes brought to the village and created much excitement.

In the midst of the memories of this idyllic time in his early life, Mr. Saha also recounts painful memories like that of the Great Famine of Bengal in 1943 and the death of his mother due to black fever. The Saha family survived the famine only due to their plentiful finances. While rice was practically unavailable anywhere else, their family was able to procure it at inflated prices. In the period between 1946 to 1949, while there was relative peace in the village, the family started to receive word of unrest elsewhere. In addition to official channels like the weekly newspaper, the Statesman – from which they learned of the Noakhali riots in Dhaka in 1946 – they also got firsthand accounts from the young men of the family who were studying in Calcutta (now Kolkata) at that time. For example, Mr. Saha’s cousin was a student and during the riots of 1946, he was trapped for three days in his college dormitory, where students hid to escape the mob that had surrounded the campus and nearby areas. After three days, when another mob retaliated, he was able to leave the campus and return home. All in all, about 70,000 people lost their lives in that riot.

Feeling a sense of belonging in their village, the family did not leave it before Partition. The younger generation of men – Mr. Saha and his cousins – lived in Calcutta as students and visited Baliadi every two or three months. After Partition, while it was still possible for people to leave, there were strict rules about what belongings could be carried across the border. All cash, jewelry, and even expensive-looking clothing were confiscated at the border on the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) side when people crossed over to West Bengal. Not wanting to lose their fortune, which was mostly in cash, the Saha elders continued to live in Baliadi. An added factor in their decision to stay was the knowledge that as East Bengalis, even though they spoke the same language and followed the same religion as West Bengalis, they would not be likely to be socially accepted there.

It was only when the unrest in the surrounding areas started to affect their village directly in the period leading up to 1953 that the family started to seriously think about leaving. While the community lived in peace in the village as they had before, political religious organizations were becoming more active in surrounding areas like Dhaka. They would occasionally surround the village and shout to intimidate the villagers. In response, all able-bodied men in the village armed themselves and started to patrol the village after dark. A key concern felt by the villagers at this time was the safety of women. Stories of women being taken away by attackers started to filter through to the village. Worried about a similar fate befalling their daughters, villagers started to quickly arrange marriages for their children. Boys and girls as young as 13 years old were married. One day, a young married woman from the village was abducted. By the intervention of the local Zamindar, she was returned unharmed the same day, but this was the tipping point that caused the villagers to realize that sooner or later, they would have to leave and go to West Bengal. The final straw was the designation of the Urdu language as the official language of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Thus far everyone in this area had spoken Bengali; suddenly, all the Bengali road signs disappeared and signs in Urdu took their places. All business was expected to be conducted in Urdu, which also became the medium of instruction in schools. This created chaos because the only people who could understand this language were officers from West Bengal who had been transferred across the border. Law and order broke down and anarchy took its place.

By this time, Mr. Saha himself was married and working as a professor at a college in Calcutta. When his immediate family finally packed up and came to Calcutta, he and his new wife received them at Calcutta’s Sealdah train station and took them in. Their extended family and others from their village took whatever route they could into West Bengal – some settling in Assam, Tripura, and Cooch Behar, West Bengal. After a year of living together in Calcutta, Mr. Saha’s father bought some land in northern West Bengal and moved away.


College years

1962 Marriage

In Kolkata

1966 - 1969 Ethiopia

First trip outside India, for a teaching assignment in Ethiopia


Our years in Zambia


Our years in Zambia

First visit to the USA

We visited NY and Washington for 7 Days in December of 1983, on the way to India for a vacation

Moved to the USA

Toledo, OH, at the University of Toledo where my son and daugther studied

First Grandchild

Birth of Sumon Bagui to my son-in-law Subhash Bagui and my daughter Sikha Bagui


Birth of Sudip Bagui to my son-in-law Subhash Bagui and my daughter Sikha Bagui


Birth of Priyashi Saha daughter of my son Pradeep Saha


Birth of Piyali Saha daughter of my son Pradeep Saha

Early 2000s
In the US

In North Canton, OH

US Citizen

Becoming a Citizen of the US

Late 2000s
In the US

Traveling around the US


At a Conference in Oxford


At another Conference in Oxford


Visited Machu Picu and other places in Peru


Visited Brisbane


Moscow and St. Petersburg

Cambridge and London

Spoke at a conference

Around USA

Visited several cities 

UK and France

Beautiful gardens








Professor Emeritus of History

Mount Union University