History of Indian Journal of Entomology

The Indian Journal of Entomology, the official publication of the Entomological Society of India (ESI) started in 1939. Since 1956, it is being published as a quarterly Journal and the four parts are published each in March, June, September and December. It is published online from 2008 (Volume 70) onwards (through www.indianjournal.com). This is going to be open access w.e.f 2021 Volume 83. This journal has an intricately intertwined history with ESI, and has reached its milestone of 81st volume in 2020. The first issue of IJE as well as the establishing of the ESI emanated with the Indian Science Congress (ISC) sessions. In these entomological papers were presented and discussed in the Zoology Section. From the silver jubilee session of ISC held in Calcutta in 1938, entomology became an independent section. It will be important to know that entomological meetings, particularly pertaining to agricultural entomology, were held long back and regularly at Pusa (25°51′N; 85°46′E), Bihar from 1915 at the initiative of Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher, who succeeded Harold Maxwell-Lefroy as the Imperial Entomologist at the Imperial Agricultural Research Institute, which was later shifted to New Delhi and rebranded as the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. It is the same place from where presently the IJE is being published.

It was Fletcher who first made the call for a society for Indian entomologists. He did this during the Third Entomological Meeting held at Pusa during 3–15 February 1919 and thereby asked for a forum that will bring out a Journal which can be a medium for the entomological workers. This could be seen from Fletcher’s remark: ‘I do not know, however, to what extent the formation of an Entomological Society would meet the wishes and requirements of entomologists in India, nor, I must confess, do I quite see what would be the functions of such a Society. If my scheme for centralization of entomological work in India eventuates, such a Central Institute and Service would fulfil all the ends of a Society as regards such items as publications, collections, references and assistance generally to other workers. Even as it is, our periodical meetings (i.e., Pusa Entomological Meetings) provide ample opportunity for discussion of any problems and it is difficult to see how more frequent or better attended meetings could be arranged in such a vast country as India, nor is there any lack at present of facilities for publication in this country.’ However, this suggestion, mooted by Fletcher, hibernated for 18 years till the 24th ISC Session held at Hyderabad in 1937 where it re-emerged. Here a society for Indian entomologists was born. An ad hoc committee consisting of Mohammed Afzal Husain, Hem Singh Pruthi, Tarakad Vythianathan Ramakrishna, Yelseti Ramachandra Rao, Narayan Chandra Chatterjee, Dev Raj Mehta, and Durga Das Mukerji was constituted to develop rules and regulations for the proposed society. On 7 January 1938, at the ISC Session in Calcutta, Ramakrishna moved a resolution that the society for Indian entomologists be named the Entomological Society of India, and the draft rules developed by the ad hoc committee be accepted. This resolution was accepted unanimously. The ESI was formally launched by Afzal Husain, an eminent locust entomologist of India and the Principal of the Punjab Agricultural College at Lyallpur (now Faisalabad, Pakistan) (1933–38). Following excerpts from Afzal Husain’s address at the ISC Session at Hyderabad in 1938: ‘It is most necessary for the futuredevelopment of our science that a powerful independent body of scientific opinion be created to foster the growth of entomology in our country…..In the context of a journal ‘For growth of entomology a periodical devoted entirely to the publication of research working this science is essential’. Thus, when ESI was established in 1938, one task it was charged with was to start the Indian Journal of Entomology. An editorial board comprising H. S. Pruthi (New Delhi), T. V. Ramakrishna (Coimbatore), N. C. Chatterjee (Dehra Dun), D. R. Mehta (Lahore), Khan A. Rahman (Lyallpur) and Krishna Behari Lal (New Delhi) was constituted in 1938. Dr. Pruthi was the first chief editor. The first issue of IJE rolled out of press in June 1939. This is how the Indian Journal of Entomology’s journey started.

It will be pertinent to know few key features from the inaugural issue- Entomology – inaugural issue, Preliminary pages, The following text extracted from the opening feature ‘Ourselves’ (pp. 1–3), possibly by Pruthi, clarifies the intent of and context for the new journal: ‘A journal devoted to all branches of Entomology is a new venture of India. … contributions relating to Indian insects have been appearing, in addition to some foreign journals, in the reports and departmental publications of Government, the proceedings of scientific and departmental publications of Government. … Many of the entomological papers, therefore, are often out of place in the journals in which they are published, and hence of little interest to the majority of readers, while those actually interested in the subject have to wade through numerous titles of articles before they come across any of direct interest for them.’ This article further clarifies that IJE would be a living record of the growth of the science of entomology in the country. IJE will strive to pursue insect studies for elucidating problems of purely scientific interest, such as those in relation to morphology, ecology, genetics, behaviour, and evolution, further to the research done on the control of insects, recognized as pests. Due to extensive variations in India’s climate, soil and geographical conditions and highly varied vegetation types, the insect fauna offers exceptional opportunities for the study of general problems pertaining to Indian insects. This article clarifies that greater emphasis on the fundamental aspects of Indian insects was direly necessary in India, because considerable emphasis was already being placed on managing populations of nuisance insects from the perspectives of agriculture, forestry, medicine and veterinary science. In such a context, this article says: ‘By publishing papers, especially on the latter subjects (viz. biology, ecology, and taxonomy of Indian insects), this Journal (viz. IJE) hopes to restore, …, the balance between the outputs of results in applied entomology and those in the domain of pure scientific research.’ IJE was meant to be a medium through which entomologists in the Indian subcontinent could connect with each other professionally. It was also meant to promote amateur interest in insects, by providing literature and advice as appropriate.

Congratulatory messages from entomological leaders of that time, such as Guy Marshall (Imperial Institute of Entomology, British Museum, London), Augustus Imms (Department of Entomology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge), Geoffrey Hale-Carpenter (Oxford University Museum, Oxford), Leland Howard (U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.), Filippo Silvestri (Department of Agriculture, Naples‒Portici), Lee Strong (U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.), Arthur Gibson (Agriculture Canada, Ottawa) and Hans Sachtleben (Deutsches Entomologisches Institut, Berlin‒Dahlem) occur in pp. 3–6. Edward Percy Stebbing (1872–1960), who served as the forest entomologist‒ zoologist in India in 1900‒1910, offers a relatively lengthy message (pp. 6–8) captioned ‘The beginnings of the study of entomology in India’. Stebbing’s Indian Forest Insects of Economic Importance: Coleoptera (1914), further to other forestry books, including The Forests of India make us to remember him. Stebbing refers to the scantiness of entomological literature in India, which, at his time was largely confined to publications contributed by Everard Charles Cotes19,20 (1862‒1944; mostly the First Assistant to the Superintendent of the Indian Museum in Calcutta; officiated for a while as the Deputy Superintendent of the Indian Museum) in the Indian Museum Notes. While reinforcing the usefulness of launching IJE, he pays tributes to the Journal of Bombay Natural History Society (Bombay) and the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal (Calcutta), which published occasional articles on Indian insects. Ramakrishna’s lead article: ‘Entomology in India – a retrospect’ Ramakrishna has written this article (pp.9‒16) after his retirement from the professorship of Agricultural Entomology at the Madras Agricultural College (now Tamil Nadu Agricultural University), Coimbatore21. He writes under two sections: ‘Insect lore in ancient India’ and ‘Entomology in modern India’. He subdivides the second section into three time periods: 1779‒1850, 1850‒1900 and 1900 onwards. In the subsection ‘1900 onwards’ he refers to the contributions made by Charles de Nicéville, Harold Maxwell-Lefroy and Thomas Fletcher to Indian entomology. Ramakrishna starts his narration from 1779, which makes sense. Western science-based entomological studies, first started in the Madras region (then not referred as Presidency). Johann Gerhard König (1725‒1785) published a paper on the biology of termites of Tanjavur (10°47′N, 79°8′E) in Beschäftigungen der Berlinischen Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde, a German natural-history journal, in 1779. In the section ‘1900 onwards’, Ramakrishna says (p. 14): ‘Provincial governments and some states started entomological work. Madras was the first among the provinces (i.e. Presidencies) in the direction as may be found in the work of Bainbrigge Fletcher, who was the first Madras Government Entomologist from 1909 up to 1911 and who published the book on Some South Indian Insects (1914).’ Ramakrishna clarifies that the first formal appointment of a State Entomologist in India was made in Mysore in 1907, but does not identify the person. It was Leslie Charles Coleman (1878‒1954), who came from Ontario, Canada, to accept the position of Entomologist–Mycologist of Mysore Government Service and rose

A variety of articles focusing on the ecology of insects from different parts of India fill the first issue. An ecological study of Earias vitella (Lepidoptera:Noctuidae) and its parasitoids by T. Ahmad and G. Ullah, the influence of desert storms on the migration of Locusta migratoria(Orthoptera: Acrididae) by D.Bhatia, and phase transformation of L.migratoria by R. L. Gupta feature in this issue. A paper on the responses of Trogoderma granarium (referred as T. khapra, Coleoptera: Dermestidae) to light by K. A. Rahman and G. S. Sohi follows. Because of the general behaviour of light avoidance by T. granarium, Rahman and Sohi rationalize their study on the photosensitivity of the species. The custom made light device to evaluate photosensitivity of T. granarium is impressive. In the context that only a few insects are adapted to tolerate and live in high temperatures, e.g. 40‒50°C, a short paper by Pruthi referring to populations of Helochares lentus and Coelostoma stultum (both Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae) from a hot spring (45°C) near Manãli (Kulu Valley) offers an interesting reading. This is followed by a taxonomic paper by M. S. Mani pertaining to several species of Chlacidoidea and one Cynipoidea. Other features- Brief sections entitled ‘Short notes and exhibits’, ‘Recent research’, ‘New books and monographs’ and ‘News and announcements’ fill the remainder of the first issue. Affairs pertaining to the ESI, such as the proceedings of the previous meetings, details and proceedings of meetings organized by local chapters, and the list of registered members feature towards the end. The section ‘Short notes and exhibits’ is novel and offers fascinating insights. As a sample, we will refer to a brief report by Mani (p. 111), wherein he refers to ‘autophotographs of some Indian butterflies’. Although Mani uses a new and unheard-of term, viz. ‘autophotographs’, they indeed refer to the previously known practice of creating photograms. These are ‘captured shadows’ attempted by the famous inventor William Henry Fox Talbot of Britain in mid-19th century29. Many such natural historical notes, none exceeding either a quarter or a half of printed page, are mind-capturing.

Thus, the IJE was born with contributions from stalwarts and completed 80 years of service to Indian science in 2018 and IJE did so in 2019. The role played by the academic and general staff of the Division of Entomology (DE), Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in managing the affairs of ESI and IJE over the years, calls for our sincerest appreciation. Successive managers of ESI and IJE from the time of Pruthi at DE, IARI have untiringly contributed time and energy to the life and success of both ESI and IJE. A volume cataloguing the references of published work and indices of subjects, authors and binomials in IJE between 1939 and 1984 is available. Recent numbers of IJE impress as a regularly appearing, peer-reviewed quarterly, thanks to the passionate efforts of the present Chief Editor Vilayanoor Venkataraman Ramamurthy of IARI who has been wrested with its editorial job from 2009 onwards. Now the IJE appears both in print and as online editions (http://www.entosocindia.org/indian-journal-of-entomology.html). Growth of IJE as indicated by the numbers per year increasing from two to four (March, June, September and December) is obviously due to its popularity. Rise in the number of issues per year has been gradual: from vol. 14 (1952) the number increased from two to three a year, and subsequently to four. The issues are up- to- date. Early issues of IJE, i.e. up to the 1980s, largely fulfilled their originally intended role as the living record of growth of entomology in India, bringing to light much of the ecology, physiology, and evolution of Indian insects, meeting the objects determined in 1938. The Journal’s papers are indexed in Scopus and EBSCO in addition to other sources, are with doi numbers and are JATS converted for easy access.

The excerpts of this “About the Journal” have been largely extracted from the Reference- Historical Notes Published, Current Science 117 (2) of 25 JULY 2019 pages 321 to 327