India Public Domain 2020: Ten Indian authors whose works entered the public domain in 2020

Every year on 1st of January, copyright of a number of creative works expires and they enter the public domain in India and in other countries of the world. We have been compiling a list of Indian authors whose work enters the public domain over the years. You can find the lists from earlier years here: 2012,20132014, 201520162017, 2018, 2019.

The criteria for this year is that the author died in the calendar year 1959 and the work was published before his death. In case the work was published after the author’s death, it will only come out of copyright after 60 years from the date of publication. Once the work enters the public domain, it means that most of the works are now free to be republished, translated, and converted to different formats.

We have collected the data from various sources including Wikipedia and other online sources, some of which we will be linking here. Please intimate us if you come across any errors and let us know if you are aware of any other authors from India who died in 1959.

Govind Sakharam Sardesai (1865–1959)

Govind Sakharam Sardesai was popularly known as Riyasatkar Sardesai and was a Padma Bhushan winner. He was born in a middle-class family and after receiving a college education, he worked as a personal secretary to Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III and tutor to the princes.  He was a historian from Maharashtra and under the Maharaja’s patronage, he wrote a number of books including the eight-volume Marathi series Riyasats which told the thousand-year history of India, three volumes of Musalmani Riyasat and two volumes of British Riyasat. Another book he authored was a three-volume series called New History of the Marathas. Sardesai’s scholarship is remarkable. He was responsible for editing 35,000 documents in Marathi, English, Gujarati and Persian and he then published 45 volumes of Peshwa daftar.


Haricharan Bandopadhayaya (1867–1959)

Haricharan Bandopadhayaya was a scholar and lexicographer best known for his 5-volume Bangiya Sabdakosh (Bengali dictionary). Rabindranath Tagore personally got him to Shantiniketan and it was at his request that Bandopadhyaya began to compile the dictionary, a task that took forty years to complete! He also wrote books such as Sanskrit PraveshPali PraveshByakaran KoumadiHints on Sanskrit Translation and CompositionKobir KathaRabindranather Katha, etc. He was the recipient of several awards such as the Sarojini Basu Gold Medal, Sisir Kumar Memorial Prize from the University of Calcutta and Desikottama from Visva Bharati.

Abdur Razzaq Malihabadi (1875–1959)

Abdur Razzaq Malihabadi was a journalist and was primarily known as the autobiographer of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He was born in Malihabad in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He studied in UP and did his doctorate in Saudi Arabia. He worked at All India Radio heading Arabic Department in New Delhi. He was close to the Saudi monarchy. He wrote against the British Raj. His books Zikar-e-Azad and Azad Ki Kahani Khud Azad Ki Zubani were posthumously published.

R. Rangaraju (1875–1959)

R. Rangaraju was a bestselling Tamil novelist from Madras Presidency, British India. He is considered as one of the pioneers of Tamil fiction writing. He was born in Paalayamkottai. He started writing detective novels in 1908. His novels had social reformist themes like the emancipation of women and thievery in mutts. His novels had many reprints and sold as much as 70,0000 copies Some of books are Rajambal, Chandrakantha, Mohanasundaram, Anandakrishnan, Rajendran, Varadharaja, Vijayaragavan and Jeyarangan.

Dil Shahjahanpuri (1875–1959)

Dil Shahjahanpuri was the pen name of Zameer Hasan Khan, the famous Urdu ghazal writer. He was born in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh and was the disciple of the Urdu poet, Amir Meenai. Two collections of his ghazals have been published: Naghma e Dil and Tarana e Dil.

Barindra Kumar Ghosh (1880–1959)

Barindra Kumar Ghosh or  Barin Ghosh as he was better known was an Indian revolutionary and journalist. He was Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother and one of the founding members of Jugantar, a revolutionary outfit in Bengal. He studied in Deoghar and received military training in Baroda. Barin Ghosh was sentenced to death in the Alipore Bomb Case but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, and he was deported to the Cellular Jail in Andaman. Once he was released, he took to journalism and formed an ashram in Kolkata. Aurobindo had led him toward the revolutionary movement and the same brother now had turned into a spiritual icon. He started an English weekly, The Dawn of India and was the editor of the Bengali daily Dainik Basumati.

Some of his books include Dvipantarer Banshi, Pather Ingit, Amar Atmakatha, Agnijug, Rishi Rajnarayan, The Tale of My Exile and Sri Aurobindo.

Narayana Panickar (1889–1959)

Narayana Panickar was an Indian essayist, playwright, translator, lexicographer, novelist and historian of Malayalam. He was born in Alappuzha district in Kerala. He studied at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam and worked as a teacher.

He has written over 100 books but is best known for Kerala Bhasha Sahithya Charthram, a six-volume comprehensive history of Malayalam literature up to 1954 and Navayuga Bhasha Nighantu, a lexicon. He also wrote novels and translated Tamil and Bengali classics. He was a Sahitya Akademi winner in 1955.

Muhammad Ilyas (Elias) Burney (1890–1959)

Professor Elias Burney was the first head of the Department of Economics at Osmania University in Hyderabad, India. He published about 40 books in Urdu, Persian, Arabic and English.

His most famous work is Qadiani Muzhab, a book on the Ahmadiyya religion. One of his books called Urdu Hindi Rasmulkhat (Scripts) was a comparative study of Urdu and Hindi scripts. Another interesting book in English is My Life and Experiences.

Dhiraj Bhattacharya (1905–1959)

Primarily known as an actor and theater personality in Bengali and Hindi, Dhiraj Bhattacharya also wrote books including a two-part autobiography and a few short books like Jakhan Police Chilam, Jakhan Nayak Chilam, Mahua Milan, Sajano Bagan and Mon Nie Khela.

Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram (1930–1959)

Pattukottai Kalyanasundaranar was an Indian poet and a popular Tamil lyricist best remembered for his lyrics for M. G. Ramachandran’s movies.

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