Located in Bihar’s Motihari town, the room in which Orwell’s mother Ida Mabel Blair gave birth to him on June 3, 1903, would be restored to its original condition. Orwell’s father Richard W Blair, who worked for the then opium department, was posted at Motihari at the time of his son’s birth. “A sum of Rs 4 lakh has been earmarked from the district plan fund for the repair and restoration work,” East Champaran district planning officer R K Mishra told TOI. As this amount is not sufficient to renovate the house, he said, it has been decided to undertake the restoration work of one room only. The district administration, however, is willing to do more and is trying to get more funds. “We have sent a Rs 2.5-crore proposal to the state art and culture department for developing the birthplace of Orwell,” Mishra said. The proposal includes the construction of a boundary wall around the house and an open auditorium on the premises.
Art and culture department officials said they are yet to pore over the proposal. But they are more than willing to extend help for such a move. “An experts’ team would be drafted to Motihari to assess the ground reality,” art and culture department secretary Vivek Singh said over phone from Delhi. (via Facelift for Orwell’s birthplace in Bihar).
The British Raj, in a short 150 years, milked the world’s richest nation into the poorest.
To cover-up this historic embezzlement, the British built more monuments in 150 years, than all other rulers of India, over the previous 5000 years.
Conserving the colonial past
In Mumbai this has created a conservation industry. Of Colonial buildings!
Rudyard Kipling’s bungalow is more important that Lokmanya Tilak’s! India obtained funding for ‘saving’ the gargoyle-infested colonial railway structures from UNESCO. Supported by breast beating activists who worked hard to increase awareness of structures funded by colonial loot and drug trade (of opium).
The liberal establishment in India is worried about all the colonial ‘heritage’ and structures. Old Mumbai mills are included – but not the even more ancient Buddhist structures. Don’t even mention the Chaphekar Brothers! May Mumbai’s Buddhist caves go to ruination.
The Mumbai Municipal Commissioner, while decrying the attempts by the Indian neo-Colonial Rulers, to ‘save’ Mumbai’s colonial past, makes no mention of these Buddhist caves. While Kipling’s bungalow is a ‘hallowed’ institution, Mumbai’s Buddhist caves are dying of ‘active neglect’
The Empire strikes back
I wonder what has happened to Balgangadhar Tilak’s house. Very little is known or done about Lala Lajpat Rai’s last residence. People have completely forgotten who Bipin Chandra Pal was. India has definitely ‘progressed’.
Among India’s chatterati, glitterati, the papparazzi, there is barely concealed longing for a return of the Raj. This hides a deeper malaise. The need for an Asuric Raj, which will build gleaming towers, glass and chrome plazas, shopping malls for the rich.
Wonder what Bihar’s Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar has to say on this. Has he considered a memorial to Bagha Jatin, whose anti-colonial exploits in the neighbouring area made him a living hero. Or a memorial to the son-of-soil, Jaya Prakash Narayan, who organized the colonial police force to strike work – and exposed the soft underbelly of the Raj. I am confident that Nalanda conservation must be suffering for lack of funding. But conserving George Orwell’s birthplace is presumably more important.
Indian affection for Rudyard Kipling is misplaced. Kipling was ashamed and embarrassed of his Indian connections. He tried to cover up every iota of his Indian connection after reaching the West. Orwell was the more cynical retreating colonialist. To the British, evacuating from India, Orwell interestingly reminded that “those who control the past, control the future.”
After more than 60 years, Indian history is still held hostage by the British!
On a still summer afternoon in Haridwar, under the platform that was the gaddi office of Gangaram, Dhagdu, from Bihar, who uses just one name, crouched with his family. They waited for their turn, the moment when they would be noticed and the record keeper would write their names into the book. “We want our descendants to know that someone in their family had been here to Haridwar and attended a Mahakumbh,” said Dhagdu, rasping through betel nut stained teeth.
Minutes later, Ravindra Bharadwaj, an important-looking man with a walrus moustache, who sat surrounded by bahis—scrolls that house records of visiting families— summoned them.
Without looking at the family, Bharadwaj shot off questions—“What village? What caste? Your father’s name? Grandfather’s name?”—that left Dhagdu confused. Hasty consultations commenced as Bharadwaj tapped an impatient pen on thick, handmade paper: he was not idle, he had things to do.
When the answers were found, Bharadwaj began writing in Devnagari, slowly and deliberately—“Dhagdu, son of Ghela, grandson of Chuniya, hailing from Banka district of Bihar, visited Haridwar in April 2010, with his wife and two sons—Rohit and Ram. He was here to attend the Mahakumbh.” Asked to sign, Dhagdu pressed an ink-stained thumb on the paper. (via Modernization plan runs into ancient biases – Economy and Politics – livemint.com).
Keeping such traditions and records alive – without State patronage or support, is without parallel in the world. Indian brahmans have a great history – as indeed India itself has!
Alexander – an ethnic ‘cleanser’?
Some 23 centuries ago, Alexander massacred 8,000-10,000 Brahmins – most probably, from the Takshashila University. It was this massacre that possibly started the decline of Takshashila - and not some silly fiction of a Huna invasion.
The ‘provocation’ for this massacre was the active role of the Takshashila Brahmans in organizing Indian rulers to jointly face the Greek invasion.
Violence against intellectuals, (Brahmans) is taboo in India. Killing intellectuals, came easily to Alexander.
Remember, the execution of Socrates!
Those who learn from history
Upper-caste ‘Brahmans’ became exploiters. Indian kings ruled like oriental despots. Indian baniya, thou art an unscrupulous and unethical cheat! As for the ‘dispossessed’ peasant, or worker, he was a born liar and lazy shirker! Dirty Indians, all of us! The British Raj, was of course, enlightened, progressive, egalitarian.
And full of liberty.
Greek lessons in India
To puncture Indian campaign for self-rule, independence, the British propaganda machinery shot multiple arrows.
Against Lal-Bal-Pal, the British pitted Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Phule, Agarkar, Gokhale. Subhash Chandra Bose’s foil was Gandhiji. And the ‘evil’ caste system as the excuse for Indian ‘backwardness’! To cover up the daridra (poverty), dushkal (famine) and dravyashosha (drain), the British offered India ‘education’, ‘social reform.’
Patterned on the lines of a superior culture like Britain.
British legacy in India
Wonder why the Great British culture is taking them nowhere!
After they lost their slaves (in 1830), after the end of piracy (1860) and the end of colonies (1960). Even with a hybrid, mongrel polity, India has emerged as a significant economic force within 60 years of British departure.
Wonder what India missed by a doing this hybrid shindig – instead of a full Indic.