Home > Europe, History, India, Indian Economy, Indian education, Media, Politics > Facelift for Orwell’s birthplace in Bihar

Facelift for Orwell’s birthplace in Bihar

An egregious example of colonial architecture in India - the Mumbai Municipal Corporation building

An egregious example of colonial architecture in India - the Mumbai Municipal Corporation building.

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).

Lal, Bal, Pal - the men who put the Empire on retreat!
Lal, Bal, Pal – the men who put the Empire on retreat!

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.

Colonial heroes

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!

  1. Galeo Rhinus
    July 19, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Actually – Orwell’s complete quote is probably very relevant here:

    “Those who control the present, control the past…
    …and those who control the past control the future.”

    You say that the “Indian history is still held hostage by the British.”

    I think your readers might be interested in how they achieve this…

    …because those who control the present control the past… who and how is India’s past controlled?

  2. July 19, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Your implication is well-founded – correct and relevant.

    Those who control India’s present are without doubt more guilty than the British of allowing India’s past to remain perverted. 60 years is a long time – and India history’s worst perversions could have been easily remedied.

    There are clearly two are guilty parties –

    1. Like I pointed out just two weeks ago – After 60 years and a few hundred-crores (or a few billions) of tax-payer funds, Indian academia and historians have failed to answer this question. They are clearly to blame for one.

    2. The ruling Congress party which ‘inherited’ India – and ruled it for nearly 50 of the last 60 years of the republic. Starting from the Tryst with Destiny to date, the Congress has been driven by their own propaganda requirements.

    I am linking my previous posts which address these aspects.

  3. Galeo Rhinus
    July 19, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    …how would the political rule of the Congress explain the total dominance of Marxist and Socialist dogma in academia?

    What would explain the capitalist backed Congress working hand-in-glove with the Socialists to ensure that Indic knowledge is absolutely kept out of Indian academics?

  4. July 20, 2010 at 7:27 am

    A few points: –

    1. Capitalism was based on slavery – as in capture, kidnap, trade, sale, labour extraction under protection, patronage and encouragement of the State. With the demise of slavery using Africans, in the middle of 19th century, Capitalism also died.

    2. Communism was born directly as a result of demise of Capitalism. With the end of Slavery for Africans in the West, Communism proposed that Western States make their own populations into Slaves. Under Communism, Slavery was a State monopoly – unlike private sector slavery earlier.

    3. The propaganda to sell Communism is Marxism – ‘ideology’ if you will.

    4. The other political alternative to Capitalism, after the demise of Slavery was an evolutionary system of State-restricted ‘enterprise’ with limited choice for labour class – called Socialism. Which, while better than the earlier system extended the concentration of wealth and power model

    5. Now, Nehru was a ‘socialist’.

    6. Congress is the Indian parallel of Social-Democrats (interchangeably also called Liberals, Liberal-Progressives, Left, Leftists, Left-wing) to use a European term – and the BJP mostly behaves like European Christian-Democrats (interchangeably also called Conservatives, Tories, Whigs, Right, Rightists, Right-wing).

    7. Indian academia has been taken over by sympathisers to the Indian version of Marxist-Social-Democrats.

    8. Till recently this was the situation – until the rise of BJP. BJP went ahead and decided to instal their own version of sympathisers – the Indian version of Marxist-Christian Democrats.

    9. Obviously the Congress-Marxist-Social-Democrat combine does not like this.

    10. Indian academia, using largely Marxist ideas, has partly redefined Indian history using Marxist theology. The presence of ‘Hindu’-Christian-Democrats is as yet limited.

    11. In all this, there is little of Indic thought, ideology, vision, philosophy.

    From your comment it is apparent that you have a theory about this. I would love to hear your ideas on this.

  5. Galeo Rhinus
    July 20, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I do… it has nothing to do with ideology (some of your ideas above are insightful, some are intriguing).

    My “theory” is simple – I believe that India has some “autonomy” not “freedom.”

  6. July 22, 2010 at 2:48 am

    The Buddhists have quite a powerful lobby in the protection and upliftment of the Ajanta Caves. In comparison, the Ellora caves are a pale shadow of their former self. Of course, those Buddhist structures in the site you linked are neglected too. But we should weep more for our own losses than theirs.

  7. July 22, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Karmasura – You are seeing Buddhism and Hinduism as religions. Hinduism as a religion is a recent development. Under the influence of the Desert Bloc.

    Instead see them as paths to Dharma!

    This may raise a question in your mind – what is the difference! Take a 2ndlook.

  8. July 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I do understand what you are saying. But should our actions and judgements depend on our view of somebody or on how they view themselves.

    Most Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs I meet this day identify themselves as a separate culture from the Hindu culture. The ancient common ground has been lost and might take some time to recover.

    What I was hinting at is the principle of only ‘equals can be allies’. We need to equalize with Buddhist attempts at conserving their ancient monuments before we shed their tears and attempt to ally with them.

    While our online ‘debate’ continues, a lot of water has flowed down the Ganges. Time is ticking away!

  9. samadhyayi
    November 29, 2010 at 9:14 am

    there is so much to do. we need to organise.

  10. trotternama
    December 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Hm, Tilak who wanted little girls to get married early? Very forward looking Chap.

  11. December 8, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Trotternama /Khaliq Parkar – You are right. I agree.

    Indian population hardly grew during the British Raj.

    India coped with the British genocides, massacres, annihilation, murders by modifying their social norms.

    People started getting married early. Better than the British system where children are becoming unmarried parents.

    This way India did not go the ‘Red Indian’ way or the Australian aborigine way. Total extinction.

    And Tilak was indeed a ‘Very forward looking Chap’ – as you put it in such personal and informal terms.

    little girls to get married early

    Ungrammatical. Redundant.

    Either little girls to get married (no early) or (no little) girls to get married early.

  1. July 21, 2010 at 9:23 am

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