Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cawnpore (Kanpur) in Nov 1857

From a London newspaper-
"C awnpore is situated on the west side of the Ganges-which is here more than a mile broad, and is crossed by a bridge of boats-in lat. 26 deg. N., and long. 80 deg. E. It is a modern town, and one of the principal military stations of the province of Allahabad. The neighbouring gardens produce an abundance of grapes, peaches, and other fruits and vegetables. The principal bazaars in the native town are well supplied, and there is a great trade in leather and cloths of every kind. The European shops, also, are numerous and excellent. "Amongst the principal buildings is a handsome modern Gothic Church, a Theatre, and the Assembly-rooms - lately the scene of a dismal and revolting massacre of our fellow-countrymen. The writer in Madden's 'Gazeteer and Gazeteer Map' says, 'Nana Sahib appears to have experienced a malignant satisfaction in dragging a great part of his victims to be butchered at these Assembly-rooms, where the wretch himself had many a time and oft enjoyed the hospitality of the English residents.' About ten miles distant by land, on the same side of the Ganges, is Bithoor, late the residence of this miscreant, but which has since the mutiny and massacre been burned to the ground by the gallant Havelock. Cawnpore was in former times the largest cantonment in upper India, but has recently and particularly since the annexation of Oude, been shorn of its pristine glory."

Laxmibai Jhansi ki Rani Poem in Hindi

Rani of Jhansi was unhappy about being forcibly retired by the British in 1853, so when the Indian Mutiny burst into flame four years later, she was in the forefront of the rebellion at Jhansi. The British contingent in Jhansi were massacred, but the following year the rebel forces were still quarrelling among themselves and the British retook Jhansi. The rani fled to Gwalior and, in a valiant last stand, she rode out against the British, disguised as a man, and was killed. She has since become a heroine of the Indian independence movement, a sort of central Indian Joan of Arc.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Village Community System

Both in the Zelnindari territories and in the Haveli territories there existed from time immemorial theVillage Community system, a simple form of selfgovernment which protected the cultivators of everyvillage from the oppression of the Zemindars and the Government. This ancient institution-ancient in the days of Manu-had survived the wreck of dynasties and the downfall of empires, had secured peace and orderin villages in times of war, and struck the servants of the East India Company in the eighteenth century asa unique and excellent institution.
A village, geographically considered, is a tract of country comprising some hundreds or thousands ofacres of arable and waste land; politically viewed, it resembles a corporation or township. Its proper establishment of officers and servants consists of the following descriptions. The potail, or head inhabitant, who has the general superintendence of the affairs of the village, settles the disputes of the inhabitants, attends to the police, and performs the duty, already described,of collecting the revenues h h i n his village, a duty which his personal influence and minute acquaintance with the situation and concerns of the people renders him best qualified to discharge ; the curnum, who keeps the accounts of cultivation and registers everything concerned with i t ; the talliar and totie, the duty of the former appearing to consist in a wider and more enlarged sphere of action, in gaining information of crimes and offences, and in escorting and protecting pa,rsons travelling from one village to another, the province of the latter appearing to be more immediately confined to the village, consisting, among other duties, in guarding the crops and assisting in measuring them ; the boundary-man, who preserves the limits of the village or gives evidence respecting them in case of dispute ; the superintendent of tanks and watercourses distributes the water therefrom for the purpose of agriculture; the Bramin, who performs the village worship; the schoolmaster, who is seen teaching the children in the villages to read and write in the sand; the calendar Bramin, or astrologer, who proclaims the lucky or unpropitious periods for sowing and threshing;the smith and caryenter, who manufacture the jmplements of agriculture and build the dwelling of the ~ y o;t t he potman, or potter ; the washerman ; the barber ; the cowkeeper, who looks after the cattle ; the doctor ; the dancing-girl, who attends at rejoicings ; the musician, and the poet. These officers and servants generally constitute the establishment of a village ;but in some parts of the country it is of less extent,some of the duties and functions above described beingunited in the same person; in others it exceeds thenumber of individuals which have been described.6c

Under this simple form of municipal governmentthe inhabitants of the country have lived from timeimmemorial. The boundaries of villages have beenbut seldom altered, and though the villages themselveshave been sometimes injured, and even desolated, bywar, famine, and disease, the same name, the sarnalimits, the same interests, and even the same familieshave continued for ages. The inhabitants give themselvesno trouble abouh the breaking up and divisionsof kingdoms; while the village remains entire, theycare not to what power it is transferred or to whatsovereign it devolves ; its internal econon~y remainsunchanged ; the Potail is still the head inhabitant, andstill acts as the petty judge and magistrate and collectoror renter of the village."The above extract is of the utmost importance,as it gives us an insight into the constitution ofself-governing Indian villages, not in the mysticdays of ancient Hindu rule, but in the eighteenthcentury; not described in old Sanscrit works likeManu, but depicted by the servants of the EastIndia Company in official documents from actualIndia Company in official documents from actualand inquiry.
It shows us at a glance'OW the great agricultural population of India tilledheir lands and manufactured their commodities in~iieiro wn self-contained little republics through thousandsof years, while dynasty succeeded dynasty andelupires rose and fell. Happy it were if the Britishadministrators of India had preserved and fosteredand reformed these ancient institutions, and thus continuedto rule the people through their organisedassemblies.
Two causes, however, operated from thecommencement of the British rule to weaken the oldvillage communities. An extreme anxiety to enhancethe land revenue to its very utmost limits inducedthe administrators to make direct arrangements withevery individual cultivator.' An equally unreasonableanxiety to centralise all judicial and executive powersin their own hands led the modern rulers to virtuallyset aside those village fu'ctionaries who had solong exercised these powers within the limits of theirown villages.

Deprived of their functions, the villagecommunities rapidly fell into decay, and the Indianadministration of the present day, better organised inmany respects than the administration of the past,suffers from this disadvantage, that it is more autocratic,and rests in a far less degree on the co-operationof the people themselves.

History of Earth-Beginning of time

Why do we call Indian subcontinent?There is no other subcontinent known in Earth-What makes that region of SE Asia so special?If we ignore political boundaries created by britishers in 1947 and look at region encompassing Afghanistan,Pakistan,India,Nepal,Sri Lanka,Bangladesh,Burma,Thailand as one super region only, what do we see?
Major ports of indian subcontinent before independence were: Karachi,Bombay,Calcutta,Madras,Chittagong and Rangoon

Before we delve into history of India as we know it today, it is important to know complete history of Earth and how Indian subcontinent fits into it.

India has never been submerged beneath sea since Palaeozoic era. i.e 570 million years ago except Himalaya range region in north. This is important distinction from North America Continent.
After Palaeozoic era, India was connected to Africa by dry land.
If you want to see animated version of continents taking shape,here it is

Interesting facts of colonial indian subcontinent which came from Imperial Gazatteer of India-1903
  • Most of the wheat and rice grown in India was exported to UK
  • In 1900,there wasn't a tea market in India.
  • Tea was grown only for export and there wasn't local market.
  • In 1750, East India Company declared 150% dividend.
  • Famines miracolously dissappeared from India after independence. Last known major famine was in 1942.

On the 9th May I 770 they wrote : " The famine
which has ensued, the mortality, the beggary, exceed
all description. Above one-third of the inhabitants
have perished in the once plentiful province of Purneah,
and in other parts the misery is equal." On
the I ~ t She ptember they wrote : " It is scarcely possible
that any description could be an exaggeration of the

Notwithstanding the great severity of the late
famine and the great reduction of people thereby, some
increase has been made in the settlements both of the
Bengal and the Behar provinces for the present year."
On the 10th January 1772 they wrote: "The collections
in each department of revenue are as successfully
carried on for the present year as we could have
wished." l
It is painful to read of this rigorous collection of
the land-tax during years of human sufferings and
deaths perhaps unexampled in the history of mankind.