Sunday, 14 October 2018

''Tamiraparni Mahapushkaram'',- Oct. 2018, Tamil Nadu: an interesting Hindu river festival!!

Tamiraparni Pushkaram Tirunelveli, TN tamil.oneindia.com
'Pushkaram' is an important Indian river festival as the Hindu religion gives importance to worshipping of rivers which form the life blood of a country. Duing this festival devout Hindus, in thousands, congregate on the banks of the river to participate in Pushkaram. The festival is also known as Pushkaralu (in Telugu), Pushkara (in Kannada) or PushkarPushkara is also a Sanskrit word meaning energy that nourishes

Pushkar celebration takes place  at shrines along the banks of 12 major sacred rivers  across India during which time they are marked by spiritual discourses, devotional music and cultural programs. It is also a form of ancestral worship-paying obeisance to our forefathers - pithroos. The uniqueness of this river festival is it is held  annually, once in 12 years along each river which is associated with a zodiac sign. The river is chosen for each year's festival based on which  Jupiter (Guru) transits into  a Zodiac sign  at that time. Some of the zodiac signs are associated with multiple rivers and this is due to regional variations in planetary positions. In the initial 12 and final 12 days in the years of its residence of Jupiter, Pushkara visits to that river. 
Godavari Pushkaram, godavarimahapushkaram.org
According to our Puranas Pushkara, the son of Varuna (God of rain), the presiding deity of all rivers, armed with a boon from Brahma,  becomes Thirthapalaka, the protector of all Thirthas. On a request from Bṛhaspati/Guru (Jupiter), Pushkara  decided to enter one of the 12 sacred rivers when Bṛhaspati travelled from one zodiac sign to another. Tradition has been that during the Pushkara days, the Devas make their divine presence there in the river and bless the devotees.
Pushkaram  draws major crowds only during the first 12 days  called  Adi Pushkaramwhen the Jupiter enters the zodiac sign and the last 12 days called Anthya Pushkaram when it exits the zodiac sign. These days  are considered as most auspicious. A dip in the sacred river is believed to absolve you of  all sins.The belief has been that during the above period of twenty-four days, "Pushkar", imbued with the power to make any river holy, will travel with Jupiter as Jupiter moves from one Zodiac house to another. Planets that fall in the "Pushkara navamsa" or "Puskara bhaga" of a birthchart are considered to be very beneficial and auspicious in jyotish astrology

In  South Tamil Nadu, Pushkaram is held in Tamiraparni River when Jupiter is in Scorpio. In the four places where River Tamiraparni flows from south to north, Banathirtham, Papanasam, Thirupudaimaruthur and Sinthupoondurai, the festival is celebrated as per tradition with religious fervor.  The Tamraparni temple at Suthamalli assumes much importance during the Pushkaram year

This year the river Tamiraparni is associated with Pushkar festival because on 12 October this year, Jupiter enters the zodiac sign Vrichikam (Scorpio); hence the festival is held from 12 Oct, to 23 Oct and the main center of Pushkaram is at Tirupudaimaruthur town  near Tirunelveli. This site was chosen by Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam as it is a  Putarjuna Kshetra. Last year in Tamil Nadu,  Tula Ghat, Mayilauduthurai became the hub of Pushkaram on the banks of the river Cauvery marking, the exit of Pushkara during Jupiter's transit. According to the Kanchi Mutt this Pushkaram is a special one hence, it is called Maha pushkaram. The is held every 144 years, this being due to the  peculiar alignment of the planets. Kurukkuthurai on the river bank is another location where arrangements are made for the pilgrims to make a holy dip. Between 14 July and 25 July Maha Godavari Pushkaram was held in Andhra. Likewise Between August 12 to 23 2016 Krishna Pushkaram was held in AP. 
Cauvery Pushkaram newindianexpress.com
The old name of river Tamiraparni is Porunai that originates in the Podigai malai above Papanasam and the river  zigzags through the District of Tirunelveli. Veda Vyasa's  extensive work Tamiraparani Mahatmayam, comprising  6300 verses, has interesting stories on Goddess Tamiraparani Devi who showered blessings on Devas, humans including birds and animals.

The river festival of Pushkaram is not mentioned in the early Hindu texts. It is believed, it is part of the medieval Hindu astrological lore hence, the names of 12 rivers may vary depending on the regional traditions. For example, in Maharashtra, Bhima is associated with Scorpio sign; so in Tamil Nadu, Tamraparni is associated with it. A few ensuing Pushkaram:

01. Mesha(Hindu Zodiac sign (Aries ), Ganga, Ganga Pushkaram -April 22 - May 5, 2023
02. Vrishabha(Taurus), Narmada, Narmada Pushkaram - May 1-13, 2024
03. Mithuna (Gemini), Saraswati, Sarasvati Pushkaram-May 15–26, 2025

04. Karka (Cancer), Yamuna, Yamuna Pushkaram June 2–13, 2026
Many Hindu festivals promote  harmony and devotion among various communities cutting across caste  distinctions, etc and imbibe  postive energy and a sense of commitment in whatever they  do. Our forefathers were not fools when they introduced various rituals and festivals.  These temple festivals, beyond religion,  give importance to something else to promote social intercourse and  integration, essential for the peaceful existence of people from different communities. 

Tit-bits:
Certain political parties in Tamil Nadu, it is said, approached the court to ban the Pushkar celebration on the river banks of Tamiraparni. That these parties believe in God not is not the matter; it is their ideology, but, it should be confined within the walls of their offices. If such festivals pose threats to life, peace, etc, they can voice their concern.  But, they  have no rights to hurt the sentiments of millions of people and their centuries-old  religious beliefs. This is true of any religion, be it Islam, Hinduism or Christianity. Indian political parties should stick with  the British dictum when it comes to religion:  ''The Church and the state are different.'' 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushkaram



Friday, 12 October 2018

Historical Boy's High School, Allahabad- ffounded by the Church of England


boys-high-school-allahabad/
stampgallery.com/
 Soon after the end of the great rebellion of 1857 by the frustrated Indian soldiers, rulers and others against the English company's misrule, the administration of the Indian subcontinent came under the direct control of the  British Crown. The British India government was advised to start many educational institutions to train Indians for teaching, administrative work, etc. After 1860s many educational institutions came up and many of them run by the Christian missionaries. Boy's school in Allahabad was one among them. 

 Founded on 5 Nov. 1861 to provide a Christian education to the children of Europeans and Anglo-Indians, Boys' High School & College, (BHS), Allahabad (UP), is one of the oldest high schools in India. In the early stages, it was run by English men and women who wanted to advance the cause of education in this old city, especially among the children of European  and Angelo-Indian decent. As an independent educational institution, in the later years, it also admitted children from various background. The motto of the school is ''Mentem Hominis Sepetator Non Frontem'' meaning ''there is no art to find the construction on the face'' The school has been functioning in the same place since 1861.  Initially, the school was run by the Church of England and 1898 to 1914, it was affiliated to the Allahabad University  founded by the Raj under the Crown administration.After 1940, it has been under the management of Allahabad High School Society. It is now affiliated to the ISC Board.  A total of 12000 students are 
School emblum. en.wikipedia.org
The school had a very humble beginning - classes were held in a building with a thatched roof and  since that time, the school had undergone several changes in terms of building and curriculum. . Since 1940 it has been managed by the Allahabad High School Society. It is currently affiliated to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations. In the beginning, languages such as Latin, French and Greece were taught, in addition to maths, English grammar, etc. 
 In the present set-up, the school also gives serious attention to extracurricular activities for students. The school conducts courses classes in swimming, gymnastics, etc on par with national and international level.  The unique aspect of this school still maintains the old tradition of giving training as preparation for armed forces The school has also sent a number of boys to the National Defence Academy, a prestigious military training institution under the Central government. Many of the alumni of his historical school have made a mark in various important fields, executive, judicial and political fields.  

 On 5 November 2013, UP Governor B.L. Joshi released a commemorative postage stamp to mark 150th anniversary of Boys' High School. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, now a popular Bollywood actor  studied in BHS from Class 1 to 7.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boys%27_High_School_%26_College_(Allahabad,_Uttar_Pradesh)

Sabarimala temple and lifting ban on mensurating women into the temple by the Supreme Court!!

Sabarimala, temple, Kerala. indiatvnews.com
Women's mensuration is part of the biological activity and in India some temples banned young women;s entry. In almost all Hindu households a few decades ago, maturating women were kept aside  for 5 long days and she was used to be treated as a sort of untouchable. In the present wold, things are different and working women on period move around comfortably with confidence. Do women who are yet reach the menopause scan enter holy temples? This topic has been a bone contention for a long time because it involves the place of worship. Hindus revere temples and their divinity as one may see the devotees walking into the temple barefoot. No sandals are allowed to be worn inside the holy premises. Most temples have dress code, In Kerala, men should bare his body above their waist. these customs have been there for a long time. With respect to women on monthly period, it is a different matter.The lifting of the ban on the entry of women into Sabarimala temple, Kerala by India;s highest court has opened the Pandoras Box.     

A five-judge Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi  ruled (27 Sept. 2018) in favour of allowing women of all ages to enter Kerala's most famous Sri Ayyappa temple, Sabarimala, thus pulling the curtain down on  a centuries-old tradition. The Supreme Court on Setember 27 2018 ruled that women, irrespective of age, can enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. The Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, pointed out  that the provision in the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorised the restriction, violated the right of Hindu women to practise religion. It also said that patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump the right to pray. Only Justice Indu Malhotra (only woman on the bench), who gave a dissenting verdict, said the petition does not deserve to be entertained. She clearly pointed out in the Sabarimala case, that the notions of rationality cannot be brought into matters of religion. She added that the shrine and deity are protected under Article 25 of the Constitution and that it was not up to the court to decide which religious practises should be struck down, except in issues of social evil like 'Sati'.

The petitioners to this case were Indian Young Lawyers Association and Happy to Bleed,  and their contention  in the court was  the tradition is discriminatory in nature and stigmatised women, and that women should be allowed to pray at the place of their choice.The Kerala government, which does not have a firm stand on the contentious issue of women of the menstrual age group entering the Sabarimala temple,  now told the Supreme Court that it now favoured their entry. The popular  temple had banned women between 10 to 50 years of age inside its premises.  Reason: to maintain the sanctity of the holy place dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, who is a celibate

For reasons far beyond our comprehension, certain age old tradition has been vogue in  many temples . The Sabrimala’ temple does not encourage the entry of  women who have come of age and experienced menstrual cycle. The famous Brahma Temple in Pushkar does not permit  married men in the  sanctorum and at Kanyakumari Amman temple in Kanyakumari only  celibate men are allowed on the inner premises. In the aftermath of this case the role of court comes into focus, adjudicating questions or legal implications related to faith. The British constitution says the church and the state are different. Religious matters should be handled by the responsible,pious  people in the society and the court and state should take a step or two backward unless foul and nefarious  things going on in religious institutions such as political campaign, religious terrorism, betting houses, etc. 

Several Hindu organization in Kerala, including the Nair Service Society  got into the Bandwagon and stepped up their strong protest against the Supreme Court's recent verdict allowing all women to enter the  Sabarimala temple. In many Kerala towns and cities the Sabarimala Karma Samithi members blocked the arterial roads. In Pathanamithitta, devotees organised a  prayer procession condemning court's intervention in the historical temple and do away with centuries-old traditions. A preponderance of women, in particular from Kerala and other southern states, are quite angry. Normally most of the Hindu women on monthly period avoid visiting the place of worship or divinity. It is a question of personal cleanliness in a divine place though the almighty is not going to punish them if they visit the temple on such days. So different religions  have different faiths and superstitions that have been around for a long time. Determining their implementation or eleminating them  is not the duty of courts which are already burdened with long pending court cases. 

Kerala's Law Minister A.K. Balan asserted the the sporadic protests across Kerala will neither affect nor influence the Government's decision to implement the Supreme Court Verdict. Some Shiva Sena leaders contend that the temple practises and rituals were beyond constitutional interpretation and the verdict discriminated against Hindu traditions. 

Shiv Sena leaders also pointed out that  many sections of the Hindu society  supported the ban on  disgusting evil practices like Sati and animal sacrifice. As for the ban on the entry of young women attaining puberty into Sabarimala, it has been a cultural tradition strictly followed by the Hindu women on their own accord. In thousands of Hindu temples there is no ban on them, but they, considering their personal hygiene, never visit the temple. 

The ban on the entry of young women experiencing mensuration has a hidden fact. Decades ago, the path leading to the temple in the midst of thickly wooded areas infested with wild animals. These wild animals would be attracted by the smell emanating from maturating women and might endanger their lives. 

To rationalists and other groups of people  Creating a deity that is celibate and who cannot stand the presence of menstruating women, is  preposterous and it shows the male chauvinistic attitude to  dominate women - through a set of unreasonable, patriarchal rules. Ever since the 1950s, courts have been dragged into a maze of religious disputes and  as they have no time for other cases they should  interfere only in cases of seious issues that may affect the normal social life. 

Countless Malayali women  are saying that they are willing to wait till the age of 50 to enter the Sabarimala shrine, the group has now moved the Supreme Court seeking to be a party to the case. According to one Kerala woman “The thing with feminists is that they go a little overboard at times with their equality talk. I don’t think there is gender inequality in Kerala, we have a history of being a matrilineal state. Sabarimala issue is not even inequality, it is only accepting the diversity of our nation and respecting it,” 
The Judiciary and the Govenment must distance themslves from the domain of religion unless certain religious customs immense pain and grief to the affected people. 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sabarimala-verdict-shiva-sena-hartal-on-monday/article25082873.ece
https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sabarimala-verdict-live-updates-supreme-court-women-temples-kerala-5377598/?#liveblogstart


Thursday, 11 October 2018

Hicky’s Bengal Gazette - India's first sensational newspaper

dawn.com
slideshare.net
By the late eighteenth century, the British East India Company had consolidated their power in Bengal and was operating as a proxy government for the British Crown. Revenue from the Indian land gave a boost to the British economy Which had a GDP of just less than 1% when the company arrived in India. In the early colonial period, European missionaries  made a beeline to India for the purpose of converting the  natives to Christianity and were not averse to making money on the sideline. Into this milieu that saw corruption and cheating by the English government at its peak arrived James Augustus Hicky, an Irishman. He established a newspaper called the Bengal Gazette, which brought to light the dark side of the early British empire which squeezed the natives and made tons of money at their expense. 
firstpost.com

Hicky's Bengal Gazette or the Original Calcutta General Advertiser, an English language weekly newspaper published in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the capital of British India has the unique distinction of being the first newspaper printed in Asia. Journalism was in its infancy in Asia, no newspaper was published before this period for public readership. Tthough founded as India’s first newspaper, it was mostly written for Europeans, as they were most of this newspaper's subscribers and advertisers. The idea of newspaper was first mooted 12 years earlier by a Dutch man William Bolts, an adventurer, but it never happened. Hicky's newspaper was popular among the British soldiers and elite Indians.

 On January 29, 1780, one  James Augustus Hicky founded the newspaper and made an assurance that “nothing will be inserted, unauthenticated” and that his newspaper would have a “rigid adherence to truth and facts”. The founder, an Irish man, it is believed, was highly  eccentric and was behind the bar for two years; reason: unpaid debt.  It was published on every Saturday and the price was just Re,1.00. Total readership was around 400 plus.   Initially, Hicky wanted to maintain a neutral editing policy (his slogan being "Open to all Parties, but Influenced by None"). When a rival news paper  The India Gazette backed by the East India Company was launched, Hicky had a row with some officials, in particular, Simon Droz  and he also dragged Mrs. Hastings' name. In retaliation, the EIC refused to mail his newspapers though the post-office. On November 18, 1780, the same day that the first India Gazette was published, undaunted as he was, Hicky changed the name of his newspaper now called Hicky's Bengal Gazette. 

People anticipated that  Hicky would publish just daily interesting social, political  events and others happening in and around Calcutta in his news paper. When the newspaper kept churning out sensational scoops covering the rich, ruling class and the government, the surprised readers  began to pay due attention to them. The paper was a trail blazer covering  altogether subjects different from normal events. It became popular for  its reporting on corruption and scandal among the British ruling class. This kind of sensationalism was a sort of publicity bonanza for the newspaper and  for its  subscribers it was a fine subject of gossip to spend their spare time. Because newspapers  commonly gave weight-age to  a variety of events, no newspaper was established then to exclusively cover  corruption, financial irregularities, etc. which were rampant in those days and they went either unnoticed or failed to get serious scrutiny. Gov. Gen. Warren Hastings was at the helm and the newspaper was highly critical of his policies and the way he was running the administration. Credit goes to this cranky man who knowingly or unknowingly introduced provocative, but investigative journalism  centuries ago in India paving the path for people's rights for  free expression in India. In the last decades or so our investigative journalists  write reports on our Netas (at Center and state levels) their corrupt governance, frequent junkets abroad, etc treading a different trail once blazed by Hicky in the early colonial era. 

Unfortunately this newspaper survived for too short a period - 2 years and the EIC seized the printing press and closed down the newspaper in March 1782. . Why did the government  order its closer so soon? Because hie newspaper without any hesitation and censorship exposed the  sinful deeds of the 18th century  British elite  that otherwise would have gone unexposed. The public was given a heady doze of the perversion of the so called aristocratic society. The newspaper had the guts to cover those topics (transgression of one's privacy) that were too taboo or disgusting to cover or speak publicly. 

Among the various sensational and sensual news items, the romantic escapades of top missionaries to top brass in the EIC including Warren Hastings who had a certain sexual problem 
got the attention of the public. The newspaper never spared 
the so called Gays and one Edward Tirettab got a good dig by Hicky's. There was a news item on a top Army Commander who had his own harem for relaxation and be from job pressure. The chief Justice of Calcutta Supreme Court at Ft. Williams Elijah Impey, a buddy of Hastings came under attack for taking bribes. Hicky never spared Church authorities running charity. He reported on the mishandling of funds meant for orphans by the Swedish Lutheran Missionary and Protestant Mission leader Johann Zacharias Kiernander. Hicky mentioned about an anonymous beautiful woman whose wedding broke the hearts of many of her suitors. Dejected and broken-hearted, to get over their pangs of separation,  they found  solace in a near-by brothel house.One aspect of Hick's reporting was that he never criticized these people for their perversions and aberrations.  Hicky had a liberal  views on human sexuality and in this respect he was  ahead of his time. But, on the other hand.  his opinions on women’s role in society  was quite conservative and male chauvinistic.  He expected them to be chaste and be faithful to their husbands. He implied that God created woman for man's pleasure. Yet another funny feature noticeable in his weird writings is he gave  amusing and hilarious nick-names to many of the British Bobs based on their appearance and character. Readers would positively get a good laugh at them.

Hicky had to face four dramatic trials in June 1781 for his derogatory writings, the Supreme Court found Hicky guilty and sentenced him to jail. However, his newspaper kept exposing corruption in the English company. He made scathing attack on Warren Hastings and it became a fodder for his opponents and it angered him.  Hicky  was finally suppressed when Hastings instituted fresh law suits against him. Hicky's Bengal Gazette ceased publication on 23 March 1782 when its types (printing press) were seized by an order of the Supreme Court. One amazing aspect of this newspaper was it was strongly anti-war, anti-colonial and highly critical of  East India Company's under handed dealings by its leadership and for their expansionist and imperialist objectives. 
The newspaper inspired Indians to start a newspaper on their own. Thus this strange Irishman gave a space for investigative journalism in India that can get down to the evils in the society as well as in the government. With his newspaper, the age of journalism dawned in India in 1780.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hicky%27s_Bengal_Gazette




Gov. Gen. Warren Hastings was framed by his enemies and faced impeachment

India's firtst Gov. General Warren Hastings.alamy.com
Warren Hastings, son of a clergyman, began his career  in August 1750 at the age of 17 as a writer (cleark)  in the East India Company (EIC)'s factory in Kasimbazaar, Bengal.  Being a good and dedicated worker, naturally his promotion was quick. As much of his youthful days were spent in the subcontinent, he felt he was more an Indian than a British and had a good rapport with the natives as well as the rulers. He strongly believed that British India should be ruled by the traditional methods of governance rather than European - style of administration and in this respect, he deferred form his conservative colleagues. 
The English company's  business dealings with the local Nawbs were not honest and it severed the relationship between the Nawab and the company. The EIC never paid the duty fees as they were supposed to and their corrupt employees clandestinely engaged in ill-legal trade activities and claimed special privileges which other traders did not enjoy. This led to major skirmishes between them and finally the English company eliminated the unfriendly Nawab Siraj-ud Daulah  and  finally removed the last Nawab Mir Kasim  who later abolished the duties and special privileges. When Kasim's predecessor Mir Jaffer was the Nawab installed by the British, Hastings became a Resident (1758 to 1761) in  his court at Murshidabad  for the EIC. He also served as a member in the council (1761 to 1764) dealing with the affairs of Bengal.. When the officials illtreated the Nawab, Hastings openly voiced his concern  and was sympathetic with the local ruler. The continued hostilities led to major wars - the Battle of Plassey and  Battle of Buxar. Having wonboth battles,  the English company got the Diwani rights - authority to collect revenue and now the entire vast Bengal state came under their control. 
British  MP Edmund Burke led the prosecution of Hastings, een. wikipedia.org..

Through out his rule Hastings never supported the company's wheeling and dealings and on many occasions he supported the Nawabs and their legitimate rights with respect to administration. Bengal was governed by a Supreme Council (consisting of 4 members plus Hastings) and  Governor General's powers were restricted and balanced by the Council that had the  veto power to limit his decision.  The big-Whig conservative member like  Francis never supported Hastings  and his India-friendly policies. Hastings' attitude toward Indians was not biased and was feeling more at home in India than in his native England.
IMpeachment of  Gov. Gen. Warren Hastings. en.wikipedia.org
It has been part of life for many high-ranking  people with  pelf and power to see the  dark as well as bright sides of their long career and  such officials / men have to manage their critics, enemies and people who are waiting for a chance to  pull them down  from the pedestal. No doubt, Warren Hastings, in his career, faced such pit falls and received bouquet and brickbats for his actions. A case in point is his 7-year long  impeachment proceeding in the British Parliament against Warren Hastings spear-headed by none other than Edmund Burke, a good politician and forceful speaker, on the prosecution side. It was not a continuous trial and dragged on  between 1788 and 1795. The British media picked up the scoop and gave  good publicity to it. The trial is "probably the British Isles' most famous, certainly the longest, political trial".

The sensational debate brought to light Warren Hastings  visions of the empire. Those British who respected ancient Indian traditions were tagged as Orientalist and others who were keen to westernize the tradition-bound Conservative Indian natives with doses of liberal thoughts -  Anglicists as they were called. 
The most popular of all British Governors of India - Hastings became a victim of these two groups of politicians, one upholding conservative idealism and the other giving due importance to liberalism

Hastings trial in the British Parliament  focused on  his alleged persecution of Indian subjects and allies. Sir Edmund Burke said,  ''I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose rights he has trodden under foot, and whose country he has turned into a desert''..Some historians point out this charge of  war crime was purposely framed on Hastings to sully his name by his sworn enemies like the Whig politician, Sir Philip Francis and army officer John Clavering (both were among four members of the supreme council in Calcutta) who thought his policies were 'self-serving and destructive' and the press added  more fuel by publishing the so called war excesses  without checking the veracity of  reports coming from Awadh and elsewhere.
Clive  was of the view that Hastings wanted to put the administration of  Bengal under their four agents (Supreme Council) without any system of western administration. He wanted to continue the Mogul type of administration with which the natives were familiar. He pioneered in remodelling the judiciary system through out Bengal  and brought the collection of taxes, etc., under effective supervision.  Gov. Gen. Hastings was particular about placing the domains - revenue recollection and judiciary in the hands of the natives -intermediaries. His suspicion was European administrators would overstep on the privileges of the gullible natives  and abuse their powers and the gentle natives had to put up with the 'corrupt tyranny of overbearing Englishmen’. So, he preferred the traditional Indian governance to the European-style governance. Since Hastings did not go along with the policies of other members in the council, he earned their hatred.  They used every opportunity to tarnish Hasting's name, relegating all his good deeds to the sideline. As you would have seen in a western spaghetti movie, these two English men, at the peak of their rage, stood against each other with drawn guns. In the shoot-out in 1780 in Calcutta,  Francis was severely wounded. Later he recovered, but  never accepted his grave mistake. He returned to England in 1781 and became Hastings enemy number one!! He never stopped his tirade against him  and spewed venom on him for no good reasons.  

Hastings' unintentional administrative moves got him into 
troubled water. He was highly criticised for his mishandling of Rohilla settlers  - Afghan settlers on the borders of the kingdom of Awadh (now Uttar Pradesh). He is purported to have received a handsome money from the Nawab for supplying his troops to drive out the Rohilla settlers from their lands.This was done to recover revenue from them.  The charge of war crimes was brought against Hastings for allowing  the Nawab to use the mercenaries to invade and annex the Rohilla lands. But, the army rampaged their settlements and caused immense grief to the settlers. Hastings never asked the Nawab to use force to deal with Rohillla settlers. 


Warren Hastings  vs banker  Nadkumar - A well known banker  Nandakumar, a close ally of  Sir Philips Francis and his coterie of associates who opposed Hastings, became a star witness in a financial mismanagement case against Hastings. He was accused of having taken bribes from rich people for certain government consideration. Now, Hastings was put in a tight situation and had to wiggle out of this strong accusation. At stake were his reputation and  integrity. When Nadakumar's criminal involvement in the case of forging the estate of a rich Hindu widow was brought before the Calcutta High court presided by Hastings' school time buddy, it turned to be a trump card for  Hastings. Though it was not a major crime, as per the English law then, it would attract death penalty. Nandakumar's execution at the gallows proved to be a deterrent  to any Indians who would collude with the opponents against Hastings leadership. It was a major political victory for Hastings, but, unfortunately the judgement carried a stigma and considered as miscarriage of justice. The paradox is it is a blot on the character and name  of Hastings whose real view was  that 'Indians should be governed by Indian, not by European  laws.''Some historians argue that Hastings knew the outcome of the Calcutta court verdict against Nandakumar. 

Warren Hastings later successfully tackled anti-British coalition forces between the French and regional powers the Marathas and the Muslim ruler Hyder Ali of Mysore. The victorious initial wars against them assured of East India  company's foray in the southern  parts of India, but the wars put a heavy financial strain on the company. 

Warren Hastings and Raja Chait Singh of Banares: His mistreatment of enormously affluent  and respected  Raja Chait Singh, also known as banker to the banks, became a subject
 of controversy and Hastings stood accused for extortion of Chait Singh  and for waging costly wars against two major regional powers. Hastings forced Chait Singh to pay 
through his nose for the following reason - 01. The war against  Marathas and Hyder Ali needed lots of money, 02. Chait Singh was conniving with the Marathas and was in touch with them, 03. He  also had contact with the French officials, their arch enemy and 04, Most importantly, Chait  Singh purposely delayed the payment, not understanding company's urgency and further he was in contact with Hastings' opponents led by Francis. 


In 1790, his  sudden raid on Raja Chait Singh in his own place in Banares  ended in fiasco which  Hastings  never expected. Though Chait Singh sought apology and forgiveness, Hastings tried to arrest him. Raja Chait Sigh gave a slip with his  security  and his big army held Hastings hostage;  Hastings  found himself under siege. He was later rescued by the reinforcements from other places. It was purely a costly judgement of error on the part of Hastings. Many historians view his highhandedness and harsh treatment of an Indian noble was in departure from his courteous behaviour.  
Yet another incident involving two women from the kingdom of Awadh drew severe criticism of Hastings' poor handling.   The ladies happened to be the Begums of Avadh, mother and grandmother of  the Nawab. The wily English company used the the kingdom of Avadh, bordering Bengal to the north and west, as a buffer state against the mighty Marathas.The kingdom of Awadh, as part of Subsidiary alliance, paid  a handsome annual fee for stationing the company troops. The young ruler Asaf ud-Daula, being carefree and extravagant, spent more time enjoying the trappings of royal life than paying little attention to the his administrative responsibility. Consequently, he ran into  huge debts beyond recovery  and his kingdom's financial situation was in a shambles.The Nawab was known to give much importance to sensual pleasure and this palace included a male harem as well. Hastings wanted to recover the recurring debt from the ruler to use the funds in the wars in the south  and, at the same time, he wanted to  put the Awadh kingdom back on the saddle - a solvent state, it means a source of strength for the English company. To recover the badly needed money, Hastings persuaded Asaf to recover some of his father’s huge wealth, which had been appropriated by the late Nawab’s widow and mother. When the Begums refused to oblige the Nawab, in rage, went along with the  troops and a British Agent and laid siege to the wealthy ladies  in their fortress- palace of Faizabad. At last, under threats,  their servants revealed where the money was stashed and the ruler recovered a huge sum of 1 crore of rupees (about Rs 640 crore today) pushing the ladies into a financial mess

es.slideshare.net
At the impeachment proceedings Edmund Burke and other Whig members argued  with their oratory skill so passionately on the harsh and despicable treatment of the two Indian royal ladies and their imprisoned eunuch-servants, many listeners in the audience became stupefied, tearful  and choked with uncontrollable sobbing and emotion. Thomas Macaulay himself admitted the popularity of Hasings in the subcontinent and to what degree, he was held in esteem by the natives. On the other hand, Hastings earned the ire of some  influential people and this minor mistakes were a fodder to the media as well as to his enemies who wanted to push Hasting into the quick-sand.

Here is  what Thomas Babbington Macaulay to say on Hastings:
''Not only had the poor orphan retrieved the fallen fortunes of his line--not only had he repurchased the old lands, and rebuilt the old dwelling--he had preserved and extended an empire. He had founded a polity. He had administered government and war with more than the capacity of Richelieu. He had patronised learning with the judicious liberality of Cosmo. He had been attacked by the most formidable combination of enemies that ever sought the destruction of a single victim; and over that combination, after a struggle of ten years, he had triumphed. He had at length gone down to his grave in the fulness of age, in peace, after so many troubles, in honour, after so much obloquy.''
Westminster Hall where the trial took place,en.wikipedia.org

''Those who look on his character without favour or malevolence will pronounce that, in the two great elements of all social virtue, in respect for the rights of others, and in sympathy for the sufferings of others, he was deficient. His principles were somewhat lax. His heart was somewhat hard. But though we cannot with truth describe him either as a righteous or as a merciful ruler, we cannot regard without admiration the amplitude and fertility of his intellect, his rare talents for command, for administration, and for controversy, his dauntless courage, his honourable poverty, his fervent zeal for the interests of the State, his noble equanimity, tried by both extremes of fortune, and never disturbed by either.''

Hastings impeachment proceeding in grand  Westminster Hall  was dubbed as the greatest show in London attended by the people from the higher strata of the fashionable English society. The trial, first in the House of Commons and then in the Lords, caused  Hastings  financial drain, making him shell out  lots of money beyond his capability his debt amounted to 70,000.00 pounds.   His fortune, earned in India  was  small  in comparison to other  dishonest British Sahibs who got more than a bundle in India and back in their land they lived no less flamboyant than  Maharajahs/Nabobs. Officials like  Clive and in the later years Wellesly  and others dishonestly earned  so much money, they were tagged as English Nabobs.  

After the impeachment trial was over when put to vote in 1795, as the evidence against Hastings was inconclusive and not convincing, he was  acquitted. He did not receive any honors that he deserved and upon his request the EIC  compensated him with a loan of 50,000.00 pounds plus an annual pension of 4000.00 pounds. 
Hastings retired from service in 1785 and before his retirement the allegations by Francis and  the war reports had already damaged  his  reputation of  and the moral standard of British officers working in India came into focus and became a subject of concern. Historians point out that Hastings oratorical skill was no match for people like Burke and  Macaulay and as far Burke, though his intention was unquestionable, he stretched far beyond the limit of patience and pinned evils of a bad situation  on one person and he chose a wrong man who had been a dedicated employee of the English company. Hastings was good at  organizing the company’s military and financial resources to counter every threat on various fronts and it forced him to raise additional contingent funds. This landed him in serious trouble when he demanded subsidy to the company from Chait Singh, the Raja of Banares, and the requisitioning of the treasures of the begums of Oudh (the mother and grandmother of the vizier). At the same time he  was instrumental in bringing Marathas to  peace in 1782, as was Mysore in 1784, 
As for  administrative policies he was a stickler for justice and .
removed nawabs and zamindars from the corrupt & prejudiced judicial decision making. He introduced a civil court in every district  under the Collector and a criminal court under an Indian judge. He also instituted higher courts and a Supreme court was set up in Calcutta (via the Regulating Act 1773). Most importantly, he  abolished the system of dastaks, or free passes and regulated the internal trade. He enforced uniform tariffs and instituted a uniform system of pre-postage stamps. Some of thes e evoled during his regime are being followed in present-day India. 
civilsdaily.com/

The British government did injustice to him to let the trial last 
for a long time - seven long years which itself was a big ordeal for him mentally  and financially. Mild- mannered and gentle, he led a quiet retirement life till his death on 22 August 1818 (Daylesford, Gloucestershire) at the ripe age of 85. In 1813, both Houses of Parliament rose spontaneously to give him a standing ovation when he came to give evidence on new legislation about India. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1814

In the later years, Hastings Orientalist approach to Indian problems was pushed to the back burner and  westernisation of Indian  natives gained currency as suggested by Thomas Macaulay who wanted western oriented brown-Sahibs, perhaps to rum the administration  on a salary just half of the British Sahibs.  The trial of Hastings subtly gave a warning to future higher- ups going to India on assignment and their conduct in India. They were accountable to their breach of duty and of poor  treatment of Indian natives. The irony is may British officers never shed their Britishness and aristocratic arrogance. A glaring example is Conservative politician and a well-known racist Winston Churchill who, in the 1943 great Bengal famine presided over the death of millions of Bangalis by preventing conscientious British officials from taking action to prevent the tragedy. Earlier, he stalled India's freedom process for a pretty long time using various pretexts
Much of the information discussed here is based on the following articles:
https://www.openthemagazine.com/article/essay/warren-Hastings-loved-india-a-little-more-than-his-own-country
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Warren_Hastings
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Warren-Hastings
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Hastings
https://scroll.in/article/882623/indias-first-newspaper-covered-corruption-and-scandal-and-sexual-practices-fearlesslyy






Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Gov. Gen. Warren Hastings - the most popular early British official! who loved India very much!


Warren Hastings, first British Governor- General en.wikipedia.org
It is to be acknowledged that it was  Warren Hastings, the first British Governor- General who understood the value of age old Indian culture and the ancient language Sanskrit  and launched India's  cultural renaissance way back in the 1780s. He, having been brought up in an altogether different culture, speaking a different mother tongue  famously declared: “I love India a little more than my own country”That point of time, this vast subcontinents had lots of jungles, poorly developed roads and the natives, including countless tribes, spoke different languages that  Hastings never heard of before. He was the most popular of all British Governors and after Robert Clive, he strengthened  the foundation of the British empire laid by him.  Paradoxically, he was the first Gov. General impeached by the British Government, though acquitted on his return to his native country. One might say he felt more of an Indian than an Englishman as much of his young age was spent in India.

Unlike his predecessors, despite his preoccupation with official duties for the English company, Hastings  took time off and  learnt about Indian culture and. driven by curiosity and interest, he became quite familiar with Indian languages -  Bengali, Urdu and Persian. The natives  and Indian rulers began to like him as he was a man of affable disposition. He developed a good contact with the natives and interested in their welfare. His attitude toward Indians was not biased and was feeling more at home in India than in his native England. 

Credit goes to Warren Hastings  to revive India's ancient classical language Sanskrit  that was widely used by Brahman priesthood. Incidentally, the researchers at NASA, USA declared that they had found Sanskrit as the most computer-friendly language. World over, countless universities teach Sanskrit. It is said that peculiar sound vibrations produced when pronouncing Sanskrit words or mantras  make brain function more effectively.  Hastings, whose administrative skill  deferred from  other British officials, did consolidate  the British rule in India and at the same time had keen interest in India's ethos and heritage.  He fostered education, encouraged the codification of Hindu law,  stimulated the study of Sanskrit by European scholars along with Jones, founded a Mohammedan college in Calcutta and an Indian institute in London, opened a trade route to Tibet, sponsored a survey of Bengal, and organized an expeditions to explore the seas. 
     
In the earliest stages of his career, Hastings  faced hardship as in June 1756 the Nawab's army raided the small Kasimnagar garrison and imprisoned the British including Hastings in Murshidabad, the then capital of Bengal, while his other army raided Calcutta  and captured it. Hasting, fearing for his life escaped from Murshidabad to a remote isle Fulta and joined the other refugees,. Here, he met his future wife Ms. Mary Buchanan and married her. In January 1757  Clive's forces from Madras rescued them and other refugees. Later Hastings joined Robert clive and their forces recaptured Calcutta. Clive, impressed with Hastings' dedication to duty,  sent him back to Karimnagar to resume his company work.

Hastings' predecessors, unlike him, had an advantage over him with respect to promotion and peerage, because they had some kind of link with the British aristocracy. Hastings, son of a clergyman and later abandoned by him,  had a  modest beginning in August 1750 at the age of 17 as a clerk (writer)  in the East India Company (EIC), Calcutta. He climbed the ladder of officialdom by dint of hard work.  His job at an up-country factory in Kasimbazaar in Bengal helped him develop a good contact with the natives and he freely mixed with them without any hesitation or inhibition, an unusual trait not visible among British Sahibs whose eccentricity was  bordering on arrogance. So, being courteous and humane, Hastings earned the respect of the natives.


The English company never stuck to the trade treaty made with the local Nawab or his predecessors in Bengal. Nor, did they pay the back taxes - customs duty fees. After 1756, the The company's hostilities did not stop with the French, their trading competitor, but also targeted  the peace-loving Indian rulers. The relationship between the ruling Nawab and the English company was very much strained. Pleagued by dishonesty and corruption among the higher-ups of the EIC, the Nawab was quite furious over the illegal, private trading privileges that corrupt Company employees were claiming to evade local taxes, causing heavy loss to the state's  treasury,  besides preventing the operation of local traders in that area. Being a member of the Governor of Bengal’s Council in 1760, Hastings did not go along with the English companyls unethical operations.
Hastings with his wife Marian in their garden at Alipore, c. 1784–87en.wikipedia.org

After the Battle of Plassey (1757),  as planned by Robert Clive, the unfriendly Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah was killed and betrayed by his own relatives. Now, they put Mir Jafer as the Nawab (a puppet ruler) and Hastings became a Resident (1758 to 1761) in  his court at Murshidabad  for the EIC. He also served as a member in the council (1761 to 1764) dealing with the affairs of Bengal In the later period, Hastings successfully handled his dealings with the Nawabs as he had good contact with the natives and respected their culture. When the new Nawab, being a puppet in the hands of EIC officials, was subjected  to intimidation and affront, Hastings never failed to support the Nawab and  his fragile authority.  After two years, Mir Jafer was replaced by friendly Mir Kasim as the new Nawab by the  company. Hastings never failed to support the Nawab's stand vis-a-vis illegal, private trading privileges  claimed by the EIC officials. When the new Nawab, Mir Kasim, unlike Mir Jafer, understood English company's motive to capture the land, he withdrew  trade privileges enjoyed by the English company  and allowed free trade. This move helped the stagnated Indian traders, but affected the English company;s profits. The English company turned hostile against the Nawab despite strong objection raised by Hastings. For his honest dealings, EIC officials labelled Hastings as the Nawab's 'hired Solicitor'. 
Gov. Gen. Warren hastings. victorianweb.org/

Above image: Warren Hastings (1732-1818) by Richard Westmacott. Marble. The two figures on either side of Hastings are part of the piece. They represent, on the left, a Muslim reading a book, and on the right, a Brahman holding a palm manuscript. The group was originally located in the south portico of the Town Hall, Calcutta. Today it is located in the West Quadrangle of the Victoria Memorial. The statue of Hastings was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828, while the other figures were exhibited in 1829.
Photograph by Robert Freidus and Simon stock. Text by Freidus and George P. Landow. 

Since the Nawab failed to be cooperative and unfriendly with the British company,  this finally led to a major battle - the Battle of Buxar in October 1764, bringing down the hegemony of the future Nawab rule in Bengal and other places. 

After the battle of Plassey, the  East India company's unethical methods to take complete control over Bengal, the wheeling dealings of its workers  in trade activities, the  dishonest control over Bengal and its sources after the war of Buxar  made Hastings,‘disheartened and disillusioned’. By bitter disputes with other members in the Council, he found himself in a minority. So, finally, he resigned his post and returned to England. Fate chalked out a different plan for him and after a long sojourn of four years, Hastings  returned to India in 1769 to a minor post in Madras (second in council). Two years later, he was initially  elevated to the  post of Governor of Bengal and later to the covetous  post of Governor-General, with authority over the two subordinate Presidencies of Madras and Bombay. 

Clive  was of the view that Hastings wanted to put the administration of  Bengal under their four agents without any system of western administration. He wanted to continue the Mogul type of administration with which the natives were familiar. He pioneered in remodelling the judiciary system through out Bengal  and brought the collection of taxes, etc., under effective supervision.  Gov. Gen. Hastings was particular about placing the domains - revenue recollection and judiciary in the hands of the natives -intermediaries. His suspicion was European administrators would overstep on the privileges of the gullible natives  and abuse their powers and the gentle natives had to put up with the 'corrupt tyranny of overbearing Englishmen’. So, he preferred the traditional Indian governance to the European-style governance. 

Hastings' unintentional administrative moves got him into troubled water. He was highly criticised for his mishandling of the following:  Rohilla settlers  - Afghan settlers on the borders of the kingdom of Awadh (now Uttar Pradesh). He had the Nawab drive out the Rohilla settlers from their lands by supplying his troops. This was done to recover revenue from them.

Some historians point out this charge of  war crime was purposely framed on Hastings to sully his name by his sworn enemies like the Whig politician, Sir Philip Francis and army officer John Clavering (both were among four members of the supreme council).  At the instigation of the former, one NandaKumar, business man became a star witness to the charge of financial mismanagement against Hastings. Later, when Nandakumar was caught in a forgery case involving the property of a Hindu Widow and the  judge of the Calcutta Supreme court pronounced death penalty on him. Since the judge happened to be Elijah Impey,  a close friend of Hastings, it was widely discussed that the Judge connived with Hastings and gave the harsh judgement.  two more incidents became a subject of serious debate in the impeachment proceedings against Hastings. One was   proceedings against Hastings. One was about  Raja Chait Singh of Banares, a filthy rich man  and the other about the rich  Begams of Awadh kingdoms who were mother and grand mother of the Nawab In both cases, Hastings departed from his soft approach and treated them in a harsh manner. This was done to get funds for major wars in the southern parts of India - to fight against Hyder Ali of Mysore and the mighty Marathas. In the former case, he was charged with extortion and in the latter he is purported to have taken away their estates, etc to help the English company tide over shortage of funds to meet ensuing war expenses. 
Warren Hastings later successfully tackled anti-British coalition forces between the French and regional powers the Marathas and the Muslim ruler Hyder Ali of Mysore. The victorious initial wars against them assured of East India's company's foray in the southern  parts of India, but the wars put a heavy financial strain on the company. 
 The British government did injustice to him to let the trial last for a long time - seven long years which itself was a big ordeal for Warren Hastings mentally  and financially. Mild- mannered and gentle, he led a quiet retirement life till his death on 22 August 1818 (Daylesford, Gloucestershire) at the ripe age of 85. In 1813, both Houses of Parliament rose spontaneously to give him a standing ovation when he came to give evidence on new legislation about India. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1814.


In the later years, Hastings Orientalist approach to Indian problems was pushed to the back burner and  westernisation of Indian  natives gained currency as suggested by Thomas Macaulay who wanted western oriented brown-Sahibs, perhaps to rum the administration  on a salary just half of the British Sahibs.  The trial of Hastings subtly gave a warning to future higher- ups going to India on assignment and their conduct there. They were accountable to their breach of duty and of poor  treatment of Indian natives. The irony is may British officers never shed their Britishness and aristocratic arrogance. A glaring example is Conservative politician and a well-known racist Winston Churchill who, in the 1943 great Bengal famine presided over the death of millions of Bangalis by preventing conscientious British officials from taking action to prevent the tragedy. Earlier, he stalled India's freedom process for a pretty long time using various pretexts
Much of the information discussed here is based on the following articles:
https://www.openthemagazine.com/article/essay/warren-Hastings-loved-india-a-little-more-than-his-own-country
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Warren_Hastings
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Warren-Hastings
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Hastings
https://scroll.in/article/882623/indias-first-newspaper-covered-corruption-and-scandal-and-sexual-practices-fearlessly
https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2014/12/gov-general-warren-hastings-he.html