Monday, 25 January 2021

Lord Auckland, Gov. Gen. of India - introduced Dak or Travel Bungalows; removal of his memorial in Kolkata

Lord Auckland's monument, Calcutta, bl.uk/online gallery

Above image: A hand-colored print of Lord Auckland's monument, Calcutta, from the Fiebig Collection: Views of Calcutta and Surrounding Districts, taken by Frederick Fiebig in 1851. This is a view of Lord Auckland's monument (by Henry Weekes, 1847) in the Eden Gardens, with Babu Ghat beyond. Lord Auckland was  Governor-General of India from 1836 to 1842. The concept of Dak House or Travel Bungalows gained currency during his tenure in India ............

Way back in 2001  the city authorities of Kolkata (Calcutta)   had  a proposal to  reinstate the  Grand statues of India's former British rulers by February or March in that city,  once the capital of the British India,  now 330 years old. An ignominious uprooting  of  37 statues took place in the late 1970s and it was done when the Untied Front  coalition govt. led by the Communist Party of India was running the state. The total removal of colonial statues of English rulers was looked upon by the public and heritage lovers as a conspiracy to get rid of  the  remnants of colonial legacy for which Calcutta was quite well-known. The symbols of imperialism had to go away that was the ''mantra'' of  the Communist Party of India.   Many intellectuals started questioning the move taken by the  state government. Among the statues that adorned the city of Calcutta was the statue of Earl of Auckland, the  Indian Gov. Gen. under the English company. His  statue was sent to New Zealand  in 1969 as a gift from W. Bengal govt.. 

To please the leaders highly critical of the united front ministry, the English statues were replaced by those  of Indian leaders, like Mahatma Gandhi, first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and revolutionary leader Subhash Chandra Bose. The famous statues that  escaped either  removal or replacement were  Lord Canning, Ripon, Andrew Fraser, Lord Mayo, Bentinck, Outram, Lord Napier, Sir Lawrence, Northbrooke, Minto, Lord Curzon, John Woodburn, King George V, among others.  To keep the British legacy alive in various parts of the city -  roads or places named after most of these British personalities were not changed at that point of time. 

.Lord Auckland, Gov.Gen India bronze statue on Otea,New Zeland.dreamstime.com

According to Cathy Casey, an Auckland  city councilor, New Zeeland,   Lord Auckland was  on his plinth outside the Civic Administration Building near Aotea Square., facing removal  With respect to  disappearing statue in Auckland's prime area,  many people began asking if he had been sold for scrap, "statute napped" or removed for reasons of anti-colonial resentment.  .Lord Auckland "never actually set foot in Auckland or New Zealand''. This statue of him had been in Calcutta from 1848 to 1969 and it was a gift from  the government of West Bengal to the city of Auckland. ''The transportation and relocation of the statue to Auckland was arranged by the New Zealand Insurance Co. Ltd.  Explorer William Hobson named the city after Auckland  as gesture of gratitude because it was Auckland  who was instrumental  in asking him for sailing to East Indies.

Lord Auckland. Gov. Gen. India. bl.uk/onlinegallery

Above image: George Eden, Earl of Auckland  by Simon Jacques Rochard; water colour and pencil, 1835..................................

George Eden Auckland,(1784-1849), Governor General of India from 1836 to 1842.born in Beckenham, Kent on 25 August 1784  was educated at Eaton, and Christchurch, Oxford. In 1836  when Lord Auckland was appointed Governor General of India by PM Lord Melbourne in 1935 itself, he  decided  to continue Bentinck's internal policy and one of it being   taking  certain steps for the promotion of education and the study of western science by the Indians and developed the irrigation policy initiated by Bentinck. Under order from the Directors, Auckland  took an extraordinary step of abolishing  the pilgrim tax and ended all official control over religious endowments. But on the natural disaster front,  his approach was not  good enough  to deal with the devastating famine, which overtook northern India in 1838 and he got a bad rap for his poor handling of this serious matter. . 

When dealing with natives, his policy was in question as in the case of deposition of the Rajah of  Satara in  favor of his brother;  reason: the Raja was colluding with the Portuguese against the Company operations. Annexing  of Karnal, deposition of the nawab, suppression of rebellion in Oudh (part UP), levying heavy subsidy on the new nawab  were some of his acts that made the natives angry. He did not get any appreciation for his role in the  first Anglo-Afghan War (1838-1842).The EIC had tough time in that rugged terrain.  

Back in England on 12 March 1842, he was made Baron Eden of Norwood in the County of Surrey, and Earl of Auckland in 1839 and died

Tit-bits:
Sister of Lord Auckland.  Emily.tribuneindia.com

Emily Eden,  the elder of the two sisters  who accompanied their brother George Auckland when he arrived in India to take charge of the exalted office of the Governor-General of India. never failed to note a  'total change from the life they had been used to'....,   She observed:

''The red carpet welcome that was accorded to George Auckland and his two sisters left Emily totally amazed. The grandeur of government house made her proclaim that their residence looked rather like "a palace out of Arabian Nights     ....................Everything is so picturesque and so utterly un-English." "Retinues of servants followed wherever they went, waiting on them hand and foot, and presenting arms every time Emily went out of the room in search of her keys or a handkerchief'' ... "He never stirs without a tail of joints after him." However, it did not take long for them to become accustomed to all the attention, and Emily soon recorded that for his part the Governor-General was "as happy as a king".   An artist of no mean merit, Emily   recorded everything that took her fancy, leaving behind a legacy of splendid sketches and paintings of her alien experiences in India.

Lord Auckland and his sisters left Calcutta in March 1842.  Emily put together some of her drawings, and a year later they were published as a large folio volume of 24 plates entitled, Portraits of the Princes and Peoples of India. Except for one portrait, all these portraits are to be seen at the Victoria Memorial collection.  (https://www.tribuneindia.com/1999/99nov27/saturday/head11.htm)