- Politics and Social Issues»
- India & South Asia Political & Social Issues
A 1914 letter by a Lord from UK- Must See
30 May 2010
For a change a completely different topic. Let us look at an inspiring letter of a Lord who was Governor of Madras in early 20th century. I always admired Britisher's strange sense of discipline, devotion and a sort of dry sense of humor. In India several of them who were administrators have left their marks quite visible in many parts of India. Of course one biggest one is the English language. I consider now English as one of the Indian languages.
I remember a few months back while visiting USA and giving a lecture in a university I casually mentioned before my lecture "I come from Mumbai, my accent is different from yours so please ask me if you do not follow any thing." I also added,"Though, I think many of you may have to be used to my style of English. The number of people who use English in India is perhaps more than the number of those in USA and UK put together."
After my lecture apart from Science related questions many were curious about this fact ( I do not know exact numbers. No body really knows but I think over all it should be correct).
On the reverse side influence, once a British guy was telling me in a typical British style (Is there a British style? Perhaps many Britishers might ask, I think there is) , "Best thing which came out of British rule over India is - all these Indian restaurants in London."
I am copying below a letter written from Madras Governor Lord John Sinclair, 1st Baron Pentland (1912-1914) to Viceroy of India. He is the one who was responsible for building up Pamban Bridge which connects main land of India to the island of Rameshwaram.
The letter shows how much he loved our (India's) culture and style as an administrator. It also talks of “Adam's Bridge” with a lot of affection. What we are doing today -- talking about destroying it??
We need today politicians and administrators who love their constituency in a similar way and create in a similar way atmosphere of social justice and love for our history and culture and further use it to build up infra structure in our country, we need millions of bridges or similar structure like Pamban Bridge. But where are our leaders and administrators who can do similar wonders?
The country is looking for political leaders, administrators with similar dedications. Let us hope top political parties like BJP or Congress start a training program for its politicians towards this goal. Here is the text of the letter by Lord Pentland.
"For me Rameshwaram, very much like India as a whole is the real world. We English men live in a mad house of abstractions. Vital life in Rameshwaram has not yet withdrawn into the capsule of the head. It is the whole body that lives. No wonder the English man feels dreamlike: the complete life of Rameshwaram is something of which he merely dreams.... I did not see an English man in India who really lived there. They are all living in England, that is, in a sort of bottle filled with English air.... History can be events or memory of events.... along the Bay of Bengal the Madras Presidency runs, with the well-governed city of Madras at its center and the sublime and glorious temples of Tanjore, Tiruchi, Madurai and Rameshwaram adorning its Southern boundaries. And then Adam’s Bridge- a reef of sunken islands’ beckons us across the Palk Straits to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where civilization flourished more than 2000 years ago....Linga stones may be seen in many places on the highways in my Presidency. Hindus break upon them the coconuts which they are about to offer in sacrifice. Usually the phallic ritual is simple and becoming; it consists in anointing the stone with consecrated water or oil, and decorating it with leaves. At the Rameshwaram temple, the Linga stone is daily washed with Ganga water, which is afterwards sold to the pious, as holy water or mesmerized water has been sold in Europe. All these are a little part of my beloved Presidency - indeed my favourite India. Right from the dawn of history, India is extraordinarily continuous in time. In space, on the other hand, it is extraordinarily discontinuous.... from early times in India, it is ethnology, philology, and archeology that give and will give us some notions of the truth. From archaeology much can be expected. I would earnestly request you to direct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake an extensive and intensive survey of Rameshwaram and its beautiful environs, particularly with reference to the historic and primordial Adam’s Bridge."
– John Sinclair, Letter to Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, December 1, 1914
The letter has been copied from the wikipedia site
The site does also talk about some escapist attitude of Lord Pentland. But let us ignore it. Let us get inspired by his love for our culture and his strong contributions like building up of Pamban Bridge and starting in India discussions on town planning in current era.
Photos taken from