Sunrise/Sunset for 7th Dec Twilight start - 6:40am Sunrise - 7am Sunset - 5:21pm Twilight end - :5:56pm. Meerut Latitude : 29.0 deg N, Longitude : 77.5 deg E.

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The Berlin Wall

Few days back was the 20th Anniversary of the destruction of the The Berlin Wall . Many will remember it being raised too, in 1958. It came up overnight, must have been a major operation. There is no way they could have put up a wall overnight. It came up as barbed wire at first. Even people who had jobs & family in West Berlin could not cross over. People were of no concern ideologies were. For months headline news of young people shot while crossing and being left to die, was common. It was this kind of force that Communism required to keep people from escaping from it. International stupidity was also growing then, that helped Communism expand fast in the subsequent years.East Germany was Communist.

Happy Independence Day

A plaque in UK

Thanks to Brenda Puech for this . If you want the full size picture you have to contact her.

It mentions Overseas Campaigns and the Second World War, both endless topics. The Opium Wars which were continued under the Crown are part of the count. Many regiments went to China for these wars from here in Meerut. Now comes the interesting angle to this. The brave Jat Soldier thinks nothing of dying for his country. BUT would he die to forcibly sell Opium to the Chinese? What bag of tricks did the East India Company use to send them to this kind of War? Did it simply keep them in the dark about the real reason for the 'campaign' ? It does not end here Pearl S. Buck won a major literary award for writing about the Opium afflicted Chinese.

And the Second World War. It made the word 'million' sound like small change. And it referred to lives not Dollars. Hitler systematically and methodically killed perhaps 6 millions Jews. Millions of Germans died on the Russian front. Of course thousands of British and Americans died and Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki( total less than 200,00). What is often forgotten is that China and Japan were also at War(1937-1945)(casualties in excess of 10 million ). The casualty figures there were more than those in Europe. The Great Bengal Famine took place in 1943 and 3 million died. It took place because agricultural production from Bengal was diverted to the 'war effort'. Satyajit Ray made a film about this called Asani Sanket. Somehow this is omitted in the Roll Call of the dead. Uncle Winston was at the head of the War effort did he know about it? Certainly. However its operation seems to have been the work of the Morons heading India here.

Opium Wars, The Bengal famine,2nd Sino-Japanese war are topics on Wikipedia.

India's first Independence day celebrations. The Christmas trees are British. The one in white was the Last Viceroy - Mountbatten. Probably looking at a flypast by Spitfires and Hurricanes - World War II disposal stuff. Independence day or merely Farewell day? They went home in their socks and left their shoes behind, and what a rush for these there was. Their ridculous rules stayed on, even those dating from before the Mutiny. These are easily identified by the CGO prefix. Council General Order - the Council-General ended in 1857!!. For decades someone all of us knew roamed around Meerut and just got into the run of things. He had spent several decades in the Viceregal Lodge / Presidential Estate Delhi. Certainly saw Independence day there and had seen Mountabatten daily . Whatever he had to say about life there took a few minutes .. Sure Mountbatten came to Meerut weekly for the races on Tuesday in a Rolls Royce with outriders. One race at Delhi was not enough. This is just a few years after WWII, and could we forget WWII almost to the late 70s. English Magazines, movies , comics always had some mention.

Heard of Aarohi?

The best way is to start with their website - They are located about 60 km from Nainital, in village Satoli, PO Peora. Aarohi is an NGO. They are doing many things which will put the foundation for a better life in what can certainly be called a remote area - even though Electricity ( as well as Internet, DTH TV) is available. Rural Area ? No place is that clearly defined. Every family has at least one person working somewhere else and sending money. They are trying out new things here too. Like trying to grow Tea ( Uttaranchal Tea is available in shops ), plant Mango orchards, rejuvenate Apple orchards. Most families keep hens, cows, buffaloes grow vegetables. Houses are at a fair distance from each other and clusters are not very large. The population in Kumaon seems to be quite evenly spread. Extreme poverty is absent. However they could certainly do with more employment. It is not uncommon to find men a little high at 11am . I thought Aerial ropeways,Switzerland type Alpine Railways, Helicopter Services could do wonders . However there would be an immediate objection from those who like the pristine beauty of the hills. They would like to keep the Economy pristine too. Another thing, if you have money to throw and would like a "house in the hills" it would be best to read Bill Aitken's Book Footloose in the Himalayas(2003) first.

Hot and sweaty . Head for the hills and meditate. Meditate about what ? Maybe about why multi-storied buildings a few hundred feet high offend the senses and Mountains thousands of feet high appeal. Years back every 4th or 5th Milestone / Kilometer stone had the height at that point written. This is missing now and one never knows how high ( in meters :) ) one is.

Were the hill regions always ours? For that too, we have to thank the East India Company . Early 19th century. No Electricity. The searing heat. You can imagine how attractive the hills looked to the EIC . A widespread invasion of Nepal was planned on Nov. 1st 1814. A heroic General Gillespie ( whose grave is in Meerut and a statue in St.Paul's London ) was assigned the task of making the first attack. He took a force of *4000 from Meerut. Of which 3000 were Indians. They were almost wiped out at Kalunga( Raipur Road ) near Dehradun. A much lesser known Octherlony was more successful ( as he had the benefit of Gillespie's experience ) and acquired the Simla region. The hills became a part of colonial India under the treaty of Sigauli. The great thing about the battle at Kalunga is that letters written when the Battle was on were found at the Bir Library by Mahesh Regmi. They form part of the translation work which continued for 20 years. You can read the letters translated into English here : Battle of Kalunga / Battle of Nalapani.

*There are now many accounts of the this battle available on the NET. Every account differs in the figures of Casualties etc. . Search for Gillespie and Kalunga / Nalapani on Google Books.
An account of the battle
Text mentioning more than one battle
Another one
An extract mentioning that 500 European soldiers were killed.

Who was the 'enemy' in the extract? This was a settlement of people who must have lived for centuries at Kalunga. A total of 700 people including women in children. The women also fought by throwing rocks and logs. Luckily there were in the small fort a group of trained fighters The Malecha Kalanala Company ( meaning the company that is the fire of death to the British. Malechas was the word for the British). They confronted 4000 soldiers of the EIC army cleared out most of their officers. And vacated their ancestral abode only after their access to water was cut-off.

A little like Hotel California . Such a lovely place, such a lovely place. You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.

Is the Party over?

Or has it just started? It certainly did win !! And what a win was there my countrymen! I certainly expected another dreary patchwork quilt. It seems it is mainly the unlettered souls who can see things clearly, and voted for sincerity and artlessness, perhaps mainly for a person who "says it as he sees it". And that certainly is unique in the decrepit Indian Political Mansion filled with antiques. I thoroughly enjoyed Rajdeep Sardesai's winding up of the Election scene. He does not have the expressionless BBC announcer's outlook on things and could barely conceal his glee. Even Karan Thapar peeping out of a window and giving his colonial comments was delightful. Now where do we begin? For a start by recognizing that the best of plans are so much trash unless they "degenerate into work"( Peter Drucker).

Just remembered the pre-election results scenario. Was amazed at BSP's publicity campaign. On just about any road to Delhi or towards the hills, you could not travel more than 5 km without seeing expensive blue sign boards introducing a local Umedvar of BSP. There were Independents too and I found one of their slogans as being nearest to the crux of the problem. The words were - Desh ka sudhar tab hi ho sakta hai jab sudharein Kar, Kanoon aur Neta. Of course such slogans never make it to the National News. Another one which lined the road between Meerut and Delhi was 'UP Hamari Hai, ab Dilli ki baari hai' .

Nice swearing in ceremony. A lot of envious folk noticed that the lights never went out. And just about everywhere in the vicinity of Meerut they were out so long that the Inverters also discharged. And you cannot watch TV when even the Inverter is down. No doubt someone is benefitting from the 100s of thousands of crores the common man pays to Government - and it is not the people who benefit. When the Nalas stop stinking and Electricity is at least back to what it was in the early 90s, people will say there has been some difference. On the positive side one can look back and say thank God so and so did not become PM. 28th May - Another ceremony, keeps them busy. They say at the ministerial level there really is no work. That is the real reason for the tight security - so that nobody finds out the truth. They sit in their offices looking at maps not more than a few square feet in size representing 100s of thousands of square miles.

A New Dawn?

There is a feeling in the air that this is the time for review and a fresh start. India woke up when Communism & Socialism were supposed to be the future, and a lot of excesses were effected which followed those half-baked ideologies. Colonialism was not dead yet. Monarchy was still taken seriously ( it still is !). Many will remember the Coronation in 1953 of the English Queen. We could do no better than meticulously imitate the English idiosyncrasies, and be very careful in pronouncing their words correctly :). This time there is a feeling that our regulations could be revamped with COMMON SENSE as the foundation. Actually that is the title of a book published just before the US Declaration of Independence, written by Tom Paine, it is credited with resulting in the US Independence.

We could begin with the broadest statement of the problem simply, and that just has to be this - So much to do so many people to do it not much gets done and there is so much unemployment. Actually this is not the statement of a problem, it is a statement of the paradox. The top most priority has to be given to the speed of Government Decision making. Today this is the greatest impediment in speedy Employment Generation. A few years back they were discussing a request ( on TV ) for a flyover in Bangalore. An ex-pm Devi Ghoda was also a participant. It seems the application was pending since 1983 or 84 - and they were considering it .. perhaps in 2004. By that time Microsoft had gone from a Garage operation to an Internationally dominating force. How quick should things be ? Well people get hungry after missing a meal or two. The only way to see the 'big picture' is statistically. Add up all the populations of the Metros - they probably exceed 50 million by a few millions, add the populations of the small towns maybe again just over 70 million . That leaves us with a rural population of 800-900 million. These are people who live without amenities which are considered basic in the developed World - Municipal services and Electricity(24hr). Something has to be done and QUICK!

The Budget is due anytime now, my view is that they should take a good look at the biggest chunk which goes to the Army. Can we afford to spend the entire amount that Mumbai pays in Taxes for defending barren borders. I have no idea what kind of defence The Taj or Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus had on 26/11 - perhaps a policeman with a three nought three. Which is considerably less than the sandbags and machine guns one sees outside the most innocuous of military offices.

So months later... What of the great victory? Thank God for that, the Communist crutch has gone. So how is it doing ? I don't know about you I just look at the Nalas..

It is May and Mutiny Month

Even though Rules & Laws - Old Grant 1836 - predating the Mutiny are still in effect ( many with much greater force than the post East India Company British 'Crown' exerted ), the bravery of the Mutineers is still celebrated. Such minor inconsistencies never bothered our Civil Service Babus, who should have weeded out a multitude of toxic laws immediately after Independence. Their reverence for their Masters prevented them from doing so. Now that there is no trace of the ICS selected by the British, a process has been set in motion.

The Cover of a Booklet distributed on the 1857 Mutiny Train which came to Meerut

The cover of a book sold on the Mutiny Train which visited Meerut in 2007. Written by Madhukar Upadhyay. Published by Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi . Nobody can dispute Mr. Upadhyay's immense knowledge of the subject. Yet he makes one error in the book. This can easily be attributed to the fact that many aspects of Colonial India as well as pre-Colonial India were deliberately obscured or distorted. He calls Walter Rhinehardt* an employee of the East India Company. Rhinehardt was an Adventurer/mercenary from Luxemburg. In fact all the Rajas, Maharajas employed many Europeans in their armies at various levels. And the British mostly confronted such forces. You can check this out at Sardhana Cemetery - Poles, Italians, French lie there. At the Golf Course in Noida there is a big Sandstone tablet perched on a mound which is Titled Battle of Delhi, it says that a Lord Lake defeated Maratha Forces led by a Frenchman Louis Bourquien on Sep. 11, 1803 - deadly date :).

* At Sardhana you could pick up a small booklet compiled by Bishop Patrick Nair ( retd.) for an amazing amount of detail for this region's history of that time. If you are a research scholar then you already know about the Rampur Library. If you are not then you should know that it is not far from Meerut and contains some amazing items, too many to mention in a little note.

The book contains what the real reason of the Gadar was - Revolts against Taxes/Levies. The nonsense that it was due to cartridges greased with cow and pig fat was deliberately allowed to spread as it diverted attention from a much more serious and essential pillar of the Raj ( money and lots of it ). Amazed that money is the root cause of all evil? Why do you think the Americans threw out the British. The slogan there was 'no taxation without representation'. Of course they threw out their 'constitution' too, which worshiped the British King as the Head ( the British by the way have an unwritten constitution ).

These revolts started a few years after the East India Company got its Tax Collection Machinery( The Indian Civil Service - the finest the world has ever seen ) in place, and continued much beyond 1857. Do not forget that the 'Sepoy' in the Sepoy Mutiny was a Peasant first and Sepoy later. The book The Peasant armed : The Indian Rebellion of 1857 by Eric Stokes for some reason is not easily available. There is another one The Peasant and the Raj also by him - not cheap.

List of revolts against levies

So how do you label the 'cow and pig fat cartridges'? Complete fabrication ? Consider these facts : the British - at least of that time - were great collectors. They 'collected' a lot of things from a lot of different Countries in the name of God , Country and King. Simpler cultures would use a different word for that sort of 'collection'. To name a few The Elgin Marbles from Greece ( who want those back :) ), artifacts from the Pyramids. Some gullible souls actually gifted them with treasures like the Kohinoor diamond. Yet in all these collections there is no trace of cartridges which are supposed to have started a rebellion! Some of the most absurd, fascinating and non-sensical fiction comes from British writers like Lewis Carrol and J.K. Rowling. The kind of creativity to create 'Cow and pig fat cartridges' was well within the talents of whoever chronicled the rebellion.

Truth they say is stranger than fiction . These cartridges are not fictitious. They may not be in museums because they are available in specialist shops. Breech loading guns had not appeared at that time. These cartridges were used to load Muzzle loaders!! Interested ? Then search for P-53 Enfield Cartridges on the world's most comprehensive reference resource - the NET. The cartridges may not be fictitious but linking them to the rebellion certainly was a flight of fancy!

List of revolts against levies

Two recent Books

We cannot go about correcting the system without knowing where the system came from , why, by whom and for whom. One of the books is SOUTH ASIA : An Environmental History by Christopher V. Hill - 2007. Very Prosaic Academic language. Uses the word 'Government' for East India Company and Revenue for what was actually theft. In the snippet you can read "the British mind found it incomprehensible a society based on unwritten custom and Government by personal discretion". An interesting comment as England itself has an unwritten constitution. On the same page as this snippet there is a discussion about diara land ( maybe it is daria ). This was land which is fertile one year and a riverbed next year. It appears that once it submerged and came back it did not belong to the previous owner acording to the revenue mad East India Company laws..The book which says it like it should be said is The Evil Empire: 101 ways in which England ruined the World - 2009. The topic seems to be quite current.. Here is another From The Guardian of June 8th . Should all this history matter? Certainly - the structure and priorities are still retained, in fact most of the fullstops and commas of their statutes are still there . While the 'Government' can forcibly collect, there is nothing in the rules to make it forcibly deliver. There is an incredible amount of violence implicit in the words that the revenue should be invariant. So that there was sufficent money for their La-di-dah expenses? This violence seems to escape even a 21st century American Historian, but that is what led to the 1857 Revolt.

List of revolts against levies

However what fascinates me is how this aspect of collection of revenue remained hidden for so long. I wanted to get the locations of 'Settlement' offices of the East India Company - NO LUCK. Maybe not on the net but in the real world these offices are easy to locate - these are red brick buildings in civil line areas of district Headquarters.

List of revolts against levies

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