India

The Bengal Famine: How the British engineered the worst genocide in human history for profit

“The Bengal Famine: How the British engineered the worst genocide in human history for profit”

via “World Observer

I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

 -Winston Churchill

The British had a ruthless economic agenda when it came to operating in India and that did not include empathy for native citizens. Under the British Raj, India suffered countless famines. But the worst hit was Bengal. The first of these was in 1770, followed by severe ones in 1783, 1866, 1873, 1892, 1897 and lastly 1943-44. Previously, when famines had hit the country, indigenous rulers were quick with useful responses to avert major disasters. After the advent of the British, most of the famines were a consequence of monsoonal delays along with the exploitation of the country’s natural resources by the British for their own financial gain. Yet they did little to acknowledge the havoc these actions wrought. If anything, they were irritated at the inconveniences in taxing the famines brought about.

Image source

The first of these famines was in 1770 and was ghastly brutal. The first signs indicating the coming of such a huge famine manifested in 1769 and the famine itself went on till 1773. It killed approximately 10 million people, millions more than the Jews incarcerated during the Second World War. It wiped out one third the population of Bengal. John Fiske, in his book “The Unseen World”, wrote that the famine of 1770 in Bengal was far deadlier than the Black Plague that terrorized Europe in the fourteenth century. Under the Mughal rule, peasants were required to pay a tribute of 10-15 per cent of their cash harvest. This ensured a comfortable treasury for the rulers and a wide net of safety for the peasants in case the weather did not hold for future harvests. In 1765 the Treaty of Allahabad was signed and East India Company took over the task of collecting the tributes from the then Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. Overnight the tributes, the British insisted on calling them tributes and not taxes for reasons of suppressing rebellion, increased to 50 percent. The peasants were not even aware that the money had changed hands. They paid, still believing that it went to the Emperor. 

 

Image source

Partial failure of crop was quite a regular occurrence in the Indian peasant’s life. That is why the surplus stock, which remained after paying the tributes, was so important to their livelihood. But with the increased taxation, this surplus deteriorated rapidly. When partial failure of crops came in 1768, this safety net was no longer in place. The rains of 1769 were dismal and herein the first signs of the terrible draught began to appear. The famine occurred mainly in the modern states of West Bengal and Bihar but also hit Orissa, Jharkhand and Bangladesh. Bengal was, of course, the worst hit. Among the worst affected areas were Birbum and Murshidabad in Bengal. Thousands depopulated the area in hopes of finding sustenance elsewhere, only to die of starvation later on. Those who stayed on perished nonetheless. Huge acres of farmland were abandoned. Wilderness started to thrive here, resulting in deep and inhabitable jungle areas. Tirhut, Champaran and Bettiah in Bihar were similarly affected in Bihar.

Abandoned

Prior to this, whenever the possibility of a famine had emerged, the Indian rulers would waive their taxes and see compensatory measures, such as irrigation, instituted to provide as much relief as possible to the stricken farmers. The colonial rulers continued to ignore any warnings that came their way regarding the famine, although starvation had set in from early 1770. Then the deaths started in 1771. That year, the company raised the land tax to 60 per cent in order to recompense themselves for the lost lives of so many peasants. Fewer peasants resulted in less crops that in turn meant less revenue. Hence the ones who did not yet succumb to the famine had to pay double the tax so as to ensure that the British treasury did not suffer any losses during this travesty.

After taking over from the Mughal rulers, the British had issued widespread orders for cash crops to be cultivated. These were intended to be exported. Thus farmers who were used to growing paddy and vegetables . . . .

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Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings

“Gates of the Lord:

The Tradition of Krishna Paintings”

Who:  

Art Institute of Chicago

When: Sept. 13, 2015 – January 3, 2016 (Hours Vary)

Where: 

Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 

More Information: Here.

This fall, the Art Institute of Chicago offers a glimpse into one of the world’s most intimate religious traditions. Bringing together over 100 artworks from private and public collections in India and the United States, Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings is the first major U.S. exhibition to explore the unique visual culture of the Pushtimarg, a Hindu denomination from Western India.

Founded in the 16th century by the saint and philosopher Shri Vallabhacharya (1479–1531), the Pushtimarg is a religious community dedicated to the devotion of Shrinathji, a divine image of the Hindu god Krishna as a seven-year-old child. The religious and artistic center of the sect is based in the temple town of Nathdwara (literally, “The Gates of the Lord”), near Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan, India. Scholars and artists have long been fascinated by the distinctive and highly aestheticized manner in which members of this group venerate Shrinathji, as well as by the legacy of miniature paintings created as a record of such worship. This exhibition showcases centuries ofpichvais (textile hangings) and miniature paintings that have been created by and for the Pushtimarg in devotion of Shrinathji.

The exhibition takes visitors through a year in Nathdwara, where the daily worship of Shrinathji is characterized by the changing seasons and a bustling festival calendar. Gallery by gallery, visitors are introduced to the pichvais used as backdrops for Shrinathji in his shrine, each uniquely suited to a particular season or festival. The accompanying miniature paintings offer further insight into the Pushtimarg sect: its mode of veneration, history, and important priests and patron families. Enhancing the experience of the sect’s rich culture are festival and devotional music, a shrine reconstruction, and touchscreen kiosks that allow visitors to page through religious manuscripts, an artist’s sketchbook, and a historic photo album. The exhibition concludes with an exploration of the works, sketches, and observations of prominent 20th- and 21st-century Nathdwara artists who have kept the painting tradition flourishing through the present day.

Gates of the Lord comprises drawings, pichvais, paintings, and historic photographs borrowed chiefly from two major private collections in India, the Amit Ambalal Collection (Ahmedabad, India) and the TAPI Collection (Surat, India). These rare loans are augmented by important objects from a number of public and private collections within the United States, including the Art Institute’s own permanent collection, in order to present the richest possible story of Pushtimarg art and tradition.

Sponsors
Lead Sponsorship for Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings has been provided by Nita and Mukesh Ambani and the Reliance Foundation.”

Protecting Indian Culture Need Of the Hour: Guv

“Protecting Indian Culture Need Of the Hour: Guv”

via “Express News Service

Governor Vajubhai Vala and Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murty presenting the Rama Gana Kalacharya Award to instrumentalist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhat on Sunday | express photo

BENGALURU: Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala has called for protecting Indian culture, which he said is the only way to achieve progress.

Speaking at the Rama Gana Kalacharya Award programme here on Sunday, he said, “No country can ever make progress if its culture cannot be protected. This is imperative and the need of the hour.”

He said the Mughals and the British, who once ruled the country, tried to destroy Indian culture. “However, we have prevailed and our culture is still rich.”

Vala also rued that the youth these days hardly have any cultural knowledge. “Understanding of one’s culture must be inculcated from a young age. However, the youth these days hardly have any knowledge. This is bad,” he added.

The Rama Gana Kalacharya Award  was presented to Hindustani classical music instrumentalist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhat.

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Coming Exhibition: Art Basel ~ Hong Kong Art Show

I shared an article last year talking about how Art Basel has played an ever-increasingly significant role in the Hong Kong (and Asian) art markets.  If you are interested in that area of the Art field, you might want to check out Art Basel’s upcoming art show! ** DB

“Art Basel ~ Hong Kong Art Show”

Who:  Art Basel 

When: Mar. 15, 2015 – Mar. 17, 2015 (View Hours Here)

Where: 

Art | Basel
Asian Art Fairs Ltd. 
6/F Luk Kwok Centre
72 Gloucester Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

How Much:  (View Pricing Here)

More Information: Here

“From emerging talents to the Modern masters of both Asia and the West, Art Basel in Hong Kong traces twelve decades of art history across its six sectors: Galleries, Insights, Discoveries, Encounters, Magazines and Film. On display will be the highest quality of paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, video and editioned works from the 20th and 21st centuries, by more than 2,000 artists from Asia and around the globe. 

The show will also offer extensive opportunities for intellectual discovery, through discussions and presentations, creating a platform of cross-cultural exchanges for artists, gallerists, collectors, and visitors.”

 

Coming Exhibition: Abu Dhabi Art Fair

“Abu Dhabi Art Fair”

New Section for Abu Dhabi Art - Artists' Waves

Who:  Abu Dhabi Art 

When: Nov. 5, 2015 – Nov. 8, 2014 (View Hours Here)

Where: 

Saadiyat Island
UAE Pavillion
PO BOX 126888 Abu Dhabi
UAE – Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
+971 2 657 5800

How Much:  (View Pricing Here)

More Information: Here

“Abu Dhabi Art presents museum quality artworks from modern, contemporary and design galleries. This year it includes a wide spectrum of installations and large-scale sculptures, as well as a new section titled Artists’ Waves that places the discovery and re-discovery of artists at the core of Abu Dhabi Art, through a curated exhibition.”