Essays on 19th Century India Pindaris, Thugs, Indian Police, Wolf Boys,Uprising 1857-Delhi and Lucknow and Famines of Colonial India
ForewordIn early November, 2010 I heard Rajesh Rampal give a lecture to a British military audience atthe Gurkha Museum in Winchester. Its title was The Siege and Assault of Delhi, 1857: a casestudy for any army that wants to punch beyond its weight – it is reproduced in this collectionof essays. This was a bold lecture to give in front of professionals, particularly by a civilianresident of Delhi who was a Chartered Accountant without any training either as historian orsoldier. He is also, of course, Indian and although that seemed to pass without notice, a lot lessthan a century ago the very notion of this lecture would have been inconceivable. Yet Rajeshsknowledge, charm and confidence as a public speaker held the attention of all of us. TThese essays are typical of Rajeshs unique status. No academic historian would compile suchan eclectic anthology and this is a compliment! It covers contemporary writing such as SirWilliam Sleemans observations of Wolf Children (a fascinating essay) and the diary of MunshiJeewan Lal, who provided the British with information about the rebel forces from inside Delhiduring the siege; this did not stop the avenging army from looting his house. Then there arenew findings of today, such as Dr. McEldowneys essay on the Pindari horse-riding bandits whoterrorised the Maratha states until suppressed by Lord Hastings in 1819, and my owndisturbing experiences in India a hundred years after the Great Mutiny (Are embers of 1857still smouldering in India). Rajeshs own essays are crammed with fact and prone to diversions that are the prerogative ofthe enthusiast, and none the worse for that. No one can accuse him of bias. While hisadmiration for the British army that recaptured and laid waste his city may be remarkable inThe Assault on Delhi, September 1857, his Famines of Colonial India 1860 – 1900 is anoutspoken criticism of the British Indian Governments indifference and its ignorant policies. Idid not know that in 1876 when the British held a grand durbar to proclaim Queen Victoria asEmpress of India, 100,000 Indians were dying of famine in the south of the country.Incidentally, the statistical tables and bar charts in this essay give away Rajeshs past as anaccountant! Rajeshs essay on Thuggee Organised crime in the garb of religion is very wellinformed because he has already written a book on the subject, The Divine Stranglers.Always, his writing is entertaining and individual however much he relies on secondary as wellas primary sources.
What holds these essays together is the authors sense that the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in India, when the East India Company was but the most prominent of rulers, were times of awful anarchy and turbulence. He quotes from the epic love story Heer Ranja, by the Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722 – 1798) in his earlier book, The Divine Stranglers:Great confusion has fallen on the countryThere is a sword in everymans hand.The veil of shame and modesty has been lifted,And the entire world goes naked in the open bazaar.Thieves have become leaders,Harlots have become mistresses of the households.The company of devils has magnified exceedingly,The state of the multitude is pitiable.Men without character flourish and the devil is in great prosperity,Fools have become masters of our country.This is the background to these stirring essays that I recommend to all lovers of BritishIndian history, and those who wish to draw lessons from the past.Hugh Purcell10/7/2012
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About the AuthorRajesh Rampal is a Chartered Accountant. He has worked with premier CorporateSector Companies in India and in the process dealt with leading financialInstitutions of the world namely ICICI, SBI, IDBI, IFC (W) and EADB. He has alsoworked during the project phase in India of two Fortune 500 companies viz. GKNplc and Degussa AG. He was Manager Corporate Finance-I in Ranbaxy LaboratoriesLimited and also looked over the financial aspects in Technology TransferEngineering and R & D Divisions of this company. He spent two years in Uganda,East Africa working with Cable Corporation Ltd., set up with JapaneseCollaboration- Hashimoto. He also worked with Indias premier Economic ThinkTank – Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, where herubbed shoulders with many Economists of International repute. He has delved in Insurance, Stock Markets and Corporate Sector Training. He wrotea book The Divine Stranglers- A Story of Thugs and Thuggee Sleeman that detailsthe life and times of 19th century world across three continents in historical fictionform. He has lectured and made presentations on Organised Crime in the Garb ofreligion in 19th century India- Thuggee in the Intelligence Bureau, NationalInstitute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, India International Centre and RoyalMilitary Police HQ in Southwick Park, Hampshire, U.K.
He has also made presentations on The Siege and Assault of Delhi 1857- ACase Study for any Army that wishes to punch above its weight in GurkhaMuseum, Winchester, Royal Armed Medical Corps Museum and the Dukeof Cornwall Light Infantry Museum in Bodmin. He also made the samepresentation to the International Guild of Battlefield Guides in London inNovember 2010.Rajesh has also taken several British Army officers around the sites of Delhi1857. Some prominent names are General Sir Richard Shirreff, DeputySupreme Commander Allied Powers, Europe, General Sir ChristopherWallace former Commandant Royal College of Defence Studies, Colonel DrJohn Richardson of the Royal Armed Medical Corps, Colonel Gerald Napierof the Royal Engineers and author of Sapper VCs and Follow the Sapper.Former BBC producers Hugh Purcell and Margaret Percy have been withRajesh several times on Delhi 1857 sites. Former BBC producer PhilipGeddes and his team made a Documentary The Devils Wind on 1857 andRajesh took them around for the shoot. He was interviewed by General SirRichard Shirreff on battle tactics in the Documentary.Rajeshs only claim to being a Historian is being the next door neighbour ofthe famous Indian Historian Dr Bipin Chandra for nearly a decade who washis fathers colleague in the Delhi University. He has never studied Historybeyond the 8th Standard!
Also by the Same AuthorThe Divine Stranglers – A Story of Thugs and Thuggee SleemanISBN 818549573-4Also available in ebook format at AMAZON in KindleEdition http://www.amazon.com/THE-DIVINESTRANGLERS-THUGGEE-ebook/dp/B0089ISAN4Hard Copy: Price India Rs 600, USA: USD 20, UK:GBP: 15 Delivered (by Indiapost.)(Order & Details: firstname.lastname@example.org)Story in Brief Set in turbulent Central India in the early 19th century,the story revolves around an Englishman in the employ of the East India Company, his French wife from a noble Émigré family, businessmen. Policemen and a sect of Divine Murderers. The Englishman sets out to exterminate the sect, using the first ever modern scientific methods of Criminal Investigation and detection. This results in the arrest of 3,689 killers, 466 of whom are hanged and 2497 imprisoned for life. Based on Historical facts, the story takes you through early 19th century customs and practices in England, France and India. Strangulations, Famine, Epidemics,Myths, Folklore , Superstitions gel together in the story to unfold the mystique of India. The Thug Menace More than a hundred Thug gangs prowled Indias highways and annually killed about 40,000 travellers in the early 19th century. The Thugs were held together by a perversion of religion that made killing a part of worship. The gangs were knit together by a strange and bizarre regimen of life, that destroyed their victims with a combination of guile and cruelty almost unparalleled in the history of crime anywhere in the world. The Thugs had been plying their trade undetected for nearly 500 years. Major General Sir William Henry Sleeman was a man of zeal and spirit far above the ordinary and his extraordinary tenacity of purpose was in the final analysis the reason why Thuggee could be eliminated. The legal procedures of the time also helped a lot as they permitted quick and effective trials and deterrent punishment to thugs.K. F. Rustomji , Former D. G., B.S.F. (Indian Police Journal 1962 – Thugs, Pindaris and Dacoits)
Readers Feedback on THE DIVINE STRANGLERSIt is a good read, seriously. I liked Divine Stranglers. You have thought your way into the subject so that it convinces the reader and has a period authenticity, I admire your confidence in adopting a semi-fictional approach. I like your direct no- nonsense style too.Hugh Purcell (Author and Former Managing Editor BBC)Now that I have read Divine Stranglers my son, Detective Superintendent in the London Metropolitan Police will get to read it.Ron Cassidy (Author and former Curator RGJ Museum)A masterful book about William Sleeman- all fascinating. Do come and visit us in Wales.Nicky and Colonel Johnny RogersGreat story line! The Divine Stranglers would make a really good movie, showing thedilemmas of the individual boy caught up in circumstances beyond his control. Keep trying and I will be there to support you at the premier.Colonel Dr John Richardson (RAMC) (Retired)A real gem –The Divine Stranglers. That you kindly inscribed it for me makes it extra special.Clive Elderton (Former British Defense Advisor, BHC ,New Delhi)I very much enjoyed reading the Divine Stranglers, which I thought very well written.Professor Stephen Slemon (University of Alberta, Canada)Fascinating! I was glued to it till I finished it. You keep the tempo fast paced and exciting. It would make a wonderful film. Only Sir Richard Attenborough can do justice to make a film on your story.Darshan Lal (Director- Monsanto Holding P. Ltd), Former Director BASF India Ltd."The Divine Stranglers" -found it absolutely fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the way you introduced the background of the different protagonists, including the sympathetic portrait of the thug Mahaveer. It was a remarkable achievement to destroy the network of Thugs.Frank Baldwin (Chairman- Battlefields Trust, U.K.)I absolutely adore your endeavour. The story succeeds in creating the mystique and highlights each character sympathetically.J Sanyal (Author- Bengalee)Your book is a Master piece! Pavani Sitaramiah (Author-Tamil & Telugu)I found your book very interesting. S. S. Dawra IAS (Former Secretary GOI)Good luck with Thuggee film project - I agree would be a fascinating project.......Phillip Geddes (Formerly BBC and Communications Advisor EU)