Taxman’s Hedge

This blog has taken a vow not to concentrate only on things that always get attention, such as tigers, rain-forests and cute pandas, but also about those things that don’t get written about much such as invertebrates, plants and such-like things.

In one of my recent posts, I had mentioned a ‘walking’ tree which someone (M) had told me about. This time it was P who left a magazine for me asking to read the interesting bit about hedges. Like all good Indians this was promptly consigned to the back of my mind till a little gentle wifely prodding made me look through it. And what I found was staggering!

In the years before the Mutiny, the British constructed a hedge, a very large and long hedge, halfway across India for the mundane reason of preventing salt smuggling. John Company, it seems, also fattened itself by making poor labourers pay two months wages for a year’s supply of salt. This hedge was manned and guarded like the Maginot line.

The search for this hedge was launched by an Englishman, Roy Moxham, who read about it and came to India and searched for it. He found it and wrote a book. And there, the matter seemed to rest till Dileep Chinchalker came to know about it. Its not my aim to steal anybody’s thunder so here is a fascinating bit of heritage, in the natural and historical sense…

‘Taxman’s Hedge’ by Dileep Chinchalker.

After you have read it, consider the chain of writing:

The Taxman’s Hedge, enthralls Sleeman who notes it in his book when he goes back to England, which is read many decades later by Roy Moxham in England who goes to India and finds its remains and writes a book in England. Lately Dileep Chinchalker goes from India to the United Kingdom and comes across a book, meets the author and writes about it in India in Down To Earth magazine (which fortunately opens its wares online to all) till I read it and mention it here on the internet, for all to see.

Its fascinating!

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6 Comments on “Taxman’s Hedge”

  1. Janaki Turaga Says:

    Thanks for posting this.
    The original book by Sleeman is available at:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15483
    Janaki Turaga

  2. Pervez Cama Says:

    Sleeman was one of those colonialists who is remembered for his benevolent exertions in the service of this country by eradicating the thugs. He had his share of faults and prejudicies, but the significance of his work endures. ‘Rambles’ makes charming reading.

    A critical analysis of his life and work has been documented in 1995 through a superb research study by a French researcher and Indologist, Martine Van Woerkens. The book has been translated from the French and is titled ‘The Strangled Traveler’.


  3. There is an unfortunate tendency in modern historians to belittle or downplay the contributions in nation-building of the nineteenth century primarily because they were by the British colonialists by arguing that these developments were inevitable or only in the colonial interest. Be that as it may, all these developments shaped the India of today. Its time that we were comfortable with our history of more than a hundred years ago.


  4. […] Baindur explains via this post: Taxman’s Hedge. Pull on the hedgerow here and there, unravel an entire chapter of […]

  5. sarabjit singh Says:

    Another interesting piece Ashwin. I find British Indian history fascinating.

    There is a place about 100km from Jabalpur, named after Sleeman called Sleemanabad. I used to drive past this small town and often wanted to stop and see whether I could find anything about Sleeman. Never did stop
    though.


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