Indian History Quiz-12
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In the Victorian era, at the height of the British Raj in India, the sea voyage out from England was a hot and tedious affair. For many, the equatorial heat was a grim reminder of what they could expect from their future postings. The word 'posh' is often said to be an acronym for 'Port Out Starboard Home', but there is no evidence for this. However, on what side of the ship you traveled had tremendous significance, what made these cabins so desirable? *
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The administrative capital of the Raj and the location of the Viceroy's Residence became the center of Anglo-Indian society. It was as though they simply ignored the inhospitable weather and a myriad of quite nasty diseases and pests. They imposed a genteel, ordered English social life, entirely separate from the native population, in an Indian city known for its culture. It was a city labeled at different times "The Cultural Capital of India", "The City of Processions" and "The City of Palaces." Calcutta was originally chosen by the East India Company and then continued to be the seat of power under the Raj. What city became the new capital of India in 1911? *
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Unsuspecting wives made the voyage out, once their spouses were established in their chosen field of endeavor. Many had to deal with the prospect of having servants for the first time. Many 'how to' books were available for new 'memsahibs' in all matters pertaining to the household and servants. Ultimately, it was usually essential to have a punkawalla or two, dependent upon the size of house. Who or what is a punkawalla? *
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For many, seeing duty in India brought nothing but discomfort. The voyage out for enlisted men was a far cry from the officer's posh traveling arrangements. "When you see a thousand men in the throes of the most awful sea-sickness and realize what it entails, then you have some idea of how ghastly it was". The Indians had survived in India for 5,000 years, yet however privileged the new inhabitants of Calcutta might be, they could not avoid the horrors of life during the rains. Even the most innocuous of creatures had a surprise in store for the unsuspecting, such as the small, white jute-moth. What consequence was presented to those unfortunates that merely briefly and accidentally touched its wings?. *
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With all of the discomforts of the journey and daily living one might, quite reasonably, question the motivation of going to India in the first place. The answer was undoubtedly money, or the prospect of wealth, and colonial power in the world. Many young men from good families were making their fortunes with great speed, in a wide variety of enterprises, or were part of a burgeoning civil service. In true Victorian fashion, society feared that if these young men were to remain unmarried for long in the sultry heat, they would be tempted by the loose-moralled local lovelies, and take a mistress. (Not to say that marriage ever prevented such an event). Arrangements were made for a bevy of marriageable, well brought-up young ladies, from excellent families, to travel out to Calcutta for the Christmas season, in the hopes of finding a wealthy husband. By what collective name were these young ladies facetiously known? *
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The colonial city of Calcutta was originally established by the East India company, and then became the capital of the British Empire in India. The British built their mansions and splendid government buildings entirely separated from the dreadful poverty and disease spread among the natives. The native slums of Calcutta were known as 'Black Town', and the British sector as 'White Town'. Despite this separation of living areas, it did not prevent the nasty and virulent tropical diseases spreading to 'White Town', for which there was no treatment or cure, until late in the nineteenth century. One disease, in particular, became synonymous with Calcutta, and was responsible for many dreadful European deaths. Which disease was this? *
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Despite the many inconveniences of life, the British in Calcutta established and enjoyed many of the pastimes and sporting events that they had enjoyed at home. This included both polo and horse racing, the dubious sport of pig-sticking and the hunt. These local hunts usually included motley packs of dogs of varying breeds. One cynical writer summed up the British social world as: 'Duty and red tape, picnics and adultery.' What became one of the centers of sporting and social life, still existing in modern times? *
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From April to November each year, the Viceroy and his retinue moved, bag and baggage, out of Calcutta to the cooler air of Simla. (Known as Shimla, by the natives.) The hot summer season in Calcutta officially began in March, with temperatures reaching the low 100s. It was a hot and unbearably dusty season, prone to cyclones forming in the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon season followed on directly, lasting from July to September/October. One can see why the British administration and leaders in society headed for the hills. Hill stations had been established all over India, originally with one purpose. What was that purpose? *
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Unlike many other areas of the world colonized by the British, India had many hundreds of Princely States, the most important numbering about 175. These larger states had independent princely rulers entitled Maharajah, Raja, Rawal, Rana, etc for Hindus, and Nabob for those Muslim princes, descended from the Mughal emperors. Many of these rulers were immensely wealthy and by British standards were marginally civilized, despite some barbaric traditions. How did the British deal with these princely states, with regard to overall rule by the Viceroy and British government? *
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The critic Douglas Kerr said of Kipling "He is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled, but as the age of the European empire recedes, he is recognized as an incomparable, if controversial interpreter of how empire was experienced. That and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with." Apart from his early childhood in Bombay, Kipling spent his growing and adolescent years in England. He returned to Bombay in September 1882, to take up the post of assistant editor of the Lahore 'Civil and Military Gazette. He explains his feelings about returning to India...'there were yet three or four days train to Lahore, where my people lived. After these, my English years fell away, nor ever I think came back in full strength." Although Kipling's vast body of work covers a myriad of characters and settings, for me Mowgli, Riki-Tiki-Tavi, Kim and Gunga Din, tie him forever to British and native life under the Raj. *
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