Thursday, May 10, 2007

India 'neglects' its historic heritage

As India celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first uprising against the British, the town where the first shot was fired by sepoy (soldier) Mangal Pandey is witnessing the gradual obliteration of its historical heritage.

Mangal Pandey fired the famous shot at a British officer on 29 March 1857 at the Barrackpore parade ground - now on the outskirts of Calcutta.

It was an action that stirred up a wave of rebellion in north India against the colonial power, and meant that Barrackpore would be a name always prominent in Indian history books.

But 150 years later, many of the sprawling bungalows and imposing structures from the colonial past have been completely swallowed by wild undergrowth.

I'm ambivalent about this. On the one hand, as a history buff, I naturally deplore neglect of historic sites. On the other hand, it seems to me that India has bigger problems and higher priorities than maintaining colonial era buildings. Parts of India are jungle, for Pete's sake! If these buildings are so all fired important, let britain maintain them.