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John Briggs In Maharasthra

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About the Book

The British rule was established in Maharashtra in 1818 in the wake of the Third Anglo-Maratha War. It was the major war that the British had to fight to establish their empire in India. The principal task before the British authorities was to consolidate their gains. This they could do only by firmly establishing a viable administration at the grass root level. The District Administration therefore became extremely important, and the District Collector came to be the Kingpin in the whole imperial edifice. Absence of speedy means of communication, and the sense of emergency during the early period of the foundation of the British rule, made these collectors Innovate policies and ideas that, in the long run, were to influence both the rulers and the ruled with the same intensity. Their background, their actions – all these were to influence Maharashtra profoundly. The district Collectors’ perception of India and the Indians as well as that of the role of the British rule in India was of crucial importance. Many of them were committed to some philosophy or other and some of them prided on being friends of India. John Briggs, the first Collector of Khandesh was one such person. He typifies the inherent contradictions between Romantic humanism and commercial imperialism. Briggs’ love for India was surpassed only by his love for England. A man of immense sympathy and truly scholastic bent of mind, Briggs had to face problems of grave nature in Khandesh, which was the largest single charge under Bombay Presidency. Faced with the problems of poverty, depopulation. Arab rowdism, Bhil unrest and bureaucratic delays, Briggs tried to stand manfully only to the misunderstood. It was not only his personal tragedy, in a way it was a tragedy of British culture caught in the vortex of commercial imperialism.

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