Showing posts with label Indian History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian History. Show all posts

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mumbai 100 Years Ago - (Mumbai then and now)

The World Luxury Council (India) recently hosted a vintage art exhibit at The Oberoi in Mumbai called Mumbai 100 Years Ago

On display were unpublished archival prints of some of the city's most prominent landmarks on canvas.
Dhara Patel, the business head of the World Luxury Council informed that these prints were sourced from a consortium of collectors.

Mumbai 100 years ago
Mumbai 100 years ago
"Some of these were postcards, others were photographs, which were bought from collectors, revived with special ink and printed on a special canvas that would guarantee them a life span for the next 100 years," she said.

Patel also said that while these prints could be reproduced on request, they would be restricted to only 10 prints of each picture.

The World Luxury Council is headquartered in London and deals in international business in the luxury arena. It provides assistance and advice to luxury brands by designing promotions and creating distribution and networking platforms.

Ticca Garis & taxis parked outside Taj Mahal Hotel (Year: 1885)

Ticca Garis were horse-drawn Victoria carriages (named after the British monarch), and were the only mode of transport to come to Bombay in 1882 after The Bombay Tramway Company Limited was formally set up in 1873.

The Bombay Presidency enacted the Bombay Tramways Act 1874, under which the company was licensed to run a tramway service drawn by one or two horses. In 1905, the newly formed concern, The Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited, bought The Bombay Tramway Company, and the first electrically operated tram cars appeared on the city roads in 1907.

There were three categories of Ticca Garis, or licensed cabs. Those of the first class were conspicuous by their absence and it was rumoured that the term was applied to funeral carriages. The second class Ticca was less stoutly constructed but cleaner than the London four-wheeled cab of that time. Ticcas belonging to the third class were ramshackle contraptions drawn by half-starved ponies.

This quaint mode of transport was gradually replaced in time. The first automobile was brought to Bombay in 1897-98. The first car imported by an Indian belonged to the eminent industrialist Jamshetji Tata. Motor taxis were introduced in 1811 whereas motorbuses started playing in 1926.

Taj Hotel
Taj Hotel
Today, the Victorias in front of the Taj have been replaced by black and yellow taxis. But, one can still hire a Ticca Gari for a negotiated sum and drive along the sea face for an experience.

Esplanade Road Kala Ghoda (Year: 1887)

Renamed Mahatma Gandhi Road, Esplanade Road, like most parts of South Bombay, is lined with heritage structures; Elphinstone College and the David Sassoon Library are amongst the prominent ones.
Kala Ghoda
Kala Ghoda
Established in 1856, Elphinstone College is one of the oldest of colleges of the University of Bombay. It played an important role in the spread of Western education in the city. During the British Raj, the college was amongst the most coveted, producing several luminaries like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Pherozeshah Mehta, Jamshedji Tata, Homi K Bhabha and Dadabhai Naoroji. Inception classes of the University of Bombay were held here before being moved to the Fort campus.

The building was originally meant for the government central press; and although, the building is now a college, about half of the floor area is shared with the Maharashtra Archives Department.

The building, constructed in the 'Romanesque Transitional' style, cost Rs 750,000 to build. Sir Cowasjee Jehangir generously donated the amount. Today, it is categorised as a Grade I heritage structure.

The well-known Jehangir Art Gallery is across the street as also the entrance to the Prince of Wales Museum (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya).

The David Sassoon Library was the brainchild of Albert Sassoon, son of the famous Baghdadi Jewish philanthropist, David Sassoon. Architects J Campbell and G E Gosling constructed it for the Scott McClelland and Company.

It cost Rs 125,000 to build, of which David Sassoon donated Rs 60,000; the government paid the remaining amount. Completed in 1870, the building was built using yellow Malad stone, much like the abutting Elphinstone College, Army and Navy Buildings and Watson's Hotel. A white stone bust of David Sassoon rests above the entrance portico

Rajabhai towers and Bombay University (Year: 1878)

Standing tall at 85 metres (280 feet), the Rajabai Tower was designed by English architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and modelled on the Big Ben in the UK. Premchand Roychand, a successful businessman who established the Bombay Stock Exchange, covered the cost of its construction on the condition that the clock tower be named after his mother Rajabai.

Roychand's mother was a devout Jain who ate her dinner before sunset. And, since she was blind, the evening bell of the tower helped her know the time of the day.

Rajabhai Tower
Rajabhai Tower
The foundation stone for the structure was laid on March 1, 1869. Construction was completed in November 1878 and cost Rs 2 lakh -- a handsome sum in those times.

A fusion of Venetian and Gothic styles of architecture, the tower was built using the locally available buff coloured Kurla stone. Its stained glass windows are still one of the best in the city.

In the times of the British Raj, one could hear the tower play 16 different tunes (including 'Rule Britannia', 'God Save the King' and 'Home! Sweet Home!'), which changed four times a day. Today, it chimes a single tune every 15 minutes.

The tower, the tallest structure in Bombay at one point, was closed to the public when it became a spot frequented by the suicidal.
Rajabhai Tower Ground
Rajabhai Tower Ground

The campus of the University of Bombay (University of Mumbai as of September 1996) was established in 1857 in Fort. It was one of the first educational institutions founded by the British in India. Built in the Gothic style of architecture, it houses the administrative division of the university and a library that holds many original manuscripts. It has been given a five-star ranking by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), and has a world ranking of 401.

Its long list of prominent alumni includes leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak and BR Ambedkar as well as personalities like Shabana Azmi, Anant Pai, Mukesh Ambani, Anand Patwardhan and Aishwarya Rai.

Bombay Municipal Corporation (Year: 1893)

The headquarters of India's richest municipal organisation is the Bombay Municipal Corporation or BMC Building. Renamed Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika, it is considered a Grade IIA heritage building and houses the civic body that governs the city of Mumbai.

It has a motto: 'Yato Dharmastato Jaya', which is Sanskrit for 'Where there is Righteousness, there shall be Victory' this is inscribed on the banner of its Coat of Arms.

BMC Building
BMC Building
The BMC was created in 1865 and Arthur Crawford was its first Municipal Commissioner. The municipality was initially housed in a modest building at the terminus of Girgaum Road.
In 1870, it was shifted to a building on the Esplanade, located between Watson Hotel and the Sassoon Mechanics Institute, which is where the present Army & Navy building is situated.

On December 9, 1884, the foundation stone for the new building of the Bombay Municipal Corporation was laid opposite Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) by the then Viceroy, Lord Ripon.

Two designs were considered for the building -- a Gothic version by FW Stevens and an Indo-Saracenic version by Robert Fellowes Chisholm. The former was selected. And the imposing structure was completed in 1893, with its tallest tower rising up to 77.7 metres (255 feet).

The chief architectural feature is its central dome, which rises to a phenomenal height of 71.5 metres (234.6 feet) and is visible even from a distance. At the entrance stands an impressive bronze statue of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, giving a picturesque view of the roads and buildings in front.

Victoria Terminus Railway station (Year 1887)

Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) was the headquarters of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway and now of the Central Railway.

Architect Frederick William Stevens designed the station and received Rs 16.14 lakh for his work, a staggering amount for those days. Stevens earned the commission to construct the station after a masterpiece watercolour sketch by draughtsman Axel Haig.

VT Station 1
VT Station 1
Though rumours suggest that the design was originally designated for Flinders Street Station, there is no evidence in its favour. However, the final design is similar to the St Pancras railway station in London.

The station was named 'Victoria Terminus' in honour of the Queen and Empress Victoria, and was opened on the date of her Golden Jubilee: June 20, 1887. Built in the Gothic architectural style, with Wilsom Bell Mice as the chief engineer, the structure took 10 years to be completed.
VT Station 2
VT Station 2
The crowning glory is the central dome carrying at its apex, a colossal 5 metre (16.6 feet) high figure of a lady holding a flaming torch in her right hand and a wheel in her left hand that symbolises 'progress'. This dome is reportedly the first octagonal ribbed masonry dome that was adapted to an Italian Gothic style building. The interior of the dome is exposed to view from the ground floor, and the dome-well that carries the main staircase has been artistically decorated.

On the faade are also large bass-relief sculptures of 10 directors of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company, including Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy and Sir Jagannath Shankar Seth.

The entrance gates to Victoria Terminus carry two main gate columns, which are crowned, one with a Lion (representing the United Kingdom) and the other with a Tiger (representing India), both sculptured in Porbunder sandstone. In 1969, the statue of Progress was damaged due to lightning, but the Central Railway authorities with the help of Professor VV Manjrekar of the JJ School of Arts successfully restored it.

In 2004, the station was nominated as a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO

Taj Palace Hotel Entrance (Year: 1903)

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is one of the city's most iconic landmarks, and is located near the Gateway of India at Apollo Bunder.

Jamshedji Tata, a Parsi entrepreneur and prominent industrialist, commissioned this five-star luxury hotel. Built in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style and containing 565 rooms, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel resort opened its doors to its guest for the first time on December 16, 1903.

Taj Hotel - Then
Taj Hotel - Then
Sher Singh was the old owner of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel; now it is a part of the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces. During World War I, the hotel was converted into a 600-bed hospital.

Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya, Ashok Kumar and DN Mirza were the Indian architects on this project, which was completed by the English engineer WA Chambers. Khansaheb Sorabji Ruttonji Contractor was the builder, who also designed and built its famous central floating staircase.

To build the dome of the hotel, Jamshedji Tata imported the same steel that has been used in the Eiffel Tower. The hotel is the first in India to install and operate a steam elevator. The cost of construction totalled a massive 250,000.

Taj Hotel - Now
Taj Hotel - Now
The side of the hotel seen from the harbour is actually its rear with the front facing away to the west. Rumour has it that the builder misread the architect's plans, but this is not true. The hotel was deliberately built facing inland as it provided an easier approach for the horse carriages of those days. Today, the old front has been closed and access to the hotel is from the harbour side.

According misconception about the Taj is that Jamshedji Tata decided to build this luxury hotel because he was denied entry into the 'whites only' Watson's Hotel. This claim has been challenged by some commentators who say that Tata was unlikely to have been concerned with revenge against his British adversaries. They believe that it was the editor of the Times of India who urged Tata to build a hotel "worthy of Bombay".

Hotel Majestic and Waterloo Mansion (Year 1890)

Situated a few minutes away from the business district of Ballard Estate and the art area of Kala Ghoda, the Majestic Hotel was one of the city's best hotels, offering its clients a variety of dining and other facilities.

WA Chambers designed it in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style. Chambers was also the engineer on the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Apollo Bunder.

Hotel Majestic - Then
Hotel Majestic - Then
Along with the Waterloo Mansion next door, the Majestic Hotel became one of the most photographed pieces of architecture in the city and was frequently featured in postcards of the early 20th century.

Unfortunately, post Independence, like it has been with many of our heritage sites, the condition of the building deteriorated due to lack of interest in preservation. The government eventually took over the property in the 1960s and renamed it Sahakari Bhandar. Now, it has been completely transformed and performs the dual function of a cooperative general store and a hostel for members of the legislative assembly.
Hotel Majestic - Now
Hotel Majestic - Now
The erstwhile Waterloo Mansion, which was then built exclusively for residential purposes, is now referred to as the Indian Mercantile Building. Its architectural style is Gothic with turrets, pointed arches and black stone faades. Old postcard pictures depict each tower being topped with a red tiled pyramidal roof. It is not known when and why these roof structures were removed.

Both, the Majestic Hotel and the Waterloo Mansion, are located near the Wellington Fountain Circle, also known as the Regal Circle, but officially renamed as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Chowk

Pydownie Mohammed Ali Road (Year unknown)

Mohammed Ali Road is a stretch between the junctions of Crawford Market and Mandvi Post Office. This vital artery of the city's road network is named after the late freedom fighters, Maulana Mohammed Ali and Shaukhat Ali.

Mohammed Ali Road - Then
Mohammed Ali Road - Then
The brothers had joined hands with Mahatma Gandhi to launch the Khilafat Movement against the British. After the First War of Independence in 1857, this was the first major instance of Hindu-Muslim unity. Maulana Mohammad Ali was also one of the founders of the Jamia Millia Islamia (Central University), New Delhi and its first Vice Chancellor. He was a renowned journalist as well as an Urdu poet.

The street was previously known as Pydownie Street thanks to a British perversion of the word 'Pydhonie', which literally translates as 'a place where feet are washed'. This probably was the first portion of the land permanently reclaimed from the sea.
The 'foot wash' area can be recognised as a small creek that formed during high tide between the islands of Mazgaon and Bombay.

Mohammed Ali Road - Now
Mohammed Ali Road -Now
The street, abuzz at all hours of the day, epitomises the spirit of the city that never sleeps. Being a primarily Muslim dominated area, it comes alive during in the period of Ramadan. Gastronomists throng its by-lanes that tempt all with offerings of mouth-watering delicacies. Famous sweetmeat shops like Zam Zam, Suleman Usman, Ghasita Ram, Hatim and Lookmanji flank the road.

Amidst the chaos, the light green coloured Minara Masjid sparkles under a cloud of tiny fairy lights during festive nights. Another one of the primary landmarks in the area is the Mumbadevi Temple that was financed by a goldsmith called Pandurang Shivaji Sonar.

Today, the JJ flyover (now renamed after the saint Makhdoom Ali Mahimi) curves above this street for 2.1 kilometres, making it the longest viaduct in the country.

Round Temple Sandhurst Road (Year unknown)

The Round Temple of Bombay is also known as the Gol Dewal and is located on Sandhurst Road in South Bombay. Around the temple is a 'stone' market said to be the city's oldest; here, one can choose from a wide variety of stones to use to furnish one's home.

Round Temple - sandhurst Road
Round Temple - sandhurst Road - Then
Sandhurst Road is also a railway station on the Central Line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway. The area is named after Lord Sandhurst, who was the Governor of Bombay from 1895 to 1900. The station was built in 1910 using funds from the Bombay City Improvement Trust, which he had helped raise.

The Trust had been created in response to the plague epidemic of 1896 to improve sanitary and living conditions in the city.

Round Temple - sandhurst Road  Now
Round Temple - sandhurst Road - Now
The railway station was built in 1921. The supporting pillars of the edifice bear the inscription "GIPR 1921 Lutha Iron Works, Glasgow". (GIPR stands for Great Indian Peninsula Railway, which was a predecessor of the Indian Central Railway.) The fabricated metal was imported from the United Kingdom

The Bombay Club (Year: 1845)

In the Fort area was a historical club founded by the members of the Indian Navy as far back as 1845. As suited them and their proud vessels, it was within a stone's throw of the dock and the harbour.

It was situated in Rampart Row, West, which has sometimes been called Ropewalk. It was located on the premises, which had been afterwards occupied for years by the P&O Company.
Bombay Club - Then
Bombay Club - Then

This Club, of course, was confined to members of the Indian and Royal Navy. It, too, had its own rich naval traditions, which seem to have been lost in oblivion, but one could wish that they were ransacked and collected in a readable form, as they would constitute a distinctive and remarkable chapter in the making of Bombay for a century.

In the 1850s, the Bombay Club, as it was called, was a flourishing institution; and though strangers were confined to the tearoom, the one proud trophy the Club possessed was to be seen there. It was a bell, which one of the warships of the Indian Navy had brought as a prize from the first Burmese War.

The bell is still in existence, having been taken over as a valuable historical asset from the old Club by its successor. The present Bombay Club is in no sense a naval club. It is open to all European merchants, specially bankers, traders, mercantile assistants and brokers. But the glory, which the Indian Navy shed on its own original institution, is gone.

Oriental Buildings and Hornby Road (Year: 1885)

One of the first few buildings to come up in the Fort area was the Oriental Building in 1885, which cost Rs 87,000 and initially housed the Cathedral School.

In 1893, the building was sold to the Oriental Life Assurance Company; and with the proceeds the present Senior School building, a beautiful blend of Gothic and Indian architecture, was erected and occupied in 1896.

Oriental Building - Then
Oriental Building - Then
Starting from Crawford Market, passing by Victoria Terminus and stretching all the way to Flora Fountain is the Hornby Road, now known as Dadabhai Naoroji Road. It was a simple street that was widened into an avenue in the 1860s, and is now studded with structures built in the Neo-Classical and Gothic Revival styles of the 19th century.

Besides the three mentioned heritage sites, the road also displays the grand structures of the Bombay Municipal Corporation, Times of India, JJ School of Art, J N Petit Public Library and Watcha Agiary.

Oriental Building - Now
Oriental Building -Now
The history of Hornby Road, named after the then governor William Hornby, can be traced to more than 200 years ago when the British East India Company built the Fort that was later demolished to make space for growing civic requirements. It was then that the small street was broadened into an avenue and impressive buildings built along its stretch.

These structures, built between 1885 and 1919, were constructed in accordance with mandatory (government regulation of 1896) pedestrian arcade in the ground floor that performed as the unifying element tying together the various building facades. The result was a splendid spectacle of structures in various architectural styles linked together by a continuous ground floor pedestrian arcade along the street-scape.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sacred Cow

The world over, the term "sacred cow" has come to mean any stubborn loyalty to a long-standing institution which impedes natural progress. The term originates in India, where the cow is said to be literally worshiped, while thousands of humans suffer from undernourishment. The common, popular view of India in the West is that of an underdeveloped nation steeped in superstition. Overpopulated, overcrowded, undereducated, and bereft of most modern amenities, India is seen to be a backward nation in many respects by "progressive" Western civilization. "If only India would abandon her religious superstitions and kill and eat the cow!" Over several decades many attempts have been made by the "compassionate" West to alleviate unfortunate India's burden of poor logic, and to replace her superstitions with rational thinking.

Much of the religious West finds common ground with the rationalists, with whom they otherwise are usually at odds, on the issue of India's "sacred cow." Indeed, worshiping God is one thing, but to worship the cow while at the same time dying of starvation is a theological outlook much in need of reevaluation. Man is said to have dominion over the animals, but it would appear that the Indians have it backwards.

Brahmin Boy with Cow
Brahmin Boy with Cow
Popular opinion is not always the most informed opinion; in fact, this is usually the case. The many attempts to wean India from the nipple of her outdated pastoral culture have all failed. After 200 years of foreign occupation by the British, and after many subsequent but less overt imperialistic attempts, we find that although India has changed, the sacred cow remains as sacred as ever. In all but two Indian states, cow slaughter is strictly prohibited. If legislation were passed today to change that ruling, there would be rioting all over India. In spite of considerable exposure to Western ideas, one late Indian statesman said, when asked what he thought of Western civilization, "I think it is a good idea. When will they begin?"

An unbiased look at perhaps the longest-standing culture of the world, its roots and philosophy, may help us to see things a little more as they are — even about our own way of life. Sometimes we have to stand back to get the full picture. It is a natural tendency to consider one's own way the best, but such bull-headedness may cause us to miss seeing our own shortcomings. An honest look at the headlines of our home town newspaper may inspire us to question exactly what it is we are so eager to propound.

Perhaps the most appalling aspect of the Western technological influence on India is found in the country's few "modern" cities. Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, and other cities can be most frustrating to the average Westerner. Crude attempts at modernization can be worse than none at all. Although India's technology lacks the polish and sophistication of the West, its employment in crude fashion nonetheless brings all of the adverse effects of a sophisticated form of the same amenities.

Indian god presence in cow
Real India is rural India. Village life accounts for the bulk of India's population of 700 million, and best illustrates the nation's ancient culture. The simplicity of India is often mistaken for ignorance, and her peacefulness mistaken for complacency. The serenity of Indian village life is overlooked or mislabeled by those who in the name of progress may really only be operating under the axiom of "misery loves company." Perhaps the people of India live as they do for a good reason: much of what goes along with Western "progress"—the mental anguish which causes us to do the most bizarre things that make many cities living hells—is relatively absent in India's rural lifestyle.

It is particularly difficult for Westerners to appreciate India's worship of the cow. After all, we live in the land of the hamburger. The "American" restaurant abroad is McDonald's. "Ole McDonald had a farm /Did it ever grow!" Western economists often contend that beef alone can solve India's food problems and lay a foundation for a lucrative export trade. This has caused cow worship and cow protection to come under attack for centuries. Cow protection has been called a "lunatic obstacle" to sensible farm management.

Hare Krishna, with Cow
India's cow is called the zebu, and an investigation of the controversy surrounding her brings us to the heart of village life in India. The average landholder in India farms approximately one acre. This is nowhere near enough land to warrant the purchase of a tractor. Even if the size of the land plots were increased to make the purchase of machinery cost-effective, the unique weather, a five-season year including the monsoon, would quickly render the tractor useless. After the monsoons, the soil is too soft for planting and must be quickly and efficiently prepared before the soon-to-follow intense heat brings an end to the very short growing season. The loss of even one day will considerably affect the overall yield. The zebu bullocks are ideal in this connection for they can easily plow the soft earth without overly compacting the soil as would heavy machinery.

Farming in India is a family affair, and the labor-intensive approach to cultivation involves everyone. This helps to sustain the family unit, which is sometimes considered to be the wealth of a nation. The staples of the diet are grains: wheat and rice. Most of India is vegetarian. While the bull plows the field, helping to provide the grains, the cow supplies milk from which many dairy products are produced. Day to day, year after year, the cow and bull are the center of rural Indian life.
Cow and Calf

According to Frances Moore Lappe in her best-seller, Diet for a Small Planet, "For every sixteen pounds of grain and soy fed to beef cattle in the United States, we only get one pound back in meat on our plates. The other fifteen pounds are inaccessible to us, either used by the animal to produce energy or to make some part of its own body that we do not eat (like hair or bones), or excreted. Milk production is more efficient, with less than one pound of grain fed for every pint of milk produced. (This is partly because we don't have to grow a new cow every time we milk one.)" If India, with its already strained resources, were to allocate so much more acreage for the production of beef, it would be disastrous. Advocates of modernization maintain that with the application of the latest farming techniques, the yield per acre would gradually increase, thus making it possible for beef to be introduced over a period of time. Such advocates contend that with the introduction of beef into the Indian diet, the population's health would increase, thus furthering productivity. However, it is interesting to note that although India is far from being free of disease, its principal health problems are a result of urban overcrowding and inadequate sanitation and medical facilities. Whereas high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer constitute the greatest health threats in the West, the Indian people are practically free from these afflictions. So the "fact" that India's health would increase with the introduction of beef into the diet is not likely to overcome the "superstition" of the people's religious beliefs which prohibit them from eating meat.

Kamdhenu cow
The religious "superstitions" of India are based on the Vedas, which constitute the most voluminous body of literature in the world. The Vedas and their corollaries deal elaborately with theism, describing many gradations of the theistic idea. The idea that one should not eat meat, although central to Hindu philosophy, is only a secondary theme. To a large extent it amounts only to common sense and sensitivity. It is from this basis of sensitivity, an indicator of healthy consciousness, that higher spiritual principles can be appreciated. Actually, the Vedas agree with the West's contention that man has dominion over the animals; however, the West's way of dealing with its dependents is revolting to Indians. After all, we have dominion over our children and ofttimes elders as well, but would we be justified in slaughtering them for food? We become incensed if someone even abuses our dog!

The Vedas do not teach that the cow is superior to the human form of life and therefore worshipable. Rather, the she gives so much practical help to human society that she should be protected. Her assistance frees mankind from much of the struggle of life, thereby providing us with more time for spiritual pursuits. Although modern technology may be said to do the same, the fact is that it actually complicates man's life more and more and distracts him from more simple living and high spiritual thinking. We may become so mechanistic that we can fool ourselves into believing that cows or pets have no feelings.

For India, the cow represents the sacred principle of motherhood. She symbolizes charity and generosity because of the way she distributes her milk, which is essential for the nourishment of the young.

India's critics have pointed out that although Indian village life may be simple, it is a marginal existence; it is a life of little surplus. If a farmer's cow turns barren, he has lost his only chance of replacing the work team. And if she goes dry, the family loses its milk and butter. However the situation is not as bad as the technologically advanced may think. In village life, people are more interdependent. Helping one's neighbor is also considered sacred. Sharing is commonplace. All of the father's male friends are affectionately referred to by the sons and daughters as "uncle", while all of the village women are seen as mother. Often the responsibility of caring for and nursing the young is shared by several mothers.

Perhaps the heaviest criticism of the pastoral culture of India is directed at the insistence of the farmers on protecting even sick and aged cows. Westerners find this to be the height of absurdity. At least they could be killed and eaten or sold. But no. Animal hospitals or nursing homes called goshallas, provided by government agencies or wealthy individuals in search of piety, offer shelter for old and infirm cows. This is thought to be a luxury that India cannot really afford, as these "useless" cows are seen to be but competitors for the already limited croplands and precious foodstuffs. The fact is, however, that India actually spends a great deal less on their aging cattle than Americans spend on their cats and dogs. And India's cattle population is six times that of the American pet population.

The Indian farmer sees his cattle like members of the family. Since the farmers depend on the cattle for their own livelihood, it makes perfect sense both economically and emotionally to see to their well-being. In between harvests, the cattle are bathed and spruced up much like the average American polishes his automobile. Twice during the year, special festivals are held in honor of the cows. These rituals are similar to the American idea of Thanksgiving. Although in principle the same, there is a basic difference in the details of how we treat the turkey and how the more "primitive" Indians treat their cows.

India cares for over 200 million zebus. This accounts for one-fifth of the world's cattle population. Critics say that if India does not eat her cows, the cows will eat India. Exasperated critics feel that even the cow is underfed. However, in more recent years, India's critics have come to agree that she is essential to India's economy. Cattle are India's greatest natural resource. They eat only grass --which grows everywhere--and generates more power than all of India's generating plants. They also produce fuel, fertilizer, and nutrition in abundance. India runs on bullock power. Some 15 million bullock carts move approximately 15 billion tons of goods across the nation. Newer studies in energetics have shown that bullocks do two-thirds of the work on the average farm. Electricity and fossil fuels account for only 10%. Bullocks not only pull heavy loads, but also grind the sugarcane and turn the linseed oil presses. Converting from bullocks to machinery would cost an estimated $30 billion plus maintenance and replacement costs.

The biggest energy contribution from cows and bulls is their dung. India's cattle produce 800 million tons of manure every year. The Vedas explain that dung from cows is different from all other forms of excrement. Indian culture insists that if one comes in contact with the stool of any other animal, they must immediately take a bath. Even after passing stool oneself, bathing is necessary. But the cow's dung, far from being contaminating, instead possesses antiseptic qualities. This has been verified by modern science. Not only is it free from bacteria, but it also does a good job of killing them. Believe it or not, it is every bit as good an antiseptic as Lysol or Mr. Clean.

Most of the dung is used for fertilizer at no cost to the farmer or to the world's fossil fuel reserves. The remainder is used for fuel. It is odorless and burns without scorching, giving a slow, even heat. A housewife can count on leaving her pots unattended all day or return any time to a preheated griddle for short-order cooking. To replace dung with coal would cost India $1.5 billion per year.

Dung is also used for both heating and cooling. Packed on the outside walls of a house, in winter it keeps in the heat, and in summer produces a cooling effect. Also, unlike the stool of humans, it keeps flies away , and when burned, its smoke acts as a repellent for mosquitoes.

When technocrats were unable to come up with a workable alternative, they came up with a new argument for modernization. They suggested that the cattle culture be maintained, but that it should be done in a more efficient manner. Several ambitious programs were initiated using pedigree bulls and artificial insemination. But the new hybrids were not cheap nor were they able to keep up the pace with the zebus. The intense heat of India retired many of them well before old age. Although they produced more milk, this also created more problems, because there was no efficient system for distributing the surplus of milk throughout India's widespread population.

India's system of distribution is highly decentralized. Although the solution seemed simple, modernization again met its shortcomings. With bottling plants, pasteurization, and other sophisticated Western methods of distribution, it was thought that all of India could have fresh, pure milk. Behind the automats set up for the distribution of powdered milk, milk, and cream was the expectation that in time, people would begin to appreciate the abundant rewards bestowed by these new modern deities of technology, and worship of cows would gradually disappear. But in the end it was modernization that failed to prove its value.

Pasteurization proved to be a waste of time and money for Indians, who generally drink their milk hot, and thus boil it before drinking. With the absence of modern highways and the cost of milking machines and other necessities of factory dairy farming, it was seen to be impractical to impose the Western dairy system on India; the cost of refrigeration alone would make the price of milk too expensive for 95% of India's population.

Eventually, after repeated attempts to modernize India's approach to farming—and in particular its attitude toward its beloved zebus—it became clear that these technological upgrades were not very well thought out. They were not to replace a system that had endured for thousands of years; a system not only economically wise, but one that was part of a spiritually rich heritage. On the contrary, it may well be time to export the spiritual heritage of India to the West, where technology continues to threaten the tangible progress of humanity in its search for the deeper meaning of life.