By Monisha Rajesh
To appreciate India you should see it, pay attention it, breathe it and think it. Monisha Rajesh turns to a map of the Indian railways and takes a web page out of Jules Verne’s vintage story, embarking on an experience round India in eighty trains, protecting 40,000km. Monisha hopes that eighty educate trips up, down and throughout India will elevate the veil on a rustic that has turn into a stranger to her.
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Extra info for Around India in 80 Trains
Pudukkottai, which at its most extensive did not exceed 1,200 square miles, was located in an exclusively rain-fed agricultural zone right in the middle of the Tamil speaking region of southern Indian, straddling the boundary between the two great medieval Tamil kingdoms. Ruled by Kallar kings from the end of the seventeenth century until 1947, it provides an excellent canvas for a study of the political history of Indian society, or, rather, a social history of the Indian state. Kallars were elsewhere thought to be highway robbers: the term itself is still used in Tamil for thief.
In both its emergence to and its maintenance of power, it exemplified the social and military vitality of certain productively marginal areas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries before it began its long decline under a distinctive form of colonial hegemony engineered by the British. Colonialism purposefully preserved many of the forms of the old regime, nowhere more conspicuously than in the indirectly ruled Princely State, of which Pudukkottai was the only one in the Tamil speaking region of India.
While the productive centers of the south had already been subjected to the patrimonial rule of the Nawab, a peculiar form of intensive but individualized administration which was heavily dependent on "tax-farmers" who were awarded contracts by the Nawab for the collection of revenue, those areas of the south outside economic and political centers had continued to be ruled by local chiefs, usually the dominant heads of the dominant castes. The local control of some of these chiefs, particularly in the northwestern areas of the Tamil country, southwestern Andhra, and southern Mysore, had already been challenged by Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan of southern Mysore, who set out to establish highly extractive and interventionist systems of revenue collection and administration wherever they could in the late eighteenth century.