The following is the small collection of texts in which I found these coincidences and more. I am not history buff, nor war buff. I was looking simply because I was distressed by our Prime Minister partying at Humayun's Tomb, not once but twice (as Chief Guest of the Aga Khan on 27 November 2004 and as host to Tony Blair on 7 September 2005), even though such partying is impermissible in law and despite protest (in 2004 by myself against re-honouring of a DfiD funded Indore project amounting to civic disaster and other interferences in urban development paradigms and professional practice and in 2005 by a section of The Left against the Blair visit in view of Iraq and WTO). I had turned to Google in hope of finding, for peace of mind, that the association of Humayun's Tomb with 1857 was insignificant. Now I am aghast.

Of course, my search was far from scholarly and I would be greatly relieved to be corrected. If, however, I have stumbled upon something significant, I wish our History would record, now, who all amongst those connected with either party at the Tomb and who all amongst those deciding how our History should be taught or show-cased are aware of it. This is to distinguish between those who knew exactly what they were doing or not doing about the partying at the Tomb (and ought to answer for their deliberate disrespect of History) and those who knew not what they did or did not (and ought to relinquish responsibilities for minding our affairs for that reason).

The Indian Rebellion of 1857

"The preceding months held tensions and several serious events but they failed to cause as big a conflagration as those at Meerut. Fires broke out near Calcutta on 22 January 1857. On 25 February 1857 the 19th Regiment mutinied at Behrampore and the regiment allowed one of its men to advance with a loaded musket upon the parade-ground in front of a line and open fire on his superior officer; a battle ensued. On 31 March 1857 the 34th Regiment rebelled at Barrackpore. April saw fires at Agra, Allahabad and Ambala.

"In March 1857, Mangal Pande of the 34th Native Infantry attacked his British sergeant and wounded an adjutant. General Hearsay, who says Pande was in some kind of "religious frenzy", ordered a jemadar to arrest him but the jemadar refused. Mangal Pande then turned the gun against himself and used his foot to try to pull the trigger to shoot himself. He failed and was captured, along with the jemadar he was hanged on 7 April. The whole regiment was dismissed as a collective punishment and because it was felt that they would harbour feelings against their superiors after this incident. The other sepoys thought of this as harsh punishment.

"On 9 May, 85 troopers of the 3rd Light Cavalry at Meerut refused to use their cartridges. They were imprisoned, sentenced to ten years of hard labour, and stripped of their uniforms in public... When the 11th and 20th native cavalry of the Bengal Army assembled in Meerut on 10 May, they broke rank and turned on their commanding officers. They then liberated the 3rd Regiment and attacked the European cantonment... On 11 May the rebels reached Delhi, where they were joined by other Indians from the local bazaar, and attacked and captured the Red Fort (Lal Qila), killing five British, including a British officer and two women. Lal Qila was the residence of the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II and the sepoys demanded that he reclaim his throne. At first he was reluctant but eventually he agreed to the demands and became the leader of the rebellion...

"The rebellion now spread beyond the armed forces, but it did not result in a complete popular uprising as its leaders hoped. ...The war was mainly centred in northern and central areas of India. Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Bareilly, Arrah and Jagdishpur were the main centres of conflict... Many Indians supported the British, partly due to their dislike at the idea of return of Mughal rule and partly because of the lack of a notion of Indianness. These very forces were crucial to the British re-conquest of the independent areas. The Sikhs and Pathans of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province supported the British and helped in the capture of Delhi..."

Mangal Pandey, 1857 & 20051

1857-The Background, The Epic of the Race: India 1857

"... Plassey had been in 1757 and in the hundredth year after the battle it seemed everyone was awaiting a spark. When it came, it came in the shape of a new cartridge. The projectile for the new Enfield rifle was part of a self-contained paper cartridge that contained both ball and powder charge. It required only the end to be bitten off and the cartridge then rammed down the muzzle of the weapon. To facilitate this process the cartridge was heavily greased - with animal fat. Sepoys heard and quickly passed on the rumour that the grease was a mixture of cow (sacred to Hindus) and pig (abhorrent to Moslems) fat. ...The stage was set for a great tragedy to unfold... It began at Barrackpore at the end of March 1857. Mangel Pande, a young sepoy of the 34th Native Infantry, shot at his sergeant-major on the parade ground. When the British adjutant rode over, Pande shot the horse out from under him and as the officer tried to extricate himself Pande severely wounded him with a sword. Drawn by the commotion the commanding officer of the station, General Hearshey, galloped to the scene accompanied by his two sons. The sepoy panicked and instead of shooting at the general, turned his rifle on himself and pulled the trigger. He survived this suicide attempt and was later court-martialled and hanged. As a collective punishment the 34th Native Infantry was disbanded; its shameful fate being publicly proclaimed at every military station in British India. Pande achieved a certain kind of immortality in that his name entered British military slang as the general nickname for a mutineer and eventually a derogatory term for any Indian."

The 1857 Siege of Delhi, John H. Waller, Military History Magazine

"More worrisome to the British was an isolated act of mutiny that erupted on March 19, 1857, on the parade ground of Barrackpore, near Calcutta. There, a zealot of the 34th Bengal Regiment named Mangal Pande suddenly broke ranks, shouting to his regimental mates: "Rise, all of you! The English are upon us; by biting the defiled cartridges, we shall all lose our religion!" In an effort to restore calm, the regimental adjutant galloped into the melee, only to be cut down by the mutineer. The commanding general then dashed onto the parade ground and faced Pande, who pointed his gun at the general. Some stories relate that the general shouted defiantly, "Damn his musket!" and, with his pistol aimed at Pande's head, ordered the 34th to advance and seize the mutineer. Pande put his toe into the trigger of his musket and fired upward at his own breast. He survived his suicide attempt, only to be hanged by the British on April 8. The 34th was promptly disbanded as a result of this incident, but the legend of Mangal Pande lived on, gaining fervor with each retelling. His name would also live on in the nickname the British gave to the Indian mutineers - "pandies."

24 August 2005, 'Aamir Khan's Mangal Pande - The Rising had to make Rs. 36 crores during the Independence Day Weekend', South Asian Women's Forum

"It is a coup of sorts. Film finance pundits have built the publicity of the latest Aamir Khan Rani Mukherjee-starrer - Mangal Pande-The Rising - in so perfect a manner that the film will recoup its investment of over Rs.35 crores in one weekend if it draws full houses at all multiplexes and theatres with the 400 prints released worldwide. The release of the film has been cleverly timed to coincide with the Independence Day of India, 15th August 2005, when India completes 58 years of freedom. ...Little is known about Mangal Pande and his origins and the mutiny he inspired. The film has shades of romance, which are not authenticated in whatever history has to say. The producers declare at the beginning of the film that it is a combination of true events with folklore which makes it a legend... On the other side of the world however, there have been cries in Britain that The Rising distorts history. Many critics - including Saul David, the author of The Indian Mutiny 1857 have questioned the contribution of Sterling pounds 1.50 lakhs to the film by the British Film Council. "The film is not anti British, it shows how the East India Company ran its reign in India," says Bobby Bedi, the producer. In India, the film has given a new meaning to Independence Day 2005...

The 1857 Siege of Delhi

Indian Rebellion of 1857,

"The British were slow to strike back at first but eventually two columns left Meerut and Simla. They proceeded slowly towards Delhi and fought, killed, and hanged numerous Indians along the way. At the same time, the British moved regiments from the Crimean War, and diverted European regiments headed for China to India.

"After a march lasting two months, the British fought the main army of the rebels near Delhi in Badl-ke-Serai and drove them back to Delhi. The British established a base on the Delhi ridge to the north of the city and the siege began. The siege of Delhi lasted roughly from the 1st of July to the 31st of August. However the encirclement was hardly complete-the rebels could easily receive resources and reinforcements. Later the British were joined by the Punjab Movable Column of Sikh soldiers and elements of the Gurkha Brigade.

"Eagerly-awaited heavy siege guns did not guarantee an easy victory against the numerical superiority of the sepoy. Eventually the British broke through the Kashmiri gate and began a week of street fighting.

1857-Delhi, The Epic of the Race: India 1857

"The loss of Delhi was a crushing blow to British prestige and the symbolic associations of the capital of the Moghuls being the centre of the mutiny were something the Britsh could not ignore. Only Delhi had the aura of authority that could provide any serious focus of resistance to British rule. From Meerut and Simla two British columns set out for the capital. Hampered by lack of transport, it was weeks before they joined forces at Ambala. Punishing disloyal villages as they advanced, one could have charted their course by the scores of corpses they left hanging from trees along their line of march. At Badl-ke-Serai, five miles from Delhi, they met the main army of the mutineers and though the British won the field they failed to destroy the sepoy army which fled back to the protection of the walls of Delhi. The British established themselves on Delhi ridge, a thin spur of high ground to the north of the city. There, two months after they had been forced out of the city, the British once again looked down on the massive ramparts of the capital of the Moghuls...

"Nicholson and his Punjab Movable Column came down the Grand Trunk Road like avenging angels at the rate of 27 miles a day. For once the prophecies worked in the British favour. It had long been said that one day the followers of the Guru (the Sikhs) would sack Delhi, the capital of their age-old foes, and the British were not derelict in suggesting that now was the time. In mid-August, Nicholson's men joined the force on Delhi ridge...

"Although the junior officers pressed for an immediate assault on the city, the walls which protected Delhi were strong enough to resist the shot of any but the heaviest guns ...Prudence dictated that the British wait for the heavy siege guns to arrive... After they came, the siege didn't last long. Twice the British breached the great walls only to see their badly outnumbered assault forces thrown back by the sepoys. Finally, a breach was made in the Kashmiri Gate and led by Nicholson this time the attackers were not checked. They swarmed into the city and after a week of bitter street fighting in the narrow streets and alleyways they forced their way through to the open ground in front of the Red Fort. The fort was deserted, Bahadur and his sons having fled to the imagined safety of Humayun's tomb on the outskirts of the city. British officers ate their dinner that night in the marbled mosques and great audience hall of the old king. Delhi was again British. Only one thing had marred the triumph. In the attack on the Kashmiri gate Nicholson had been hit by a mutineer's bullet and died soon after. Most of his men having sacked the city as promised shouldered their loot and headed home. They had come, they said, for Nicholson and not to fight for the British. With his death their service was over."

The 1857 Siege of Delhi, John H. Waller, Military History Magazine

"British officialdom in Delhi had received no advance warning of the catastrophe that befell them. At 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 10, a signals officer in Meerut had been barely able to send off one terse message to the signal officer on duty in Delhi before the link ceased to function. The Delhi signaler had reported only that the 3rd Native Light Cavalry was being punished for its mass refusal to use the new cartridges (many Indians still refused to believe that the British were not greasing them with cow and pig fat), adding ominously that further particulars would be sent at 4 that afternoon. When no second message was received that day from Meerut, the signal officer left his post and crossed the Jumna River to inspect the wire line for breaks. While pacing the line, he encountered advance units of the 3rd dashing toward Delhi... On the morning of the 11th, as the 3rd Cavalry invested the city, Delhi magistrate Theophilus Metcalf warned Lieutenant George Willoughby, the officer in charge of the main munitions magazine in Delhi, to take all possible steps to keep the magazine from falling into the hands of the mutineers... The sepoys were not long in laying siege to the arsenal. At 4 p.m., Willoughby gave the order to ignite the vast piles of explosives. A shattering explosion informed the British that Delhi was lost...

"The rapid spread of the mutiny in North India provoked unprecedented anguish and indignation in Britain. Army reinforcements were rushed from Rangoon, Ceylon and the Madras Presidency in South India. The British regarded Delhi as particularly important for symbolic and strategic reasons. If it was not soon retaken, the Punjab and Northwest provinces might be encouraged to revolt. ...Now the only sources of quick relief for Delhi were the Punjab and northern cantonments, where there were British regiments and relatively reliable native units. The 75th (Stirlingshire) Highlanders and the 1st and 2nd Bengal Fusiliers, which were posted near the hill station of Simla, reached Umbala on May 23 to stage an assault on Delhi. Those units were joined by the 9th Light Cavalry and 60th Rifle regiments and a squadron of the 4th Irregular Cavalry, as well as two troops of the Horse Artillery, to make up two brigades under the command of Maj. Gen. Sir Henry Barnard. From Meerut came a column consisting of one wing of the 60th Rifles, two squadrons of the 6th Dragoon Guards, 50 troopers from the 4th Irregulars, two companies of native sappers and Scott's battery of 18-pounders - all under the command of Colonel Archdale Wilson... The mutineers had established an artillery battery at Baduli-ke-Serai, but a bayonet charge by the 75th Highlanders overran the position on June 8. The combined British columns, known as the Army of Retribution, then retook the strategically important Delhi Ridge...

"The Army of Retribution was soon joined by other units arriving from the hill stations north of Delhi and the Punjab... retaking a fortified Delhi, whose forces far outnumbered the British, would not be an easy task. Barnard, commanding the ridge force, was reluctant to attack the entrenched positions of the mutineers without further reinforcements, including a proper siege train... Adding to the difficulties of the British was Barnard's sudden death on July 5 from cholera... Given the temporary rank of major general, Archdale Wilson took command... Brigadier General John Nicholson's flying column, which had dashed down the Grand Trunk high road from the Punjab to Delhi's relief, arrived to join the British forces on Delhi Ridge in mid-August... Nicholson was so concerned about the state of affairs on Delhi Ridge that, on September 7, he wrote the chief commissioner in the Punjab, Sir John Lawrence, "Wilson's head is going; he says so himself, and it is quite evident he speaks the truth." Lawrence then wrote to Wilson, reminding him that the fate of the British throughout India demanded an immediate assault on Delhi. The commissioner understood that if the campaign failed, even the Sikhs would falter in their loyalty...As it turned out, on that day Wilson did order preparations for an assault to begin in earnest...

"The attack was scheduled for 3 a.m. on September 14. ... Nicholson signaled his column to charge... storming party outran its ladder-bearers and was left exposed in the 16-foot moat, where they were raked by withering fire from the mutineers on the walls above them. When the ladder parties caught up with them, Nicholson led the survivors in a charge through a breach that had been made in the wall by his supporting artillery. Colonel George Campbell rushed his column to within striking distance of the critical Kashmir Gate and sent a small party of Bengal Engineers, under Lieutenant Duncan Home, to pack explosives under the gate. A firing party of the 52nd covered them as best it could, but the exposed sappers drew terrible fire. Half of them were killed and Lieutenant Philip Salkeld was mortally wounded, but Sergeant John Smith finally managed to touch off the explosion that blew a hole in the gate. As Bugler Robert Hawthorne of the 52nd sounded the attack, the British troops poured through the opening to be met only by the charred corpses of the sepoy defenders. Home, Salkeld, Hawthorne and Smith later received the Victoria Cross for the part they played in blowing open the Kashmir Gate; Salkeld's was the first VC to be awarded posthumously.

"Now within the city gates, three columns joined forces in an area between the Kashmir Gate and the Anglican church. The fourth column, whose artillery failed to appear amid the confusion, had been forced to retreat beyond the field of fire due to heavy casualties. The troops within the Kashmir Gate had to make their way some 250 yards down a 10-foot-wide lane flanked by flat-topped buildings, from which sepoys maintained a constant rain of fire. Making matters worse were two artillery pieces at the head of the lane and some 1,000 mutineers waiting to fire on the approaching British from atop the so-called Burn Bastion. The 1st Bengal Fusiliers took the lead in making the dash up the lane toward the Lahore Gate, which had to be opened to admit other British units. Powerless against the sheets of rifle fire from the rooftops, the fusiliers fell back. Nicholson then personally led a new attack on the Lahore Gate. Just as he flourished his saber, however, a mutineer fired on him point-blank from a window. Badly wounded, he mustered the strength to prop himself up on one elbow and once again shouted encouragement to his men, but his troops were unable to force this death trap and had to retire...

"On September 16, the magazine that Willoughby had blown up was captured. To the delight of the British, some 171 guns and vast stores of ammunition had somehow escaped damage in the explosion. The narrow lane leading to the Lahore Gate was widened and made navigable by blasting the houses along its curbs. On September 19, the Burn Bastion was taken, and on the following day the Lahore Gate finally fell to the British. As the weary days of fighting continued, news of victories was welcome. News of Nicholson's ebbing life was not. When the great soldier died, he was widely mourned and has ever since rested securely in the British pantheon of war heroes. The last remaining redoubt of the sepoys was believed to be the king's palace, but when its gates were blown open, it was found to be nearly deserted. At dawn on September 21, a royal salute told all within hearing distance that Delhi had been taken by the Army of Retribution.

Humayun's Tomb, 1857 & 2005

1857-Delhi, The Epic of the Race: India 1857

"One last atrocity was yet to happen. William Hodson, the son of an English clergyman, was intelligence officer for the British force and he was detailed to arrest Bahadur Shah. A wild leader of irregular cavalry, he took his squadron of Sikhs out to Humayun's tomb, arrested the old man, promised him his life but threatened to shoot him out of hand if there were any attempt at rescue. Hodson later described the ride back to Delhi as the longest in his life. The palanquins carrying the king and his party moved only at a slow walking pace and Hodson's Sikhs were vastly outnumbered by the crowd that came to watch the mournful procession. The following day Hodson rode back to the tomb and arrested the king's three sons, Mizra Moghul, Mizra Khizr Sultan and Mizra Abu Bakr. Just before reaching the walls of Delhi, he ordered them out of the bullock cart they were riding in, stripped off their clothes and with his own hand shot the three of them dead. Their bodies were dumped on a midden heap outside a Delhi police station. Hodson claimed in a letter to his brother, Rev. George Hodson, that he killed the princes because the mob following were about to attack his troopers... Perhaps this is true, but we have to ask ourselves whether the son of a clergyman writing to his clergyman brother would ever admit to being a cold-blooded murderer. Hodson was a man often compared to the condottiere of the 15th century and had once been accused of embezzling the mess funds of his own regiment. It also seems unlikely that the mob would have waited almost until the procession reached Delhi before taking action; they had traversed miles of open country on the journey where a rescue attempt would have been much easier to effect. Whatever the reason for Hodson's action, his behaviour that day was disgraceful and can only be described as murder.

"Bahadur Shah was tried for complicity to murder and other offences, found guilty and sent into exile in Rangoon. He died there in 1862, the last of the Moghuls. Hodson was never punished for his summary executions of the princes. He died in the retaking of Lucknow in 1858.

The 1857 Siege of Delhi, John H. Waller, Military History Magazine

"Bahadur Shah, disillusioned and tired of being manipulated by the sepoys, had hidden a few miles north of the city in Emperor Homayun's tomb. This was discovered by the intrepid but headstrong Major William Hodson, who was famous along the Northwest Frontier as the leader of hard-riding irregulars known as Hodson's Horse and who now managed intelligence for the British at Delhi. With 50 of his men he set out on September 21 to bring in the errant king.

"Bahadur Shah had huddled inside the cloisters of the tomb while thousands of his servants and well-wishers sullenly watched the approaching British horsemen. The king knew that resistance on his part would be pointless, and he accepted Hodson's promise that the major would spare his life if he gave up quietly. Followed by a vast entourage of Indians, Hodson led his captive back to Delhi. Then, he and 100 of his irregular cavalrymen returned to Homayun's tomb, this time to bring back the king's two sons and grandson. Despite a mob of royal retainers and partisans, many of whom were armed, Hodson was able to flush the young scions of the Mogul dynasty from their hiding place. Hodson, surrounded by a hostile crowd, did something that has ever since been criticized but may have saved his life and those of his escort - he raised his carbine and summarily executed the three princes. Amazingly, the shocked mob did nothing. Hodson, as he had done many times before, stunned his adversaries into submission by sheer audacity. The bodies were dumped unceremoniously at the spot where the king's sons were thought to have committed atrocities against the English. As the British chaplain observed, "It was a dire retribution."

"Bahadur, humiliated by a trial, exiled for life in Rangoon and saddened by the death of his sons and grandson, described his feelings in a poem he wrote before his death on November 7, 1862: "All that I loved is gone/Like a garden robbed of its beauty by Autumn/I am only a memory of splendor."

Indian Rebellion of 1857,

"When the British reached the Red Fort, Bahadur Shah had already fled to Humayun's tomb. ...The British proceeded to loot and pillage the city. A large number of the citizens were slaughtered in retaliation for the Europeans killed by rebel Indians. Artillery was set up in the main mosque in the city and the neighbourhoods within the range of artillery were bombarded. These included the homes of the Muslim nobility from all over India, and contained innumerable cultural, artistic, literary and monetary riches. An example would be the loss of most of the works of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, thought of as the greatest south Asian poet of that era.

"The British soon arrested Bahadur Shah, and the next day British officer William Hodson shot his sons Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khizr Sultan, and Mirza Abu Bakr under his own authority. Their heads were presented to their father the next day

7 September 2005: PM hosts dinner for Blairs in grand setting of Humayan tomb

It was a formal high profile dinner in an ususual setting. In a shift from tradition of hosting a reception in a five-star hotel or the elegant Hyderabad House, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today hosted dinner for his British counterpart Tony Blair and his wife Cherie on the lawns of the historic Humayan Tomb here. The romantically lit up 16th century marvel of Mughal architecture presented a spectacular background as Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur received the guests. The Mughlai menu, including kebabs, added the flavour to the ambience. About 200 guests, comprising the who's who of Indian politics and business, attended the dinner. Among these were former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and I K Gujral, members of the Union Council of Ministers and top officials. Blair was dressed formally in a blue lounge suit while Cherie wore a light-green Indian salwar-kameez for the occasion. Singh was in his typical kurta-pyjama and his wife was draped in an off-white sari...

Devil's Wind after "Peace Treaty" of 8 July 1958

The Indian Mutiny, The Epic of the Race: India 1857

"It was even called the "epic of the Race" by the historian Sir Charles Crostwaithe and though this may sound ridiculous to the modern ear it was nothing more than a reflection of the confidence, indeed arrogance, with which the British of Victoria's 20th year on the throne viewed the world in general and their empire in particular. It also reflected the shock and horror that the Mutiny had provoked in Britain and the pride that followed on the heels of Britain's ultimate victory; one seemingly achieved against great odds. Though the Mutiny dragged on for almost two years it was effectively fought and won in a six-month whirlwind of murder, siege, atrocity, forced marches, heroism, savagery and brutality. Women and children were butchered by both sides. Great cities were sacked and the British armies which swept across the north of India to relieve their besieged comrades and avenge their murdered compatriots were perhaps the most enraged and cruellest troops ever to have been put in the field by the government and people of Britain."

Indian Rebellion of 1857,

"Retailiation: From the end of 1857, the British had begun to gain ground again. Lucknow was retaken in March 1858. The last rebels were defeated in Gwalior on 20 June 1858. On 8 July 1858, a peace treaty was signed and the war ended. ...It was a crude and brutal war, with both sides resorting to what would now be described as war crimes. ...the end of the war was followed by the execution of a vast majority of combatants from the Indian side as well as large numbers of civilians perceived to be sympathetic to the rebel cause. The British press and British government did not advocate clemency of any kind...

"Reorganisation: The rebellion also saw the end of the British East India Company's rule in India. In August, by the Act for the Better Government of India, power was transferred to the British Crown. A secretary of state was entrusted with the authority of Indian affairs and the Crown's viceroy in India was to be the chief executive. The British embarked on a program of reform, trying to integrate Indian higher castes and rulers into the government and abolishing the East India Company...

The Aftermath, The Epic of the Race: India 1857

"In the winter of 1857 and the first six months of 1858, the British slowly retook everything they had lost. ...Massively reinforced from Britain, the armies which spread out over the north of India were vengeful and cruel, with a distinct taste for looting. They saw themselves as dispensors of divine justice and given the frenzy of murder that had accompanied the start of the mutiny felt their cruelties to be simply repayment in kind. As the myths of the mutiny grew, every dead British child became a slaughtered angel, every woman a violated innocent, every sepoy a black-faced, blood-crazed savage. There was little room for mercy in the hearts of the British troops and those, such as the Governor Lord Canning, who spoke of restraint were derided by their countrymen. Canning became known contemptuously as "clemency Canning"...

"In the early months of the British recovery, few sepoys were left alive after their positions were overrun. The British soldiers seemed to have made a collective decision not to take prisoners and most actions ended with a frenzied use of the bayonet. On the line of march whole villages were sometimes hanged for some real or imagined sympathy for the mutineers. Looting was endemic and neither the sanctity of holy places nor the rank of Indian aristocrats could prevent the wholesale theft of their possessions. Many a British family saw its fortune made during the pacification of northern India...

"For more than a year the people of northern India trembled with fear as the British sated their thirst for revenge. The Indians called it 'the Devil's Wind'. And finally, in one of those ironical twists that the forces of history seem to revel in, the prophecy that had said, "a hundred years after the Battle of Plassey the rule of John Company will end" actually came true. When the British desire for punishment and revenge was spent, they started to think about how future mutinies could be prevented. They realised that it was inappropriate for a land the size of India to be governed by a private company and instead introduced direct rule through the India Office, a British department of state. A hundred years after Plassey the rule of the Honourable East India Company finally did come to an end."

Oxford 1858 & 8 July 2005

The Aftermath, The Epic of the Race: India 1857

"The Times newspaper called for the execution of every mutineer in India and in a debate at the Oxford Union, one speaker roused his audience by declaring,"When every gibbet is red with blood, when the ground in front of every cannon is strewn with rags and flesh and shattered bone, then talk of mercy. Then you may find some to listen."

Address by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at Oxford University on 8 July 2005

"...There is no doubt that our grievances against the British Empire had a sound basis for. As the painstaking statistical work of the Cambridge historian Angus Maddison has shown, India's share of world income collapsed from 22.6% in 1700, almost equal to Europe's share of 23.3% at that time, to as low as 3.8% in 1952...

"Consider the fact that an important slogan of India's struggle for freedom was that "Self Government is more precious than Good Government". That, of course, is the essence of democracy. But the slogan suggests that even at the height of our campaign for freedom from colonial rule, we did not entirely reject the British claim to good governance. We merely asserted our natural right to self-governance. Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian Prime Minister to assert that India's experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too. Our notions of the rule of law, of a Constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service, of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age old civilization met the dominant Empire of the day...

"...both Britain and India have learnt from each other and have much to teach the world. This is perhaps the most enduring aspect of the Indo-British encounter...

"As we look back and also look ahead, it is clear that the Indo-British relationship is one of "give and take"...

"Mr Chancellor, I am here this time in all humility as the representative of a great nation and a great people. I am beholden to you, Mr Chancellor, and to my old university for the honour that I receive today.

  • 1. Mangal Pandey, hanged in April 1857, was released in August 2005. British Film Council's contribution of £ 150,000 to the film is explained by its British co-producer: "It criticizes the East India Company, not the British Government". Already, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had dwelled on "beneficial consequences" of "India's experience with Britain", on 8 July 2005 at Oxford. On 8 July 1858 was signed the treaty that ended the Indian Rebellion and paved the way for transfer of power from British East India Company to British Crown. Isolated incidents, like by Mangal Pandey, had became Great Indian Mutiny after the British lost Delhi on 11 May 1857. On 21 September they recaptured it and a Major Hodson with his 50 Sikhs took Bahadurshah Zafar captive from Humayun's Tomb and returned with 100 of his men to take the Emperor's two sons and grandson, whom he summarily executed. Preparations for re-taking of Delhi by the British were precipitated on 7 September 1857. On 7 September 2005, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur hosted a dinner in honour of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Blair, at Humayun's Tomb.