Friday, May 25, 2012

Obituary for Baboo Harbans Sahay of Bihar 3 2 1886

Following is a long obituary for Baboo Harbans Sahay of Bihar in the Civil & Military Gazette of Lahore. The obit. sells him as a social reformer and friend of the poor, but in fact he was a major Zemindar (landlord)-- apparently the second largest landholder in the state of Bihar at the time of his death.

He's mentioned in this book as a major proponent of the Bengal Tenancy act of 1885.

A few lines from the below seem worth quoting: "It was a special triumph in India that a man of humble origin should have succeeded in becoming the trusted friend and adviser of the wealthy, and if he had done nothing more than demonstrate that there was a higher law than caste law, his life would have conveyed an important lesson. But that he should have clung to the memory of his own humble starting point in life, and should have striven earnestly to improve the lot of the masses, bespoke a noble element in the man, and a mind superior to the temptations that come with prosperity."

But others have a different perspective on Babu Harbans Sahay. According to a contemporary quoted in Sachidananda's Elite and Development, the Tenancy Act favored by Sahay "carried many amendments favourable to the zamindari cause though the Act is still more favourable--partially and unjustly more fvourable--to the tenants and 'peasant proprietors', and requires some necessary, just, and useful amendments. . . "

1 comment:

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