Tag Archives: East India company

WHEN THE ‘WILD’ PROVED MORE EDUCATED

By Majid Sheikh
Dawn, Sunday, 24 January 2010

When the British conquered Lahore in 1849, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor
General, declared that he would educate the “wild illiterate Punjabis” in a
new system of Anglo-Vernacular education. When they started the East India
Company Board was shocked by what already existed.

The board was amazed to find that the literacy rate in Lahore and its
suburbs was over 80 per cent, and this was qualified by the description that
this 80 per cent comprised of people who could write a letter. Today, in
2010, less than nine per cent can do this, while 38 per cent can sign their
name, and, thus, are officially ‘literate’. If you happen to read Arnold
Woolner’s book ‘History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab ’ you will come
across some amazing facts we today just do not know. To understand the
situation it would interest scholars to go through the ‘A.C. Woolner
Collection in the Punjab University Library. My review is a scant one. But
studying other similar pieces provides a picture of the educational system
as it existed in Lahore in 1849 when the British took over. Continue reading

Moorcroft, Shalimar Gardens and the Great Game

A forgotten page from history —Salman Rashid

The thought that Moorcroft was to die broken and bitterly disappointed brings a pang of grief. The mitigating factor however is that it did not take his country long to realise the worth of the man. Today he is acknowledged, and rightly so, as the forebear of Himalayan exploration and discovery, and one of the earliest heroes of the Great Game

In the northeast corner of the first quadrangle of the Shalimar Garden in Lahore, right next to the fountains, there is an unpretentious yellow-washed rectangular room on a high plinth. Entrance to the ground floor is through a door in the east wall, while in the west is a door and staircase leading down to the basement. The remaining arched alcoves all around are closed by masonry filigree.

The west wall bears a plaque commemorating the sojourn in this room of the ‘famous traveller William Moorcroft’ in May 1820. Despite the hundreds of visitors daily, few would have noticed this plaque; even fewer would have known who this person was. But for those who have any interest in the history of the Great Game, that epic struggle between Russia and England for the possession of Central Asia, Moorcroft’s name shines bright. Continue reading