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A Joint Enterprise

A Joint Enterprise: Indian Elites and the Making of British Bombay

Preeti Chopra
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    A Joint Enterprise
    Book Description:

    A Joint Enterprise reveals the unexpected role of native communities in the transformation of the urban fabric of British Bombay from 1854 to 1918. Preeti Chopra demonstrates how British Bombay was a collaboration of the colonial government and the Indian and European mercantile and industrial elite who shaped the city to serve their combined interests, creating a shared landscape for Bombay’s citizens.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7687-3
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Author’s Note
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxiv)

    REGENT’S PARK IN LONDON is home to a drinking fountain, a structure that might draw little attention to itself except that it was paid for by a well-known nineteenth-century philanthropist from Bombay (Figure I.1). The Gothic fountain’s sculptural features reveal the connection between Britain and its empire. Each side of the basin has a triangular pediment. The sculpted visage of Sir Cowasji Jehangir Readymoney, the fountain’s donor, is flanked on one side by the face of a European lady and on the other by a European gentleman (Figure I.2). Beneath each of the four pediments is an arcuated frame. These...

  5. 1 A Joint Enterprise
    (pp. 1-30)

    ON 5 MARCH 1839, five prominent native businessmen of Bombay proposed a scheme to the government that would cost over two hundred thousand rupees, a huge sum in those days. The scheme consisted of the building of a wharf and basin at the Cooly Bunder (dock) for the landing of grain, and the extension of this wharf as far as the Bori Bunder for the landing of cotton or any other merchandise. In their letter the merchants added,

    We doubt not that considering the importance of the undertaking to the interest of a large portion of the community; and the...

  6. 2 Anglo-Indian Architecture and the Meaning of Its Styles
    (pp. 31-72)

    MOST SCHOLARS OF THE ARCHITECTURE of the British Empire focus on the question, how was empire represented in its architecture? Buildings and architectural style were of particular importance in the Victorian era because, as the architectural historian Mark Crinson notes, “to build was to create meaning”—yet the meanings ascribed to style were contested.¹

    The meaning of architectural style and the appropriate style for empire were hotly debated in colonial India. In 1920, John Begg (1866–1937), consulting architect to the government of India from 1908 until 1921, observed that there were two schools of opinion on how to build...

  7. 3 The Biography of an Unknown Native Engineer
    (pp. 73-116)

    IN MOST ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIES of Bombay, native engineers are either ignored or summarily dispatched because they are not seen to be the originator of ideas but, rather, functionaries who carried out orders.¹ But is this all they were? Macaulay’s Minute (1835) articulated the aim to create through missionary education “a class of interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern—a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect,” or as Homi Bhabha dubs them, “mimic men.”² My work examines the role of one prominent Indian architect and...

  8. 4 Dividing Practices in Bombay’s Hospitals and Lunatic Asylums
    (pp. 117-158)

    THEBOMBAY CHABUK, in an editorial on 26 January 1870, praised the philanthropy of the British government, setting this “virtue” in contrast with the native manner of exhibiting charity:

    A Native rájá or nawáb, if of a charitable disposition, will feed thousands of Bráhmans orfaquirswith dainties, build fine temples or superb mosques, or will do some other acts of a like nature. But, the British government will do nothing of the kind. In giving charity, it is particularly careful that help is given only to those who are willing to help themselves; and it does not encourage or...

  9. 5 An Unforeseen Landscape of Contradictions
    (pp. 159-190)

    ON THE FACE OF IT, one might conclude that the joint enterprise was extremely successful and the colonial government achieved its aims in directing the native elite to collaborate in the creation of public institutions and an urban vision of Bombay that the former desired. However, as demonstrated in chapter 4, local donors did not simply respond to the objectives of the government but brought their own agendas and cultural rules to the mix to create innovative solutions to the building of these new public institutions. Local donors used philanthropy to provide special provisions for their own community and, in...

  10. 6 Of Gods and Mortal Heroes: Conundrums of the Secular Landscape of Colonial Bombay
    (pp. 191-230)

    IN THE SECOND HALF of the nineteenth century, the city was modernized and a new secular public landscape was created—the joint public realm that was made up of public buildings and open spaces. The Gothic Revival architectural style signified the consensus between native philanthropists and colonial officials on the need for and the aims underlying the new public landscape for all of Bombay’s citizens. In contrast, various groups in the city were distinguished by their modes: their distinct clothing, religious buildings, and neighborhoods. Just as the dividing practices in the city’s medical institutions separated groups based on various criteria...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 231-234)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 235-262)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-280)
  14. Index
    (pp. 281-294)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-295)