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The Great Hedge

2014-12-15 | 🔗

For most of India's recorded history, salt has been both abundant and subject to taxation. This continued to be the case after the British East India Company's arrival in India, and eventually led to the cultivation of a hedge to prevent salt smuggling.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Time tomorrow is now available on the eye, hot radio up or wherever listen to podcast stuff. You missed in his reply from house up works. Tat can welcome to the man receiving local. I'm Howie FRY back in a row of twenty thirteen as always the way that one Consider that you and I came so they so in March. Twenty thirteen. It feels like wherever tat we, Airbus on Australia's rabbit, grief fence, so essentially the English had introduced rabbits Australia and the rabbits had done what they do, and this led to the state barrier fence of western Australia, which was more than a thousand miles long and was a desperate attempt to
rabbits from completely destroying any available agricultural land, and this fence still exists in some places today, but also lead to a listener request from Christopher to talk about India's great heads, which was another british efforts to build a massive fence. But in this case, while its intent was not to keep people from moving from one place to another, it definitely had that affect its actual purpose was about collecting taxes, so
we're gonna talk about salt, which may sound weird. If you don't know what we're talking about today, but I promise it comes around cystic with us as much as modern medical science legs to tell you that salt is bad for you, too much is, but salt is necessary to humans survival. Your body actually needs it to function, and it is a critical part of a lot of food preservation methods, and even now, it's not just about making things tastes better. I know I'm fan of it. It makes things tastes better, YAP in India, specifically salted and especially critical dietary staple. The class in a lot of India is very hot, and that means that people routinely needs to replenish the salt in their bodies as they sweat it out of their bodies. This high climate also makes
your home to a number of diseases that cause diarrhea, and that also means that people need more salt, they have to replenish the salt in their body as they re hydrate after having had diarrhoea. So everyone needs salt to survive, and this is especially true in India. For most of India's recorded history, salt has been both abundance and subject to taxation. People have collected sought from the ocean saw lakes and the soil and methods of taxing the collected salt have varied from place to place and from ruler ruler throughout. In these history, Saul tax She has taken the form of a tax on the sale of salt permitting fee for gathering your own salt and a variety of other methods. This idea of taxing salt continued to be present after the British EAST India accompanies arrival in India, the company's first ships arrived in India in sixteen o eight and over the next two essential
if the company annexed more and more indian territory and then ruled it on Britain's behalf during all this time, it continued to collect taxes on salt eighteen. Fifty seven, the indian Army rebelled against british troops, which could be a whole different episode, afterward bridge began ruling India directly rather than going through the EAST India Company and when it did, it also maintained salt taxes, because the saw was one of the two primary source of revenue for the British in India. The other was attacks on land at the british government, paid close attention to who was getting salt and from where. of India that lay near the ocean, like matters in Bombay, could get fall from seawater. Further inland people could get sulphur
I share the soil, although this was a very pure or very good quality for that matter. In the North West, India lay several princely states. They were not completely under british control. Nearby parts of India could trade with them for salt, but the british ideal, since sought with it, important part of its revenue was for all of India to get all of its salt from Britain or from salt that was produced in India that were in protections that were actually controlled by the British and in that way, all of the salt in India would be subjects to british tax. Consequently, salt, which everyone truly needed, was expensive. British rule personal saw collection was outlawed and people weren't always able to get as much as they needed through the official channels. Sometimes this is because government underestimated the allotment of saw each family should be entitled to. Sometimes it was because the government control
Ply ran out. Sometimes it was because the tax just made this necessary nutrient, too expensive and costly for people to be able to afford, even within british documents, opinions really varied in terms of how widespread these problems where and how serious they were. British reports say the number of thoughts shortages with beer disastrous, and then there are others saying that it was a challenge but not insurmountable, regardless of how the British felt about it. The indian population definitely objected to this all tax for many. The tax made salt too expensive to afford, as you mentioned just a moment, oh, the tax itself was also a reminder of british colonial rule and the various methods for enforcement of the tax and deterrence of smuggling were in bed.
saying in a way that people in jail. Consequently, protest of salt taxation was a critical part of indian of the indian Independence movement and of God. These work there and people were willing to or forced to get their solve from illegal means. All absurd Iron Gandhi, salt parts from way way way way back, and I think the candles and Jane era of the pipe cast your interested in that If we talk a little more specifically about how Britain tried to stop salt smuggling during its colonial rule of India, sick, a quick break forward from a sponsor grand Hapag has listeners. Have you ever wanted to share a love story with someone, but you may be wanted to do it in a really unique in interesting way, or you were struggling to get the exact rate words in place? Will you not always have to worry about that? You can put it into a book, and that is where love book comes in love, books, help customers
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flash I heart to receive a special twenty percent discount only for our listeners. Once again, that is, love book online dot com, slash I heart to receive a special twenty percent discount only for our listeners, so she returned to the ways that Britain tried to stop salts muddling because without tax was a huge source of revenue for the british government, really had a vested interests and stopping people from smuggling salt and for the most part, this smuggling was from the princely states in the north West, which were outside of british control into the rest of India, In one thousand, eight hundred and three a law was passed to allow the establishment of a Customs house in every district in the Bengal presidency, which is one of Britain's major provinces in India. The customs House has had two jobs to do, to stop smugglers and to collect taxes on it,
in exports- and it wasn't just saw There- were also taxes and duties on things like sugar and tobacco. Britain built customs, four years on all of the Bengal presidencies, major roads primarily putting them. salt mines and near any place where salt might be illegally manufactured, and this included places where the soil was very salty and places that have easier access to the sea. Unsurprising in the department in charge of all this monitoring quickly became quite corrupt. For the most part, the people in charge of the outposts were british and the rest of the workers were indian. All of them were worded with thirty five percent of the value of any salt they confiscated. While this may have been intended to encourage it is in reality the lowest ranking customs officers didn't actually make enough to live off of just from their wages. So abusing the thirty five percent reward plan encourage people to dishonesty.
There was also an ingrained culture of bribery and extortion in this department. Some of the most nefarious customs workers did seem pretty deliberate things to try to get that thirty five percent bonus pretty often thing like throwing salt into people's houses and then accusing them of having stolen it and then confiscating all of the sort that they did have as well as any vessels that they could have been using to smuggle felt that generally refusing to do things like store their food. This whole system of customs houses gave the british many places from which to seek out smugglers and collect taxes, but since patrolling officers couldn't be everywhere, it once smuggling was still rampant, and so in eighteen, twenty three George Saunders. The customs commissioner proposed another line of customs outposts, this time along the Yemen a river and
with his outpost that wound up forming the backbone of what would become the great customs line. So the british customs line took on a lot of different forms over the years. The British would move branches of it start new ones abandoned parts of it and otherwise fiddle with it for around fifty years or so, generally speaking, it separated the Bengal presidency from the princely states and their non british controlled salt stockpiles by following the Ganges, inhumane rivers then grow, then going cross country towards Delhi.
In addition, the salt tax itself was higher in some parts of british territory and lower and others, and so the customs line had additional guards and customs houses around the places, with the lower tax to try to keep people from smuggling salt out of the low tax areas and into the higher tax areas. There was also an independent princely state within the Customs lines borders for many years, and so that had its own helping of customs outposts in surveillance, and so Britain eventually end next it as well, because Britain was continually annexing new territory. It kept building new customs houses. A man named G H, Smith became Britain's commissioner of Customs in India in eighteen. Thirty four
he gradually took over the whole of the customs wine and started consolidating all of its various spurs and duplications that have come about from these annexation into one unified line. He also focused on its mission a little bit dropping some of the less lucrative levies on things like shawls and tobacco and instead really going after salt. It was also during Smith's time as commissioner that the customs line grew into an actual physical barrier. At start with, there are basically custom paste every mile and they were connected by raised path. Officers were stationed at every post and there were men in addition to that. Every quarter of a mile and these men patrolled their section of the line and tried to apprehend any smugglers who crossed it when it was time to change ships, guards had to sweep their section of the path with bamboo or grass, so that the next guard could be responsible for any footprints that crossed it
on their fifth somewhere around eighteen. Forty, the British started using vegetation, is a barrier and that practice was becoming more widespread by the eighteen fifties and Smith's time. As commissioner of customs, which lasted for twenty years, the Customs line budget swelled two seven hundred ninety thousand rupees a year and its staff grew to six thousand six hundred people. The next commissioner of Customs was Alan Octavius Hume. According to his reply,
by eighteen. Sixty there was a stretch of impenetrable hedge along the customs line. There was about a hundred and eighty miles long and maintaining this barrier took a huge amount of time and labour thanks to storms, fires, termites, normal decay and vandalism about half the vegetation had Europe be replaced every single year through the lay eighteen sixties and until the end of his tenure in eighteen. Seventy commissioner Humes Annual reports detailed the law growth. As the heads extended into this hundreds of miles long, I missed the bathroom Anna Scott P Coralie, and this is the peak and Sebastian POD catches a show of beaten. I talk about our personal private lives. Just two guys
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Soon the british government created an entire inland customs departments in this debate was enormous in terms of both money and power between eighteen, sixty nine in eighteen. Seventy, the cost to run the customs line was about one point: six million rupees, but at the same time the customs line collected twelve point: five million rupees in tax just on salt. It continued to collect taxes on other necessities such as sugar is well, so it costs money to mean but they were making a whole lot more money in the taxes they were collecting from it. Commissioner g H, M Batten took over as commissioner in eighteen seventy and he focused mainly on making the existing line completely impossible and also lengthening it. Here is a description.
Words of Sir John and Lieutenant General Richard Streaky of what the customs line in its heads were like at its peak from the finances and public works of India from eighteen, sixty nine to eighteen, eighty one princess eighteen, eighty two, so this is the quote: a Customs wine was established which stretched across the whole of India in eighteen, sixty nine extended from the industry, the Mahabharata in my address a distance of two thousand three hundred miles, and it was guarded by nearly twelve. thousand men and petty officers. The fine, the commissioner of Inland Customs wrote in his report for eighteen, sixty nine eighteen. Seventy is divided into one hundred ten beats each presided over by a patrol and watched from one thousand seven hundred and twenty seven guard posts. A very perfect system of patrolling exists
and accepted some wild portions of the central provinces, we're tigers by the way like to smuggler an customs officer after Dark goes on with unabated vigilance night and day the workers who patrolled this line were exe simply men and they had to live along the line and dwellings that they themselves were responsible for building and they also had to leave their families. Behind the most ideal. Parts of the hedge were ten to fourteen feet: high six to twelve feet thick impenetrable live vegetation, including acacia, prickly, pear, indian plum and a thorny creeper growing through it at its longest. It was two thousand five hundred and four miles long. The last commissioner to oversee the customs line was W S policy. He reported that rate team. Seventy seven in eighteen, seventy
the heads contain four hundred eleven point: five miles of perfect and good green hedge, two hundred ninety eight miles of combined green and dry hedge, four hundred seventy one miles of dry hedge six miles of stone wall. And three hundred thirty three miles that were quote wanting or insufficient for a total of one thousand five hundred twenty one miles at that time. I said this is, as it was sort of waning at the very end of its term beneath the same report also mentions that additional work on the line was ending since it was about to be abandoned. So before we jump into the the next segment, which is kind of going to talk about the impact of this headline, do you want to have a word from a sponsor? Let's do so to give back to the impact of this customs line, the striking
this year's report on finances and public works. We read from earlier, where pretty upright and their opinions about the impact of this hedge. They wrote It may be easily imagine what great and inevitable obstruction to trade, what gross abuses and oppression. What annoyance and harassment individuals took place. The interference was not combines two, the traffic passing into british territory for, owing to the levy of an export duty on all sugar passing from richest british territory and to rise. Patina which had been retained after all, other similar inland duties were removed and to which I shall again refer. These same obstructions were offered to the traffic passing in the other direction. They also noted that it was impossible to operate without it, given that the salt tax was levied differently, indifferent provinces. So, from their point of view,
an evil, but a necessary one. There I didn't find in their report what their thoughts really were on the tax. It felt that they were soda like as long as this is how the taxes working we have to do something. People who live really close to the customs line were allowed to take two pounds of salt across it without paying taxes, but they still had to be searched which, in addition to this being an indignity, opened up the possibility for stores in and bribery if they were falsely accused of smuggling something people who tried Michael SALT across the line and were caught, we're fine or imprisoned in eighteen the eight alone at nine hundred and twenty four smugglers were fined and one thousand four hundred sixteen were imprisoned. The fine for smuggling was all
more than double the average agricultural wage. So it was a huge deal. People tried a lot of different ways to try to smuggle saw over the line. One was too float, thought down the river on an unmanned barge says that it would be collected farther down the river away from the customs hedge people would also like it play at a pole into the ground and then shinny a bit and sort of jump over from the top and the hope of not getting caught on all the thought That would leave the evidence of the post. Buying them on the other side of someone would know that someone had gotten across people would also disguise salt in dried fruit or other food items, but in spite of all these just occasions that the British gave for meeting the line and for all the expensive and all the headaches, the least that it added on to basic trade and commerce operations in India.
the reality was that it was still really expensive states. About the same time as Britain completed this giant barrier that basically walled off the princely states of Rajasthan from the Bengal presidency. It put its eye to different to a different way to maintain its tax on salt, a total monopoly on soil protection in all of India, including the princely states. They were out of its control. First, that bribe the rulers of Jaipur and job better for the control of the somber salt lake, and this was a major supplier of salt, both legal and illegal to british India. From outside of the customs line, the british lease on the somber sought works went into effect on May first eighteen, seventy one eight o Hugh, who we previously talked about during this during his term, as Customs Commissioner negotiated with the princely states a reduced on in eighteen. Seventy eight basically securing
It is right to smaller sources of salt around the princely states. The British paid the leaders of the princely states almost two point: three million rupees for control of nearly all of the remaining salt production, meaning that, even though the princely states were not british territory, their residents still had to pay the british salt tax. The customs line in its accompanying heads were abandoned on April first eighteen, seventy nine. At this point, the British had gained near total control of all salt production and all of India, including both the territory it had annexed and the princely states which are not really under its jurisdiction. Following a fact,
Man that had started three years before Britain had also kind of rebalancing the taxation levels so that they were more consistent from one place to another. That actual goal of this was to reduce taxes. In the areas that were hardest hit by the famine and increased in other areas to make up for the different, though it does have the overall side effect of meaning that the tax was mostly the same everywhere and it was no longer financially worthwhile to have a big smuggling operation from a low tax area. Is the taxes wasn't that much lower anymore so. The people of India were relieved of a major trade obstacle in these searches, seizures, extortion, etc. That came with it of the customs line, but they were still faced with paying and often unaffordable amount for a base. dietary staple that they literally have to have to survive
whether they were actual subjects of british rule or not so protesting. The small tax was a huge part of the indian independence movement. The tax was repealed and nineteen forty six than India gained its independence from Britain and nineteen forty seven, the independence movement and all that events that we, along with it could definitely be entire other broadcasts. And, as we said earlier, there is the salt March back an archive Roy Maximum, who wrote the great hedge of India the search for the living barrier that divided a people which has one of the main sources for this episode. Look for Remaining evidence of the heads during several trips to India during the ninety nine. These this actually started after stumble over a reference to any used book that he'd purchased on a whim. Even after finding old maps showing the customs line, he still had trouble finding any actual remnants of it. On his subsequent visits to India, the book itself is part history of India, history of this hedge history of salt,
and part travel log of his efforts to find an actual remnant of it. I mean, since it was made of it nation. Once it was not maintained anymore. It mostly disappeared. It was a note of dry parts, eaten or destroyed or burned up and the living parts kind of going into something that was it an orderly hedge anymore His search probably would have been a lot easier today, GPS raw receivers, weren't ubiquitous when he was doing this leanings. Interest have one in your smartphone carry around with you, so we had to buy one. It costs a hundred and twenty five pounds at the time the printers and scanners and digital cameras that could have helped him wrangle. All these old maps also were not nearly as ubiquitous as they are today, so he made several trips to India that not all of them specifically look for the hedge
It took a lot of tries at a lot of poking through some more remote areas before he did find. What he felt like was a last remaining vegetation part of the hedge. It's a really interesting book and we have talked almost none about his travels into India and all of its efforts to do that part is. It is not so much about the history part, but if you're interested in the story, that's all
There do you also have some listener meal for us now that we are thinking about salt and lunch, I tell you, I feel guilty that the whole time we talk about fault, I think about food. It's ok! I! This is actually from our Facebook inbox than its from Anna and assesses the north american archaeologist. I was very excited to see the episode on poverty point. Many Americans have an unfortunate lack of knowledge about native american history, which contributes to the numerous points, misconceptions and stereotypes about the many varied groups that lived or still live in. America. I've had students asked if re contact native Americans had weapons and many even believe that native Americans are extinct. I'd love to hear more about the story of pre or post contacts made of groups. I am one of those rare people who does not care much for the biographical episode. So thank you for including upsides about events.
cultural groups as well. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to dig either at poverty. Point orca hope here, but I did excavate at the buried. Gardens of camps fell site which is contemporary needs with a hooker and situated about seventy miles north of the city, where we think a hokey is extensive trading network. I thought you might enjoy my favorite story about this trading network archaeologists thick hokey. I have actually found sharp teeth, traded all the way from the Gulf Coast. That's pretty cool, but what fascinates me as that replica sharp teeth made out of stone have also been recovered. The wealthy elite could afford the real teeth, but the next socio logical strata, in order to appear wealthy or fit in with the trend of having these seats as adornment or display have to make do with a stone knock off just goes to show that people are pretty much the same everywhere, even
Thousands of years ago, a levy for the show, thanks for all you do Anna PS, thank you for using the term projectile point instead of Arrowhead. Thank you my letter. I love the part about the shark tee I did to you. I will I like they were doing designer impostors yeah, even historically what I like how it says a different culturally between the and poverty point, because poverty point
not a lot of evidence of different social strata of the starting points to evidence of there being a pious hope here, which is really interesting. If you would like to write to us about this or any other episode, you can write history ass. They were also on Facebook and basic that calm flashpoints in history and on twitter at Miss demonstrate our tumblr is missed industry, dot, tumblr dot com and were on pinterest Pinterest that harm flash missed in history. We have a spread short story and by her
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In the palm of your hand, you may have heard the news five g is coming. In this new I series, time tomorrow, presented by team above a business, join me As one option am. I cursed Kara price as we walk you through the true revolution in mobility that will check. The way we interact with the world around us, join and here just how close we are getting to a more connected future time. Tomorrow is now available on the eye hot radio at all, where you listen to port costs, we are going ITALY. After the success of last year's trips of Paris, we are planning another similar trip still with defined destinations this time to Rome and Florence. Yet we are going to spend a week exploring some amazing things were going to have city tours of both Roman Florence
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