Portuguese explorer Vasco
de Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and reached India
in 1498 establishing the first direct route from Europe to the sub-continent.
of commercial rivalry between the European powers followed until Britain
gained control in the 18th and 19th centuries, ruling through the
India Company. Although the Indian
Mutiny of 1857 against British rule was crushed, it succeeded
in breaking the power of the Company and in 1858 India became part
of the British Empire, a move which lead to an increased movement
East India Company
was only in 1947, assisted by the peaceful protests of Mohandas
Gandhi and his followers, that India finally gained independence.
Gandhi was assassinated whilst walkiing in the grounds of Birla House
in Delhi in January 1948.
Gandhi - Time
Magazine: The Time 100
film actress Vivien Leigh was born
as Vivian Mary Hartley in Darjeeling in West Bengal in 1913. She won
two Academy Awards during her career, for her role as Scarlett O'Hara
in Gone With the Wind in 1939 and for the 1951 film of Tennessee
Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire. She was married to
Sir Laurence Olivier for two decades.
economist and social reformer Sir
William Beveridge was born in Rangpur, Bengal (now Bangladesh)
in 1879. Active as an administrator he came to particular prominence
in 1942 when he wrote a report on the introduction of a universal
social insurance. This ground-breaking document, known as "The
Beveridge Report", was used as the blueprint for the Welfare
State which revolutionized British society after its creation
under Clement Attlee's 1945-51 government.
Want is only one of five giants on the road
of reconstruction . . . the others are Disease, Ignorance, Squalor
(Social Insurance and Allied Services or "The Beveridge
Philby was born as Harold Philby in Ambala, Punjab in 1911. While
studying at Cambridge University he joined the Communist Party together
with three friends and fellow students: Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean
and Anthony Blunt. The four - who became known as the Cambridge
Spies - would later divulge many secrets to the Soviet Union and
become one of the most notorious and damaging spy rings to operate
in Britain during the
Cold War. Philby died in Moscow in 1988 where he had defected
to in 1963.
To betray, you must first belong.
(Sunday Times, 1967)
author of The Jungle Book Rudyard
Kipling, was born as Joseph Rudyard Kipling in Bombay in
1865. In 1907 he became the first English writer to receive
Prize for Literature.
of American Poets: Rudyard Kipling
you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same . . .
(Rewards and Fairies - 1910)
Rudyard Kipling see Nobel
writer William Makepeace Thackeray
was born in Calcutta, West Bengal in 1811.
If a man's character is to be abused, say
what you will, there's nobody like a relation to do the business.
Vanity Fair (1847-48)
author of 1984 and Animal Farm George
Orwell, was born as Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bengal in 1903.
All animals are equal but some animals are
more equal than others.
Animal Farm (1945)
Durrell was born in 1912 in Jullundur in the state of Punjab
near to Kashmir and Tibet. He wrote poetry and nonfiction but became
best known for his tetralogy The Alexandria Quartet set in
the Egyptian city.
brother the naturalist and writer Gerald
Durrell was born in 1925 in Jamshedpur in the east of the
country. He combined his interests of zoology and writing to pubish
many autobiographical books on his experiences with wildlife and nature
including My Family and Other Animals about his childhood on
Corfu. He founded a series of institutions on the Channel Island of
Jersey, including the island's zoo, to encourage the protection and
preservation of wildlife and the conservation of nature.