re: Reader planning another trip to India
Your question a month ago for news about progress on the restoration of Orwell's birth house in Motihari has now been answered. It was reported in last night's news - like a gift from Saint Nick - that the government of Bihar is taking on the project:
Orwell house to get protected status
Calcutta Telegraph, Dec 27, 2009
Patna, India: The Bihar government has initiated the process of declaring the Motihari house, where author George Orwell was born, a protected site. "The house is in a dilapidated condition...We have initiated the process of declaring Orwell's house a protected site in accordance with the provisions under Bihar Ancient Monument (Protection) Act, 1976," art and culture secretary Vivek Singh said.
Orwell — whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair— was born at Motihari in East Champaran district on June 25, 1903. "The state government's priority is to protect the building and other development works will follow later... The process will take around three months. Given the importance attached to the house (in picture), we will be more than willing to declare it a protected site," he added.
Orwell, who wrote Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four among many others, was born here when his father Richard W. Blair worked for the opium department during the British rule. "A detailed report about the history of the house, its present condition and land records have been sought from the district administration," Singh said. A team of experts would be sent to Motihari to assess the situation, he said.
In this morning's email there's a request from The Times picture desk for help in obtaining photographs of Orwell's birthplace and in response I'm sending images and links of the photos you took on your VISIT TO ORWELL'S BIRTHPLACE in March 2008. See ORWELL BIRTHPLACE NO ANIMAL FARM
This is great news that the government of Bihar is throwing its weight behind the protection and restoration of the house where Orwell was born. Now for sure, when you return to India next year, you'll no doubt visit Motihari again. Perhaps you can share ideas with the experts, and take along those books you want to donate to the museum we've all hoped the SHRINE TO ORWELL will become.
All the best,
Orwell birthplace to be restored (priority to protect it followed by renovation). NewYorkTimes, Dec 31, 2009
India gov't saving Orwell's birthplace from decay (Orwell had India in his blood). AFP, Dec 29, 2009
George Orwell birthplace is saved from becoming an animal farm
The Times, Dec 29, 2009
Until recently few residents of Motihari district in eastern India had ever heard of George Orwell, let alone his most famous literary works, Animal Farm and 1984. Few could read and fewer still spoke English, so the house where he was born as Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, had fallen into disrepair and was occupied mostly by stray animals. Now the local authorities are renovating the building and converting it into a museum to try to attract more tourists to Bihar, one of the poorest and most populous Indian states.... The author is one of hundreds of famous Britons born in India but is among the first to be honoured with a tourist site. The former homes of others have been destroyed or forgotten mostly because of a lack of state resources since independence in 1947. Orwell's house was saved mainly by the local Rotary Club and a few British enthusiasts, including Clive Collins, a retired literary professor and his wife, Monica. In a letter to the Orwell Today website Mr Collins described finding the Blair family bungalow and an adjacent former opium warehouse.
"The bungalow, externally at least, is probably very little changed from the time when the baby Eric Blair was born there in 1903. The only obvious difference was the tuk-tuk [motor rickshaw] parked inside the gate," he wrote. "On the grassy area outside cows, goats, dogs and pigs wandered about — quite appropriate for the author of Animal Farm. "I would urge all Orwell fans to make the pilgrimage. The more people visit, the more it will help to encourage the local authorities to make the site better known."...
He offered to buy the house and make it a tourist site. The authorities rejected the offer but explored ways to do the same work themselves. They hope that the site will help to attract Indian and foreign visitors to the area, which is also where Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian independence leader, began a campaign to stop the British forcing farmers to grow opium. Orwell moved from India to Britain when he was 1. He tried to return by applying to join the Indian Imperial Police Force in 1921 but was posted to Burma instead — reportedly because of his sympathy for the Indian independence movement.
George Orwell's birthplace aims to attract tourists. Telegraph, Dec 28, 2009 (A dilapidated colonial bungalow where George Orwell was born is to be restored in a drive to lure tourists to one of India's poorest states....An Orwell museum is planned, and funds are being raised by the local Rotary Club to renovate the cottage to "put Motihari on the map". The state government in Bihar backed the campaign by declaring the house a protected monument. The village was also host to one of the most important events in modern Indian history. Mahatma Gandhi's campaign of resistance to British rule was launched to support local farmers forced to grow opium for the factory that employed Orwell's father. "The house is in a dilapidated condition. We have initiated the process of declaring Orwell's house a protected monument," said Vivek Singh, Bihar’s art and culture secretary.)
Reader Zoe asks for help obtaining photographs of Orwell's birthplace in India
Govt declares Orwell's house in Bihar as protected site. Press Trust of India, Dec 28, 2009 (In good news for fans of George Orwell, the author of one of last century's best dystopian novels '1984' and 'Animal Farm', Bihar government in eastern India has decided to declare the house in which he was born as a 'Protected Site'. Orwell, creator of 'Old Major', the central character of 'Animal Farm', was born as Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903 at Motihari in East Champaran district. His father Richard W Blair worked for the opium department during the British rule. Orwell was taken to England by his mother Ida when he was one year old. "The house is in a dilapidated condition. The state government's priority is to protect the building and other development works would follow later," Art and Culture Secretary Vivek Singh told PTI on Sunday. Singh said a detailed report about the history of the house, its present condition and land records had been sought from the district administration. A team of experts would be sent to Motihari to assess the situation from archaeological point of view, he said. "The department would initiate the process of declaring Orwell's house a Protected Site in accordance with the provisions of Bihar Ancient Monument (Protection) Act of 1976. The process will take around three months," he said. The matter was brought to Singh's notice by locals of Motihari who wanted Orwell's birth place to be protected)
Orwell house to get protected status. Calcutta Telegraph, Dec 27, 2009
George Orwell & India ("I am an Indian and was born there"). Maddy's Ramblings
ORWELL'S REFLECTIONS ON GANDHI (wrote admiringly of Indian independence leader; "but sainthood a thing human beings must avoid"). George Orwell, 1949
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~