cover image: The First History Lessons: The Flow of Rivers


The First History Lessons: The Flow of Rivers

1 Nov 2023

First History Lessons is a series of books published by the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata (IDSK). Aiming to simplify and explain important ideas of history, the series has been sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS). The books include illustrations drawn by Ranjit Chitrakar, Sirajudaulla Chitrakar – traditional patachitra artists from West Bengal.This edition was published in November 2023 and elaborates on ‘The Flow of Rivers’. It has been written in Bangla by Debarati Bagchi, a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, New Delhi. Arunava Sinha, literary translator and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Ashoka University, has translated the text in English.This book highlights the changing relationship between rivers and humans – from resources obtained such as fish, to the building of dams on rivers. It also explains how changes in riverways brought during the British era impacts floods and droughts in the present day.The 62-page document is divided into nine sections: Relationships: Rivers and people (Section 1); The Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta (section 2); Trade through river routes: The story of reaching world markets (section 3); The land and water of Bengal: The story of sand bars and islands (section 4); The land and water of Assam: The story of Chapori (section 5); Rivers and travel: the story of streamers (section 6); Rivers and travel: the story of railway lines (section 7); River dams: The story of water- sharing (section 8); River dams: Gains and losses (section 9).The book notes that the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta changed its course repeatedly, which impacted the ways in which the British hoped to administer the region. After the Britishers took control over present-day Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, it introduced various taxation laws to extract profits from the lands of the Bengal delta region. But the law was changed four or five times due to formation of new islands and changing courses of rivers.This book also mentions the British conquest of Assam in 1826 which encouraged agriculture in the land on the riverbank which was called chapori...
india water history literature


Debarati Bagchi

Published in
Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK) and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New Delhi

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