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Livelihoods, livestock and veterinary health in North India, 1790–1920
Author: Saurabh Mishra

The question of cattle has been ignored not just by scholars working on agrarian conditions, but also by historians of medicine in India. This book is the first full-length monograph that examines the history of colonial medicine in India from the perspective of veterinary health. It not only fills this gap, but also provides fresh perspectives and insights that might challenge existing arguments. The book explores a range of themes such as famines, urbanisation, middle-class attitudes, caste formations etc. One of the most striking features of veterinary administration was its preoccupation with the health of horses and military animals until the end of the nineteenth century. Examining veterinary records, it becomes evident that colonial officials were much less imbued with the 'white man's burden' when it came to preserving indigenous cattle stock. The book shows that the question of finances could influence areas such as laboratory research, as is evident in the operations of the Imperial Bacteriological Laboratory. In its account on famines and cattle mortality, it highlights the meagreness and ineffectiveness of relief measures. The book then examines the question of caste identities, especially that of the Chamars (popularly known as leatherworkers). It also explores the process whereby stereotypes regarding caste groups were formed, inspecting how they came to be crystallised over time. A central concern of the book is to study the nature, priorities, and guiding principles of the colonial state. Finally, the book adopts a long-term perspective, choosing to study a rather long chronological period.

Abstract only
Biswamoy Pati

colonial India. Alongside, we are also told about its diversities and complexities, its material foundations and the way it faced and negotiated challenges and contestations, as it evolved in colonial India.9 Nevertheless, the intimate association of adivasis with the process of caste formation has somehow eluded most historians.10 Thus, along with the well-known features associated with the process of caste formation – such as Hinduisation, and Sanskritisation11 – the ‘Oriyaisation’ of tribals has to be also taken into account. What of course seems to have been

in South Asia from the margins
Biswamoy Pati

mentioned earlier, diet and social position were closely related features of the conversions of the adivasis. This was another key factor that kept the landless outcastes out of the process. If anything, their position got marginalised with the polarisation of the caste system: they were distinctly classified as the ‘other’. This meant that whereas some of the adivasis were forced to change over (via the caste-formation process) to Hinduism, the landless outcaste was considered to be a major threat not only to the ‘purity’ of the varna system, but also to the colonial

in South Asia from the margins