Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 November 2010
The idea of ‘developing’ Sind has been a lynchpin of government action and rhetoric in the province during the twentieth century. The central symbols of this ‘development’ were three barrage dams, completed between 1932 and 1962. Because of the barrages’ huge economic and ideological significance, the ceremonies connected with the construction and opening of these barrages provide a unique opportunity to examine the public presentation of state authority by the colonial and postcolonial governments. This paper investigates the way that ideas of ‘development’ and ‘modernity’ appeared in discourses connected with these ceremonies, in order to demonstrate that the idea of imposing ‘progress’ on a province considered ‘backward’ by the state administrators survived longer than the British regime which had introduced it. The paper begins with the historical links between water-provision and governance in Sind, before examining the way that immediate political concerns of the sitting governments were addressed in connection with the projects, demonstrating the ways in which very similar projects were cast as symbols of different political priorities. The last part of the paper draws out deeper similarities between the logic of these political expressions, in order to demonstrate the powerful continuity in ideologies of ‘progress’ throughout mid-twentieth century Sind.
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28 Speech by the Hon'ble Mr. M.A. Khuhro, p. 2.
29 Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General at the Opening Ceremony of the Kotri Barrage, 15 March, 1955, p. 2. In U.K.N.A. File DO 35/8581.
30 ‘Kotri Barrage’, Commerce (Karachi), 19 March, 1955.
31 ‘Impressive Ceremony’, Dawn (Karachi), 16 March, 1955.
32 The concept of ‘nation building’ was a favourite post-Independence trope and covered various aspects of moral and material ‘national progress’. For instance Sind Information, a Government of Sind journal, carried a column called ‘Towards Nation Building’, which, to cite one issue, reported on the opening of new workshops, sea port development, and the functioning of a new labour exchange. ‘Towards Nation Building’, Sind Information (Karachi), 1:4 (1948), 101.
33 Address presented to Major-General Iskander Mirza, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, on the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony of Gudu Barrage. In U.K.N.A. File BT11/5110, ‘Pakistan: Upper Sind or Gudu Barrage’.
34 Iskander Mirza, speaking on 2 February, 1957, speech transcribed in U.K.N.A. File BT11/5110, ‘Pakistan: Upper Sind or Gudu Barrage’.
35 Gudu Barrage Project (N.p.: Directorate of Information, Government of West Pakistan, n.d.). In U.K.N.A. File BT11/5110.
36 The One Unit Scheme merged Sind with Punjab, Baluchistan, and the North-West Frontier Province to form a new province called ‘West Pakistan’. It proved to be unpopular with Pakistani Bengalis, Sindhis, and Balochis, and was reversed by Yahya Khan in 1970.
37 Address presented to Major-General Iskander Mirza.
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48 Examples include, Leaflets for distribution in Sind, No. 31 (1023): Improved varieties of cotton recommended by the Department, and Agricultural Leaflet No. 30 (1st Edition August, 1933): The cultivation of rabi oil-seed crops in the barrage areas of Sind. Issued by the Government of Bombay Agricultural Department.
49 Untitled note by Hugh Dow, dated 16 March, 1926, paragrah 43.
50 ‘Sind's efforts to develop her agriculture and industry’, Wealth (Karachi), 13 August, 1950). Jagir landholdings were large areas on which the master did not pay land revenue to the government. The ‘problem’ of jagirs, the financial losses to the state which they represented, and the social and political strength they gave to the big landlords, had exercised Sind's administrators ever since Napier's conquest. The British in Sind had maintained the status of jagirs to a great degree, and did nothing significant to challenge their power. On jagirs and land tenure reform in British Sind, see Cheesman, David, Landlord Power and Rural Indebtedness in Colonial Sind, 1865–1901 (Richmond: Curzon, 1997), Chapter 2Google Scholar.
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52 ‘Sind Agriculture: its past present and future [sic]’ in n.a., Sind People and Progress (N.p.: Directorate of Information Sind, n.d., n.p. n.).
53 ‘Farmers asked to work hard’, Dawn, 22 December, 1967.