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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Mhow Diary

For most people, it’s just an acronym. The better informed might ask: “Isn’t that the birthplace of Bhimrao Ambedkar?”

Mhow Diary
Mhow Diary
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Farming out Nomenclature

For most people, it’s just an acronym. For others, it’s home. You say “Mhow” and the response from most quarters is quick: “Military Headquarters of War.” The better informed might ask: “Isn’t that the birthplace of Bhimrao Ambedkar?” I have been going to Mhow since 1992—the year my brother and sister-in-law built a home there. When I tell people about my brother in Mhow, I keep the answer to the next question, “Is he in the army?”, ready. No, Rajeev is not in the army, he works with the thousands of farmers who grow cotton in Indore’s Khargone district. For most faujis, who come to Mhow for all kinds of courses—this includes officers for junior and senior commands—the ‘other’, civilian Mhow may or may not register. Ambedkar’s (born on April 14, 1891) birthplace has not just seen violence during the 1857 revolt, it has been witness to a major legal battle between the army and civilian residents, each desperate to maintain the sanctity of their property rights. I know of at least one instance where a retired fauji was denied access to his own home and had to use a long, roundabout route instead. And I have also seen with my own eyes the ‘uglification’ of a once sleepy town with sloping tiled-roof houses. The child Ambedkar would have seen a lively, albeit British, cantonment with steam engines pulling metre-gauge coaches into Mhow railway station from Khandwa and Ratlam. He has been spared having to witness Mhow’s spanking new railway station building, unlikely to have any real competition...

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