Orwell’s Indian birthplace has been declared a protected site

Birthplace of George Orwell in Motihari, Bihar (India)

Birthplace of George Orwell in Motihari, Bihar (India)

The state government of Bihar declared George Orwell’s birthplace in Motihari to be a protected site on 10 December 2010.  The house is on a 2.48 acre lot and the premises are in a “shambles”.  Part of a boundary wall has already been constructed by the district administration and:

Art and culture department secretary K.P. Ramaiah told The Telegraph that the department would undertake the conservation work at this protected site. “The goal is to keep this house in its original shape,” he said.

Eric Blair (Orwell) was born on 25 June 1903 in Motihari and moved to England a year later. He served as a member of the Indian Imperial Police in Burma between 1922 and 1927.

Source: The Telegraph (Calcutta)
Map: Motihari, Bihar, India

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3 Responses to Orwell’s Indian birthplace has been declared a protected site

  1. Paul Denten on April 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Ownership battle over George Orwell’s birthplace

    Chandra Bhushan Pandey

    Apr 1, 2011, 05.10am IST

    MOTIHARI: The birthplace of famous British author, George Orwell, is in the eye of a storm. While Brajnandan Rai, a schoolteacher in Motihari town, claims that the house had been registered in his name, Prakash Asthana, chairman of Motihari Nagar Parisad, said a probe revealed that the building in Mascot Locality where Orwell was born is registered with the parishad in the name of the hostel superintendent of Gopal Sah High School since 1970.

    Asthana said Rai is a teacher in Gopalsah High School and his holding no. 336 is actually that of his residence at Gandhinagar locality.

    Nagar parishad executive officer Rajendra Mandal said he would examine under what circumstances the holding number of the house where Orwell was born was allotted to the schoolteacher.

    Orwell, whose book Animal Farm’ made him stand out among the great novelists, was born in Motihari on June 25, 1903. His father R W Blair was deputy magistrate in-charge of a British-owned opium warehouse. Orwell was taken to England in 1904 by his mother Ida Mabel Blair for proper education.

    After 108 years of George Orwell’s birth, the Bihar government declared his birthplace as a protected site and heritage centre under the Bihar Ancient Monument (Protection) Act, 1976. Chief minister Nitish Kumar had allocated Rs 29 lakh for the construction of a fence around the protected site spread over 2.48 acres at Mascot locality. Fencing work around the decrepit tiled house in which Orwell was born has already been completed.

    The house located on a 2.48 acre land was leased out by the state government to Gopal Sah High School for hundred years. The lease period has already expired. Thereafter, the government took possession of the land and handed it over to PWD, Motihari, for its godown. Despite this, Rai who teaches English at Gopal Sah High School, has been occupying the house for the last 15 years.

    Rai said he had not been asked by anyone to vacate the house though the BDO, SDO and DM have visited this site many times. The district magistrate was not available for comment.

    Times of India

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    Teacher claims house where George Orwell was born

    Patna, April 2 (IANS) Legendary British author George Orwell was born in this nondescript house in Bihar’s Motihari town. The state government four months ago declared it a protected site, but a school teacher now claims to be its proud owner and has documents to back his claim.

    Neglected for years, the house was given on lease to a school. Brajnandan Rai taught in the school and lived in one part of the building. The lease expired a few years ago, but Rai stayed on. Now he claims that the house is registered in his name.

    The district administration records show Rai as the owner of the place, an official told IANS over phone from Motihari.

    The Bihar government declared the site in December 2010 as protected and decided to renovate it. The government issued a notification under the Ancient Monument (Protection) Act, 1976. The house has been enlisted by the art and culture department for protection.

    Rajendra Mandal, the executive officer of the Motihari city council, said it was a matter of investigation if the teacher managed to register Orwell’s birthplace in his name.

    ‘An inquiry would be made into how the title deed of the house was allotted to Rai,’ Mandal said.

    He said a probe has been ordered into how the teacher managed to register the house in his name.

    Orwell, famous for works like ‘the Animal Farm’ and ’1984′, was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 in the single-storeyed building in Motihari near India’s border with Nepal.

    His father, Richard Blair, worked as an agent of the opium department of the Indian Civil Service during British rule.

    The building is in ruins now, the roofline has bowed and buckled due to years of rain and a large grapefruit tree has undermined the southern wall.

    Only the stone floor looks solid, though it cracked during an earthquake that almost levelled Motihari in 1934.

    Mandal said the government has sanctioned a sum of Rs.29 lakh for the building’s renovation. ‘More money is likely to be sanctioned,’ he said.

    News One

  2. kishna on January 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    hi! this is krishna from motihari. previously i was unknwn from the fact that orwell’s birthplace is motihari. thanks a lot telegraphh to provide us the same information

  3. Jennifer on May 6, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Orwell birthplace to become Gandhi park

    From: AAP

    April 16, 2013 7:54AM

    The long-neglected birthplace of British novelist George Orwell in eastern India is to be developed into a memorial – just not one dedicated to the writer.

    Instead, the land attached to Orwell’s house in Bihar’s Motihari city will be developed in memory of independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, said local officials who laid a foundation stone at the site over the weekend.

    The U-turn caused consternation among fans of the writer of such novels as Animal Farm and 1984, who said they could not understand the decision.

    “It is strange to develop it as a Gandhi memorial instead of an Orwell memorial,” Deo Priya Mukherjee, who heads an Orwell commemorative committee in the state, told AFP.

    Orwell, born as Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, lived in Motihari for a year as a child before leaving for England in 1904 with his mother and sister.

    His father, Richard W. Blair, worked for the Indian Civil Service during the time of British rule over the subcontinent.

    For years, the family’s simple white colonial bungalow has been left to decay.

    It was damaged in an earthquake in 1934 and has since served as an occasional home to stray animals, and more recently Orwell’s statue at the site of the house was vandalised.

    In 2009, the state government announced a makeover for the site but nothing was done.

    Then at the weekend, Prakash Asthana, chairman of the local municipal council, announced a park would be developed at the site to commemorate Gandhi.

    Gandhi loyalists were also surprised.

    Razi Ahmad, secretary of a museum housing Gandhi memorabilia in Patna, said using the birthplace of Orwell to honour Gandhi would be contrary to the ideals of the Indian freedom fighter.

    “Land which has been long associated with the birthplace of George Orwell should not be disturbed to develop a park in memory of Gandhi,” he told AFP.

    Orwell wrote admiringly of Gandhi in his 1949 essay Reflections on Gandhi but also criticised his famously spartan lifestyle.

    “No doubt alcohol, tobacco and so forth are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid,” Orwell wrote.

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