Sie sind auf Seite 1von 19

1

RichardSalam
ClocksandEmpire:AnIndianCaseStudy
E.P.Thompsonsseminalresearchonthedevelopmentofanewtimedisciplineinindustrializing
Englandarguedconvincinglythattheclockcanbeatechnologyofdisciplineandcontrol,amaterial
embodimentofabstractideasofauthorityandownership,andatoolfortheallegedmoralreformation
oftheworkingclass.1Here,thedestructionofaBritishpublicclockin1898Bombaywillbehistorically
contextualizedandexaminedwiththegoalofdemonstratingthatsuchaneventhashithertounrecognized
significancehistoriographically,andpossiblyhistorically.ThreeseparatenarrativesofBritishclock
culture,Indiantimepolitics,andlate19thcenturyBombayriotingwillbebroughtintoconversationwith
eachotherbytheshootingoftheCrawfordMarketclockinBombay.Thispaperprimarilychallenges
theframingofexistinghistoriesand,hopefully,alsooffersanewnarrativeofaspecificsubaltern
responsetothecolonialexperience.
ScholarssuchasThomasMetcalfandSanjaySrivastavahavearguedthatthepublicclockin
BritishIndiaestablishedimperialauthorityandallowedtheBritishtopresentaselfdefinitionof
BritishnessforthebenefitofthenativeIndianonlookers.2Metcalfhassuggestedthatthemassiveand
centrallylocatedpublicclocktowersinstalledbytheBritishfollowingtheSepoyMutinyof1857were
deliberatelyintendedtostampthelandscapewithremindersofthesupremacyoftheRajwhile
simultaneouslyforcingtheVictorianeravirtueofpunctualityontoanIndiasupposedlymarkedby

E.P.Thompson,Time,WorkDiscipline,andIndustrialCapitalism,Past&Present,no.38(1967).Theframingof
thepaperalsoowesmuchtoLewisMumford,TechnicsandCivilization(Chicago:UniversityofChicagoPress,
2010),1219.
2
SeeThomasMetcalf,ArchitectureandtheRepresentationofEmpire,Representations,no.6(1984)Sanjay
Strivastava,ConstructingPostColonialIndia:NationalCharacterandtheDoonSchool(NewYork:Routledge,
1998)SeealsoJudithKenney,Climate,Race,andImperialAuthority:TheSymbolicLandscapeoftheBritishHill
StationinIndia,AnnalsoftheAssociationofAmericanGeographers85,no.4(1995):702,whereshearguesthatHill
StationsBritishsettlementssafelyremovedfromnatives(atleastinappearance)didnotmakeuseofmonumental
architectureduetothelackofanappropriateaudienceforsuchadisplay.Thisseemstoconfirmthe
authorityestablishingfunctionofpublicmonuments,ofwhichtheclocktowerisatype.

lazinessandlethargy.3SrivastavaextendsMetcalfsargument,writingthattheclocktower,a
spectaclemadetobeevervisibleabovetheirrationalandanarchicjumbleoftheEasterncity,wasa
reversePanopticonassertingauthoritybypullinginwardsthegazeofothers.4Thesescholars
providethefoundationformodernhistoricalanalysesoftheseclocksbut,unfortunately,theydonot
integratesubalternreactionsintotheirworks,ignoringanticolonialstrugglesandtheirpossible
engagementwith,say,architecture.
ScholarsPrashantKidambi,IanCatanach,andRajnarayanChandavarkarhavelookedatthe
violentstrugglesinBombayinthe1890sandframedthoseconflictsintermsofclashesbetweennatives
andthecolonialregimeoverthelattersextremelyaggressiveandculturallyinsensitiveplagueprevention
policies.5Itwillbecomeapparentthattheirreadingignoresthepotentialinterconnectednessof
contemporaneousstrugglesovertimecontrolandmarketsocietyandthepoliticalcrisesofthe1890s.
Finally,thecompellinghistoryofIndiantimepoliticsthathasveryrecentlybeentoldbyVanessa
Ogletreatsclocksasindicatorsoftheoutcomeofpoliticalbattlesovertime,butfailstospatiallylocate
thecontestationsthemselvesinthephysicalclocksthatoccupiedthelandscape.6
Whatallthreeresearchagendashaveincommonisanoverlynarrowviewoftheirsubject
matter,resultinginseparateanddisassociatednarrativesbeingcreatedwhen,infact,thesethree

Metcalf,ArchitectureandtheRepresentationofEmpire,5556,62.
Strivastava,ConstructingPostColonialIndia,55.
5
PrashantKidambi,Theultimatemastersofthecity:police,publicorderandthepoorincolonialBombay,c.
18931914,Crime,History&Societies8,no.1(2004)PrashantKidambi,TheMakingofanIndianMetropolis:
ColonialGovernanceandPublicCultureinBombay,18901920(Aldershot:AshgatePublishingLimited,2007)
IanCatanach,Whoareyourleaders?Plague,TheRajandtheCommunitiesinBombay,18961901,inSociety
andIdeology:EssaysinSouthAsianHistory,ed.PeterRobb(Delhi:OxfordUP,1993)RajnarayanChandavarkar
ImperialPowerandPopularPolitics:Class,ResistanceandtheStateinIndia,c.18501950(Cambridge:
CambridgeUP,1998)RajnarayanChandavarkar,PlaguepanicandepidemicpoliticsinIndia,18961914,in
EpidemicsandIdeas:EssaysontheHistoricalPerceptionofPestilence,eds.TerenceRangerandPaulSlack
(Cambridge,CambridgeUP,1992).
6
Ogletakespainstonotewhichclockskeptwhichofthevarioustimestandards,butdoesnotviewthoseclocksas
activeinthedeterminationofthosetimestandards.VanessaOgle,WhoseTimeIsIt?ThePluralizationofTimeand
theGlobalCondition,1870s1940s,AmericanHistoricalReview118,no.5(2013):1377,1384,1386,1389.
4

historiesoughttobeplacedintoconversationwitheachother.ApartialexceptionisJimMasselos,who
properlyforegroundsthematerialdimensionoftimepoliticsinhisexcellentreviewofthesituationin
Bombay.7Buthisfocusisstillonlegislativepoliticsandignorespoliticalbattlesfoughtoutsideofmeeting
rooms.ThispapershistoriographicalargumentwillbedemonstratedbytheCrawfordMarketclock
shooting,whichservesasonecasestudyintheholisticinterpretationofaneventinthecontextof
inseparablediscussionsoftimeandtechnology,imperialidentityandanticolonialresistance.Giventhe
dearthofavailablematerial,theendeavorisspeculativebynature,buthopefullyindicatesthepotential
foranewandricherunderstandingofthepublicclockanditshistoricalrole.
BritishClockCulture
FortheCrawfordMarketclockshootingtooccurtherefirstneededtobeaCrawfordMarket
clock,andthatrequiredaBritishculturalandpoliticallogicthatallowedforitsconstruction.
19thcenturyBritishliterarysourcessuggestthattheclockwasasalientpartofBritishculture,
andavehiclefortheexpressionofnormativevaluessuchasregularityandpunctuality.ThepoemToa
Clock,publishedin1840,callstheclockthespeakerscompanion,consoler,teacher,andsourceof
moraladmonition.Thespeakerfindscomfortintheregularityoftheclockstickandimplicitlydenigrates
theirregularrhythmofthehumanbody.8LookattheClock!,an1841poem,placestheclockasthe
evidentiaryarbiterofaconflictbetweenamarriedcouple.Awife,angryatherhusbandslatereturn
fromthetavern,usestheclocksreportasifitsufficesonitsowntoprovemoralwrongdoingwithout
anyreferencetothehumanbeingnecessary.9An1842newspaperaccountofanassaultattributedthe
causeofthesituationtotheagencyofananthropomorphizedandrecalcitrantclock.Curiouslyobscuring

JimMasselos,BombayTime,inIntersections:SocioCulturalTrendsinMaharashtra,ed.MeeriKosambi(New
Delhi:OrientLongmanLimited,2000),169173.
8
CaledonianMercury,ToaClock,October12,1840,galegroup.com.
9
TheOddFellow,LookattheClock!,June12,1841,galegroup.com.

theultimatesubjectofthereportage,theauthormentionedtheclockbutnottheassaultinhistitle.10The
OldChurchClock,ashortnovelwrittenin1844,tellsthestoryofashabbymiddleagedman
recountinghisrelationshiptotheOLDCHURCHCLOCK,whichhecallstheoldestfriendIhavein
Manchester.11Givingthemachinehumancharacteristics(andmoralauthority)themansays,Theold
clockseemedtosmileatmypunctuality(emphasisinoriginal).12By1850,atreatiseonclockmaking
waxedphilosophicalontheclockastheultimatemementomoriandmodeloftheidealworker.Again
appearedtheimplicitcapitalistpathologizationofhumantemporalirregularity,whichpreventedthe
humanfromperformingitsappointedworkbydayandbynight,withscarcelyanyinterruption 13
Laterdecadessawacouplemoretreatisesonclockmaking,althoughnonethosearequiteasinteresting
intermsofcontentastheyareinthemerefactoftheirexistence.14In1900theBombayAngloIndian
organ,TheTimesofIndiabuildingoffdecadesofliteraryhumanizationofclocksand,hitherto
implicit,mechanizationofhumanspublishedanarticleboldlyequatingthehumanbody(calleda
seventyyearclock)andallotherclocks,meaningmechanicalones.15Onemightspeculatethatthis
equationwasnot,bythistime,shockingorupsettingtocontemporaries.Reflectingonthepreceding
decades,ViriginaWoolfs1922bookJacobsRoomoffersanambivalentreflectionontheclockasa
technologyofprogressandabstraction.16Herlackoffaithintheclockisperhapssymptomaticofa
postWorldWarIchangeinzeitgeistandbookendsthediscussionof19thcenturyclockculture.These

10

TheBradfordObserver,TheNewTalesoftheClock,January27,1842,galegroup.com.
RichardParkinsonandWilliamWordsworth,TheOldChurchClock(London:J.G.F.andJ.Rivington,1844),24.
12
Ibid.,141142.
13
EdmundBeckettDenison,ARudimentaryTreatiseonClockandWatchMaking:WithaChapterOnChurch
Clocks...(London:JohnWeale,1850),279.
14
SeeThomasReid,TreatiseonClockandWatchMaking,TheoreticalandPractical,(Glasgow:BlackieandSon,
1859)WilliamMatthiasDawes,AFamiliarTreatiseonHorology:BeingaSketchoftheHistoryoftheWatchand
Clock(London:K.J.Ford&Son,1862)EdmundBeckettGrimthorpe(formerlyEdmundBeckettDenison),A
RudimentaryTreatiseonClocksandWatchesandBells.(London:Lockwood&Company,1874).
15
TimesofIndia,DontLettheClockRunDown,July13,1900,www.proquest.com.
16
DouglasMcDonald,Friends!LayDownYourOars!LetUsStayOnThisMoorAWhileLonger:VirginiaWoolfs
AmbivalencetowardNotionsofCulturalProgress,n.d.,unpublishedessay.
11

literarysourcesindicatethattheclockwasdeeplyembeddedin19thcenturyBritishculture.
TheerectionofclocktowersinIndiaexpandsontheideaofaBritishclockcultureby
suggestingthewayinwhichclocksbecameaselfconscioussymbolofBritishidentity.Thefirstclock
towerswerebuiltinIndiainthe1860s,aftertheSepoyMutinyof1857.17Metcalfsclaimthatthey
weremeanttoremindonlookersofthepowerofBritainasanimperialrulerisbolsteredbythefactthat,
inatleastoneformerlyrebelcontrolledcity,Aligarh,a13thcenturymilitarymemorialpillarwaspulled
downin1862andreplacedwithaclocktower.18ClocktowerssignaledtoBritishandnativealikethe
selfidentificationoftheBritishasanimperialpeople.19
TheclocksalsoproselytedBritishvalues.Ashasbeenalludedto,historianshavearguedthat
theBritishinstallationofclockswas,inpart,aprocessofreifyingaculturalkernelofVictorianBritain.20
TheCrawfordMarketwasnoexception.
TheCrawfordMarketnamedaftertheMunicipalCommissioneratthetime,Arthur
Crawfordwascompletedin1869.ItwasdesignedbyWilliamEmerson,wholaterwentonto
becomepresidentoftheRoyalInstituteofBritishArchitects(RIBA).21TheBritishauthoritiesfavored
indoormarketsliketheCrawfordMarketbecausetheyallowedforeasiercontrolandsurveillanceof

17

Metcalf,ArchitectureandtheRepresentationofEmpire,55.
TheImperialGazetteerofIndia,vol.5,(Oxford:OxfordUP,1908),218.
19
WilliamEmerson,PresidentoftheRoyalInstituteofBritishArchitects,arguesinhis1899presidentialaddressthat
publicbuildingsmusttellthestoryofBritishempire.Hecalledforadistinctivenationalarchitecture,stately,
dignified,andpicturesqueanarchitectureenhancingthegloryofthisempire.TheTimes(London),RoyalInstitute
OfBritishArchitects,November7,1899.OnthistopicseealsoGeorgeWalterMacgeorge,WaysandWorksinIndia
(Westminster:ArchibaldConstableandCompany,1894),1.
20
SeeMetcalf,ArchitectureandtheRepresentationofEmpire,56:theclockhelpedtoremindpassersbynot
onlyofthesupremacyoftheRajbutofthevirtuesofpunctuality.ThemodernworldinIndiawastobemarkedby
disciplineandorderliness.SeeStrivastava,PostColonialIndia,wherehecallsclocksasentinelofBritish
selfperception(46)and,elsewhere,apartofthemythologyandfolkloreofBritishness.(47)SeealsoJanMorris,
StonesofEmpire:TheBuildingsoftheRaj(Oxford:OxfordUP,1983),143,where,indescribingaclocktower
standingabovethesoukofHyderabad,shewrites,onepassedoutofthatancientmarketplaceoftheEastbeneath
apetrificationofVictorianismitself.
21
Morris,StonesofEmpire,142.
18

theeconomicactivityofthenativesthanthesprawlingopenairsouksandbazaars.22Monumentsto
capitalism,theyweretheprideofmunicipalauthoritiesandweredecoratedaccordingly.TheCrawford
Marketwasinfourwaysdeckedoutinsignifiersofimportance:itwasnamedafteraseniorBombay
officialofthedayitdominatedamajorintersection,oppositethepolicestationandseparatingthe
officialquarterandthenativecity23itsfacadesportedgranitefriezesdesignedbyJohnLockwood
Kiplingofidealmarketpeopleandtheirclientspresentingaparadigmofwhatamarketoughtto
looklikeandithadaclocktower,staringdownattheintersectionbelow.24Justastheplacementof
theclockalongsidesuchobviousglorificationsofBritishauthorityandcapitalismimpliesacontinuityof
symbolicmeaningbetweentheseelements,sotoodoestheplacementoftheclockonahouseofmarket
exchangeintimatelytietogethertheclockandthetimedisciplinedworldof19thcenturycapitalism.
Themissionaryfunctionofthepublicclockenduredevenwhentheyoutwardlyappearedtobe
adaptivetolocalculture.AngloIndianarchitectMajorCharlesMantselfconsciouslyattemptingto
uniteWesternscienceandIndianaestheticsdesigned,in1877,atowerwiththeexteriorformofa
minaretandaclockasitsheart.25ThisuncannyreplacementofanIslamictimeregulatingtechnology
withaBritishonetookonanew,darkermeaningin1881whentheRIBAchairmanquoted
correspondenceobservingthatIndiannativescouldbemoreeasilycoaxedintoaChristianchurchifit
hadafamiliaroutwardappearance.Thearchitecture,thecorrespondentwrote,mayconformtolocal
normssolongasweyieldnoprinciples.26SoitwasforMantsclocktower.Butpeoplewerenot
easilyfooled.OnthetowerStrivastavawrites:ThisBritshnesswasperceivedinalikemannerbyboth

22

Ibid.
TheImperialGazetteerofIndia,vol.8,(Oxford:OxfordUP,1908),400.
24
Morris,StonesofEmpire,141142.
25
R.PhenSpiers,TheLateMajorMant,R.E.,Fellow,inTheTransactionsoftheRoyalInstituteofBritish
Architects(London:RoyalInstituteofBritishArchitects,1882),111.
26
Spiers,TheLateMajorMant,109.
23

thecolonisers[sic]andalargenumberofIndianswhointeractedwiththem. 27
Intermsofthescopeofclockbuildingpost1857:In1908,theneweditionofTheImperial
GazetteerofIndiarecordedatleastthirteenfreestandingclocktowersinIndia,notincludingthe
many,manymoreattachedtochurches,libraries,schools,governmentoffices,andmunicipalmarkets.28
TimePoliticsinfindesicleBombay
Clocksarenotmonumentsinthewaythatastatueistheyarealsofunctionalandutilitarian
objects.Therefore,inferringthesymbolismbehindtheshootingoftheCrawfordMarketclockrequires
anunderstandingofthetemporalpoliticsforwhichclocksservedasphysicalmanifestations.
TheproliferationofclocksinIndiaasrailroadswerealsobeinginstalledtofacilitateeconomic
exchangeinevitablyledtostrugglesovertimestandardization.29FortheBritish,timestandardization
wasconducivetoadministrativecontrolaswellastheeconomicexploitationofIndiasresources.30It
alsowasboundupinideologiesofrationalityandprogress,aswellasofBritainscivilizingmission.31
ForthenativeIndians,standardizedtime(asopposedtolocalorderegulatedtime)wasrightlyidentified
asBritishtime.Protestagainststandardtimetookonanticolonialovertonesandbecameameansof

27

Strivastava,PostColonialIndia,47.
TheImperialGazetteerofIndia,vol.5,202,218vol.7,82vol.8,398vol.10,344vol.11,238vol.15,12vol.20,
144,162vol.24,47,347(Oxford:OxfordUP,1908).
29
Clockscanbeconsideredanecessarybutnotsufficientcauseoftimestandardizationefforts.Timeacquirednew
meaninganddisciplinaryauthoritythroughanequallyabruptentryofclocksandwatches(emphasisadded),Sumit
Sarkar,WritingSocialHistory(NewYork:OxfordUP,1997),283.Thatsaid,theBritishhadanumberofreasonsto
favortimestandardization(seebelowinthispaper).Ontheconnectionbetweenrailroadsandtimestandardization
seeRitikaPrasad,TimeSense:RailwaysandTemporalityinColonialIndia,ModernAsianStudies47,no.4(2012):
1257ff.Ontheexplosioninrailroadmileagebetween1861and1901,seeIanJ.Kerr,Introduction,inRailwaysin
ModernIndia,ed.IanJ.Kerr(NewDelhi:OxfordUP,2001),2.
30
Ogle,WhoseTime?1385Masselos,BombayTime,173.Therailroadwascriticallyimportantfortheextension
oftheglobalmarketsystemofthe19thcenturyintoIndia.Kerr,Introduction,910,1516.Timestandardizationwas
demandedintheserviceofcoordinatingrailwaytransport.Prasad,TimeSense,1257.Therefore,byvirtueofthe
needsoftherailroad,timestandardizationwasintegraltomarketcreation.
31
SeeR.D.Oldham,OnTimeinIndia:asuggestionforitsimprovement,inProceedingsoftheAsiaticSocietyof
Bengal(Calcutta:AsiaticSociety,1900),49.ForcontrastseePeterGalison,EinsteinsClocks,PoincarsMaps:
EmpiresofTime(NewYork:W.W.Norton&Company,2003),128.
28

channelingdissatisfactionwithBritishcolonialrulegenerally.32Resistancetotimestandardizationalso
reflectedmetropolitanpride.33
ThefirstofthetwofindesicletimestandardizationbattlesinBombaybeganin1881when
BombayGovernorJamesFergussonunilaterallyresolvedtoextendMadrasTimeintoBombay
governmentoffices,affectingtheworkschedulesofgovernmentemployeesandallthosewhodid
businesswiththem.34Thischange,unlikeearlieronesappliedtotelegraphsandrailways,disruptedthe
dailyrhythmofcitylifeandwasmuchdespisedbyresidentsofallsocialclasses.35Thecitysclocks,
someobservingMadrasTimeandothersrefusing,furtherconfusedthesituationandbecame
battlegroundsinthestrugglebetweendifferentmunicipalinstitutions.WhentheUniversityofBombay
askedforfundingtoilluminatetheimposingRajabaiClockTowersfaces,theantiFergussonMunicipal
CorporationandFergussoneachofferedmoneywithformerstipulatingtheconditionthattheclock
mustkeepBombayTimeandthelatterinsistingonMadrasTime.36Eventually,inMay1883,the
governmentfoldedunderpersistentpopularpressureandrescindeditsresolutiononMadrasTime.In
JuneitannounceditwouldbearthecostoflightingtheRajabaiToweronBombayTimeafterall.37
Throughoutthecontroversy,theCrawfordMarketclock,ownedbytheuncooperativeMunicipal
Corporation,stubbornlyremainedonBombayTime.38Clearly,clocksroleassymbolsofempireand

32

Ogle,WhoseTime?1379Masselos,BombayTime,180.
R.D.Oldham,OnTimeinIndia,50.Ogle,WhoseTime?1390.
34
Masselos,BombayTime,165.TimestandardizationusingMadrasTimehadalreadybeeninplacesince1870for
theTelegraphDepartmentandrailways.Theformerstandardizationwasattherequestofthebusinesscommunity
andthelatterattherequestofthegovernment.Masselos,BombayTime,163164.Neitherwasparticularly
contentiousastheyonlyaffectedBombaysinteractionswiththeoutsideworld.Intermsoftheconnectionbetween
capitalismandtimestandardization,itisworthnotingthesetwoearlystandardizationeffortswhattheypertainedto
andwhoadvocatedforthem.
35
Muchofthedisgruntlementwasaresultofthereductionindaylighthourstobehadbetweensunriseandthestart
ofthenewworkday.Traditionalpatternsoftimeusewere(seeminglyneedlessly)disrupted.SeeMasselos,Bombay
Time,166169andOldham,OnTimeinIndia,50.
36
Masselos,BombayTime,171.
37
Masselos,BombayTime,173andOgle,WhoseTime?1385.
38
Masselos,BombayTime,170.
33

materialrepresentationsofculturecanbeveryliterallyactivatedinapoliticalcontexttoserveas
markersforothervictoriesandstrugglesthantheconquestofIndia.
ThesecondpoliticalbattleovertimestandardizationwasheraldedbySuperintendentofthe
GeologicalSurveyofIndiaR.D.Oldhamin1899,whenhereadapaperbeforetheAsiaticSocietyof
BengalcallingforthestandardizationoftimeacrossIndiainlinewiththeinternationalGreenwichMean
Timesystem.39Thesocietyvotedtohavethepapersent,alongwithaletter,totheViceroy.40Butitwas
onlyin1903thattheBritishgovernmentdecidedtocreateaStandardTimeforallofIndia,5'30"ahead
ofGreenwichMeanTime.StandardTime,whichwasnotrequiredforusebylocalgovernments,was
voluntarilyadoptedin1906bytheBritishgovernmentinBombay(andendorsedbytheMunicipal
Corporation).41Massivelaborstrikesensued,sparkedbyconcernsthatthenewtimeregimewould
allowemployerstoextendworkinghoursanddisruptsolartimebasedreligiousobservances.42
EmployershadtopromiseareturntoBombayTimetoendthestrikes,andfearsoffurthersuch
disruptionspreventedthefulladoptionofStandardTimefrombeingachieveduntil1950.43Clocks,
therefore,canbeseennotjustastoolsofsymbolic,moral,orpoliticalcontrol,butalsoastoolsand
symbolsofeconomicdomination.44Therelationshipsbetweentimeandclocks,clocksandwork,and
workandautonomyarehighlyinstructive.
ThePlague,TheColonialState,andTheRiotsofMarch189845

39

Oldham,OnTimeinIndia,4955.
ProceedingsoftheAsiaticSocietyofBengal(Calcutta:AsiaticSociety,1900),6266.
41
Ogle,WhoseTime?13851387.
42
Ogle,WhoseTime?1387.Regardingclocktimeasameansofextractingmorelabortimeoutofworkersgenerally
seeE.P.Thompson,Time,WorkDiscipline,8586.
43
Ogle,WhoseTime?1387,1389.
44
OnthenewrigorousdisciplineofworkregulatedbyclocktimeinBengalseeSarkar,WritingSocialHistory,
307309.ForastudyoftheAmericancase,seeMarkMichaelSmith,MasteredbytheClock:Time,Slavery,and
FreedomintheAmericanSouth(ChapelHill:UniversityofNorthCarolinaPress,1997),93ff.,95.Again,Thompsonis
instructivehereseeTime,WorkDiscipline,8586.
45
TherestofthispaperwillmakeheavyuseoftheTimesofIndia.Foravarietyofpossiblereasons,itwastheonly
newspapertoreportmeaningfullyonthestrikesandbusinessclosures,ascanbeobservedinIndiaOfficereportson
40

10

OnFriday,March11,1898,thedaytheCrawfordMarketclocksfacewaspartiallydestroyed
byriflefire,Bombaywasincrediblytense.RiotshadbrokenoutontheprecedingMonday,ageneral
strikewasineffect,andheavilyarmedsoldierswerepatrollingthestreetsinextraordinarynumbers.
Whilethereisalackofevidencesufficienttoprovedefinitivelythattheclockshootingwasrelatedtothe
riotandlaborunrest,itseemsmoreplausibletosuggestitwasthantoarguethatitwasnot.46Wenow
turntotheriotandtheshootingthatoccurredduringit.
Traditionally,historianshavecontextualizedtheriotsofMarch1898intermsofthe
governmentsharsh,invasive,andculturallyinsensitiveplaguepreventionmeasures.47After,thebubonic
plaguestruckBombayin1896,thegovernmenttookdrasticmeasures,creatingmilitarysearchparties
thatweresentdoortodoortofindpotentialplaguevictims,physicallyinspectthem,andremove
afflictedindividualstoahospitalwhilesendingtheirrelativestosegregationcamps.48Travelrestricting
plaguecheckpointswerecreatedonallentry/exitpointstothecitywithaccompanyingdetentioncamps.
49

Detentioncampswerenotwellliked,butitwastheinspectionofMuslimandHinduwomenbymen

thatwasmosttroublingtonatives.50
TheriotsarguablybeganonMonday,March7whenanarmedsearchpartywasconfrontedby

nativepapers.OnthelimitationsofthissourceseeRangaswamiParthasarathy,JournalisminIndia:FromEarliest
TimestothePresentDay(NewDelhi:Sterling,1989),46,272274.
46
OnMarch9riotersburneddownascreennearthejailthatwasreadiedforanexecutionthefollowingmorning.
Catanach,Whoareyourleaders?215.Giventheclockssimilartiestodiscipline,control,andempire,similar
motivationsmighthaveinspiredbothevents.Morebroadly,contemporarieswereclearlyexpectingattackson
property.TimesofIndia,TheSceneNeartheJumaMusjid,March12,1898,www.proquest.com.Ifnothingelsethe
shootingcanbeincorporatedintothestoryoftheriotasaformofpropertydestruction.
47
SeeChandavarkarImperialPower,385Chandavarkar,PlaguepanicKidambi,MastersoftheCity,sec.8
Catanach,Whoareyourleaders?
48
Chandavarkar,PlaguePanic,204,207,221.
49
Chandavarkar,PlaguePanic,208.TheTimesofIndiaoffersthefollowingchillingdescription:Operationsfor
preventingplagueareinfullforce.Onehundredandelevenpersonsweredetained,washed,andtheirclothes
disinfected,andplacedinthedetentioncamptoday.Alargeshedfortheaccommodationofarrivalsisbeingbuiltat
theRailwaystation.Alltrainsarewatched.TimesofIndia,PlagueinPoona,March2,1898,www.proquest.com.
50
Ondetentioncampssee,TimesofIndiaTheProposedSystemofDeathRegistration,March11,1898,
proquest.com.Oninspectionssee,NarayanChandraBhattacharyya,ReportonNativePapersfortheweekending
the26thMarch1898inIndiaOfficeRecords/L/R/5/24,290291.

11

acrowdandpeltedwithstones,causinglightinjuries.51EarlyonWednesdayMarch9amalemedical
studentaccompaniedbyarmedescortattemptedtoinspectayoungMuslimgirlinMadanpura(a
MuslimIndianareaofthecity)andwasrefusedentrytothehousebythegirlsparents.Soonacrowd
gatheredandthesearchpartyretreatedunderavolleyofstones.Twohoursaftertheinitialencounterat
thehouse,policearrivedatthesceneandwerefacedbyamassivecrowdthrowingstonesandwaving
sticksintheair.AParsimagistratecalledintoquellthecrowdwashitbyastone.Heorderedthe
policetoshootintotheassemblykillingfive.52
Thesituationthuslyescalated,riotingquicklyspreadthroughouttheIndianpartofthecityinthe
earlyafternoonandtheoriginalMuslimprotesterswerejoinedbyHindumillworkerswhowereabsent
fromworkinobservanceoftheHindufestivalofHoli.53Themobsattackedthelocaljailandfirestation,
andtheriotingspreadallthewaysouthtoCrawfordMarketthedividinglinebetweentheIndianand
EuropeanareasofBombay.AccordingtoareportintheTimesofIndia,Acrowdofaboutfour
hundredMahomedanscollectedbeforetheArthurCrawfordMarketonWednesdayandthreatenedto
rushthestalls.Theyweredispersedbythemilitary.54Bythenextmorning108Indians(includingat
least25HinduIndians)hadbeenarrested.Demonstratingincrediblespeed,at1pmtheBritishconvened
aspecialcourtandbeganmasstrials.55
Itisunclearwhenpreciselythestrikewasinitiatedorbywho.OnThursdaymorninggrain,
seed,andotherexportmarketswereclosed,aswerethepiecegoodsmarketsandthedocks.56By
Friday,March11thesituationhadworsened.Thebutcherswereonstrikeandearlythatmorningthe

51

TimesofIndia,AttackingaSearchParty,March8,1898,www.proquest.com.Notethatthepreviouslycited
historiansdatethestartandendoftheriottoMarch9.
52
Catanach,Whoareyourleaders?213214.
53
Kidambi,MastersoftheCity,sec.8.
54
TimesofIndia,ThreatenedStrikeofButchers,March11,1898,www.proquest.com.
55
TimesofIndia,TheRiotersBeforetheMagistrate,March11,1898,www.proquest.com.
56
TimesofIndia,WeeklyCommercialNotes,March12,1898,www.proquest.com.

12

docklaborersandcartdriversstruckworkaswell.Workintherailwayyardswassuspended.The
clothmarketswereclosed.LargenumbersofHinduownedandMuslimownedshopsalikewere
shuttered,thefactionsmakingcommoncauseagainsttheEuropeans.Anestimated20,000Indianswere
onstrike,andtheAngloIndianmouthpiece,theTimesofIndia,suspectedasystematicdesign
behinditall.57ThelogicattributedtothestrikewasthatiftheIndiansdeprivedEuropeansoftheirfood
supplytheycouldforcethegovernmentshandonthematterofplaguemeasures.58
OverattheCrawfordMarket,theIndianstallholderswhosespiceandotherstallsfilledthe
marketweretryingtoleaveworkaswell.Accordingtothebuildingssuperintendent,DouglasBennett,
someorganizersofthegeneralclosureofbusinessintheoutdoorbazaarswereleaningonthe
stallholderstoparticipateinthestrike.Butthestallholdersremained,seeminglyunderpressurefrom
Bennett,andthustheCrawfordMarket(alongwiththeotherseventightlycontrolledmunicipal
markets),remainedopenthatday,underminingthestrike.59
Simultaneously,themilitaryandpolicewerebracingthemselvesinanticipationoffreshviolence
afterFridaymiddayprayersatthemosque.Startingaround11am,acouplehundredsofarmedmen
weresenttosecureboththemosqueandtheCrawfordMarket.TheCrawfordMarket,inpartbecause
ofitsstrategiclocation,wasguardedbyalargecontingentofover100soldiers,seamen,police,and
specialforces.Atthemainentrancestoodabout20membersoftheGovernorsBodyGuard.Itseems
reasonabletosupposetheirpresencemighthaveaidedBennettinhisappealtothestallholdersto
remaininbusiness.Massviolencenevermaterializedthatday,butmilitaryandpoliceforcesremained
deployedthroughoutthecityfortherestofthedayandnight.60

57

TimesofIndia,TheRiots,March12,1898,www.proquest.comTimesofIndia,TheSceneneartheJuma
Musjid,TimesofIndia,TheMunicipalMarkets,March12,1898,www.proquest.com.
58
TimesofIndia,TheMunicipalMarketsseealsoCatanach,Whoareyourleaders?216.
59
TimesofIndia,TheMunicipalMarkets.
60
TimesofIndia,TheSceneneartheJumaMusjid.

13

Thatsamenight,around7:30pm,Bennettswifeheardmultiplegunshotswhilestandingonthe
balconyoftheCrawfordMarket.Thenextmorningitwasdiscoveredthatoneoftheclockfaceshad
beenpartiallydestroyedbyariflebullet.Theonlyknownnewspaperreportoftheincident,intheTimes
ofIndia,reads:
ItisbelievedthatsomeMahomedansandHindooswhohavebeen,sincethe
breakingoutoftheWednesdaysriots,goingaboutBombayurgingpeopleto
closetheirplacesofbusiness,andhavebeenunsuccessfulintheirattemptswith
themarketpeople,havefiredattheclockwithaviewtocausingalarm,and
thusclosingthemarkets.61
ShootingattheMarketClock
LaborhistorianPeterWay,inhisanalysisofIrishunskilledlaborersintheUnitedStates,
examinesanincidentinwhichIrishquarrylaborersthrewrocksatasteamshipfullofupperclassfigures.
Hesuggeststhat,whileatraditionallaborhistorymightseepowerfulsymbolicselfexpression,the
incidentwasprobablymotivatedbyrecklessmischiefandirritation,notintentionallypoliticalengagement
withpowerstructures.62Waypresentsachallengethatputsaheavyburdenofproofonthehistorian
attemptingtoextractmeaningfromobscurehistoricalevents.Thispaperarguesthatextremerisk
attendinganactissuggestiveofmotivationanddeliberateintent,andshootingthemarketclockwas
undoubtedlyincrediblyrisky.
Therisksassociatedwithshootingthemarketclockwereextremeandmanyfold.First,recall
themarketsplacementattheborderoftheEuropeanandIndianareasofBombay.Givenitsstrategic
location,itwasacenterofattentionforrioterandgovernmentalike.Recallthathundredsofriotershad
approachedthemarketontheninthandthemassivearmedpresencesecondonlytothatnearthe
mosqueontheverydayoftheshooting.Notealsothatthemarketisnexttothepolicestation,which
61

TimesofIndia,ShootingattheMarketClock,March15,1898,www.proquest.com.
PeterWay,EvilHumorsandArdentSpirits:TheRoughCultureofCanalConstructionLaborers,Journalof
AmericanHistory79,no.4(1993):1398.
62

14

wasprobablybusygiventhatthepolicewereactiveinlargenumbersthatdayandnight.Moreover,the
IndianArmsActof1878hadcriminalizedthepossessionoffirearmsexceptbythosewhohelda
governmentlicense,whicheffectivelyamountedtoabanongunownershipbynonEuropeans.63
WhoevershottheCrawfordMarketclockisunlikelytohavebeenalicenseholderand,evenifthey
were,wasstillprobablysubjecttoarrestforcarryingarmsundersuspiciouscircumstances.64Incarrying
therifle(s)adifficultobjecttoconceal,nodoubttheywereexposingthemselvestoasignificantrisk.
Furthermore,thewitnessreportedhearingmultipleshots.Thisindicatesthateitherthereweremultiple
weapons(compoundingtheaforementionedlegaldangers),orelseasingleriflewasfiredmultipletimes.
Thelatterscenariosuggeststhattheperpetrator(s)hadtostandinplaceforatleastseveralsecondsin
themiddleofacentralcityjunctionandjustastonesthrowfromtheamplyreinforcedpolicestation.In
allpossiblecases,shootingthemarketclockwasanactthatexposeditsperpetrator(s)tolegaland
mortaldangerand,therefore,itishighlyunlikelythatitwasundertakenlightlyorforexcitement.Itseems
justifiedtoinfermotivationbehindtheact.
OnepossiblemotivationmighthavebeenpracticaltodisruptbusinessattheCrawford
Market.Ashasbeensaid,themarketremainedopenduringthestrike,underminingtheeffortsofthe
bazaarmerchantstoexertpressureonthegovernment.Perhaps,astheTimesofIndiasuggested,the
goalwastointimidatestallholdersandfrightenawaycustomers.Thisinterpretationlocatestheactina
narrativeofanticolonialresistance,classstruggle,andmasseconomicactivism.IttiestogetherBritish
imperialismandcommercialcapitalism(viz.thedisruptionofthelatterdestabilizesthepowerofthe

63

TheIndianArmsAct,1878:AsModifiedUptothe1stJuly,1892(Simla:GovernmentCentralPrintingOffice,1892)
1314,1920.Whilethelanguageoftheactisraciallyneutral,ithasbeenarguedthat,inpractice,Indianswere
unabletogetlicenses.SeeMahatmaGandhi,AnAutobiography,or,TheStoryofMyExperimentswithTruth,trans.
MahadevDesai(Ahmedabad:NavajivanPublishingHouse,1996),372.
64
TheIndianArmsAct,187812.Notethatatleasttwoarrestsforpossessionofweaponsweremadethatvery
dayoneinvolvingtwocanesandanotherregardingtwobamboosticksshowingthatpossessionofeven
relativelypedestrianweaponswasnottolerated.TimesofIndia,TheRiots.

15

former),andoffersapowerfulimageofviolenceagainstproperty,againstmarkets,andagainsta
capitalistinstitutionasmeanstowardstheendofrelievingtherepressionoftheplaguemeasures.Butthis
interpretationisunsatisfyinginthatitsinstrumentaltreatmentoftheclockasavehicleforachievingother
endsdoesnotseemtonecessarilyrequireanymeaningfulengagementwithwhatclocksareasunique
machinesthattransmitvalues,establishauthority,allowforculturalandeconomicdomination,reflect
somethingunderstoodtobeeminentlyBritishatthetime,andplayadialogicalroleinthecreationof
frameworksoftemporalperception.65Onewishestotakeseriouslywhataclockisthemodern
machineofhumanalienationparexcellence.
Aspeculativealternativeistoconsidertheshootingoftheclockasasymboliceventthat
engageswiththeclockandallitspeculiaritiesinthecolonialIndiancontext.Thisisnotmutually
exclusivewiththetheorythattheclockshootersmotivationswererelatedtothepracticaldisruptionof
themarketbecausethesymbolicweightoftheeventcanbedetachedfromtheselfunderstood
motivationsoftheperpetrators,whateverthosemightactuallyhavebeen.Thereissimplyinsufficient
evidence,however,toarguedefinitivelythatthedestructionoftheclockwasimmediatelymotivatedby
adesiretoresistBritishcultureoralientemporalframeworks.Wehaveconsideredthenatureofthe
clockasamaterialrepresentationofaBritishculturalfixation,asanagentofcapitalism,andasa
physicalreminderofpastmoralandpoliticalconqueststhatalsoholdsouthopeforfutureconquests.
WehavecontextualizeditinaBombayinthethroesofpoliticalcontestationsovertimestandardsthat
arebothembeddedinanticolonialmovementsandmaterializedinpublicclocktowers.Andwehave
seenanticolonialresistancetaking,amongitsmanyforms,theformofviolenceagainstaclock.
Circumstantially,thereiseveryreasontosuggesttheplausibilityoftheclaimthattheCrawfordMarket

65

Mumford,TechnicsandCivilization,1218.

16

clockwasasymbolicallyrichtarget,perhapsuniquelysoinallofBombay.Theclockitselfsatatthe
intersectionofseveralhistoricalnarratives,andtheshootingoftheclockraisesthequestionofwhether
ornottheriotsofMarch1898cannotalsobewovenintoaholisticnarrativeofthehistoryofclocks.
Placedincontext,itappearsrelativelyunimportantwhatmotivestheshooterswereawareoftheact
hasahistoricalexistenceofitsownthatcanbeanalyzedinandofitself.
Butthemoresignificantconclusiontobemadeisthattheeventhasnotonlyaplausible,butan
undeniable,historiographicalsignificance.Asahistoricaleventitcanbeeasilymarginalizedinanyofthe
narrativesthathavebeenconsideredhere.Butitsabilitytocrossbetweenthenarrativesandtobring
themintoconversationisanimportantconsideration.Itraisesquestionsperhaps
unanswerableabouttheconnectionsbetweenthevariouscontemporaneouseventsoutlinedhere.It
challengesOglesandMasselossperiodizationoftimepoliticsthatskipsaheadfrom1883to1899,
ignoringeventsinbetweenthatmighthaveabearingonarichunderstandingofthosetimepolitics.It
challengesChandavarkarandotherswho,innarrating1898lookbackonlytothestartoftheplaguein
1896,orperhapstheriotingof1893,butignorethepotentialrelevanceofthetimebattleof
18811883.And,finally,itasksascholarlikeSrivastava,whoclaimsthatIndianswereawareofthe
Britishnessofclockstoaddress,orattempttoaddress,whatthoseIndiansmighthavedonein
responsetotheclock.Inlargepart,thispaperhastriedtoaccomplishthislasttaskviaacasestudy.
Moregenerally,itquestionstheframingofexistinghistoriesoflate19thcenturyBombay.

17

Bibliography
Bhattacharyya,NarayanChandra.ReportonNativePapersfortheweekendingthe26thMarch1898,IndiaOffice
Records/L/R/5/24,1898.
TheBradfordObserver.TheNewTalesoftheClock.January27,1842.galegroup.com.
CaledonianMercury.ToaClock.October12,1840.galegroup.com.
Catanach,Ian.Whoareyourleaders?Plague,TheRajandtheCommunitiesinBombay,18961901.InSociety
andIdeology:EssaysinSouthAsianHistorypresentedtoProfessorK.A.Ballhatchet,editedbyPeter
Robb,196221.Delhi:OxfordUP,1993.
Chandavarkar,Rajnarayan.ImperialPowerandPopularPolitics:Class,ResistanceandtheStateinIndia,
c.18501950.Cambridge:CambridgeUP,1998.
.PlaguepanicandepidemicpoliticsinIndia,18961914.InEpidemicsandIdeas:EssaysontheHistorical
PerceptionofPestilence,editedbyTerenceRangerandPaulSlack,203240.Cambridge,CambridgeUP,
1992.
Dawes,WilliamMatthias.AFamiliarTreatiseonHorology:BeingaSketchoftheHistoryoftheWatchandClock
fromtheEarliestPeriodsofTheirManufactureTogetherwithDescriptionsoftheMostInteresting
PortionsoftheirStructure,andHintswithRegardtotheirManagement.London:K.J.Ford&Son,1862.
Denison,EdmundBeckett.ARudimentaryTreatiseonClockandWatchMaking:WithaChapterOnChurch
ClocksandanAccountoftheProceedingsRespectingtheGreatWestminsterClock.London:JohnWeale,
1850.
Galison,Peter.EinsteinsClocks,PoincarsMaps:EmpiresofTime.NewYork:W.W.Norton&Company,2003.
Gandhi,MohandasKaramchand.AnAutobiography,or,TheStoryofMyExperimentswithTruth.Translatedby
MahadevDesai.Ahmedabad:NavajivanPublishingHouse,1996.
Grimthorpe,EdmundBeckett(formerlyEdmundBeckettDenison).ARudimentaryTreatiseonClocksandWatches
andBells.London:Lockwood&Company,1874.
TheImperialGazetteerofIndia.Vol.5.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
.Vol.7.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
.Vol.8.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
.Vol.10.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
.Vol.11.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
.Vol.15.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
.Vol.20.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
.Vol.24.Oxford:OxfordUP,1908.
TheIndianArmsAct,1878:AsModifiedUptothe1stJuly,1892.Simla:GovernmentCentralPrintingOffice,1892.
Kenney,Judith.Climate,Race,andImperialAuthority:TheSymbolicLandscapeoftheBritishHillStationinIndia.
AnnalsoftheAssociationofAmericanGeographers85,no.4(1995):694714.
Kerr,IanJ.Introduction.InRailwaysinModernIndia,editedbyIanJ.Kerr,161.NewDelhi:OxfordUP,2001.
Kidambi,Prashant.TheMakingofanIndianMetropolis:ColonialGovernanceandPublicCultureinBombay,
18901920.Aldershot:AshgatePublishingLimited,2007).
.Theultimatemastersofthecity:police,publicorderandthepoorincolonialBombay,c.18931914.
Crime,History&Societies8,no.1(2004):2747.
Macgeorge,GeorgeWalter.WaysandWorksinIndia:BeinganAccountofthePublicWorksinthatCountryfrom
theEarliestTimesuptothePresentDay.Westminster:ArchibaldConstableandCompany,1894.

18

Masselos,Jim.BombayTime.InIntersections:SocioCulturalTrendsinMaharashtra,editedbyMeeriKosambi,
161183.NewDelhi:OrientLongmanLimited,2000.
McDonald,Douglas.Friends!LayDownYourOars!LetUsStayOnThisMoorAWhileLonger:VirginiaWoolfs
AmbivalencetowardNotionsofCulturalProgress.n.d.,unpublishedessay.
Metcalf,Thomas.ArchitectureandtheRepresentationofEmpire.Representations,no.6(1984):3765.
Morris,Jan.StonesofEmpire:TheBuildingsoftheRaj.Oxford:OxfordUP,1983.
Mumford,Lewis.TechnicsandCivilization.Chicago:UniversityofChicagoPress,2010.
TheOddFellow.LookattheClock!June12,1841.galegroup.com.
Ogle,Vanessa.WhoseTimeIsIt?ThePluralizationofTimeandtheGlobalCondition,1870s1940s.American
HistoricalReview118,no.5(2013):13761402.
Oldham,R.D.OnTimeinIndia:asuggestionforitsimprovement.InProceedingsoftheAsiaticSocietyofBengal,
4955.Calcutta:AsiaticSociety,1900.
Parkinson,Richard,andWilliamWordsworth.TheOldChurchClock.London:J.G.F.andJ.Rivington,1844.
Parthasarathy,Rangaswami.JournalisminIndia:FromEarliestTimestothePresentDay.NewDelhi:Sterling,1989.
Prasad,Ritika.TimeSense:RailwaysandTemporalityinColonialIndia.ModernAsianStudies47,no.4(2012):
12521282.
ProceedingsoftheAsiaticSocietyofBengal.Calcutta:AsiaticSociety,1900.
Reid,Thomas.TreatiseonClockandWatchMaking,TheoreticalandPractical.Glasgow:BlackieandSon,1859.
Sarkar,Sumit.WritingSocialHistory.NewYork:OxfordUP,1997.
Smith,MarkMichael.MasteredbytheClock:Time,Slavery,andFreedomintheAmericanSouth.ChapelHill:
UniversityofNorthCarolinaPress,1997.
Spiers,R.Phen.TheLateMajorMant,R.E.,Fellow.InTheTransactionsoftheRoyalInstituteofBritish
Architects,100112.London:RoyalInstituteofBritishArchitects,1882.
Strivastava,Sanjay.ConstructingPostColonialIndia:NationalCharacterandtheDoonSchool.NewYork:
Routledge,1998.
Thompson,E.P.Time,WorkDiscipline,andIndustrialCapitalism.Past&Present,no.38(1967):5697.
TheTimes(London).RoyalInstituteOfBritishArchitects.November7,1899.
TimesofIndia.AttackingaSearchParty.March8,1898.www.proquest.com.
.DontLettheClockRunDown.July13,1900.www.proquest.com.
.TheMunicipalMarkets.March12,1898.www.proquest.com.
.PlagueinPoona.March2,1898.www.proquest.com.
.TheProposedSystemofDeathRegistration.March11,1898www.proquest.com.
.TheRiotersBeforetheMagistrate.March11,1898.www.proquest.com.
.TheRiots.March12,1898.www.proquest.com.
.TheSceneNeartheJumaMusjid.March12,1898.www.proquest.com.
.ShootingattheMarketClock.March15,1898.www.proquest.com.
.ThreatenedStrikeofButchers.March11,1898.www.proquest.com.
.WeeklyCommercialNotes.March12,1898.www.proquest.com.
Way,Peter.EvilHumorsandArdentSpirits:TheRoughCultureofCanalConstructionLaborers.Journalof
AmericanHistory79,no.4(1993):13971428.

19