Posted on: 19 February 2013

New Book:
Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870
By Christopher Alan Bayly
Published by Cambridge University Press - 2000

In a penetrating account of the evolution of British intelligence gathering in India, C. A. Bayly shows how networks of Indian spies, runners and political secretaries were recruited by the British to secure information about their subjects. He also examines the social and intellectual origins of these informants, and considers how the colonial authorities interpreted and often misinterpreted the information they supplied. As Professor Bayly demonstrates, it was such misunderstandings which ultimately contributed to the failure of the British to anticipate the mutinies of 1857. He argues, however, that, even before this, India's complex systems of communication were challenging the political and intellectual dominance of the European rulers.

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My Grandfather would call the British Spies as people who do hair Giri, perhaps it could be corruption of Hear.

love Bayly's work generally.......

Cover photo: Persian teacher, probably painting by William Taylor C.S.

The cover is actually by Thomas Williamson, depicting a European with his Munshi, a native "professor" of languages. Before this time, transactions with the natives were done through a "Banian". Please see here for details of the image:

Very interested to read this!

very intrstng

@sameerkhan - In the Marathi language "Haer" (pronounced as Hair) means a spy so your grandfather's usage is quaint and appropriate. Perhaps the word has a Persian root but I am not certain.

Shashi Kolar: This image is originally from: The European in India By Charles D'OYLY From a collection of drawings... with a preface and copious descriptions, by Thomas Williamson; accompanied with a brief history of ancient and modern India, from the earliest periods of antiquity to the termination of the late Mahratta war, by F.W. Blagdon. extremely valuable rare book.

RBSI , Yes, by Charles D'Oyly