Pomp and Privation in Victorian India, Kapil Komireddi
This essay examines British colonial rule in late nineteenth-century India through the lens of two contemporaneous artefacts. Each vivifies a reality that complicates the message sought to be advanced by the
other. The first artefact, a lavishly illustrated book commemorating the opulent Proclamation Durbar of 1877, clarifies the self-image of a benignant empire in India crafted by the colonial apparatus for audiences in
Britain. The second, a photograph of starving children during the Great Famine of 1876-1878—through the course of which an estimated ten million Indians perished—conveys the experiences of the colonised peoples under the reign of Queen Victoria as she formally assumed the title of Empress of India.