How the Railways Came to India

Anuradha Kumar

The story of the railways in India began a decade before April 16th, 1853, the day the first train set off from Bombay to Thane. Two men, Rowland Macdonald Stephenson and John Chapman, made impassioned arguments for the railways. They spoke for Britain’s merchants and industrialists, and convincing others—the public, financiers, and the British administrators in London and India—was not so easy.

This book details the drama and the adventure, the twists and turns, the many actors involved in these early years of the railways in India. As the first trains set off across India, the debates continued: how would the railways be controlled and financed, who would build them, and how would the railway management and workers relate to each other. Then there were the other changes, subtle yet noticeable: related to caste, aspects of equality, and the landscape – as forests were decimated, bridges and railway towns came into being. These essays take you on an exciting journey, from the days of the first trains, to how the railway network soon spread web-like across an entire sub-continent.

Anuradha Kumar once worked as a management consultant and then as an editor in the Economic and Political Weekly. She has degrees in history, in management from the XLRI School of Business, and more recently, a Masters in Fine Arts in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She writes regularly for, Economic and Political Weekly, and other places. Her book, ‘A Changing World: Eyewitness Accounts of the Early Days of the Indian Railways’  is forthcoming from Curato.

Pre-order on the Curato. Bookstore here.

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