English Edition: Foreword of DG, MPCST              Contents

Hindi Edition: Foreword of DG, MPCST  Editor’s Introduction  Contents

Resource Atlas of Jhabua:
A Celebration of the Land and People of Jhabua

India is a land of extraordinary natural and human endowments. Nature has provided almost every part of India with abundant resources for the sustenance of a rich human civilisation; and, the people of India, over millennia of intense interaction with their immediate environment, have learnt the most effective ways of gratefully accepting the nature’s bounty.

Notwithstanding the uninterrupted richness and a certain uniformity of natural endowments over almost the whole of Indian land, the detailed hues of nature, of course, differ in different parts. People in different parts appreciate the special endowments of their niche in the world; in every part, they have developed agronomic practices, irrigation techniques, technologies and crafts, architectural styles, social customs and festivals, and much else, to make a world of their own within the larger Indian physical and civilisational ambience.

It is a great pleasure to observe the special natural endowments and social, cultural and technological practices of different parts of India. There is indeed poetry in the way nature expresses itself in different parts, and in the way the people mould their life in consonance with it.

It is important in itself to learn the details of the geography, geology, climate, demography, landuse, animals, irrigation, agriculture, crafts, industry, culture and religion of different parts of India. It is essential to learn such details, if we want to make any effective and sensitive developmental intervention in the life and environment of the people. Madhya Pradesh District Resource Atlas Programme is designed to collect such  details for every district, and also to capture the poetry of interaction between nature and civilisation.

Datia is part of Bundelkhand; the district, excluding Bhander, corresponds to the historic Bundela state of Datia. Bhander, which was earlier part of Gwalior and had historically remained outside Bundela control, has been recently added to Datia. Geographically, Bundelkhand comprises a well-defined region enclosed within a semi-circle formed by the Vindhyan plateau on the south and west and the river Yamuna running along its northeast diagonal. Datia is on the northwestern corner of this vast region.

Geologically, the region is formed of an expanse of massive granites known as the Bundelkhand Craton. As we move towards north and east, the granites are covered by alluvium and the region slowly merges into the Ganga-Yamuna plains. Datia, lying on the north-western edge of Bundelkhand region, falls mostly in the alluvial plains; exposed expanses of granites are seen only in the southern parts of the district.

Bundelkhand is traversed by several rivers that run northeastwards to meet the Yamuna. Datia lies to the east of Sindh, the river that defines the western boundary of Bundelkhand. Pahuj, a large tributary of Sindh, is the other major river of the district. It runs along the greater part of the southern and eastern boundaries of the district and traverses through much of Bhander. Sindh and Pahuj form important part of the life, culture and economy of Datia.

Historically, Bundelkhand was ruled for several centuries by the Chandellas and Bundelas. Both of these great dynasties gave rise to several powerful kings, who were also great builders. They have left behind a large number of temples, tanks, palaces and forts of great architectural value. Orchha, in the neighbourhood of Datia, was the great capital of Bundelas. The Bundela state of Datia was founded in 1626 by Bhagwan Rao, son of Bir Singh Deo, who is counted as one of the greatest kings of Orchha. Bir Singh Deo also built a grand palace in Datia, which is the most significant monument of the district. Standing on a prominent hill, Bir Singh Deo Palace forms an all pervasive presence over Datia town.

Though a part of Bundelkhand, Datia also shares in the history of the larger region of Gwalior, Agra and Delhi, that form its close neighbourhood. Because of its location, the district has been influenced by events and developments in the Mughal, Maratha and British period of Indian history. The district also shared in the earlier history of the Mauryan and Gupta periods. One of the minor edicts of Ashoka is found in the stony southern part of the district, at Gujarra.

Bundelkhand has been agriculturally affluent. Its agricultural abundance is attested to by travellers like Hiuen Tsiang, who visited the region in 641 AD at the time of Harshavardhana. In the recent past, however, the region has seen several yeas of distress caused by the successive failure of rains. Datia also has seen some such years in the last decade. But, in general, the district is very rich in agriculture. In recent years, it has been producing more than 400 kg of foodgrains and

40 kg of oilseeds per capita per year. The agriculture of Datia is also very diverse; the district grows a large variety of cereals, pulses and oilseeds and also significant amounts of sugarcane. Godowns overflowing with agricultural produce, vast stretches of lush crops and intense agricultural activity in the fields form the most abiding images of the district.

Agriculture of the district has received a new thrust with the establishment of an extensive network of canals, mainly during the last decade. Earlier, the district received some irrigation from the Bhander Branch of Betwa Canal drawn from the Betwa at Parichha, near the border of Datia, in Jhansi of Uttar Pradesh. During the last decade, the new Datia Canal system has been created  using the waters of Angori and Bhutan, two small tributaries of the Pahuj. And this system has been integrated with the older Bhander Canal. Every part of the district now is covered by canals. This has resulted in a large expansion of the winter crop and considerable improvement in the agriculture of the district.

Economy of Datia is based in agriculture; crafts, industry and trade of the district only serve and supplement agriculture.

The culture of the district seems similarly based in religion. The district has several sacred centres, some of these of great antiquity. These include the Sun Temple on the Pahuj at Unao, the Pitambara Peeth at Datia, the Jain Nirvana Kshetra of Sonagir, the tirtha associated with Sanatkumara and his brothers at Seondha and the abode of Ratangarh Mata in the forests on the northern bank of Sindh. These religious centres give a unique identity to Datia; attracted by these highly sanctified places of pilgrimage, people from not only the neighbourhood but also from far-off places visit the district. Incidentally, the district is conveniently located on the main north-south railway line from Delhi to Chennai and on one of the more important national highways.

I am thankful to the MPCST for accepting our proposal and giving us the opportunity to learn so much about the land and people of the districts of Madhya Pradesh. I am especially thankful to

Prof. Pramod K. Verma, the Director-General, who, as Director of RSAC at the time this project was initiated, signed the MOU concerning this project in the presence of the Honourable Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. The Chief Minister and the honourable Minister for Science and Technology have been taking personal interest in this effort. All departments of Madhya Pradesh administration, and especially the Commissioner of Land Records and his officers, have generously shared their data resources with us.

I am thankful to the scientists associated with the Madhya Pradesh Resource Atlas Programme (MPRAP) team of the MPCST, especially Dr. R. K. Singh,

Dr. Sandeep Goyal and Sri Dilip Soni, for their unstinting cooperation and great enthusiasm with which they have taken up this programme. My young colleagues in the Centre, Sri Ashwani Chauhan, Nitin Gupta and Avanish Pratap Singh have provided continuous help in  the diverse activities involved in preparing this volume. Sri Sudarshan has, as always, helped in the design and layout. Sri L. Kannan has ensured that everyone in the Centre, and all those who visit us, are taken care of and made comfortable. I express my gratitude to all of them.

I thank Dr. M. D. Srinivas, Sri K. V. Varadarajan,

Sri Banwari, Sri T. M. Mukundan and other colleagues in the Centre for their generous help and encouragement in all my activities. Dr. M. D. Srinivas has painstakingly and critically read the whole text, and provided valuable suggestions and comments.

I affectionately acknowledge the several contributions of Anjaneya, Jeevisha, Archan and Kusum.

From the Editor’s Introduction

J. K. Bajaj (Editor-in-Chief and Volume Editor)
Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, 2008
M.P. Council of Science and Technology, Bhopal
ISBN 81-86041-25-7 hb
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