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Thread: The British Once Built a 1,100-Mile Hedge Through the Middle of India

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    The British Once Built a 1,100-Mile Hedge Through the Middle of India

    Kind of interesting story about another wall. Basically an economic wall.

    The British Once Built a 1,100-Mile Hedge Through the Middle of India

    In 1878, W.S. Halsey, Commissioner of Inland Customs, reported on the state of British India’s giant hedge. The hedge had grown to more than 1,100 miles long, he wrote, long enough to stretch from Berlin to Moscow. More than half of the barrier, Halsey reported, was made up of “perfect and good green hedge” or “combined green and dry hedge.” In parts, it was 12 feet tall and 14 feet across.

    The British Empire had been working on this giant hedge for at least 30 years. It had, at long last, reached “its greatest extent and perfection,” wrote Roy Moxham in The Great Hedge of India. It was an impressive monument to British power and doggedness. One British official wrote that it “could be compared to nothing else in the world except the Great Wall of China.”

    As he reported on the extent and health of the hedge, though, Halsey knew its time was coming to an end. That same year, the empire stopped all funding for the mad project, and it was not long before the hedge had disappeared entirely. When Moxham, an English writer, went looking for it in 1996, he couldn’t find a trace.

    No one knows where the idea to build a giant hedge across the heart of India came from. It seems a little magical, like a fairy-tale hedge that sprouts, thorny and tall, to protect a sleeping princess before disappearing back into the soil as quickly as it arose. But there was nothing charming about what the British built. It wasn’t meant to protect anything except imperial revenue. It grew along the Inland Customs Line, a bureaucratic barrier that the British created to impose a high salt tax on the people living on one side of the line—the relatively saltless one.

    <snip historical details that you can read>

    The hedge itself might have died, but the path it cut through the country was preserved, in a way. Later in India’s history, road designers looked at the long, flat embankments that cut through the country as an infrastructure asset. The hedge’s path was, in certain areas, transformed into a series of roads. Moxham had such a hard time finding any trace of the Great Hedge of India because its history had been paved over.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Nothing like that wall in china and the maginot line that wasnt quite long enough
    Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

    GROUCHO MARX,

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