The descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar runs a tea stall in Calcutta

I have been reading about this for quite a while but just now I again came across this BBC feature that talks about the great-great-granddaughter of Bahadur Shah Zafar selling tea in Calcutta to earn a living. According to the report Coal India has taken an initiative and given her a C-level job.

But the article wrongly refers to the last Mughal as the “hero of the first war of Independence”. He was as clueless as anybody could get, and equally reluctant to get on the wrong side of the British. He was forced into an oblique leadership by mutineers desperately looking for a focus, and that time, restoring the glory of the Mughal empire became their focus. He totally went nuts when the British eventually captured him and dispatched him to Burma along with her queens, princes and concubines and kept him there on a meager monthly allowance.

I read William Dalrymple’s book on him a long time ago so I don’t remember whether his sons were sent to London or not. But if they were, after his death, it seems strange that his great-great-granddaughter ended up in the slums of Calcutta.

Illustrious or not, Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last emperor and it’s a pity that his descendants are living in penury. It tells a lot about our society. I don’t mean to say that just by the dint of belonging to a “royal” lineage we should confer titles and bounties on them but they should at least be rehabilitated and helped in order to provide them decent living conditions.

6 thoughts on “The descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar runs a tea stall in Calcutta

  1. Kaffir

    “Illustrious or not, Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last emperor and it’s a pity that his descendants are living in penury.”

    Amrit, why is it a pity? Are the citizens in a democratic republic obliged to take care of descendants of past emperors and kings? Which ones, and for how many generations? If private entities want to support such descendants on their own dime, that’s all fine, but to expect that from citizens or the government is illogical. Up-down/rich-poor – this game of life continues, and there’s no guarantee that if someone is rich today, his descendants will continue to be rich too. The good thing is that if BSZ’s descendants work hard, there’s no stopping them from becoming rich in future. I never really understood the reason behind this thinking that many Indians have – that the descendants of past kings are owed something by the citizens today.

  2. Amrit Post author

    Hello Kaffir.

    This is why I wrote:

    I don’t mean to say that just by the dint of belonging to a “royal” lineage we should confer titles and bounties on them but they should at least be rehabilitated and helped in order to provide them decent living conditions.

    I said, like any other citizen, they should be helped in gaining an employment; I’m not saying they should live off the tax-payer’s money, as, I think, happens in many countries.

  3. Nilesh

    you are contradicting in your own post Amrit. why this distinction for them. they must have done some wrong so ended up living the way they are now. if they have right to get job in coal India, their must be million others who deserve that before them (on basis of capability, talent, hard work).

  4. IndianACE

    Circa 1857- Bahadur Shah took a stand for independence, Scindia and some others supported the brits.

    Circa 2007-Bahadur Shah’s descendents are on the street. And what about Scindia’s?

    So get the drift, you guys.

    IMHO, the ladies need to be given some respect.
    India is not a nation of thankless ingrates.

  5. Anonymous

    For all of your information , Bahadur Shah Zafar’s sons lead soldiers against the British, were later killed in cold blood after being humiliated publicly. No one went to Britain.

    Bahadur Shah was too old by 1857 to lead an army. After the war he was brought in chains in front of his won court, in a show trail his life was spared because of his old age.

    He was imprisoned in Burma and never seen his home land again, he died few years later in neglect and humiliation. His last wish was to be buried in his father’s land was not heard, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Burma just live an ordinary person.

    Please read history before insulting your own historical figures

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