Review: ‘Ganges’ explores why the river draws pilgrims and emperors alike to dip in its sacred waters

on Jan23
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Maybe it’s the stasis of the centuries-long rule of the Mughal emperors, or the outsize influence of both Akbar and the East India Co., but the book picks back up in age of empires, a time during which the Ganges, as always, was a lifeblood. “Over centuries,” Sen writes, “this watercourse has generated a surplus that not only supported the great agrarian empires of the distant past but also underwrote the mighty industrial empire of Victorian Britain.” Today, as the river has increasingly been harnessed both for hydroelectric power and complex irrigation systems, along with supplying water to half a billion people, it continues to shape India in a significant material way.



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