Today, let me teleport you to a colonial-era Calcutta, which was home to the illustrious Mullick family. They were a prominent and well-respected family known for their philanthropy and contributions to society. The family traces its roots back to Jadulal Mullick, a renowned philanthropist who lived from 1844 to 1894. Jadulal Mullick was deeply committed to social welfare and made significant contributions in the fields of education, healthcare, and cultural preservation.
Jadulal Mullick's philanthropic legacy was carried forward by his descendants, who continued to make notable contributions to society by establishing several educational institutions, including the Jadulal Mullick Institution, which aimed to provide quality education to the underprivileged. They also supported the establishment of hospitals and orphanages, furthering their commitment to healthcare and social welfare. They were also known for their patronage of the arts and cultural preservation. Their support for artists, musicians, and performers played a significant role in promoting and preserving the rich cultural heritage of Calcutta.
With that in mind, let me share an interesting historical anecdote with you, which falls more under the category of personal amusement than a philanthropic contribution that the Mullick family was famous for. It is about Manmatha Nath (1844-1894), the youngest son of Jadulal Mullick. Thanks to him, in the 1930s, an intriguing sight could be seen on the streets of Calcutta — a zebra-drawn carriage. Manmatha Nath acquired a pair of zebras from the Alipore Zoological Gardens, India's oldest formally stated zoological park and a significant tourist attraction even in present-day Kolkata, for this unique endeavor. Do not mistake it for yet another Photoshop wonder; this actually happened. It was said that Manmatha Nath took on this challenge to prove his ability to tame a wild zebra and showcase his adventurous spirit. Known for his love of trying new things, he had a large stable of horses he personally trained. The carriage and zebras were kept at the garden house in Beliaghata on Raja Rajendra Lal Mitra Street.
While this fun anecdote certainly sheds light on a different side of the Mullick family history, it is worth remembering that most Indian zamindars (landowners) were not like the Mullicks. During the colonial era, most of them were British apologists, who amassed immense fortunes and lived lavish lifestyles. Their wealth was accumulated from the exploited backs of working-class Indian citizens. The land-owning Brahmin zamindars were also responsible for perpetuating caste discrimination but I believe that is a story for another day.
If you enjoyed reading this, here's more from Homegrown: