2ndlook

India’s Future: Not leaders! Not Institutions! Then How Will India’s Future Emerge?

Posted in British Raj, History, India, Indo Pak Relations, Islamic Demonization, Pax Americana by Anuraag Sanghi on September 11, 2012

In a short thirty years, the greatest empire in world history had been humbled. In less than 70 years, they are back.

The boycott of Simon Commission by Indian negotiators sounded the death knell of the British Raj in India. (Cartoonist - David Low (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 11 Feb 1928). Click for larger image.

The boycott of Simon Commission by Indian negotiators sounded the death knell of the British Raj in India. (Cartoonist – David Low (1891-1963) Published – Evening Standard, 11 Feb 1928). Click for larger image.

Rock & A Hard Place

Between 1916, when Lokmanya BG Tilak, declared ‘Swaraj is my birthright’ to Atlee’s announcement of British withdrawal, in February 1946, in a short thirty years, the greatest empire in world history had been humbled.

In less than 70 years, they are back.

While we discuss, argue, shout, scream, talk, negotiate

Anglo-American forces today control Af-Pak region. The Indian Government and the people of India see Pakistan, an Anglo-American agent, as its prime rival – instead of the Anglo-American patrons as the root cause.

In the last 20 years, India has lowered guard considerably – and unless, this direction is reversed swiftly, the Indian Nation maybe in peril.

In the last 12 years

It has become common in Indian media to promote colonial ‘contribution’ in the building of modern India.

With memory dim, for India’s Y2K generation, Indian poverty after colonialism, the food and clothing shortages are only stories. The context forgotten, India’s Y2K generation is being shoe-horned into blindness, by a shouting brigade.

Led by the ‘intellectuals’ like ‘Lord’ Meghnad Desai, Amartya Sen, or Indian origin journalists with global-Western media like Sadanand Dhume, or hoax journalism like Andy Mukherjee or lazy writers in the mould of Krittivas Mukherjee, aided by Indo-Western academics like Jagdish Bhagwati, Rafiq Zakaria, etc.

Within India itself, this shouting brigade has a large following, too many to name or count.

To illustrate this point,

The ritual murder of Pakistani polity by the Pakistani army (Democracy in Pakistan By Olle Johansson, Sweden; courtesy - blackcommentator.com.).

The ritual murder of Pakistani polity by the Pakistani army. (Democracy in Pakistan By Olle Johansson, Sweden; courtesy – blackcommentator.com.). Click for larger image.

India has a constitution; Pakistan has editions. These are the various Pakistani constitutions: 1935 (secular), 1956 (federal), 1962 (dictatorial), 1973 (parliamentary), 1979 (Islamic), 1999 (presidential), 2008 (parliamentary). Why do they keep changing and searching? Muslims keep trying to hammer in Islamic bits into a set of laws that is actually quite complete. This is the Government of India Act of 1935, gifted to us by the British. (via What ails Kashmir? The Sunni idea of ‘azadi’ – Columns – livemint.com).

Birth of a Nation

To this school of commentariat, Indian Constituent Assembly counts for nothing.

The Constituent Assembly, which included at least 50% of the Indian political leadership and their work over 25,000 man-hours, amount to nothing. Or the Indian contribution to the making of the Government of India Act of 1935, itself.

In a short period of less than 30 months, India wrote and implemented its constitution. It has been been a rather pliable constitution getting amended a number of times – and yet has been upheld and respected by all the extensions of the State. Britain enacted The Government of India Act, first in 1919 and then in 1935. Some Indians have claimed the Indian Constitution is nothing original – but based on The Government of India Act, 1935, by the British Raj.

The wonder is not any document. It is in making it work.

What matters to Indians are not declarations of belief – but hard, real actions. In the words of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, ‘what counts is conduct, not belief’. American declaration of independence talked of ‘all men are created equal’ and promptly became the biggest importer of slaves in the history of the world.

For how long will our glitterati, chatterati, papparazzi, intelligentsia, cognoscenti, continue with this bilge.

Just the two of us!

At this stage it maybe worthwhile to revisit the record of Republican Democracy.

In the last 250 years,  just 6 countries succeeded with Republican democracy without a significant breakdown in the first 50 years. Of the six, Sri Lanka (pop. 200 lakhs) Switzerland (pop. 80 lakhs), Israel (pop. 75 lakhs) and Singapore (pop. 50 lakhs) are tiny countries to generate any valuable data, models, norms or precedents. In any other day, age and society, the republican-democracy model would have been laughed off – and not studied by millions.

America became one of the first successful republican democracies – from 1789, when George Washington became the first elected President of USA. 70 years later, the strains were showing – North versus South. America was on the verge of Civil War – the main cause of which was the desire of the Southern states to remain independent (due to tariff issues) or at best as a loose confederation – not a federal union (actually slavery was a side issue).

The reason why India’s Republican Democracy works is because Indian genius has made it work. It is the commitment to make the system work, which is why the system is working.

Though some may cavil about how well (?) it works!

Meeting of minds

In the period between 1916 to 1946, India developed a national consensus and agenda.

On many subjects there was no political or even popular leadership. For instance, in 1944, Indian businessmen, in the middle of WWII, met and started work on an industrial policy for independent India. Or the huge protests by the entire Indian nation against the Red Fort Trials of the INA.

Of greater significance was the meeting that Gandhiji called in November 1947. This meeting was to happen in February of 1948. On January 30th, 1948, Gandhiji was assassinated. But Gandhiji’s co-workers went ahead and organized the meeting at Sevagram, Wardha, between March 11-March 14 1948 (alternate date (PDF) is March 13-15, 1948).

Gandhi is Gone: Who Will Guide Us Now? edited by Gopalkrishna Gandhi. (is a) remarkable book (that) is a record of introspection amongst Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Vinoba Bhave, J B Kripalani, Jayaprakash Narayan and others, at Sevagram in March 1948.

They had been charged by the Mahatma to consider the type of institutions India would need for its development and what should be the role and structure of the Congress party. Nations are ill-served when their institutions fail to evolve to fit their needs. The questions the Mahatma had posed in 1948 have become burning issues again.

via Who will lead us now? Institutions waiting for leaders who will bring them back from the brink and win citizens’ trust – The Economic Times.

Much was discussed – and powerful figures like Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayen decided to work from within and and outside the system. With no constitution, without a Parliament, without elections, India was being governed by a British administrator, at Indian request, to provide continuum, from the Raj to a sovereign India. From these discussions was born the Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement – and Jaya Prakash Narayen’s Sarvodaya movement.

Without the power of the State, these movements worked on the power of suasion – and were powerful movements till the Bombay High generation took over the country, in 1975.

Unlike Pakistan

This ‘gift of the British’ to us Indians is a public document.

If it’s value is so apparent, why have others not been able to take advantage of it. The same British, gave the same document to the Pakistan also. So, this claim that Indian Constitution, Indian democracy, even the British nation are a British ‘gift, is not only incorrect and illogical. Immaterial too!

This a claim not even worth examining, since this Government of India Act, 1935, has been in public domain for more than 75 years. Pakistan had all the rights to it. Apart from India – and to how many other colonies in the world, I have never counted..

Why could Pakistan do nothing with it.

In fact Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly dragged this Constitution-making exercise till October 1956.

Is Pakistan A Free State? Cartoon by Zahoor in Daily Times, Pakistan  |  Click for image.

Is Pakistan A Free State? Cartoon by Zahoor in Daily Times, Pakistan | Click for image.

Cut back to 1956 Pakistan

Remember that 1956 was the year of India’s 2nd general election.

Also the year when Pakistan became a republic – and the first constitution of Pakistan was adopted.

Governor General Sahibzada Sayyid Iskander Ali Mirza (a Shia Muslim from Bengal, direct descendant of Mir Jaffer) became the first President of the Pakistani Republic.

Two years later, in October 1958, President Iskander Mirza staged a coup d’état and dismissed the constitution. Shortly afterwards General Ayub Khan deposed Iskandar and declared himself president. These shenanigans started the tradition of Army rule in Pakistan.

To an emerging Pakistan, after a 9 year struggle to write a constitution, two years later, the Army declared that the Constitution was worthless piece of paper. Another Constitution was written in 1962, and then a third.

And a few more after that.

British Governance

For a realistic assessment of the British ‘capability’ to govern, let us look at British misrule in Britain itself.

How could super-power Britain spiral down to bankruptcy, in less than 70 years, after WWII. If their ideas of governance and administration were so good, why could they not save themselves from this slide in fortunes? British ‘capabilities’ in areas of technology, industrial management, academia stands naked and exposed.

It is the British mindset itself that may need examination to understand this decline!

British Loss of Power

1916 – April 16. BG Tilak declares Swaraj is my birthright; forms Home Rule League at the Bombay Provincial Conference held at Belgaum.

1927 – Indian polity refuses to negotiate with Simon Commission.

1930 – Bhagat Singh displays disinterest in the legal outcome of his trial.

1944 – India’s leading industrialists come together (Bombay Club) and make an economic-plan document for an India which was yet to be born; for a government that was yet to be formed.

1946 – Naval Ratings raise the Indian Flag of independence.

1947 – Britain out of India

Managing the Indian State

The Indian State today, like its Desert Bloc’s cousins, is getting entangled in my marriage, in my sex life, in my monetary affairs, in my disputes with my neighbors, in my housing layout, in my sewage, in my garbage.

Why? Get out of my life.

Instead, we the people must set a clear agenda for the government. And the Top-3 items on  are

  1. defence
  2. Defence
  3. DEFENCE

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India finders, British keepers

Posted in British Raj, Gold Reserves, History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on November 17, 2011
SS Fort Stikine (Image source and courtesy - www.spoki.lv). Click for larger image.

SS Fort Stikine (Image source and courtesy - http://www.spoki.lv). Click for larger image.

April 14th 1944

Exactly 32 years after the Titanic sank (April 14-15th 1912), the SS Fort Stikine blew up at the Mumbai docks.

The story begins earlier – when SS Fort Stikine steamed out from Birkenhead in Britain on February 24th 1944. With valuable war time material. Gliders for air-force, ammunition, guns, etc. After unloading some cargo at Karachi, it set sail for Mumbai (then Bombay). At Mumbai the ship blew up. An anti-submarine gun, weighing a 30 tons was thrown a clear 500 feet away. It took some 7000 soldiers and fire fighters more than a week to douse that fire.

Why the secrecy

This explosion, now made out to be an accident, was hushed up – and a cloak of secrecy thrown over it. Camera footage from Indian film-makers was seized. Government clamped censorship. The blowing up of the SS Fort Stikine was made out to be a mystery.

What was the British Raj trying to suppress?

Was it incompetence that the British Raj was hiding? After all, the Bombay Docks had seen 60 fires in the 1939-1944 period. Or was it sabotage– Japanese hand suspected.

After the explosion. At the Mumbai docks.   |  Image source and courtesy - mumbaimirror.com

After the explosion. At the Mumbai docks. | Image source and courtesy - mumbaimirror.com

Gold made the wheel go round

The ship carried a consignment of explosives (1395 tons) – and gold for the Reserve Bank of India. SS Fort Stikine ‘s manifest did not list any gold or explosives – and the nature of the cargo was probably known only to the captain of the ship. The explosion rained gold bars for miles around.

The secret was out.

One thing was clear

This explosion disrupted the British Raj mint in Mumbai (Bombay then). Without gold coins, the British Raj was sunk – and two million Indian soldiers were needed badly in WWII. These soldiers, paid handsomely by the British Raj, with gold extracted from the Indian peasantry, was the spine that held the British Empire upright.

When the SS Fort Stikine blew up in the Mumbai Docks, gold bars rained all over the port. Later when some gold bars were recovered, the British claimed that this was their bullion. The Indian Govt. quietly handed over this gold – recovered by Indian Navy divers after Indian independence.

Heads … you lose … tails, I win

Recently, another small find of some 10-tola bars (125 gm) has been assigned to the SS Stikine cargo. Though other earlier reports mention that the bullion cargo was in the form of mint-sized 25 kg gold bars – and not retail 10-tola bars.

Far way from the Indian coast, off the Irish coast, in cold Atlantic waters, another WWII wreck lay, with a silver cargo, in its hold – at the bottom of the Atlantic. Silver that was being carried from India to Britain.

Fort Stikine blows up
Fort Stikine blows up

Britain claimed that this silver was British silver – and has disposed it off in a manner that they deem fit. I have not been able to locate any report if it has consulted the Indian Govt.

In December 1940, a British steamship bound for Liverpool left Calcutta laden with precious cargo, including up to 240 tons of silver worth an estimated $210 million in today’s dollars. Operating for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of War Transport, which requisitioned merchant ships during World War II, SS Gairsoppa joined a military convoy and headed northward into waters swarming with German submarines. On February 14, 1941, dwindling coal reserves and stormy weather forced the lagging vessel to break away from its escorts and make for the port of Galway in western Ireland.

Three days later, a Nazi U-boat commanded by the decorated German captain Ernst Mengersen launched a torpedo that ripped through Gairsoppa’s steel hull, toppling its foremast and destroying its wireless antenna. Unable to send out a distress call, the surviving members of the ship’s 85-strong crew came under machine gun fire as they scrambled onto lifeboats. Their burning craft, built in 1919 and designed for commerce rather than warfare, sank within 20 minutes, disappearing into the frigid depths of the North Atlantic roughly 300 miles west of Ireland. (via Silver-Laden World War II Shipwreck Discovered).

How 1857 changed world history …

A war of a different kind

During the 1857 War against the colonial rule of Britain in India, unable to gain military advantage, British armed forces started using Indian populations as human shield. For each military success of the Indian armies, the British armies exacted retribution on the local non-combatant populations.

This reign of terror and brutality on home populations disarmed Indian armies and ended the war. A impressive work on this period is by Amaresh Misra – a film critic and journalist, who was moved sufficiently to research for a few years, because, “Since 1957, no Indian has written a comprehensive account of the Revolt. Indian historians have done a limited work”. Another step in this direction is Parag Tope’s forth coming book, Operation Red Lotus, on the life and wars of Tatiya Tope.

And after subduing the Indian population with this brutal campaign, Britain started a more insidious war – a propaganda war. History started getting twisted, perverted, mutilated – and over the next 100 years, Indian and world history was changed beyond recognition.

    Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon, 1624 by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon, 1624 by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Let the games begin

After 1857, British racist propaganda and cultural baggage came covertly – to gain better traction at home and in the colonies. For instance, Priya Joshi, a researcher shows that after 1857, book shipments from Britain to India increased by a factor of three.

The death of Semiramis

In this propaganda campaign, the most interesting bit is the cold-blooded murder of the historical Semiramis. Readers will find that Semiramis as an Assyrian Queen till the 1850-60 period Western histories.

The Marchese Tommaso II of Saluzzo commissioned Jacques Iverny in 15th century to paint Semiramis, (alongwith Lampheto, Marpasia, Synoppe, Thamiris, Menalippe, Hippolyta, Orithyia, and Penthesilea) now known as The Nine Worthies. Chaucer’s character, Sowdannesse, is charged of being a ‘Virago, thou Semyrame the secounde’ in his Man of Law’s Tale. Edward Degas and Guercine made Semiramis the subject of their paintings. Calderon used her character in his plays. Mozart died before he could complete his melodrama based on Semiramis. A 16th century painter, Philip Galle used Semiramis and Babylon as the subjects of his paintings.

    Philippe Galle – The City of Babylon with the grave of Semiramis

Philippe Galle – The City of Babylon with the grave of Semiramis

Mired in legend and prejudice, Semiramis is discredited in modern Western history – especially starting from 1853-1857. Her very existence denied, accused of incest, Semiramis has been tarred and condemned to the rubbish heap of modern history – and the Bible.

Semiramis established an empire that lasted, practically till WW1. Some 300 years, after the reign of Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire passed into Persian hands. From the Persians, into Alexander’s lap.

Suddenly, from 1860 onwards, Western history started treating Semiramis as a wanton, decadent, probably mythical, a perverted sluttish character.

The reason.

Semiramis biggest defeat was at the hands of Indians. And soon after her defeat, was the defeat of Cyrus the Great, at the hands of Indians again. And before that were the Battles of Meggido and Kadesh, in which Indic armies confronted the Slave Empire of the Egypt. Such an Indian history was very inconvenient for the British Raj.

Edgar Degas. Semiramis Building Babylon. 1861

The Alexander mythos

Alexander’s raid of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, finally turned out to be a overthrow of the Achaemenid dynasty, usurpers of the Assyrian Empire. Unable to make headway into India, as the Indian Brahmins had helped and influenced Indian princes to organize and support the Indian war against Alexander. Greek sources cite, after this realization, at ‘The City of Brahmans’, Alexander massacred an estimated 8000-10,000 of these non-combatant Brahmans.

Alexander’s massacres in India, a colonial historian informs us (without naming a source), earned him an “epithet … assigned (to) him by the Brahmins of India, The Mighty Murderer.” This Indian Brahmanic characterization of Alexander, commonly taught to English schoolchildren and present in English college texts, as The Mighty Murderer, curiously disappeared from Western-English texts soon after 1860 – and instead now “a positive rose-tinted aura surrounds Alexander” … !

Since Indian texts were completely silent about the very existence of Alexander, colonial Western historians had a free run. Using hagiographic Greek texts as the base, Alexander became the conqueror of the world.

Max Mueller – Son of Hegel

Behind this propaganda was possibly a man who is much admired (wrongly) in India today – Max Mueller. For instance in Max Muller’s colonial propagandist history, when it comes to Indian triumphs over Semiramis, she becomes half legendary. Yet in another book, the same Semiramis becomes one of ‘the great conquerors of antiquity.’ In a matter of a few pages, he dismisses Indian history completely, in a half-Hegelian manner.

Among Max Mueller’s cohorts, was Karl Marx, who wrote from London, on Friday, June 10, 1853 on India, for the New-York Herald Tribune thus

Hindostan is an Italy of Asiatic dimensions, the Himalayas for the Alps, the Plains of Bengal for the Plains of Lombardy, the Deccan for the Apennines, and the Isle of Ceylon for the Island of Sicily. The same rich variety in the products of the soil, and the same dismemberment in the political configuration. Just as Italy has, from time to time, been compressed by the conqueror’s sword into different national masses, so do we find Hindostan, when not under the pressure of the Mohammedan, or the Mogul[104], or the Briton, dissolved into as many independent and conflicting States as it numbered towns, or even villages. Yet, in a social point of view, Hindostan is not the Italy, but the Ireland of the East. And this strange combination of Italy and of Ireland, of a world of voluptuousness and of a world of woes, is anticipated in the ancient traditions of the religion of Hindostan. That religion is at once a religion of sensualist exuberance, and a religion of self-torturing asceticism; a religion of the Lingam and of the juggernaut; the religion of the Monk, and of the Bayadere.[105]

Aiding Karl Marx-Max Mueller, English poets were press ganged into this propaganda war. Matthew Arnold wrote how, India, a ‘nation of philosophers, from

“The East bowed low before the blast
In patient, deep disdain,
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again.”

Matthew Arnold’s influence in Indian education can be gauged by the fact that Indian-English language poetry was for long called derisively as Matthew Arnold in a Saree”. Just before 1857 War, the works of another ‘influential’ poet, John Keats, became popular. In his hubristic haze, Keats wrote how,

The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink turning pale.

Much of modern history’s debates and questions were born during this time – verily created to wage a propaganda war against India – and the world. India’s cultural stature in the pantheon of world’s societies was reduced to a minimal role – and the Greek Miracle was born.

In the dying days of the Raj

This propaganda war continued well for another 100 years. In the middle of WW2, Britain pulled out a general from the Italian theatre of war. Brigadier General Mortimer Wheeler, the general in question, was sent to India – to head colonial India’s archaeological operations.

One evening in early August 1943, Brigadier-General Mortimer Wheeler was resting in his tent after a long day of poring over maps, drawing up plans for invasion of Sicily. Mortimer Wheeler was invited to become the director general of archaeology by the India Office of the British government in its last years of rule in South Asia … Summoning a general from the battlefields of Europe was an extraordinary measure, an admission both of the desperate condition of Indian archaeology and an acknowledgment of its vital importance. (from The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture … – Google Books).

Amazing!

Why would the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never set, struggling for its very existence, in the middle of WW2, suddenly pull a general back from the battlefield? Remember, the deceptive Operation Mincement had just been completed. The Allies for readying their armies for their assault on Hitler in Europe. The outcome of the war was far from certain.

And they put a Brigadier-General into archaeology! That too, Indian archaeology. Not Egyptian, not Greek! Especially, when it was clear, that they would be departing from India – sooner rather than later.

Rule Britannia
Rule Britannia

Right choice … right time

Considering what theories came from Mortimer Wheeler’s rather fertile ‘imagination’ and his rigourous archaeological process, in hindsight, from a Western perspective, this was sound decision. There may be the facile answer that the British were, after all ‘searching for history and truth’.

And it led Mortimer Wheeler to remark,

“They demonstrate with astonishing clarity the extent to which the brief transit of Alexander did in fact Hellenize almost instantly vast tracts of Asia populated previously by nomads or semi-nomads and villagers”

It is this one incident which possibly contains answers to many unanswered questions like: –

  1. The amount of energy expended by the West in defending the Aryan Invasion /Migration Theory,
  2. The lack of access to Indian scholars of the archaeological sites in Pakistan
  3. The many myths in Indian history
  4. The clues to the partition of India
  5. The dating problems

et al.

Just why did the world’s foremost imperial power, struggling for its very existence, suddenly pull a general from the battle field, in the middle of WW2 – and put him onto the job of digging dirt.

Only one explanation fits – it had to be a struggle for its own existence at a higher level!

Where would India be without the British Raj

Posted in British Raj, History, India, language by Anuraag Sanghi on April 22, 2009

The British, by contrast, brought tangible development, ports and railways, that created the basis for a modern state. More important, they brought the framework for parliamentary democracy that Indians, who already possessed indigenous traditions of heterodoxy and pluralism, were able to fit to their own needs. Indeed, the very Hindu pantheon, with its many gods rather than one, works toward the realization that competing truths are what enable freedom. Thus, the British, despite all their flaws, advanced an ideal of Indian greatness. (via India’s New Face – The Atlantic (April 2009).

The Master's Anticipation - Rubbing hands in glee, aren't we? from The Daily Mail dated 25th February. 1946. The British Government apparently did not let the media in London onto the action by the Indian Navy on18th February, in 1946. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979). Courtesy - cairsweb.llgc.org.uk; Click for larger image.

The Master's Anticipation - Rubbing hands in glee, aren't we? from The Daily Mail dated 25th February. 1946. The British Government apparently did not let the media in London onto the action by the Indian Navy on18th February, in 1946. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979). Courtesy - cairsweb.llgc.org.uk; Click for larger image.

After the guns fell silent

At the end of WWII, Britain was a superpower, its huge colonial Empire intact – apart from the massive debt that it owed the US.

With Germany defeated and Hitler dead, Italy in shambles and Mussolini hanged, Britain sat at the head of ‘high tables’ in the post-WWII world deciding the fate of the nations – with its partner in crime, the US of A.

Trouble from unexpected quarters

On February 18th, the ‘lowly’ Naval Ratings from the Royal Indian Navy rained on the British parade – by raising the flag of Indian Independence.

Britain did not have the stomach to take on the Indian Colonial Army, battle hardened and exposed to warfare in all the global theatres of WWII. They acquiesced and 18 months later the British were out. From then, to …

Flamed out

Britain today, a shell of its former self – with its manufacturing hollowed out, its agriculture in shambles, its economy on the verge of being relegated to the Third World is a huge descent. Much like Spain after Haiti.

In a 100 years after Haiti, Spain flamed out. By 1930, it was in the throes of a Civil War. And in Spain today, prostitution is national industry.

Be afraid ... very afraid

Be afraid ... very afraid

India, in the meantime, led by men of straw, has moved from being a ship-to-mouth’ basket-case, to a significant economic and political success.

Yet, the British colonial administrators needed to prove that only they could rule over India. Indians were after all ‘men of straw … of whom no trace will be found after a few years’. And they were led byhalf naked fakir‘.

If Britain was indeed so good at its job, why can’t they do anything to save themselves from this terminal decline. For all this, we owe a debt of gratitude to the British?

Next time Mr.Kaplan, can you make up a better story?

Please!

The debt that India owes Britain

Churchill very much wanted the option of squeezing the brown man at least a little more. Whatever little there was left of the brown man after the Great Bengal Famine of 1943. Clement Attlee pointed out that there was nothing left to squeeze. Attlee thought that the cost of squeezing was greater than the value of the extract.

Colonial Indian armed forces took on the complacent Raj. Atlee appointed a Cabinet committee to finalize British departure after the Indian Navy put the British Empire on notice. This cartoon came in some 3 months after the Indian Navy's action. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979; Published: Daily Mail, 14 May 1946. Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Click for larger image.

Colonial Indian armed forces took on the complacent Raj. Atlee appointed a Cabinet committee to finalize British departure after the Indian Navy put the British Empire on notice. This cartoon came in some 3 months after the Indian Navy's action. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979; Published: Daily Mail, 14 May 1946. Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Click for larger image.

How can we ever repay this debt.

Or the great benefit of English language.

These stupid Germans, Italians, Japanese, Russians, French, Chinese – they don’t know what we know!! English is the universal language. All other super powers and developed countries (Japan, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy) use their own languages. They could have been very successful (like India) if they had learnt English.

I must admit, this small, little, disloyal question keeps raising its head, in my head? Why cant the British use that great English language to lift themselves from that terminal decline?

What could the British do without captive markets and raw material sources?

The British let all this go – so that Indian industry could survive. British business manager taught Indian businessmen how to run business competitively – and completely ignored their own business. Today, Britain has very few of the colonial era multinationals.

Within 10 years of Indian independence, the British car industry started closing down. British coal mining became unviable within 15 years – and had to be shut finally. British Rail similarly collapsed. British capital goods industry (electrical, heavy machinery, electronics) went out of business. There is no British automotive industry worth talking about. British Steel faced with mounting losses, was nationalised within 20 years (Ratan Tata may revive British Steel and British Automotive segments finally).

Should we complain so much, if we inherited a decrepit, run down, accident prone, investment starved railway system with outdated technology from the British – though financed by loot from India?

Even though it took India 40 years, to modernize the colonial railway system, we should be thankful. Remember, they could have uprooted the rails, and taken away the wagons and engines. After all, Indian Railways was the biggest scrap iron collection in the world at that time.

The Masters Anticipation - How about the British abdication of authority? Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; click for larger image.

The Masters Anticipation - How about the British abdication of authority? Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; click for larger image.

Till Lal Bahadur Shastri’s resignation – the poor Indian railway-man was routinely blamed for railway accidents – by his British, and later the Indian bosses also.

Hence, they did not kill us Indians in the numbers that they killed (more than 10 lakh Kenyans in 10 years) in the Mau Mau uprising. Or they did not torture and kill Indians the way they killed the Malaysians. Due to this reason, they also did not set up apartheid the way they did in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa.

The other British legacy that we should be very grateful is our colonial bureaucracy. This colonial era bureaucracy, a permanent establishment, has been growing faster than our population – thrives by demonizing Indian politicians. Its corruption is aided by a myriad laws created by the same bureaucracy – for the benefit of Indians. In most states this bureaucracy takes up all the Governmental revenues and leaves nothing but tax increases for us.

The Masters Anticipation - Arent we disappointed? (Artist - Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 29 November 1946). Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk. Click for larger image.

The Masters Anticipation - Arent we disappointed? (Artist - Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 29 November 1946). Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk. Click for larger image.

A blog reader responds

The whole of black Africa has become a basket case. The people are ripped off by their rulers, in a far worse way than they ever were under white rule. Many of their citizens long for the return of white rule and the stability that would bring. It’s just a shame they are never going to get it.

By this logic, the way Britain is being run, it will need to be governed by, guess who? Indians. Looking at where India was after the end of the Raj – and now, it is clear who is better at governing.

Looking at the ‘decline’ of Britain (what will happen after the secession of Scotland and Wales?) and Spain, after the end of Black Moslem rule, and you know who should be ruling over Britain and Spain at least.

Whatcha say …

The Detritus

As Britain (and the West) was forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The many issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony to the British gift to the modern world. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis.

An "anti-imperialist" cartoon, mocking Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden idea, published in the USA, during the Philippine-American War, as the US was itself preparing to compete with Europe as an iperialist force. Source - Originally from Life magazine, March 16, 1899. Click for larger image.

An "anti-imperialist" cartoon, mocking Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden idea, published in the USA, during the Philippine-American War, as the US was itself preparing to compete with Europe as an imperialist force. Source - Originally from Life magazine, March 16, 1899. Click for larger image.

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue.

1857: History & Propaganda

Posted in British Raj, European History, Gold Reserves, History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on December 29, 2007

Between 1800 (death of Tipu Sultan) and 1857, the British got a grip on India. The real effect of the British Raj started after 1857. Looking back at 1857-India.

1857

With ‘official’ history as a guide, to many Indians, the Colonial Raj is a mix of clichés and propaganda.

India’s squalor, poverty, disease make many believe that India has always been a historically backward nation. Recent progress and successes make another group believe that we are on the thresh-hold of being a world power.

Both standpoints project current national status backward and forward. It may be instructive to take a dispassionate view of the Indian economy around the 1857, when hundreds of thousands of Indians rose as one against the British Raj.

India and Europe – study in contrasts

From 9th century to the 15th century, Europe was grappling with rampant Church persecution. The Bhakti and the Sufi movements were harmonising Indian belief systems. These movements led the Indian society to a forward-looking, integrative approach. Guru Nanak’s belief systems (Sikhism) and his approach to spreading the creed (make your eldest son my disciple) started making a difference.

While the Levant and the Occident were at each others throats, in the crusades, Islam and Hinduism had begun to acquire a critical balance with each other. Open hostility had receded at a social level (Kabir, Guru Nanak, Akbar, Tansen) and continued, intermittently, at a political level – for instance Aurangzeb.

The Vijaynagar kingdom (after the sacking in 1565, and the rump rulers) was the center of trade for India’s main exports – spices (from the South India and SE Asian archipelago), Wootz steel from the Deccan plateau, a multitude of silk centers from the Deccan and Southern coastal towns were the major exports. India’s biggest import was gold.

Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the trade route (May 20, 1498) expanded market for Indian goods and brought European buyers to India, laden with gold (looted from the New World). The monopoly of the Arab trade was broken. This started a gold rush to begin trade with India. Over the next 70 years, major European, formed chartered companies.

The Chartered Companies

Britain was the first off the mark – with the English East India Company formed in the 1600. The Dutch started soon after with the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Co.) in 1602. The Danish Opperhoved initially started in 1616 and was reborn in 1732, as Asiatisk Kompagni. The Portuguese organised themselves as chartered company in 1628. The French came with the French East India Co. in 1664. The Swedes joined the rat race in 1731 with Svenska Ostindiska Companiet. The Italians came in as the Genoa East India companies. The Hanseatic League had its own operations.

Slavery

The use of slave labour in huge quantities, the loot of gold from North and South Americas, Australia and Africa was exactly the opposite of trade based economy in India. For instance, slave produced cotton from America was cheaper than Indian cotton. During the American Civil War, when cotton production suffered, it set off a boom in India.

Indian Exports – 1700

Between 1707 (Death of Aurangzeb), and 1757, the Battle of Plassey, the Indian economy was booming. 3 significant sectors which contributed to this boom. Apart from significant agrarian output – spices, timber, Indigo, etc. Indian industrial output was a major item in our goods basket – fabric, gems and jewellery and metals. India was a technology leader in these industrial sectors.

Precision Cutting Tools

South India was the only source of diamonds till middle 18th century. Being the hardest, natural substance on Earth, diamond cutting was a high technology industry and India monopolized this business till the 14th century. From circa 6th century, we have the Buddha Bhatta’s text “Ratnapariksha” which served as a manual for Indian gemologists. The French traveller Tavernier reputedly (call it ancient industrial espionage) took that technology to Europe.

Brazilian diamond finds in 1725, the South African discovery in 1866-67 changed the supply equation. The auction of Napoleon III’s French Royal diamonds in 1871 brought diamonds in limelight. Boucheron, Bapst along with Tiffany and Co. cleaned up this auction. The Koh-i-noor continues to captivate the minds of people.

It is this skill and technology acquired over the centuries that makes India into a global hub for diamonds. The diamond cutting dominance by India is by now a 2500 year old phenomenon.

While on cutting tools, one cannot forget the role of lubricants. The finest lubricants is castor oil – which was identified, grown and a monopoly of India till 1950s. Only in the 1960’s did other synthetic fuels and lubricants start competing with castor oil. It has ‘incredible film strength’ – and can resist tremendous pressure. It’s superior ‘wetting ability’ makes it also very effective. One expert on extracting performance from go-kart vehicles says,

For consistently squeezing that last bit of performance out of your engine, it’s pretty hard to beat castor oil as the lubricant in your fuel.’

What special about castor oil: ‘Two words – IT WORKS.’

Metallurgy

As late as 1908, Indian metallurgical skills were known and acknowledged in Europe – the then economic and technological powerhouse of the world.

The high quality of the native-made iron, the early anticipation of the processes now employed in Europe for the manufacture of high-class steels, and the artistic products in copper and brass gave India at one time a prominent position in the metallurgical world.‎ (Page 128 – The Imperial Gazetteer of India: Vol Iii; Originally published in 1908. Author: The Indian Empire Language: English).

The Ashoka pillar made of steel, now in New Delhi, is a marvel of metallurgy. For more than 1600 years, it has stood in the rain, exposed to scorching sun, freezing winters and buried under the earth for a few years.

Still shining. No rust. And no deterioration. Estimated at 6-7 tons in weight, nearly 70 feet in height – and cast in a single block. There are reputedly other such pillars at Dhar and Kodachadri (Karnataka).

Konark Sun TempleKonark Sun Temple (related to Sun Temple at Karnak, Egypt?) used about 2000 tons of lodestone and iron clamps. No mortar, no bricks. Iron clamps helped to keep up parts of this structure in the air based on magnetic repulsion. The iron beams survived for more than 700 years. The Jagannath Puri temple has similar quality and vintage of steel.

As the source (for Konark temple) Dharmapad, recounts, Narasimha Dev, the ruling king, ordered the sculptors to complete construction earlier than the estimated time – with accompanying threats. The team could not keep up with the king’s schedule, and the Sutradhar (Chief Architect) Sri Sibei Samantaray was sidelined. Another architect was assigned the job of completing this work. The newly appointed Sutradhar did complete the work by the stipulated time – but since he did not have the plans, structural inconsistencies crept in.

Wootz steel, was the preferred input in the world, for swords, pistols and such. Known as Damascus steel, it went into Japanese Katanas, European guns. The famed Damascus steel swords, armour and pistols, used steel ingots imported from India as Wootz steel. Indian exports of Wootz was a big earner for India till British efforts killed this industry in India. Subsequent efforts to “reverse engineer” this technology in Europe during the 20th century, has been unsuccessful. Damascus was the trading centre over which the Battle of Kadesh, the biggest chariot battle, was fought between the Indo-Aryan Hittites and the Egyptian Pharoah Ramesses-II fought.

The world’s first suspension bridge, at Menai Straits, in Britain, used Indian steel. Colonial geologists, Pataki Krishna Chaterjee and Thomas Henry Diggs La Touche, noticed that,

“….its (iron’s) superiority is so marked, that at the time when the Britannia tubular bridge across the Menai Straits was under construction preference was given to the use of iron produced in India”.

Was British reluctance and obstruction to Tata Steel plans in early 20th century a result of fear of Indian steel making prowess? Between the Mittals and the Tatas, Indians dominate the world of steel again.

Historical irony in the making?

Fiber, Fabric & Weaving

For 3000 years, Indian fibre and weaving ruled the world. King Cotton and Golden Fibre Jute. While the King cotton story is well-known, Dhaka muslin was till the 20th century the finest cloth you could buy.

Indian silks competed with the Chinese.

What is not so well-known is the cultivation of Jute. Jute, Indian Hemp, Hessian, Burlap, – different names for the same fibre, was the monopoly packing material, till the 1960s – as it was the best packing material for wide variety of goods. Western efforts at ‘beggar thy neighbour’, created some synthetic fiber alternatives that are more expensive – and not in the same class. A new application for Jute is its use in making car interiors and panels.

Model Of Vasco Da Gamas nau

Model Of Vasco Da Gama's nau

Shipbuilding

50 years before Independence, a 100 years ago, India was one of the largest ship building countries in the world. Indian shipbuilding was centered along the Western Coast in Kalyan, Bhivandi and Mumbai, in South India at Narsapurpeta (near Masulipatnam) and in Bengal at Chittagong and Hooghly. The “modern era” began with the building of a dry dock at Bombay about 1750; a second was erected in Calcutta about 1780. During the 19th century, the industry was in a period of expansion and prosperity. However, for the last 100 years, the yards have been in a general decline.

During Shivaji’s reign, as per estimates, more than 300 ships of 300 tons capacity were launched. The Wadias alone built more than 350 ships – during 1735-1863 170 war vessels for the East India Company, 34 man-of-war defence vessels for the British Navy, 87 merchant vessels for private firms, and three vessels for the Queen of Muscat at Bombay docks. After the Bombay Port Trust was formed in 1870, the shipbuilding on the Western Coast moved to Mumbai. In 1872, Jamshedji Wadia, from a Parsi ship-building family, constructed the “Cornwallis”, a frigate with 50 guns, bought by the East India Company. This led to several orders from the British Navy.

Bengal was the other major port where ship building was for global markets. Chittagong was the center for shipbuilding (now in Bangladesh). The Turkish Navy (a major world power till WWI) was a major customer. The Mughal and British navies were the other significant defence customers. Merchants cargo ships were in significant demand. Ma Huan, the famous chronicler and interpreter of Zheng He (also called Cheng Ho) voyages, during the Ming dynasty, studied boat building in Bengal during the early 15th century (1400-1410).

The third major center for ship building was Narsapurpeta (near Masulipatnam) port – which was a major center of exports of steel, diamonds, saltpetre (potassium nitrate, for gunpowder, to kill Indians, Negroes, Aborigines and Red Indians with) from the Deccan plateau.

These buyers preferred Indian ships, because of better jointing technology and elimination of metal sheeting. Indian shipbuilders had a special system where wood was seasoned in partial vacuum, with oils for timber improvement. British shipbuilders, colonialists ensured through tariff and other barriers, that Indian shipbuilding “was prevented from continuing to develop, even though it had a proven ability to adapt to changing technological needs” – and thus finally killing it. British naval superiority rested on Indian ships – and paid for by exploitation of Indian resources.

In 1498, Vasco da Gama’s ocean-going ship, the Sao Gabrielcame to India. The Portuguese caravel are well-known. But what do the Portuguese call their ocean-going ships? Nau. Yes, nau as in Hindi, for boat. Few of these Indian built ships have been recovered in various parts of the world. Indian shipbuilding expertise ruled the world – till colonialism killed it.

Public Health

During the 13th to 19th century, Europe, Britain and America suffered from many epidemics – plague, influenza, small pox, typhus, TB and others. Africa, China and Levant suffered – but lesser. In the history of epidemics, India’s name is missing – much like in the slavery roster. India joined the epidemics list after the start of colonial rule – the result of an ignorant and indifferent administration, to be generous.

What is it that Indians did, that eliminated their name from epidemics roster before the arrival of colonial rule?

Use of copper for storage of water, among many practices. (Taking a bath daily was another, for instance).

Recent tests have confirmed that copper has significant negative effect on e.coli organisms, when contaminated water is stored in copper vessels. Traditional copper vessels used for water storage, disinfected water naturally. Similarly the use of silver reduced infection rates.

Why did this stop?

With colonial exploitation, famines and scarcity increased. The marginal members of society had to sell their copper and start using earthen pots which have reduced effectiveness. Crime increased in colonial India – by the actions of the Raj itself. Post -colonial Indian society was ‘modernizing.’ So they decided to upgrade to stainless steel – which has no such properties. Hence, water-borne diseases continue to hit India.

Indians pioneered the use of ‘variolation’ to prevent small pox – and spread of this system to Africa and Middle East reduced small pox deaths. Lady Mary Wortly Montagu, wife a British ambassador, introduced variolation to England during early 1700s (estimated date 1717). Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur discovered vaccination more than 75 years after these practices started getting used in Europe.

After 1857 – a war of a different kind

Unable to gain military advantage, British armed forces used Indian human populations as human shield. For each military success of the Indian armies, the British armies exacted retribution on the local non-combatant populations. This reign of terror and brutality on Indian populations disarmed the Indian armies and they ended the war.

Rule Britannia

Rule Britannia

And Britain started a more insidious war – a propaganda war. History started getting twisted, perverted, mutilated – and over the next 100 years, Indian and world history was changed beyond recognition.

In fact, after 1857, racist propaganda and cultural baggage came covertly – to gain better traction at home and in the colonies. For instance, Priya Joshi, a researcher shows that after 1857, book shipments from Britain to India increased by a factor of three.

The most interesting bit is the cold-blooded murder of the historical Semiramis. You will find that Semiramis as an Assyrian Queen till the 1850-60 period histories. Suddenly, all books from 1860 onwards, treat Semiramis as a wanton, decadent, probably mythical, a perverted sluttish character.

Mired in legend and prejudice, Semiramis is discredited in modern Western history – especially starting from 1853-1857. Her very existence denied, accused of incest, Semiramis has been tarred and condemned to the rubbish heap of modern history – and the Bible. Semiramis established an empire that lasted, practically till WW1. Some 300 years, after the reign of Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire passed into Persian hands. From the Persians, into Alexander’s lap.

Alexander’s raid of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, finally turned out to be an overthrow of the Achaemenid dynasty, usurpers of the Assyrian Empire. Unable to make headway into India, as the Indian Brahmins who had influenced Indian princes to organize and support the Indian war against Alexander. Greek sources cite, after this realization, at ‘The City of Brahmans’, Alexander massacred an estimated 8000-10,000 of these non-combatant Brahmans.

Alexander’s massacres in India, a colonial historian informs us (without naming a source), earned him an “epithet … assigned (to) him by the Brahmins of India, The Mighty Murderer.” This Indian Brahmanic characterization of Alexander, commonly taught to English schoolchildren and present in English college texts, as The Mighty Murderer, curiously disappeared from Western-English texts soon after 1860 – and instead now “a positive rose-tinted aura surrounds Alexander” … !

Behind this propaganda

A man who is much (wrongly) admired in India today – Max Mueller. For instance in Max Muller’s colonial propagandist history, when it comes to Indian triumphs over Semiramis, she becomes half-legendary. Yet in another book, the same Semiramis becomes one of ‘the great conquerors of antiquity.’ In a matter of a few pages, he dismisses Indian history completely, in a half-Hegelian manner.

Aiding Max Mueller, English poets were press ganged into this propaganda war. Matthew Arnold wrote how, India, a ‘philosopher’s nation’, from

“The East bowed low before the blast
In patient, deep disdain,
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again.”

Matthew Arnold’s influence in Indian education can be gauged by Indian-English language poetry, that was for long derisively called as Matthew Arnold in a Saree”. Just before 1857 War, the writing of another ‘influential’ poet, John Keats, became popular. In a hubristic haze, Keats wrote how,

The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink turning pale.

Much of modern history’s debates and questions were born during this time – verily created to wage a propaganda war against India – and the world. India’s cultural stature in the pantheon of world’s societies was reduced to a minimal role – and the Greek Miracle was born.

This propaganda war continued well for another 100 years. In the middle of WW2, Britain pulled out a general from the Italian theatre of war and sent him to India – to head colonial India archaeological operations.

One evening in early August 1943, Brigadier General Mortimer Wheeler was resting in his tent after a long day of poring over maps, drawing up plans for invasion of Siciliy. Mortimer Wheeler was invited to become the director general of archaeology by the India Office of the British government in its last years of rule in South Asia … Summoning a general from the battlefields of Europe was an extraordinary measure, an admission both of the desperate condition of Indian archaeology and an acknowledgment of its vital importance. (from The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture … – Google Books).

Amazing!

Why would the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never set, struggling for its very existence, in the middle of WW2, suddenly pull a general back from the battlefield – and put him into archaeology! Especially, when it was clear that they would be departing from India – sooner than later.

Considering what theories came from Mortimer Wheeler’s rather fertile ‘imagination’ and his rigourous archaeological process, raises even more questions. There may be the facile answer that the British were after all ‘searching for history and truth’.

And it led Mortimer Wheeler to remark,

“They demonstrate with astonishing clarity the extent to which the brief transit of Alexander did in fact Hellenize almost instantly vast tracts of Asia populated previously by nomads or semi-nomads and villagers”

It is this one incident which possibly has answers to many unanswered questions like: –

  1. The amount of energy expended by the West in defending the Aryan Invasion /Migration Theory,
  2. The lack of access to Indian scholars of the archaeological sites in Pakistan,
  3. The many myths in Indian history,
  4. The clues to the partition of India
  5. The dating problems

et al.

Just why did the world’s foremost imperial power, struggling for its very existence, suddenly pull a general from the battle field, in the middle of WW2 – and put him on the job of digging dirt.

Only one explanation fits – it had to be a struggle for its own existence at a higher level!

5000 Years Of Poverty

By the end of the 19th century, Colonial India was de-urbanising. Populations in Indian agrarian network was increasing. Agricultural taxes were high. Hence, food production declined. Famines had become a regular feature. Industrial production was a distant memory. British colonial rule – especially from 1925 onwards, drastically changed the economic situation in India. From the richest to the poorest in a short period of a 100 years.

Tragically, our illustrious Finance Minister, P.Chidambaram says “I want to end 5000 years of poverty” in the Parliament and the media. In contrast, at various fora, there are discussions about how India will become a super power in this century.

While Chidambaram is factually incorrect, Indophiles are unrealistic. They fondly hope and believe that India is a one step away from being a super power. At best, we have a unique history. To improve the outlook on India’s uncertain future, a better understanding of our situation and more investments (not only money) are required.

Recent macro-economic research and modeling gives an interesting perspective on Indian economy through the last 1000 years. This shows that for much of the last 1000 years, India has been a significant economic power till the 1900 or so.

Rush for credit

Now that India is no longer a ‘basket case’ there are people lining up to take credit for India’s success. Fronting the queue are some from the Indian Diaspora – the likes of Lord Meghnad Desai and Jagdish Bhagwati. Or from the West. For instance, Angus Maddison, writes, in The Economic and Social Impact of Colonial Rule in India

“British imperialism was more pragmatic than that of other colonial powers. Its motivation was economic, not evangelical. There was none of the dedicated Christian fanaticism which the Portuguese and Spanish demonstrated in Latin America and less enthusiasm for cultural diffusion than the French (or the Americans) showed in their colonies. For this reason they westernized India only to a limited degree.”

Mr.Maddison, British ‘pragmatism’ sprang from the fierceness of the 1857 War. It was the Indian backlash to cultural imperialism, that made British rulers change their policy. The implied enlightenment, modernism of the British, by Shri Maddison, is entirely misplaced.

Initially, in matters of religious conversions the English copied the Spanish. The Chairman of the Directors of the East India Company, Ross Donnelly Mangles, piously declared in the British House Of Commons–

“Providence has entrusted the extensive empire of Hindustan to England, in order that the banner of Christ should wave triumphant from one end of India to the other. Everyone must exert all his strength that there may be no dilatoriness on any account in continuing in the country the grand work of making India Christian.”.

It took a revolution in the Haiti to start the end of the Spanish Empire – and the 1857 War Of Independence in India to end the English campaign to ‘convert the heathen’ and ‘civilize the pagan Hindoos’. After the 1857 War Of Independence, the Colonial India Government printed leaflets in tens and thousands confirming the British policy had changed. One commentator noted, these leaflets informed the local Indian population that “that she (Queen Victoria) would not interfere with the religion of the native, or countenance any favoritism in matters of faith.” (bold letters mine).

In all this congratulations about the Rise of India, what is forgotten, ignored, at least never mentioned is the decline of Great Britain. Ironically, in various debates, Churchill who so well represented British attitudes, saw little future for India, after British departure. Events forced the British hand.

India, led by “men of straw,” has moved from being a ship-to-mouth’ basket-case, to a significant economic and political success. Even though, Indians were after led by ‘men of straw … of whom no trace will be found after a few years’.

And the chief among them was ahalf naked fakir‘.


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