Lead book review

British India — the scene of repeated war crimes throughout the 19th century

William Dalrymple’s review of The Tears of the Rajas by Ferdinand Mount reminds us that the British empire was erected on the dead bodies of hundreds of thousands of its Indian subjects

14 March 2015

9:00 AM

14 March 2015

9:00 AM

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805–1905 Ferdinand Mount

Simon & Schuster, pp.773, £25, ISBN: 9781471129452

‘Sometimes, strolling through the ruins of earlier civilisations, we idly wonder what it must have been like to live through the end of one of them,’ writes Ferdinand Mount at the end of The Tears of the Rajas. ‘Now we know for ourselves.’

This is a long, wonderfully discursive and reassuringly old-fashioned book which tells the story of the British in India through the lives of one British family — the author’s ancestors, the Lows of Clatto in Fife. The Lows also happen to be the ancestors of Mount’s cousin, David Cameron.

The action opens in 1805, in the aftermath of the Second Maratha War, when the East India Company had established its dominant military position through most of the Indian interior. The narrative takes us through to 1905, just as it was becoming clear that, despite Curzon’s efforts, the Raj could not go on for ever and independence would sooner or later be inevitable.

At the centre of the book lies the quietly determined figure of General John Low, whose life spanned the century between 1788 and 1880. A cultured man who spoke fluent Persian, Hindustani and French, as well as being a talented flautist, the general was one of those people who had a talent for popping up in all the most important events of his age. Initially, as a junior officer, he was at the fringe of things, present but almost invisible at crucial moments in imperial history such as the Vellore Mutiny of 1806 and the little remembered but successful British invasion of Dutch-held Java in 1810–11. Few of hisletters survive from this period, so initially he is a somewhat ghostly figure, flitting in and out of a narrative dominated by his superior officers.

However, as he rose through the ranks Low became a more substantial presence, both in terms of determining events and in recording them in his own correspondence. By the middle of the book he has moved to centre stage, fighting in the Maratha wars, toppling in turn the Maratha Peshwa, the Rajah of Nagpur, the Rani of Jhansi and the Nawab of Avadh, advising against the First Afghan War and playing a crucial role in the brutal suppression of the Great Mutiny of 1857.

Through Low we witness the power of the East India Company growing with speed, as it dispatched its different Asian enemies one by one, its tentacles reaching across the globe, until it became by the end of the 18th century a major international player in its own right. To the east it ferried opium to China, fighting the opium wars in order to seize an offshore base at Hong Kong and safeguard its profitable monopoly in narcotics. To the west it shipped Chinese tea to Massachusetts, where its dumping in Boston Harbour triggered the American war of independence.

For it was not the British government that seized India, but an unregulated private company, headquartered in one London office. Mount writes:

The British empire in India was the creation of merchants and it was still at heart a commercial enterprise, which had to operate at profit and respond to the ups and downs of the market. Behind the epaulettes and the jingle of harness, the levees and the balls at Government House, lay the hard calculus of the City of London.

By early 1857, the Company directly ruled about two thirds of the subcontinent, had trained up a private army of around 260,000 — twice the size of the British army — and was able to marshal more firepower than any nation state in Asia. It was ‘an empire within an empire’, as one of its directors admitted, and by the early 20th century, ‘Company shares were a kind of global reserve currency.’

Mount relates this remarkable story with a gentle wit, a lightness of touch, a boyish enthusiasm as well as a genius for the telling pen-portrait. His writing has a charm that makes even the most meandering digression a pleasure to read, even if his style occasionally veers towards the Victorian, perhaps in sympathy with his sources. Spellings of Indian names frequently cling to their 19th-century British manglings, so the beautiful and sacred Narmada river is here referred to, somewhat eccentrically, as the ‘Nerbudda’. Indians are often ‘natives’, people who have the temerity to oppose the British are ‘the enemy’, unless they are Marathas, in which case they are, in addition, ‘fierce little warriors’ whose rajas are often ‘ghastly characters’ or ‘remarkably nasty pieces of work’, who indulge in ‘treachery, murder, especially fratricide, slaphappy extravagance and debauchery, only tempered by equally extravagant religious observances’.Their attempts at unified action ‘bore less resemblance to a confederacy than they did to a sack of rabid ferrets’.

Nevertheless, despite a fondness for such language, The Tears of the Rajas may not be a good present for patriots with high blood pressure, for some of its revelations will probably alarm dewy-eyed empire nostalgists. While Mount is often amazed at the scale of the heist his Scottish forebears pulled off in India, his story, like some great Indian river slowly winding its way through the plains, is in no hurry to reach its destination; and while it certainly washes its way past wonders, it also takes us past banks filled with pyres of burning bodies.

The horrors begin early and continue popping up in chapter after chapter. At the end of the Vellore Mutiny, 300 mutinous sepoys who surrendered were hustled into a fives court where they were tied together and gunned down at a range of 30 yards. The horrors continued as Java was invaded, and various Indian princely states were overtaken and annexed. The violent climax came with the Great Uprising of 1857, when the Company found itself threatened by the largest and bloodiest anti-colonial revolt against any European empire anywhere in the world in the entire course of the 19th century. Of the 139,000 sepoys of the Bengal army all but 7,796 turned against their British masters. In many places the sepoys were supported by widespread civilian rebellion. Atrocities abounded on both sides, but the British crushed the uprising with a particularly merciless severity.

The bloodiest moment of all came in September 1857, when British forces attacked and retook the besieged city of Delhi. They proceeded to massacre not just the rebel sepoys but also the ordinary citizens of the Mughal capital. In one neighbourhood alone, Kucha Chelan, some 1,400 unarmed citizens were cut down. ‘The orders went out to shoot every soul,’ recorded one young officer. ‘It was literally murder.’ Delhi, a bustling and sophisticated city of half a million souls, was left an empty ruin. In the aftermath, Low’s son-in-law, Theo Metcalfe, turned into what today we would call a war criminal, shooting and hanging survivors with abandon:

Theo erected a gallows in the grounds of Metcalfe house made out of the blackened timbers of his beloved home… Refugees sheltering in mosques would be plucked out and executed.

The general’s son, William Malcolm Low, was also implicated in the mass hanging of civilians.

It is a remarkable story, and cumulatively amounts to an epic panorama of British Indian history much more substantial than the ‘collection of Indian tales, a human jungle book’, which Mount modestly describes as his aim in the introduction. Instead it shows, as well as any book I’ve ever read on the subject, how much Britain lost in 1947 as the Indian empire imploded — but also the jaw-dropping scale of the violence, cruelty, racism and war crimes it had taken to found and maintain that Raj by brute force. For we must never forget that, in the final analysis, our empire was built by the sword and erected over the dead bodies of tens if not hundreds of thousands of our Indian subjects.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

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  • liberalunionist

    It would perhaps be fairer to remember that the history of the subcontinent was one of “violence, cruelty, racism and war crimes” on both sides. For instance, it becomes easier to understand why the surrendering mutineers at Vellore were shot if you know that they had broken into the European barracks and hospital and massacred sleeping and sick soldiers in their beds. Or, indeed, that it was the Indian maharajas who refused to shake hands with ritually unclean British men and women rather than vice versa. Sadly, a truly impartial history that acknowledges the virtues and flaws of both coloniser and colonised is yet to be written- if one ever will.

    • Ben Kelly

      I heartily recommend the books of Jan Morris on the subject Empire, no sugar coating, but she is a historian with an admitted “affection” for the British Empire, not to say she attempts to justify or moralise it.

    • Mc

      It reminds me of the wailing about American Indians being wiped out by Europeans. Those wailers never mention that those same American Indians were equally brutal to fellow Indians when the opportunity arose. Similarly, the Maharajas, Moghuls etc didn’t gain and retain power by asking nicely.

      • mirdad

        Doesn’t excuse the crimes of Europeans. If it were a discussion among native Americans, probably would be a relevant point.

        • Mc

          It sounds like I didn’t make a very clear point. 1. The behaviour of the Amerindians, the Maharajas, Moghuls and British were all unacceptable and all should be condemned. 2. I don’t believe I have frequently or ever seen a recent-ish book devoted to the unacceptable brutality of the non-European people’s I mentioned. I would find them an interesting read just because I enjoy reading any good book and because it is healthy to have balance, not because I want to shy away from European brutality.

          • KingOfGondor

            Refusing to shake hands is hardly as brutal a crime as conquest and pillage, condemnable though it may be on its own terms.

            There may or may not be a recently written book about the “unacceptable brutality” of non-European peoples (I’ll take you at your word that you have done due research), but that’s the result of a flip that occurred after colonial rule ended throughout the world. While colonial rule was ongoing, nothing else was written about other than the brutal nature of the colonized people; the excesses of the colonizers were looked at through rose tinted glasses. I guess that’s how history has always been written; cyclically changing points of view.

            Lastly, the equivalence between intra-native brutality and colonizer brutality is not tenable. The brutality exhibited by the colonizer was gratuitous; they had no reason to be in that land to begin with. It’s like putting your hand into a hornet’s net; you can’t complain afterwards about the brutal nature of the wasp, which is after all defending itself.

          • Mc

            “The brutality exhibited by the colonizer was gratuitous; they had no reason to be in that land to begin with.”

            I believe you are displaying a real lack of understanding of human nature and history, or perhaps I’m misunderstanding your point. The people being colonized at some point also displayed gratuitous violence and themselves colonized / invaded / took over a territory occupied by others. Sometimes the colonised were actively brutal at the time of European invasion. For example, it was often the case that some indigenous groups used colonisation as an opportunity to wipe out their old enemies. The point I’m making is that the European invaders were behaving exactly as humans have throughout human existence and the indigenous people should not be placed on a pedestal.

          • KingOfGondor

            the indigenous people should not be placed on a pedestal.

            Oh, I could not agree more. Perhaps I misunderstand the kinds of comments that you and others make too. Those comments seem to justify colonization and excuse the occasional brutality of the colonizer because….well, the natives were also brutal to each other.

            Not all invasions and occupations are inherently bad. The Allied defeat and occupation of Japan and Germany was necessary to save the victims of Nazism and Japanese militarism. But in those cases, the intentions were crystal clear and the occupations short-lived. The British and Americans were not trying to exploit the people and resources of Germany and Japan; plus, we also excuse horrors like Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because the targets had committed unspeakable crimes themselves.

            The same cannot be said of colonial occupations, which were explicitly about enriching the colonizers at the expense of the natives; humanitarian justifications were created much later to add a veneer of respectability on what was a dirty business from the start. The East India Company did not set up shop in India to build railroads in that country. Clive did not conquer Bengal to save its widows from being forced to commit sati. Rhodes was not trying to colonize southern Africa in order to uplift the natives. Were the natives of India and Africa and other places always nice to each other and had great customs? Clearly not! But then, they had been forced by history and geography to share a common space for centuries or millenia. Even people in the British Isles were not very nice to each other at the time their Indian empire got started; woudl that have justified, say, a French occupation? An outsider invading a country or culture and committing wanton brutality seems, to me, to be on a different level from natives behaving badly towards each other. The latter had little choice (or were stuck in a vicious cycle) while the former definitely did.

          • Mc

            I think we largely agree. Condemnation of offensive invasion (in contrast to defensive invasions such as the Allies in WWII) should be condemned with equal vigor, irrespective of whether it is committed by “noble savages” or Westerners.

            Atrocities committed by the likes of the Allies should also be condemned unreservedly. Unfortunately the West’s political, military and intelligence leaders have authorized instances of criminal acts (such as torture and rendition) in every conflict since at least WWII.

  • tjamesjones

    Willy Dalrymple is not a historian, but he is very popular in Islington. This is history as a left wing morality play: list a bunch of bad stuff that happened and say “see, told you so”. But you need context and proportion to really make history come alive. Do we tot up the number killed in the American civil war and say that the Americans are not fit to govern themselves? Or those Chinese killed by the Chinese in the 1960s, and say the Chinese are not fit to govern themselves? Or the number of people murdered each year in violent South Africa and say they are not fit to govern themselves?

    And the little trick with this history as a morality play, is that post imperialism, you can’t lose! If the successor state is better by any measure then “see, it shows you the imperialists were bad”, if it’s measurably worse then “see, the toxic legacy of imperialism”.

    • Jabez Foodbotham

      The Spectator headline is a lot more bloody than the events recounted in the review. The shooting of 300 mutineers at Vellore and the well known aftermath of the great Mutiny. Hardly the catalogue of crime over a century that it suggests.

      • tjamesjones

        exactly: twice that number of people die on India’s roads every day (over 600).

      • santosh satpathy

        Atleast 500000 indians died in the fighting of of the great Mutiny of 1857 .And at least Two million indians died in Bengal famine of 1940s when food stocks meant for india was diverted to war striped Europe . Churchill is no less villain to india , than Hitler was to the Jews. Only difference , Hitlers action on jews was direct While Churchill’s actions indirectly resulted in India deaths.

        • Ed  

          The Bengal famine was caused by the Japanese conquest of Burma.

          • What measures British administration in Bengal took to balance the food supply lost after Japanese conquest of Burma? NOTHING. Shifting the blame is easy.

          • Ed  

            Gosh. The British took no measures. I guess it wasn’t the British who were at war with the Japanese to stop them in Burma and elsewhere in the Far East. I guess it wasn’t the British who were up to their necks with the Nazis, Japan’s ally. I guess is wasn’t the 8th Army in North Africa trying to keep the Nazis out of Egypt and the Middle East. I guess sending HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse to their doom wasn’t a British action. No troops were lost defending Hong Kong and Singapore.

            Yeah, they did nothing. They were under no pressure at all, and yet did absolutely nothing. You’re absolutely right.

          • British actions you have cited were to save British interests in the region. British vanished from Singapore overnight leaving Indian subordinates at the mercy of Japanese.

            As far as Bengal is concerned, they did NOTHING to save starving Indians. In fact they profited out of this misery in the form of recruits for military (for which food was available) and exporting food along with other goods (for which they made 600,000 pounds in 1943).

          • Ed  

            “… save British interests …”

            Well, yes. Indian lives were a British interest, as was the Indian food that was coming from Burma, and then wasn’t. My point.

          • FindingAtlantis

            You make it appear as though Bengal only ate rice coming in from Burma, but this number is closer to 15%. This is nothing more than a logical fallacy I’ve seen being parroted by people (mostly British) today.
            “Indian lives were a british interest”
            That’s why 1.8 billion Indians lost their lives under this despotic regime. Good logic.

          • Ed  

            Ah, of course. I stand corrected. The fact that there was a war on has nothing to do with it. The Indians would have defended themselves from the Japanese Empire far, far better without British and allied involvement. Absolutely.

          • FindingAtlantis

            To put things in perspective, Indians by then had been defending themselves from a despotic dictatorship for 3 centuries. Indians were not against Allied Involvement, they were against British Dictatorships.

            Why would the Indians be defending themselves from the Japanese, when they fought right alongside with them, hacking British soldiers to death? Go look up the Indian National Army.

          • Ed  

            Ah, terrorism. Excellent argument. Funny, the INA didn’t survive the defeat of the Japanese. Odd, that.

          • FindingAtlantis

            Yep, proud terrorists just like MLK, Gandhi, Mandela, etc. For the INA, WW2 couldn’t have come soon enough 🙂

          • mirdad

            Genocide apologist. Why is it some people want to lecture everyone else about their behavior but can’t face the reality of their own historical record? Blame it on the Japanese. What a joke….

            “Winston Churchill, the hallowed British War prime minister who saved Europe from a monster like Hitler was disturbingly callous about the roaring famine that was swallowing Bengal’s population. He casually diverted the supplies of medical aid and food that was being ispatched
            to the starving victims to the already well supplied soldiers of Europe.
            When entreated upon he said, “Famine or no famine, Indians will breed like rabbits.” The Delhi Government sent a telegram painting to him a picture of the horrible devastation and the number of people who had died. His only response was, “Then why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?”


          • Ed  

            Yeah, no. If you want genocide, ask the people the British were fighting against. Facts – sorry.

        • alabenn

          More people died in the partition after the British granted independence.
          By the way, at least, means a guess or wishful thinking, either way your figure is not true.

          • FindingAtlantis

            You conveniently leave out the fact that the Partition was thought up by the British, and regardless, the Parition deaths are a drop in the ocean compared to the 1.8 Billion Indians that died under this despotic regime.

        • Jay Zaim

          Churchills Secret war by Madushree Mukerjee highlights all the numbers of Indian dead and key reasons for the Bengal famine.Churchills racist policies to feed europes starving war survivors with grains meant for Indias masses.

          • mariandavid

            Utter ludicrous nonsense – just for a start there were no spare merchant ships available to send rice (which is what was missing) across half the globe. As said above – the primary issue was that grains could no longer be imported from Japanese held Burma – but that of course does not fit into the INA narrative.

          • Jay Zaim

            QUOTE AGAIN: A) “Ministry records and personal papers which reveal ships carrying cereals from Australia were bypassed India on their way to the Mediterranean where supplies were already abundant.
            “It wasn’t a question of Churchill being inept: sending relief to Bengal was raised repeatedly and he and his close associates thwarted every effort,”.”The United States and Australia offered to send help but couldn’t because the ” war cabinet” was not willing to release ships. And when the US offered to send grain on its own ships, that offer was not followed up by the British,” she added.
            The man-made famine and the contrast between the plight of starving Indians and well-fed British officers dining in the city’s many colonial clubs has been described as one of the darkest chapters in British rule on the Indian subcontinent.
            B.) Australian biochemist Dr Gideon Polya has called the Bengal Famine a “manmade holocaust” because Churchill’s policies were directly responsible for the disaster. Bengal had a bountiful harvest in 1942, but the British started diverting vast quantities of food grain from India to Britain, contributing to a massive food shortage in the areas comprising present-day West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Bangladesh.
            Churchill could easily have prevented the famine. Even a few shipments of food grain would have helped, but the British prime minister adamantly turned down appeals from two successive Viceroys, his own Secretary of State for India and even the President of the US.
            Subhas Chandra Bose, who was then fighting on the side of the Axis forces, offered to send rice from Myanmar, but the British censors did not even allow his offer to be reported.
            Churchill was totally remorseless in diverting food to the British troops and Greek civilians. To him, “the starvation of anyhow underfed Bengalis (was) less serious than sturdy Greeks”, a sentiment with which Secretary of State for India and Burma, Leopold Amery, concurred.
            Amery was an arch-colonialist and yet he denounced Churchill’s “Hitler-like attitude”. Urgently beseeched by Amery and the then Viceroy Archibald Wavell to release food stocks for India, Churchill responded with a telegram asking why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.
            Wavell informed London that the famine “was one of the greatest disasters that has befallen any people under British rule”. He said when Holland needs food, “ships will of course be available, quite a different answer to the one we get whenever we ask for ships to bring food to India”.

            Churchill’s excuse — currently being peddled by his family and supporters — was Britain could not spare the ships to transport emergency supplies, but Mukerjee has unearthed documents that challenge his claim. She cites official records that reveal ships carrying grain from Australia bypassed India on their way to the Mediterranean.


          • mariandavid

            Utter nonsense – the only issue of merit is that Churchill is claimed to have given precedence to Greece over Bengal. But since Greece was occupied by the GERMANS at the time who would leap at the chance of sinking Allied merchant ships the idea is bizarre and meaningless.
            Your arguments are simply a sustained attempt to dodge the issue that much of the blame resided in India and the rest due to the World War. The primary causes were:
            – the loss of the Burmese grain supply (maybe blame the Japanese)
            – the triple tidal waves (or bores details are not precise) in the Brahmaputra Delta (blame God?)
            – the refusal of British and Indian officials in other parts of India to speed or even allow grains to Bengal – the Punjab being the worst case
            – the loss of farmland in the Arakan and eastern Assam due to scorched earth tactics
            – the massive increase in the Indian Army stationed in Eastern India including Bengal.
            These of themselves account for, but do not excuse, the loss of life – the invention of additional patriotic ‘facts’ is an insult to the memory of those who suffered and died in that great catastrophe.

          • FindingAtlantis

            Good to be living in 2015, where don’t have a marauding terrorist like Churchill going around perpetrating war crimes under the guise of “democracy”.

          • mariandavid

            How is this conceivably a ‘war crime’? I suppose you will next call the Irish Famine a war crime. And surprising though it may to some Churchill was deep in the fascination of war and weaponry and had little to do with the conflict against Japan once Singapore was lost.

          • FindingAtlantis

            If the deaths from the Irish Famine occured because someone took their boats away, or because their farms had been confiscated in order to make war supplies, or because Irish food was shipped (stolen) to feed the not-so-hungry, then yes that would also be considered a war crime (at least by us civilized folks)
            Churchill might have “won” the war, but he really lost, because we the people of the world tore his global dictatorship down.

          • mariandavid

            Actually it was the ‘people of the world’ that greatly assisted Churchill in putting down the global dictatorship of others. He was very grateful for the soldiers of the Indian Army for their sacrifice which saved India from the Japanese – the strange part is that there were hardly any Bengalis in the Indian Army – maybe it was the Indian soldiers (who hated Bengalis) who had something to do with the Famine?

          • FindingAtlantis

            The Indian Army saved India from the Japanese? Actually, they fought right beside them, hacking British soldiers to death. Look up the Indian National Army.
            Churchill vowed to never give up India as long as he lived, that’s we the good people of the world had to fight back and show Britain right from wrong. If Britain ever goes back to its old ways, we will put it back in its place again. And this time, we may not even leave them with the little island they have now.

          • mariandavid

            Oh please – if you are going to debate at least check on your facts: There were over 2 MILLION Indian soldiers in the Indian Army – half in combat units – in the Indian National Army combat units less than 10,000 and of those less than 3,000 saw combat. Just to show you in Burma – a fraction of the size of India the Japanese managed to get nearly 75,000 into the Burmese National Army.

            The only reason the INA rates mention is because Nehru used it to encourage Indian nationalism as he prepared to invade and take the native princedom of Hyderabad. But of course the opposition of all those people to a Hindu India run by English trained Hindu’s does not fit into your version of history does it?

    • Tom M

      I agree with that tjamesjones. It is always comforting for certain sections of the community to labour the bad points of the raj (which undoubtedly existed) but the two points they always fail to take account of are
      a) what would it all have been like if the British had never been there
      b) compare the activities of the British with the activities of previous empires or regimes.

      • Jay Zaim

        You need to read up on your history and get the facts.There are many books out currently that informs on what the empire did do during their reign heres a great start :Modern India 1885-1947 by Sumit Sarkar.
        In the LATE VICTORIAN HOLOCAUST, Mike Davis points out that here were 31 serious famines in 120 years of British rule compared with 17 in the 2,000 years before British rule.

        In his book, Davis tells the story of the famines that killed up to 29 million Indians. These people were, he says, murdered by British State policy. In 1876, when drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau, there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India. But the Viceroy, Robert Bulwer-Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent their export to England.

        In 1877 and 1878, at the height of the famine, grain merchants exported record quantities of grain. As the peasants began to starve, government officials were ordered “to discourage relief works in every possible way”. The only relief permitted in most districts was hard labour, from which anyone in an advanced state of starvation was turned away. Within these labour camps, the workers were given less food than the Jewish inmates of Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp of World War II.

        Even as millions died, Lytton ignored all efforts to alleviate the suffering of millions of peasants in the Madras region and concentrated on preparing for Queen Victoria’s investiture as Empress of India. The highlight of the celebrations was a week-long feast at which 68,000 dignitaries heard her promise the nation “happiness, prosperity and welfare”.

        In 1901, The Lancet estimated that at least 19 million Indians had died in western India during the famine of the 1890s. The death toll was so high because the British refused to implement famine relief. Davis says life expectancy in India fell by 20 percent between 1872 and 1921.

        So it’s hardly surprising that Hitler’s favourite film was The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, which showed a handful of Britons holding a continent in thrall. The Nazi leader told the then British Foreign Secretary Edward Wood (Earl of Halifax) that it was one of his favorite films because “that was how a superior race must behave and the film was compulsory viewing for the SS (Schutz-Staffel, the Nazi ‘protection squadron’)”

        Ignorance is not a virtue.

        • global city

          how come so much left wing agitprop is accepted as ‘history’?

        • Tom M

          Well thankyou for the partial lesson in history. I say partial because what you refer to is not disputed but to respond to my previous post (which I imagine is what you were trying to do) you would have to comment on what previous empires and regimes were like and compare them with the British Empire. You didn’t do that.
          To reiterate the British Empire had standards of government that surpassed all that went before. That is the point.

          • Jay Zaim

            Well known are incursions by British pirates, privateers or armed explorers,provided they were operating with the approval of their government.The need for a unilateral transfer of funds to britain was a constant factor and in fact increased progressively over time.The burden of the east India co. london establishment and of dividends to its shareholders was replaced after 1858 by “The cost of the Secretary of States India Office”,while the India debt in england,already considerable thanks to the co. military adventures.All such adventures meant heavier outlay on the army mainly at a cost to the Indian exchequer.eg: In Egypt 1882 by gladstone,Sudan 1885-86/96 againts the Mahdi movement,China againts the Boxers in 1900.Military cost under curzon to the Indian govt by 1904-05 was 51.9% of indias budget(HOME charges).In a nut shell India was paying for englands invasions of other countries.An Indian army pvt received 9Rupees amonth while his british counterpart received 24Rupees plus a number of allowances.These “HOME CHARGES” also included pensions for british India officers,military and other stores purchased in england,cost of army training,cost of transport and campaigns outside India but charged on Indian finances.Breakup of Home charges 1901-02 3 million BP army expenses,4.3 million BP stores purchase,1.3 million BP pensions,6.4 million BP Railway guranteed interest others for a total of 17.3 million BP.
            Efficent standard of govt HELL YAH.

          • mirdad

            Racist, genocidal standards of government for which they are now paying reparations to the victims of their crimes against humanity in Kenya. Perhaps you’d like to tell us all about how the African slave trade benefited black people as well.

          • Tom M

            As I have said many times before I do not claim that the British Empire was without many many faults. History would support this argument.
            It is not my intention to gainsay any of that. It is only my intention to point out that all of the empires and regimes that went before were considerably less civilising. Britain did not invent all of the things you recite, these existed already and had done so since the begining of time and were common practise by all regimes before (and many since).
            Such is the slow advancement of mankind it didn’t just happen when the Human Rights act appeared.

      • mirdad

        Bad points?!?!?! The whole thing was a bad point. The whole history of British imperialism is a stain on humanity whose festering wounds linger to this day in Kashmir and Palestine. Take some responsibility for the crimes of your people and nations.

      • FindingAtlantis

        There are absolutely no positives about the savage police state that was the British empire. Unfortunately for you, we no longer you Stone Age parasites to roam free robbing and killing defenseless people.

    • Isaiah2_4

      I agree with your sentiment – colonial style imperialism was bad in any event and you are quite right to point that out. Of course there are still a few amongst us who have not quite grasped that fact.

    • Chris Golightly

      Very good points! I am initially taken in by this type of “Morality” story as a “Leftie”, but you have put Dalrymple’s tale into context well.

    • Tim Gilling

      Nonsense. have you read any of Dalrymple’s stuff? From The Holy Mountain? The White Mughals? How can you say he’s not a historian? And quite frankly the Islington crack tells us more about you than him.

  • Hegelman


  • Hegelman

    Martin Gilbert had no serious assessment to make of Churchill’s Hitlerian crime, the 1943 Bengal Famine.

    This famine in the Indian province of Bengal in 1943 killed one
    tenth of its population – about 3 mllion people. Despite desperate pleas
    for famine relief from the British Viceroy in India, Lord Wavell,
    Churchill refused aid until millions were dead. This was after he had
    been draining food from India for years, and when millions of Indians
    were fighting on the side of Britain. What is more, Churchill forbade
    the US and Australia to send famine relief to Bengal either, as they
    offered to do. So Australian ships filled with grain by-passed a
    starving Bengal whose fields and roads were lined with the dead and
    dying. In the Whites Only clubs of Calcutta the British ate and drank
    without stint, as did Churchill at home. (One of his ministers, Lord
    Reith, seeing the food bill for a Churchill-Roosevelt summit, commented,
    “I wonder how much Roosevelt got.”)

    Wavell wondered in his published diaries if the Churchill Cabinet was not the most contemptible Britain had ever had. (See “The Viceroy’s Memoirs”, London, 1970).
    Other colleagues of Churchill were disgusted by his Bengal famine
    policy, too. Lord Alanbrooke, his Chief Military Adviser, remarked,
    “Winston seems content to starve India while using it as a military
    base.” See Patrick French’s well known book on India’s transition to
    Independence, “Liberty or Death”.

    Desperate famine victims thronged the streets of Calcutta while the British were feasting in their clubs and hotels; some tried to get into the hospitals but were
    thrown out by British staff who pointed out that they weren’t ill but
    merely starving.

    Churchill forbade India to use its own ships and money to bring in food; later British rulers stopped India from applying to the UN for famine aid; so Indian contributions to the UN went to feed Europeans while Indians starved.

    A highly praised history of this appalling episode in the life of Britain’s supposed
    greatest man is Madhusree Mukerjee’s “Churchill’s Secret War”. It has been lauded
    by the leading Churchill authority, Sir Max Hastings. His review of the book is in the The Sunday Times.

    the Communists and criminals had created a major security situation, by Europeans (mainly women) who went in and created famine relief kitchens mainly supplying such as vegetable soups to pander to the dietary needs of the Bengali’s, and which kept many alive.

    Many of the dead in the Bengal region did not starve to death; to add to the troubles, there was a major measles outbreak, followed by polio; malaria went out of control, and the deaths enhanced by major cholera outbreaks.

    Our mother (who was a registered nurse by trade) with the eldest female child who had been training as a VAD, went down from the Hill Country as volunteers to Bengal and ran a cholera camp (with support from British civilians and Sikh soldiers, NO Bengali’s) for some 14 weeks (until the cholera burnt itself out) that

    claim that there was not enough food to prevent some millions of
    Bengalis starving to death, or not enough shipping, when there was
    enough of both for the fat pink glutton called Churchill to drain India
    of food for years, is no better than Hitler claiming that there was not
    enough food for the Jews.

    Hugh Toye, well-known historian on Bengal, has pointed out that the actual food shipments needed were not even all that big.

    Churchill is on the run, and the historians will give him no rest on this issue henceforth.see more0

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    Hegelman mackinlay•a month ago

    Churchill always had ships to take food OUT of India – he did so for years before the 1943 Famine – but none to save millions when it counted. India was even stopped from using its own money to procure famine food.

    There was not enough ships or food for Bengalis, any more than for Jews under Hitler.

    Wavell, the Viceroy at the time, whose word I trust rather more than yours, noted that where the starvation of WHITE populations was at stake, there was always enough shipping.see more0

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    Hegelman•a month ago

    Martin Gilbert was no doubt a good man but he was a pitiful historian.

    He was no more than a compiler, a kind of glorified clerk, not an evaluative historian. His biography of Churchill degenerated into nothing more than a day-by-day chronicling of the supposed “great” man, even informing us at one point, “Lunch that day was at 1.30.” He allowed the material to overwhelm him, and had not the smallest capacity for criticising his bloated idol.

    Here are some obvious historical facts you will not find in Gilbert’s worshipful compliations:

    Churchill’s warnings about Hitler grossly exaggerated the rate and extent of German rearmament. The UK governments of prime ministers Baldwin and
    Chamberlain were actually doing a very good job in rearming Britain.
    Churchill merely helped to create a climate of panic about overwhelming
    German might and this helped to induce UK leaders to appease Hitler.

    Churchill was very friendly to Stalin – he even thought Khrushchev was wrong to condemn him and suggested in the long run the 1956 destalinisation speech would harm the Soviet system (which I do not believe, but it is interesting
    Churchill thought so). When Stalin died Churchill told his wife that
    he had always found him to be a fine fellow and ”he never broke a
    promise made to me!”

    The Viceroy of India in 1943, Lord Wavell, had the harshest possible verdict on
    Churchill and his Cabinet deliberately obstructing famine aid to Bengal
    and letting Bengalis die in millions. One tenth of all Bengalis perished, a greater holocaust than those attributed to Stalin. Wavell’s published diaries asked if
    the Churchill Cabinet was the most contemptible one in British history,
    repeatedly condemned the racist inhumanity of the Churchill regime, and
    called the Bengal Famine of 1943 the most shameful episode in British
    imperial history. See Lord Wavell, “The Viceroy’s Memoirs”, London

    • tjamesjones

      and not a mention of the Japanese war machine rampaging through Asia!

      • Mark

        Nor of the Indians supporting the quisling pro Japanese “Jiffs” of the Indian National Army.

      • Hegelman

        Hitler had a war on too, and no doubt used that to justify why he couldn’t feed the Jews.

        • Mark

          No. Hitlers genocide was not driven by such considerations. Your attempt to conflate the British Empire with Nazism and genocidal Japanese imperialism is frankly despicable and wholly disingenuous.

          Do you honestly think the Bengalis would have fared better under the Japanese? That was the option.

          4 years after 1943 the British were gone, having helped save India from the Japanese.

          • KingOfGondor

            So the average Bengali had the following choice: 1) starve to death now, or 2) possibly be ruled by Japanese in a few years. Gee, that’s a difficult one! What to choose, what to choose?

        • tjamesjones

          No Hegelman, he didn’t. The tricky thing with history is that you don’t get to make up your facts.

    • Bonkim

      Bengal Famine – Blame the way the Indian Zamindars and black-marketeers took advantage of the situation – it was simply a war situation with most of India’s rice supplies (Bengal/Bihar/Orissa were rice dependent) cut off because of the Japanese invasion of Burma. Prices shot up and the poor tradesmen just could not afford their staples. Add to that India’s endemic class and caste divisions – social organisation non-existent.

      The famine was contained within parts of India with backward social and cultural divisions and dependent on rice – no such things occured in other parts – East and South India where social organisation was better. Britain was at war and it is possible that UK government policy failed but then Indians Lord Wavell and other influential Indians could have done much if they wanted to. Food supplies to Britain were also short and strict rationing jhelped – n a country like India with its entrenched corruption and class/caste divisions the poor and disadvantaged died – and continue to do so today.

      • Hegelman

        To claim that there was not enough food to prevent some millions of Bengalis starving to death, or not enough shipping, when there was enough of both for the fat pink glutton called Churchill to drain India of food for years, is no better than Hitler claiming that there was not enough food for the Jews.

        Churchill drained India of food for years before the 1943 Famine; he always had ships enough for that. As the Viceroy, Wavell, noted, there were always enough ships to feed white populations.

        • Mark

          1943…….. is it possible food was prioritised for combatants facing the Japanese invasion forces?

          • Bonkim

            Most of the combatants in the British Indian Armed forces were native Indians. Indian Army numberd 200,000 in 1939 grew to 2.5 Million volunteeers by 1945. They fought on three continents in Africa, Europe and Asia. 38 members of the Indian Army were awarded the Victoria Cross or the George Cross.

          • Mark

            As I said, is it possible that food was prioritised for combatants facing the Japanese invasion forces?

          • Bonkim

            The combatants facing the Japanese at Kohima were relatively few in numbers. The later Allied invasion that drove the Japs was in 1943/44 which had @1 Million combatants from all over the Empire was well after the 1942 famine.

          • Mark

            1942 now is it? That’s the year the Japanese had the British in retreat in India and Burma. The British and loyal Indian combatants were the priority, in 1942 the British Empire in India and South East Asia was in melt down.

          • Bonkim

            The Japs were already in Burma and knocking on India’s Eastern frontier. The troops in Assam were not short of food – but India was already mobilized and sending huge numbers to Africa, Europe and other War-zones; India was also supporting the US effort in supplying the Chinese fighting Japs – flights over the Hump and also supporting the Naval Command.

          • Hegelman

            No doubt Hitler prioritised food for German soldiers, by your logic – not Jews.

          • Bonkim

            Hitler prioritised food for his Wehrmacht and the extermination of Jews equally. Then again you have to chop a hand off to save the body – that is what decisions are all about. You have little understanding of history and human behaviour. Emotional statements mean nothing in a discussion.

            The poor in India died like flies not because of the British but because of lack of any sense of social organisation and responsibility towards other human beings. Indian social order allocates different values to different classes of people – it was and still is a differential society. Fate is blamed for man’s adversity and if you do good deeds including giving alms to the destitute you get credits in the after-life. Indians accept people starving and sleeping on their streets as natural and don’t do much to avoid that – there are cases of women committing suicide on the streets of Calcutta with very little response from passers by.

            Indians usually look the other way at peoples’ suffering – so don’t be such an idiotic bleeding heart – a million or two poor dying in War-time Bengal was not news to the rest of India. The Indians around them did little – there was food available in other parts of India – black-marketeers and hoarders did quite well out of the famine – blaming the British would not bring the dead back, just make some Indians feel good finding a convenient scapegoat for their inaction. Famines were cyclical in Asia – wait till the present exploding populations and fast depleting resource-base reach their inevitable conclusion and there is wholesale destruction of the Earth’s population. Give it a century or two if not decades – mankind’s demise not that far away.

          • KingOfGondor

            You don’t have to consider possibilities. Books have been written on this topic, and all facts are in the open. The choice was not between feeding Indian civilians and the Indian army combatants. It was between feeding Indian civilians versus feeding European civilians (Brits themselves, but also Greeks who had been liberated from Nazi rule). Indian civilians were deemed to be expendable; white civilians weren’t.

        • Bonkim

          Jumping to conclusions – read up on Indian History by Indians such as Majumdar, Raychaudhuri and Datta all Bengalis.

          Don’t compare standards of government and social services prevailing in the 18/19th centuries or even in post-WW2 1940s and 50s.

          Famines were cyclical in India all through history. Infrastructure for storage, distribution, and processing poor even today. India’s class and caste system and agricultural and land tenure systems have been set in the stone age – even today. The Mughals instituted the Zamindari system of land holding and tax collection and the British (East india Company) adopted that choosing and things in Britain/Europe were not a lot different in terms of land ownership, tenant farmers, etc.

          An illiterate and subservient peasantry was lorded over by the Zamindars and their officials and social organisation was centred on chains of exploitation (still continuing today).

          Discussing the Bengal Famine of the 17 and 1800s by our standards today is therefore silly. Huge famines sweapt across the globe in the 17, 18th and 19th centuries, also in the 20th arising from agricultural failures, wars, and revolutions. The world was not organized in the manner it is today to mansge such catastrophic events and people just died or were saved by local philanthropists or the religious fraternity. The period also saw huge migrations fro Ireland, Sweden, and other parts of Europe to the New World – mainly the disadvantaged and the starving. Just accept it – those were the standards of the times.

          Read up Indian historians – of course resources were channelled to the war effort – a greater need than say a few millions of illiterate peasants – Human values were different. stiil so in many parts of Asia and Africa including India.

          The Japanese occupation of Burma cut off the main supply of rice for Bengal/Bihar and Orissa and the Bengalis are not known for their ability to adapt and change or dirty their hands digging the ground themselves to produce food for themselves – leaving it to the lower classes – regrettably this Indian attitude killed more than the shortages.

          The traders were adept at playing the market, hoarding, adulterating and hiding their stocks and cash from the authorities – yes most that died were from the poorer.disadvantaged classes and the rural poor that just did not have the money to pay black-market rates.

          Regrettably Indians themselves did not value their people and the British simply left the natives to their own devices. Indian historians recognize that the common Indian was hard done by their own people.

          Regards the British culpability – there are no angels in the story and the British were the first to acknoledge that – Sir John Woodhead’s Report on the Commission of Enquiry on the Bengal Famine admits candidly that

          “It has been for us a sad task to enquire into the course and causes of the Bengal famine.

          We have been haunted by a deep sense of tragedy. A million and a half of the poor of Bengal fell victim to circumstances for which they themselves were not responsible. Society together with its organs failed to protect its weaker members. Indeed there was a moral and social breakdown, as well as an administrative breakdown.”

          • Hegelman

            “of course resources were channelled to the war effort – a greater need than say a few millions of illiterate peasants ”

            You need say no more. That says it all about you. Hitler would have said something similar when asked about the Jews.

      • Hegelman

        British rule in India was noted for its repeated huge famines; one-third of Bengalis perished in a famine soon after the British rule was established in the mod-18th century. In the nineteenth century alone, 25 million Indians died in famines. A good book on this subject is Mike Davis’ well-known “Late Victorian Holocausts”.

        Independent India, for all the lamentable corruption and criminality of its governments, has never experienced famines on the old scale. In India the Union Jack was the famine flag.

        In general, the British have an incredibly sanitised idea of their own history and react with blind defensiveness when the cruel reality of it is pointed out. They like to pillory Germans and Russians and the French for their historical crimes and pretend or even really believe that they were themselves a pretty fine lot. Not true, unfortunately.

        • Mark

          So Hegelman, the uniquely awful British are now host to increasing numbers of sub continentals in our home islands.

          How should we view this? as evidence that the folk memory of the subcontinent is generally favourable towards the British, or that the immigrants from the sub continent may bide their time and seek some kind of revenge on the British descendents of the imperialists?

          Should we adjust immigration policy to take account of these questions? Frankly I’d prefer good humoured Poles and Bulgarians than angry, resentful, grievance conscious Indians, Bengalis and Pakistanis being stoked up by the likes of you.

  • jack

    The Romans conquered Britain on the back of many war dead, in fact the conquest of Britain saw the eventual destruction of the indigenous pagan religion. But what did Roman Civilization bring to these isles? Roads, city development, commercial government, military, economic and political reforms, cultural changes and increased trade. It also gave Britain the ability to defend itself as part of an empire.

    No one doubts the fact that the Roman Empire was a great thing. Yes, in India terrible things were done in the name of Empire. The 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre stands to show this, and arguably Britain’s bungling over the Bengal Famine. But what did we give India? We united many warring tribes and states. We gave India parliamentary systems of government. We built roads, huge train tracks, we protected it from invasion. Britain banned many horrible practices like Sati, huge cities like Bombay and Calcutta were basically built by the British, the mining industry within India was again, basically built from scratch by the British. Huge factories were constructed across the British Raj, Delhi’s construction was started by Britain and turned into the Capital of India, national parks were created in India by the approval of Britain and lets not forget… Britain defeated the despotic Mughal Empire!

    But yes, lets just look at bad things that happened (that happen in every country) and pretend that Britain achieved nothing of any worth. Typical self-depreciating liberal drivel.

    • santosh satpathy

      Just to start ,when British left India in 1947 , the Indian literacy rate stood at the grand total of 12% after 100 yr it was under direct rule of queen beside the time East India company was the. To make a comparison , Britain had 100% literacy at home at that time .

      BTW despotic Mughal Empire was already very weakened by native maratha empires and was divided into multiple big and small independent states ,that helped the British east india company to gain military foothold in india first by defeating Nawab of Bengal in 1757 , where himself gone independent from the central Moghul rule of Delhi .Also what helped the EIC was the weakening of Marathas Empire who lost the 3rd war of Panipat in 1762 to the Afghan warlord Abdali.

      So i wonder what they teach you in Britain in the name of history.

      • jack

        Yes but India was a vast territory for the British to rule. Enrolling people in mass education, outside of the West, was still quite a hard thing to accomplish because of the geography involved and the amount of people. Compare the British Raj to Qing Dynasty China or the Russian Empire and you’ll find similar results.

      • Bonkim

        India’s literacy rate was a natural situation arising from its class and caste divisions and only upper classes enrolling in schools – women were mostly excluded from schooling. Blame India’s social disorganisation and division for that.

      • LastmaninEurope

        “Britain had 100% literacy at home at that time”
        A Scottish relative of mine who served in WW11 attested to the poor literacy rate among soldiers of his London recruited artillery regiment.
        He was frequently employed reading to them their letters from home and helping them draft replies.
        That primary source, something we get taught in the name of history to seek and rely on, belies your statement.
        Even today Britain does not have 100% literacy.
        Like yourself, I shall not bother to look up the evidence but simply opine that literacy rates in Britain have plummeted in recent years thanks to first cousin arranged and forced marriage in the Land of the Pure bringing in the ignorant whose offspring are over represented among the mentally handicapped.

      • Mark

        After the British left……

        Trainloads of dead Indian Hindus and Muslims criss crossed the Punjab.

      • Jay Zaim

        Guess the loot collected from “Home Charges” wasnt enough to pay for educating Indians.

      • vieuxceps2

        How do you or indeed anyone know the literacy rate in India in 1947? There has never been anywhere a rate of 100% literacy. Can’t be, can there?
        I understand that currently in England we have a literacy rate of ca. 75%. Is that because if the immigrants from India do you think?
        Your summary of parochial Indian history leaves me too to wonder what they teach you in India in the name of history.

      • tjamesjones

        lucky you can read & write santosh, so you can set the record straight! You’re proud of your culture & anything bad is “all someone else’s fault”. Congratulations you are now officially a left whinger!

        • He can read and write in English as I do because British imposition of English replacing Persian in their administration as official language of communication. “good” and “bad” are subjective terms depending on the context.

          • tjamesjones

            well I suppose you could go back to Persian if it’s all subjective?

          • Why Persian? Why not our indigenous Indian culture and languages that Persians greatly disfigured? It will be pain for English speaking elites, as they will be having less readership.

          • tjamesjones

            Fine by me.

    • WTF

      Your first paragraph sounds like it came for Life of Brian but joking apart, the Romans did a lot for Britain. I have a close Indian friend who was a neighbour for some time and he along with his friends in the UK openly admit that British rule benefitted that continent at least for those that had the intelligence to embrace it. Even today you can see the positive effects of British Rule in India unlike Pakistan for example.

    • KingOfGondor

      We united many warring tribes and states.

      Not really. If you’ll recall, the British Raj ended with the mother of all fights between the two main groups in the subcontinent, whose formation of separatist identities was continuously encouraged by the British.

      You are too far removed from your (I would guess, Celtic or Pictish) ancestors who were around during Roman rule. Something tells me their opinion of the Romans would not have been as positive as yours is. Not 3 generations have passed since the end of British rule of India; there are many people alive who lived in British India, and have raw memories of those times.

      You mention a number of positive things the British did in India, and I agree with most of them. But it was hardly a planned campaign of goodies that the British brought to our shores. When the British started to imagine a pan-Indian domain under their rule, those “good things” were not present in Britain either. The Industrial Revolution had not yet started; no one imagined the existence of trains and highways. And national parks; really? The British were clearing their own countryside and parceling it out to the feudal aristocracy; also dispossessing their own “natives”, like the Scottish highlanders. What really happened in India was that the East India Company conquered the country through war and trickery, bled it dry during much of their first half-century of rule, and then found themselves masters of a sorry rump of a civilization that lay supinely at their feet. Then they acquired some sense of responsibility (goaded by missionaries and Anglicized Indians), and started to build infrastructure that had the effect of developing India but was really aimed at consolidating their own rule.

    • KingOfGondor

      Huge factories were constructed across the British Raj

      Name one.

      By the beginning of the 20th century, the complete absence of industrialization on the subcontinent had started to tell. It was the Parsis and Marwaris (the main Indian entrepreneurial groups) who started the slow process of building native industrial capacity. They got virtually no encouragement from the British authorities; at least the latter didn’t put any barriers.

  • Alexander

    As was the Mughal Empire before the British, the Timurids before them, the Mongols before and the Persians ect ect. The Empires which succeeded the British, the American and Soviet, weren’t very peaceful either.

    This Left-wing history really is fantastically biased, the subject is utilised as just another means to project ideology. Consequently makes history an utter dirge, no wonder so many children are turned off from the subject today.

    Well, the world of the 21st century tested the hypothesis that it was imperialism that caused both poverty and wars and that self-determination would ultimately pave the way to prosperity and peace.

    It didn’t.

    • Mark

      Leftist history is simply anti white people. No ifs no buts.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Oh the guilt, the guilt.

    Oh the lack of proportion.

    Oh the relativism.

    Oh the selective memory.

    Oh the shameful myopic means to maintain the same old political ends.

    Keep feeling guilty everyone.


    What? You don’t feel guilty? You weren’t even born you say?


    What? They weren’t born either?


    What? They were just a babies?


    Forever and ever, Ahmen

    • Mark

      No shame here.

      The Indians were saved from the Japanese by the shedding of British blood at Imphal and Kohima, and during the driving back of the Japs into Burma from whence they came.

      Lest we forget.

      • Jay Zaim

        Guess the worlds largest volunteer army fighting from before WW1 to the end of WW2 were over there for afternoon tea.153 victoria crosses that were handed out to the british Indian army from 1857 to 1947 were to keep India safe not forgetting the materials and monies provided.Selective memory in all its glory.Lest we forget yah right.

        • Mark

          That’s right, the worlds largest volunteer army, the Indians who fought with the British.

          Makes you wonder what we were doing right doesn’t it? But lets not forget the White British troops at Kohima/Imphal who then chased the Japs back to Rangoon.

          Let’s also not forget the Jiffs and the quit India campaigners who presumably would have formed the pro Nazi, pro Japanese Quisling government of India given the chance.

          • Jay Zaim

            British Indian troops led by White officers.PERIOD.Get used to it.On the Indian National Army when our leaders realised churchill was going to go back on granting India its freedom AGAIN it was decided the best way to throw the brits out was armed resistance.Hence the tie up with the germans and the japanese.Stop being so naive and cherrry picking what you like and sidestepping all other factual historical facts.FYI :The Battle of Kohima was the turning point of the Japanese U Go offensive into India in 1944 in the Second World War. The battle was fought in three stages from 4 April to 22 June 1944 around the town of Kohima inNagaland in north-east India. From 3 to 16 April, the Japanese attempted to capture Kohima ridge, a feature which dominated the road by which the besieged British and Indian troops of IV Corps at Imphal were supplied. By mid-April, the small British force at Kohima was relieved. From 18 April to 13 May, British and Indian reinforcements counter-attacked to drive the Japanese from the positions they had captured. The Japanese abandoned the ridge at this point but continued to block the Kohima–Imphal road. From 16 May to 22 June, the British and Indian troops pursued the retreating Japanese and reopened the road. The battle ended on 22 June when British and Indian troops from Kohima and Imphal met at Milestone 109, ending the Siege of Imphal.
            (british AND INDIAN TROOPS)

    • Kennybhoy


  • Carter Lee

    Sure let’s us judge all history by today’s norms! If we did India would be endlessly on trial for a millennia of grotesque crimes against its own people without a Briton in sight.

    The people of modern India have nuclear weapons and yet continue to defecate in the public streets. Perhaps there are other issues that warrant concern about that country that need to be explored?

    As far as William Dalrymple is concerned he is like a number of people that hate their own country and culture. Usually that manifests not from a failure of their country but a failure they recognize in themselves.

  • Jack Smith

    A great moral wrong is being inflicted on Britain in the present time which can only be described as slow motion genocide. Mass immigration is being used as a battering ram to destroy traditional Britain; our society is being obliterated and replaced with a hideous, deracinated multicultural parody. So I shall reserve my sympathy for my own society and people who are being abused, displaced and disempowered on a grand scale by the toxic cult of diversity.

  • Bonkim

    Not appropriate to judge history by today’s standards. Killing, plunder and rape were the norms of conquests and not just the British in India. Earlier Empires all across the Globe were based on terror, and enslavement/subjugation of the conquered.

    The Empire Builders used whatever means were available to them and violence was mostly perpetrated by paid soldiers or mercenaries mostly locals, the numbers of native Britons in india were very few. India was not by any definition of the term a nation state but a collection of local kingdoms and tribal tracts, and parts of the declining Mughal Empire some in conflict with each other which the British and other colonial powers took advantage of. The East India Co’s battles with Tippu Sultan for example also involved French and Dutch Mercenaries on Tippu’s side.

    British India following the take-over by the British parliament from the East India Company was governed no different from what went on as governance at the times. By and large rule of law and justice prevailed in India in many ways better than that in other parts of the world and also in comparison with that existing under the earlier Mughals and india’s own local Rulers. British India was heaven compared with the tyrannical Empires and Kingdoms existing then in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the World, and avoided the frequent wars and invasions that were ongoing around the world. The Empire also helped improve civil administration, defence, education, and provided a platform for technological and infrastructure developments that were taking place in parallel across all parts of the Global Empire.

    India’s moribund society also was re-invigorated by exposure to western thought that eventually led to independence and formation of the Unified India that exists today.

    As said judging history by today’s standards is meaningless.

    • Mark

      “Today’s standards” are only recognised by parts of the decaying West, and by them, only when it suits.

      War and the struggle for supremacy continue unabated across parts of Eastern Europe, West and East Africa, the Middle East. Asia will not be immune.

      If, in future, India has further militarised disputes with Pakistan, Bangladesh or China, will we see such hand wringing?

      War and struggle cause mass suffering, and are better avoided whenever possible, but this endless hand wringing over the British is just latter day defeatism, and pathetic cringing.

      The world is a tough place and for a time the British were tougher than the rest, to the benefit of many. We should salute the greatness of our history, and accept it as the past, and stop this endless kow towing to political correctness. Indian self determination has been achieved and preserved.

      The British concern should be preserving our own national self determination.

      • Bonkim

        Survival of the fittest applicable to everything in nature.

        • Mark

          Well, yes. But we should also recall that raw “survival of the fittest” was ameliorated by the culture of Christian compassion exemplified by missionary activity in the British Empire.

          • Bonkim


            Fundamental Christianity is pretty ruthless – individual responsibility and everyone need to put in their effort – no space for hangers on – the basic tenets of Anglo-Saxon Protestantism that triumphed over the submissive Roman Catholic and Islamic cultures to establish its Global Brand.

  • FedUpIndian

    “..we must never forget that, in the final analysis, our empire was built
    by the sword and erected over the dead bodies of tens if not hundreds of
    thousands of our Indian subjects.”

    Yes, but a sense of perspective is also important. When Timur, the ancestor of Dalrymple’s beloved Mughals, invaded Delhi in 1398 AD, he murdered 100,000 “infidels and idolaters” (Hindus) in a single day because it was pleasing to Allah. This was *after* Delhi had surrendered to him. He was so proud of this mass murder that he recorded it in his autobiography and described it with pride. To this day, Timur is a revered figure in Muslim countries and little Muslim kids are named after him.

    That was just one day. The long night of Muslim rule in India lasted 1000 years. During that time, Dalrymple’s beloved Muslims are estimated to have murdered somewhere between 10 million and 50 million Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and others for the “crime” of being infidels and idolaters. But Muslims have no sense of shame about this genocide. On the contrary, Pakistan’s nuclear-tipped missiles are named after these butchers and mass murderers – Ghaznavi, Ghori, etc.

  • Gerschwin

    So what?


    Nothing wrong with shooting mutineers. And the truth is that the Indian rulers were on the whole far more savage than the British. There was nothing wrong with fighting and beating them.

    • “There was nothing wrong with fighting and beating them.”

      Someone had to bring the south Asian land mass into the modern era and create India, and only the British could with the Common Law, and the musket and cannon when needed. Indian people are a joy to know, and the British can be proud of liberating them, slowly, to have their own nation and national self identity, instead of the old Princely state identities they had before the arrival of the British.

      We also see what a better world it was when narcotics were legal; no government corruption; no criminal cartels; no drug wars; no user drug crimes to obtain relatively expensive narcotics; tax revenues from narcotics sales supplementing treasuries.

      • Hegelman

        I do not deny British rule had its achievements; it did unify India and created an army that could finally ensure there were no further Central Asian invasions.

        But there were great human costs, and this needs to be pointed out. The British forget the achievements of other countries and insist on their crimes; they forget their own crimes and insist on their achievements.

        • “The British forget the achievements of other countries and insist on their crimes; they forget their crimes and insist on their achievements.”

          Many British crimes were actually Marxist operations, such as the SIS mounted 1914 rebellion in Ireland, where later Churchill cemented the removal of the lower 26 Irish counties from the Union with the introduction of the Black and Tans, whose behaviors in Ireland would make Hitler blush.

          The 1919 Amritsar Massacre was also a Marxist operation, its purpose to give new life to removing India from the Empire, weakening the West, while strengthening the internationalist objectives of the new Bolshevik state allowed to exist.

          The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions.

          • Hegelman

            Your post is a Marxist operation.

          • “Your post is a Marxist operation.”

            Can you explain that odd observation? Too much wine at the party?

          • Bonkim

            Much distorted Waffle.

          • “Much distorted Waffle.”

            Don’t forget the syrup and sausages!

          • Bonkim

            Don’t waste money on inedible rubbish!

      • Bonkim

        Perverse logic – sign of an arrogant idiot!

        • “sign of an arrogant idiot!”

          ‘Dean of India’ will do nicely, thank you!

          • Bonkim

            Don’t want to give India a bad name! There are many there trying to salvage what they can.

  • Mark

    The alternative to being a power is to be someone else’s subjects.

    Rule Britannia. Deepest respect and gratitude to the generations of British leaders and people who knew this.

    Appalled sorrow and loathing for those British leaders who fail to know this and are selling us into future servitude.

    And now we see a British Prime Minister unveiling a statue in Parliament Square of an Indian nationalist who owed his education to the British Empire to demonstrate our ruling classes surrender in our own homeland.

    Which other former imperial power puts up statues of its former enemies in its capital city?

    • Jay Zaim

      Those who are still collecting Royalties on imperial agreements of the past.
      I dont see any angst for the 100 + Indian multination companies providing jobs to 100000 british citizens currently. Maybe we should ship “our” companies home.

      • Mark

        No argument from me on that, and we could reciprocally return British jobs onshore.

        After expropriating and in some cases renationalising the parts of British industry sold to foreigners by previous “British” governments.

      • Bonkim

        Well and the British multi-nationals that set shop in India and employed so many for so long. Of course the Indian multinationals are not forced to be in Britain and will take their capital where they see greater profits. That is international business.

    • Bonkim

      Was Gandhi an enemy of Britain? He was a critical friend.

      • Mark

        Yes, he was an enemy of the British Empire, he campaigned for its abolition.

        • Bonkim

          The days of the Empires had ended when Austro-Hungary became defunct in WW1. Gandhi save Britain from suffering defeat and chaotic retreat such as that of the French from Indo-China and North Africa. India was ungovernable and would have broken up in civil war if Gandhi’s counsel had not prevailed both with the British and also his fellow Indians – and Ganhi was hated because of his mediation in the sectarian conflict which was already rampant in the subcontinent all through the war-years. Gandhi helped Britain withdraw gracefully and as such was a friend. He was shot by a Hindu Nationalist for his role.

          • Raja Mani

            overall, i read somewhere, that maintaining an empire was expensive. and inspite of all the loot from india, it cost britain more. including the loss of 2 million souls, who are buried somewhere or the other in india, over the pas 4 centuries. britain having a smaller population at that time, it appears a significant numbers went to india in search of fame fortune or simply to get away.

          • Bonkim

            For most it was a job overseas with prospects of some gains. Of course most had better standards of life, servants, etc which was/is normal in India but not in Britain where life was hard for most. For businessmen and contractors – it was another job somewhere in the Empire. Most went from job to job across the Globe – many Company Servants were posted in North America, etc.

            The British particularly Government Servants wereb y and large less corrupt than the local Indian Nabobs and contractors but Indians gave lavish presents to their colonial Masters needless to say expecting favours in business. Government servants were transferred every four or five years so that they don’t get embedded in the local corruption rings with the native staff.

            Social mixing between the British and Indians in the higher positions was normal particularly Indians that were educated in Britain and had lived there and acquired Western manners..

            Many stayed on in India and became Indianised. Given that Britain had a small population much of the work of managing the Empire was done by Indians who took pride in having secure and lucrative employment. Working for a British Company or the Indian Government/Railways/civil and Judicial services was prestigious for Indians who did rise up the rungs despite the glass ceiling and segregation in the Clubs, etc. Segregation and class/caste/ethnic/religious gradations were nothing new for Indians as their own society was multi-layered and discriminatory. Indians and the British got on quite well and most thought British Raj was Ram-Raj as justice was universal and fair, also the British treated all equally according to rank. Most Indians preferred to do business with British Companies because of higher returns and more equitable treatment compared with their perceptions of the class and caste-ridden systems prevailing within their own people. Most of the large Business Houses of today’s India started as traders and contractors for the British Indian Government and British Trading Companies.

          • Raja Mani

            strictly speaking i would have to agree. though not for the reasons you mentioned. it was the introduction of law based adminstration, for the very first time in the indian subcontinent. till then the law of the land was the current day whim and fancy of the ruler. this was replaced by codified law, under which ironically, the indian merchant who funded the junior east india company officer, could sue him in a court of law, presided by a british judge, and expect justice to prevail ie get his money back with the usury. 🙂 the rule of the law. the best gift the british gave the indians, and whose tenure even today pales, many of the historical wrongs of those days..those were different times.

          • Bonkim

            There was popular democracy of sorts in the pre-Islamic period in Indian history – and as in Europe and Asia Law and order were within the gift of the Ruler but overseen by the Priests and Laws laid down in the Vedas – these regulated all aspects of civic life, and trade, and dispensed justice where needed. The Rulers always feared God’s justice as did the common man and overall played the system – that was democracy and rule of Law of the times – similar situation in Europe where Church Law was the prevailing envelope within which king and the Landed Classes operated and looked after the peasantry – the industrial revolution triggered the social changes that we see today. In many ways the Indian administrative and legal system of the first Millennium was quite sophisticated for the times and the Rulers took their responsibility seriously..

      • Mark

        A “critical friend” who launched a campaign of civil disobedience against the British in 1942, at the height of the war against Nazism and its ally Japan, whilst the Japanese were at the gates of India.

        • Bonkim

          You always strike when the time is right. Well the Indians were waking up and wanted their own way and two centuries of enslavement ended. I bet Queen Boudica struck when the Romans were at their weakest. That is history like it or not.

          If you look up history Gandhi’s non-violent movement was going on for decades and many significant events all through the 1020s and 30s – many Indians thought it was not their war but suffering regardless and Gandhi/Nehru made a pact with the British for early Independence for India’s support for the War-effort. The Labour win after WW2 expedited the process.

          There were other Indians not so friendly that worked with the Japanese and the Germans and the free-India Army made up of Indian POWs were active in Burma, and also in Europe – a history suppressed by the British and Indian Authorities. All these turncoats were pardoned after the war for good PR.

          Empires as all other things in nature follow the life-cycle theory – so no surprise the Age of Empires had to come to an end and the British empire lasted a long time compared with the others – Hong kong went back to the Chinese in 1999. Cheer up – the British Empire did great things for a long time and its legacy lives on – look around – English is the language of international business and English Law (that includes US, India, Canada, Australia, Cyprus, etc) the basis of international contracts.

          All said the main reason for Gandhi’s statue in Parliament Square is because Cameron wants a piece of the Indian cake for British business. The reason that the Honourable East India company was given a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I on 31 December 1600.

    • Bonkim

      The Princely states apart from one or two larger ones were simply Hobby-Kings under the protection/Patronage of the British Queen or King of the time as they were of the Mughal Emperrors before the British-Raj. Their main pastime was hunting, Polo, and Cricket. They entertained lavishly particularly visiting Vice-Roys and High Officials, and lorded over their illiterate subjects on Elephant-back. It was customary in certain states for they Royal to have first refusal of the prettiest maiden of the kingdom. The less one says about them the better. Indians are not all that proud of what they did to other Indians quite apart from selling off India to the various foreign invaders from time to time..

      • “Indians are not all that proud of what they did to other Indians quite apart from selling off India to the various foreign invaders from time to time..”

        The Princely states were numerous and therefore fractious, each relatively weak; their armies no match for European/European trained native armies, hence the Princely States’ support of the British during the mutiny, which was only a mutiny in the Bengal Presidency. The other two British Presidencies remained loyal to the British.

        • Bonkim

          You have no clue to Indian history. Bengal presidency spanned the whole of Eastern India and the mutiny or as it is known in India the Rebellion of 1857 was centred in Uttar Pradesh – Lucknow and spread all across Northern India – mainly in the Army Cantonment towns not just Bengal. The events of 1857 is also known as the early beginnings of India’s freedom struggle and brought together disparate ethnic and religious groups to rise up against the British – read up more. The Armies of the Princely states were no matcgh – what is more important is that social organisation was totally lacking in India and the diverse class/caste and religious divisions did not allow any sense of national identity or loyalty to take root – bear in mind that national identity and cohesion as we know today only started to gel in the mid-late 19th century even in Europe and Asia where large Empires of one sort or the other were in power with multitudes of ethnicities and sects spread across these empires.

          • “The events of 1857 is also known as the early beginnings of India’s freedom struggle…”

            Freedom from what? Back to the Mughal Empire!

          • Bonkim

            A view distorted by your in-built prejudices and lack of understanding of history, and human behaviour. Didn’t realise Blue-Blood Churchill was a Marxist.

          • “A view distorted by your in-built prejudices and lack of understanding of history, and human behaviour.”

            More like your inability to analyze, relying on Marxist talking points to inform your history.

  • John Andrews

    The Mughals, when ruling India, used harsher measures than the British. Nor were the Indian states kindly when fighting each other. You cannot judge the past by the standards of the present.

    • “Nor were the Indian states kindly when fighting each other.”

      The number of Indian civilian deaths dramatically declined with British rule, and that doesn’t include the British defeat of the Goddess Kali based Thuggee Sect, which according to political scientist David C. Rapoport an estimate of 500,000 were killed by the Thugs, making them the most destructive terrorist group in history. According to other estimates, the Thugs murdered 1 million people…


      However, the ultimate foundation upon which British foreign policy lay, other than national self defense, was to ‘Make the World England’, hence a more secure and peaceful world; bringing peace can’t be achieved with words alone, barring the return of Jesus, of course.

      • John Andrews

        Thank you. I can understand that, living in India, criticising the British goes down well with William Dalrymple’s friends, and it is good for nations to be self-critical. But we need to maintain a sense of proportion and to weigh evidence for the ‘prosecution’ against evidence for the ‘defense’.

        • Bonkim

          Evidence gets flawed or gilted over after the passage of time. Hence all this is idle prattle.

          • Raja Mani

            idle but necessary prattle, atleast to debunk those who keep harping on ancient wrongs. pakistan today is ruled by sharia and has very little of the british handed over judiciary. in india it is still a functioning check and balance to the executive and legislative branches of government. india for all its warts is a functioning democracy, a feisty free for all maybe corrupted but still every 5 years the rascals have to come with a begging bowl for the vote of the masses. i agree that india’s woes are all self inflicted.. the last hurrah of the caste system.

          • Bonkim

            Don’t get too hung up on Pakistan. The territory East of the indus beyond the Punjab and Scindh was ungovernable even in British times. Periodic punitive expeditions and bribing local war-lords kept the peace relatively speaking and British Laws did not exist – local trbal laws and customs prevailed. The situation is no different today – note the continuing military expedition to suppress tribal uprisings exacerbated in recent decades by the rise of the Taliban and militant Islam. Pakistan will disintegrate in the next few decades.

            Indian democracy is a total farce.For a huge landmass and diverse ethnic, sectarian, cultural and linguistic groups Westminister style national Parliament is a joke. the MPS have little connection with the local population and Party symbols/religious/sectarian and class/caste/linguistic fractional politics is the norm – the average person on the street has no clue whether the professed policies of the parties will be translated into anything meaningful to them apart from the price of rice or petrol or the numerous determinants of their daily routine – all this could be delivered more efficiently by a Dictator or as was the case previously by the Colonial Government.

            Give Indians Cricket and Bollywood and few Rupees to travel to see their favourite Gods, Goddesses or Swamis and they will remain happy and wag their tails – ask them to think a little beyond the daily necessities and they are out of their depth unable to link cause and effect. Most are powerless to change and so stick to their pre-ordained course, arranged marriages, holiday trips, and cramming for examinations, emigrating , and making money taking advantage of whatever means are available now here. Tomorrow is too far to think about.

          • KingOfGondor

            ask them to think a little beyond the daily necessities and they are out of their depth unable to link cause and effect.

            True, but people in rich countries aren’t too much more enlightened either. Let there be a small setback (like a recession), and you will see all kinds of theories and blame-games cropping up, one of the most common ones being immigrant-scapegoating.

            All of the failings of the Indian political culture were also present in American political culture throughout the 1800s. Fixing the system required the emergence of a powerful and aspirational middle class that sought reforms, and it still took about 3 generations to fix the problems. Lots of ink has been spilled on these topics; Francis Fukuyama’s latest book is one such, check it out if you are interested.

          • Bonkim

            Different social organisation – aspirational middle class in India is greedy and does not have the value system, equality of human beings within the tribe and work ethic that prevailed in the Anglo-Saxon Protestant society that colonised North America and made it what id developed into in the 20th century – helped of course by massive natural resources and flow of immigrants from the old world in search of a new life and escape from poverty and oppression. Indian society is stuck in the past, stratified and whilst dynamic in terms of aspiring for riches is too fragmented and class and caste-ridden to be united and striving for a common cause. The work ethic is also poor and those that work hard are not rewarded adequately.

        • Raja Mani

          i am not so sure about that. dalrymple sure has a following in india. but today, the raj is viewed by most as history. and thanks to the british most of our ancient surviving artifacts have remained intact, and codified. overall, i think, the arrival of the british, provided an avenue for the hindus to get a democracy going in india. just compare that with pakistan. and without the british, india would have been one big pakistan.

          • Bonkim

            Pakistan also had the same beginning and similar Constitution.

            Britain is a convenient scapegoat for all India’s problems – most don’t realise that you cannot take wealth from a people and that wealth is not money in the bank or material artefacts but the ability to create tangible goods and services continuously. India had plenty of time since 1947 to sort out its Constitution. judicial and administrative systems, develop infrastructure and set up business and technology systems to world standards but has failed to do so despite the 1billion + population, abundant natural resources, a world class railway system, and significant numbers of educated and talented people. Development is the result of social organisation – not technology or capital investment.

            look at Germany or Japan that rose up from the ashes of WW2. It is a mind-set.

            India’s woes are mostly self-inflicted and arising from a stone-age social organisation and multi-layered discriminatory and exploitative class, caste and sectarian differential system.

          • KingOfGondor

            Indeed, Britain seems to be a convenient scapegoat for many of our nationalists who would prefer to ignore the failings of our people and our culture (our == Indian).

            Yet that should not blind us to the facts about the truly negative consequences of English rule we are still living with today. By no means were these negative consequences intentional; I strongly believe the British tried to build a fair administrative system and infrastructure (definitely after 1857, but also before it.) Yet the earlier plunder and misrule of the East India Company left India way behind, and a perennial laggard when it came to growth. In other words, the British first brought an Asian country down to the level of a sub-Saharan African country, and then tried their best to lift it up.

            What are the negative consequences we are still living with? The British mode of administration created a separate elite class of bureaucrats and decision-makers who had unlimited power and were not accountable to the people. We tried to fix the accountability part by instituting democratic procedures after ’47, but it really never succeeded fully. All that happened was that the white Sahibs were replaced by brown Sahibs. Second, the Indian elite got very anglicized to the extent that they grew at least as comfortable in English as in their native languages. Now, a lot of people today argue that this is a good thing. It keeps a multi-lingual country nominally united, and it gives our college graduates a chance to participate in the global economy. Yet, the flip side is that this has created a permanent two-tier society, in which knowledge of English puts one in the upper class, and not being fluent in English relegates one to a lower stratum, with no chance of social mobility. One way this can change is if everyone were forced to learn English, but that would result in the death of Indian languages (and literature, and history). Do we really want that?

            There are other negative consequences, but the above will suffice for an anonymous internet comment. Really, the lessons of history are that foreign domination is never good for the dominated population, however well-intentioned the dominators are, unless the dominated people get so completely dominated that they eventually become part of the “master” group, or deeply identify with them. In India, only an Anglicized elite, and formerly the Anglo-Indians, succeeded in identifying with the English, but the rest of the people (who, like people everywhere in the world, like to hold on to their language and culture) got relegated to a subordinate status.

          • Bonkim

            The question you should really ask is why a population of 1.2billion + with significant part educated and affluent are unable to think for themselves and bring about the changes necessary to come out of centuries old slavish mindset.

            The British only filled the vacuum created by the disintegration of the previous Mughal Empire. In any case India as you see today was the creation of the British – as previously the subcontinent was a collection small and large kingdoms and empires with a multitude of religions, sects, languages and cultures. Even in 1947 travelling by train from Travancore to Calcutta one passed through many language, cultural, and ethnic barriers of no less contrast that say travelling from Britain to Russia. The situation is not much different despite the Central organisation, defence, monetary and other trappings of the Republic of India and the urban conurbations where populations from different states still continue to live in voluntary apartheid – different schools, social and cultural institutions, Clubs, even markets and shops for food, etc..

          • KingOfGondor

            Oh, I ask myself that question quite often, and read a lot of stuff about why different countries or cultures turned out differently. Part of the answer lies in your very question. It is not enough for some “significant part” of the population to be educated and affluent. The actual value of that fraction matters. A LOT. Also, that fraction needs to command the respect of (and hold influence over) a majority of the population. That’s just not tenable today, with our fully democratic system; people are responding to different forces, like identity, and will continue to do so until the general education and affluence level increases.

            Regarding your comment about different languages and different cultural institutions, etc.: I’m not sure what your point is. Were you expecting India to have converged to one monoculture and one common language (English or not)? How in the absence of a brutal dictatorship (like the Chinese or Russian ones) that forced a lot of people to give up their ancestral languages at pain of death or exile would such a convergence have come about? On the other hand, a soft form of assimilation has occurred around the culture of Bollywood, cricket, and national universities. The last might sound surprising, but I think that our national level competitive exams and the resulting mix of students in our various national universities is creating a lot of common ground among the youth.

            Sometimes I think the Indian experiment has failed, and it would be better for different states to split on the basis of language; the current setup causes too much human deprivation. But then I wonder if it would be possible to retain a common security blanket, in the absence of which I fear many of these states would be sitting ducks in front of larger powers. It’s a tough one!

          • Bonkim

            Go back to basics.Cause and effect. History, location, religion moulds cultures across the globe. Social organisation/order/work ethic in China was robust over more than two Millennia. Mao’s communism simply gave it another collective form which gave it strength to come out of foreign domination.

            Britain started to be a risk taker on the back of breaking links with the backward Church of Rome and gave respect to the individual; Sea-faring, exploration and enterprise fostered first a trading Empire then a political one. For a small population release of individual potential allowed the whole to be enriched – in fact much of the British Empire was build on local negotiation and winning over local powers based on mutual benefit and judicial use of force on occasion. Even there most of the local Chiefs and foot-soldiers of the Empire were locals that saw the British as a better bet than the local Nawabs that fleeced them. British justice and fair play were seen as impartial compared with the corrupt and class/caste-ridden social norms on the subcontinent. Hence a small number of people from thousands of miles away were able to control diverse lands with massive populations.

            Trading is always based on making use of ones advantage – no different in today’s world trade. Businesses make profit that enrich a few. So blaming the British from profiting from the Empire is absurd. Look around how the world is hooked on to products and services across the globe and paying the price with a few raking in the profits. Most multinationals play governments to gain tax and other advantages to jack up their profits. Indian entrepreneurs are also in the same game getting what they can in various markets. Talk of Empire and wealth transfer, etc, a hundred years ago therefore mean little.

            Judging the past based on today’s values and perceptions have little meaning. People did what they did in the past based on their location, history and cultural mindsets of the time. Feeling guilty or expecting restitution for past perceived wrongs is also meaningless.

            India and Indians had over six decades since Independence to sort themselves out. Look around countries that were flattened by wars and revolutions but managed to re-build and recover without blaming others for their plight.

          • KingOfGondor

            You touch upon a number of things in your comment. Let me see what I can deal with.

            Businesses make profit that enrich a few. So blaming the British from
            profiting from the Empire is absurd. Look around how the world is hooked
            on to products and services across the globe and paying the price with a
            few raking in the profits.

            The East India Company stopped being a business in any fair sense of the word by the mid-1700s. Revenue collection (from the conquered provinces) became its main occupation, which is what made both the officials and the stockholders rich. It’s one thing to make a lot of money by providing a scarce commodity to customers, or even charge a premium on a product customers may desire (like an iPad today), but these situations involve non-coercive exchange of goods. When the British, especially the EEC, ruled India, nothing was non-coercive, whatever gloss one may wish to put on it. I regard it as fundamentally different from “business”. On the other hand, it was very similar to what the Mughals and other conquerors of the past had done; plain old rent-seeking. The key difference again was that the rent extracted from the population went to the European (or even American) economy. However exploitative the Mughals and other warlords had been, their ill-gotten gains went back into the Indian economy (they after all patronized artisans, masons, farmers, and hired soldiers). That did not make India an “equal” society, far from it, but India was not driven to penury the way it was in the early decades of EEC and Crown rule.

          • Bonkim

            Tax collection and administration were subcontracted by the Rulers from ancient times to local land owners at various levels – even the Bible refers to these. Paid civil service organisation as we know today did not exist.

            The Land and revenue administration was managed by the East India Co more or less in the way they inherited from the previous Mughal Nawabis, Jagirdars, Zamindars, etc. Only the chain ultimately led to the East India Co.

            The lower end were the most oppressive as they were the one that had to collect from the poor peasant farmers – a portion of the produce. Yes oppression of those at the bottom level was the norm in India and all other parts of the world. Look up Indian/Bengali literature of the 19th and 20th Centuries. They don’t blame the British for their lot – but their own Zamindars and their agents that fleeced the common man.

            The lot of the share-croppers in the US or the peasants of Europe/Russia was not a lot better despite the sightly better Church and civil organisation and commandments of the Judaeo Christian religions to be fair.

          • KingOfGondor

            I think your comment is generally accurate. But based on what I have read, EIC tax collection differed from native tax collection in that it was too inflexible and did not allow deviations from tax goals, even in years when crop yields were low, rainfall levels were low, etc. Basically, the English imposed their own rules of land tenure and taxation on Bengal, the result being calamitous for the local peasants. And the middlemen were of course blamed by the peasants; it was they who interacted directly with the latter, but then they had inflexible goals imposed on them from above (by the British). Could the middlemen have behaved better with the peasants and dealt better deals? Without a doubt. But the people higher up deserve their share of the blame for not trying to understand the country and the people they were governing. In fact, this situation is quite similar to large, ossified corporations today; executives frame goals that are communicated to the managers (middlemen), who then push their poor underlings to deliver stuff under over-aggressive deadlines; the result inevitably is that the harassed low-level staff gets burned out, with little negative impact on the managers and execs.

          • Bonkim

            Discussing this loosely has its dangers and we have bo clue as to the mindsets of the people involved.

            I have no problem accepting the folllowing:

            “General Clive of the British East India Company gaining the right to collect taxes in Bengal in 1765
            (The British Library: Foster 29)The British took full advantage of this. By the 1780s they had a lot of influence over all of the rulers of the southeast coast of India. They also ruled Bengal. Bengal’s large population and wealthy princes offered tremendous opportunities for the British East India Company and they built up their wealth and their military power there. By the 1780s the Company employed 15,000 British troops and over 70,000 Indian troops.

            There is a lot of debate about how the British were able to gain the power and influence they did, because many of the Indian states were extremely well organised and powerful. Britain simply did not have the resources to invade India and conquer it by force. However, British leaders were very effective in choosing which princes they allied with, and which ones they fought.”

            Needless to say the EIC was interested in making a profit for the shareholders and despite increasing taxes made a loss. Thw way the Diwanis and Zamindaris functioned at the time was through utter ruthlessness. So forget any comparison of morality between the Indian and British Rules of the time. It was customary for pretty women in the territory to be taken into the Nawab’s Harem – different times/different standards.

            The increase in tax on Tea in the American colonies was a direct result of the situation in Bengal/Bihar; drought and famine ( 1769/70), also the policy of opening up land for commercial crops such as indigo, which took away land that previously grew rice. Yes they were harsh times and those at the bottom suffered hardship. Look around today similar forces are in action with many farmers on the brink and crop-production land being taken over be mining, industrial and housing sectors – many farmers are committing suicide because of rising costs, and having to take loans from money lenders – different scale but the same themes run all through history and across the world. The 18th and 19th centuries saw huge changes in human societies across the Globe and transformation in the way society, economics, and technology interacted.

            Trying to blame this or that group of people for perceived inequality, misery, and historic hurts achieves little. What really hurts Indians is the fact that (although there was no India in 1760 or 1800s), a population of over 200Million in 1800 allowed a very small number of people from a far away land (Britain’s population at the time ~ 10Million) to dominate their life and history.

            Were they any better under say Auranghazeb and later Mughals, Nawabs, and Diwanis, and more importantly is today’s 1.2+ Billion people, particularly those at the bottom rungs have any greater security and control over the politicians and civil servants that govern today’s India (which did not exist in 1800).

          • KingOfGondor

            Blaming the masses and relying on the educated and better off elite does
            not strengthen a society. Social organisation has to respect all in the
            organisation and give all their fair share of the collective gains.

            I wasn’t blaming anyone; neither the masses nor the bourgeois. I was just trying to say that the relative numbers dictated the mode of governance. Middle classes want clean and efficient governance, and protection of property and contract. Now, of course, the masses want those things too, but since they often have little or no property and might even be living hand-to-mouth, these goodies don’t figure high on their list of priorities. They would rather fight for short term goals that will keep them afloat for a while; if they happen to get lucky and move up into the middle class, their goals suitably change. But while they are in the lower classes, they are far more likely to support populist politicians who will promise them goodies in the near term, but make no promises to clean up governance; indeed, populist politicians generally seek office to enrich themselves and their families, and have no higher goals.

            In India, we have generally not crossed the threshold where middle-class priorities are strong enough to influence appropriate political action. Except maybe in some highly urbanized areas. Delhi, I think, has been teetering on the edge. The AAP has some middle-class priorities but also many populist ones. It remains to be seen where this will lead us.

          • Bonkim

            Regrettably numbers will win in a democracy however ill-educated or poor. So your main problem is that you have something to protect from those that have nothing to lose.

            The solution may be to see how to transform the masses of have nots to a level so they have ownership and will work to safeguard the whole. That is where the selfish and greedy Indian value system differs from the British or other European historically and culturally. even the detestable Islamic IS look at all having a share in what they have and hence able to unite against the Kafirs. Many Indian thinkers and authors have commented on these themes over a century back.

          • KingOfGondor

            India and Indians had over six decades since Independence to sort
            themselves out. Look around countries that were flattened by wars and
            revolutions but managed to re-build and recover without blaming others
            for their plight.

            True, but those countries (say, Germany or Japan) knew exactly what their identities, culture, and values, were. I think you underestimate how many moving parts existed in India even just after independence. Lots of problems existed but were punted upon during the drafting of the constitution. The same happened during the drafting of the US constitution; they punted on the slavery issue, which kept getting more and more serious, finally culminating in a civil war. Would you blame the US of the 1850s for not sorting itself out? Or would you rather India had its own version of China’s bloody Spring and Autumn Period? For better or worse, India chose the path of meandering through democratic parliamentary negotiation. When peoples’ lives are not at stake (as in a war), they will necessarily take longer to “sort themselves out”.

            India is not going to fix itself soon, most likely not in my lifetime (I’m in my mid-30s). But I think it is grossly incorrect to say that India has made no progress since ’47. For anyone who wants to live in a developed country within their lifetime, the knowledge of such slow progress provides little comfort. Since we are aware of the existence of well-functioning countries around the world, and many of us can even go live there for a while, we know what’s missing in our country. But progress is organic; it cannot be sped up beyond a point, and draconian shifts are almost always counterproductive.

          • Bonkim

            Independent minded people shape their history, servile mindsets allow others to shape their history.

            The key to progress is social organisation. India is not strictly a nation state – a hotch potch of ethnicities, religions, and cultures shaped into a political entity by a departing colonial power. The main difference between the US and India – the European immigrants in North America organized, and rebelled against the colonial power and fought to gain independence. Indian independence was a negotiated settlement between a small elite group of western educated people and imbibed with the same value system as the colonial power; social, economic, and political changes were taking place across the Globe in the first half of the 20th century. Most Indians whilst buying Khadi or joining street Hartals did very little to get their Independence. Most Indians at the time thought the British Raj was a good thing and most benefited within its constraints, had fair justice and economic security.

            Face the fact – India is a sub-continent and ruled by external aggressors for centuries/Millennia – even the Epics – Mahabharata and Ramayana are stories of outside invasders spreading across a land subjugating the native population. The local populations in the various states have little control over their politicians or representatives in Delhi – democracy in India equates to being able to vote in the periodic elections – even at the local government levels people have little control over their elected representatives or the administrative and legal machinery.

          • Jay Zaim


          • John Andrews

            No doubt I am prejudiced (by being British) but yes: it seems to me that it was better for India to be under British influence/control (from, say, 1858 to 1947) than to be under Mughal influence/control. One example is the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

          • KingOfGondor

            I guess India being under “Indian” control is not something you can countenance, eh? BTW…lots of Indians consider the Mughals to be foreign interlopers and tyrants, though some of them (like Akbar) had redeeming qualities.

            If British rule of India was so wonderful, explain away the following: India (collectively, as it was not a unified political entity) was the second largest economy in the world in the early 1700s. After a century and a half of British rule (around 1900), India’s share of world GDP had fallen to 3%.

            But hey, who cares about trivial things like GDP when an ASI will do? After all, it’s just one 3-letter acronym in favor of another.

          • John Andrews

            Your guess is wrong.

  • Sean L

    “We must never forget. . .” Chance would be a fine thing. And it’s not as if your beloved Muslims are forever recalling their imperial conquests. Though in their case it’s an ongoing project . . . At least you’re doing your bit for it.

    • “Though in their case it’s an ongoing project…”

      No it’s not, ever since the West allowed the spread of Islam into its realm. The so-called so-called “War on Terror” is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.
      *Islam no longer has any need of Jihad to spread the message, since the message is doing the spreading itself.

      • FedUpIndian

        “This is strictly forbidden in Islam, the murder of women and children
        being especially repugnant to true believers, as is so for true

        The true Scotsman fallacy needs to be renamed to the true Muslim fallacy.

        Killing infidel women and children was forbidden in Islam because they were more valuable alive – they were enslaved and sold like cattle. Young girls and women were made into sex slaves. You can go to Rotherham or just about any English town and see this for yourself.

        • “Young girls and women were made into sex slaves. You can go to Rotherham or just about any English town and see this for yourself.”

          Those are MI5 fake Muslims, used to keep the hatred of Muslims on our minds. In fact, there was no sex slave scandal in Rotherham to speak of. As if! It was all made up and you bought it, because most people are easily manipulated.

          Where are the multitudes of affected families of Rotherham? Where are the demonstrations demanding the resignations of the Rotherham city government/police officials? Why are those officials still working for the city?

          • FedUpIndian

            Permit me to educate you about your own religion:
            “The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him)
            sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives.

            Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: (Sura 4:24) “And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” (Abu Dawud 2150, also Muslim 3433).”

            Rape of infidel women is permitted by Koran 4:24, your “holy” book.

            Give it up, “Dean Jackson”. Taqiyya and kitman can fool some people some of the time etc. but most people have become wise to the true nature of Islam. It’s time to reform your religion instead of telling lies.

          • “And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” (Abu Dawud 2150, also Muslim 3433).”

            That verse means one is forbidden to marry those who are already married, but one can marry one’s slaves. You forgot to mention verse 4:23, which gives proper context to verse 4:24…

            ‘Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives’ mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.’


            Verse 4:24 means Muslims may marry their slaves.

            “It’s time to reform your religion instead of telling lies.”

            I’m a Christian, currently spreading the recent discoveries I made over the last three years concerning who Rome and Jewish authorities knew Jesus to be, as my comment to the following article explains…


  • Though the life expectancy of Indian females at Independence in 1947 was 27,* and the average life expectancy for Indians was 32,** the following numbers illustrates the failure, to date, for any discussion of what these alarming statistics tell use concerning the abuse of females in India…

    Life expectancy in India recorded in 1947 was 32…

    But female life expectancy in 1947 India was…



    Since females live, on average, at least 2 years longer than males, the actual life expectancy for both female and male in 1947 should have read …



    We’re looking at a 7-year life expectancy deficit for females in 1947 India!


    • Bonkim

      Abuse of females in India is taken as normal and hence the lack of any discussion on the subject.

      • “Abuse of females in India is taken as normal and hence the lack of any discussion on the subject.”

        But the silence from the rest of the world is deafening, and the silence from the demographic community is troubling, to say the least, and begs hard questions.

        • Bonkim

          All such scores are comparative and time and medical science/general level of economic development have moved on. India ranks below Burma, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan – 150th out of 193 countries – not much to be proud of. Individual States like Kerala score high in international comparisons, also literacy and general development index – so parts of India must be at abysmal levels. The Northern Heartland of India where much of the population is concentrated still live under stone-age social conditions.

          • “so parts of India must be at abysmal levels.”

            Yeah, near 1947 levels, though that means there are regions of India that score the global average of a positive five year spread for female life expectancy against that of Indian males.

          • Bonkim

            Also proves India is not a nation-state in the conventional definition of the term. India comprises 16 to 20 distinct linguistic groups and hundreds of diverse dialects, cultures and faiths although some homogenisation amongst the urban Western-educated classes. Life in the rural districts not far from the urban areas goes on as before with petty hierarchical and sectarian politics dominating the large disadvantaged classes. Comparing education levels, literacy and social organisation/welfare within the definitions of the International rankings is meaningless. I have no time for these statistical mirror tricks invented by international consultants for the UN who make a good living out of the exercise. The people on the ground know what the circumstances are for them and what is keeping them back but powerless within the class/caste politics of India dominated by powerful business and religious groups.

          • “The people on the ground know what the circumstances are for them and what is keeping them back but powerless within the class/caste politics of India dominated by powerful business and religious groups.”

            And it’s Marxists who are impeding the further social uplifting of all classes of Indians. All Indian institutions were long ago co-opted by Marxists, as is the case too for the West.

          • Bonkim

            Funny you should say that – social organisation and economic and well-being indicators in Kerala are equal to or greater than they are in many Advanced western democracies. Kerala was governed by democratically elected Communist Governments for decades from the 1950s. Kerala has the highest literacy and higher educational achievements amongst men and women exceeding that in many developed countries, and more importantly there is real equality between the male and females – and that extends even to its large Muslim population. Kerala people are also venturesome and punch above their weight in business, technology, and civil administration both within and outside India. Kerala also has birth-rates lower than many western countries – 1.5 per couple. You need to stop your anti-socialist tirades.

          • “Funny you should say that – social organisation and economic and well-being indicators in Kerala are equal to or greater than they are in many Advanced western democracies.”

            There are ten Indian states that outperform Kerala’s per capita income…


            …and Kerala has the highest suicide rate in India (25.63 per 1,000)…


            National Capital Delhi has 11.79 suicide cases per 1,000 population, and New Delhi scores second highest in per capita income (behind Goa), so something other than development is causing many suicides in India. In fact, ‘Kerala tops even in farmers suicide. 147.28 farmers per 1,000 population commit suicide in Kerala every year.’ Farming isn’t associated with the pressures of development/urbanization.

            Something strange is taking place in India, and I smell a rat.

          • Bonkim

            Once again – link causes and effects – New Delhi is the Capital and large proportion of its population are temporary residents. Per capita income has nothing to do with well-being – and suicide rates – people have choices – Kerala is dense packed with many working abroad and it is quite possible today’s lifestyle pace has its downside. People take on debt to keep up appearances or for marriages, etc, Kerala has its share of the backward Indian social culture despite most trying to come out.

            At the rate populations are exploding across the Globe and resources running out India’s population should be cut down to less than 300Million as it was in the 1930s for people to have space. It is at present 1.2billion+ and could go to 1.5billion+ in the next few years unless birth rates fall and death rates increase substantially.

          • “Once again – link causes and effects – New Delhi is the Capital and large proportion of its population are temporary residents.”

            So what?

            “Per capita income has nothing to do with well-being”

            Of course it does!

            “At the rate populations are exploding across the Globe and resources running out”

          • Bonkim

            Comparing London with say Gloucestershire. People of Cuba lead a better balanced lifestyle compared with those living in say those in the East End of London or even Washington DC.- don’t be surprised condition for the majority of those living outside the Government areas of DC is pretty dismal. Income has no relation to well-being once basics are catered for.

            Much of Delhi and Mumbai are slums, Delhi air is polluted most of the time, over 60% people in India don’t have clean water or toilets, Delhi law and order situation is dismal, racial and sectarian strife rife as also insecurity for women – bad mannered lot in Delhi – one of the worst locations in India to live. Not many want to live in London or DC either unless you are padded.

          • Be advised…

            I made an error in my original calculations on Indian female/male life expectancy, which you’ll notice clearly with the following correction…

            Average life expectancy in India recorded in 1947 was 32…

            But female life expectancy in 1947 India was…



            Since females live, on average, 5 years longer than males, the actual life expectancy for both females and males in 1947 India should have read …



            We’re looking at a 5-year life (not 10-year as originally posted) expectancy deficit for females in 1947 India!

            That means since 1947 India has achieved a 54% improvement in female life expectancy in relation to Indian males (in addition to correcting the REVERSED gender life expectancy for females, though another 2.3 years is needed to match the global norm),* not the 77% statistic originally posted.

            * 2.7/5 = 54.

          • Bonkim

            Meaningless statistics – Life expectancy in Britain was in the mid-fifties at the same time. Child mortality was very high ~150/1000 births due mainly to epidemic diseases. It does not take a Genius to reason that average life expectancy of the times means nothing – Many Indians relied on their local doctors or Gods to cure their ills often blaming their fate or sins for their plight. People in India were fatalistic and life was cheap low unless you were from the higher or riches Castes and classes. Death and starvation was a perpetual presence and most Indians did not think twice if one or two of a large brood died of disease or other causes.

            You will have to blame the lack of social organisation and social consciousness.

            You will find that life expectancy and infant mortality went up across the Globe since WW2 helped by advances in medical sciences and also international aid and other developments that have narrowed the contrast between the rich and poor countries that was glaring in 1940s.

            One other point you need to note is that regardless of the crude life expectancy and infant mortality rates in different countries – the gap remains stark and that is to do with social inequality and endemic social organisational ills. Blaming the Colonial government is of little merit in this discussion – if you lived in India you will find many from the early 20th century generation living to 80, 90 or a 100 and in good health.

            The other point is the the earth is grossly overpopulated and resources running out. I would stop all medical research and discourage large families – allow nature to kill of the weak – the earth could do with a more maangeable population of say 2 or 3 billion – what it was in the early 20th century. Fiven that the population of India had jumped fro ~330Million in the early 1940s to 1.3Billion today, may be Indians were getting worried about the statistics you had cited and started breeding at a fast rate to make up for the deaths.

          • “Meaningless statistics”

            Not to Indians.

            “The other point is the the earth is grossly overpopulated and resources running out.”

            No such concept as ‘overpopulated’.

  • Vighnesh Magesh

    It is sickening to see the justification in these forum for the british empire in India………According to world bank report India had 23% of world’s GDP in 1820 and when britain left it was 2% of world share…………

  • Amit Sanyal

    None of this should come as shocking or surprising….least of all the fact that the Bengal famine was caused by the hardcore racist Churchill. You can compare a hardcore racist like Churchill, a hardcore Sunni terrorist like the leader of ISIS, and a hardcore nazi like Hitler: and it would be difficult to decide which one of them was most inhuman.

  • Aditya Banerjee

    The argument that Indian and British were both cruel and violent does not present the true picture… Indians can fight to defend their land, but what were the British doing there. Also, calling the mughal regime cruel and the British one as development oriented is nonsense… the mughals can always claim their share of architectural contribution and other systems of law, land management and revenue collection… as relevant to their times. Instead of falling into the leftist-rightist argument… it is better to admit that British was among the last of the “badmaash” empires who jumped at the first sign of technological or warfare superiority to attack and occupy foreign lands… let see how the future plays out

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    We must never forget that the Imperial Tyranny of the British continued as the Indian Republic with the grotesque Indian Constitution, plagiarized from the Government of India Act (1935) by Nehru and Ambedkar who added and enshrined inequality under law, exceptions to the rule of law and “Many Nations, turning the descendants of those who were Hindus before 1921 into Third Class citizens, confiscating their temples, grazing lands, Forests, traditional educational institutions, treasure and common wealth in 1959, to replace one of the World’s major religions with a vacuum where a thousand cults, including the State sponsored Khilafat Gandhi’s “Gita” Cult flourish. A country that has been ground down by the unaccountable and rapacious entrenched Politician-Bureaucrat-Judge-Police Man- Journalist-Crony Kleptocracy, The Indian Republic is more a successor to the East India Company than the intervening British Crown that ruled for a mere 90 years.