Dialogue January - March, 2008 , Volume 9 No. 3
British Raj in India:Myths and the Realities
India as it was when the British came
India, when the British appeared on the scene, was the richest country of the world; it was also a highly educated country. India was the wealthiest country of the world even during the end of the Mughal rule. As Will Durant asserts, “It was the wealth of the 18th century India which attracted the commercial pirates of England and France.”1
Sunderland also informs us about the wealth of India: “This wealth was created by the Hindus’ vast and varied industries. Nearly every kind of manufacture or product known to the civilised world — nearly every kind of creation of man’s brain and hand, existing anywhere, and prized either for its utility or beauty — had long, long been produced in India. India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe or than any other in Asia. Her textile goods — the fine products of her looms in cotton, wool, linen and silk — were famous over the civilised world; so were her exquisite jewellery and her precious stones cut in every lovely form; so were her pottery, porcelains, ceramics of every kind, quality, colour and beautiful shape; so were her fine works in metal — iron, steel, silver and gold. She had great architecture — equal to beauty to any in the world. She had great engineering works. She had great merchants, great businessmen, great bankers and financiers. Not only was she the greatest ship-building nation, but she had great commerce and trade by land and sea which extended to all known civilised countries. Such was the India which the British found when they came.”2
Even Robert Clive, who defeated the Nawab of Bengal at Plassey, said thus about the riches of the country: “When I think of the marvelous riches of that country, and the comparatively small part which I took away, I am astonished at my own moderation.”3
Thomas Macaulay, in his address to British Parliament on February 2, 1835, revealed India’s moral and cultural status and how he wanted to change it. He said: “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values. People of such calibre that I never think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”4
He further wrote: “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern — a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and intellect.”
While even a colonial administrator like Macaulay saw both positives and negatives in India, there were many such as Ms Mayo, author of Mother India, and Charles Grant, a missionary, who saw only the negatives. For Grant, India was backward, depraved, wretched and amoral, as it was a Hindu and not Christian nation. The missionaries in India wanted complete liberty to denigrate Hinduism and convert Indians to Christianity.
Grant writes: “In the worst parts of Europe, there are no doubt a great number of men who are sincere, upright and conscientious. In Bengal, a man of real veracity and integrity is a great phenomenon; one conscientious in whole of his conduct, is to be feared, is an unknown character… Power entrusted to a native of Hindoostan seldom fails to be exercised tyrannically, or perverted to the purpose of injustice. Official or ministerial employment of all sorts, in all gradations is generally used as means of peculation… The distribution of justice… has generally become a traffic in venality; the best cause being obliged to pay for success and worst having the opportunity of purchasing it … Such is the power of money, that no crime is more frequent, hardly any less thought of, than perjury… The apathy, with which a Hindu views all persons and interests unconnected with himself, is such as excites the indignations of Europeans. Patriotism is absolutely unknown in Hindoostan.”5
Strength of the Economy
The strength of Indian economy was due to healthy combination of the agriculture and industry. Indian handicrafts maintained millions of skilled artisans; trade and industries generated wealth. The British systematically destroyed them and thus its economy.
Destruction of Indian Economy
The destruction of Indian economy began soon after the assumption of Diwani of Bengal by the East India Company. It started with plunder and receipt of huge bribes by Clive and his men. Indian trade and industry was systematically destroyed.with tariffs and control; similar was the fate of agriculture by excessive taxation. Land taxes were increased many-fold, breaking the backbone of agriculture; such was the duress that two-third of the population of the provinces under the company fled.6 This happened soon after assumption of Diwani of Bengal by the East India Company.
The destruction of economy was further caused due to huge drain of resources from India to Britain by various ways, such as excessive exports in comparison to that of imports. The British employees in India remitted their earnings to England. British maintained an Army in India at the cost of this pauperised country and thereby further starved it. The British Indian Army, maintained by Indian taxes not only fought fratricidal war to enslave this country, but also for the expansion and protection of the empire elsewhere. Even the development-oriented expenditure in India, such as for railway construction, as mentioned elsewhere, did not serve the economy of this country.
Destruction of Indian Trade and Industry
The plunder, which Clive started, continued even after he left. And what happened to the richest province of India after the British control? Macaulay writes: “During the five years which followed the departure of Clive from Bengal, the misgovernment of the British was carried to such a point as seemed incompatible with the existence of the society… The servants of the company… forced the natives to buy dear and to sell cheap… Enormous fortunes were thus rapidly accumulated at Calcutta, while 30 millions of human beings were reduced to the extremity of wretchedness.”7
The situation was not better elsewhere. The same story of maladministration, extreme exploitation and utter pauperisation was repeated wherever the British control was extended in India. James Mill, writing about Oudh and Karnatak under British rule, was of the opinion that “two of the noblest provinces of India, were, by misgovernment, plunged into a state of wretchedness with which… hardly any part of the earth has anything to compare”.8
The situation remained deplorable. A report of an investigating committee of the House of Commons 1804, said: “It must give pain to an Englishman to think that since the accession of the Company the condition of the people of India has been worse than before.”9 “Under no Government whatever, Hindu or Mohammedan, professing to be actuated by law, was any system so suppressive of the prosperity of the people at large as that which has marked our administration.”10
The fact exposed by a British administrator in Bengal to the House of Commons in 1857 was even more damaging: “The fundamental principle of the English has been to make the whole Indian nation subservient in every possible way, to the interests and benefits of themselves. They have been taxed to the utmost limit; every successive province, as it has fallen into our possession, has been made a field for higher exaction; and it has always been our boast how greatly we have raised the revenue above that which the native rulers were able to extort. The Indians have been excluded from every honour, dignity or office which the lowest Englishman could be prevailed upon to accept.”11
Will Durant has observed that the English in India objected to the competition of their domestic industry with that of India and “resolved that India should be reduced to a purely agricultural country, and be forced in consequence to become a vast market for British machine-made goods”. The Directors of the East India Company gave orders that the production of raw silk should be encouraged and the manufacture of silk fabrics discouraged; that silk-winders should be compelled to work in Company’s factories, and be prohibited under severe penalties from working outside.12 British Parliament discussed ways and means of replacing Indian by British industries. The export of Indian textiles into free trade England was discouraged by placing a tariff of 70-80%, whereas English textiles was imported and sold in India almost duty-free. To further kill the Indian textile industry, an excise tax was levied on Indian textile goods.13
R.C. Dutt cites the opinion of a British historian highlighting the injustice: “It is a melancholy instance of the wrong done to India by the country on which she has become dependent. Had India been independent, she would have retaliated, would have imposed prohibitive duties on British goods, and would thus have preserved her own productive industry from annihilation. This act of self-defense was not permitted her; she was at the mercy of the stranger. The British goods were forced upon her without paying any duty, and the foreign manufacturer employed the arm of political injustice to keep down and ultimately strangle a competitor with whom he could not have contended on equal terms.”14
Martin Montgomery sums up the situation thus: “We have done everything possible to impoverish still further the miserable beings subject to the cruel selfishness of English commerce. Under the pressure of free trade, England has compelled the Hindus to receive the products of the steam-looms of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Glasgow, etc., at merely nominal duties; while the hand wrought manufactures of Bengal and Behar, beautiful in fabric and durable in wear, have heavy and almost prohibitive duties imposed on their importation into England.”15
To avoid further competition, mineral wealth of India was not explored. British monopolised sea trade, too. Indians were neither permitted to build ships, which used to provide employment to thousands in the past16, nor organise a merchant marine of their own.17 As the development of the country was forcibly arrested, India became rural hinterland of industrial England.18
Kuhn observed, “India was transformed into purely agricultural country, and her people lived perpetually on the verge of starvation” under the British rule.19 The end result was devastating, as Will Durant Observes: “The vast population which might have been comfortably supported by a combination of tillage and industry, became too great for the arid soil; and India was reduced to such penury that to-day nothing is left of her men, her women and her children but empty stomachs and fleshless bones.”20
Purchasing India with Indian Money
During 1858, just after India’s “First War of Independence”, when the criminality of the East India Company was thoroughly exposed, “the British Government took over the captured and plundered territories as a colony of the Crown; a little island took over half a continent. England paid the Company handsomely, and added the purchase price to the public debt of India, to be redeemed, principal and interest (originally at 10.5%) out of the taxes put upon Hindu people. All the debts on the Company’s books together with accrued interest on these debts were added to the public obligations of India, to be redeemed out of the taxes put upon the Hindu people. Exploitation was dressed now in all the forms of Law—i.e. the rules laid down by the victors for the vanquished. Hypocrisy was added to brutality, while the robbery went on.”21 This was a unique case of the bankruptcy of the British morality.
Enslaving India at the Cost of Indian Blood and Resources (Taxes)
In another similar case of the type, stated earlier, India was not only forced to pay for the Army used for fighting fratricidal war in this country and enslaving her, but also for fighting colonial wars for the benefit of the British elsewhere.
Thus, the British continued to utilise Indian men and resources (taxes) to enslave her and for colonial wars in Burma/Myanmar, Afghanistan, Africa, France, etc. Will Durant22 has mentioned about John Morley’s estimate of 111 wars fought by the British in India during 19th century, “using for most part Indian troops,23 millions of Hindus shed their blood that India might be slave. The cost of these wars for the conquest of India was met to the last penny out of Indian taxes; the English congratulated themselves on conquering India without spending a cent.24 Certainly it was a remarkable, if not a magnanimous, achievement, to steal in forty years a quarter of a million square miles, and make the victim pay every penny of the expense.”25
“India paid $45 crore for the “wars fought for England outside of India with Indian troops” during the 19th century. India contributed $50 crore to the war chest of the Allies, $70 crore in subscription to the war loans, eight lakh soldiers, four lakh labourers to defend the British Empire outside of India during World War I.26 This army of fratricide consumed 64% of the total revenue of India in 1922. The empire, which was starving 10 million Indians to death every year, was using its army at its cost to fight fratricidal war in Burma and to defend the empire on the fields of Flanders.27 No other army in the world consumed so large proportion of the public revenue.28 The same story was repeated during World War II. The drain became more acute after the creation of “Royal Indian Navy” with the intention of using it anywhere for the interest of the empire.
England had to bring British troops during 1857 uprising in India, for which “it charged India with the cost not only of transporting them, maintaining them in India, and bringing them back home, but with their maintenance in Great Britain for six months before they sailed. 29
Bonded Labour and Begar
The British introduced the system of ‘bonded labour’ and beggar (forced free labour; taking work without payment; such system was prevalent in Europe, but not in India). Whenever British army used to pass through any region, people of 34-35 different occupation – sellers of flour/rice/sweets/tobacco/meat/vegetables/oil/ghee etc, weavers, carpenters, blacksmiths, coolies, etc — used to accompany them to provide free service. About 300-400 bullock carts, horses/mules/camels also used to accompany them to render them free service. Otherwise, the British army used to plunder the area and punish the people. Begar system, first introduced in India by the British in 1770, was utilised in big way throughout the country. A hill road, 300-400 miles long and four yards wide, was constructed with forced free labour in Shimla when the area came under British control.30
Railways to Promote British Interests
The greatest revenue from Indian Railways during pre-Independence period was not from the transportation of goods, as in America, but from the third class passengers. This was, because the traders’ interests were taken care of by their representatives, who controlled the Railways. There used to be no Indian member in the Railway Board. The Railways were incurring loss every year and were helped by ever-increasing loans from the public revenue. The British Construction Companies, working under strict state monopoly, were guaranteed by the colonial Government a minimum rate of interest on their investment; had no risk of any kind. “All the losses” in running the Railways, as Will Durrant observed, “are borne by the people; all the gains are gathered by the traders”.31
Like Railways, the construction of Irrigation works also did not benefit the Indian peasants due to over-taxation. The peasants remained equally bad off as before.32 Many new forest areas opened for cultivation by poverty stricken over-taxed farmers gradually became arid wastes due to lack of re-forestation.33
Drain on India through Trade, Services and the Tributes
In the field of trade India suffered due to excessive surplus of exports over imports, which during the days of company, used to be even ten times, as $30,000,000 exports and $3,000,000 imports.34 Later, it was found to be in the ratio of 3:1. The most striking part was that the British created a shameless myth that India, which was almost starved and made naked by their immoral plunder and mismanagement, imported gold and silver with the excess money. Another explanation provided in 1853 was that the difference was the tribute which Britain received from this country.35
A document privately addressed by the British Government in India to British Parliament revealed other remittances to that country. It said: “Great Britain, in addition to the tribute which she makes India pay her through the customs, derives benefits from the savings of the services of the three presidencies (the provinces of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay) being spent in England instead of in India; and in addition to these savings, which probably amount to $500,000,000, she derives benefit from the fortunes realized by the European mercantile community, which are all remitted to England.”36
The fortunes, dividends and profits made in India were remitted to England. Not only every rupee of profit made by an Englishman was lost for ever to India,37 but also the salaries and pensions earned in this country by them. There were about 7,500 pensioners in England drawing $17,500,000 in pensions from the Indian revenue in the late 1930s. An Englishman serving in India was required to put 24 years of service, reduced by four years of furloughs, and then he was given generous pension for life. The officials usually sent their families or children to live in England with the funds derived from this country.38 They mostly consumed goods purchased from abroad, except for perishable food items.39 Two factors, related to employment of the officials by the British, which adversely affected Indian economy, need special mention. These were: (i) comparatively very high salary of the employees, especially the European ones; and, (ii) employment of the British/Europeans on the higher posts with higher salaries and perks, even when Indians of comparable or even higher abilities were available for the same. In reality, Indians were not employed on higher posts and were comparatively paid far less. This added to the drain of resources further from India to the England.
Traditional Indian rulers used to live simple life. The situation changed after British takeover. The case of the Maharana of Mewar is cited in this paper. The topmost officer of Tipu Sultan, the governor of Chitradurga, was getting only Rs 100 per month. A labourer at that time was getting Rs 4 a month. The English District Collector and the member of the Governor’s Council started getting Rs 1,500 and Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000 respectively soon after that. On the other hand, the wages of the labourers and the craftsmen fell to one-third or at best half in 1850 in comparison to that in 1760 in Karnataka.40 This story was repeated throughout the country.
Industrial Revolution with the Stolen Fund of India
Edmund burke, as early as in 1783, predicted that the annual drain of Indian resources to England without equivalent return would eventually destroy India.41 As computed by Brooks Adam, the drain of India’s wealth to England within 57 years, between Plassey to Waterloo, was $2.5 billion to $5 billion42; and, “it was this stolen wealth from India supplied England with free capital for the development of mechanical inventions, and so made possible the Industrial Revolution.43 As estimated by Dutt in 1901, one-half of the net revenue of India flowed annually out of the country, never to return.44
India became Land of Famines, Diseases and Death
Ruthless exploitation and drain of resources converted India into the land of famines, diseases and death. RC Dutt says: “So great an economic drain out of the resources of the land, would impoverish the most prosperous countries on earth; it has reduced India to a land of famines more frequent, more widespread and more fatal, than any known before in the history of India, or of the world.”45 It needs mention that one-third of the Bengal’s population died due to famine during 1769-71, soon after the establishment of the British rule. Francois Goutier observes: “the greatest famine that happened in India was under the British rule. In 1947, there had been starvation. According to British statistics one million Indians died of famine during 1800-1825, 4 million Indians died between 1825-1850, 5 million between 1850 and 1875 and 15 million between 1875 and 1900. About 10% Indians died during the British rule.”46 According to RC Dutt, “There has never been a single year when the food supply of the country was insufficient for the people,”47 and yet millions died of starvation.
In this connection, the observation of Will Durant points to the naked reality: “It was hoped that the railways would solve the problem by enabling the rapid transport of food from unaffected to effected regions; the fact that the worst famines have come since the building of the railways proves the cause has not been the lack of transportation, not the failure of the monsoon rains (though this, of course, is the occasion), nor even over-population (which is a contributory factor); behind all these as the fundamental source of the terrible famines in India, lies such merciless exploitation, such unbalanced exportation of goods, and such brutal collection of high taxes in the very midst of famine,48 that the starving peasants can not pay what is asked for the food that the railways bring them. American Charity has often paid for the relief of the famine in India while the Government was collecting taxes from the dying.”49
High Death Rates
Death rate in India was shockingly very high during British rule. Half of the children born in Bengal used to die before attaining the age of eight. The infant mortality rate in Bombay in 1921 was as high as 666 per thousand. One-half of the death rates were preventable, according to a medical expert.50 A Conscientious Englishman, HM Hyndman, revealed the reality: “Even as we look on, India is becoming feebler and feebler. The very life blood of the great multitude under our rule is slowly, yet ever faster ebbing away.”51
To sum up, it may be relevant to quote Sir Wilfred Seawen Blunt: “India’s famines have been severer and more frequent, its agricultural poverty has deepened, its rural population has more hopelessly in debt, their despair more desperate. The system of constantly enhancing the land values (that is, raising the valuation and assessment) has not been altered. The salt tax… still robs the very poor. What was bad 25 years ago is worse now. At any rate there is the same drain of India’s food to alien mouths. Endemic famines and endemic plagues are facts no official statistics can explain away. Though myself a good Conservative…I own to being shocked at the bondage in which the Indian people are held;…and I have come to the conclusion that if we go on developing the country at the present rate, the inhabitants, sooner or later, will have to resort to cannibalism, for there will be nothing for them to eat.”52
Princely States were less oppressive, more benevolent
Contrary to the general perception due to myths created by colonial scholars and Indian Marxists, the princely states were less oppressive and more benevolent. The situation was better in the princely states. Some of the states, such as Baroda and Mysore, were far ahead of their time. English Bishop Heber wrote in 1826: “Peasantry in Company’s provinces are, on the whole, worse off, poorer and more dispirited than the subjects of the native princes.”53 This despite the fact that the British even tried — and in most of the cases were successful — in making the princes the partners in their plundering game. The pays/allowances/perks of the princes/employees were abnormally increased. The case of the Maharana of Mewar may be cited. As Toad has written, the Maharana was getting Rs 1,000 as the monthly allowance. The state was taken under the British protection in 1818 and within few months, the Maharana started getting Rs 1,000 per day. Most of the princes became self-indulgent. The expenditure under welfare schemes was gradually curtailed.54
As if that was not enough, the British opened separate colleges for the princes at Ajmer and other places aiming at promoting emotional divide between the rulers and their subjects. Princely states — about 500 of them — were further burdened with keeping and maintaining part of the colonial army compulsorily stationed in their territories.
Destruction of Community-maintained Indigenous Education
The British, during the early period of their rule conducted surveys in the Madras and Bombay presidencies to ascertain the state of indigenous education. Madras Report by the Governor, Sir Thomas Munro, was very extensive. Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay was equally extensive. A Report on the State of Education in Bengal was an unofficial report by W Adam, published in three parts during 1835, 1835 and 1838. Punjab came late under British rule in 1849. A Report by GW Leitner, the principal of the Government College, Lahore, and sometime the Director of Public Instruction, Punjab, was published under the title, History of the Indigenous education in the Punjab since Annexation and in 1882. Eminent Gandhian scholar Dharmapal, basing on these surveys and reports and the data collected from British and Indian archives, wrote The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century. These studies bring out realities of the status of education in India during British Raj.55
According to these studies, education was widespread in India. Practically every village in India had one or more school when the British arrived on the scene. According to Adam’s reports, there were then at least one lakh schools in Bihar and Bengal, whereas the number of villages at that time was 150,784. On an average, these states had one school for every 63 students. As the study indicated, even very poor families also used to send their children to the schools. According to Governor Munro, there was possibility of at least one school in every village in the Madras Presidency. He estimated that one-third of the children of the presidency were receiving education, out of which one-fourth were really attending the schools. Girls used to get education mostly at home. According to GL Prendergast, a senior officer of the Bombay Presidency, even a small village of the presidency during 1820 had a school and bigger villages had more than one. Leitner mentions that almost every village of Punjab had a school when the British occupation took place the state in 185056
The situation drastically changed after the arrival of the British. According to an expert, when they came, “there was, throughout India, a system of communal schools, managed by the village communities. The agents of the East India Company destroyed these village communities, and took no steps to replace the schools; even today, after a century of effort to restore them, they stand at only 66% of their number a hundred year ago.”57 All the efforts resulted into establishment of 162,015 primary schools, whereas the number of villages, at that time, stood at 730,000.58 Only 4% of the children (7% of the boys and 1.5% of the girls) received education.59 The tuition fee charged by such Government established schools loomed large to a family always hovering on the edge of starvation.60 The Bills, introduced by Gokhale in 1911 and Patel in 1916 for compulsory primary education in India, were defeated by the British and Government-appointed members.61 The teachers were poorly paid. Till 1921, a primary school teacher in the Madras Presidency was paid only $24-36 a year.
The expenditure of the British India Government on education was only eight cents per head per year,62 whereas it spent 83 cents per head per year on army.63 Even major part of that meagre sum, total of which was less than one-half the educational expenditure in New York State,64 was spent on English medium secondary schools and universities, where, according to an American scholar, “history, literature, customs and morals taught were English, and young Hindus, after striving amid poverty to prepare themselves for college, found that they had merely let themselves in for a ruthless process that aimed to de-nationalise and de-Indianise them, and turn them into imitative Englishmen.65 Overall situation was so pathetic that the British India’s increase in appropriation for the fratricidal army during quarter of a century, between 1882 and 1907, was 21.5 times more ($43,000,000) than that on education ($2,000,000).66 The result was that this country lapsed into illiteracy and ignorance. The illiteracy increased to 93% during the colonial rule of a century-and-a-half in India during the 1920s.67
The facts, mentioned above, clearly expose the myth that the British brought with them education and enlightenment in India. There were other myths also finding currency among Indian intellectual for more than a hundred years about the Brahmins/Dwijas monopolising education. The educational surveys/reports and the study by Dharmapal have shown them to be baseless. These studies reveal that education in India was widespread; all sections of the society, including so-called Dalits, were benefited by the same as students and teachers. As mentioned above, the data counters the popular myth spread by the colonial administrators and Christian missionaries, and later on propagated by the Marxists/Communists, that education in India was monopolised by the Brahmins. In Madras Presidency, less than 25% students attending traditional elementary and advanced institutions of learning were Brahmins, (the percentage in today’s Tamil Nadu was still less); 48.8% were Shudras and 15.7% belonged to still lower castes, including untouchables. The percentage of Brahmin teachers was only 11% in Bihar and Bengal, and that of Brahmin students was less than 25%. Adam’s Report disproved the Christian missionary claim about the education of the Hindu lower castes. As his report shows, 13 missionary schools of Burdwan had only one Chandal, three Dom and not even one Mochi student; the traditional schools had 60, 58 and 16 students respectively of these communities.68
The British were responsible for many social evils in Indian such as drinking and opium eating. India was a sober nation, well-known for the temperance of its people. Warren Hastings said, “The temperance of the people is demonstrated in the simplicity of their food and their total abstinence from spirituous liquors and other substances of intoxication.”69 The East India Company opened saloons for the sale of rum just after the establishment of the very first trading posts. It made handsome profits from the same; the revenue earned from the source in 1922 was thrice the appropriation for schools and colleges. The British introduced opium cultivation also in this country.70
Crushing the Spirit of India, Defeatism and Self-denial
The British, apart from political subjugation, destruction of Indian economy and indigenous system of education, did all other things also which resulted into “pitiful crushing of the Hindu spirit, a stifling of its pride and growth, a stunting of genius that once flourished in every city of the land.”71 As stated, they worked with the fundamental principle to make the whole Indian nation subservient. Their policy in India has been one of political exclusion and social scorn and they gave shape to that policy in real practice. In reality, the English rule, even during the last two decades, “with all its modest improvements” was “destroying Hindu civilisation and the Hindu people.72 The British succeeded in cultivating deep sense of mental defeat, self-pity and inferiority among the Indians.73 This led to India’s self-denial, which persists even today after more than six decades of Independence.74 The British were a microscopic minority in India. For that, (i) they needed Indian intermediaries to help them in governing this vast country; introduced colonial system of education to produce them; (ii) they needed to weaken this country by dividing it socially; followed the policy of ‘divide and rule’; divided Hindus and Muslims, Aryans and Dravidians, Hills and plains, British India and princely states, and promoted similar divisions.
The British summoned European and Indian Scholarship in Service of the Empire. They churned out myths, misinterpreted and denigrated our history, culture, religion and traditions. Indology, anthropology and other social sciences in India basically developed as colonial disciplines. Even Indian history was given colonial orientation. The Indians with colonial education, Indian Marxists and the missionaries were the willing partners in this nefarious game. It needs mention that Karl Marx praised British colonialism. The net result was that the Indians lost self-image. They started viewing themselves, their nation, their society with borrowed eyes/ borrowed vision.
Fossilised Colonial Systems
In this country, the “education system, judiciary, everything was adopted without trying to put the Indian originality into it. Democracy was invented in India. No body says that, not even the textbooks”.75 The leftovers of the colonial period, education system, judiciary, system of policing in India, colonial system of administration, etc, tenaciously persists. The colonial myths persist. The latest discoveries say that Aryan Aggression Theory is a myth. It is still taught in the schools and colleges. We are creating clones in this country who have lost roots. The outdated pattern of Westernised education produces brightest students, but without much grounding in our own culture.76 Our intellectuals go on parroting the negatives discovered or fabricated by the British, forget to talk about positive developments. When the British came, Dalits were not poverty-stricken. They could proudly say, “We make shoes, we are also the soldiers.” They forget the fact that crores of Hindus mingle everyday in factories, mines, trains, trams, schools, colleges, market places, offices, etc, without enquiring about their castes and yet talk about untouchability.
The positive findings about our society by Dharmapal and even many Western scholars are taboo for our intellectuals. England is still a model for them, as it was for Rammohun Roy, and others like him, who were ignorant about the realities of British society. Dharmapal, in his scholarly works, has brought out the fact that democracy and liberality of the British society upto early 19th century was a myth. As Francois Gautier has cited a case of Indians unduly blaming this country outside, he said: “Indians go outside and say that ‘in my country people are persecuted, there is no freedom’. What do you mean by freedom? I’ve found India the most secure place with my camera, my pads and all. Never was I marked. I had been in very dangerous places in India. I got no problems. As a journalist I can go anywhere, at any time. But in China you can not move so freely. A foreign journalist there needs a Government permission informing about the topic. You should appreciate India. Of course, there are problems. There are problems because of democracy, freedom. Separatism is here in India.”77
The British colonials have left; India is yet to get rid of the impact of colonialism. In reality, the system created by the British has fossilised; it has paralysed our mental faculty to such an extent that we have lost the capacity to bring change.
There is also a school of thought that the two hundred years of British rule was beneficial to India in many respects, including liberal education democracy, communications and a sense of geographical unity. The matter can be argued both ways, as this had followed the willful destruction of the Indian education system, economy and agriculture. The real test is to find out whether it was intended to be so or was an unintended fall-out of the various measures which the British took to strengthen their administrative control over the subcontinent and bolster their trade and commercial interests. Similar steps were taken by the British in their other colonies in Asia and Africa also. It would appear that it’s the civilisational resilience and strength of India which in the end triumphed the colonial designs to destroy and subjugate us culturally and politically. Civilisationally weak countries were overwhelmed, but India did not go under. The tolerant and inclusive cultural traits internalised what was good in the west and declined to be overwhelmed even at the worst of times.
1 Will Durant,The Case for India, p. 6.
2. J.T. Sunderland, India in Bondage, p.367; quoted by Will Durant, p. 6. Sunderland’s book was banned in British India due to obvious reason.
3. Macaulay, Critical and Historical Essays, vol. I, p. 504.
4. Macaulay’s address to British Parliament on February 2, 1835.
5. Quoted in Transcending Conflict: Indian and Eastern way, GFCH (India), New Delhi; p. 347.
6. R.C. Dutt, History of India under Early British Rule, p.61; Macaulay, T.B., Critical and Historical Essays, vol. 1, p. 529.
7. Macaulay, p. 528.
8. Quoted by Will Durant, The Case for India, p.110; Lajpat Rai, Unhappy India, p. 311.
9. Lajpat Rai, p. 333; Will Durant, p.11. According to a statement of Lt. Col. Briggs in 1857.
10. R.C. Dutt, p. 373.
12. Ibid, p. 256; Will Durant, p. 24.
13. Durant p. 24; Dutt, pp. 45, 256-57, viii-ix.
14. Ibid, p. 283.
15. Quoted in Dutt, p.290; from Martin Montgomery, Eastern India.
16. Durant, p. 26; quoted from J.T. Sunderland, India in Bondage, p. 365.
17. Lajpat Rai, p. 462; Durant p. 17.
18. Durant, p.25.
19. Will Durant, p. 25; quoted, Kohn, H, History of the Nationalism of the East, New York (1929) p. 101.
20. Durant, p. 25.
21. Will Durant, p. 9.
22. Ibid, p. 10.
23. Will Durant, p. 10; quoted Sunderland, p. 135.
24. Will Durant, p. 10-11; refered Lajpat Rai, p. 343.).
25. Will Durant, p. 11; refered Savel Zimand, Living India, New York (1928), p. 46.
26. Oxford History of India, p.780; P.T. Moon, Imperialism and World Politics, p. 300; cited by Will Durant, p. 17. 25. Will Durant, p. 11; refered savel Zimand, Living India, New York (1928), p. 46.
27. Durant, p. 17.
29. Durant, p. 17; Lajpat Rai, p. 346.
30. Dharmapal, Bharat ka Swadharma (Hindi), Allahabad, 1998: p. 53.
31. Durant, p. 26; refered Lajpat Rai, p. 382.
32. Dutt, pp. 173-74.
33. 33. 52, Durant, p.135; Lajpat Rai, pp.344-47; R.C. Dutt, p. xiii; Moon, p. 291
34. Durant, p. 27.
35. Ibid, p.28.
36. Ibid, p. 27.
37. Ibid, 28.
38. Ibid, p. 29.
39. Ibid, p. 29; quoted Matma Gandhi.
40. Dharmapal, p. 52.
41. R.C. Dutt, p. 49.
42. Adam, pp. 259-65; Sunderland, p. 386; quoted by Durant, p. 29.
43. Adams, pp. 313f.; reference Durant, p. 29.
44. R.C. Dutt, p. p. xiii.104).
45. Ibid, p. 420.
46. Quest, Guwahati, 2008, p. 19.
47. R.C. Dutt, Economic History of India under early British Rule, p. 7.
48. Ibid, pp. 51-52.
49. Durant, pp. 36-37.
50. Snderland, p140; Zimand, p. 179; refered by Durant, p. 37-38.
51. Lajpat Rai, p.350; cited by Durant, p. 39.
52. Durant, p. 30; referred Sunderland, p. 316; Lajpat Rai, p. 357.
53. Quoted by Will Durant, p. 110
54. Dharmapal, p. 52
55. Dialogue, 9:2; October-December 2007; p.14.
56. Dharmapal, pp. 29-30.
57. Will Durant, p. 31; quoted Lajpat Rai, pp. 24-25.
58. Durant, p. 31; refered Moon, p. 308; sunderland, p. 259.
59. Ibid, p. 31; refered Indian Year Book, p. 398.
60. Ibid, p. 31.
61. Lajpat Rai, p.69.115.
62. Ibid, p. 55.
63. Durand, p. 32; referred Sunderland, p. 283.
64. Ibid, p. 32; referred Moon, p. 308.
65. Ibid, p. 32.
66. Ibid, p. 32; referred Sunderland, p.259.
67. Lajpat Rai, p. 42.118)
68. Dialogue 9:2; p. 14.
69. Durant, p.33120.
71. Durant, p. 21.
72. Durant, pp.12,18.
73. Dharmapal, pp.11-17.
74. Francois Gautier, India’s Self Denial, in Quest, Vol. I, January 2008, pp. 15- 28.
75. Ibid, p. 26.
76. Ibid, p. 24.
77. Ibid, pp. 24-25.
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