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Thread: British Raj did more harm than good in Indian subcontinent: UK Supreme Court debate

  1. #16
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajhax View Post
    Agree with the first sentence that it would have been very different. Not so much with the second. Marathas were not even able to defend themselves against afghans. So I wouldn't expect too much from them anyways. Lot's of things can happen in 200 years. We could have balkanized into several states. Or maybe we would have united anyways. Was it really impossible for India to produce it's own Garibaldi, Mao Tse-Tung etc.?
    Probably. The sheer scale of India makes a Garibaldi/Bismarck unlikely. China had a several millennia old history of not only viewing itself as a single entity, but often being run as one. Mao didn't forge a nation out of a bunch of warring states & competing monarchs. India is one of a number of examples of the colonizing experience giving concrete form to a national entity that is unlikely ever to have come about in a comparable form otherwise.

    That Britain did more harm than good is unarguable to my mind. What is more interesting to me is the dogged insistence by some (at least by implication) that Britain made no positive contribution to India.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Do Iran or China provide any food for thought here.

    Neither ever got colonised to much extent.
    Disagree with both. China & Iran were never properly colonized by Europeans, but the Mongols called to say that you need to broaden your timelines (though not by much in China's case). Not sure quite what lessons either has to offer. The Chinese road in particular is extremely bloody, and not just the Mao period.

    Ethiopia wasn't colonized until 1935 either. Until that point it was a backward & barely governed feudal state where slavery was still legal. Modernization had taken place fitfully, but was limited by the power of the local Rases (princes). Colonization actually provided a circuit breaker of sorts & left behind a much more modern nation in every way. That doesn't mean that Ethiopia was any better governed than any other African nations. Indeed, it was worse than many until the early 1990s.

    Colonization was such a vast & complex thing that simple 'good v bad' formulations are near impossible.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    China had a several millennia old history of not only viewing itself as a single entity, but often being run as one.
    Nope. The China that we know today first existed under the Mongols. Before then, they were various and often warring states that had completely different customs and languages.
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blademaster View Post
    So says your magic eight ball. Sure India would be different from the one you know but it still would be some form of a concept called Bharat.
    What form or concept of Bharat?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Probably. The sheer scale of India makes a Garibaldi/Bismarck unlikely. China had a several millennia old history of not only viewing itself as a single entity, but often being run as one. Mao didn't forge a nation out of a bunch of warring states & competing monarchs. India is one of a number of examples of the colonizing experience giving concrete form to a national entity that is unlikely ever to have come about in a comparable form otherwise.

    That Britain did more harm than good is unarguable to my mind. What is more interesting to me is the dogged insistence by some (at least by implication) that Britain made no positive contribution to India.
    Also India has a history of being viewed as one. Mauryan Empire made sure of that.
    How about Britain accepts, apologize and repatriate their ills in India, and will give UK its due credit. Thank You very much.

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    My two bits…

    The biggest favour done to modern India by the Raj was weakening the feudal structure which allowed an India parliamentary democracy to come into existence. What we made of it (including allowing the N-G family to continue to rule post IG) is on our heads.

    They created the InA and weakened the princely states to such an extent that it became feasible for someone like Sardar Patel to put it all (or almost all) together under GoI. Otherwise, I don’t suppose a still resurgent Rajputana/Sikh/Maratha/others would have taken kindly to a man from Delhi asking them to be subservient to a GoI out of Delhi. Each such princely state would be aspiring to rule India or atleast his/her fiefdom.

    However, it was obviously all for their benefit, and any benefit to us was indirect/inadvertent. The British Raj was an extremely efficient/merciless extractor, but relative to other extractors of their time/before, it did it with a bit of style and broke for tea every once in a while to let us catch our breath.

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    [QUOTE=Boks;978383]
    My two bits…

    The biggest favour done to modern India by the Raj was weakening the feudal structure which allowed an India parliamentary democracy to come into existence. What we made of it (including allowing the N-G family to continue to rule post IG) is on our heads.
    Absolute hogwash, if anything the Feudal structure was actively encouraged by the Brits. Which is one reason 'reservations' had to be made mandatory in Government jobs.

    They created the InA and weakened the princely states to such an extent that it became feasible for someone like Sardar Patel to put it all (or almost all) together under GoI. Otherwise, I don’t suppose a still resurgent Rajputana/Sikh/Maratha/others would have taken kindly to a man from Delhi asking them to be subservient to a GoI out of Delhi. Each such princely state would be aspiring to rule India or atleast his/her fiefdom.
    If ashoka can come in India, Ranjit Singh or Shivaji, then can also another Indian unifying force.

    However, it was obviously all for their benefit, and any benefit to us was indirect/inadvertent. The British Raj was an extremely efficient/merciless extractor, but relative to other extractors of their time/before, it did it with a bit of style and broke for tea every once in a while to let us catch our breath
    Horse DUNG

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Probably. The sheer scale of India makes a Garibaldi/Bismarck unlikely. China had a several millennia old history of not only viewing itself as a single entity, but often being run as one. Mao didn't forge a nation out of a bunch of warring states & competing monarchs. India is one of a number of examples of the colonizing experience giving concrete form to a national entity that is unlikely ever to have come about in a comparable form otherwise.

    That Britain did more harm than good is unarguable to my mind. What is more interesting to me is the dogged insistence by some (at least by implication) that Britain made no positive contribution to India.
    China was also divided for major portion of history. And at least major parts of India and especially North India has a long history of being united under a single rule. My personal bet is that without British colonization, India would have been a group of (still quite big) nations instead of one super-big nation we currently have. But is that really a bad scenario? I am not sure.
    Last edited by ajhax; 01 Oct 14, at 13:57.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Defcon5 View Post

    Absolute hogwash, if anything the Feudal structure was actively encouraged by the Brits. Which is one reason 'reservations' had to be made mandatory in Government jobs.

    If ashoka can come in India, Ranjit Singh or Shivaji, then can also another Indian unifying force.

    Horse DUNG
    Feudal structure refers to princely states - which were weakened to such an extent that they couldn't resist a GoI/InA under Sardar Patel. What you are referring to is the social structure (i presume that's why your reservation comment).

    On Shivaji, Ranjit Singh & Ashoka - so that's three potential "son of the soil" unifiers in roughly 2000 years. we can try and calculate the odds but i would wager its a big IF. Also, Ranjit Singh as a potential India unifier may be a stretch - at best he controlled whats now Pakistan, parts of Punjab/J&K. A somehow resurgent Mughals would be a far likelier candidate for unifying India.
    Last edited by Boks; 01 Oct 14, at 14:30. Reason: Error in quotes

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    Nope. The China that we know today first existed under the Mongols. Before then, they were various and often warring states that had completely different customs and languages.
    true, but there was enough cultural continuity and standardization, at least in the Chinese core-areas, that there was something that could be known as "Han Chinese". relics of the Han Empire, and the T'ang.
    Last edited by astralis; 01 Oct 14, at 15:42.
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    true, but there was enough cultural continuity and standardization, at least in the Chinese core-areas, that there was something that could be known as "Han Chinese". relics of the Han Empire, and the T'ang.
    If you are talking culture and civilizational continuity versus political , then India had the same, if not more. In spite of in effect being two different races and bloodlines to begin with.

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    That Britain did more harm than good is unarguable to my mind. What is more interesting to me is the dogged insistence by some (at least by implication) that Britain made no positive contribution to India.
    it's hard to assess "more harm than good". there's simply too many alternate history scenarios possible.

    i think it suffices to say that the British legacy had good as well as bad, and considering that colonization by a foreign power was very likely to happen given the internal domestic situation, better the British than the alternatives.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    sb,

    If you are talking culture and civilizational continuity versus political , then India had the same, if not more. In spite of in effect being two different races and bloodlines to begin with.
    not quite, just due to the geography. india has significantly more arable land, thus that means more power centers.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    oracle,

    Sir, please - a Maratha descended Hindustan? Even the Mughals kept away from us in Assam.
    by which i mean a Hindu-centric polity. Hinduraj, if you like.

    related to this,

    DE,

    Neither ever got colonised to much extent.
    both iran and china were profoundly influenced by the experience of western colonialism, though. note there was no "China" as we know it prior to 1911, it was the Qing Empire, for instance. the -idea- behind the polity would be different.

    similarly, the modern state of India would certainly not exist: not in a Republic form, with its mix of socialist-secular/Enlightenment ideas. i don't disagree with BM that there would be SOME sort of Bharat, but it would be so different from what India is today, it would be unrecognizable.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    true, but there was enough cultural continuity and standardization, at least in the Chinese core-areas, that there was something that could be known as "Han Chinese". relics of the Han Empire, and the T'ang.
    Hell, look at the Hong Kong protests, the people in Beijing both in the Great Hall and on the streets have to read subtitles to know the protesters are saying. Hell, I have to read the subtitles and I speak Cantonese.
    Chimo

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