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

  1. #31
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    at best, a Marathan-descended Hindustan, which is not the same thing. most likely a collection of post-Maratha Empire factional states based on the Marathan Confederacy, with foreign Great Power support for their own client states.
    Trying to imagine this one and looking for examples in the modern era

    Germany comes to mind ww2 upto 1991, four cleanly designated sectors then it becomes one.

    Vietnam fought to stay together

    Korea is still divided.

    Hong Kong & Macau came with fixed terms.

    Iraq is a future possibility, one country with three autonomous areas.

    The gulf states particularly, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar & UAE are British creations. Provided military bases. Otherwise would have been swallowed up either by Iran or the Saudis. Gulf war 1 began becasue Saddam tried to repossess Kuwiat which was carved out of Iraq.

    The need to have a military presence in strategic areas or choke points means great power competition to control, maintain or obtain concessions in these areas.

    The term 'client states' is a bit problematic though. I doubt those gulf countries or S.Korea would consider themselves as such. Allies might be the more PC term.

    Applying to this to India, ports on the Indian ocean/bay of Bengal, Andamans would be of great power interest. The eastern seaboard provides access to the ME and East Africa and the west allows access to East Asia. Both seaboards implies a vantage point over the Indian Ocean. So there is a motivation to push into the interior if anything just to establish a power base. Extent of that power proportional to land under one's control. This would create its own dyamic inside the country for local players to increase their land share.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 01 Oct 14, at 16:45.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    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.
    Oh yes, millions killed, enslaved, raped, driven to poverty, famine and trillions stolen is not enough to know wether Brits were good for India...Yup

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    may i kindly ask whether you'd feel better if it was a maharaja or a french merchant or a russian general doing the same thing?

    and what about all the indian babies born due to better sanitation practices, or local merchants prospering from the railways, or even Indian soldiers taking the Queen's shilling? what about rule of law and parliamentary democracy?

    it's impossible to debate with you if you're just going to resort to one-liners. this is NOT to say that british colonialism was the best thing ever, but simply put if British domination was just one long orgy of death and destruction there was no way the British could have held onto India for over a hundred years with approximately 70,000 men.
    Last edited by astralis; 01 Oct 14, at 18:25.
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    DE,

    Trying to imagine this one and looking for examples in the modern era
    i'm thinking more 19th century Great Game, which fits the idea of "client states" better. if the British were not there, the Russians, French, Portuguese, and the Dutch would certainly have been involved.
    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
    may i kindly ask whether you'd feel better if it was a maharaja or a french merchant or a russian general doing the same thing?

    and what about all the indian babies born due to better sanitation practices, or local merchants prospering from the railways, or even Indian soldiers taking the Queen's shilling? what about rule of law and parliamentary democracy?

    it's impossible to debate with you if you're just going to resort to one-liners. this is NOT to say that british colonialism was the best thing ever, but simply put if British domination was just one long orgy of death and destruction there was no way the British could have held onto India for over a hundred years with approximately 70,000 men.
    You may not kindly ask that.

    Its like asking a rape victim, whether she would be happier getting raped by somebody else.

    Maharaja's if they did, they have never done anything in the scale of the Brits. Millions DEAD, nor will they take money out of India. Its under the same maharaja's we have progressed so much, to that of 23% of world GDP under these Maharaja's, heck the Mughals were much better than Brits. Atleast they didnt leave Indians in abject poverty and called themselves civilized in the same breath.

    Indians had better sanitation practices, read up on our civilization. We are more than capable of figuring out stuff. We are a continous civiliztion for 4000 years. We have done well

    British held on because of our own problems, they does not excuse their millions dead or trillions stolem

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    defcon,

    its under the same maharaja's we have progressed so much, to that of 23% of world GDP under these Maharaja's, heck the Mughals were much better than Brits
    sigh, that "23% of the world GDP" figure assumes india as a single political/economic unit, which it assuredly was not back then. moreover the issue was not wealth transfer from India but simply the industrialization of the Western world, which not only heavily tilted the economic balance in favor of the West, but also caused economic chaos in the east. the factories of Lancaster made cloth so cheap that it easily outsold Indian fabrics in India. that would have happened regardless of British imperialism in India.

    given the economic dislocation it was no surprise, for instance, that indians flocked to join the British Indian Army.

    Indians had better sanitation practices, read up on our civilization
    i have. let's put it this way, if india had better sanitation practices your PM wouldn't need to talk about toilets in 2014 at an Independence Day speech, no less.

    British held on because of our own problems, they does not excuse their millions dead or trillions stolem
    no one is trying to excuse that. but again, given where the world was in the 17th-19th century, there was little choice in the matter. moreover, the fact that the British Raj lasted so long demonstrated a core level of Indian acceptance of that rule. i know it's hard for you to believe now, but back then most Indians didn't care if it was their fellow Indians or the British or the French or the aliens ruling over them, as long as their taxes were low and their overlords were not too onerous.

    note the shift in priorities for the Indian sovereignty movement only occurred in the 1920s, from India as a Dominion to India as its own separate entity. Gandhi volunteered for the British in the Boer War and helped raised troops for them in World War 1, what does that tell you?
    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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    Asty, I think he is confusing Queen Victoria with King Leopold II

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajhax View Post
    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.
    A matter for debate, but it would mean no 'India'. I would argue it would also mean an awful lot of wars. Whether that is good or bad depends on your view of such matters.


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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    sb,

    not quite, just due to the geography. india has significantly more arable land, thus that means more power centers.
    Its not about geography or political power centers. You were arguing cultural and civilizational continuity with regard to the Chinese. Considering the Chinese today have very little in terms of spiritual continuity to their old pre-communist Chinese civilizational roots, while India stil has a thriving living link to its past, the obverse is actually true.

    We got colonized. But China lost its soul.
    Last edited by sated buddha; 02 Oct 14, at 14:18.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    may i kindly ask whether you'd feel better if it was a maharaja or a french merchant or a russian general doing the same thing?
    But they did not. The British did.

    and what about all the indian babies born due to better sanitation practices
    What better sanitation practices? The British built toilets for themselves. We still go into the fields.

    or local merchants prospering from the railways
    The British built the railways for their empire to make the loot easier to the ports for spiriting away to England. That we still have the railways is because the British could not load it on to ships and take it back with them. Ditto for the buildings they built. Given enough time, they'd probably have given it a shot all the same.

    or even Indian soldiers taking the Queen's shilling?
    The Queen's shiling made with Indian gold. Indian cotton. Indian blood. Easy to bleed something and use the same blood to bleed it some more.

    At least am happy that you've laid to rest the bombastic myth of Indians volunteering to fight for the British willingly. It was all pounds and shillings. When your villages are stripped of crops and your children are hungry with their ribs sticking out, you'll fight if you get paid for it. You'll fight for a bowl of rice. Because if you don't fight, your children starve. So you fight. Because its better your blood feeds your child than someone else's Queen whom you detest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    given the economic dislocation it was no surprise, for instance, that indians flocked to join the British Indian Army.
    And once again, I thank you for saying it as it was. Blood for food.

    The hungrier they get, the harder they'll fight.
    Last edited by sated buddha; 02 Oct 14, at 14:02.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Gandhi volunteered for the British in the Boer War and helped raised troops for them in World War 1, what does that tell you?
    What do you think it tells us about the man?

    No better way to remember him on his birth anniversary today.

    And not that he was the only one. India was still very much a feudal society. The British bought off by wealth, concessions and favors large land owners, patwaris, zamindaars, princelings etc. who then set out to raise small armies of local men who were then sent off for "volunteering" to fight in the British Indian Army. The same story again and again, throughout the country, village to village.

    And those who could not be bought off were threatened. Positive and negative reinforcement. The carrot or the stick. The results the same. Readymade local armies for the war effort. The largest "volunteer" army .......
    Last edited by sated buddha; 02 Oct 14, at 14:48.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    DE,



    i'm thinking more 19th century Great Game, which fits the idea of "client states" better. if the British were not there, the Russians, French, Portuguese, and the Dutch would certainly have been involved.
    I disagree on that part. Those powers in question did not have the skill or acumen that the British had in keeping India. Their actions would have galvanized the various states and kingdoms into banding together and driving them out. The British were very careful not to let that happen, hence "divide and conquer" They were very insidious and before you know it, it was too late to change the situation.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    defcon,



    sigh, that "23% of the world GDP" figure assumes india as a single political/economic unit, which it assuredly was not back then. moreover the issue was not wealth transfer from India but simply the industrialization of the Western world, which not only heavily tilted the economic balance in favor of the West, but also caused economic chaos in the east. the factories of Lancaster made cloth so cheap that it easily outsold Indian fabrics in India. that would have happened regardless of British imperialism in India.
    Yes the factories made it so cheap but the industrialization wasn't made possible without the contributions of Indian coffers. If you were to examine the financial outflows and inflows, you would see a direct correlation between Britain's industrial age and the decline of local manufacturing industry in India and laws on forbidding to manufacture anything and only buy british goods. That restriction allowed British to jumpstart its industrial age and punch its weight above in comparison to other countries.

    given the economic dislocation it was no surprise, for instance, that indians flocked to join the British Indian Army.
    All intentionally created by the British Raj to force the Indians to be more dependent on Raj for goodwill and economic sustainment. Ever hear of the lagaan tax and the consequences of it?

    i have. let's put it this way, if india had better sanitation practices your PM wouldn't need to talk about toilets in 2014 at an Independence Day speech, no less.
    Well let's put it this way, if the British Raj hadn't divert all of the tax coffers directly to Britain but instead invest it locally in building better infrastructure and schools, we wouldn't be having this problem to begin with. Before British came, (based on archeological findings) there were extensive networks of water and sewage systems but because of the lagaan tax and diversion of tax coffers to Britain, the locals didn't have any money to maintain those systems and those things fell by the wayside and were forced to go into the fields. As a result, over decades, it became ingrained into the local populace. When India was liberated, less than 1% of the population had access to toilets and sewage system. Now it is around 50% or more and the reason why it is not 90% or above is because there was a huge population explosion and it is very hard to keep up with the demand.

    no one is trying to excuse that. but again, given where the world was in the 17th-19th century, there was little choice in the matter. moreover, the fact that the British Raj lasted so long demonstrated a core level of Indian acceptance of that rule. i know it's hard for you to believe now, but back then most Indians didn't care if it was their fellow Indians or the British or the French or the aliens ruling over them, as long as their taxes were low and their overlords were not too onerous.
    Again the lagaan tax and taxes certainly weren't low. The British Raj didn't last as long as you liked to believe. For the first 100 years, it was the East India Company. After the 1857 War for Independence, British Raj came into existence and did not last a 100 years.

    note the shift in priorities for the Indian sovereignty movement only occurred in the 1920s, from India as a Dominion to India as its own separate entity. Gandhi volunteered for the British in the Boer War and helped raised troops for them in World War 1, what does that tell you?
    Gandhi volunteered in the 1890s and did it for practical reasons but not out of loyalty for the British. He helped raise troops because he believed that it would help generate liberation from British Raj. There was always a movement for independence since 1820s. It is just that they weren't prominent or brushed under the rug and given no attention by the British in the hopes of keeping the flames down and not letting it spread wide and open.

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    BM,

    Yes the factories made it so cheap but the industrialization wasn't made possible without the contributions of Indian coffers. If you were to examine the financial outflows and inflows, you would see a direct correlation between Britain's industrial age and the decline of local manufacturing industry in India and laws on forbidding to manufacture anything and only buy british goods. That restriction allowed British to jumpstart its industrial age and punch its weight above in comparison to other countries.
    India trade was important but not -that- crucial to industrialization. case in point, the UK's most profitable colony was actually the barbados, by far. moreover, the UK's first industrial revolution was from 1780-1800, prior to her most extensive involvement in India.

    the second industrial revolution was in the 1860s, but that was metallurgy based, not fabric and transportation.

    there's actually a similarity between the indian and the US case; in both places, there was significant local anger over british mercantalist policies-- only to find out post-British departure that it wasn't the issue holding back economic development. (the US economy shrank significantly post-1783, and didn't really recover until the early 1800s. india actually did better.)

    the British had an early industrial revolution due to advantages of easy-to-reach coal mines, an outstanding road network (later railroads), and water transport.

    All intentionally created by the British Raj to force the Indians to be more dependent on Raj for goodwill and economic sustainment.
    unintended side effect, rather. during peacetime, the UK wasn't all that interested in expanding the indian military, because they weren't so happy about giving a large base of natives a military education. that's one of the reasons why they were so interested in the so-called martial races like the sikhs.

    if the British Raj hadn't divert all of the tax coffers directly to Britain but instead invest it locally in building better infrastructure and schools, we wouldn't be having this problem to begin with
    again, you are overestimating this effect. if that were true, the Indian economy should have exploded in the 1950s. instead there was the infamous "indian rate of growth".

    moreover india had the largest rail network and industrial base outside the West for a LONG time, since the 1870s.

    again, the point of this is not to say how lucky India was to get colonized. while acknowledging some of the worst aspects of the british legacy, there were also positive aspects as well: things like industry, rule of law, constitutionalism, rail networks, and most importantly, internal peace. you cannot wave those away.

    as z alluded to, simply compare the experience of India to the Belgian Congo.
    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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