Answering Shashi Tharoor : Thank Karma the British came !
I would like to open this matter with an anecdote. Anyone who has read my previous and most recent post would be familiar with who I refer to as a “Phase Two Atheist”. Presumably a teenager or young adult who has come to terms with the fact that his or her own religion or any other religion is not what it’s made out to be. I myself, and a lot of my colleagues went through this phase, and we now laugh at what we call the “Good ol days”. Recently I was on a phone call with one such friend of mine from Pakistan, whose name for the sake of anonymity will not be mentioned. My friend had recently joined a military academy and was in the habit of smoking. “Let me grab a cigarette mate” he paused and I heard rustling from almost halfway around the world. He got back to me and explained how life in the military quarters was far easier and westernized than the conservative culture he had once put up with. “Thank Allah the British came !” He said, and we both broke off into laughter. Off course, he didn’t say that! At least, those weren’t the actual words. Not a single Muslim or Ex-Muslim I know has ever said “Thank Allah”. What he really said was “Thank God the British Came !”. Thank Allah simply doesn’t flow off the tongue as well. Keeping with the spirit of this blasphemous misadventure, I’ve decided to subtitle this as Thank Karma the British came!. With the contemporary meaning of Karma be mystical and supernatural, and the dictionary definition of it being merely consequential, it leaves us with one of two interpretations. The first being that the British came to India because a supernatural force has led them there, this would mean that they arrived on the subcontinent to balance its sins, or that their arrival in the subcontinent was merely reactionary.
In his book Why the West is the Best, Ibn Warraq wonders if publishers would be at all interested in a book titled The Great British Empire, And How it Changed the World. In his own words, Ibn explains as follows:
“European Colonialism and imperialism (both being terms of abuse by now) are blamed for all manner of problems on earth, and treated as a matter of shame for all Europeans; but Arab imperialism held up as something admirable and justifiable.”
Any attempt to say anything positive about the Great British Empire (The entire title of which I’ll be stating in its entirety as much as possible, purely because of the effect it will have on those who disagree with me on this issue.) will result in backlash from numerous left-wing groups who will, as Ibn explained, blame all the crimes of the empire on all Europeans, or from numerous right-wing nationalists from South Asia who will spout out various profanities in broken English. It’s much worse if you are, and I hate to resort to such juvenile and arbitrary terms, “A person of colour”. Any South Asian, or anyone of South Asian descent who so much as breathes a single positive word of the Great British Empire is labelled a “Race Traitor” or simply “Cucked”. A brown person who celebrates the Empire? How Atrocious? Well, I hate to break it to anyone who resorts to such tactics, but the simple fact of the matter is, I’m more than my brown skin. Much more.
Recently, Shashi Tharoor made the headlines for what can only be described as historical woo-woo, and in doing so he came off as the Deepak Chopra of History and Politics. His fellow panellist, author Penny Red was all aboard with this display of intellectual misdemeanour. Tharoor goes on to blame every single problem India has to face on the British. He quite notoriously pulls out a lie to support his claims; an urban legend of the British cutting off the thumbs of indigenous textile workers, because the trade had become a threat to British textile imports. While in actuality this fairy tale has its roots in William Bolts 1772 account where he alleges that several weavers had cut off their own thumbs in order to protest poor working conditions.
“We missed the bus (For the industrial revolution) because you threw us under its wheels” says Tharoor.He fetishizes a country that never existed in the first place, expecting us to believe that India was a sophisticated Metropolis strung together by free trade when that was hardly the case.
The fact of the Matter is India would not have been the economic and industrial paradise that Tharoor makes it out to be if the British hadn’t arrived, but rather, a bloodbath. The British departure from India gave way to Hindus killing Muslims, and Muslims killing Hindus. Tharoor doesn’t take into account the caste system or Sati, the practice of burning widows at a husband’s funeral pyre or Mulakkaram, a tax imposed on lower caste Hindu women if they wanted to cover their breasts in public, or Devadasi prostitution where young girls are given away at a young age in religion backed prostitution. The likes of Shashi Tharoor are heralded around like heroes of the Indian people when genuine heroes like the Ezhava woman Nangeli who cut off her own breasts to protest the Mulakkaram tax are lost to history.
The British took the initiative to abolish caste discrimination and Sati, yet it was so ingrained in the mind of the average Indian, that the Hindu delegation of India went to Sir Charles James Napier and pleaded to let them continue their practice, on the account that it’s part of their culture. Napier responded to this request as follows:
“Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”
India itself is a country that was founded on skin colour prejudice. One might even say that Indians took the initiative to pioneer and codify this art of discrimination. Skin colour discrimination is more prevalent in India than it is in any Western Country. There are no “Dalit Lives Matter” protests in India, despite the constant discrimination of Dalits across the country. The Great British Empire is often blamed for its so-called plunder of India, yet its rule of India took place almost entirely through the native Sultans and Maharajas of India acting as Middlemen for the Great British Empire. Meanwhile, the Original colonization of India, when Indo-Iranians invaded Harappa through the Khyber Pass and chased its native proto Dravidian population to the south is hardly brought up, even by their (The proto Dravidians) descendants.
Even if you take into account everything wrong with imperialism and the history of colonialism, from the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre to the Bengali Famine, you should not be able to deny the fact that these barbaric practices predate any European hold on the subcontinent and are independent of European interventions. Blaming it on European intervention is the kind of moral cowardice and lack of intelligence that allows the likes of Shashi Tharoor and, for the lack of a better term, his ‘lackeys’ to come on live television and completely vilify the civilization that uprooted him high enough for to make such ridiculous claims, and to make a living out of it.
Unlike the Great British Empire which took the initiative to improve India, both culturally and economically, the original colonizers of India were incapable of the slightest bit of Innovations. Here is Professor M. M.J Marasinghe’s narration of the Indo Aryan invasion from his book Gods in Early Buddhism:
“That the invading Aryans did not contribute very much towards the subsequent cultural development in these regions is quite obvious, as they were not at all capable of such contribution. Observes Kosambi: “Indra is the break of cities (puramdara) but neither Indra nor any of follower of his, is described as builder or possessor of a city. None of them ever constructed anything of masonry. The word for brick “Ista” does not occur in this Veda, only in later ones.where the bricks were first used only for building sacrificial altars. The standard Aryan settlement is a grama, which continued to mean village, while it could even denote an overnight encampment. The Rgvedic people destroyed Indus cities without a reoccupation sufficient to make an impression upon their sacred book. They failed to start new cities of their own which could hardly be of any use to pastoral raiders. That is, the contribution of Aryans had its negative feature. It took at least half a millennium for the new types of production to reach an urban stage. Much was lost that the older society had developed.”.”
India isn’t a “poster child for poverty” as Tharoor claims because the British had drained it dry of all its resources. It is the way it is because of fundamental problems within Indian culture. The Land of Buddha and Gandhi is one where women murder their own baby girls because they need their first child to be a boy, where the holiest river is also the worlds most polluted, where there are more mobile phones than toilets because caste discrimination prevent those considered to be of lower castes from constructing ones, and when the state-subsidized toilets are created, they are worshipped as altars. Minister of State for HRD Satyapal Singh said that IIT students should be taught about “Pushpak Viman”, a mythical flying Chariot from the Ramayana. Is the Great British Empire to be blamed for India’s Open Defecation problem and the average Indians ignorance?
The Great British Empire was not perfect, no one saying that it is. But Tharoor goes as far enough to compare Sir Winston Churchill to the likes of Adolf Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Doing so trivializes the deaths of all the people who died at their hands, and it also dehumanizes the people Tharoor claims to speak on behalf of, turning them into mere statistics to be used in propaganda. This idea that Britain should somehow apologize for the Great British Empire, what this statement really is, is a demand for monetary reparations.
The modern idea of a civilized society is a western one. It’s “The American Dream” not “The Indian Dream”. Western civilization as we know it today was shaped by the British. It was the Great British Empire which took the initiative to grant equality to everyone in its domain. There is no Indian or any other oriental equivalent of the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights or Speaker’s Corner. The Ottoman Empire, despite being created at a much greater cultural cost than the Great British empire is fetishized for its so-called diversity, while the Great British Empire is vilified for its taxes. The likes of Tharoor and his western allies have a Melodramatic view of the Great British Empire. Much of the empires ruling was managed through local Maharajas and Sultans who had made arrangements with the Empire. If Tharoor must project his anger, and demand an apology, it should be from the local Maharajas and Sultans who sold out their own people.The simple fact of the matter is that if the Ottoman Empire was good, then the Great British Empire was Great, just as the name implies. Yet if the Great British Empire was bad, then the Ottoman Empire was the embodiment of pure evil.