Madhu Kishwar had invited me to her channel to talk about the above topic, after I had mentioned that 2 tribes in Namibia filed a class action suit some years ago against Germany for atrocities during its colonial rule there from 1885-1918. Germany got summons from the Court for pre-trial negotiations. After several rounds, Germany apologised and agreed to pay compensation. This article is based on material which I collected for the talk and is meant as input for further research on what can be done to get tangible justice.
Everyone knows about the horrendous Holocaust of Jews by the Nazis. The Jews were considered as sub-human, as ‘Untermenschen’, and systematically killed – deliberately and consciously.
In contrast, most people in the West and even many in India consider British colonialism in India as ‘good for the natives’. The British looked after the natives, didn’t they ? They built the railways, gave them English education, laws, isn’t it ?
I want to show here, that British colonialism was comparable to the crimes the Nazis did, and that this false narrative about the benevolent British rule in India needs to change and those responsible be held accountable. The truth needs to come out and justice needs to be done for all those million Indians who were treated as sub-human, impoverished, humiliated and with no pangs of conscience, killed or left to die.
Testimonies about how bad the situation was in India
Just to give you a taste of how bad the situation in India was, I will quote here from Will Durant’s ‘A case for India’. He landed in India in 1930 at the age of 45. He had been studying the civilizations of the world, had read a lot about India’s great ancient civilization, and wanted to get a direct feel of it, so he came for a visit. And he was shocked. He was so shocked that he felt, he needed to put his project about civilizations on hold and let the world know what was happening in India. He never thought a Nation can let its subjects sink to such misery.
After going back to America, he wrote a small book which can be downloaded from the net : ‘A case for India’.
Here is part of the introduction.
‘I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding by England throughout 150 yrs. I began to feel that I came upon the greatest crime in all history…
I know how weak words are in the face of guns and blood, how irrelevant mere truth and decency appear beside the might of empires and gold. But if even one Hindu, fighting for freedom far off there on the other side of the globe, shall hear this call of mine and be a trifle comforted, then these months of work on this little book will seem sweet to me.
For I know of nothing in the world that I would rather do today than be of help to India.’ (Oct.1, 1930)
Testimonies how rich India was Let me quote Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeran, a German historian (1760-1842) :
‘India has been celebrated even in the earliest times for her riches. The wealth, splendour and prosperity of India had made a strong impression on the mind of Alexander the Great, and that when he left Persia for India, he told his army that they were starting for that ‘Golden India’ where there was endless wealth, and that what they had seen in Persia was as nothing compared to the riches of India.
The writer of the article ‘Hindustan’ in the Encyclopedia Britannica also remarks that India ‘was naturally reputed to be the seat of immense riches’.
Even in 1700 AD, after the colossal, painful loot by Muslim invaders, India was still rich, Aurangzeb was as wealthy as all the European kings together. The common Hindus had suffered greatly. They were highly taxed, their temples destroyed, knowledge burned, they were humiliated & beheaded in millions.
For these crimes also acknowledgement and reclamation are needed and it seems to come now slowly in the form of reclaiming ancient temples – sadly, against a lot of resistance by Indian converts to Islam, whose forefathers in all likelihood converted under great duress and who are now fully brainwashed into their new belief (also fostered by the British), which includes seeing Hindus as ‘the worst of creatures’(Q 98.6) …
Now first to the question : How exactly did the British manage to drain India’s enormous wealth ?
Utsa Patnaik, JNU Professor, studied this question for decades. She came to the figure of $ 45 trillion by using the commodity export surplus as measure and applying an interest rate of 5%. What the East India Company (EIC) did, was brutal, criminal extortion. She explained it in an oped article.
India was producing many goods. Now, in normal practice, when you export something, you get gold, forex or goods back into your country in return for your export. India was since ancient times a surplus exporter, and therefore had a lot of gold and riches. This inflow, however stopped, when the EIC got from the Moghuls in 1765 the right to collect taxes in the areas which it controlled. Not only did the British extract 80 to 90 per cent taxes, but from these Indian taxes, the British importer (the EIC) paid for the imported goods. This was truly sinister.
When the EIC merged with the Crown in 1861, it got even worse. Now basically ALL export from India was paid for by Indian taxes, not only the export to Britain. The Government in London asked those who wanted to import from India and who earlier had dealt with India directly, to deposit gold or sterling with the Bank of England and instead issued ‘Council Bills’ with the equivalent Rupee value which were sent to India. The Indian export houses and producers got paid from the Indian tax collection which was budgeted as ‘expenditures abroad’. The gold and forex payments disappeared in the Bank of England, which was founded and owned by Nathan M Rothschild.
Prof Patnaik writes, that even as recently as from 1900 till 1928, India had after America, the second largest merchandise export surplus.
Further she says, ‘Indians were deprived of every bit of the enormous purchasing power they had earned over 175 years. Not even the colonial Government was credited with any part of India’s huge gold and forex earnings against which it could have issued Rupees. This sleight of hand, namely, paying producers out of their own taxes, made India’s export surplus unrequited and constituted a tax financed drain to London’.
Mass consumption was squeezed for export. This export included opium to China and Indigo, which caused terrible famines, in which it is estimated, some 25 million Indians perished. Each one dying a slow death.
In 1904, food grain consumption was 210 kg, by 1946, it was down to 137 kg. “Indian masses suffered a severe nutritional decline and India inherited a festering problem of unemployment and poverty”, Patnaik says.
And from then on, the world knew about India only as ‘a very, very poor country’…
What mindset does it need to do this to a people ?
It is the same mindset with which German Nazis mercilessly herded Jews and Gypsies into the gas chambers. When will humanity realise that we all come from the same source ?
Let me again drive home the inhuman mindset of those who consider themselves superior, which applies to all Abrahamic religions.
A Dutch merchant – Jacob Haafner – who was in Madras during the famine of 1871, describes at first, how those starving people looked. He writes :
… One saw thousands of such human beings walk around, young and old, man and woman. With their last strength, they had come to the square for alms from the rich, but the doors remained shut, so that one after the other collapsed. Dead bodies and those dying lay on top of each other as on a battlefield. From all sides one could hear the crying of the suffering; begging they raised their hands to the inhumane Englishmen on their balconies, who stood there revelling with their whores, and who made the hunger on the square even more unbearable because of the food they held in their hands.
Dying is nothing. But to see your wife, your children, your parents waste away from starvation, and see them die in terrible convulsions, that is more than dying. Oh ! If only I think of the ghastly images that I saw in Madras, chills run down my spine. Never will I be able to forget them …
But, one may ask, was it completely impossible to support these poor, innocent Indians ? Were there no provisions in the city ? Oh yes ! For those who had the money to pay the extortionate prices of the English and their agents there was food enough ! The warehouses of the EIC and some English merchants were amply provided with all kinds of grains, sufficient to feed double the number of people who were then in the city and this for a longer period of time.
The rich bought what they needed, but for the penniless Indians, who had left everything they possessed behind when they fled to Madras, there was no other fate but dying from hunger. No one cared.
Their disastrous condition did not in the least impress the petrified hearts of the English, who made no attempt whatsoever to prevent the dying of these masses of people, and showed no compassion at all.
These Christians, who pride themselves on their humanitarian religion … alas, talking, singing or whistling they walked through the dead and the dying, with that rude and hurtful arrogance so characteristic of them.
From their carriages and palanquins, they looked down on the perishing natives with contempt, while the latter were lying in the dust, struggling with death, or convulsively breathing their last.
I paid close attention; sometimes I stood still for half an hour to observe the English passing by, and I cannot but declare openly that I saw no trace of compassion on the face of any of them, for the innumerable wailing beings lying on the ground before them. Even worse : I saw their ladies, those sentimental, tender-hearted creatures sit in their palanquins with the same cool indifference when they were carried right through this battlefield. Perhaps there were some among them who would faint at the sight of a spider or a mouse ! Yes, I saw these European ladies strolling dauntlessly through this field of death, laughing, talking and frolicking with their company or lovers – shocking !
Attitude of today’s British Politicians towards India
After knowing about all these crimes, how does it feel, when British Parliamentarians criticise India for its ‘far right Government’ as Nadia Whittome did after the recent India visit by Boris Johnson ? If anything, the Modi Government is more left than right, if left means to look after the poor foremost. (Those categories right and left don’t apply to India, as Hinduism is not blind belief and ‘conservative’ but basically scientific).
Another Parliamentarian made the outrageous insinuation that India plans a genocide of its Muslims
Can the British get away with this ? They seem to be sure that Indians either don’t know what they did to the country or they are ‘polite’ and won’t mention it.
Meanwhile, the British play the role of ‘guardians of human rights’ and keep a close watch especially on India … like placing in its Open Doors watch list, India among the top 10 countries with the greatest persecution of Christians. It’s shameless. Indeed, a Spokesperson for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the ABC, when asked about reparations for Aboriginals, “We are doing our utmost to address modern day discrimination and intolerance”.
Since the British took over the education in India in 1835, they could push their narrative very successfully. It’s truly unfortunate, that many Indians even today are more Anglophile than Indophile, which means they love England over India, and in the process do great harm to India.
They don’t realise that the Westerners will use them, but won’t consider them equal.
– Excerpts of an Article under the same name by Ms Maria Wirth (For the complete article, please visit : https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2022/05/29/british-loot-of-india-should-india-not-demand-reparations/)
(Introduction : Ms Maria Wirth is from Germany and has been in India for the past 39 years. She is the Author of the book ‘Thank you India – a German woman’s journey to the wisdom of Yoga’)
The false narrative of the benevolent British rule in India needs to change and those responsible be held accountable !
Categories such as ‘right’ and ‘left’ don’t apply to India, as Hinduism is not blind belief but basically scientific !