The British, by contrast, brought tangible development, ports and railways, that created the basis for a modern state. More important, they brought the framework for parliamentary democracy that Indians, who already possessed indigenous traditions of heterodoxy and pluralism, were able to fit to their own needs. Indeed, the very Hindu pantheon, with its many gods rather than one, works toward the realization that competing truths are what enable freedom. Thus, the British, despite all their flaws, advanced an ideal of Indian greatness. (via India’s New Face - The Atlantic (April 2009).
After the guns fell silent
At the end of WW2, Britain was a superpower, intact with its huge colonial Empire - apart from the massive debt that it owed the US. With Germany defeated and Hitler dead, Italy in shambles and Mussolini hanged, Britain sat at the head of ‘high tables’ in the post-WW2 world deciding the fate of the nations - with its partner in crime, the US of A.
Trouble from unexpected quarters
On February 18th, the lowly Naval Ratings from the Royal Indian Navy rained on the British parade - by raising the flag of Indian Independence. Britain did not have the stomach to take on the Indian Colonial Army, battle hardened and exposed to warfare in all the global theatres of WW2. They acquiesced and 18 months later the British were out. From then, to …
Britain today, a shell of its former self - with its manufacturing hollowed out, its agriculture in shambles, its economy on the verge of being relegated to the Third World is a huge descent. Much like Spain after Haiti.
In a 100 years after Haiti, Spain flamed out. By 1930, it was in the throes of a Civil War. And in Spain today, prostitution is national industry.
India, in the meantime, led by men of straw, has moved from being a ‘ship-to-mouth’ basket-case, to a significant economic and political success. Yet, the British colonial administrators needed to prove that only they could rule over India. Indians were after all ‘men of straw … of whom no trace will be found after a few years’. And they were led by ‘half naked fakir‘.
If Britain was indeed so good at its job, why can’t they do anything to save themselves from this terminal decline.
For all this, we owe a debt of gratitude to the British, Mr.Kaplan? Can you make up a better story please, next time!
A blog reader responds
The whole of black Africa has become a basket case. The people are ripped off by their rulers, in a far worse way than they ever were under white rule. Many of their citizens long for the return of white rule and the stability that would bring. It’s just a shame they are never going to get it.
By this logic, the way Britain is being run, it will need to be governed by guess who - Indians. Looking at where India was after the end of the Raj - and now, it is clear who is better at governing.
Looking at the ‘decline’ of Britain (what will happen after the secession of Scotland and Wales?) and Spain, after the end of Black Moslem rule, and you know who should be ruling over Britain and Spain at least.
Whatcha say …
As Britain (and the West) was forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The many issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony to the British gift to the modern world. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis.