Commemorating the Past


by Rumbold
2nd October, 2007 at 11:08 am    

Who has the right to commemorate the past?

A week or so ago British tourists upset the BJP and others in India by trying to visit Lucknow in order to commemorate the actions of the The Rifles (a British regiment) during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Lucknow is widely held to have been one of the centres of the Mutiny (or the First War of Independence, as some Indians know it), and the tourists were accused of wanting to celebrate the retribution meted out to the natives by British forces.

“Roy Trustram-Eve, the leader of the group linked to the British regiment The Rifles and which includes descendants of some of the soldiers who took part, said that there was no question of “celebrating” an event when massacres of women and children were committed by both sides.

“We are here to commemorate, and not to celebrate, the events of 1857,” he said after a service of remembrance in St James Church, New Delhi, on Saturday, “Many people died. There was bravery shown by both sides.””

Initially, from a British point of view, Mr. Trustam-Eve’s attitude seemed to be a reasonable one. He was not going to gloat, merely pay his respects to those that had lost their lives in the conflict. However, I thought of what my reaction would be if a German came over here and wanted to pay his respects at the spot where his grandfather had dropped his first bomb on London. I would be shocked at the request, and would question him on why he wished to commemorate the Nazis. With this in mind then, I can see why some Indians were angry at the (unwitting) tourists. Obviously the Nazis were worse than the British, but the same principle is involved; the celebration of those that oppressed you.

Who decides what aspects of the past to commemorate and celebrate though? The Japanese are constantly pilloried for paying their respects to war criminals, yet the Russians are never criticised for their commemoration services. Is it because they ended up on the winning side? In India, Subhas Chandra Bose is considered to be a great hero and freedom fighter, yet I would happily rank him alongside Nazis and some of the top Japanese as premier war criminals. Similarly, some British military heroes are hated in other parts of the world.

There will always be contentious historical debates like these, so should we just accept that tensions will always be there?


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  1. Laban Tall — on 2nd October, 2007 at 11:53 am  

    “However, I thought of what my reaction would be if a German came over here”

    When the kids were small, eight years or so back, we used to go to Jersey or Guernsey in the summer, and found organised parties of elderly (and some younger) Germans who were stationed there in WW2. As far as I know they were all able to leave their hotels without being attacked.

    (Although I was looking at a plaque on the wall of a German bunker – Noirmont Point ? – when a German girl asked what the list of names were. “They’re the prisoners of war who died building it”. Silence – and rightly so.)

    Lucknow was not only a story of men with guns fighting other men with guns. The rebels slaughtered Europeans and Indian Christian converts regardless of age or sex, although many lives were saved by the bravery of individuals who hid families at great personal risk.

    “Captain Orr, before allowing the sepoys to accompany them, as well as himself and his family, first made them swear on the head of a Brahmin jemadar, or native officer, the most sacred oath a Hindoo can take, that they would not touch a hair of their heads. They had scarcely set out a short distance, however, when the sepoys obliged the ladies and children to leave their carriages and to walk. The gentlemen, fourteen in number, were murdered one by one, near Mithowly, and the whole of the ladies and children, certain of their coming fate, assembling together in one body, were shot down while kneeling and singing a hymn.”

    - A personal narrative of the siege of Lucknow By L E Ruutz Rees (1858) – on Google Books

    We should remember that many gallant Indian soldiers also died in the defence of the Residency. Indeed without the Punjabis of all faiths, the Pashtuns, Sikhs and Gurkhas, the Mutiny would not have been suppressed.

  2. Boyo — on 2nd October, 2007 at 12:06 pm  

    I think a better comparison would be with German soldiers visiting their old bases in France or wherever. Its specious to compare it with a dropped bomb.

    The BJP were of course within their rights to have a moan about it, although we all know it’s more about making political capital, but really these tourists were perfectly harmless.

    And really I’m sure most Indians would regard this as ridiculous.

  3. sonia — on 2nd October, 2007 at 12:07 pm  

    good question. clearly the victor feels it has the right to do that, since effectively it won the victory as ‘good’ and managed to paint the other side as ‘evil’. commemorating any kind of war victory also commemorates the bombs dropped on the victim’s side, naturally they would think that was horrible that someone would want to celebrate the death of their relatives.

    in the pakistan bangladesh situation – this is very much an issue that is still alive. every time bangladesh celebrates its independence, its a reminder of what some people will insist as seeing their nation’s failure.

    of course this is all tied up with the fact that there is never an easy “conclusion” to conflict. who was right, and who was wrong. ( though history tries to portray that simplicity often)

  4. Muhamad — on 2nd October, 2007 at 12:52 pm  

    What everyone, so far, have omitted from this post is the fact that the sepoys were referred to as The Bengal Army, and even if they weren’t called as such, there was still a substantial number of Bengalis involved. From some responses one gets the impression that they all hailed from Uttar Pradesh…or something.

    Subhas Chandra Bose was a fascist. There’s no doubt about that, but on what grounds would one illustrate him to be a war criminal?

    The dead are dead, and maybe we shouldn’t commemorate or celebrate them at all. I guess that’s why the Brahmins burn their dead bodies?

  5. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 12:54 pm  

    Obviously the Nazis were worse than the British

    How so? If we go by numbers alone the British Empire was responsible for far more death and suffering than the Nazis (eg Bengal famine alone = 4 million minimum dead. Not to mention your lovely concentration camps in South Africa, your regal treatment of the Aboriginies and Native Americans, and the list goes on and on).

    No wonder so much of the third-world cheered on German bombers.

    Homi

  6. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 12:58 pm  

    Subhas Chandra Bose was a fascist.

    Technically, he was a die-hard Marxist who understood Realpolitik and decided to side with his enemy’s enemy. He was no fascist, that’s for sure.

    Let’s be honest, his choice was between two fascisms (British and Germanic), and he chose the latter for reasons of national interest.

    Rumbold, some introspection perhaps? What drove a Marxist determinist like Bose to side with Hitler?

    Perhaps all wasn’t so fine and dandy in the ‘good old Empire’, hey?

  7. Muhamad — on 2nd October, 2007 at 1:03 pm  

    Actually, Bose was more akin to Mussolini than Hitler, but still a fascist. There’s minor differences between a commie and a fascist. They are all deluded.

  8. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    To address your post directly, the cliched saying, ‘time is a great healer’ is applicable here.

    I fathom that in 50 years time, when the Raj is but a mere chapter in a text book, and its barbarity is no longer in the collective psyche, then the Brits will be able to lay whatever flowers they want to commemorate their blood drenched past.

    Also, India is not a confident nation. Anything construed as ‘anti-national’, like demanding that non-Hindu victims of communal massacres receive justice, is seen as some sort of threat to the nation’s existence.

    If India becomes more confident (economically and socially – not likely), then it would b able to deal with its past a lot more maturely.

  9. Sunny — on 2nd October, 2007 at 1:15 pm  

    Subhas Chandra Bose was a fascist.

    Ummm, no he wasn’t. He may have opposed Gandhi’s non-violent methods for securing independence, but he certainly didn’t concoct any theory that Indians were a superior race and all the inferior races needed to be wiped out.

  10. The Common Humanist — on 2nd October, 2007 at 1:28 pm  

    Homi

    Now, I’m not the British Empires greatest fan but equating it to the same plane of evil as nazism does you no favours.

    Between 1933 and 1945 the Nazis were responsible directly for around 38M deaths. Thats in just less then 20 years.

    Imagine what the Nazis would have done to the brown skinned nations of the world given half a chance….????

    I dred to imagine but luckily for you, you didn’t get to suffer the same fate as the Jews, the occupied nations of europe, the baltic states, the Libyians, the Russians and Ukriainians, the Beolorus, the Norwegians etc etc etc because an alliance of democracies plus the Soviets destroyed nazism.

    No no no, don’t thank us, no really stop gushing….

    But yeah, obviously Britain was just as bad as the Nazis…….I mean, thats just sooooooo clear…..

  11. Boyo — on 2nd October, 2007 at 1:36 pm  

    Obviously Homi has his own agenda, but at least according to Wiki I found few similarities between the incompetence of the British authorities during the Bengal Famine with the construction of the gas chambers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_famine_of_1943

    On the other hand I thought a good point was made comparing Colonial India with its post-1947 model.

  12. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 1:43 pm  

    Now, I’m not the British Empires greatest fan but equating it to the same plane of evil as nazism does you no favours.

    I’m not looking for your approval or any favours.

    Between 1933 and 1945 the Nazis were responsible directly for around 38M deaths. Thats in just less then 20 years.

    So, you want to play the numbers game?

    Try these:

    (1)Great Bengal Famine (1769-1770; 10 million deaths)
    (2)25 million 19th century cholera deaths (due to cholera dissemination by British shipping, rail and canals)
    (3)The 19th century China Opium Wars and the subsequent Tai Ping rebellion (20-100 million associated famine victims

    Oh, look, you’ve surpassed Adolf already. Tully ho, let me carry on anyway.

    (4) extraordinary Indian population stasis between 1890 and 1930 (due to famine, malnutrition, cholera, plague and influenza)

    (5) WW2 man-made Bengal Famine in WW2 British India (4 million victims; speculated in Colin Mason’s “A Short History of Asia” to have been a deliberate scorched earth policy to block Japanese invasion from Burma – and accordingly near-comprehensively deleted from British history)

    (6) “If you point out basic facts about the British Empire — that the British deliberately adopted policies that caused as many as 29 million Indians to starve to death in the late 19th century, say — you smack into a wall of incomprehension and rage.” (Quoted from Johann Hari himself).

    Case closed.

    Imagine what the Nazis would have done to the brown skinned nations of the world given half a chance….????

    Why? I already have the historical reality of British rule over the ‘dark hordes’. I don’t need to imagine.

    etc etc etc because an alliance of democracies plus the Soviets destroyed nazism.

    I had to stop myself fro laughing. But I couldn’t. ‘Democracies’ won the war? Tell me, did the populations of India, the Carribean, Uganda, Kenya, all of whom contributed massively to the war effort, have a VOTE to determine their rulers? No? Then that’s not democracy.

    But you’re right about onr thing though: The Soviets won the war on the Eastern front.

  13. Muhamad — on 2nd October, 2007 at 1:53 pm  

    Sunny,
    When one compares the ideology and practice of Mussolini, prior to his pact with Hitler, with the ideology and practice of Hitler, one finds that Mussolini was something of an inclusive fascist as opposed to an outright Nazi, and, in particular, the virulent racialist Nazi. Mussolini, after his conversion from a socialism to fascism, was still amiable to the Jewish population of Italy. It was this that enabled certain Jewish Italians to side with Mussolini, and was this aspect of Mussolini that the reverend Bose also found to be most agreeable.
    In brevis, yes, Bose was not a Nazi, otherwise this exemplary case of an ‘arya’ manhood would not have procreated with a mere German maidchen.

  14. ZinZin — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:01 pm  

    Rumbold the big fuss about the Japanese commerating its war dead, even war criminals would not be an issue if it acknowledged its war crimes.

  15. The Common Humanist — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:06 pm  

    “I had to stop myself fro laughing. But I couldn’t. ‘Democracies’ won the war? Tell me, did the populations of India, the Carribean, Uganda, Kenya, all of whom contributed massively to the war effort, have a VOTE to determine their rulers? No? Then that’s not democracy”

    Please enjoy yr mirth. The democracies as you well know were the UK and the US as well as those of our Western European allies who have escaped from Nazism

    Those countries you mention would have done very little if it wasn’t for the UK and the US and in short order those self same countries would have had to face a Nazi superpower that could marshall the industrial power of europe.

    Like I said I am not here to defend the actions of the British Empire – truly a creature of benevolence, myopia and stupidity all rolled into one, but I am here to shake my head at the naviety of someone who equates the immense and well planned evil of the Nazi Empire with the at times banal but rarely well planned British empire (NB – ‘well planned’ in that policy lead to bad things but rarely as deliberate plan)

    Plus I like your use of conflating figures from events with only a limited connection to British policy. Dammit, if only the British had been powerful enough to change the immunosystems of the human race……! Those pesky Brits!

  16. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:25 pm  

    The democracies as you well know were the UK and the US as well as those of our Western European allies who have escaped from Nazism

    Sorry, still laughing. Britain wasn’t actually bothered about the Jews or anyone else getting slaughtered by the Nazi juggernaut. It was only when Britain itself was threatened that it decided to act (by drafting in coloured folk to act as cannon fodder).

    As for America, your supposition that they ‘won the war’, along with the ‘noble’ Brits, is possibly the funniest thing I’ve heard all year.

    “When Americans landed in Normandy in June 1944 and captured their first German trucks, they discovered that these vehicles were powered by engines produced by American firms such as Ford and General Motors. Corporate America, it turned out, had also been serving as the arsenal of Nazism.”

    http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/llt/51/pauwels.html

    Ford had supplied the Nazis with equipment with the full complicity of the US government.

    Hard truths for the Western mind to take, I know.

  17. Boyo — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

    Would Homi be the same Homi whose the “Indian-American post-colonial theorist”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homi_K._Bhabha

    Just wondered. The ol’ “Brits as bad as Nazis” argument tends to be the preserve of Islamists.

    And just as juvenile.

  18. sonia — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:31 pm  

    i think whoever said up there leave the dead in the past was speaking good sense. only thing that matters and that we can learn to keep moving forwards is to not keep fighting wars!

  19. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:31 pm  

    Would Homi be the same Homi whose the “Indian-American post-colonial theorist”?

    No, but I’m a great admirer of his work. Especially ‘The Location of Culture’. The man is a legend.

  20. koppakabana — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:35 pm  

    Why are the British entering India to commemorate anything at all? It seems to me that if the British want to commemorate, celebrate, gloat, reflect, etc on their history, then they should do it in their own country. India as a nation can address the Empire however they wish to as well – isn’t this what it means to gain independence, after all?

  21. ZinZin — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

    “Who decides what aspects of the past to commemorate and celebrate though?”

    The nations elites.

    Better to ask; What are they commemorating? Armistice Day is commemorating the war dead and is a day of mourning and remembrance.

  22. justforfun — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

    Homi – So you’r not the real Homi K – but why should we believe you – maybe you are and just want vent off a bit and let out the other side of you.

    Anyway lets have you playing the part of your Guru – so can you answer these questions, as I am a little confused..

    When the British set about in earnest on colonisation of the Indian sub-continent in the 1780 and 90 and beyond, should they have followed the example set by their recently lost American colonists and set about the extermination of the natives of India? Its not as if they were held back by any conscience, as illustrated by their easy dismissal of 10m Bengali deaths.

    What do current American citizens like yourself, think of this colonisation of the North American continent or is it truely “Post Colonial” and under the carpet? Are they complicit in it still or is it water of a ducks back – “only a chapter in history – lets move on with clean hands”

    You are funny Homi. I like the 100m dead in China. Lets be realistic – China’s population at the start of the 20C was 300m – so some time in the middle of the 19 century it had lost 1 in 4 people to a famine caused by 2 regiments of Gurkhas and a couple of gunboats going up the Pearl River and demanding trade rights for the British to sell Opium grown in Bengal to the Chinese in exchange for tea, ceramic cups and silks. Wow the British race must have been like the aliens in some Dr Who episode – with “out of this world technology and planning and deviousness” and ….” Wow – and to think in 3 generations the Brits cannot run the trains on time.

    What happened to them Homi? – did God stop being an Englishman.

    You should do your research on the Opium Wars a bit better, and you may perhaps find the complicity in any consequent deaths due to them and in Bengal due to forced opium production, being closer to your own forefathers. We have alot of blood on our hands.

    Justforfun

  23. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 2:59 pm  

    Justforfun

    should they have followed the example set by their recently lost American colonists and set about the extermination of the natives of India?

    The British should not have been there at all.

    What do current American citizens like yourself, think of this colonisation of the North American continent or is it truely “Post Colonial” and under the carpet? Are they complicit in it still or is it water of a ducks back – “only a chapter in history – lets move on with clean hands”

    I’m not an American citizen.

    We have alot of blood on our hands.

    ‘We’? Speak for yourself. I am neither Bengali and nor were my forefathers butchers.

    The remainder of your post is incoherent and consists of ramblings.

  24. justforfun — on 2nd October, 2007 at 3:05 pm  

    Rumbold – I fear we will not know the truth about 1857 until Mel Gibson makes a film about it.

    It has all the ingredients – lots of gore , more gore, bad bad Englishmen, brave lonely American/Irish Catholic missionary who lost his first wife in the chaos, but fell in love with the Rani of Jhansi and used his fighting skills learnt in his rebellion against the British in Ireland 15 years earlier to help the Rani in battles against the British. He had fled to America where he learnt all about the American Dream and he had gone to India to help freeeedommm …. but to no avail. However he did not die .. his spirit lived on in the dust and soil of India until the new coming of the “Dubya” and the promised American way of life.
    Oh of course there were lots of natives quarrelling and litteraly being cannon fodder for all sides – lets not forget them.

    In the meantime we are all just at a ‘scriptwriters’ meeting to thrash out the story line.

    Justforfun

  25. justforfun — on 2nd October, 2007 at 3:09 pm  

    Homi – get into the spirit of it – Sorry I thought you were an American citizen – perhaps you should change your Wiki entry.

    - and learn more of the Parsi involvement in the Opium wars and opium production in Bengal in general. You are a Parsi arn’t you?

    Justforfun

  26. ZinZin — on 2nd October, 2007 at 3:18 pm  

    “I fear we will not know the truth about 1857 until Mel Gibson makes a film about it.”

    Devils in skirts?

  27. justforfun — on 2nd October, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    Sorry Rumbold – I have sounded very flippant with your post – I apologise. I just sort of knew when I read it before any comments had been posted that it would degenerate into a numbers game etc… It always does when we talk about issues like this. Which version of history to base our image of ourselves. The past is used by the present to justify our actions in the future. That is why politians are always trying to lay claim to the past to justfy their plans for the future. One only has to look at the other debate on scottishness and Britishness – how to define ourselves and make ourselves more than the mundane.

    India is now writing its history, and each is trying to write it to suit their agenda for the future. How much is true, only God knows, but this group of relatives were ill advised if they thought that any ‘commeration’ would not be used by politians as a political football to try and galvanize their own supporters and re- state thier version of history.

    Perhaps Muhamad and Sonia up above are right.
    the dead are dead, and we ought not to celebrate them. Or should we comprimise – say for one generation and then let them go in peace.

    Justforfun

  28. Rumbold — on 2nd October, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    On Subhas Chandra Bose:

    Just as one can be charged with attempted murder, I would have charge him with attempted genocide. The effects of Japanese occupation were clear in China- millions dead and millions more enslaved and worked to death. Bose knew this and evidently was happy for India to suffer this fate in order to turf out the British. Indians would have been put into labour details and worked until they died. Bose was a nastier version of Oswald Mosley.

    Homi K Bhaba:

    ” I fathom that in 50 years time, when the Raj is but a mere chapter in a text book, and its barbarity is no longer in the collective psyche, then the Brits will be able to lay whatever flowers they want to commemorate their blood drenched past.

    Also, India is not a confident nation. Anything construed as ‘anti-national’, like demanding that non-Hindu victims of communal massacres receive justice, is seen as some sort of threat to the nation’s existence.”

    I agree with you on the latter point, but as to the former I still think that there will be historical wounds in 50 or even 100 years. Oh, and welcome back.

    ZinZin:

    “Rumbold the big fuss about the Japanese commerating its war dead, even war criminals would not be an issue if it acknowledged its war crimes.”

    There would still be a fuss if war crimes were acknowledged, because then people would start saying that they should not visit the shrines of those whom they consider war criminals. My point was that the Soviets also committed terrible acts during WW2, yet nobody mentions that during commemorations.

    “Better to ask; What are they commemorating? Armistice Day is commemorating the war dead and is a day of mourning and remembrance.”

    Good point.

    Justforfun:

    “I fear we will not know the truth about 1857 until Mel Gibson makes a film about it.

    It has all the ingredients – lots of gore , more gore, bad bad Englishmen, brave lonely American/Irish Catholic missionary who lost his first wife in the chaos, but fell in love with the Rani of Jhansi and used his fighting skills learnt in his rebellion against the British in Ireland 15 years earlier to help the Rani in battles against the British. He had fled to America where he learnt all about the American Dream and he had gone to India to help freeeedommm …. but to no avail. However he did not die .. his spirit lived on in the dust and soil of India until the new coming of the “Dubya” and the promised American way of life.
    Oh of course there were lots of natives quarrelling and litteraly being cannon fodder for all sides – lets not forget them.”

    Ha ha ha ha! Brilliant.

    “Sorry Rumbold – I have sounded very flippant with your post – I apologise.”

    See above- one of the funniest things that I have read in a while.

    “The dead are dead, and we ought not to celebrate them. Or should we comprimise – say for one generation and then let them go in peace.”

    I think that we should celebrate events which kept us safe, but at the same time recognise that other countries will do the same. I was always please that until recently the Eurostar went into Waterloo station, and in the same vein have no problem with the French naming things after their victories. It is just part of our history. Perhaps if we just keep such things within our borders that would be acceptable.

  29. El Cid — on 2nd October, 2007 at 4:31 pm  

    Nice article Rumbold.
    You should read the first couple of chapters of Giles Tremlett’s Ghosts of Spain. It deals with Spain’s inability to deal with the Spanish Civil War.
    There’s this enormous commemorative tribute to the fallen just outside Madrid, el Valle de los Caidos, where Franco is buried.
    It’s supposed to be truly awe-inspiring, although I have never been there. It is meant for all the war dead but of course it’s also a hangout for fascists once a year.

  30. Rumbold — on 2nd October, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    El Cid:

    “Nice article Rumbold.”

    Thanks.

    “You should read the first couple of chapters of Giles Tremlett’s Ghosts of Spain. It deals with Spain’s inability to deal with the Spanish Civil War.”

    It is understandable that the Spanish have never really come to grips with it- after Franco’s death there were fears that anti-fascist purges could provoke another civil war. Zapareto seems to have pursued a stronger line in this regard than his predecessors, but there will still be tensions for quite some time. England was still arguing about erecting a statue of Oliver Cromwell centuries after his death. Do you find that the Franco era looms large in Spanish people’s minds, or is it just something that comes up now and again?

  31. El Cid — on 2nd October, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

    There’s a lot of nonsense when it comes to Madrid-Catalonia/Basque relations, and the language used by the Spanish Tories is a bit old fashioned.
    But not really.
    That generation is dying out.

  32. Boyo — on 2nd October, 2007 at 5:34 pm  

    I wonder how long it will take the Dalits to recover from 2500 years of oppression by the Aryans… sorry I mean Indians.

    Easy game to play, innit.

  33. Homi K Bhaba — on 2nd October, 2007 at 6:02 pm  

    Boyo

    I’m not entirely sure what ‘point’ it is you’re trying, and failing, to make.

    Let us examine your remark:

    I wonder how long it will take the Dalits to recover from 2500 years of oppression by the Aryans… sorry I mean Indians.

    You are wrong on both counts; Dalits have been, and are, persecuted by Hindu Brahmins mainly (and other upper-caste Hindus). Hindu Brahmins can be Dravidian as well as Aryan.

    And if by ‘Indian’ you mean to include Sikhs, Christians and Jews who happen to reside in the fictional colonial entity known as India, then you are wrong.

    And if by ‘Aryan’ you mean all those Sikh, Muslim and Christian Aryans then, again, you are mistaken.

    Like I said, they are oppressed by upper-caste Hindus, no-one else.

  34. Jai — on 2nd October, 2007 at 6:27 pm  

    I wonder how long it will take the Dalits to recover from 2500 years of oppression by the Aryans… sorry I mean Indians.

    Incidentally, the Aryan influx into the subcontinent occurred far, far before “2500 years” ago. We’re talking at least 4000 years ago, possibly even earlier.

    The Indian population’s subsequently become a pretty multi-ethnic group since then across all castes, although (very) broad generalisations can be made to a limited extent.

  35. Boyo — on 2nd October, 2007 at 11:25 pm  

    But the numbers Homi! Don’t you want to compare the numbers?! Millions, if not billions of Dalits must have suffered at the hands of those high-caste Hindu-Nazis over the past 4000 years. No wonder they invented the swastika!

  36. ZinZin — on 2nd October, 2007 at 11:26 pm  

    Now, now Boyo don’t be facetious. :)

  37. lost — on 3rd October, 2007 at 4:15 pm  

    “high-caste Hindu-Nazis over the past 4000 years.”

    Cast oppression became highly rampant in the last 1500 years. Before that although caste system or the laws of Manu was practiced it was not the oppressive kind of modern times.

    About Bose, no I Bose was not a fascist. but Bose made an important observation about Indian society and said that in order for the Indians to develope economically and socially there must be at least 20years of centralised rule to bring the society out of the mindset of centuries of colonialism, slavery and social division, which is deeply ingrained, and create common social ground of interaction.

    In one way he was right, but not sure if the method would have worked if India did become marxist- leninist or Mussolini or if India would have been able come out of that political system at all.

    So with all its hypocrisis, problems and turmoil India’s democracy has been a boon.

  38. Homi K Bhaba — on 3rd October, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    But the numbers Homi! Don’t you want to compare the numbers?! Millions, if not billions of Dalits must have suffered at the hands of those high-caste Hindu-Nazis over the past 4000 years.

    Yes, you are right. So what? We were talking about the British and the Nazis. Stop trying to divert the conversation to suit some sort of warped agenda.

  39. Jagdeep — on 4th October, 2007 at 5:21 pm  

    In India, Subhas Chandra Bose is considered to be a great hero and freedom fighter, yet I would happily rank him alongside Nazis and some of the top Japanese as premier war criminals.

    Subhas Chandra Bose was, it could be argued, misguided. But placing him on the same level as Nazis who liquidated Jews by the million, or Japanese generals who raped Nanking, is another demented lack of perspective Rumbold.

  40. Jagdeep — on 4th October, 2007 at 5:24 pm  

    Ooh, some good fighting talk from Homi K Bhaba, well done. Of course, those who worry about the welfare of the Dalits over time are oblivious to the fact that Dalits en masse and leaders like Ambedkar and others fought against the British Empire (as well as framing the Indian consitution), and were also, sadly, not immune from the various rapine, massacre and famine that occured in India during British rule.

  41. Rumbold — on 5th October, 2007 at 10:19 am  

    Jagdeep:

    “Subhas Chandra Bose was, it could be argued, misguided.”

    Bose fought hard to get the Japanese into India. Had he been successful, it would have been likely that Japan-occupied India would have turned into another China; tens of millions deads, millions more enslaved and slowly worked to death. Bose knew this, and I cannot understand why you are defending him. The actual blood on his hands was less than the other war criminals, but in what he was trying to do I would bracket him with them.

    “Another demented lack of perspective Rumbold.”

    One of the points of my piece was that people interpret historical situations differently. You seem unwilling, or unable, to grasp this, and so if somebody deviates from your accepted view of historical events you start to insult them. I accept that some Indians consider Bose a hero, and will happily argue the point, but I would not label them as demented for disagreeing with me.

  42. Alex — on 5th October, 2007 at 4:24 pm  

    Ford had supplied the Nazis with equipment with the full complicity of the US government.

    Hard truths for the Western mind to take, I know.

    You do *know* the Americans weren’t at war with them until the end of 1941, do you? Further, the German government seized the Ford and GM plants in Russelsheim, which could be an explanation. Further still, the Germans were chronically short of trucks (I wonder if that had something to do with Ford not being on their side?) and used thousands of vehicles captured from everyone else.

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