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  • Technorati: graph / links

    The empire will save us from terrorism!


    by Sunny on 12th May, 2009 at 12:21 am    

    This has got to be the funniest blog post in quite a while. Either it’s good satire or James Delingpole really is a bit deranged. (via thabet)

    To summarise, he says Britain can revive its sense of national identity and reach all those hard-to-connect Muslims living in areas like Beeston and Bradford by reviving memories of the British Empire! Yes! Honestly! I’m not joking either! Apparently it’s because there were Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in the armies that fought the Japanese alongside British forces, and therefore we can all revive memories of those happy days, sing khumbaya and be cohesive nation. And the ‘think-tank’ Civitas said it so it must be a good idea.

    Now, I don’t harbour any residual anger over the British Raj, it happened decades ago and it would be pretty silly to go around cursing the present British government for what happened then. But perhaps someone could ask if most South Asians harbour good memories of the British Empire before flying such an absurd kite? And anecdotes from random guys accosting you in Sudan don’t really count for shit, because South Asia had a very different experience under the Raj. Unless of course, like his fellow Telegraph blogger Daniel Hannan MEP, James Delingpole thinks that all these ethnics look and think the same. And secondly, would it not be better to revive a sense of national pride through a joint vision of the future than some absurd notion of what the past was like? But then, I expect that’s why he’s a conservative and I’m a leftie.



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    147 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. dave bones — on 12th May, 2009 at 7:37 am  

      Yeah. Going round India the first question people usually ask on the train is “What country?”

      When I reply “England” they invariably say “Best country in the world. Sad you ever left.”

      Its embarassing.

    2. Robert — on 12th May, 2009 at 7:49 am  

      James Dellingpole is best ignored. He seems to be in the middle of an attempt to create a career in baiting the left wing, publishing books such as “How to be Right” and writing blogs like the one you linked to, and this piece of ill-researched half-wittery. I don’t think its satire in the Stephen Colbert sense, more performance in the Anne Coulter sense. Certainly not a serious attempt to persuade, and both he and his editors know it.

    3. Ravi Naik — on 12th May, 2009 at 8:27 am  

      Now, I don’t harbour any residual anger over the British Raj, it happened decades ago and it would be pretty silly to go around cursing the present British government for what happened then. But perhaps someone could ask if most South Asians harbour good memories of the British Empire before flying such an absurd kite?

      There are two realities here. The first, is that British governance is light-years ahead from the Indian one. It is no wonder that a lot of Indians feel nostalgic about the British Raj.

      Having said that, I believe that on the whole European colonialism in India was very bad for the country. Before the British Raj, India’s GDP was equal of the whole Europe (without Russia), after the British left, well, it was a massively poor country.

      But the worst part of colonialism is the inferiority complex that is placed on its people, and the lack of social evolution that allows one generation to progress over the previous one. I do not agree we should keep placing the blame on the British Raj for India’s failures, but accept that India’s evolution will be a slow one.

    4. Rumbold — on 12th May, 2009 at 8:28 am  

      James Delingpole is a bit of a loon, and has been for a while. The sad thing is, he believes what he is writing.

      Dave Bones:

      I suspect most say that in the hope of getting larger tips.

    5. Anton Vowl — on 12th May, 2009 at 8:33 am  

      Delingpole is an awful individual, either an attention-seeking twit or an out-and-out racist. Best thing to do is to ignore him completely; I get the impression he loves all the criticism. The more he gets attacked, the more chance of the fool getting picked up and given a real job writing his guff.

    6. dave bones — on 12th May, 2009 at 9:19 am  

      No, it was often middle class people in trains or people on buses, in the street, all over India. Just like Mr Dellingpole says it is usually followed by a comment about the trains. I’d have an Indian train any day of the week over one in this country for comfort, price and catering. I don’t think the British are quite as responsible for the inferiority complex of the people there as the caste system. Caste and Class were a satanic union.

    7. Leon — on 12th May, 2009 at 9:41 am  

      No, it was often middle class people in trains or people on buses, in the street, all over India.

      I guess that makes sense, the higher classes have the most to gain from an occupation…

    8. Ravi Naik — on 12th May, 2009 at 10:07 am  

      I don’t think the British are quite as responsible for the inferiority complex of the people there as the caste system.

      They are not responsible for the caste system - though they did exploit such divisions during British rule. However, there is certainly an inferiority complex that derives from a colonial mindset, and which takes a few generations to get rid of that.

    9. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 10:27 am  

      Dave Bones,

      Not quite. Caste, Class, British Bureaucracy and subsequent exploitation is what made it satanic.

      It killed the possibility of social mobility stone dead, and is the precursor for supremacist organisations such as the RSS.

    10. Ravi Naik — on 12th May, 2009 at 10:43 am  

      … is the precursor for supremacist organisations such as the RSS.

      You are pushing it, Refresh. Fundamentalism is unfortunately a reality in any society.

    11. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 10:48 am  

      I suspect most say that in the hope of getting larger tips.

      Agreed, and in the case of the middle class folk etc, it’s usually just a matter of them telling the white person what they think he/she wants to hear, either as a way of making them feel more comfortable and “smoothing the discourse” or (alternatively) actually being a bit two-faced and taking the piss out of the unwitting recipient.

      Dave Bones, don’t take people at face value too much, especially those you bump into in India. Social interaction over there can sometimes be a bit more intricate than you may think, regardless of how matters appear on the surface.

    12. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 10:53 am  

      ‘You are pushing it, Refresh.’

      I am not really sure that I am.

      Fascists love bureaucracy, and being handed a pre-ordained social structure in perpetuity has had its consequences - none of them good.

    13. asquith — on 12th May, 2009 at 10:53 am  

      “Anyway, we gave up our Empire because of the whole colonial guilt thing and few would argue that the world isn’t now in a significantly worse state - Pakistan, anyone? Zimbabwe? - than when the liberal bleeding hearts forced us to make our hurried and, especially in the case of the partition of India, deeply dangerous and shambolic exit.”

      What fucking shite this “analysis” is. We gave up our empire because we no longer had the resources to withstand pressure from natives themselves demanding independence- which is why right-wing governments never even tried recolonisation, as it was an impossibility.

      During the late 1940s, Churchill objected to the decline of the Raj but couldn’t offer any actual alternative course he’d have followed, which is why Tory governments largely went along with the whole thing. How would James Delingpole have answered Gandhi or Nehru, let alone the Mau Mau or such types as the Cypriot partisans, or anyone else?

      His fantasies about being an agent of imperial power- as well as his warmongering- are just there to try to take his mind off his own inadequacy & the pointlessness of his life.

      It is a laugh watching him & his fellow right-whingers impotently moan about Obama though.

    14. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 10:58 am  

      But the worst part of colonialism is the inferiority complex that is placed on its people,

      Even worse than that is the superiority complex that it creates amongst the colonisers and amongst many of their descendents.

      This is one of the major reasons why we all still often have to deal the legacy of those events in terms of attitudes in some quarters of modern-day British society — and there’s plenty of documented historical records confirming that racism and assumptions of superiority over South Asians was far, far less common amongst both local white Brits and (particularly) amongst Brits in the subcontinent until the British Raj really kicked off in earnest from the early 19th century onwards.

      I don’t think the British are quite as responsible for the inferiority complex of the people there as the caste system.

      Indians at all levels of the society there do not have an inferiority complex in relation to white people, including white Brits. There is certainly some ambivalence about Western people and society in general, most of all the United States and Americans, but as for the suggestion that they have some kind of inbuilt inferiority complex — no, they don’t. Far from it. As a group, Indians actually tend to be very proud people.

      Also, Ravi’s points throughout this thread so far have been excellent.

    15. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:03 am  

      ‘ Fundamentalism is unfortunately a reality in any society.’

      Agree with your later edit. Although fundamentalists generally haven’t taken to wearing military style uniforms carrying lattis.

    16. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:05 am  

      Fascists love bureaucracy, and being handed a pre-ordained social structure in perpetuity has had its consequences - none of them good.

      One minor point, Refresh, in addition to what Ravi has said: While your remarks may have been accurate to some extent from a historical perspective, and there are certainly still some problems in relation to caste in India (particularly in the rural areas, although not so much in the really major cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai), mobility isn’t necessarily as “set in stone” as it once was.

      Unless you think that, for example, all those older-generation Indian-educated Gujarati doctors here in the UK are all or even predominantly Brahmins or Kshatriyas. As someone who has grown up amongst the Indian medic crowd, I can assure you that this far from reality.

      Class, however, is definitely still a major issue in India (as it is in many other countries). Caste can be overcome depending on the individual’s educational background, occupation (particularly if it’s a high-status area), and most of all their income. Ultimately it all comes down to money over there, especially these days.

    17. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:27 am  

      Jai, I totally appreciate the point about money particularly about new money.

      The points you made about race and racism chime with my own views. Colonisers have to intellectually differentiate themselves from their subjects. And I also agree with you about class.

      After all the masses in Britain were also exploited to a large degree. The workhouses are an obvious example. The wealth remained at the top, at least until there was mobility.

      The point about the bureaucracy was that by formally listing a family under a particular caste, left them and their offspring classified until today as of that caste. The caste system being what it is, a blot on the human race, is itself self-perpetuating without formally documented ‘evidence’.

    18. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:36 am  

      Refresh, you’re right in #17, but the caste system was already pretty fossilised by the time the British came along and started “formally classifying” everyone.

      For example, read up on Sikh history for more details, because the lives of the Gurus (and the scriptures enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib) dealt with this matter extensively a long time before the rise of the British Raj.

      Having said that, the British 1) formally classifying some people as “martial races” and others as not, and 2) formally classifying people according to religious affiliation as opposed to common regional/cultural identity, did both have a destructive effect on the subcontinent’s society. So on that level, your point is absolutely correct.

    19. fugstar — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:42 am  

      they gave us the railways and parliamentary castocracy. guffaw guffaw.

      i think the south asian muslims should kick the shit out of the Imperial legacy as a matter of urgent priority.

    20. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:52 am  

      Anyway, getting back to the main topic:

      To summarise, he says Britain can revive its sense of national identity and reach all those hard-to-connect Muslims living in areas like Beeston and Bradford by reviving memories of the British Empire! Yes! Honestly! I’m not joking either! Apparently it’s because there were Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in the armies that fought the Japanese alongside British forces, and therefore we can all revive memories of those happy days, sing khumbaya and be cohesive nation……But perhaps someone could ask if most South Asians harbour good memories of the British Empire before flying such an absurd kite? …..because South Asia had a very different experience under the Raj.

      Correct. Resurrecting any large-scale glorification of the British Empire is liable to have the opposite effect than what is being proposed; the real danger is that it will actually contribute not only to even further alienation and radicalisation of British (Asian) Muslims but will simultaneously have the same potential effect on the Sikh and Hindu populations as well.

      A couple of related observations:

      I think that one major, institutional problem within modern British culture is that, “liberal guilt” aside, there are still too many mutterings in some quarters about the British Empire being “a good thing”. And, simultaneously, the issue of many people being perfectly aware of the belligerence, rapaciousness and domination which was involved and not actually disagreeing with it (in many cases, even sneakily feeiling proud of it), which also overlaps with what another commenter recently said about support of the BNP (ie. they’re well aware of the racist mindset and ideology involved, they just happen to agree with it).

      These attitudes have a corrosive effect within British culture, because unlike what happened to Germany and Japan after their respective defeats in WW2, there hasn’t been a concerted, determined, society-wide effect to really hammer home the warmongering, exploitation and atrocities that were involved in establishing, expanding and enforcing the aggressive imperialism that Britain was historically involved in, and to subsequently address and expunge those attitudes from British society. Which is why, amongst other things, there’s an ongoing superiority complex in relation to “foreigners” and most of all compared to non-white people, especially black people and South Asians.

      I’ll give you another related example. Both the United States and Britain were involved in slavery — different areas of it, obviously, but there was an overlap. If there are attempts to honestly discuss the subject in Britain (as occurred quite recently), it provokes a disproportionate degree of responses along the lines of “Yeah well, we also abolished slavery and our Navy successfully enforced it, so let’s focus on that and sweep everything else under the carpet”. However, in the US, you don’t necessarily see responses such as “Well, we fought a huge civil war to eradicate slavery, so let’s focus on that, and dismiss, diminish or ignore the horrors and atrocities that were involved in slavery beforehand”.

    21. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:53 am  

      (continued)

      There are numerous other examples, but you get my point. It’s a case of there being institutionalised misguided (or, perhaps, just unwise, obsolete and counterproductive) priorities in too many quarters, and unless/until these issues are properly addressed, discussed and corrected, with the associated honest remorse and soul-searching, and without any excuses, rationalisations, comparisons with other colonial/imperial powers etc etc, then this will continue to be an ongoing toxic legacy in British culture and society in general.

      Of course, it will be quite a blow to people’s egos and perhaps require them to reconsider their place in history and indeed the modern world, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing and it would certainly foster a greater sense of integrity (internally and in terms of how they’re perceived by other people) once they come through the other side. Too much misplaced pride is the main problem in so many areas of human life, and it applies in this case too.

      It’s similar to some of the questions the Obama administration and their various supporters have asking in the US, in relation to the nefarious actions (and ongoing excuses) of the neo-cons during the past few years: “Exactly what kind of people do you want do be, and what kind of country and society do you want this to be ?”

      Having said that, the rise of India and China during the next few decades might do the job for them, especially if those two nations end up seated “at the top of the table” with the United States in most things (global economic, military and cultural influence/dominance in particular).

      Incidentally, there was an amusing and very accurate faux-aggressive two-way argument between Jon Stewart and (the British) John Oliver on The Daily Show last week about the US and the British Empire, if anyone caught that. Stewart was pretty blunt about the Empire not having been “a good thing” and, in his words, one of the most aggressive, rapacious forces in history which wreaked havoc in other people’s countries across huge areas of the world. I expect the clip’s already on Youtube, so check it out.

    22. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 12:10 pm  

      Small-but-significant correction to #20:

      there hasn’t been a concerted, determined, society-wide effect to really hammer home

      Should say “effort”, not “effect”.

    23. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 12:34 pm  

      Jai,

      ‘but the caste system was already pretty fossilised’.

      Agreed.

      What has puzzled and disappointed me is how Sikhism and Islam dispatched the Caste system and yet it still seems to play a significant role in the lives of sikhs and muslims - albeit on a tribal basis.

      Not sure how asian christians fare in this regard. Perhaps Ravi can help?

      I recall being hurt by a very close sikh friend, who seemed quite keen on using the term ‘untouchable’ for anyone he took a dislike to.

    24. fugstar — on 12th May, 2009 at 12:42 pm  

      its a far more amateur caste system.

    25. Sunny — on 12th May, 2009 at 12:46 pm  

      The first, is that British governance is light-years ahead from the Indian one. It is no wonder that a lot of Indians feel nostalgic about the British Raj.

      Possibly Rumbold but you know what they say - better to be badly governed and free, than to be in enslavement under good masters.

      I’ll take the corrupt bastards that occupy power now any day over the British Raj - mostly because I would at least have a chance to improve things if I so wished.

    26. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 12:54 pm  

      Sunny,

      ‘I’ll take the corrupt bastards that occupy power now any day over the British Raj - mostly because I would at least have a chance to improve things if I so wished.’

      Whilst I agree with the sentiment, you have to recognise that it was the ‘corrupt bastards’ of yesteryear that handed dominion over the whole sub-continent to a ‘handful’ of British upper class twits*.

      I think this is an important point in today’s geopolitics. Its the same model which pertains in the middle east; and had pertained in latin america.

    27. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 12:58 pm  

      As for the railways, the network was designed to facilitate movement of goods from Lancashire to the markets of India.

      Not to improve the economy of India.

    28. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 1:15 pm  

      So in conclusion, empire is the root cause of terrorism.

    29. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 1:24 pm  

      dominion over the whole sub-continent

      Not the whole of it — 2/3 of it. The rest constituted 600+ semi-autonomous royal states which were to some extent “unequal allies” of the British Empire but were not actually under their direct rule, remember.

      However, Refresh’s point is pertinent in relation to the question of why the independent maharajahs, nawabs, nizam etc didn’t all form an alliance to liberate the subcontinent, considering the military and economic resources that they already had at their disposal. History could have taken a very different course if they’d actually done this.

      Also, although I understand the sentiment about “corrupt bastards”, let’s not forget that in many cases large chunks of subcontinental territory were annexed by the British through wars of aggression, the exploitation of loopholes about “misrule/lapsed heirs/paramount power” etc etc. Dominion wasn’t necessarily always handed over to the British on a silver platter, and sometimes took a very long time indeed and involved significant bloodshed and/or the machiavellian principle of “divide & rule”.

      So in conclusion, empire is the root cause of terrorism.

      Not necessarily, but empire would certainly exacerbate terrorism if people are deliberately reminded of it, especially if it was stubbornly presented as being “a good thing”.

      Which ties into some of my remarks in #20 & 21, particularly in relation to the examples of Germany, Japan and the United States.

    30. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 1:32 pm  

      ‘Not necessarily, but empire would certainly exacerbate terrorism if people are deliberately reminded of it, especially if it was stubbornly presented as being “a good thing”.’

      Cue Life of Brian.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso

      Or Not!

    31. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 1:44 pm  

      Jai

      ‘Dominion wasn’t necessarily always handed over to the British on a silver platter, and sometimes took a very long time indeed and involved significant bloodshed and/or the machiavellian principle of “divide & rule”.’

      That is true. I was thinking only the other day whether the killing of 10 million Indians in response to the mutiny should be comemorated on Holocaust Memorial day.

    32. soru — on 12th May, 2009 at 1:53 pm  

      ‘Of course, it will be quite a blow to people’s egos and perhaps require them to reconsider their place in history’

      I don’t think things work that way. When people have a choice of identities, they will choose ones that have a positive brand image. If McDonalds has signs plastered all over it saying ‘if you eat here, you are a lazy fat fucker personally responsible for torturing baby cows to death’, people will just choose to eat at Burger King instead.

      That doesn’t mean you should go round claiming Big Macs make you slim and attractive to women, but you have to be aware that in the modern world, any national identity is just one brand in a marketplace. And the other brands are not limited to ‘Scottish’ or ‘European’: they include ones that do make all kinds of irresponsible marketing claims about how their burgers are so good the cows will stop you on the street and thank you for letting them be a part of it…

    33. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 2:01 pm  

      ‘India’s secret history: ‘A holocaust, one where millions disappeared…’Author says British reprisals involved the killing of 10m, spread over 10 years’

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/aug/24/india.randeepramesh

      ‘ “It was a holocaust, one where millions disappeared. It was a necessary holocaust in the British view because they thought the only way to win was to destroy entire populations in towns and villages. It was simple and brutal. Indians who stood in their way were killed. But its scale has been kept a secret,” Misra told the Guardian.

      His calculations rest on three principal sources. Two are records pertaining to the number of religious resistance fighters killed - either Islamic mujahideen or Hindu warrior ascetics committed to driving out the British.’

    34. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 2:16 pm  

      Refresh,

      I was thinking only the other day whether the killing of 10 million Indians in response to the mutiny should be comemorated on Holocaust Memorial day.

      Shocking. I hadn’t heard the figure “10 million” before.

      Having said that, some of the events during 1857 were horrific and, along with some other actions/reactions perpertrated in the name of the British Raj during the entire colonial period, make Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, waterboarding etc look like a tea party.

      Wikipedia has a pretty thorough summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Rebellion_of_1857

      William Dalrymple’s book The Last Mughal is also very good as it deals with the events of 1857, albeit obviously focusing on the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar and life in Delhi at the time.

      As for the numbers killed, if it really was as high as you say then I think it should be commemorated on a separate “Global Holocaust Memorial Day”, as personally I think it’s fine for the current version to focus on the Nazis, WW2, the Jews etc.

      Also, let’s not forget the Bengal Famine of 1943, especially those who seek to whitewash colonial rule. Approximately 3 million people died due to administrative incompetence. More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_famine_of_1943

      Churchill’s response was particularly disturbing, albeit not surprising from the perspective of those who are aware of his racist attitude towards South Asians. Quote (from the article above): “When in response to an urgent request by the Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery, and Wavell to release food stocks for India, Churchill responded with a telegram to Wavell asking, if food was so scarce, “why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.”[9] Initially during the famine he was more concerned with the civilians of Greece (who were also suffering from a famine) compared with the Bengalis.[10]”

      Also: “During the British rule in India there were approximately 25 major famines spread through states such as Tamil Nadu in South India, Bihar in the north, and Bengal in the east; altogether, between 30 and 40 million Indians were the victims of famines in the latter half of the 19th century (Bhatia 1985).

      Though malnutrition and hunger remain widespread in India, there have been no famines since the end of the British rule in 1947 and the establishment of a democratic government.”

    35. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 2:32 pm  

      Soru,

      Very good points in #32, mate (and I like your analogies too).

      I think the issue is twofold: 1) Many British people are unaware of the true scale of warmongering, greed, exploitation and moral corruption that occurred during the colonial period, and 2) Much more disturbingly, too many white Brits are unaware of exactly how negatively the Empire is viewed by billions of people around the rest of the world and, even worse, they simply don’t care (especially if the negative views come from non-white people, since these opinions may be deemed to “count less” in these cases).

      The very last point will be something that they will be forced to redress if India really does become a major global player as predicted, especially as (despite what some people seem to think) Indians in general “over there” are far more enamoured of the US than they are of Britain.

      It’s basically a moral and intellectual paradox that they have to come to terms with: They can’t complain that the Third Reich, the Empire of Japan and any potential “Islamist Caliphate” were/are inherently “unjustifiable” and “evil” by virtue of the imperial ideologies involved and the aggressive territorial expansion they entail (irrespective of whatever cultural, scientific and technological advances that may ensue as a result) if they’re simultaneously going to claim that the British Empire wasn’t “unjustifiable” and “evil” for the same reasons.

      In fact, their logical and moral grounds for feeling proud of what occurred (and its impact on those on the receiving end) and feeling some kind of position of superiority over the descendants of those affected are further undermined if they’re going to engage in moralistic finger-pointing and condemnations of historical Germans, Japanese and future “Caliphatists” (or those in the present-day advocating its creation, especially the really psychotic Al-Muhajiroun types) for the same reasons.

      In a nutshell, you can’t go around saying “Imperialism, exploitation and brutality are nasty when everyone else does it or did it, except when we did it, in which case we were the good guys”.

    36. qidniz — on 12th May, 2009 at 2:51 pm  

      Shocking. I hadn’t heard the figure “10 million” before.

      No surprise. It came straight out of the fervid imagination of the “historian” involved.

      A fellow named Amaresh Misra, the same fellow who insists that the Mumbai attacks were a conspiracy hatched by the Sangh Parivar and Mossad.

    37. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:04 pm  

      Which all links in very nicely with Gert Wilders, Nick Griffin et al, who rely on the ‘inherent values’ of the European nation to imply their superiority over the rest of the globe.

      Continental europe’s far-right parties all hail back to their own empires, and the revisionists would have us believe things were never as bad as they were portrayed by the ’self-determination’ movement of the 60s. We need to challenge this revisionism on the same basis as holocaust denial. That requires a whole new study of the history of European imperialism from the eyes of the colonised. This may prove essential if Europe is to save itself from the march of its far-right.

    38. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:05 pm  

      qidniz,

      ‘No surprise.’

      So how many do you make it?

    39. Vikrant — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:44 pm  

      Apparently it’s because there were Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in the armies that fought the Japanese alongside British forces, and therefore we can all revive memories of those happy days

      Sunny! They just didnt face the Japs in Burma, Indians pretty much fought in all the theaters. A grand uncle in the family lays buried in a some unmarked grave in Italy, near Monte Cassino, where Indian fifth army, was thrown at the German fortifications with little regard for their lives!

    40. Vikrant — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:47 pm  

      Not sure how asian christians fare in this regard. Perhaps Ravi can help?

      Well Ravi’s surname is Naik, which itself is a surname popular amongst Maratha clans of Deccan and the Western coast of India. I’d guess that he family orginates from Goa, where it isn’t uncommon for Chritians to bear Marathi surnames. The funny thing about Goan Christians, is that a whole lot of them take pride (in hushed tones ofcourse) over being Brahmin converts!!!

    41. The Common Humanist — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:48 pm  

      Be gentle with me when people answer this.

      Would India be the success it is today without the Raj? I.e. Would it be a successful, democratic super power or would it be a series of smaller states, some with a communist past, or present? Some democratic and others not. Etc.

      ????????????????????????

    42. The Common Humanist — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:51 pm  

      “They just didnt face the Japs in Burma, Indians pretty much fought in all the theaters. A grand uncle in the family lays buried in a some unmarked grave in Italy, near Monte Cassino, where Indian fifth army, was thrown at the German fortifications with little regard for their lives!”

      Indian forces served with great distinction throughout most Allied theatres. The fighting through Italy was hard, in rugged terrain heavily favouring the defender. All Allied forces suffered heavily, including British, NZ, Australian and Polish forces as well as Indian.

    43. sonia — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:52 pm  

      ha ha. good question TCH

      why not credit the Raj as a successful empire? after all, many indian muslims hold up the Islamic caliphates as a successful empire. Empires are empires. they have their consequences. wider question is philosophically speaking - does the end justify the means?

      anyway if imperialism is ‘internalised’ anywhere - its in the Indian subcontinent. we - after all- have lived an imperialist way of life long before the british babus turned up to do a bit of ’steering’/. the caste system etc. indian maharajahs and what have you. Plus everyone thinks ’strong is good’ - no christian morality of compassion for you.

    44. sonia — on 12th May, 2009 at 3:55 pm  

      “But the worst part of colonialism is the inferiority complex that is placed on its people, and the lack of social evolution that allows one generation to progress over the previous one”.

      Good point. I would argue though that the history of India - the ‘inferiority complex’ thing predates european colonialism - again i’m thinking of the caste system. of course european colonialism added an extra dimension - (but i’d say one which really affected the people at the top of the caste system, who previously might have thought they were the lords of the castle)

      After all, Indian society for centuries has been all about Hierarchies. Which is why it was so damn easy to colonise. And why - even now -when there are no ‘colonial’ powers about - social hierarchies are just as important as ever.

    45. The Common Humanist — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:00 pm  

      Sonia

      “”why not credit the Raj as a successful empire? after all, many indian muslims hold up the Islamic caliphates as a successful empire. Empires are empires. they have their consequences. wider question is philosophically speaking - does the end justify the means?”"

      Well put and to the last question, what do actual Indians think? I mean, to me, India looks v successful now and the British are probably responsible for some of the benefits - good governance principles, legal system BUT the impact of 200 years of increasing British dominance changed the development path of the then Indian States and Statelets, the impact on domestic Indian produced GDP is difficult to ignore (E.g. in the Middle Ages the best steel for arms came from India - the Ayyubids swore by it. Obviously by 1800 that situation is somewhat different).

    46. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:01 pm  

      Yes, a good question indeed.

      The flipside of course is that Britain and western europe wouldn’t be what it is today. Given the limited natural resources and the predilection for cross border wars, I would say western europe would have looked rather impoverished.

    47. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:07 pm  

      Vikrant

      ‘The funny thing about Goan Christians, is that a whole lot of them take pride (in hushed tones ofcourse) over being Brahmin converts!!!’

      Perhaps that answers my question.

    48. Refresh — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:10 pm  

      ‘wider question is philosophically speaking - does the end justify the means?’

      Well the end was self-enrichment and the means was brutal force.

    49. sonia — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:18 pm  

      TCH - what do actual indians think?

      well to start off with, there is no such one thing as an ‘actual Indian’ - it depends on their background, and who they are.

      i personally don’t know the answer to that question- all i can see is that people are generally not very up with the idea of equality, there’s often someone above them they look up to, and someone below them. (which helps imperialism no end) everyone in their place sort of thinking.

      the people at the top were ostensibly not pleased to have someone ‘else’ at the top, with lighter skin (seeing as we seem to be very colour conscious) - but seemed to accept it for a while, and are capable of ‘admiring’ the strength of those who are victorious, and crave that strength for themselves.

      and when you say “India” is successful - you are referring to a nation. Whether that success applies to everyone in it - i would very much dispute. there isn’t any socialism in india, and very little concept of equality. rulers come, rulers go.

    50. sonia — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

      Anyway, never mind all this ‘oh was empire good for people or not’ aka Niall ferguson.

      yes many people have foolish sentimentalisations of the past - and seem to look up to the glory of the ‘empire’ if they have come to see themselves as part of that empire, and usually when they have forgotten their own ancestors were ‘oppressed’ by that empire.

      take the Islamic caliphates for example. Successful empire, very successful.

      what people fail to realise is that if we are going to talk about ‘terrorism’ the main reason it is in existence is some people want to resurrect their so-called glorious empire history, as a way of dealing with their current misery.

      So - harking back to empire as a means of dealing with terrorism? Very amusing. All the Islamists will say is Yes - we like Empire! want you to submit and be part of OUR empire!!!

    51. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

      Would India be the success it is today without the Raj? I.e. Would it be a successful, democratic super power or would it be a series of smaller states, some with a communist past, or present? Some democratic and others not. Etc.

      Ravi and I had a brief exchange about this a few weeks ago.

      There are a couple of options, irrespective of whether the Mughal Empire had managed to get back on its feet after Aurangzeb’s death and its subsequent deterioration:

      1. The whole of South Asia would be a successful superpower, possibly also including large chunks of Afghanistan, although it would be a monarchy/an imperial society rather than a democratic one.

      2. It would be a successful collection of smaller regional powers a la Europe. Some of them may or may not constitute some kind of EU-style confederacy, as existed amongst the north Indian Rajput states about a thousand years ago.

      3. Some combination of the above, ie. one or a couple of regional powers would be dominant.

      Following on from that…..

      The flipside of course is that Britain and western europe wouldn’t be what it is today. Given the limited natural resources and the predilection for cross border wars, I would say western europe would have looked rather impoverished.

      Exactly, especially if Britain had lost the American War of Independence this time too. Spain and Portugal would have ended up being the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the whole of Europe, with their international empires in Latin America etc.

      the impact on domestic Indian produced GDP is difficult to ignore

      Well, I’ve mentioned this a few times previously on PP but during Akbar’s reign, India and China jointly constituted 50% of the world’s entire GDP. And Shahjahan was apparently the wealthiest ruler in the world during his time.

      Assuming that there wasn’t a massive societal collapse in the post-Mughal period even if the British Raj didn’t exist (the Marathas are regarded as the most likely successors, along with the Sikhs in the far north), and there wasn’t the associated drain of wealth from the subcontinent, we can guess that domestic Indian GDP would have continued to be huge, albeit gradually rivalled by the Spanish and Portugese empires etc. You’d also have to factor in the Ottoman Empire, depending on whether it would have continued into the 20th and 21st centuries.

      After all, Indian society for centuries has been all about Hierarchies. Which is why it was so damn easy to colonise.

      “Easy” is a bit of an overstatement — it was actually bloody difficult — but it was “easier” than it otherwise would have been if the subcontinent’s professional militaries hadn’t been limited to a relatively small number of groups compared to the rest of the massive population. Ordinary people didn’t necessarily care who ruled them as long as they were generally left alone and their daily lives & customs weren’t excessively interfered with, so they just basically swapped the Mughals with the British in this sense.

      Colonisation would have been much tougher if a “martial element” was much more prevalent amongst the general population (who obviously massively outnumbered the employees of the East India Company and their associated armies) rather than just the aristocracy and the “warrior class” — this was one reason why the annexation of Sikh territory proved to be a very difficult business and required two very bloody wars combined with a lot of machiavellian politics, as the proportion of trained soldiers was much higher amongst the Sikh population as a whole (due to the Khalsa etc) than it was amongst the rest of Indian society.

      Lack of unity and the idea of a shared nationhood was a reason too, because it left Indians wide open to “divide & rule”, especially those who had the might to potentially make a real difference to the situation.

      Out of the countless examples I could offer, remember that the men pulling the triggers during the Jallianwala Bagh massacre weren’t British.

    52. Don — on 12th May, 2009 at 4:49 pm  

      From today’s perspective it is difficult to see empire as anything other than gangsterism writ large, whether the British Empire or its predecessors. I guess if you try really, really hard you could see the policies of the late Bush administration as being something other than that, but you would have to split a lot of hairs to maintain that view. Similarly calls for a caliphate.

      But was there, at the time, a coherent sense that imperialism was ethically wrong, given that it had been the way of the world for all of recorded history? Well, some voices even in the late nineteenth century were starting to make that point and by the time Orwell wrote Burmese Days many people had arrived at the conclusion that it was a squalid racket. But when the banners of the princely states were being replaced by those of John Company were the concepts even available to see it as morally right or wrong?

      (Real question - I just don’t know)

      Of course, harking back to those days would be as harmlessly silly as longing for Merrie England, were it not recent enough for its effects to be still discernable.

      Which makes it no less silly, but much less harmless.

    53. Don — on 12th May, 2009 at 5:01 pm  

      Jai,

      I don’t usually get involved in detailed historical discussions here, much as I love history, as I’d have my work cut out keeping up with you and Rumbold.

      But I’m doubtful if Spain and Portugal would have ended up being the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the whole of Europe, with their international empires in Latin America etc.

      By the time Britain started to gain a real economic advantage from its Indian possessions Spain and Portugal had already found their S. American empires to be a poisoned chalice (ok, two poisoned chalices) and ship loads of gold turned out not to be such a great idea after all.

      Britain would still have industrialised first, but without empire would have found itself competing far more with later industrialising nations. But that’s enough wild speculation from me.

    54. dave bones — on 12th May, 2009 at 5:04 pm  

      hmm.

      I’d like to agree, I hate collonialism and I have never felt at home anywhere but India, the people who told me they wish the British had never left had nothing at all to gain at all from saying that to me. I think they meant it. Those who went into detail when I argued with progressively more passion against what they were saying said they just hated the corruption of their countrymen. When I argued a lot of them would get angry with me so they weren’t telling me what they thought I wanted to hear.

      Yes, the British made a deal with the feudal lords and the high caste, as I said a satanic union. It is pretty obvious that the majority feel inferior. I hate the servitude and the way bloody hippies justify themselves by saying “Its their karma”. I’d rather they shot and robbed us all sometimes, but I love India like no other country. In the year I spent there I lost the plot and forgot my own name sometimes. The place hypnotised me sucked my money in and spat me out but I am always dying to go back for more.

      There is nothing about capitalism or socialism or any imported philosophy which makes sense to what actually goes on over there. You see miserable rich and poor, happy rich and really sorted people who walk about with nothing. Its just a mind fuck isn’t it. I am sad so many Indians aspire to middle class capitalism but it is too seductive beamed through the bloody one eyed monster isn’t it.

    55. Don — on 12th May, 2009 at 5:10 pm  

      excuse open tags.

    56. fugstar — on 12th May, 2009 at 5:28 pm  

      islamic political thought is not about repacing ‘british’ in british empire, despite what secularists would say.

      unfortunately non nationalisms and unsecularisms havet been given much space in south asia.

      theres always the future.

      i think tipu sultan should have won, and fought back those bastards into england’s green and pleasant lands and somehow liberated them from industrial capitalism, then gone home haveing freed europe from its misunderstandings about nature and religion.

    57. Ravi Naik — on 12th May, 2009 at 5:55 pm  

      Not sure how asian christians fare in this regard. Perhaps Ravi can help?

      I am afraid Goan Catholics do continue to identify themselves along caste lines.

      Well Ravi’s surname is Naik, which itself is a surname popular amongst Maratha clans of Deccan and the Western coast of India. I’d guess that he family orginates from Goa, where it isn’t uncommon for Chritians to bear Marathi surnames. The funny thing about Goan Christians, is that a whole lot of them take pride (in hushed tones ofcourse) over being Brahmin converts!!!

      Heh, that was a pretty good guess, Vikrant. My surname is actually Portuguese, although “Naik” is my ancestors’ surname before they converted to Christianity a few centuries back.

      Not sure about caste pride, my parents and relatives never talked about it, and the only story I know about caste in my family is the fact that my grandparents were opposed to my uncle’s wedding to a non-Brahmin.

      Anyway, we are proud of our state though. Highest GDP per capita, our Latin side (we love football, wine and serenading), our local cuisine, our people (Abbé Faria being the most famous - he even appeared in a Alexandre Dumas novel), our beaches and landmarks. ;)

      Britain would still have industrialised first

      It is worth noting that Portugal was the first European superpower to amount immense wealth from overseas - not only from Brasil, but it manage to secure the spice trade by finding a maritime route to India through South Africa.

      The problem is that this wealth translated into more power to the Church, and the country (as well as Spain) instituted the Inquisition and became more insular, intolerant and lost its scientific and competitive edge to other European powers. A good number of Jews who flew from Portugal and Spain went to Holland, which propelled this country to superpower status.

      My point is that Portugal and Spain didn’t manage to make their colonies profitable because they didn’t build the infrastructure for it, they seemed more preoccupied in converting people to Christianity and building churches. The British were far more efficient with their colonies - they built railroads not out of concern of Indians, but because they needed to move merchandise from one place to the other.

    58. Jai — on 12th May, 2009 at 6:09 pm  

      Don,

      Good points in #53 re: Spain & Portugal.

      However, regarding industrialisation, what happened in Britain obviously doesn’t preclude the possibility of something similar independently occuring in the subcontinent either simultaneously or soon afterwards, especially if there hadn’t been any major societal collapses or fracturing during the 18th & 19th centuries. In many ways India had been a very dynamic place before the colonial period, and scientifically, technologically or culturally it wasn’t exactly in the stone age.

      But was there, at the time, a coherent sense that imperialism was ethically wrong, given that it had been the way of the world for all of recorded history?…..But when the banners of the princely states were being replaced by those of John Company were the concepts even available to see it as morally right or wrong?

      (Real question - I just don’t know)

      If you’re referring specifically to the subcontinent, I think the general consensus had been that monarchical rule was “the normal state” but that in the case of both kings and emperors, they should ideally be benevolent monarchs and rule “justly” (ie. firm but fair, and kind to their subjects).

      However, nobody (regardless of their station in life) reacted particularly positively to being on the receiving end of territorial expansion, particularly if involved unprovoked, unjustified aggression. As for whether imperialism per se was regarded as “morally wrong”, well that’s quite a loaded and sensitive question (see Sonia’s comments above for a hint) and varied according to the time in history and the specific group.

      Suffice to say that in Indian culture, becoming an emperor by waging war on other ruler’s territories and (if victorious) subsequently annexing them has never been regarded as exactly saintly behaviour, but there had been Indian emperors of some sort throughout recorded history, long before the medieval “Muslim” period, going right back to imperial Kannauj, or Ashoka, or Chandragupta Maurya, and so on. I think that these kind of activities were always regarded as a fact of life where monarchs were concerned, but that once they achieved power (ideally according to certain chivalrous codes of warfare — the Rajputs were particularly strict about such notions), they were supposed to be “honourable” rulers.

      This concept wasn’t confined to the subcontinent either, even in the classical era — see the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great for further information (in some ways an ideological predecessor to Ashoka and Akbar): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great . Apparently he was responsible for one of the first “human rights charters” in history.

      Just to provide another example about subcontinental attitudes to the morality (or lack) of imperialism and what the attitude should be once someone has actually seized power (especially if removing his power would cause huge societal chaos and bloodshed, unless the guy was a malevolent tyrant, in which case he forfeits his right to rule), Sikh history from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh has some particularly pertinent things to say on the matter (basically the Gurus’ views were the same as those summarised above).

      And interestingly, some other forms of government were also in place later on: during the “Misl” period during the 18th century, the Sikh population consisted of a confederacy of 12 clans, with each clan governed by an elected leader, so the political structure at the time was essentially a “military democracy”. So people did know that other forms of government were possible and that monarchical/imperial rule wasn’t necessarily the only way, or even the best way.

      I’m assuming you’re also aware that after the American War of Independence, after George Washington’s victory there was some debate amongst the Founding Fathers (especially John Adams) about whether the person who would basically be America’s elected monarch should henceforth be referred to as “Your Highness” or something similar ;)

    59. Chris Baldwin — on 12th May, 2009 at 6:34 pm  

      Beeston? I used to work there! I suspect that most people from outside Leeds think it’s an Asian ghetto, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    60. Don — on 12th May, 2009 at 6:42 pm  

      Jai,

      Thanks, comprehensive and yet concise as ever.

      (I hope you’ll get round to reading ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ as I mentioned earlier. It has an interesting perspective on many of the points you raise and I’d really like to get your take on it.

      I’m going to have to read it again in a few months. Whenever I find myself particularly taken by an idea I always think it best to put it away for a while and then take a long, hard look.)

    61. soru — on 12th May, 2009 at 8:46 pm  

      ‘unlike what happened to Germany and Japan after their respective defeats in WW2′

      Further to the point I was made earlier: there actually is a reasonably solid link between the post-war schoolroom de-Nazification and the terrorism of the RAF and Baader Meinhof gang. Gudrun Ensslin:


      They’ll kill us all. You know what kind of pigs we’re up against. This is the Auschwitz generation. You can’t argue with people who made Auschwitz. They have weapons and we haven’t. We must arm ourselves!”

      The last remnants of the RAF are now neo-Nazis.

      Changing the labels under which angry and clever-stupid people act is not a particularly productive way to spend any time.

    62. dave bones — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:13 pm  

      They also said that on the level of the basic system the British were “fair” which was disconcerting as they were bloody racist colonialists. People who work in the infrastructure of the country seem to have a pride in what they do which a lot of white people over here have totally lost. It didn’t surprise me when the National Health were considering sending people to Delhi for operations.

      On a human level there does seem to be a connection between the best of Indian and British metality. Maybe it is important. Maybe it could be drawn upon to combat terr-ism, or more importantly to put right things from the past and to form a real bond between peoples which benefits all of us.

      So many terr-ists come from ex-British colonies. Some sort of inspiration to move forward might work in all of them. Our country did the right thing to reject collonialism and made some small amends by letting people settle here. Its not perfect but we have been able to move forward together. This country was inspired by Ghandi in a huge way. Reading the newspapers from the time it was so obvious he made Churchill look like yesterdays politician.

    63. dave bones — on 12th May, 2009 at 11:21 pm  

      Do you all really believe that Indian people would tell me they were sad the British left because they thought that was what I wanted to hear or is this just something uncomfortable that you don’t want to address?

      It makes me bloody uncomfortable, but I want to address it. This sort of thing is what blogging is all about.

    64. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 12:03 am  

      People who work in the infrastructure of the country seem to have a pride in what they do which a lot of white people over here have totally lost.

      Did you have a chance to stay at one of the army cantonments in India? Indian army is perhaps more British than the British army. I know for a fact that the bagpipiers of 20th Lancers, play “Soldiers of the Queen Victoria” for their regimental march!!

    65. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 4:04 am  

      My point is that Portugal and Spain didn’t manage to make their colonies profitable because they didn’t build the infrastructure for it, they seemed more preoccupied in converting people to Christianity and building churches.

      In all fairness Ravi, British never did anything (except perhaps in the aftermath of 1857) like Goa Inquisition which my ancestors fled!

    66. dave bones — on 13th May, 2009 at 5:08 am  

      Bizzare place, no I missed the army bases. I met loads of Kashmiris in Delhi who had been tortured by them. It was so sad that the armys who existed side by side fought each other so soon after partition. Its not the empire which will save us from terrorism. it could be the commonwealth- if it ever actually became the COMMON-WEALTH eh. How do we make it happen? Not by sticking an X in a box and certainly not if it has anything at all to do with the queen.

    67. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 10:05 am  

      Don,

      I hope you’ll get round to reading ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ as I mentioned earlier. It has an interesting perspective on many of the points you raise and I’d really like to get your take on it.

      Yes I remember you mentioning it; sounds like an interesting book and hopefully I’ll get around to reading it at some point, although I currently have a pile of books on my shelf that I need to get through first ;)

      I haven’t read this myself (yet) but apparently Niall Ferguson’s Empire is supposed to be well-written and pretty thorough. However, there is some controversy regarding whether Niall’s actually an apologist for the British Empire or just being brutally realistic.

      I’ve plugged the following previously but Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwill is superb. It goes into considerable detail about the main reasons for the American Civil War and the political & military sequence of events that occurred, including the various arguments that were used by those supporting the Confederacy. Some of them involved the right for individual states to set their own policies in “internal matters” along with the right to secede from the Union, but (relating this to some of the things we’ve been discussing on this thread and indeed some others) there were also numerous people arguing for the “inalienable moral right” to own black slaves, including religious justifications. The reasons given were frequently quite appalling and involved all kinds of self-rationalising pseudo-intellectual arguments.

      Also, since the Spanish Empire has been mentioned, the following is a brilliant overview of the subject: Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, by Hugh Thomas. It’s a real brick-sized doorstop of a book, but it’s very thorough and obviously exhaustively researched.

    68. Shamit — on 13th May, 2009 at 10:08 am  

      Jai

      Have a read on the British hindu extremist posts.

    69. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 10:19 am  

      Do you all really believe that Indian people would tell me they were sad the British left because they thought that was what I wanted to hear or is this just something uncomfortable that you don’t want to address?

      Dave, trust me: Indians over there are not particularly well-disposed towards the British (as a group — I’m not referring to their feelings about individual white Brits they meet and like), almost entirely because of the colonial era (they absolutely love the US and Americans, though). The reason that some of us here have made the point about people “telling you what you wanted to hear” is because we know what people actually say behind others’ backs. You may also want to consider that they’re simply being nice to you and, in many cases, simply don’t want to make you (or themselves) feel awkward by telling you what they really think about the matter, even though you may insist that you actually agree with their real stance.

      Even though the people concerned may make rhetorical comments about some elements of British colonial administration being more efficient/better organised etc than what followed in independent India (in some aspects they’re certainly correct), this does not mean they really would prefer India to be a colonised country under British rule. Like I said earlier, don’t take what people say too literally.

    70. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 11:45 am  

      Dave, trust me: Indians over there are not particularly well-disposed towards the British (as a group — I’m not referring to their feelings about individual white Brits they meet and like), almost entirely because of the colonial era (they absolutely love the US and Americans, though)

      Haha… I remember when i briefly moved to Bombay a couple of years ago, i got ripped on at school for talking like an Angrez… even though half the class spoke (and spelt) like they came from the US East Cost!

    71. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 11:56 am  

      Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwill

      Apologies, that should say “Goodwin” not “Goodwill”.

      Sorry Doris.

      **************************

      Shamit,

      Jai

      Have a read on the British hindu extremist posts.

      I’m watching you and Qidniz thrash the subject out, mate ;)

      Interesting debate. Keep going, guys. I’ll step in at some point if necessary.

    72. qidniz — on 13th May, 2009 at 12:05 pm  

      Interesting debate.

      There’s no debate, btw. Just Shamit boxing with shadows of his own imagining (At the rate he’s going, soon he’ll be checking under his bed every night for BJP boogeymen.)

    73. justforfun — on 13th May, 2009 at 12:12 pm  

      “Dave, trust me: Indians over there are not particularly well-disposed towards the British (as a group — I’m not referring to their feelings about individual white Brits they meet and like), almost entirely because of the colonial era (they absolutely love the US and Americans, though). ”

      Jai - I would say that is the biggest generalization I have seen you write yet, and pretty wide of the mark from my own experience. But if you are referring to the cringe inducing effects of a conversation with any diplomat of the Foreign Office, then I’m in agreement. They are a disgrace and really don’t promote Britain well and do remind everyone of the colonial era and its bad sides with their attitudes.

      But, sure things are said behind backs - but that may be your experience - but its not mine. But then do you actually know what is said ‘behind backs’ about British NRI and POIs when they return :-) . Don’t worry Jai - its not as bad as what is said about American NRIs and POIs so, like me, you’re not on the bottom rung :-)

      Vik - “Indian army is perhaps more British than the British army.” True - but this is slowly changing I think, and the new Army is slowly being corrupted by nepotism and corruption. The new senior Officer Class (or rather their wives) treating junior officers as their personal servants. This always went on to some extent - but now it is rampant - very demoralizing for a Major to be sent on errands for the wife of his superior and no way to run an Army.

      Glad to see you’re old school Vik - and don’t use the M.. word. Resist the fascist Shiv Sena name change till the last breath. I too only say Bombay.

      Yea “…talking like an Angrez” - but the Angrez accent will still get you further than an American accent when applying for jobs in India , or so I’ve been led to believe by relatives still in Bombay who do hiring.

      Dave - if you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere - pennyless and mugged etc - in dire need of help - your best bet is still the Indian Army and not the local police, no matter what Kashmiris in New Delhi told you.

      justforfun

    74. dave bones — on 13th May, 2009 at 12:28 pm  

      I can believe that, and that is a good tip that I hope I will never have to try- but I am not Kashmiri eh.

    75. douglas clark — on 13th May, 2009 at 12:35 pm  

      Jai @ 69,

      I’d have thought it, well unbelievable really, that many folk would have thought that colonialism was better for them than independence. That’s not to say that their post colonial history might not have been a bit better, like, say Bermuda, or Ireland or summat.

    76. justforfun — on 13th May, 2009 at 1:29 pm  

      “I’d have thought it, well unbelievable really, that many folk would have thought that colonialism was better for them than independence.”

      Hindsight is allowable - surely?

      justforfun

    77. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 1:38 pm  

      Justforfun,

      I would say that is the biggest generalization I have seen you write yet

      Doesn’t mean I’m wrong, buddy, even if your own personal experiences have been different.

      But then do you actually know what is said ‘behind backs’ about British NRI and POIs when they return

      I’m well aware of the prejudice some people have over there and the “observations” that are made. You don’t need to watch the average Indian soap (and its depictions of NRIs, especially women) to know that.

      However, I agree completely with the following and can’t emphasise this enough:

      if you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere - pennyless and mugged etc - in dire need of help - your best bet is still the Indian Army and not the local police,

      Stay the hell away from the police. The military, however, is a different matter entirely.

      ***********************

      Douglas,

      re: #69

      You’re right. I’ve never heard anyone express that preference in my entire life; neither have any other Indians I know or have ever met, particularly the older generation, including my parents or my relatives (the majority of whom still live in India).

      People, especially the older folk, do occasionally grumble about some of the bureaucracy and corruption that can be a hurdle in India. But genuinely believing that things were better under British imperial rule, and “feeling sad” that the British left ? God, no. Far from it.

      If one is looking for an indication of the views of the average Indian, it should tell you something that, until relatively recently, it was “normal” for mainstream blockbuster Indian movies geared towards “the masses” to depict British colonial officers in almost exactly the same way that Hollywood movies would frequently depict the Nazis. With globalisation and so on, the Indian entertainment industry is a little more politically-correct (in terms of the Indian equivalent of the concept) in its portrayals of colonial-era Brits these days, but generally they’re still very much the villains of the piece.

    78. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 1:47 pm  

      Incidentally, I have no problem saying that an Indian who nostalgically hankers for the days of the Raj and says he “feels sad that the British left” is like a modern-day African-American claiming that life was better in the United States for his people before the Civil Rights movement and especially before the American Civil War.

      Hindsight or not.

    79. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 2:14 pm  

      Glad to see you’re old school Vik - and don’t use the M.. word. Resist the fascist Shiv Sena name change till the last breath. I too only say Bombay.

      Haha… I use Mumbai if I am ever in Dadar or with the Marathi side of the family and perhaps sometimes to piss of South Bombay brats at my uni :)!

      Yea “…talking like an Angrez” - but the Angrez accent will still get you further than an American accent when applying for jobs in India , or so I’ve been led to believe by relatives still in Bombay who do hiring.

      Aren’t you a Parsi jff? You guys are perhaps the last holdouts of the Indian version of British Accent (a la. Indira Gandhi) I must say. All the ladies who work at British Council in Bombay are old Parsi grannies and all they would talk about was good old British days haha :). When i was busy applying to Unis in US, they made me take IELTS English test (i didn’t bother getting a British passport till i like moved out!), so for the interview component of the test, i had this old Parsi lady who got thrown off by my pucca public school :). Needless to say I got the only perfect score they handed that year haha!

    80. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 2:15 pm  

      Incidentally, I have no problem saying that an Indian who nostalgically hankers for the days of the Raj and says he “feels sad that the British left” is like a modern-day African-American claiming that life was better in the United States for his people before the Civil Rights movement and especially before the American Civil War.

      You obviously haven’t been to Parsi colonies of Bombay have you?

    81. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 2:23 pm  

      Vikrant,

      I was aware of certain stereotypes in Indian culture regarding the Parsis and their attitudes towards the British Raj (including their notions of their own place within it), but I’d assumed that some exaggeration and distortion was involved. It’s both amusing and disappointing to see some of those stereotypes apparently being confirmed.

      The Parsi crew has some very hot women, though. They definitely get props from me for that.

    82. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 2:39 pm  

      Jai,

      I must calrify that I was referring to a certain generation of Parsi people, who were invariably born in the dying days of the Raj. As for Parsi girls, no doubt that they are hot, but most of them are invariably from South Bombay, making them beyond the pale for me :).

    83. justforfun — on 13th May, 2009 at 3:14 pm  

      You obviously haven’t been to Parsi colonies of Bombay have you?, LOL - Vikrant - shush - you’re getting Jai’s self-righteousness all worked up!

      ……It’s both amusing and disappointing to see some of those stereotypes apparently being confirmed.
      Jai - only in your own mind. But pray - what are these
      generalizations you speak of “…certain stereotypes in Indian culture regarding the Parsis and their attitudes towards the British Raj (including their notions of their own place within it)” - because when it comes to Parsis you can’t actually generalize. Take two Parsis and you’ll get 10 opinions.

      - making them beyond the pale for me :)
      Believe me - you’ve had a lucky escape.

      you’ll like this video Vik - its so true.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxEdqsr8QWI

      justforfun

    84. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

      Believe me - you’ve had a lucky escape.

      From South Bombay women?… Yes!

      P.S Lol @ the video, didn’t know about the t-shirt tags!

    85. justforfun — on 13th May, 2009 at 3:50 pm  

      “…t-shirt tags” - can’t trust ‘native’ dhobiwallahs!! ;-)
      did you read the comments

      ‘mummy daddy mummy daddy’ - I still can’t stop laughing!

      justforfun

    86. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 4:01 pm  

      Haha yeah i did! Which school did you attend in Bombay jff? Cathedral?

    87. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 4:03 pm  

      LOL - Vikrant - shush - you’re getting Jai’s self-righteousness all worked up!

      Jai - only in your own mind. But pray - what are these
      generalizations you speak of “…certain stereotypes in Indian culture regarding the Parsis and their attitudes towards the British Raj (including their notions of their own place within it)” - because when it comes to Parsis you can’t actually generalize. Take two Parsis and you’ll get 10 opinions.

      Oh dear, JFF. Don’t be “that guy” ;)

    88. justforfun — on 13th May, 2009 at 4:35 pm  

      Cathedral School - no - not Bombay educated ;-)

      justforfun

      PS - I forgot - I’m not a Parsi - incorrect Y chromosome.

      Jai - you only have to ask - and I’ll be ‘that guy’ for you ;-) - which guy? .

      Which 5 opinions do you want from me and you can lay out the other five. Arguing comes in the X chromosome - we all knew that didn’t we - eh?

    89. Vikrant — on 13th May, 2009 at 4:50 pm  

      Cathedral School - no - not Bombay educated ;-)

      Sigh… bastards who go to that school have a monopoly over girls from J.B Petit, the school where all the hot Parsi girls in Bombay go :)!

    90. Rumbold — on 13th May, 2009 at 6:43 pm  

      I have not had access to a computer for a while, so I find myself coming to this discussion rather late.

      Firstly, while we can say that the British Empire was bad for India, what we cannot say is whether the alternative would have been worse, or what the alternative would have been. This is because there are so many factors involved. Moreover, in far too many narratives, there is this implication that Britain just turned up and conquered ‘India’, therefore its benefits and downsides can be measured easily. But at what point do you start measuring from? 1600? 1689? 1757? 1857?

      The 10 million dead is a massive exaggeration. Hundreds of thousands of Indians were killed, but Amaresh Misra’s research hasn’t been taken particularly seriously. Just think of the numbers involved: 10 million. Even if we assume that 20,000 British troops were involved in the killings, each soldier would have had to have killed 500 Indians. A 400 strong company would have killed 200,000 Indians- just think about that for the moment- 400 soldiers wiping out 200,000 Indians. Does that sound plausible (as a comparison, armies in the 20th century, with vastly more devastating armaments at their disposal, such as bombs, thanks, machine guns, etc. don’t even begin to approach that number)? The real killings were horrific enough- there is no need for lying.

      Happily, Amaresh Misra demonstrated his rather interesting approach to the truth when he explained that the Mumbai bombings were organized by Narenda Modi, a top Mossad agent, in alliance with Ratan Tata.

      http://www.daily.pk/politics/politicalnews/8936-amaresh-misra-explains-the-truth-on-mumbai-attacks-a-mossadvhpgajrang-dal-inside-job.html

    91. Jai — on 13th May, 2009 at 10:28 pm  

      Justforfun,

      Jai - you only have to ask - and I’ll be ‘that guy’ for you - which guy? .

      Which 5 opinions do you want from me and you can lay out the other five. Arguing comes in the X chromosome - we all knew that didn’t we - eh?

      Whatever you say, Sooty. Whatever you say…..

      Now stop babbling and move that punkah faster, you lazy brown bastard.

      Bloody natives…..

    92. Refresh — on 13th May, 2009 at 10:41 pm  

      Rumbold, Amaresh is particular in stating it took 10 years to wipe out 10 million. That would be 50 per 20,000 per year over a decade. Do-able I would say.

    93. Rumbold — on 14th May, 2009 at 6:47 pm  

      Refresh:

      Not really. Let’s stick with the idea of a 400 strong company of British soldiers wiping out 200,000 Indians over a decade in a town. Let’s also say that 25% (50,000) were wiped out in the first year. So we are to believe that another 150,000 Indians in this town, in a pattern repeated throughout the country, hung around for years after and meekly allowed the British, still a tiny minority, to kill them at a rate of 15,000+ a year, per company town.

      This is very unlikely, even if the estimates came from an experienced and well-respected expert. But they come from a man who thinks Ratan Tata and Mossad caused the Mumbai bombings.

    94. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 7:44 pm  

      Rumbold,

      No I don’t think he says in large towns, but across large swathes of parts of India. Whole villages and the like. I don’t imagine the soldiers would hang around.

      On the numbers, could each soldier out of 20,000 kill 50 people a year, practically speaking? Could a strategy of killing and moving spread such terror that there was no further resistance for decades?

      I am not judging Amaresh on his comments regarding Bombay bombings. He raises some points which merit answers, those points were made at the time of the atrocity.

      As for Mossad, ISI, RAW, who the hell knows what they get up to. One thing is for sure, Sharon was very quick to fly to Delhi immediately after 9/11.

      Remember BCCI, the bank? It was allowed to flourish as bankers to terror and spy networks. Who do we believe? George Bush snr. would meet BBCI regularly to get an update on who was depositing what cash etc.

    95. Rumbold — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:10 pm  

      Refresh:

      Again, doesn’t this sound to you a bit suspect? You had the rising threat of Russia and Persia to the West (of India), and British expansion to the East. And all this time, when the majority of soldiers were still Indians, British troops spent a decade killing Indians, around 10 million of them. Do we have orders stating these goals, or did the troops just take it upon themselves to kill dozens of Indians per year each? I have no doubt that many Indians were treated badly by the British as a result of the Mutiny, but 10 million dead? No.

      If something sounds implausible, I need evidence to be convinced.

    96. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:17 pm  

      ‘If something sounds implausible, I need evidence to be convinced.’

      Me too. I think he has written about it in detail. A couple of books.

      What makes things seem implausible should be subject of a thread in its own right, hopefully without entering the world of conspiracies.

    97. Rumbold — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:25 pm  

      Even the Guardian article you linked to had its doubts:

      Many view exaggeration rather than deceit in Misra’s calculations. A British historian, Saul David, author of The Indian Mutiny, said it was valid to count the death toll but reckoned that it ran into “hundreds of thousands”.

      “It looks like an overestimate. There were definitely famines that cost millions of lives, which were exacerbated by British ruthlessness. You don’t need these figures or talk of holocausts to hammer imperialism. It has a pretty bad track record.”

      Others say Misra has done well to unearth anything in that period, when the British assiduously snuffed out Indian versions of history. “There appears a prolonged silence between 1860 and the end of the century where no native voices are heard. It is only now that these stories are being found and there is another side to the story,” said Amar Farooqui, history professor at Delhi University. “In many ways books like Misra’s and those of [William] Dalrymple show there is lots of material around. But you have to look for it.”

    98. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:36 pm  

      ‘RAW and Mossad: The Secret Link’

      http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/sep/08spec.htm

      Make of it what you will.

    99. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:42 pm  

      Rumbold, I know. I too would like to see more on the subject, and do not dismiss his work. History, I presume, is there to be discovered and rediscovered. Each time from a different perspective, I think we found we shared that view.

      The Guardian article also stressed the point that only now is India confident enough of its place to have a native perspective on its own history.

    100. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:47 pm  

      Apologies, an ammend:

      ‘One thing is for sure, Sharon was very quick to fly to Delhi immediately after 9/11.’

      Not so immediate. But on the second anniversary of 9/11.

    101. Vikrant — on 14th May, 2009 at 9:13 pm  

      As for Mossad, ISI, RAW, who the hell knows what they get up to. One thing is for sure, Sharon was very quick to fly to Delhi immediately after 9/11.

      I suppose you think the Taliban in Swat are a big Mossad-CIA-RAW conspiracy!

    102. Vikrant — on 14th May, 2009 at 9:17 pm  

      Make of it what you will.

      Make what? Do you really think Mossad and RAW were misplaced in trying to prevent Pakistan from acquiring the bomb. If they had succeeded, world would probably have been a better place, plus Pakistan’s ruling military-jihadist complex wouldn’t have been able to murder Indians with impunity that it does so now!

    103. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 10:07 pm  

      Vikrant, I wish you wouldn’t be so defensive.

      The point is simple. These state security agencies get up to all sorts of things. That’s the point. Not that I was referring to anything in particular.

      But now you mention it, did you presume that only India should have nuclear capability? Which is pretty much a similar to the attitude in Israel.

      You could argue that Pakistan showed astonishing skills to gain its own deterrent given who and what it had ranged against it.

      My personal view is that Israel, India and Pakistan should be disarmed, and the nuclear technology exchange program put in place by Bush for India should be rescinded.

      And Israel should keep its nose out of S Asian affairs. Its caused enough problems already.

      And Pakistan and Afghanistan should each receive at a minimum $5,000,000 per life, and $1,000,000 for each limb lost, in the cause of demolishing the Soviet Union on behalf of the US.

      What say you, Vikrant?

    104. Vikrant — on 14th May, 2009 at 10:25 pm  

      Refresh,

      India would never disarm, unless China does so. In case people havent noticed, India and China are fighting a cold war from Nepal to Sri Lanka to Africa! I dont think so that Indian bomb was ever meant for Pakistan.

      So effectively there is no way out unless everybody disarms!

    105. Vikrant — on 14th May, 2009 at 10:27 pm  

      And Pakistan and Afghanistan should each receive at a minimum $5,000,000 per life, and $1,000,000 for each limb lost, in the cause of demolishing the Soviet Union on behalf of the US.

      Also who is Pakistan kidding. I hate to see it when Pakistanis blame their problems on Americans. Pakistan was a willing participant in Cold War. Plus it was largely American $’s which propped Pakistani army in its arms race against India for so long. They were pretty content with their jihadists doing their dirty work for them in Kashmir and else where in India, until ofcourse they started biting the Pakistani state in the butt!

    106. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 10:38 pm  

      Why should you hate it?

      I have held the view for the last 30 years that Pakistan should not be the foot soldiers for the US. So being proven right isn’t exactly a thrilling experience.

      And yes, if there was a way of getting the US to cough up I would push for it. And at the same time take the generals to the cleaners too.

    107. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:10 am  

      Vikrant,

      Here is an article you might appreciate.

      http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/pakistan_korb.html

      And here is a major turnaround on behalf of the US we seemed to have seen too little of:

      ‘Hillary Clinton says inconsistent American foreign policy is partly to blame for rise of Taliban in Pakistan’

      http://americaintheworld.typepad.com/home/2009/04/hillary-clinton-says-inconsistent-american-foreign-policy-is-partly-to-blame-for-rise-of-taliban-in-.html

      ‘Mrs Clinton said that America had failed to stay with Pakistan after successfully supporting anti-Soviet rebels during the 1980s. America withdrew leaving Pakistan to cope with militant freedom fighters inside its territory - many under the spell of Saudi-financed Wahhabism.’

      Which is a little bit more honest - forgetting the Saudi-financing was at US’ behest. The militant fighters are the same ones the US used to defeat the Soviet Union; its possible she may have also omitted mention of the several million Afghan refugees (relatives of the pashtuns being bombed on the other side of the border) Pakistan took in and most of whom are still in and around Peshawar.

      It all confirms what Tariq Ali had said right at the beginning when he spoke of ‘blowback’. If there was a jihadist military complex, include within it the Pentagon.

    108. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:13 am  

      From the first link in my last post, this stands out:

      ‘Bolster civilian governance

      A narrow, transactional relationship focused exclusively on U.S. security concerns has not built a broader strategic partnership between the two nations, and it has exacerbated Pakistan’s internal political problems to the detriment of U.S. interests.’

      Pakistan, in return should not accept any assistance from the US unless it fits in with its longterm goals. And that should include its much more reliable relationship with China. And the main goal has got to be building indigenous economic capacity as well as establishing a serious program for health and education. The people of Pakistan are very resourceful, friendly and outward looking; the leadership sadly has been addicted to US aid for far too long.

      The security issue is not Pakistan’s problem alone. Lumbered though they are, the cost for it can be picked up by the US. And if it feels it needs to negotiate. Then negotiate it should. Regardless of US need to pulverise the hills and mountains of the border region.

      What Pakistan must not do is inflict casualties amongst non-fighter; and it must be willing to shoot down any drones searching out stray wedding parties.

      The government of Pakistan must apologise for letting drones take off from within the country’s borders, only to see them kill their own citizens. It must also apologise for those innocent Pakistanis that were sold to agents of the US. It must locate all the disapeared and return them to their familes. And those responsible for these human rights abuses must be brought to book. Whether Pakistani citizens or agents of overseas governments.

      Pakistan cannot command respect abroad if its government cannot respect its citizens at home. So it was quite warming to see Zardari snubbing Gordon Brown. Crucible of terror indeed! The man is an idiot of the highest order.

      Every crisis is an opportunity, and Pakistan will grasp this one.

    109. Vikrant — on 15th May, 2009 at 4:25 am  

      Why should you hate it?

      I’m American citizen as well.

      Anyways Refresh, dont you think Pakistan also needs to unroll Zia-ul-Haq’s experiment with Islamism? I’ve been reading Aatish Taseer’s book, and it largely confirms what I’ve heard and read about Pakistan’s perception of India. It’s pretty easy to blame Americans, but to be honest geopolitics dictates that every country act in its self interest. Pakistan could have gotten rid of the mujahideen after fall of Soviets, but THEY choose to nuture taliban for “strategic depth” and “bleeding India by a thousand cuts”.

      Pakistan I think hasn’t been able to shrug off subcontinental feudalism quite to the extent that India has. Pakistan should have passed something like Nehru’s land reforms a long time ago. India got rid of its zamindars back in the 1950’s!

    110. thabet — on 15th May, 2009 at 8:23 am  

      “Anyways Refresh, dont you think Pakistan also needs to unroll Zia-ul-Haq’s experiment with Islamism?”

      It goes back further than that.
      _____

      “It is no wonder that a lot of Indians feel nostalgic about the British Raj.”

      Any data to back up this assertion?

    111. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 8:56 am  

      Jai - 91

      Don’t assume everyone has the same chip on their shoulder as you.

      I’m afraid you see things where there are no things, you see movies and think that that is how people think.

      ‘Natives’ - did that upset you. Well its a word that means lots of things and is a word in a context. A context I’m afraid you will not understand in the context I used it, as its not from your background. Vik and I are having a little game of ping pong about Bombay/Mumbai politics (and knowing his genealogy is more complex than mine - being related to almost everyone in India ( Vik ;-) ) I just played a fast return in jest on his Marathi genes. His first playful shot was the ‘T -shirt’ tags - a probable feeler shot to see if it was another hidden Parsi secret, some religious symbol hidden behind the ‘no-go’ doors of the Agiary, always a matter of great curiosity of the rest of Bombay. Perhaps a feeler shot to see if he too should have a name tag when trying his luck with the girls of South Bombay - I played back a dupe shot to play on this - knowing full well Vik understands ‘T-shirts’ have S M L XL and even XXL tags on them - all initials of common Parsi names - in fact names chosen so as to match the tags and save on future expenses. This ping pong match is obviously in my mind and Vik is probably totally unaware he’s playing - but like it or not he is my bawa brother. (Vik - XL would be good hint on that packet you carry around in your wallet ;-) )

      Now Jai - research the Bombay/Mumbai name change and give us the definative view. Good for Indians or bad for Indians? I want to know what to think.

      But please - no patronizing statements like Dave Bones, don’t take people at face value too much, especially those you bump into in India. Social interaction over there can sometimes be a bit more intricate than you may think, regardless of how matters appear on the surface. - what tosh and what bad advice! Don’t take people at face value? My God - are you saying ‘Indians’ are devious Janus creatures? - Most Indian interaction with foreigners is pretty straightforward and genuine - or have you been brought up differently to deal with people not of your group? In fact I would say when traveling, not to take people at face value is an insult to them and on a moral level demeans ones own position, and on a pragmatic level actually diminishes the experience and the possible interactions that can occur - and I don’t need to advise Dave as he has obviously traveled far more than me and does not need to be taught to suck eggs.

      No more attempts at stupid innuendo like I was aware of certain stereotypes in Indian culture regarding the Parsis and their attitudes towards the British Raj (including their notions of their own place within it), but I’d assumed that some exaggeration and distortion was involved. It’s both amusing and disappointing to see some of those stereotypes apparently being confirmed. - what stereotypes? to chicken state them because you are uncertain of the facts or even the actual history - but the idea of that ‘other Indians’ might think Parsis are ‘traitors’ titillates your self-image and is a pedestal on which to stand and feel a little taller- or is it that you want to be really commonly held so that you too safely hold that view and hide in a a large enough crowd -

      What sanctimonious, self-righteous, generalizing guff. What is this ‘Indian culture’ you speak of? Be specific - is it your culture? Is it common in Sikh culture to have this idea? I don’t think its a Sikh thing (too many nights drink copious alcohol with Sikhs in the BSF to believe that) - but maybe you think it is. What is this ‘Indian culture’ you speak so knowledgeably on?

      justforfun

      PS - Jai - don’t take it all to heart - I know you are a good man - and as I’ve said before - if I meet my maker - I hope you are there on my defence team - remember it all in the name… Think of me as your mind trainer - I will need a good defense team.

    112. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 9:12 am  

      I’m American citizen as well.

      Why? this will only bring future tax problems! You being a ‘Rightie’ and not a Sunny ‘Leftie’ - you should know a sound economic base is the platform from which to do good work. Setting yourself up for more tax is not a good way forward - or is it?

      justforfun

    113. Vikrant — on 15th May, 2009 at 9:26 am  

      Vik and I are having a little game of ping pong about Bombay/Mumbai politics (and knowing his genealogy is more complex than mine - being related to almost everyone in India ( Vik ;-) )

      Haha.. No! I’m a ghati through and through. I formally changed my name since my estranged father’s casteist Rajput family won’t ackonwledge me.

      Perhaps a feeler shot to see if he too should have a name tag when trying his luck with the girls of South Bombay

      Ok i nearly scored with this Parsi chick in San Francisco club last summer… that was until she asked me my surname. She just blurted out laughing that it sounded like a Bombay cop surname. Furious.. I stormed out.

    114. Vikrant — on 15th May, 2009 at 9:28 am  

      Why?

      Since American government was nice enough to foot half my tution (which is $45000 per year)… in return for me serving in the ROTC and spending a year in Afghanistan once I graduate.

    115. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 9:44 am  

      Afghanistan? - … naaaa … it’ll be to Pakistan by the time you get sent out.

      You didn’t lie saying you could speak Urdu on your application did you?

      Anyway - good luck - stay safe - keep you mind well

      justforfun

      PS - lucky escape in SF! She was testing your sense of humour. A very important ingredient… or she wanted to know if you had any handcuffs! You’ll have to think quicker next time.

    116. Vikrant — on 15th May, 2009 at 9:48 am  

      You didn’t lie saying you could speak Urdu on your application did you?

      Actually i did :)…
      Anyway - good luck - stay safe - keep you mind well

      I will. I’ll serve in Corps of Engineers, probably the safest position!

    117. Jai — on 15th May, 2009 at 10:35 am  

      Justforfun,

      I was going to ignore your little rant in #112, but since there appears to be a significant degree of ‘psychological projection’ (look it up) occurring on your part, let’s set the record straight.

      Don’t assume everyone has the same chip on their shoulder as you.

      Don’t assume that the person you’re accusing has a chip on their shoulder at all, rather than a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the subcontinent’s history and the impact on its inhabitants.

      I’m afraid you see things where there are no things,

      That’s exactly what you’re doing, my friend.

      you see movies and think that that is how people think.

      No, I see movies and am aware that it’s an accurate reflection of the way many people think, because of the level of contact I have had with Indians back in India and amongst the global diaspora. Likewise for the experiences of most of my relatives and South Asian social circles, from all generations.

      ‘Natives’ - did that upset you. Well its a word that means lots of things and is a word in a context. A context I’m afraid you will not understand in the context I used it, as its not from your background. Vik and I are having a little game of ping pong about Bombay/Mumbai politics (and knowing his genealogy is more complex than mine - being related to almost everyone in India ( Vik ) I just played a fast return in jest on his Marathi genes. His first playful shot was the ‘T -shirt’ tags - a probable feeler shot to see if it was another hidden Parsi secret, some religious symbol hidden behind the ‘no-go’ doors of the Agiary, always a matter of great curiosity of the rest of Bombay. Perhaps a feeler shot to see if he too should have a name tag when trying his luck with the girls of South Bombay - I played back a dupe shot to play on this - knowing full well Vik understands ‘T-shirts’ have S M L XL and even XXL tags on them - all initials of common Parsi names - in fact names chosen so as to match the tags and save on future expenses. This ping pong match is obviously in my mind and Vik is probably totally unaware he’s playing - but like it or not he is my bawa brother. (Vik - XL would be good hint on that packet you carry around in your wallet )

      No, I was being satirical. You appear to be falling somewhat short of your username.

      Incidentally, I wasn’t actually following your ongoing exchange with Vikrant about Bombay, t-shirts and so on (and I was therefore not aware of your own usage of the word “native” — neither do I care, frankly), and neither did I bother opening any of the associaed URL links you supplied.

      But thanks for the lecture anyway.

      - what stereotypes? to chicken state them because you are uncertain of the facts or even the actual history - but the idea of that ‘other Indians’ might think Parsis are ‘traitors’ titillates your self-image and is a pedestal on which to stand and feel a little taller- or is it that you want to be really commonly held so that you too safely hold that view and hide in a a large enough crowd -

      I touched a nerve, I see. I trust you realise that you’re actually coming across as experiencing some kind of psychotic episode now. Sit down.

      My God - are you saying ‘Indians’ are devious Janus creatures? - Most Indian interaction with foreigners is pretty straightforward and genuine - In fact I would say when traveling, not to take people at face value is an insult to them and on a moral level demeans ones own position, and on a pragmatic level actually diminishes the experience and the possible interactions that can occur - and I don’t need to advise Dave as he has obviously traveled far more than me and does not need to be taught to suck eggs.

      I am saying that sometimes people are just being polite. Unless you are naive enough to think that people in general always mean everything they say to others.

      By the way, I have travelled a lot more than you may presume, and the same applies to the level of contact I have had with people from different countries, both domestically and internationally. Don’t make assumptions.

      As for the following:

      or have you been brought up differently to deal with people not of your group?

      What sanctimonious, self-righteous, generalizing guff. What is this ‘Indian culture’ you speak of? Be specific - is it your culture? Is it common in Sikh culture to have this idea? I don’t think its a Sikh thing (too many nights drink copious alcohol with Sikhs in the BSF to believe that) - but maybe you think it is.

      You just crossed the line.

      It’s interesting to see such a hysterical response from someone who appears to have an issue with people (or is it just other Indians ?) questioning his assertion that “the British Raj wasn’t such a bad thing for South Asians”. And that’s before we even get started on the fact that it was actually you that decided to intervene in other people’s conversations by repeatedly making condescending, highly presumptuous remarks about “self-righteousness” and whatnot. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for you to reconsider making unprovoked personal attacks against people if you can’t stand the other parties retaliating.

      I would, however, advise you to watch your mouth in future. You appear to be operating under some significant assumptions about me; whether it’s to do with some inaccurate perceptions on your part about my personality based on previous threads on PP a long time ago, or it’s to do with the fact that you haven’t been a regular participant here for a long time and may well be very out of touch, I don’t know, but I’m not quite the “easy mark” you think I am and I’m certainly not someone who would be bullied into submission by the immature needling and ranting repeatedly you’ve thrown in my direction on this thread, particularly in #112.

      If you’ve been out of the loop for a while, I suggest you go through the archives involving threads that have resulted on PP during your absence and bring yourself up to speed, because if there’s one thing that should be clear, it’s the fact that I am not a good person for anyone to have as an enemy.

      The real tragedy is that, by virtue of your reaction and somewhat disturbing outburst, you’ve unwittingly actually proven the exact point that I and several others here have been making. It looks like the machinations of some elements of the British colonial authorities during that era did their job very well indeed – because not only do we now apparently have some Indians experiencing some kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” and defending the exploitation and subjugation that imperialism entailed, but there are now clearly also Indians who are prepared to rant against other Indians if the latter condemn the moral corruption, degradation and brutality that the Raj perpetrated against the subcontinent’s inhabitants. Divide & Rule Zindabad.

      To think that so many Indians struggled, fought, were imprisoned, or died for this. It’s shameful. It makes a mockery of everyone who suffered or indeed lost their lives during over 150 years of concerted territorial expansion and political manipulation – not to mention the huge numbers involved during the Quit India movement (including, incidentally, some older relatives from my own extended family, who were sufficiently involved in the upper echelons of the independence struggle to know Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar Patel personally).

      Finally:

      PS - Jai - don’t take it all to heart - I know you are a good man - and as I’ve said before - if I meet my maker - I hope you are there on my defence team - remember it all in the name… Think of me as your mind trainer - I will need a good defense team.

      I appreciate the sentiment, but it’s a pity you didn’t consider that (or even limit your response to the paragraph above) before your diatribe in the rest of your post. You’ve been taking gross liberties with me — an anonymous participant on a website whom you’ve never met and barely know, and whom you certainly have no right to speak to in such an overfamiliar manner.

      Now I’m willing to let this matter drop if you are able to do the same, but don’t ever try to pull this kind of stunt with me again in future.

    118. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 11:16 am  

      ‘I’m American citizen as well.’

      That shouldn’t of course limit the possibilities. Its good to see, however, Americans in the executive branch are beginning to recognise their own history is tied so closely to that of Pakistan. Its a starting point.

      It could have been a lot earlier.

      As for Pakistan getting rid of the mujahideen, not a chance. That would have only been possible if the US had seen their project through and paid the price for the huge loss of life in Afghanistan. It sought to leave it rather than rebuild. Except for one thing, its attempt to buy back the spare Stingers (see my earlier link http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/sep/08spec.htm which you took exception to, of course its difficult to assess accuracy of such articles).

      As for Zia, he was the lynchpin for the Americans. Without his dictatorship, his abuse of Islam and his people we would have seen the Americans retreating with their tails between their legs. If there was ever to be an example of Islam being used to exert power over the masses it was here and at this time.

      ‘The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan
      Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski,
      President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser’

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html

      ‘Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

      ‘B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.’

    119. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 12:44 pm  

      Jai - you had me worried there for a moment. I’m losing my mind or you’re mistaking me for someone else. Can you point out when I asserted ““the British Raj wasn’t such a bad thing for South Asians” - its a long thread and because of you’re known obsession with multiple posters I’ll flag mine. Or have I said this somewhere before? I’m not too good with the PP archive search. Am I on your ‘watch list’?

      My first comments were 73 Jai - I would say that is the biggest generalization I have seen you write yet, and pretty wide of the mark from my own experience. - pretty harmless point if you read the rest.

      #76 - Hindsight - well is hindsight a valid reason to express an opinion or not? Jai - do you have a general problem with people who express an opinion on circumstances they lived through but you only glean from history books; or it just in this instance?

      #83 in response to your thinly veiled aspersion in 81 and to ask for clarification.

      #88 in response to Vik and to ask for clarification from you for your cryptic #87

      My #111 in response to your 91. I should have realized then you were hyped up, feeling cornered by some demon or other …. and 111 - well what can I say - it was fun writing it and I’ve obviously lost control of my politeness.

      I’m sorry but either you are fighting your demons or you’re actually having a conversation with me somewhere I am not aware of.

      I’ll leave others to judge the rest.

      Jai - now go get help or medication - you big bad bear you. I can send you some of mine if you want.

      justforfun

      PS - To the Sikhs who are bothering to read this; my apologies for the Sikh bit in my ‘rant’. “What is this ‘Indian culture’ you speak of? Be specific - is it your culture? Is it common in Sikh culture to have this idea? (the idea I’m refering to is Jai’s clumsy aspersion on Parsi Indianness ) I don’t think its a Sikh thing (too many nights drink copious alcohol with Sikhs in the BSF to believe that) - but maybe you think it is. What is this ‘Indian culture’ you speak so knowledgeably on? - a poor attempt on my part to try to find out where Jai is coming from.

    120. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:17 pm  

      Jai and Justforfun, come on guys I’ve got a far more interesting and relevant topic running, though I say it myself.

      I have considerable regard for both of you and would hate to see this thread become an exercise in pedantry.

      Vikrant, lets continue.

    121. Jai — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:29 pm  

      Jai - you had me worried there for a moment. I’m losing my mind or you’re mistaking me for someone else. Can you point out when I asserted ““the British Raj wasn’t such a bad thing for South Asians” - its a long thread and because of you’re known obsession with multiple posters I’ll flag mine. Or have I said this somewhere before? I’m not too good with the PP archive search. Am I on your ‘watch list’?

      My first comments were 73 Jai - I would say that is the biggest generalization I have seen you write yet, and pretty wide of the mark from my own experience. - pretty harmless point if you read the rest.

      #76 - Hindsight - well is hindsight a valid reason to express an opinion or not? Jai - do you have a general problem with people who express an opinion on circumstances they lived through but you only glean from history books; or it just in this instance?

      #83 in response to your thinly veiled aspersion in 81 and to ask for clarification.

      #88 in response to Vik and to ask for clarification from you for your cryptic #87

      My #111 in response to your 91. I should have realized then you were hyped up, feeling cornered by some demon or other …. and 111 - well what can I say - it was fun writing it and I’ve obviously lost control of my politeness.

      I’m sorry but either you are fighting your demons or you’re actually having a conversation with me somewhere I am not aware of.

      I’ll leave others to judge the rest.

      Jai - now go get help or medication - you big bad bear you. I can send you some of mine if you want.

      I’m going to be blunt with you, “JFF” — Since you still appear to be having problems with basic courtesy & respect for others and are still repeatedly clutching at straws by throwing out strawman arguments, willfully misreading what has actually been written, and engaging in a whole heap of projection, I’m not going to bother responding to any of your “questions”, littered with disingenousness and childish attempts to needle me as they are.

      I’ll leave others to judge the rest.

      Indeed. Fortunately, the sequence of events and your own behaviour is right here in black & white. So, thank you for supplying the evidence in writing and, once more, proving my point yet again.

      And finally, to answer your first query: Yes, you’re either losing your mind and are completely unaware of the reality of your own arrogant behaviour, or you’re engaging in ego-fuelled mind-games and attempts to backtrack due to an unwillingness to admit to being at fault on multiple levels. Either way, I am not the “soft touch” that you presumed me to be, and in fact I never was. Welcome to the real world.

      You should have let the matter drop after my good-natured joke in #91, intended to subtly draw attention to the racial bigotry which infested imperial rule in the subcontinent from the early 19th century right up to independence and whose consequences we’re all still having to deal with.

      You can, in fact, still let the conversation end here. I’ll leave it up to you, but I suggest you accept the offer and simply agree to disagree — politely and without any further assumptions, sneering and veiled attacks. I would particularly strongly advise you to refrain from making any further insinuations about my “upbringing” and, by inference, my parents. If you are as well-acquainted with “Indian culture” as you claim to be then you should be aware of the significance of the latter in particular in relation to how such behaviour is regarded, most of all when the recipient is someone you don’t even know.

      Again, it’s up to you.

    122. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:33 pm  

      You’re right Refresh.

      I’ll take Jai at his satirical best - my sense of humour has failed me. big kisses for Jai.

      Refresh - What do yo want to discuss? I give it my best shot. I sense I’m not as old as you Refresh , but we can discuss the good old days before Zia. I was an adult when he came to power.

      justforfun

    123. Shamit — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:36 pm  

      swift simple punch in the face ususally sends the message when people choose to ignore advice about talking about people’s backgrounds.

      and Jai, if I may jest:

      “…it’s the fact that I am not a good person for anyone to have as an enemy.”

      Even Don Corleone would have been proud of that even though I think it would be too direct for his taste.

      *********************
      Justforfun — I am not picking or choosing sides — I am being honest even I found the Sikh comment a bit distasteful

    124. sonia — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:44 pm  

      114. “Since American government was nice enough to foot half my tution (which is $45000 per year)… in return for me serving in the ROTC and spending a year in Afghanistan once I graduate.”

      oh dear. good luck mate.

      its really a tragedy of the commons that university educations have to be paid for at such high costs.

    125. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:52 pm  

      Sonia - its going to get more and more common I fear. Lucky it seems only a year.

      Did you listen to a radio programme about the use of anthropologists in the US Army? A sad “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t story”

      justforfun

    126. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 1:53 pm  

      JFF,

      ‘Refresh - What do yo want to discuss? I give it my best shot. I sense I’m not as old as you Refresh , but we can discuss the good old days before Zia. I was an adult when he came to power.’

      Funny that. I have a feeling you are older than me.

      If we are to discuss the period before Zia, then we might have to mention the unmentionable Kissinger. I guess the basic premise under discussion is what responsibility America has to bear for its adventures in S Asia and the price Pakistan and Afghanistan paid for laying the Soviet Union low.

      I am of the view that had the US been an ally of good faith, Pakistan would be a leading economy and not just an army for the US to enable and disable at will.

      And I would be interested to see if there was a way to extract compensation for the lives lost as a consequence of US actions. I’ve put forward figures: $5m for every life lost; $1m for every limb.

    127. Ravi Naik — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:09 pm  

      “Since American government was nice enough to foot half my tution (which is $45000 per year)… in return for me serving in the ROTC and spending a year in Afghanistan once I graduate.”

      I think that’s a wonderful arrangement. What about women? How will you cope? :)

    128. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:19 pm  

      Looks as if we need an update on the classic t-shirt:

      “Join the army: Get ahead, get a degree; travel to exotic distant lands; meet exciting, unusual people and kill them.”

    129. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:26 pm  

      Bare with me Refresh … I’m writing a long reply. Have a cup of coffee.

      justforfun

    130. Jai — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:41 pm  

      Vikrant,

      “Since American government was nice enough to foot half my tution (which is $45000 per year)… in return for me serving in the ROTC and spending a year in Afghanistan once I graduate.”

      Jesus Christ. Good luck, mate — and stay safe. I hope the situation in Afghanistan has stabilised by the time you’re sent there.

      **************************

      Ravi,

      I think that’s a wonderful arrangement. What about women? How will you cope?

      I guess Vikrant will make sure he has access to the internet. I am told that apparently it can be helpful when it comes to that sort of thing. Yes, I have no idea what people are talking about either.

    131. Ravi Naik — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:46 pm  

      “Join the army: Get ahead, get a degree; travel to exotic distant lands; meet exciting, unusual people and kill them.”

      Not cool, Refresh. You are usually better than this. You sound like Munir.

    132. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:47 pm  

      This ‘Bare with me Refresh …’ and ‘nekkedness’ and the internet don’t combine too well, not for me anyway.

    133. munir — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:47 pm  

      Refresh , Vikrant has confessed to being a scion of jihadwatch the extreme right wing fascists anti-Muslim website and of posting there- so I suggest debating him is pointless.

      I am though complete shocked that someone who hates Muslims/Islam so much would be in the US army.

    134. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:52 pm  

      Ravi,

      My underlying thought is that its a tragedy that our governments look to bribe our youth to take up arms, when all they are really looking for is education.

      A tragedy.

    135. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 2:59 pm  

      Munir, to be fair he was very young at the time.

      I don’t know anyone on this site who hasn’t over a period of time, often through passionate debate, come to appreciate alternate views. That is why I am here.

      In fact I would go as far as to say, the whole site has become more reflective. A good thing of course.

    136. munir — on 15th May, 2009 at 3:12 pm  

      Ravi Naik
      “But the worst part of colonialism is the inferiority complex that is placed on its people, and the lack of social evolution that allows one generation to progress over the previous one.”

      Ravi do you not think the Hindu caste system already did and still does that? The British and the Mughals especially at least gave people in the lower castes an avenue of social mobility out of the complete hell they were living - and for this they are despised by Hinduvata fascists.

    137. Ravi Naik — on 15th May, 2009 at 3:46 pm  

      My underlying thought is that its a tragedy that our governments look to bribe our youth to take up arms, when all they are really looking for is education. A tragedy

      Yes, Refresh, it is a really tragedy that the Army is actually helping students pay their tuition, and then, actually hiring educated people into their ranks.

      I do not wish to drag this further. All I can say, is that it takes strong character to make this decision for the sake of one’s education, and I wish Vikrant all the best.

      Ravi do you not think the Hindu caste system already did and still does that? The British and the Mughals especially at least gave people in the lower castes an avenue of social mobility out of the complete hell they were living - and for this they are despised by Hinduvata fascists.

      The problem is that castecism is not just a Hindu problem, it is pretty pervasive among Indians. Is it not embarrassing that the lower castes are treated better by whites in this country than by high-caste Indians in India (specially in rural areas)?

      In any case, my point was subtle. When I said:

      But the worst part of colonialism is… the lack of social evolution that allows one generation to progress over the previous one.”

      I meant to say that reform comes from within, not from external forces. During western colonisation, there was little or no social evolution because it was being dictated by external and foreign forces. In 50 years of Independence, India has began dismantling castecism, and certainly in urban areas the situation is improving. It will take a few more generations until we dismantle this stain in our society.

    138. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 3:58 pm  

      ‘I do not wish to drag this further.’

      Me neither. It would be useful at some point to see who and which class the army targets for recruitment for the front line. Applies to all armies I should think.

      I may be wrong but the implication of Vikrant’s comment seemed to be that he rather he didn’t have to take this route. I have in the past talked to young lads who had joined the army and their motivation was a job, a trade and income. They did not like one bit that they were, unexpectedly, required to go fight and kill.

    139. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

      Refresh - I’m 44 - oops - just done the maths - I wasn’t an adult when Zia came to power! Maybe I mean I just possibly began to understand politics when he came to power. Everything before 78 was really just an idylic childhood.

      Yes - Kissinger - mmm - nasty piece of work but a man of his time and his war - the Cold War.

      “I guess the basic premise under discussion is what responsibility America has to bear for its adventures in S Asia and the price Pakistan and Afghanistan paid for laying the Soviet Union low.”

      I would say America has never really understood SE Asia. Why would it? Its only pre ww2 experience was its colony in the Philippines and that a long way from yours and my Asia which is the Asia we’re talking about. The rapid decolonization after ww2 was the product of two strands of ideology(one an ‘ideal’ and one ‘economic opportunity’)in US foreign policy. But bare in mind to the USA ‘economic opportunity’ is an ideology - a reason d’etre for America - not just a means to make a better life.

      Anyway I digress - De-colonization was a process - its drivers changed over time and things that seemed inportant to the US at one moment were not so a few years later.

      The Suez crisis was the point - the start point. Lets not get distracted by the IP angle of Suez :-) . Lets just say it was the moment when the US realised that Britain was truelly bankrupt both financially as well as politically (in the sense that politics is the art the possible and the Suez Plan was fantasy from the start and not possible as a plan - the British State in had lost touch with what it could achieve - Anglo-Saxon pragmatism and grounding in reality of power projection had gone ‘walk about’ and the State Dept never listen to Britain about the world after that). A film should be made about what happened in the State dept when this was going on - panic - OMG etc etc - lobbying from all walks - a truelly game changing moment for East of Suez.

      Now the USA, after the shock of seeing what idiots were in charge in the FO, was panicked and thought it was the only one who could face up to the Soviets and Chinese in Asia. So after Suez America started taking a obsessional interest in the sub-continent and containing the Soviets. By then India was non-aligned and was undertaking an autarkic economic policy. The USA mistook this for Socialism if not actually communism and a rejection of the West. Its eyes fell on Pakistan I’m afraid, and the fifties are the start of Paks entanglement, corruption and distortion into the state it is today. Its mis-fortune was not to have the elephantine size of India to resist US diplomacy and to have Generals who were easily bribed.

      Back to the two threads of US policy post ww2.
      First the ‘Ideal’ - America is for “freedom and democracy” - that was its ego boosting narrative and that was the way it rationalised its war. And America is for freedom and democracy. God help this world if America is not for these ideals. But it is also for ‘American economic opportunity’ and the British Empire was a juicy low hanging fruit - just ready for ‘Freedom’ and ‘American commerce’. Two birds with one stone.

      Indian Industrialization had started in the 1900’s and by the 30’s was now pressing ahead without real British involvement. The Indian entrepreneurs of the 30’s were creating indigenous wealth and dragging India back from its Victorian raw material supply economy. The sub-continent’s independence had been already assured in the thirties. With the local industrialization and independent access to capital, the British Raj of the 30’s was completely different to the ‘colony’ of the 19th century. It was on the runway - waiting for takeoff. No violent freedom struggle was required. Sheer economics would do the job.

      However ww2 got in the way and post ww2 independence was a rushed implementation, when both sides knew a measured transfer was what was really needed. There was no cash to keep together the Imperial Indian Army, who would have maintained the Unity of the Sub-continent for a few years more post 47 while the politics were sorted out - even in 47 it needed British senior officers - the Manekshaw generation had not yet achieved total command and more importantly the respect and trust from Indian politians, they were still young men. Indianization of the Officer Corp had been started too late? or ww2 had ended too quickly? thats the chance of history and questions for hindsight. Anyway the Imperial Army never got the chance to be the bulwark of a secular sub-continent, like it has been for an independent India - the drop in confidence of the USA in the future state of the Imperial Army post ww2 had already started during the war, and like a rush on a bank, any sign of weakness leads people to look for alternatives. Hence the idea of Pakistan was born. During ww2 , it is understandable to imagine that a post ww2 India would be an uncertain place. Jinnah saw it as a place where a career in politics was not possible for Muslims. Perhaps he thought the idea of a secular India was never feasible and link this with a worry about security and a separate muslim homeland becomes very attractive and hard to argue against. The Americans never saw this reality and during ww2 always pushed the agenda of a quick British withdrawal post ww2. Perhaps the prize of access to an independent India blinded them to the precarious nature of the Indian state and its internal politics.

      Anyway - by the late 50’s things were a ‘faite a accompli’ and Britain was off the scene as far as the sub-continent was concerned. India and Pakistan
      growled at each other but nothing happened till 65. 10 years is all it took from Suez for Pakistan to become a n extension of the US army. The talk after that war was of ”Patton Nagar’ - the Paton tanks with air-conditioning lined against ww2 tanks on the Indian side. A flexing of military muscle, like Galtieri in Argentina to divert attention away from slowly changing civil conditions. It had taken 12 years from Suez for By then Pakistan was in the grip of the USA - a back stop to Iran in the face off with the Soviets. Afghanistan the front line - assistance pouring in from the Soviets and USA trying to out bid each other into the driving seat. With this interest Afghanistan was already being rapidly developing into a modern western technological state, whether ‘it’ liked it or not. I remember travellers who came overland to India in the early 70s speaking of the contrast between Afghanistan and Pakistan even then. Afghanistan was already on the way to modernity. The Soviet invasion of 79 was not really an invasion, more a backing of a section of Afghani society that had won the tussle for power in the 60’s and 70’s.

      - Argh seen the time - have to rush -

      Refresh - will be back - but broadly I would agree with you. America has been Pakistans master and it has never been its ally as such. Allys have common interests. Pakistan was never the USA’s counter to India, but rather the Pakistan military’s interest in India was indulged by the USA as long as it remained on side as far as the Soviet threat was concerned and did not threaten this interest. So the bogy man of India gave a purpose for the Pakistan military and a reason to have all the weapons, and the American were happy to supply, as they calculated that these weapons- if ever needed could be used to counter a Soviet breakout to the Arabian Sea. In that sense a common reason to have pakistan weaponized, but not realy a common goal or interest.

      justforfun

    140. Don — on 15th May, 2009 at 5:06 pm  

      Vikrant,

      Respect. Stay safe. Take notes.

      Damn, seems like only yesterday we were nagging you to study for your ‘A’ levels. Kids grow up so fast…

      As for the lasses, I’m pretty sure the US has female personnel in Afghanistan. And if anyone can can turn their heads it will be our Vikrant.

    141. Refresh — on 15th May, 2009 at 5:38 pm  

      Justforfun,

      thanks for that, its much appreciated.

      I have raised the question of why Pakistan fell into the hands of the Americans so early, and the basic view appeared to be that at partition the country had no armaments. Vast majority of the heavy weapons in the hands of the pre-partition Indian Army stayed on the Indian side of the border. Its not clear whether that was the British plan or it was a consequence of the rush to leave. The British government (Labour) was pro post-partition India.

      Pakistan would have been in desperate need of supplies, a fairy godmother arrived in the form of the US.

      ‘The Soviet invasion of 79 was not really an invasion, more a backing of a section of Afghani society that had won the tussle for power in the 60’s and 70’s. ‘

      Totally agree.

    142. justforfun — on 15th May, 2009 at 10:50 pm  

      “I have raised the question of why Pakistan fell into the hands of the Americans so early, and the basic view appeared to be that at partition the country had no armaments. ”

      Well that might be a reason, I’m not knowledgable on the split of the equipment at partition, but I think even if the Pakistani Army had got more of the heavier weapons, its Top Brass would still have been seduced by shiny new American hardware and of course the dollars that always go with the hardware. However in reality they probably had no choice. America is very ‘persuasive’ when it needs to be, just as Britain was when it needed to be, but I was under the impression that first significant military aid to Pakistan came in the mid 50’s - along time after ww2 - and just before Suez.

      Was America’s first choice India, perhaps they tried and were rebuffed. Nehru was prickly character - easily slighted and miffed. The Americans probably wound him up the wrong way. Who knows - any one know? India was big enough and India, in its sheer size was possibly too daunting for the Americans in the late 40’s early 50’s. They had not yet got into the full swing of the Cold War and the manipulation of ‘allies’. While they were confident in their own back yard of South America, Asia was still a new area for them. Pakistan , like Iran was small enough to handle and manipulate, because Refresh you have to remember the goal was to have a stable state that could resist the Soviets. Perhaps India was never approached as it was perhaps too risky to risk it being destabilize by unintentioned CIA actions :-), but maybe I’m wrong because Kissinger did not seem to worry about such things in 71. Iran, although a large land mass, was also an easy target as it had a largely single culture and a relatively small population. If these ‘allies’ bought US goods , or had natural reasources etc all the better, but the primary ‘interest’ was a state that could be weaponized and face the Soviets.

      With this in mind - it does not really matter if the Pakistan Army had all the Indian Imperial Army’s heavy weapons - they would have be declared obsolete by the US and new weapons given. Generals love shiny new guns, it keeps the soldiers happy.

      “Pakistan would have been in desperate need of supplies, a fairy godmother arrived in the form of the US.”

      If you were a General who just had taken the US shilling, what would you spin to your population? ” The American’s are our saviours - look at all these guns they have given us - all to protect us from India.” It would be the easiest thing to do as you firmed your grip around the country’s throat. The Labour Party is doing the same now - woo scary - look at all these new laws - to save us from the Muslims. It works everytime.

      Then the generals are free to line all the tanks up on the Indian border. The American’s don’t mind as they have the General in their pocket, and if the Soviets do break for the Arabian Sea, it would not be too difficult to turn the tanks around.

      The British government (Labour) was pro post-partition India. irrelevant I would have thought.

      Enough of the past - what of the future?

      justforfun

    143. Vikrant — on 15th May, 2009 at 11:43 pm  

      Thanks a lot for the wishes fellas. If I’m lucky, my tour of duty might just end up being a vacation in Germany or South Korea. But over last two years, all I’ve been doing in combat exercises is re-enact Fallujah so many times, that the freaking map of the town in drilled in my head by now haha… So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess I’ll probably be heading over to the frontlines in 2 year’s time.

      @Refresh: I’m not being bribed. I willingly signed up for ROTC( Reserve Officer’s Training Corps). Not only do i get $100K worth of scholarship, i get to attend one of the top engineering programs in the nation. So I’m not complaining.

      Also I’d love to continue our original discussion, but I have to pack for a 9am flight to Berkeley. Anyhoo I’ll be writing a review of Taseer’s book, which i think is very pertinent to our conversation.

      @munir: C’mon, give me some credit for being a principled Islamophobe enough to sign up for four years of greulling 4:30am PT along with my engineering curricullum, so just that i could put my life and limb at risk to fight those darned Taleban!

    144. Refresh — on 16th May, 2009 at 12:05 am  

      Vikrant, OK look forward to that.

      What was your motivation for joining the ROTC?

    145. Vikrant — on 16th May, 2009 at 12:07 am  

      self-discipline and family history i guess.

    146. Refresh — on 16th May, 2009 at 12:25 am  

      ‘family history’, Indian or American? Military family?

    147. Vikrant — on 16th May, 2009 at 12:36 am  

      Indian and British.



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