When Gandhi was travelling from England to South Africa via sea, he wrote a piece called Hindi Swaraj(India my country), about why it is important to disown everything British. Gandhi wrote it in a period of 8-10 days. It was kind of like a pamphlet on ‘how do we achieve self rule?’ ‘How do we attain self stability and keep foreign forces away?’
Gandhi was very unhappy with the fact that western civilisation was rapidly changing Indian culture and our way of living. He wanted the British out of India. They were plundering us and killing millions of Indians.
In his book Gandhi was telling his country men to be careful. Even though the English plundered us and left us with nothing, we were still trying to rule our country like the English would have done. In India we still have the English-style education system, law and order instilled by the British(Judges still wear white wigs on their heads. We would say my lord, dear lord to the judges while addressing them). Indians have quickly gotten used to the english way of living. Gandhi was a little bit averse to modern technology and industrial revolution. He thought that we should stick to manual labour instead of using machines like the Europeans do. Gandhi believed that hard human labour is the key to human happiness(I think Gandhi exaggerated it a little bit too much. We have to embrace technology and machines to a certain extent. Otherwise how can we grow as as a civilisation? Are we forever supposed to do everything by hands?)
Recently there was a survey in India about what people thought about the British empire. Almost 59 percent Indians felt pride about the fact that the British ruled us for more than 2 centuries, while 19 percent felt humiliated by it. Can You imagine being proud of being ruled by the British? Are we that submissive as a nation?
But the British left You with so much good things. I can hear people praising the British already..
I was one of those people who felt proud that I can speak english fluently. Thanks to the British. I used to think that we have a great Democratic system(An English gift). I was taking false pride in things that were left by the British. By taking pride in those things, I was unconsciously accepting the British Occupation of India.
There is a common misconception that the British gave us the railways for free(Indian Railways). The railways were built by using poor Indians as slaves. Money from the Indian tax payer was used for constructing wagons and railroad tracks. Railways were used for trading purposes, mainly Cotton, gold, spices like pepper, cumin, and paprika etc. Goods were transported from the villages to ports in Bombay and Goa. From there, onwards to Britain to potential buyers. Indians had no use from the railways in the beginning. It was only after independence, that we used the railways for the common man’s good.
British also taught a very selected few Indians(the elite Indians) English. The English elite thought that we wouldn’t learn it very fast. Indians were considered to be too backward to learn any language from scratch.They were wrong. Now India has the largest number of English language speakers anywhere in the world. Thats quite an achievement i should say.
If the Brits killed, and divided us(caste system and racial apartheid in South Africa), looted us, then why are we treating them like gods? Winston Churchill once said that its better to loose a couple of thousand Indian lives than that of the Greek ones(I am paraphrasing). Churchill believed that India as a nation is submissive in nature. We have to be ruled. We cannot rule ourselves.
Hitler killed more than a million Jews, and is considered as one of the biggest murderers in modern human history. The British killed way more than Hitler did. But nobody talks about it. Because it is all undocumented and happened during the colonial rule in India.
I always wonder when I as a person will be proud of my heritage, not what the British left me. Not the English language, not the court system. But my culture and the heritage of my country. If the British were so bad, why are we still ruling the country like them? It baffles me.
To write this text, i took inspiration from the following sources-
Inglorious empire by Shashi Tharoor
Article from Theprint.in