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Old October 6th, 2009, 02:33 PM   #151

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


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Originally Posted by DARKPLACE View Post
America wasnt colonized? Do you want to think that one through again? If you dont, I cant wait to hear your theory about what the war of independance was really all about?
Read what I said carefully:

"Neither of these countries have ever been colonized by any European powers for the last 200 years"

The American War of Independence was in the 18th century.

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The first Japanese railways were built by the British and Americans. (The Japanese standard gauge came about due to a British contractor ordering the wrong length of sleeper.) The subsequent private companies relied heavily on foreign investment, expertise and rolling stock. In India private enterprise companies constructed the Indian railway network, which was later nationalised. Indian railways have suffered from chronic neglect and under investment since WW2 until fairly recently. Much the same can be said of British railways.
Yes, the British Rail has hardly been improved much since then either.

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True, you don’t need colonisation, but you do need a unitary state and government to provide the security and stability necessary for everything else to follow. As to colonisation, Britain never colonised India. The subcontinent had fractured into almost 600 independent “states” by the time of the Raj. Britain governed a mere 175 of these, the rest were allowed to run themselves as they saw fit so long as they did not make war on each other, or adopt policies contrary to British interests, i.e. allying themselves with another European power like France. 2/3rds of India had the potential to “develop” independently and acquire modern technology (from Britain) as you suggest. What went wrong?
Even if many of those states were "independent", by the end of the day it's the British Raj that had the authority, not those "independent" states. Like you said, they could not make any decisions that the British Raj did not approve of, not just politically but also economically. They simply did not have the economic freedom to do as they wished independent of British interests.

Like gaius valerius pointed out in an earlier post, British rule turned India from being the largest producer of cotton goods into being the largest exporter of raw cotton, just so Britain could become the largest producer of cotton goods instead. In turn, those cotton goods were sold in India. Why didn't Britain just allow the Indians to produce the cotton goods for themselves and let India remain the largest producer of cotton goods? When India is always having to share its wealth and resources with Britain, how is that supposed to help the local economy? It's obvious the British Raj was only interested in serving the interests of the home nation Britain, not their colony India. The purpose of colonizing India in the first place (by the East India Company) was to make profit, after all. It would have been a pointless exercise colonizing India if the British elite couldn't make any profit from it.

Also, I thought most of us already agree that India did adopt technology from Europe during the British Raj? My point is that they would have anyway, regardless of whether they were ruled by the British or not. If an independent Japan and America could do it, I don't see why an independent India wouldn't do it either.

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I would argue it fragmented when the British left. Up to that point British rule had kept in check the forces of tribalism and religion that created Pakistan and Bangladesh. I’m not sure what you mean by seven different nations.
The Indian subcontinent today consists of seven nations: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. The former four were under British rule in the past, while the latter three were independent, and yet those independent nations have been relatively far more peaceful than the former British colonies in the post-colonial period.

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Given the British arrived in 1615, long after the Dutch and Portuguese (1510), Maddison needs to rethink his history. When the British arrived, the world was much “smaller” economically, there was no U.S.A. or industrialised Europe then, so yes given the rise of new economies over the centuries, not to mention populations, by the time the British left, India’s share is bound to have declined. How is this 24% measured? GDP?
Of course the world economy is increasing in size as time goes by, but to only end up with 4.2% of the world economy when the country's population was 14.2% of the world population would obviously mean the British left India in a far more impoverished state than it ever was at any other point in its history. It was only after the British left that India's economic growth started picking up again. The fact that India had arguably the largest economy before British rule and that they were able to slowly recover after the British left suggests to me that the years that India was under British rule had a largely negative impact on the country's economy.

The percentage figures are measured in GDP (PPP), given as a percentage of the world economy at the time. I haven't seen any other estimates that are much different from Angus Maddison's estimates.

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There were 14 recorded famines in India before the first Briton ever set foot on the place and who knows how many that remain unrecorded. We’ve had a famine debate here before, including causes and mitigating circumstances. I’ll see if I can find the thread. What you seem to forget is that by the time the British left, transport infrastructure and ability to airlift masses of supplies meant that the Bihar famine of 1966 and the Maharashta famines of 1970-1973 were alleviated. Famine is a function of climate in India, not British colonialism.
Of course there were famines before, but the ones during British rule were by far the deadliest from the lot, at least from all the recorded ones. The reason they were so deadly had a lot to do with the neglect shown by the British rulers towards their colonial subjects, and because it would have been too costly to alleviate those famines. As for the reason that those near-famines in independent India were alleviated, that had a lot to do with the Green Revolution that had begun in Mexico shortly before. As for the transport infrastructure, that is something Indians could have built themselves anyway, like I've already said before. You don't need to be colonized to adopt technology, like with Japan and America.

Last edited by Jagger; October 7th, 2009 at 02:21 AM.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 04:05 AM   #152
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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


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it was clear that we had the tools to take over their island at our whim..

That was obviously not true.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 04:06 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by DARKPLACE View Post
America wasnt colonized? Do you want to think that one through again? If you dont, I cant wait to hear your theory about what the war of independance was really all about?

Maybe YOU want to think it through again...
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Old October 7th, 2009, 05:31 AM   #154

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


I have to agree with Jagger, again, with one minor caveat: Nepal is and has been in political turmoil for close to a decade. I don't expect much of that would be on mainstream news media, but over here, we keep up with it.

Not peaceful at all.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 03:28 PM   #155

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


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I have to agree with Jagger, again, with one minor caveat: Nepal is and has been in political turmoil for close to a decade. I don't expect much of that would be on mainstream news media, but over here, we keep up with it.

Not peaceful at all.
Well, I wasn't really suggesting it was a peaceful nation at all. I was just suggesting that it was relatively more peaceful. While Nepal has been in political turmoil for nearly a decade, I wouldn't say it was anywhere near as deadly as the conflicts that took place in the former British colonies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. I also forgot to mention Burma which (although a Southeast Asian country) was ruled as part of British India, and has since been ruled by a genocidal military junta for the past few decades.

Of course, I'm not trying to blame it all on the British Raj, but just pointing out that the state of conflict before they came and after they left hasn't changed much. As much as I'd like to take pride in the British Empire being the largest empire in history, I don't want to sugarcoat colonialism as if the colonies benefited from it. From what I see, the disadvantages it brought for the colonies far outweigh the benefits.

Last edited by Jagger; October 7th, 2009 at 03:44 PM.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 03:39 PM   #156

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


Right...in proportion, that's the difficulty with history. IMO. How does one gauge suffering and chaos?
Yes...Burma is another Pandora's Box. Now that they have been rejected from ASEAN, who knows how far they will go?
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Old October 7th, 2009, 04:00 PM   #157

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


By "deadly", I mean the number of people killed.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 05:21 PM   #158

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


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By "deadly", I mean the number of people killed.
Absolute or as a percentage?

I think you'll find there wasn't anything all that remarkable about the famines during British rule if you look at them in relative terms.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 08:33 PM   #159

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


"Low" numbers in a thinly populated nation are just as deadly as "high" numbers in a densely populated area.

A 20% loss of the members of your family is horrific, no matter what the numeric statistic is.
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Old October 8th, 2009, 07:17 AM   #160

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Re: British Empire, good or bad?


Granted, it's not a fair comparison comparing Nepal to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh given they are much more populated. However, I think we can compare Nepal to other less populated nations in the region, like Burma/Myanmar and Sri Lanka (the latter has an even smaller population than Nepal). Both the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and the Sri Lankan Civil War has each claimed more lives than the Nepalese Civil War, so I think we can say "deadlier" in relative terms as well. However, I think the reason why is because the conflicts in Myanmar and Sri Lanka have been going on for a lot longer, whereas the conflict in Nepal began in the mid-90s, long after the colonial era.
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