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Re: #1 in 1750?

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Dear Arvind

I am afraid you have let pre-Independence nationalist prejudice colour your 
thinking too much.  Please do study ALL the non-British states and don't focus 
too much on isolated triumphs in a few areas by a few enlightened rajas.  You 
will quickly come to your own conclusions if you study the Princely States in 
the rest of the country, most of which were a byword in corruption and remain to
this day the most backward parts of the country.  Pull out an old map of India 
from the days of the Raj which show the Princely States in a different colour 
from "British" India, and compare that map against a contemporary one showing 
the areas which are most deprived today, and you will see at a glance what I 

If you think the British did not give us much, you are right.  That is the 
reason we fought for independence.  Particularly, they did not give us much 
after the 1890s for various reasons which I will not go into here.  HOWEVER, the
reason a country has colonies is not to put something into them, it is to take 
something out of them.  Overall, we provided an enormous amount of money to the 
British - various estimates have been made which someone can look up (I will 
provide them by and by as I come across them once again now that I am pursuing 
Indian economic history properly).  But, in order to understand what some 
British people DID contribute (which was ultimately all that we had left to 
build on, we must recognise what they contributed.  

For example, you disagree that they contributed anything to health on the basis 
of the single statistic that at the time of independence the life expectance was
thirty something.  But what was it before the British came?  COMPARE the rates 
of infant mortality and that will tell you something.  COMPARE the possibility 
of medical care for women and that will tell you something. Indeed compare the 
position of women at the time the British arrived and when the left.  When you 
have checked on all the facts, then do let us carry on the debate.

Also you have let yourself become too influenced by the idea that there is 
something "natural" about development.  On the contrary, development is 
something which has to be fostered by the right policies, otherwise it starves 
for absence of the right policies, or is asphysiated by the imposition of wrong 
policies.  For lack of right policies, you can look at every non-developed 
tribal area in the world where there are no policies, because there is no 
interest in development within the tribe (in many cases, rather, a suspicion or 
active dislike of development).  For asphyxiation by the wrong policies, India 
is of course the best case in point for us - which is of course what we are 
trying to reverse by introducing the RIGHT policies.  We are not trying to 
create a "policy void", which is all we would need to create if development were

Professor Prabhu Guptara
Director, Organisational and Executive Development
Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre
(a subsidiary of UBS AG)
CH-8272 Ermatingen
Tel: + 41.71.663.5605
Fax: +41.71.663.5590
e-mail: prabhu.guptara@ubs.com

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: #1 in 1750?
Author:  Arvind (Arvind@simexmail.com.sg) at nyuxuu
Date:    09.10.98 18:48

prabhu guptara wrote:
> The fact is that the British destroyed some things (e.g. the silk and 
> and salt industries) but they built up numerous other things (literacy, 
> education, the press, health care, agriculture, the legal system, 
> and communications, science and industry, and indeed gave us the basis of 
> a modern economic system, for example by rationalising and stabilising our
> monetary system).  
I feel this is the other extreme view. I do not think the British even 
development unwittingly.
Thailand is an example which has never been ruled by anyone, yet they have 
legal system, transport, communications etc. It is a fact that development 
a natural process. I am sure that the rate of development  by the natural 
process would have been faster than the rate at which the British did it. 
This is not a statement based on pride or patriotism. Consider the facts. 
Cochin and Travancore under the kings were far ahead in literacy and 
healthcare compared to even Madras Presidency. In fact, the part of Kerala 
which lagged behind was Malabar which before the states were reorganized 
was part of Madras Presidency.
What did the British give us? Healthcare? The life expectancy was around 
30 years at the time of independence. Infant mortality was very high and 
the death rate was 45 (hence no population growth rate problem) 
Agriculture? India was known for famines. Science? 
You might be interested to know that things were no
different in those days. JN Tata, father of late JRD, wanted to set up 
Indian Institute of Science. He was to pay 50% and the Government 50%. 
He paid his part, the Mysore Maharaja donated land too but the British 
did not pay its share of 50%.
Education? In 1947, India had a 16% literacy rate.
I have heard that things have improved so much that destitutes these
days have at least rags to wear. India is at least fighting poverty these 
days. Nothing was done to fight poverty during the days of the British. 
If you mean credit for ideas, to some extent the Europenas deserve it
but to say that nobody else was capable of thinking would be stretching 
things a bit too far.
Again here, I am of the firm belief that if indian trade had not been 
ideas would have originated from india too. Ideas originate not because 
of sudden flashes alone but largely due to exposure. Had India been 
exposed to the industrial revolution, I am sure indians would have 
contributed with ideas too.
The amount of transport and communications which the British developed 
was far less than what would have occured if development was natural.
To their credit, I must accept that they developed the legal system. 
We might have had several countries instead of one but to say that 
they would have been perpetually at war with one another would be
a cynical statement. Just as the barbarism of middle ages in Europe 
stopped, this too would have stopped. However, that is speculative 
and let me not divert from the topic.
To get a fair idea how we would have progressed, one needs to study 
those princely states which were least affected by the British. 
This is a posting to India_Policy Discussion list:  debate@indiapolicy.org 
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/ 

This is a posting to India_Policy Discussion list:  debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/