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Fw: #1 in 1750?

Administrative Note:

Week's Agenda: Economy

The folowing is my comments on Prabhu Guptara's reply to Arvind's
# 1 in 1750 ?

I have separated the "quoted" part by asterisks-line and Comment-
part by wavy lines so, it should be easy reading.



-----Original Message-----
From: prabhu.guptara@ny.ubs.com <prabhu.guptara@ny.ubs.com>
To: debate@indiapolicy.org <debate@indiapolicy.org>
Date: 09 October, 1998 5:56 AM
Subject: Re: #1 in 1750?


>     Unfortunately, as economic history is not my field (though I
have just
>     started work on Indian economic history), I can only tell you
that a
>     certain reputable source provided the following gem, which I
>     without noting the source as the field was not of research
interest to
>     me then:
>        "India and China together produced 43% of world output in
>     compared with just 17% of world output in 1992".
>     As I recollect, India's output (and China's) did not decline
>     but rather continued to increase; the issue was and is that
>     output has increased so much more!

A little bit of thinking is suggested to find out why this was
Bound to be so and there is Nothing Unusual in it.



   >That the British destroyed India is a self-serving myth that was
useful to us in
>the course of our national struggle for independence, but is now
something we
>need to examine more rationally.
>The fact is that the British destroyed some things (e.g. the silk
and cotton and
>salt industries) but they built up numerous other things (literacy,
>the press, health care, agriculture, the legal system, transport
>communications, science and industry, and indeed gave us the basis
of a modern
>economic system, for example by rationalising and stabilising our


It is not right to compare horses with donkeys. Silk, cotton & salt
represent Industries while literacy, education and others named
would come
under infrastructure.
The British destroyed the industry to make way for their own exports
England) They built up the infrastructure to facilitate Trade not to
do any
favour to India or Indians.
Literacy & education policy was determined by Thomas Babington
who was a genius in his own right but was a True Brit and as a
designed the education system to produce to carry out clerical
duties of import,
export and maintainance of accounts. Legal system can also be
classed under
this as being a necessity to settle legal disputes of trade.
Transport & Communication : Before the arrival of British, India was
not one
country. There were many independent Rajas & Nawabs ruling their
What quarrel do you have with that ? For this reason an (present day
size) exten-
sive transport & communication system was Not necessary as their
needs of trade
etc were internal. When the British arrived, they developed these
again, to facilitate
the movement of goods and transmission of trade-related papers. But
major roads
existed - Sher Shah Suri had constructed a road from Kabul to
Calcutta, complete
with Rest houses every 11 or so miles with arrangement of protection
from marauders.
Press, health care & agriculture, Science  Industry : Can Mr.Prabhu
name some
scientific discoveries madein India at that time. I think the Steam
engine was
developed in England ! As for Press, I think, no modern man can feel
comfortable in
a "press-less" world. But the means of propagating news in olden
days was by
announcements. I also never heard of any health-insurance policy
instituted in those
days !


>Most importantly they began to reform our society and give us a
sense of our own
>history (as distinct from mythology).  Our mythology had not given
us a sense of
>nationalism ever in the past.  It was the recovery of our history
(indeed the
>invention by the British of the notions of India as a single
country) which was
>the whole basis for our recovering a sense of our own national past
>therefore of our national pride (I understand the Taj was being
used as a
>stables when the British started making efforts to identify and
preserve our
>national monuments - someone please check and verify).


Under British rule India came to be united. They brought this about
by "usurping" the power of erstwhile Rulers & Princes because it was
more con-
venient to carry out trade under unfied policies possible under a
Single Raj rather
than having to deal with various Kings with the prospect of having
to pay them all
part of profits as "Tax".
Long before British came, it was Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler,
who spoke of a
Hindu kingdom and oneness of Indians ( about 1700 A.D.). He sought
to align
the Rajputs with him-self to oppose the Mughals then ruling India.
At the time you talk of mythology, there were no "outsiders" in
India. You don't go
around your own house shoouting, "This is my house. This is my
house." Do you ?
What is so great about having the notion of a single country  given
by the British ?
Indians today are what the present Europeans will be in a 100 or 50
years hence.
That does not mean that the different nation of Europe to day are
not well off or are
in any way deficient.
The Scholarship of the source consulted seems to be greatly in
doubt. The grounds
of Taj Mahal are extensive and if some horses belonging to visiting
people were
tied up there, it does not make it a stable. Another point, when the
British were
consolidating their power in India, I think Bahadur Shah was the
Emperor of India.
He was adirect descendent of Shah Jehan. Bahadur Shah was a cultured
who used to write poetry and headed the Indian Mutiny against the
British in 1857.
I greatly doubt, if he would allow the most beautiful architecture
of his time to be
used as a stable. This is what they call, circumstancial evidence.


>We need to be clear that it was SOME Brits who were involved in
>constructive activities, certainly not all.  Those who WERE acting
>constructively were quite aware that their work would inevitably
lead to Indian
>freedom.  The Brits who were OPPOSED to such efforts were also
aware that these
>efforts would lead to India's freedom - that was the precise reason
they opposed
>these efforts.
>The full story, with the original documents documenting the debate,
>available in only one book, as far as I am aware: Vishal
Mangalwadi's INDIA: THE
>GRAND EXPERIMENT (published last year by Good Books, Ivy Cottage,
>Mussoorie, UP 248179, India; Pippa Rann Books, UK; and The McLaurin
>University of Minneapolis, USA).

To what section of your article does this book relate ? If it
details only the debate
"whether to allow progressive social evolution in India", then it is
irrelevant to a major
part of your article.


>No things were not rosy in India in the 17th and 18th centuries:
that was the
>reason that a handful of British were able to rule India for 200
years.  What
>was not rosy, and what they exploited in order to get into power,
was our
>internal divisions, our in-fighting and our willingness to betray
each other.
>Those conditions are precisely what are being recreated by the
present rise of
>Hinutva-related-fundamentalism in India.  Ironically, the idea that
>is a single religion is also a Western invention which has been
internalised by
>us mainly since the 19th century - before that time, no Indian used
the word
>"hindu" to describe her/his religion: we were (and we remain)
>Advaitists, Vishistadvaitists, yoga-practicers, temple-worshippers,
>versus Ram- versus Shiva- versus Vishnu-followers,,
>tantrics, guru-followers, or whatever, with various unsystematic
overlaps but
>also some fundamental oppositions between these various traditions.
Most of
>these divisions were quite violent in the past, as is recorded in
>traditions.  Those who are interested in a brief history of the
development of
>Indian religion are referred to my little booklet, INDIAN
>published by Grove Books, UK.
What you say about internal divisions and in-fighting and our
willingness to
betray one another is only too true.
But that does not Rescue the rest from Inaccuracies and lack of
Babur, the first Mughal ruler of India, called it Hindustan in
1500 - something.
There is a mountain by the name of Hindukush between the borders of
istan and present day Pakistan.
If the inhabitants of then "Indian sub-continent" did not call their
religion by name
as "Hindu", it does not detract from the basic oneness of culture -
most of them
worshipped the same Gods.

A Rose called by any other name does not cease to radiate the same


Vinay Chandekar.

Tel (662) 266 86 51.

G.P.O. Box 2478,
Bangkok 10501. Thailand.

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