Monday, March 9, 2015

Cruel Acts and War Crimes during British rule in India

I believe that this is the topic to be written very very late,but its worth writing how the British manage to rule India for 335 years(1612-1947) and about the cruel deeds of the British rule in India.However I'm publishing the know acts of British Empire in India,there are so many hidden facts which was never put to light.But we would had put each and everything into light, If we have the same sort of media we have right now back then.

How East India Company came to picture & Arrival of European traders

Indian trade links with Europe started in through sea route only after the arrival of Vasco da Gama in Calicut, India on May 20, 1498. The Portuguese had traded in Goa as early as 1510, and later founded three other colonies on the west coast in Diu, Bassein, and Mangalore. In 1601 the East India Company was chartered, and the English began their first inroads into the Indian Ocean. At first they were little interested in India, but rather, like the Portuguese and Dutch before them, with the Spice Islands. But the English were unable to dislodge the Dutch from Spice Islands. In 1610, the British chased away a Portuguese naval squadron, and the East India Company created its own outpost at Surat. This small outpost marked the beginning of a remarkable presence that would last over 300 years and eventually dominate the entire subcontinent. In 1612 British established a trading post in Gujarat. As a result of English disappointments with dislodging the Dutch from the Spice Islands, they turned instead to India. In 1614 Sir Thomas Roe was instructed by James I to visit the court of Jahangir, the Mughal emperor of Hindustan. Sir Thomas was to arrange a commercial treaty and to secure for the East India Company sites for commercial agencies, -"factories" as they were called. Sir Thomas was successful in getting permission from Jahangir for setting up factories. East India Company set up factories at Ahmedabad, Broach and Agra. In 1640 East India Company established an outpost at Madras. In 1661 the company obtained Bombay from Charles II and converted it to a flourishing center of trade by 1668. English settlements rose in Orissa and Bengal. In 1633, in the Mahanadi delta of Hariharpur at Balasore in Orissa, factories were set up. In 1650 Gabriel Boughton an employee of the Company obtained a license for trade in Bengal. An English factory was set up in 1651 at Hugli.  In 1690 Job Charnock established a factory. In 1698 the factory was fortified and called Fort William. The villages of Sutanati, Kalikata and Gobindpore were developed into a single area called Calcutta. Calcutta became a trading center for East India Company. Once in India, the British began to compete with the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the French. Through a combination of outright combat and deft alliances with local princes, the East India Company gained control of all European trade in India by 1769. In 1672 the French established themselves at Pondicherry and stage was set for a rivalry between the British and French for control of Indian trade.

Strategies used by them to Set foot On India

Disunity among Indian princely states.

India was more a collection of warring princely states, at loggerheads with each other. The British sucessfully used this to play off one state against another. Add to it there was no dearth of people willing to betray the kingdom for a few pieces of silver. Robert Clive succeeded at Plassey, because Mir Jaffar was willing to betray his master Siraj-Ud-Daulah in lie of being the Nawab. Mir Jaffar himself was betrayed by Mir Qasim later on.Tipu Sultan one of the most redoubtable fighters against the British rule, was finally defeated, as the Marathas, King of Mysore, Nizam of Hyderabad all joined hands with the British.

Superiority over other colonial powers.
The other colonial powers in India competing for the share of resources were France,Portugal,Denmark, Holland. Of the 4, Denmark and Holland could never really be serious competitors to the British, they had their own trading posts, scattered around, but were never a serious threat. Portugal focussed primarily on the Western coast, Goa, parts of Kerala, Karnataka, and this left the British with vast swathes of unoccupied territory. That left France as the major contender to Britian in the race for colonialism. The British Army was more well equipped, more professional, more disciplined compared to the French army, suffering from indiscipline and corruption. This made the British win key battles all over the East Coast, as they effectively grabbed control.

Doctrine of Lapse.

One of the most effective tactics, the British used to take over most of India. Instead of waging an all out war against some of the princely states, they signed a treaty with them, where in if the ruling king died without a heir, the East India company could take over that. And that is how Satara became one of the first states to end up under British rule. And that was also the main reason for the conflict in Jhansi.

Subsidiary alliance was also an effective instrument. According to this alliance, the kingdom which signs the treaty will have to maintain the following rules:

The British agreed to maintain a permanent and fixed subsidiary force within the territory of their ally.
In return, they didn't take money but took over a part of the territory of the ally.
A British officer called "resident" was placed at the court of the ruler.{he could interfere in the internal matters of the kingdom}
The ally could not maintain any relation with any other ruler without the approval of the British.{so,when the rulers wanted to revolt against the British they are alone.}
The Indian rulers felt a false sense of security but in reality they were losing their independence. On the other hand the Britishers maintained large forces at the expenses of the Indian rulers and also increase their area of influence. Some states brought under control through this policy are Hyderabad, Tanjore, Awadh, etc.

At the end of it all, the British had the advantage of better manpower, were militarily more powerful and stronger, and add to it they had some very canny strategists too. And the disunity among Indian princely states, their constant warring with each other, just added to the advantage.


Looting Of India

First, I will try to summarize the nature of loot.

War Indemnity

In the first phase of the rule of the British, war indemnity was the primary source of loot. Whenever the opponent loses war, the Britisher's would plunder their territory as war indemnity, and administer them including collection of taxes.

Subsidiary Alliance and Doctrine of Lapse

This was a very clever policy in which the princely states would provide money(precious stones, territory, etc.) to the Britishers in return for the protection of their territories. This helped Britishers grow a large army at the cost of the princely states. The treaty was also such that if they were not able to pay money, the state has to cede a part of the territory and many states did cede their territory(to protect the territory ). In Doctrine of Lapse, if the current king doesn't have a hire to run the administration, that territory would be annexed by the British.

Heavy taxation of Indian Goods in Britain

Indian handmade cotton was very popular in British and other parts of the world, realizing this, the British raised import duty as high as 400% to some goods which resulted in making the Indian goods very costly and eventually forcing the traders and the artists to quit and look for other jobs.

Industrial Revolution

British Industries needed raw materials which were abundant in India. Britishers reduced the Indian's from manufacturers to just producer of raw materials due to the tax policies. When the final goods were made, they needed a market which India was. So, they sucked in the raw materials at a fraction of cost and supplied the mill-made goods back. The hand-made goods from India were not able to compete with the mill made goods from England and eventually everyone were wiped out. Indian Industries were also not promoted as they have to cross the bureaucratic hurdles to setup their industries.
At that stage the employment opportunities were also minimal and if one has to join in government service, one has to study in England which was too costly. At most times, even the highest paid Indian could not go higher than the lowest paid Englishmen such was the discrimination against Indians.

Land Revenue System

After  the Battle of Buxar, East India Company got rights to collect taxes,  and if the first two policies were a direct attack on the  princes/kingdoms, this one was a direct attack on common people. They  established three systems - Permanent Settlement, Ryotwari System and  Mahalwari System whereever these systems were found suitable. Indian  population was predominantly agricultural depending on lands for their  income. In the permanent settlement system zamindars who were given the  responsibility to collect taxes and give a fixed tax to the company. So  if the zamindars collected more tax it could benefit them as they have  to pay only a fixed amount to the British, and they started collecting  more taxes. In Ryotwari system, the land was made saleable and if the  farmers fails to pay taxes, their land were ceased. In Mahalwari system,  where the cultivators have to provide a % of their yield which was very  high.

All the taxes collected were not contributed to the development of India, they were used for
* Home charges - Expenditure incurred in England on behalf of India,
* To fund Military and civil service. Indian Civil Service was the highest paid service and the most sought after at that point.
* To pay Dividend to the shareholders of East India Company.

And even before 1857, most of the wealth was drained away - Princes had to live on pensions from the company, farmers had to give away their lands if they failed to pay taxes, traders were suppressed due to heavy taxes, industrialists had to live with discriminative laws and there were no alternate employement opportunites. So, what remained for people? Nothing.

One the Englishman had told - The system acts like a sponge - sucking water from Ganges and draining it in Thames.

Just A small calculation of British Loots

3.9 Million Pounds paid by Mir Jafar to East India Company 1757
230000 pounds per annum from Mir Jafar's Successor
Annual takling 1932900 pounds from Bengal Bihar and Orissa
Annual revenue from Bihar alone: 680000 pounds
Famine 1770 : 10 million dead, directly due to British policies
Annual revenue from Bengal from 1793: 2.68 million pounds
Famines in 1783, 1792, 1807, 1813, 1823, 1834 and 1854
Famines in 1877, 1878, 1889, 1892, 1897, 1900 : 15 million dead. Note how the incidence of famine has increased with the passage of colonial rule...
Revenue from Allahabad: Pounds 1682306 per annum circa 1800s
Land Tax: 50% of produce
Maratha area: annual revenue 1,500,000 pounds per annum  circa 1800s
Indian Debt: pounds 51,000,000 in 1857
Indian Debt: pounds 97,000,000 in 1862
Indian Debt pounds 200,000,000 in 1901
44 Million sterling annual outflow from India to Britain. Multiply this figure alone by around 150 - that is approximate 6600 Million - 6.6 Billion. Now compound by 8% the number comes to 37 Trillion pounds - or nearly 73 Trillion Dollars. India's external debt as on March 2011 was 345.8 Billion Dollars.(This last bit - the compounding and the extrapolation of annual revenues over 150 years is my guesstimate; to equal it out I have used a factor 112 years)
Just one years revenue earnings to the British amount to 243 Billion Sterling- nearly 480 Billion Dollars even when I compound it by just 8% more than our total external debt .Calculate the sum looted by British in 300+ Years.Because of which 1 British pound is now 95 Indian Rupees

This was not the end


The Amritsar Massacre

Amritsar Massacre
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, was a seminal event in the British rule of India. On 13 April 1919, a crowd of non-violent protesters, along with Baishakhi pilgrims, had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh garden in Amritsar, Punjab to protest against the arrest of two leaders [Dr.Satyapal and Dr.Saifuddin] despite a curfew which had been recently declared. On the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the army fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to run out. The figures released by the British government were 370 dead and 1200 wounded. Other sources place the number dead at well over 1000. This "brutality stunned the entire nation", resulting in a "wrenching loss of faith" of the general public in the intentions of Britain. The ineffective inquiry and the initial accolades for Dyer by the House of Lords fuelled widespread anger, leading to the Non-cooperation Movement of 1920–22.


On Sunday, 13 April 1919, Dyer was convinced of a major insurrection and he banned all meetings, however this notice was not widely disseminated. That was the day of Baisakhi, the main Sikh festival, and many villagers had gathered in the Bagh. On hearing that a meeting had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, Dyer went with fifty Gurkha riflemen to a raised bank and ordered them to shoot at the crowd. Dyer continued the firing for about ten minutes, until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted; Dyer stated that 1,650 rounds had been fired, a number which seems to have been derived by counting empty cartridge cases picked up by the troops.Official British Indian sources gave a figure of 379 identified dead,with approximately 1,100 wounded. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 dead. Over 100 women and children who looked for safety in a well drowned. Rifle fire tore the rest to shreds. When the news reached London, Parliament was so shocked it recalled the man who ordered the massacre, Brigadier Reginald Dyer. In a depressing twist of fate, the British public labeled him a hero and raised £26,000 (around $900,000 in today’s money) for “the man who saved India.” He died peacefully, convinced right to the end that his mindless slaughter had been morally justifiable.


The Partitioning Of India


As a servant of the British Empire in 1947, Cyril Radcliffe has the distinction of killing more people with the stroke of a pen than anyone else in history. With almost zero time to prepare himself, Radcliffe was tasked with drawing the border between India and newly-created Pakistan that would split the subcontinent forever along religious lines. It was a tricky task, one that had the potential to cause massive displacement and ethnic violence even if handled carefully. Radcliffe, on the other hand, was asked to make some of the most-important decisions during the course of a single lunch.The result was a border that made no ethnic or geographical sense. Terrified of being caught on the wrong side, Hindus in modern Pakistan and Muslims in modern India upped sticks and ran. The result was 30 million people trying desperately to escape one country or the other, a situation that quickly spiralled into mind-numbing violence. Gangs of armed Muslims held up border trains and slaughtered any non-Muslims onboard. Hindu mobs chased and battered Muslim children to death in broad daylight. Houses were ransacked, villages burnt, and half a million people killed. It was a ridiculous waste of life, one that could have been largely avoided simply by giving the unfortunate Cyril Radcliffe enough time to do his job properly.



The Bengal Famine

The Bengal famine of 1943 struck the Bengal Province of pre-partition British India (present-day West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Bangladesh) during World War II following the Japanese occupation of Burma. Approximately 3 million people died due to famine. Generally the estimates are between 1.5 and 4 million,considering death due to starvation, malnutrition and disease, out of Bengal's 60.3 million population. Half of the victims died from disease after food became available in December 1943. Generally it is thought that there was serious decrease in food production during that time which is coupled with Bengal's continuing export of grain. However according to Amartya Sen there was no significant decrease in food production in 1943 (in fact food production was higher compared to 1941). As in previous Bengal famines, the highest mortality was not in previously very poor groups, but among artisans and small traders whose income vanished when people spent all they had on food and did not employ cobblers, carpenters, etc. The famine also caused major economic and social disruption, ruining millions of families.


But in 2010 a new book came out claiming the lack of famine relief was deliberate and that the deaths of those millions had been intentionally engineered by one man: Winston Churchill.According to the book, Churchill refused to divert supplies away from already well-supplied British troops, saying the war effort wouldn’t allow it. This in itself wouldn’t be too damning, but at the same time he allegedly blocked American and Canadian ships from delivering aid to India either. Nor would he allow the Indians to help themselves: the colonial government forbade the country from using its own ships or currency reserves to help the starving masses. Meanwhile, London pushed up the price of grain with hugely inflated purchases, making it unaffordable for the dying and destitute. Most-chillingly of all, when the government of Delhi telegrammed to tell him people were dying, Churchill allegedly only replied to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet. If all this is true—and documents support it—then Winston Churchill, the British war hero who stood up to the Nazis, may well have starved to death as many innocent people as Stalin did in the Ukrainian genocide. Could the man who held out against Hitler really be capable of such an atrocity? Judging by the rest of this list, it wouldn’t be surprising.





Madhusree Mukerjee’s book [Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, New York, Basic Books, 2010]

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