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Why British dismantled their empire?

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Rise of America?
  • Ruins of second world war?
  • Rise of nationalist movements in many colonies?
  • Empire became too big for Britain?
  • Change of British heart ?
  • Empire became unprofitable?

British left their colonies but not thrown out by force. There are many puzzling facts about the last half century of the empire. There were not strong forces inside Britain which were driving towards dismantling of the empire. No nationalist movement was strong enough to over throw the British rule. At the international stage, which was Europe, Japan, and America, there was not much pressure on Britain against the Empire. Americans were looking for to have their own colonies. Europeans were more busy in their own empires and wars.

I just read the book Empire and the English character. This book analyzes the typical thinking of British Colonial Officers of the empire.  The book shows that different officers had different conception of the empire. Each colony was created and run with different objectives. So, each officer can have his own justification of his actions depending upon his circumstances. The officer, who was posted in some outpost in a jungle, thought that he was in a civilizing mission of the natives. Native people need to learn the governing art by watching the great example of British. The officer, who was posted at economic gold mines, thought that his main interest was trading with some necessity to govern.

The British long debated and analyzed the right mode and means of governing. They ran the empire impromptu. Just what ever works. Various events shows that they could never figured out the good solution to run the empire and more importantly the moral justification. They knew one clear goal or a dream, that is, they deserve all the economic benefits of the empire and they do not want to harm anyone in the process. They seem to never realize that this goal is almost impossible to achieve.

There were many strains of thought. Some suggested to place an autocratic bureaucracy over the colonies, which will make sure the ‘civilized behavior’ in the colony, and let the day to day matters be handled by a native elected legislature. Another idea was to create a commonwealth (A super nation organization, some thing like EU ). In which, colonies will be sovereign states but their international issues, such as disputes and trading, will be handled by British. There were many other variants for the organization of empire. But, essential feature in all of them was that the British wanted to keep their hands on the pie (economic benefits of the colonies). This lead to many restructurings of the empire during first half of 20th century. Meanwhile, the war was looming over Europe which lead British to be less ambitious over their plans. Some times they are forced to negotiate with the native leaders to gather support for the war. Meanwhile, Americans were getting more and more powerful and they wanted a share in the British empire.

Also the troubles due to the nationalist movements. The most powerful nationalist movement was in India. It was lead by Gandhi and it was very hard for British to call leaders like Gandhi as uncivilized savage. They kept doing concessions with Gandhi and his congress. One day they found that the most of administration was actually Indian and it had became unprofitable to run India(due to some 1920 tax reforms). So, they decided to let India go.

There were series of complex events which finally led to the fall of the empire. I don’t think that one factor can be singled out. The whole lesson to be learned is that to kill beasts, like British empire, one has to do the groundwork to create conditions in which it can not sustain itself.

Passive Invasion of Goa!

I found following video on youtube. A news report of invasion of unarmed Indians into Portugal occupied Goa. Alas, it didn’t succeed and in this attempt 22 dead and 120 wounded. Later, India invaded Goa militarily and Portuguese surrendered. Start watching from 2m07s

It shows depth of the following of Gandhi then, which is very hard to imagine today.

Movie: Lage Raho MunnaBhai

October 15, 2006 Leave a comment

Great and innovative Comedy!

This movie was good enough to do “chemical locha (imbalance)” in my head such that I read “Story of my experiments with the truth” 🙂

[I accept, I can be easily persuaded and I am a generous admirer]

Reading Gandhi is a great experience. I think everyone should read this book. Not because he talks about morality and stuff but because he discuss how to question yourself. It is not necessary for someone to be convinced by all his ideas. In example, the way he advocates being vegetarian etc. He should be studied because that man asked questions to himself and able to find few answers for himself. This books reading will show you that neither Gandhi was a selfless angel nor a selfish monster, as he gets portrayal in peoples mind, but he was a mere human like us but with unique qualities.

Gandhi: A big pack of lies

🙂 Its just to grab your attention, Gandhi was not a liar for sure. Even if he was a liar, I am assuming him that he was truthful in his book.

Let’s start with who was that man. As I can perceive, He was a religious man. He was a hardcore vegetarian. He was a great seeker. He wanted to find the true nature of humankind. He wanted to eliminate all differences among humans. He felt that it can only be possible by virtue of truth. His order of thinking matches with any other prophet in history. He used to act not only according to what is correct but also he used to consider response of the people after each action. This made him successful leader and gave him capacity to manipulate for the name of truth.

In his own words “Truth is the only GOD!!” Can you deny that? 

Gandhi’s truth was not the same truth as the truth of a scientist, mathematician or a computer programmer. He adopted a very humane definition of truth. His belief was that if I tell you the truth and you don’t believe my truth then it is no more a truth. It is like the truth needs acknowledgment from the listener. And it is truth speaker’s responsibility to do whatever it takes to convince the listener that he is speaking the truth. It is like human emotions. For example love; if you love someone then it needs acknowledgment from the one. If the one denies to accept your love then this emotion fails to fall in the category of love. This provides a practical approach to be truthful but not just an idea. He also made this observation that a truthful person creates his enemies very quickly. So, He also made it clear that a person of truth should also be person of care.

The thing for which I would admire him most is his approach over religion. From childhood he had a firm believe that God exist!! But he wasn’t sure that the religion in which he was born is great enough to be believed. During his stay in England and South Africa, He studied other religions. Mainly, he spoke in his book about Christianity and Islam. At the end of his search he found that no religion is greater than another. All of them have good qualities along with their flaws. So, He chose to continue to remain Hindu. His search for God didn’t finish there. He learned Hindu religion in full detail. He adopted selectively features from the Hinduism and discarded bullshit ideas. He developed his own flavor of Hinduism. That’s the way it should be, Religion should be reformed time to time and people shouldn’t adopt it without understanding it. He was no less religious. In his book, He wrote in every second page how God helped him doing many things. He became bramhchari after one point in his life. But, his religious outlook is in question in my head; He needed to be portrayed as pious such that people will listen to his ideas. I doubt that he was really as religious but as long as He presented consistent ideas in his book, I am fine with him.

Gandhi had a quality to recognize human nature. He knew how to act in different situations. He made very intricate observations about human tendencies. In example,
“It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow-beings.”
“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”
You can read many more at
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/mohandas_gandhi.html

His approach against British Government is very interesting. He never hated British. He started with the idea that as any other Englishman an Indian is also children of same British Empire. He should get equal rights as an Englishman. He maintained this status quite long. He used to think that all the atrocities done by the government is mistake of local officers. Eventually he learned that it is impossible that British will ever consider Indians equal to them then He took the stand to ask British government to leave India.

I don’t like Gandhi’s many ideas. He questioned great deal of things but some times he tends to conclude some answers with not enough understanding. Such as his views about being vegetarian and arguments related to human health. He denied lots of knowledge of modern science in respect of human health. As far as I understand, he never studied biology in detail and didn’t have much of understanding of effect of different types of edibles on human body. So, how could he make such firm statements about eating habits just by his experience and by reading books of vegetarianisms?

I don’t understand that if Gandhi used to believe in righteousness or in correctness. Both have a subtle difference in the meaning. He advocated some righteous behaviors rigorously. Such as, He had deontological approach against being faithful towards his wife. He described that he was a completely faithful but a lustful husband. It seems that it implies that he wanted to be faithful to her not because of love but out a feeling of righteousness. I guess in correctness approach, one will argue in different way for being faithful to ones wife.

As he was man of thinking, He was also the man of practical world. As he had chosen a goal to solve in his life, He chose to lead public life. He had to be selfish in many ways. He couldn’t have put his own life in danger. He used to avoid possibilities of getting killed in his acts against British. He presented himself very spiritual and pure such that people don’t raise unnecessary questions about his personal life. He knew that his autobiography will be taken literally by many. So, he took extreme care about writing critical issues. Sometime he specially addressed reader to explain what she/he should grasp about his thought.

As you have been reading this much crap which I am producing about Gandhi then it is time you should go and read “Story of my experiments with the Truth.”

Categories: Indian Culture Tags: ,