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Colonial History of India
Ironies of History:

Contradictions of The Khilafat Movement

By Hamza Alavi


The 'Khilafat' Movement of 1919-24, is probably quite unique inasmuch as it has been glorified with one voice by Islamic ideologists, Indian nationalists and communists alike and along with them by Western scholars, as an anti-colonial movement of Muslims of India, premised on the hostility of the British to the Turkish Sultan, their venerated Caliph.1 Little attempt has been made to examine the premises on which the movement was founded, the rhetoric of its leaders being taken at face value. On closer examination we find extra-ordinary paradoxes and contradictions behind that rhetoric.

As for the 'achievements' of that Movement, its lasting legacy is the legitimised place that it gave the Muslim clergy at the centre of the modern political arena, armed with a political organisation in the form of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Hind (and its successors after the Partition) which the clergy have used to intervene actively in both the political as well as the ideological sphere. Never before in Indian Muslim history was the clergy ever accorded such a place in political life.

The Khilafat Movement also introduced the religious idiom in the politics of Indian Muslims. Contrary to some misconceptions (and misrepresentations) it was not the Muslim League, the bearer of Muslim Nationalism in India, that introduced religious ideology in the politics of Indian Muslims. Muslim Nationalism was a movement of Muslims and not a movement of Islam. It was an ethnic movement of disaffected Muslim professionals and the government-job-seeking educated Indian Muslim middle class, mainly those of UP and Bihar and urban Punjab. Their objectives were modest, for they demanded not much more than fair quotas in jobs for Muslims and certain safeguards for their interests. Muslim Nationalism in India was a secular rather than a religious movement. Nor was it, in its origins, a Hindu hating movement as is sometimes made out. To the contrary, by virtue of the Lucknow Pact of 1916 it had already moved decisively towards a common platform with the broader Indian National Movement and unity with the Congress Party. The Khilafat Movement intervened in that context in a way that decisively killed the politics of the Lucknow Pact. The intervention of the Khilafat Movement in Indian Muslim politics has had a considerable retrogressive ideological influence on the modern Indian Muslim mind that reverberates still in Muslim thinking and their politics in present day India and Pakistan. For that alone, it deserves to be reviewed and re-evaluated.

The Khilafatist Claims

The arguments of the Indian Khilafatists were based on the claims that:

1) The Ottoman Caliph was the 'Universal Caliph' to whom all Muslims, everywhere in the world, owed allegiance;

2) That there was an ongoing war between the World of Christianity and the World of Islam, which, inter alia, caused loss of territories of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, a loss that Indian Muslims felt obliged to mourn;

3) That Britain in particular, was an enemy of the Ottoman Caliph; that after World War I Britain held the Caliph captive in Istanbul. They demanded that the person and the office of the Caliph be protected and preserved and his sovereignty, including that over Ottoman Arab colonies and the Muslim Holy places, be respected and preserved.

A dispassionate examination of the relevant facts show that these claims were all quite dubious. In this short paper we can review these matters only quite briefly.

Origins of the Ottoman Caliphate

The acquisition of the status of Caliph by Ottoman Sultans is a disputed matter. When, in the modern era, they decided to describe themselves as Caliphs, they claimed that the Caliphate had been transferred three and a half centuries earlier to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I by al-Mutawakkil, a descendent of the Abbasids of Baghdad, who was living in exile in Egypt as a pensioner of the Mamluk ruler Baybars, who was defeated in 1517 by Selim. Baybars, the most distinguished of the Mamluk rulers was originally a Turkoman slave. He had picked up al-Mutawakkil's father, an uncle of last Abbasid Caliph, and installed him in Cairo with great pomp as, what scholars have labelled, a 'pseudo-Caliph' 2 who carried the name but none of the authority of that office. Baybar's object in installing him in Cairo was thereby to confer honour and legitimacy on his crown and give his court an air of primacy in Muslim eyes. 3 Al-Mutawakkil succeeded his father in that role. He claimed to be the legitimate bearer of the (late) Abbasid Caliphate, although he was a man without a country and without any authority. He had, at best, only a symbolic value for Baybars, in view of his connections with the Abbasid dynasty. On his return to Istanbul Selim carried the hapless al-Mutawakkil with him, to deny a potential future Mamluk any shred of legitimacy.

The claim that the Caliphate was transferred by al-Mutawakkil to Selim is considered by historians to be quite dubious. 4 It has been argued that al-Mutawakkil was in no position to pass on the Caliphate to anyone, for he did not have it himself, having neither a country nor any power or authority. What appears to the present writer to be a more telling argument against the veracity of that story is that neither Selim nor any of his descendants for nearly three and half centuries, called themselves Caliphs ! There was no Ottoman Caliphate for all those centuries. The title that the Ottoman Sultans took pride in using was that of Ghazi.

It had, however, become a common practice among medieval Muslims rulers to be addressed as Caliph, but only informally so, along with other honorific titles, on ceremonial occasions. In Turkey such a practice also grew, imperceptibly and gradually. The title of Caliph came to be added to the many honorific titles attached to the Ottoman Sultan. But, formally and officially, the title of Caliph was not used by the Ottomans until 1774, or over 250 years after Selim's famous victory over the Mamluks. In that year formal use of the title of Caliph for an Ottoman Sultan came about purely by coincidence. During negotiations with the victorious Russians of the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, the Russian negotiators described their Empress, Catherine the Great, as 'the Head of the entire Christian Orthodox Church', thus laying a theoretical claim to the loyalties of Christian subjects of the Ottomans. Not to be out done, a quick-witted negotiator of the Sultan named his master as the Caliph of all Muslims, thus laying a counter claim, to the loyalties of Muslim subjects of the Russian Empress. There was no more to it than that.

After that episode, despite the informal use of the title of Caliph, the Ottomans still did not yet claim that they were legitimate Caliphs and religious heads of all Muslims. That was to come much later. That was encouraged not least by the British who were staunch allies and patrons of the Ottomans, with an eye to the Muslims of India whom they hoped to be able to influence through the Caliph. Lewis writes: 'Under Abdul Aziz (1861-76) the doctrine was advanced for the first time that the Ottoman Sultan was not only the head of the Ottoman Empire but also the Caliph of all Muslims and the heir, in a sense not previously accepted, of the Caliphs of early times.' 5

Legitimacy of Ottoman Caliphs

It was only by the late 19th century, that the Ottoman Sultans decided to lay claim to the Universal Caliphate. For that to be credible, they needed to establish an acceptable source of legitimacy in the eyes of the world. For that purpose, Turkish propaganda, (which was greatly to influence Urdu journalism and Indian Muslim thought) dredged up the mythical story of transfer of the Caliphate to Selim, by al-Mutawakkil in 1517. It was necessary to take resort to that mythical origin of the Ottoman Caliphate which, it was hoped, would reinforce their claim for legitimacy of their Caliphate. If they could show that it had been formally transferred to them by a member of the House of Abbas who was supposed to be the custodian-in-exile of the Abbasid Caliphate and held that legacy until he could transfer it to a Muslim Sultan who possessed secular power that could do justice to that awesome office, their claim, they hoped, would thereby be unchallengeable. The Ottomans resurrected al-Mutawakkil from the grave to prove their Caliphal credentials.

Indian Muslims were divided into at least two groups on the issue of recognition of the legitimacy of the Ottoman Caliphate, though its is remarkable that neither side questioned the validity of the story that it had been passed on to Selim by al-Mutawakkil. Those who subscribed to the Barelvi tradition refused to accept the legitimacy of the Ottoman claim on an issue of principle and not by questioning the truth of the story of the supposed transfer of the Caliphate by al-Mutawakkil. Barelvis did not disbelieve the story itself. Given years of Turkish propaganda about it in the Urdu press, they took it for granted, like other Indian Muslims. The Barelvi objection was that the Caliphate could be held only by someone descended from the Quraysh clan. The Ottomans were not of Quraysh descent. They did not, therefore, satisfy an indispensable condition for Caliphate. In taking that view they were in accord with an authoritative and established tradition in classical Islam. Eminent scholars such as Imam al-Ghazali and al-Mawardi had expressed the view that only a descendent of the Quraysh could be Caliph. 6 In the light of the Barelvi rejection, and in order to rally Indian Muslims behind the Ottoman Caliph, Maulana Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal issued a fatwa in February 1919 laying down inter alia that Quraysh descent was not a necessary condition for Caliphate. Lined up against Bari were such major figures in Islamic learning as Imam al-Ghazali and al-Mawardi. His ex cathedra judgement was rejected not only by the Barelvis but also by influential groups of 'Deobandi' Ulama. Minault records the fact that several senior Ulama refused to sign the fatwa. Amongst those who signed, says Minault, the Ulama of Deoband, Punjab and Bengal were conspicuous by their absence.7

The Barelvi principled position on this issue has been totally ignored by scholars although, arguably, they are the majority of Indian Muslims. Barelvis had a following not only in towns but also, and especially, amongst the vast majority of the rural population. A key difference between Barelvi beliefs and those of the so-called 'Deobandi Tradition' (the 'tradition' itself is much older than the eponymous Dar-Ul-Ulum at Deoband) is that Barelvi's believe in intercession between ordinary humans and Divine Grace which is accessed through the intervention of an ascending, linked and unbroken chain of holy personages, pirs, reaching out ultimately to Prophet Mohammad, who intercede on their behalf with Allah.8 It is a more superstitious but also a more tolerant tradition of Indian Islam. The views of the Barelvi tradition of South Asian Islam are, by and large, ignored by scholars. Sanyal's pioneering study is an exceptional and excellent new beginning. 9

The Unexamined Concept of Khalifa

Abul Kalam Azad, the principal theoretician of the 'Indian Khilafat Movement' summed up the fundamental ideological point of departure of the Movement, quite succinctly, in the following statement: 10

'It is an Islamic Shar'i law that in every age Muslims must have one [ék] Khalifa and Imam.11 By Khalifa we mean such an independent Muslim king or ruler of government and country who possesses full powers to protect Muslims and the territory that they inhabit 12 and to promulgate and enforce Shar'i laws and is powerful enough to confront the enemies of Islam.'

The Sultan of Turkey, it was held by the Indian Khilafatists, was such a Muslim ruler and Caliph and it was to him that Muslims of India should pay allegiance.

It is quite extra-ordinary that in the voluminous literature on the Indian Khilafat Movement this 'basic religious premise' of the Movement , as stated by Azad and others, is taken for granted and has not been subjected to critical examination. No proper evaluation of the Khilafat Movement is possible without an analysis in depth of the initial premises of the Movement.

To begin with, there is a basic contradiction between the Ottoman claim that the Caliphate was transferred to them, via Sultan Selim, by al-Mutawakkil, which the Indian Khilafatists took as the Ottoman's charter, and the conditions for a legitimate Caliphate that are outlined by Azad. Those conditions render the Ottoman claim to Caliphate flawed from the start. By virtue of the conditions as set out by Azad, al-Mutawakkil was not a legitimate custodian of the Caliphate. He was neither a Muslim king or ruler of any country nor was he independent, being a pensioner of Baybars, the Mamluk ruler. In the circumstances the question of his possessing the power to enforce Shar'i laws of course does not arise. al-Mutawakkil was in no position to transfer the Caliphate to the Ottomans, not being a valid Caliph himself. He had nothing to give. This objection to the validity of the Ottoman Caliphate is quite separate from that put forward by the Barelvis. Azad's rhetoric, typically for him, is bound up in contradictions.

Meaning of the word 'Khalifa'

It is important to be clear at the outset about the meaning of the word Khalifa and the way in which that word was later transformed linguistically by Umayyad Monarchs to legitimise their rule, having seized power by military force. The word Khalifa is derived from the Arabic root khalafa which means 'to follow' or 'to come after'. It means a 'successor' in the sequential sense, not in the sense of inheritance of properties or qualities. When Prophet Mohammad died, Hazrat Abu Bakr was elected to succeed him. He was consequently called 'Khalifat al-Rasool Allah' or the successor of the Messenger of Allah. In its true meaning (successor) the word Khalifa does not indicate any kind of office or status such as that of a ruler, the sense in which it came to be used later. Khalifa meaning 'successor' could be used meaningfully only with reference to a specified 'predecessor'. Hazrat Abu Bakr was Khalifa only with reference to his predecessor, al-Rasool Allah.

The head of the Muslim Umma, Hazrat Umar, who succeeded Hazrat Abu Bakr could have been called Khalifat al-Khalif al-Rasool Allah, or the 'Successor to the Successor to the Messenger of Allah. With every succession thereafter one more 'Khalifat al…' would have had to be inserted before such a title of the previous one. That would have been quite absurd. The question of using the word Khalifa for those who came after Hazrat Abu Bakr simply did not arise. Instead, Hazrat Abu Bakr's successors, Hazrat Umar, Hazrat Uthman and Hazrat Ali, the three successive elected heads of the Umma were each designated by the title 'Amir al-Mu'minin' or the Commander of the Faithful.

When the Umayyad Dynasty was set up in Damascus, its legitimacy was disputed and fought over. Unlike the elected headship of the umma, here was a seizure of power by military force. For that reason Maulana Maududi (1903-1979) has called the rise of the Umayyad dynasty a 'counter-revolution against Islam' (Inquilab-e-ma'koos) and a reversion to Jahiliya or the age of ignorance that is said to have preceded the advent of Islam 13. The Umayyad rulers having become monarchs through military force, looked for a legitimating symbol to sanctify their regime. For that they chose the word Khalifa. They hoped thereby to attach to themselves the legitimacy that was associated with the title of Mohammad's successor, Hazrat Abu Bakr. In so doing they changed the meaning of the word. The word Khalifa was no longer to mean 'successor' to a specified predecessor. It was now to mean monarch or ruler.

A new word had been invented. Although it was spelt and pronounced in exactly the same way as the original word Khalifa that meant 'successor' the same utterance, in its sound and spelling, was now to have a new and totally unrelated meaning. It was a neologism, unconnected etymologically or semantically, with the original word Khalifa the successor. The new word was to mean monarch or ruler. Sir Syed Ahmad commented on that, saying: 'The term Khalifa was abandoned by Hazrat Umar when he was elected to succeed Hazrat Abu Bakr. Instead, of that he adopted the title of Amir al-Mu'minin [Commander of the Faithful]. … That title was used until the time of Hazrat Ali and for a time even after him. … After that and after the time of Imam Hussain, the people who had taken over power [viz. the Umayyads) arrogated to themselves the title of Khalifa 14 because they thought that the title of Khalifa was more exalted (muqaddas) than that of Commander of the Faithful. 15

The word Khalifa, having been misused by Umayyad Monarchs as their title, to sanctify their monarchy, would have lost its force if it were not applied also to the four successors of Prophet Mohammad. But there was a general recognition of the obvious fact that the Umayyads were not in the same class as the latter. Therefore Hazrat Abu Bakr and his three successors were re-designated as 'Khulafa-e-Rashidun' 16, or 'The Rightly Guided Caliphs'. If any religious significance attached to the first four, it was made clear that it did not apply to the later 'Khulafa', starting with the Umayyads.

Under the Umayyads the word Khalifa was not yet impregnated with any religious connotations. For them the word was to be only a symbol of legitimacy of their rule-a variant of the 'divine right of kings' as propounded in medieval Europe. It was only in later centuries that claims about religious significance of the title of 'Khalifa' or Caliph were to be made. That was during the period of decay and decline of the late Abbasid Caliphate, when the Caliph was reduced to being a mere puppet in the hands of military commanders or regional princes. These true holders of power needed to generate an ideology that would remove the Caliph from the centre of secular state power, as the ruler, and relegate him to the sidelines, as a nominal head of the state whose essential functions were supposed to lie in the religious sphere-where in practice, he had nothing of any significance to do.

God's Caliph

In the Sunni tradition the religious domain is the domain of the Imam. But unlike the Pope, the Imam does not have any religious authority. Islam, as it is often said, does not recognise any priesthood or a Pope. It is a religion of the individual conscience. Imams are therefore essentially guides, persons who by virtue of personal and religious perfection and excellence in scholarship come to be recognised as Imam. No one appoints Imams. In contradiction to that earlier usage, in the decadence of the late Abbasid period, a (nominal) religious significance began to be attached to the Caliph. Increasingly the practice grew of conflating the concepts of Khalifa and Imam. It is this later corrupted tradition that Azad follows in his words quoted above.

There was also an escalation in religious attributes that were attached to the Caliph. The Caliph was even called Khalifat Allah, or 'Gods Caliph' or 'successor' ! Azad in fact takes the phrase Khalifat Allah as his point of departure when expounding the meaning of the word Khalifa. The concept of Khalifat Allah (God's Caliph), which Azad uses freely when expounding the concept of the Caliphate was been strongly denounced by classical Islamic scholars in works of which Azad could hardly have been ignorant of. Al-Mawardi, condemning the use of the term Khalifat Allah wrote in his classic work Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniya that: 'We disagree that he can also be called Khalifat Allah … The consensus of the Ulama has prohibited this and condemned any one who says it as a fajir (i.e. a sinner or liar) because there can be a Khalifa (successor) only of such a person who has disappeared or who has died. Allah can neither disappear nor can he die.' 17 Goldziher writes: 'When the Umayyads used this pretentious title (Khalifat Allah) it was merely intended to convey the unlimited power of the ruler. Under the later Abbasids the title was filled with theocratic content. …The Ottoman Sultans were … thought to have special claim for adopting these titles of the old Caliphs just as the name Khalifat Allah was transferred to them'. 18 When Azad, in the corrupted late Abbasid tradition, begins his exposition of the concept of Khalifa with the discredited notion of Khalifat Allah, 19 he follows the most backward and reactionary traditions in Islam.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's position on this issue is emphatically the opposite. He is quite clear in distinguishing Khilafat, the secular domain and Imamat the religious domain. He reiterated this, saying that 'After the death of the Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Abu Bakr was appointed … Khalifat al-Rasool Allah … (But) he had no religious authority (dini ikhtiarat). He repeatedly emphasised that the Caliph was not like a Roman Catholic Pope. Hazrat Abu Bakr, he pointed out, was simply the administrative head of the community of Muslims. 20 Shaban, a contemporary scholar, says exactly the same thing. He wrote: 'Mohammad could have no true successor, since no other man could ever have the same divine sanction … Therefore Abu Bakr had no religious authority … He was in no sense a grand combination of Pope and Holy Roman Emperor'. 21

Under the late Abbasids when 'The Caliph had little left except the capital and even there his authority was shadowy' 22 there was an escalation in his religious attributes. The Caliph being divorced from effective control over state power was presented to the people as a religious rather than a secular figure. The Caliphs were increasingly referred to as Imams. Goldziher notes that : 'Under the later Abbasids the title was filled with theocratic content. … (They, the Caliphs) claimed to be Representatives of God's rule on earth and even as "God's shadow on earth". Their ideologues taught that the Caliph is the God's shadow on earth; all those who are troubled find refuge in it (zillu'Ilahi fi'l-ardi ya'wi ilayhi kullu malhafun). … These pompous theocratic titles … must have appeared to contemporaries the emptier the less of real power corresponded to them … The Ottoman Sultans, as the protagonists of Islam, were thought to have a special claim for adopting these titles of the old Caliphs, just as the name of Khalifat Allah, or Gods Caliph, was transferred to them.' 23 The Ottoman propaganda machine played a large part in spreading the notion of the Caliph's supposed religious role, which by implication provided a basis for the Caliph's claim to the loyalty of Muslims everywhere, including India. The Indian clergy in particular welcomed this because as self-appointed guardians of Islam in India this enhanced their place in Indian society and Indian Muslim politics as mediators between the Caliph and 'his people'.

It was not long before 'Muslim' intellectuals and scholars began to come forward with 'authoritative' texts, inventing, emphasising and exaggerating the supposed 'religious' role of the Caliph as Imam. Gone was the notion of an elected secular head of state as it was under the Khulafa-e-Rashidun, the first four 'Rightly Guided Caliphs'. The notions about the supposed religious role of the Caliph were in contradiction to the distinction made in original Islam between the head of the state who was a secular figure (an office that remained secular even when it was redesignated Khalifa by Umayyads rulers) and that of Imam, a religious guide who dwelt in the domain of faith. In the decadence of later days, the two concepts were often collapsed one into the other so that, as we have seen from the above quotation from Azad, the words Caliph and Imam were uttered in the same breath (as Azad does when referring to the Ottoman Sultan) as if there was no distinction between the two.

The Universal Caliphate

Azad's speeches suggest that there could be only one Caliph in every age. One would have to close one's eyes to much of Muslim history to accept Azad's arbitrary condition at face value. The fact is that over many centuries there has been a plurality of rival Caliphates and not just one that embraced the entire Muslim world. Several Caliphates have coexisted at the same time. The most notable of these, contemporary with the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, were the Umayyad Caliphate in Spain and the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. Besides these three best known rival Caliphates, there were numerous independent Muslim kingdoms whose heads claimed the title of Caliph. Bosworth's comprehensive survey offers an account of no less than 82 such Islamic 'Caliphates' ! 24 Notwithstanding that fact of a long history of Islam, the Ottoman's propagandised the notion of a single 'Universal Caliph' for the whole Islamic world as a basic component of Islamic polities. That was the basis on which they laid claim to the loyalties of Indian Muslims. The idea is pure fiction of course. And yet, that is the assumption on which the Khilafat Movement was premised.

Azad claimed that it was an Islamic Shar'i law that in every age Muslims must have 'one' (ek) Khalifa and Imam, the Universal Caliph. He does not indicate the source of that shar'i law where that is laid down, or the basis on which he makes that statement, for he has none. He was accustomed to making large and extravagant claims without any foundation in the basic sources of Islam. It was enough that his half educated and ill-informed audiences were captivated by the fluency of his rhetoric laced with long 'quotations' in Arabic, which was virtually Azad's first language. 25 They had little time to reflect on the veracity of what Azad said and claimed. In any case the content of what he (and others) said mattered little for they had already made up their minds 'to be carried away' ! The scholars who pontificated before them were, for them, mere cheer-leaders.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan argued emphatically against the notion of a Universal Caliphate. His view was that every Caliphate was confined to territories which were directly under the control of the claimant of that title. The Khilafatists dismissed Sir Syed Ahmad's arguments, ad hominum, by accusing him of being a servile subject of the British and parroting their views. It was unworthy of them to say so. It was Azad and not Syed Ahmad Khan who, on that issue, was in tune with the pro-Ottoman British policy which strongly supported the notion of the Ottoman Sultan as the Universal Caliph. Considering the charges so often laid against Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of servility towards the British, it is even more significant that on the issue of the Universal Caliphate Sir Syed held his ground as a matter of principle, although his views were diametrically opposed to those of the British. It was quite another matter that his political project for the future of Muslims in India, as he saw it in mid-19th century, left him open to the charge of being a British puppet. Pro-British he might have been at the time, rightly or wrongly. A puppet he was not, as this example shows. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's stance on the 'Universal Caliphate' defied both British and Turkish inspired propaganda.

British Relations with Ottoman Caliphs

The British, far from being enemies of the Ottomans, as the Khilafat Movement propaganda suggested, had remained their steadfast allies over many centuries. Their enduring alliance with the Ottomans was motivated, as far as the British were concerned, by a threat to British imperial interests that came from expansionist ambitions of Czarist Russia. The Ottomans were equally worried about the Russian threat, the more so with their increasing weakness. They needed a strong and dependable ally which they found in Britain. The Ottoman decision to ally (but belatedly) with Germany in World War I was a temporary break in a centuries old British-Ottoman alliance. Turkey's aberrant Wartime alliance with Germany arose due to a peculiar combination of circumstances within Turkey itself and despite every effort made by the British to prevent Turkey from joining with the Central Powers in the War. Turkey stumbled into the war, in opposition to her traditional ally, by an uncalculated accident. It is an interesting episode about which we shall have more to say below.

British relations with the Ottoman Empire were founded on Britain's own imperial interests. That was dictated by the Ottoman Empire's strategic location vis-à-vis a perceived threat from Czarist Russia. For Britain the Ottoman Empire was a valuable bulwark in Russia's way, in the context of a new age that had been inaugurated by the great explosion of maritime trade and the correspondingly increased importance of naval power, from the 16th century onwards. Global strategic priorities were radically changed. Control of the high seas, and not of large land masses, was now to be the secret of Imperial power. Britain soon emerged as a major maritime power and extended its imperial might around the globe.

Czarist Russia was handicapped in this new game of world power. Its naval power was constrained by geography. Its Baltic Fleet was vulnerable at the narrow straits that separated Sweden from Germany and Denmark. Its Black Sea fleet was even more vulnerable at the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. Its Eastern fleet at Vladivostock was too far out of the way to play an effective role in the game. If Russia was to become a major world power, it had to have free and open access to the oceans of the world. The option before it was to push southwards, to conquer territory that would place it in a dominating position on the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. But that would be a direct threat to British imperial interests.

The Ottoman Empire stood in the Russia's way to the warm waters that lay to the South. It would have to break Ottoman power to be able to mount a successful southward move. Russian policy was therefore consistently hostile to the Ottomans. Given that equation, the Russian threat to move south was an immovable foundation on which an enduring alliance between the British and the Ottomans was built. It was to last for centuries. They fought wars together as allies, most famously in the long and expensive war, in money and in blood, the Crimean War of 1854-56. That war ended, as the British desired, in a Treaty that banned passage through the Bosphorous and Dardanelles of all naval units, which for all practical purposes meant Russian naval units. That effectively bottled up the Russian Southern fleet in the Black Sea.

Ottoman Expansionism and Decline.

The Ottomans reached the height of their power by the end of the seventeenth century when the Sultan's army besieged Vienna for a second time but once again failed to conquer it. From that moment began the steady decline of Turkish power in Europe. Turkey was soon to lose her colonial possessions beyond the Danube and the Sava river (in Yugoslavia) through expensive wars with Russia and the Habsburgs in the eighteenth century. But the final Ottoman decline was only partly the result of conflicts between Turkey and those two great powers. In the main the Turkish retreat was forced by nationalist struggles of the Southern Slavs who were quite as hostile to the colonial power of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire as they were to the Ottomans. In their wars of national independence the Southern Slavs fought against both those colonial empires, the Ottoman as well as the Habsburg. In India, in the Urdu press particularly, this was misrepresented as a war of Christianity against Islam. It was a in fact a war of nationalism against colonialism.

These were struggles for territory and power. Religion did not come into it. 'Muslim' Ottomans did not hesitate to fight 'brother Muslims' too, such as the Arab people, to subjugate them under their colonial rule. They also led repeated, though unsuccessful, campaigns against the 'brother' Muslim Safavid rulers of Iran. Ottoman expansionism was not about religion. It was about territory and power. Likewise, Muslim subjects of the Ottomans were no less keen to gain their freedom from their Muslim colonial masters. Stojanovic writes: 'The weakening of the Central Power encouraged the already strong separatist tendencies of Provincial Pashas. The Porte (the Centre of the Ottoman Government) had to cope with a series of Moslem revolts'-including that of Mohammad Ali of Egypt 26 (who, it must be said however, was a military adventurer rather than a leader of a nationalist movement).

As for the charge that independence movements in the Balkans were 'Christian' Movements against 'Islam', we can hardly forget that it was the assassination of the 'Christian' heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, by a 'Christian' Serb nationalist at Sarajevo, that triggered off the First World War. It is patently simplistic and absurd to describe the nationalist struggles in the Balkans, as it was being done by Indian Muslim publicists and bigoted Mullahs, as a war of Christianity against Islam. The 19th century was the age of nationalist ferment everywhere-as indeed in India too. The Balkan nationalist movements were a part of that global phenomenon, when subject peoples had begun to fight for freedom and independence from colonial rule.

Greek Independence

The Indian Khilafatists have made much of the idea that the British were Pro-Greek and anti-Turk. That charge can be made of Lloyd George who was temporarily the Prime Minister of Britain in the War-time coalition government-the man who dictated the humiliating Treaty of Séveres, which even his Conservative cabinet colleagues such as Bonar Law did not like. That was one reason why the Treaty was never ratified and implemented. After the end of the War-time coalition government, when Lloyd George was thrown out, and a conservative government returned, under Bonar Law, Britain returned to her traditional pro-Turkish or, rather, pro-Ottoman policy (that distinction is not without significance).

As for the long term strategy of the British in the Eastern Mediterranean, the idea that British Governments were pro-Greek is patently false. Here again the threat from Czarist Russia entered into British calculations. In the Greek struggle for independence from Turkish colonial rule, despite strong popular support in Britain for the Greeks, the British Government itself was not at all in favour of Greek independence. They feared that it would give Russia an ally and a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, following an enormous upsurge of public opinion in Britain, after the death in 1826 of the popular poet Lord Byron, who had fought and died for the Greeks at Missolonghi, a reluctant British Government was finally pushed to join the alliance that had been initiated by the Russians in support of the Greeks. The outcome of that war was the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829. But the British Government was quite as unhappy about that Treaty as were the Turks. As Gewehr notes: 'Due to British fears of Russian preponderance in the Balkans, it was not until 1832 that the final agreement regarding the territorial extent and the form of government in Greece was made. The new born Greek state was restricted to an area … (which) excluded from its boundaries many important centres … A numerical majority of the Greek race was actually left under Turkish sovereignty. … That is explained by the fear of the English Prime Minister, The Duke of Wellington, that Greece would become a satellite of Russia and hence it must be restricted to a small area.' 27 Britain's commitments to the Ottomans remained unshaken.

Ottoman Services to the British in India

The acceptance by Muslims of India, of the Turkish Sultan as the Universal Caliph was a relatively recent development. For Mughal India, there was no question of submitting to the overlordship of the Turkish Sultan, whom they rivalled in power and wealth and the size of the territory over which they ruled. It was during the period of British colonial rule in India that, with full British encouragement and support, the idea of accepting the Turkish Sultan as the Universal Caliph was propagated amongst Indian Muslims, as their venerated Caliph to whom they ought to give allegiance. Given their alliance with the Ottomans, the British realised the value of the ideology of the religious authority of the Ottoman Caliph over Muslims everywhere that could be brought into play to control Indian Muslims. The British welcomed that and encouraged propaganda on behalf of the Caliph. In return the Caliph served the British well.

The first major example of this was in 1789 when Tipu Sultan, as a gesture of defiance against the Moghuls, paid formal allegiance to the Ottoman Caliph who, in return sent Tipu a sanad (charter of office) and Khil'at (robes of investiture) as ruler of Mysore. Tipu is a legendary figure in Indian history as a fighter against expanding British colonial rule. In 1798, therefore, at British request, the Ottoman Caliph sent a letter to Tipu, telling him that the British were his friends and asking him to refrain from hostile action against them. The letter was sent to Tipu not directly but through Lord Wellesly who was leading the British forces against Tipu ! Tipu replied to the Caliph, professing devotion but also telling him that the Caliph was too far away to know the situation in India. He cheekily invited the Caliph to join hands with him so that, together, they may throw out the infidels ! Another major occasion when the Ottoman Caliph came out in support of the British at a very difficult moment was at the time of India's War of National Independence in 1857 (downgraded by historians as 'The Indian Mutiny'). True to form, the Ottoman Caliph Abdul Majid condemned the 'mutineers' and called upon Indian Muslims to remain loyal to the British. The British, he said, were 'Defenders of Islam'.

The idea that the Ottoman Caliph would be of value in controlling Muslims of India was at the forefront of British calculations in their relationship with the Ottoman Caliphs. That is illustrated by the reception that they gave to the tyrant Sultan Abdul Aziz when he visited London in 1867. The British went overboard with their lavish entertainment for the Caliph. Significantly though the huge expenses incurred were charged by the British Government to Indian revenues 'on the ground that cordial relations with the Sultan contributed towards the good government of India … The Sultan as head of the Muslim religion, would propitiate Indian Muslims. 28

Shaping of Pro-Turkish Attitudes of Indian Muslims

Until the beginning of the 19th century Indian Muslims were largely indifferent to Turkey and the Ottoman Caliph. Quite apart from British interest in it, two factors of major social change combined to create conditions for successfully propagating pro-Turkish sympathies among them. These two changes had quite separate origins. But they were inter-twined, enough to constitute a single phenomenon.

The first of these was the emergence of a new educated Indian Muslim middle class. This class of Muslims were brought up not in the traditional education provided by Madrassahs and the Ulama. They were products of the new Anglo-Vernacular system of education that was instituted by the colonial government, following Macaulay's Minute of February 1835. It was a system of education that was designed to produce men who would staff the colonial state apparatus; civil servants and scribes. They were needed in state employment to mediate between the English speaking Sahibs and the local population. Nehru called it an educational system designed to produce a 'Nation of Clerks'. It was a new class, which I have elsewhere named the salariat.29 The salariat was that section of the middle class whose goal was state employment. They sought not 'education' but 'educational qualifications' i.e. degrees and diplomas, that would serve as a passport for a government job. In colonised societies with an agrarian production base, the salariat tends to dominate the urban society and is the most articulate class which tends to pre-empt issues in political debate. The salariat therefore came to be a class of enormous social and political significance. It also became a newspaper reading class, when newspapers became affordable.

The Muslim salariat, especially in the UP was a rather disgruntled class, for it had lost ground in state employment, especially in the more prestigious upper ranks of jobs in which they had been, so far, preponderant. Psychologically, this class needed avenues through which it could channel its discontent and pain. When news began to come through of Turkey's defeats in the Balkans, which was represented to them as a War of Christianity against the World of Islam, that struck a chord in their increasingly communalist minds. The 'fate of the Turks' seemed to mirror their own sense of decline. They responded with deep sympathy to the news of the 'Tragedy of the Turks' (Turkon ka almia). A powerful sense of solidarity was created and, poor as they were, they collected funds for Turkish aid. The British, for their part, greatly welcomed that development and did all they could to encourage it. They were happy to see a growing bond between Indian Muslims and their protégé, the Ottoman Caliph.

This potential political base on which strong pro-Ottoman sympathies were generated was fostered very effectively by a new development, namely the emergence of Urdu popular journalism. 30 The early newspapers had minuscule circulation, catering as they did to a handful of the wealthy and the powerful who needed to keep in touch with affairs of the state and of the world of commerce. Many of these 'newspapers' were produced in manuscript form. Urdu printing was in vogue too, for Naskh metallic type for Urdu had been available for some time. But Naskh was not popular with general readers and was also expensive. Calligraphic nastalique writing was immensely more popular. As it turned out, the best method for printing nastalique script, namely lithography became widely available precisely at that critical time in the history of the Indian Muslim salariat. Litho printing was invented in 1796. Further developments were needed before it could be used to print newspapers in large numbers and cheaply. By 1850 the first mechanised lithographic press became available. Later in the 19th century it became possible to build rotary presses by replacing stone by a zinc plate which could be curved. These inventions made large scale litho printing in nastalique script both possible and very cheap. Urdu newspapers could now be turned out in large numbers which 'everyone' could afford. For Urdu readers, the age of the mass media had arrived. But the papers needed issues that could be sensationalised, to build up their circulation. The drama of the 'Turkish tragedy' was just what they needed. They played it for all that they were worth.

Events of the First World War were a traumatic shock to Indian Muslims. They had grown up with the knowledge about friendship between Britain and the Ottomans, which was regularly reflected in news items in the Urdu press. The news of Turkey and Britain being on opposite sides in the War was therefore a traumatic blow to them. Nothing illustrates this with more poignancy than Maulana Mohammad Ali's long article entitled 'The Choice of the Turks' that he published in his journal The Comrade. After listing Turkish grievances against Britain, he expressed his fervent hope that the Turks would remain neutral in spite of these slights. He closed his article with an assurance of Muslim loyalty to Britain. 31

Turkey and World War I

Turkey's decision to join Germany and the Central Powers in the World War was a complete surprise to everyone, including the Turks themselves ! In 1908 a radical group, called the 'Committee for Union and Progress' (the CUP), the so-called 'Young Turks', seized power in Turkey in a coup, deposing the tyrannical Caliph Abdul Hamid II. In his place the CUP installed his brother Mohammad Reshad as Caliph. The Young Turk regime itself soon degenerated into a military oligarchy. Behind the scenes there was an ongoing triangular 'struggle for power within the Turkish state between the Caliph supported by conservatives and reactionaries, the High Bureaucrats supported by Liberals, and (on the third hand) the radical Unionists', the Young Turks. 32

Despite differences within the Turkish ruling elite on internal questions, it was quite remarkable that they were all unanimously pro-British. That was the legacy of their shared experience of centuries of British support for the Ottoman state. As far as the Turkish elite were concerned, the British had been their most consistent and reliable friends. Despite factional squabbles within the Turkish elite, there was no faction which was not pro-British. Turkey's decision to ally with the Central Powers namely Germany and Habsburg Austria, in the First World War was therefore completely at odds with her long-standing attitudes and close friendship with Britain and France. How so ?

Initially, Turkey itself approached Britain and the Allies offering to join them in the War. Feroz Ahmad writes: 'After the traumatic experience of the Balkan War diplomacy the CUP was convinced that the Ottoman state could survive only as an ally of one of the two blocs, preferably the Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia). Delegations were despatched to London and Paris and finally to Tsar Nicholas … The Unionists were pro-English and pro-French, rather than pro-German because they were sure that Turkish interests would be best served by the Entente powers.' 33 But, despite Britain's consistent alliance with Turkey over many centuries and her commitment to preserve the safety and integrity of the Ottoman Empire (even if that was in pursuit of her own imperialist interests vis-à-vis Czarist Russia) the Western powers turned down Turkey's offer to ally with them. Why ?

There are some clues to this puzzle to be found in the autobiography of the Agha Khan which throws some light on Turkey's ultimate decision. Although the British had declined the Turkish offer to join them in the War, they were, nevertheless, most keen that it should stay neutral. The Agha Khan writes; 'Lord Kitchener requested me to use all my influence with the Turks to persuade them not to join the Central Powers but to preserve their neutrality. … His opinion was shared and supported by the Secretary of State for India, by the Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey and by the Prime Minister Mr Asquith. Indeed even the King, when I had the honour of lunching with him, referred to it.' 34 So the Agha Khan got in touch with his 'old friend' Tawfiq Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador in London. They both agreed that Turkey should be kept out of the war. The Young Turks were invited to send a Ministerial delegation to London to enter into direct negotiations with the British Government. The Agha Khan writes: 'Britain was prepared on her own behalf and on behalf of Russia and her other allies to give Turkey full guarantees and assurances for the future.' 35 The Agha Khan added that neutrality would give the Turks, after their recent losses, the time that they needed to carry out their programme of social, economic and military reform. That seemed to make sense.

Tawfiq Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador, having meanwhile been briefed by his own government, told the Agha Khan that their negotiations would have a much better chance of success if the Allies were to ask the Turks to come and join them on their side in the War instead of staying neutral, as Britain had proposed 'for at the end of the conflict no one would thank her for staying neutral.' But would neutrality not have been better than lining up with the losing side ? And would neutrality be so bad an option if it was a position taken at the suggestion of the winning side ?

Why did Britain decline having one more ally by her side in the war ? The underlying problem as so many times before, was Czarist Russia. Given Russia's anti-Turk attitude, there was a strong possibility that Britain, by taking Turkey as an ally in the face of Russian opposition, would have been left isolated, to face the rising tide of German power, on her own. That was a risk that the British did not wish to take. Tawfiq Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador in London 'was also convinced that Russia would never agree to Turkey joining the Allies, as such a step would put an end to all Russia's hopes of expansion at Turkey's expense, either in the North East around Erzerum, or Southwards.' 36 The British had little choice but to decline Turkey's generous offer to fight alongside her. Taking the Turks on as allies would have antagonised the Russians. Russian neutrality would have left Britain at the mercy of the Germans.

After repeated Ottoman requests to the British to let them join them in the war had been politely turned down, the Turkish Government adopted a policy of 'wait and see', initially at least, rather than join Germany precipitately. But they also carefully avoided showing hostility to the Germans. They were keeping their options open. While they were still debating which side to align with in the War, or whether to stay neutral, in October 1914 the Turks, as Lewis puts it, 'stumbled into a major European war' 37 The Agha Khan writes that 'By the close of 1914 the Central Powers were confident of quick victory on their own terms. … Tragically misled by all these signs and portents dangled before their eyes by the exultant Germans the Turkish Government took the irrevocable step of declaring war on Russia. This automatically involved the Ottoman Empire in war with Great Britain and France.' 38 Looked at objectively, this was a disastrous move by the Turks, for which they had to pay a heavy price later. It was a decision, that defied logic. Staying neutral would have been their most sensible option.

The Caliph After World War I

The 'Young Turk' (CUP) leaders, who had led Turkey into the disastrous War, fled into exile on board a German gunboat. In July 1918 the wartime Caliph Mehmet Reshad, the nominee of the CUP leaders, was deposed and Mehmet Vahdettin (Mohammad Wahiduddin), was installed in his place. Friends of Britain were in the driving seat again. The government was reshuffled and an armistice was signed on 30th October. According to Aksin, 'In March 1919 Damad Ferid Pasha, the Grand Vezir, sent a message to the British to the effect that "their entire hope was in God and in England, that a certain amount of financial aid was a must and that they were prepared to arrest anyone the British wanted".' 39

During the War Britain had directed all its anti-Turk propaganda against the Young Turks (the CUP) but had spared the Caliph himself for they looked forward to the possibility of having to co-operate with him again after the war. The decision to spare the Caliph, was based on the recognition of three facts. Firstly they knew that the Caliph was merely a figurehead and that it was the CUP, the Young Turk leaders, who were responsible for going to War. Secondly, and even more importantly, the British who were confident of victory, knew that the sympathies of the Caliph and the old ruling class in Turkey were wholeheartedly with them and would continue to remain with them. The British knew that the Caliph knew that the British were his most reliable protectors. Thirdly, Britain was still looking forward to the value of being able to exploit the Caliph's claim to be the religious head of the entire 'Muslim World', as they had done successfully in the past. The Caliph had been a valuable asset for the British in the past who, they thought, was worth preserving.

When, at the end of the War, the Young Turk leaders fled precipitately into exile, there was a power vacuum which was instantly filled by the old ruling class with the Caliph at their head. This suited the British. Their protégé was in charge. Contrary to the Khilafatist's charges against it, Britain was fully committed, after her victory in the war, to preserve the Caliphate, to protect the Caliph, and in so far as it was possible, to reinforce his authority in Turkey and abroad. In accusing Britain of being hostile to their venerated Caliph, the Khilafatists were fighting an imaginary enemy. The real threat to the Caliph came from the rise of the powerful Turkish Republican Nationalism with its secular and democratic aspirations. The Khilafatists, proved to be quite incapable of perceiving the nature and significance of that historic conflict between the monarchical rule of the Caliph and the democratic aspirations of the Republican Nationalists. Paradoxically they glorified the arch-adversary of the Caliphate, Mustafa Kemal, whom they gave the title of Ghazi, while at the same time they also glorified their venerated Caliph. They could not see that these two represented irreconcilable forces in Turkish society and politics. Their failure to comprehend this is quite incredible. When the denouement of the struggle between those mutually contradictory forces finally came about, with the victory of Turkish Republican Nationalism and the end of the Caliphate, the Khilafatists were left totally bewildered, unable to comprehend the news that came to them.

A new Turkish state was emerging in Anatolia, led by men who rejected outright the Treaty of Sévres and the principles that underlay it. They condemned those Turks who had accepted it, as traitors. The Indian Khilafatists shed endless tears over injustices of the Treaty of Sévres. But they could not yet see that it was not their beloved Caliph but the forces of the Republican Nationalist opposition who successfully repudiated it. They were too pre-occupied lamenting the 'fate of the Caliph' to see the Turkish reality as it was actally unfolding before their eyes. The supine Caliph had acquiesced in the iniquitous Treaty of Sévres, which had been inspired by Lloyd George's prejudices. But, thanks to the power of the Republican Nationalists the Treaty of Sévres remained a dead letter until the victorious nationalists later re-negotiated a fresh treaty at the Peace Conference that opened at Lausanne on 20th November 1922. In the words of Lord Curzon (quoted by 'Maulana' Mohammad Ali) the Treaty of Sévres was 'dictation of terms at the point of the Bayonet … Only when the terms had been drawn up was the beaten enemy admitted, to be told his sentence. … Far otherwise was it at Lausanne. There the Turks sat at the table on a footing of equality with all the other powers.' 40

British Intrigues With the Caliph

On 9th November 1918, with the Caliph and his coterie back in charge, Calthorpe the newly appointed British High Commissioner in Istanbul wrote to Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour: 'The Turkish Ministers will try to present themselves as genuine friends of the British and will try to win you over.' 41 He emphasised to his Government that the Caliph was an important factor vis-à-vis the Muslim world as a whole, as well as in Turkey itself. The Caliph, he wrote, was very eager that they, the British, 'should settle in Istanbul'. 42

With the backing of the British, the Caliph's government prepared to confront the remnants of the Young Turks and following that the emerging force of the Republican Nationalists. From now on 'One of the first tasks of the Turkish Sultan and his ministers was to crush the remnants of the Young Turks' 43. The new Republican Nationalist Movement, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, had to be suppressed, decisively. For their part, the Nationalists were getting organised for action. By July 1919 Kemal convened a Congress of Delegates from every district which laid the foundations of a popular Grand National Assembly which began to function from April 1920, to preside over the liberation of Turkey from dynastic rule. That brought alarm to the Allies as well as their protégé the Caliph. By August 1919 a declaration known as the Milli Misak or the 'National Pact' was issued. In September, at the Second Congress of the Republican National Assembly Mustafa Kemal was elected as Chairman. The nationalist struggle was well and truly launched.

To forestall a possible nationalist coup against their friend the Caliph (who had desperately been calling for their help) British forces entered the Turkish quarter of Istanbul on 16 March 1920 (18 months after the Caliph had been back in business) and began to round up known nationalists. True to the time-honoured role of mullahs in such situations the Sheikh-ul-Islam, Dürrezadé Abdullah Effendi, issued a fatwa, on the invitation of the Grand Vezir Damad Ferid Pasha, declaring that killing of the nationalists was a religious duty of Muslims. 44 The target of that fatwa included Mustafa Kemal himself, against whom a sentence of death was already pronounced. The Indian Khilafatists who venerated the Caliph and glorified Kemal Attatürk at the same time, appear to have received this news in uncomprehending silence. Given the prevalence of nationalist influences in the Turkish Army the Caliph did not trust it. He therefore continued the disarming of Turkish forces. 45 To forestall a popular revolt or a coup d'état, the Caliph, with British help, organised an independent special force known as quwwa-indibatiye ('force for discipline and control') to fight the nationalists. The nationalists, however, went from strength to strength.

Kemal on 'The Friends of England'

Confronted by Republican Nationalism, the Caliph turned to the British for his survival. Mustafa Kemal, in his remarkable retrospective '6 day speech' of October 1927 spoke about a 'Society of the Friends of England' that was formed, as he put it, by some 'misguided' persons. He pointed out that: 'At the head of the Society were Vahdettin, who bore the title of Ottoman Sultan and Caliph, Damat Ferid Pasha (the Grand Vezir), Ali Kemal, Minister of the Interior … ' (Kemal named other leading figures of the ancien régime). Kemal charged that the Society 'openly sought the protection of England …' , that 'it worked in secret', and that 'its real aim was to incite the people to revolt by forming organisations in the Interior, to paralyse the National Conscience and encourage foreign countries to interfere.' 47

Kemal pointed out that: 'Without knowing it, the nation had no longer any one to lead it' 48 He continued, 'The Nation and the Army had no suspicion at all of the Padishah-Caliph's treachery.49 On the contrary, on account of religious and traditional ties handed down for centuries, they remained loyal to the throne and its occupant. … That the country could possibly be saved without a Caliph and without a Padishah was an idea too impossible for them to comprehend.' He continued: 'To labour for the maintenance of the Ottoman Dynasty and its sovereign would have been to inflict the greatest harm, to the Turkish nation. … We were compelled to rebel against the Ottoman Government, against the Padishah, against the Caliph of all Mohamedans, and we had to bring the whole nation and the army into a state of rebellion.' 50 Kemal made it clear that he had made a decision to get rid of the Caliph from the very start of the Republican Revolution, although prudence and tactical considerations dictated that the ground must be prepared for it before the Caliphate was ended, step by step. That was finally done in 1924. He said: 'From the first I anticipated this historical progress. But I did not disclose all of my views, although I have maintained them all of the time… The only practical and safe road to success lay in dealing with each problem at the right time.' 51

Kemal's statement made it crystal clear that the Caliph was in league with the British and the European powers. The British for their part, banked on the Caliph as a bulwark against the advancing forces of Turkish nationalism. Their own long term interests lay in securing the Caliph in a position of authority in the Turkish state to hold back the nationalists. This reality was only partly obscured by the extravagant and chauvinistic anti-Turk and pro-Greek rhetoric of Lloyd George and Asquith, who had headed the War time Coalition government in Britain. They were both soon to be ousted with the fall of the Wartime Coalition Government and the formation of a Conservative Government under Bonar Law. The Bonar Law Government immediately reverted to Britain's time honoured policy vis-à-vis Turkey and the Caliph, with the exception of its new plans, made in League with the French, to carve up between themselves Turkish colonial possessions in Arabia.

Arabia: A Change in British Geopolitical Priorities

The British were still interested in maintaining their friend the Ottoman Caliph at the head of affairs in Turkey, if they could manage it. But the War had brought about a basic change in the historical reasons for British strategic support for the Ottomans. Britain's centuries old alliance with Turkey had been founded on British fears about the threat of a southward drive of Czarist Russia. Until the War, Ottoman Turkey was a bulwark against Russian southwards expansionism. The Communist Revolution of 1917 in Russia radically changed the strategic map. There was now an entirely new configuration of strategic calculations for the region. One of the first things that the Soviets did after winning power was to renounce all unequal treaties with neighbouring states, which were a legacy from the Czarist days. They had no ambitions, nor indeed any capacity, for a drive to the south. Britain no longer needed a strong Ottoman state as a bulwark against a possible Russian threat, as it had needed hitherto. Its priorities changed.

The British and the French could now contemplate carving up the Arab colonies of the Ottomans between themselves. But Arab Nationalist Movements had already begun make themselves felt, demanding their freedom from all colonial rule. However, sadly, the Turkish Republican Nationalists were no less committed to hold on to their Empire, in Arab lands, than the Caliphs before them. Indian Khilafatists slavishly followed Turkish slogans demanding preservation of Turkish colonial rule over the Arabs, rather than take a principled stand on the question of the right of the Arabs for national self- determination. The Arab territories were already under the de facto control of Britain and France. The Indian Khilafatists slogans therefore demanded re-imposition of Turkish colonial authority rather than Arab freedom. They asked for restoration of Turkish colonialism under the guise of a demand that Muslim holy places should remain under Muslim rule. Arabs too were Muslims ! The Khilafat slogan on this was sheer hu
This calls for Mount Everest to be renamed!!!


The man who 'discovered' Everest

by Soutik Biswas

BBC News Online

One day in 1852 in British-ruled India, a young man burst into an

office in the northern Dehra Dun hill town and announced to his

boss: "Sir, I have discovered the highest mountain in the world!"

Radhanath Sickdhar was an intrepid mathematician from Calcutta

After four long and arduous years of unscrambling mathematical data,

Radhanath Sickdhar had managed to find out the height of Peak XV, an

icy peak in the Himalayas.

The mountain - later christened Mount Everest after Sir George

Everest, the surveyor general of India - stood at 29,002 feet (8,840


Sickdhar's feat, unknown to many Indians, is now part of the Great

Arc Exhibition in London's vibrant Brick Lane.

The Indian Government-sponsored exhibition celebrates 200 years of

the mapping of the Indian subcontinent.

The exercise, which was called "one of the most stupendous works in

the whole history of science" was begun by William Lambton, a

British army officer, in Madras in 1802.

The survey involved several thousand Indians and was named the Great

Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) in 1819.

Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, is 29,035 ft high today

It covered more than 1,600 miles and countless people died during

the work. Tigers and malaria were the main causes.

Sickdhar, who was 39 when he made his discovery, was one of the

survey's largely unsung heroes.

The man from Calcutta was called a "computer" since he worked on

computation of data collected by survey parties.

He was promoted to the position of "chief computer" because of his

good work.

'Rare genius'

"Mathematical skills were essential for Sickdhar's work and he was

acknowledged by George Everest as a mathematician of rare genius,"

British historian John Keay, author of two books on the subject,

told BBC News Online.

"His greatest contribution to the computation was in working out and

applying the allowance to be made for a phenomenon called refraction-

the bending of straight lines by the density of the earth's

atmosphere," said Mr Keay.

Mr Keay says: "Like George Everest himself, [Sickdhar] may have

never seen [Mount Everest]."

It was first identified as a possible contender for the world's

highest peak in 1847 when surveyors glimpsed it from near


Sir George Everest found Sickdhar a rare mathematical genius

Several observations were recorded over the next three years by

different survey parties.

But the announcement that it was the highest - thanks to Sickdhar's

efforts - was delayed until 1856 as calculations had to be checked


Sickdhar, the son of a Bengali Brahmin, was born in October 1813 in

Jorasanko, Calcutta's old city.

He studied mathematics at the city's renowned Hindoo College and had

a fundamental knowledge of English.

A workaholic, Sickdhar never married, instead dedicating his life to

knotty mathematical calculations.

George Everest was always full of praise for the number-crunching


He wrote that Sickdhar was a "hardy, energetic young man, ready to

undergo any fatigue, and acquire a practical knowledge of all parts

of his profession."

"There are a few of my instruments that he cannot manage; and none

of my computations of which he is not thoroughly master. He can not

only apply formulate but investigate them."

Mount Everest has risen higher since Sickdhar's findings.

In 1955, the mountain "grew" by 26 feet to 29,028 feet (or by eight

metres to 8,848 metres).

Mount Everest grew another seven ft (two metres) in 1999 after

researchers analysed fresh data from the mountain.

Today, the world's highest mountain stands 29,035 ft or 8850 metres

British sahibs learnt to bath in India

The first Englishmen who came to India as servants of the East India Company were bewildered by many of our customs. Many of them commented on, in their letters home, the habit, among certain classes of the Hindus, of taking a daily bath.

The early factory-hands of John Company in India may have been somewhat scandalized by the fact that Hindu men and women of good families should not mind taking their baths in full view of others, what they found even more strange was that they should be washing their bodies at all.

For the British, the process of washing the body entailed lying prone in a tub half full of hot water. And how many houses in pre-Industrial England could have had metal containers large enough to accommodate grown men and women, and, even more, the facilities to heat up enough water? The conclusion was inescapable. For most Englishmen of the 17th and 18th centuries, a bath must have been a rare experience indeed, affordable to the very rich, who perhaps took baths when they felt particularly obnoxious, what with their zest for vigorous exercise, such as workouts in the boxing ring or rowing or riding at the gallop over the countryside. What a sensual pleasure it must have been to lie soaking in a tub full of scalding hot water? But such indulgences were possible only during the few weeks of what the English call their summer. For the rest of the year, the water in the tub could not have remained hot for more than a couple of minutes, and from November through February must have gone icy cold as soon as it was poured in. Brrrrr!

Then again, even those who thus bathed their bodies a few times every summer seem to have been careful to, as it were, keep their heads above water. In other words, a bath did not also involve a hair-wash. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be any reason why they should have found it necessary to coin-or adopt-a special word to describe the process of bathing hair: shampoo, which, 'Hobson Jobson' tells us is derived from the Hindi word, champi, for 'massage'. Why a word which normally described the process of muscle-kneading should have been picked on to explain a head-wash, is not at all convincing. It seems that the Company's servants used to send for their barbers every now and then to massage their heads with oil and then rinse

off the hair with soap and water. So the head-champi, became 'shampoo'.

Which may explain why G M Trevelyans's English Social History does not so much as mention the word 'bath'. In the pre-industrial age it was, at best, an eccentricity indulged in by exercise-freaks in the summer months, and a head-bath was even rarer. English royal court felt compelled to post in 1589: "Let no one, whoever he may be, before, at or after meals, early or late, foul the staircase, corridors, or closets with urine or other filth."

But, out in the tropics they must have gone about smelling quite a bit. In fact, the Chinese, when they first encountered the White man described him as "the smelly one".

According to William Dalrymple, in his book White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India: "Indian women, for example, introduced British men in the delights of regular bathing." And again:

"Those who had returned home and continued to bathe and shampoo themselves on a regular basis found themselves scoffed at as 'effeminate'."

(source: Smelling sahibs learnt to bathe in India - by Manohar Malgonkar -tribuneindia.com).


Early Christians took a dim view of bathing. St. Benedict in the 6th century declared that "to those who are well, and especially the young, bathing shall seldom be permitted." In the early 1200s, St. Francis of Assisi declared personal uncleanliness a sign of piety. Europeans have an interesting history of bathing. Long before they turned Christian, Scandinavians and Germans bathed naked in lakes and rivers during the summer months, and in public baths during the winter. With the advent of Christianity nakedness came to be associated with vulgarity, lascivious thoughts and, therefore, sinful. St Agnes (d. 1077) never took a bath; St Margaret never washed herself; Pope Clement III issued an edict forbidding

bathing or even wetting one's face on Sundays. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the practice of bathing in rivers was frowned upon. In 1736 in Baden (Germany), the authorities issued a warning to students against "the vulgar, dangerous and shocking practice of bathing."

(source: The importance of bathing - by Khuswant Singh - tribuneindia.com).
The Colonial Legacy - Myths and Popular Beliefs

While few educated South Asians would deny that British Colonial rule was detrimental to the interests of the common people of the sub-continent - several harbor an illusion that the British weren't all bad. Didn't they, perhaps, educate us - build us modern cities, build us irrigation canals - protect our ancient monuments - etc. etc. And then, there are some who might even say that their record was actually superior to that of independent India's! Perhaps, it is time that the colonial record be retrieved from the archives and re-examined - so that those of us who weren't alive during the freedom movement can learn to distinguish between the myths and the reality.

Sutapas Bhattacharya who posts in IC yahoogroups, posted this on the BBC site. Apparently anybody can take advantage and post on the BBC site.

[url="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A1934282"]3 Million Dead in Artificial Famine in Bengal[/url]

By Sutapas
3 Million Dead in Artificial Famine in Bengal

By Sutapas

Both my late father (then in his early twenties) and my mother (then a child) recall vividly one thing from the 1939-45 war into which India was dragged by the British. It was the flood of starving refugees pouring into Calcutta (which until 1911 had been capital of British India) from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) due to the artificial famine created by the British which we now know killed 3 million people. What was different from earlier influxes of refugees was the sheer desperation of these starving people, they did not beg for rice but for fanna, the wastewater from the ricepan! This memory was etched indelibly into both of my parents' minds and I heard stories from my uncles and others about it such as the story of the father who bought a Jackfruit with his last few "pennies" to give to his children before sneaking off to abandon them to death.

Amartya Sen (Master of Trinity College Cambridge) also remembers this episode from his childhood and says it was responsible for his decision to study economics and the cause of famines. The 1942-43 Bengal Famine occurred in spite of a good harvest in Bengal and surplus grain stocks in other parts of India. The British exported the grain, pushing up prices and leaving the peasantry to starve. A British policy of destroying boats in case the Japanese invaded stopped villagers travelling to trade for food exacerbating things. The British lied about their policies claiming that grain was not being exported and massively downsizing the death toll, pretending that there was no famine. It was only when the British owned Statesman newspaper broke the silence that they had to acknowledge it and Lord Wavell was brought in to do something. He started bringing in surplus grain from other parts of India but this was, at first just piled up in the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta and not distributed to the starving. Indian protesters piled up dead bodies of refugees outside the gardens.

Later the British tried to suppress the facts about this British-inflicted holocaust in India, occurring simultaneously with the German-inflicted genocide in Europe, as shown in the 1997 Channel 4 Secret History programme The Forgotten Famine.

Indeed, this was not the first British-inflicted famine holocaust in British-ruled India. In 1901, The Lancet estimated conservatively that 19 million Indians had died in Western India during the drought famine of the 1890s. The death toll was so high because of the British policy of refusal to intervene and implement famine relief (unlike the anti-profiteering measures etc. taken by the Mughals and Marathas during famines) as detailed by American historian Mike Davis in his Late Victorian Holocausts. Similarly in the 1870s some 17 million or so Indians dies in the Deccan and South India due to the "let them starve" policies encouraged by Lord Lytton and other British rulers. Indeed, whilst millions starved in 1876, the British held the biggest feast in human history in Delhi, the Delhi Durbar to celebrate Victoria becoming Empress, feeding 70,000 Britishers and Indian princelings for a week. In 1901 when people called for famine relief, the London government urged Delhi to contribute to the Boer war instead of famine relief but had no objection to the huge expense of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta.

Thus it comes as little surprise that Hitler's favourite film was The Lives of a Bengal Lancer and that he wrote in Mein Kampf that Ukraine should be Germany's "India". The policies of racially motivated colonial exploitation which were taken to the extreme by the Nazis were in part inspired by the policies of the British in India as witnessed by my parents a few years before the British left. Indeed, soon after the British conquest of Bengal in 1757, British policies led to the Great Bengal Famine of 1770 where, in certain regions up to a third of the population died. India has not suffered from a serious famine since the British left!

Thomas B. Macaulay's "Minute on Indian Education"


As it seems to be the opinion of some of the gentlemen who compose the Committee of Public

Instruction, that the course which they have hitherto pursued was strictly prescribed by the British

Parliament in 1813, and as, if that opinion be correct, a legislative act will be necessary to warrant

a change, I have thought it right to refrain from taking any part in the preparation of the adverse

statements which are now before us, and to reserve what I had to say on the subject till it should

come before me as a member of the Council of India.

It does not appear to me that the Act of Parliament can, by any art of construction, be made to

bear the meaning which has been assigned to it. It contains nothing about the particular languages

or sciences which are to be studied. A sum is set apart "for the revival and promotion of literature

and the encouragement of the learned natives of India, and for the introduction and promotion of

a knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories." It is argued, or

rather taken for granted, that by literature, the Parliament can have meant only Arabic and

Sanscrit literature, that they never would have given the honorable appellation of "a learned

native" to a native who was familiar with the poetry of Milton, the Metaphysics of Locke, and the

Physics of Newton; but that they meant to designate by that name only such persons as might

have studied in the sacred books of the Hindoos all the uses of cusa-grass, and all the mysteries

of absorption into the Deity. This does not appear to be a very satisfactory interpretation. To take

a parallel case; suppose that the Pacha of Egypt, a country once superior in knowledge to the

nations of Europe but now sunk far below them, were to appropriate a sum or the purpose of

"reviving and promoting literature, and encouraging learned natives of Egypt," would anybody

infer that he meant the youth of his pachalic to give years to the study of hieroglyphics, to search

into all the doctrines disguised under the fable of Osiris, and to ascertain with all possible accuracy

the ritual with which cats and onions were anciently adored? Would he be justly charged with

inconsistency, if, instead of employing his young subjects in deciphering obelisks, he were to order

them to be instructed in the English and French languages, and in all the sciences to which those

languages are the chief keys?

The words on which the supporters of the old system rely do not bear them out, and other words

follow which seem to be quite decisive on the other side. This lac of rupees is set apart, not only

for "reviving literature in India," the phrase on which their whole interpretation is founded, but also

for "the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the

British territories,"--words which are alone sufficient to authorise all the changes for which I


If the Council agree in my construction, no legislative Act will be necessary. If they differ from me,

I will prepare a short Act rescinding that clause of the Charter of 1813, from which the difficulty


The argument which I have been considering, affects only the form of proceeding. But the

admirers of the Oriental system of education have used another argument, which, if we admit it

to be valid, is decisive against all change. They conceive that the public faith is pledged to the

present system, and that to alter the appropriation of any of the funds which have hitherto been

spent in encouragmg the study of Arabic and Sanscrit, would be down-right spoliation. It is not

easy to understand by what process of reasoning they can have arrived at this conclusion. The

grants which are made from the public purse for the encouragement of literature differed in no

respect from the grants which are made from the same purse for other objects of real or

supposed utility. We found a sanatarium on a spot which we suppose to be healthy. Do we

thereby pledge ourselves to keep a sanatarium there, if the result should not answer our

expectation? We commence the erection of a pier. Is it a violation of the public faith to stop the

works, if we afterwards see reason to believe that the building will be useless? The rights of

property are undoubtedly sacred. But nothing endangers those rights so much as the practice,

now unhappily too common, of attributing them to things to which they do not belong. Those

who would impart to abuses the sanctity of property are in truth imparting to the institution of

property the unpopularity and the fragility of abuses. If the Government has given to any person a

formal assurance; nay, if the Government has exdted in any person's mind a reasonable

expectation that he shall receive a certain income as a teacher or a learner of Sanscrit or Arabic, I

would respect that person's pecuniary interests--I would rather err on the side of liberality to

individuals than suffer the public faith to be called in question. But to talk of a Government

pledging itself to teach certain languages and certain sciences, though those languages may

become useless, though those sciences may be exploded, seems to me quite unmeaning. There

is not a single word in any public instructions, from which it can be inferred that the Indian

Government ever intended to give any pledge on this subject, or ever considered the destination

of these funds as unalterably fixed. But had it been otherwise, I should have denied the

competence of our predecessors to bind us by any pledge on such a subject. Suppose that a

Government had in the last century enacted in the most sole,nn manner that all its subjects

should, to the end of time, be inoculated for the smallpox: would that Government be bound to

persist in the practice after Jenner's discovery? These promises, of which nobody claims the

performance, and from which nobody can grant a release; these vested rights, which vest in

nobody; this property without proprietors; this robbery, which makes nobody poorer, may be

comprehended by persons of higher faculties than mine.--- I consider this plea merely as a set

form of words, regularly used both in England and in India, in defence of every abuse for which no

other plea can be set up.

I hold this lac of rupees to be quite at the disposal of the Governor General in Council, for the

purpose of promoting learning in India, in any way which may be thought most advisable. I hold

his Lordship to be quite as free to direct that it shall no longer be employed in encouraging Arabic

and Sanscrit, as he is to direct that the reward for killing tigers in Mysore shall be diminished, that

no more public money shall be expended on the chanting at the cathedral.

We now come to the gist of the matter. We have a fund to be employed as Government shall

direct for the intellectual improvement of the people of this country. The simple question is, what

is the most useful way of employing it?

All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the

natives of this part of India, contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are, moreover,

so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to

translate any valuable work into them. It seems to be admitted on all sides, that the intellectual

improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can

at present be effected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them.

What then shall that language be? One-half of the Committee maintain that it should be the

English. The other half strongly recommend the Arabic and Sanscrit. The whole question seems to

me to be, which language is the best worth knowing?

I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic.--But I have done what I could to form a correct

estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works.

I have conversed both here and at home with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern

tongues. I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists

themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good

European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority

of the Western literature is, indeed, fully admitted by those members of the Committee who

support the Oriental plan of education.

It will hardly be disputed, I suppose, that the department of literature in which the Eastern writers

stand highest is poetry. And I certainly never met with any Orientalist who ventured to maintain

that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But

when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded, and general

principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I

believe, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from

all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most

paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of physical or moral

philosophy, the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.

How, then, stands the case? We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother-tongue. We must teach them some foreign language. The claims of our own language it is hardly necessary to recapitulate. It stands pre-eminent even among the languages of the west. It abounds with works of imagination not inferior to the noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us; with models of every species of eloquence; with historical compositions, which, considered merely as narratives, have seldom been surpassed, and which, considered as vehicles of ethical and political instruction, have never been equalled; with just and lively representations of human life and human nature; with the most profound speculations on metaphysics, morals, government, jurisprudence, and trade; with full and correct information respecting every experimental science which tends to preserve the health, to increase the comfort, or to expand the intellect of man. Whoever knows that language has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth, which all the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of ninety generations. It may safely be said, that the literature now extant in that language is of far greater value than all the literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages of the world together. Nor is this all. In India, English is the language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of natives at the seats of Government. It is likely to become the language of commerce throughout the seas of the East. It is the language of two great European communities which are rising, the one in the south of Africa, the other in Australasia; communities which are every year becoming more important, and more closely connected with our Indian empire. Whether we look at the intrinsic value of our literature, or at the particular situation of this country, we shall see the strongest reason to think that, of all foreign tongues, the English tongue is that which would be the most useful to our native subjects.

The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach this language, we

shall teach languages in which, by universal confession, there are no books on any subject which

deserve to be compared to our own; whether, when we can teach European science, we shall

teach systems which, by universal confession, whenever they differ from those of Europe, differ

for the worse; and whether, when we can patronise sound Philosophy and true History, we shall

countenance, at the public expense, medi- cal doctrines, which would disgrace an English

farrier,--Astronomy, which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school,--History,

abounding with kings thirty feet high, and reigns thirty thousand years long,--and Geography,

made up of seas of treacle and seas of butter.

We are not without experience to guide us. History furnishes several analogous cases, and they all

teach the same lesson. There are in modern times, to go no further, two memorable instances of

a great impulse given to the mind of a whole society,--of prejudices overthrown,--of knowledge

diffused,--taste purified,--of arts and sciences planted in countries which had recently been

ignorant and barbarous.

The first instance to which I refer, is the great revival of letters among the Western nations at the

close of the fifteenth and the begi:ning of the sixteenth century. At that time almost every thing

that was worth reading was contained in the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Had our

ancestors acted as the Committee of Public Instruction has hitherto acted; had they neglected the

language of Cicero and Tacitus; had they confined their attention to the old dialects of our own

island; had they print- ed nothing and taught nothing at the universities but Chronicles in

Anglo-Saxon, and Romances in Norman-French, would England have been what she now is? What

the Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham, our tongue is to the people

of India. The literature of England is now more valuable than that of classical antiquity. I doubt

whether the Sanscrit literature be as valuable as that of our Saxon and Norman progenitors. In

some departments,--in History, for example, I am certain that it is much less so.

Another instance may be said to be still before our eyes. Within the last hundred and twenty

years, a nation which has previously been in a state as barbarous as that in which our ancestors

were before the crusades, has gradually emerged from the ignorance in which it was sunk, and

has taken its place among civilized communities.--I speak of Russia. There is now in that country

a large educated class, abounding with persons fit to serve the state in the highest ftmctions, and

in no wise inferior to the most accomplished men who adorn the best circles of Paris and London.

There is reason to hope that this vast empire, which in the time of our grandfathers was probably

behind the Punjab, may, in the time of our grandchildren, be pressing close on France and Britain

in the career of improvement. And how was this change effected? Not by flattering national

prejudices: not by feeding the mind of the young Muscovite with the old women's stories which

his rude fathers had believed: not by filling his head with lying legends about St. Nicholas: not by

encouraging him to study the great question, whether the world was or was not created on the

13th of September: not by calling him "a learned native," when he has mastered all these points

of knowledge: but by teaching him those foreign languages in which the greatest mass of

information had been laid up, and thus putting all that information within his reach. The languages

of Western Europe civilized Russia. I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have

done for the Tartar.

And what are the arguments against that course which seems to be alike recommended by

theory and by experience? It is said that we ought to secure the cooperation of the native public,

and that we can do this only by teaching Sanscrit and Arabic.

I can by no means admit that when a nation of high intellectual attainments undertakes to

Superintend the education of a nation comparatively ignorant, the learners are absolutely to

prescribe the course which is to be taken by the teachers. It is not necessary, however, to say

any thing on this subject. For it is proved by unanswerable evidence that we are not at present

securing the Cooperation of the natives. It would be bad enough to consult their intellectual taste

at the expense of their intellectual health. But we are consulting neither,--we are withholding from

them the learning for which they are craving, we are forcing on them the mock-learning which

they nauseate.

This is proved by the fact that we are forced to pay our Arabic and Sanscrit students, while those

who learn Engiish are wiling to pay us. All the declamations in the worid about the love and

reverence of the natives for their sacred dialects will never, in the mind of any impartial person,

outweigh the undisputed fact, that we cannot find, in all our vast empire, a single student who will

let us teach him those dialects unless we will pay him.

I have now before me the accounts of the Madrassa for one month,-in the month of December,

1833. The Arabic students appear to have been seventy-seven in number. All receive stipends

from the public. The whole amount paid to them is above 500 rupees a month. On the other side

of the account stands the following item: Deduct amount realized from the out-students of

English for the months of May, June and July last, 103 rupees.

I have been told that it is merely from want of local experience that I am surprised at these

phenomena, and that it is not the fashion for students in India to study at their own charges. This

only confirms me in my opinion. Nothing is more certain than that it never can in any part of the

world be necessary to pay men for doing what they think pleasant and profitable. India is no

exception to this rule. The people of India do not require to be paid for eating rice when they are

hungry, or for wearing woollen cloth in the cold season. To come nearer to the case before us,

the children who learn their letters and a little elementary Arithmetic from the village

school-master are not paid by him. He is paid for teaching them. Why then is it necessary to pay

people to learn Sanscrit and Arabic? Evidently because it is universally felt that the Sanscrit and

Arabic are languages, the knowledge of which does not compensate for the trouble of acquiring

them. On all such subjects the state of the market is the decisive test.

Other evidence is not wanting, if other evidence were required. A petition was presented last year

to the Committee by several ex-students of the Sanscrit College. The petitioners stated that they

had studied in the college ten or twelve years; that they had made themselves acquainted with

Hindoo literature and science; that they had received certificates of proficiency: and what is the

fruit of all this! "Notwithstanding such testimonials," they say, "we have but little prospect of

bettering our condition without the kind assistance of your Honorable Committee, the indifference

with which we are generally looked upon by our countrymen leaving no hope of encouragement

and assistance from them." They therefore beg that they may be recommended to the Governor

General for places under the Government, not places of high dignity or emolument, but such as

may just enable them to exist. "We want means," they say, "for a decent living, and for our

progressive improvement, which, however, we cannot obtain without the assistance of

Government, by whom we have been educated and maintained from childhood." They conclude

by representing, very pathetically, that they are sure that it was never the intention of

Government, after behaving so liberally to them during their education, to abandon them to

destitution and neglect.

I have been used to see petitions to Government for compensation. All these petitions, even the

most unreasonable of them, proceeded on the supposition that some loss had been sustained-

that some wrong had been inflicted. These are surely the first petitioners who ever demanded

compensation for having been educated gratis, for having been supported by the public during

twelve years, and then sent forth into the world well furnished with literature and science. They

represent their education as an injury which gives them a claim on the Government for redress,

as an injury for which the stipends paid to them during the infliction were a very inadequate

compensation. And I doubt not that they are in the right. They have wasted the best years of life

in learning what procures for them neither bread nor respect. Surely we might, with advantage,

have saved the cost of making these persons useless and miserable; surely, men may be brought

up to be burdens to the public and objects of contempt to their neighbours at a somewhat

smaller charge to the state. But such is our policy. We do not even stand neuter in the contest

between truth and falsehood. We are not content to leave the natives to the influence of their

own hereditary prejudices. To the natural difficulties which obstruct the progress of sound science

in the East, we add fresh difficulties of our own making. Bounties and premiums, such as ought

not to be given even for the propagation of truth, we lavish on false taste and false philosophy.

By acting thus we create the very evil which we fear. We are making that opposition which we do

not find. What we spend on the Arabic and Sanscrit colleges is not merely a dead loss to the

cause of truth; it is bounty-money paid to raise up champions of error. It goes to form a nest,

not merely of helpless place-hunters, but of bigots prompted alike by passion and by interest to

raise a cry against every usetul scheme of education. If there should be any opposition among the

natives to the change which I recommend, that opposition will be the effect of our own system. It

will be headed by persons supported by our stipends and trained in our colleges. The longer we

persevere in our present course, the more formidable will that opposition be. It will be every year

reinforced by recruits whom we are paying. From the native society left to itself, we have no

difficulties to apprehend; all the murmuring will come from that oriental interest which we have, by

artificial means, called into being, and nursed into strength.

There is yet another fact, which is alone sufficient to prove that the feeling of the native public,

when left to itself, is not such as the supporters of the old system represent it to be. The

Committee have thought fit to lay out above a lac of rupees in printing Arabic and Sanscrit books.

Those books find no purchasers. It is very rarely that a single copy is disposed of. Twenty-three

thousand volumes, most of them folios and quartos, fill the libraries, or rather the lumber-rooms,

of this body. The Committee contrive to get rid of some portion of their vast stock of oriental

literature by giving books away. But they cannot give so fast as they print. About twenty

thousand rupees a year are spent in adding fresh masses of waste paper to a hoard which, I

should think, is already sufficiently ample. During the last three years, about sixty thousand rupees

have been expended in this manner. The sale of Arabic and Sanscrit books, during those three

years, has not yielded quite one thousand rupees. In the mean time the School- book Society is

selling seven or eight thousand English volumes every year, and not only pays the expenses of

printing, but realises a profit of 20 per cent. on its outlay.

The fact that the Hindoo law is to be learned chiefly from Sans- crit books, and the Mahomedan

law from Arabic books, has been much insisted on, but seems not to bear at all on the question.

We are commanded by Parliament to ascertam and digest the laws of India. The assistance of a

law Commission has been given to us for that purpose. As soon as the code is promulgated, the

Shasster and the Hedaya will be useless to a Moonsiff or Sudder Ameen. I hope and trust that

before the boys who are now entering at the Madrassa and the Sanscrit college have completed

their studies, this great work will be finished. It would be manifestly absurd to educate the rising

generation with a view to a state of things which we mean to alter before they reach manhood.

But there is yet another argument which seems even more untenable. It is said that the Sanscrit

and Arabic are the languages in which the sacred books of a hundred millions of people are

written, and that they are, on that account, entitled to peculiar encouragement. Assuredly it is the

duty of the British Government in India to be not only tolerant, but neutral on all religious

questions. But to encourage the study of a literature admitted to be of small intrinsic value, only

because that literature incuIcates the most serious errors on the most important subjects, is a

course hardly reconcileable with reason, with morality, or even with that very neutrality which

ought, as we all agree, to be sacredly pre- served. It is confessed that a language is barren of

useful know- ledge. We are to teach it because it is fruittul of monstrous superstitions. We are to

teach false History, false Astronomy, false Medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion. We abstain, and I trust shall always abstain, from giving any public encouragement to those who are engaged in the work of converting natives to Christianity. And while we act thus, can we reasonably and decently bribe men out of the revenues of the state to waste their youth in learning how they are to purify themselves after touching an ass, or what text of the Vedas they are to repeat to expiate the crime of killing a goat?

It is taken for granted by the advocates of Oriental learning, that no native of this country can

possibly attain more than a mere smattering of English. They do not attempt to prove this; but

they perpetually insinuate it. They designate the education which their opponents recommend as a

mere spelling book education. They assume it as undenlable, that the question is between a

profound knowledge of Hindoo and Arabian literature and science on the one side, and a superficial

knowledge of the rudiments of English on the other. This is not merely an assumption, but an

assumption contrary to all reason and experience. We know that foreigners of all nations do learn

our language sufficiently to have access to all the most abstruse knowledge which it contains,

sufficiently to relish even the more delicate graces of our most idiomatic writers. There are in this

very town natives who are quite competent to discuss political or scientific questions with fluency

and precision in the English language. I have heard the gentlemen with a liberality and an

intelligence which would do credit to any member of the Committee of Public Instruction. Indeed it

is unusual to find, even in the literary circles of the continent, any foreigner who can express

himself in English with so much facility and correctness as we find in many Hindoos. Nobody, I

suppose, will contend that English is so difficult to a Hindoo as Greek to an Englishman. Yet an

intelligent English youth, in a much smaller number of years than our unfortunate pupils pass at

the Sanscrit college, becomes able to read, to enjoy, and even to imitate, not unhappily, the

compositions of the best Greek Authors. Less than half the time which enables an English youth

to read Herodotus and Sophocles, ought to enable a Hindoo to read Hume and Milton.

To sum up what I have said, I think it clear that we are not fettered by the Act of Parliament of 1813; that we are not fettered by any pledge expressed or implied; that we are free to employ our fiinds as we choose; that we ought to employ them in teaching what is best worth knowing; that English is better worth knowing than Sanscrit or Arabic; that the natives are desirous to be taught English, and are not desirous to be taught Sanscrit or Arabic; that neither as the languages of law, nor as the languages of religion, have the Sanscrit and Arabic any peculiar claim to our engagement; that it is possible to make natives of this country thoroughly good English scholars, and that to this end our efforts ought to be directed.

In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. I feel with

them, that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the

people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.

I would strictly respect all existing interests. I would deal even generously with all individuals who

have had fair reason to expect a pecuniary provision. But I would strike at the root of the bad

system which has hitherto been fostered by us. I would at once stop the printing of Arabic and

Sanscrit books, I would abolish the Madrassa and the Sanscrit college at Calcutta. Benares is the

great seat of Brahmanical learning; Delhi, of Arabic learning. If we retain the Sanscrit college at

Benares and the Mahometan college at Delhi, we do enough, and much more than enough in my

opinion, for the Eastern languages. If the Benares and Delhi colleges should be retained, I would at

least recommend that no stipends shall be given to any students who may hereafter repair

thither, but that the people shall be left to make their own choice between the rival systems of

education without being bribed by us to learn what they have no desire to know. The funds which

would thus be placed at our disposal would enable us to give larger encouragement to the Hindoo

college at Calcutta, and to establish in the principal cities throughout the Presidencies of Fort

William and Agra schools in which the English language might be well and thoroughly taught.

If the decision of his Lordship in Council should be such as I anticipate, I shall enter on the

performance of my duties with the greatest zeal and alacrity. If, on the other hand, it be the

opinion of the Government that the present system ought to remain unchanged, I beg that I may

be permitted to retire from the chair of the Committee. I feel that I could not be of the smallest

use there--I feel, also, that I should be lending my countenance to what I firmly believe to be a

mere delusion. I believe that the present system tends, not to accelerate the progress of truth,

but to delay the natural death of expiring errors. I conceive that we have at present no right to

the respectable name of a Board of Public Instruction. We are a Board for wasting public money,

for printing books which are of less value than the paper on which they are printed was while it

was blank; for giving artificial encouragement to absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd

physics, absurd theology; for raising up a breed of scholars who find their scholarship an

encumbrance and a blemish, who live on the public while they are receiving their education, and

whose education is so utterly useless to them that when they have received it they must either

starve or live on the public all the rest of their lives. Entertaining these opinions, I am naturally

desirous to decline all share in the responsibility of a body, which unless it alters its whole mode of

proceeding, I must consider not merely as useless, but as positively noxious.

This document has been obtained from a Site of the National University of Singapore.
I did not know there was a Jewish community in Madras in the seventeenth century. Note there is mention of Elihu Yale and his love affair with a Portuguese Jewish lady.

[url="http://www.sefarad.org/publication/lm/041/5.html"]THE PORTUGUESE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF MADRAS, INDIA, IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY[/url]
More on the Connecticut connection to Madras

[url="http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2001/08/27/stories/13271285.htm"]The Connecticut connection[/url]
Modern History Sourcebook:

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859):

On Empire and Education


The first selection a speech on the India bill of 1833 and expresses his view of the achievements and goals of the British Empire in the East. Between 1834 and 1838 he lived in Calcutta and served on the British "Supreme Council for India". His "Minute on Education, " from which the second selection below comes, touches on the relation of Western and Indian civilizations.

Education and the English Empire in India

I feel that, for the good of India itself, the admission of natives to high office must be effected by slow degrees. But that, when the fulness of time is come, when the interest of India requires the change, we ought to refuse to make that change lest we should endanger our own power, this is a doctrine of which I cannot think without indignation. Governments, like men, may buy existence too dear. "Propter vitam vivendi perdere causas," ["To lose the reason for living, for the sake of staying alive"] is a despicable policy both in individuals and in states. In the present case, such a policy would be not only despicable, but absurd. The mere extent of empire is not necessarily an advantage. To many governments it has been cumbersome; to some it has been fatal. It will be allowed by every statesman of our time that the prosperity of a community is made up of the prosperity of those who compose the community, and that it is the most childish ambition to covet dominion which adds to no man's comfort or security. To the great trading nation, to the great manufacturing nation, no progress which any portion of the human race can make in knowledge, in taste for the conveniences of life, or in the wealth by which those conveniences are produced, can be matter of indifference. It is scarcely possible to calculate the benefits which we might derive from the diffusion of European civilisation among the vast population of the East. It would be, on the most selfish view of the case, far better for us that the people of India were well governed and independent of us, than ill governed and subject to us; that they were ruled by their own kings, but wearing our broadcloth, and working with our cutlery, than that they were performing their salams to English collectors and English magistrates, but were too ignorant to value, or too poor to buy, English manufactures. To trade with civilised men is infinitely more profitable than to govern savages. That would, indeed, be a doting wisdom, which, in order that India might remain a dependency, would make it an useless and costly dependency, which would keep a hundred millions of men from being our customers in order that they might continue to be our slaves.

Are we to keep the people of India ignorant in order that we may keep them submissive? Or do we think that we can give them knowledge without awakening ambition? Or do we mean to awaken ambition and to provide it with no legitimate vent? Who will answer any of these questions in the affirmative? Yet one of them must be answered in the affirmative, by every person who maintains that we ought permanently to exclude the natives from high office. 1 have no fears. The path of duty is plain before us: and it is also the path of wisdom, of national prosperity, of national honor.


From Thomas Babington Macaulay, "Speech in Parliament on the Government of India Bill, 10 July 1833," Macaulay, Prose and Poetry, selected by G.M. Young (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), pp. 716-18

On Indian Education

We now come to the gist of the matter. We have a fund to be employed as Government shall direct for the intellectual improvement of the people of this country. The simple question is, what is the most useful way of employing it?

All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India, contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are, moreover, so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them. It seems to be admitted on all sides, that the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be effected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them.

What then shall that language be? One-half of the Committee maintain that it should be the English. The other half strongly recommend the Arabic and Sanscrit. The whole question seems to me to be, which language is the best worth knowing?

I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic.-But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed both here and at home with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is, indeed, fully admitted by those members of the Committee who support the Oriental plan of education.

It will hardly be disputed, I suppose, that the department of literature in which the Eastern writers stand highest is poetry. And I certainly never met with any Orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded, and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of physical or moral philosophy, the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.

How, then, stands the case? We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother-tongue. We must teach them some foreign language. The claims of our own language it is hardly necessary to recapitulate. It stands preeminent even among the languages of the west. It abounds with works of imagination not inferior to the noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us; with models of every species of eloquence; with historical compositions, which, considered merely as narratives, have seldom been surpassed, and which, considered as vehicles of ethical and political instruction, have never been equalled; with just and lively representations of human life and human nature; with the most profound speculations on metaphysics, morals, government, jurisprudence, and trade; with full and correct information respecting every experimental science which tends to preserve the health, to increase the comfort, or to expand the intellect of man. Whoever knows that language has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth, which all the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of ninety generations. It may safely be said, that the literature now extant in that language is of far greater value than all the literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages of the world together. Nor is this all. In India, English is the language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of natives at the seats of Government. It is likely to become the language of commerce throughout the seas of the East. It is the language of two great European communities which are rising, the one in the south of Africa, the other in Australasia; communities which are every year becoming more important, and more closely connected with our Indian empire. Whether we look at the intrinsic value of our literature, or at the particular situation of this country, we shall see the strongest reason to think that, of all foreign tongues, the English tongue is that which would be the most useful to our native subjects.

The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach this language, we shall teach languages in which, by universal confession, there are no books on any subject which deserve to be compared to our own; whether, when we can teach European science, we shall teach systems which, by universal confession, whenever they differ from those of Europe, differ for the worse; and whether, when we can patronise sound Philosophy and true History, we shall countenance, at the public expense, medical doctrines, which would disgrace an English farrier [note: a horse shoer] -Astronomy, which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school, History, abounding with kings thirty feet high, and reigns thirty thousand years long, and Geography, made up of seas of treacle and seas of butter.

We are not without experience to guide us. History furnishes several analogous cases, and they all teach the same lesson. There are in modem times, to go no further, two memorable instances of a great impulse given to the mind of a whole society,-of prejudices overthrown,-of knowledge diffused,-of taste purified,-of arts and sciences planted in countries which had recently been ignorant and barbarous.

The first instance to which I refer, is the great revival of letters among the Western nations at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century. At that time almost every thing that was worth reading was contained in the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Had our ancestors acted as the Committee of Public Instruction has hitherto acted; had they neglected the language of Cicero and Tacitus; had they confined their attention to the old dialects of our own island; had they printed nothing and taught nothing at the universities but Chronicles in Anglo-Saxon, and Romances in Norman-French, would England have been what she now is? What the Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham [note: English humanists of the 16th century] our tongue is to the people of India. The literature of England is now more valuable than that of classical antiquity. I doubt whether the Sanscrit literature be as valuable as that of our Saxon and Norman progenitors. In some departments,-in History, for example, I am certain that it is much less so.

In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. I feel with them, that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.


From Thomas Babington Macaulay, "Minute of 2 February 1835 on Indian Education," Macaulay, Prose and Poetry, selected by G. M. Young (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), pp-721-24,729.


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

© Paul Halsall, July 1998


Early Theosophy and Freemasonry in India

"The years between 1876 and 1884 proved to be the seed time for Indian nationalism which took a definite shape with the formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885."

The Encyclopaedic History of Indian Freedom Movement/edited by Om Prakash. New Delhi, Anmol, 2003.

The Masons of Bengal in the 1860s knew what opening up Freemasonry to Indians would mean, and they were dead set against it. It was Lord Zetland (the English Grand Master) and his deputy, Lord Ripon, who in the 1860s had to insist upon the principle of universal brotherhood and, in doing so, promoted, albeit from the top down, a new vision of empire among Masons.

Indian Masons assimilated only too well to the British imperial community-to the point of becoming "brothers" to the English, Scotish, and Welsh-and they strove to obtain the rights and privileges which attended this fraternal assimilation. This was the genesis of the nationalist impulse among the western-educated Indians.

They envisioned and expected to live in an empire of nationalities, in which Indians played an equal role with whites in governing the Indian Empire. Unfortunately for them, the British were simultaneously forging a national identity based on their superior position in the Empire. In the contest between these two nationalisms, British and Indian, the middle path of an imperial brotherhood based on parity would necessarily lose out. Indian Masons, then. who had gone a long way in reaching parity with the British in the lodge, sought the same thing in the Raj as nationalists, but were to find that parity there was "blocked," or at least too slow in coming.

At the first Congress in 1885, Dadabliai Naoroji explained what drew the westerneducated Indians politically to the British: 'What attaches us to this foreign rule with deeper loyalty than even our own past Native rule, is the fact that Britain is the parent of free and representative Government and that we, as her subjects and children, are entitled to inherit the great blessing of freedom and representation.' (Briton Martin,, New India, 1885, p. 298)

In the front ranks of Indian leaders in the early Congress Party (and even before) were a number of Masons: Dadabliai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta, Badruddin Tyabji, Narayan Chandavarkar, among those in Bombay. In Bengal, there was W.C. Bonnedee, Man Mohan Ghosh, and Rash Behari Ghosh, and probably others whom research in lodges there would no doubt turn up.

What these men wanted was respect, to be treated like equals, to be "brothers" with the British in running India, just as they were "brothers" with them in the lodges.

An examination of the Masonic Presidents of the Indian National Congress from its inception in 1885 to the Surat "split" between Moderates and Extremists in 1907, is impressive. Of the Congress Presidents from the Bombay Presidency, a staggering seventy-eight percent-were Freemason. In addition, one President-Lal Mohan Ghosh was the brother of the Mason, Man Mohan Ghosh, and thus may have been a Mason himself (which would have made forty-eight percent of the I.N.C. Presidents Masons):

1885 W.C. Bonnedee Mason (Bengal)

1886 Dadabhai Naoroji Mason (Bombay)

1887 Badruddin Tyabji Mason (Bombay)

1888 George Yule Unknown

1889 Williarn Wedderburn Unknown

1890 Pherozeshah Mchta Mason (Bombay)

1891 P. Ananda Charlu Unknown

1892 W.C. Bonnedee Mason (Bengal)

1893 Dadabhai Naoroji Mason (Bombay)

1894 Alfred Webb, M.P. Unknown

1895 Surendranath Banedea Unknown

1896 Rahirntulla Muhammad Saymni Mason (Bombay)

1897 Sir C. Sankaran Nair Unknown

1898 Ananda Mohan Bose Unknown

1899 Ramesh Chandra Dutt Unknown

1900 Narayen Ganesh Chandavarkar Mason (Bombay)

1901 Dinshaw EduIji Wacha Doubtful (Bombay)

1902 Surendranath Banedea Unknown

1903 Lal Mohan Ghosh Unknown (brother of M.M. Ghosh)

1904 Sir Henry Cotton Unknown

1905 Gopal Krishna Gokhale Doubtful (Bombay)

1906 Dadabhai Naoroji Mason (Bombay)

1907 Rash Behari Ghosh Mason (Bengal)

Creating a Masonic Brotherhood of "Mahatmas."

By the mid-19th century Freemasonry was permeating Bombay's intellectual atmosphere with its ideas of a "religion" underlying all religions, and individual and societal perfectibility. It seems that western-educated Hindus began self-consciously to reproduce Freemasonry in their movements of religious and social reform. There where overlapping memberships in Freemasonry and various reform movements (e.g., the Prarthana and Arya Samajes, Vivekananda, and the Rahnumai Mazdayasnan Sabha); and close ideological similarities; Freemasonry with the Manava Dharma Sabha and Pararnahansa Mandali.

Masonry provided a template of ritualism and graded degrees which could be copied and altered, whether in the Theosophical Society or Saraswati's "Aryan Masonry," in order to create a bridge between Eastern and Western religious thought in the 19th century. This template allowed Westerners and Easterners thrust together by the political bonds of imperialism to explore each other's religions within the context of something familiar: ritualism and occultism.

Some of the Masons in in leadership positions of the Arya Samaj were Harichand Chintaman, Mulji Thakarshi, Chitpavan Brahmin physician, Dr. Anna Moreshwar Kunte. Thirty-seven Brahmin members of the Samaj, would be initiated in Lodge Islam in 1878, and affiliated to Lodge Aryan that same year. (Short History of the Aryan Lodge, in The Aryan Lodge. No. 30 G11, Centennial Jubilee Celebrations, December 9, 1978)

In 1873 Hindu Masons received a Temporary Warrant from the District Grand Lodge (English Constitution) of Bombay to found a lodge named Aryan. The Aryan Lodge was duly constituted in 1877, its aims being to attract and initiate Hindus. Its founding members were Edward Tyrrell Leith, the lodge's first Master, Dr. Joseph Anderson, a surgeon, Bal Mangesh Wagle, the "First Advocate of the High Court of Bombay," Shantaram Narayan and Ghansharn Nilkanth Nadkarni, the most prominent pleaders of the High Court, Dr. Shantaram Vithal-Sanzgiri, Dr. Atmararn Pandurang Tarkhad, and Harichand Chintaman, who later became first Lodge leader of the Theososphical society in India. After the formation of Aryan, a considerable number of western-educated Hindus regularly entered Freemasonry, men who had important roles in the economics, politics, and social and religious reformism of the Bombay Presidency.

Membership consisted of Hindus, Muslims, and Parsis (although, in the case of Aryan, Hindus did predominate, since it was, after all, founded to screen Hindu applicants). Pherozeshah Mehta, a Parsi, was a member of both Lodge Rising Star (mostly Parsi) and Lodge Aryan, as was N.G. Chandavarkar, a Saraswat Brahmin. And Lodge Islam, which was founded in 1876, "has admitted Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Jews and various other classes of people during its life of over a hundred years." ( S.P. Sarbadhicary, How Hindus Were Admitted Into the Mysteries of Freemasonry, p.19-20)

After the formation of Aryan, a considerable number of western-educated Hindus regularly entered Freemasonry, men who had important roles in the economics, politics, and social and religious reformism of the Bombay Presidency.

After co-founders of the Theosophical Society H.P. Blavatsky and Olcott came to India in 1887, Blavatsky claimed that her Mahatmas belonged to a lodge of Freemasons.

Blavatsky claimed that "The Rishis of the Vedic school were, of course, also Founders of the Masonic." (The Theosophical Society or Universal Brotherhood, in The Theosophist, vol. 1, no. 7, April, 1880: 179) And is a clear attempt to use antiquarianism to appropriate Freemasonry to ancient Hinduism, and make the Vedic Rishis the earliest exponents of the Craft. The colonized is attempting to alter the moral relations between him and the colonizer by placing the origin of the West's most cherished and venerable organization (after the Church) in India.

The new an expanded set of "Principles, Rules, and By-Laws" of the T.S. at a meeting held at the palace of the Maharaja of Vizianagram in Benares on 17 December 1879 (revised and ratified in February 1880), strongly bear the impress of Freemasonry.

The Society was formed, “upon the basis of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity," a principle not contained in the former foundation by –laws of the 1875 T.S. in New York .

Like Freemasonry the T.S. initiated its members and had three degrees: the Third and lowest, the Second, and the First and highest "Sections." Once initiated, the new Theosophist was to be invested with the secret signs, words, or tokens by which Theosophists of the third (probationary) Section make themselves known to each other, a solemn obligation upon honour having first been taken from him in writing, and subsequently repeated by him orally before witnesses that he will neither reveal them to any improper person, nor divulge any other matter or thing relating to the Society.

Creeds and modes of worship may differ but the idea that God is one is common to the whole race. And in the love of God, common to humanity is to be found that harmony which it is the mission of the Universal Religion not only to preach but which it strives to make an actuality of life.... Saints, therefore, ask you to look beyond yourselves-to a centre that is within yourself, and it is only when the seed of goodness will have been sown there that it will fructify into what is called Universal Brotherhood, Universal Love, and Universal Religion. (speech delivered at the Social Reform Association, Mangalore, 1900, in The Speeches and Writings of Sir Narayen Ganesh Chandavarkar, 88.)

An important goal of the Hindu reform movements looked at here was not only to modernize society, but to elaborate a universal religion which could serve as the basis for a new, universal polity, although for practical purposes this meant a unified Indian/Hindu nation (whether Hindu or Indian was not always made clear) whose diverse elements would be harmonized by a latitudinarian spirituality which stressed fraternity. In the words of Narayen Chandavarkar,

In his presidential address at the 1893 Indian National Congress, Naoroji concluded with almost the same words he had used in Lodge Yarborough twenty-five years earlier: ... The day, I hope, is not distant when the world will see the noblest spectacle of a great Nation like the British holding out the hand of true fellow-citizenship and of justice to the vast mass of humanity of this great and ancient land of India with benefits and blessings to the human race. (Dadabhai Naoroji, quoted in Annie Besant How India Wrought For Freedom: The Story of the National Congress Told From Official Records, Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1915, p.165)

At the time that Dadabhai Naoroji was speaking of brotherhood and racial harmony in Lodge Yarborough, he and his associates were seeking parity with the British in the Indian Civil Service the "steel frame" of the Raj and the key institution in governing India. (Dadabbai Naoroji, speech at Lodge Yarborough, published September 19, 1868, in Bristol Guardian Newspaper)

Many Freemasons, following an ideological trajectory which began in the Renaissance, finally "de-centered" Christianity and, by the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, had come to see Freemasonry as a universal "religion" supple enough to serve the needs of empire, nationalism, and socio-religious reform. In the case of Empire, unlike the Theosophical Society, many Raj officials belonged to Freemasonry, which makes it all the more intriguing.

The Masonic scholar LS.M. Ward in 1921 poetically expressed the point to which Freemasonic religious formulations had been evolving for a century:

The Preserver, whether they call him the Madi, Or speak of the Christ returned to earth As the sun in his heat and glory From His throne in the azure sky. Sucks up the mist and dew, Whether they hail Him by Buddha's name And returning them to earth, Or Kalki, of Vishnu sprung, Renews the verdant plain, They tell us a truth for all the same So the Lord of Death and Birth And by every mystic sung. Returns to us again. (J.S.M. Ward, Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods, p. 344)

W.C. Bonnerjee and Rash Behari Ghosh must have been members of the Congress (or at least sympathizers)-when he spoke of people of all races, castes, and religions, whether of the East or West, joining together to give the practical effect to the Grand teachings of our Order. This mirrored the pluralistic vision of India, as well as the desire for a closer and more equitable union between India and Britain, that the Indian National Congress espoused. At the same time, this was also a vision of what the British Empire could be, and it could not have been lost on the consciousness of the Hindu and other Indian Masons at this meeting that one of their own had just been honored with membership in a Canadian lodge, half a world away. Masonic membership meant joining a world-wide fraternity, and membership could lead to international recognition and honors within that fraternity (which no doubt commanded the respect of even the British in India).

The Oriental Deception P2

The Aryan myth defined both the true Hindu community and the origin of the West as I described in my earlier study about this subject. (1)

The Indian myth of Aryanhood was utilized to bring about the mobilization of powerfull sentiments of affinity and solidarity. Through a transformation of consciousness, segments of the Indian population could consider themselves on a par with their conquerors rather than their subjects. With this myth, privileged segments of Indian society were able to frame an embattled Aryan 'We," which purportedly existed before the arrival of the British and could be rallied in the rearticulated tradition. This construct allowed specific groups of Indians to assert a cohesive social identity and declare their cultural superiority in response to colonial domination. The social identity activated by the Aryan myth fostered estrangement from British colonial authorities and thus functioned as an effective instrument of resistance. It was instrumental in the eventual expulsion of the colonial authorities.

Outside the brahmin elite, groups on the periphery subverted the Aryan myth for social reform. Thus, the myth was employed both to reassert the social and religious stability of the elite and undermine its hegemony. After independence, reconfigured versions of the Aryan myth became instrumental in destabilizing caste authority and, most recently, fomenting communalism.

As in India, so too in Europe: speculation regarding the Aryan provided essential information concerning the past; it promised to reveal the state of civilization that was closest to the supposed common ancestors of all Indo European peoples. For those seeking to distance themselves from a Hebrew heritage, Aryan India provided an attractive alternative. Germans, in particular, believed that the study of Vedic mythology could elucidate the history and fate of the Indo-German Volk, a national collectivity inspired by a common creative energy, that was promulgated as the unique essence of the German people. German Indology's valorization of the Aryan past and an idealized vision of India further contributed to the identification of this Volk with the mythic Aryan. Subsequent racial hygienists would invert this Aryan myth: India became a projection of the German racial situation. Once the metaphorical cradle of German civilization, India now became its symbolic grave. Through the Aryan myth, India functioned both as an example and a warning to the Nazis. Just as the Aryans in India fell, so would those in Europe if racial purity were not recreated. In both the East and the West, the search for the "original" India became bound up with a search for a superior race living in an unchanging utopian past.

But we should question how versions of the Aryan past articulated an ethical process whereby the European subject defined itself through cultural confrontation. Michel de Certeau termed the impossibility of portraying the Other as anything but a translation into a European familiarity of the Self.

The truth regarding the Aryans was less to be found in their literature than in what it was no longer able to express. Truth was not to be discovered in words, but rather in the lacunae, the message that had been lost through decay, inaccessibility, and the loss of ability to read correctly.

European theories of the Aryan race developed out of scholarly inquiry into the origin of languages, the study of myth, and the historical study of religion. The quest for an original language from which other languages derived involved a search for unity in diversity. The quest for linguistic unity reflected the need for an ultimate textual authority. However, once that authority was identified, something curious occurred. The horizon of the text was virtually swept away-, its integrity ignored.

The text was treated by interpreters as almost nonexistent; they made it up to suit their needs. In a similar fashion, the horizon of the reader became pure ideology, expressing itself in emotional appeals to return to some golden age or true spirituality of the text.

Western Orientalist scholars focused on the superiority of the Indian Aryans and their legacy of excellence as manifest in their modern European descendants. In the Enlightenment, the Aryans provided an alternative to the Hebrew model. For the Romantics, the Aryan past confirmed those aesthetic and spiritual values that were cherished and promoted in the European present. Among certain nineteenth-century cultural critics, however, an Aryan theory of race inspired counter-hegemonic reveries of degeneration. Gobineau's Arierdaemmerung heralded the twilight of the gods. It was Nietzsche's task to transform these gods into idols. In the writings of Chamberlain and Rosenberg, notions of who comprised the Aryan race exhibited an endemic feeling that Christianity had empowered a sickly underclass and corrupted German religion. The fall of the Aryan resonated in the infectous post-World War I story of betrayal by Jewish materialists and the vindictive Allies.

In India, theories of Aryan unity ingeniously ignored discrepancies in racial and cultural development. Rammohan Roy and Daydnanda focused on the Aryan religious tradition as a basis for Hindu spiritual revival. For Tilak and Ranade, the Aryan's racial superiority could be witnessed in their survival in modern times as caste Hindus.

Ranade took a cosmopolitan perspective; he contrasted the Aryan to the Semite and the Dravidian. For Vivekananda, the Aryan was superior both to the Dravidian and the West. Tilak valorized the Aryan past to promote the nationalist cause. Vivekananda held expansionist designs: he saw itinerant Indian preachers setting forth to perfect (Aryanize) the world. Phule and Ambedkar challenged the myth of the Aryan, bringing back into discussion what nationalist discourse had excluded.

Discussions of Aryanhood were thus either system-maintaining or counter-systemic. The system in question was the caste system, and specificly the role of brahmins as disseminators of the Veda, it’s legitemate readers, and (ab)users of secular and religious power. There was some suggestion that the Veda had been corrupted by barbarian influences and the intolerance of ruthless conquerors. It was also believed that the process of textual degradation could be reversed. In those cases where the discourse was systems-maintaining, brahmins jealously guarded their access to the text and their right to interpret it. In those instances where Aryan discourse was counter-systemic, reformers desperately sought to wrest the texts away from their brahmin custodians.

These nineteenth-century quests for the Aryan past can be viewed as forms of popular culture, susceptible to the political and institutional forces that inform cultural criticism. They collaborate in the political structure that they inhabit and in their position and complicity within the power structure.

Popular culture, even when Marxist in inspiration and populist in spirit, is defined by the mechanisms of exclusion. Like all quests for origin, it expresses moments in time when elites feel themselves threatened. When a culture has lost its means of self-defense, it turns to the ethnologist and the archaeologist.

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century German and Indian history bear out this maxim. The myths of the Aryan articulate this fear of impotence and present, a geography of the eliminated, or "a negative silhouette" formed from the political and symbolic distributions of power.

But who should read or interpret texts of authority? Who is the legitimate reader?

Are those "legitimate" readers of the Veda in the nineteenth century so unlike the modern critics? Both claim positional knowledge. Both, laboring notions of voicelessness and absence, can license the neglect of texts that contradict their master narratives. Both claim privilege to speak for the Other. The brahmin custodian of the Veda received his hermeneutical mandate from God. Critics are self-anointed and legitimized by their peers. The nationalist reformer defined the Aryan in order to reassert sociopolitical power and retain traditional lines of control. The critic, impotent through alienation from real political action, compensates by a posture of powerlessness vis a vis representation. Political parallels may well be drawn between extravagant claims in the mythology of the Aryan race and the more sober evocations of colonial discourse analysis. We have seen how the problem of identity finds no dear resolution. Identity, both individual and national, continues to be problematic into the new millennium.

French Aryan Rewrites History.

For Voltaire, Asia was the ideal. In fact, in the eighteenth century, Voltaire was a principle panegyrist and official defender of Asia's moral rectitude. It held the key to understanding the European present as wen as its future. At first, Voltaire directed his enthusiasm toward China. But its radical foreignness and the indecipherability of its literature stymied his efforts. He then turned his attention toward India, consoling himself with the belief that Indian religion was "very possibly' the same as that of the Chinese government, that is, a pure cult of a Supreme Being disengaged from all superstition and fanaticism . He maintained that the brahmin religion was even more ancient than that of China (Voltaire Oevres Complette, 1885).

The Indians were, perhaps, the most ancient assembled body of people. It appeared that other nations, such as China and Egypt, went to India for instruction. The brahmins were the first theologians in the world , and Indian religion formed the basis of all other religions . Voltaire believed that Indian philosophers had discovered a new universe "en morale et en physique."

With time and with a more complete documentation, Voltaire became better informed and refined his characterization of ancient India. As inventors of art, the Aryans were chaste, temperate, and law-abiding . They lived in a state of paradise-naked and without luxury. They subsisted on fruit rather than cadavers. Paragons of morality and specimens of physical perfection, the Aryans embodied prelapsarian innocence and sobriety. Their gentleness, respect for animal life, and deep religiosity incarnated the virtues of "Christianity' far more than anything found in the civilized West. Unlike the Saracens, Tartars, Arabs, and the Jews, who lived by piracy, the Aryans found nourishment in a religion that was based upon universal reason.

While Voltaire had initially based his information on the travel accounts of Chardin, Tavernier, and Bernier, he later came to rely heavily on the Lettres idifiantes et curieuses ... par quelques missions de la compagnie de jesus (Paris: 1706-76), especially the letters from Pere Boucher to Huet. As elsewhere in his oeuvre, even in his most virulent critiques of the Church, Voltaire was never truly distant from his Jesuit teachers. Jesuitical documentation on India supplied him with a theme he was to exploit with verve. Although the reverend fathers expressed horror for idolatrous superstition, they were not totally negative in their assessment of Indian religious potential. Jesuit missionaries judged the Indians eminently capable and worthy of conversion. After all, one could find in their "ridiculous" religion belief in a single God , suggesting a kind of proto-Christianity. Bouchet's mention of parallels between Aryan religious thought and Christianity prompted Voltaire to develop the idea that the West had derived its theology from India.

In short, Voltaire appropriated from the Jesuits data to suit a specific polemic-that Vedism comprised the oldest religion known to man and represented a pure form of worship whose loftly metaphysics formed the basis of Christianity. Voltaire found no difficulty in reconciling the sublimity of Indian religion with its modern superstitions: the Vedic Indian had simply been made soft by the climate . The climate's effect was so pernicious that India's conquerors even became weak under its influence . Thus, human frailty and nature conspired to render man idolatrous.

By disengaging a fictive Urform of Hinduism from all superstition and fanaticism, Voltaire effectively set up an ideal against which all other religions could be measured to their disadvantage. What religion could compete with that of the initial brahmins, who had established a government and religion based upon universal reason?

When you have peaceful prelates, ruling an innately spiritual people, religion is simple and reasonable. More importantly, India was to supply Voltaire with information to combat the Church and its role in society. As a culture ignored by the Bible, India allowed Voltaire to question the accepted biblical chronology. Most significantly. however, Voltaire's discussion of India enabled him to vent his spleen against the Jews. In other words, Voltaire's emplotment of India concentrated on four problems: it allowed him to call into question the chronology of the sacred book, the chosen status of the Jews, the origin of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the diffusion of our mythology, all of which challenged the historical importance of the Jewish people.

One can almost forgive Voltaire his subjective portrayal of India, given the quality of the information culled from travel accounts, missionary letters, "scholarly' works, and "translations." Although he sought out European accounts that he felt were exempt from sectarian prejudice, he was inexorably drawn to texts glaringly slanted by Protestant anti-Catholic rhetoric, as in the case of La Croze and Niecamp. He studied those Europeans who purported to know Sanskrit, yet knew none. He studied authors who, although they had spent sufficient time in India, were nevertheless woefully ignorant of the culture. Having literally read everything available concerning India, edited and unedited, Voltaire realized only too well the necessity of basing any future discussion of India upon an authentic Sanskrit text. He, therefore, set out to discover one. After having depended so long on secondary sources, he tended to ascribe authenticity to any Sanskrit text that fell into his hands. Time and again, he was deceived by his sources.

As the oldest theologians, Indians were the first people to possess books . One such book was the Shaster Bedang, a supposedly four-thousand-year-old exposition of the doctrine of the "Bedas" written by the philosopher Beass Muni. It was found in Alexander Dow's History of Hindostan translated from the Persian to which are prefixed two dissertations concerning the Hindoos.Voltaire believed that the Bedang taught Vedic monotheism. Voltaire was also familiar with another purportedly ancient and sacred book, the Shasta or Shastabad of Brahma. Voltaire maintained that the Shasta was five thousand years old, probably the oldest book in the world and the source for subsequent law books. It possessed real wisdom and the pure original expression of Indian religion. The Shasta was actually a small "theological" treatise of recent date that had been transmitted to John Zephaniah Holwell, who included it in his Interesting historical events relative to the Provinces of Bengal and the Empire of Indostan (1765-71). However, Voltaire read its existence to prove that the brahmins had preceeded by several centuries the Chinese, whom Voltaire initially thought had preceeded the whole world in wisdom. The Shasta's importance for Voltaire, therefore, was not so much that it was the oldest book but that its style prefigured, in his estimation, all wisdom, including that of Greece.' The Shasta proved to Voltaire that the Indians were monotheists. More importantly, however, it showed that the Chinese and the West borrowed from India both their vision of God and their myth of the Fall of Man.

Voltaire also discovered a manuscript, entitled the Cormo Vedam, yet did not believe the Cormo Vedam to be a text worthy of the modern brahmins. He judged it a ludicrous ritual "pile" of superstitions . Voltaire cited the Cormo Vedam primarily to show how the Veda and brahmins had degenerated.

Traces of such decay were particularly prevalent in Voltaire's primary document of Aryan religion, the Ezour Vedam. In Voltaire's estimation, the Ezour Vedam was the most important Sanskrit [sic] text that he possessed. He claimed that its composition predated Alexander's expedition to India. Voltaire received the manuscript of the Ezour Vedam from the Comte de Maudave (1725-77) who had brought it to France.

The count was purportedly a close friend of a francophone brahmin who had tried to translate the manuscript from Sanskrit into French . Voltaire alternately defined the Ezour Vedam as the beginning of the Veda or "a copy of the four vedams" . In La Refense de mon oncle, he characterized it as "the true vedam, the vedam explained, the pure vedam." By 1761, however, he described it as merely a commentary of the Veda.

In reality, it did not matter to Voltaire that this text was not really the Veda; what mattered was that it satisfied the idea of a Veda which, for Voltaire, represented an exemplum of sublimity and the scripture of the world's oldest religion. The Ezour Vedam became such a text: it was the authentic text par excellance, the real Urtext, anterior to Pythagorus and anterior to the Shasta. Not only did Voltaire value it but, at the Bibliotheque du Roi where he had deposited a copy, he claimed that it was regarded as the most precious acquisition of the collection.

This "Veda" announced a pure cult, disengaged from all superstition and all fanaticism. Written by the first brahmins, who also served as kings and pontiffs, it established a religion based upon universal reason.

More importantly, the Ezour Vedam provided Voltaire with the ideal text with which to challenge the historical perspective of Judeo-Christianity. Voltaire read the Ezour Vedam to show how the vaunted aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition existed in India centuries before the Old Testament. The general thrust of this argument was to displace the Jews from a favored position in the Christian tradition. Vedic India represented a more distant antiquity than that of the Jews.

For his part, Voltaire hoped to prove how all the principles of Christian theology that had been lost with the Veda could still be found in the Ezour Vedam, thanks to its retrieval and circulation by a French philosophe.

The New Imperialism and the newly-industrialising countries
While Germany, Italy, the United States and Japan, the recently industrialised powers, were under less pressure to offload surplus capital than Britain,

these nations would resort to protectionism and formal empire to end Britain's advantages on international markets.

Just as the US emerged as a great industrial, military and political power after the Civil War, so would Germany following its own unification in 1871.

Both countries undertook ambitious naval expansion in the 1890s. And just as Germany reacted to depression with the adoption of tariff protection in 1879

and colonial expansion in 1884-85, so would the US following the landslide election (1896) of William McKinley, already associated with the high

McKinley Tariff of 1890.

United States expansionism had its roots in domestic concerns and economic conditions, as in other newly industrialising nations where government sought

to accelerate internal development. Advocates of empire also drew upon to a tradition of westward expansion over the course of the previous century.

Economic depression led some US businessmen and politicians from the mid-1880s to come to the same conclusion as their European counterparts —

that industry and capital had exceeded the capacity of existing markets and needed new outlets. The "closing of the Frontier" identified by the 1890

Census report and publicised by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in his 1893 paper The Significance of the Frontier in American History, contributed to

fears of constrained natural resource.

Like the Long Depression in Europe, the main features of the US depression included deflation, rural decline, and unemployment, which aggravated the

bitter social protests of the "Gilded Age" — the Populist movement, the free-silver crusade, and violent labour disputes such as the Pullman and

Homestead strikes.

The Panic of 1893 contributed to the growing mood for expansionism. Influential politicians such as Henry Cabot Lodge, William McKinley, and Theodore

Roosevelt advocated a more aggressive foreign policy to pull the United States out of the depression: their agitation was rewarded with the

Spanish-American War of 1898 and their country's seizure of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Although US capital investments within the Philippines and Puerto Rico were relatively small (figures that would seemingly detract from the broader

economic implications on first glance), imperialism for the United States, formalised in 1904 by the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine), would

also her displacement of Britain as the predominant investor in Latin America—a process largely completed by the end of the Great War.

In Germany, Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck revised his initial dislike of colonies (which he had seen as burdensome and useless) partly under

pressure for colonial expansion to match that of the other European states, but also under the mistaken notion that Germany's entry into the colonial

scramble could press Britain into conceding broader German strategic ambitions.

Japan's development after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 followed the Western lead in industrialisation and militarism, enabling her to gain control of Korea

in 1894 and a sphere of influence in Manchuria (1905) following her defeat of Russia. Japan was responding in part to the actions of more established

powers, and her expansionism drew on the harnessing of traditional values to more modern aspirations for great-power status: not until the 1930s was

Japan to become a net exporter of capital.

Social implications of the New Imperialism
The New imperialism gave rise to new social views of colonialism. Rudyard Kipling, for instance, urged the United States to take up the "White Man's

Burden" of bringing "civilisation" to the other races of the world, whether they wanted such civilisation or not. While Social Darwinism became current

throughout western Europe and the United States, the paternalistic French-style "civilising mission" (mission civilisatrice) appealed to many European


Observing the rise of trade unionism, socialism, and other protest movements during an era of mass society in both Europe and later North America, elites

sought to use imperial jingoism to co-opt the support of part of the industrial working class. The new mass media promoted jingoism in the

Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Boer War and Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

Many of Europe's major elites also found advantages in formal, overseas expansion: mammoth monopolies wanted imperial support to secure overseas

investments against competition and domestic political tensions abroad; bureaucrats wanted sought office, military officers desired promotion, and the

traditional but waning landed gentry sought formal titles and high office.

The notion of rule over tropical lands commanded widespread acceptance among metropolitan populations: even among those who associated imperial

colonisation with oppression and exploitation, the 1904 Congress of the Socialist International concluded that the colonial peoples should be taken in hand

by future European socialist governments and led by them to eventual independence.

Imperialism in Asia
For details, see the main article Imperialism in Asia.
The transition to formal imperialism in India was effectively accomplished with the transfer of administrative functions from the chartered British East

India Company to the British government in 1858, following the Indian Mutiny of the previous year. Acts in 1773 and 1784 had already empowered the

government to control Company policies and to appoint the Governor-General, the highest Company official in India.

The new administrative arrangement, crowned with Queen Victoria's proclamation as Empress of India in 1876, replaced the rule of a monopolistic

enterprise with that of a trained civil service headed by Graduates of Britain's top universities. India's princely states (with about a quarter of the country's

population) retained their quasi-autonomous status, subject to British overlordship and official "advice".

In South-east Asia, the 1880s saw the completion of Britain's conquest of Burma and France's takeover of Vietnam; during the following decade France

completed her Indochinese empire with the annexation of Laos, leaving the kingdom of Siam (now Thailand) with an uneasy independence as a neutral

buffer between British and French-ruled lands.

Imperialist ambitions and rivalries in East Asia inevitably came to focus on the vast empire of China, with more than a quarter of the world's population.

That China survived as a more-or-less independent state owes much to the resilience of her social and administrative structures, but can also be seen as a

reflection of the limitations to which imperialist governments were willing to press their ambitions in the face of similar competing claims.

One the one hand, it is suggested that rather than being a backward country unable to secure the prerequisite stability and security for western-style

commerce, China's institutions and level of economic development rendered her capable of providing a secure market in the absence of direct rule by the

developed powers, despite her past unwillingness to admit western commerce (which had often taken the form of drug-pushing).

This may explain the West's contentment with informal "spheres of Influences". Western powers did intervene militarily to quell domestic chaos, such as

the epic Taiping Rebellion of 1850-64, against which General Gordon (later the imperialist 'martyr' in the Sudan) is often credited with having saved the

Qing Dynasty.

But China's size and cohesion compared to pre-colonial societies of Africa also made formal subjugation too difficult for any but the broadest coalition of

colonialist powers, whose own rivalries would preclude such an outcome. When such a coalition did materialise in 1900, its objective was limited to

suppression of the anti-imperialist Boxer Uprising because of the irreconcilability of Anglo-American and Russo-German aims.

The Scramble for Africa
For details, see the main article Scramble for Africa.
In 1875 the two most important European holdings in Africa were Algeria and the Cape Colony. By 1914 only Ethiopia and the republic of Liberia

remained outside formal European control. The transition from an "informal empire" of control through economic dominance to direct control took the

form of a "scramble" for territory in areas previously regarded as open to British trade and influence.

David Livingstone's explorations, continued from the 1870s by H.M. Stanley, opened tropical Africa's interior to European penetration. In 1876 King

Leopold II of Belgium organised the International African Association, which by 1882 obtained over 900,000 square miles of territory in the Congo basin

through treaties with African chiefs.

France and Germany quickly followed, sending political agents and military expeditions to establish their own claims to sovereignty. The Berlin

Conference of 1884-85 sought to regulate the competition between the powers by defining "effective occupation" as the criterion for international

recognition of territorial claims.

Leopold was allocated the misnamed "Congo Free State" where the activities of his agents and European concessionary companies led to international

scandal (1903-04) over atrocities committed by Leopold's agents and concession-holders, forcing him (1907-08) to submit the territory to formal Belgian

colonial rule.

The codification of the imposition of direct rule in terms of "effective occupation" necessitated routine recourse to armed force against indigenous states

and peoples. Uprisings against imperial rule were put down ruthlessly, most spectacularly in South-West Africa (now Namibia) and German East Africa

in the years 1904-07.

Britain's 1882 formal occupation of Egypt (itself triggered by concern over the Suez Canal) contributed to a preoccupation over securing control of Nile

valley, leading to the conquest of the neighbouring Sudan in 1896-98 and confrontation with a French military expedition at Fashoda (September 1898). .

In 1899 Britain set out to complete her takeover of South Africa, begun with the annexation (1795) of the Cape, by invading the Afrikaner republics of the

gold-rich Transvaal and the neighbouring Orange Free State. The chartered British South Africa Company had already seized the land to the north,

renamed Rhodesia after its head, the Cape tycoon Cecil Rhodes.

British gains in southern and East Africa prompted Rhodes and Alfred Millner, Britain's High Commissioner in South Africa, to urge a "Cape to Cairo"

empire linking by rail the strategically important Canal to the mineral-rich South, though German occupation of Tanganyika prevented such an outcome

until the end of World War I.

Paradoxically Britain, the staunch advocate of free trade, emerged in 1914 with not only the largest overseas empire thanks to her long-standing presence

in India, but also the greatest gains in the "scramble for Africa", reflecting her advantageous position at its inception. Between 1885 and 1914 Britain took

nearly 30% of Africa's population under her control, to 15% for France, 9% for Germany, 7% for Belgium and only 1% for Italy: Nigeria alone

contributed 15 million subjects, more than in the whole of French West Africa or the entire German colonial empire.

Changes in African society
As in Asia, imperial rule in Africa utilised divisions within African society and between ethnic and cultural groups to maintain control. A section of the

subjected population came to terms with the new imperial administration and took part in its imposition or maintenance, as many chiefs or communities

sought to overturn their pre-colonial status.

Both traditional and emerging elites sought a place in the political framework and sent their sons to be educated in metropolitan schools and universities,

though many of the professional classes came to resent the limitation of political and government opportunities, contributing to the later growth of modern

colonial nationalism.

Colonialism revolutionised traditional economies, inducing far-reaching social changes and political consequences. Balanced, subsistence-based economies

shifted to specialisation and the production of surpluses for sale. Traditional social structures were undermined, as land and labour became commodities to

be bought, sold, or traded.

Imperial rivalry
For details, see the main article Imperial rivalry.
The extension of European control over Africa and Asia added a further dimension to the rivalry and mutual suspicion which characterised international

diplomacy in the decades preceding World War I. France's seizure of Tunisia (1881) initiated fifteen years of tension with Italy, which had hoped to take

the country and which retaliated by allying with Germany and waging a decade-long tariff war. Britain's takeover of Egypt a year later caused a marked

cooling of relations with France.

The most striking conflicts of the era were the Spanish American War of 1898 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, each signalling the advent of a

new imperial great power. The Fashoda incident of 1898 represented the worst Anglo-French crisis in decades, but France's climbdown in the face of

British demands foreshadowed improved relations as the two countries set about resolving their overseas claims.

British policy in South Africa and German actions in the Far East contributed to the dramatic policy shift which in the 1900s aligned hitherto isolationist

Britain with first Japan as an ally, and then with France and Russia in the looser Entente. German efforts to break the Entente by challenging French

hegemony in Morocco resulted in the Tangier Crisis of 1905 and the Agadir Crisis of 1911, adding to tension in the years preceding World War I.

It may be debated whether the New imperialism itself contributed in large measure to the subsequent global conflict, except to the extent that it broadened

the geographical area of military operations. Both the European divisions of the 1870s onward and the accelerated colonial drive of the period can be said

to derive from the same causes: strategic conditions, aggressive competing nationalisms and the economic and political imperatives of the new mass


Theories of the New Imperialism
For details, see the main article Theories of New Imperialism
The accumulation theory adopted by J.A. Hobson and later Lenin centred on the accumulation of surplus capital during and after the Industrial Revolution:

restricted opportunities at home, the argument goes, drove financial interests to seek more profitable investments in less-developed lands with lower labour

costs, unexploited raw materials and little competition.

Some have criticised Hobson's analysis, arguing that it fails to explain colonial expansion on the part of less industrialised nations with little surplus capital,

such as Italy, or the great powers of the next century — the United States and Russia — which were in fact net borrowers of foreign capital.

Opponents of Hobson's accumulation theory often point to frequent cases when military and bureaucratic costs of occupation exceeded financial returns.

In Africa (exclusive of what would become the Union of South Africa in 1909) the amount of capital investment by Europeans was relatively small before

and after the 1880s, and the companies involved in tropical African commerce exerted limited political influence.

The World-Systems theory approach of Immanuel Wallerstein sees imperialism as part of a general, gradual extension of capital investment from the

"centre" of the industrial countries to a less developed "periphery": Protectionism and formal empire were the major tools of "semi-peripheral", newly

industrialised states, such as Germany, seeking to usurp Britain's position at the "core" of the global capitalist system.

Echoing Wallerstein's global perspective to an extent, imperial historian Bernard Porter views Britain's adoption of formal imperialism as a symptom and

an effect of her relative decline in the world, and not of strength: "Stuck with outmoded physical plants and outmoded forms of business organisation,

[Britain] now felt the less favourable effects of being the first to modernise."

Recent imperial historians Porter, P.J. Cain and A.G Hopkins contest Hobson's conspiratorial overtones and "reductionisms", but do not reject the

influence of the City's financial interests.

Does South Asian Studies Undermine India?

December 04, 2003

'You have to be as careful giving away your money as you were in making it'

-- Bill Gates

The Clinton administration made an official policy concerning India which the Bush administration has continued even further, namely, to decouple India from Pakistan, and to reposition India as a major geopolitical player in its own right. Likewise, the US corporate world has started to re-imagine India in this new light, seeing it as a positive force on the world stage.

However, many social sciences and liberal arts scholars are still entrenched in the rhetoric of 'South Asia' that emerged during the Cold War, in which India is lumped as one of eight problematic countries whose nuisance value is to be contained. While India's accomplishments are nowadays being used to boost the image of its neighboring South Asian countries, in return, India gets associated with South Asian terrorism, violence, human rights problems and backwardness. Ironically, India's culture gets blamed, and a rejection of Indianness by Indian students is encouraged as a marker of progressiveness.

American business schools report that India has become the most important country that students wish to study, in order to understand the future world economy and technological opportunities. Yet, the humanities departments run by scholars alienated from India are escalating their exaggerated and one-sided portrayals of India as dysfunctional and as a human rights cesspool.

There are over a thousand full-time humanities scholars in the US specializing in some aspect of India. The India Studies industry consists of the development of knowledge about India, as well as its distribution and retailing. It includes India-related academic research, school and college education about India and its culture, media portrayals of India, independent think tanks' work on India, government policy making on India and corporate strategic planning on India. The impact of India Studies also includes the diffusion of ideas about India to Indians, many of whom are ignorant and/or even suffer from cultural shame.

This article explores how India Studies directly or indirectly informs American perceptions of India, its products and services, and of the Indian-American minority. Secondly, this article suggests practical strategic directions to bring balance and objectivity into India Studies.

It is important for Indian-Americans to participate in academic funding along the same lines as Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Arab-Americans and others already do. However, unlike these other communities, Indian-Americans have not yet done enough systematic research before strategising and investing in the academic system.

Meanwhile, affluent Indian-Americans' pocketbooks have been targeted by many US industries, and now university fundraisers have established aggressive goals to solicit donations from them. When I recently learned that many Indian-American corporate executives had become active in India-related causes, I was, indeed, hopeful that high management standards of due diligence and strategic planning would be applied prior to their donations. However, many donors have not addressed critical questions before funding India Studies programs.

There has been an aggressive campaign across American campuses to construct an artificial new identity for Indian students, known as 'South Asian,' by denigrating 'Indian' as being inferior and/or less politically correct. Aditi Banerjee, a law student at Yale University, is one of the courageous whistleblowers challenging the legitimacy of the category of 'South Asian' identity.

Many eminent Indian-American donors are being led down the garden path by Indian professors who, ironically, assemble a team of scholars to undermine Indian culture. Rather than an Indian perspective on itself and the world, these scholars promote a perspective on India using worldviews which are hostile to India's interests. Sophisticated terms are used which appear very scholarly, such as highlighting the plight of the 'sub-nationals,' by which they mean Indian minorities repositioned by the scholars as not being Indian and whose human rights are championed via separatist movements.

What the donors must appreciate is that the Indians on the faculties have their career loyalties to the universities and the larger funding system that sustains the academy today. Furthermore, in many cases, the ideologies of the humanities scholars run counter to the Indian-American donors' vision of India as a free-market oriented, unified and pluralistic, economic power.

India Studies Distribution Channels

Serious academic scholarship about India is rarely in the hands of scholars with loyalty to India. On the other hand, China Studies is now largely under the control of China. China's universities produce China Studies scholars for domestic academic positions and for export to the universities worldwide. Its government organizes prestigious academic conferences in China and funds journals so that academic careers do not depend on impressing Western institutions.

To use a business metaphor, what is at stake is analogous to brand management. Unlike China, India is abandoning its brand management, and, by default, leaving it in the hands of third parties, inclusive of competitors.

One Indian-American complained that my brand management metaphor was 'amusing and offensive.' But just last week, there is an article in The New York Times precisely on the importance of nations building brands and managing them professionally. Titled, 'When Nations Need a Little Marketing,' it mentions how Germany, Britain, New Zealand, among others, have been doing this.[i]

The following diagram shows the structure of the knowledge industry concerning countries like India and China, and its relationship to Western frameworks and controls. China controls the production and distribution of knowledge about it, whereas Indians are largely consumers of knowledge about India. Many Indians who are producers/distributors serve non-Indian institutions and ideologies.

An academic chair is a knowledge production center of very high leverage, and has the potential to do a lot of good or a lot of harm. Therefore, any donor should scrutinize the outputs from a given department (dissertations, research papers, books, conferences and campus events), because funding a chair would be a force multiplier for whatever ideological tilts lie entrenched there. This concentration of power is exacerbated by the fact that humanities scholars within a given discipline typically have an inner circle or cabal that closes ranks, vitiating the process of peer reviews. Ideologies and political agendas often drive the direction and interpretation of research, producing vastly distorted images of the subject. There is a strong case for independent external audits by the funding sources to monitor standards of rigor, objectivity and quality.

Role of US Universities in India's Brand Positioning

Universities have a high leverage in influencing American foreign policy and domestic attitudes towards minority cultures, for the following reasons:

1. Media: Universities influence the media by educating the next generation of journalists, and professors are often quoted and interviewed as 'experts.'

2. Government: The government is influenced because i. think tanks are usually linked to universities, ii. government staff is trained in universities' International Studies departments, iii. the US Commission on International Religious Freedom uses professors to help determine which countries must be red-flagged for sanctions for violating religious freedom, and iv. the US Congress has hearings on human rights. Furthermore, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the International Court, institutions of the European Union and United Nations, and other transnational groups call upon academic scholars to testify and help formulate policy.

3. Business: Business schools' degree programs and executive seminars inform corporate strategies on international activities, and professors influence globalization and investment directions.

4. Education: Colleges train schoolteachers. Many textbooks and reference works are written by professors.

5. Indian-American identities: Indian students' identities are shaped in their formative years in colleges, because this is when they first leave home. Young Indian intellectuals often follow the footsteps of Western scholars.

To illustrate this, consider a major issue today where academic scholars could be helping India. This is the outsourcing controversy in the USA -- as to whether it is good or bad for the US. The deafening silence of most scholars of South Asian Studies is noteworthy. Yet, the very same scholars have lobbied against India's human rights record at various public and policymaking forums and in campus seminars. This is to be contrasted with the pro-Pakistan appearances on US television and in media interviews by a predictable set of scholars, both Pakistanis and their Indian colleagues. (Note that the business schools have supported India's case for outsourcing, but not the South Asian Studies departments.)

The study of India is spread across several disciplines. Each discipline has its own standard filters, often built on postcolonial Marxism, which determine the scholars selected, what topics and methods they use, and the meta-narratives they apply. The disciplines in which India Studies are found are:

1. Anthropology that uses the lens of caste, cows and curry exotica, often based on unscientific dogmas about class conflicts.

2. History that continues to be based on recycling colonial and/or Marxist frameworks in many cases.

3. South Asian Studies (often an umbrella for all disciplines to be brought together) which is shaped by US foreign policy and focuses on nukes, Kashmir, terrorism, internal conflicts and divide-and-rule ideas.

4. Religious Studies which is based on the use of mainly non-Indian categories. This discipline is witnessing a recent trend to interpret Indian culture using Freudian theories to eroticize, denigrate and trivialize Indian spirituality. For a recent major flare-up concerning the academic denigration of Ganesha, and the Diaspora response to it, see: http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/colum...cid=305890

5. Media and Journalism perpetuates many stereotypes created by the other disciplines.

6. Literature and English project the narratives of English language authors from India, whose often self-alienated identities are hardly positive or genuine representations of Indian culture. Unfortunately, many intellectuals in Indian are emulating these standards.

Each discipline has its own conferences, journals, chairs, 'insiders' and 'gatekeepers,' and established funding sources. India Studies is largely funded and controlled by the following institutions: 1. Western (mainly US) universities, 2. US foundations (both religious and secular), 3. various Western academic associations for the humanities, 4. US State Department and National Endowment for Humanities, 5. Christian seminaries, 6. Democratic and Republican think tanks, and 7. Western human rights institutions.

It is normal, and expected, that the US would fund vast amounts of study pertaining to every region of the world from its own perspective. In fact, there is a recent bill in the US Congress that would further strengthen the federal government's grip on South Asian Studies in order to make it reflect US foreign policy interests. This is natural, and merely formalizes and publicly acknowledges what was always the case. The problem is not that others study India (which is, in fact, healthy input from the outside); the problem is lack of support for India-centric studies from institutions that have India's best interests and image in mind. Chinese, Arabs, Pakistanis, Japanese and Koreans have far greater control over the discourse concerning their respective brands.

The last two centuries of Indological studies have focused on the themes of divisiveness among Indians. This is today accomplished by constructing identities of victimhood with other Indians depicted as culprits: i. Western feminists are telling Indian women that they are victims of Indian culture. ii. Dalit activists are being sponsored to blame Brahmins.[ii] iii. The divisive Aryan theory is being used as 'fact' to construct a separate Dravidian identity and to 'Aryanize' North Indians as foreign culprits. And iv. India's English language media is sometimes subverting traditions by glorifying everything Western and denigrating or ignoring everything indigenous.

The ultimate game plan of such scholarship is to facilitate the conceptual breakup of India, by encouraging the paradigms that oppose its unity and integrity. Many humanities scholars blatantly promote smaller nation states instead of one India.

South Asian Studies

The activities of scholars in each relevant discipline need to be studied. For example, there are over 500 scholars formally associated with South Asian Studies in American universities, and over half of them are of Indian origin, having been carefully groomed to fit the intellectual mold.

Yet, no Indian institution has systematically tracked the topics that the South Asian Studies scholars select and why, who funds this work, and the trends that underlie the theses of the past 25 years. Professional managers in corporate America would never justify investment in a field without first having answered such basic questions. They would be alert and suspicious to the keen interest shown in them by other players in the industry. Indian-American donors need to be more vigilant.

India, like China, deserves to be studied in its own right. It is one of the five or so great civilizations of humankind and world centers of the future. 'South Asian' studies often limit India by bracketing it with 'Pakistan' -- as mirror-images and/or as opposites -- and naturally gravitate to conflict rather than studying India in its own right. (Pakistan also deserves to be given a chance to develop a stand-alone identity that is not dependent upon India, positively or negatively.)

The very grouping known as 'South Asia' is a US State Department construction under a foreign policy initiative known as 'area studies' started during the Cold War. However, Indians may prefer to identify with Southeast Asia rather than South Asia. Shouldn't Indians make this critical choice of classification and framework rather than being dictated to by foreign think tanks and academics? In this regard, China controls its brand management, while India is simply being led.

SAJA (South Asian Journalists Association) illustrates how some institutions with the 'South Asian' nomenclature are compromising India's interests. SAJA consistently placates Pakistan. Its 5 percent Pakistani members leverage the collective power of SAJA to neutralize the 95 percent Indian members. Hence, it cannot write critically of Pakistan, leave alone assert a pro-India stance on Kashmir and other issues. But Pakistanis have a separate Pakistani Journalists Association in parallel, and, are also proud leaders of Pan-Islamic movements on campuses. They, clearly, do not suffer from cultural or identity shame. The Pakistani government is a silent but active force in these situations.

Are NRI donors being hoodwinked?

Now that many Indian-Americans are joining the bandwagon to establish chairs of South Asian Studies in the USA, one wonders whether they have thought through and contractually ensured that their funding would not be usurped by Pakistani interest groups (including Indians with this agenda). Pakistanis demand equal power in South Asian organizations. Even though they are numerically smaller and contribute much less funding, they usually end up getting an equal say in such organizations.

Therefore, it is critical that we do not blindly assume that Indian scholars are always honest trustees of the Indian-American donors' sentiments. Many Indian scholars are weak in the pro-India leadership and assertiveness traits that come only from strongly identifying with an Indian Grand Narrative.

They regard the power of Grand Narrative (other than their own) as a cause of human rights problems internally, failing to see it as an asset in global competition externally. Hence, there is the huge difference between the ideology of many Indian professors and the ideology espoused by most successful Indian-American corporate leaders. These Indian professors have a track record that shows a strong ideological stance against a unified India, often formulated using the latest literary theories that are grounded in Marxism, the very anti-thesis of the meritocracy that most successful Indian-American corporate leaders stand for. It is ironical that donors are naively funding such South Asian chairs.

[i] By JIM RENDON. November 23, 2003: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/23/business...ey/23brand.html

[ii] For example, Dalit activists sponsored by Western Institutions caused a great deal of embarrassment to India in a recent conference in South Africa, as they tried to get India officially labeled as a racist society. India started its affirmative action program long before America and yet India bashers do not point out the progress that has been made in India, and nor the colonial and economic origins of many of these problems not only in India but in many parts of the world.

To be continued tomorrow

Repositioning India's brand

December 09, 2003

Part I: Is South Asian Studies undermining India?
Brand Management by other countries in USA

India is under-represented in American academia compared to China, Islam/Middle East and Japan, among others. Even the study of Tibet is stronger than that of India. Worse than the quantitative under-representation is the qualitative one: While other major countries positively influence the content of the discourse about them, pro-India forces rarely have much say in India Studies.


China is fortunate that its thinkers are mostly positive ambassadors promoting its brand. Chinese scholars have worked for decades to create a coherent and cohesive Chinese Grand Narrative that shows both continuity and advancement from within. This gives the Chinese people a common identity based on the sense of a shared past -- one that maps their future destiny as a world power. Pride in One Unifying Notion of the National Identity and Culture is a form of capital, providing an internal bond and a defense against external (or internal) subversions that threaten the whole nation. Scholars play an important role in this construction.

China's Grand Narrative is a strong, centripetal force bringing all Chinese together, whereas many Indian intellectuals are slavishly adopting ideologies that act as centrifugal forces pulling Indians apart.

The China Institute's New York mission is to influence public opinion on China. It holds art shows, language classes, lectures, films, and history lessons. Unlike the India-bashing films and lectures on many American campuses these day (selected by self-flagellating Indian professors), the Chinese project a positive image of China. The key difference is that China's scholars are not trying to go public with China's dirty laundry -- they are not trying to use international forums to fix domestic problems.

In sharp contrast, Indian academics often lack self-confidence and pride in India, and use every opportunity to demean India internationally, and to justify this as a way of helping India's human rights problems. These Indians seem too desperate to join the Grand Narrative of the West, in whatever role they are granted admission, whereas Chinese scholars have not sold out to the same extent.

The China Institute also has many pro-China programs for Chinese parents and kids, K-12 curriculum development, teacher training, student scholarships, and seminars for corporate executives and journalists. The Institute has a successful program to teach Chinese-Americans to project a hyphenated identity that combines both American and Chinese cultures, and they call this 'leadership training,' while South Asian scholar often labor to undermine the Indian-ness of our children's identities, by equating Indian-ness with chauvinism.


A good analysis would also scrutinize the Pakistani government funded Quaid-e-Azam Chairs of Pakistan Studies at Berkeley and Columbia. The appointments to these chairs are under the control of the Pakistani government, and are rotated every few years. Note that this is accepted as normal and has not attracted any criticism from academia. It is little wonder that the American media has interviewed more pro-Pakistan scholars than pro-India scholars.

Pakistani scholars have established their leadership over South Asian Muslims' campus activism in the US, and claim to represent Indian Muslims. Many Indian academicians have joined their bandwagon to denigrate Indian culture in the name of human rights activism and South Asian unity. These scholars hold great influence over young impressionable Indian kids in college. It seems that the Pakistani government has adopted a corporate-style strategic planning process, while many Indian-American donors have not approached this as competitive brand management.


Another good example of how soft power can be developed and projected via academic intervention is the case of Tibet. Twenty five years ago, H H the Dalai Lama asked his Western disciples to get PhDs from top Western universities, and to become Buddhism professors in colleges. Today, almost every major US campus has practicing Buddhists on the faculty, who project their spiritual identities very publicly and confidently.

Even though Buddhism shares most of its meditation techniques with other Indic traditions, Buddhism has become positioned as a valid research methodology for neuroscience, whereas Hinduism is plagued with the caste, cows and curry images. Buddhism is explained intellectually and sympathetically, not via an exotic/erotic lens. Buddhist scholars have a powerful impact on students, and serve as media experts and public intellectuals. Buddhism has major Hollywood endorsements. India has nothing even remotely comparable to the influence of Tibet House in building its cultural capital.

Japan and Korea:

The Japan Foundation and Korea Foundation are also great institutions worthy of study by NRI donors. The Japanese have funded over fifty academic chairs in USA. Pro-Japan scholars occupy these chairs, and they have close ties with scholars based in Japan; they are loyal to the Japanese identity and culture. An ambitious teacher training program has certified thousands of Americans to 'Teach Japan' in schools. The Japanese drive the Americans' study of Japan, and not vice versa as in India's case.

The Korea Foundation has sponsored a series of books on a variety of subjects on Korea and donates/subsidizes these books to libraries worldwide.

Repositioning India's brand

As a priority, India's image in American academia needs a corporate type analysis of the market/competition and current status. This would lead to the diagnosis and identification of key problems needing correction. Only then could a viable strategy emerge. This brand repositioning is necessary for more Indian-Americans to succeed on their own terms in management and political arenas. It is also necessary for an independent profile of India.

The strategy for influencing India Studies could begin with looking at India's technology developments and opportunities, and the resulting geopolitical implications. This could build on the recent positive Indian image in corporate America and American business schools. Donors may want to think about initially working with business schools instead of South Asian Studies Departments, especially since Indian-American donors have better experience in evaluating business scholars than humanities scholars. Many of the contentious issues listed at the end of this article would not apply because of greater convergence between India's interests and the mindset of business schools.

At the same time, culture is an important form of capital and must be positively positioned as a part of any brand management. Cultural branding should not be allowed to become a liability under the control of anti-India forces. Yoga and Ayurveda are examples of positive cultural areas that are now in the mainstream and deserve to be brought back under the India brand. Two illustrations will show the economic cost of not managing cultural capital:

Yoga is a multi-billion dollar industry in the USA, with 18 million American practitioners, $27 billion/year revenues (from classes, videos, books, conferences, retreats), over 10,000 studios/teachers, and 700,000 subscribers to Yoga Journal. However, cultural shame has kept Indians out of this field, and over 98% of yoga teachers and students in USA are non-Indians.

Clearly, the economic potential here could be as big as India's software exports, especially if yoga were included in India's proposed initiative to export health care services. America's yoga centres are potential retail outlets for Indian culture and brand marketing.

Ayurveda is a $2 billion/year industry and a part of the high growth international market for plant medicines. The popular consumer brand, Aveda, was started by an American devotee of Indian gurus to bring Ayurveda to the West. (Aveda is short for Ayurveda.) He later sold it to Estee Lauder: Now, Estee Lauder sources herbs from countries other than India, and there has been no royalty to Kerala's farmers who are being displaced from their traditional industry. Nor is there any recognition of this loss in the Indian intellectual's mind. Contrast this with the way the Chinese government has turned Chinese medicine into a multi-billion dollar vehicle for Brand China, or with the way the French wine and cosmetic industries have endowed their products with a mystique that protects French jobs.

To explain why educated Indians are amongst the best knowledge workers in the world, the common reason given is that the British taught us English, science and governance. But under this theory, all former colonies, such as Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Zaire, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Myanmar should be suppliers of knowledge workers on par with India. Few Indians have the courage to articulate that the reason is partly because of India's long cultural traditions that emphasize learning and inquiry, including the openness fostered by its pluralistic worldviews.

In fact, Indians were exporters of knowledge systems and knowledge workers throughout the Middle East and Pan-Asia for centuries prior to colonialism. Arab/Persian records indicate that many hospitals in the Middle East were run by Indian doctors and that Indian scholars ran their universities. Indians were chief accountants in many Persian courts. Indian mathematics went via Persian/Arab translations to influence European mathematics.

Furthermore, Buddhists took Indian knowledge systems to East and Southeast Asia, including medicine, linguistics, metallurgy, philosophy, astronomy, arts, martial arts, etc. Indian universities (such as Nalanda) attracted students from all parts of Asia, and were patronized by foreign rulers. All this is well appreciated by scholars in East and Southeast Asian countries but is hardly known to Indians.

Indian corporate executives are playing a key role in charting India's future through knowledge based industries. Therefore, it should be important for them to sponsor an honest account of India's long history of exporting both its knowledge workers and complete knowledge systems. This historical account is important in reinventing India's non-innovative education system and repositioning its brand. Hence, Indian-Americans must question the colonial discourse which promotes the view that 'anything positive about India was imported from elsewhere.' The impact of such skewed discourse on Indian children is pertinent and must be examined.

I have found that American audiences are very open and even eager to learn about India's contributions to American culture. But most professors of India Studies in American universities consider such themes irrelevant or, worse still, chauvinistic. In doing so, they apply a different standard to India as compared to other non-Western civilizations. This has a lot to do with the cultural shame that many Indians in academe feel burdened with – in contrast with successful Indian executives who project positive identities.

Consider the following examples that are usually not emphasized in the academic research/teaching in India Studies, when equivalent items concerning China, Islam, Japan, etc are emphasized:

America's 'Discovery' was the result of venture capital from the Queen of Spain to explore new trade routes to India, because Indian goods were highly sought after. Most persons find it hard to believe that India could have had such prized export items, and some find such suggestions troubling given their preconceived images of India's culturally linked poverty. Any genuine exploration of India's economic history is nipped in the bud.
The New Age Movement is neo-Hindu, with 18 million Americans doing yoga, meditation, and adopting vegetarianism, animal rights and other Indian values. Eco-Feminism was brought to America by Vandana Shiva, who explained to Americans the philosophies of the sacredness of the environment. American Pop Culture owes a great deal to Indian music (via the Beatles and others), film, art, fashions and cuisine.
Icons of American Literature, such as Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Eliot, the Beats, among others, were deeply involved in the study and practice of Indian philosophy and spiritual traditions. While they are widely read and admired, the Indian wellsprings of their inspiration is often downplayed, to the detriment of all students. Modern Psychology, since the work of Jung and others, has assimilated many theories from India, and this has impacted mind-body healing and neurosciences.
American Religion has adopted many Indian theological ideas transmitted via Teilhard de Chardin's study of Ramanuja. Transcendental Meditation was learnt in the 1970s by monks in Massachusetts and repackaged into the popular 'Christian Centering Prayer.' The study of the Hindu Goddess became a source of empowerment for many American Christian women.
American Civil Rights drew inspiration from Gandhi: Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and others wrote about satyagraha as their guiding principle with great reverence in the 1960s, but this has faded from the memory of African-American history as taught today. How many Indians know that Indian social theories influenced J S Mill, who is regarded as the founder of modern Western liberalism, and that many Enlightenment ideas also originated in India and China? The Natural Law Party is considered a pioneer in American political liberalism, but it is generally unknown that it was started by, and is run by, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Western followers.
Such positive themes are rarely reflected in the humanities curricula concerning India. The disciplines are populated by scholars who typically entered the US after the Soviet collapse, when funding by Soviet-sponsored sources ended. They still continue to espouse sociological models that have been discarded for decades, thereby hindered India's progress in the global economy. They continue to promote divisive scholarship about India. One wonders why the West legitimizes such persons and positions them as representatives of India. Now they have reproduced their mindsets in a whole new generation of confused Indian-Americans with PhDs in the humanities.

Challenging the India-Bashing Club

While India's positive image is not adequately projected in US academia, the many negative stereotypes abound, devaluing India's brand into fragments and chaos. These include:

Anti-progress: Indian culture is depicted as primitive, obsolete, and frozen until outsiders come and push it forward. Hence, the implication seems to suggest, we must invite outsiders to come and fix our problems for us.

Unethical: Indian culture is essentialized by images of abusive caste, sati, dowry deaths, and other human rights atrocities, including aggressive charges of fascism, violation of minority rights and violence. Indian scholars often lead these parades that overemphasize public tirades against India in the West, while failing to understand the implications of brand damage in a global capitalist system.

Unscientific: Indians are shown as mystical people lacking Western style rationality.

Everything good about India is assumed to have been imported: The British gave us a sense of nation. There was no worthy Indian culture prior to the Mughals. The Greek brought philosophy and mathematics to India. The "Aryans" brought Sanskrit. By implication, Indians are doomed to dependency, which contradicts the vision of India's future trajectory being based on knowledge-based industries.

Many Indian scholars in the humanities, journalists, and 'intellectuals' in Non-Government Organizations depend on Western funding, Western sponsored foreign travel, acquiring legitimacy in the eyes of Western institutions, the ability to parrot canned Western 'theories,' and even identifying as a member of the Western Grand Narrative – not as options but as necessary conditions for success. Clearly, such loyalties, identities and ideologies must resonate with their sponsors.

Unlike China Studies and Islam Studies, India Studies is controlled by the West, often with the help of Indian mercenaries. The frequent bombardment of negative imagery of Indian society is devastating its soft power. The globalization of India's 'human rights' issues is not solving any social problems in India. It has become a cottage industry for many Indians – whose role may be seen as analogous to the sepoys who helped the British rule over the rest of their brethren. Many Indian scholars are, at best, apologetic about Indian culture. They go about with great aplomb 'exposing' internal problems of India at international forums, for which their careers are well rewarded.

Certainly, there is legitimacy and urgency to human rights concerns. But the academic treatment of this subject is asymmetric vis-à-vis India as compared to other countries. More importantly, American campuses are not the place to resolve them. Students are being brainwashed into thinking of India as a quagmire.

Proposed Mission Statement for NRI Philanthropists

Prior to supporting India Studies, Indian-American philanthropists must, first, establish their mission statement. I submit the following statement for their consideration, at least as a starting point:

The mission is to bring objectivity and fair balance to India Studies so as to: 1. strengthen and enrich America's multiculturalism at home; 2. empower Indian-American kids' hyphenated identities; 3. improve US-India cooperation as cultural equals; and 4. improve India's cultural brand in the globalization process.

It is important to note that this mission statement does not include using American classrooms or media as platforms to cure Indian society of its problems. This is the point over which there is a serious conflict of interest between Indian-American donors and many 'South Asian' academicians in the humanities who are deeply entrenched in anti-India activism. To put it bluntly, some oppose the very notion of a strong Indian nation state, calling that chauvinism, and would like a balkanized India consisting of weak sub-nationalities. Many have taken the position that to expose India's 'human rights atrocities' is central to their mandate. This is usually done without giving equal time (or any time) to India's many positive accomplishments in social development and pluralism. Naively putting such individuals in charge of one's well-intended donations would be like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Questions that donors must address

Since Indian-Americans have already earned the highest levels of success and self-esteem, they should not be overly impressed by the prestige of academic institutions. They must utilize their best negotiation skills and not get bulldozed into accepting 'standard' terms from the universities. Indian-Americans have no reason to be over-awed by the Western-centric approaches to social sciences and liberal arts, whose very validity and effectiveness are being challenged by serious thinkers in the West. Indian-Americans should bring to these discussions their own reference points from the corporate world, such as the following questions and issues suggest.

A strategic choice must be made between promoting India Studies (which would be a centripetal force helping India's unity as a nation state without compromising its diversity) and South Asian Studies (which is a centrifugal force pushing India towards balkanization).

Should the overarching theme support mutual understanding between cultures through exploring India's vast cultural capital, or support political activism against India? What is the brand damage currently being done by Indians engaged in one-sided public tirades, who exaggerate India's internal problems in front of audiences that are ill-equipped to make balanced judgments? How should one approach Indian scholars who have become mercenaries? What is the connection between such scholars and Marxism and its derivatives?

To address the above issues, Indian-American donors first need to clearly articulate what they consider to be their own vision of India. Next, they need to examine the degree to which their vision is compatible with that of various humanities scholars. India's brand must not be outsourced to people whose ideologies are subversive of India's integrity.

How is India's brand positioned relative to other civilizations? Who are the major competitors, and what are their strategies, strengths and weaknesses? A comparison between India Studies and China Studies, among others, is very important. What are the major brand problems that India faces today?

What is the relationship between India's cultural capital and its brand equity? For example, if India can supply world class professionals in so many fields, then why does India have less than two percent of the market share in the massive American industry of yoga, meditation and related areas? Why are there no world class Indian institutions in this field producing the equivalent of IIT Graduates to go and capture world markets – given that the trend in holistic living is increasing worldwide and India has unmatched brand equity that could also boost its health care export industry? Furthermore, the positioning of Indian Classics in academe, as compared to Greek Classics and Chinese Classics, must be examined in relation to cultural capital formation.

What are the distribution channels that control the production and dissemination of ideas about India's brand? Who are the key players in control over each stage and what are their critical success factors? In particular, who funds the production and distribution, and who controls the intellectual platforms to think about India? The critical bottlenecks, especially those that tend to be monopolistic, should be identified.

What were the key trends over the past 25 years in India Studies? Why has India failed to enter India Studies as a serious player and, by default, allowed Indians to be reduced to consumers who lack their own intellectual capital to drive the field?

Why is there no funding for India Studies within India, to empower a new generation of 'insiders of the tradition' to enter the global field of India Studies; to contest old paradigms about India; and to shift the center of gravity of India Studies back to India, in the same way that most other major civilizations are controlling their own intellectual discourse?

Donors need to examine the consequences of these brand problems -- such as Indian students' identity crises, and the marginalization of India's soft power.

There are valuable lessons in the successes of other American minority cultures that have taken control over their own brand management -- Jews, blacks, women and gays being prominent examples.

Based on this type of research, donors should establish targets for the future. They should also establish the criteria for evaluation and the mechanisms to monitor the progress.

Undoubtedly, there will be those in India Studies departments who feel threatened by enlightened Indian-American donors entering the discourse as equal partners. One strategy to 'buy out' Indian-American donors is to admit them to prestigious committees where they can hobnob with dignitaries and send picture home.

Meanwhile, below are two good role models for objective India Studies in the US:

The Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania focuses on the business and political aspects of India: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/casi/

The Center for India Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook is more multifaceted and emphasizes the humanities -- including culture, languages, history, religions, arts and dance: http://naples.cc.sunysb.edu/CAS/india.nsf/pages/about

Each is an India-centric approach, in which 'South Asia' is treated from India's perspective.

The former example (UPenn) is easier to implement in a pro-India manner, because corporate and political winds have shifted in India's favor lately. However, the latter (SUNY) has made a bigger impact on the identities of Indian students in that university -- one that is attributed to the courage and leadership of the scholars in charge and the Indian-American donors in that vicinity.

In the long run, culture will play a vital role in India's brand. Some Indian-American groups are hesitant to tackle the systemic biases that plague the academic work on Indian culture and society. They should delay funding in this area until they have a better understanding of the issues at stake. Their safer bet is to fund business schools. A good example of India's brand management is the recent joint initiative by the Government of India and the Confederation of Indian Industry. (See: http://www.ibef.org/index.asp )

Recommendations for Academic Funding

Continue pushing the US to upgrade India on par with China in its discourse, and to decouple India from the South Asian grouping. Furthermore, expose the entrenched academic forces that are subversive of India's stability, which would be very dangerous for US interests.
Establish a clear mission statement for India Studies. This should include a position on whether it should remain positioned as a 'ghetto' separate from mainstream humanities, or if, as in the case of Western civilization, India should be in the mainstream curriculum of various departments, such as history, philosophy, music, dance, science, medicine, psychology, politics, and so forth.
Keep the Indian-American endowment with a trust/foundation that is in the hands of the Diaspora, and do not give the corpus away to any university. Give an annual budget to selected universities under a 2-year or 3-year contract, subject to evaluation and renewal. Universities do accept these terms.
Appoint a knowledgeable Diaspora evaluation and monitoring committee to oversee what goes on in each program, and don't just leave it to the university scholars to send you status reports. The committee should attend classes, read the publications of the department and participate in the events organized. Many problems of shoddy or biased scholarship disappear when the scholars know that they are being watched by the funding sources – as it is done by Western funding sources routinely.
Keep the appointment durations no longer than 2 or 3 years in the beginning, until there is enough experience. Tenured appointments are very counter-productive in case an India-hater gets in.
Require the program to be India Studies and not South Asia Studies. There is no point in including anti-India scholars on committees and having deadlocks in the decision-making. Examine the program details, and avoid funding scholars and topics that are counter to your vision.
Do annual surveys and publish reports on what the effect of the sponsored work is on students and the American public at large.

Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838 - 1894)

Through his writings, this man breathed a new passion and life into
an entire civilisation, particularly his native region of Bengal,
which became kindled with religious, nationalistic and artistic
fervour after being infused with the powerful visions contained in
his writings.

Born on 27 June 1838 in the Kantalpara district of Bengal, the first
striking event we have of his life was that he mastered the alphabet
as a child in a single sitting. This was an image and prophecy for
the rest of his life.

Apart from the breathtaking legacy of his literary works - his life
was quite "normal" and not in any way out of the ordinary. He was a
man who never clamoured for place or power, but did his work in
silence for the love of his work, even as nature does. And just
because he had no aim but to give out the best that was in him to his
people, he was able to create a language, a literature, a freedom
struggle, and steer the course of history.

Bankim was 19 years of age when India's First War of independence
(known in the west as the "Sepoy Mutiny") was waged. The following
year (1858) India had lost the war. Bankim was finishing his studies
at the time, and in that same year Graduated from the University of
Calcutta. The British authorities immediately appointed him to the
post of Deputy Magistrate.

Young Bankim had suffered a shock in seeing the failure of India's
War of Independence. He could not rest until he knew why the great
movement for liberation ended up being crushed in the manner in which
it was, and that too with the help of many Indian's themselves (most
notably the Sikhs). In his effort to discover the causes of that
failure he set his sharp intellect to the task of analysing the great
problems that India was facing. Influenced and inspired by three
great figures of that epoch, Raja Rammohan Roy, Iswarchandra
Vidyasagar and Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi (the Hindu queen who led her
soldiers against the British during the war) - he soon recognised the
existence of a number of startling facts.

Foremost among these was that the people of India were fast becoming
denationalised by English manners and customs, English fashions, and
English whiskies and wines - not to mention the Christian
missionaries (who had made Bengal their storm centre). The British
government used their educational system to further this agenda
(after abolishing and outlawing the traditional Indian education
systems). Chatterji's soul winced when he perceived that the Indian
who spoke good English was more honoured by his own people than the
man who spoke and wrote their own tongue exquisitely. Wherever he
looked, he saw educated Indians jumping frantically on the bandwagon
of British culture.

From the moment he had first learned to think for himself, Bankim
realised that there was a titanic struggle ahead to reverse the trend
and bring physical and cultural freedom to the sacred motherland. He
felt that he had his own divinely ordained effort to make in this
veritable battle - which he played silently and humbly. If India was
to be uplifted, her children must once again create literature and
language dynamic and inspiring to enlighten and inspire the entire
people of India.

Soon, the profound effect of Chatterji's novels and essays, with
their compelling beauty, subtle humour and inspiring themes could be
seen, firstly in Bengal and then spilling over into greater India.
Indians who were nurtured on Shakespeare, Milton and Shelley began to
read the works of Kalidas, Bhavabhuti, Chandidas and Vidyapula. They
turned eagerly to the Puranas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
Whereas before, elite Indians took pride in their knowledge of the
Magna Carta strugle, the times of Oliver Cromwell and the tragedy of
Charles the First, they began to relish the ballads of Rajasthan and
Maharashtra. A new feeling was born. Millions began to hold their
heads high once again and talk in terms of "our language", "our
literature", "our history", "our country".

His Literary History

Bankim began his literary career with a desire to write in English,
and wrote a novel called Rammohan's Wife." He at once realised his
mistake with the realisation that the his work was much more natural
and powerful in his own mother tongue.

The major novels he wrote were: Chandrashekhar, Kishna Kanta's Will,
Debi Chaudhurani, Sitaram, Indira, Kamal Kanta and Anandamath.
The last of these, Anandamath deserves special mention here. It
wasn't necessarily the best of Bankim Chandra's works, though still
great in its own right. Yet because of its astonishing political
consequences, with no other of his works is Bankim so closely

The Anandamath story is set in 18th century India, when a group of
warrior sannyasis mounted a guerilla war against Muslim rule (based
on a true historical attempt by sannyasis to do precisely this). It
was a riveting story line with amazing characters and meaningful
dialogues. Yet more importantly, hundreds of thousands of Indians
(primarily Hindus) took the story as a metaphor for their own present
day situation, understanding it as a call to arms to drive the new
tyrants (the British) away from the sacred soil. Indeed, the main
revolutionary group in Bengal chose its name as that of the sannyasin
group from Anandamath. The most important and widely known section of
this book was the poem "Vande Mataram" which means "Hail to the Mother
(land)". The song became the battle cry for India's freedom struggle.
It was set to become India's National Anthem, but was rejected
because a section of Muslims considered the song as idolatrous due to
its metaphor comparing India to the tiger-borne Goddess Durga "with
instruments of punishment in each of her ten hands". To placate the
Muslims (and Jawahalal Nehru) the constituent assembly rejected it as
the National Anthem. Incidentally, Rabindranath Tagore, the great
poet whose "Jana Gana" eventually became India's National Anthem had
stated on several occasions that he desired very much that Bankim
Chandra's "Vande Mataram" should become the National Anthem of free
India. For example, in 1928, he said in an interview with Mulk Raj
Ananda "I share his ideas of inheriting the past - if made relevant
for the present! Bankim Chandra is our master in this respect. In our
school here, students sing "Bande Mataram" every morning.....I hope
it becomes the national anthem of free India!"
Bankim Chandra's Anandamath demonstrated the most powerful example in
modern history of how art can affect real life to a tremendous
extent - especially in an artistically orientated civilisation like
that of the Hindus.

Towards the end of his life, Bankim Chandra turned his attention to
write about spirituality - the very essence of Hindu civilisation. A
Life of Krishna and a book on the Essence of Religion, a rendering of
the Bhagavad Gita and a commentary on the Vedas were his aims to give
to his fellow countrymen. The first two he managed to complete, and
the rendering of the Bhagavad Gita was three parts finished, but the
commentary on the Vedas, which should have been a priceless
possession, never got into the stage of execution. Death, in whose
shadow he had so long dwelt, with his ailing health, took the pen
from his hand before he could accomplish this feat. Yet his
contributions to literature are enough to immortalise his memory.

Vande Mataram!

Bibliography -

1. Preface to an English translation of Bankim Chandra's Anandamath -
Basanta Kumar Roy, 1992
2. Decolonizing the Hindu Mind: Ideological Development of Hindu
Revivalism - Koenraad Elst, 2001
3. Bankim Chandra Chatterji - Essays by Sri Aurobindo, published in
the "Indu Prakash" between 16 July and 27 August 1894
"England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindostan, was actuated
only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them.
But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny
without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever
may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in
bringing about that revolution."


Articles by Karl Marx in the New-York Herald Tribune

The British Rule in India


Source: MECW Volume 12, p. 125;
Written: June 10, 1853;
First published: in the New-York Daily Tribune, June 25, 1853.

In writing this article, Marx made use of some of Engels' ideas as in his letter
to Marx of June 6, 1853.


London, Friday, June 10, 1853
Telegraphic dispatches from Vienna announce that the pacific solution of the
Turkish, Sardinian and Swiss questions, is regarded there as a certainty.

Last night the debate on India was continued in the House of Commons, in the
usual dull manner. Mr. Blackett charged the statements of Sir Charles Wood and
Sir J. Hogg with bearing the stamp of optimist falsehood. A lot of Ministerial
and Directorial advocates rebuked the charge as well as they could, and the
inevitable Mr. Hume summed up by calling on Ministers to withdraw their bill.
Debate adjourned.

Hindostan is an Italy of Asiatic dimensions, the Himalayas for the Alps, the
Plains of Bengal for the Plains of Lombardy, the Deccan for the Apennines, and
the Isle of Ceylon for the Island of Sicily. The same rich variety in the
products of the soil, and the same dismemberment in the political configuration.
Just as Italy has, from time to time, been compressed by the conqueror's sword
into different national masses, so do we find Hindostan, when not under the
pressure of the Mohammedan, or the Mogul[104], or the Briton, dissolved into as
many independent and conflicting States as it numbered towns, or even villages.
Yet, in a social point of view, Hindostan is not the Italy, but the Ireland of
the East. And this strange combination of Italy and of Ireland, of a world of
voluptuousness and of a world of woes, is anticipated in the ancient traditions
of the religion of Hindostan. That religion is at once a religion of sensualist
exuberance, and a religion of self-torturing asceticism; a religion of the
Lingam and of the juggernaut; the religion of the Monk, and of the

I share not the opinion of those who believe in a golden age of Hindostan,
without recurring, however, like Sir Charles Wood, for the confirmation of my
view, to the authority of Khuli-Khan. But take, for example, the times of
Aurangzeb; or the epoch, when the Mogul appeared in the North, and the
Portuguese in the South; or the age of Mohammedan invasion, and of the Heptarchy
in Southern India[106]; or, if you will, go still more back to antiquity, take
the mythological chronology of the Brahman himself, who places the commencement
of Indian misery in an epoch even more remote than the Christian creation of the

There cannot, however, remain any doubt but that the misery inflicted by the
British on Hindostan is of an essentially different and infinitely more
intensive kind than all Hindostan had to suffer before. I do not allude to
European despotism, planted upon Asiatic despotism, by the British East India
Company, forming a more monstrous combination than any of the divine monsters
startling us in the Temple of Salsette[107]. This is no distinctive feature of
British Colonial rule, but only an imitation of the Dutch, and so much so that
in order to characterise the working of the British East India Company, it is
sufficient to literally repeat what Sir Stamford Raffles, the English Governor
of Java, said of the old Dutch East India Company:

"The Dutch Company, actuated solely by the spirit of gain, and viewing their
[Javan] subjects, with less regard or consideration than a West India planter
formerly viewed a gang upon his estate, because the latter had paid the purchase
money of human property, which the other had not, employed all the existing
machinery of despotism to squeeze from the people their utmost mite of
contribution, the last dregs of their labor, and thus aggravated the evils of a
capricious and semi-barbarous Government, by working it with all the b practised
ingenuity of politicians, and all the monopolizing selfishness of traders."

All the civil wars, invasions, revolutions, conquests, famines, strangely
complex, rapid, and destructive as the successive action in Hindostan may
appear, did not go deeper than its surface. England has broken down the entire
framework of Indian society, without any symptoms of reconstitution yet
appearing. This loss of his old world, with no gain of a new one, imparts a
particular kind of melancholy to the present misery of the Hindoo, and separates
Hindostan, ruled by Britain, from all its ancient traditions, and from the whole
of its past history.

There have been in Asia, generally, from immemorial times, but three departments
of Government; that of Finance, or the plunder of the interior; that of War, or
the plunder of the exterior; and, finally, the department of Public Works.
Climate and territorial conditions, especially the vast tracts of desert,
extending from the Sahara, through Arabia, Persia, India, and Tartary, to the
most elevated Asiatic highlands, constituted artificial irrigation by canals and
water-works the basis of Oriental agriculture. As in Egypt and India,
inundations are used for fertilizing the soil in Mesopotamia, Persia, &c.;
advantage is taken of a high level for feeding irrigative canals. This prime
necessity of an economical and common use of water, which, in the Occident,
drove private enterprise to voluntary association, as in Flanders and Italy,
necessitated, in the Orient where civilization was too low and the territorial
extent too vast to call into life voluntary association, the interference of the
centralizing power of Government. Hence an economical function devolved upon all
Asiatic Governments, the function of providing public works. This artificial
fertilization of the soil, dependent on a Central Government, and immediately
decaying with the neglect of irrigation and drainage, explains the otherwise
strange fact that we now find whole territories barren and desert that were once
brilliantly cultivated, as Palmyra, Petra, the ruins in Yemen, and large
provinces of Egypt, Persia, and Hindostan; it also explains how a single war of
devastation has been able to depopulate a country for centuries, and to strip it
of all its civilization.

Now, the British in East India accepted from their predecessors the department
of finance and of war, but they have neglected entirely that of public works.
Hence the deterioration of an agriculture which is not capable of being
conducted on the British principle of free competition, of laissez-faire and
laissez-aller. But in Asiatic empires we are quite accustomed to see agriculture
deteriorating under one government and reviving again under some other
government. There the harvests correspond to good or bad government, as they
change in Europe with good or bad seasons. Thus the oppression and neglect of
agriculture, bad as it is, could not be looked upon as the final blow dealt to
Indian society by the British intruder, had it not been attended by a
circumstance of quite different importance, a novelty in the annals of the whole
Asiatic world. However changing the political aspect of India's past must
appear, its social condition has remained unaltered since its remotest
antiquity, until the first decennium of the 19th century. The hand-loom and the
spinning-wheel, producing their regular myriads of spinners and weavers, were
the pivots of the structure of that society. From immemorial times, Europe
received the admirable textures of Indian labor, sending in return for them her
precious metals, and furnishing thereby his material to the goldsmith, that
indispensable member of Indian society, whose love of finery is so great that
even the lowest class, those who go about nearly naked, have commonly a pair of
golden ear-rings and a gold ornament of some kind hung round their necks. Rings
on the fingers and toes have also been common. Women as well as children
frequently wore massive bracelets and anklets of gold or silver, and statuettes
of divinities in gold and silver were met with in the households. It was the
British intruder who broke up the Indian hand-loom and destroyed the
spinning-wheel. England began with driving the Indian cottons from the European
market; it then introduced twist into Hindostan, and in the end inundated the
very mother country of cotton with cottons. From 1818 to 1836 the export of
twist from Great Britain to India rose in the proportion of 1 to 5,200. In 1824
the export of British muslins to India hardly amounted to 1,000,000 yards, while
in 1837 it surpassed 64,000,000 of yards. But at the same time the population of
Dacca decreased from 150,000 inhabitants to 20,000. This decline of Indian towns
celebrated for their fabrics was by no means the worst consequence. British
steam and science uprooted, over the whole surface of Hindostan, the union
between agriculture and manufacturing industry.

These two circumstances - the Hindoo, on the one hand, leaving, like all
Oriental peoples, to the Central Government the care of the great public works,
the prime condition of his agriculture and commerce, dispersed, on the other
hand, over the surface of the country, and agglomerated in small centers by the
domestic union of agricultural and manufacturing pursuits - these two
circumstances had brought about, since the remotest times, a social system of
particular features - the so-called village system, which gave to each of these
small unions their independent organization and distinct life. The peculiar
character of this system may be judged from the following description, contained
in an old official report of the British House of Commons on Indian affairs:

"A village, geographically considered, is a tract of country comprising some
hundred or thousand acres of arable and waste lands; politically viewed it
resembles a corporation or township. Its proper establishment of officers and
servants consists of the following descriptions: The potail, or head inhabitant,
who has generally the superintendence of the affairs of the village, settles the
disputes of the inhabitants attends to the police, and performs the dirty of
collecting the revenue within his village, a duty which his personal influence
and minute acquaintance with the situation and concerns of the people render him
the best qualified lot- this charge. The hurnum keeps the accounts of
cultivation, and registers everything connected with it. The tallier and the
totie, the duty of the former of which consists [...] in gaining information of
crimes and offenses, and in escorting and protecting persons travelling from one
village to another; the province of the latter appearing to be more immediately
confined to the village, consisting, among other duties, in guarding the crops
and assisting in measuring them. The boundary-man, who preserves the limits of
the village, or gives evidence respecting them in cases of dispute. The
Superintendent of Tanks and Watercourses distributes the water [ I for the
purposes of agriculture. The Brahmin, who performs the village worship. The
schoolmaster, who is seen teaching the children in a village to read and write
in the sand. The calendar-brahmin, or astrologer, etc. These officers and
servants generally constitute the establishment of a village; but in some parts
of the country it is of less extent, some of the duties and functions above
described being united in the same person; in others it exceeds the above-named
number of individuals. [...] Under this simple form of municipal government, the
inhabitants of the country have lived from time immemorial. The boundaries of
the villages have been but seldom altered; and though the villages themselves
have been sometimes injured, and even desolated by war, famine or disease, the
same name, the same limits, the same interests, and even the same families have
continued for ages. The inhabitants gave themselves no trouble about the
breaking up and divisions of kingdoms; while the village remains entire, they
care not to what power it is transferred, or to what sovereign it devolves; its
internal economy remains unchanged. The potail is still the head inhabitant, and
still acts as the petty judge or magistrate, and collector or renter of the

These small stereotype forms of social organism have been to the greater part
dissolved, and are disappearing, not so much through the brutal interference of
the British tax-gatherer and the British soldier, as to the working of English
steam and English free trade. Those family-communities were based on domestic
industry, in that peculiar combination of hand-weaving, hands-pinning and
hand-tilling agriculture which gave them self-supporting power. English
interference having placed the spinner in Lancashire and the weaver in Bengal,
or sweeping away both Hindoo spinner and weaver, dissolved these small
semi-barbarian, semi-civilized communities, by blowing up their economical
basis, and thus produced the greatest, and to speak the truth, the only social
revolution ever heard of in Asia.

Now, sickening as it must be to human feeling to witness those myriads of
industrious patriarchal and inoffensive social organizations disorganized and
dissolved into their units, thrown into a sea of woes, and their individual
members losing at the same time their ancient form of civilization, and their
hereditary means of subsistence, we must not forget that these idyllic
village-communities, inoffensive though they may appear, had always been the
solid foundation of Oriental despotism, that they restrained the human mind
within the smallest possible compass, making it the unresisting tool of
superstition, enslaving it beneath traditional rules, depriving it of all
grandeur and historical energies. We must not forget the barbarian egotism
which, concentrating on some miserable patch of land, had quietly witnessed the
ruin of empires, the perpetration of unspeakable cruelties, the massacre of the
population of large towns, with no other consideration bestowed upon them than
on natural events, itself the helpless prey of any aggressor who deigned to
notice it at all. We must not forget that this undignified, stagnatory, and
vegetative life, that this passive sort of existence evoked on the other part,
in contradistinction, wild, aimless, unbounded forces of destruction and
rendered murder itself a religious rite in Hindostan. We must not forget that
these little communities were contaminated by distinctions of caste and by
slavery, that they subjugated man to external circumstances instead of elevating
man the sovereign of circumstances, that they transformed a self-developing
social state into never changing natural destiny, and thus brought about a
brutalizing worship of nature, exhibiting its degradation in the fact that man,
the sovereign of nature, fell down on his knees in adoration of Kanuman, the
monkey, and Sabbala, the cow.

England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindostan, was actuated
only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them.
But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny
without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever
may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in
bringing about that revolution.

Then, whatever bitterness the spectacle of the crumbling of an ancient world may
have for our personal feelings, we have the right, in point of history, to
exclaim with Goethe:

"Sollte these Qual uns quälen
Da sic unsre Lust vermchrt,
Hat nicht myriaden Seelen
Timur's Herrschaft aufgezehrt?"

["Should this torture then torment us
Since it brings us greater pleasure?
Were not through the rule of Timur
Souls devoured without measure?"]
[From Goethe's "An Suleika", Westöstlicher Diwan]

Karl Marx

Footnotes from MECW Volume 12
104 A reference to the rule in India, mainly in the north, of the Mohammedan
invaders who came from Central Asia, Afghanistan and Persia. Early in the
thirteenth century the Delhi Sultanate became the bulwark of Moslem domination
but at the end of the fourteenth century it declined and was subsequently
conquered by the Moguls, new invaders of Turkish descent, who came to India from
the cast of Central Asia in the early sixteenth century and in 1526 founded the
Empire of the Great Moguls (named after the ruling dynasty of the Empire) in
Northern India. Contemporaries regarded them as the direct descendants of the
Mongol warriors of Genghis Khan's time, hence the name "Moguls". In the
mid-seventeenth century the Mogul Empire included the greater part of India and
part of Afghanistan. Later on, however, the Empire began to decline due to
peasant rebellions, the growing resistance of the Indian people to the
Mohammedan conquerors and increasing separatist tendencies. In the early half of
the eighteenth century the Empire of the Great Moguls practically ceased to

105 Religion of the Lingam - the cult of the God Shiva, particularly widespread
among the southern Indian sect of the Lingayat (from the word "linga" -the
emblem of Shiva), a Hindu sect which does not recognise distinctions of caste
and rejects fasts, sacrifices and pilgrimages.

Juggernaut (jagannath) - a title of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. The
cult of juggernaut was marked by sumptuous ritual and extreme religious
fanaticism which manifested itself in the self-torture and suicide of believers.
On feast days some believers threw themselves under the wheels of the chariot
bearing the idol of Vishnu-juggernaut.

106 Heptarchy (government by seven rulers) - a term used by English
historiographers to describe the political system in England from the sixth to
eighth centuries, when the country was divided into seven highly unstable
Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which, in their turn, frequently split up and reunited.
Marx uses this term by analogy to describe the disunity of the Deccan (Central
and South India) before its conquest by the Mohammedans at the beginning of the
fourteenth century.

107 The island of Salsette, north of Bombay, was famous for its 109 Buddhist
cave temples.
ANybody agree on this

Hindustani ;
The name Hindustani written as Hindoostanee was coined by an
Englishman, Mr.
J. B.
Gilchrist (1759-1841), who was the first President of the Fort
College, Calcutta which
trained British Civil Servants for service in India. Mr. Gilchrist also
wrote a dictionary of
Hindustani and its grammar. As mentioned earlier, from Hindustani have
emerged two literary
languages, Hindi in Devanagari script with literary and vocabulary
borrowings from Sanskrit
and Urdu in modified Arabic script with borrowings from Persian.
is much older
form than Hindi or Urdu and many times it referred rather to the region
not so much to the
race or religion. As a matter of fact before the advent of Muslims and
others in India, the
languages spoken in Hindustan were known as various Bhashas or Bakhas.
Hindustani evolved
out of a score of dialects which are inter-related among themselves and
it. Some of these
dialects and languages are Hindwi, Khariboli, Brij Bhasha, Awadhi,
Bundeli, Kanauji, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Gujari, Rajsthani and when it was
spoken in South it was
known as Deccani That these languages are dialects of Hindi as claimed
some is not strictly
true. Brij Bhasha was an important literary medium from15th to 17th
Both Brij Bhasha
and many other dialects are genetically of different Prakritic origin
Khariboli. All earlier
Hindi literature is in dialects other than Khariboli which became
standardised and popular by
end17th century and the language of literature only in 19th century.
Bhasha continued
as a medium of poetry till late 19th century. Thus, strictly speaking,
language of modern
Hindi literature is different from that employed in earlier period. The
can be said about the
Urdu which came to be written in the present form from 19th century
although Urdu
poetry flourished much earlier.

The etymology ! of the word India ,Indian ,Hindu, Hind , Hindustan from
Sindhu though confused is well known.

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