British vs. moghuls

India, the jewel in the crown, earns a skepticism that concludes divergent views. The end result is often an argument, which raises the questions regarding whether or not the imperial rule of the British Raj was justified. The title (British Raj) itself seems to juxtapose east with west, with an ironic rhythmic harmony. Where the Koh-e-Noor of India symbolized the political pride of the already great Britain, eyes of the writers never overlooked the individual price that the British had to pay on personal basis.

Adventure or alternate, what ever the mission to India represented, individuals found themselves paying more than taking from it. A passage to India raises the question regarding the possibility of a harmonious co existence of the two nations, the English and the Indians. The answer to which comes as more negative than affirmed. Confined by their own narrow mindedness, the colonists mostly remained reserved and unappreciative towards India’s splendor and grandeur.

Their racial prejudices, cultural superiority complex and inability to grasp its diversity, barred them to reap the intellectual and artistic harvest that the Moghuls enjoyed and multiplied as its more benign rulers. Coming from Kabul, the Moghuls approached the land with more open mindedness than the British. Nevertheless, they too considered the natives as ignorant and recessive; they focused on adopting the land rather than raping it like the later invaders. They presented themselves as symbols of interracial, multicultural harmonious co existence, only to be reproached by the fundamentalists.
Compared to them, the British remained aloof and alienated in their own colonies. They despised the masses in general for their ugliness (determined by their skin colors), unsanitary and unhygienic living conditions, indiscipline and ignorance. More often than not did they succeed in imprinting their racial superiority in the colonized minds, yet they failed in winning over their empathy. On an individual level, the British could not open up to welcome the variety of people and cultures, whole heartedly.
Thus, limiting themselves in experience and growth. Under the yolk of imperialism, the colonists served two purposes mainly, i. e. , economics and politics. There main concern for the land at best was self centered. They on the one hand, wanted to keep it as a factor market providing raw material for their growing industrial capitalism, while on the other; it laid patterns of a consumption oriented society that promised long term profits. Either ways, it was in the interest of the British to exploit natives in their related markets.
They confiscated vast areas of agricultural personal properties on one pretense or another and implemented heavy tithes on agricultural produce. To make their policies more effective, they reinstated Zamindara Nizam, through which it became more feasible to exploit the local peasants by their privileged counter parts. Compared to the British, the Moghuls had been more liberal with their economic policies. In a broader sense the Moghuls seem more giving than taking from India. After conquering major parts of Punjab, the Moghuls chose to settle in Delhi and Lahore, making Punjab their home land.
The Moghul emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan implemented policies that determine economic and intellectual growth and India was on its highest economic ebb under their rule. Their strategies flourished Indian architecture and arts industry, in particular. However, the Moghuls remained unattracted towards industrial and mechanical innovations, partly because of their own ignorance of the growing industrial disciplines and partly because of the empathy for the poor masses, which were structured to earn income by old traditional manners.
Even if the economic policies of the Moghuls were less mechanized and modern, they were more popular with the natives as compared to those of the British. The later development strategies of the British however, were effective yet they earn more credit than due. The development of the British Indian railways, the canal network and the consequent development and rehabilitation of the Chenab colonies are viewed as highly effective development strategies. However, the principle interest again remained personal.
The empire needed to mobilize the masses in order to deal with the growing unemployment and the consequent disturbances in the urban areas; secondly by cultivating the long neglected vast arable lands, they fed their own industries dealing with the agricultural produce. With in a short period of time six millions of large arid waste was turned into high yielding cultivable land. In a social context, the British, as it suited their own interests, aggravated the hatred between the two dominant sects in India, namely Hindus and Muslims. Their divide and rule policy focused on bringing disharmony between them.
The Hindu Muslim unity proved to be a great threat to the newly built oppressive government. The first alarm of which was realized in 1857, the War of Independence. Also known as the Sepoy’s Mutiny, the rebellion started within the lower ranks of the Indian army. Despised by both Hindus and Muslims, the cartridges, lubricated by the fats of cows and pigs, became the bone of contention between the government and army. Even though the rebellion was suppressed shortly afterwards, it left the British with a life long lesson that together, the Indians can be a big threat to their authoritarian rule.
Later on they implemented policies in which the Hindus were comparatively privileged as compared to the Muslims. This left a kind of resentment and jealousy on the Muslims behalf. Hindus as it suited them, made full use of the British policies. The British henceforth succeeded in dividing the two nations and eventually ruling them. Thus, gone were the efforts of Akbar, Amir Khusraw, Kabir and the other Sufi poets like Bullah Shah, Shah Abdul Lateef Bhatai and Sultan Bahu, to spread the message of religious tolerance and humanity.
Had the British been apprehensive towards the observations and experiences of the early missionaries, they should have adopted policies less oppressive and more humane. The early settlers seem impressed by the new culture that they acquainted in India; however, they seemed unhappy with the religious bigotry and few rituals which by their very nature were offensive, like suttee. Had the British superseded their capitalist interests, they would have approached India with great reforms and eventually had been more welcomed by the natives.
But their preoccupations with their colonial interests resulted in the implementation of strict and oppressive governing techniques, which so far widened the gaps between the two nations and eventually won hostilities towards the ruling elites from the poor masses. To bridge the gaps between themselves and the natives, while operating at a safe distance, the British aimed at patronizing the natives in their own image. Macaulay’s suggestion regarding Indian educational reforms is of significant importance.
He summarized his suggestion in few lines, “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 color, 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. ” (1835).
At educational institutions the natives were taught to believe and obey the racial and cultural sovereignty of the colonizers. Thus, grooming the natives as babus. Uprooted from the rest, but not welcomed whole heartedly by their patrons, the babus somewhat remained a suspended entity between the two opposites. It is this realization of the oppressive methods of ruling India by the British, that the answer to the question raised earlier in the movie, A Passage To India, based on a novel by E. M. Forster, is that Indians and the Englishmen can make friendly relations only after the British leave India.
A happy co existence between the oppressors and the oppressed is not a possibility. Though, attracted by the educated young Indians, the English cannot over come their conditioned response towards other nations as inferiors and undisciplined. Their reservedness either make them skeptic and insensitive like Heaslop or other wise make them vulnerable like Adela. The liberals like Mr. Fielding are just too few yet even he admits that any long term healthy relationships cannot be expected between the two, with the presence of the British in the country.
Therefore, the friendship between Fielding and Aziz becomes a symbol of the possibilities and limitations of the relationships of the two nations. The ups and downs in their relationships show the inevitable threat that any such relationship suffers by the difference of social backgrounds. Similar themes were selected by other post colonial English writers like Kipling and Paul Scott, who emphasized that the English at best can make relationships with the Indians which are potentially vulnerable.
Though they have been a great asset to the empire, the colonizers felt uprooted, isolated and limited in the alien land which was there to serve them but was not really there own. From: Eva March Tappan, ed. , The World’s Story: A History of the World in Story, Song and Art, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914), Vol. II: India, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Palestine, pp. 169-179. From: Henry James Coleridge, ed. , The Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier, 2d Ed. , 2 Vols. (London: Burns & Oates, 1890), and Vol. I, pp. 151-163; reprinted in William H.
McNeil and Mitsuko Iriye, eds. , Modern Asia and Africa, Readings in World History Vol. 9, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 4-11. 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. Ahsan, aitzaz: Indus Saga and The Making of Pakistan. Oxford University Press, 1997. David Gilmartin: Migration And Modernity. People On The Move. Ed. Ian Talbot and Shinder Thandi: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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