Is Britain to blame for many of the world's problems?

Discussion in 'Europe and Russia' started by pmaitra, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Is Britain to blame for many of the world's problems?

    David Cameron has suggested that Britain and the legacy of its empire was responsible for many of the world's historic problems. But is that view fair?

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    David Cameron made the remarks in Pakistan

    Answering questions from students in Pakistan on Tuesday, the prime minister said: "As with so many of the problems of the world, we are responsible for their creation in the first place."

    Here two historians give their view.

    Nick Lloyd, lecturer in defence studies, King's College London

    Mr Cameron's remarks about the painful legacy of colonialism could not be further from the truth and they reveal a disappointing lack of historical judgment. The British Empire in India, known as the Raj, was the greatest experiment in paternalistic imperial government in history.

    By the time the British left India in 1947 they had given the subcontinent a number of priceless assets, including the English language, but also a structure of good government, local organisation and logistical infrastructure that still holds good today. Far from damaging India, British imperial rule gave it a head start.

    At the centre of this was the Indian Civil Service, the 1,000 strong "heaven-born" group of administrators that ran the country. Their role in laying the foundations for strong, efficient government in India has never been accorded the respect and admiration it deserves.

    While history has recorded that the ICS were aloof and disdainful of the "natives", in reality, the men who ran India were selfless, efficient and - most importantly of all - completely incorruptible.

    Not only did they oversee the spread of good government, western education, modern medicine and the rule of law, they also put in place local works, famine relief, and irrigation projects, most notably in the Punjab, which benefited enormously from what was then the largest irrigation project in the world.

    Perhaps the most priceless asset of all was the English language itself, which gave a unity to the subcontinent that it had never known before and which is allowing India's people to do business around the world today with great success.

    Indeed, it is indicative of this that in February 2011, a Dalit (formerly untouchable) community in Uttar Pradesh built a shrine to the goddess English, which they believe will help them learn the English language and climb out of their grinding poverty.

    Although Britain was not able to replicate its success in India everywhere across its vast colonial empire, it is still clear the empire gave its colonies real, tangible benefits. Wherever the British ruled, they erected a light, relatively inexpensive form of government that was not corrupt, was stable, and was favourable to outside investors.

    Its imperial civil servants may not always have been completely sympathetic to local peoples, but they were always motivated by humanitarian impulses and did their best in often difficult circumstances. Indeed, when we look at Africa, many of the benefits of imperial rule were squandered in the generations after independence with a succession of corrupt and brutal regimes.

    Dr Nick Lloyd is the author of the forthcoming book The Amritsar Massacre: The Untold Story of One Fateful Day

    Andrew Thompson, professor of imperial and global history, University of Leeds

    Does Britain's colonial legacy still poison its relations with Africa, the Middle East and Asia? Mr Cameron's remark raises important questions for society about how we relate to history.

    There's the inheritance of colonial violence. What you saw in the later stages of empire was a series of British counter-insurgency operations, exported from one hot spot to another. In places such as Kenya, Palestine, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, and of course Northern Ireland, the British were forced to resort to repressive legal and military measures in what was to prove an ultimately vain attempt to curb the tide of political unrest and nationalist opposition.

    Detention without trial, beatings, torture, and killings punctuated the twilight years of colonial rule. The disclosure this week of a large tranche of Foreign Office files, hitherto kept secret about full extent of British brutality against Mau Mau in Kenya, suggests there may be further revelations still to come. Will there be similar stories and claims from Palestine, Malaya, Cyprus or Nigeria?

    There is also the question of whether the violence that characterised these counter-insurgency operations during decolonisation then set the scene for the way in which independent, post-colonial African and Asian governments dealt with political dissent from their own peoples.

    The imperial past is far from being dead. On the contrary it is actually very much part of contemporary politics.

    Perhaps we should not be surprised then when British foreign policy interests and interventions today are seen and perceived as "neo-colonial" in their nature.

    The reaction of Iran in 2007 when 15 Royal Navy personnel were seized is instructive here. As heavy-handed as it may have seemed to people in Britain, it needs to be understood in the wider context of Iranian sensitivities over the presence of any western powers in or near its territorial waters - sensitivities arising in part from a very fraught and fragile 20th Century relationship over oil and territory.

    In a deeper and more fundamental sense still, Britain's colonial legacy can be seen in the ways in which globalisation is being experienced today. From the 1870s onwards, the integration of labour, capital and commodity markets promoted by empire was very much skewed towards its "white" settler societies.

    The economic benefits of empire for the so-called dependent colonies were much more meagre in comparison or did not exist at all. When we find critics of globalisation questioning whether economic integration and cultural diversity can comfortably co-exist, we should remember that for much of the last century the form of globalisation the world experienced rested on a view of social relations governed by racial hierarchies.

    Finally, we might reverse the colonial encounter and think about how empire has left an imprint on British society. Despite its multi-ethnic empire, Britain did not embrace ethnic diversity at home.

    There was the rhetoric of an inclusive imperial citizenship for the peoples of all Commonwealth countries. But in reality in post-war Britain there was little desire to promote integration for immigrants from the likes of the West Indies and the Indian subcontinent.

    The consequences are perhaps reflected in experiences today, especially in terms of the so-called ethnic penalty many of these communities face in education, employment or housing.

    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12992540
     
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  3. venkat

    venkat Regular Member

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    yes and only yes ,but nothing else. it has made some part of the world a cesspool of misery and poverty!!!!
     
  4. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

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    That view is some what fair if you see what is happening in India,Pakistan and Israel,Palestine also in Africa are all conscious decisions taken by britian to leave in a cloud of confusion to cover their tracks. All though Britian cant be blamed for continuing moronic religious and ethnic differences.
     
  5. Atul

    Atul Founding Member

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    Britain has always been the mother of all evil, and is solely responsible for the Problems faced by the former Colonies. Looting, Murdering was the core of rule. and that cannot be denied.

    Simply Coz they accept it does not make they relieved of their evil past.
     
  6. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    at least kashmir wont have been the contentious issue irrespective of what the british did had the two countries followed the suggestion put forth by sardar vallabhbhai patel where india was to have hyderabad and junagadh and pakistan would have kashmir, but for pakistanis kashmir was hilly terrain, forest land not of much use which at least at that point in time made no sense to them in having it with out hyderabad and junagadh so they insisted in having all three together and missed the opportunity on kashmir and for nehru pakistan was to collapse soon enough so handing them over anymore land made no sense.

    it is infact ironic, most of the people blame nehru for taking kashmir to the UN and creating a mess out of it, but had he not been on the high tables, there wont have been any part of kashmir left with india in the first place to stake any claim later on the portion occupied by pakistanis for all would have been pakistan.
     
  7. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Is Britain to blame for many of the world's problems?

    I did not have to go through the whole article. But yes, Britain is to blame, for Pakistan is Britain's Harlot.
     
  8. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    British colonialism is responsible for drawing boundaries that have led to many of the wars in the developing world, but did it cause them? If you believe so, tell how.
     
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  9. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    /\/\/\ How about supporting and dividing greater India into India and Pakistan into regional lines, Pakistan being the beneficiary! How about still supporting people who were genocidal like Pervev Musharaf?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
  10. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Yes. From North America to Africa to India to Australia, more people have been adversely affected by the British Empire than any either political state in human history.


    Do these "benefits" include the complete destruction of native Indian cottage industries, engineered famines, a conscious policy to socially divide the Indian people, the looting of over $1 trillion worth of raw materials and resources to feed British industry, and the transformation of India from a prosperous economic powerhouse to an impoverished colony dependent on Europe?

    As recently as 1800, India accounted for one-quarter of global economic output. By the 20th century, this had dropped to 1%. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the cause for India's economic decline during the intervening time.
     
  11. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Top post.

    They think they gave us judiciary, railways, english etc.

    India's civilization has been more civil than them. India had cities and law when they were living in caves. Greed and self fighting was this countries doom and still is.
     
  12. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    Would you really want Muslims dominating a united India? Would you really want to be responsible for administering Bangladesh and Pakistan? India had a shot at annexation in 1971, it chose not to for a reason.
     
  13. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Most of muslims in pakistan didn't vote for muslim league (Jinnah party) during that time. And muslims would not have dominated since population wouldn't have been in majority..

    Today's population of pakistan and to some extend bangaladesh has been radicalized through years of lies and hate directed towards India by the media, politicians, school books etc. Whereas in India non of that happened. There is a reason why a very big majority of muslims in India aren't roaming the streets with suicide vests and lobbing grenades.

    Divide and rule tactic was an effective tactic. If it wasn't employed by the british then they would have been kicked out of India even earlier.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2011
  14. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    No point in blaming the British. We were weak, and when you're a fat cat with no claws, the chickens are comin' home to roost!

    Never again, never again!
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2011
  15. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    That is a lot more complicated than you think.

    There was a political party formed, with Indian backing, to aid the process of reconciliation and re-unification, in the decades after independence but that process failed for very different reasons.
     
  16. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    Huh? In the 1946 elections, the Muslim League won 425 of the 496 Muslim seats. That was 89.2% of the Islamic vote. Lucky for India, only 28 members of the Muslim League joined the India Assembly.

    They didn't want to be part of India in the first place.

    They partitioned India to give like minded people like minded states. I can't imagine how messed up India would be if it still held those populations. So many are still under the poverty line, it would probably have broken up into a hundred pieces by now if it had to deal with that kind of division.
     
  17. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

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    I would partially agree. Yes British colonialism is responsible for a sizable amount of problems, but to blame them squarely for the problems of Israel and Palestine, or India and Pakistan is to miss the bigger picture; those conflicts are largely grounded in religious issues, and the interesting thing is that both of these conflicts share in common is islamism.
     
  18. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    I don't agree that most of world's ill is Britain's fault.

    Let's look at the sub-continent, Britain did leave three nation states, out of which two have ended up having a civil war, because they didn't treat their minorities as equals. And one of those two have ended up becoming the biggest threat the world faces today. Is it Britain's fault that one nation out of three seems to doing well and one nation seems to have failed and the other has just managed to win a two decade civil war?

    Even if you look at Africa, the worst troubles are in countries that were ruled by Belgians or the French, and that too mostly because of the fault of their own leaders. Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast are good examples of how the Africans have destroyed a well functioning society. Same is the case with Middle East, early Zionist groups and Arabs leaders are the main reason for the problem, even without Britain these groups would not have agreed on any form of negotiated settlement, so conflict was inevitable.

    I am not saying Britain is not responsible for most of these problems, what I am saying is Britain is not solely responsible. Local leaders and local factors are equally responsible, but they want to escape any blame on themselves so they blame everything on Britain. Kinda like what Pakistan is doing today by blaming every problem on their country on US or India.
     
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  19. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

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    @Phenom: That is perhaps the most sound argument I've heard so far in this thread.
     
  20. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    I would agree that much of the world's problems are caused by Islam. More so than British or any European colonialism. If you look at most of the conflict in Africa, it is Christians vs Islam. Look at the ME, it is Jews vs Islam or Sunni vs Shia Islam, South Asia being Hindu vs Islam, and the GWOT is the Western world vs Wahhabi Islam. The militant nature of that religion just isn't compatible with the modern world. It either has to adapt or become irrelevant because the world just isn't going to put up with jihad anymore.
     

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