Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Reign of Queen Elizabeth II Saw the Sun Set on the British Empire

Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) died this week. The sun set on the British Empire during her reign that began in 1952. The dismantling of the empire had already started with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 before she ascended to the throne. It continued in the 1950s and 60s with dozens of nations in Asia and Africa declaring their independence. British colonialism was soon replaced by western neocolonialism led by the United States. Black and brown people continue to suffer from the scourge of racism in a world dominated by white Europeans. Corrupt ruling elites with colonized minds ensure that true decolonization does not occur in the former British colonies. They treat their own people with the same disdain as did their former colonial bosses. The struggle for true independence continues. 

Haq Family With British Royal Family at Madame Tussauds in London

Economic Extraction:

When the British arrived in Mughal India, the country's share of the world GDP was 25%, about the same as the US share of the world GDP today. By 1947, the undivided India's share of world GDP ($4 trillion in 1990 Geary-Khamis dollars) had shrunk to about 6% (India: $216 billion, Pakistan: $24 billion). As of 2010, South Asia's contribution to world GDP further shrank to about 4%, according to British Economist Angus Maddison

Divide and Rule Policy: 

Colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of the British policy to divide and conquer India, says American history professor Audrey Truschke, in her book "Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King". These misrepresentations of Muslim rule made during the British Raj appear to have been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists but also by at least some of the secular Hindus in India and Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan, says the author.  Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries, the author adds. Hindutva today is among the worst legacies of the British Raj. 

Legacy of Major Conflicts:

Major conflicts in South Asia and the Middle East are a legacy of the final days of British rule. Among these are Kashmir and Palestine

Kashmir today is seen as a major flashpoint for a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. The rise of Hindutva, also a legacy of the British Raj, has increased the risk of such a devastating conflict. Vast majority of Indians, including those who oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi, believe that nuclear war is "winnable", according to the results of a Stimson Center poll released recently. They want their country to build a bigger nuclear arsenal than China and Pakistan combined.  Responding to the clamor for more nukes,  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in 2019 that Indian nuclear weapons were not kept as mere showpieces.  

Colonized Minds:

Pakistan achieved independence from British colonial rule 75 years ago. However, the minds of most of Pakistan's elites remain colonized to this day.  This seems to be particularly true of the nation's western-educated "liberals" who dominate much of the intellectual discourse in the country. They continue to look at their fellow countrymen through the eyes of the Orientalists who served as tools for western colonization of Asia, Middle East and Africa. The work of these "native" Orientalists available in their books, op ed columns and other publications reflects their utter contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Far from being constructive, these colonized minds promote lack of confidence in the ability of their fellow "natives" to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. The way out of it is to encourage more inquiry based learning and critical thinking.


Queen Elizabeth's passing represents the end of an era that saw the sun set on the British Empire. Among the legacies of the British rule are racism and slavery that continue to be manifested in the new era of western neocolonialism. Major conflicts created by colonial powers in South Asia and the Middle East continue to threaten world peace. Former colonies continue to be ruled by corrupt elites with colonized minds who treat their own people with utter contempt. Their struggle for true independence continues. 

Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Day: Freeing the Colonized Minds

Hindutva: Legacy of the British Raj

Vast Majority of Indians Believe Nuclear War is Winnable

Modi Faces Full-Blown Homegrown Insurgency in Kashmir

Pakistan's Rising College Enrollment Rates

Pakistan Beat BRICs in Highly Cited Research Papers

Launch of "Eating Grass: Pakistan's Nuclear Program"

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

Pakistani Social Networl


Riaz Haq said...

US Anchor Says Britain Left India Civilised. Shashi Tharoor, Others Respond
Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson made the comments during a show last Thursday, which went viral on social media.

A news anchor from the United States, who praised the virtues of the British colonialism in India and claimed that that country prospered during the British rule, has left Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and many Twitter users fuming, according to a report in Independent. Tucker Carlson, Fox News anchor also falsely claimed that India did not create any architectural marvels before the onset of the British colonial era. His comments have been condemned as "racist" and "supremely uninformed" by several users, including tennis star Martina Navratilova.
The anchor was speaking on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" show last Thursday where he went on a long rant claiming that the British empire was "more than just genocide".

"Strong countries dominate weak countries. This trend hasn't changed. At least the English took their colonial responsibility seriously. They didn't just take things, they added. We (the United States) left Afghanistan, we left airstrips, weapons and guns. When the British pulled out of India, they left behind an entire civilization, a language, a legal system, schools, churches and public buildings, all of which are still in use today," said Mr Carlson in a clip that has gone viral on Twitter.

He then referred to Mumbai's Victoria Terminus station that was renamed in 2016 as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and said, "And after 75 years of independence, has that country produced a single building as beautiful as the Bombay train station that the British colonials built?"

The comments sparked a debate on Twitter, in which Congress leader Shashi Tharoor joined in.

"I think Twitter ought to have an option for something to press when you can't respond without losing your cool. For now I will content myself with," Mr Tharoor tweeted, adding two angry-face emojis in response.

Ms Navratilova also slammed Mr Carlson's comments, saying on Twitter, "Hey @TuckerCarlson - your utter ignorance of history is quite staggering. I suggest you read the book "Inglorious Empire" by Shashi Tharoor and then try again. Your racism is off the charts and your stupidity on this particular issue is of Olympic proportions!!!"

The Fox News anchor has so far not responded to the criticism.

Riaz Haq said...

Ben Norton
The US military launched at least 251 foreign interventions from 1991 to 2022.
This is according to a report from the US government's own Congressional Research Service.
I went through the data and created a map showing just how vast the meddling is:

Riaz Haq said...

Tucker Carlson: Anger after Fox News host says British civilised India

An American TV anchor is drawing the ire of Indians for suggesting that the British had civilised India.

Tucker Carlson from Fox News channel claimed that India had not produced any architectural marvels after British rule ended.

The anchor made the statement during a show on Queen Elizabeth II who died last week, aged 96.

His comments have been criticised as racist and uninformed by politicians, commentators and social media users.

They come at a time when the Queen's death has revived a sensitive debate about the empire's colonial past.

In recent days, a number of prominent writers and academicians across the world, including in India, have criticised the British monarchy which, they say, is yet to reckon with the indignities and brutality of the empire.

Mr Carlson sought to debunk this argument in his show last week, when he claimed that the British empire was "more than just genocide".

"Strong countries dominate weak countries. This trend hasn't changed," he said in a clip that has since gone viral on Twitter.

The anchor added that unlike the US, the English "took their colonial responsibility seriously" and ruled the world with "decency unmatched by any empire in human history".

"When the British pulled out of India, they left behind an entire civilisation, a language, a legal system, schools, churches and public buildings, all of which are still in use today," he said.

The anchor then tried to defend his position by giving the example of Victoria Terminus station - a sprawling Victorian structure of yellow sandstone, granite and blue-grey basalt in what was then the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) - which was built by the British in 1887 and renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in 2016.

"After 75 years of independence, has [India] produced a single building as beautiful as the Bombay train station the British colonialists built? No sadly it has not, not one," Mr Carlson said.

His comments outraged many in India, including senior politicians like Shashi Tharoor of the main opposition Congress party.

"I think Twitter ought to have an option for something to press when you can't respond without losing your cool," Mr Tharoor tweeted with two angry emojis on Tuesday.

Another user said he found the claim "funny" as the most stunning buildings he had seen in India "weren't built by the British but by Indians themselves".

"That was before colonialism, when they could still afford to... Colonialism wrecked India, it didn't build it," he added.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova also weighed in on the matter and said that Mr Carlson's "utter ignorance of history" was "quite staggering".

"Your racism is off the charts and your stupidity on this particular issue is of Olympic proportions!!!," she tweeted.

However, journalist Barkha Dutt said the controversy was blown out of proportion and called it a case of "needless obsession with the white man's orientalism".

"Amazed at how much time Indian media is willing to expend on a US anchor who wouldn't even notice if you commented on his nation," she added.

Anonymous said...

What an insecured nation.
Btw, Tucker Carlson is partly correct. British created this monster called India

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

None of the UK’s top jobs is held by a White man for the first time. But British politics remains unequal, experts say

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss has assembled the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in the United Kingdom’s history, with several top jobs given to Black and other minority ethnic lawmakers.

For the first time ever, none of the holders of the country’s four so-called “Great Offices of State” – the prime minister, the chancellor and the home and foreign secretaries – is a White man.

Kwasi Kwarteng, who will take charge of the UK’s dire economic situation as chancellor, was born in London after his parents migrated from Ghana in the 1960s; the mother of James Cleverly, the new foreign minister, came to the UK from Sierra Leone, while incoming Home Secretary Suella Braverman has Kenyan and Mauritian parents.

No other G7 country can claim such diversity at the heart of government and it reflects a rapid rise in the number of minority ethnic politicians to the top tables of British politics in the past decade.

But experts say this fact can obscure other prevalent inequalities in the UK’s political system.

Critics fear the continuation of a series of divisive Conservative government policies towards refugees, asylum seekers and disadvantaged communities, and some have pointed to the class and educational backgrounds of the country’s new Cabinet as a symbol of Britain’s most defining political gulf.

“It’s extremely significant and it’s an extraordinary rate of change,” Sunder Katwala, the director the the British Future think tank that focuses on issues of immigration, integration and national identity, said of the make-up of Truss’s new Cabinet.

But “these are more diverse political elites,” he told CNN. “It’s a meritocratic advance for people who have done well in education, law and business. It’s not an advance on social class terms.”

“It’s absolutely fantastic that we have a more diverse House of Commons, set of parties and government, in terms of gender and in terms of ethnicity,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University and the author of books on the Conservative Party.

“But it does hide the fact that we have an ongoing disappearance of working-class people from politics, and that has knock-on effects in terms of policy and turnout.”

Riaz Haq said...

Last chance to read Mughal-era Sanskrit literature, before it is all deleted | Deccan Herald

by Anusha Rao

The recent removal of chapters on Mughals from the NCERT syllabus presents us with an opportunity to look at the colorful history of Sanskrit during that period. The most vibrant personality of this era was perhaps the celebrity poet Jagannatha Panditaraja, who managed to sell the same praise-poem to three kings (Shah Jahan, Jagatsimha and Prananarayana), after swapping out their names. Panditaraja, i.e., the ‘king of scholars’, was a title that the Mughal king Shah Jahan bestowed on Jagannatha. Our poet clearly liked being wined and dined well. He writes: “Only two people can give me all that I want—God, or the emperor of Delhi. As for what the other kings give, well, I use that for my weekly groceries!"

Legend goes that Jagannatha fell head-over-heels in love with a Muslim woman called Lavangi and married her. This would explain the Muslim woman (“yavani”) who is the subject of so many of his verses, where he meditates on her skin smooth as butter and wants neither horses nor elephants nor money as long as he can be with her.

Aurangzeb’s uncle Shaista Khan had even learnt Sanskrit himself, and six poems written by him are preserved in the Rasakalpadruma. Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan had learnt Sanskrit, too, and his project was to understand Islam and through each other. Another celebrity poet of this age was Kavindracharya, the head of the Banaras scholar community during Shah Jahan’s rule. He pleaded the case for abolishing the Hindu pilgrim tax so eloquently in front of the king that the indeed came to be abolished. Poems in praise of Kavindracharya poured in from all across the country, and they are preserved today in the form of a book, the Kavindra Chandrodaya.

South India had its fair share of Sanskrit poets who enjoyed the patronage of multiple kings of different faiths. Bhanukara, a 16th century Sanskrit poet, wrote verses that we find in many well-known verse anthologies. These anthologies attribute to Bhanukara verses in praise of various kings—hinting that among his patrons were Krishnadevaraya, Nizam Shah and Sher Shah, all ruling in the Deccan! And Bhanukara clearly enjoyed a good relationship with the Nizam, given his hyperbolic verses in praise of the king’s generosity, skill in military conquest, and even his physical appearance. Another well-known Sanskrit poet of the 16th century was Govinda Bhatta, who composed the Ramachandra-yashah-prashasti in praise of King Vaghela Ramachandra of Rewa. But Ramachandra was not Govinda Bhatta’s only patron. In fact, Govinda Bhatta called himself Akbariya Kalidasa, as a tribute to the most illustrious of his patrons, Akbar. In one his laudatory verses, he praises Akbar as being the crest jewel of Humayun’s lineage.

Not all Sanskrit poetry about the Mughals is about kings though— the 17th century poet Nilakantha Shukla, a disciple of the famous grammarian Bhattoji Dikshita, wrote an epic poem on the romance between a Brahmin tutor and a Muslim noblewoman in Mughal Banaras.

As Sanskrit poets wrote in and of Islamic rule, a large number of Sanskrit classics were translated into Persian as well—including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and even tales such as the Shuka Saptati. The Razmnamah, a Persian translation of the Mahabharata, commissioned by Akbar in the late 16th century, manages to strike a balance between the monotheistic god of Islam and the plethora of gods in the Sanskrit epic, retaining numerous divinities while weaving in Koranic phrases, and modifying prayers to address them to Allah. But how do we know all of this? Well, nobody struck these out from the manuscripts and inscriptions...

Riaz Haq said...

The Mughals | Empire-builders of medieval India - The Hindu

Within hours of the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s (NCERT) decision to remove a chapter on the Mughals from the history textbooks for Class XII students, noted historians of the country issued a statement, denouncing the deletions. “The selective dropping of chapters which do not fit into the ideological orientation of the present dispensation exposes the partisan agenda of the regime,” a statement signed by Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Aditya Mukherjee, Barbara Metcalf, Dilip Simeon and Mridula Mukherjee, among others, read. “Driven by such an agenda, the chapter titled ‘Kings and Chronicles: The Mughal Courts’ has been deleted... In medieval times, the Mughal empire and the Vijayanagara Empire were two of the most important empires... In the revised version, while the chapter on the Mughals has been deleted, the chapter on the Vijayanagara Empire has been retained.”

It’s hard to understand the history of modern India without the contribution of the Mughals, who, including Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, were all born in undivided India; and were buried here. None of them ever left the country, not even to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.“Is there anything in India today which does not owe to the Mughals?” asks Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, secretary, Indian History Congress. “From legal system to legal jargon, we owe to the Mughal and Turkish Sultanate before them. Words like vakalatnama, kacheri, durbar, we owe them all to the Mughals. Today, when a large number of Indians consider Lord Ram as a major deity, we have to thank Tulsidas who wrote his version of Ramayana during the Mughal period. Also, Vrindavan, associated with Lord Krishna, developed thanks to Chaitanya saints who were given grants by Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan, and helped Vrindavan and Mathura emerge as a key centre of Krishna Bhakti.”

The richness was owed substantially to the Rajputs, who were sharers of power from the time of Akbar, who defeated Rana Pratap in the Battle of Haldighati, and co-opted them in his empire through matrimonial alliances. Most Mughal rulers after Jahangir were born to Rajput women. As a result, within the family, Hindavi was often the language of communication. Aurangzeb, incidentally, conversed in Hindi and composed in Braj bhasha.