India Conquered: The politics of plunder in Imperial India

first_imgIn the first decade of the 21st century, it began to seem that the British Empire was coming back into fashion. At the high noon of early 21st-century imperial hubris, with America poised to invade Iraq, Russia in retreat, the Taliban in disarray and bin Laden in hiding, and the,In the first decade of the 21st century, it began to seem that the British Empire was coming back into fashion. At the high noon of early 21st-century imperial hubris, with America poised to invade Iraq, Russia in retreat, the Taliban in disarray and bin Laden in hiding, and the currents of globalisation flowing strongly (and seemingly irresistibly) around the world, the controversial Scottish historian Niall Ferguson published Empire: How Britain Made the World, which saw in the past all the virtues he wished to celebrate in the present. India Conquered by Jon Wilson Simon and Schuster, Pages 564, Price Rs 799The British, Ferguson wrote, echoing a string of imperial apologists like Lawrence James and Jeremy Paxman, combined commerce, conquest and some ‘evangelical imperialism’ in an early form of globalisation or, in a particularly infelicitous word, ‘Anglobalisation’. In so doing, Ferguson argued, Britain bequeathed to a large part of the world nine of its most distinctive and admirable features, the very ones that had made Britain great: the English language, English forms of land tenure, Scottish and English banking, the common law, Protestantism, team sports, the ‘night watchman’ state, representative assemblies and the idea of liberty.Today, in the era of Brexit and Trump, with globalisation assailed daily in the very places that gave it birth and US-midwifed Iraq in disarray, Ferguson’s triumphalism seems a little less enduring. But the attitudes behind it have not entirely disappeared, especially in Britain. Recent years have seen the rise of what the academic Paul Gilroy called “postcolonial melancholia”, the yearning for the glories of Empire, reflected in such delights as a burger called the Old Colonial, a London bar named The Plantation and an Oxford cocktail (issued during the debate on reparations in which I spoke) named Colonial Comeback. A 2014 YouGov poll revealed that 59 percent of respondents thought the British empire was “something to be proud of”, and only 19 per cent were “ashamed” of its misdeeds; almost half the respondents also felt that the countries “were better off” for having been colonised. An astonishing 34 per cent opined that “they would like it if Britain still had an empire”.advertisementJon Wilson’s new book comes as a healthy corrective to such nostalgia. Melancholia there is, but not for lost post-colonial glories; Wilson provides an unsparing account of the exploitation, expropriation and racism that were fundamental to the imperial project. His account of the British empire in India is a straightforward narrative, from the first trading posts of the East India Company to the present day, and while not everything he says is agreeable or need be agreed with, it presents, with impressive erudition and substantial flair, a comprehensive picture of the colonial experience of a conquered people.The British imposed themselves by force because they chose to, not because they were resisted. There was such economic advantage in economic cooperation that Indian rulers never made an effort to push the Portuguese and other colonial powers out of the seas. It was cheaper for merchants to buy cartazes (licences) and carry on with profitable business than to engage in conflict. The irony was that, as Wilson shows, when the Maratha navy under Kanhoji Angre did resist colonial companies, he was branded a pirate when he was actually the naval chief of the Marathas and it was the colonial powers that were encroaching on his legitimate jurisdiction.Indian rulers, Wilson says, had funded their rule not from taxing the cultivators “but from each ruler’s capacity to tap into networks of global trade”. The British dismantled Indian trade and restricted Indian shipping. At the same time, they destroyed India’s textile and ‘wootz’ steel industries. By the early 1800s, India was reduced from a land of artisans, traders, warriors, merchants and nomads into an agrarian society. Throughout, the Company’s motive was profit, not good government; the well-being of Indians was irrelevant, so long as they paid their dues to the Company directors.Wilson’s account shows that pre-colonial India had a dynamic economic and political order-“a society of little societies”-where constant negotiation between rulers and the ruled was the norm. India’s villages were not self-reliant republics that lived in blissful isolation. They were networked and connected, and it was the destruction of Indian industry by the British that forced people to retreat and focus on farming. But the British made this ancient profession unviable: they imposed a rigid revenue-collection system, established a landlord class and ruthlessly taxed the peasants, creating the phenomenon of landlessness and inventing, for the first time, large-scale rural poverty.advertisementWilson depicts all this well, with rich historical accounts of Clive’s rapacity and Company loot. He is also unsparing in his depictions of British brutality and violence. The British had “the small-minded psychology of the embattled bully” in a strange land where they were in a minority, responding “to their sense of vulnerability and inability to get their way, to the absence of strong relationships with local society, by asserting power through petty acts of humiliation”. In other words, it was the awareness of their relative insignificance in the wider context of Indian trade and politics that caused the British to burst out now and then with acts of violence. “The British army certainly seems to have been ruled by alternating fits of rage and fear.” The Jallianwalla Bagh massacre was the culmination and the nadir of a policy that had been manifest throughout British rule, from the Vellore mutiny in 1805 to the ruthless suppression of the 1857 revolt and the reprisals in Delhi, whose reconquest by the British was unrivalled for its blood-spattered carnage.Brutality was tempered by bureaucracy. Bureaucratic despotism was introduced in the late 18th century, when Lord Cornwallis had announced that “all rights had been reduced to writing”. As John Stuart Mill, who luxuriated in the title of ‘Examiner of Indian Correspondence’ for the East India Company, put it, the “great success of our Indian administration” was that it was “carried on in writing”. But this was, in fact, the great flaw of the British system. Indian rulers had in the past negotiated with their local subjects because they had to live with them. Now the Company kept a distance from its subjects and only cared for one thing-a network that delivered cash to directors in faraway London as quickly and efficiently as possible. In reality, as Wilson points out, the extraordinary flow of paper that Mill celebrated “constructed a world of letters, ledgers and account books that had its own pristine order but could not comprehend or rule the forces which shaped rural society?the new maze of paperwork blocked the creation of the public, reciprocal relationship between the state and local lords which political authority and economic prosperity had relied on before”.It also meant that decisions were increasingly made in offices, behind closed doors, by foreigners with no connection to those whose fates they were deciding. The public display of the rulers’ authority was replaced by the private circulation of incomprehensible paper. Decisions were being made by people who were out of the view of those impacted by the decisions. As the public places where Indians could hold their rulers to account were out of bounds, so the scope for intrigue and corruption expanded. Indians were anxious that decisions were being made over which they had no say. Clerks were bribed to find out what was being written in the all-important files. The Raja of Nadia was so concerned about what was happening behind closed doors that he paid a Bengali clerk in the Collector’s office to tell him what was written in the letters exchanged between the district capital and Calcutta.advertisementBut regulations, after all, were framed and were meant to be applied across the board without reference to context and “created only an illusion of security, often merely disconnecting officers from the political circumstances that called upon them to make decisions in the first place”. The law was no better: Macaulay’s penal code was “a body of jurisprudence written for everyone and no one, which had no relationship to previous Indians laws or any other form of government at all”. Imperial law was an instrument of conquest, “a system of rules imposed without consulting the people to which it applied”.This was hardly surprising. “The first, and often the only, purpose of British power in India,” writes Wilson, “was to defend the fact of Britain’s presence on Indian ground.” For most of the imperialists, India was a career, not a crusade. Changing India was not the object; making money out of India was.Wilson is dismissive of most pretensions to grand imperial purpose, one way or the other. “Its operation was driven instead by narrow interests and visceral passions,” he argues, “most importantly, the desire to maintain British sovereign institutions in India for its own sake.” In other words, Empire had no larger purpose than its own perpetuation. No wonder, then, that it did India little good.As Wilson has argued elsewhere: “In 1750, Indians had a similar standard of living to people in Britain. Now, average Indian incomes are barely a tenth of the British level in terms of real purchasing power. It is no coincidence that 200 years of British rule occurred in the intervening time.” It is a sentence he could have usefully added to the present volume.Wilson’s is a thoroughly-researched, persuasively narrated account of the British Raj. It arrived on my desk just as I had sent off to my publishers the manuscript of my own A Long Darkness: The British Empire in India, which it complements most admirably. At this rate, Prof. Ferguson and his ilk may well find themselves outnumbered before the present decade is over.The author is a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabhalast_img read more

Say Media Rebrands ReadWriteWeb as ReadWrite

first_imgIn his note, Lyons adds that coverage will double down on mobile: “Mobile devices combined with social networks are evolving into a new mass medium that will displace television and define our age.”Content will also be contributed by a growing base of writers, including readers, says the company. Say Media, which operates a number of digital properties across fashion, technology, food and living verticals, has rebranded the web trends and tech reporting site ReadWriteWeb to the shorter ReadWrite. The site has also hired Dan Lyons as its new editor-in-chief. Lyons was previously a columnist for Newsweek and was responsible for the Fake Steve Jobs blog. The rebranding comes about 10 months after Say Media bought the site and includes a new tablet-first, responsive design built on a proprietary CMS called Orion.Lyons replaces founding editor Richard MacManus who started the site from New Zealand in 2003 and left mid-October to begin work on a book.  In an introductory editor’s note, Lyons says the new name reflects a broader focus: “As for our new name, the rationale for the change is pretty simple. Technology has evolved beyond the Web, and we’re adapting to keep up with the changing digital media landscape.”last_img read more

Diversified Business Communications Buys Electronic Health Record Provider

first_imgPortland, Maine-based b-to-b media company Diversified Business Communications has acquired Amazing Charts, a provider of electronic health records. The deal is intended to expand Diversified’s Pri-Med division and its medical education business. Amazing Charts was founded in 2001 and says it provides electronic health records for 5,600 practices with 70 practices added every month. Terms of the deal were not released. The plan is to make Amazing Charts an independent operating subsidiary of Pri-Med, but supplement it with Pri-Med’s educational conference reach into more than 40 markets—potentially expanding Amazing Chart’s visibility with prospective practices. For Diversified, the addition of electronic health records is another asset that can be used in Pri-Med’s educational setting—primarily as a way of extending Pri-Med educational content and services to point-of-care, in-practice settings. “The holy grail of medical education is to demonstrate improved patient outcomes as a result of access to unbiased evidence-based CME,” says John Mooney,  founder and CEO of Pri-Med. “We believe that in addition to our live meetings and online CME courses, providing this education at the point of care is the obvious next step, and we are excited to develop this with Amazing Charts. With this deeply integrated partnership, we are together reimagining the EHR as a real-time educational instrumemnt that expands well beyond managing one’s practice.””Diversified is really good at executing events, and this is an opportunity to extend our reach,” says a Diversified spokesperson. “There’s a finite number of primary care physicians and this gives us an opportunity to get directly in front of doctors. What’s critical too is understanding the benefit of education—are the doctors getting what they need and are they able to improve their patients’ health based on the information they learn from Pri-Med? Having Amazing Charts will help us understand that.” Diversified acquired Pri-Med in late 2011 from MC Holdings. Pri-Med consists of about 50 annul educational conferences and digital properties. Mooney had founded Pri-Med in 1994, sold it to Bain Capital in 2004 and later started the CollaborativeCARE conference, which was suspended before Mooney re-joined Diversified to return as Pri-Med’s CEO. In a video describing how the partnership came together, Amazing Charts founder Dr. Jon Bertman, who will continue to serve as president, says “I’ve been looking for a year for a partner who would be able to go with my requirements, which were to leave the company alone, but at the same time would provide resources and a skill level in areas that we don’t have, like marketing, like the infrastructure logistics of running a company.”last_img read more

LIBRARY LINEUP Wildwood Cemetery Stroll Set For September 21

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below is a list of FREE upcoming library programs for adults, teens and kids submitted by the Wilmington Memorial Library:Registration begins 30 days prior to the event. Please register online using our Calendar of Events at or by calling (978) 694-2099 (for Adult) or (978) 694-2098 (for Children/Teen). Please note we request registration for programs that are marked *RR. Thank you to the Friends of the Library for funding support for library programs!Adult EventsCoffee with a CopWednesday, September 18, 10 amDrop in, grab a tea or coffee, and chat with a police officer. Learn about the rights of the public as well as the roles and responsibilities of police and community in a relaxed and open setting. All questions welcome.Current Affairs Discussion Group *RRWednesday, September 18, 7 pmThis group is for all who would like to broaden their knowledge of current national and international affairs. You will have the opportunity to discuss topical events and learn from others. Recommended background readings will be provided prior to each meeting. Led by facilitator Dan Hall.Musical Stylings of John Muratore*RRThursday, September 19, 2:30 pmJoin Boston University School of Music faculty member John Muratore, one of Boston’s best-known and most highly regarded classical guitarists, as he performs Spanish classical guitar favorites as well as Latin American, jazz and folk-inspired compositions. Don’t miss this afternoon of beautiful music!Novel Ideas Book Group *RRThursday, September 19, 7 pmFeatured Book: The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Karen White, Lauren WilligPlease stop by the library to pick up a copy of the featured book.Poetry Circle *RRSaturday, September 21, 9:15 am-11:30 amLove poetry? The poetry circle is a great opportunity to meet other poets and get constructive feedback in a supportive environment. When registering, please provide your email address so you can receive an agenda and any prep materials in advance. Led by local writing enthusiast, Barbara Alevras.Cemetery Stroll *RRSaturday, September 21, 10 amJoin us for a Cemetery Stroll, starting in the parking lot behind the library!  This year’s Stroll will feature graves and stories related to Wilmington’s participation in and commemoration of the Civil War. Bring your walking shoes and enjoy a pleasant stroll in one of Wilmington’s most interesting historic locations. Led by Town Curator Terry McDermott.Kids & Teen EventsTeen Volunteer Orientation *RRSaturday, September 14, 10 amNeed volunteer hours? Whether for meeting your graduation requirement or just because you really love helping out at the library, we may have opportunities available for you! Please complete the online application at before attending. Grades 9-12Intro to Dungeons & Dragons *RRSaturday, September 14, 1-4 pmInterested in finding out more about this fantasy tabletop role-playing game, or looking for a group to play with? Join DM Alex for more info and a mini campaign! Grades 6-12Kids Crafts: Monkey and Rose Pencil Decorations *RRSaturday, September 14, 2 pmThis craft is led by three Wilmington High School students. Grades 1-5Little Movers *RRMonday, September 16, 10 amLet’s move! Join us for a morning of singing, dancing, and moving around! Ages 1-2Teen Volunteer Orientation *RRTuesday, September 17, 2:30 pmNeed volunteer hours? Whether for meeting your graduation requirement or just because you really love helping out at the library, we may have opportunities available for you! Please complete the online application at before attending. Grades 9-12Trivia Tuesday *RRTuesday, September 17, 7 pmShow us your smarts at pub-style trivia! Play against your friends, putting your pop culture knowledge to the test. The winning team walks off with prizes and bragging rights! Snacks provided. Grades 6-12Star Mag *RRWednesday, September 18, 3:45 pmCalling all kid writers and artists! Drop in to help create this magazine written by, for and about kids, and published by the library. Grades 3-6First Look Book Group *RRThursday, September 19, 2:30 pmWant to discover the next big thing in YA lit? First Look is for you! Hang out with other teen fiction aficionados and read books hot off the presses. Take home a book to keep after every meeting! Grades 6-12The College Camp *RRThursday, September 19, 7 pmIs college the right next step for you? Kristin Allaben, COO and Certified Greatness Zone Coach, can help high school students make the most informed decision possible about whether college, a trade school, or apprenticeship is the right fit, as well as additional guidance about what to do after senior year. Grades 9-12 and parentsLike Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.comShare this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedLIBRARY LINEUP: FREE Bach, Beethoven, & Brahams Concert On Sept. 12In “Community”LIBRARY LINEUP: Library To Host 6-Week Great Decisions Series On Foreign Policy TopicsIn “Community”LIBRARY LINEUP: Summer Bash On August 15; Coffee With A Cop On August 21In “Community”last_img read more

Baltimore Homicide Rate Falls in January after Deadly 2015

first_imgBALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore’s homicide rate fell in January for the first time since unrest in April.Media outlets report that that the city recorded 14 killings in January. That’s less than half of the 33 homicides in December and lower than the 25 in January 2015.Last year, the city counted 344 homicides. That was Baltimore’s second-highest homicide count on record. It also was the city’s deadliest year on record per-capita.Police Commissioner Kevin Davis says the decline in homicide rates last month bodes well for the rest of 2016.Nonfatal shootings in the city have not decreased, however. As of Jan. 23, nonfatal shootings increased by 36 percent compared with the same period last year. There were 38 reported last month, compared with 35 in January 2015.last_img read more

Bedi hails adversary takes potshots at party

first_imgAt a time when BJP humbly accepted  defeat and described it as a ‘collective loss’, its Chief Ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi blamed party leadership for her rout.While giving ‘full marks’ to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Chief Arvind Kejriwal for his historic victory, Kiran quickly changed her stand and claimed that she had given her best. “It was the BJP that lost and needs to introspect. They should find the reasons for the defeat,” Bedi, who lost from Krishna Nagar seat, a BJP stronghold for years, said. Also Read – Need to understand why law graduate’s natural choice is not legal profession: CJIRaking up the issue, she claimed that BJP made her a member without taking any money and said, “I am part of the BJP. I don’t regret my decision. Who is saying I am not taking responsibility for the BJP defeat? I am.. I also said BJP leadership will take stock of what went wrong!” she said.Shocked over the debacle, a reluctant and cornered BJP initially refused to come out with an official statement but senior party leader and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accompanied by state BJP chief Satish Upadhyay accepted the defeat ‘officially’. “BJP respects the verdict of Delhi voters. We humbly accept our defeat in Delhi. People chose to go with PM Modi and BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, but chose AAP over us in Assembly elections. We will play the role of a responsible opposition,” he added. Also Read – Health remains key challenge in India’s development: KovindUpadhyay, who was accompanied by party MP Prabhat Jha and national general secretary Ram Lal, looked devastated. “People have dissected us and we have to accept it,” Jha said. On the context of whether the result would weaken BJP’s standing in Bihar, West Bengal and in Punjab in coming years, a party leader said: “ We will take stock after our party chief Amit Shah returns from Ahmedabad after his son’s wedding. Then there will be major changes in the party structure.”last_img read more