Response to a Chinese

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Response to a Chinese

Post  Guest on Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:37 pm

A Chinese friend asked me:
Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India all attained independence from the British around the same time. Yet it is India which continues to remain the most backward economically. Why so?


my comment: The British did something very peculiar in India. They destroyed the indigenous handicrafts industry in a systematic way by levying a tax on a product made in India and not taxing the same products made in England. Because of this and also because of the industrialization in England (due to the industrial revolution) and the consequent large scale production, British made good were underpriced in comparison to the same Indian made goods. This resulted in a destruction of the indigenous handicrafts industry in India in a somewhat comprehensive way. Whereas earlier 40% of the people had been engaged in industry, the figure came down to 10% after the British employed their rapacious economic policies on India. Otherwise India too would have experienced the industrial revolution like the British did.

I also explained to him that at the time of Aurangzeb's death in 1707 most of present day India (and also large parts of present day Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan) had been under one rule, but that when Aurangzeb died and the mughal empire broke up it became much easier for the british to start destroying and swallowing India in a piece meal fashion. If the British would not have come, i stated that India would have eventually achieved political unity again under some other king and some other dynasty. I reminded him of the ancient chinese saying:

A kingdom long united must divide,
long divided must unite.


I also told him that we have accounts of contemporary European travelers in the 16th and 17th centuries to Indian cities who compare cities like Delhi and Agra very favorably with London and Paris of those times. I also said that in terms of projected per capita GDP India at the time of the mughals was the wealthiest nation in the world.

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There are probably multiple factors as to why India remains economically backward compared to places like Canada and i believe my response to be only a partial explanation pending a deeper study of the issue.

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Re: Response to a Chinese

Post  Guest on Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:02 pm

Addendum: it was pointed out to me that even though Canada gained independence from the British in 1931, it had attained 'Dominion status' (internal self-rule) in the 19th century. This had not taken place in India where 'Dominion Status' and 'independence' were attained at the same time.

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