Sunday, March 14, 2004

Empire: By Neall ferguson: My thoughts

Just saw the history channel program on this book and got the basic idea about what this book is all about.(should have read this book before writing this article). Seems like it is a how-to book for building empires. So I thought I will add my thought on the subject. Basically this occured while reading the rise of the ottoman empire(one of the longest enduring empire 13/14th century to 19th century). If you look at the concept of genisaries and streach to administrative services we get ICS(Indian Civil Services). Knowingly or unknowingly the britishers developed a process of choosing the people (intellectual, receptive and monetarily successful but not traditional elite), "shock and awe" them culturally in their society, and then use them to govern the local people(since they feel themselves to be different from "barbarian" local population). This feature is quite apparent in most of the novels written by PremChandra (the great Indian novelist during pre-independence India). This seems to the way the British developed their civil service system which was used to rule India. The rulers/viceroy like Curzon and others may think they were working in interest of local population but being so far away from locals that there is no way they could have known what locals' interest were. But something that really worked over time in India's favour was that some of the elites got disillutioned with the "shock and awe" Birtish rulers' culture and so the mechanisms and institutions that were setup to rule Indian seems to have been turned against the British in the end. But one thing that I would really give to British is that they did not try to supress the movement using bullets. This may be due to the foolhardiness or underestimation of movement during initial stages and/or due to shear size of the movement at the later stage which may have resulted in violent rebellion. Besides that the idea that problems of world is not result of British Imperialism is at the very least laughable statement. The british rulers of the colonies without any consideration of local sentiments and possible consiquences drew the administrative/country lines which has been the point of contention for past 60 years. This may be because of the bankrupcy of the Britain after 2nd world war, complete lack of interest of ruling parties in leaving the existing colonies without any thought about the future and local leaders in rush to get "independence" thought that all the problems will be solved automatically when the Britishers will leave. This thinking, that imperialistic powers are needed to help the barbarians develop culture/democracy, is the base to any modern imperialism(since late mid-19th century) which tries to justify the cultural and social disruption of native people as humanitarianism and cultural assimilation. Anyway, this has been going on for century in one form or other and continue till we are part of civilization because of inherent human nature.

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