Was the British Raj good for India?

I don’t know the answer and you don’t, either. I just want to point out that there are many wrong ways of looking at it. Two wrong reasons to oppose the British Rule are:

  1. “They did it for selfish reasons!” Excuse me? The question was not whether they wanted to help India. The question is what they ended up doing. So to say that the Railways and the modern system of government that they gave us do not count because they were done for selfish purposes, is fallacious. I especially don’t want to hear this from fellow Capitalists. We spend so much of our time groaning about how the evil Socialists don’t understand that intentions don’t translate into results. How do you think it sounds when you do the same thing?
  2. “India’s share of world GDP went from 22.6% in 1700 to 3.8% in 1952” If you aren’t a subscriber to the fallacy of zero-sum thinking, what does this prove? This statistic has been used to argue that the British robbed India’s wealth. It is entirely possible that they did, but this statistic does not prove it. It so happens that the Western world was enjoying an Industrial revolution at that time. This revolution hit India late. This is the proximal reason why Britain ended up wealthier than India.Was it Britain’s fault that India’s industrialisation took place late? Many people think so. But the policy they hold responsible for this looks suspiciously to me like… Free Trade.

    Now I can understand how free trade in that specific instance would have led to the deindustrialization of India. The Britons had a comparative advantage in manufactured goods and we in agricultural commodities. But it is wrong to talk just of the unemployment among weavers, but not of the benefits to farmers from cheap clothes. A flood of cheap manufactured consumer goods must have brought some benefit to some people – after all they were getting something they valued at a lower price. Does this benefit cancel out the loss of some livelihoods? I wish someone would run the numbers. Besides, India didn’t just buy consumer goods from the British. We also bought machinery from them – machines which were used to set up textile mills in India by traders who earlier used to import finished cloth from Great Britain. So free trade policies ultimately resulted in the start of the reindustrialization of India. Would protecting the handloom weaver have resulted in the modernization of the textile industry faster? Protection didn’t work during Nehru’s time. What makes you think it would have worked in that bygone era?

    So as I was saying, I would really like to read a criticism of the Raj that doesn’t reflexively assume that free trade was a bad thing. To what extent the did the British deviate from free trade policies? What other bad policies did they follow? The share of world GDP doesn’t tell me anything.

    Actually, even if such criticism could be made, it would not automatically condemn the Raj. All governments are imperfect in some way. The right way to do the comparison is to look at what kind of rule we would have been under if the British had not ruled us. There, I am afraid we enter the realm of speculation.

The supporters of the Raj do indulge in the speculation, but then they go out and say things like:

  1. “The British delivered us from bad feudal rulers!” Really? All of Europe was under feudal rule till about 1600 or so. It was the spread of technologies like the printing press that made possible the widespread change in attitudes that led to the enlightenment. To be fair, the process was two-way – the attitudes in turn led to further technology advancements. It is simply unrealistic to assume that India would not have gotten the benefit of technology and this would not have led to changes in our political structure. Please note – I am not saying that it is unrealistic to conclude the same things after giving the matter some thought. Just don’t assume that the situation would have been the same for 250 years.
  2. “The British united us!” Um… that’s simply not true. As I’ve explained, political unity is one thing. The consciousness of ourselves as a common people is quite another. Political unity requires an army, transport and communications, the technology for which was simply not available before the industrial revolution. But the idea that we Indians have something in common has been in our consciousness for centuries. If an educated class had arisen in India, I’d be very surprised if a movement for unity had not arisen among them. Whether they would have succeeded or not is a different matter altogether.

The challenge then in understanding the benefits or harms from the Raj is in constructing an alternative history which is not completely imaginary. We should be able to say “If events unfolded in a slightly different way, then this would have happened.” I submit that the event that took place on January 14th, 1761 is the most promising place to start.

122 thoughts on “Was the British Raj good for India?

  1. There is two ways to analyze this question:

    1) What would have happened had the East India Company and Britain never entered the subcontinent?

    Causation is a funny thing. I suppose it’s impossible to state for certain what would have happend. I submit that the likely scenarios (in order of liklihood IMO) are
    (a) colonization by another more brutal regime ie French or Japanese
    (b) conquest by Persian/Afghan powers
    (c) an internal destruction of the Mughal Empire and rule of Marathas or another internal faction.
    (d) a resurgence of the Mughal powers
    (e) continuous warfare between rival shifting states
    (f) mutual assention of the States into a union. (This I give about a 0.00001% chance of actually having happened as it has happened, by my count, once in all of human history*).

    Of these I see the emergence of a secular, united, democracy as either delayed in comparison to what actually happened, or forgone completely.

    However some of the scenarios may have provided larger per capita incomes, but any reasonably accurate determination of which would require computers and econometric analysis that i can’t imagine exist.

    2) What did the British “take” and what did they “give” us?

    “take”:
    On the one hand they took treasury wealth(jewels), taxes, and structered our economy as a periphery.

    “give”
    On the other hand they gave us a democracy, a canal system in Punjab, a railway network, common law, [Madras, New Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai among other cities], English, Unity (despite your assertion to the contrary*), and deliverence from Feudal rule (also despite your assertion to the contrary**)

    Between these it’s difficult to balance b/c despite the longer list I gave on the “give” side, the “periphery economy” argument may have had a greater cost in lives that we can imagine, which is to say that despite India’s many accomplishments in politics and economics recently, the enormous human costs (incurred historically as well as currently) of severe (per capita) impoverishment may outweigh the benefits.

    It’s a toss up on this analysis.

    * – Your assertion that they did not “give us unity” is dodgy in my opinion. Even you admit that they did give us unity, you simply also claim that we may have acheived it anyway. I dispute that based on the historical record that sovereign states rarely if ever in history have acquiesed their sovereignty without a fight or coercion to a larger unit (all I can think of is East and West Germany in 1989). Take the problems that the EU has had currently in integrating as an illustrative example.

    ** – Your assertion of the invalidity of the argument that “they delivered us from bad feudal rulers,” fails for the same logic. They simply did deliver us from feudalism, you only assert that we may have delivered ourselves had they not. Again, it may have happened, but if you consider the alternatives to British rule, what causal steps would have to play out in order for that to have happened? Think about how entrenched the feudal economics has been in Indian history, society, and most importantly religion.

  2. one more thing: a question was raised about why (a) unity and (b) english were benefits to India.

    (a) Unity while not neccesarily good for Europe is good for India b/c of the factual realities of (i) rivers and (ii) winters. In Europe, linguistic and national groups were generally allotteed periods of peace during winters b/c transporting armies accross large uncrossable riverways was difficult. In India, during the winters the rivers are crossable. Thus war is non-stop and expensive.

    (b) English is not per se good for India. But, in factum, by coincidence of history America also speaks English and also is the largest importer of goods and services from the world. Additionally the success of the British in spreading English world wide has made it a widely used language. This gives India a tremendous advantage in providing the world with services and literature.

  3. Anand says:”They simply did deliver us from feudalism, you only assert that we may have delivered ourselves had they not. ”

    Really? haha!

    Please take out the time to try and read up on Indian history again.

  4. Too many comments to wade through but I would make this point: although starting conditions are important what a person or a country does thereafter becomes their responsibility.

    An invader that leaves a country supremely enhanced/impoverished has had a significant initial effect on that country but in the years that follow the enhance/impoverished country can make choices and decisions that, over time, diminish those starting conditions. An India that embraced communism from 1947 onwards will be a different country today to one that embraced undiluted free-market economics.

    Remember: Pakistan, India and Bangladesh were all affected by the Raj. Their positions today are very different. We cannot be responsible for all three different outcomes. In the end, Pakistan is where the Pakistanis put it, Bangladesh is where Bangladeshis put it and India is where Indians put it.

    And the UK is where we put it.

    GM

  5. It is interesting to have a Briton on this discussion. He however seems to have got the feeling that the discussion on British rule is a post mortem. However in reality it is a very current discussion inasmuch as it influences the course of India’s current and future direction. To my mind, the question on Raj impacts the sub-continent roughly in these ways –

    IT is about the relevance of the “White Man’s burden”, which might be very unpopular in the West today, is still very influential for many Indians as Gary would notice if he had read through all the posts.

  6. What else do expect from the kind of crowd that blogs and has the time to wander around such places? English-speaking apers of the West who believe that ideas and solutions deviced for the West can be transplanted wholesale to India. I have seen better self-belief among people from lower middle-class.

  7. Yum Yum says re: feudalism: “Really? haha! Please take out the time to try and read up on Indian history again. ”

    It seems that what Yum Yum lacks in details, facts, logic, or substance, he more than makes up for in condescension, vagueness and a self-proclaimed superior knowledge of history.

    Let me be more clear if I wasn’t before: Prior to British rule, a large part of Indian society, if not all of it lived under either the rule of the Mughal Empire, Sultans, or the Rajas. All of whom excersised a discretionary amount of power over their subjects. Additionally caste rolls were largely preserved. Post British rule, we have a system that legally doesn’t distinguish between castes (except for in an affirmative way), we have a democratic federation at every level. A large part of the reason we have this is b/c the British imposed a federated democracy on us. Although they did it in an appartheid manner when they ruled, they nevertheless imposed the system on us. Thus the British delivered us from feudalism.

    Now I hope Yum Yum’s response contains some details (facts, reasons, arguments, etc) about why I am wrong, if I am wrong. Hopefully he doesn’t make his imbecility self-evident by responding with condescending laughter and a dismissive “go read history.”

  8. Ananda,

    You are arguing with me about something that I never discussed. In your response to me you have compared pre-British India to post-British India. I thought Ravikiran’s post was how the British affected India. One cannot give credit to the British for the directions that Indian leaders took after they departed this country. One has to look at how the British ruled India. So the British imposed a ‘federated democracy’? What you call federated democracy is a the organisation of colonial rule with its brutes, carpetbaggers and local knaves. But you are unable to recognise that.

    It is difficult to summarise the history of British rule in India for you in a few paragraphs. Some work on your part will be needed. It is useless to give tidbits. My aim is to make you look out for information.

    I will give some pointers. Try to find out about the taxation system under the British, how some warrior castes were converted into feudal landlord classes, how the recruitment to the Indian armed forces and police was conducted (e.g. Madras regiment, Sikh regiment, Maratha regiment etc), learn more about ‘divide and rule policy’ and so forth. The list is long. The details vast.

    It seems you are angered by my response. But I was really amused by such literary diahrrhea about nothing. What you lack in knowledge you make up with verbosity and catchwords. It is the sign of a truly self-confident person.

    As for the argument that if not the British then some more brutal regime would have colonised us. What if we were not colonised at all? What if the French weren’t successful because they were not brutal or divisive enough?

    Here is an excerpt from Saed Naqvi’s article in the New Indian Express of July 1:
    “……After the 1857 uprising, when news reached Britain that the “Hindoos” had “boiled alive an English girl in pure ghee”, retaliation was savage: 47 Indian soldiers in Peshawar were strapped to cannons and blown to smithereens. In Cawnpore, British officers made the “mutineers” lick the blood of their English victims, then shot them one by one. The great Times of London proclaimed: “every tree and gable-end in place should have its burden in the shape of the mutineers’ carcass.” Lt Kendal Coghill records: “We burnt every village and hanged all the villagers who had treated our fugitives badly until every tree was covered with scoundrels hanging from every branch.” One huge banyan tree was “decorated with 150 corpses”……”

    Yes, the British were nice colonisers.

  9. Yum Yum,

    Thank you for your response. I was not angered at your prior response, but somewhat dissapointed in your analysis. I thought i’d goad you a little to make you flush out your argument a little more. Make no mistake, I don’t ask you to post large tracts of Indian history. Rather, I would prefer if your assertions were supported by historical fact or trend. Let me respond to you by asking a few focused questions:

    (1) My response you your last quote was responding solely to the issue of whether fudalism was ended by the British. I agree that they were not “nice colonizers” as that term itself is an oxymoron. But leaving aside issues of brutality, taxation, etc., and only focussing on the issue of Feudal economics: do you believe that prior to British rule that a system of feudalism dominated? After 1947 did this system still dominate the governance of the subcontinent?

    (2) As to the alternatives of British rule, this is a realm of speculation. My earlier post set out a list of possible alternatives. What are the alternative possibilities that you would suggest would have occurred? Do you think that India would have been strong enough to withstand foreign invansion? Do you think that without foreign invasion it could have been unified? Before you answer that quesiton ask yourself 2 other questions (a) Has India at any prior time in history been unified through mutual assention without conquest? (b) How many sovereign states, in the history of the world, have peacefully forgone sovereignty to unite into a larger nation? (by my count only E. and W. Germany in 1989, and the 13 American colonies in 1789, in both cases the peoples were united by a common language, a feature which the Indian states have never had).

    3) I agree that British rule had a tremendous economic cost on India, and that as a result a tremendous human cost on India and must be wieghed against any benefit the British conferred upon us. This was discussed in my original post.

    4) Lastly, as to causal effects of our leaders post-1947 you are partially correct, I think in earlier posts I may have assumed that certain positive aspects of India, observable today, are attributable to the British. In actuallity they are attributable in large part to the Indian people (not just leaders). But I would argue that the legal, educational and political infrastructure left by the British certainly helped us.

  10. Yum Yum, one more thing, your response need not assert historical facts in support of your position that the British were at times brutal in their rule. This point is not at issue. I concede that they were brutal. I hope that you would support assertions of the issues that are in questions which seem to be (a) would fedal economics still exist without British rule and (b) would India be united without British rule.

    Also can you clarify the term “literary diarrhea”? I find it amusing but somewhat ambiguous.

  11. “But leaving aside issues of brutality, taxation, etc., and only focussing on the issue of Feudal economics:”

    How can anyone leave aside brutality and taxation from an analysis of feudalism (including feudal economics)? I am not here to teach anyone anything. In fact I am here to see if there are perspectives I have missed. To learn analysis, you will find better sources.

    Would India have been unified without British colonialism? Why not? The British mischieviously tried to make sure that India was not united when they left. They partly succeeded. It is Sardar Patel’s tactics that made sure that many small kingdoms joined India. Many countries have united by themselves. Germany, Italy, Afghanistan etc. None of these countries were absolutely homogeneous at the time of unification. In fact they still are not. The unification of India might have been slower thats all. Ashoka once unified almost all of what is now India. It would not have been mpossible for a native Indian to do it. The impoverishment of India does not justify the costs of unification through British rule. I am not a statist. I am not seduced by visions of a powerful ruling over vast masses of land. I believe that people matter most. Their livelihoods, standards of living and well-being. Unified or not, Indians would have been far more prosperous and perhaps industrialised the way Europe did.

    The example of brutality was just a postscript for those who were saying that the British were nicer. It was not directed at you.

    There is a lot of information that would be needed to explain why you are wrong on many counts. If you are interested, read Indian history books by Bipin Chandra Pal, ‘Wealth and Poverty of Nations’ by David Landes, ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond and ‘Locked in Place’ by Vivek Chibber.

    I am not going to argue anymore.

  12. Yum Yum: “I am not going to argue anymore.”

    You’re stopping? Too bad. I actually considered our discourse a debate and not an argument. And I thought it was just getting good. Well I’ll have my say, and hopefully someone will pick up where you left off.

    “How can anyone leave aside brutality and taxation from an analysis of feudalism”

    Brutality and taxation can be left out of a discussion of feudalism b/c they speak to other issues. Feudalism, is a system of governance and societal organization. Thus bias in taxation can be present even as the the societal organization gets better. Moving from absolute and discretionary rule to a democratic and procedural system can occur despite unfairness in tax systems. This is what occurred in India. Similarly instances of brutality can occur even as societal organization changes for the better, in fact brutality almost always occurs as a result of societal change. (as a side note providing instances of brutality is unpersuasive as to the entire issue of whether the reigning government is bad or good. India has been a violent place from the battle of Kalinga to Gujarat in 2002.)

    Yum Yum: “Would India have been unified without British colonialism? Why not? ”

    Again you assert “why not” but the real question is how? You proceed from a base that India is unified today, and thus the natural course of history would have lead us here without colonialism. The evidence you provide is Italy, and Germany and Afghanistan. Italy’s unification was largely due to conquest by Napolean, Germany’s was due to conquest by Prussians. I am not familiar with Afghanistan’s. Comparing the diversity of Italy or Germany to that of India is beyond silly. These areas have atleast a common LANGUAGE. India does not even have that. You assert the example of Ashoka, who united through conquest. As did Aurangzeb. The problem is that when conquest is used to unify a multi-linguist, multi-cultural society is that some culture is always left disenfranchised and then look for a way to topple the conquerer, resulting in perpetual war. Thus rarely has India acheived long lasting unity. The benefit of the British conquest was that they unified, and then left. Thus while we can be disenfranchised, there is no-one to topple. This gives our unity a permanency that it hasn’t had before.

    Yum Yum: “I am not a statist. I am not seduced by visions of a powerful ruling over vast masses of land. I believe that people matter most.”

    Hey I’m with you on the idea that people matter most. But 2 things about unity help Indian people immensely.

    (1) Economies of scale. You have to remember economies of scale. India’s current and future economic success depends greatly upon the economies of scale which are the benefits coferred by a united federation.

    Much more importantly – (2) Reduction of War. Another benefit of unity is severe reduction of warfare. You mentioned Europe. Europe is now succesful, but they paid the price of nearly 1500 years of war and near total obliteration of itself three or four times. And this is with rivers and winters to prevent consant warfare. India may not have been so lucky. India without unity, could (and historically has) meant perpetual warfare.

  13. Yum Yum: re Unity and Sardar Patel

    Patel and Menon tied up the loose ends in convincing the Princely states to join a Indian greater polity, united by the Raj. Without the greater polity, it would be unlikely that the princely states would have assented to unity, in fact they would have nothing to join.

  14. I wish to tell all my compatriates that we Indians belive in total falsehood as far as indian history is concerned.We do not have or apply simple common sense when it is about the history(lies) about our freedom struggle(if at all!) do not lable me ‘pro British’! but facts have to be realised some day is not it? I have done great amount of research about the British Raj which will soon be published! Did the British really robbed our wealth? if so what wealth ?how much? and how? no one can give even a vague answer that would touch the logic sense of a normal human.Every so called historian of India (British rule) are so insensitive to the Explosion of science during the last 150 years -about maritime history-about epidemics -advent of antibiotics- communication & media-audio&radio-telegraph telephone -ocean going vessels- canals- voyage time -bulk carriage – semicinductor -mineral history of India -etc etc -without any rationale they simply accuse that the British drained and robbed all our natural wealth -most commonly every Indian believes that by plundering KOHINOOR Diamond they have rendered us in total misery and poverty!
    I will soon expose all these myths through my forthcomming book with evidences -all material- no heresay as our so called historians! anybody dare defy me!

    Kesavan Chakravarthy
    July13th 2005

  15. Hey guys I do agree with all your comments. But its partly correct and
    partly wrong. British Raj was actually not good for India because they
    looted India a lot and they have most of the wealth from us, you will
    realize this if you take a detailed history book not the school book and read about British Raj. I believe it would have been better if they ruled
    alteast we wouldnt have had those F*****G politicians. Look at the city
    of Hong Kong and Australia how beautiful and sytematic it is because of
    British Raj. Some people might say because of English language in India
    we are much forward but look at the countries like Germany,France, Japan
    They dont know English but yet are developed countries. Now my final
    conclusion is that we have been looted by British royally and also by all
    other rulers like the afghans, French, Portugal the reason is that we dont
    have unity. British werent as selfish as we are now. We think of ourselves
    more than the society and country. We have a large population and its
    impossible to dump in everyones mind that we need to change our attitude.

  16. Hey guys I do agree with all your comments. But its partly correct and partly wrong. British Raj was actually not good for India because they looted India a lot and they have most of the wealth from us, you will realize this if you take a detailed history book not the school book and read about British Raj. I believe it would have been better if they ruled alteast we wouldnt have had those F*****G politicians. Look at the city of Hong Kong and Australia how beautiful and sytematic it is because of British Raj. Some people might say because of English language in India we are much forward but look at the countries like Germany,France, Japan They dont know English but yet are developed countries. Now my final conclusion is that we have been looted by British royally and also by all other rulers like the afghans, French, Portugal the reason is that we dont have unity. British werent as selfish as we are now. We think of ourselves more than the society and country. We have a large population and its impossible to dump in everyones mind that we need to change our attitude.

  17. Kesavan.Chakravarthy

    Hey dude goo that you do the research on British Raj however the things like railways, telecommunications, etc were started for their own purpose not for Indians not because they wanted to improve our country. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands they have made swimming pool and tennis court and hot water bathing facility and I have seen all these with my own eyes and they havent done all these to make the Indians life easier in Kala Pani and you should be knowing how they tortured Indians and well we wont realize that because they went through pain and not us. Britishers made our ancestors life miserable. Any comments from anyone is most welcome.

  18. hey…
    many thanx to all who have posted their comments here . I’ve got a feeling i’m gonna win my debate on the pros and cons of the raj .My own feelings-the brits gave us a lot , took something even greater , the net effect being thazt the “good and bad” consequences of the brits are overlapping . Frankly , for the sake of the freedom fighters i loathe the brits for setting their foot in inddia , but living in 2005 , i don’t give a damn . i’m more bothered with a dozen ideas on how to achieve Vision-India 2020
    ps-it’s Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s vision of a developed india by 2020 and even though deep down i know we wont succeed fully , we can do a lot by just trying.

  19. hey…
    many thanx to all who have posted their comments here . I’ve got a feeling i’m gonna win my debate on the pros and cons of the raj .My own feelings-the brits gave us a lot , took something even greater , the net effect being thazt the “good and bad” consequences of the brits are overlapping . Frankly , for the sake of the freedom fighters i loathe the brits for setting their foot in inddia , but living in 2005 , i don’t give a damn . i’m more bothered with a dozen ideas on how to achieve Vision-India 2020
    ps-it’s Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s vision of a developed india by 2020 and even though deep down i know we wont succeed fully , we can do a lot by just trying.


  20. Hi.
    A good way of looking at this is like imagining someone who comes to your home to discuss with your family some business deal.You see he sleeps in your home saying he is just here for some days to do business.

    A couple of months later you see that some more people,the other persons colleagues,(including people with weapons and some gifts)come in.

    Now they say business will continue…but they will need to use your kitchen,your rooms,youe home office,your computers,even your safes…and you have to do it..either take gifts or be ready to die.

    Some members of the house(could be you, could be me) refuse to accept that, and some settle to lose their rights,their own home built by them.

    What if they “gave “us english(excuse me for not starting this word with a capital letter)?What if they “brought” few industrial equipments,guns or for that matter railway engines?

    The reason for my writing is simple……You can never understand what happened to someone else next door,or perhaps to your own country in past unless you try to extend the same situation to your daily life…imagine someone put a gun before your dad to say,hand over to us the keys of your office.

    The bristish had NO RIGHT to rule the world.Why were people massacred in cold blood during their rule?Why did Jalianwala Bagh Tragedy happen?Would it have made a difference to your current opinion about the british rule in India if one of your family member,say your spouse, dad ,mom or grandparent had been killed in that tragedy?

    Its said that charity begins at home.A corollary could be put yourself in someone else’s shoe…before commenting on the Nation as a whole about the “Was the british raj good for India?”, think its not a nation..its your home..you are a witness,you see your family members being asked for opinions at gun-point,or perhaps bribed for illicit purposes..or perhaps you are being persuaded to kill your own brother.

    Think that it happened to you,it happened to me,in real,in this life..imagine for a couple of minutes and then write anything on “Was the british raj good for India?”

    French take pride in speaking French,Spaniards in Spanish..Japanese in Japanese…they have their native language versions of Microsoft Windows….but unfortunately thats not our case.

    It could be easier to reject this argument as one of emotion,but do think about the rule,about the killing,about the suffering in terms of something happening to your own brother,sister,mom or dad..and judge how much agony would that create for you.Think that way, and you have the answer.

    Its not that I am a great patriot of India,but for sure, I definitely am,of my freedom,my family’s freedom,freedom of the people I live with,I work with.And I hate anyone who tries to assail that freedom.I would rather fight actively,by brain or by bullet to get that emancipation.

    Regards,
    J.
    12 Aug 2005

  21. It seems to me that the question needs to be asked in each region. For instance, educated Bengalis given to proclaiming the evils of British colonialism in this generation can be seen to have benefited Greatly. Policies and taxes Not Good for assorted rural or industrial groups, and the production of an Indian ‘middle class’, unfortunately, occurred in a manner that could separate it too far from those below, or for that matter, those above. I think the real question is one that was once asked in Commonwealth universities, of where would South Asia be had the British not arrived and in their nuttiness endeavoured to ‘rule’ an enormous, diverse, set of territories. One needs to consider the subcontinent as a French colony, as one contributor suggested, or as a horrible Belgian colony, as a Portuguese overseas dominion of forced labour, and yes, look to the liveliness of Latin America. Even the term of ‘British’ is an anomaly… as occurred elsewhere in the British Empire — Scots and Irish, often of quite modest backgrounds, ‘ran’ the place, the English merely ruled it.

  22. Yahooooooooo ya nice people!
    i agree with you, that the 3rd world state of india is accomplished by the britains.
    but i’ve heard of you communism part in india, which seems to work very good.
    so it was told to me by a german woman, who visits our class, with a girlfriend from lovely india.
    they told us about your employeeless-rate of 6 percent and i must say in germany we got 20 percent of our people without a job.
    so big up to yaself and peace.

  23. The British conquered India not by using their Army but by deceit and treachery. They ruled by using various means of deception, intimidation, projecting themselves as saviours, reformists etc. They wanted the people to be thankful that they saved them from the anarchy, if they hadn’t come we would have been barbarians and they had civilized us and reformed our uncultured ways. They succeeded in their lies for 200 years and they have succeeded again after leaving for some to even think that there was good in their rule.

  24. Thank you all for this discussion. Our school uses a themed approach to Humanities in the middle school (ages 11 – 14), and this year the theme is India, China and Japan. In my class the students are debating the pros and cons of the Indian experience of and legacy of British rule. Your comments will provide them insight that I, as a native of Maine in the US, cannot.

  25. > name one country (or even region) that was ever a colony of an European power that went on to become an industrial power.

    An unfortunate statement! How about the United States and Canada? Both former British colonies and both now with respectable manufacturing capabilities. In the case of the US, we had to fight two wars with the Motherland, initial Rebellion and then War of 1812, but have been on good terms since mid-Nineteenth Century and have benefited greatly as I believe India has (if you will permit an opinion from a relatively unbiased outside observer). The Brits were a colonial power to be sure, with all the disparagements that go with such a system, but there is little doubt in my mind that they went about it in a more honest and gentlemanly manner than any other power the World has seen before or since, and gave more back to the land than any other would have. The Brits are great engineers, builders, and governors; and India will enjoy that legacy for many generations to come. In comparison my own land, the US, does not even begin to deal with other less fortunate countries in anything like such an honest manner. Anyone else, including most of India’s own princes, would have raped the country far worse and given back far less in substantial improvements and constructions than the British did. I think it is extremely significant that sixty years after their departure, Indians are still debating their impact and trying to fill their shoes, as the saying goes. To a visitor, much of India, especially in the cities, seems to be crumbling British ruin with little quality replacement even after decades. Even the Brits themselves, the National Trust (for historic structures) have said that some of the most beautifil British structures are not in their own country but in India. I mean to say, it seems to many of us watching as if Indians are still struggling in many ways to measure up, to equal or replace what the British built. I am tempted to think, from my own observations, that the British finally leaving, and the chaos that followed, was the worst aspect of the Raj. Believe it or not, there are many in the US who think the World would have been a better and more pleasant place if we had stayed British here too in America.

  26. i think they were good enough exept for te little bit of harsh treatment the gave

    think about the jallianwhala bagh treatment it was the worse any ways being given a chance i would travel to britain and treat the british the same way their ancestors treated us

  27. why were high intellectual entities like subhash candra bose, bhagat singh, mahatma gandhi…… out n out anti british, dont u think these people wodnt have shed light on the aspect that uve looked upon. u sound a bit over optimistic n also like those typical british raj supporters along with a new peg of reasoning.
    sending the replay that i wrote to a similar article by – mr karan thapar
    first is the article then the replay – respond to me – yogibms@gmail.com

    From Raj to Swaraj
    (Karan Thapar – Sunday HT 17 July)

    I suppose our dislike of British rule is understandable. What’s not is our lack of knowledge. Even less so our inability to understand the English language. Yet it seems the latter two have led astray the vast majority of critics of the prime ministers speech last week at oxford. This is why a set of sentiments which are perfectly unexceptional – if not undeniable – have become seemingly controversial. Although in all fairness I should add that the PM’s arguments could have benefited from the odd codicil or two and a little better balancing.
    First lets see what the PM actually said:
    “with the balance and perspective… of hindsight, it is possible for the Indian prime minister to assert that India’s experiences with the British had its beneficial consequences too.” Note the word too. It refers to the comments he made earlier in the speech about how “there is no doubt that our grievances against the British Empire (have) a sound basis.” In particular quoting the historian Angus Maddison, he pointed out that India’s share of world income collapsed from 22.6% in 1700, when it was almost equal to Europe at 23.3%, to 3.8% in 1952.
    At no point as the BJP erroneously claims, did the PM describe British rule as good governance. The closest he came to it was, in fact a long way off. Referring to as popular slogan of the British struggle ‘self governance is more precious than good governance’, he commented “the slogan suggests that even at the height of our campaign for freedom from colonial rule we did not entirely reject the British claim to good governance.” To conclude form this as BJP does, that Manmohan Singh was praising the Raj for its governance is, quite simply, to misunderstand his English. I’m afraid they have.
    Now, let’s look at the facts. Can we deny our parliamentary democracy, independent judiciary, civil service, free press and the concept of equality of all despite caste or creed are British inherited or influenced? Can we dispute that they created the railways, the telegraph, the postal services, the army as well as our public schools and universities, our clubs and even our chota pegs? I dare no would deny that the English language that we speak – despite what we’ve done to it – is a gift from them. But what might amaze you is that the modern ‘re-discovery’ of our Sanskrit culture, including our Vedas, the Upanishads and the Manusmriti, is the work of British scholars such as Bloomfield, Burton, Carey, Colebrooke, Griffith, Monier-Williams, Rhys Davis and Wilkins.
    And then there’s cricket. This dreadful game which I find a bore is, of course, a British invention. At it’s the concept of gentleman which, somewhat imperfectly, we aspire to.
    Even Karl Marx, the original opponent of imperialism, praised the Raj, in essays published in 1853 in the New York Tribune; he believed British rule was essential for India’s liberation from feudalism and its translation into the modern world. To the Raj he gave the credit of India’s unity, the beginnings of a bourgeoisie and for breaking up the self-sufficient inertia of its dormant villages. The Raj was India’s shortcut to catch up with the world.
    So where did Manmohan Singh go wrong? First of all, he didn’t. At least not really. However what he is guilty of is abbreviating the downside. He doffed his pugri to the economic ills of the British rule but appeared to ignore – or at least specify – its political pitfalls. The massacre at Jallianwalla and the Bengal Famine should have found mention. Their absence leaves critics to believe the atrocities they represent have been condoned. And perhaps this appraisal of the Raj – a sort of putting-in-perspective – should have been done on the home ground rather than the British soil and that too in thanks for an honorary doctorate. To me the occasion and timing don’t matter but I can see how they have mislead others.
    Yet at the end of it all the Old Doc was right. 58 years after independence India must come to terms with its British past. That means acknowledging and accepting we benefited substantially from it, may be more than what we suffered, perhaps by a fair margin. Which is why it’s sad this attempt to grapple with the truth has brought forth a pack of howling ignoramuses. But they are part of our democracy. And they have a right to be heard.
    Oh well, lets be British about it!

    Heights of optimism

    Response – From raj to swaraj – Karan Thapar – Sunday HT – July 17-05

    Imagine a drunken driver knocks you down to taste the roads & you turn all blood. You are rushed to a hospital only to know that your anatomy is in a bad structure & you’ve lost a very important part of it, your leg!
    Imagine in this state of mental and physical agony you go limping to that ruthless drunkard and then to surprise of rationalism – you thank that person for not killing you!!
    Hard even to imagine – the illogical and absurd side of optimism.

    This egregious dimensions of optimism is what displayed by our oxford educated prime minister and his supporter Mr Karan Thapar, who says the speech would be balanced if the PM could codicil arguments of the Jallianwala and the Bengal famine –
    I question – Was that enough??

    “The Raj had its beneficial consequences too” –
    Despite of the word ‘too’; the mention of the word ‘grievances’ and the quote of the historian Angus Maddison which reflected the economic suffering of the country at large. Even if only these figures are taken as a basis – the downfall from 22.6% to 3.8% is too steep to call the invaders rule beneficial.

    Good Governance?
    How can he use the words “good governance” even if he does it partially and not entirely. If it was partly a good governance then how does one explain the Taxation Act which was passed to suppress the Indian entrepreneurs; the Education Act which stated the gurukuls illegal ……. The list goes on. Even if we site some rare examples of good governance was for their own ulterior motives.
    “Even a stopped clock shows correct time twice a day.”

    Quoting Mahatma Gandhi –
    Man Mohan Singh stated in his speech Mahatma Gandhi’s answer to the question “how far will u cut India from the empire?” which was (his answer) – “from the empire not at all. The emperorship should go and I would like to be equal partners with the british.” This lucidly states that Gandhiji was not a supporter of the empire and he wanted the emperorship to go – who has misunderstood English (or logic) Mr Thapar.

    Facts – Independent Judiciary –
    OK now let’s look at the true facts and not the handicapped ones. The fact is – if the then britishers wanted to rob my belongings, they would first legalise robbing and then go ahead. I may be exaggerating a bit in this example but the so called INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY is a result of such ideologies of the britishers.

    Concept of equality -British inherited?
    I am afraid if intellectuals like Man Mohan Singh and Mr Karan Thapar consider the “concept of equality” british inherited. My eyebrows were raised and my ‘how could they’ expression asked both the Oxford alumni – does their definition of equality include ‘Racism’. How can we forget the way we were treated worst than second grade citizens in our own country the first being the invaders and how our great prisoners shared their food with cockroaches and mice.

    Railways – a british gift
    Then came the thanks giving for the railways as a creation of the britishers. The famous argument by the british raj supporters, I not being one question them – would the country be deprived of the railways without the britishers? If we in the face of the great JRD TATA can introduce our pride the TATA Airlines (now the Indian Airlines) – was railway a distant dream?? If the britishers wouldn’t have suppressed Indian entrepreneurs with the illegal law of Taxation Act. How many Tata’s would the country have produced?

    Schools and Universities – education system
    Then the PM went on length talking about the schools, universities and the English language. These require a serious consideration. These schools and universities were built on the graveyards of our Gurukuls.
    Now let’s glance through the ture facts – Mr Thapar, which are unfortunately not known to the people and the related documents are eating dust in The House of Commons Library and the India House Library – London.
    Here I am talking about a document prepared and presented by Macaulay around the year 1835 in the british parliament after a survey on India before the takeover, which reveled some staggering facts. He stated after the survey – in Madras presidency alone (the whole of south India then) there were around 1.5 lakh Gurukuls (read schools and colleges), more than one college per village (according to the land revenue documents) out of which 22-25 thousand were termed as ‘Higher learning institutes’ by Macaulay. My eyes stood wide open with surprise when I read about the subjects being thought at these institutes (in Sanskrit off course) Astro Physics, Vedic Maths, Law and ethics ,Physics etc. nearly 1500 of them were surgery colleges , about 2000 colleges of architecture and if anyone doubts about the equality of education imagine the century old temples of south India. Rameshwaram in tamilnadu, the Bahubali in Karnataka….
    All this came to an end with the introduction of Indian education act which declared the gurukuls illegal and hence it donor became illegal. Gradually an entity called as gurukul became an extinct species. Imagine if this system of education continued to this day-a delightful thought-only a thought thanks to the so called beneficial rule (ok partly).

    The English language –
    Then let’s focus on the English language the so called gift from the britishers. Mr. PM positioned the language above our national language. I regard the usage of this language as the major fallouts of independent India – we market this language as a great achievement! Why is intelligence of a person measured in terms of the language he speaks? Why is speaking regional languages treated as vernacular and down-market? Adopting a language doesn’t mean degrading our own pride. Consider this for information – our regional languages are much more profound then the English language alone Gujrathi has 40,000 original words, marathi about 38,000, Hindi has about 70,000 original words. The perceptionally sophisticated English language stands far with about 12,000 original words. The knowledge of English is considered as a symbol of growth. To clarify this perception consider only 2 names if not more Japan and France (also India before the british raj).

    RE – discovery of culture –
    The PM mentioned the re-discovery of the Sanskrit culture, the Vedas, the Upnishhads etc. by some british scholars. My question is if the britishers wouldn’t have destroyed the culture was there any need for Re – discovery?

    The raj as the short-cut to catch up with the world –
    Now somebody please explain me the statement “the raj was India’s shortcut to catch up with the world.” 200 years of immense sufferings – A shortcut???
    With 23% of the world trade (nearly ¼ of the total world), were we not ahead of the world. One of the most important person of the country making such a baseless statement and intellects like Mr. Thapar supporting them have hurt the sentiments of the people who have some acquaintance about India’s struggle for her freedom.

    Substantial benefits?? More than sufferings??
    My frustration on this article reached to acme when I read the most pathetic statement of the article – “acknowledge and accepting we benefited substantially from it (our british past), may be more than we suffered perhaps by a fair margin.”
    My pen refused to move ahead while I was rewriting the statement but I had to for reference.
    Why should I acknowledge and accept?
    How can a rational Indian make or even think such conclusions. Isn’t it an insult to the lacks of Indians who donated their lives for freedom?
    What does this statement (conclusion) mean – The great men who donated themselves for the cause of freedom, for us to leave without any English domination – did that for a beneficial rule?
    A practical example of handicapped knowledge, insane is the only word coming to my mind. If u still think, this is a grapple with truth and we are howling ignoramuses – Please be british about it.
    And for others – for the reasons mentioned above and the sacrifices of great men please do not aegis the invaders.

    (This is in no support or enmity for any political party)

  28. all the students or whatever gave da answer were so stupid. the question was
    was british rule good?
    simply yes u see they improved their education, communication, railways,government………………………n if somebody dont agree with me he/she can mail me n also if somebody dont agree with me i also would seel like kicking his/her ass GOT IT! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA I AM A BRITISHER HA HA HA HA HA

  29. Hi,

    Some thought- provoking points have been brought up by this discussion. There’s just one point I would like to provide some auxillary info on:

    1. India held 23% of the world’s trade before the advent of colonial rule:

    What was India 250 years ago?

    A bunch of warring factions with a majority of them consolidated into the Mughal Empire. Unfortunately there were many different people, and for the fact that we exist as one massive nation today, we must not thank, but rather appreciate the role the of the British for their incorporation of universal laws and legislation across the country. Unfortunately this seldom happens when an average Indian looks at it from his perspective. This obviously was just a means for them to control the masses, but unknowingly they forged a new country by amalgating it into what we call India today.

  30. Just some political terminology. India was not a British “colony.” Australia and the United States were British colonies; India was a possession.

    IMHO, the British Raj provided two primary benefits to modern India:

    1. It created the political idea and reality of “India.” If we imagine a counterfactual of Indian insularism since 1600, then it’s not immediately apparent that any such nation as “India” would necessarily exist today. Obviously, Pakistan wouldn’t exist. We can also imagine, in the absence of British rule, incursions from other directions (especially Russia, which was an energetic empire builder in the 18th and 19th centuries).

    2. It booted the Muslim rulers, protected Hinduism and its heritage from continued Muslim pillage, and freed India from feudalism. One could argue that British rule provided no tax relief, and that’s probably true (I don’t know the details). Its administration, at least through the middle of the 19th century, was obviously mercantile. But it did break the egg, so to speak.

    There are other minor benefits, which are not to be discounted:

    1. railroads, bridges, etc., the usual British engineering.
    2. Postal service
    3. Communications, telegraph, newspapers
    4. Civil adminstation and civil law, otherwise known as separation of church and state, intended to be uniform throughout the territory
    5. Professional civil service
    6. the idea of rights before the King and the law (I didn’t say these rights were conferred or enforced; I said the “idea,” and an infectious idea it was). Gandhi for example went to law school in London.
    7. Western scientific and technical knowledge over 3 centuries of development
    8. A uniform language for government and administration (it really doesn’t matter what this language is; the important point is the uniformity).

    One final point on statistics, and in particular the statistic that India produced 22% of world income (or goods) in 1700, which percentage declined to about 4% in 1952. First, this doesn’t mean that Indian production declined in raw terms; it simply means it declined in relation to the rest of the world, and in particular the West. After 1700, the Industrial Revolution took hold in Europe, and eventually the US, and the West’s share of world production ballooned. The growth of Western production in the 19th century is astronomical in percentage terms, and one cannot forget the enormous increases in the USSR in the 20th century. Both the West and the USSR paid enormous social costs for mass industrialization, including massive social dislocations, creating a whole new politics and social system in the West. So, it’s not as if the West’s economic development has been cost-free.

  31. First of all, as I am a British citizen, you may expect me to be pro-Raj. But I’m not. What we did in India was appalling and we had no right to do it. I believe there was no other country in the British empire whose colonial exploitation and humiliation was worse than India’s. I realise that there were many positives (e.g. education – Gandhi himself rceived a British education, which inspired his ideas of justice) but I think the negatives really outweighed the positives. It would not have been any incovenience to the British empire to make sure that poorer Indians were educated and cared for, or to share our profits with India. We ignored the fact that society under the Raj was unjust, and British citizens lived there as if the Indians were not present. We only realised the scale of the problem when Gandhi told us. They best thing I think we ever did for India was give it its indpendence and leave.

  32. P.S. We might have given India telegraphs and railways but they were really all for us. And I don’t see how our technology and architecture benefited India much. And we certainly left a lot of division. It is an interesting note that the borders of the current places of trouble (Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, The Middle East, Zimbabwe and Northern Ireland) were all laid out by the British. I don’t see how we did India much good except provide education and limited infrastructure. And I think that we only really held power through the threat of force and economic power – that created bitterness and British rule was not respected.

  33. No amount of “free-trade” and “industrialization” can justify the decimation of 30%, est. 10 million of pre-colonia India’s population due to famine and to this day, the resulting vortex of poverty. All of which was accomplished via the 200 year long sytematic dismantling of the country’s economic system through taxation and warfare…..not to mention the pillage and plunder of the country’s vast cultural treasures and natural resurces. Whatever the British brought to India, be it technology, laws or business practices, was intended solely to serve the economic and political objectives of the empire and arguably those of the caste concious indigenous elite. That some may think India today has benefited at all from such vestiges of the raj’s colonial genocide only serves to show that the alarming notion that there is no price too large to be paid for the western models of progress still prevails among the uninformed and worse yet, self denying neo-colonialists. …….Oh well, let’s be british about it?!

  34. This discussion is really shocking. It is like Jews debating whether Hitler was good for their community. Some facts:

    Within 10 years of the British takeover of Bengal, one third of the population was dead.

    The food / work ratio in “famine relief” organized by one British administration was worse than that in the Buchenwald Nazi death camp. (See “Late Victorian Holocausts” by Mike Davis.)

    As late as 1943, the British exported Indian grain while millions of Indians died in a famine, again in Bengal.

    There is definitely one indisputably good thing though about the British Raj. It is dead. It has been dead a long time. It is dead for ever.

  35. It is really shocking and sad to see this debate. Even the British would be truly amused.
    To Think that the British were Genlemen when we had the Jallian Wallabagh Massacre. And worse than the crime, the British officers collected a booty for the Dyer to show their support.
    To be Thankful for not changing our culture, but why would they want to change a self defeating and self destructing culture.
    To be Thankful for giving us English – So we can watch soap operas and ape the west.

    We can’t seem to have any discussion without bringing in Islam or Pakistan. The same may be true with our neighbor. Islam is part of India, whether you like it or not. It is really amazing that we can’t seem to forget the atrocities of Muslim invaders that happened 200 years back, when we have forgotten the atrocities of our most recent invader. And we are trying to justify their rule.

  36. I am a better person as a result. I can speak many languages including English, Hindi and other. I must say ole boy quite good. Since the dawn of time wars have been won and lost. Most major civilizations have conqured and have themselves been conqured at some point in their history.

  37. The question is not whther the British rule (I will not call it raj) was good or bad for india. the question is whether it did anything for the ‘indian’ psyche. Can we really say that we were, or are, changed in the way we think and react. The commendable achievements are perhaps too few and in far too limited fields, that is why we make much of Dr. Khurana and L N Mittal, who by any stretch of imagination cannot be said to have profited any great deal by being ‘Indian’.

    If one needs to get a true understanding of what the British thought of us, he would be better advised to go through the notorious “Macaulay Minutes” and more importantly sit back and reflect if what Macaulay said was really far from the truth.

  38. Your website is beautiful, informative and Excellent.

    Article by M.P. Bhattathiri, Retired Chief Technical Examiner , to The Govt. of Kerala. Humble request that it may be published in your website and magazine after editing if necessary.

    Bhagavad Gita and management

    India was having a good cultural system I mean Sindhu – Ganga Civilization
    and Nalanada-Taxila Universities based on equality and social justice with
    all modern innovations which the modern scientists may wonder. But we all
    lost to the foriegn invasion. Am I right Sir. Let us hope that Sri.
    Sankaracharya or Swami Vivakanada has to born again.

    World Management Lessons from India
    M.P. Bhattathiri
    Retired Chief Technical Examiner
    Govt. of Kerala
    India

    ——————————————————————————–

    Table of Contents
    Abstract
    Introduction
    Management guidelines from the Bhagavad Gita
    Old truths in a new context
    The source of the problem
    Utilisation of available resources
    Work commitment
    Motivation – self and self-transcendence
    Work culture
    Work results
    Manager’s mental health
    Management needs those who practice what they preach
    In conclusion
    A note on the word “yoga”.

    Abstract
    One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is Holy Gita which is considered to be one of the first revelations from God. The management lessons in this holy book were brought in to light of the world by divine Maharshi Mahesh Yogi , Sri Sri RaviShankar and Swami Bodhanandji, and the spiritual philosophy by the great Adi Sankaracharya the greatest philosopher of India and proud son of Kerala, and Sri. Srila Prabhupada Swami and humanism by Mata Amritanandamayi Devi and Satya Sai Baba. Maharishi calls the Bhagavad-Gita the essence of Vedic Literature and a complete guide to practical life. It provides “all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level.” Maharishi reveals the deep, universal truths of life that speak to the needs and aspirations of everyone. Swami Chinmayanandaji preached and educated the people and Swami Sandeep Chaitanyaji continuing the mission by keeping this lantern burning always knowing the wishes of the modern generations. Arjuna got mentally depressed when he saw his relatives with whom he has to fight.( Mental health has become a major international public health concern now). To motivate him the Bhagavad Gita is preached in the battle field Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as a counseling to do his duty while multitudes of men stood by waiting. It has got all the management tactics to achieve the mental equilibrium and to overcome any crisis situation. The Bhagavad Gita can be experienced as a powerful catalyst for transformation. Bhagavad gita means song of the Spirit, song of the Lord. The Holy Gita has become a secret driving force behind the unfoldment of one’s life. In the days of doubt this divine book will support all spiritual searches. This divine book will contribute to self reflection, finer feeling and deepen one’s inner process. Then life in the world can become a real education—dynamic, full and joyful—no matter what the circumstance. May the wisdom of loving consciousness ever guide us on our journey? What makes the Holy Gita a practical psychology of transformation is that it offers us the tools to connect with our deepest intangible essence and we must learn to participate in the battle of life with right knowledge?

    The Holy Gita is the essence of the Vedas, Upanishads. It is a universal scripture applicable to people of all temperaments and for all times. It is a book with sublime thoughts and practical instructions on Yoga, Devotion, Vedanta and Action. It is profound in thought and sublime in heights of vision. It brings peace and solace to souls that are afflicted by the three fires of mortal existence, namely, afflictions caused by one’s own body (disease etc), those caused by beings around one (e.g. wild animals, snakes etc.), and those caused by the gods (natural disasters, earth-quakes, floods etc).

    Mind can be one’s friend or enemy. Mind is the cause for both bondage and liberation. The word mind is derived from man to think and the word man derived from manu (sanskrit word for man).

    “The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.”

    There is no theory to be internalized and applied in this psychology. Ancient practices spontaneously induce what each person needs as the individual and the universal coincide. The work proceeds through intellectual knowledge of the playing field (jnana yoga), emotional devotion to the ideal (bhakti yoga) and right action that includes both feeling and knowledge(karma yoga). With ongoing purification we approach wisdom. The Bhagavad Gita is a message addressed to each and every human individual to help him or her to solve the vexing problem of overcoming the present and progressing towards a bright future. Within its eighteen chapters is revealed a human drama. This is the experience of everyone in this world, the drama of the ascent of man from a state of utter dejection, sorrow and total breakdown and hopelessness to a state of perfect understanding, clarity, renewed strength and triumph.

    Mind is very restless, forceful and strong, O Krishna, it is more difficult to control the mind than to control the wind ~ Arjuna to Sri Krishna

    Introduction
    In this modern world the art of Management has become a part and parcel of everyday life, be it at home, in the office or factory and in Government. In all organizations, where a group of human beings assemble for a common purpose irrespective of caste, creed, and religion, management principles come into play through the management of resources, finance and planning, priorities, policies and practice. Management is a systematic way of carrying out activities in any field of human effort.

    Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant, says the Management Guru Peter Drucker. It creates harmony in working together – equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcity, be they in the physical, technical or human fields, through maximum utilization with the minimum available processes to achieve the goal. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression. Managing men, money and materials in the best possible way, according to circumstances and environment, is the most important and essential factor for a successful management.

    Management guidelines from the Bhagavad Gita
    There is an important distinction between effectiveness and efficiency in managing.

    Effectiveness is doing the right things.
    Efficiency is doing things right.
    The general principles of effective management can be applied in every field, the differences being more in application than in principle. The Manager’s functions can be summed up as:

    Forming a vision
    Planning the strategy to realize the vision.
    Cultivating the art of leadership.
    Establishing institutional excellence.
    Building an innovative organization.
    Developing human resources.
    Building teams and teamwork.
    Delegation, motivation, and communication.
    Reviewing performance and taking corrective steps when called for.
    Thus, management is a process of aligning people and getting them committed to work for a common goal to the maximum social benefit – in search of excellence.

    The critical question in all managers’ minds is how to be effective in their job. The answer to this fundamental question is found in the Bhagavad Gita, which repeatedly proclaims that “you must try to manage yourself.” The reason is that unless a manager reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness, he or she will be merely a face in the crowd.

    Old truths in a new context
    The Bhagavad Gita, written thousands of years ago, enlightens us on all managerial techniques leading us towards a harmonious and blissful state of affairs in place of the conflict, tensions, poor productivity, absence of motivation and so on, common in most of Indian enterprises today – and probably in enterprises in many other countries.

    The modern (Western) management concepts of vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, giving work meaning, decision making and planning, are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita. There is one major difference. While Western management thought too often deals with problems at material, external and peripheral levels, the Bhagavad Gita tackles the issues from the grass roots level of human thinking. Once the basic thinking of man is improved, it will automatically enhance the quality of his actions and their results.

    The management philosophy emanating from the West is based on the lure of materialism and on a perennial thirst for profit, irrespective of the quality of the means adopted to achieve that goal. This phenomenon has its source in the abundant wealth of the West and so ‘management by materialism’ has caught the fancy of all the countries the world over, India being no exception to this trend. My country, India, has been in the forefront in importing these ideas mainly because of its centuries old indoctrination by colonial rulers, which has inculcated in us a feeling that anything Western is good and anything Indian, is inferior.

    The result is that, while huge funds have been invested in building temples of modem management education, no perceptible changes are visible in the improvement of the general quality of life – although the standards of living of a few has gone up. The same old struggles in almost all sectors of the economy, criminalization of institutions, social violence, exploitation and other vices are seen deep in the body politic.

    The source of the problem
    The reasons for this sorry state of affairs are not far to seek. The Western idea of management centers on making the worker (and the manager) more efficient and more productive. Companies offer workers more to work more, produce more, sell more and to stick to the organization without looking for alternatives. The sole aim of extracting better and more work from the worker is to improve the bottom-line of the enterprise. The worker has become a hirable commodity, which can be used, replaced and discarded at will.

    Thus, workers have been reduced to the state of a mercantile product. In such a state, it should come as no surprise to us that workers start using strikes (gheraos) sit-ins, (dharnas) go-slows, work-to-rule etc. to get maximum benefit for themselves from the organisations. Society-at-large is damaged. Thus we reach a situation in which management and workers become separate and contradictory entities with conflicting interests. There is no common goal or understanding. This, predictably, leads to suspicion, friction, disillusion and mistrust, with managers and workers at cross purposes. The absence of human values and erosion of human touch in the organizational structure has resulted in a crisis of confidence.

    Western management philosophy may have created prosperity – for some people some of the time at least – but it has failed in the aim of ensuring betterment of individual life and social welfare. It has remained by and large a soulless edifice and an oasis of plenty for a few in the midst of poor quality of life for many.

    Hence, there is an urgent need to re-examine prevailing management disciplines – their objectives, scope and content. Management should be redefined to underline the development of the worker as a person, as a human being, and not as a mere wage-earner. With this changed perspective, management can become an instrument in the process of social, and indeed national, development.

    Now let us re-examine some of the modern management concepts in the light of the Bhagavad Gita which is a primer of management-by-values.

    Utilization of available resources
    The first lesson of management science is to choose wisely and utilize scarce resources optimally. During the curtain raiser before the Mahabharata War, Duryodhana chose Sri Krishna’s large army for his help while Arjuna selected Sri Krishna’s wisdom for his support. This episode gives us a clue as to the nature of the effective manager – the former chose numbers, the latter, wisdom.

    Work commitment
    A popular verse of the Gita advises “detachment” from the fruits or results of actions performed in the course of one’s duty. Being dedicated work has to mean “working for the sake of work, generating excellence for its own sake.” If we are always calculating the date of promotion or the rate of commission before putting in our efforts, then such work is not detached. It is not “generating excellence for its own sake” but working only for the extrinsic reward that may (or may not) result.

    Working only with an eye to the anticipated benefits, means that the quality of performance of the current job or duty suffers – through mental agitation of anxiety for the future. In fact, the way the world works means that events do not always respond positively to our calculations and hence expected fruits may not always be forthcoming. So, the Gita tells us not to mortgage present commitment to an uncertain future.

    Some people might argue that not seeking the business result of work and actions, makes one unaccountable. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita is full of advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the doer responsible for the consequences of his deeds. While advising detachment from the avarice of selfish gains in discharging one’s accepted duty, the Gita does not absolve anybody of the consequences arising from discharge of his or her responsibilities.

    Thus the best means of effective performance management is the work itself. Attaining this state of mind (called “nishkama karma”) is the right attitude to work because it prevents the ego, the mind, from dissipation of attention through speculation on future gains or losses.

    Motivation – self and self-transcendence
    It has been presumed for many years that satisfying lower order needs of workers – adequate food, clothing and shelter, etc. are key factors in motivation. However, it is a common experience that the dissatisfaction of the clerk and of the Director is identical – only their scales and composition vary. It should be true that once the lower-order needs are more than satisfied, the Director should have little problem in optimizing his contribution to the organization and society. But more often than not, it does not happen like that. (“The eagle soars high but keeps its eyes firmly fixed on the dead animal below.”) On the contrary, a lowly paid schoolteacher, or a self-employed artisan, may well demonstrate higher levels of self-actualization despite poorer satisfaction of their lower-order needs.

    This situation is explained by the theory of self-transcendence propounded in the Gita. Self-transcendence involves renouncing egoism, putting others before oneself, emphasizing team work, dignity, co-operation, harmony and trust – and, indeed potentially sacrificing lower needs for higher goals, the opposite of Maslow.

    “Work must be done with detachment.” It is the ego that spoils work and the ego is the centerpiece of most theories of motivation. We need not merely a theory of motivation but a theory of inspiration.

    The Great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941, known as “Gurudev”) says working for love is freedom in action. A concept which is described as “disinterested work” in the Gita where Sri Krishna says,

    “He who shares the wealth generated only after serving the people, through work done as a sacrifice for them, is freed from all sins. On the contrary those who earn wealth only for themselves, eat sins that lead to frustration and failure.”

    Disinterested work finds expression in devotion, surrender and equipoise. The former two are psychological while the third is determination to keep the mind free of the dualistic (usually taken to mean “materialistic”) pulls of daily experiences. Detached involvement in work is the key to mental equanimity or the state of “nirdwanda.” This attitude leads to a stage where the worker begins to feel the presence of the Supreme Intelligence guiding the embodied individual intelligence. Such de-personified intelligence is best suited for those who sincerely believe in the supremacy of organizational goals as compared to narrow personal success and achievement.

    Work culture
    An effective work culture is about vigorous and arduous efforts in pursuit of given or chosen tasks. Sri Krishna elaborates on two types of work culture – “daivi sampat” or divine work culture and “asuri sampat” or demonic work culture.

    Daivi work culture – involves fearlessness, purity, self-control, sacrifice, straightforwardness, self-denial, calmness, absence of fault-finding, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, absence of envy and pride.
    Asuri work culture – involves egoism, delusion, personal desires, improper performance, work not oriented towards service.
    Mere work ethic is not enough. The hardened criminal exhibits an excellent work ethic. What is needed is a work ethic conditioned by ethics in work.

    It is in this light that the counsel, “yogah karmasu kausalam” should be understood. “Kausalam” means skill or technique of work which is an indispensable component of a work ethic. ” Yogah” is defined in the Gita itself as “samatvam yogah uchyate” meaning an unchanging equipoise of mind (detachment.) Tilak tells us that acting with an equable mind is Yoga.

    (Bal Gangadhar Tilak, 1856-1920, the precursor of Gandhiji, hailed by the people of India as “Lokmanya,” probably the most learned among the country’s political leaders. For a description of the meanings of the word “Yoga”, see foot of this page.)

    By making the equable mind the bed-rock of all actions, the Gita evolved the goal of unification of work ethic with ethics in work, for without ethical process no mind can attain an equipoise. The guru, Adi Sankara (born circa 800 AD), says that the skill necessary in the performance of one’s duty is that of maintaining an evenness of mind in face of success and failure. The calm mind in the face of failure will lead to deeper introspection and see clearly where the process went wrong so that corrective steps could be taken to avoid shortcomings in future.

    The principle of reducing our attachment to personal gains from the work done is the Gita’s prescription for attaining equanimity. It has been held that this principle leads to lack of incentive for effort, striking at the very root of work ethic. To the contrary, concentration on the task for its own sake leads to the achievement of excellence – and indeed to the true mental happiness of the worker. Thus, while commonplace theories of motivation may be said to lead us to the bondage or extrinsic rewards, the Gita’s principle leads us to the intrinsic rewards of mental, and indeed moral, satisfaction.

    Work results
    The Gita further explains the theory of “detachment” from the extrinsic rewards of work in saying:

    If the result of sincere effort is a success, the entire credit should not be appropriated by the doer alone.
    If the result of sincere effort is a failure, then too the entire blame does not accrue to the doer.
    The former attitude mollifies arrogance and conceit while the latter prevents excessive despondency, de-motivation and self-pity. Thus both these dispositions safeguard the doer against psychological vulnerability, the cause of the modem managers’ companions of diabetes, high blood pressure and ulcers.

    Assimilation of the ideas of the Gita leads us to the wider spectrum of “lokasamgraha” (general welfare) but there is also another dimension to the work ethic – if the “karmayoga” (service) is blended with “bhaktiyoga” (devotion), then the work itself becomes worship, a “sevayoga” (service for its own sake.)

    Along with bhakti yoga as a means of liberation, the Gita espouses the doctrine of nishkamya karma or pure action untainted by hankering after the fruits resulting from that action. Modern scientists have now understood the intuitive wisdom of that action in a new light.

    Scientists at the US National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, found that laboratory monkeys that started out as procrastinators, became efficient workers after they received brain injections that suppressed a gene linked to their ability to anticipate a reward. The scientists reported that the work ethic of rhesus macaques wasn’t all that different from that of many people: “If the reward is not immediate, you procrastinate”, Dr Richmond told LA Times.

    (This may sound a peculiarly religious idea but it has a wider application. It could be taken to mean doing something because it is worthwhile, to serve others, to make the world a better place – ed.)

    Manager’s mental health
    Sound mental health is the very goal of any human activity – more so management. Sound mental health is that state of mind which can maintain a calm, positive poise, or regain it when unsettled, in the midst of all the external vagaries of work life and social existence. Internal constancy and peace are the pre-requisites for a healthy stress-free mind.

    Some of the impediments to sound mental health are:

    Greed – for power, position, prestige and money.
    Envy – regarding others’ achievements, success, rewards.
    Egotism – about one’s own accomplishments.
    Suspicion, anger and frustration.
    Anguish through comparisons.
    The driving forces in today’s businesses are speed and competition. There is a distinct danger that these forces cause erosion of the moral fiber, that in seeking the end, one permits oneself immoral means – tax evasion, illegitimate financial holdings, being “economical with the truth”, deliberate oversight in the audit, too-clever financial reporting and so on. This phenomenon may be called as “yayati syndrome”.

    In the book, the Mahabharata, we come across a king by the name of Yayati who, in order to revel in the endless enjoyment of flesh exchanged his old age with the youth of his obliging youngest son for a thousand years. However, he found the pursuit of sensual enjoyments ultimately unsatisfying and came back to his son pleading him to take back his youth. This “yayati syndrome” shows the conflict between externally directed acquisitions (extrinsic motivation) and inner value and conscience (intrinsic motivation.)

    Management needs those who practice what they preach
    “Whatever the excellent and best ones do, the commoners follow,” says Sri Krishna in the Gita. The visionary leader must be a missionary, extremely practical, intensively dynamic and capable of translating dreams into reality. This dynamism and strength of a true leader flows from an inspired and spontaneous motivation to help others. “I am the strength of those who are devoid of personal desire and attachment. O Arjuna, I am the legitimate desire in those, who are not opposed to righteousness,” says Sri Krishna in the 10th Chapter of the Gita.

    In conclusion
    The despondency of Arjuna in the first chapter of the Gita is typically human. Sri Krishna, by sheer power of his inspiring words, changes Arjuna’s mind from a state of inertia to one of righteous action, from the state of what the French philosophers call “anomie” or even alienation, to a state of self-confidence in the ultimate victory of “dharma” (ethical action.)

    When Arjuna got over his despondency and stood ready to fight, Sri Krishna reminded him of the purpose of his new-found spirit of intense action – not for his own benefit, not for satisfying his own greed and desire, but for the good of many, with faith in the ultimate victory of ethics over unethical actions and of truth over untruth.

    Sri Krishna’s advice with regard to temporary failures is, “No doer of good ever ends in misery.” Every action should produce results. Good action produces good results and evil begets nothing but evil. Therefore, always act well and be rewarded.

    My purport is not to suggest discarding of the Western model of efficiency, dynamism and striving for excellence but to tune these ideals to India’s holistic attitude of ” lokasangraha” – for the welfare of many, for the good of many. There is indeed a moral dimension to business life. What we do in business is no different, in this regard, to what we do in our personal lives. The means do not justify the ends. Pursuit of results for their own sake, is ultimately self-defeating. (“Profit,” said Matsushita-san in another tradition, “is the reward of correct behavior.” – ed.)

    A note on the word “yoga”.
    Yoga has two different meanings – a general meaning and a technical meaning. The general meaning is the joining together or union of any two or more things. The technical meaning is “a state of stability and peace and the means or practices which lead to that state.” The Bhagavad Gita uses the word with both meanings.

    M.P.Bhattathiri.

    Let us go through what scholars say about Holy Gita.

    “No work in all Indian literature is more quoted, because none is better loved, in the West, than the Bhagavad-gita. Translation of such a work demands not only knowledge of Sanskrit, but an inward sympathy with the theme and a verbal artistry. For the poem is a symphony in which God is seen in all things. . . . The Swami does a real service for students by investing the beloved Indian epic with fresh meaning. Whatever our outlook may be, we should all be grateful for the labor that has lead to this illuminating work.”
    Dr. Geddes MacGregor, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Philosophy University of Southern California

    “The Gita can be seen as the main literary support for the great religious civilization of India, the oldest surviving culture in the world. The present translation and commentary is another manifestation of the permanent living importance of the Gita.”
    Thomas Merton, Theologian

    “I am most impressed with A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s scholarly and authoritative edition of Bhagavad-gita. It is a most valuable work for the scholar as well as the layman and is of great utility as a reference book as well as a textbook. I promptly recommend this edition to my students. It is a beautifully done book.”
    Dr. Samuel D. Atkins Professor of Sanskrit, Princeton University

    “As a successor in direct line from Caitanya, the author of Bhagavad-gita As It Is is entitled, according to Indian custom, to the majestic title of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The great interest that his reading of the Bhagavad-gita holds for us is that it offers us an authorized interpretation according to the principles of the Caitanya tradition.”
    Olivier Lacombe Professor of Sanskrit and Indology, Sorbonne University, Paris

    “I have had the opportunity of examining several volumes published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and have found them to be of excellent quality and of great value for use in college classes on Indian religions. This is particularly true of the BBT edition and translation of the Bhagavad-gita.”
    Dr. Frederick B. Underwood Professor of Religion, Columbia University

    “If truth is what works, as Pierce and the pragmatists insist, there must be a kind of truth in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, since those who follow its teachings display a joyous serenity usually missing in the bleak and strident lives of contemporary people.”
    Dr. Elwin H. Powell Professor of Sociology State University of New York, Buffalo

    “There is little question that this edition is one of the best books available on the Gita and devotion. Prabhupada’s translation is an ideal blend of literal accuracy and religious insight.”
    Dr. Thomas J. Hopkins Professor of Religion, Franklin and Marshall College

    “The Bhagavad-gita, one of the great spiritual texts, is not as yet a common part of our cultural milieu. This is probably less because it is alien per se than because we have lacked just the kind of close interpretative commentary upon it that Swami Bhaktivedanta has here provided, a commentary written from not only a scholar’s but a practitioner’s, a dedicated lifelong devotee’s point of view.”
    Denise Levertov, Poet

    “The increasing numbers of Western readers interested in classical Vedic thought have been done a service by Swami Bhaktivedanta. By bringing us a new and living interpretation of a text already known to many, he has increased our understanding manyfold.”
    Dr. Edward C Dimock, Jr. Department of South Asian Languages and Civilization University of Chicago

    “The scholarly world is again indebted to A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Although Bhagavad-gita has been translated many times, Prabhupada adds a translation of singular importance with his commentary.”
    Dr. J. Stillson Judah, Professor of the History of Religions and Director of Libraries Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California

    “Srila Prabhupada’s edition thus fills a sensitive gap in France, where many hope to become familiar with traditional Indian thought, beyond the commercial East-West hodgepodge that has arisen since the time Europeans first penetrated India. “Whether the reader be an adept of Indian spiritualism or not, a reading of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is will be extremely profitable. For many this will be the first contact with the true India, the ancient India, the eternal India.”
    Francois Chenique, Professor of Religious Sciences Institute of Political Studies, Paris, France

    “It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us”
    Emerson’s reaction to the Gita

    “As a native of India now living in the West, it has given me much grief to see so many of my fellow countrymen coming to the West in the role of gurus and spiritual leaders. For this reason, I am very excited to see the publication of Bhagavad-gita As It Is by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It will help to stop the terrible cheating of false and unauthorized ‘gurus’ and ‘yogis’ and will give an opportunity to all people to understand the actual meaning of Oriental culture.”
    Dr. Kailash Vajpeye, Director of Indian Studies Center for Oriental Studies, The University of Mexico

    “The Gita is one of the clearest and most comprehensive one, of the summaries and systematic spiritual statements of the perennial philosophy ever to have been done”
    __________________________________________Aldous Huxley

    “It is a deeply felt, powerfully conceived and beautifully explained work. I don’t know whether to praise more this translation of the Bhagavad-gita, its daring method of explanation, or the endless fertility of its ideas. I have never seen any other work on the Gita with such an important voice and style. . . . It will occupy a significant place in the intellectual and ethical life of modern man for a long time to come.”
    Dr. Shaligram Shukla Professor of Linguistics, Georgetown University

    “I can say that in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is I have found explanations and answers to questions I had always posed regarding the interpretations of this sacred work, whose spiritual discipline I greatly admire. If the aesceticism and ideal of the apostles which form the message of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is were more widespread and more respected, the world in which we live would be transformed into a better, more fraternal place.”
    Dr. Paul Lesourd, Author Professeur Honoraire, Catholic University of Paris

    “When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.”
    Albert Einstein

    “When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”
    Henry David Thoreau

    “The Bhagavad-Gita has a profound influence on the spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is manifested by actions.”
    Dr. Albert Schweitzer

    “The Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human race a living creation rather than a book, with a new message for every age and a new meaning for every civilization.”
    Sri Aurobindo

    “The idea that man is like unto an inverted tree seems to have been current in by gone ages. The link with Vedic conceptions is provided by Plato in his Timaeus in which it states ‘behold we are not an earthly but a heavenly plant.’ This correlation can be discerned by what Krishna expresses in chapter 15 of Bhagavad-Gita.”
    Carl Jung

    “The Bhagavad-Gita deals essentially with the spiritual foundation of human existence. It is a call of action to meet the obligations and duties of life; yet keeping in view the spiritual nature and grander purpose of the universe.”
    Prime Minister Nehru

    “The marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life’s wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion.”
    Herman Hesse

    “I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it.”
    Rudolph Steiner

    “From a clear knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled. Bhagavad-Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures.”
    Adi Shankara

    “The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.”
    Aldous Huxley

    “The Bhagavad-Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to reveal the science of devotion to God which is the essence of all spiritual knowledge. The Supreme Lord Krishna’s primary purpose for descending and incarnating is relieve the world of any demoniac and negative, undesirable influences that are opposed to spiritual development, yet simultaneously it is His incomparable intention to be perpetually within reach of all humanity.”
    Ramanuja

    The Bhagavad-Gita is not seperate from the Vaishnava philosophy and the Srimad Bhagavatam fully reveals the true import of this doctrine which is transmigation of the soul. On perusal of the first chapter of Bhagavad-Gita one may think that they are advised to engage in warfare. When the second chapter has been read it can be clearly understood that knowledge and the soul is the ultimate goal to be attained. On studying the third chapter it is apparent that acts of righteousness are also of high priority. If we continue and patiently take the time to complete the Bhagavad-Gita and try to ascertain the truth of its closing chapter we can see that the ultimate conclusion is to relinquish all the conceptualized ideas of religion which we possess and fully surrender directly unto the Supreme Lord.
    Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati

    “The Mahabharata has all the essential ingredients necessary to evolve and protect humanity and that within it the Bhagavad-Gita is the epitome of the Mahabharata just as ghee is the essence of milk and pollen is the essence of flowers.”
    Madhvacarya

    Yoga has two different meanings – a general meaning and a technical meaning. The general meaning is the joining together or union of any two or more things. The technical meaning is “a state of stability and peace and the means or practices which lead to that state.” The Bhagavad Gita uses the word with both meanings. Lord Krishna is real Yogi who can maintain a peaceful mind in the midst of any crisis.”
    Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

    Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana are but three paths to this end. And common to all the three is renunciation. Renounce the desires, even of going to heaven, for every desire related with body and mind creates bondage. Our focus of action is neither to save the humanity nor to engage in social reforms, not to seek personal gains, but to realize the indwelling Self itself.
    Swami Vivekananda (England, London; 1895-96)

    “Science describes the structures and processess; philosophy attempts at their explaination.—– When such a perfect combination of both science and philosophy is sung to perfection that Krishna was, we have in this piece of work an appeal both to the head annd heart.
    ” ____________Swamy Chinmayanand on Gita

    I seek that Divine Knowledge by knowing which nothing remains to be known!’ For such a person knowledge and ignorance has only one meaning: Have you knowledge of God? If yes, you a Jnani! If not, you are ignorant.As said in the Gita, chapter XIII/11, knowledge of Self, observing everywhere the object of true Knowledge i.e. God, all this is declared to be true Knowledge (wisdom); what is contrary to this is ignorance.”
    Sri Ramakrishna

    Maharishi calls the Bhagavad-Gita the essence of Vedic Literature and a complete guide to practical life. It provides “all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level.” Maharishi reveals the deep, universal truths of life that speak to the needs and aspirations of everyone.
    Maharshi Mahesh Yogi

    The Gita was preached as a preparatory lesson for living worldly life with an eye to Release, Nirvana. My last prayer to everyone, therefore, is that one should not fail to thoroughly understand this ancient science of worldly life as early as possible in one’s life.
    — Lokmanya Tilak

    I believe that in all the living languages of the world, there is no book so full of true knowledge, and yet so handy. It teaches self-control, austerity, non-violence, compassion, obedience to the call of duty for the sake of duty, and putting up a fight against unrighteousness (Adharma). To my knowledge, there is no book in the whole range of the world’s literature so high above as the Bhagavad-Gita, which is the treasure-house of Dharma nor only for the Hindus but foe all mankind. — M. M. Malaviya

    Let us go through what scholars say about ancient India

    “India was the mother of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. She was the mother of our philosophy, mother through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics, mother through Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity, mother through village communities of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”

    – Will Durant

    “If there is one place on the face of this Earth “where all the dreams of living men have found a home “from the very earliest days when Man began the dream of”existence, it is India.”

    – Romain Rolland – French Philosopher 1886-1944

    It is opposed to their (Hindus) foreign origin, that neither in the Code (of Manu) nor, I believe, in the Vedas, nor in any book that is certainly older than the code, is there any allusion to a prior residence or to a knowledge of more than the name of any country out of India. Even mythology goes no further than the Himalayan chain, in which is fixed the habitation of the gods… .To say that it spread from a central point is an unwarranted assumption, and even to analogy; for, emigration and civilization have not spread in a circle, but from east to west. Where, also, could the central point be, from which a language could spread over India, Greece, and Italy and yet leave Chaldea, Syria and Arabia untouched? There is no reason whatever for thinking that the Hindus ever inhabited any country but their present one, and as little for denying that they may have done so before the earliest trace of their records or tradition.

    – 1841 M.S. Elphinstone, the first governor of the Bombay Presidency

    REF.bbt.org, kamakoti.org, amritapuri.org, mahrshi.com, sai.org,chinmaya.org , vivekanada.org,neovedanta/gospel.com, spirituality.indiatimes.com, bhavan’s journal.

  39. A new Bollywood film about the Indian independence fighter Subhash Chandra Bose is being shot in Germany. The film traces the last five years in the life of Subhash Chandra Bose, or Netaji, who set up the Indian National Army in exile to fight against British rule during the Second World War. The film is being directed by Shyam Benegal, considered the father of new wave Indian cinema, and stars Sachin Khedekar. It is the first time that a major Bollywood film has been shot in Germany. Netaji: The Last Hero is expected to be a blockbuster when it opens in India early in 2004 and the producers are also hoping for success in other countries. Netaji didn’t believe in Gandhi’s methods of achieving independence for India through non-violence. Instead he went into exile and set up the Indian National Army. He travelled to Germany during the Second World War where he met Hitler who was apparently impressed with his cause and promised to help him. He raised an army of 80,000 men to fight against British rule. His troops marched into India to fight against the British from Burma, but Netaji died in 1945 – he never lived to see Indian independence.

  40. Karl Marx never praised the British Rule of India. He was the one who called the 1857 uprising as the First War of Independence. He wrote a book called Consequences of British Rule in India, where he has described the torture and exploitations Indians have suffered during the British Rule.

    It is the Sangha Parivar who is praising the British Rule in India ( see the articles by Shyam Koshla, Balbir Punj and Priyadarshi Dutta in The Organiser praising the British Rule, which Savarkar also did.

    You can see the following website and realize that Sangh Parivar’s authors are liars, when they talk about Marx, which they have never read.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/subject/newspapers/semi-weekly-tribune.htm

  41. It has been interesting to read the comments on this site. I was born in British India and spent the first nineteen years of my life there. While many people have considered what may or may not have happened had India been ruled by a country other that Great Britain, may I suggest that India was certainly very fortunate to have not been ruled by the Dutch. While they were in control in Indonesia they forbid the indigenous people to learn or speak Dutch. Imagine – where India would be today – in the world economy – had the Dutch been in control there, until the end of WWII as they were in Indonesia, and imagine that the only language spoken by indigenous Indians was their own languages.

    If for nothing else, poeple in India should be thankful that Great Britain did the colonising , and encouraged education and English as the language of communication during its period of control there.

    From memory, I believe it was Burma, that immediately after their independence, stopped the English language being taught in their schools. Some thirty years later they found that not being able to communicate, in English, with the rest of the world was a handicap, and reintroduced the teaching of English in their schools.

  42. Just a correction to my earlier response, on the fourth line,

    ‘… other that Great’

    should be,

    ‘…other than Great’

  43. There is a wealth of material available written by British scholars(sourced in Economic Exploitation and the Drain of Wealth during British “Raj”- byB Shantanu) and Loot: in search of the East India Company by Nick Robins driving home the point that the British Raj drained India of its wealth. If one has romantic notions of the Raj please read The Raj Syndrome- Suhash Chakravarty. For a systematic overview of British colonial policy read The Web of deception by Mark Curtis.
    These sources should disabuse one of the notion British Colonialism was a force for the good of those it ruled. The industrial revolution of Britain was financed by the loot of India.
    While it is a noble tradition in philosophy to examine life critically it may not be such a good idea to torture truth.

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