Apologists for the British rule…

As we know, some apologists for British rule argue that the condemnation of Britain for its destruction of Indian and economic growth is unjustified. Britain, they claim, did not deindustrialize India; India’s share of World GDP merely went down because India ‘missed the bus’ for industrialization, failing to catch up on the technological innovations that transformed the West. India had a significant world share of GDP when the world was highly agrarian. As the world changed, they argue, other countries overtook India because of scientific and industrial progress that India was unable to make.

That is highly disputable proposition. As I have demonstrated, deindustrialization was a deliberate British policy, not an accident. British industry flourished and Indian industry did not because of systematic destruction abetted by tariffs and regulatory measures that stacked the decks in favour of British industry conquering the Indian market, rather than the other way around. The economic exploitation of India was integral to the colonial enterprise. And the vast sums of Indian revenues and loot flowing to England, even if they were somewhat less than the billions of pounds Digby estimated, provided the capital for British industry and made possible the financing of the Industrial Revolution.

It is preposterous to suggest that India’s inability to industrialize while the Western world did so was Indian failure, the result of some sort of native deficiency, rather than the deliberate result of systematically planned polices by those who ruled India, the British. If India’s GDP went down because it ‘missed the bus’ of industrialization, it was because the British threw Indians under the wheels.

An era of darkness: The British empire in India. By Shashi Tharoor

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