Aletho News


Was the British Raj beneficial for India?

The Hindu Perspective | February 19, 2013

The idea that British rule in India was a force for good is not uncommon in Britain and even in certain sections of westernised Indian elite. Read right-of-centre British newspapers and you will regularly find articles and columns that glorify Britain’s colonial past, giving the impression that Britain was spreading the light of Western Civilisation to the dark corners of the world. Many British history books still do their best to highlight the benefits that British rule brought to the numerous colonies, rather than the hardships.

Recently in an interview with the BBC, Niall Ferguson, a British historian who has recently produced a six-part documentary series for Channel 4, and also works in a research department at Oxford University, said that British rule greatly benefited the ruled nations and people.

To be sure, many white Britons, perhaps even the majority, think that the colonial era is not something to be proud of. But at the same time it must be acknowledged that the idea of British rule as benevolent is not just a fringe idea. In this light it is worth examining some facts about the British Raj that are seldom discussed in the media.

History is never black and white. There are benefits that come out of otherwise bad situations. In the case of India, British rule certainly did have some benefits, such as development of previously absent infrastructure. Of course, colonial historians such as Niall Ferguson will be fast to point this out:

By the 1880s the British had invested £270 million in India, not much less than one-fifth of their entire investment overseas.

But at what cost were these investments made? The pro-colonial authors miss out or even cover-up some basic points about the British Raj, which should be the foundation of any debate about the ‘merits’ of colonialism.

The economic devastation of India under British rule is discernible from the fact that India’s share of world trade fell from 17% percent in 1800 (almost equal to America’s share of world trade in 2000) to less than 2%. It is a very telling fact that during British rule of India, British per capita gross domestic product increased in real terms by 347 per cent, Indian by a mere 14 per cent. But even more important are the famine statistics of British-controlled India.


According to British records, one million Indians died of famine between 1800 and 1825, 4 million between 1825 and 1850, 5 million between 1850 and 1875 and 15 million between 1875 and 1900. Thus 25 million Indians died in 100 years! Since Independence, although poverty still exists, there have been no such mass famines, a record of which India should be proud. Funnily enough, there is no mention of this by pro-colonial authors. It is certainly a strange omission on their part and something they should be ashamed of. Perhaps not surprising as it would make British investment in India seem trivial and pointless by comparison. Any rational person would rather avoid millions of deaths than have a few railway tracks built and some land irrigated.

How did these famines occur? The main reason was not bad weather or natural causes but rather the breaking up of India’s indigenous crop patterns. The British replaced food crops such as rice and wheat and instead forced Indian farmers to produce jute, cotton, tea and oil seeds, which they needed as raw materials for their home industries. The implication of this in times of shortages was catastrophic, as the famine figures show.

Niall Ferguson also credits the British with labouring to improve India’s public health:

It was the British who introduced quinine as an anti-malarial prophylactic, carried out public programmes of vaccination against smallpox – often in the face of local resistance – and laboured to improve the urban water supplies that were so often the bearers of cholera and other diseases.

Once again, there is some truth in this, but also some omission, and some downright distortion. On the subject of smallpox vaccination, it is well documented that before the British arrived, Indians had a system of immunisation against smallpox, in which cowpox was used inoculate against smallpox. The British doctor J Z Holwell wrote a book in 1767 describing the system, accepting that it was safe and effective. European medicine did not have any treatment against the disease at that time.

Inoculation against smallpox became a part of Western medicine by 1840. No sooner did that happen that the British in India banned the older method of vaccination, denouncing it as barbaric, without making certain that sufficient number of inoculators in the new technique existed. Smallpox in India became a greater scourge than before. This is not the only example in which the British undermined and even banned indigenous systems of knowledge, particularly medicine, creating dire consequences.

In writing this article I am not trying to stir up bitterness. As I have mentioned, many if not most white Britons see colonialism as a dark part of their history, and refrain from glorifying it or acting triumphant over it. I am simply trying to combat the smug, celebratory version of Imperial history that is in vogue in some circles. This distorted version of history should be discarded into the dustbin of history.

This article is dedicated to the millions men, women and children, of India as well as other nations, who perished in unnecessary and avoidable famines during the colonial era.

February 24, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Black Churches Condemn Obama Administration’s Drone Policy as Murder and Evil

National Black Church Initiative |  February 19, 2013

Washington DC – The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans calls Obama’s policy on the right to kill Americans who are associated with terrorist organizations either at home or abroad murder, which constitutes evil in the Christian tradition. The Holy Scripture says, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”.

Our founding fathers and decent, hard-working American find such policies irrational and without moral merit. The Obama Administration has us believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to humanity, and that they reserve the right through the secular American creed to kill anyone, anywhere, who they label part of a terrorist organization. This is why they spent 1 trillion dollars to go after ONE man. To make the point that we will kill you dead, and that is the creed of the American soul.

The church is trying to transform the evil mentality that exists in this country. That is our goal. We believe that the greatest threat to humanity are laws that assume moral absolutism to determine who lives and who dies. This is not only foolish in nature, this is destructive. Should we be reminded of the words of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, that violence can only beget more violence. There can never be a legal rationale that gives a government the right to destroy a human being that God created. Only God preserves that right for himself.

The Revered Anthony Evans says, “I do not know what to say after the pronouncement of this evil policy. This policy has led me to a life of prayer for the soul of this administration and for this President. Anyone who has had anything to do with formulating a policy like this either in the Bush or Obama administration will have to answer before God one day. May God have mercy on their souls.”

Rev Evans continued to ask where the outcry against such a policy is, saying “Where are the loud the mouths and the so-called drum majors for justice when it comes to correcting this president and this administration on this evil policy. Where are you Al Sharpton?? Where are you Jesse Jackson?? Where are you Ben Jealous?? Where are you John Lewis?? Where are you members of the Black caucus? Where are the Catholic bishops?? Where are you “The American Way”? Where are you Rev. Jim Wallis? Where are you Pastor T.D. Jakes? Pastor Creflo Dollar? Where are you Joseph Lowry? Where are the Southern Baptists? Where are you Pastor Joel Osteen? Where are you Dean Alton Pollard? If the church does not speak against this immoral policy we will lose our moral voice, our soul, and our right to represent and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The black church is not only appalled that this comes out of the administration of the only black president, but we are frightened by the monstrous tendencies that have emerged from this administration. The unleashing of the mechanical drones kill not only their target but everyone that is near who is morally innocent of any crime. The church’s heart cries out for mercy and sanity for such an ill-conceived policy. President Obama has to be roaringly condemned by the entire Christian church for allowing such a policy to emerge from such a promising administration.

NBCI cannot be proud of this, and neither can we be supportive of it. This policy should be condemned by both liberal and conservative and especially those who love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly before God.

About NBCI

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work. Visit our website at

February 24, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

German television interviews the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad

HandsoffSyria | February 20, 2013

Excerpts of an interview with the Syrian President featured in a new documentary on the conflict by the filmmaker Hubert Seipel.

The interview was conducted in English but later overdubbed in German for broadcast on the network ARD. This clip is from the documentary in which Mr. Assad’s remarks can be heard in the original English.

The filmmaker said that he wanted to speak directly to Mr. Assad because “misinformation and psychological warfare make up a large part of the Syrian civil war.” He said that he was frustrated by watching Syria’s war unfold in YouTube clips selectively edited by the two sides. So, he said, “my intention was just to let Mr Assad speak about his point of view, so that our viewers can make their own judgment.”

February 24, 2013 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Video | , , | 3 Comments

Lawyer: “Prior To His Death, Detainee Complained Of Pain Due To Ongoing Interrogation”

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | February 24, 2013

jaradatAttorney Kamil Sabbagh, who represented detainee Arafat Jaradat, who died Saturday at an Israeli interrogation facility, stated that Jaradat complained to him of sharp pain due to ongoing and extensive interrogation.

The lawyer said that he represented Jaradat during a court session that was held Thursday February 21.

The court session was the first time the detainee was able to see a lawyer since the army kidnapped him more than 12 days ago. The hearing was held at the Al-Jalama detention and interrogation center.

Sabbagh said that Jaradat complained of sharp pain in the back, and several other parts of his body. Jaradat told his lawyer that he was interrogated for several hours, every day, and repeatedly complained of sharp pain but was never seen by a physician.

The lawyer said that, during the court hearing, he told the military judge about the complaints made by Jaradat, and that the judge instructed the prison administration to grant him the needed medical attention, but the request was apparently ignored.

During the court hearing, the judge ordered Jaradat under interrogation for an additional 12 days.

Following the death of Jaradat on Saturday, several Israeli media agencies claimed that the detainee suffered a heart attack that led to his death.

Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe’, held Israel responsible for the death of Jaradat, and said that the detainee died only six days after the army kidnapped him on February 18.

Qaraqe’ demanded forming an international committee to investigate the death of Jaradat, and held Israel responsible for the lives of Palestinian detainees on hunger strike demanding an end to their illegal detention.

Hundreds of Palestinians held a protest in front of the home of Jaradat and chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation, Israel’s ongoing violations and attacks, and chanted for more solidarity with all Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel.

Protests have also been reported in different parts of the occupied territories.

February 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment