Home > Britain, India, Indian Economy, Social Trends > ‘British Raj was not a vampire empire’

‘British Raj was not a vampire empire’


India must be bled, it must be done judiciously. The lancet should be directed to those parts where the blood is congested, or, at least, sufficient, not to those already feeble for the want of it. (Lord Salisbury – Secretary of State for India – 1866-1867; 1874-1878; Foreign Secretary – 1878-1880; Prime Minister – 1885, 1886 – 92, 1895 – 1902).

Hastings, unlike Clive, offered no personal defence. Instead he portrayed himself and the British Raj as the Saviour Of India. (Original by James Gillray titled 'The Political Banditti Assailing the Saviour of India', published by W. Holland in 1786 or 1788. Warren Hastings was attacked by Edmund Burke, Lord North, and Fox, in the House of Commons. See 1851 water color version from Bohn Collection at  http://goo.gl/a90mq). Click for larger image.

Warren Hastings, when attacked by Edmund Burke, Lord North, and Fox, in the House of Commons for corruption, unlike Clive, offered no personal defence. Instead he portrayed himself and the British Raj as the Saviour Of India. (Original by James Gillray titled 'The Political Banditti Assailing the Saviour of India', published by W. Holland in 1786 or 1788. Image source and courtesy - shijieminghua.com. See 1851 water color version from Bohn Collection at http://goo.gl/a90mq). Click for larger image.

Historians today, many in India too, promote  the myth that the British Empire

bore no resemblance to the ‘vampire empire’ created by King Leopold of the Belgians in the Congo, which was responsible for perhaps 10 million deaths, let alone to the genocidal Nazi empire or to Japan’s vicious and corrupt Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Imperium et Libertas was a contradiction in terms. What it meant in a Roman mouth, as Gladstone said, was ‘Liberty for ourselves, Empire over the rest of mankind.’

Lord Salisbury (Marquess of Salisbury – then Secretary of State for India) himself exposed the truth. ‘If our ancestors had cared for the rights of other people,’ he observed, ‘the British Empire would not have been made.’ Its purpose was not to spread sweetness and light but to increase Britain’s wealth and power. Naturally its coercive and exploitative nature must be disguised. Bamboozle was better than bamboo, he considered, and ‘as India must be bled, the bleeding should be done judiciously.’
Actually, from the time that Britain had begun to transform its commercial dominance into political ascendancy, India was bled white. During the 1760s Bengal was so squeezed that the province, which the Mughals had called ‘the paradise of earth’, became an abyss of torment. It was ravaged by war, pestilence and famine. A third of the population died of hunger, some driven to cannibalism. Although relief efforts were made, British ‘bullies, cheats and swindlers’ continued to prey on the carcass of Bengal and some profiteered in hoarded grain. Meanwhile Indian revenues (which amounted to perhaps a billion pounds sterling between Plassey in 1757 and Waterloo in 1815) spelled the redemption of Britain, according to the Earl of Chatham. They were ‘a kind of gift from heaven’.

The history of the Raj was punctuated by further famines, which caused tens of millions of deaths. These were not, as Mike Davis claims, colonial ‘holocausts’. But the British failed lamentably in India, as they did in Ireland, in their duty of care. Condemning ‘humanitarian hysterics’ during the worst Victorian famine, Lord Lytton said that the stoppage of his 1876 durbar ‘would be more disastrous to the permanent interests of the Empire than twenty famines’. Despite pleas from the Secretary of State for India Leo Amery during the terrible 1943-44 Bengal famine, Churchill refused to divert scarce shipping to Calcutta. He thought that ‘the starvation of anyway underfed Bengalis’ was less serious than that of sturdy Greeks, particularly as Indians would go on breeding ‘like rabbits’.

After the Indian Mutiny soldiers such as Garnet Wolseley did much to fulfil their vow to spill ‘barrels and barrels of the filth which flows in these niggers’ veins for every drop of blood’ they had shed. During the South African War the British allowed a sixth of the Boer population, mostly children, to die in concentration camps.

British Empire was not only on “slave trade and the indentured labour traffic; cases of acquisitive aggression such the opium wars and the rape of Matabeleland; acts of vandalism such as the burning of the Emperor’s Summer Palace in Beijing and the destruction of the Mahdi’s tomb at Omdurman; squalid fiascos such as the Jameson Raid and the Suez invasion; crimes such as the use of dum-dum bullets and poison gas against ‘uncivilized tribes’ (Churchill’s phrase); massacres such as occurred at Amritsar in 1919, Batang Kali in Malaya in 1948 (the ‘British My Lai’) and Hola Camp in Kenya (1959).”

Piers Brendon does finally fall back on the usual thugee and suttee to justify British rule. And that is where Britain failed the most.

(Cheyte Sing rendering Homage to Warren Hastings. Illustration from The People's History of England; Cassell Petter & Galpin, c 1890). Click for larger image.

(Cheyte Sing rendering Homage to Warren Hastings. Illustration from The People's History of England; Cassell Petter & Galpin, c 1890). Click for larger image.

The truth behind Thugee

As though India was being overrun by thugs – and every traveller’s life was at risk. Defenceless Indian’s were waiting helplessly, for a saviour. And then the British anti-thugee campaign saved India.

As if Indians had no productive enterprise to engage in, thugee was the only option, for ‘backward’ Indians.

Till the British shone their bright light on us Indians. If Indians were busy with thugee, who was earning money that the thugs were looting? India could not have been the world’s largest economy, if India was Thug Nation.

After decades of loot-and-ravage, when it was suggested that the Indian economy was fragile, Lord Irwin responded,

It was surely unreasonable, to suggest that a country which had an enormous stock of gold and silver, and which was still drawing them in considerable quantities from the rest of the world, was so weak

Figures talk

If yes, why did the ‘Thuggee and Dacoity Department’ with William Sleeman as Superintendent in 1835, could capture no more than 3,000 highway robbers – of which only 400 were executed. Based mostly on the ‘identification’ by a few ‘hand-picked’ witnesses – from a bank of nearly 500 ‘approvers.’ In nearly a decade! In a population of possibly 25 crores.3,000 ‘thugs’ in a nation of 25 crores? Assuming that all the 3,000 accused ‘thugs’, were ‘guilty’, going by modern imprisonment standards, it remains low.

For instance, in modern Britain, there are nearly 17,000 prisoners for violent crime, in a population of little over, 6 crores (60 million). 3 people per thousand in Britain are criminally violent and in prison.

Were ‘thugs’ a bigger proportion of violent criminals in India. Going by modern British ‘norm’ of 3 per thousand, criminally violent Indians should have been close to 75,000 criminals. Just 3,000 ‘thugs’ out of the possible 75,000 criminally violent Indians?

In a population of an estimated 25 crores.

Some of the most infamous, like Behram was attributed to have committed more than 900 murders – for which he never faced any trial, for murders he confessed to, even after being captured. Most of these thugs were actually rebel peasants who were waging a war against the dispossession of the lands – like the Santhals, Bhils, Gujjars, etc.

Facts speak

Fact is India was not a criminal society then – and not one today.. India today has the world’s lowest police-to-population ratio – and the lowest prisoners-to-population ratio.


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  1. May 1, 2012 at 6:15 am

  2. January 23, 2013 at 6:37 pm

  3. February 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Another Brilliant Blow against the dastardly British Propaganda. Well done, my friend, well done. Watch out brits, we are coming back. And unlike the last time, we are mean, we are hungry, we are lean and we ain’t losing. We’re gonna Gitcha!

  1. September 6, 2012 at 5:37 am
  2. July 11, 2014 at 6:49 am

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