Tuesday, June 14, 2011

'Atrocity Literature' British colonial policies, excerpts from the book Breaking India

If the nation state were severely undermined in its external capacity to deal with other forces, the result could invite invasions, re-colonisation, cultural and psychological imperialism, and other unwanted intervention. This has happened numerous times in India's history; for instance, when the British used human-rights cases as pretexts to act against many Indian rulers.

Ironically, the British themselves committed many horrible acts while justifying them by compiling what is known as Atrocity Literature* to depict the savagery of Indians. They claimed that for their own acts were designed to help bring about civilisation for Indians. Here are some examples:

  • The Criminal Tribes Act was passed in 1871 and made it lawful to perform genocide against a list of Indian tribes deemed to be criminals, including every member of this tribes right from birth. Many tribes were condemned not because they were criminals but because they were fighting against the British destruction of their jungles and other habitats. The Thugs were one such group that got so badly maligned via atrocity literature that their name has entered English language as being synonymous with criminals.
  • Atrocity literature played its part in downgrading women's rights too. Veena Oldenburg's seminal book, Dowry Murder, gives details of how the British encouraged Indians to list out cases of atrocities that could be blamed on native culture. They systematically compiled these anecdotes, mostly unsubstantiated and often exaggerated and one-sided. This became a justification to enact laws that downgraded the rights of the common citizens. The book shows how the dowry extortion that have become so common in middle-class India today, were actually started when women's traditional property rights were taken away by British through convoluted logic. 
  • Girl child infanticide [from a earlier post of mine]
  • Nicolas Dirks is one of the many scholars to have shown how the British used atrocity litrature in order to exacerbate conflicts between 'jatis' in order to 'solve' their problems by intervening. This helped the British to gain further power and extort Indian wealth.
  • Claims of atrocities against workers were used to outlaw various Indian industries, including textiles and steel making, in which India had a lead over Britain. Meanwhile, the British started own Industrial Revolution to supply these goods to India as a captive market, turning Indians from world-class producers and exporters into importers and paupers. According to British authros WilliamDigby, between 1757 and 1812, the inflow of profits from India into Britain was estimated at between £ 500 million and £ 1 billion. The value of this sum in todays purchasing power would be over a trillion dollars. British were very diligent in documenting alleged cases of atrocities against workers, by the Indian manufacturers who were their competitors, and then outlawed many Indian industries on the charges of violating workers rights. The massive poverty and unemployment that resulted, only made the workers plight worse.
In a land mark monograph written a century ago by Mahatma Gandhi discusses how Indians working for the British were unwittingly helping to sustain the empire.

If one pays attention some of these policies are being carried forward by our present government run by the Congress party and infested with the Left liberals intelligentsia.

*Atrocity literature is a technical term referring to literature generated by a Western interest, with the explicit goal to show that the target non-Western culture is committing atrocities in its won people and hence need of Western intervention

Breaking India by Rajiv Malhotra

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting these excerpts. No wonder OUTLOOK and its reviewer Gita Ramaswamy did not like the book. She reviewed the author and vented her jealousy against expatriate Indians, rather than finding out what was in the book.