When Mr. Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of United Kingdom in June 1947, introduced the Indian Independence Act in the British Parliament, Sir Winston Churchill, wartime prime minister of England said: “Power will go into the hands of rogues, rascals, free-booters; all Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw… They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.” Churchill did not give free India a chance to survive for more than a few months.
Sixty five years later, another British Prime Minister comes to India and what did David Cameron, who brought the largest ever British delegation to have left British shores as part of efforts to bolster economic ties with India, have to say? He said: “India’s rise is going to be one of the great phenomena of the century and it is incredibly impressive to see the vibrancy of your democracy, the great strength of your diversity and the enormous power of your economy that is going to be one of the top three economies by 2030”. One wishes dear old Churchill was alive and kicking today. He had said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
A couple of years ago, Newsweek, an American weekly, had a cover page article that said: “We are all Hindus now,” but let it be said: Hindus have not been going round in Britain, Europe and America to convert the barbarians there into Hinduism. Converting people of other religions into Hinduism is not part of our heritage. Poor Mr. Cameron knelt down at Jallianwalla Bagh to express his sincere sorrow at what his predecessors ruling India did almost a century ago. That was nice of him, but we would rather such things are forgotten. Were British prime ministers to say sorry, there would not be an end to it.
At the end of 1857 ‘sepoy mutiny,’ hundreds of Indian patriots were hanged from trees. During the Bengal famine, Britain took away millions of tonnes of foodgrain to feed British forces fighting elsewhere, resulting in the death of over three million Indians. Boats belonging to fishermen along the entire length of Bengal, Orissa and northern districts of old Madras Presidency were confiscated and burnt. We want to forget all that. We are a mature people. Britain may keep the Kohinoor diamond, which everybody, including, presumably Mr. Cameron himself, knows is stolen property. It has been contaminated. Let it stay in the British crown so that every British ruler when she or he wears it, must have a sense of shame, if, that is, the rulers have any concept of decency. The diamond long ago lost its glitter and it can be thrown into the gutter for all one cares. It remains devalued. After what the British did to it, it is not worth getting back. History, Mr. Cameron must know, runs in cycle.
In the 18th century, India had almost 25 per cent of the world’s trade. British colonialists destroyed it, but then we have only ourselves to blame for being disunited. We have had a great past in every possible way, long before Islam came into existence and even longer than the Christian era was born. We don’t need certificates from anybody. We are what we always were: People who respected dharma, who never invaded foreign lands to rob, to steal, to forcefully convert those who lived in territories beyond Bharat. What we sought was trade and commerce. (A digression here hopefully will be permitted. It concerns two Congress spokesmen, one named Digvijay Singh and another, Manish Tewari. Both warned Narendra Modi that he may well turn out to be a Hitler, considering the support given to him in the same manner by various foreign corporates as to the Nazi killer in the thirties. We want to remind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to listen to his party big mouths).
To come back to the United Kingdom, which is getting less and less united. North Iceland is a separate unit. Scotland wants independence and it may not be long before Wales follows suit. We don’t want to see a Great Britain reduced to a provincial status. For all the negative things done to us – including Partition of our motherland – we will not forget the good that Britain did to us, for which we will always remain grateful. If we have a sense of pride, we also have a sense of grace abounding. If Britain does not want Indian students to attend British universities, fair enough. We will use the spent money to empower our own universities to raise their standards. We have the capabilities to turn a steep fall into a rising asset.
In another decade, we will see to it that it will be British students seeking admission to Indian Universities. We have that confidence. But we certainly should raise our trade with Britain, once our overlord. After all, we have had a couple of centuries of relationship with all their ups and downs. We will forgive Churchill and others of his ilk. Churchill was a joke. Mr. Cameron brought with him, we understand, some hundred “captains of industry”- supposedly the largest such delegation ever to accompany a British Prime Minister on a foreign trip.
India’s economic growth may be decelerating, but it is still higher than Europe’s and the Indian market is unquestionably vast, as everybody everywhere is only too conscious. Presently, India’s export to the United Kingdom is a measly 2.5 per cent of its total merchandise export and imports from the United Kingdom even less significant, at 1.5 per cent. Both the figures must rise.
Mr. Cameron says Britain wants to be India’s partner – a junior partner, of course, but still a partner. May be India must take over Britain (or what is left of it) and rule over it as a colony, teaching British children how to speak English correctly and corporations how to sell their merchandise efficiently. Really, we should take over Britain to show what efficient rule means. We will not enact any Jallianwalla massacre, we shall not insult British culture, we will not starve a few million British to death, but we will make every possible effort to make them great all over again, expecting nothing in return. And most certainly, we will not attempt to convert anyone through subversion. Our specific task should only be not to make a subaltern nation of the UK, as the US has sought to do, but a truly great nation that will be the envy of the world. That will be our ultimate revenge.
M. V. Kamath