The British were Imperialist Brutes --No


March 20 2016

This story has been copied from the Daily Mail--and we have to

thank Alan Lane for forwarding it to us


The British were imperialist brutes? No, Britain made India great (says an Indian!) 

  • Indian author Lalvani has been living in England for more than 50 years
  • He argues against the notion that Britain looted India 
  • Reviewer defies anyone not concede the author might just have a point


PUBLISHED: 16:19 EST, 17 March 2016 |  




                                   by Kartar Lalvani

Before you read this review, it's important that we get a couple of things straight. The first is that Kartar Lalvani is himself Indian. The second is that, as far as I can tell, he is not mad.

The reason both these things are so important is that for more than half a century scarcely anybody - let alone an Indian - has dared suggest that British rule in India was anything other than an utter disaster.

In his preface, Lalvani notes sadly that he's been living in England for more than 50 years and in that time 'I have not encountered a single native Brit who has stated any form of belief that the British benefited India'.

Author Lalvani has lived in England for more than 50 years. He argues against the idea that Britain looted India

Received wisdom - carefully nurtured by generations of Lefty academics - holds that Britain, the wicked colonial oppressor, sucked the wealth out of India, crushing the poor Indians under their boot heels at the same time.

As the founder of Vitabiotics, 'Britain's most successful vitamin company', Dr Lalvani is presumably a very busy man.

Yet he feels so strongly that British rule in India has been unfairly vilified that he's produced a scrupulously researched examination of its achievements.

O ne of the main charges against the British is that they looted India of many of its assets.

Nonsense, insists Lalvani. If anyone looted India, it was the Persians - by the time the British arrived, the country's coffers were almost empty.

If anyone looted India, it was the Persians - by the time the British arrived, the country's coffers were almost empty

But surely India has always been dogged by the most appalling poverty? Isn't that also a legacy of British rule? Not according to Lalvani. As he points out, it's now almost 70 years since the British left India and the poverty is almost as bad as it's ever been.

If there is a villain to be fingered here - someone responsible for keeping India bumping along the bottom - it's not a representative of British rule.

Instead, we should be pointing accusingly at none other than Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister who is generally reckoned to be the father of the nation.

It was Nehru who cravenly sucked up to Stalin - a far greater brute than any Brit.

'As a result, India's pace of industrial growth was seriously stunted, depriving the country of precious financial development funds from the U.S. and European nations.'

Lalvani is only limbering up, though. It isn't until he gets into what the British did for India's infrastructure that he really hits his stride.

Not only did the British give India a legal system, an efficient police force, an apolitical army and a smooth running - if astonishingly bureaucratic - civil service, but just look at the concrete benefits they provided.

Let's start with roads. In 1836, work began to construct a highway between Calcutta and Lahore - that's 1,423 miles.

When it was finally completed almost 30 years later 'wheeled carriages could roll across the land' for the first time.

23 Million ==The number of people who travel on Indian railways every day.

Not only that, trees had been planted every 60 ft along the way 'to provide beautification and much-needed shade to travellers'.

And then, of course, there were the railways. In a section entitled Awe-Inspiring Railways Statistics, Lalvani lists how India's railway network came to cover the map. He's right; the statistics really are awe-inspiring.

In 1853, there were a mere 21 miles of railway in India. Ten years later, there were 2,512. Jump forward 20 years, and that figure has gone up to 10,000 miles, and another 20 years later to 26,378.

The British built more railways in India than America, France, Germany and other European colonialists built in all their colonies. And in order to do so, they had to build bridges - lots and lots of bridges. At this point it's worth recalling Franklin D. Roosevelt's quote: 'There can be little doubt that in many ways the story of bridge building is the story of civilisation.

'By it, we can readily measure a people's progress.'

In fact, the British had been building bridges in India long before the railways came along.

In 1811, the first iron bridge in British India was built across the Gomti River at Lucknow - the design was based on a bridge over the River Wear in Sunderland.

W hen it was shipped to India, it became the largest single structure ever exported from Britain.

It consisting of 2,627 pieces, of which just 19 arrived broken.


To build the Simla railway that led from the plains up to the cooler hill country, the track had to climb almost 500 ft - requiring the construction of 103 tunnels. And this for a railway that was a mere 60 miles long.

In the late 1700s, the British decided to construct a mint in Calcutta. Behind a colonnaded facade inspired by the Temple of Minerva in Athens, steam-driven machines stamped out 200,000 coins every eight hours.

A few years later they built another equally grand mint in Bombay. When an Indian engineer at the Bombay mint came to London in the 1840s, he took one look at the Royal Mint and pronounced it to be 'much inferior'.

Inevitably, a history like this is going to be on the selective side. For instance, there's barely any mention of a thoroughly discreditable episode such as the opium trade, while the Indian Mutiny also passes in a convenient blur. But even so, it's still hard - indeed almost impossible - not to be struck by how much the British sought to improve India.

Of course, their ideas of what constituted improvements were very British ones, yet many of the institutions they introduced are still functioning pretty well today.

And when the time eventually came for the British to leave India in 1947, power was relinquished with 'for the most part good grace and mutual respect' - unlike a lot of other countries one could mention.

After reading a book as bracingly controversial as this, you may find yourself in need of some refreshment - a cup of tea, perhaps.

As you are waiting for the kettle to boil, you could reflect on how it was the British who introduced tea to India, turning the country into the biggest tea producer in the world in little more than a century.

And from there you might go on to chalk up a few other achievements: the introduction of coffee, sugar, fresh drinking water, public toilets...

Doubtless there will be those who dismiss Dr Lalvani as the worst kind of imperialist lackey.

But I defy anyone with a modicum of open-mindedness not to read The Making Of India and concede, however grudgingly, that he just might have a point.