April 7, 2015

India and the Globalization of Servitude

by Colin Todhunter

Angus Maddison has noted that India was the richest country in the world and had controlled a third of global wealth until the 17th century. The village was the centre of a rural economy that was an economic powerhouse of entrepreneurialism. The British Raj almost dismantled this system however by introducing mono crop activities and mill made products, and post independent India has failed to repair the economic fabric.

If anything implies that India's social and economic fabric requires restoring, it is the findings of the 2014 global Multidimensional Poverty Index. Out of its 1.2 billion-plus population, India is home to over 340 million destitute people and is the second poorest country in South Asia after war-torn Afghanistan.

Some 640 million poor people live in India (40% of the world's poor). Just 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan). Now it has the second worst position, ahead only of Pakistan. Bangladesh has less than half of India's per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India.

What is going wrong? . . .


"Corporate Globalization Threatens World's Poor, Middle Class," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2000

John Pilger, "Free Trade: The Rise Of America's New Enemy," New Statesman, November 10, 2005

Nisid Hajari, "Why Is Pakistan Such a Mess? Blame India,", May 26, 2015

Shashi Tharoor, "An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India," Aleph Book Company (October 27, 2016)

Shashi Tharoor Interview By Karan Thapar, India Today, November 23, 2016

["A country that was the world leader in at least three industries - textiles, steel and ship building. A country that had everything . . . And after 200 years of exploitation, expropriation and clean outright looting, this country was reduced to one of the poorest countries in the world by the time the British left in 1947," he said.--"British reduced India to one of the poorest countries: Shashi Tharoor," Indian Express, December 21, 2016]

[All this made India (which included the future state of Pakistan) the largest Allied creditor after the US. Britain owed her £1.335 billion ($5.23 billion, which is about $59 billion today). . . .

Britain is said to have secretly sounded out the US, and received a discreet assurance that she could avoid repaying India, Pakistan, Egypt and others their wartime debt in convertible currency.--Kannan Srinivasan, "How India Paid to Create the London of Today,", April 20, 2017]

On 28 August 1608, Captain William Hawkins . . . became the first commander of an EIC vessel to set foot on Indian soil.
India then had a population of 150 million - about a fith of the world's total - and was producing about a quarter of global manufacturing: indeed in many ways it was the world's industrial powerhouse and the world's leader in manuafactured textiles. . . .
The Company's conquest of India almost certainly remains the supreme act of corporate violence in world history.--William Dalrymple, "The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire," Bloomsbury Publishing (September 10, 2019), page 14, 394

[The Company makes its first territorial seizure with the support of the Jagath Seths [the country's wealthiest bankers]. It was they who asked the British to overthrow Siraj-ud-Daulah of Bengal and they offered Clive £2 million to do this. This was the moment the Company realised it could defeat the vast Mughal armies with a very small amount of its newly-trained sepoys. And particularly from the 1780s onwards, the Marwari and Jain bankers of Bengal, and later the Hindu bankers of Benares and Patna, consistently backed the Company against other Indian forces.--Mukund Padmanabhan, "William Dalrymple on 'The Anarchy' and the cunning of the East India Company,", October 3, 2019]

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