THE BRITISH RAJ IN INDIA: Symptoms of Colonialism, Yesterday and Today?

In the wonderful The Story of India from PBS/BBC, a Dr M Mukherjee talks about the shift of British colonialism in the 1850s, after the largest uprising in colonial history [the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857]. The Mughals [Islamic rulers for 350 years of often brutal, sometimes enlightened control—as far as control goes] are out, even the East India Company is out. Around the world, Africa in particular, the European powers are divvying up spoils to support the industrial revolution and Britain’s government has moved India from an indirectly ruled colony to direct rule.

But listen to this language, as Mukharjee explains one of the symptoms of a more pervasive colonial rule, and ask yourself if it doesn’t feel a little like modern times in terms of all-pervasive surveillance. Heck, what I am writing now is saved somewhere, and who knows, possibly monitored–or it would be if it was half interesting or subversive.

Anyway, from Mukharjee:

“From a relatively benign, what we call Orientalist, phase of colonialism, this is now [after 1857] an arrogant Britain, the first country of the Industrial Revolution ruling the world.

And then from the 1850s, the competition worldwide for colonies. Other countries are coming up and competing for colonies.

So therefore there is a great need to have a very systematic ordering of people’s lives, information, and everything related to them.”

I am sure even the British would be jaw-droppingly shocked by the inconceivable amount of “systematic ordering” and “information” of people’s lives that is gathered today by machine, leaving the door-to-door census in the dustbin of history.

So much of what we do, even in our own home now with the computer, is, in a sense, monitored or recorded somewhere. And we don’t seem to care too much. Should we?

In Canada, it’s illegal, or certainly fine-able, for example, to be pulled over in a car and not carrying ID, one’s license foremost. I’m not sure if that matters at all, but to reflect upon it is curious.

One could wonder if the average citizen is being colonized and doesn’t even know it. All I can say is that this “systematic ordering of people’s lives” may just be a fantastic reason to go for a walk in nature instead of the ten thousand other things that are tracked, from phone calls to computer to buying a latte on Visa.

Here’s to freedom and self-governance, on the micro and macro level,

Pete xo


One Response to “THE BRITISH RAJ IN INDIA: Symptoms of Colonialism, Yesterday and Today?”

  1. Erynn says:

    Pete — have you seen that the “Drug Czar” of the White House has called for an end to the war on (some) drugs?

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