The Colonial Caper - a Masterplan, a Heist and an Assault

Suresh Lakshminarayanan-Essay-Winter-2021-1

An attempt to decipher the master plan devised to organize the biggest organized-looting that ever took place in the history of mankind.

 

The Colonial Caper - a Masterplan, a Heist and an Assault

It remains the biggest heist ever made by a gang; bigger than the Great Train Robbery, and far bigger than Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scam ($65 billion) or the Central Bank of Iraq robbery ($920 million).

The Portuguese under Vasco da Gama couldn't do it. Nor could the Dutch, or the French for that matter. As for the Turks and the Mughals before them, they seemed incapable of such devious intellect. Brute force was more their style.

It took years of planning. It would take centuries to implement. But the vision was so strong that generation after generation of officers and servants of the East India Company made it possible.

The heist in question is the systematic draining of wealth from India by the British, in the name of the Lord, the Queen, and at times, in their own names as the guardians of Imperialism. It was done under the guise of administration, business, religion, and post-war reparation.

By the time the last ship - with the Union Jack flying on her foremast and the royal insignia on her starboard - set sail for British shores, an estimated $45 trillion had been siphoned off from India’s coffers.

On the 15th of August, 1947, we had achieved our freedom by midnight. But the celebrations began in a different country, set in a different continent.

What is remarkable is that, besides the staggering amount that was looted, is the way they went about it. It called for sustained efforts across 200 years. Carrying out an operation for that stretch of time required vision, and an endless reservoir of patience, and efficient networking, and above all, deep insights into the fact that India held unexplored and hitherto unaccessed wealth, not just of the monetary kind.

This was where the British managed to achieve what the other colonial powers couldn’t. They understood that India was a golden goose that didn’t just lay golden eggs; it occasionally offered a Kohinoor diamond as well. So, while other colonial powers set foot on Indian soil for the purpose of business and weekend looting, the British knew that they had a winning proposition, which called for a long-term plan.

They also seemed to have studied the actions of the Islamic invaders before them. To destroy the knowledge of a civilisation, it wasn’t enough to merely burn books and libraries. Undermining their faith and religion needed more than destruction of their deities and temples. The British understood that destroying the spirit of a nation offered them long-term profitability.

The human mind was the treasury that needed to be plundered. And to rule over India, the spirit of Hinduism had to be broken. Neither could be done overnight.

Thus, was born the 10-point Master-plan.

  1. They are Many, so We'll Divide Them – How would a few thousand Britishers rule over millions of Indians? Simple, keep the natives divided and constantly in strife. It would be easier to control them that way, and it was a lot better than having them unite against the white man. Dividing them wouldn’t be too difficult and could be done on the basis of their religion, community, language, beliefs, leaders – right down to their food.

  2. They are Rich, so We’ll Impoverish Them – By raising taxes, the farmer and artisan could be kept working hard – and the harder they worked, the more the Britishers earned. Besides, divesting Indians of their money had multiple advantages. One, it would give the Britishers enough resources to continue with and expand their programme of colonization to other lands. Two, it would fund their wars. Three, it would become a great source of regular income and also fill the Queen’s coffers. And most importantly, it would keep Indians too busy fending for themselves and their families, and struggling for their next meal, so they would be too occupied to fight colonial oppression.

  3. No Sanskrit. Know Sanskrit – It came as a blessing for the Queen’s men that most Indians didn’t bother to learn Sanskrit, the language that was the key to unlocking the treasures of ancient Hinduism. This insight presented them with a golden opportunity. To begin with, they deployed part of the riches they plundered from India into rewriting its ancient history. Enough men and resources were allocated, to dig deep into Hinduism and its scriptures, so the white man could study Sanskrit and translate all the ancient texts into English – with his own spin on each, of course. Soon, Indians would be learning what the Britishers would want them to learn – in English, of course.

  4. Catch Them Young – Establishing the British system of education that is structured around English as the medium of instruction gave the British Crown control of India’s future. The objective was clear – to influence young minds and instil in them a colonial mindset. Having done so, they then played back their versions of Indian history back to them, in which all ancient Hindu achievements, inventions and innovations will be deemed European, all Hindu epics, fiction, and all Hindu kings, weak and submissive. Generation after generation would now study what they were taught in the classrooms and will grow up to be brainwashed liberals. The anglicized versions of their history will fill their libraries, their research vaults, their bookshelves, and eventually, their minds. The anglicized education system thus put in place would prove to be so robust that decades later, an independent India would be unable to get rid of it.

  5. Superior English Tongue, Inferior Mother Tongue – Once English was deemed the educated man's language, it was simple enough to position all Indian languages as inferior. In other words, one wasn’t considered literate unless one learnt to speak English. Asserting English as the only language that could link the entire country suddenly found favour even amongst Indians who were fighting for and against specific Indian languages. And by forcing people to study English from a primary school level, it became a cakewalk for the British to create a divide between people, as superior English-speaking Indians and inferior natives.

  6. Reposition, Then Remix – Repeated criticism of Indian colour, habits, culture, food, dressing and language as inferior would undoubtedly create an inferiority complex and servile attitude amongst people. While at it, rebranding their freedom fighters as radicals and revolutionaries who were anti-society, anti-peace and anti-government, and thereby creating doubts in the minds of future generations, helped the political cause of the white man.

  7. Put down Hinduism, Promote Christianity – Not an opportunity was lost in deriding Hinduism as an archaic religion with multiple Gods, primitive rituals, and endless beliefs and superstitions. In the same breath, Christianity was promoted as the superior religion, the only one that would save the souls of the brown man, besides alleviating his poverty. Criticism of Hinduism as a religion that was anything but scientific became institutionalized; so was the use of poverty, power, and politics to enforce the fourth P – proselytization.

  8. Indian Contribution to the World – Zero! – To weaken the Indian psyche, it was important to hide Indian achievements; pass off some of them off as Western and repackage the rest as gifts from other civilisations. To make this happen, Indian history was already being rewritten by looking at it from a Western lens. Above all, all of these were planned for the long term so that in the future, younger generations of India would actually support the colonial narrative and berate anyone who would propose an idea or state an opinion that was contrary to it. While India has contributed enough to the world, Britain’s contribution to India was the birth of the liberal Indian who was taught to brand the passionate Hindu as a radical.

  9. Leave Behind a Mixed and Twisted Narrative – With all the conversions – to Islam and Christianity – that have happened over the centuries, Indian history has become a divided narrative. Our texts reveal that India was, to begin with, a Hindu rashtra. However, to obfuscate it, many point out that the very concept of India, politically and geographically, originated only in 1947, prior to which, the land it was just a group of kingdoms and later, provinces and presidencies ruled by the British. In hindsight, when they adopted their policy of divide and rule, it has to be said that they divided better than they ruled.

  10. Question the Outsider Definition – Another problem that the Britishers left us with was in the way various religions perceive the historical narrative of the past 1000 years. To the Hindu, the Mughals and the British are invaders, or outsiders. This automatically makes their religions, their habits, their festivals and their food foreign to us. But to a Christian or a Muslim, reading Indian history about Hindu kings, Hindu temples, and Hindu philosophy is 'oppressing'. Hence a rewriting of Indian history in which Akbar loved all religions, Tipu Sultan was just and tolerant, and the British, fair and progressive.

Let us be honest and practical about this – it’s going to take a lot for this rewritten history to be changed back to its original version. So, rather than wait for governments and leaders to act, let us begin by asking ourselves one question – what are we going to do about it?

Cover Image: Edited Stock Image from Pexels.

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