(Inspired by Chetan Bhagat’s Letter to Kashmiri youth)
Dear Indian friends (the ones who don’t like the Crown),
I write in this open forum because something terrible is happening in India. The recent events at the August Kranti Maidan in Bombay and elsewhere have only brought the situation to imperial attention. Some activists set up parallel governments when Mahatma Gandhi called for us to “Quit India”. Many policemen were beaten for protecting the Union Jack. Thereafter, bloody clashes have broken out in many parts of our Empire.
I understand that there is little pro-British sentiment amongst locals in India. Many would rather India be on its own, some wouldn’t even mind if it remained a Dominion. I will not judge you. Despite being a patriotic British subject, I won’t hold it against you if you hate the British Empire. You must and do have your reasons for it.
However, allow me to present another point of view. Allow me to tell you how your future will be best, on a practical basis, if India remains with the British Empire. This is not an emotional, political or historical argument. It is simply more rational for people in India who seek a better future to do it with the United Kingdom.
Sure, the experts will jump on me now. Experts who have made India’s independence their fiefdom. However, if the problem were indeed solved, how will these people stay relevant? Hence, they always attack any solution with their populist ‘how can India stay in the Empire’ stance. They love complicated. It gives them another Round Table Conference to attend, another Quit India Movement to announce. You suffer with complicated, as we never agree to leave.
The issue is complicated for sure. For those who don’t know the Imperial issue, here it is in a nutshell. The East India Company arrived. The Mughals and other powerful kingdoms were conquered. Some didn’t accede, but we became their suzerain. They remained independent, but with riders.
With the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935, India was given more political independence than other Colonies, while London would handle defence, foreign affairs and communications. In theory, it was a good solution, a sort of one country, two systems approach. In reality, it never worked.
Instead of two parents as planned, India became nobody’s child and an orphan. The Indian National Congress used the common factor of Indianness to start an independence movement. The Imperial police and army tried to control it. However, it is difficult to control a political movement that co-exists with a civilian population (case in point: even the world’s greatest Empire is unable to control the Pashtun tribes in the Frontier).
Hence the Indian Army, and the British Empire, only got a bad name in India. Thus the ‘Quit India’ slogans and perennially unsolved India problem.
The question is, what is an Indian youth to do now? First, it is important for everyone, not just Indians, to understand the area and people involved. The Indian map we see in Indian textbooks is far from what exists on the ground. Burma has been split away, and the Muslim League is calling for a new country Pakistan to be carved out of Punjab and Bengal. Even though the Congress may claim it, unless we are okay with heavy civilian casualties (which we are not), we will never get it.
The rest of the country is rugged and the people impoverished. Even if we were to indulge the argument that Great Britain is a terrible country and so India should be on its own, can you really build a sustainable country out of it? It will be a giant sore in Asia, with Hindus and Muslims at each others’ throats. With no real economy and extreme dependence on foreign aid, it risks becoming a basket case of hunger, deprivation and communal violence.
Another issue is women’s rights. Half of the India’s people are women. Given the hold of conservative Hinduism and fundamentalist Islam, their rights would be curbed under independent India. This half of the population would be better off with Great Britain, pub-crawling in Oxford, Cambridge or London. Or do what women want not matter?
If you are Indian and care for India, the best thing you can do is to accept British rule. Your population is gigantic and unmanageable amongst yourselves. It is not unthinkable to unite Loyal Indians and create a group of people that talks real business with a wise and benevolent British government. Your local politician won’t talk assimilation, as he or she would rather hold more power than an independent India. However, for you, the youth, the best bet is to make India truly part of the British Empire.
London should not ask for India to remain under British control. The 300 million people in India should. Civil disobedience is no solution, nor revenge and retribution for British atrocities. Insurrection is only going to harm people in India most.
So, it is youth in India who have to now start a movement to really solve this problem. Get rid of your independence struggle. It is not empowering India. It is only empowering your local politicians, who frankly can do nothing for you without British cash.
Don’t blame the British Indian Army. It has the tough job of weeding out terrorists from a civilian population which is almost impossible without collateral damage, terrible as that might be. However, blame those truly responsible, like Bhagat Singh and his accomplices, the local leaders who exploited the situation and the experts who did nothing for you.
Don’t burst crackers when Britain loses. Don’t feel good when Britain fails.
Because if the glorious British Empire fails, you will fail too.
Long live King George VI,
Sir Chetan Bhagat.