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Discussion about UK and India


Discuss whether the UK should pay reparations to India. Also consider the question of fairness: Do today’s citizens of any country owe anything to the descendants of those their ancestors mistreated, exploited or killed? If so, what do they owe them?

  • Imperial History Perspective:

    • Empires, including the British and Mughal, pursued policies that primarily benefited the rulers.
    • India’s history includes imperial formations where people were dominated for the benefit of rulers.
  • Economic Impact:

    • European industrialization was a significant factor in the global shift of power.
    • Destruction of Indian “craft production” was not unique to British rule; it happened worldwide with industrialization.
    • The development of Indian railways and other infrastructure had potential economic benefits.
  • Cultural and Educational Contributions:

    • The British introduced Western-style universities, press, and a publishing sector in India.
    • English as a unifying language was offered, contributing to the survival of Indian democracy.
    • The construction of New Delhi as a capital was a substantial investment.
  • Industrial Competition and Impact:

    • Indian industrialization, especially in jute manufacturing, competed and succeeded against British equivalents.
    • British actions, including unifying princely states, contributed to the overall unification of India.
  • Global Economic Shifts:

    • India’s decline in its share of world GDP between 1800 and 1947 was influenced by global economic shifts, not solely British rule.
  • Reparations as Impractical:

    • Reparations are deemed impractical, citing difficulties in calculation, payment, and ensuring distribution to the poorer segments of society.
    • Precedents, like Berlusconi’s agreement with Gaddafi, are considered ill omens for reparations.
  • Atonement and Moving Forward:

    • Atonement for historical wrongs should come through academic writings, awareness, and guarding against modern forms of exploitation.
    • Economic growth and improvements should result from aid, support, fair and free trade rather than reparations.
  • Symbolism of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond:

    • The use of the Koh-i-Noor diamond as an example is seen as symbolic of unproductive aspects of Hinduism and the power of earlier Indian elites.