British Observations & Charges…

What I Do Not Quite Get: Why folks are so angered at the British perception that India was steeped in darkness and ignorance.

1. Education:
1.1. Women were not allowed to be educated
1.2. All low castes and untouchables were not allowed to be educated
~~> If women make up half of India and untouchables made up … I don’t know … over 50% of India, then it is not unreasonable to suggest that the vast majority of India – during the early days of the Brits and prior to that – were not allowed to be educated. That makes for quite the benighted nation.
2. Practices:
2.1. Child Marriage
2.1.1. Do you know that the Brits had to fight to get a law passed that stated that if a little girl was married to an adult male, then he could not have sex with her until she was 12?
2.2. Widows
2.2.1. Sati or Sutti – widow burning
2.2.2. Or being sequestered off to live with other widows in special housing and then Being used by rich people for sex treated as untouchables… your shadow must not cross an upper caste person – See the movie Water

Being someone who has grown up in the States and not in India, I think I can sympathize with the British perceptions of India. I have a lot of culture shocks whenever I go to India for a visit. Some of what I experience is not simply a culture shock, but is something that I find to be out and out revolting. Yet for all that I experience, the Indians with me and around me, generally seem to be numbly used to it. Perhaps this is because they have grown up in it, and when we grow up in something, we tend not to know that this is not the way the world is supposed to be.

So if a Brit goes to India, and sees lower caste people and untouchables being mistreated as subhumans, he sees children – 10 year old girls – being married to 30+ year old adults, widows being burned, prostitution at temples, justice only for the upper castes and privileged folks, female infanticide, people falling prostrate before trees and even animals and worshiping them, people involved in self-flagellation at religious parades, dowry deaths, lower caste women being raped with no justice for them, a deliberate and intentional lack of education for the masses and the resultant illiteracy thereof (see 1.2 above), then . . .

. . . then it is understandable that he or she would deem the country to be in a state of darkness and ignorance.

It is also understandable if the Brit asks the question of why Great Britain has achieved such progress (e.g. agricultural development, machinery, printing, etc.), while India has not, and then looks to the resources in of their own country and faith to find answers to that question.

One more thing …

I am not trying to exonerate the Brits for everything they did – see the below photo.  There is quite simply plenty that they did that was quite egregious.

(Yes.  Apparently, one way that the Brits executed people was by tying them up to cannons and letting the cannonball shoot through their guts. It needs to noted however that the Indians came up with this first.)

However there is also much that they did and said for which I think they have my sympathies.  Believe it or not, they met with much resistance from Indians when they tried to pass the law mentioned up above,  as to the age at which an under-aged married girl could have intercourse with her adult husband.  I think that this might have have been a 25 year battle.

Anyway, in the end, the Brits were a mixed blessing.