Saturday, August 1, 2015

Debate on Colonialism Remains Inconclusive 
Syed Ali Mujtaba

This is never ending debate; the colonial argument is that British rule has helped India in many ways. The progress and development of the country is due to foreign rule. Imagine India without colonial rule.

India was exposed to science and technology, English language, discovery of its past, railway, telecom, newspapers etc all due to colonial rule. The argument that colonial rule was benevolent is unending.

On the contrary the nationalist argue that colonial rule symbolized a master slave relationship it was a tyrannical rule. Whatever British did to develop India was for their own selfish purposes and there was no sympathy towards the development of the country.

To put the nationalist argument succulently through an  Urdu couplet “ wo karam unglion pe ginte hain, zulm ka jin ke khoi hisab nahin.”  It can roughly be translated as; ‘they count their generosity on fingers, whose deeds of atrocities are account less. Well this debate is unending.

I have a footnote to it. The British came as colonizers, they left as friends. Even with all the ill will as acts of colonialism, there is hardly any animosity against them in the country.

Contrary, to this, the so called Muslim rule in India are seen with disdain. The so called Muslim rulers virtually got assimilated in the Indian milieu and were never colonizers in any sense.

However, the genesis of the souring Hindu- Muslim relationship and the hatred of Hindus against the Muslims are traced to those historical past.

There is an argument that communal relationship was not all that bad during the Muslim rule and the communities lived in peaceful coexistence. However, in independent India, there are not many takers to this line of thought.

In this debate goes an argument that it was divide and rule of the British rule that polarized the religious community in India.

If that is the case, the benevolence of the colonial rule is steeped into deceit, because the seeds of hatred they have sown have left a huge negative impact on the country.

No amount of persuasion of unity in diversity and peaceful coexistence can pacify the polarized communities. This is the ugliest legacy of colonial rule in India.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at          

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