Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A monument to the brutality and arrogance of colonialism

On a recent visit to Kolkata an Indian friend took my wife and I to the Victoria Memorial Hall.
The architecture and the historical displays are impressive.
But I found the whole experience very disturbing. The opulent grandeur of a memorial to a British monarch [the Empress of India] who represented the ruthless colonial rule and exploitation of a very poor nation was disturbing.

The central hall contains copies of the Queen's 1858 decree that took over the rule of India from the British East India company. It included the following text:
We shall respect the rights, dignity, and honor of Native Princes as Our own ; and we desire that they—as well as our own subjects—should enjoy prosperity, and that social advancement, which can only be secured by internal peace and good government. We hold ourselves bound to the Natives of Our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty, which bind us to all Our other subjects, and those obligations by the Blessing of God, we shall faithfully and conscientiously fulfill….. ……And it is our further will that, so far as may be, our subjects, of whatever race or creed, be freely and impartially admitted to offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified, by their education, ability, and integrity, duly to discharge….
This apparent concern for the well being of the "natives" is a far cry from what unfolded over the next 90 years.

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