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The Seven Years War and Britain's Passage to India

Comment

British Prime Minister David Cameron's mid-February visit to India began with a flattering appeal. "I want Britain and India to have a very special relationship," Cameron said in Mumbai. "Special relationship" has specific echoes, which Cameron no doubt intended. Britain possesses a "special relationship" with another former colony, one which became a global power: the U.S.

Cameron recognized India's potential. "India's rise is going to be one of the big phenomena of the century," he said, adding that India's democracy and economic power would make it one of the world's "top three economies by 2030. That's why I'm here. Britain wants to be your partner of choice."

Britain is already India's biggest European investor. Cameron also emphasized historical, linguistic and cultural ties.

Cameron could have mentioned another tie, the legacy of the rule of British common law, albeit British common law as imposed on colonials. The Yanks admired the British legal and political system, but had severe objections to Britain's onerous and demeaning colonial administration (taxation without representation). The Yanks revolted and fought two wars against the Crown. The passage of time, assisted by common security and economic interests, forged the British-American special relationship.

Indian memories of British colonial rule are much more recent. Deep resentment lingers. "Brit rhymes with spit," an Indian immigrant to the U.S. told me, in a conversation three decades ago. We were discussing the beneficial legacy of British common law, especially contract law and freedom of expression. Both are economic catalysts. Then anger flashed. Though born after Indian independence (1947), the man was one generation and scarcely 30 years from decolonization. The subcontinent anti-British grievance list includes: misrule, injustice, ethnic and class prejudice, and secondary status in ones own country. However, an angry U.S. citizen circa 1815 — roughly 30 years after U.S.

independence — might have had the same list, including the ethnic. The grandson of a displaced Canadian French Cajun, now residing in American Louisiana, could harbor a bitter ethnic grievance.

My Indian acquaintance acknowledged speaking English had benefits. His fluency made getting a job in the U.S. much easier.

Though the use of English remains a political issue in India, you can make a case that the English language, or its emerging subcontinent cousin, Inglish, is contemporary India's economic glue. That doesn't sit well with hardline Indian nationalists, but it translates (literally) into high-tech jobs in Bangalore and Mumbai. Hindi is India's official language, but the country has some three dozen major languages.

Use of English was supposed to cease in 1965, but non-Hindi speaking regions objected; pro-English riots broke out in Tamil Nadu. Indians value their polyglot heritage, but they are also practical. English continues to serve as an official language for government and business, which makes it India's de facto common language. A Tamil speaking software entrepreneur in Bangalore uses English to communicate with his Marathi-speaking Mumbai business partner.

Cameron's passage to India comes at a historically ironic moment. Feb. 10, 2013, was the 250th anniversary of the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years War. If this war is obscure, its long-term effects aren't. It was perhaps the first genuine global war. Combat occurred on every continent except Antarctica. Ticked off Cajuns and angry Indian nationalists ought to study up on the conflict. Here's why. In North America, we call the Seven Years War the French and Indian War. The French lost Quebec, and the British took Canada. After 1763, the Cajuns fled their maritime Canadian homes for Louisiana.

The Seven Years War also left Britain the leading power in India. For better and worse, Great Britain's victory in the Seven Years War gave it Canada and India as colonies. The British left their social, political, legal and linguistic marks on both. Like the U.S., both are 21st century powerhouses. It appears being a former British colony has a long-term upside. Cameron certainly hopes 21st century Indians draw that conclusion.

To find out more about Austin Bay, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM



Comments

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Sir;... India may well be one of the top three world economies by the year 2030; but my bet it that it will be built on the back of as much, or more poverty than any other country in the world... It is just so capital will flock to places that populations willing to accept economic slavery for the chance to say they are independent and politically free... What America and Britain have been willing to support in the name of democracy is political systems that deny democracy, like our own, that sabotage political equality by protecting economic inequality...
For them, and for ourselves since Britain owns so much of America, I will repeat the words of John Conolly who they rolled out in his perambulator and shot for his role in the Easter Rebellion: You can raise the Green Flag over Ireland tomorrow, and England will still rule you through her banks and counting houses....
The English have learned a lesson we have failed at... They gave up colonization, for economic imperialism; and for the honor of doing so, and the experience of playing second fiddle in a one man band, we have been their cop and bully... We have spred our capital from sea to sea, from West to East, and North to South, and though it does not support us or our government, we must support it with our military or it would everywhere be forfeit...
We cannot imagine that the Chinese or the Indians or the Burmese love to be made slaves as the price of industrialization... It is something they tolerate in the expectation that they will some day be self supporting, and self exploiting, and powers unto themselves...
For us for all, empire is a losing game that ends in poverty, revolution, or invasion... England is a third world country... They are a collection of violent drunken soccer hooligans and sexual perverts, except for their royalty and bankers...Their wealth is everywhere and making their rich ever richer, but they would play hell trying to collect it if it bacame necessary... But then, we are still trying to collect our wealth from Cuba after about 50 years, no doubt, with interest figured in... And Castro would say that he paid exactly what it was valued at for the purposes of taxes paid to Cuba before the revolution...
We can write our own checks as long as we have our military... As one person said of our economic aid: 90% of it never leaves the United States... We can build some big project, and saddle the population with debt while their leadership basks in the sun of the Cote d'asur...Why do we give so much military aid??? WE give only to get... We export our old junk and methods to the third world at a profit in order to have their populations under our guns without American fingers on the triggers...Arms are one of our greatest exports...
When the priest in our church happened to point that out after 911, sort of saying that perhaps a turkey had come home to roost, one of our reactionaries dropped a dime on him, and next week, it was mea culpa time...
What ever you do, do not dare tell the truth but at the risk of your life...If people do not know the truth it is because they choose not to...There is no point in telling anyone what everyone already knows...Knowledge is only power to some... For those who sense how badly they are skarrude with the world, that bit of knowedge is not power; but a reminder of their absolute futility and actual slavery... Rejoice, rejoice; you have no choice...
No wonder they dropped a dime on the guy... If you have a mole on your nose the last thing you want to hear is that you have a mole on your nose...But if you really want to see people fry, tell them how great England is, and how we should never have left them, and how we should kiss their feet, and try to be more like them...Rich people are all Anglephiles... Money means more to our rich and to rich people everywhere than patriotism means anywhere...
Sir;... If you are trying to teach a lesson; let me tell you what it is... The American revolution grew directly out of the bankruptcy of Britain following that seven years war, just as the English revolution of the Round head grew out of Chrales' bankruptcy, and the French revolution grew out of the Burbon's bankruptcy, and the Russian revolution grew out of their Czar's bankruptcy...Empire and war exhausts societies, but bankruptcy makes revolution possible...Trying to tax the American colonies when they had managed their own defense so that Britain could concentrate on offense was a big mistake...
Trying to tax the American middle class to spare the rich so they can blow more American Capital on war and empire is a big mistake too; but the rich have no mind for lessons... As was said about the Bourbons: They learned nothing, and forgot nothing... It is as if the loss of their heads was no loss at all...
Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:09 PM
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