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Review—Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor

A review of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor.  Hurst (March 2, 2017).

In November 2011, Pankaj Mishra, an Indian author, literary critic, and essayist for the Guardian and the New York Times, wrote a scathing review of Niall Ferguson’s Civilisation: The West and the Rest in the prestigious London Review of Books. Ferguson is a pop historian, and his recent polemic depicting Henry Kissinger as an idealist is a corny and ahistorical piece of work for any serious scholar of International Relations. But on one point, Ferguson has been remarkably consistent and fair—that there needs to be a more nuanced assessment of Britain’s Imperial legacy.

Since the Second World War, the prevailing view in academia has been that colonialism was an unpardonable and incomparable sin that plagued the globe for over two hundred years. Any counterpoint to this view is routinely dismissed as pro-colonial and therefore, by definition, racist. Ferguson has argued in several books that colonialism is a much more complicated subject than such black-and-white rhetoric allows. For this, he has been skewered from all sides, most savagely by Mishra in the LRB, who was subsequently threatened with a libel suit. But this episode has done nothing to alter the debate in those areas of academia still dominated by quasi-Marxist postcolonial scholarship.

Today, the postcolonial argument is enjoying renewed support from Shashi Tharoor, an Indian Member of Parliament and one of the brightest and most erudite diplomats the country has produced. With a PhD from Tufts, and degree from St. Stephens, New Delhi, he seems an unlikely bearer of relativism’s polysyllabic jargon. After all, a man who loves cricket, English literature, and Assam tea, and who speaks with a soft upper class RP accent, owes his every success to our colonial legacy, including India’s social structure and so-very-British higher education model.

His book, however, is as interminable a catalogue of opportunistic, revisionist dross as I have read in recent years and that’s saying a lot. I am from India, I currently live in the UK, and I am no stranger to self-flagellating Western postmodernists who blame the West for everything, while enjoying the benefits of its lifestyle, values, and historical legacy. Nevertheless, Tharoor’s book will doubtless be considered a strong rebuttal to the ‘benevolent empire’ thesis, and worshipped by postcolonial scholars, clueless journalists, and activists who will treat it as revealed truth. Any opposition from a Western scholar, no matter how nuanced, will automatically elicit accusations of racism.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the most vocal critics of postcolonial dogma and cultural relativism, is bizarrely considered to support white supremacy by the Left. If she can be bold enough to challenge conventional wisdom, then in the same spirit, and for the sake of balance, Tharoor’s book also needs to be critiqued by a non-Western scholar. I have been called a ‘Macaulay’s Child’ and a ‘sellout’ to the West already, so I don’t mind explaining why Tharoor is flawed at best and hypocritical at worst. This is not, of course, a defence of colonialism, the brutality of which is well documented and archived (not to mention considerably varied when comparing the experiences of Africa to those of India and China). This is, however, an attempt to bring some urgently needed nuance to the debate to counter conventional postcolonial groupthink.

Shashi Tharoor

Tharoor’s book, Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, originated from a short lecture Tharoor gave at Oxford, and its main arguments were summarised by the author in an article for the Guardian. Tharoor makes three fundamental claims. First, that India was a singular geographical and anthropological entity, and one of the richest lands on the planet, but that it was thoroughly impoverished by the end of one of the cruelest occupations in Indian history. The Empire, Tharoor argues, bled India dry to fund its own cultural enrichment and industrial revolution. Second, that any contribution by the British to India was for the benefit of the Empire, and not for its Indian subjects. The railways and industries, science and technology were all for the sustenance of British Raj. Third, Tharoor urges Indians to be proud of their own cultural heritage and to be aware of Imperial history and exploitation.

All of these assertions are flawed.

The argument that India was a singular entity, and that Britain ravaged India for her own growth in one of the most rapacious occupations in human history are both fallacious. The concept of a singular state, bound by a unified anthropological identity and defined by post-Westphalian territorial boundaries and statehood, was not present in India before the British united it. In fact, in five thousand years of subcontinental history, only twice was India as we now know it united under centralised rule. The first instance was during the Hindu-Buddhist Mauryan Empire of 322 BCE, and the second was under the Islamic Mughal Empire, which reached its zenith in the late 18th Century. The rest is just a history of different kingdoms battling for dominance, much like continental Europe. All the institutions of modern India—including Parliamentary democracy, the rule of common law and jurisprudence, socio-cultural norms and customs, an independent judiciary, industry, technology, railways, telecommunication and education system—are British imports.

Map of Indian rail network, the 4th largest in the world, circa 1909

In the last days of the Mughal Empire, and immediately prior to the East India Company’s expansionism, India was so divided that the Maratha Empire, based in what is now Mumbai and Pune, were regularly raiding the Nawabs of Bengal, based near what is now Kolkata. Meanwhile, the Mughal authority in North India was being undermined daily by the Jat, Rajput, and Punjab kingdoms. The South of India was divided between the Nizams of Hyderabad and the Mysore Sultanate. The British didn’t create these divisions, they already existed, based on religious, sectarian, and ethnic identities. The British of course took advantage of these divisions, just like any other prudent expansionist power would have done. Human history is replete with great powers taking advantage of chaos, and it would have been foolish for the British to have done otherwise, especially when they were battling growing French and Russian influence in Asia. But it is simply juvenile to claim, as Tharoor does, that Britain funded her industrial revolution by wringing India dry.

The British industrial revolution started in 16th Century, with massive investments in science, industry, power, locomotives, and, yes, heavy weaponry—the tools which would be needed to contain discontent in India later, as well as to conquer three-quarters of the globe. Indian princes at that time relied upon religious taxes on minorities to fund their military campaigns, and the trade in linen and spices. Serious scientific study was negligible, and often considered anti-religious by both Hindu and Muslim elites. Hindus, especially, considered crossing oceans and large seas to be sacrilegious. If Indians, with our proud history of seafarers and empire in South East Asia during antiquity, never produced any world class explorers during the industrial age, it was because we were constrained by our own religious and anti-scientific dogma during the late medieval era.

Tharoor cites the familiar canard that the Indian mutiny of 1857 was a joint revolt by Hindus and Muslims against the colonial British. This is another piece of post-independence spin. In reality, the mutiny was a revolt by medieval forces opposed to modernity and science against the forces of Enlightenment. Tharoor conveniently omits the fact that the majority of Indians did not rise up against the British; 21 Princely states, alongside the Kingdom of Nepal and Punjab, actively supported the British. The Bengali intellectuals, newly educated in Western science and Renaissance philosophy, who would later lead the actual independence movement, were opposed to the medieval rebels retaking social power.

The University of Calcutta, established 1857

The revolt and the British victory led instead to the establishment of the Indian Penal Code of 1860, followed by the extremely progressive Ilbert Bill introduced under Lord Ripon in 1883. Tharoor fails (or deliberately neglects) to mention that one of the results of the British victory over the rebels was the Bengal Renaissance, a movement which produced, inter alia, the establishment of science and medical colleges; institutes like the Asiatic Society; universities in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras; and reform movements within the orthodox Hindu and Muslim communities across India.

Tharoor repeatedly claims that the British introduced railways and industries and English language for their own benefit as instruments of colonialism. This is an Ignoratio Elenchi fallacy. Of course they did. But did those things benefit Indians in the long run or not? Tharoor fallaciously tries to quantify the GDP decline of a previously unified non-existent Indian state which he claims was bled dry by the British. But he never tries to quantify the benefits accrued by the social reforms or the advances of technology and industry and science. Using Tharoor’s logic against him, one could argue that India has one of the world’s largest service workforces today in the science, engineering, and IT sectors, and that Indians readily find work in other Anglophone countries ahead of other nationalities because of our ability to communicate fluently. It would be nice if someone were to pay Tharoor to quantify the cumulative advantage of an English education and the taxes earned by the Indian government as a result.

Here’s a little story for Tharoor. One evening, General Sir Charles James Napier, the erstwhile commander-in-chief of the British Indian army, was confronted by a group of orthodox Hindu priests complaining about the prohibition of Sati, a custom that demanded (often extremely young) Hindu widows die on the funeral pyre of their (usually very old) polygamous husbands. This practice was deeply entrenched in the feudal customs of the day. A—s recounted afterwards by his brother William, Sir Charles agreed to allow the Hindu priests to build their pyres in accordance with their customs, but on condition that the murderers were then hanged from a gibbet and their property confiscated in accordance with British customs. How does Tharoor quantify this contribution to Indian society by the murderous British?

Perhaps the most baffling charge made by Tharoor is that the British started the Hindu-Muslim division that later led to partition and bloodshed, and that India was a religious heaven in which everyone coexisted beautifully prior to the Raj:

Large-scale conflicts between Hindus and Muslims (religiously defined), only began under colonial rule; many other kinds of social strife were labeled as religious due to the colonists’ orientalist assumption that religion was the fundamental division in Indian society.

I hesitate to accuse Tharoor of pig ignorance given his stature and qualifications, so the only other logical explanation is that he is intellectually dishonest. One of history’s earliest episodes of unprecedented mass slaughter occurred during the First Fitna (656-661 CE) and the establishment of Ummayad rule. Later, the Abbasid Caliphate supported Mahmud of Ghazni’s yearly raids into India from 1005 CE, reducing the Hindu Somnath temple to dust on a number of occasions. When Persian ruler Nader Shah sacked Delhi in 1739, over 30,000 Hindu inhabitants were slaughtered in two days by the Persian and Kurdish armies. Over the course of the 700 years since Muhammad of Ghori invaded India, over 400 Million Hindus, and over 150 million Muslims died in wars and massacres throughout India. All the European powers combined didn’t manage to kill that many people throughout all Asia during their entire colonial histories. These are empirically established facts, albeit highly inconvenient to Tharoor’s grand anti-Western narrative.

That being said, it must be re-emphasised that colonialism was not benevolent. The British were brutal as well and, notwithstanding phases of liberal reform in India, there were periods of extreme segregation. This is the most serious charge the British face. The Indians, educated and enlightened, wanted to be treated as equals, but there was discrimination even between the Crown’s subjects. Regardless of how many Indians gave their lives in two World Wars and fed the colonial industrial machine, their treatment at the hands of the British was considerably different to that afforded to Australians or New Zealanders or Canadians. Britain wouldn’t have survived a week in the battle against Nazi-occupied Europe if it didn’t have the supportive might of the Jewel in the Crown’s resources and manpower. As Nirad C Chaudhuri wrote, in one of the most poignant paragraphs produced by an Indian scholar about colonial history:

To the memory of the British Empire in India, which conferred subjecthood upon us, but withheld citizenship. To which yet every one of us threw out the challenge: “Civis Britannicus sum,” because all that was good and living within us was made, shaped and quickened by the same British rule.

But that’s history. British Indian history is also Indian history at the end of the day, with the contributions and the exploitations, just like those of the conquests by the Sakas, Hunas, Mongols, Greeks, Afghans, and Persians before them. There was nothing uniquely evil about it.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, with Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, on the steps of Akshardham Temple, April 2017

Tharoor wants Indians to be proud of India. We already are. Proud that we now own the Land Rover and the Jaguar, formerly icons of British pride. Proud to have one of the most successful space programs in the world. Proud to be the globe’s largest supply of brain power and service sector workers, without bombing the West due to pent up sexual frustrations or religious cultism. Proud to be one of the most successful economies of last decade and half which has lifted 21 million people from poverty. Proud that Britain now comes to India to be a trading partner, inviting foreign investment. Proud of our achievements rather than our cultural chauvinism.

It’s better that way. Tharoor might be eyeing a future Prime Ministerial run in India and need these hackneyed 1960s arguments to solidify his pedigree as a patriot. But he can spare us the rage. We middle class Indians don’t have time for that.


Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK. His research is in Great power politics and Neorealism. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.

Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra is Doctoral Researcher on Great power politics and Neo-Realism, with a special focus on Russia at the University of Nottingham, UK. He writes for War on the Rocks, The National Interest, and is a regular analyst for The Centre for Land Warfare Studies, India. He holds a Masters of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a Masters of International Studies, both with distinctions.
Sumantra Maitra
Filed under: Review


Sumantra Maitra is Doctoral Researcher on Great power politics and Neo-Realism, with a special focus on Russia at the University of Nottingham, UK. He writes for War on the Rocks, The National Interest, and is a regular analyst for The Centre for Land Warfare Studies, India. He holds a Masters of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a Masters of International Studies, both with distinctions.


  1. But apart from parliamentary democracy, the rule of common law and jurisprudence, socio-cultural norms and customs, an independent judiciary, industry, technology, railways, telecommunication and education system — what did the British ever do for us?

          • By all means make a case for child slavery in Australia and the US. Both countries do have laws which make it impossible to employ children as India still does.

            And while the US lags behind the rest of the developed world in terms of worker conditions and rights, and decent wages, that is not the case in Australia and the US even with its deficiencies is still a vastly better place for a worker than is India.

          • No. Neither the US or Australia have slavery as India does. India has real slavery, particularly with children.

    • Big Bob says

      Read Max Muller, bro. What the Indus civilization has done for the west.

      • Shiraj Dutta says

        Yes, but we are not talking about the Indus civilization here. At best this is an intellectually dishonest book by an intellectually gifted man. There has to be an ulterior motive.

  2. Mahesh says

    When will Tharoor write a book on what his upper caste supremacist ancestors did to India?

    British were far fairer to Indians than Indians themselves. Did not Asoka exterminate Kalinga, before shedding crocodile tears and then masquerading as a non-violent Buddhist?

    And is it true that the Mauryas and Karkotas invaded West Asia? And is this also true that Cholas invaded, oppressed, plundered and ravaged Malaya and Indonesia?

    And is it true that all Sikh gurus were Khatris, that Sikhism was a family business, with sons and nephews inheriting the title of Guru, whereas not even a single Jat, let alone a Shoodra, Chamaar, or Bhangee was made a Guru.

    And same story in Hinduism where the arrogance of Brahmins and Thakurs knows no decorum, bounds or decency.

    And there are 1.7 Billion rapidly multiplying South Asians, not 170 million, precisely because of British (and European) modern medicine, and scientific revolution.

    • Big Bob says

      You’ve got your facts wrong bro. Cholas never invaded, let alone plundered, South East Asia. Jayavarman migrated.

  3. Nick says

    A very interesting and positive article. The writer will probably be seen by some as a sort of Indian Uncle Tom, yet if one thing comes out of this piece it is the affection and pride he feels for his own culture and country.

  4. Big Bob says

    That’s not the point, bro. The review has so many factual inaccuracies. The 16th century was the dark ages in Europe; the industrial revolution began in the 1800s. Scholars agree that prior to western colonization, India and China comprised 40% of the world economy.

    • @Big Bob This is his statement:

      “The British industrial revolution started in 16th Century, with massive investments in science, industry, power, locomotives, and, yes, heavy weaponry—the tools which would be needed to contain discontent in India later, as well as to conquer three-quarters of the globe.”

      Where is your evidence that this isn’t true? Can you prove that Britain did not make massive investments in these things? Citation needed.

      When you say, “scholars,” who are you talking about exactly?

      Cite or be quiet. (Not that your sources are to be trusted anymore than the side stepping Tharoor.)

    • @Big Bob And you say, “The review has so many factual inaccuracies (redundant).” Beyond your unsupported dark ages comment, exactly what are all these inaccuracies? Come on, back up your claim. Let’s hear it…

  5. Manish says

    England will pay for the mass massacre they did in India , Winston Churchill a big killer then Hitler , England is small nation which will go back to dark ages soon

    • @Manish What about this, guy? Who will pay for this? India? Islam? Hinduism?

      “Over the course of the 700 years since Muhammad of Ghori invaded India, over 400 Million Hindus, and over 150 million Muslims died in wars and massacres throughout India. All the European powers combined didn’t manage to kill that many people throughout all Asia during their entire colonial histories. These are empirically established facts, albeit highly inconvenient to Tharoor’s grand anti-Western narrative.”

  6. GDP numbers comment.

    The book argues that gdp didn’t increase at all in the time of colonialism is India.

    What he ignores is that China gdp decreases significantly in the same period (to my best knowledge).

    The reason wasn’t colonialism, but the industrial Revolution and the resulting income divergence (you can read some here:

  7. Luke Reeshus says

    Proud to be the globe’s largest supply of brain power and service sector workers, without bombing the West due to pent up sexual frustrations or religious cultism.

    Excellent essay, and I particularly liked the above sentence. Few things give me more pleasure than watching jihad apologists’ brains go haywire when it’s pointed out that most people who suffered colonization (including Indians) don’t redress their grievances by massacring civilians.

    • Luke Reeshus says

      Hey, what happened to the commenter—I believe their name was “rossross”—below me? They were critical, but they weren’t rude or trollish, at least not to me.

  8. Mani Panat says

    When the British left, India was not a union, it was untidy mess of princely states, provinces & territories. Our leaders had to unify it with independence. At the time of the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the Delhi Sultanate was regarded as cultured and progressive(William Darylmple’s the Last Mughal) & India could have united under them.

  9. If you let someone come to your house who says they are only there for doing business, and then they eventually plunder you and your family for next 100 years or more to say at the end that they created railways for you – well that was the British in India.

    Nobody is saying that British were the only one to plunder India, but nobody else is claiming like the Brits, that they only did good in India – even after being responsible for more deaths (20 -25 million approx..Direct or indirect) than Hitler caused.

    Point is Brits did many good and also did heavy damage to India- accept both.

    • Jay Ritchie says

      Where do the British claim to only have done good in India? I’ve never seen such a claim.

      Also – easily verifiable history – Hitler killed more then 25 million people if your definition is direct or indirect.

  10. Numinous says

    First, let me state that I consider Tharoor’s book to be seriously flawed. My personal opinion is that he intended to write a polemic to shore up his nationalist bona fides and advance his political career.

    But your review manages to be even more flawed than Tharoor’s text. It makes me wonder what the sources of your historical information are. Contrary to your opinion, the Mutiny was a popular widespread revolt throughout the Gangetic plain. Why didn’t more people join? Because of the very credible threat of British reprisals. (In Avadh, British soldiers went around hanging civilians from trees just on the suspicion that they might support the rebels.)

    I don’t have the time to do a full factual analysis of your review, but I’ll leave you just one. Can you really not know that the Ilbert Bill, which was indeed proposed by one of the (rare) liberal members of the Viceroy’s inner circle, had to be jettisoned almost immediately because of widespread protests by the white colonialists. Even Ferguson in his “Empire” book acknowledges that, and shows how deeply racist arguments were made to maintain whites, especially in rural areas, as the ruling class with few constraints on their behavior.

    As for the 1860 Penal Code, I suggest you read it one day. It’s not the liberal manifesto I think you imagine it to be.

      • Numinous says

        It overstates its case. It’s literally impossible for the British to have, for example, built infrastructure in a way that would only benefit the rulers and not the ruled, so it’s strange to make the argument that the British did things that benefited them. Well, duh! But Indians also derived some benefit.

        Tharoor mentions dubious anecdotes like the British cutting off the thumbs off Indian weavers (historians almost uniformly consider this to be false.)

        For all their flaws, the British were not Nazis. This may be of cold comfort to Indians, but we have to compare what the British were with what they could have been. No empire during that era was good for its subjects, but the British were the least bad of them. The French were worse, the Turks and Russians brutal, the Spanish were genocidaires and slavers, and we know what the Americans did to the natives in the USA. In contrast, after most of the excesses of the East India Company, the British did at least have some good intentions towards the subcontinent. They still messed everything up and upended the way society worked because of their racial arrogance, but I would give them a B-minus just for having good intentions. Indians also had significant agency to shape their lives during the Raj. The government didn’t help them, but it didn’t hinder them beyond a point either.

        • Also – and the review points this out – when we talk of Spanish and British “colonialists”, it seems strange *not* also to talk about Iranian conquerors like Nader Shah, nor about Arabs like Muhammad bin Qasim.

  11. The British were a genocidal cult just like the nazis. Whole european or white civilisation is based on genocide,plunder, torture and theft. Europeans started venturing outside Europe around 1500 AD. they reached America, tortured and killed the native Americans around 10 million of them and took their lands.Same is the case with South America and mexico,where the native Indians were butchered like animals. Then the Europeans occupied Africa,maimed and killed Africans, made them saves,looted their resources and killed wild animals as well.In Australia they did the same.Photographs of Australian Indians tied in chains in all over internet. From 1 AD to 1750 AD China and India accounted for 60% of world GDP and exports.In 1750 India share of World GDP was 27% . Richness and prosperity of Indian civilisation is well documented by ancient Greek, Chinese and Arab historians. Shipbuilding industry, iron and steel industry, cotton, jute ,clothing,textile industry.India was a pioneer in all of these industries.All these are mentioned in the book “Inglorious empire” by Shashi Tharoor. British came and destroyed all our industries, cut off thumbs of the workers, destroyed our cities, killed people,encouraged and promoted divide and rule policy,.They encouraged and promoted divide between Shia and Sunnis, Hindus and Muslims and between Hindus based on caste. When British left India our GDP dipped from 27% in 1750 to 2% of world economy in 1947.All our industries were destroyed,35 million people killed,93% poverty, illetracy 92%.But we Indians were grabbed whatever is left after the colonisation,made good relations with Russia and developed and prospered.It is estimated that in 150 yrs around 3 trillion pounds in that times money were looted by the British. The whole episode of British colonisation of India is one of heart wrenching and blood curdling one.The British were no less than a genocidal cult.Although British colonisation is known for its loot and plunder because of richness of India ,as it was known as the golden bird or the jewel of the crown or a great civilisation nonetheless British did lot of killings as well

  12. Darwin T of BC Humanists says

    Thank you for a thoughtful review. It would be great if Mr. Tharoor could be coaxed to respond with a back and forth with you as interlocutor and in the spirit of genuine exchange.

    Are any universities in India teaching a complex history of the subcontinent? Perhaps all of them are. Irony, subtlety and depth still matter.

    Prime Minister Turnbull’s body language in the photo is suggestive of a connection of power and mind with Prime Minister Modi. Modi has been appointing of late many BJP mandarins solely on the basis of Hindu loyalty and it always helps to be mindful of his role as governor during the abhorrent riots in Gujarat that had religion front and center in tribal violence while Modi twiddled his thumbs.

    • Ram Bahubali says

      Not really. History is not taught in most Indian universities as most Indians prefer to pursue education that makes them employable rather than waste time on subjects that are better pursued as hobbies.

      And your last comment does seem to be completely ignorant of the ground realities of India.

  13. Bahuleya Minyakka says

    Thank you Sumantra. It is only by true reflections on the past and the shedding of jingoistic pseudo-racial hatreds can India move forward as a confident, proud nation, rather than a poster-child for victimhood complex. Victimhood can only lead to a restriction on development as a self-belief sets in that India cannot achieve as they have been wronged in the past and can never break free of that wrong-doing. It can only lead to the wrong kind of pride, the false pride based on hating someone else and overcompensating for one’s own self-loathing. India must learn from the effects of this disorder as we’ve seen it stall any development in the Arab muslim world for centuries.

    Shedding this malady will also ease the lives of Anglo-Indians, Goan-Portuguese and Pondicherry French who suffer discrimination as “foreigners” in their own country.

  14. The author writes “… it was because we were constrained by our own religious and anti-scientific dogma during the late medieval era.” – Really?

    Could the author clarify how religious dogma spared “creation of calculus”*?

    “For years, English scientist Isaac Newton and German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz both claimed credit for inventing the mathematical system sometime around the end of the seventeenth century.

    Now, a team from the universities of Manchester and Exeter says it knows where the true credit lies — and it’s with someone else completely.

    The “Kerala school,” a little-known group of scholars and mathematicians in fourteenth century India, identified the “infinite series” — one of the basic components of calculus — around 1350.

    …The beginnings of modern maths is usually seen as a European achievement but the discoveries in medieval India between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries have been ignored or forgotten,” he said. “The brilliance of Newton’s work at the end of the seventeenth century stands undiminished — especially when it came to the algorithms of calculus.”*


  15. Could the author clarify how “religious and anti-scientific dogma” (to use the author’s words) spare significantly early computation of the value of Pi?

    ““But almost three hundred years before Gregory and Leibniz’s formula came to the fore, there was a series which was codified in the form of a verse by an Indian mathematician Madhava,” he says.

    “If the series were to be given a name which honours the founder, then it should be called Madhava series instead of Gregory-Leibniz series,” he said.””*


  16. The author writes: “The concept of a singular state, bound by a unified anthropological identity and defined by post-Westphalian territorial boundaries and statehood, was not present in India before the British united it.”

    Is not the start of “Westphalian sovereignty” a mid/late 17th century phenomenon? Is the lens of “Westphalian sovereignty” even relevant to a pre-British Bharat (that is India)?

    Does the author believe that the only definition for (or lens to look at) the concept of a singular state is “Westphalian sovereignty?”

    Isn’t the author ignoring perils of “Anachronism 101” and being “Eurocentric 101” in searching for post-Westphalian attribute in pre-British Bharat?

    Can the author be open to the possibility that pre-British Bharat might have had its own definition/lens for statehood?

    Has the author studied Indian texts in Sanskrit (Vedas, Ramayan, Mahabharat, Puraans, Arthashastra, to name a few) before coming to the conclusions he does about Bharat’s civilisational oneness?

  17. The author writes: “We middle class Indians don’t have time for that.”

    What is the author’s data? Has he undertaken a survey of all “middle class Indians”?

  18. David Mumford, Book Review: Mathematics in India, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, March 2010, p. 385:

    “Did you know that the Vedic priests were using the so-called Pythagorean Theorem to construct their fire altars in 800 BCE?”

    Could the author please clarify his position on pre-british Bharat’s Sanatana Dharma-adhering peoples’ ‘“anti-scientific dogma” (to use the author’s words)?

  19. The author writes that “The argument that…Britain ravaged India for her own growth in one of the most rapacious occupations in human history” is “fallacious.” and also adds subsequently that the “British of course took advantage of these divisions, just like any other prudent expansionist power would have done.”

    Either the author is being innocently inconsistent, which could be excused if the author acknowledges the same. If not, and pending no clarification from the author, could the author (too) not be accused of “intellectual dishonesty?”

    He also peddles his framing of a familiar argument, that “All the institutions of modern India—including Parliamentary democracy, the rule of common law and jurisprudence, socio-cultural norms and customs, an independent judiciary, industry, technology, railways, telecommunication and education system—are British imports” without instantiating though, which of these (if one assumed (though debatable) for the sake of argument that all of them were British imports) did not benefit the British?

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