Sunday, 8 May 2016

Role of Indian Quislings in British conquest of India; De-industrialization of India after 1750; Re-emergence of India (and China)

Last updated on 11th May 2016 
I would like to first say that I believe in Shirdi Sai Baba's teaching of "Sabka Maalik Ek" (The master of all is ONE). In other words, I believe in ONE GOD with various religions including Islam being various paths/ways to worship and merge in that ONE GOD. Specifically, I am not against Islam, and am actually supportive of it, so long as it does not interfere in the right of others (like me, a Hindu) to practise their faiths which are different from Islam (e.g. Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism), 
and also does not interfere in the right of some to not have faith (atheists/agnostics). Shirdi Sai Baba used to say "Allah Maalik" (Allah/God is the master) very often; I revere the same Shirdi Sai Baba,, and try to follow His teachings.
I thank a USA based correspondent of European origin for engaging with me in a mail conversation on this topic, and providing intellectual stimulation for me to delve deeper. Given below is a significantly edited version of MY PART of the mail conversation with the correspondent. Note that this conversation was over four days, from 30th April 2016 to 3rd May 2016. Please note that the post is a longish one and that it may come across as somewhat disjointed and lacking in coherence as the post is stitched together from only MY PART of the mail conversation over multiple mail exchanges. Perhaps browsing through the post and reading only those sections that are of interest may be more suitable for many readers, as against going through the whole post.

The first two sentences of this controversially titled Washington Post article, If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House,, dated April 29th 2016, are:

"Donald Trump’s damage to the Republican Party, although already extensive, has barely begun. Republican quislings will multiply, slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history."

To provide a counter view, here's a quote of Mr. Donald Trump, "I’m a conservative but at this point who cares? We’ve got to straighten out the country.", from, dated April 29th 2016.

[Ravi: Please note that I have a NEUTRAL informal-student-observer role in these matters related to USA presidential elections. Of course, as I am an Indian citizen living in India, there is no question of me voting in these elections.]

Ravi: While I knew that the meaning of quisling was something related to traitor and traitor-collaborator, I decided to look up the exact meaning and etymology. That led me to the wiki page,, "A quisling (/ˈkwɪzlɪŋ/; Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈkʋɪsˈlɪŋ]) in Norwegian, English, and some other languages, is a person who collaborates with an enemy occupying force. The word originates from the Norwegian war-time leader Vidkun Quisling, who headed a domestic Nazi collaborationist regime during the Second World War." That in turn led me to the wiki page of Vidkun Quisling, Hmm. So the word originated from a Norwegian who collaborated with the Nazis when they occupied Norway in World War II. That's an interesting learning for me and I thought I should share that with you (that I learned it; you may already know about Vidkun Quisling). [I knew about the French Nazi collaborators but did not know about Norwegian Nazi collaborators.]

All this more detailed exposure to Western world history & politics, Indian history & politics and even some amount of Chinese history & politics, that I have got over the past few years from my readings/viewings on it, leads me to repeat Hillary Clinton's statement aimed at Bernie Sanders' supporters in her recent New York primary victory speech ["there is much more that unites us than divides us",], but in a modified way as:
There is much more that is common among human societies across various parts of the world than what is different.
BTW the history of how the British established influence over Indian rulers through direct military interventions (around mid 1750s to mid 1850s), and then essentially ruled the whole of India for around a century (mid 1850s to 1947) (with some kingdoms having some limited independent govt. but pledging loyalty and tribute, I guess, to the British), is full of Indian quislings (and vanquished and killed martyr-heroes)! has a quote from Ramusack 2004 p. 85 [Ramusack, Barbara (2004), The Indian Princes and their States, The New Cambridge History of India, Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 324, ISBN 0-521-03989-4]. A part of that quote is given below:
"Major Indian rulers exercised varying degrees and types of sovereign powers before they entered treaty relations with the British. What changed during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is that the British increasingly restricted the sovereignty of Indian rulers. The Company set boundaries; it extracted resources in the form of military personnel, subsidies or tribute payments, and the purchase of commercial goods at favourable prices, and limited opportunities for other alliances. From the 1810s onwards as the British expanded and consolidated their power, their centralised military despotism dramatically reduced the political options of Indian rulers."


Till around 1757, I think the English were simply using their military power to ensure they got favourable trading options, and were, if I recall correctly, having battles only with other European powers, who were trying to muscle in into the lucrative trade with India.

From my limited knowledge of Indian history, one of turning points of the English conquest of India, was the battle of Plassey (Bengal) fought in 1757 by the English under the leadership of Robert Clive. See for details.

In short, Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah of Bengal ordered the British to stop extension of their fortification, and later attacked Calcutta and took over Calcutta from British possession. The British fought back under Clive but used quisling-tactics to ensure their victory over the numerically more powerful Siraj-ud-Daulah. From the wiki, "Robert Clive bribed Mir Jafar , the commander in chief of the nawab's army, and also promised him to make him Nawab of Bengal. Robert Clive also bribed the larger part of Nawab's army and asked them to surrender prematurely. He defeated the Nawab at Plassey in 1757 and captured Calcutta."

Ravi: I read an account of how Mir Jaffer the commander in chief of Siraj-ud-daulah got his forces to battle giving Siraj-ud-daulah the impression that he would be fighting. But Mir Jaffer, the quisling and traitor, did not use his forces to fight the British! Siraj-du-daulah's force was badly defeated. I think this kind of treachery was the common route that the British took to achieve easy victories over those who fought against the British after 1757 as the British tried to slowly and steadily gain territory of India under their direct control.


The rest of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army formed in a crescent facing the river, from the jungle covered hillock round to a point behind the mango grove. The commanders were, from the hillock, Raja Durlabh Ram, Yar Lutf Khan, and, on the left, Mir Jafar Khan, the principal traitor. The numbers in this crescent line were 45,000 infantry and cavalry, with numerous guns. Clive’s force was effectively surrounded, and pinned against the river. His survival and success depended upon the treachery of Mir Jafar Khan, and the other Indian commanders.
--- end extract from ---]

Ravi: Anyway, after this pivotal battle in the English conquest of India was won, Clive made Mir Jaffer the Nawab. From the above wiki again, "According to the treaty drawn between the British and Mir Jafar, the British acquired all the land within the Maratha Ditch and 600 yards (550 m) beyond it and the zamindari of all the land between Calcutta and the sea. Besides confirming the firman of 1717, the treaty also required the restitution, including donations to the navy squadron, army and committee, of 22,000,000 rupees (£2,750,000) to the British for their losses. However, since the wealth of Siraj-ud-daulah proved to be far less than expected, a council held with the Seths and Rai Durlabh on 29 June decided that one half of the amount was to be paid immediately – two-thirds in coin and one third in jewels and other valuables. "

Ravi: This battle, and Clive directly being kingmaker of the Nawab of Bengal, paved the way for the British to conquer India militarily and then, like all conquerors, use the conquered land and people for the benefit of the conqueror. From the wiki again about the economic impact of British rule in India after this pivotal battle in 1757, "The Battle of Plassey and the resultant victory of the British East India company led to puppet governments instated by them in various states of India. This led to an unleashing of excesses, malpractices and atrocities by the British East India Company in the name of tax collection.
This led to largescale detrimental impact on the economy of India (the Indian subcontinent). Research by Simmons (1985) and Harvard Scholars Clingingsmith and Williamson concluded that India's share of world manufacturing output fell from 24.5% in 1750 to a paltry 2.8% in 1880, 1.4% in 1913 and a 2.4% in 1938, based on earlier findings by Simmons (1985)."

Ravi: Mind you, the scholars mentioned above are Harvard University, USA scholars and not Indian scholars. Essentially, India got de-industrialized BIGTIME, got reduced to raw material provider to the British industries, and a market for some finished goods as well.

The reference for the figures in the last sentence in the quoted section above is as follows:
Clingingsmith, David; Williamson, Jeffrey (2005). India's Deindustrialization in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Harvard, MA: Harvard University.

So it is the Harvard scholars in 2005 who are saying that India got de-industrialized in the 18th and 19th centuries, not Indian scholars or Indian politicians.

Undoubtedly there were some positive aspects to English rule over India, especially for the Hindus. Mind you, prior to the English, the Mughal empire and/or smaller Muslim kingdoms (ruled by nawabs) were holding sway over large portions of India for centuries, with some of the Mughal emperors like Aurangzeb and also some of the smaller Muslim nawabs, being noted for destroying temples, some amount of persecution of Hindus, and encouraging conversion of Hindus & other non-Muslims to Islam.

I think in those areas that were under Mughal rule (e.g. Bengal and Delhi) as well as in smaller Muslim kingdoms, the non-Muslims (mainly Hindus) may have even welcomed the British as a less oppressive ruler. Some South Indian Hindu kingdoms either managed to somehow fight off Muslim rule or had it for short periods of time (e.g.

But, the fact was that even under Muslim rule, Indian economy was doing quite well for those days. The British de-industrialized India - this would have been like how in our times, manufacturing jobs of the USA have gone to other countries like China and some services jobs of the USA have gone to other countries like India, leaving the worker and lower-level staff people (large numbers of people) high & dry.

As part of administration of India, the British Raj after 1850s, brought in changes in Indian education, revenue gathering, courts ... (I don't know the details and the dates). Essentially the British systems of administration were introduced in India. That certainly helped India get exposed to and advance in fields like (Western) science & technology (as against traditional Indian knowledge systems related to material world), Western commercial accounting and administration, Western law, Western philosophy etc. A lot was gained from these areas, I am sure. Though I think a lot of ancient Indian wisdom and knowledge systems got neglected. After India gained independence in 1947, slowly and steadily ancient Indian wisdom and knowledge systems have been made more important in India, and a blend of Western knowledge systems and ancient Indian knowledge systems is what is aimed at by some sections of Indian educationalists.

To conclude, surely India did gain some positives from British rule. However, it was not altruism that led the British to rule India. Like all conquerors in history, British rule in India was focused on exploiting India for the economic benefit of the British. By the time the British left India in 1947, a country that was having around a quarter (25 %) of the World's GDP before the British conquest of India started in the mid-1750s, had been reduced to a World GDP share of around one-tenth of that - 2.5%.

I had read somewhere that it has been a similar case case with China (Britain or other European countries did not rule mainland China but the British & other Western powers did militarily try to control trade with China). From

Early in the 19th century, serious internal weaknesses developed in the Qing dynasty that left China vulnerable to Western, Meiji period Japanese, and Russian imperialism. In 1839, China found itself fighting the First Opium War with Britain. China was defeated, and in 1842, signed the provisions of the Treaty of Nanjing which were first of the unequal treaties signed during the Qing Dynasty. Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain, and certain ports, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, were opened to British trade and residence. In 1856, the Second Opium War broke out. The Chinese were again defeated, and now forced to the terms of the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin. The treaty opened new ports to trade and allowed foreigners to travel in the interior. In addition, Christians gained the right to propagate their religion. The United States Treaty of Wanghia and Russia later obtained the same prerogatives in separate treaties.

Toward the end of the 19th century, China appeared on the way to territorial dismemberment and economic vassalage—the fate of India's rulers that played out much earlier. Several provisions of these treaties caused long-standing bitterness and humiliation among the Chinese: extraterritoriality (meaning that in a dispute with a Chinese person, a Westerner had the right to be tried in a court under the laws of his own country), customs regulation, and the right to station foreign warships in Chinese waters, including its navigable rivers.
--- end wiki extract ---

So Western military and, in particular, naval superiority forced China on the backfoot on trade, perhaps leading to its World GDP share falling, even if Western powers did not colonize China like Britain colonized India.

Today, Asian analysts have the view that China and India are not emerging powers, they are re-emerging powers! Asia as a whole is viewed as a re-emerging power.


"British economist, Angus Maddison argues that India's share of the world income went from 27% in 1700 (compared to Europe's share of 23%) to 3% in 1950. Modern economic historians have blamed the colonial rule for the dismal state of India's economy, investment in Indian industries was limited since it was a colony."

Ravi: I have copy-pasted Angus Maddison's figure from the wiki page, below:


From the figure, one can see that China & India in the mid-1750s had together around 50 % of the world GDP. From mid-1750 India's world GDP share plummeted, Western Europe's share went higher and in a short period of time surpassed China. Later Chinese world GDP share also plummeted. Western Europe and USA dominated world GDP for most of two centuries.

The reversal of the trend can be seen from around 1970 with the Chinese curve steeply rising to around 15% by 2003 and the Indian curve moving up slowly to somewhere around 5 %.

As of 2014,, China has 16.32% of world GDP (No. 1 in the world), and India has 6.83% of world GDP (No. 3 in the world) [USA is no. 2 in the world at 16.14%]

[In response to the point that English economy was industrialized and mechanized starting around 1830 and that Indian production would not have needed to decline much for above figures to be true, I (Ravi) wrote:]

I think that is a very valid point. The great increase in efficiency of production due to industrialization in the West would have naturally led to its World GDP share sharply increasing, and that of other non-Western countries including India & China, sharply decreasing.

However, once Indian kingdoms came under strong British influence (around 1750 to around 1850) and when India came under proper British rule (around 1850 to 1947), the interests of Indian industry would have become subservient to interests of British industry. If I recall correctly, even in school I was taught about how Indian textile industry (mainly a handloom type industry) got utterly destroyed by the British. Now, if India was under Indian rule (Muslim or Hindu kings), naturally the Indian textile workers and businessmen would have actively sought help from the rulers who would have put in place some protection for the handloom industry. Later, they may have explored the idea of taking foreign help to set up mechanised textile factories in India. This would be the natural route to first protect Indian textile industry and then upgrade it to try to get close to the competition.

But as India was under strong British influence and later British rule proper, the British did not do anything much, if I recall correctly, to help Indian textile and other industries. Instead they opened up the market to British industry created textile products which finished off the Indian textile industry and would have destroyed the lives of the workers associated with it.

Ironically, perhaps in a twist of Karmic fate, today British industry workers are facing similar challenges from China (though not really from India). British jobs are at risk! Here's a fascinating article I got from the Guardian, Britain took more out of India than it put in – could China do the same to Britain?, by Ian Jack,, dated 20th June 2014.

The article mentions that for at least two centuries Bengal's handloom weavers' products were famous and in demand. They competed against Britain's own cloth industry! (After Britain stared ruling Bengal, via its puppet vassals initially,) Britain imposed import duties on Bengal's handloom products in Britain and flooded Bengal market with cheap fabric produced by new steam mills of England and Scotland. That virtually finished off Bengal handloom weavers.

The Guardian article above, quotes Jeremy Seabrook. I (Ravi) came across an article from Seabrook titled, "Song of the Shirt",, dated 24th May 2014. A quote from this article (most of which is also in the Guardian article), "Punitive duties on Indian cloth early in the 19th century and supply of machine-made goods from Lancashire replaced the textiles of Bengal, not only in Britain, but in India itself. As a result, the spinners and weavers of Bengal fell into the greatest penury. Dacca, centre of muslin production, became a deserted city: tigers and leopards roamed once-prosperous streets, and by the 1820s, the city of men had become a city of animals. Weavers’ dwellings were overgrown, the thatch alive with birds, snakes and insects, while roussettes – bats which  are small and multi-coloured as butterflies – flew in and out of earth-mounds that had once been homes; hunched vultures surveyed tracts of land in which the human voice was stilled. People lost the skill of their fingers, and only the roughest country cloth still found a market among the poorest.

The first great de-industrialisation of the modern world had begun. The population of Dacca fell from several hundred thousand in 1760 to about 50,000 by the 1820s."

Ravi: I guess the above articles clearly show that the British exploited India, and laid waste to the Indian textile industry so as to benefit British textile industry. According to one of the above articles, the British cut off Indian weavers' fingers and broke their looms (perhaps there may be some exaggeration there)! And they made a flourishing textile town, Dhaka, a ghost town which was attractive for vultures! Mind you, these two articles are written by what seems to be British authors, Ian Jack and Jeremy Seabrook (and not by an Indian nationalist writer or publication).

[In response to the point about importance of modern industry in this world GDP share dramatic fall for India from around mid-eighteenth century to around mid-twentieth century & for China from around early-nineteenth century to around mid-twentieth century, I (Ravi) wrote:] Surely, that mattered. I am of the firm impression that it was Western science & technology along with industry powered by this science & technology, that allowed Western world to become dominant powers of the world for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Countries like India and China were nowhere in comparison to the power of Western science & technology. Indeed, there seems to have been nothing in the accepted and recorded history of mankind like the impact of Western science & technology powered Western industry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with its awesome good accomplishments and some terrible accomplishments as well (weapons of mass destruction like nuclear bombs used to end a World war, and worse).

Surely, this modern industry of the West in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries would have contributed a great deal to the West's dominance in world GDP.

[In response to point about some British administrators having good motives:] While the British conquest and rule over India was essentially focused on Britain economically benefiting from India, there were some British administrators associated with India who genuinely loved India and helped India. In the past few years, I have read in The Hindu about some events in Andhra Pradesh in honour of Arthur Cotton. I mean, even today that British man is revered in Andhra Pradesh by Indians. From :
General Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton KCSI (15 May 1803 – 24 July 1899) was a British general and irrigation engineer.
Cotton devoted his life to the construction of irrigation and navigation canals throughout British India. His dream was only partially realized, but he is still honored in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu for his efforts. Sir Arthur Cotton museum has been built in his honour in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh. The museum holds approximately 100 images and 15 machine tools that Cotton used when constructing the barrage in Andhra Pradesh from 1847 to 1852.
--- end extract ---

Ravi: Also, there were many Britishers (and other Europeans) who came to India as missionaries during the British rule of India period. While their acts of conversion of Hindus to Christians have been strongly criticized by Hindu Indians today, I think these missionaries did extraordinary work in terms of uplifting the lives of the poor, and in introducing and developing the Western system of education in India. Especially in South India, I think, those Britishers associated with Christian mission work and with educating Indians in the Western system of education, gained a lot of respect from Indians. Indian culture has great, great reverence for teachers. That role of teachers that some of the British took, and taught Indians, made them worthy of reverence from Indians! Further, the quality of British engineering, the systems of law and order that they had, earned huge respect from Indians too. I mean, Indians could not build roads and bridges and railways like the British! Only the British could, and India had to learn from the Britishers. Further, the Britishers did allow the Indians to learn from them, with some of them becoming teachers themselves!
[BTW my father joined Indian Railways as a clerk sometime around Indian independence (1947) or slightly earlier, I guess, and rose up the ranks to become an Accounts officer in Central Railway branch of Indian Railways with headquarters in Bombay (Mumbai). Most of my father's postings were in Bombay itself. My father died in 1978 when I believe he was around 60 years of age; I was 16 years old then. So my father would have been born around 1918 and been raised and brought to adulthood in British ruled India. Perhaps he started his job in Indian Railways well before 1947 as he had studied upto Matriculation (11 years of school following which there was an important school board exam), after which, perhaps due to financial constraints in his family, he had to look for a job. He may have started working in the Railways (which I think was his first job) in his early or mid-twenties, which would be around early 1940s. I presume that my father did his schooling in our family home town of Irinjanalakuda, Thrissur (Trichur) district, Kerala (South India),, and after schooling came over to Bombay in search of a job. His father was already in Bombay then, I believe, which would have paved the way for my father moving to Bombay. He got married in Bombay in perhaps his early thirties and our family (my parents and siblings) was based in and around Bombay/Mumbai. My siblings (elder sister & elder brother) still live in and around Mumbai. I moved out of Mumbai to Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh (South India) in 2002.
One of my paternal uncles was also in Indian Railways and had a similar career though I think he reached higher levels of officer cadre in the Railways prior to his retirement. Yet another of my paternal uncles became a Marine engineer by studying it in Britain! So my previous generation in my immediate family benefited DIRECTLY from British established enterprises in India (and in Britain, in the case of my marine engineer uncle). Perhaps in the case of both my father and one of my uncles who worked in the Railways, they may have started their careers in the Indian Railways, when India was still under British rule, and so Indian Railways top administrators may have been British!
I should also mention that I recall from family chat sessions in my youth that one of my father's cousin-brothers, also based in Bombay like my father, was said to be involved in the Quit India movement, a civil disobedience movement launched in August 1942 by Mahatma Gandhi, The talk was that he was arrested for his involvement with it. So he was the freedom fighter in the family! I do recall my interactions with him on other topics but do not recall asking him about this matter. It is too late now as he has passed away.
My maternal grandfather was a first-class magistrate ("Courts of Judicial Magistrate of First Class are at the second lowest level of the Criminal Court structure in India.", in Kerala, South India. His father (my maternal great-grandfather) was a Sanskrit scholar, if I recall correctly, based in Kerala/Tamil Nadu. He (great-grandfather) had received recognition from the Travancore King,, of those days (gift(s) were given by the Travancore king to him for composing and/or reciting Sanskrit poem/verses including ones that perhaps praised the Travancore king, as per my recollection of family chat sessions). I presume that my maternal grandfather did his magisterial duties under British India law, and so would have had a certain degree of knowledge & competence about British India law. My maternal grandfather's son (my maternal uncle) also moved to Bombay (like my father and his brothers) and he worked for a major part of his life (till retirement) with Tata company(ies) in Bombay in the accountancy side (as a cost accountant, if I recollect correctly). If I recall correctly, at least for some time, his work (office) location was in or close to Tata (Textile) Mills, Dadar/Parel, Bombay. 
As my uncles benefited from British created/encouraged enterprises in India including Western education systems, I too have benefited through them! In my parents' family circles there has always been GREAT RESPECT for British engineering and British administration systems. Hindu administrations systems as they would have known it, I don't think came anywhere close to matching those of the British. As a child I guess I too would have unconsciously imbibed this GREAT RESPECT for British administration systems and engineering. Railway trains, a vital contribution of British engineering to India, was a key part of my regular commuting of around two decades during my college and working days in Mumbai, as well as a key part of my long-distance travel to other places in India! I have had a lifelong fascination and love for railway trains and train travel!
Today, of course, I acknowledge the superiority in many aspects of British/Western science & technology, industry, law & order systems, administration systems. commercial accountancy systems etc. over traditional Hindu or Muslim systems. I don't even know the details of traditional Hindu or Muslim systems in these areas, as I have been taught the British systems (adapted to Indian context in the case of systems like law & order). ... However, in spirituality & religion as well as in the area of humanities, arts & culture, my parents' family circles as well as I and my circle of Indian contacts, in the past as well as now, (felt and) feel that Hindu (and, to some extent, Indian Muslim) systems hold their own in comparison to British/European systems, and may even be better than them in some areas.]
While the British were very critical of some horrible religious practices among Hindus, at least some of the enlightened British administrators were appreciative of Hindu traditional sources of knowledge. As people like Prof. Max Muller's works on Hinduism became more popular, British appreciation of Hindu scripture increased. Likewise, I get the impression that Hindus were very appreciative of the missionary charity work that the British and European missionaries did. The accounts of Jesus Christ in the Bible were very much in line with that of many Hindu saints and Muslim saints of India.

So the India-British relationship even when India was under British rule was a mixed one. It was not of out-and-out hatred from Indians for the British, even if there were some horror stories of exploitation done by the British. Further, the way India and Britain managed to negotiate for India's independence instead of doing it in a violent bloody way, helped the two countries to become friends after British rule ended. Today, in the early 21st century, Indians I think are far more comfortable in having a relationship with Britain as against relationships with neighbours Pakistan and China, or even Burma! That itself shows that the India-British story and relationship is a complex one historically, and that today we are two countries that are friends of each other, and try to emphasise the good common ground that we share and keep in the background the unhappy aspects of our past relationship (except in analytical mails like this :-))

I doubt whether the British would have been really interested to set up industries in India in the initial part of their conquest, 1750s to 1850s, as they would then have focused more on Britain gaining from their conquest rather than helping the conquered Indians. Very importantly, a proper British Raj was not yet in place in India and so rather than proper administrators deciding on such matters, it perhaps would have been East India Company bosses (businessmen type) and military leaders.

After the 1850s with the British Raj in place, I think slowly and steadily Britain started setting up industries in India either by the British govt. or other Britishers or even Indian businessmen.

One very big difference between British conquerors and the many previous conquerors of India was that almost all, if not all, the other conquerors settled down in India! So they essentially became Indians including the Mughals, the last really big & established power of India before the British, whose precipitous decline made it easy for the British to militarily challenge Mughal feudatories. [E.g. the Nawab of Bengal being challenged by Robert Clive and being defeated.] If a strong Mughal emperor like Aurangzeb was ruling in Delhi, the quisling/traitor Mir Jaffer would not have dared to side with the British, as Aurangzeb would have not only tortured and killed Mir Jaffer but perhaps would have done that to his kin as well (Indian kings, both Muslim and  Hindu, were quite brutal especially when it came to dealing with traitors).

So conquerors before the British, became Indians. Then they had to make their kingdom prosperous so that they, the kings, could benefit. In the case of the British conquerors, it was very different. They essentially, especially in the 1750s to 1850s period, I guess, before an accountable and proper British Raj was established in India, had to worry only about making Britain prosperous, and if native Indians suffered due to that, so be it.

But after the British Raj got setup in the 1850s, I think the British administration started showing some concerns about the well being of the subjects of their administration, namely Indians.
The Indian kings and merchant classes would surely have done some level of exploitation of the Indian working classes (as viewed from a labour rights view, today), given the feudal environment as well as caste system among Hindus, and that would have been perhaps far more than the exploitation by the British industry owners of the British working classes and USA industry owners of the USA working classes.

However, if protection was provided, the Bengal textile industries would not have collapsed leaving the workers as beggars and even ruining some of the merchant class. Protectionism in the long run would not have worked even then. But in the short run, it would have helped to let them survive (instead of being made beggars). Meanwhile they could have taken foreign help and set up industries in India itself.

I read somewhere that the first cotton mill was started in Bombay in 1854 with European help (and perhaps under European ownership). Later many more cotton mills came up in Bombay and other parts of India, which were essentially copying Manchester and Lancashire designs (that's what I read somewhere).

My point is that this copying may have happened earlier in India if India was not under British rule. Note that the Bengal textile industry destruction by the British seems to have happened in the second half of the eighteenth century (the Guardian and articles painted a flourishing Dhaka in 1760 changing to a ghost-town type Dhaka in 1820).

But is it too much to expect that Indian kings, by themselves, would have had the wisdom and the drive to collaborate with Europeans to set up European type industry in India? Well, Indian kings of note in the second half of the eighteenth century (the period when the British started military conquest of India, step by step), had already made alliances with the French! From

Various Franco-Indian alliances were formed between France and Indian polities between the 18th century to the ascent of Napoleon. Following the alliances of Dupleix, a formal alliance was formed between by Louis XVI's France during the late 18th century in an attempt to oust Great Britain from the Indian subcontinent. Later, numerous proposals of alliance were made by Tipu Sultan, leading to the dispatch of a French fleet of volunteers to help him, and even motivating an effort by Napoleon to make a junction with India, through the 1798 Campaign of Egypt.

--- end extract from wiki -----

From military pacts with the French as a means to check the British, going one step ahead and getting its help in building factories in India would not have been a very big step forward, IMHO.

Essentially, British military domination over India from the beginning of the nineteenth century (by which time Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed by British forces in 1799, and the second Anglo-Maratha war had gone in favour of the British in 1805 resulting in the Marathas being very divided within themselves and significantly weakened), ensured that Indian kings could not deal with any other European powers. So from the early nineteenth century onwards, there was no question of the French helping any Indian king to copy a European cotton mill or other European factory to a place in India. Of course, Napoleon himself was defeated in 1815 at Waterloo, and deposed as Emperor of France. After Waterloo, France would have been in no position whatsoever to even think about military or even trade/commercial alliances with Indian kings to counter Britain in India.


Well, I think in this context, it did not matter much that the PROPER Industrial revolution happened only after the mid-19th century (1850). The issue was really that Britain had better cotton mills that could outdo Indian handloom production in 1750s itself. Here are some interesting relevant pieces of info that I got from

Although some were driven by animal power, most early mills were built in rural locations near to fast-flowing rivers and streams and had water wheels to power them. The development of viable rotative steam engines by Boulton and Watt led from 1781 to the growth of larger, steam-powered mills and allowed them to be concentrated in urban mill towns, most notably Manchester, which with neighbouring Salford had more than 50 mills by 1802.
The cotton mill, originally a Lancashire phenomenon, was copied in New England and later in the southern states of America. In the 20th century, North West England lost its supremacy to the United States, then to India and subsequently to China.
The large steam-powered Bowreah Cotton Mills opened at Fort Gloster near Calcutta by British interests in the 1820s, using British women to impart machine-spinning skills to the local workforce. They closed down in 1837 but reopened with Dwarkanath Tagore as a major shareholder, and by 1840 lay at the centre of a major industrial complex powered by five steam engines, that included a twist mill, foundry and a rum distillery.

---end cotton mill wiki extracts ---

Ravi: So here we see an example of the British in the 1820s itself opening a steam-powered mill near Calcutta, and British women imparting skills to operate some of the equipment to local (Indian) workforce! But this seems to have been an outlier.
Interesting that in (a European country other than Britain), industrialization is not considered to have "gathered steam" :-) until the 1870s! Perhaps in India too, it would have been similar with the 1850s Indian railways setup/construction as well as proper Indian mechanised textile mills being setup/constructed, and operated (both first in Bombay, I think), being viewed as the first baby steps that India took towards industrialization. I don't know enough to even guess the date that historians of India consider as Indian industrialization having "gathered steam".

Surely, communications and faster means of transport would have helped the British posted to India, to keep their culture intact and not be forced to integrate with the Indian native culture. However, I think one major difference in this context between British conquerors and previous conquerors of India is that the previous conquerors essentially became kings & princes of parts of India with the main leader being the king. So these conquerors owned Indian kingdoms. Whereas, with the British, even Robert Clive was not a king of Bengal. He was an East India company official on deputation to India, and had to hand over his position in Bengal to another official sent by the British to replace him! Later, when the British Raj came into play (1858 to 1947), the topmost guy in the British Raj, the Governor-General, if I got that designation right, was also an official of the British King/Queen & British government sent on deputation to India, and had to hand over his position when he was told to to so (perhaps on the term ending) to the successor chosen by the British government and King/Queen.

Regarding intermarriage between the British and Indians, while India was under British rule, some of it did happen, as one would expect. But it was nowhere near like it was with previous conquerors where the top leaders of the conquerors would marry princesses of Indian kings, thereby cementing their lineage as Indians (Indian kings & princes rather). From

During the centuries that Britain was in India, the children born to British men and Indian women began to form a new community. (This process was replicated in many other meetings of European traders and colonisers across the subcontinent, including in Burma and Sri Lanka.) These Anglo-Indians formed a small but significant portion of the population during the British Raj, and were well represented in certain administrative roles. The Anglo-Indian population dwindled from roughly 800,000 at the time of independence in 1947 to fewer than 350,000 by 2010. Many have adapted to local communities and emigrated to the United Kingdom,Australia, Canada, and the United States.

--- end wiki extract ---

My view is that given India's extensive contacts with the Europeans, and the general willingness to learn that India had shown in those centuries, had the British not prevented/discouraged it, at least some kings in India would have copied European mills in India and used European help to train Indians to run it.
Well, I think if the French involvement with Indian kings had succeeded, like independent India in the second half of the twentieth century, allied with Soviet Union to balance USA's tilt to Pakistan, Indian kings of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries could have succeeded in using France's power to balance British power, without losing territory control to either France or Britain.

Was India ever united before British rule?

I tried getting a map of India under Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (reigned for 49 years as emperor of India from 1658 to 1707). Here's one from a site that seems to be a non-Indian site (and so no Indian nationalism involved, I guess), [The web page having the image is:]

I have also provided a wikipedia map below from (which is shown in

File:Mughal Historical Map.png

As you can see from the above mentioned maps, under Mughal emperors Shahjahan (he arranged for/commissioned the construction/creation of the Taj Mahal) and his son, Aurangzeb, almost the whole of the Indian subcontinent was under their overlordship as Emperor.

Above picture is of Taj Mahal commissioned to be built/created by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal. Picture courtesy:

From :
The Taj Mahal (/ˌtɑːdʒ məˈhɑːl/, more often /ˈtɑːʒ/; Persian for Crown of Palaces) is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 42-acre complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as "the tear-drop on the cheek of time", it is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.
--- end extract from Taj Mahal wiki ---

Ravi: I included the above pic and info. about Taj Mahal as it gives an idea of how powerful and wealthy Mughal emperor Shah Jahan would have been to be able to construct such a magnificent memorial for his queen in the first half of the seventeenth century. The British and other European powers who would have seen it in the second half of the seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth centuries would have been dumbfounded by the opulence as Europe perhaps would not have had anything comparable then.
It definitely would not have been a uniform Mughal administration all over its large empire which under Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb had expanded to almost the whole of the Indian subcontinent. It would have been more like minor kings/nobles and vassals who have pledged loyalty to the emperor in Delhi, being in control of various regions of the country. From a military might perspective, I think one could view it as somewhat similar to today's NATO alliance protected part of Europe.

While Aurganzeb was emperor, the British dared not challenge him or any of his minor kings/nobles & vassals. One of Aurangzeb's admirals defeated the British in Bombay in the late 17th century. From

Between 1678 and 1682, Yakut Khan, the Siddiadmiral of the Mughal Empire, landed at Sewri and torched Mahim. By 15 February 1689, Khan conquered almost the whole island, and razed the Mazagon Fort in June 1690. After a payment made by the English to Aurangzeb, the ruler of the Mughal Empire, Yakut evacuated Bombay on 8 June 1690.

--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: Even while Aurangzeb was in power, the mainly Hindu Maratha insurgency had started under Shivaji, which Aurangzeb tried very hard to wipe out, but failed. After Aurangzeb's passing away, it seems to me that the nobles of territories who once pledged loyalty to the central Mughal power at Delhi, got divided, Perhaps the main fault line was Hindu vs. Muslim rulers/nobles/feudal chiefs. Note that Hindu rulers/nobles/chiefs had some Muslim soldiers and vice-versa. But I think it was predominantly Hindu and Muslim respectively, with the war cries perhaps being a give-away as to the dominant religious grouping. The Marathas under Shivaji had a Hindu war cry, Har Har Mahadeo (I recall being taught about it as a boy in school in Maharashtra)! I could not find out exactly whether the Mughals had a specific war cry, though 'Allah O Akbar' (God/Allah is Great) was stamped on Mughal coins according to a report, and may have been one of its war cries. Note that the Pakistan army's war cry is said to be the same 'Allah O Akbar'.

The loss of feared and respected power of the central Mughal seat at Delhi after Emperor Aurangzeb's death, as well as the rise of the Maratha nobles/chiefs who openly defied central Mughal rule, would have created a great destabilizing security effect in the Indian subcontinent. This would have allowed Robert Clive to audaciously engage in militarily challenging the Nawab of Bengal in 1757 (half a century after Aurangzeb's death) and managing to bribe his commander-in-chief, Mir Jaffer, to become a traitor. This would have been utterly unthinkable half a century earlier when Aurangzeb was alive as Mughal power was greatly feared and respected across the whole of India. As I wrote earlier, the quisling and traitor Mir Jaffer who betrayed the Nawab of Bengal to the British, would have been mercilessly butchered along with his kin, had the powerful Aurangzeb been alive then.

I think a comparison to NATO protected Europe would not be inappropriate. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was greatly feared and respected across the Indian subcontinent. So no foreign power (British or French) would have dared to militarily overthrow a vassal of Aurangzeb (e.g. the Nawab of Bengal), as they would have had to deal with consequences/punishment ordered by Aurganzeb as an emperor's command to other vassals of his, or to Auragnzeb's military commanders themselves. This would have been similar to how any foreign power today would think twice about militarily invading a NATO protected country, say, --name-snipped-- or --name-snipped--, as it would have to factor in the consequence of other NATO allies fighting off that military aggression. But if the NATO military pact goes away (like emperor Aurangzeb passing away and the Mughal empire rapidly coming apart afterwards), then any foreign aggressor would far more easily be able to conduct military aggression against European countries like, say, --name-snipped-- and --name-snipped-- (under some guise of being invited to help some quislings/traitors there perhaps). Note that a non-NATO European country in the recent past militarily invaded & conquered --name-snipped-- from another non-NATO European country, --name-snipped--, on invitation from the leaders of --name-snipped--, according to the former non-NATO European country!
I too am not a historian and so could have got some things wrong. However I do try to base my views on not-too-bad sources of information on the Internet like wikipedia (I know they get some things wrong but it is not way off on such stuff, I think).

A fuller picture of Aurangzeb including his anti-Hindu policies which led to downfall of Mughal empire

I thought that I need to tell you a little bit more about the most powerful man in India, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, in the second half of the seventeenth century. I felt that I need to do this to give you a balanced view of Aurangzeb.

When --name-snipped-- burst into the world news a few years ago, I was reminded of the reported cruelty of Aurangzeb towards non-Muslims (Hindus & Sikhs and perhaps Christians too)! I think there are some parallels between the initial successes of the --name-snipped-- and how Aurangzeb's reported cruelty towards non-Muslims and endless battles & military campaigns helped him to become Emperor and keep his vassals under his control (though there were many rebellions within his huge empire that sucked up a lot of his time & wealth).

Let me give some relevant extracts from Aurangzeb's wikipedia page,, along with my comments within square brackets [Ravi: ... end-Ravi]:

[Ravi: Aurangzeb was born in 1618, grabbed power as Mughal emperor in 1658 and reigned till his death in 1707. end-Ravi]

Aurangzeb was a notable expansionist and during his reign, the Mughal Empire temporarily reached its greatest extent. During his lifetime, victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to more than 3.2 million square kilometres and he ruled over a population estimated as being in the range of 100–150 million subjects, with an annual yearly tribute of £38,624,680 (2,879,469,894 rupees) in 1690 (the highest in the world at that time).[citation needed]

[Ravi: Aurangzeb seems to have been a military genius kind-of person. Annual tribute earning also seems to have been phenomenal. Perhaps Aurangzeb may have been one of the world's richest and most powerful persons then, if not the richest and the most powerful person. end-Ravi]

Aurangzeb's policies partly abandoned the legacy of pluralism, which remains a very controversial aspect of his reign and led to the downfall of the Mughal Empire. Rebellions and wars led to the exhaustion of the imperial Mughal treasury and army. He was a strong-handed authoritarian ruler, and following his death the expansionary period of the Mughal Empire came to an end, and centralized control of the empire declined rapidly.

[Ravi: This is the crucial part perhaps which gives us some historical wisdom about Islamic conqueror aggression and expansion in India (which may apply to --name-snipped-- and its aggressive plans against the world in general). Aurangzeb (as well as his father Shah Jahan) moved away from the religious pluralism, specifically Hindu-friendly policies, fostered by the great Mughal emperor Akbar (grandfather of Shah Jahan). [From, "Shah Jahan was .. more radical in his thinking than his father and grandfather. Upon his accession, he adopted new policies which reversed Akbar's treatment of non-Muslims. In 1633, his sixth regnal year, Shah Jahan began to impose his interpretation of Sharia provisions against construction or repair of churches and temples and subsequently ordered the demolitions of newly built Hindu temples. He celebrated Islamic festivals with great pomp and grandeur and with an enthusiasm unfamiliar to his predecessors. Long-dormant royal interest in the Holy Cities was also revived during his reign."

The anti-Hindu policies of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb seems to have created an environment which led to Hindu rebellion, in particular the Marathas under Shivaji rebelling, and which rebellion Aurangzeb was not able to destroy. end-Ravi]
On 26 February 1628, Shah Jahan was officially declared the Mughal Emperor, and Aurangzeb returned to live with his parents at Agra Fort, where Aurangzeb received his formal education in Arabic and Persian. His daily allowance was fixed at Rs. 500 which he spent on religious education and the study of history. He also accused his brothers of alcoholism and womanising.

On 28 May 1633, Aurangzeb escaped death when a powerful war elephant stampeded through the Mughal Imperial encampment. He rode against the elephant and struck its trunk with a lance, and successfully defended himself from being crushed. Aurangzeb's valour was appreciated by his father who conferred him the title of Bahadur (Brave) and had him weighed in gold and presented gifts worth Rs. 200,000. This event was celebrated in Persian and Urdu verses and Aurangzeb said:
If the (elephant) fight had ended fatally for me, it would not have been a matter of shame. Death drops the curtain even on Emperors; it is no dishonor. The shame lay in what my brothers did!
[Ravi: Aurangzeb seems to have been a very conservative Muslim of the radical type, and a very brave man (not afraid of death even as a young man of around 15 years of age, if the above account is true). The perks of being the Emperor's sons seems to have encouraged some unhealthy habits in Aurangzeb's brothers (whom he accused of alcoholism and womanising) but not in Aurangzeb. end-Ravi]

The four sons of Shah Jahan all held posts as governors during their father's reign. The emperor favoured the eldest, Dara Shikoh, and this had caused resentment among the younger three, who sought at various times to strengthen alliances between themselves and against Dara. There was no Muslim tradition of primogeniture and historian Satish Chandra says that "In the ultimate resort, connections among the powerful military leaders, and military strength and capacity [were] the real arbiters." Jacques Weber, emeritus professor of modern history at the University of Nantes, explains that "... the loyalties of these officials seem to have been motivated more by their own interests, the closeness of the family relation and above all the charisma of the pretenders than by ideological divides." The contest for power was primarily between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb because, although all four sons had demonstrated competence in their official roles, it was around these two that the supporting cast of officials and other influential people mostly circulated. There were ideological differences — Dara was an intellectual and a religious liberal in the mould of Akbar, while Aurangzeb was much more conservative — but, as historians Barbara D. Metcalf and Thomas R. Metcalf say, "To focus on divergent philosophies neglects the fact that Dara was a poor general and leader. It also ignores the fact that factional lines in the succession dispute were not, by and large, shaped by ideology ..."

[Ravi: Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan, was a unity of religions, especially Hinduism & Islam, scholar kind-of guy. A few extracts from his wiki page,, are appropriate:
"Dara Shikoh is widely renowned as an enlightened paragon of the harmonious coexistence of heterodox traditions on the Indian subcontinent. He was an erudite champion of mystical religious speculation and a poetic diviner of syncretic cultural interaction among people of all faiths. This made him a heretic in the eyes of his orthodox brother and a suspect eccentric in the view of many of the worldly power brokers swarming around the Mughal throne." ... "Dara Shikoh devoted much effort towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. Towards this goal he completed the translation of fifty Upanishads from their original Sanskrit into Persian in 1657 so that they could be studied by Muslim scholars. His translation is often called Sirr-e-Akbar ("The Greatest Mystery"), where he states boldly, in the introduction, his speculative hypothesis that the work referred to in the Qur'an as the "Kitab al-maknun" or the hidden book, is none other than the Upanishads. His most famous work, Majma-ul-Bahrain ("The Confluence of the Two Seas"), was also devoted to a revelation of the mystical and pluralistic affinities between Sufic and Vedantic speculation.

The library established by Dara Shikoh still exists on the grounds of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, and is now run as a museum by Archaeological Survey of India after being renovated."

Ravi: Dara Shikoh would have INFURIATED conservative Muslim clerics in the Mughal empire then by daring to favourably compare the Upanishads of Hinduism (Vedanta) with the Quran of Islam! It would have been seen by conservative Muslims in the Mughal empire as blasphemy by the son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan! The conservative Aurangzeb would surely have been INFURIATED by this, and would have teamed up with other conservative leaders in the Mughal empire to become some sort of a unified opponent to the religious syncretism efforts of Dara Shikoh (and his supporters perhaps).

I think there would have been two groups in the Mughal court politics then. One would have been the religious pluralism and liberal group which would have backed Dara Shikoh, and the other would have been the conservative Islamic Sharia and radical Islam group which would have backed Aurangzeb. In the succession to Shah Jahan's Mughal emperor throne struggle, it is these two groups that would have furiously vied for power. The stakes would have been viewed as very high for the "term" of the emperor was not a measly four or five years term as president or prime minister in world democracies today, but a lifetime-term (Aurangzeb's "term" lasted nearly fifty years)!

I should also say that Dara Shikoh while being an intellectual could not match the military general prowess of Aurangzeb, which perhaps was the deciding factor in Aurangzeb defeating and killing Dara Shikoh, his elder brother, in the war for successon to the Mughal throne as Shah Jahan had fallen ill. end-Ravi]
[Ravi: Shuja and Murad were the other brothers of Aurangzeb in contention for the Mughal throne as emperor Shah Jahan had fallen ill. Aurangzeb betrayed Murad after having got into an alliance with him at first, and got Murad executed. Aurangzeb routed Shuja in battle forcing him to flee to Burma where he was killed by local rulers. Aurangzeb had already placed his father Shah Jahan in a kind-of arrest in Agra. Given below is a wiki extract giving the last paragraphs of how Aurangzeb overcame Dara Shikoh and killed him, thereby sealing his way to the Mughal throne.]
With Shuja and Murad disposed of, and with his father immured in Agra, Aurangzeb pursued Dara Shikoh, chasing him across the north-western bounds of the empire. Aurangzeb claimed that Dara was no longer a Muslim and accused him of poisoning the Mughal Grand Vizier Saadullah Khan. Both of these statements however lacked any evidence.[citation needed] After a series of battles, defeats and retreats, Dara was betrayed by one of his generals, who arrested and bound him. In 1658, Aurangzeb arranged his formal coronation in Delhi.
On 10 August 1659, Dara was executed on grounds of apostasy. Having secured his position, Aurangzeb confined his frail father at the Agra Fort but did not mistreat him. Shah Jahan was cared for by Jahanara [Ravi: beloved daughter of Shah Jahan and sister of Aurangzeb] and died in 1666.

[Ravi: The point to note is that Aurangzeb executed Dara Shikoh on grounds of apostasy! That would have sent shivers down the spines of all the supporters of religious pluralism and Hindu-Muslim religious syncretism in the Mughal empire. Essentially, the conservative and radical Islam group had triumphed bigtime over and crushed the religious pluralism and liberal (of those times) group, in the succession struggle to the Mughal emperor throne. The actions of the --name-snipped-- today against non-Muslims and even non-Sunnis (e.g. Shias) seem to be somewhat similar in terms of the terror they have caused in the areas ruled or threatened by the --name-snipped--. end-Ravi]
[Ravi: A longish extract which gives multiple viewpoints about Aurangzeb's actions against non-Muslims:]
As emperor, Aurangzeb banned alcoholism, gambling, castration, servitude, eunuchs, music, nautch and narcotics in the Mughal Empire. He learnt that at Sindh, Multan, Thatta and particularly at Varanasi, the Hindu Brahmins attracted large numbers of indigenous local Muslims to their discourses. He ordered the Subahdars of these provinces to demolish the schools and the temples of non-Muslims. Aurangzeb also ordered Subahdars to punish Muslims who dressed like non-Muslims. The executions of the antinomian Sufi mystic Sarmad Kashani and the ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur bear testimony to Aurangzeb's religious intolerance; the former was beheaded on multiple accounts of heresy, the latter, according to Sikhs, because he objected to Aurangzeb's forced conversions. According to other sources, there is no official account that Aurangzeb forcefully converted people. He imposed Jizya on non-Muslims. Further, Aurangzeb levied discriminatory taxes on Hindu merchants at the rate of 5% as against 2.5% on Muslim merchants. He ordered to dismiss all Hindu quanungos and patwaris from revenue administration.

Another instance of Aurangzeb's notoriety was his policy of temple destruction, for which figures vary wildly from 80 to 60,000. Indian historian Harbans Mukhia wrote that "In the end, as recently recorded in Richard Eaton's careful tabulation, some 80 temples were demolished between 1192 and 1760 (15 in Aurangzeb's reign) and he compares this figure with the claim of 60,000 demolitions, advanced rather nonchalantly by 'Hindu nationalist' propagandists,' although even in that camp professional historians are slightly more moderate." Among the Hindu temples he demolished were the three most sacred: the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Kesava Deo temple and Somnath temple. He built large mosques in their place. In 1679, he ordered destruction of several prominent temples that had become associated with his enemies: these included the temples of Khandela, Udaipur, Chittor and Jodhpur. Historian Richard Eaton believes the overall understanding of temples to be flawed. As early as the sixth century, temples became vital political landmarks as well as religious ones. He writes that not only was temple desecration widely practised and accepted, it was a necessary part of political struggle. Catherine Asher has said that Aurangzeb's temple destruction was a political response for the challenges to his authority rather than bigotry.[citation needed] Francois Bernier, who traveled and chronicled Mughal India during the War of Succession, notes the distaste of both Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb for Christians. This led to the demolition of Christian settlements near the European factories and enslavement of Christian converts by Shah Jahan. Furthermore, Aurangzeb stopped all the aid to Christian missionaries (Frankish Padres) that had been initiated by Akbar and Jahangir.

Ram Puniyani states that Aurangzeb was not always fanatically anti-Hindu, and kept changing his policies depending on the needs of the situation. He banned the construction of new temples, but permitted the repair and maintenance of existing temples. He also made generous donations of jagirs to several temples to win the sympathies of his Hindu subjects. There are several firmans (orders) in his name, supporting temples and gurudwaras, including Mahakaleshwar temple of Ujjain, Balaji temple of Chitrakoot, Umananda Temple of Guwahati and the Shatrunjaya Jain temples. During his time, the number of Hindu Mansabdars increased from 22% to 31% in the Mughal administration as he needed them to continue his fight in the Deccan.

[Ravi: The above wiki extract reflects the huge controversy about Aurangzeb even today in India. Aurangzeb is viewed in a negative way by Hindus in general as the impression given to them is that he persecuted Hindus.

I believe that it would have been the persecution of Hindus by Aurangzeb that would have created conditions for Shivaji to get the support that he needed to take on the powerful Mughal forces (on Shivaji's turf). Note that Shivaji's father Shahaji was a feudal chief with Pune (Poona) being his fiefdom. He had a small army with him. But Shahaji was serving/associated with one of the Islamic sultanates in Deccan or the Mughals (varied over time).

If Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb had not persecuted Hindus (especially the destruction of Hindu temples), Shivaji too would probably have followed in his father's footsteps by serving one of the Islamic sultanates of the Deccan or the Mughals directly. I mean, there would not have been much reason/incentive for Shivaji to take on enmity of these Islamic rulers either in the Deccan or at Delhi. end-Ravi]

By 1700, the Marathas attacked the Mughal provinces from the Deccan and secessionist agendas from the Rajputs, Hindu Jats, Pashtuns and Sikhs rebelled against the Mughal Empire's administrative and economic systems.
Aurangzeb's reign over the empire reached its climax the emperor, he no longer honored the rights of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Dadupanthis, Stargazers, Malakis, Atheists, Brahmins, Jains, in fact all the communities of the Empire. His imposition of Jizya levies upon communities that were not adherents of Islam, led to the rise of the opportunistic Shivaji and his Maratha Confederacy, whose leadership clearly indicated to Aurangzeb in a letter "Protesting against Imposition of Jaziya (2nd April 1679)". [Ravi: Jizya is tax on non-Muslims,]
Early in Aurangzeb's reign, various insurgent groups of Sikhs engaged Mughal troops in increasingly bloody battles. The ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, like his predecessors was opposed to conversion of the local population as he considered it wrong. According to Sikh sources, approached by Kashmiri Pandits to help them retain their faith and avoid forced religious conversions, Guru Tegh Bahadur took on Aurangzeb. Other sources however state that Aurangzeb did not forcefully convert people. The emperor perceived the rising popularity of the Guru as a threat to his sovereignty and in 1670 had him executed, which infuriated the Sikhs. In response, Guru Tegh Bahadur's son and successor, Guru Gobind Singh, further militarized his followers, starting with the establishment of Khalsa in 1699, eight years before Aurangzeb's death.[citation needed] In 1705, Guru Gobind Singh sent a letter entitled Zafarnamah to Aurangzeb. This drew attention to Auranzeb's cruelty and how he had betrayed Islam. The letter caused him much distress and remorse. Guru Gobind Singh's formation of Khalsa in 1699 led to the establishment of the Sikh Confederacy and later Sikh Empire.
[Ravi: The killing of a Sikh Guru by Aurangzeb seems to have precipitated the Sikhs becoming a very martial group of people who became dead against Aurangzeb and the Mughal empire. They formed their own Sikh kingdom from 1799 to 1849 (when the British defeated them),]
The Indologist Stanley Wolpert, emeritus professor at UCLA, says that:
the conquest of the Deccan, to which Aurangzeb devoted the last 26 years of his life, was in many ways a Pyrrhic victory, costing an estimated hundred thousand lives a year during its last decade of futile chess game warfare. The expense in gold and rupees can hardly be accurately estimated. Aurangzeb's encampment was like a moving capital – a city of tents 30 miles in circumference, with some 250 bazaars, with a 1/2 million camp followers, 50,000 camels and 30,000 elephants, all of whom had to be fed, stripped the Deccan of any and all of its surplus grain and wealth ... Not only famine but bubonic plague arose ... Even Aurangzeb, had ceased to understand the purpose of it all by the time he was nearing 90 ... "I came alone and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing," the dying old man confessed to his son, Azam, in February 1707.
Aurangzeb's son, Bahadur Shah I, succeeded him and the empire, both because of Aurangzeb's over-extension and because of Bahadur Shah's weak military and leadership qualities, entered a period of terminal decline. Immediately after Bahadur Shah occupied the throne, the Maratha Empire – which Aurangzeb had held at bay, inflicting high human and monetary costs even on his own empire – consolidated and launched effective invasions of Mughal territory, seizing power from the weak emperor. Within decades of Aurangzeb's death, the Mughal Emperor had little power beyond the walls of Delhi.

According to Matthew White's The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, Aurangzeb was the 23rd worst marauder in world history, during whose reign 4.6 million people perished due to war and devastation.

[Ravi: So Aurangzeb with his excessive military campaigns and anti-non-Muslim policies achieved some level of dominance over the Indian subcontinent during his lifetime, but he made so many enemies for the Mughal empire within India itself (especially the non-Muslim nobles/chiefs), that on his death the Mughal empire's power rapidly collapsed. And in the ensuing power vacuum while some kingdoms became more powerful for some time, no real Indian power comparable to Mughal power emerged, leaving the field open for a more powerful foreign power, the British, to step in and conquer India.

Essentially, Aurangzeb seems to have failed in the second half of the seventeenth century to make the large and powerful Mughal empire in India a radical Islamic empire, with his violent and radical Islam approach, and instead created conditions which led to the steep decline of the Mughal empire in India soon after his death in 1707.
--- end wiki extracts of Aurangzeb and my comments ----
Terry Reis Kennedy responded over email (and was OK with public sharing):

This is certainly a really worthwhile "booklet".  I have learned so much from it.  To say thank you is not enough.  It's brilliant and should be used as part of a university history syllabus.  I will definitely cherish it.


I (Ravi) wrote back to her (slightly edited):
Oh! You seem to have managed to read it all! I am so gratified that you found it worthwhile to read it (and read it all perhaps). Thanks for the very kind and encouraging words. This kind of response justifies the intense work that I put in over the past two or three days to convert my mail exchange with the correspondent, into a blog post.

I had felt that the post would be a good record even for myself, and that it might be useful to some others too, and so embarked on the intense two-to-three days work of converting the mail exchange to a blog post.

Thanks again.

Terry wrote back saying (partial extract):

It was more than intense was Divine inspiration.

Yes,  I read every word.


Here's a review by William Dalrymple, titled, "British India — the scene of repeated war crimes throughout the 19th century", of the book, "The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805–1905" by Ferdinand Mount,, dated 14th March 2015.

Note that the review states that Ferdinand Mount's ancestors, the Lows of Clatto in Fife, with General John Low being the central figure in the book, were involved in the colonial wars in India. Further it states that the current Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, is a cousin of Ferdinand Mount, and has the same ancestors as Ferdinand Mount.

A couple of sentences from the last paragraph of Dalrymple's review is given below:
Instead it shows, as well as any book I’ve ever read on the subject, how much Britain lost in 1947 as the Indian empire imploded — but also the jaw-dropping scale of the violence, cruelty, racism and war crimes it had taken to found and maintain that Raj by brute force. For we must never forget that, in the final analysis, our empire was built by the sword and erected over the dead bodies of tens if not hundreds of thousands of our Indian subjects.
--- end extract ---

Ravi: I think it is such honest acknowledgement of Britain's savagery in its conquest and rule of India that perhaps helps Indians like me to not treat the British today as enemies. I was born in independent India, a good fifteen years after India's independence, and so I have never really had any experience whatsoever of colonial British savagery.

In response to a correspondent's mail on my above comments, I (Ravi) wrote (slightly edited):
I agree, of course, about the British not having any monopoly on savagery. Even in India, some Muslim conquerors before the British, as well as some Hindu kings especially prior to Muslim conquest, were perhaps equally savage.

Perhaps it was natural for human society to lapse into savagery at times, for conquest or sometimes even for survival.

Perhaps the redeeming thing about humans is that those who emerge victorious after such savagery, at least sometimes, have looked back upon their savagery and got transformed to less savage persons promoting messages of peace & harmony. I think that is a very wonderful aspect of human history.

In Indian history, one such very well known figure is Emperor Ashoka of the 2nd Century BCE, noted for converting to, and then promoting, Buddhism. Some info. about him and how the killings & suffering inflicted by one of his conquests, provoked a change in him, from his wiki,

Ashoka (IAST: Aśoka; English pronunciation: /əˈʃoʊkə/; 304–232 BCE), was an Indian emperor of theMaurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over a realm that stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains inAfghanistan to the modern state of Bangladesh in the east. It covered the entire Indian subcontinent except parts of present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The empire's capital was Pataliputra (in Magadha, present-day Bihar), with provincial capitals at Taxila and Ujjain.

In about 260 BCE, Ashoka waged a bitterly destructive war against the state of Kalinga (modern Odisha). He conquered Kalinga, which none of his ancestors had done. He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. "Ashoka reflected on the war in Kalinga, which reportedly had resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and 150,000 deportations, ending at around 200,000 deaths." Ashoka converted gradually to Buddhism beginning about 263 BCE. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia, and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. "Ashoka regarded Buddhism as a doctrine that could serve as a cultural foundation for political unity." Ashoka is now remembered as a philanthropic administrator. In the Kalinga edicts, he addresses his people as his "children", and mentions that as a father he desires their good.

--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: In this context, I must say that the USA coming to terms with the terrible institution of slavery and fighting a horrendous civil war under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln to get rid of it, and continuing further to battle racial discrimination under leadership of figures like Martin Luther KIng, is an extraordinary and morally uplifting chapter of 19th and 20th century world history from a humanities perspective.

Of course, fighting caste discrimination in Hindus in India has been another big chapter, where, I am sure, British leadership in British ruled India, would have helped very significantly. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956),, a Dalit himself who faced horrific discrimination in his boyhood, and who incidentally got an M.A. (and a honorary doctorate) from Columbia university, USA (around 1915/16) as well as a doctorate from London School of Economics (1923 or 1927), is the revered icon among Dalits of India, for his enormous contribution to fighting Hindu so-called "lower caste" discrimination. He enshrined social justice not only for such caste discrimination but for larger issues as well, in the constitution of independent India. He was the principal architect of the Indian constitution.

Perhaps all these improvements in human society starts with acknowledgement of large injustice that has been done. If that acknowledgement itself is not made, then the scope for improvement would be limited, or absent.

[I thank Wikipedia, (two sentence extract), Mr. Donald Trump (& for two sentence quote of Mr. Trump), Hillary Clinton (one phrase), (one paragraph), & Jeremy Seabrook (short extract), Barbara Ramusack (& Cambridge University Press) (one paragraph), Angus Maddison (a graph), (an image), Stanley Wolpert (a paragraph) and William Dalrymple (&; two-sentence extract), and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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