The rule of the British in India is possibly the most controversial and the most hotly debated aspect of the history of the British empire. Admirers of British rule point to the economic developments, the legal and administrative system, the fact that India became the centre of world politics. Critics of British rule generally point out that all of these benefits went to a tiny British ruling class and the majority of Indians gained little. Admirers of British rule counter this by saying that most Indians were poor and oppressed by their own leaders before the British arrived, and that British rule was less harsh on ordinary Indians than rule by Indian princes.
Other historians point out that British rule of India was maintained by the fact that Indian society was so divided that it could not unite against the British. In fact, the British encouraged these divisions. The better-off classes were educated in English schools. They served in the British army or in the civil service. They effectively joined the British to rule their poorer fellow Indians. There are huge arguments about whether the British created or enlarged these divisions in Indian society (British society was deeply divided by class), or whether the British simply took advantage of divisions that were already present in Indian society. For much of the 1800s the average Indian peasant had no more say in the way he or she was ruled than did the average worker in the United Kingdom.
The British view tended to portray British rule as a charitable exercise – they suffered India’s environment (eg climate, diseases) in order to bring to India good government and economic development (eg railways, irrigation, medicine). Modern admirers of British rule also note these benefits.
British researchers during the time of East India Company especially noted that the Indian Caste System is historically one of the main dimensions where people in India are socially differentiated through class, religion, region, tribe, gender, and language. Although this or other forms of differentiation exist in all human societies, it becomes a problem when one or more of these dimensions overlap each other and become the sole basis of systematic ranking and unequal access to valued resources like wealth, income, power and prestige. The Indian and Pakistani Caste System is considered a closed system of stratification, which means that a person’s social status is obligated to which caste they were born into. There are limits on interaction and behavior with people from another social status. It requires a whole new research study to explore and learn about the various aspects of Pakistani caste system and its effects on Pakistan today.
For the British, Punjab was important because of the loyalty and prosperity of the cultivators. From the mid-eighteenth century onwards the East India Company transformed itself from a trading monopoly to a territorial ruler. As per policy of the state, scholars carried out special studies to learn about the cultures and behaviors of different tribes in Punjab and North- West Region. Castes like Jatts, Rajput, Dogars, Khichi, Kharal, etc: were examined and carefully observed. The literature on these studies is available at the British historical libraries. One of the senior British scholar mentioned one interesting thing about Punjab that ”local residents prefer worship of a rising sun” as far as history tells. He wrote that regardless of religion, locals prefer naming themselves as “Sikandar”, local name for Alexander the Great. Nobody is ready to remember Raja Porus a local habitant king, who lost the battle to Alexander.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government successfully passed a budget despite having a minor majority. Imran Khan’s real achievement is to form the provincial government in Punjab. PML N politics in Punjab is much deep-rooted due to the long tenure of power. Since General Zia’s time, PML N benefitted from the government machinery. Main leadership of PML N in early-mid 90’s participated in their election campaigns as a caretaker Minister of Federal government. Even the tenure of General Musharraf benefitted PML N in long term because the power holders were ideologically near to PML N and it proved right in the later years. The present government of Imran Khan is miserably failed in governance and administration of Pakistan. One factor is the incompetent and inexperienced team and the other reason is lack of relationship with civil bureaucracy. All these factors have led to an economic disaster, which this government is trying to overcome by increasing the debt on common men and women of Pakistan. PML N is taking full advantage of the situation, and is trying to build pressure on government. Recently, released video tape of a Judge by PML N is an act of attack on the judiciary. Former Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif never liked to waste time on opposition politics and was always out of the country when not in power. Majority of participants in PML N public rally, when asked by local media told that we are here due to economic reasons and heavy bills of electricity/gas. Punjab administration lacks the spirit and control capacity because PML N Hamza Shahbaz is opposition leader in Punjab Assembly and in a position to influence public officials.
Pakistan needs drastic changes in the administration and policy-making decisions. The large growth in urban population and lack of resources to support education and health care system needs immediate attention. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s given examples of Singapore and Malaysia economic models are not aligned with reality because both countries economies are on the high density of knowledge-based industries and adoption of cutting edge technology for manufacturing and the digital economy. Pakistan couldn’t be compared with the economy of Malaysia where per capita income is much higher than the average personal income in Pakistan. Malaysian government offers to its citizen’s low national income tax, low cost of local food, transport fuel, household essentials, a fully subsidized single payer public-healthcare and comprehensive social welfare benefit with direct cash transfer. Therefore, such examples or of some oil-based economy is illogical. Yes, we can learn from other economies especially of our neighboring countries to strengthen our economy. In Pakistan, we need to work on our very foundations. The more focused and determined government will the more fruitful results will arrive. There is a need to put pressure on the public step by step. All taxes on all goods at one time will not increase panic in the government itself but will threaten economic growth. Imran government has put a ban on automobile import and local auto manufacturing industry has increased the prices with more than four hundred percent government tax. So, the small business car sellers are on strike with real estate brokers. PML N most stable allied wing within the party is trade wing. More traders like small shop owners have joined these strikes to make matters worse. Mr. Murad Saeed the current Federal Minister of Communication is so immature and arrogant that his National Assembly speeches have been subtitled in different languages and running as fun time entertainment at YouTube. He lacks professionalism and patience due to which his body language looks pathetic.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has mentioned more than twice in his national address and press conferences that before Army was in different direction and government was totally opposite it. PM needs correction because during PPP tenure of 2008-13, national institutions of Pakistan fully supported the then democratic government. Similarly, during tenure of PML N 2013-18 civilian government were fully equipped for taking decisions for development and implementation. Yes, there were minor issues regarding international relations and security but both governments were fully independent.
Also, the national institutions like Army, Air Force, Navy, Supreme Court etc: are always with national interest of the country. This is not only for Pakistan but for almost all other countries in the world. It is not a wise habit to involve national security establishment in local politics and malign in front of a common citizen. If you don’t know anything, please ask for advice from some responsible senior experienced person.
- The National Archives, the government of the United Kingdom
CALIFORNIA POLYTHECHNIC STATE UNIVERSITY, San Luis Obispo
Ian Toblet, University of South Ampton
- Image from the Nation Newspapers