SV: Nationalisms

Narayan S. Raja raja at IFA.HAWAII.EDU
Thu Aug 10 23:00:59 UTC 2000

On Thu, 10 Aug 2000, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

> Since this is definitely not classical Indology, I'll send the following
> answer, but I don't think we should continue with this debate on the list.

This will be my final message on this topic
(which I did not start).

> Raja wrote:

> > While the British were able to maintain a
> > "stiff upper lip" regarding the atrociously
> > high death rate in India, it dropped sharply
> > after the natives took charge.

Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

> In the same period, a similar trend took place in China. By 1990 Chinese
> mortality level was less than one third of its previous level (down from
> 2.2 to 0.7). This suggests that the British are not necessarily to be
> blamed for the death rate.
> I would assume that the reduction in deaths depends upon various
> factors such as the introduction of new medication developed after
> the war, better health care etc.

You might ask yourself two questions:

Question 1:
   The death rate in India per 1000 in 1950
   was 27.4.  At the same time (1950) , what
   was the death rate in Britain itself?
   I don't know the answer because I couldn't
   find it on the web.

   But, ONE CENTURY EARLIER (in 1850), the death
   rate per 1000 in Britain was 20.8 (Source: )
   Doesn't that strike you as downright amazing?  That
   the death rate in India in 1950 was 27.4, i.e.,
   still about 30% higher than the death rate
   "back home" in Britain in 1850, ONE CENTURY EARLIER?

   The "big" causes of unnatural death in British India
   were starvation, cholera, typhoid, plague, malaria,
   childbirth, T.B., and influenza
   (I don't think I left out any big items).

   Of all these causes of death in India, the only one
   that can't occur in Britain is malaria.  But quinine
   was discovered in 1820, and Ronald Ross identified
   mosquitoes as the carrier of malaria in 1897!
   So, the amazingly high death rate in India, and its
   rapid fall after 1950, can't simply be "new medication
   developed after the war", can it?

Question 2:
   China's death rate in 1949 was 20.6 (Source: )
   Isn't it amazing that the death rate in
   India in 1950, after one century of "peace" under
   the British, was 30% higher than the death rate in
   China, which had just "enjoyed" one century of
   forced opium addition, invasions by Britain, France,
   and Japan, unending civil wars, and horrendous
   massacres by the Japanese and others?

The very best I can say is that the British government
in India must have been stupendously, unimaginably,
incomparably, stupid and incompetent.  Whether you want
to judge them more harshly is up to you.

Talking of starvation deaths in British India, you might
be interested in examining the history of periodic famines
in British India:

During the latest of the British Indian famines, the
Bengal Famine of 1943-44, in which about 4 million
people died,

   ..."Churchill repeatedly opposed food for India
   and specifically intervened to block provision
   of 10,000 tons of grain offered by Canada."

(Source: )

As I said before, I really don't blame the British.
Defeated countries should expect the worst from their
invaders.  Ultimately, Indians have to accept the blame
for letting such bad things happen to them.  But it
would be nice if foreigners can at least be aware
that these bad things happened while the British
were in India.



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