Some time back, I had purchased a DVD of the famous 1990 movie, “Dances with Wolves”. It was lying around in my house for several years, until last week I finally popped it in the DVD player.
The movie is awesome. No wonder it won seven Oscars.
And more awesome is the fact that America has the courage to produce this movie. America has the courage to take a serious look at the past and say “Hey, this stuff happened. We know it. We can’t change it now. But we regret it happened.”
This fact stands out when you compare this to European hypocrisy about colonialism, especially Britain. After countless atrocities in their colonies, the movie they make is “The Bridge on the river Kwai”.
Some will instantly argue that all these things happened 50 years or back. So it is totally a thing in the past and no blame about the current state of affairs can be attributed to things so far past. They talk about how well British and German people get together in spite of a huge world war.
Every war or conflict is not the same.There is one giant difference between the British- German saga and British – India saga. The Germans started the war.
If you are the attacker and you lost, you can escape by examining only your military strategy. You can still convince yourself that with better preparation or different plan you could have won the war. You still feel in control of your destiny.
Instead you are the one who is attacked and you lost, you don’t feel in control of anything. The ghosts of the defeat haunt you long after the blood is dried. You cannot escape by reexamining your defenses. You question the very purpose of your existence.
There is a word for it. Trauma !!
The wounds of trauma are far deeper and take far longer time to heal.
After the armies are back in barracks and the treaties are signed, after the dead are burried and the winners decorate their heros for inflicting maximum damage, the war begins in hearts and minds of the community that lost. Their reaction is no different than that of the rape victim.
The rape victim first tries to rationally explain the incidence to herself . But the only rational explanation is “Your thoughts, your feelings and your soul does not matter.” Unable to accept this answer the victim loses faith in rationality.
She (using she, since majority of them are women) visits the incidence again and again in her mind, tries to make sense of what happened, seeking reassurance of it won’t happen again. But things don’t make sense, and she gets no reassurance. Every moment begins with fear and ends with anxiety. The very basic defense mechanisms are shattered. The hope is lost. If you are not sure you are safe, what’s the point in hoping good things will come to you and you will enjoy them. If you have no hope of good things in your life, what’s the point in pursuing anything? The very founding philosophy of life is cracked.
The victim’s mind is awash with conflicting emotions. It sucks the life out of her. Her own body becomes reminder of the past she wants to forget.
And on the top of that, if the victim sees that her perpetrators did not get punished, but are doing good overall, then she does not get closure. She stops believing in justice. Life feels like a torture.
Modern science says human body continuously discards cells and rebuilds itself completely in seven years. After seven years, the rape victim might have new body. But the wounds are not necessarily healed.
Whether it is a rape victim, or whether it is a conquered community, this processing is same. In human body, the dying cells pass on memories to the newborn cells. In society or community, the dying individuals pass on their memories to the new ones.
This is why Jews won’t get over the Holocaust for long time, till they see Germans suffering. This is why on Mexican community websites, you will find young Mexicans dreaming about taking California and Texas back from USA one day.
The Chinese workers who built the Western railroad probably had similar hardships like black slaves. They worked dangerous jobs for long hours and were treated as secondary citizens. But they have no problem getting over it, because they came to USA by their own will. But black people still harbor bitterness, because they were captured and shipped and sold like animals, and still they don’t see their perpetrators punished.
That’s why Greeks still hold grudge against Turks. That’s why China cannot forget the rape of Nanking and that’s why Persia cannot forgive Alexandar the great even after 2300 years. It’s a different psychology when you forced to defend, but you fail to defend the things you love.
It is upsetting to see some people argue that actually British colonialism was good thing for India. According to them, that’s how India got introduced to Democracy, Railway and post office.
These things were not brought in India for the benefit of Indian people. They were brought in to make administration easier, so that India can be exploited better. Praising British people for those things is absurd. If a thief broke into your house and stole all your gold, but the thief forgot his toolbox. So should you be angry at the thief for stealing your gold, or should thank him for giving you a toolbox?
Indeed the people arguing on these lines have no clue how badly India was mauled. Look at this article titled “Drain Wealth During British Raj” for some interesting details. It shows how millions of British pounds were transferred every year from India to Britain (adjusted for inflation, they will be hundreds of billions today). In early 1900, the duties on good imported from Britain to India were around 2%, while duties on goods exported from India to Britain were of order of 74%, which resulted in slow death of textile industry in India. As a result India’s percentage in global trade went from some 17% to mere 0.5 % in 150 years.
Economic costs were not the only costs incurred by India as a result of colonialism. In World War II time, a serious famine took place in Bengal. But the British officers directed the food supplies to British Army front. As a result, more than 2 million Bengal farmers died of hunger. Germans were tried in Nuremberg for Jew holocaust. Yet no one was tried for Bengal deaths.
People remember these things.
It is favorite hobby of European media and their colonial bastards in India to discard these sentiments as nationalist propaganda. In reality it is basic psychology.
It’s high time Britain and Europe stood up like USA did and acknowledge their atrocities. It is high time they offer apologies. It is high time the European museums return the historical artifacts to the original owners. It’s high time they give closure. That is only way to reduce bitterness. Shouting at former colonies and demanding forgiveness will not help.
Filed under: Britain, Colonialism, History, India, Indian History Tagged: | Britain, Civilization, closure, Colonialism, Community, Democracy, east, empire, exploitation, independence, India, india colonialism britain history, oppression, Politics, rape, slave, trauma