Saturday, August 14, 2010

Three score and three years ago.....

"The solemn reading of a royal proclamation on August 15, officially ends nearly two centuries of British rule over the squalid subcontinent of India. An era of adventure, conquest and imperial exploitation, in which India helped transform Britain from a scrawny little island off the coast of Europe into the richest and most powerful nation on earth is closed. "

Thus begins the article on the transfer of power from Britain to India, in Life magazine (in its edition of August 18, 1947). The photo round-up is also excellent.

The story on page 27 is followed by an editorial on page 34.

The conquest and rule of India by the British is one of the most extraordinary exploits in the annals of mankind. At no time have there been more than a handful of Englishmen in India to govern 400 million people. As one of these administrators described the exploit, “England, not only, in fact, conquered India mainly with Indian troops rather than English troops, but actually made India pay for the privilege.

The British conquered no savage hordes but one of the great world civilizations. The Moghul Emperor Akbar was more powerful than his contemporary Queen Elizabeth and the richest monarch in the world. His grandson, Shah Jahan, built the only building since the Parthenon which is not only breathtakingly beautiful, but also flawless.

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