It is crude to declare that Britain ‘ruined’ India, as the Congress oath of allegiance asserted in 1930, writes Roderick Matthews in The Flaws in the Jewel: Challenging the myths of British India (www.harpercollins.co.in). India is still fertile and full of natural resources, not least of which is her population, he reasons. “British rule did not destroy these assets. However, it did fail in most of its attempts to develop India, except in terms of an educated political class, in which it succeeded brilliantly.”
In the author’s view, the British had no interest in ruining India, and levying the Home Charges could never have done this by itself. He concedes, however, that the proportion of military expenditure within the government’s budget, frequently 50 per cent, helped determine what kind of governance the Indians actually got.
“And unquestionably at the widest strategic level the imperial authorities did not need to stimulate India beyond a certain level of prosperity; holding her was enough. This was not exactly ruination but these deficiencies were enough to disqualify Britain as a guardian power,” Matthews observes in a concluding section of the book titled ‘the balance sheet.’
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