Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Brexit & Britain's Colonial Past - The Causal Relationship

The dawn of the Industrial Age started with Britain. This initiated a race to find new colonies and conquer new worlds amongst the European powers - The French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese all joined the bandwagon. New continents were explored, messengers and diplomats were sent to the famous and legendary kingdoms far and wide - notwithstanding India, new markets were opened that brought in riches, unheard of previously.

But human greed is insatiable. Soon, the economic vision was replaced with a political vision to dominate these markets, turning them into colonies, serving their European masters. India was considered the crown jewel of the British Empire — the Empire where the Sun never sets! India suffered harshly under the British rule no doubt, draining of wealth, turning one of the wealthiest nations into a nation of poor and beggars. All we had intact was a bit of our past culture & heritage and a new found feeling of nationalism of India as a nation - that was missing in India's history for the last 5000 years of its existence. Never ever was India united in the manner as it was at the time of our independence.

Now, what benefits arose out British Rule in India? Many or none as all would argue, depending on your level of nationalistic feelings at that moment and the side you are arguing for. But it is undeniable that English is the Lingua Franca of the world today and Indians are the largest English speaking population outside of England which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible without the British ruling us and replacing the Brahmanic schooling with Victorian curricula. English has benefited us tremendously. It is the sole reason why India is ahead of China in the Services sector. It is a paradox and a case-study how we grew at such a fast pace without manufacturing sector - jumping almost directly from agriculture one day to services the next.

But why am I blabbering about these details… one may wonder? Because when osmosis happens, so does reverse-osmosis. There is a direct causal relationship of the British ruling us and in return impacting them in a manner they couldn’t imagine which would bite them back - so much so that it would be a subtle cause for Brexit.

Imagine a country, who got the taste of tea from India and China which now is part of their daily morning and evening ritual. A country whose national dish is Chicken Tikka Masala, which is so bland in the spices compared to the roadside Chicken Tikkas in India. A country which invented Cricket, but its England and Wales Cricket Board is dependent on BCCI to agree on matches and slots and bow down to them periodically. A country which ruled us through its proxy for almost a century, East India Company, is now owned by an Indian. A country which receives the third largest FDI from India, except US and France. India and its culture has permeated into many aspects of British life - which now no longer can be called uniquely British. So in short, India culturally dominates Britain today, without even sending a single soldier across the border.

Shakespeare would not have imagined even in his wildest dreams that one day his play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be hosted at the renovated Globe Theatre at Bankside - with lead actors of Indian origin, the background music score dominated by Veena and supported by Dholak played by Indians resembling a Bollywood ensemble.

A snap-shot of the play: A Midsummer Night's Dream at Shakespeare's Globe, London

In London, when you walk into a Tesco or Sainsbury's, any of Her Majesty's Post Office, board a bus or a train or tube, the servers at major restaurants and the list goes on - majority of staffs are of Indian descent. That ought to say something. Britain would not have had such a bustling Indian population had it not been for the colonial past...

And when a survey was conducted amongst the Indian expats who were eligible to vote for the Brexit Referendum, they voted for Exit as Indian and South-East Asian expats had to go through a more stringent process of immigration as compared to the Europeans and they voted for Exit en masse! It was the point of inflection that resulted in Brexit - where Remain camp lost by only 4 percentage points; it was that close.  In a different context, it may be worthwhile to note that, a fellow South-East Asian, a Pakistani to be precise, Mr. Sadiq Khan has been elected as the Mayor of London, which is no mean feat. And that my friend, as an Indian, makes me feel proud.

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