Both the Labour and the Conservatives are engaged in elaborate deceptions to deceive Indian-origin voters for electoral purposes, scheduled for 12 December. In reality, only a proverbial inch or so separates their opinions of Indian-origin voters and India itself.
For decades, before and after Independence, the sheer weight of brainwashing trapped educated Indians in a make-believe world of mutual Anglo-British bonhomie. The dream of many Indians, to this day, is to reach Oxbridge as a Rhodes Scholar, despite its vicious animus towards India, and visit Buckingham Palace as a tourist. The leading Indian Anglophiles have been mostly déraciné Bengalis and the likes of journalist Khushwant Singh and a handful of Parsis, nostalgic for the British rule that facilitated their prosperity. And there was of course chacha-ji, Jawaharlal Nehru, the greatest Anglophile of them all, whose shocking intimacy with Edwina Mountbatten has recently been exposed in an unsparing biography of the ghastly Mountbattens. This unreal reverie of Indo-British mutual regard has been pointedly swept aside by a growing body of scholarly work that portrays the full horror of life under British rule that most Indians allergic to books fail to realise.
Britain without India, the formidable Lord Curzon had observed in 1908, would be reduced to nothing, an insignificant island off the coast of mainland Europe. The British, fully cognisant of this potential reality, had made preparations to quell Indian resistance to imperial rule after 1857 by rapidly cultivating Islam in the third quarter of the 19th century, to combat nationalist stirrings initiated by educated upper caste Bengali Hindus. It culminated in the sponsorship of the Muslim League in 1906 to intervene decisively against the growing nationalist discontent. The caste divisions of contemporary India were also sowed in the latter part of 19th century, transforming India’s essentially fluid socioeconomic stratification of the majority into institutionalised, quasi-religious fissures. It is this grim legacy of cynical manipulation that holds all aspects of Indian society in a vicious strangulating grip even today. The modern sectarian Sikh identity was also created by privileging Jat Sikhs and enforcing strict religious observance on Sikh army recruits, once their loyalty was evident in helping to quell the 1857 uprising.
By the time the British had decided to abandon India and did so in a cynical bloodbath of immense proportions, considered calculations of how to minimise the geopolitical fallout had already been made. The answer was to somehow secure India’s northern frontier to limit Soviet influence especially because Joseph Stalin had already threatened to upset the British imperial applecart in both India and the Middle East. Britain did lose India but retains, to this day, huge cultural and psychological sway by controlling its educational culture and media’s worldview. India’s leaders never quite proved equal to British machinations and failed to grasp the devastating geopolitical disadvantages it was inheriting due to their own childlike naivety and cupidity. The creation of Pakistan itself was fully in accord with British plans as scholars have highlighted and the British seizure of Gilgit-Baltistan on its behalf was the product of pure strategic calculation. Britain eventually lost primacy in the Middle East to the US, ejected after bitter rivalry with it. Britain only managed to retain some scraps of the leftovers, in the Gulf, as protectors of abominable monarchies and the US allowed Britain a toehold in Saudi Arabia too. British hostility towards India was demonstrated during the wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, both of which British governments blamed on India, ignoring the genocide in what became Bangladesh after the second conflict.
Events in the UK in recent months have highlighted the reality of a deep Indo-British disjuncture that has clearly had long antecedents in Whitehall. Its corollary has always been a deep animus towards India of the British media and British university departments, both of which operate in concurrence with Whitehall policies. The universities churn out “self-hating” mis-educated Indians and spew hostile propaganda in veritable racist frenzy, against what they deem India’s venal and idolatrous Baniya culture, beyond the pale. This is why the two attacks on the London Indian High Commission in August and September 2019 should have come as no surprise and the reason for the last-minute diversion of the third planned assault by Pakistani and Khalistani mobs requires explanation. Both the major political parties, the Labour Party and the Conservatives, are engaged in elaborate deceptions to deceive Indian-origin voters for electoral purposes, scheduled for 12 December. In reality, only a proverbial inch or so separates their opinions of Indian-origin voters and India itself. But they are also easily able to manipulate the incorrigibly self-serving, British East African Indian leadership, which has appointed itself to represent Indian-origin voters, achieve their ignoble purposes.
The issue of vote bank imperatives can only explain the open hostility of the British Labour Party and that of the Liberal-Democrats towards India and contempt for the Indian-origin electorate. But the Conservatives, not similarly dependent on Muslim votes, were the political party that had ultimate responsibility for the two violent recent demonstrations outside India House in London, the diplomatic staff imprisoned for five hours and barely escaping physical injury. It is also shocking to know that the third demonstration by Pakistani and Khalistani thugs, planned to coincide with Diwali by the Pakistani diplomatic mission, was only diverted away from the Indian High Commission at the last moment. Delhi unprecedentedly intervened to make clear that the security of the British High Commission in its capital could not be unequivocally guaranteed. Nor should one forget the duplicity of the Conservative British government for allowing its ambassador at the UN to conspire with China to embarrass India at the UNSC meeting on J&K. It is clear that the British establishment is wary of terrorism and does not wish to provoke its Pakistani citizens, but there’s more to the rationale than fear alone of terrorist retaliation, of kowtowing with Pakistan, which is in embarrassing disarray and not taken seriously by any country.
Britain and Pakistan have been virtual allies since its founding in 1947 and the relationship has remained intact beyond the end of the Cold War. US goodwill towards Pakistan has waned and benevolence was only prolonged owing to the need to supply its Afghan war effort through Karachi. But Britain and Pakistan have also been partners in the Middle East and engaged in a joint endeavour together for decades to protect the Saudi monarchy though as junior US cronies. They are both currently jointly facilitating the ongoing Saudi genocide in Yemen. Retired former Chief of Staff of the Pakistani army, General Raheel Sharif, is Commander-in Chief of the 39-nation Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition. Thousands of British personnel, both private and military, are also culpable in the war crimes of indiscriminate Saudi bombing of Yemeni targets that include everything from hospitals to wedding parties. It won’t be surprising to discover that some Saudi warplanes, serviced and with bomb bays loaded by British personnel, are piloted by Pakistanis. This unholy British-Pakistani nexus, hugely profitable for both, far exceeds in scale any recompense India can offer Britain. On the contrary, India enjoys a substantial surplus in trade with UK. In addition, Britain and Pakistan are partners in war crimes being committed daily against Yemeni civilians and cannot afford escape their villainous mutual embrace.
It may be surmised that despite the duplicitous public handwringing all major British political parties are aware of their country’s role in Yemen, but the sordid “national interest” in making handsome war profits for British arms manufacturers unfailingly triumphs. British war crimes in the Middle East are well-documented, not least the role of the Labour Party government in devastating both Iraq and Syria and Libya too. It was Tony Blair’s socialist Labour government that manufactured evidence about weapons of mass destruction used by the US to justify regime change in Iraq. This is the harsh reality that accounts for the British scorn towards India and scandalous acquiescence towards Pakistani criminality in the streets of London. In addition, Britain has important economic interests in Hong Kong and in a post-Brexit era economic ties with China will only be rivalled by its dependence on the US. A frosty low-key message on Indo-Pak issues from the Chinese ambassador in London to the British Foreign Office is rather more compelling than plaintive cries from the Indian High Commissioner for protection from violent thugs threatening the safety of Indian diplomats. India is not even a distant third as a potential trade partner, though many unscrupulous British Asians are trying to sell the lemon of its significance by lobbying for HMG in Delhi, while pretending to be ardent Hindu patriots. British Indian-origin ministers are wholly loyal to the Crown they serve and their British-Asian business counterparts are only useful for planting misleading information in the ears of Indian politicians while they line their own pockets as facilitators of “deals” between the two countries.
Dr Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for more than two decades.