The Reign of Queen Elizabeth II Saw the Sun Set on the British Empire

Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) died this week. The sun set on the British Empire during her reign that began in 1952. The dismantling of the empire had already started with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 before she ascended to the throne. It continued in the 1950s and 60s with dozens of nations in Asia and Africa declaring their independence. British colonialism was soon replaced by western neocolonialism led by the United States. Black and brown people continue to suffer from the scourge of racism in a world dominated by white Europeans. Corrupt ruling elites with colonized minds ensure that true decolonization does not occur in the former British colonies. They treat their own people with the same disdain as did their former colonial bosses. The struggle for true independence continues. 

Haq Family With British Royal Family at Madame Tussauds in London

Economic Extraction:

When the British arrived in Mughal India, the country's share of the world GDP was 25%, about the same as the US share of the world GDP today. By 1947, the undivided India's share of world GDP ($4 trillion in 1990 Geary-Khamis dollars) had shrunk to about 6% (India: $216 billion, Pakistan: $24 billion). As of 2010, South Asia's contribution to world GDP further shrank to about 4%, according to British Economist Angus Maddison

Divide and Rule Policy: 

Colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of the British policy to divide and conquer India, says American history professor Audrey Truschke, in her book "Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King". These misrepresentations of Muslim rule made during the British Raj appear to have been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists but also by at least some of the secular Hindus in India and Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan, says the author.  Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries, the author adds. Hindutva today is among the worst legacies of the British Raj. 

Legacy of Major Conflicts:

Major conflicts in South Asia and the Middle East are a legacy of the final days of British rule. Among these are Kashmir and Palestine

Kashmir today is seen as a major flashpoint for a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. The rise of Hindutva, also a legacy of the British Raj, has increased the risk of such a devastating conflict. Vast majority of Indians, including those who oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi, believe that nuclear war is "winnable", according to the results of a Stimson Center poll released recently. They want their country to build a bigger nuclear arsenal than China and Pakistan combined.  Responding to the clamor for more nukes,  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in 2019 that Indian nuclear weapons were not kept as mere showpieces.  

Colonized Minds:

Pakistan achieved independence from British colonial rule 75 years ago. However, the minds of most of Pakistan's elites remain colonized to this day.  This seems to be particularly true of the nation's western-educated "liberals" who dominate much of the intellectual discourse in the country. They continue to look at their fellow countrymen through the eyes of the Orientalists who served as tools for western colonization of Asia, Middle East and Africa. The work of these "native" Orientalists available in their books, op ed columns and other publications reflects their utter contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Far from being constructive, these colonized minds promote lack of confidence in the ability of their fellow "natives" to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. The way out of it is to encourage more inquiry based learning and critical thinking.


Queen Elizabeth's passing represents the end of an era that saw the sun set on the British Empire. Among the legacies of the British rule are racism and slavery that continue to be manifested in the new era of western neocolonialism. Major conflicts created by colonial powers in South Asia and the Middle East continue to threaten world peace. Former colonies continue to be ruled by corrupt elites with colonized minds who treat their own people with utter contempt. Their struggle for true independence continues. 

Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:"; width="560"></iframe>" height="315" src="" width="560" style="cursor: move; background-color: #b2b2b2;" />

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 13, 2022 at 8:02am

US Anchor Says Britain Left India Civilised. Shashi Tharoor, Others Respond
Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson made the comments during a show last Thursday, which went viral on social media.

A news anchor from the United States, who praised the virtues of the British colonialism in India and claimed that that country prospered during the British rule, has left Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and many Twitter users fuming, according to a report in Independent. Tucker Carlson, Fox News anchor also falsely claimed that India did not create any architectural marvels before the onset of the British colonial era. His comments have been condemned as "racist" and "supremely uninformed" by several users, including tennis star Martina Navratilova.
The anchor was speaking on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" show last Thursday where he went on a long rant claiming that the British empire was "more than just genocide".

"Strong countries dominate weak countries. This trend hasn't changed. At least the English took their colonial responsibility seriously. They didn't just take things, they added. We (the United States) left Afghanistan, we left airstrips, weapons and guns. When the British pulled out of India, they left behind an entire civilization, a language, a legal system, schools, churches and public buildings, all of which are still in use today," said Mr Carlson in a clip that has gone viral on Twitter.

He then referred to Mumbai's Victoria Terminus station that was renamed in 2016 as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and said, "And after 75 years of independence, has that country produced a single building as beautiful as the Bombay train station that the British colonials built?"

The comments sparked a debate on Twitter, in which Congress leader Shashi Tharoor joined in.

"I think Twitter ought to have an option for something to press when you can't respond without losing your cool. For now I will content myself with," Mr Tharoor tweeted, adding two angry-face emojis in response.

Ms Navratilova also slammed Mr Carlson's comments, saying on Twitter, "Hey @TuckerCarlson - your utter ignorance of history is quite staggering. I suggest you read the book "Inglorious Empire" by Shashi Tharoor and then try again. Your racism is off the charts and your stupidity on this particular issue is of Olympic proportions!!!"

The Fox News anchor has so far not responded to the criticism.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 13, 2022 at 4:30pm

Ben Norton @BenjaminNorton The US military launched at least 251 foreign interventions from 1991 to 2022. This is according to a report from the US government's own Congressional Research Service. I went through the data and created a map showing just how vast the meddling is:

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 14, 2022 at 7:19am

Tucker Carlson: Anger after Fox News host says British civilised India

An American TV anchor is drawing the ire of Indians for suggesting that the British had civilised India.

Tucker Carlson from Fox News channel claimed that India had not produced any architectural marvels after British rule ended.

The anchor made the statement during a show on Queen Elizabeth II who died last week, aged 96.

His comments have been criticised as racist and uninformed by politicians, commentators and social media users.

They come at a time when the Queen's death has revived a sensitive debate about the empire's colonial past.

In recent days, a number of prominent writers and academicians across the world, including in India, have criticised the British monarchy which, they say, is yet to reckon with the indignities and brutality of the empire.

Mr Carlson sought to debunk this argument in his show last week, when he claimed that the British empire was "more than just genocide".

"Strong countries dominate weak countries. This trend hasn't changed," he said in a clip that has since gone viral on Twitter.

The anchor added that unlike the US, the English "took their colonial responsibility seriously" and ruled the world with "decency unmatched by any empire in human history".

"When the British pulled out of India, they left behind an entire civilisation, a language, a legal system, schools, churches and public buildings, all of which are still in use today," he said.

The anchor then tried to defend his position by giving the example of Victoria Terminus station - a sprawling Victorian structure of yellow sandstone, granite and blue-grey basalt in what was then the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) - which was built by the British in 1887 and renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in 2016.

"After 75 years of independence, has [India] produced a single building as beautiful as the Bombay train station the British colonialists built? No sadly it has not, not one," Mr Carlson said.

His comments outraged many in India, including senior politicians like Shashi Tharoor of the main opposition Congress party.

"I think Twitter ought to have an option for something to press when you can't respond without losing your cool," Mr Tharoor tweeted with two angry emojis on Tuesday.

Another user said he found the claim "funny" as the most stunning buildings he had seen in India "weren't built by the British but by Indians themselves".

"That was before colonialism, when they could still afford to... Colonialism wrecked India, it didn't build it," he added.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova also weighed in on the matter and said that Mr Carlson's "utter ignorance of history" was "quite staggering".

"Your racism is off the charts and your stupidity on this particular issue is of Olympic proportions!!!," she tweeted.

However, journalist Barkha Dutt said the controversy was blown out of proportion and called it a case of "needless obsession with the white man's orientalism".

"Amazed at how much time Indian media is willing to expend on a US anchor who wouldn't even notice if you commented on his nation," she added.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 13, 2022 at 9:47am

None of the UK’s top jobs is held by a White man for the first time. But British politics remains unequal, experts say

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss has assembled the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in the United Kingdom’s history, with several top jobs given to Black and other minority ethnic lawmakers.

For the first time ever, none of the holders of the country’s four so-called “Great Offices of State” – the prime minister, the chancellor and the home and foreign secretaries – is a White man.

Kwasi Kwarteng, who will take charge of the UK’s dire economic situation as chancellor, was born in London after his parents migrated from Ghana in the 1960s; the mother of James Cleverly, the new foreign minister, came to the UK from Sierra Leone, while incoming Home Secretary Suella Braverman has Kenyan and Mauritian parents.

No other G7 country can claim such diversity at the heart of government and it reflects a rapid rise in the number of minority ethnic politicians to the top tables of British politics in the past decade.

But experts say this fact can obscure other prevalent inequalities in the UK’s political system.

Critics fear the continuation of a series of divisive Conservative government policies towards refugees, asylum seekers and disadvantaged communities, and some have pointed to the class and educational backgrounds of the country’s new Cabinet as a symbol of Britain’s most defining political gulf.

“It’s extremely significant and it’s an extraordinary rate of change,” Sunder Katwala, the director the the British Future think tank that focuses on issues of immigration, integration and national identity, said of the make-up of Truss’s new Cabinet.

But “these are more diverse political elites,” he told CNN. “It’s a meritocratic advance for people who have done well in education, law and business. It’s not an advance on social class terms.”

“It’s absolutely fantastic that we have a more diverse House of Commons, set of parties and government, in terms of gender and in terms of ethnicity,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University and the author of books on the Conservative Party.

“But it does hide the fact that we have an ongoing disappearance of working-class people from politics, and that has knock-on effects in terms of policy and turnout.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 19, 2022 at 8:13am

#Fifa President Gianni Infantino:"I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons" #soccer #football #Colonialism #slavery #Qatar #alcoholban

DOHA, Qatar — FIFA president Gianni Infantino used his opening press conference before the start of the monthlong World Cup to deliver a blistering tirade at the West for continued criticism of host country Qatar and its human rights record.

For an hour, Infantino lectured the international press assembled at the Qatar National Convention Centre and then took questions for 45 minutes. In lengthy, and at times angry remarks, Infantino blasted the criticism of Qatar and FIFA.

"I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons," he said.

He furthered the defense by saying, "Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker."

Infantino said he has difficulties understanding the criticism and called it hypocrisy. "We have to invest in helping these people, in education and to give them a better future and more hope. We should all educate ourselves, many things are not perfect, but reform and change takes time."

Since FIFA chose Qatar to stage this tournament in 2010, soccer's governing body and the host country have endured withering criticism. It's the first time a Middle Eastern country has hosted a World Cup. A report released this month from the London-based rights group Equidem said the migrant laborers who built the World Cup stadiums worked long hours and under harsh conditions. The report said they were subjected to discrimination, wage theft and other abuses.

Infantino's news conference comes a day after FIFA and Qatar announced that the sale of beer would be banned at the eight stadiums. FIFA said the decision would ensure "the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans."

The sale of alcohol is strictly controlled in Qatar, which follows a conservative form of Islam known as Wahhabism. Public consumption of alcohol is only allowed in certain hotels and restaurants.

Infantino said he has been assured by the government in Qatar that LGBTQ fans are welcome in the country. Same-sex relations are illegal and punishable by jail time.

The 64-game tournament kicks off Sunday with host Qatar taking on Ecuador. More than a million fans will travel to the country. Infantino said it would be the best World Cup ever.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 8, 2023 at 5:07pm

India archive reveals extent of ‘colonial loot’ in royal jewellery collection

File from India Office archive details how priceless items were extracted from colony as trophies of conquest

by David Pegg and Manisha Ganguly

Five years ago, Buckingham Palace marked its summer opening with an exhibition celebrating the then Prince Charles’s 70th birthday with a display of his favourite pieces from the royal collection, Britain’s official trove of items connected to the monarchy. “The prince had a very, very strong hand in the selection,” the senior curator said.

Among the sculptures, paintings and other exhibits was a long gold girdle inlaid with 19 large emeralds once used by an Indian maharajah to decorate his horses. It was a curious choice to put into the exhibition in light of the violent means by which it had come into the hands of the royal family.

As part of its Cost of the crown series, the Guardian has uncovered a remarkable 46-page file in the archives of the India Office, the government department that was responsible for Britain’s rule over the Indian subcontinent. It details an investigation, apparently commissioned by Queen Mary, the grandmother of Elizabeth II, into the imperial origins of her jewels.

The report, from 1912, explains how priceless pieces, including Charles’s emerald belt, were extracted from India as trophies of conquest and later given to Queen Victoria. The items described are now owned by the monarch as property of the British crown.

A journal records a tour in 1837 of the Punjab area in north India by the society diarist Fanny Eden and her brother George, the governor general of the British Raj at the time. They visited Ranjit Singh, the maharajah in Lahore, who had signed a “treaty of friendship” with the British six years earlier.

The half-blind Singh wore few if any precious stones, Eden wrote in her journal, but his entourage was positively drowning in them. So plentiful were the maharajah’s gems that “he puts his very finest jewels on his horses, and the splendour of their harness and housings surpasses anything you can imagine,” she wrote. Eden later confided in her journal: “If ever we are allowed to plunder this kingdom, I shall go straight to their stables.”

Twelve years later, Singh’s youngest son and heir, Duleep, was forced to sign over the Punjab to the conquering forces of the British East India Company. As part of the conquest, the company did indeed plunder the horses’ emeralds, as well as Singh’s most precious stone, the legendary Koh-i-noor diamond.

Today, the Koh-i-noor sits in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, on display at the Tower of London, and it has become an emblem of Britain’s tortured relationship with its imperial history.

Anita Anand, a journalist and historian who co-wrote a book titled Koh-i-noor on the diamond, said it was “a beautiful and cold reminder of British supremacy during the Raj”, the period between 1858 and 1947 when India was ruled by the crown.

“Its facets reflect the fate of a boy king who was separated from his mother,” Anand said. The stone too was “taken far away from his home, recut and diminished”. Anand said: “That is not how India sees itself today.”

Buckingham Palace is plainly aware of the sensitivities surrounding looted artefacts. After the Indian government let it be known that for Camilla, the Queen Consort, to wear the Koh-i-noor at Charles’s coronation would elicit “painful memories of the colonial past”, the palace announced she would swap it for a less contentious diamond.

But, as was discovered by Queen Mary, the Koh-i-noor was not the only gem taken from Singh’s treasury to have found its way to the British monarchy.

Royal with a pearl necklace
Among the jewels identified in the document found by the Guardian is a “short necklace of four very large spinel rubies”, the largest of which is a 325.5-carat spinel that later came to be identified as the Timur ruby.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 9, 2023 at 4:40pm

Last chance to read Mughal-era Sanskrit literature, before it is all deleted | Deccan Herald

by Anusha Rao

The recent removal of chapters on Mughals from the NCERT syllabus presents us with an opportunity to look at the colorful history of Sanskrit during that period. The most vibrant personality of this era was perhaps the celebrity poet Jagannatha Panditaraja, who managed to sell the same praise-poem to three kings (Shah Jahan, Jagatsimha and Prananarayana), after swapping out their names. Panditaraja, i.e., the ‘king of scholars’, was a title that the Mughal king Shah Jahan bestowed on Jagannatha. Our poet clearly liked being wined and dined well. He writes: “Only two people can give me all that I want—God, or the emperor of Delhi. As for what the other kings give, well, I use that for my weekly groceries!"

Legend goes that Jagannatha fell head-over-heels in love with a Muslim woman called Lavangi and married her. This would explain the Muslim woman (“yavani”) who is the subject of so many of his verses, where he meditates on her skin smooth as butter and wants neither horses nor elephants nor money as long as he can be with her.

Aurangzeb’s uncle Shaista Khan had even learnt Sanskrit himself, and six poems written by him are preserved in the Rasakalpadruma. Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan had learnt Sanskrit, too, and his project was to understand Islam and through each other. Another celebrity poet of this age was Kavindracharya, the head of the Banaras scholar community during Shah Jahan’s rule. He pleaded the case for abolishing the Hindu pilgrim tax so eloquently in front of the king that the indeed came to be abolished. Poems in praise of Kavindracharya poured in from all across the country, and they are preserved today in the form of a book, the Kavindra Chandrodaya.

South India had its fair share of Sanskrit poets who enjoyed the patronage of multiple kings of different faiths. Bhanukara, a 16th century Sanskrit poet, wrote verses that we find in many well-known verse anthologies. These anthologies attribute to Bhanukara verses in praise of various kings—hinting that among his patrons were Krishnadevaraya, Nizam Shah and Sher Shah, all ruling in the Deccan! And Bhanukara clearly enjoyed a good relationship with the Nizam, given his hyperbolic verses in praise of the king’s generosity, skill in military conquest, and even his physical appearance. Another well-known Sanskrit poet of the 16th century was Govinda Bhatta, who composed the Ramachandra-yashah-prashasti in praise of King Vaghela Ramachandra of Rewa. But Ramachandra was not Govinda Bhatta’s only patron. In fact, Govinda Bhatta called himself Akbariya Kalidasa, as a tribute to the most illustrious of his patrons, Akbar. In one his laudatory verses, he praises Akbar as being the crest jewel of Humayun’s lineage.

Not all Sanskrit poetry about the Mughals is about kings though— the 17th century poet Nilakantha Shukla, a disciple of the famous grammarian Bhattoji Dikshita, wrote an epic poem on the romance between a Brahmin tutor and a Muslim noblewoman in Mughal Banaras.

As Sanskrit poets wrote in and of Islamic rule, a large number of Sanskrit classics were translated into Persian as well—including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and even tales such as the Shuka Saptati. The Razmnamah, a Persian translation of the Mahabharata, commissioned by Akbar in the late 16th century, manages to strike a balance between the monotheistic god of Islam and the plethora of gods in the Sanskrit epic, retaining numerous divinities while weaving in Koranic phrases, and modifying prayers to address them to Allah. But how do we know all of this? Well, nobody struck these out from the manuscripts and inscriptions...


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