Why is it that Indians feel an animosity towards the British and not the other rulers of Ancient India?

Answer by Andy Lee Chaisiri:

'Time Heals all wounds', but it sometimes leaves a scar

Sometimes the scars completely fade, but the freshest wounds leave the most visible scars. For example, in the US the greatest damage we've ever sustained from foreigners on our soil is probably Britain (and her colony Canada) invading Washington D.C. and burning down the White House. But that happened so long ago we really don't care any more, a lot of us aren't even aware this happened! That wound is long gone, now if you say "Britain", we think of butlers named Jeeves and Sean Connery in a tuxedo, not redcoat arsonists.

The same applies to India. Britain was the last foreign invader to India, and has thus left the freshest scars. If you want a numerical value assigned to this scar, how does 475 trillion dollars sound? That is the approximation of how much wealth Britain had extracted from the subcontinent. (estimate from this post: Colonial Damage in Numbers by Vishal Kale on Blast from India's Past)

Some particular (very quotable) Britishers also stand out to keep that scar visible:

Reginald Dyer,  "Butcher of Amritsar/Savior of India"

April 14th, 1919

"You people know well that I am a sepoy and soldier. Do  you want war or peace? If you wish for a war, the Government is  prepared for it, and if you want peace, then obey my orders and open all  your shops; else I will shoot. For  me the battlefield of France or Amritsar is the same. I am a military  man and I will go straight. Neither shall I move to the right nor to the  left. Speak up, if you want war? In case there is to be peace, my order  is to open all shops at once. You people talk against the Government and persons educated in Germany and Bengal talk sedition. I shall report all these. Obey my orders. I  do not wish to have anything else. I have served in the military for  over 30 years. I understand the Indian Sepoy and Sikh people very well.  You will have to obey my orders and observe peace. Otherwise the shops  will be opened by force and Rifles. You will have to report to me of the  Badmash. I will shoot them. Obey my orders and open shops. Speak up if  you want war? You have committed a bad act in killing the English. The revenge will be taken upon you and upon your children."

-Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer gives a speech a day after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, where he ordered soldiers to gun down unarmed Indian men, women, and children

Dyer made a site where a British was reportedly assaulted into a 'sacred' place, if an Indian wanted to use that road, he must crawl on all fours, with his belly on the ground. This was enforced by law to remind them of their place to Britain.

What Dyer had done was controversial, he was relieved from his post and condemned by various Britishers, including future prime minister Winston Churchill but he still had many supporters in England. Dyer was given a hero's welcome by the public, with many celebrities among his supporters:

"He did his duty as he saw it"

-Dr. Rudyard Kipling (author of famous children's story Jungle Book) honors Dyer's return to England as 'Savior of India'

Dyer's fans drowned out Dyer's critics, and so he firmly believed he had done the right thing as a soldier of the Empire:

January 21st, 1921

"India does not want self-government.  She does not understand it. …It is only to an enlightened people that  free speech and a free press can be extended. The Indian people want no  such enlightenment. …There should be an eleventh commandment in India, "Thou shalt not agitate." …The  time will come to India when a strong hand will be exerted against  malice and perversion of good order. …Gandhi will not lead India to  capable self-government. The British Raj must continue, firm and unshaken in its administration of justice to all men."

Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer writes an article in the newspaper The Globe, titled "The Peril to the Empire"

Winston Churchill, "The Greatest Briton"

Churchill may have saved the Free World from Hitler, but he was keen on keeping the Colonized World in its place under the British Empire:

Gandhi-ism and everything it stands for will have to be grappled with and crushed

-Churchill, on the independence movement in India, 1930

"It  is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle  Temple lawyer of the type well-known in the East, now posing as a fakir,  striding half naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace to parley on  equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor."

-Comment  on Gandhi's meeting with the British Viceroy of India, addressing the  Council of the West Essex Unionist Association (23 February 1931); as  quoted in "Mr Churchill on India" in The Times (24 February 1931)

I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.

-Entry dated to September 1942 on a conversation held with Churchill in Leo Amery : Diaries.

I hope it would be bitter and bloody!

-Churchill, upon hearing news of conflict between the Muslim League and Indian Congress, July 1940 (makes you wonder why Britain decided on that partitioning of Pakistan…)

If food is scarce, why isn't Gandhi dead yet?

-Churchill's witty retort to British  Secretary of State for India Leo Amery's telegram for food stock to  relieve the Bengal famine of 1943

Relief would do no good, Indians breed like rabbits and will outstrip any available food supply

-Leo Amery records Churchill's stance on why famine relief was refused to India, 1944

Winston Churchill is remembered today as a great hero, a model leader, and a very witty, very quotable man. That's a very important part of it, the damage he did to India is largely ignored… purposefully. When 4 million people were starving and Churchill was joking about it, that kind of news was censored by Britain.

History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it

-Churchill, filled with wit as always

They were fighting a war for the Free World, y'see, and couldn't let some nasty news threaten their image. Letters on the Bengal famine were intercepted, books covering it were burned. Knowledge that some Indians (Indische Legion) actually rose up to fight against British rule was censored and these 'traitors to the crown' were put on trial in secret. The Indian Justice Radhabinod Pal accused the Allies of also committing war crimes against civilians, his dissertation was thus banned from publication. Even after India gained independence, history of British colonial crimes were largely whitewashed to promote public harmony.

Now, the Germany of Hitler is long gone, the Japan of Pearl Harbor atomized, but the Britain who committed all these crimes, it's still the same government, they've still got a bit of that 475 trillion dollars circulating around to keep them relevant in the world stage. The gigantic Koh-i-Noor diamond looted from India, the biggest jewel on Queen Victoria's crown, is still sitting in London somewhere collecting dust.

That's where the anger comes from. When you're made aware of a scar that was hidden from you, it opens right back up. Today, Indians have the power to decide how they feel about their history. Exercising that anger is a part of it.

Why is it that Indians feel an animosity towards the British and not the other rulers of Ancient India?


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