Saturday, Oct 01, 2022
Outlook.com
Book Review

Empirically Imperial

Dalrymple marshals facts masterfully to detail how the British—scheming, suborning, menacing—swooped down on a chaotic India and carved out an empire

Empirically Imperial
Photos: Bloomsbury
Clive at Plassey—the battle made the Company masters of Bengal. What followed was unprecedented loot of the province.
Empirically Imperial
outlookindia.com
2019-10-18T17:49:14+05:30

William Dalrymple has justifiably acquired a global reputation as the most wid­ely read chronicler of British India today. His pop­ular histories, notably White Mughals, The Last Mughal, and Return of a King, as well as the co-authored Kohinoor, testify to the 54-year-old Scot’s focus, erudition, and narrative drive. With The Anarchy, which traces the irresistible rise of the British East India Company from its origins as a trading concern in 1600 to the ruler of all India two centuries later, he cem­ents his reputation with a detailed, compelling account of a story no Ind­ian should forget.

At the beginning of the 18th century, as the British economic historian Angus Maddison has demonstrated, India’s share of the world economy was 23 per cent, as large as all of Europe put together. (In 1700, Aurangzeb’s treasury raked in £100 million in tax revenues alone, more than all the crow­ned heads of Europe combined.) By the time the British dep­arted India, it had dropped to just over 3 per cent. The reason was simple: India was governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.

Outlook Newsletters

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.