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Shadow of British rule seen in every nook of Delhi

Indian governmental policies and policy makers are all heavily influenced by the British and their culture. The imperialist past is never too far away

AKHILESH MITHAL  24th Jul 2011

St. Stephens, an educational institution based entirely on Cambridge, attracts the intellectual elite of the country

rime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has recommended that Sir Sobha Singh be honoured by having the roundabout known as Windsor Place renamed Sir Sobha Singh Place. This shows that whatever little lamp of freedom was lit in 1947 has run out of oil and the darkness that prevailed has reappeared in all its gloom. Sir Sobha Singh was a contractor greatly favoured by the British, providing yeoman service when he gave evidence against Bhagat Singh. His role is detailed in the national archives and records, where he appears as prosecution witness number seven. He was amply rewarded by his British masters, such that after his death, his property enabled his descendents to live without needing to earn their living. However, Khushwant Singh is not satisfied with the mere enjoyment of his inheritance and wants free India to show his father gratitude with a gesture as grand as the one Dr Singh has proposed.

We have repeatedly pointed out that 1947 saw 'a little freedom' and a wholesale 'transfer of power'. The speed with which austerity was abandoned and the trappings of power (like the 3 acre bungalows in New Delhi offices in the North and South Blocks) assumed made sure that the virus of freedom would not spread to the masses; freedom would remain confined to the area of universal suffrage. Those who are elected and those who enter 'officialdom' through competition immediately assume the role earlier enjoyed by the white Britishers. They start practicing the 'We, who are in power and are rulers, and they, our subjects, who are out of it, the ruled'. Those who got the power lost interest in freedom.

New Delhi was built to highlight the might of the British and to assert the permanence of their empire in India. They added insult to injury by inscribing “Freedom does not descend upon a people; it is a blessing which has to be earned to be enjoyed” on North Block.

The education system remained unchanged and the products became even more 'Ibne (sons of) Macaulay' than they were before 1947. St. Stephen's College, a pale and self-conscious imitation of Cambridge, is the most sought after educational institution; while the cream of the politicians (chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and many ministers in the centre), the IAS and other government services form a network that can take on 'old school tie' networks anywhere in the world. Dr Singh sports a light blue turban in honour of 'Cambridge Blue' and Sardarji No. 2, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, totally imitates him. It's no wonder then that Anna Hazare talks about the second struggle for freedom and gets vociferous support.

Budget after budget is in favour of the rich, ignoring the poor and underprivileged. Thousands of crores worth of taxation have been taken off the major corporations, while subsidies for the poor are eliminated. The general belief that the Ambanis are not only running India but are also above the law has been confirmed by the fact that they roam free even as other proprietor suspects in the 2G scam, including Ambani's managers, are in jail.

New Delhi is celebrating its centenary. Its inauguration was originally set for the Durbar to be held in honour of the accession of King Emperor George Vth to the throne. George Vth was the least impressive member of a remarkably undistinguished dynasty, and came to the throne because of the untimely death of his elder brother. The original plan of holding the festivities on New Year's Day, 1913, had to be abandoned because it coincided with Mohurrum, a period of mourning for Hassan and Hussein, the grandsons of the Prophet of Islam.

alcutta, which had been the capital since the 18th Century, had become too hot for the British because teenage Bengalis had started shooting officers and manufacturing bombs to cause mayhem and havoc. When the Viceregal Lodge was designed, the only interest the British monarch showed was in asking whether, "the proposed building for the viceroy's residence [was] higher than the Jama Masjid of Shah Jahan".

New Delhi was built to highlight the might of the British and to assert the permanence of their empire in India. They added insult to injury by inscribing "Freedom does not descend upon a people; it is a blessing which has to be earned to be enjoyed" on the North Block. Moving into New Delhi and retaining English as the official language has ensured that the mindset of freedom gets erased and the British ruler mindset of being above the law prevails. Now we have Sardar Manmohan Singh as prime minister. Just as Robespierre was the 'sea green incorruptible' of the French Revolution, Dr Singh is the 'light Cambridge Blue incorruptible' of India in the 21st Century.

Election commissioners are expected to ensure the impartiality of their office by not seeking/accepting any other office. Even the government is expected to refrain from offering a job to a retired election commissioner, although an exception was made for Sardar M. S. Gill. Now we have another Sardar, a known toady of the British, being honoured by a government of free India. Does this not leave the 'light Cambridge Blue incorruptible' open to a charge of partiality to a particular community, in this case, his own?

Perhaps we were misled by our battle cry 'Dillee Chalo', it should have been more specific. We should have cried 'Puraanee Dillee Chalo', for New Delhi was built as an assertion of British Imperial might and as an insult to the Indian aspiration for freedom.

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