Stories about British Empire

From Allahabad to Prayagraj: Is India reclaiming its history?

In post-independence India, Bombay became Mumbai, Madras became Chennai, Calcutta became Kolkata, Mysore became Mysuru, Bangalore became Bengaluru, and now Allahabad has become Prayagraj. Then, before the row over Allahabad showed any signs of settling down, there emerged demands to rename Muzaffarnagar to Laxminagar. The love to change names from the past continues after more than 70 long years of India’s independence, and it will most likely continue on in the future as well. Although we talk of India as an emergent world power, it seems that the hangover of history is not yet over; it still lays buried ...

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70 years of independence for Pakistan while FATA continues to be haunted by its colonial past

The government of Pakistan has finally decided to replace the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) with the Riwaj Act – a newly promulgated piece of legislation that will put an end to the century-old status quo in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). This is a very bold and highly commendable move by the government of Pakistan, which will surely go a long way in bringing FATA at par with the rest of the country. Before highlighting the significance of this landmark decision, which will hopefully introduce much-needed reforms in FATA, let me present a historical snapshot regarding FCR to offer a clearer picture of ...

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The Black Prince: In conversation with Kavi Raz on the real Lion of Punjab and the most powerful kingdom in the world

There is a great deal of talk about The Black Prince, a movie that was released worldwide on July 21, 2017. For this very reason, I just had to try and reach out to the man behind this effort and get some answers about the film and his life. Kavi Raz (KR) is a very interesting figure in Hollywood amongst the Punjabi diaspora. I am extremely glad that he responded to do this interview with me Ras Siddiqui (RS): The Black Prince is based on the little known life of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the youngest son of Maharajah Ranjit Singh. The world knows little about him or his life. What peaked ...

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Let us return to March 23, 1940, and start over, Pakistan

On March 23, 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted a historic resolution in the city of Lahore. This resolution has since come to be known as the Pakistan Resolution as it became the forerunner to the formal demand for an independent nation state for the Muslims of India. The following is an extract that provides the essence of this resolution: “Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principle, namely, that geographically ...

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What globalisation?

Although globalism itself remains safe from doomsayers, they have started congregating at the gates of globalisation. Take the bogged down Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) designed to remove 98% of trade tariffs between Canada and the European Union (EU). It was stuck there by the dissenting voices of three of Belgium’s French-speaking regions. Consequently, Belgium had to withhold assent, thus preventing EU unanimity, a prerequisite for ratification. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council tweeted: Together with PM @JustinTrudeau, we think Thursday's summit still possible. We encourage all parties to find a solution. There's yet time. — Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) ...

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Life at the fringes of empire: Edward Eastwick in Sindh

Edward Eastwick (1814-1883) entered the service of the East India Company at the comparatively late age of 22, after arriving in Bombay in the summer of 1836. This was not Eastwick’s first trip abroad. Following the unlikely advice of a family doctor and the ‘earnest solicitations’ of his wife, Eastwick’s father Robert had taken his sickly 10-year-old son on a year-long opium-trading voyage to China in 1825. Eastwick caught the travel bug, and probably many others besides. The privations of this early voyage may have gone some way to prepare Eastwick for his first posting in India as ‘Assistant Political Agent, Upper Sindh’. After an ...

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Does Britain still have a colonial mind-set?

Britain, at the peak of its global reach, ruled over 1/3rd of the world and so it comes as no surprise that an element of colonial nostalgia secretly exists amongst Brits today. Following a rapturous Olympics outcome, various British celebrities and sports personalities made subtle hints to the days of the Empire on Twitter. Now that's what I call winning!!! Well done Team GB & all our Commonwealth friends, now for the Trade Agreements…. pic.twitter.com/Qg9qkYxWHp — Heather Wheeler MP (@HeatherWheeler) August 22, 2016 It could also be said that one of the reasons behind Brexit was the desire to return Britain to its former legacy of being a ...

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Why has non-violent India become so violent?

India carries somewhat of a reputation globally as the home of spirituality and a champion of non-violence. The combined legacies of Emperor Ashoka, Gautam Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and many other renowned gurus and sages have left an imprint on the way India seeks to carry itself on the world stage and also to an extent how the rest of the world perceives it. Many seekers of wisdom and inner peace make their way to India, hoping to find a path to spirituality and enlightenment. Some succeed in finding what they were looking for, while others return with disappointment, disillusionment, and ...

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One month after the Bacha Khan University attack and we are still stuck in selective empathy

Just a year after the Army Public School attack which shook the entire country to its core, prompting collective declarations of #NeverAgain, we are staring into the abyss yet again. It has been one month since another educational institution, Bacha Khan University was brutally targeted and another 21 precious lives were extinguished. The state vows to bring the perpetrators to justice. Once again, our resilience is extolled as the nation’s highest virtue and we slowly begin to pick ourselves up one more time. We may soon recover; perhaps even find ourselves celebrating a successful military response to the enemy one day, signalling a brighter ...

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Five things teachers should never say in a classroom

At school, I was the student that was every teacher’s worst nightmare. I questioned everything, I disobeyed flagrantly, I mimicked and ridiculed my peers but I managed to always do well in tests. My school faced a terrible dilemma while registering me for my GCE O Levels; my disciplinary record warranted a suspension from school but they knew I would secure the grades that would enhance the school’s reputation. In the end they let me register through the school, and I repaid them for the confidence they had in me. Ever since I left school, I have trained many teachers and worked extensively ...

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