Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Apologies: A moral high ground?

I was listening to BBC and I kept rehearing this great historic formal apology issued by the Australian parliament to aborigines for the "stolen generation".  Read more about it here.

To some extent, I see this apology as a brave moment for white Australians - it takes great courage to acknowledge one's troubled past.  On the flip side, it does not mean anything as it is merely symbolic. as long it means something valuable to the aborigines who were looking forward to it, I think it serves its purpose.  But, what I contend is that it should not provide a moral high ground for the group that is apologizing, because, it does not right all the wrongs that have been committed.

Given this line of thought, I was intrigued if the British ever issued a formal apology to India at the time of independence for the couple of hundred years that India lost due to British rule.  I then realized it really does not matter.  If you ask me, we should never let them apologize for what they had done. They do not deserve to be forgiven by India or by any other country they tried to colonize.  To me it seems that we would be giving them an opportunity to redeem their sins, and of their hippocracy.  They talked of enlightening and democracy while at the same time deciding whether India was mature enough to rule itself.
History, it seems had its own way of avenging the millions who suffered.  India's independence coincided with the demise of the great British empire.  Most of British colonies earned independence - not due to the great English ideals of enlightenment and freedom, but due to Great Britain's fall from glory as the world's superpower.  It was relegated to an after-ran from then on, trying to catch up with the rising powers.
India was little more than an organized resource base for the British industry.  Many of my own friends have made an argument that British rule was good for India as it gave us railways, the postal service, and yeah of course -  English. There is probably some truth the argument that the British did give us a taste of parliamentary democracy and a language that would soon become the future of India.  But, is that good enough to warrant British rule. I don't think so, and I am sure there would be millions like me who would say that we would have probably been better off without British rule.  We never had a choice, did we! And therein lies the fault in the argument "for" British rule. 

It does not matter what the British left us - they stole the freedom of millions to "choose" and that' s why I do not want an apology from the British.  Maybe they didn't care to give one. Or, maybe they did, and I could not find a record of it in my searches.  Honestly, I don't care!

1 comment:

Ashutosh said...

That's a good point. The least they can do is not apologize now and act like they have redeemed themselves. They need to always shoulder the blemish of having exploited other countries. The least they can do is not act in any such way in the future.