Deconstructing Dr Ramtanu Maitra’s Article – Should the UK Apologise to India?

The fact that the British empire committed various atrocities around the globe as part of the expansion of Western imperialism is not disputed. I welcome this critical work of Dr Ramtanu Maitra, and fully supports its central (anti-imperialist) thesis. However, there are a number of dialectical issues in this article that I feel require addressing to add clarity to the situation. Dr Ramtanu Maitra appears not to be a leftist (I.e. Marxist-Leninist) and works for the bourgeois (capitalist) press. He carefully pursues a dialectical path that separates British imperialism from the underlying (predatory) capitalism that inspires it (to the extent that the two are never associated). Famines existed prior to the arrival of the British in India and were not ‘invented’ by the British in India as a deliberate policy (as suggested in this article), but the obviously exploitative nature of British policy in the region a) did not improve the situation of the Indian people (as British apologist propaganda often suggests), and b) increased the regularity, severity and intensity of the famines and droughts experienced by the native populations (leading to the deaths of millions). The indigenous (Indian) people were fully exploited, as were the British (White) working class, although an argument can be made that the British (White) working class was exploited to a lesser degree, due to the privileged position it enjoyed throughout the British empire, where it was not only forced to carry-out the destructive policies of the bourgeoisie, but served as an indispensable intermediary between the ruling (and dominating) bourgeoise and the native populations that were to be controlled and exploited. The British (White) working class also served as soldiers and police officers who (whilst acting under the guise of maintaining ‘law and order’) ‘protected’ the bourgeoisie from any retaliatory (or ‘Revolutionary’) action initiated by the indigenous population against the invading (British) bourgeoisie. The argument that Dr Ramtanu Maitra makes that calls for the modern Nation State of the UK to ‘apologise’ to the modern Nation State of India appears distinctly ‘Trotskyite’ in nature. What is the point of a ‘capitalist’ UK apologising to a ‘capitalist’ India? Particularly as the modern UK can be described as distinctly more ‘Socialistic’ (since the Labour founded the NHS and Welfare State in 1948) in its institutes and outlooks than modern ‘capitalist’ India, whose voting population has seen fit to elect the fascistic BJP in recent years, and where millions of Indians still die annually of starvation? The rhetoric of this article is not ‘Socialist’, but Indian ‘Nationalist’ along the lines of the BJP and such historical (anti-Soviet) Indian leaders as Chandra Bose (1897-1945). If the UK should ‘apologise’ to India, then India should apologise to the world (and its own suffering masses) for becoming ‘capitalist’ in 1947 (when the British Labour Party granted it ‘Independence’), whilst its politicians deliberated rejected the ‘Socialism’ the Indian people so desperately required, instead adopting a pro-Western and anti-Communist position in the world. Genuine Marxist-Leninists should be very careful before associating themselves with this type of Trotskyite (distorted) narrative. This article is neither ‘Marxist’ nor ‘Leninist’, but smirks of the very nationalistic racism it claims to be exposing and uprooting!  


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