On 6th September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court unanimously ruled to decriminalize homosexual sex in a landmark judgment for gay rights. The law, Section 377, was created and implemented by the British during their rule in India. The British then believed that sex should be between a man and woman and anything else was against the order of nature. Many Indians are of the belief that this behavior was initially accepted before the imposition of Victorian norms during the British imperial era. The anti-sodomy law was imposed because the British considered this behavior to be immoral and dreadful. The British thought a lot of what Indians did and their mannerisms were barbaric and not refined. Therefore the British during their rule of India, tried to impose Western ideas into the Indian culture.
Now this raises the idea of what the Indian nation would be if it were never colonized by the British? Maybe India would have developed to be a superpower nation instead of a only being a growing economy. The world could have been looking towards India to set examples for the world in terms of growth and development just as the world currently looks towards the United States of America. This can be said because India contributed to over a quarter of the world trade before the British set foot into the nation. During their time on Indian soil, India faced a greater number of famines which killed millions of people. When the British left India, they stripped the nation of their riches and economic growth and contribution to world trade dwindled in the nation.
Surprisingly, the idea of British stealing India of its wealth is not new. On May 2015, Shashi Tharoor gave a speech about how Britain owes reparations to her former colonies. The British came to India around 1600 to cash in on trading with India. Through a series of conquests and clever political tactics, the British were able to create an empire on the Indian peninsula. The British deny claims that they deprived the Indian nation of its riches and claim that they provided Indians with the tools and institutions needed to hold the union together. This idea has little ground as during the British rule, Indians were not allowed to join the Indian Civil Service. The British considered the Indians to be barbaric and could not digest the idea of taking orders from a brown man. The British were emigrants and were denying the indigenous population of India to take part in how their country was run. When Indians were finally admitted into the civil services, they faced a lot of racism and many were accused of cheating. They didn’t think any Indian could be of the similar intellect as that of a European and be able to govern and rule a nation.
Thus, in order for the British to rule India, they had to make use of certain strategies. The British made up a very small proportion of the population and the only way to establish their stronghold over the nation was through the system of divide and rule. They did this by creating differences among the Indian population. During the British rule, the caste system became more rigid and communal lines deepened between the Hindu and Muslim religion, as can be seen during the partition of the subcontinent by the British on their way out of India. Hence it can be seen that when the British were forced out of the nation they ensured that the nation was left in chaos so that it would take a significant amount of time for India to come out of the mess.
Some argue that British did do some good during their rule. Yes, through the British rule, India did get a railway system, be introduced to cricket and the English language. However, it is possible that India may have built the railway system at a much later date even if it had not been because of the British. Also, cricket and English may not have become as popular in the Indian subcontinent as it is now. Perhaps Hindi would be the main medium of communication in India instead of English, like Mandarin is in china. Similarly, it is possible that Indians might be more obsessed with hockey or kabbadi or football instead of cricket. The presence of Railways and the English language to the Indian population is more like unintended gifts. The British built the railways so as to visit their estates. They placed the burden of the costs on the Indian taxpayers so that British investors could get definite returns on their investments. While on the other hand, English became popular in i\India because it was the only medium of communication. The British made Indians learn English as they felt the Indian language was simplistic and of not great importance, it did not have the nuances and subtlety like the English language.
It can be fairly said that the British did a lot of damage during their time in India. They criminalized Indian behavior and were racist to the Indian population. The landmark ruling of decriminalizing homosexuality is a step in removal of British policies that still rule Indian population even without the overt physical presence of British.
Picture Credits : royal.uk