The British in Asia

The British in Asia

The British in Asia

The British in Asia

Excerpt

British power for more than a century spread peace over South Asia. This region, the territory lying south of the Himalayas and between the Persian Gulf and Singapore, contains between one-fifth and one-quarter of the total population of the world. These are not backward peoples, but for the most part heirs of the most ancient civilizations. During the time when they lay within the British Empire they were, at least until its last days, left undisturbed by violence from outside, and their troubles did not cause commotion in the world beyond their borders.

It was not merely by British power that this peace was preserved. It was also by the Indian power which the British organized. The British Empire in Asia, though a part of the world-wide British Commonwealth, was always to some extent a separate entity from the rest of the Commonwealth. Indeed, it might have been called more accurately an Indo-British Empire. It was based on India; its extension over the countries clustered round the Indian Ocean was by joint effort, British and Indian.

The purpose of this book is two-fold. The first, since the time seems appropriate, is to try to set down what happened in South Asia during the period of British domination, and not only what has happened to its politics and social organization, but also to what lies behind these, the temper of its mind. Every conquest and rule of one country by another has in it a stain of evil. To write or read about it rouses passion both on the side of those who ruled and those who were subjected. A fair history is perhaps impossible by either an Englishman or an Asiatic. But the British period in the East has been . . .

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