"No, Mughals didn't loot India . Dalrymple's on The East India Company:






6 days ago - Loot' is one of the first Indian words to enter the English language, according to William Dalrymple's latest book, Anarchy, a riveting epic on the ...



 English guile













`Loot' is one of the first Indian words to enter the English language, according to William Dalrymple's latest book, Anarchy, a riveting epic on the East India Company, the world's first corporate raider. Nauzer K Bharucha interviewed the author during his recent visit to Mumbai
Q) If these merry band of East India Company brigands had not succeeded, where do you think India would have headed after the 17th century? Would the nation as we know it today have been fragmented with regional satraps ruling us?
The only thing to thank them is for uniting the country. India has been a well-defined cultural, spiritual and geographical unit, but has never ever been united politically; not under the Mauryas, Guptas, the Sultans or the Mughals. Close sometimes, but never spanning the entire land mass of the country. It was this achievement of the company which it did through balance, subterfuge and generally behaving badly over an extended period. It did knock the fractured post-Mughal India into a single unit. It created the seed of the Indian army, and many units in the modern Indian army still survive from that time. Even the racist Victorian Raj left an incredible legacy of public buildings, communications. But when the company first arrived here, India produced over a third of the world’s GDP. By the time the EIC was nationalised, it was down to single figures. It did irreparable damage to Indian economy, asset-stripped, looted, and plundered. So, if not for them, where would India be? It is so very difficult to come to factors like that. If not the British, the French, if not the French, then the Dutch. Or if it were neither of them, the Marathas. Also, no one really remembers the unbelievable civil wars between the Holkars and Scindias. When knowing the company had taken out Tipu, these two warlords turned on each other despite the existential threat to India.
Q) Over the years, Indians have sought the Kohinoor diamond to be handed back. Yet, you mention that a far greater treasure of imperial loot is stored in Powis Castle in the Welsh Marshes. Why haven’t we heard about this spectacular treasure, perhaps far more precious than the Kohinoor?
Powis Castle contains good stuff, mainly the (Robert) Clive family loot. On display are hookahs of burnished gold inlaid, gleaming rubies, emeralds, tiger’s heads set with sapphires and yellow topaz, ornaments of jade and ivory, campaign tent of Tipu Sultan and palanquin of Siraj ud-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal. These were takings in Murshidabad after the battle of Plassey. They are of huge historical value. However, the treasure trove of Mughal loot is not in England, but in Tehran because of Nader Shah. The Daria-i- Noor diamond, which no one mentions anymore, is bigger than the Kohinoor. And vault after vault of Mughal jewels and stuff that Nader Shah looted, is in Tehran. The EIC would have loved to loot them (laughs). The Kohinoor is tiny and it’s a comical sight to see Indians moonwalking backwards on these conveyor belts (in the Tower of London), screaming ``Chor, Chor’’ at the wrong diamond. It was the Victorians who turned the Kohinoor into the ultimate symbol of Indian sovereignty.
Q) You cite the lord chancellor saying: “corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned. They therefore do as they like” The East India Company was history’s first corporate raider. Are there similarities with the company and modern-day multinationals?
In fact, the first half of the book tells this extraordinary, improbable story of how one corporation (EIC) took over the richest country in the world. Since Victorian period people have talked about the British conquering India. But it wasn’t any more different than Facebook or Google, which are public companies owned by shareholders and not representatives of the American state. And that was the case with the EIC which was owned by shareholders. So, for the first time in history a multinational which straddled the globe, the first corporation to run amok and engage at home bribing parliamentarians, in corporate lobbying, and abroad bringing down governments just like Anglo-Persian oil companies bringing down the Iranian prime minister Mosaddegh in 1953. Just like this very modern thing of giving large campaign donations in return for unspoken favours and quid pro quo.
4) To what extent did the British pauperise India over the centuries? I ask because you mentioned that during the Mughal era, India controlled 37% of the world trade while England had barely a 2% share.
What the company did was to maximise Indian exports because at this point the British weren’t producing much. This was before the industrial revolution. The EIC rose to power as shipping agents for Mughal goods like textiles, particularly from Bengal. The asset-stripping started after the battle of Plassey (1757) and Buxar (1764) when it gets a taste for intervening in politics. And thanks to the immensely powerful Jagat Seth bankers, who used the company as their muscle to topple Siraj-ud-Daula, who in turn threatened to circumcise Jagat Seth. The asset-stripping was mostly during the six years after the big Bengal famine in 1770. In the midst of the famine, company shareholders were voting to increase their dividend from 10% to 12.5%.
What lessons can we learn from this period?
This book is an exercise in myth-killing. Robert Clive is meant to be this great imperial hero in Britain. He grew up as a small-town punk, running protection rackets. Equally, you have Siraj-ud-Daula, considered a great nationalist hero, but he is not. He was a serial bisexual rapist. Mir Jaffer is meant to be this great traitor, but he is no more than a puppet of the Jagat Seths.

Mar 4, 2015 - Listen to William Dalrymple's long read on The East India Company: The .... A proportion of the loot of Bengal went directly into Clive's pocket.
1 day ago - William Dalrymple's The Anarchy is his fourth book, based on a ... I have been emphasising the loot and plunder that the British don't know.
Oct 10, 2019 - In his new book The Anarchy, William Dalrymple maps the rise and fall of ... of the first words to enter the English language from India was 'loot'.
Oct 3, 2019 - One of the first words to enter the English language from India was 'loot', writes William Dalrymple, setting the stage for The Anarchy, a story of ...
William Dalrymple's eloquent tale of greed, violence and the first corporate bailout in history.


Sep 17, 2017 - Only data to note is: Mughal rule was longer, and therefore more complex. That doesn't mean it was free of conquest rapaciousness in parts.