Talk:British Raj

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Great famine[edit]

It is great to have history and everything, although I think that implying that the 1876-1878 "Great famine" was the responsibility of the Indians and not the British authorities would be quite offensive to many Indians. In fact (Assuming Wikipedia is accurate for this) it would appear that the British exacerbated the famine by reducing welfare expenditure at this time.--Andrewssi2 (talk) 11:41, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

I understand that, as in the Irish Potato Famine, the British continued to export food from their colony (in this case, India) during the famine. Ikan Kekek (talk) 11:43, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
I am sorry, that was exactly what I was trying to say. It was the fault of the British, but not because they deliberately wanted to be cruel, but rather because of their "we don't care" attitude that was probably inspired at least in part by Malthusianism. Hobbitschuster (talk) 11:45, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
I think it's worse than that, and that they played a big role in causing the famine by continuing to export grain from India. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:00, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Well yeah, they probably did worse than nothing. But had they had the same kind of administration in place in India as they had in Britain (and had Malthus not been so dangerously influential) they would have seen the error in their policy. While some malice may have indeed been involved, I think it was a mixture of extreme laissez faire capitalism, social darwinist Malthusianism and utter disregard for non-white people rather than really deliberate action. Hobbitschuster (talk) 14:12, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Possibly you are reading too much into Malthusianism. It was an influential line of thinking at the time, but the famines were a construct of economic mismanagement by the British and borne out of many factors (as are all famines). Boiling it down to the writings of an English priest is not an accurate way to portray it. --Andrewssi2 (talk) 22:46, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Well it was not that they did not know that were was a famine going on. It was not that they could not have helped, the rice exports mentioned above show that. It was not that they kind of "wanted" people to starve as was probably the case with the starvation of the 1930s in Ukraine. Yes, Britain at large did not care about Indians starving, especially if it were poor Indians. But - as mentioned on WP - one of the reasons this famine hit so hard was the fact that relieve funding was more or less deliberately cut, because there was criticism of "too high expenditures" for the last famine (which was largely averted thanks to exactly said efforts). Now that is exactly the Malthusian line of thinking popular with the British upper classes back than. Don't feed the poor, because it "only makes it worse down the line". We now know that this is not only inhumane, but demonstrably wrong. Once people are well fed and have access to decent housing, education and the comforts of modern live they have less children, not more. That being said, it may well be that Malthus was not the determining factor, but apart from utter carelessness the main thing influencing the British response (or rather lack of it) to the famine was a thinking that if it doesn't originate with Malthus does not run counter to his tenants either. Every famine is at the end of the day man made. Either in the long run or in the short run. Often both. This famine, like the one in Ireland was easily preventable. There was enough food in British possession. The British had the means of transportation. They just choose not to. Hobbitschuster (talk) 22:54, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm just saying you should start with facts that are 100% completely established (lack of rain, British mismanagement and British culpability, exporting of food during a crisis) and then very carefully build on that. --Andrewssi2 (talk) 01:25, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
How would you reformulate the text that is currently in the mainspace regarding the Great famine? I just mentioned it to further contextualize the small number of British people actually involved in governing India and how - at least according to some historians - that was a bug rather than a feature. Hobbitschuster (talk) 19:44, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I've rwritten much of the history section; comment or further edits solicited. I did not touch the text about the famine. Should the opium trade, mainly Bengal-to-China, be mentioned? Or other famines? WP mentions one in the 1770s. Pashley (talk) 22:25, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I think you should feel free to include anything you consider important, but I would think the opium trade would be much more relevant to China than India.
By the way, did Burma really come under the Raj per se? I always thought the Raj was about India. Maybe you could add Ceylon, but I never heard about Burma being part of the Raj and stand to be corrected about that. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:44, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
According to WP it was, but divided into two parts (upper and lower, I think). Even some places farther away were for a time administered as part of the Raj, e.g. the "trucial states" were considered in the same category as the Princely states. But if WP is correct, Burma was administrated separately from the Raj starting in the mid 1930s or so. Hobbitschuster (talk) 11:34, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Some specific subtopics[edit]

We need to have a subtopic on Anglo-Indian Architecture. It was used beyond India, however, notably in Malaysia, such as in the old main railway station in Kuala Lumpur. Those kinds of things should be mentioned, but surely, there are ample examples within the Indian Subcontinent.

We should also mention Anglo-Indian cuisine. One famous Anglo-Indian dish is Mulligatawny Soup, but there are many others.

Where should these subtopics be put within the structure of the article? I think it's very important to give notable examples of governmental buildings, churches and villas that were built by the British, pointing readers to specific cities and neighborhoods where they can be found, so that's an argument for putting the architectural section in (or in place of) a "See" section. I guess Anglo-Indian cuisine belongs in "Eat", if we're using that section. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:32, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

I am all in favor of an "eat" subsection. Also Chicken Tikkla Massala is - according to my old English teacher at least - the quintessentially British food and while it is little known in India (or so I've heard) it is probably unthinkable without the British Raj. Hobbitschuster (talk) 14:13, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Chicken Tikka Masala, though is Indo-British food, invented by a chef in Britain, not Anglo-Indian food created to please the British living in India. It probably deserves mention, but it is not really part of Anglo-Indian cuisine per se. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:03, 9 June 2015 (UTC)


I think architecture deserves its own thread, where examples of great colonial and Anglo-Indian buildings can be given, along with useful links. Here's one site I came across. It doesn't have loads and loads of examples, but it gives an overview. Ikan Kekek (talk) 09:21, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Both Mughal and Anglo-Indian architecture seem worth mention at least, perhaps some topics in Hindu and Buddhist architecture as well. Only Anglo-Indian could go here, though, & I'm not sure what goes where between this article, India#See, individual destinations and Architecture. Pashley (talk) 11:26, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
I deliberately included a redlink to the Mughal Empire, hoping somebody would create an article on that. Hobbitschuster (talk) 11:32, 10 June 2015 (UTC)


In our other articles on history, say the one on the Civil War, we have a bunch of destinations listed where the era in question is particularly visible. Surely there are places / monuments / architecture / whatever that deserve a mention and an icon on a map... Or am I mistaken? Hobbitschuster (talk) 14:13, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Good idea. I think Calcutta was the capital of the Raj, most of New Delhi was built in that period, and Bombay and Madras were major centers. Those are all still important cities, and listed in both India and regional articles. Is it worth listing them again here? Or be more specific, list particular attractions?
What about the princely states? In some the former palaces have become hotels, e.g. Bikaner#Sleep. Pashley (talk) 14:52, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
That's one of the reasons why I included the subsection on princely states, because I suspected that some of their palaces and other remnants are still there... Hobbitschuster (talk) 15:23, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
Hill stations are also worth looking into. Simla, for example, was the summer capital of British India, if I'm not very much mistaken. Ikan Kekek (talk) 15:51, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes, and perhaps also towns like Abbottabad that were founded as British bases or the many towns with "cantonment" areas which were once, & in some cases are still, military camps. Pashley (talk) 16:12, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
A very sad site, but part of the history: w:Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Are there important sites from Gandhi's salt march or other events of that period? Kausani has an ashram where he lived. Pashley (talk) 16:31, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Purpose of article[edit]

At the moment, this article does not seem to be related to travel, aside from a very brief See section. Why is it here? This should all be in the South Asia article. Powers (talk) 00:16, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

I would anticipate expansion of the 'See' section for those interested in visiting sites of colonial rule in India. --Andrewssi2 (talk) 00:49, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
Sure, that section should be expanded and more links added in other scetions as well. But even as it stands now, this has enough links to act as an index article which aids SEO. Pashley (talk) 04:56, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
There is very great scope for expansion. The article is barely started! Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:18, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
The purpose of this article is, or will eventually be the same as that of the one on the Roman Empire or the early United States history Hobbitschuster (talk) 10:46, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't know that we've had a full discussion on whether these sorts of historical articles are needed in such volume. Wouldn't it be better to fully develop a few before we go adding articles for every historical period on Earth? Powers (talk) 17:00, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't think this talk page is the right place to raise the merit of history travel topics. Maybe that should be done at talk:historical travel ? Hobbitschuster (talk) 18:16, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
I have noticed that the creation of these articles has picked up some steam recently, although On the trail of Marco Polo has been around since 2006. Andrewssi2 (talk) 00:04, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
In my defense, I didn't raise the merit of history travel topics. I was addressing this one, which has virtually zero travel content, and the other travel topics were presented as justifications. Powers (talk) 21:21, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm not making a federal case. And I do see the problem that - as of yet - our historical travel topics for India are lacking a map and a travel related list of sites... Hobbitschuster (talk) 22:37, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm surprised to see this article in a good way but I think I can agree with Powers that most of the information present is not travel related so better if this should be merged with South Asia. --Saqib (talk) 15:01, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
I disagree with Saqib & Powers. I'll admit articles like this, Mughal Empire and others are not essential — we have got along without them for over a decade — but I think they are of value in two ways. One is as index articles that improve SEO; see my earlier comment.
The other is that they keep the main articles, South Asia and the country articles, simpler. The Raj or the Mughals will be of near-zero interest to some travellers, but quite important to others — for example, a Brit whose great grandparents served in India, or someone who is fascinated by history, or ... Details do not belong in the main article because they would be just clutter to many readers but it is worth having them somewhere. Pashley (talk) 16:51, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
They also add a bit of colour to the wiki, as well as some educational value. All too often, someone from Wikipedia takes a brief look at WV, thinks it's just a yellow page listing of hotels and eateries in various cities, then promptly forgets about the project as being just another pointless list and goes on to something else. Unless one is looking to reserve a room tonight, endless lists of cookie-cutter economy limited service establishments get really boring really quickly. We're not here just to maintain a directory listing; we are here to inform and educate the voyageur. We need the historic, geographic and anthropological background to fulfil these rôles. K7L (talk) 17:27, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
These arguments, taken to the logical conclusion, would result in complete duplication of Wikipedia's history, geography, society, and anthropology topics. We are not an encyclopedia; we do not need encyclopedic detail on the history of British colonization in South Asia. Now, if there is genuine interest in travel related to this history, by all means. But the article should start from travel content, with background information included as necessary. This article appears (based on the development history of the article) to be taking the opposite approach: selecting a topic of encyclopedic interest and then figuring out how to make it look like it belongs in a travel guide. Powers (talk) 19:49, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
It would be a shame for all this work to be for naught. At least if a decision is made to merge this content, we can also merge the background information as necessary. Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:10, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
Also, if I may, I think the problem with this article in its current condition is that it lacks the kind of listings that are gradually being added to in Medieval and Renaissance Italy. If there were a lot of travel-related content in this article, I think that it would be much more clearly acceptable. Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:13, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
It puzzles me somewhat why this article went a different way than say Medieval and Renaissance Italy and why consequently the ensuing discussion has arisen here and not elsewhere. I think both articles are equally valid or invalid as travel topics and need to be developed along similar lines. Best wishes Hobbitschuster (talk) 21:17, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
It's merely a matter of which articles I've happened upon and which I haven't. If you'd like to discuss historical travel articles, in general, elsewhere I'm happy to do so. I certainly do have some concerns about their recent proliferation, which may be more extensive than I've realized. Powers (talk) 00:02, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
In terms of this particular article, I think the problem is that it lacks clear travel-related listings. In Medieval and Renaissance Italy - still very much a work in progress - the addition of specific travel-related content has been aided by the fact that I and several other participating editors have been to several of the cities, towns and abbey villages we've listed and even know something about the important Medieval and Renaissance monuments in some of the cities we haven't visited (for example, I have yet to visit Ravenna, but my parents did and told me about and showed me pictures of plenty). What we need for this article is for people with more knowledge about British colonial architecture in India to post more travel-related information. And Powers, you have a good point when you say that this article was started with the general, rather than the travel-related specifics. However, I think we should cut the editors some slack here. User:Pashley, in particular, has created articles that seemed to me at first glance farfetched as travel articles, but did fill them in with travel-related specifics eventually.
My feeling is, if it really is a problem to have this article in articlespace while it's in this shape, it would be better to move it to someone's userspace for the time being than to just merge everything into South Asia. Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:51, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
I am against merging and especially against merging it into South Asia of all places. Our articles for continents and continental sections are not well visited (apart from being "outlines" officially) and only very rarely updated. Besides what good does it do if we cover the Raj in more detail in South Asia. People who care about the Raj (and want to visit its soon to be added sights and sites) will want to have it all in one place and not spread out and weirdly alluded to. Hobbitschuster (talk) 11:36, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
The topic is valid and extensive enough that merging it to some random regional article makes no sense. It does, however, need a proper list of things to see and do. We usually allow users a year to finish writing half-baked itinerary, with no predefined deadline for any other article types. As such, this seems premature. K7L (talk) 15:14, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
I raised the issue because it does not appear to be an article about travel. While it makes sense to allow travel-related articles a chance to develop, I don't know that we need to extend that leeway to non-travel-related articles that may or may not have travel content in the future. That said, there's a reason I brought it up here instead of simply nominating for deletion. Powers (talk) 18:14, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

Colonial India and this article[edit]

Forgot about this article, and started Colonial India. As the French and Portuguese colonies were less important, we could move this article to Colonial India, and mention the other colonial territories (as well as the British East India Company) in brief. /Yvwv (talk) 14:03, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. This article is limited by the British colonization; the other is less restrictive and could absorb this one with no major problems. Ibaman (talk) 14:15, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
I'm inclined to disagree. Moving this to British India and including the East India Company as a section, with redirects to sections from British Raj and British East India Company, might be a fine idea. On the other hand, one could make a good case for giving the company its own article, since it continued long after the Raj took over government and was important outside India, e.g. running opium from Bengal to Hong Kong where others smuggled it into China.
I do not think "Colonial India" is a useful title, because it dilutes the main point, British rule. As I see it, that article should obviously be redirected, preferably to British India. This article mentions the French, Portuguese & Dutch, but details belong in Goa, Pondicherry and Sri Lanka.
User:Saqib or User:Ravikiran r: any comment? Pashley (talk) 19:05, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
I think that the non-British colonies in India are too concentrated in small areas (often only one city) that they can well be mentioned in the respective city or region articles... The Raj on the other hand is a different story imho. Hobbitschuster (talk) 19:24, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, "British Raj" is a much more recognizable term than "Colonial India". "Colonial India" should be merged and redirected here, in my opinion. I agree with Pashley and Hobbitschuster. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:55, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
The "British Raj" covered much more than present-day India. It covered Pakistan and Bangladesh of course, but it also included Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and some places like Eden. "Colonial India" on the other hand would be much more geographically focused. It would of course go beyond the part of India colonized by the British and include French and Dutch India, but I can also imagine articles like "Colonial Pakistan" and "Colonial Bangladesh", though neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh existed during colonial times. In each case, I'd envisage articles covering the aspects of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where the imprint of the colonists continues to be visible, like the hill-stations, cantonments, buildings, colonial cities, grand old hotels and clubs, fusion food, etc. This is my personal opinion, but I'm not a fan of those omnibus articles like the "British Raj" (or "Roman Empire" for that matter) It is much more of a struggle to give them the right travel-focus. I vote for Colonial India if only for the possibility that a more traveler focused article can be written. Ravikiran (talk) 05:47, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
My suggestion: keep the existing article British Raj, add British East India Company if someone decides to write it, make Colonial India a disambiguation page with links to both of those plus the other European colonies (Goa etc.), make British India redirect to Colonial India instead of to the Raj. Pashley (talk) 12:32, 4 October 2015 (UTC)

Indian Diaspora[edit]

I added this section because one of the legacies of British colonial rule in India was the establishment of Indian diaspora communities in different parts of the British Empire, and those communities now form an integral part of the countries they are located in that you can visit. And not to mention, in places like my native Singapore, the Indian community has made a huge contribution to the local culinary scene, and has even invented local Indian dishes that you can't find in India. That therefore makes it traveller relevant, as someone with an interest in food can visit these communities to sample their cuisine.

That said, many countries have had some history of Indian immigration, however small the numbers may be, and there are also countries that used to have large Indian communities in the colonial era that have either emigrated or died out these days. And there are also countries that were not former British colonies that have significant and long-established Indian communities, with Thailand and Suriname being examples of such countries. And to complicate things further, Canada is a former British colony that has a large Indian community (with quite a large number of Indian MPs), though my understanding is that it does not have as long a history as say, the community in South Africa and largely dates to the post World War II period. Therefore, I'd like to put the discussion out there as to what criteria we should use to determine which countries to list, and which countries to leave off the list. I would appreciate it if everyone could chip in on what their opinion is. The dog2 (talk) 19:32, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Singapore's 'Little India' district would be a great destination. I would say list any Indian cultural locations that are interesting to visit (temples/restaurants/cultural events). I would not include destinations that just have large Indian communities if there isn't much to say on top of that. For example Sydney and Melbourne have quite a few Indian communities, but not too much to see as a travel destination (I'm happy to be proven wrong though) Andrewssi2 (talk) 20:43, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
I've been several times to Brick Lane and always have a joyous and colourful time there, in the Get Around#On foot, See, Do, Buy, Eat and Drink sections. It's worth mentioning first, I guess. Ibaman (talk) 21:19, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
The Chinese Diaspora was also associated in part with the British Empire, as they recruited Chinese coolies for mining and other types of hard labor and also appreciated working with Chinese middlemen and managers. Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:23, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
I have no problem with creating a separate article about the Chinese diaspora, but it does not belong in this article because this article is about British colonial rule in India. The only Chinese diaspora communities I think should be mentioned here are the ones in Kolkata and Mumbai, since they were brought to India under British colonial rule. Kolkata still has a Chinatown and a dwindling Chinese community, while Mumbai still has a Chinese temple in the former Chinatown, although the Mumbai Chinese were expelled from India during the Sino-Indian war in 1962.
But yes, the Indian community in the UK should most certainly be mentioned as it is connected to British rule in India. Brick Lane is an example of a place with many Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants, and not to mention, London is known for its Indian food. Chicken tikka masala is an example of Indian food that originated in the UK that travellers may be interested in trying. In other places, Yangon still has a Little India you can walk through and get Indian food in, while in Malaysia, there would be no nasi kandar without the Indian community in Penang. And if you want to visit India areas in Malaysia, Klang has a really huge Little India that is really bustling and not just a mere tourist attraction. Hong Kong has got Chungking Mansions where you can find many curry shops set up by the Indian community. The dog2 (talk) 21:43, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
In Malaysia, there would be no roti canai without Mamaks! Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:39, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
Agreed on roti canai. We call it roti prata in Singapore though. But anyway, I am happy with Andrewssi2's proposal to restrict the list to places where people can actually experience aspects of Indian culture. Since this is an article about colonial India, I think we should further restrict it to countries where the presence of the Indian community is directly connected to British colonial rule in India, so the community in the United States would not qualify even though there is a huge and vibrant Indian neighbourhood in Chicago (Devon, to be exact). One thing I can't decide on though is whether Suriname and Thailand should be listed. Those were not British colonies, but the presence of the Indian communities there is most certainly linked to British colonial rule in India. Suriname in fact has an ethnic Indian plurality, so Indian culture forms a big part of Surinamese culture, while in Thailand, you can visit Phahurat in Bangkok, which is still home to a large Indian community with many Indian shops and businesses. And in Vietnam, there used to be a substantial Indian community in Saigon, but they were mostly expelled after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. You can still see vestiges of their former presence though, in the form of the Hindu temples that remained, as well as the pigeon lofts where they used to keep thier pigeons. The dog2 (talk) 23:56, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
The Indian Diaspora to places that were not under British control or influence when their ancestors immigrated there weren't part of the British Raj, IMO. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:00, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
I was wondering about this case. Vancouver (for example) has a notable Punjabi market, but it has a relatively tenuous connection to the British Raj. Andrewssi2 (talk) 05:29, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
Too tenuous, IMO. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:34, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────That's why I was kind of torn on Canada. It is a former British colony with a huge Indian diaspora, but the connection to the Raj is tenuous at best. And ditto for Australia and New Zealand. On the other hand, in the Caribbean, the Indian communities there were brought there by the British as indentured labourers to work on the plantations after slavery was abolished and they couldn't bring Africans over anymore. Anyway, I will adjust the list and remove the countries where there's no evidence of communities you can actually visit to experience Indian culture. Please improve on how this list is written if there's anything you can think of. The dog2 (talk) 05:49, 20 November 2018 (UTC)