Almost two centuries of colonial rule has created a subcontinental mindset, which, till today, in both - India and Pakistan, enthusiastically defends the alien British rule. These apologists of the Raj are generally educated Indians and Pakistanis, the celebrated Sikh journalist, historian and a former legislator - Khushwant Singh being one of them. In Good things to the Raj times, written in the Hindustan Times some time ago, he nostalgically reminisced that "the British built us telegraph, connected our cities by roads, railways, laid networks of canal.... They started the process of industrialisation. There were fewer riots, bandhs and gheraos." Several liberal Pakistanis offer somewhat similar arguments in support of the white imperialists. Let's be very clear about this British 'development' in India. Through a thousand threads of steel, the railway network was extended to the interior of India's peasantry in order to supply the needs of the capitalist market, particularly the growing demands of the English industry. The other objective was to fulfil their strategic military policies. Unlike America, where the railroad construction first ushered prosperity to the farmers and eventually contributed in making US a great industrial state, in India, the colonists purposely maintained feudalism to keep the peasants in feudal bondage. Instead of improvement, the plight of peasant became worse because he was forced to cultivate technical crops that were required in the market and thus had to buy even food for his family, which he formerly produced himself. How the railways failed to ameliorate the lot of the peasants can be imagined from the fact that every year the British government prosecuted 30,000 people for travelling without a ticket in the rails. The laying down of canal network in Punjab - the agricultural heartland - was undertaken for two colonial considerations and not for the welfare of the farmers. As the population of the British industrial centres rapidly increased in the mid-nineteenth century, a need was felt for cheap food products and cotton supply. So rice and wheat were encouraged in Punjab for export to England. Similarly, due to prolonged Civil War in America (1861-65) the British factories could not obtain the American cotton. This made the imperial authority to force Indians to greatly increase the sown area of cotton. Those who boast of big industrial strides under the colonists probably don't know that India did not produce any means of production itself. The sum total of India's heavy industry included railway repair shops, a few kerosene cleaning factories, a handful of machine tool shops from the military point of view, weakly developed coalfields, a large iron and steel Tata mills at Jamshedpur and an American-owned automobile assembling plant. Through a systematic design the development of India's local industry was held back by the banks that were almost entirely in the British hands. Instead of granting credits to Indian industrial enterprises, the banks financed those commercial ventures related to agriculture and trade, which brought quicker profits and constituted a large part of state's revenue. In plain words, the underlying principle of the entire economic policy of the imperial government with reference to India was to deepen her exploitation, increase her dependence on England and to impede her independent development. Throughout her colonial existence, Indian exports exceeded imports. Even during the second year (1931-32) of the worldwide great economic depression, India's exports valued 120 million and imports stood at 92 million. A substantial part of her earnings was transferred back to England every year for the payment of wages of the British officers and garrison, for war materials, for pensions and leave allowances to officers of the army and the civil service. According to one conservative estimate, the total annual 'tribute' paid in this way by India to British imperialists was about 15 million in the 1890s but it gradually rose to 35 million in the 1930s. Now, who can say that the Raj was not bloodsucking? Historically speaking, the people of the sub-continent keep gold and silver in reserve to meet financial crises within families. In the days of the great economic depression, the pound sterling collapsed. To repay the British loans to France and the US the colonial government forcibly exported Indian gold to London to the tune of 118 million dollars in 1931 and 180 million dollars in 1932. The prosperity of the colonial state chiefly rested on the labour of Indian workers, who were exploited to the hilt. No general wage level was set for the workers. Child labourers of ages 4 to 10 years were a common sight on the plantations where almost all of them suffered at one time or the other from malaria, dysentery and tuberculosis. The working day varied from ten to sixteen hours without weekly rest days and yearly holidays. The minimum wage on which a family of six persons had to survive was one rupee a day. In Madras, 25000 one-roomed dwellings sheltered 150,000 persons whereas 80 per cent of the workers used streets to supplement their sleeping accommodation. And the workers did protest against their exploitation. India was gripped by a strike wave in late 1920s and early '30s. In July of 1929, about 408,000 workers went on strike. Earlier on, in 1928, not only that 150,000 Bombay textile workers went on strike but because of 'gheraos' and 'bandhs' in Tata Steel Works, Calcutta jute mills and the Southern Indian Railway, approximately thirty-one million working days were lost in that particular year. Whereas in 1930 and '31, the workers of Bombay, Sholapur, Nagpur and Kalak fought pitched battles with the police. Sadly, we still sing hymns in praise of the Raj. Email: qizilbash2000@yahoo.com_________________