The whole issue of jobs that are moving to India from Britain and America is the perfect example of irony of historical proportions. I went through an extremely moving article by George Monbiot.

I quote some interesting passages
Britain’s industrialisation was secured by destroying the manufacturing capacity of India. In 1699, the British government banned the import of woollen cloth from Ireland, and in 1700 the import of cotton cloth (or calico) from India. Both products were forbidden because they were superior to our own. As the industrial revolution was built on the textiles industry, we could not have achieved our global economic dominance if we had let them in. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, India was forced to supply raw materials to Britain’s manufacturers, but forbidden to produce competing finished products. We are rich because the Indians are poor.

There is a profound historical irony here. Indian workers can outcompete British workers today because Britain smashed their ability to compete in the past. Having destroyed India’s own industries, the East India Company and the colonial authorities obliged its people to speak our language, adopt our working practices and surrender their labour to multinational corporations. Workers in call centres in Germany and Holland are less vulnerable than ours, as Germany and Holland were less successful colonists, with the result that fewer people in the poor world now speak their languages.

The article closes with a line to remember

For centuries, we have permitted ourselves to ignore the extent to which our welfare is dependant on the denial of other people’s. We begin to understand the implications of the system we have created only when it turns against ourselves.


4 thoughts on “An historical restitution

  1. There is no such thing as “a free market”. As the WTO talks indicate, every government wants to ensure a fair playing field for their own industry and goods at the expense of their international competition.

  2. Seems to me, this article is assembled out of some half baked semi truthful facts, to stir people’s emotions.

    Cloth generated by machines was cheaper, so it sold. Where is the question of India in 1600 AD getting ruined by it? And where is question of UK getting ruined by shifting of some low end (according to author) call center jobs to Indians in 2000.

    It is simple economics, if ur stuff is better, it sells. WTO or no WTO.

    If you can make a better car than Japanese, you will sell in Japan.

    If you want to assume that britishers harmed India, check out Indian roads (why roads, check rail, airports, police, judiciary, politics, schools, telecom, anything..).
    India only managed to progress under British rule. Lalus of the world are far far worse. And they loot the indian wealth as well.

  3. Quality is always sacrificed at the altar of self interest. Otherwise, how would you explain trade quotas that exist across the world. Across the world, in every country, there are trade quotas to prevent a foreign country from swamping the domestic market with cheap goods. Mind you, most of it is post-facto. But it has happened consistently. Indian farmers in Bengal were forced to stop growing their regular crops and cultivate indigo for supply to the British textile industry. In this case, lost jobs may not yet spell economic doom to the US and British society but it is certainly generating enough political debate.

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