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Reva Craine

World Politics

(4 June 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 23, 4 June 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Imperialist Altruism

India is still the richest jewel in the crown of the British Empire, but it shines ever less brightly. Under the colonial system, the development of her agriculture and industry has been greatly impeded. Both were subordinated to the design of keeping India a source of raw materials and cheap labor for the British imperialists, rather than raising the standard of living of her people. Agriculture was reduced to a few money crops for export, with little or no attention paid to the raising of food for the Indian population. Industrial and railroad construction were planned solely for the transport of goods from the interior to the coastal cities and thence to England.

We have dwelt at length on previous occasions on what this exploitation has meant for the Indian people, the untold suffering it has imposed upon them. The current famine in that country tells the story.

But the imperialist treatment of India has had another result. While India has continued to be a great supplier of the raw materials for Britain, her role as purchaser of British manufactured goods has steadily declined. For example, in 1913 Britain exported to India 15 per cent of her total exports; in 1929, 10.7 per cent and in 1938, 7.2 per cent.

At the present time, when England looks to an expansion of her foreign trade as a means of retaining her position as a great power, a section of her ruling class is advocating an industrialization policy in India for the purpose of raising the purchasing power of the Indian people. Through retention of India as a colony, this purchasing power can then be exploited by the British manufacturers.

Only a section of the British industrialists are now advocating this policy, that section which is interested in export trade. They are motivated solely by considerations of trade and profit, and not at all by considerations of the conditions of the Indian people. An important factor which spurs them in the advocacy of this policy is the threat of United States competition for the Indian market.

More and more openly, United States big business talks in terms of “our stake” in India. An editorial in the New York Times describes this stake in very precise terms:

“If we of the United States think that the troubles of far-away India are no concern of ours, we shall do well to consider some of the facts which this new organization (American Relief of India, Inc.) has assembled for us. For American business men, India is one of the mightiest potential markets on the globe, about to enter upon an industrial era that will release the latent energies of one-fifth of the human rac. She will want machinery for farm and factory; she will want tens of thousands of products that America can provide. We of this country have a stake in India. For our own well-being, if for not higher reason, we can no longer think of India as outside our world. We cannot deny her our interest or leave her ills and misfortunes to others to cure.” Emphasis mine – R.C.)

You may rest assured that whenever the representatives of the business interests express concern about the plight of the oppressed peoples and propose ways and means to help them, there are motives other than brotherhood and love of man involved. Aid to starving India is looked upon by big business as a good investment for the future. Without the prospect of future exploitation, both the British and American business interests would not care a damn, as they haven’t for decades past, about the Indian people of any other colonial peoples.

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