In 1930, the American historian and philosopher Will Durant wrote that Britain’s ‘consciousand deliberate bleeding of India… [was the] greatest crime in all history’. He was not theonly one to denounce the rapacity and cruelty of British rule, and his assessment was notexaggerated. Almost thirty-five million Indians died because of acts of commission andomission by the British-in famines, epidemics, communal riots and wholesale slaughterlike the reprisal killings after the 1857 War of Independence and the Amritsar massacreof 1919. Besides the deaths of Indians, British rule impoverished India in a manner thatbeggars belief. When the East India Company took control of the country, in the chaos thatensued after the collapse of the Mughal empire, India’s share of world GDP was 23 percent. When the British left it was just above 3 per cent…

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