We all know about how Great Britain traveled the world and conquered nations. However, few know the intricate details connected to these colonial times.
Much more happened than an army of men on horses with funny hats proclaiming a land to belong to their queen. When we look carefully into the details, we will find surprising yet not surprising information about the escapades of Great Britain.
There are a lot of places to touch and several happenings to consider. However, one we will be focusing on is the looting in India. Some estimate that Great Britain looted up to $45 trillion from India, which is a lot of money for a country their size.
Did this happen? Was it legal? And if it happened, what are the steps taken to recover this vast sum, if possible? When it comes down to accurate information on what happened many years ago, there comes the need to separate the facts from the presumptions.
Now, let’s go down history lane to understand just when and how Great Britain looted $45 trillion from India.
How did this happen?
So how did Great Britain steal from India? Did they walk around their homes armed with guns and weapons, requesting their best jewelry and treasures? Not exactly.
It all happened during pre-colonial times. Just as they did with other countries, Great Britain engaged in trade with the Indians. There are two sides to this story.
In Great Britain, it is commonly said that Britain had no significant economic gain during the trade period. Great Britain considered the administration to be more of a cost to them than it was to India. However, this is but one side of the story and not one of the entire truth.
If this was so, why did the engagement of Britain with India go on for so long? Was it merely out of the kindness of their heart? Or is there something not open to the rest of the world?
The research of Utsa Patnaik, a renowned economist, deals a heavy blow to this narrative, opening up some fundamental truths. These truths will lead us to find that not only was the trade anything but a cost to Great Britain, a large sum of money could be linked to Great Britain as a result of the trade.
What Was This Research About?
The research dived into centuries-long history, examining the details of the tax and trade between India and Great Britain. The study covered between the years 1765 and 1983.
Between these time frames, the study deduced that Great Britain drew out a total of $45 trillion, which accounts for more than 17 times the current GDP of the UK today.
Looking at the numbers, the narrative that seemed like a straight line begins to take somewhat of a curve.
What Was This Trade About?
Like other parts of the world, Great Britain had a trade relationship with them; payments were made for things like textiles and rice to India, mainly in the form of silver.
The payments were made to Indian producers right before the monopolization of the Indian trade in 1765. First, the East Indian company took over a subcontinent and brought about a monopoly of the Indian trade.
What happened after that was that this company began to collect taxes from Indians.
What Were the Taxes Used For? Where Did They Go To?
As a clever move, the company dedicated a third of the taxes collected, which was used to fund the purchase of Indian goods for Great Britain. So, putting it plainly, what does this mean?
Great Britain stopped paying for goods obtained from Indian producers during this period of monopolization. These producers included peasants and weavers who, from the money earned from their trade, paid taxes to fund the business with Britain.
It means Great Britain bought Indian goods from Indian producers with their own money.
It was a grand-scale heist. Looting of a whole different level entirely, yet so cleverly executed that it was hard to pick out just what was going on from the surface of the trade.
The people responsible for collecting taxes differed entirely from those who came to get goods. As a result, Indians were oblivious to the theft under their noses.
What Did Great Britain Do with The Stolen Goods?
Some of India’s goods were consumed in Great Britain. A large part of it was reexported to other countries and sold for a much higher price than purchased which, to be fair, was nothing at all.
In a way, we can say that the Indians unknowingly funded the British economy and played a vital role in the position Britain held where international trade was concerned.
Asides from rice and textiles, some high-demand materials necessary to civilization were also a part of the one-sided trade, like iron and timber. These materials also boosted Britain’s development and refinement rate until this very day.
So basically, Great Britain pocketed 100% of the original value of everything they got from the Indian trade between 1765 and 1983.
What Happened In 1858 When the East Indian Company Monopoly Broke Down?
Great Britain came up with a whole new twist for the tax and bought the system they benefited from over the years. While Indians were allowed to sell their products to other countries, the payments ended up in London!
How? Special council bills. These were the medium of exchange through which goods were bought from Indians. A paper currency tied to the British crown.
So how do you get your hands on this currency? By buying them from Great Britain. When Indians cashed out these bills, they were paid out of the tax revenues they collected in rupees.
What Did This Mean to India?
It meant that even though the Indian trade was impressive over decades within this period, there was nothing to show for it as their national account was running at a deficit.
At the same time, London ended up with gold and silver- things that should have gone to the Indians from their trade.
6 thoughts on “How Great Britain Looted Up To $45 Trillion From India”
Stop whinging. India is richer than UK now and we still give them foreign aid. You ex colonies should be thanking us.
That’s precisely how thieves justify their act.
This is a one sided article. The British brought many of the independent rulers into one cohesive administration, allowing the India as we know today. It also stopped the inter-nation local wars, benefiting the populations and removing the fear of death through wars.
How about all the infrastructure the British built? And how all the British businesses were wiped out with Neru’s nationalisation, which paid the owners a pittance or in many cases, nothing, for the factories they took over.
Haha means anything, about uniting the country that you pointed out, any country at those times was in a situation of monarchy where one monarchy was overthrowing the other. About India, there were mainly three super power within the country the Mughals, rajputs, and the southern indian territory. These 3 probably were different kingdoms but with kind of same customs and traditions. Like any other monarchy all three of these would have come down eventually coz people eventually were adopting democracy and in India too there were people who would have brought this revolution without the British . British didn’t do anything in favour in that sense. At the end may or may not have been same as of now but very likely to be kinda the same. This argument that we will loot you coz we United you in what way makes sense. About infrastructure what they did was built palaces by the money of Indians and railway tracks too by the money of indian just to benefit themselves trains were mainly for trade and nothing else and this huge rail network of India mainly developed after the independence. In Bengal when there was famine in which lakhs of people died what did British do nothing they organised a grand party in Delhi for the queen. Jaliawala bagh some of the biggest tragedy. 1920 pandemic in which around 10 million people died, what did British do. Their is no way you can justify the bristishers as good, they created a mindset of enemity between Muslims and Hindu in the uneducated people so that they get busy in religion hatred and by the time they can loot India. About some old and unfair customs of indian society, in that case with time and education people would have eventually changed it, and those type of customs even lied in Britain and European churches which were unfair for people but did it change, yes it did and so would have had in India. Even if 2 to 3 things they did good i dont think it is comparable to millions of death and poverty and religious hatred they spread in the country, i dont even am able to find those 2 to 3 good things. Do you know how same Indians and Pakistanis are but becoz of Britishers we got divided, Kashmir issue is so high and so dangerous but Kashmir is one of the most fascinating place on the earth if there was peace but coz of violence started by bristish this useless expenditure on military. Man Britishers did nothing appreciable if they did point it out
A couple of observations:
1) The silver generally ended up in China to pay for tea. China purchased virtually nothing from either the UK or India and demanded silver from the East India Company in payment causing massive outflows of silver due to the British love of tea. So in essence, Indian weavers and farmers were paying for tea to be drunk by by the British. This tea could therefore be imported to the UK without outflows of specie. However, the amount of silver that could be extracted from Indian became insufficient, so the East India Company, so they commenced growing opium in India, as this was highly prized in China, much to the annoyance of the Chinese authorities, resulting in the Opium Wars and the eventual ceding of Hong Kong to the British.
2) The second largest element was used to fund the cost of of the East India Company’s army, which at the time was larger than the British Army, largely manned by Indian soldiers with British officers. So those same Indian weavers and farmers were paying for the conquest of those parts of the sub-continent not controlled by the East India Company, mainly by Indian soldiers, or more precisely to repay the loans from Indian bankers used to finance the campaigns of their army. Those same soldiers were also used to fight the French in the Seven Years War.
3) And finally, were all the treasures that ended up in the UK, purchased with the funds collected in taxes, and the great houses built or purchased by the East India Company managers, who were the hedge fund billionaires of their day, using the funds remitted from India.
To sum up, the EIC enabled the British masses to drink lots of tea, conquered the Indian sub-continent and made a few of its managers outrageously rich, all financed from he taxes of ordinary Indian weavers and farmers.
Wheather it was easy India company or the British crown it was a part of Britain and therefor Britain is responsible. Not just British, the French who captured south of India, Portugese who colonized Goa that too i think till 1972 they left finally when indian soldiers attacked them, and see their audacity that for so long peacefully indian gov asked them to leave but they didn’t coz India preaches non violence and peace so didn’t used military and Portugese were like advantaging themselves from this policy but left as soon as indian used force. Overall whole of Europe colonized and looted rest of the world and Europe is today is coz of their colonies, and Europe has the audacity to come up on national stage and ask the countries to keep peace through the world, infact WW1 WW2 started coz of them. Even today most of the wars dought throughout the world is due to them and they feel that they are clean and the leaders of the world and other countries are 3rd world and fools.