Deluge Of Misery And The Delusion Of Grandeur

Image credit: /www.google.com

According to an excerpt from Osho, Sermons in Stones (Talk #26 — The Human Right Declaration: Hypocrisy of a Barbarous Society), “Once, a great philosopher was asked: ‘What do you think of civilization?’ The philosopher said, ‘It is a good idea, but somebody has to change the idea into a reality. Civilization has not happened yet. It is a dream of the future.’’

See some pictures below that strongly validate the philosopher’s idea of the civilization:

I)

A scene after the unprecedented flash floods caused by climate change, washed away villages, crops, livestock, killed more than 1500 people and left millions homeless as well as vulnerable to chronic diseases like Dengue, Malaria, Diarrhea, and complicated skin problems etc. Angelina Jolie who has flew in after the floods said that she’s never seen such devastation.

Image credit: ww.livemint.com

II)

Villagers escape floods in Lasbella, in Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province.

Image credit: www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022

III)

Severe flooding in Pakistan has left tens of thousands of people sick with infectious and water-borne diseases. Women (including pregnant, of course) and children in rural areas are especially vulnerable to such diseases, experts say. Snake bites and

Image credit: www.reuters.com

IV)

Flood victims gather to receive food handout in a camp, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Sehwan, Pakistan September 15, 2022.

Image credit: learningenglish.voanews.com

Now see some glimpses of the royal funeral of Queen Elizabeth II who died on Sept. 08, 2022 after ruling the Britain (once the empire which, at its height in 1922, was the largest empire the world had ever seen, covering around a quarter of Earth’s land surface and ruling over 458 million people and was so vast that the saying “The Empire on which the sun never sets” has been used to explain its size and influence) for more than 70 years.

I)

Leaders from around the world to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II that continued for eleven consecutive days costing around US $ 10–15 millions

Image credit: www.npr.org

II)

The procession following the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II

Image credit: www.npr.org

III)

The Royal State Hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II arrives at Windsor Castle for the Committal Service

Image credit: www.npr.org

IV)

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II with the Imperial State Crown (weighing 1.06kg) resting on top is carried. The crown, according to www.bbc.com, sparkles with nearly 3,000 stones — including 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and five rubies. (These gems were not the personal possessions of the royal family but collected over the centuries by British kings and queens from colonies in Africa and Asia.) Some experts have reportedly estimated its monetary value could be between £3billion and £5 billion.

Image credit: www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-62906194

Leaving aside the absurdity or the despicability (or both) of the high profile glorification of the death (with carefully and vainly observing the eleven days long rituals from carrying the coffin, reciting eulogies and brief prayers to the burial of the dead body in a grave) of one person, who was also a powerful symbol of British imperialism, at a time when millions were miserably suffering in a land that had been brutally subjugated and continues to be subjugated before, during and after her reign, let us see the reality behind one of the world’s most expensive as well as coveted crown which sat on the Queen’s coffin before her burial in the King George VI Memorial Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle.

First and the foremost point is that Imperial Crown symbolizes the centuries of loot and plunder by the British Empire and in no way the dignity of the British nation. Many people in ex-colonies, while refusing to mourn, pointed to the fact that part of Queen Elizabeth’s net worth and many of the crown jewels are directly tied to slavery in the colonies.

Kohinoor ( believed to be one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, weighing 105.6 carats or 21.12 g), the biggest diamond in the crown, belonged to India and according to some sources, “Maharaja Duleep Singh, the son and successor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, held on to the diamond until the British annexed Punjab in 1849. Duleep, only 11 years old, signed the Treaty of Lahore, which also stipulated that Duleep would give the diamond to the queen of England.”

The Cullinan, believed to be the largest rough diamond of gem quality ever found, weighing an incredible 3,106.75ct and discovered in Cullinan, South Africa in 1905, was allegedly “gifted” to King Edward VII by the government of the British Transvaal Colony. However, according to some sources, it is a cultural artifact that was seized by British colonial troops at the time and transferred to London.Cullinan is also called the “Great Star of Africa” and according to Hindustan Times (Sept. 23, 2022) is estimated to be worth around USD 400 million.

After the Queen’s death, calls are mounting in India as well as South Africa to return the respective diamonds to the respective countries.

Moreover, according to Hindustan Times, in addition to Kohinoor, there were also other precious items that were either taken away or looted by Britain from other countries during their colonial reign.” Here’s a list of a few of those items:

Tipu Sultan’s ring

Tipu Sultan’s ring was allegedly taken by the Britishers from his slain body in 1799 after he lost the battle against them. According to many media reports, the ring was sold at an auction in the UK to an unidentified bidder for around 1,45,000 British pounds.

Rosetta Stone

Amidst the call to bring Kohinoor back to India, Egyptian activists and archaeologists want to bring the Rosetta Stone back to its homeland i.e. Egypt. The Rosetta Stone is currently on display at the British Museum.

According to many local newspapers, archaeologists claim that they can prove that the Rosetta Stone was “stolen” by Britain. The Rosetta Stone dates back to 196 BC and according to historians, the famous stone was acquired by Britain after they won the battle against France in the 1800s.

Elgin Marbles

According to many media reports and archives in History, in 1803, Lord Elgin allegedly removed the marbles from the Parthenon’s decaying walls in Greece and transported them to London. This is also the reason those precious marbles are called Elgin Marbles.

Since 1925, Greece has been asking for its priceless possession, but the marbles have remained in the British Museum.

And grumblings are growing in ex colonies as the hypocrisy of the British imperialism or western civilization is becoming more evident after the Queen’s death. As reported by the Charlotte Hilton Anders of Reader’s Digest, “ While most of the world mourns Queen Elizabeth’s death, a growing number of people are pointing out the darker aspects of the monarchy, including the British Empire’s history of colonialism.”

Beyond official condolences praising the queen’s longevity and service, there is also much bitterness about the past in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Many are talking about the legacies of colonialism, from slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artifacts held in British institutions. For many, the queen came to represent all of that during her seven decades on the throne. The political and economic systems were established that impoverished Africa and Asia with the direct purpose of enriching Britain. Some notable atrocities include, but are by no means limited to: transatlantic slavery, famines in the British Raj, and brutal settler colonial regimes in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Inhuman punishments were common, including whippings and even death for people who resisted the colonial government. Colonial officials were allowed to force locals to serve as laborers and punish entire communities for the actions of one person. According to some estimates, between 1640 and 1807, Britain captured and transported an estimated 3.1 million Africans to the Americas. In some cases, they were chained together, lacked the head room to sit up, and the oxygen level was so low below decks that often candles could not be lit. As a result, approximately 15–25% of Africans died en route. Moreover, as Britain’s campaign in the Mediterranean during the Second World War heated up in 1943, a famine affected India’s province Bengal, as Winston Churchill diverted Indian grown food to British troops in the Mediterranean, which caused the death of between three to four million Bengalis. When hearing about the famine, Churchill is said to have remarked the following: “The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.” Then there is the case of killing between 15000–20000 rebels in Kenya during Mau Mau Rebellion. The Mau Mau rebellion (1952–1960), also known as the Mau Mau uprising, Mau Mau revolt or Kenya Emergency, was a war in the British Kenya Colony (1920–1963) between the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA), also known as the Mau Mau, and the British authorities. During the uprising, up to 150,000 Kikuyu (the largest ethnic group in the colony), involved in the uprising were also held in detention camps. A cache of papers had come to light that documented Britain’s torture and mistreatment of detainees during the Mau Mau rebellion. And although former Mau Mau fighters are said to have launched legal action against the British government under claims of mistreatment in detention camps, according to Guardian (Uncovering the brutal truth about the British Empire, Aug 2016), many documents relating to the detention camps are either absent or still classified as confidential 59 years after the war. It was discovered by Harvard historian Caroline Elkins that the British had torched documents before their 1963 withdrawal from Kenya. And the scale of the cleansing had been enormous. For example, three departments had maintained files for each of the reported 80,000 detainees. At a minimum, there should have been 240,000 files in the archives. She found a few hundred.

In this context the bitter reaction of people from some ex-colonies is worth mentioning:

  • “Most of our grandparents were oppressed,” a lawyer from Kenya named Alice Mugo tweeted in the hours after the queen’s death Thursday. “I cannot mourn,” he tweeted in the hours after the queen’s death.
  • “This commonwealth of nations, that wealth belongs to England. That wealth is something never shared in,” said Bert Samuels, a member of the National Council on Reparations in Jamaica.
  • “The only thing I noted about the queen’s passing is that she died and never apologized for slavery,” said Nadeen Spence, also an activist from Jamaica. “She should’ve apologized.”
  • “She benefited from the wealth and enslavement of colonized people and never did anything to rectify that,” said Priya Atwal, a historian of empire and monarchy at Oxford University.

Above comments show that for many of the queen’s former colonial subjects, her life and death are a reminder of a painful history of exploitation and racism.

And the story just doesn’t end here as Britain is among G-20 countries responsible for nearly 80% of green house emission that have caused the global warming wreaking havoc with the world climate and thus bringing large scale destruction and misery, especially in poor countries like Pakistan whose contribution to the problem is less than one percent but who are bearing the brunt far more than their contribution to the climate change. According to some reports, climate scientists who have studied Pakistani floods have concluded that they can only predict more unpredictability. Scientists are clear, however, that the catastrophe in Pakistan is linked to global warming.Thus even after the end of direct imperial rule, there is no respite for the ex-colonies as the release of greenhouse gases (or CO2 emission from various fuels) by G-20 is making the whole planet warmer and “thickening the Earth’s blanket.” This situation, according to “National Geographic” is contributing to many health and environment issues including respiratory disease from smog and air pollution, extreme weather, food supply disruptions, and increased wildfires and floods etc. And the cost is very high in terms of economic losses. A joint study titled “Climate Risk Country Profile” for Pakistan released by the two international lending agencies on Tuesday put Pakistan among the top risk-prune countries in terms of increase in average temperatures and resultant economic and social losses. Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB) have estimated that Pakistan is facing up to $3.8 billion in annual economic loss due to climate change.

And as another excerpt from “Osho Sermons” reveals, the white people have been driving the whole of humanity, for three hundred years (or more), into slavery. They all had their empires. England had the biggest empire. But other white people were not far behind: the French, the Portuguese, the Spanish — they all had vast empires, exploiting the whole earth. They have been the parasites: and it is hilarious that all these parasites are now declaring human rights.

In this context, it should not be shocking to know that while Queen was being buried with all vanity , many poor women in flood hit areas of Pakistan were forced to live in the conditions that can be described as inhuman in the least. With no shoes on their feet (with the risk of stepping on a snake or dig), no potable water, no food, and no shelter they were even unable to explain their plight or answer the questions being posed by local journalists. Their plight was even worse than the women suffering in Nazi Concentration Camps (from 1933 to 1954) who reportedly had to suffer the shame of bleeding in public and the discomfort of dealing with it during the menstruation. One women flood victim (belonging to the area of Southern Punjab in Pakistan) said to a reporter of an English daily that for their menstruation needs, they were using whatever they had. “We are now short of cloth. But such things are not a priority or issue when we are finding it hard even to feed our children.”

And I am more aghast when leaders of third world countries including a former cricketer turned politician in Pakistan (who is also a former student of Keble College, Oxford where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1975 and also, very proudly, played the colonial game called cricket) say that West is the symbol of enlightenment and champion of the justice and the rule of law.

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References:

i) https://www.heart.co.uk/news/royals/queen/what-imperial-state-crown-coffin-worth/

ii) https://www.livemint.com/news/world/queen-funeral-to-define-nation-no-cost-should-be-spared-royal-historian-11663593475532.html

iii) https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/990147-walking-on-a-tight-rope

iv) https://www.historytoday.com/archive/feature/menstruation-and-holocaust

v) https://www.oshotimes.com/insights/health/conditioning/we-are-living-in-a-hypocrite-society/

vi) https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/not-only-kohinoor-these-4-precious-items-were-also-taken-away-by-britain-101662809363561.html

vii) https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/calls-mount-in-south-africa-for-uk-to-return-gem-from-queen-s-scepter/2690402#:~:text=The%20diamond%20was%20taken%20from,of%20the%20British%20Transvaal%20Colony.

viii) https://historyindoors.co.uk/britains-dark-past-the-atrocities-of-the-british-empire-and-its-legacy-today/

ix) https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/aug/18/uncovering-truth-british-empire-caroline-elkins-mau-mau

x) https://apnews.com/article/king-charles-iii-africa-caribbean-slavery-50f9175b541f307adb2e494fcccc80f5?

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Aizaz Baqir

I am a freelance writer and translator based in Multan, Pakistan having interests in reading, writing, travelling and social services.