The apparently pitiful response, just the other day, by the giant of Britain’s Lloyd’s banking and insurance group on reparations on slavery should put Indians and much of the Global South in a near, if not full fury. And there seems to be no recognition by such slave and colonial legacy possessing British corporations of so much Indian indenture, slavery by another name that their organizations were connected to.
So the “small change” of Lloyd’s announced of 70 million dollars, essentially to deal with its legacy on the transatlantic slave trade seems to just “spit” against the “storm” descending on the West about properly and substantively dealing with this issue. That is considering the billions, Lloyd’s made, if not the trillions the overall West extracted from so much exploitation in the Global South. After all, in a recent UN report, presented by Patrick Robinson, he stated that the amount globally for reparations should be in the many, many trillions of dollars.
So what do key British media even say about this dominant insurance leviathan? “Lloyd’s of London has been accused of ‘reparations washing’ over its response to an academic review that lays bare its ‘significant role’ in making the transatlantic slave trade possible.” (UK, Guardian)
Well, some might say 70 million dollars is at least a start to British finance owning up to its guilt. But again, it seems hardly enough and the same of the overall, UK based financial community that seems to owe India a lot, including on washing billions of Indian fraudsters’ money.
Given Lloyd’s being a bastion “monument” to the British establishment, past and present what is one to conclude about certain “Old Boys” elites with such ideas and/or decisions connected to such reparation penury, while often overly supporting some very nasty geopolitics and financial chicanery. Any coincidence?
Does a “deranged” fringe, elitist view of “my ‘law’and expensive lawyers” above just law on the domestic and international law books over ride? Do colonial attitudes, or neocolonial elitist attitudes remain or way too many residues of them in such places as the UK? However, at least you cannot say that it is truly so fashionable today to be for hegemony, war, colonialism and neocolonialism and their certain modern day London elite supporters of. Even when it is added up with certain of their charity washing giving to their own entertainment enjoyments (Dada expressionist or cubism art?) than to the homeless and destitute.
Certainly, this is not always the case of the bad in Britain or like countries. Britain has many successes, indeed. Fortunately, it still retains some important democratic features, some of the positive ones India borrowed from and may be doing better with, including real, open parliamentary democracy not run by elites but people centered government.
Unfortunately, parts of this UK establishment, by their actions or inactions as in reparations, for example, are sadly washing away to a degree the image of the many good contributions Britain has made.The Global South, not only is undeserving such elites’ treatment, but neither the vast majority of British people, who are largely fair-minded and decent. More about that later.
Now back to Lloyd’s. It would be paying out only about one percent of its profits over a decade or less with this 70 million dollars. It has only made this announcement well after a number of Dutch banks committed to paying out and at least more money in the case of the Dutch government, but also stingy in the ‘final’ amounts. That is without including the impact of the Dutch presence in India during colonial times.
Against all of the negatives, let us again remember and take note that Britain has made major positive contributions domestically and globally. There is far from enough space to list them here. But I will attempt to draw attention to some major ones: some of major interest to Indians, no doubt. For even with this truth of “Brand Britain” the good, also aligns with the idea of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s of inclusion that Britain and the British should not be excluded. That was the same of the wishes Mahatma Gandhi and his followers even when they were brutally beaten by the British when striving for justice and Indian independence from Britain.
But can certain of those elites attach their ideology at all to Mahatma Gandhi’s enough. After all, they are so often “Eton type” and/or Cambridge ,(USA or UK) and Oxford university educated, almost always taking the UK political leadership mantel. (Now, that is elitism on steroids.). They may be even overly subconsciously infused with a sense of superiority and like, liberal or not behind destructive interventionism. So, they need to come down to reality. That for some, their favorite scholars like Niall Ferguson and at least one high-level UK cabinet minister should get off their hobby horses that the British Empire was great and even should be emulated by the US. What madness.
Instead, the true accomplishments should be venerated such as in science. The number of Nobel prize laureates the UK has is second in global rankings. Only the US has more .According to Britannica,”Tim Berners-Lee, (born June 8, 1955, London, England), British computer scientist, generally (is) credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web.” This, all pervasive Internet has so revolutionized life and survival around the world. So much so that the Modi government has grabbed into this technology wonderfully to bring up the quality of life of all Indians, especially the poor from accessing money to improving family life to job opportunities. Brand Britain has not only been a leader in digital technology inventiveness. But, it is even well coping with climate change compared to almost all industrial countries and shown leadership on using alternative energy.
Now, think in acting, drama,literature and music and philosophy. The list of great accomplishments from Shakespeare to Jane Austen to Betrand Russell are remarkable. The UK is also often ranked as having the best universities in the world and top schools at the elementary to high school levels.
Despite various social tensions, too often, the UK is a culture that is largely supportive of diversity but with evermore sensible outcomes. The.best example of that is current, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his fairly diverse and “competent” cabinet. Even, overall crime ranks low compared to most countries though is far from satisfactory in various communities.
Brand Britain has much to celebrate and for Indians to connect to. But certain UK elites and their retrograde attitudes are holding back Britain from more positively being received including both its people and products.
Britain will have a new day in the sun building on its current positive strengths. It will not be from supporting neo-colonialism or promoting a colonial mindset. Take it from India and largely from the younger British generations who knows this well and who I know well.
Peter Dash writes extensively on geopolitics.