The empire on which sun never sets

Since 1819, when Raffles founded Singapore as a trading post for the East India Company the white man’s supremacy had been unquestioned. By the time I went to school in 1930, I was aware that the Englishman was the big boss, and those who were white like him were also bosses – some big, others not so big, but all bosses. They had superior lifestyles and lived separately from the Asiatics, as we were then called. They ate superior food with plenty of meat and milk products. Every three years they went “home” to England for three to six months at a time to recuperate from the everything climate of equatorial Singapore. Their children also went “home” to be educated and not to Singapore schools. They, too, led superior lives.

There were no question of any resentment. The superior status of the British in government and society was simply a fact of life. After all, they were the greatest people in the world. They had the biggest empire that history had ever known, stretching over all time zones, across all four oceans and five continents.

I have taken above text from the book “The Singapore Story – Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew”. Like what we have Gandhiji in India, same is Lee Kuan Yew for Singapore. For information to reader, Singapore in past was also a British colony and in his book he has written about the impression he had about the British empire till he grew up.

In 1941, Japanese invaded the Singapore and managed to win over Singapore. He writes about British empire post Singapore fall to Japanese in his next chapter as below :

In 70 days of surprises, upsets and stupidities, British colonial society was shattered, and with it all the assumptions of the Englishman’s superiority. During the war, it was the white civilian bosses who ducked under the tables when the bombs and shells fell. Hospitals, public utilities and other essential services were left unmanned. The whites in charge had gone. Stories of their scramble to save their skins led the Asiatics to see them as Selfish and Cowardly. The British myth of their inherent superiority had been smashed by one Asiatic race (read Japanese).

Above lines from the book, indeed describes the selfishness of British race which is inherent in them till date.

In past, I was used to listen this line many time “The sun on British Empire shall never set”. I have seen people leaving for UK from India with very strong faith and belief in this line. Following is the map of the British empire taken from the Wiki as on 1919 which truly says about the supremacy British Raj enjoyed in past.

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But today the reality is the glory of British raj is fading away. Tough economic situations, falling markets, spending cuts n what not. It will be interesting to see how the British empire meets the challenges in their own backyard and adapts to the rising Asian powers from Asia and keep the queen’s flag, flagging high in coming time.

It will still be premature to make a statement that Sun on British empire has set because even today in my day to day life, I made to believe that white skin rules but slowly the white skin’s supremacy is coming under question. So which color is going to rule in future? May be “Brown”…….. who knows.  Amen!!

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Shameful Flight

Yesterday Finally, I laid my hand on some book after a long gap. Yesterday I went to library here. I had one specific book in my mind which was suggested by someone. The book which I wanted to borrow was “From third world to first, Singapore Story” written by Lee Kuan Yew. Lee Kuan Yew is a father figure of Singapore and he is given a credit to transform the Singapore from the third world nation after it’s birth in 1965 to first world nation of today. From whatever little I know about the history of Singapore since it’s birth, I think this fellow LKY has done good job for Singapore and have high regards for this man. But at the same time, I’m a big time criticiser of his recent policies. LKY / MM Lee (that is how he is known here) still have a great clout in Singapore and currently his son is ruling the Singapore. I was interested in reading how this fellow managed this development journey of Singapore but but but unfortunately I couldn’t lay my hands on this book. To my disgust though book was not out on loan was also not there on book shelf. Despite of my attempts to find out and taking the help from library staff, I couldn’t find the book.

As I couldn’t find that book but was determined to read something I tried to search for some other book. First time in the library, I explored the book section where India related books were kept. Though the collection was not huge still it was interesting. There were many books on gandhi, few books on history on tourism and culture. I also found one book titled as “Culture shock” describing the dos n don’t in the Indian culture and describing what outsiders must know about India before visiting India, in order to avoid culture shock. I think amazing concept to write book on :).  I took one book titled as “Shameful Flight” which is on the horror of the partition after Indian got independence. I’m avid history lover but feel ashamed to admit that till date I haven’t read any authenticate book on Indian partition which I feel I must have done so far. So by taking “Shameful Flight”, I am attempting to revisit partition era and will be trying to know what mistakes/good things likes of Gandhi / Sardar / Nehru etc. did. Some day I also want to read book on Mohammed Ali Jeenah. I think Jaswant singh’s latest book written on him is available in Singapore National library. So some day I will borrow it to read it.

Now I have managed to get the book but the problem is to get the time to do the justice with the book. Most likely I will have to read this while travelling for the office ( so will hv to stop surfing on iPhone) otherwise currently I don’t have a luxury to have spare time to read books. And yeah, yesterday I also got latest issue of magazine “India Se”. Perhaps more than enough reading material to my disposal. 🙂

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