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THE BRITISH IN INDIA

Sir, Matt Ridley (Mar 20) is right that the British cannot build a post-Brexit partnership with India on the basis of renewing old imperial ties. Colonial rule was not only exploitative but the Raj made it clear that Indians could never be the equal of the British. What is more, very few in Britain knew, or even cared, about India. No serving British prime minister visited India during the Raj. While millions flocked to Australia and New Zealand building up family ties that endure, very few Britons went to India, and the last census in 1931 showed that 154,691 Britons, fewer than the then population of Hull or Nottingham, lived in India. It is only within the past 20-odd years that the British have really begun to get to know India, as series such as The Real Marigold Hotel and Rick Stein’s India demonstrate. A partnership of equals is possible (letter, Mar 22), but not if British ministers parrot on about a shared historical past. That will only remind Indians of how much the British took from India.
Mihir Bose

Journalist and author, London W6

      

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