Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simply Hayekian!!

In an interview to ET British Historian Mr. Simon Schama says:

Ideas and learning

  • ….we have become, in a difficult world, much more utilitarian about useful knowledge, with a very narrow range of what counts as useful

  • Teachers have to be storytellers, in addition to teaching their students analysis and how to ask questions and that does take time.

Indian Revolution

You also said British students should study the rise of Empire in South Asia, why not the fall as well…

  • Of course, about that too. I was specially speaking of the 18th century. For some extraordinary reason, because of the way the British curriculum was designed, the entire 18th century is missing. And that’s the time when what Britain became was decided, Britain as an entrepreneurial innovator, as a ruthless commercial empire, and Britain still very surprisingly loses the part of the empire you would think would naturally fit with it, in the shape of the American colonies, and extraordinarily has an Indian presence which grows bigger and bigger.

  • It is very important to understand that because of what the Raj became, the ruthless exploitation of sovereignty, but it started as a different kind of ruthlessness. It started as a kind of commercial plunder without the strings of government, and it was because Bengal in particular was disintegrating, was becoming this centrifugal sink-hole in which neither the Mughals had power nor did the indigenous governors, and the British found that they had to actually control the revenue system if they were going to pay for their trades.

  • So it became backwards, they went into India backwards — which didn’t make them less imperialist. So, it’s a fantastic exercise in unintended consequences, what happened to British power in Bengal in particular. It’s a sort of thrilling, tragic, ferocious story. There’s this huge South Asian population in Britain, why wouldn’t this story be interesting to them as to pink people from Exeter and Liverpool? I was someone who did Indian history as an undergraduate, and loved it, I did the lay the 18th and early 19th century in India, after Warren Hastings, and nearly became an Indian historian. And I thought it very complicated and thrilling, and thought why not make it part of what kids are taught.

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