Empire - Learning Zone


Empire - Learning Zone

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Modern Britain is a nation of many cultural traditions.

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British people are connected

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to other parts of the world through many ties -

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of family,

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of business,

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and of community.

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Many of these connections have their roots in the British Empire.

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It was called "the empire on which the sun never set".

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At its height, Britain ruled over a quarter of the world's population.

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But how did Britain come to rule so much land

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and so many people?

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Many convinced themselves it was Britain's destiny to do so.

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Much of the Empire was built on greed

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and a lust for power.

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But the British came to believe they had a moral mission, too -

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a mission to civilise the world.

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The sheer expanse of British rule was breathtaking.

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It stretched from the wilderness of the Arctic

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to the sands of Arabia...

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..and the islands of the Caribbean.

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A century ago, the British Empire was the greatest power on Earth.

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That imperial past has left Britain

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with a sense of entitlement to a place at the top table

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in current world affairs.

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For better or for worse, the Empire changed the world

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and it changed Britain, too.

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The Empire coloured huge parts of the map of the world pink.

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But India was the grandest,

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richest and the most important territory it came to control.

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In the 18th century, this was the home of India's ruling dynasty.

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The first British visitors were awestruck by what they found.

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It was clear that this was an advanced civilisation.

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The Indians regarded the arriving British as barbarians,

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but by the mid-18th-century,

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the balance of power had shifted decisively in favour of the British.

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How did this happen?

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The earliest Britons in India,

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such as the men of the East India Company, weren't invaders

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but traders who'd gone there for spices, cotton and indigo dye.

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The company, which soon dominated trade,

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raised its own army of local troops.

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In 1744, a young man arrived in India

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to work as a clerk for the company.

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His name was Robert Clive.

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He was ambitious, short-tempered and impatient.

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He soon saw that wielding a sword

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was a faster route to riches than pushing a pen.

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Clive taught himself to be a soldier.

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He learned, for example,

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that the best way to repel troops mounted on elephants,

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should you ever need to know,

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is to fire a volley of shots at the animals until they stampede.

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But his greatest talent of all was, in his own words,

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"for politics, chicanery, intrigue

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"and the Lord knows what."

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At the Battle of Plassey in 1757,

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Clive outwitted the ruler of the State of Bengal,

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a man who had dared to challenge the power of the East India Company.

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Clive then walked into the prince's treasury

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and coolly helped himself to a fortune.

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He then shipped it in a fleet of 75 barges

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to the company's headquarters in Calcutta.

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Soon afterwards, a new word entered the English language.

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It was a Hindi word,

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"loot".

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With wealth came power.

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The East India Company gradually took control

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of huge swathes of the country.

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The company men were the new princes of India.

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They built themselves great palaces in the British style

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on Calcutta's main street.

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Many of them still stand today.

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Clive himself became Governor of Bengal.

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So what had begun in plunder

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had ended in government

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and so it was to prove right across the world.

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It was the greed of Robert Clive and men like him

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which built Britain an empire.

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Today some people dismiss the Empire as a cause for nothing but shame.

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But the story is more complex than that.

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British rule in India demonstrates it very clearly.

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The first British people in India came to trade rather than invade.

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Their attitude to the peoples they encountered

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would be very different from that of those who followed.

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These pioneers of Empire actively embraced an Indian way of life.

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One of these early traders was Charles Stuart.

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He worked for the East India Company,

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which traded in cotton, silks and spices.

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Most mornings, Stuart could be seen joining the locals

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as they bathed in Calcutta's Hugli river.

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Charles Stuart is the sort of person

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who upends easy prejudices about the Empire.

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The caricature is that it was all run by arrogant racists

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oppressing downtrodden natives.

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And like all caricatures, there is a degree of truth in that.

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But Charles Stuart belongs to an early generation

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of the British in India, who were seduced by the place.

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In this unfamiliar world,

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Charles Stuart saw holiness,

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order and civilisation.

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So enchanted was he with India,

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he soon became known as Hindu Stuart.

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He encouraged his fellow Europeans to adopt Indian customs.

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He called on British women to abandon their corsets and dresses

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and to wear colourful Indian saris.

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And on British men

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to grow what would become that trademark of Empire,

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a luxuriant moustache,

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Indian style.

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The traders of the East India Company

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liked to mix business with pleasure.

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Relaxing with the locals was an everyday affair.

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To judge from their clothes,

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you often couldn't tell one from the other.

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This was the Empire making up the rules

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about the appropriate relations between the races as it went along.

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In fact, there weren't really any rules at all - yet.

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Many British traders took Indian mistresses,

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known as Beebees.

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But there were more serious and lasting relationships too,

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leading to marriage and families.

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Many men of the East India Company

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left their possessions to Indian wives or children.

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The offspring of these mixed-race marriages

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became known as Anglo-Indians.

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Today there are an estimated 150,000 of them in India.

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MUSIC, CHEERING

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Anglo-Indians tend to marry within the community

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so the term now means having some British blood,

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often several generations back.

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I am proud to be who I am here.

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I have both worlds to enjoy,

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I enjoy the West as well as I enjoy the East.

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You're all Christians?

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-Yeah.

-And you've all got some British blood somewhere.

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-Yeah.

-But you can't...

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I couldn't tell you from any other Indian.

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But my name says it,

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and I know my roots. That is it.

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What does it mean to you?

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It means something nice, because I feel proud to be Anglo-Indian.

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But you are a visible reminder...

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-Yeah.

-..of the fact that this country was a colony.

-Yeah.

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Well, a lot of people wouldn't like that.

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That's history, that's all. Just take it as a part of history.

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Many of the early colonists in India,

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men of the East India Company,

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were enthusiastic about Indian life and culture.

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Many married Indian woman

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and it seemed there was a positive mix of two cultures.

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But in Victorian Britain,

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these relationships were seen as subversive, even dangerous.

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Britain was in the grip of a religious revival.

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The British were adopting a new, more puritanical Christianity,

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and they wanted the rest of the world to do likewise.

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That shift would soon be felt on the far fringes of Empire.

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It wasn't long before Victorian values arrived in India.

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They were brought, not only by missionaries,

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but by wives sent out from Britain

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who were arriving in ever-increasing numbers.

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They were known as memsaabs.

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They hadn't the slightest interest in local culture.

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One memsaab wrote of Indian holy men

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as "horrible objects, with their wildly rolling eyes,

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"long tangled hair, and every bone visible in their wretched bodies."

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Another arrived in India and wrote home,

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"There's such a lot of everything!"

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No wonder the memsaabs ran for the hills.

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They had very different ideas

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about how to make themselves at home in India.

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The days of easygoing tolerance were now over.

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In their place came a culture war,

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a never-ending battle to maintain the British way of life

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in the face of foreign temptation.

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The British strongholds in this battle

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were the places they came to escape the summer heat.

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Hill stations, like Ooty.

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The Indians called it Ootacamund,

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but that was too much of a mouthful for most of the British.

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As soon as they discovered the place,

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they began to turn it into a version of Surrey.

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In places like this, a particular idea of Britishness was forged.

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Tea on the lawn,

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a certain reserve, order,

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formality, unbelievable stuffiness.

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It is an idea that some people still have a soft spot for

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while others have been laughing at it for decades.

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What tends to be forgotten, though, is that it was forged, initially,

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as a defence against something.

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In this case, as a defence against India.

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Bungalows sprouted like little forts all over the hills.

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Bungalow is originally an Indian word

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meaning "a house in the Bengali style,"

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but the buildings it came to describe were very British indeed.

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The great Empire writer Rudyard Kipling

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talked about them as "models of shut-up-ness."

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Enclosed within their own little compound, rigidly ordered within,

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they really were about the separation of us from them.

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Of course, the great shift in attitudes

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was shared by men and memsaabs.

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But as mistresses of the house,

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it was the women who were on the front line.

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For a young woman, arriving in this alien land

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after weeks on a boat from England

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must have been a truly daunting experience.

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Fortunately, though, help was at hand.

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The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook,

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by Flora Annie Steel and Grace Gardiner,

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is an intriguing window into the mind of British India.

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It tells you absolutely everything,

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from how much to pay the cook's assistant,

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to the best way to divide up the family possessions

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when you're moving house, by means of 11 camels,

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to how many coolies it takes to carry a piano.

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The answer to that one, if you're interested, is 16.

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The book is astonishingly rude about the Indians themselves.

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"The Indian servant," this bit here says,

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"is a child in all things save age,

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"and should be treated as a child.

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"That is to say, kindly, but with the greatest firmness."

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It was the memsaabs' duty

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to introduce the native servants to the British way of doing things

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and to teach them their place

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as decent, dutiful inferiors.

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Yet for all their apparent self-confidence,

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these were women who lived in a state of fear -

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fear that the climate and conditions in India might actually kill them.

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St Stephen's Church was one of British Ooty's first buildings.

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Its graveyard is full of British women and children

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whose stay in the country didn't last long.

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Death and disease ravaged the British in India.

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Soldiers' wives and children

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were three times more likely to suffer an early death

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than if they'd stayed at home.

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"Sacred to the memory of Issabella Frances Etheldred,

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"fourth daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Havelock,

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"14th Light Dragoons,

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"who died June 18th 1851, aged 17 years, two months and three days."

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How precisely they measured their loss.

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Along with the snobbery and self-righteousness

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went a certain fortitude and courage, as well.

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Maybe they passed themselves off as the master race

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because deep down, they knew that they were an endangered species.

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India was valuable to Britain, not only for its spices and cotton

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but for another commodity...

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People.

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A small island like Britain couldn't, by itself, find the manpower

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to hold onto this vast territory.

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So the British came up with a system

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that would become a cornerstone of Empire.

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They paid local soldiers to fight for them.

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British officers would now lead Indian troops.

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SHOUTS IN OWN LANGUAGE

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The colonised would provide the fighting force of colonialism

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for centuries to come.

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The Madras Regiment, founded in 1758,

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is the oldest in the Indian Army.

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It's spent most of its existence

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fighting not for independent India,

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but for Britain.

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It doesn't bother Captain Dilip Shekhar

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that his regiment helped to build the Empire.

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Three quarters of your battle honours are when you were part of the British Army.

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-Yes.

-What do you think about that?

-That's great.

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You were on the wrong side, from an Indian nationalist point of view -

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you fought for the British.

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We were soldiers,

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and a soldier does not know whose region it is for he's fighting.

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Tomorrow, I have a fight with any other country,

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I'm told to fight with that country. I don't have any personal grievance.

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Do you think the British being here was a good thing or a bad thing?

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What happened in history is history. Still, we should not go into that

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but, yes, they have done good for us, and even bad to us.

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But you're... It's a good thing they're not here, isn't it?

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HE LAUGHS

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Indian troops helped the British control their empire

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and they played a key role fighting for Britain

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through the 18th and 19th centuries,

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right up to the 20th century and two world wars.

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The British Empire wasn't just about conquests and government

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and chaps in shorts telling foreigners what to do.

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It was also about money and profit.

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It began with a few unscrupulous adventurers

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and it grew into a vast network that spanned the globe,

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from Britain to Australia,

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from Calcutta to Jamaica,

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from Australia to Hong Kong.

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Off the coast of China,

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British traders made fortunes

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from ships freighted with addictive drugs.

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And they helped themselves to the riches of Ancient India.

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They planted new crops in their expanding colonies,

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like rubber in Malaysia...

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..and transformed the economies of those countries.

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Empire trade and empire theft

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helped make Britain a world capital of money.

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It may be surprising,

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but a key factor in the development of the Empire

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was a British sweet tooth.

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Those at home had developed a taste for sugar

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to sweeten the novelties arriving from the tropics -

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coffee,

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chocolate and tea.

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The British were already becoming a nation of sugar addicts.

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Sugar from plantations in the British colony of Jamaica

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could satisfy their craving.

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But the island's population was tiny

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and the plantations needed vast amounts of labour.

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The answer to the problem

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lay in the trafficking of human beings from Africa.

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The slave trade.

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The British didn't introduce slavery to the Caribbean

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but they took to it with enthusiasm.

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Traders bought slaves in Africa

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and then shipped them thousands of miles across the world.

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Many died in the packed, filthy, airless cargo decks.

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Sugar was a back-breaking crop to harvest.

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The cane had to be cut down and then stripped of its foliage

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and then transported to the mill,

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often in intense, blazing heat.

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Within three years of their arriving here,

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a third of them would be dead.

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By 1775, 1.5 million men, women and children

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had been forcibly transported from Africa to the British West Indies.

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Their descendants now people these islands.

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Treating human beings as beasts of burden

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made the owners of sugar plantations rich.

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This is the planter's house on the Good Hope Estate, built in 1755.

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Its owner was 23 when he bought it.

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He became the wealthiest man in Jamaica,

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owning over 10,000 acres of land

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and over 3,000 slaves.

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The luxury of this home

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is an indication of the vast sums of money

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which could be made in the colonies.

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Some of that wealth was spent on good living,

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some on gaining power and influence back home.

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But much of it was invested in new opportunities to get rich

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through international trade.

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For more than three centuries,

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it was trade rather than conquest

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which brought new colonies into the Empire.

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Though it was often trade at the end of a gun or a sword.

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Canada was opened up by the Hudson's Bay Company,

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which traded in skins and furs.

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And the African Lakes Corporation

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bought and sold the bounty of swathes of Africa.

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Many of these companies

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were run by men sitting in offices thousands of miles away

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in the City of London.

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On floors like this, traders speculated

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on commodities from across the globe -

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cotton from India...

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..wool from Australia...

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..and cocoa from West Africa.

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By the end of the 19th century,

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more than half the world's trade was financed in British pounds.

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Victorian Britain, in effect, had two empires -

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one run by politicians,

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the other by moneymen.

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In South America, British banks supplied governments with credit.

0:28:330:28:38

British companies built railways across Argentina.

0:28:380:28:43

British settlers bought huge ranches and raised cattle.

0:28:430:28:48

Victorian investors grew rich

0:28:530:28:56

trading in things right across the globe.

0:28:560:28:59

The former British island colony of Hong Kong

0:29:200:29:23

is so densely packed with banking and trading firms,

0:29:230:29:28

it's known as the world's most vertical city.

0:29:280:29:31

The place lives, eats and breathes money.

0:29:380:29:42

The story of how Hong Kong came to be British

0:29:470:29:50

reflects the Empire's often ruthless pursuit of profit.

0:29:500:29:55

It's an extraordinary story,

0:29:550:29:57

even if it is one of the most shameful in British history.

0:29:570:30:00

And yet, this dark episode began innocently enough.

0:30:050:30:09

It was born from the English passion for a cup of tea.

0:30:140:30:17

-Hello!

-Hello. Hello.

0:30:210:30:23

Oh, it smells lovely, doesn't it?

0:30:230:30:26

Would you like to have a cup of tea?

0:30:260:30:28

-I'd love to have one, yes.

-This way, please.

0:30:280:30:30

In the early 19th century,

0:30:340:30:36

China was virtually the only place tea was grown.

0:30:360:30:40

But there was a problem.

0:30:420:30:44

For three centuries,

0:30:440:30:47

China had severely restricted trade with the West.

0:30:470:30:51

The British were desperate and had even sent a delegation to China.

0:30:520:30:57

They begged the Emperor to open up his country

0:30:570:31:00

and take some British products in exchange for tea.

0:31:000:31:03

They presented him with all sorts of trinkets -

0:31:060:31:10

games and curiosities,

0:31:100:31:13

scientific instruments and toys.

0:31:130:31:15

But he remained resolutely unimpressed.

0:31:170:31:20

"We possess all things," said the Emperor.

0:31:240:31:27

"I set no value upon things strange or ingenious

0:31:270:31:31

"and I have no use for your country's manufactures."

0:31:310:31:34

But to get the tea they craved,

0:31:400:31:42

the British had one thing to trade

0:31:420:31:45

that many Chinese craved even more.

0:31:450:31:47

Opium.

0:31:510:31:52

The drug was illegal in China,

0:31:550:31:58

though the ban was widely ignored.

0:31:580:32:00

There were an estimated 12 million peasants addicted to opium.

0:32:020:32:06

The authorities there called it "a deadly poison,

0:32:090:32:12

"ruining the minds and morals of our people."

0:32:120:32:16

The British grew opium poppies in India.

0:32:180:32:20

There they processed it in factories

0:32:230:32:25

on a colossal scale.

0:32:250:32:27

Finally, it was shipped to China

0:32:290:32:32

and sold to smugglers.

0:32:320:32:34

With the profits, British traders bought Chinese tea.

0:32:340:32:38

In 1839, the Chinese Emperor decided he'd had enough.

0:32:420:32:47

He ordered more than 1,000 tonnes of British-supplied opium

0:32:470:32:52

to be seized and destroyed.

0:32:520:32:54

The British government was outraged.

0:32:560:33:00

It invoked a sacred and very convenient principle -

0:33:000:33:05

the principle of free trade.

0:33:050:33:08

Britain HAD to be allowed to trade what and where she liked,

0:33:080:33:12

especially in the case of opium.

0:33:120:33:15

Opium was making Britain rich.

0:33:150:33:18

It soon accounted for over a fifth

0:33:180:33:20

of the income of the government of India.

0:33:200:33:24

Two mighty empires, each convinced of their own superiority,

0:33:240:33:27

were now set on collision course.

0:33:270:33:30

The Opium Wars were about to begin.

0:33:320:33:34

Britain's first ocean-going iron warship, The Nemesis,

0:33:380:33:43

built in Liverpool, was sent out to take on the Emperor's navy.

0:33:430:33:47

It helped destroy much of it in a single afternoon.

0:33:470:33:51

This was the modern world confronting an ancient one.

0:33:530:33:57

Sailing junks against steam-driven gun boats.

0:33:570:34:01

The Chinese had no choice but to surrender

0:34:010:34:04

and to open five ports to British trade.

0:34:040:34:07

China had been forced to enter the modern global economy.

0:34:070:34:12

Hong Kong was one of Britain's prizes from the Opium Wars

0:34:150:34:20

and it remained in British hands until the end of the 20th century.

0:34:200:34:25

It would become one of the Empire's most important centres

0:34:270:34:31

for banking and trade.

0:34:310:34:33

FANFARE

0:34:330:34:37

When the British finally quit Hong Kong in 1997,

0:34:400:34:43

they did so boasting they were handing on a territory

0:34:430:34:47

"intimately wired into the world economy,"

0:34:470:34:50

the shameful origins of British colonial presence here

0:34:500:34:54

conveniently forgotten.

0:34:540:34:56

But China has never entirely forgotten

0:34:560:34:59

how a foreign power forced it at gunpoint

0:34:590:35:03

to allow millions of its citizens

0:35:030:35:06

to be turned into drug addicts.

0:35:060:35:09

In the second half of the 19th century,

0:35:200:35:23

the British Empire reached from Canada in the west

0:35:230:35:26

to Australia in the east.

0:35:260:35:28

The last phase of the expansion,

0:35:280:35:30

the conquest of much of Africa, was about to begin,

0:35:300:35:33

and many of these empire builders

0:35:330:35:35

believed their work was ordained by God.

0:35:350:35:38

In the summer of 1861, a small party of white men

0:35:430:35:47

found themselves travelling up the River Shire

0:35:470:35:50

in what is now Malawi.

0:35:500:35:52

ELEPHANT TRUMPETS

0:35:520:35:54

BIRDS CALL

0:35:570:35:59

To Europeans at that time, Africa was simply "The Dark Continent",

0:35:590:36:04

a place of ignorance and superstition.

0:36:040:36:08

They had come here to change that.

0:36:090:36:12

The men sang hymns as they travelled.

0:36:150:36:18

Lead Kindly Light was a particular favourite.

0:36:180:36:21

Their leader was already a legend in Britain,

0:36:210:36:24

a man who had come to embody the Victorian purpose in Africa.

0:36:240:36:29

His name was David Livingstone,

0:36:320:36:35

a deeply religious, fanatically determined Scot.

0:36:350:36:38

He was the first white man to have crossed the continent of Africa.

0:36:400:36:45

He'd come here as a missionary to save African souls for Christ

0:36:450:36:48

but what he found appalled him.

0:36:480:36:51

Britain had abolished slavery in the Empire decades before,

0:36:550:37:00

but Livingstone found Africans still being captured and sold

0:37:000:37:05

to Arab and Portuguese slavers all over East Africa.

0:37:050:37:08

Now he and his companions

0:37:120:37:14

dreamed of sowing the seeds of a new world here.

0:37:140:37:18

One based not on African superstition and slavery,

0:37:200:37:25

but on two Victorian obsessions -

0:37:250:37:28

Christianity

0:37:280:37:29

and free trade.

0:37:290:37:31

This river would become God's highway into the heart of Africa.

0:37:380:37:42

Down it would come African cotton

0:37:420:37:45

and wheat and ivory and ostrich feathers,

0:37:450:37:48

and up it, in exchange, would go clothes and tools and machinery

0:37:480:37:53

made in Glasgow or Manchester.

0:37:530:37:56

BIRDS CALL

0:37:560:37:59

Livingstone had a slogan for it -

0:38:000:38:04

Christianity and Commerce.

0:38:040:38:06

AFRICAN SINGING

0:38:060:38:10

This would be the Empire's new civilising mission.

0:38:100:38:13

But the place chosen by Livingstone for his mission

0:38:160:38:19

turned out to be hostile and dangerous...

0:38:190:38:22

..a malarial death trap.

0:38:230:38:24

Then, in 1865, after years of exploring the interior,

0:38:280:38:32

the most famous missionary in the world vanished.

0:38:320:38:36

Nothing was heard from him for an entire three years.

0:38:400:38:44

It was a worldwide mystery.

0:38:460:38:50

The New York Herald sent a journalist,

0:38:500:38:52

Henry Morton Stanley, to Africa.

0:38:520:38:55

"Find Livingstone", were his orders,

0:38:550:38:58

"by any means necessary."

0:38:580:39:00

FOLK MUSIC, DRUMS

0:39:030:39:06

And find him he did, in what would become

0:39:210:39:23

one of the most celebrated encounters of the Victorian age.

0:39:230:39:26

Stanley was a chancer,

0:39:280:39:30

so we must take his account of the meeting with a pinch of salt,

0:39:300:39:34

but here's what he says happened.

0:39:340:39:36

"As I approached, I noticed he was pale.

0:39:360:39:39

"He looked weary.

0:39:390:39:42

"I would have embraced him, but he being an Englishman,

0:39:420:39:45

"I wasn't sure how he would receive me.

0:39:450:39:48

"So I walked up to him deliberately, took off my hat and said,

0:39:480:39:53

"Dr Livingstone, I presume."

0:39:530:39:56

But Livingstone didn't want to give up.

0:39:580:40:01

For nearly two years, he continued with his mission

0:40:010:40:03

to abolish the slave trade of Central Africa.

0:40:030:40:07

He drove himself on, sick with cholera and dysentery.

0:40:070:40:11

He'd even extracted his own teeth.

0:40:110:40:13

Livingstone, it is said, made only one convert to Christianity,

0:40:190:40:23

nor did trade with the British

0:40:230:40:26

transform the lives of African villagers.

0:40:260:40:28

But he did help to persuade the British government

0:40:310:40:35

to fight slavery worldwide,

0:40:350:40:39

and the work of fanatical anti-slavers like Livingstone

0:40:390:40:42

persuaded the British that there was something noble about their empire.

0:40:420:40:47

He died in Africa.

0:40:510:40:52

He was alone, thousands of miles from home.

0:40:520:40:56

They found him in his hut,

0:40:560:40:58

kneeling, it was said, in prayer.

0:40:580:41:01

Two faithful servants,

0:41:050:41:07

one of them a former slave freed by Livingstone,

0:41:070:41:10

gathered up his body and carried it all the way to the coast.

0:41:100:41:14

There, they loaded it onto a ship bound for London.

0:41:200:41:23

His heart, though, was buried in Africa.

0:41:230:41:27

David Livingstone had become more than an explorer,

0:41:490:41:52

more than a missionary,

0:41:520:41:53

he had become a myth.

0:41:530:41:56

His brave life and lonely death

0:41:560:41:59

reassured a people busy conquering the world

0:41:590:42:02

that the Empire was about more than greed and domination.

0:42:020:42:07

It was about sacrifice and justice

0:42:070:42:10

and doing good.

0:42:100:42:12

The story of the British Empire

0:42:300:42:32

involved trade and conquest, of course,

0:42:320:42:35

but it also involved the movement of huge numbers of ordinary people.

0:42:350:42:40

Today, we sometimes find it hard to believe just how many people

0:42:430:42:47

migrated, willingly or unwillingly,

0:42:470:42:50

across huge distances to carve out the Empire and make it work.

0:42:500:42:54

And the consequences are still with us.

0:42:590:43:01

This is Nairobi in Kenya.

0:43:030:43:05

No-one planned Nairobi as a capital city. It just happened.

0:43:070:43:12

It happened because it was a railway stop

0:43:120:43:14

on one of the most ambitious lines in the entire British Empire,

0:43:140:43:18

the Lunatic Line.

0:43:180:43:20

For the Empire in 1900,

0:43:360:43:38

making yourself at home meant building a railway.

0:43:380:43:41

The line ran 600 miles

0:43:510:43:54

from the coast, through Nairobi

0:43:540:43:56

all the way to Lake Victoria.

0:43:560:43:58

It was built to bring British goods to the interior

0:44:000:44:04

and raw materials out to ports on the coast.

0:44:040:44:08

It would encourage British farmers to come out here and settle.

0:44:120:44:16

There was plenty to merit the title "The Lunatic Line."

0:44:180:44:23

There was the cost, £534 million in today's money.

0:44:230:44:28

There was the engineering required

0:44:280:44:30

to allow a train to climb from sea level into the mountains

0:44:300:44:34

and then to plunge down into the great rift valley,

0:44:340:44:37

and to construct 1,200 bridges along the way.

0:44:370:44:43

But it wasn't the British who built the railway.

0:44:470:44:50

It wasn't even the Africans. This remarkable feat

0:44:500:44:53

was the work of 32,000 labourers, craftsmen and engineers

0:44:530:44:58

brought in by the British from India.

0:44:580:45:02

They knew how to build railways there.

0:45:020:45:04

HORN BLOWS

0:45:100:45:12

Soon, the Lunatic Line

0:45:140:45:15

was carrying coffee and tea, sisal and wheat

0:45:150:45:19

from the settler's farms to the coast.

0:45:190:45:21

The building of the railway was a staggering feat

0:45:240:45:28

but it came at a staggering cost in human life.

0:45:280:45:31

2,500 workers were killed during its construction

0:45:340:45:38

by malaria, accidents,

0:45:380:45:41

or man-eating lions.

0:45:410:45:42

What was the attraction for someone like your great-grandfather

0:45:460:45:50

and his brother when they came here?

0:45:500:45:52

Well, I mean, to be honest,

0:45:520:45:54

I don't think you were very well off back at home, OK?

0:45:540:45:59

Cos, I mean, why would you want to leave the comfort of your home

0:45:590:46:03

to come to this wilderness?

0:46:030:46:05

Harsh African conditions, vegetation,

0:46:050:46:08

a strange land to them.

0:46:080:46:10

It wasn't very easy cos water was scarce,

0:46:110:46:14

especially when they were going

0:46:140:46:16

across the Tara desert, towards Salvo.

0:46:160:46:19

They didn't have water for showering for weeks.

0:46:190:46:22

They would just get enough water just to drink.

0:46:220:46:24

And what my great-grandfather told me is,

0:46:240:46:28

when the carriage would come for drinking water,

0:46:280:46:31

they would pretend to be clumsy drinking their water,

0:46:310:46:34

basically, they'd go, scoop it out and pretend to be clumsy about it

0:46:340:46:37

and in the process have a little shower, you know,

0:46:370:46:40

literally throw the water on them.

0:46:400:46:42

-And dangerous, dangerous.

-Yes.

0:46:420:46:44

Wilderness, wild animals, out in Salvo.

0:46:440:46:48

Salvo's a place?

0:46:480:46:49

Yes, that's man-eaters.

0:46:490:46:51

I've read accounts of these attacks by the man-eating lions

0:46:510:46:54

and they talk about men being dragged from their tents,

0:46:540:46:57

and their colleagues being able to hear them

0:46:570:46:59

-as they're eaten alive by the lions.

-Yes, yes.

0:46:590:47:02

Horrifying, isn't it?

0:47:020:47:03

Let me ask you a political question.

0:47:050:47:08

The fact that your, you and your community

0:47:080:47:11

are now a very, very long way

0:47:110:47:14

from where naturally you came from, and you're in this alien culture,

0:47:140:47:18

was what the British did in bringing you here

0:47:180:47:20

a good thing or a bad thing?

0:47:200:47:23

Um...

0:47:230:47:25

That's a good question.

0:47:250:47:28

To be honest, I have no regrets for being here

0:47:280:47:30

and when people ask me, you know, "Who are you?

0:47:300:47:33

"Where are you from?" You know?

0:47:330:47:35

I say Kenya's my home, and I have no regrets for coming here.

0:47:350:47:39

The Indian workers who built the Kenyan railway

0:47:470:47:51

were part of a bigger Empire story,

0:47:510:47:53

the shifting of populations around the globe

0:47:530:47:57

to meet the Empire's need for labour.

0:47:570:47:59

In the 18th century, Africans were taken as slaves

0:48:010:48:06

to the sugar plantations of the West Indies.

0:48:060:48:09

Their descendants now inhabit those islands.

0:48:110:48:15

In the 19th century, Tamils from South India were sent

0:48:170:48:20

to pick tea on estates in Sri Lanka

0:48:200:48:23

or to tap rubber in Malaya.

0:48:230:48:25

All had to make new homes in Britain's ever-growing Empire.

0:48:260:48:31

The world still lives with the consequences

0:48:310:48:34

of these great population shifts.

0:48:340:48:37

But what happened to these people

0:48:500:48:53

as the Empire began to recede?

0:48:530:48:55

In the 20th century,

0:48:560:48:57

Indians came to play a vital part in the Kenyan economy

0:48:570:49:01

as shopkeepers and professionals.

0:49:010:49:05

CHEERING

0:49:050:49:07

Then, on the 12th of December 1963,

0:49:080:49:11

Kenya gained independence from Britain.

0:49:110:49:14

Now, Indians in Kenya were seen as unwelcome relics

0:49:180:49:22

from the days of British rule.

0:49:220:49:25

Many of them feared for their future

0:49:250:49:28

and turned to their former colonial masters to provide a new home.

0:49:280:49:32

NEWSREEL PRESENTER: The Asian community prepare to leave.

0:49:320:49:35

Britain was their destination.

0:49:350:49:37

The Kenya government did not pull its punches in telling the British-passport-holding Asians

0:49:370:49:42

they were not wanted.

0:49:420:49:44

Asian shopkeepers had little alternative

0:49:440:49:46

but to wind up their businesses and seek new roots.

0:49:460:49:49

Many Kenyan Asians chose to settle in the Midlands,

0:49:520:49:56

in cities like Leicester.

0:49:560:49:58

In the process, they transformed the face of urban Britain.

0:49:580:50:02

The Empire was coming home.

0:50:040:50:06

The legacy of the British Empire

0:50:150:50:18

still affects millions of people across the globe,

0:50:180:50:21

in sometimes surprising ways.

0:50:210:50:24

The British introduced many parts of the world

0:50:270:50:30

to their favourite obsession...

0:50:300:50:33

Sport.

0:50:360:50:37

For the British, sport was part of the civilising mission of Empire,

0:50:410:50:46

the gift of the mother country to her colonies.

0:50:460:50:49

Whether it involved chasing a ball,

0:50:510:50:54

smashing it with a racket...

0:50:540:50:56

..or whacking it with a club.

0:50:570:50:59

The sporting gospel was carried

0:51:020:51:04

to the farthest-flung corners of the Empire.

0:51:040:51:07

Wherever in the Empire sport was played,

0:51:140:51:18

it was supposed to bind subject peoples to their colonial masters.

0:51:180:51:22

But the spirit of fair play and the interests of Empire

0:51:260:51:30

would eventually clash head-on.

0:51:300:51:32

The West Indian island of Jamaica

0:51:440:51:46

had been a British colony since 1655.

0:51:460:51:50

The British introduced cricket to Jamaica in the 1830s.

0:51:520:51:57

It soon seemed to enter the bloodstream of the island.

0:51:570:52:01

He's got a good eye, that boy in the yellow shirt, hasn't he?

0:52:040:52:07

Who's the best cricketer here?

0:52:070:52:09

You are?

0:52:090:52:11

You're the two champs?

0:52:120:52:14

But there was a problem here.

0:52:180:52:19

How could a game which prided itself on fairness

0:52:190:52:23

work in an empire divided between rulers and ruled,

0:52:230:52:29

and therefore very obviously unfair?

0:52:290:52:31

Cricket in the West Indies would become not a unifying force

0:52:330:52:37

but a symbol of oppression.

0:52:370:52:39

In 19th-century Jamaica, white people owned the land,

0:52:410:52:45

black people worked on it.

0:52:450:52:47

While cricket was supposed to be good for subject races,

0:52:480:52:51

at that time, black and white rarely played together.

0:52:510:52:54

It's a practise day at Sabina Park,

0:53:000:53:03

the home of Jamaica's Kingston Cricket Club.

0:53:030:53:05

When it was formed in 1863,

0:53:070:53:09

it was a place for white men to play the game.

0:53:090:53:13

Even when black and white began to play on the same side,

0:53:130:53:17

racial tensions in the game remained.

0:53:170:53:19

No black player was ever selected to captain the national team.

0:53:220:53:28

Whites were chosen to bat,

0:53:280:53:29

while blacks were relegated to bowling or fielding.

0:53:290:53:34

It wasn't quite the done thing

0:53:370:53:39

for white men to do a lot of running around in the tropics,

0:53:390:53:42

besides which there was a distinction

0:53:420:53:44

between brawn - bowling,

0:53:440:53:46

and brains - batting.

0:53:460:53:48

Batting was for white men.

0:53:480:53:50

Change had to come.

0:53:530:53:54

It arrived in the person of Frank Worrall, who in 1960

0:53:590:54:03

became the first black player

0:54:030:54:04

to captain a West Indies team for an entire series.

0:54:040:54:08

When Worrall brought his team to England,

0:54:100:54:13

they showed they could play the game rather better than their hosts.

0:54:130:54:17

'The Oval can never have known a scene like this.

0:54:170:54:21

'Victory in the series by three matches to one

0:54:210:54:23

'confirms the West Indies as the most powerful side in the world.'

0:54:230:54:28

It was generally inferred that here is the right person at last

0:54:320:54:35

to lead a West Indies team

0:54:350:54:37

because I think, before, there wasn't that unity

0:54:370:54:40

based on who was appointed captain, who was appointed vice captain.

0:54:400:54:44

Now it was felt that the players have a captain they can fight for.

0:54:440:54:48

So I think it was greeted with cheers throughout the Caribbean

0:54:480:54:51

and I think many people were saying,

0:54:510:54:53

"At last, we have the right man to lead."

0:54:530:54:56

-Like a Mandela moment!

-It certainly was, that's why I said that.

0:54:560:54:59

-Free at last, free at last.

-Free at last, at last, at last!

0:54:590:55:03

England taught the West Indies cricket

0:55:030:55:06

and there was a grand opportunity

0:55:060:55:08

for the students now to reverse that process

0:55:080:55:11

and in the mind of many of the West Indian players,

0:55:110:55:14

this was, you know, the turning point, I think, for everyone.

0:55:140:55:18

Sort of like sweet revenge.

0:55:180:55:20

CROWD CHEERS

0:55:200:55:22

In the end, the British idea of fair play

0:55:240:55:28

undermined the very notion of empire itself.

0:55:280:55:32

If a black cricket captain, why not a black prime minister?

0:55:320:55:36

In 1962, Jamaica became the first Caribbean island

0:55:380:55:43

to gain independence,

0:55:430:55:45

and through the 1960s, all over the Empire,

0:55:450:55:48

from the West Indies to Fiji,

0:55:480:55:50

the Union Jack came down.

0:55:500:55:53

The Empire brought blood and tears

0:56:040:56:07

and dispossession to millions of people,

0:56:070:56:10

but it also brought roads and railways and education.

0:56:100:56:14

There is no simple judgement

0:56:190:56:21

to be made on three turbulent centuries of history.

0:56:210:56:25

The Empire was certainly cruel, unjust, and unjustifiable

0:56:270:56:32

if you were a slave on a plantation in the 18th century.

0:56:320:56:37

But it was benign, if you were rescued from a slave ship

0:56:400:56:43

by the Royal Navy in the 19th century.

0:56:430:56:46

For good or ill,

0:56:530:56:54

much of the world is as it is today because of the Empire.

0:56:540:56:59

From the way it looks...

0:57:000:57:01

..to the sports people play.

0:57:060:57:08

From the religion they practise

0:57:130:57:17

to the language they speak.

0:57:170:57:19

It has changed the very genetic make-up of Britain.

0:57:250:57:28

If only we can look at it clear-eyed,

0:57:300:57:33

it can tell us a lot about who we are.

0:57:330:57:36

It's a story that belongs to all of us.

0:57:380:57:42

We've been through pride,

0:58:060:58:08

we've been through shame,

0:58:080:58:10

mostly nowadays we seem to be in denial,

0:58:100:58:12

but if we really want to understand who we are,

0:58:120:58:16

it's time we stopped pretending the Empire was nothing to do with us.

0:58:160:58:21

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0:58:520:58:55

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