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Publisher's Summary

A unique record of the last 17 years of the British Raj, as seen through the eyes of a young officer of the Indian Political Service. Taken from Norval Mitchell's own original memoir, written in 1975, his son, David, carefully edited the work to produce an account of a man for whom improving the lot of the masses, those quiet people of India, met with ever-increasing frustration by the "dead hand" of British and Indian bureaucracy.

©2010 CoolBeat Audiobooks (P)2010 CoolBeat Audiobooks

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In context

Yes, the Raj was self serving. Yes, Norval Mitchell served the Raj honestly and with full dedication. Yes, using a cane to punish people is intolerable. And yes, he should have been more focused on the damage the Raj was doing to India. However (and you knew this was coming, right?) he was a product of his time and he departed India 70 years ago after a long and, in terms of the Raj, successful career. I'll give him ample credit for seeing that England's policy toward independence for India was flawed and also self-serving. Between 70 and 100 years ago it was acceptable to cane people, Mitchell himself was caned regularly as a youngster. It was so common he didn't appear to question it deeply and even sent his own children to his old school. I think this is a very good piece of history, carefully written with a view toward accuracy.
And as far as India's attitude goes toward the Raj and their history as a colony I suggest India has done a remarkably better job of dealing with colonial images than my own country. Coronation Park in New Delhi contains statues of colonial heroes, gradually deposited there over the decades following Independence. The park was where the lavish Coronation Durbars held in 1877 and 1903 and houses, among others, statues of Edward VII, Queen Victoria, Lord Halifax, and Lord Willingdon. There is a delightful subtle irony regarding a park filled with obsolete colonial grandees: there they sit, somewhat at a loss to understand why they are there, puzzled at their new location and no longer heroic images to the empire on public view. Some were even reported to have been sold back to Britain and Australia by the Indian government!

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Just an amazing book about the british Raj

The story in this book follows the mood in now Pakistan at that time very well

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Memoirs of a Human Rights Violator...

Ths book is somewhat inaptly named. It should have been titled "The Quietened People of India". The author details how British used draconian measures to contain freedom movement in India. He tries to dilute the ramifications of Churchill's "scorched earth" policy during second world war which lead to the death of 3 million Indians due to famine induced by it in rice belt. Once expected a more honest description of the Bengal famine in 1942 from somebody who was posted in the same area. But you would be sorely disappointed if you expeced truth from this apologist of the British imperialism. The author details with a smug rectitude how he punished the rebellious Indians by caning them on their backs and butts (Amnesty, are you listening here!) but had a doctor monitor their physical condition to withstand such punishment before he actually had it administered. He wants to feel good about this consideration for the people at the receiving end of his atrocity. He also documents how he had the properties of the Indians, participating civil disobedience, confiscated for not paying the arbitrary fines imposed on them for participating in freedom movement. In many cases , these properties consisted of few utensils, family silks and little trinkets of gold and silver and some grain. Majority of Indians were too poor afford to pay the hefty fines imposed on them for demanding self-rule. He remains silent about Churchill's deliberate policy of depriving Indians of the food grains which other countries were willing to send for free when the news of British induced famine reached those countries. The author has the penchant to describe robbery from natives as willing contribution from them for a war they did not start but had to pay immense price for in human and financial terms. A book like this, full of retarted conceit, patronizing generalizations and moral smugness, could have only come from the pen of a true blue Brit. An important memoir of atrocities nonetheless.

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  • Sammy
  • 08-23-15

History of pre partition India

It's more of Diary of a British officer in British India purely from his perspective . The Indian side of the story is missing . Though it makes interesting reading .

2 people found this helpful