The British did not develop, rather “de-developed” India, said Felix Padel Darwin, a descendent of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. “India was developed long before and British conquered it because they were developed militarily,” said Darwin, an adjunct professor in Jawarlal Nehru University’s School of Social Sciences, visiting the city for a national seminar on ‘Social ecology and environmental movements in India’ at Lucknow University.
“India was far more developed than Britain in terms of multi-cultural ethos and in its manufacturing skills. After the British rule, the quality of manufacturing in many things like cloth declined radically and went in the ‘de-developing’ mode,” he said.
Tribal communities (adivasis) whose lands are taken over or invaded by a mining company or for a dam, undergo a precisely similar process, said the social scientist, adding that it’s a long process of developing a symbiosis as their natural environment is cut off and their quality of life drops drastically. Their indigenous process of development is disrupted and destroyed effectively, he elaborated.
Darwin is fascinated with the indigenous culture of the tribal communities. “They are egalitarian, have excellent environmental knowledge. Tribal societies are far more developed than the mainstream industrial society, especially if we look at living sustainably,” he said.
Terming the mainstream industrial society as uncivilised and primitive, the London-born sociologist-activist said adivasis have a strong sense of law which the entire country must learn from. Their legal process reconciles with contestants rather than one party right proving the other wrong. “Traditionally, both parties were usually fined, and the fines paid funded a feast of reconciliation. What can be more civilised than that,” said Darwin, and adds, there are thousands of thousands court cases pending.
The scenario is no different in developed countries like America. Darwin said, in India, corruption is very easily visible. “The corruption starts from my own country Britain. The top accountancy firms don’t even see the proper documents. They just see the mark of British approval. It is meaningless but is completely forced,” says Darwin
Human right is the index of development of the country. But today, thousands of police officers are raping with complete impunity. “In Shivaji’s regime, the person committing rape was immediately executed. I am not saying that capital punishment is right or wrong but it surely created a fear among others,” said Darwin.