[NB: this folderol was originally posted in July of 2005.]
With sincere, deep respect and sympathy for the victims of the despicable terrorist attacks in London on July 7, 2005, this blog proceeds with its scheduled post. Because if non-news blogs start getting all martial and solemn, the violent fundamentalist Muslims win. And God knows we don't need that.
So, here's to the Raj. Deliberately turning aside from historical controversy, let's focus on the good side of the Empire. Yes, colonialism is a step up from slavery, but India did benefit just a little from British rule. Why, the British encouraged Indian education, cut down on feudal abuses, imposed a geographical unity to India, in general improved the plight of the lower castes, and built.... how many miles of railroads across India, where none existed before?
Between 23,000 and 30,000 is the usual estimate. Say 25,000.
God bless that voracious Victorian work ethic and God save the Queen!
P.S. Please do not comment that these rails were built to bring in cotton and transport troops, and thus served only to keep Indians cotton spinners poor and oppressed. I know that. Dammit, I'm feeling the love for old Albion right now! Stiff upper lip and all that!