From the Dakghar maillist
A Letter from Austin
Arun Kumar
September 1997

Calculating Britain's Debt to India 

    In the 1870's Dadabhai Naoroji, later twice President of the Indian National Congress, estimated that Britain was bleeding India at the rate of three to four million pounds per year. Or was it thirty to forty million? I need to check on that. Anyway let's stick with the lesser amounts for now. Average those to 3.5 million pounds per year. Assume that that sum was constant from 1857 to 1947. Assume further that the British looted a paltry 1 million pounds per annum from 1767 to 1856. Assume a 7.875% rate of annual interest compounded yearly. That must be a good rate because that is what I'm paying through the initial years on the adjustable-rate mortgage on my house. Then we calculate 

Sum_{n = 1997 - 1767}^{n = 1997 - 1856} (1.07875)^n +
3.5 * Sum_{n = 1997 - 1857}^{n = 1997 - 1947} (1.07875)^n = (0.07875)^(-1) [(1.07875^231 - 1.07875^141)
- 3.5 * (1.07875^141 - 1.07875^50)] million pounds. 
    That works out to about 521,000,000,000,000 pounds, to be divided between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Interest is currently accruing at the very serious rate of 41,000,000,000,000 pounds per annum. I haven't included damages, and interest thereon, for the Bengal famine, the Jallianwallah Bagh, and other like injuries. I haven't even included "gifts" like the Koh-i-noor. How much must we Indians have loved George V (or was it Billy XVII? Saala mammary no work today.) to have given him a nice gift like that to stick with glue on his gold crown! And where he stole gold and glue? 

    On the basis of the current populations of India (946 million), Pakistan (140 million), and Bangladesh (119 million), unless we wish to make this a class action, India's share is 409 trillion pounds. That would give every Indian 400,000 pounds. And even after that disbursement there would still be about 31 trillion pounds left over for the benefit of great Indian con-artistes like SR to stuff their ceilings, their pillows, their mattresses, and their Swiss bank accounts with. The Swiss appear to live rather comfortably off other peoples' loot. What a deal! 

    My friend Tim Willis (his wife, Dixie, is Irish-american. No love British much either) asked me if nobody had ever estimated how much the British looted from India. Therefore I respond with this humble first-order estimate. Any refinements welcome. Tim wondered if the World Court could not be moved to ask the British to pay up, say by the year 2000. Any bets? 

    Ram Ramarao suggests that Indian economists should be preparing accurate estimates of how much the British looted. He says that if American economists can do environmental economics and place dollar values on the non-extinction of whales, and clean and unclean air, etc., then it should be a peach to figure out exactly how much the British looted. Of course, those estimates should also cover "gifts" and damages. 

    It will be good to keep the estimates handy, even if no collection mechanism appears obvious today. There may come a day when there is big gun hanging from India's belt, and that sort of thing has the miraculous property of making the impossible possible. Not for nothing did the Indian princes quietly sign on the dotted line under a statement of the "doctrine of lapse" that decreed that their kingdom would pass to the British if they had no surviving male offspring. Maybe Prince Dody and Princess Diana's high-speed ascent to a higher plane is the sign we have all waited for. 

    By the way, the Smithsonian did not publish my letter. The Queen of England wrote to the Editor and promised him some loot to hush it all up. That is such a behud ghatiya magazine! 

Waiting for my 1,600,000 pounds (there's four of us here, counting our two ABCD's)
Arun Kumar 
 

End of Calculating Britain's Debt to India page