October 20

Peaceful legacy of empire

It is fashionable if not to condemn the past, at least to say sorry for it. It was refreshing then to see two letters in The Telegraph (14-20/10) each of which makes a valid point.

Randhir Singh Bains, of Gants Hill, Essex wrote:

“SIR – When Michael Palin says that "we must stop saying sorry for our past" (report, Issue 950), he is merely reiterating what Indian historians have been saying for years: that the British Empire was not just destructive and bad, and that it was, in many ways, a blessing in disguise, for it exposed India to the idea of parliamentary democracy, the rule of law and the modern socioeconomic system."

" To see what India would have been like had the British not arrived there in the 18th century, we need only to look at the current state of Afghanistan, a country that was never ruled by any European power, including the British.”


And Colonel Peter Clough, of Ashburton, Devon wrote:

“SIR – If the Empire was so oppressive or repressive as some maintain, perhaps those who want us to apologise should question why 52 former dominions and colonies are voluntary members of the Commonwealth, with the Queen as its head."

" Why, also, did Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, ask to become a member, being accepted in 1995?”


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