Looters and pilferers

Amal Chatterjee
15 min readApr 27, 2021


Source: Google photo of the British and his servants in India

Synopsis : The world history is replete with invasion of rich and beautiful countries by those who sought to expand their rule over them in order to enrich themselves . The whole idea of colonialism was based on it but the British took it to the next level when they invaded India and carted away over 45 trillion dollars worth in loot and leaving behind their bloody legacy of massacres, rapes and ruthless tyranny that left scars that fail to heal.

Once India was called the golden bird because she was immensely rich. It accounted for over 25 % of the global trade at some point exporting silk, spices and numerous manufactured goods. The story of its vast riches reached far and wide that got the attention of the looters and pilferers in every continent who then made a very determined effort to loot and pilfer the riches of India.

The loot of India started long before the Mughals or the British arrived. The looters came from Afghanistan through the Khybar pass bringing with them often a huge army with the promise of sharing the loot with them so there was no shortage of greedy people to pillage the country. Among them were rabid fundamentalist Moslems who thought that it was their duty to bring Islam to the heathens by any means so they chose the most violent means being most expedient. To them it was a worthy cause so they came to shed blood and brought back the loot and the slaves to Afghanistan. They destroyed beautiful Hindu temples to build mosques all over India. These Moslem invaders not only looted the riches of the temple, they desecrated the idols in the temple and totally destroyed them turning into rubbles .They killed a large number of innocent people and forced Islam on the rest.

In 1024, during the reign of Bhima I, the prominent Turkic Muslim ruler Mahmud of Ghazni raided Gujarat, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its jyotirlinga. He took away a booty of 20 million gold dinars. They later boasted that Mahmud had killed 50,000 devotees who tried to defend the temple. The temple has been rebuilt after the independence. It would have been remarkable if they had done so only once but it is hard to believe that they looted it 17 times over as many years because of a rabid fundamentalism in Islam that forbade female deities that were found in the temple. (Wikipedia )

Source : Google photo of the ruins of Somnath temple in India

Another invader called Bakhtiar Khilji also came to India in the 12th century to loot and massacre a very large number of Hindus and Buddhists but his worst crime was the burning to ashes the one and only University of Nalanda that had a vast library of over 9 million books and manuscripts that took them over six months to burn all the library contained. They slayed all the teachers and students who meant no harm to anyone. Now you can visit the ruins of what was once a great university 800 years ago and wonder at the horrific cruelty of the Afghans.

Source : Google photo of the ruins of the Nalanda university

The Indian history is replete with invasions, mass slaughter of its peaceful people and mass forced conversion of Hindus to Islam using threats of death.

But the Mughals excelled in warfare to impose their will on India so Babur came to try his luck in the 15th century when he easily defeated the Sultan of Delhi in the battle of Panipat north of Delhi and established the Mughal Empire. It would last until 1857 when the last Mughal king was ousted by the British and sent to Burma to die there.

Before Babur, there were numerous invaders from Afghanistan who came to loot and massacre Indians at will and some of them stayed to rule as Sultans in Delhi. Others returned to Herat or Ghazni with their loot. What is sad is the fact after all the loot they got from India, Afghanistan today remains mired in poverty and warfare because the looters only enriched themselves but spent very little to improve the lives of common people of Afghanistan while England used the loot to develop its country. They became an industrial country with the raw materials they got from India and sold their manufactured goods all over the world to become richer. Spain and France did the same by exploiting the raw materials they got from their colonies to develop their own textile and rubber industries.

But when it came to loot the country systematically and subjugate its people, the British proved to be the most efficient. They brought with them modern weapons like rifles and gun powder, canons and military people who then went on to create and train a vast army of Indians that they needed to win numerous battles they fought and won. This army was loyal to them and killed Indians at their behest like in Jalianwala Bagh in Amritsar where they shot dead in cold blood 1600 innocent men , women and even children who had peacefully gathered to protest the occupation of India in 1919. I have visited the park where the scars of bullets on the walls are still visible.

All tyrants need an army and the police force to rule so the British took over the entire country stretching from Afghanistan to Burma and ruled it with an iron fist first in the name of the East India trading company and later in the name of Queen Victoria after the first insurrection for freedom in 1857 that they crushed using the Indian soldiers to shoot and hang thousands of freedom fighters.

How the foreigners looted India to make their own country rich so that India became a destitute country where people starved and lived in extreme poverty is well documented. This was a shameful descent of a once proud and rich country into poverty and hopelessness because they were not united to put up a fight to win back their freedom. A hero called Bose would be born later to do just that .I have written about the national hero Bose and his struggle for the independence in my earlier blogs that you may like to read in this context.

There is a story that is commonly told in Britain that the colonization of India — as horrible as it may have been — was not of any major economic benefit to Britain itself. If anything, the administration of India was a cost to Britain. So the fact that the empire was sustained for so long — the story goes — was a gesture of Britain’s benevolence.

New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaikjust published by Columbia University Press — deals a crushing blow to this narrative. Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938. It’s a staggering sum. For perspective, $45 trillion is 17 times more than the total annual gross domestic product of the United Kingdom today.

How did this come about?

It happened through the trade system. Prior to the colonial period, Britain bought goods like textiles and rice from Indian producers and paid for them in the normal way — mostly with silver — as they did with any other country. But something changed in 1765, shortly after the East India Company took control of the subcontinent and established a monopoly over Indian trade.

Here’s how it worked.

The East India Company began collecting taxes in India, and then cleverly used a portion of those revenues (about a third) to fund the purchase of Indian goods for British use. In other words, instead of paying for Indian goods out of their own pocket, British traders acquired them for free, “buying” from peasants and weavers using money that had just been taken from them.

It was a scam:

It was a theft on a grand scale. Yet most Indians were unaware of what was going on because the agent who collected the taxes was not the same as the one who showed up to buy their goods. Had it been the same person, they surely would have smelled a rat.

Some of the stolen goods were consumed in Britain, and the rest were re-exported elsewhere. The re-export system allowed Britain to finance a flow of imports from Europe, including strategic materials like iron, tar and timber, which were essential to Britain’s industrialisation. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution depended in large part on this systematic theft from India.

On top of this, the British were able to sell the stolen goods to other countries for much more than they “bought” them for in the first place, pocketing not only 100 percent of the original value of the goods but also the markup.

After the British Raj took over in 1858, colonisers added a special new twist to the tax-and-buy system. As the East India Company’s monopoly broke down, Indian producers were allowed to export their goods directly to other countries. But Britain made sure that the payments for those goods nonetheless ended up in London.

How did this work?

Basically, anyone who wanted to buy goods from India would do so using special Council Bills — a unique paper currency issued only by the British Crown. And the only way to get those bills was to buy them from London with gold or silver. So traders would pay London in gold to get the bills, and then use the bills to pay Indian producers. When Indians cashed the bills in at the local colonial office, they were “paid” in rupees out of tax revenues — money that had just been collected from them. So, once again, they were not in fact paid at all; they were defrauded.

Meanwhile, London ended up with all of the gold and silver that should have gone directly to the Indians in exchange for their exports.

This corrupt system meant that even while India was running an impressive trade surplus with the rest of the world — a surplus that lasted for three decades in the early 20th century — it showed up as a deficit in the national accounts because the real income from India’s exports was appropriated in its entirety by Britain.

Some point to this fictional “deficit” as evidence that India was a liability to Britain. But exactly the opposite is true. Britain intercepted enormous quantities of income that rightly belonged to Indian producers. India was the goose that laid the golden egg. Meanwhile, the “deficit” meant that India had no option but to borrow from Britain to finance its imports. So the entire Indian population was forced into completely unnecessary debt to their colonial overlords, further cementing British control.

Britain used the windfall from this fraudulent system to fuel the engines of imperial violence — funding the invasion of China in the 1840s and the suppression of the Indian Rebellion in 1857. And this was on top of what the Crown took directly from Indian taxpayers to pay for its wars. As Patnaik points out, “the cost of all Britain’s wars of conquest outside Indian borders were charged always wholly or mainly to Indian revenues.”

And that’s not all. Britain used this flow of tribute from India to finance the expansion of capitalism in Europe and regions of European settlement, like Canada and Australia. So not only the industrialisation of Britain but also the industrialisation of much of the Western world was facilitated by extraction from the colonies.

Patnaik identifies four distinct economic periods in colonial India from 1765 to 1938, calculates the extraction for each, and then compounds at a modest rate of interest (about 5 percent, which is lower than the market rate) from the middle of each period to the present. Adding it all up, she finds that the total drain amounts to $44.6 trillion. This figure is conservative, she says, and does not include the debts that Britain imposed on India during the Raj.

These are eye-watering sums. But the true costs of this drain cannot be calculated. If India had been able to invest its own tax revenues and foreign exchange earnings in development — as Japan did — there’s no telling how history might have turned out differently. India could very well have become an economic powerhouse. Centuries of poverty and suffering could have been prevented.

All of this is a sobering antidote to the rosy narrative promoted by certain powerful voices in Britain. The conservative historian Niall Ferguson has claimed that British rule helped “develop” India. While he was prime minister, David Cameron asserted that British rule was a net help to India.

This narrative has found considerable traction in the popular imagination: according to a 2014 YouGov poll, 50 percent of people in Britain believe that colonialism was beneficial to the colonies.

Yet during the entire 200-year history of British rule in India, there was almost no increase in per capita income. In fact, during the last half of the 19th century — the heyday of British intervention — income in India collapsed by half. The average life expectancy of Indians dropped by a fifth from 1870 to 1920. Tens of millions died needlessly of policy-induced famine.

Britain didn’t develop India. Quite the contrary — as Patnaik’s work makes clear — India developed Britain.

What does this require of Britain today?

An apology? Absolutely. Reparations? Perhaps — although there is not enough money in all of Britain to cover the sums that Patnaik identifies. In the meantime, we can start by setting the story straight. We need to recognize that Britain retained control of India not out of benevolence but for the sake of plunder and that Britain’s industrial rise didn’t emerge sui generis from the steam engine and strong institutions, as our schoolbooks would have it, but depended on violent theft from other lands and other peoples. ( source : article by Utsa Patnaik , economist )

The horrible famines of 1770 and 1943 in Bengal :

Indian citizens waiting in line at a soup kitchen. Photograph: By LIFE

The Bengal famine of 1943 was the only one in modern Indian history not to occur as a result of serious drought, according to a study that provides scientific backing for arguments that Churchill-era British policies were a significant factor contributing to the catastrophe. This famine was largely attributed to the harsh taxation by the British, poor rainfall and hoarding of rice by the black marketers but the shipment of food from Australia that arrived at the Kolkata port was diverted to England by the order of Churchill who said that the Indians breed like rabbit. Let them starve. Some three million people did so and died. The famine of 1770 had taken over 10 million lives that could have been avoided by the British but they failed to do so just like in the famine of 1943.

If you closely look at the interior walls of Taj Mahal in Agra, you will notice that the jewels decorating the inlay art work on the marble are all fake because the British took out the real gems and put glass beads instead. The real gems of diamonds, rubies and sapphires etc. were used originally to decorate the art work that glowed in the candle light but even the mighty Mughal kings and queens could not protect their mausoleums from the British. The loot did not stop there.

They took away the legacy of a great nation when they carted away thousands of statues from temples, museums and royal palaces to fill their museums in England. This loot was so systematic that it boggles our mind. Gold, silver, bronze and other precious artifacts ended up in English museums because there was no one to stop them. The queen Elizabeth II shamelessly wears the crown that is studded with stolen diamonds from India.

They brought railway lines to do it. They laid a vast network of railway lines, built bridges and cut tunnels through mountains so that they could carry away to England , train loads of cotton, grains and minerals to run their factories . They made saris out of cotton from India in Birmingham mills and sold them back to India. In the process they destroyed whatever textile industry India had and were very upset when Mohandas Gandhi started to encourage the weaving and making of Khadi cotton clothes in villages throughout the country.

The French were also very good at looting so you will find their museums filled with statuaries from Egypt and precious jewelries of gold and silver. I have seen them at the Louvre in Paris and wondered at their audacity of looting the heritage of a country so brazenly and so shamelessly just like the British in India. Napoleon Bonaparte brought back to France shiploads of statues and even obelisks from Egypt while the Egyptians looked hopelessly and cowered before the looting army of the king of France.

The Spanish invaders of Mexico and other Latin countries carried back to Spain numerous shiploads of gold , silver and other precious things using their brute military force to subjugate and kill the Mexicans and left behind the country in total ruin and chaos. The rabble priests who always accompanied the conquistadores forced Christianity on the hapless people and their soldiers killed those who refused so it was the same thing the Moslems did in India.

The British, French and the Portuguese all brought ruthless padres to spread their brand of Christianity among the Indians as if they all needed to be saved being the pagans. This was their mentality that the Indians were unbelievers so they must be made to believe in the imported religion in order to save them from purgatory.

St Xavier in Goa left a bloody legacy of forceful conversion of the locals there but is called a saint just the same. Many Portuguese, Spanish and the French saints were specially trained by the Inquisition to do so. The French went a step further when they brought with them the infamous guillotine to chop off the heads of unbelievers in the new world they had conquered.

The British developed a very efficient tax collection system throughout the Indian subcontinent and placed well trained tax collectors in every district for this purpose. They trained many young and bright Indians in England to become ICS officers (Imperial civil service) who would return to India to work for the British as tax collectors, judges, administrative officers, accountants etc. They ran the Empire under close supervision of their British masters. The British established law schools, universities, medical colleges and other such institutions to educate and train Indians to serve their needs because they could not bring all such people from England. The same way they created the British army by recruiting and training Indians to do their dirty jobs. Only the officers were British.

The police officers were always British but the policemen of lower ranks were recruited and trained by the British. They were loyal to their masters and played a major role in subjugating their own countrymen using very harsh methods. If you remember the scene from the movie Gandhi, you will see how the policemen beat the peaceful protesters the whole day to fracture their skulls and kill many because that was the order of the British.

The British were more sophisticated so they brought with them the modern technology of warfare and a system to administer the whole country in order to exploit its wealth. The apologists in England still claim that the British Raaj for good for India because they meaning the British brought new technologies and an efficient administrative system but they still do not admit that it was all done to serve the British interest and not the Indians.

The Indians remained mired in poverty and a constant state of subjugation and humiliation because the colonialists were so ruthless. They put up signboards outside their clubs saying Indians and dogs not allowed here. No Indian could ride a train in the first class section anywhere and no Indian could ever be the head of an office. The British took to sexually molest Indian women at will thus creating the Anglo Indians who still dream of migrating to England they call home.

Source : U tube video

Source : U tube video

Source : U tube video

I have put together a few videos that will explain to you in graphic details the rape and loot of India that will open your eyes to what really happened and who were responsible for it. The world knows so little about this dark side of the British because they wrote the history to make them look good. British children are not taught what really happened in the British Empire in which the crown jewel was India. Their paid historians only wrote what pleased their masters.

But India is now a free country and rising fast to become a developed country and a great military power. The people born after the Independence in 1947 do not know much about the British Raaj because practically nothing remains of the British presence in India now. The physical signs are long gone but what still remains is the scar they left behind that does not heal. The glass beads of Taj Mahal or the millions of Anglo Indians will remind you who were the British and what they did to India.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

les blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

My blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts



Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русскиu