The sun might have set on the formidable British empire, but not on its legacy.
Many of the present day conflicts around the world have deep-seated links with British colonial polices, their mismanagement of the process of independence, and the legacy they left behind in law, by drawing up unviable borders and by migrating cheap labour from one colony to the other.
Shashi Tharoor’s book, ‘An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India’, scheduled to release next month, is expected to talk about the colonial looting of India.
But while it’s up to these erstwhile colonies now to resolve matters on their own and the blame cannot forever lie with the British, in many situations the roots of the conflict lie in imperialism.
Here’s a list of 7 present day conflicts around the world triggered and often exacerbated by the English colonisers.
1. No Country for Rohingyas
The Muslim minority in a Buddhist-dominated country, the Myanmar government considers the nearly one million strong Rohingya population illegal Bangladeshi immigrants who are often pejoratively called “Bengalis”. Discriminated against for years, the Rohingyas of Myanmar have been classified by the United Nations as one of the ‘most persecuted refugee groups in the world’.
2. Israel-Palestine and the Balfour Declaration
The formation of the Jewish state of Israel in the middle-east is a direct result of Britain’s infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917. In a letter to Baron Rothschild, a leader of the Zionist movement, Britain’s then Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour declared that his government “would use its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object (of establishing a national home for Jewish people in Palestine)“.
3. Pakistan-Afghanistan and the Disputed Durand Line
The controversial Durand Line, Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan is a colonial legacy that has shaped Afghanistan’s foreign policy with Pakistan for decades. In 1893, the British sought control of the strategic Khyber Pass, and a British diplomat, Mortimer Durand, was sent over to the Emirate of Afghanistan to negotiate a border. The resulting Durand Line also took away the province of Baluchistan, Afghanistan’s strategic access to the Arabian Sea.
4. The Cyprus Dispute
The dispute over the island of Cyprus on the Mediterranean has been a four-decade-long conflict between Greece and Turkey. The Cyprus Convention of 1878 between Britain and Turkey made Cyprus a British protectorate – administered by Britain but remaining under Turkish sovereignty – to protect this Ottoman jewel from Russia. In 1914, however, when Britain and Turkey became adversaries in World War I, Britain formally colonised Cyprus. British occupation was at first celebrated by the Greek Cypriots, who expected the coloniser to transfer Cyprus to Greece.
5. Indian Communalism and the Policy of Divide and Rule
While India continues to grapple with communal tensions, several schools of historians argue that Indian communalism has roots in the pre-Independence era, actively aided and abetted by the British Raj. According to historian Bipan Chandra, communal politics has been organised around government jobs and educational concessions which can provide easier access to economic opportunities. By favouring certain communities over others, the British encouraged communalism to quell popular struggles.
6. North Borneo and the Interpretation of ‘Pajak’
The North Borneo dispute between Malaysia and Philippines is over the state of Sabah. The territorial dispute pre-dates to the time the British North Borneo Chartered Company operated in the area. Under the contract, known as pajak, the British could occupy Sabah as long as it paid a regular sum of money. But the British, and subsequently an independent Malaysia interpreted the contract to mean sale, while the Sulu Sultanate continues to maintain it means lease.
7. India, China and the McMahon ‘Lie’
The McMahon Line that designates the border between India and China has for decades been a bone of contention between the two neighbours. The line was allegedly agreed upon during the Simla Conference organised by Sir Henry McMahon, the then Foreign Secretary of British India. At the conference, called by McMahon to settle the border dispute between India and China, only the China-Tibet border was discussed. The Tibetan and Indian representatives signed the agreement. China, who considers Tibet its territory, did not.
Courtesy : https://www.thequint.com/world/2016/10/19/britain-7-present-day-conflicts-world-communalism-israel-palestine-rohingyas-cyprus-shashi-tharoor-era-of-darkness