Jea Yoon Han
November 3rd, 2014
The Empire of Good Intention
The video, The Empire of Good Intentions, presents a complete account of the idealistic British Empire’s presence in India. Simon Schama reveals the fundamental aspects of governing principles of the Empire in India. He shows the effect of the free market economies and the liberal politics on the presence and the influence of British Empire in India. Some transformational occurrences in India such as the mutiny and Irish Potato Famine are greatly highlighted. As a result, the attempts of Britain to civilize Indians and simultaneously transform them into British people through education and legal reforms are ...view middle of the document...
The Britain’s ideals of imperial greatness were characterized by the uplifting of the impoverished and ancient society in India by enabling them to be self-reliant. The plan did not succeed due to failure to consider the complex aspects of the Indian society.
One of the subjects covered in the video was the influence of liberalism on the imperial discourse, which had a direct effect on Britain’s ideologies on the empire’s presence in India. It describes that the perceptions of civilization indicated the extent to which the trends in liberalism were shaped by the imperial ideology. The video also points out that the utilitarian supported a unique form of utilitarian liberal reform and considered cultural and political assimilation of Indians into Britons through education and legal methods. Additionally, the empire planned a novel concept of governing the subcontinent that replaced the conservative liberalism in the attempts to advance the influence of Britain in India and enhance the significance of the empire. Several viceroys embodied the novel trend in ideology, abandoned the reform and concentrated on the ‘fundamental differences’ of Indians. In this case, Britain focused on legitimization by considering the reinterpretation of Indian history.
In the video, Schama highlights the liberal nature of ideology of imperialism in India, which was eventually overwhelmed with conflict and changes in the system. Schama explains the clash between the conflicting elements of Victorian conservatism and liberalism of utilitarianism. The clash was characterized by the differences between the interests of conservatives that focused on political and cultural differences and the Indian traditions preservation, and the opposing utilitarian ideas that emphasized on the civilizing power of reformation. The conflicting ideologies also described the inconsistency of Britain’s undertaking, which depicted the role of Britain in India as the embodiment of the ancient Mughal rule, or as the role of a reformation. The combination of Victorian conservatism and liberalism of utilitarianism eventually defined India’s liberal empire.
Another subject covered in the video is the concept of free market and utilitarianism, which were intensely influential in Britain’s presence in India. As the British rule sought to bring improvement to India, utilitarians and free traders fashioned a novel ideology of imperial governance based on the principles of liberalism. Schama points out that the development in liberal philosophy in regard to imperial governance was reflected in India. However, considerable opposition occurred, which had to be overcome. It seemed that liberal reformers had identified an appropriate opportunity for implementing the imperial governance. These reformers had projected India as a suitable subject of implementing the ideology typified with people’s minimal capacity to protest. As such, India was considered as a laboratory for liberal experimentation...