Myths and Moguls

In her haste to challenge received opinions about British rule in India, Maria Misra is in danger of creating a new myth of a benign Anglo-Mogul age ("Before the pith helmets", 8 October). Ultimately, the impulse that drove the "white moguls" of the East India Company was the constant search for profit. While there is no doubt that a number of its administrators demonstrated a deep fascination for Indian culture, this did little to temper the zeal with which the company manipulated markets and extracted taxes. Province after province was crippled as the company took control. And Warren Hastings, whom Misra praises for his "Burkean conservatism" and respect for Indian ways, was actually impeached (though acquitted) of "high crimes and misdemeanours" by Burke and Charles James Fox in one of many attempts to place the corrupt company under parliamentary rule.

Nick Robins
London SW20

This article first appeared in the 22 October 2001 issue of the New Statesman, A plan for the world