The Impact of Lord Curzon on the East

If you have ever been fortunate enough to visit historic sites, far and wide, you will find that even till today the shadows of the past never stop echoing, through its corridors. It’s difficult to imagine that in the exotic East, there can be anything more powerful than the Renaissance movement, which is different from the aristocratic variations you have begun to get used to, in European shores, since the 15th Century. No, this is a movement steeped in rural history, in social reforms, in advancement of scholarly endeavours, but one of the most captivating figures to ever preside over it all, Lord Curzon, never agreed with it.

Bitter over how things ended in the East, the British politician was driven towards philosophical ramblings over how this can be a place where the provider constantly ponders over an object of desire, but fails to ever witness it. It is not a political hotbed of activity, but rather a place where battles are waged over lands. Curzon, a former foreign secretary, was a thoroughbred elite, who visited India first during the 1880s and 1890s, but was truthfully a strong believer in the advancement of the ways of Western civilisation. Received in Bombay, with rapturous applause, as he got off the ship SS Arabia, the golden carpet was rolled out for him, and a small crowd of 1,200 welcomed him to the country. Travelling by train to Calcutta, through the cross-country trip, he was greeted by numerous local rulers, as a large crowd welcomed him to Dalhousie Square.

Upon being anointed as the Viceroy, political downslide wasn’t far off from that point onwards, which made him a solitary figure in politics for a very long time – tragic, isn’t it? Because Curzon had nothing to write home about, apart from the East for as long as he was the foreign secretary. To-the-point and diplomatic to his very core, he was brave in exploiting political turmoil. Presiding over a famine in the continent, and even contributing to wartime efforts, led to no avail because his empire fell with the partition that he personally pencilled in. His intention in doing so was strictly political, and to better manage his empire, but the wealthy classes of the estate thought it was simply to avoid meeting their demands of allowing greater participation for certain echelons of society.

Because advancement of civilisation had made it possible for only a faction of the estate to rise, the partition aimed to help the ones who fell prey to deprivation, because the British were incredibly angry at the prejudice being thrown towards the poverty-stricken Muslims of the region. Curzon defied the absurd colonial hegemony avoidance that took place, all in the name of protesting against a partition taking place, and went with the Muslims desires to see a separate and more successful region being built, independent from the influences of the Hindu-dominated regions of the British Raj.

Numerous political protests followed, right after this, which was appeased through partition on other grounds, but even then the religious turmoil took stronghold of the region, breeding poverty, and the eventual partition, somewhat growing out of the religious turbulation, which gave rise to the various independent countries, as we see today. As criticised/lauded as this political decision was, there can be no denying that sometimes hard choices have to be made for the betterment of culturally-advanced societies, pioneered through Western influence. After all, this is the East, we are talking about, and despite its numerous trade posts, the British shared with the French, the Dutch and even the Spanish, prior to colonisation, it was a land independent from the knowledge of supporting itself through simplistic means, such as farming.


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