I have a modest proposal to make: having registered – with considerable satisfaction – the acceptance by the ethnic majority in this country of a prime minister and a home secretary, both of South Asian descent; and having further noted the willingness of this dynamic duo to advance policies – hard Brexit, maltreatment of migrants and asylum seekers, cultural and social conservatism – heretofore associated with the racist right wing of British politics, it seems to me that the time has come to face the facts.
Britain has never really adjusted to the post-imperial era – there remains an understandable hankering after the power and prestige the nation once enjoyed when it ruled over a sixth of the globe’s land area. Whether in financial or foreign policy, there’s been a pained reluctance to come to terms with a massive diminution in status; one summed up by the way its leaders across the political spectrum continue to claim Britain “punches above its weight” in the international arena. Whether by selling arms to the Saudis,
or riding on the coattails of the current hegemon as it prosecutes its own imperial ambitions, far from impressing on enemies and allies alike Britain’s continuing relevance, the tragedy of empire has been replaced with the current farcical end-of-the-pier show.
A nation that cannot even keep its own fissiparous elements from flying off into independence – a polity that can’t sustain an administration for more than a few months at a time, and a society that spends more time worrying about whether genitals and gender should coincide than it does about almost anything else, is surely not fit for purpose. But there is a way forward: Britain should voluntarily become a colony of… India.
Yes, yes – I can almost hear the doppler wail of rage and recrimination rising and rising in my ears as I type these words, but if you’ll simply set your prejudices to one side for a second and hear me out, I believe you’ll become an enthusiastic proponent of this neo-colonial approach as well.
For a start, agreeing to become an Indian colony will finally put paid to the delusion of continuing empire I’ve limned above – as well as being a believable form of amends for the crimes of imperialism. (I appreciate, Africans and the African diaspora may feel they have a reasonable – and even prior – claim; and had Kwasi Kwarteng retained his portfolio, and James Cleverly succeeded Liz Truss as prime minister, there would be a strong argument for Britain becoming either a Ghanaian or Sierra Leonean colony, or a protectorate of both – but this isn’t what happened, and we all need to accept it.)
Secondly, as many millions of column inches of racial essentialism and cultural bigotry have scientifically established over the past, um, three-and-a-half weeks, Indians are harder working, more philoprogenitive and, generally speaking, nicer than any other peoples. And on this basis alone, ageing, infertile, unproductive and ill-tempered Britons should willingly subjugate themselves.
Thirdly, as an Indian colony Britain would automatically acquire preferential terms of trade with a vast and burgeoning economy. Initially this preference will be in terms of the new Indian overlords (and ladies), but given time and a relearning – through the rigorous and compulsory playing of cricket – of fair play, Britons will hopefully reacquire some of the economic benefits and
civil rights that they’ve taken for granted for far too long. Fourthly, there’s that most conspicuously ageing, unproductive and ill-tempered of Britons to consider: the King.
Having longed for a meaningful role all his life, being colonised by India will at last allow His Highness one. It seems to me surpassing unlikely that Narendra Modi and the rest of the BNP nabobs who currently rule India will
bridle when it comes to this trade-off: they get to colonise Britain (and I anticipate that many millions of Indians will arrive as soon as border controls between the two countries are eliminated), while he gets to style himself King-Emperor of India and Britain and wear a fancy new ceremonial uniform. Result. Yes, yes, there may be some diehard loyalists (but loyal to what or whom, precisely?) who resist Indian colonisation, but theirs will be a futile course: India is a nuclear power, and can put over a million men into combat against a “British” army numbering only a few thousand.
Finally – and this, surely, is the clincher – there’s chicken tikka masala, which, on the basis of ubiquity alone, is our national dish. I for one am already lustily singing, “Janagaṇa-mana-adhināyaka jaya hē Bhārata-bhāgya-vidhātā…”