For Better or Worse?

Denis Judd takes stock of current arguments as to the effect of British rule in India and other countries of the Empire.

When British rule in India came finally to an end in 1947, what had it all amounted to? In many ways, the jury is still out. As with so many former colonial territories, even countries like Egypt that were more under informal imperial control than formal, there are sharply different ways of seeing the experience, especially from the viewpoints of rulers and ruled. During the last fifty years the debate has got under way in earnest, and it is still unfinished business. This month Oxford University Press are hosting a special discussion at Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, where experts will debate whether the British administration in India and in Egypt was intent on development or exploitation.

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