Random Reflections!

thoughts, views, news and plenty of rants

interdependence? colonialism?

Posted by nixbert on February 6, 2007

Swaminathan Iyer argues in his regular column ‘SWAMINOMICS’ (Times of India, 4th Feb 2007, page 22) that following TATA Steel’s successful bid for Corus, TATA Steel is world’s 268th biggest company and is placed just below Coca Cola. Since TATA group as such is much bigger than Coca-Cola, the old fears of Coca-Colonialism are over. Instead it is now era of TATA colonialism. However he then goes on to state that such rhetoric makes him uneasy because this alliance is in fact an interdependence rather than colonialism. Reason being that Tata’s eagerness to acquire Corus is matched by Corus’s eagerness to be acquired so this is a union, not colonisation.

Well! fair point I guess. However I couldn’t help but compare this to British occupation of India.

One point that often came across is that it was not possible for Britishers to rule India for as long as they did without *some* support from local populace. The argument being that enough people benefitted from the Raj for Britishers to continue and in general India did gain a few things from it – education, administration system, railways being the oft quoted examples. It also came up that the Raj inadvertently ended up unifying a nation, split in several kingdoms, as a whole even if to oppose the Britishers.

Now leaving aside the merits-demerits of those discussions, it could be asserted that atleast some people in India wanted Britishers to stay, even if for their own vested interests. Possibly, such people also held important positions (or were put in such postions) since their interests aligned with British ambitions. My knowledge of history is not very good but I do remember reading that atleast some Rajahs/Nawabs welcomed Britishers to begin with.

If that were the case then we may conclude that even in colonialism there was an eagerness to welcome an imperialistic power. If so then why does Swaminathan hesitates in calling Tata’s acquisition a colonising act? After all we have just seen that eagerness to be ‘acquired’ is no guarantee that the process is *not* colonialism.

News have already started coming in that the Corus union wants guarantee that no jobs will be cut in post-acquisition period. Tata on the other hand has taken a non-commital stance on the issue.

Shades of colonialism? I would say so!


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