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British promoted opium in India: Advani


New Delhi : Going down the pages of history, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani Wednesday slammed British colonialists for destroying the education system of the country and making Indians addicted to opium.

In his latest blog, where he quotes American historian Will Durant, Advani says the treatment meted out to India by the British imperialists is the “greatest crime in history”.

“Today, it is universally acknowledged that the two basic touchstones to judge a country’s conditions are its performance in the field of education and healthcare. Judged by these two criteria the world had always criticised governments, who neglected these two spheres. But Will Durant shows how the British rulers in India deliberately and systematically destroyed whatever wholesome existed,” Advani says.

“The Case for India (Durant’s book) has a chapter titled, ‘Social Destruction’. In this, Will Durant writes: When the British came there was throughout India a system of communal schools managed by the village communities. The agents of the East India Company destroyed these village communities’,” Advani said, quoting Durant.

He adds that he “strongly commends the book”.

“Instead of encouraging education, the government encouraged drinking. When the British came, India was a sober nation. ‘The temperance of the people,’ said Warren Hastings, ‘is demonstrated in the simplicity of their food and their total abstinence from spirituous liquors and other substances of intoxication,” he adds from the book.

Advani also quotes Durant’s reference to Katherine Mayo’s “malicious book” against India, ‘Mother India’.

“Miss Mayo tells us that Hindu mothers feed opium to their children; and she concludes that India is not fit for Home Rule… She does not tell us that the opium is grown only by the (British) government, and is sold exclusively by the government,” Advani said in the blog.

The sale of the opium was carried “on despite the protest of the Nationalist Congress, the Industrial and Social Conferences, the Provincial Conferences, the Brahmo-Samaj, the Arya-Samaj, the Mohammedans and the Christians,” Advani writes.