I had noticed something very interesting when I visited the Andamans in 2012. This year, I visited Andamans again and visited the same spot to cover the experience. I am referring to to something I noticed in Ross Island, a small island visible from Port Blair, the current capital of Andaman & Nicobar islands. Ross Island was the first British headquarters set up in the archipelago and this island was even invaded by the Japanese.
My experience has to do with the pre-independence colonial timeline when India was under the British rule.
We need to look at what I saw to get started:
Long story short, these are the people whose graves have been captured in the pictures above:
- Benjamin Lewarn A.B., Died at the age of: 25 years and 6 months
- Anne Elizabeth of Lahert, Died at the age of: 21 years, 3 months and 10 days
- W.H. Eales, Born at Kingston, near Brixham Devonshire, Died at the age of: 38 years, 5 months and 29 days
- Benjamin Kelton, Died at the age of: 35 years
- James John Elder, Born at Liverpool, Lancashire, Age at the time of death: Unknown,
- James Wyness Esq., Died at the age of: 38 years
- John. W. Wood, Died at the age of: Unknown [probably 29 or 29]
- Name: Unknown, Died at the age of: 23 years and 27 days
- William Collins, Died at the age of: 28 years
- Samuel Smith [Pensioner], Died at the age of: 67 years
- John Edwards, Died at the age of: 28 years
- Benjamin Welton, Died at the age of: 35 years
- Lawrence [Infant son of Lawrence and Jessie Jemima Carthy], Died at the age of: 22 hours
These are some of the graves at the cemetery on Ross Island.
With 22 hours and 67 years as clear outliers, the age at the time of death is largely between 21 years and 38 years.
Young men and women are lying under the ground in a lonely Island in the Bay of Bengal. All because someone decided to colonise India. I have no idea if the family of these people knew about their death. I wonder if someone, many generations later now, have ever visited Ross Island to see their grave. May be because most of these individuals died at a very young age, they never had the opportunity to bring their next generation into this world.
This is just the minuscule part of the human capital invested by the then British administration in the effort to colonise India. Based on the very little I understand, the then British administration, used its taxpayers money to recruit and deploy their own sons and daughters on a land very far away, only to leave them dead under the ground, when it realised the complexity in keeping country under its control by force.
Since 1644, when the first British fortress [Fort St. George] was founded in Chennai, the administration did not or rather was not willing to realise the infeasibility of a never-ending colonisation of a sovereign state. My interpretation is therefore directed towards the assumption that the then British administration never really cared about its own citizens or at least not up to the level of what might constitute anything related to fairness.
So the question, we as the current survivors of the race called mankind need to answer is, did all this investment of human capital really benefit those who engaged in colonialism? You consciously paid for the spices, minerals, opium and agricultural resources with your sons and daughters, some of whom are under the ground of this sovereign state to this day, rather dissolved or decomposed, but under the ground in a foreign land anyways.
The dark comedy is, of those who came to India for spices, hardly ever use them in their cuisines. Cinnamon made it to coffee, cardamom and saffron made it to some foods. The other agri resources were mostly consumed for the purpose of further colonisation. I am unaware but very skeptical of colonial wheat and rice feeding the citizens of the colonial state. Even if that were to be a fact, was it all worth the sons and daughters you left buried under foreign lands, which now are sovereign states similar to yours????????
Next time we draft random men, women and transgenders to be deployed on foreign lands for military operations, we as the race called mankind, will have to think a few hundred times to assess the benefit we will realise by sacrificing the humans for the sake of monopolised control over resources in foreign lands [includes democracy and fundamental rights].
Desperate times calls for desperate measures and desperate measures require high value investments. It is impossible to avoid it but we can definitely act based on the fair assessment of long-term impact on mankind rather than deciding on the short term diplomatic relations and control over alleged ‘aggressors’ for the sake of regional security that is then bartered for oil or something much more trivial than something nothing can replace: human life.
As for an answer to these questions, all I recall are Bob Dylan's words: “….the answer my friend, is blowing in the wind.”