Sunday, September 18, 2005

Alternate History Fictional

I was surfing wikipedia when I came across alternate history and Harry Turtledove. This got me thinking.

What if
  1. The Mughal Empire had continued after Bahudar Shah II? By the time he came onto the throne the empire was limited to only Delhi. If the Mughals were still in control over north westernIndia, Pakistan and Afganistan, how would it have affected the British Raj?
  2. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had not died of Tuberculosis in 1947 and Mahatma Gandhi not been assasinated? Would there have been 4 wars between India and Pakistan? Would the Kashmir problem ever existed?
  3. Going even further back, what if Privitiraj Chauhan hadn't lost to Mohammad Ghazni? Would the landscape of Indian Religous Diversity have changed?
  4. Even further back, what if some of the early Indian Republics had survived longer. What if they could have created a empire similar to the Pre Augustus Roman Empire, ruled by a Sabha.
The main focus of my questions are what if the British had not ruled India. It would have very unlikely that I would be able to write this article in English had they not done so. But they also brought with them Victorian morality that continues to influence daily life in India.

Obviously it wouldn't have been utopia. There would have been similar problems or perhaps completely different ones. A quote by Manmohan Singh recently was that India has something like 20% of the world's GDP in 1700 but it had diwindled down to just 2% in 1947. One aspect of this decline is obviously British Colonialism, but another aspect of it is the Industrial Revolution in Europe. However, it can be argued that given the freedom to do so, India too would have had an Industrial Revolution in the mid to late 1800s.

Had that been the case, how would it have affected the First and Second World Wars? What about the IT revolution that we are seeing right now? Would we have been better off or way behind?

Obviously with alternate history we can write it either way. We can portray the world to be a better place just as easily as we can portray the world to be worse of.
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