In Empires of Dirt, we unpack that oft-repeated phrase “But what about the railways?” – a message that invariably comes up when you start to discuss British rule in India. Sure, colonialism wasn’t great, but didn’t Britain at least give India the trains?
It turns out that the British empire wasn’t just the generous benefactor that most people think.
In this episode, we look at how Britain spirited away an estimated $45 trillion from India as it took over the country – first through the East India Company and then the British Raj.
Those trains didn’t come for free, either – they were paid for by the Indian people while British shareholders pocketed the profits. And finally, during Britain’s ignominious exit from the subcontinent, they finally became the sites of mass slaughter during the mass migration of Partition.