Part #308: Tiger Tiger Burning Bright
“LIVEPROG YEAHMAN IN CONCERT!
The market-toppin’ sensation from smalltown Wentworth, New Conn., is BACK for the first leg of his continental tour!
The “EAR” calls Yeahman ‘the most innovative LiveProg since LadyBelle’ – and they would know!
OCTOBER 3RD THE CAUSTIC ROOMS WOODFORD ST
OCTOBER 10TH MIKE’S GARAGE CHESAPEAKE RD
Supported by Doc Headache and The Roustabout Brothers
DON’T BE A RUTLING – BE THERE AND GET FOOTLING!”
– Somewhat decayed poster seen on Callaway Road, Fredericksburg, ENA.
Photographed and transcribed by Sgt Dom Ellis, November 2020
(Dr Wostyn’s note)
After that regrettable and unnecessary interlude by Sgt Mumby, we can now return to the important matter of decolonisation in the French Empire, turning from Australia to India...
Extract from recorded lecture “Revolt and Ramification” by Dr Adrian Radley, recorded November 24th, 2020—
...can’t go any further without ignoring the elephant in the room – no pun intended – India. (A few chuckles)
At the outbreak of the Pandoric War in 1896, the nations of the subcontinent of India were practically all controlled by colonial interests. Some were Occidental, others Asiatic; some were national, rather more were corporate, or a hybrid of the two. This was the culmination of a process that had been going on, in fits and starts, for four centuries. And yet, only half a century after that, the Indian nations would emerge, blinking, into the sunlight to stand on their own two feet, their colonial masters either thrown out altogether or reduced to only passive levels of influence. How did this happen? It’s this enigma that we must unlock.
To understand how colonialism in India fell apart, we must first understand how it began. India is – ‘naturally’ is perhaps the wrong word, as it implies a lack of agency on the part of the Indian nations in their agriculture and industry – but historically, India was a source of trade goods rather than a sink. For the most part, before a pedant at the back shouts out those goods which the Indian nations did import. (Distant cheers) This tendency long predates European colonialism – it predates the modern form of European nations, as post-Roman successor states, at all. (Murmurs) The Roman Empire established overland and sea trade routes to the Indian states, especially the Tamil kingdoms of modern Bisnaga, with the help of the Kushan Empire – a very interesting state drawn from multiple influences, including the Greeks of Alexander’s Empire, which we sadly don’t have time to discuss here. Greek and Roman traders operated in many ports in the Indian region, such as the city they called Barbarikon, but which today is called Karachi. (More murmurs)
These links declined with Rome’s own increasing problems and fragmentation, an invasion of the Panchali-led Gupta Empire by Hunnic conquerors, and ultimately the Islamic conquest of the Middle East, cutting off Europe from India. European nations settled into the post-Roman and Christian paradigm, and were given impetus to develop navigational innovations and pursue new trade routes around Africa, away from the regions of Islamic domination. The Portuguese discovered such a route at the end of the fifteenth century; so prized was trade with India, as well as China, Indochina and the Nusantara, that the Spanish were convinced by Columbus to try going in the opposite direction and rounding the world. Of course, he instead discovered the continents we now stand upon the soil of – for better or for worse. (Chuckles)
In time, and I am summarising many years of history here, the Portuguese were joined by other European traders – the Dutch, the Danes, the French and the English. At first, all they wanted was the same trade arrangements that the Romans had had. But both greed and historical imperative meant there would be other consequences. We must remember that at the turn of the sixteenth century, the Reconquista in Spain was still relatively recent history, and the Portuguese were driven by Christian-Muslim religious rivalry as much as by economics. They sought to suppress the spread of Islam, to promote the spread of western Catholic Christianity, and to control the spice trade – a threefold scheme.
Afonso de Albuquerque, the first major Portuguese commander, had been given orders only to conquer Malacca and Muslim settlements in the Arabian peninsula, not to take over Indian ports. But events would, well, eventuate. (Laughter) The Portuguese found that the Trimumpara Rajah of the Kingdom of Cochin, an unwilling vassal of the Zamorin Rajah of Calicut, was eager to become their ally in return for protection from the Zamorin. So was the Kingdom of Tanur, another vassal. The Malabarese Hindu pirate Timoji also approached the Portuguese for an alliance as early as their first voyages of exploration. There were some religious elements to these divisions, with Hindus resentful of Muslim rule, but the Zamorin was also a Hindu ruler. Mostly, it was just politics. As in the case of Timoji, often the ambitious locals were more keen to get the Portuguese involved in battles than the Portuguese themselves were – after all, they were a long way from home. But the Portuguese and Cochinese defeated the Zamorin Rajah and his other vassals at the Battle of Cochin in 1504. The Portuguese then damaged an Egyptian Mameluke fleet at Diu, but Timoji warned them it was refitting and urged an attack on Goa – which, conveniently, would be supported by his fellow resentful Hindus in the city. Soon afterwards, the Portuguese would expel the Ottomans and Egyptian Mamelukes from naval influence over the region altogether.
And so we see that Goa, that great city and capital of the Portuguese Empire in India, the first big European possession in India, was conquered not on the urging of greedy traders, royal imperialists or Christian crusaders. It was conquered because a local Hindu pirate had urged them to, for his own reasons and because it might help them against the Ottoman and Egyptian fleets elsewhere. Timoji was even made the governor of Goa after its conquest for a time, a far cry from the Goanese Inquisition of later years.
That is the great paradox of European colonialism in India, and it was a story that would be repeated over and over again over the next few centuries. Again and again, Europeans became involved in local power struggles and found themselves bobbing to the top of structures where they were outweighed dozens to one by numbers, not to mention operating at the end of a long supply chain far from their home nations. Often European success is attributed to technological superiority, but for the most part this is simply not the case with India. The Indian nations enjoyed comparable access to firearms and artillery, even innovating in the area of rockets, and like Europe, their constant internecine wars ensured that their armies were experienced and their military tactics were usually well-refined.
No, the crucial point is simply that there was an economic incentive for Europeans to travel to India, but there was no such incentive for Indians to travel to Europe. Paradoxically, it’s Europe’s very lack of much in the way of trade goods – the same problem that had led the Romans to bemoan their coffers being emptied of coin to pay for Indian and Chinese goods and their trade deficit building – which has encouraged the global domination of European culture. (Murmurs) When a power struggle was being held between two Indian potentates with a Portuguese fleet parked in the bay helping one of them, there was no way it could end with Portugal being conquered by one of the Indian princes. But it could end with one of the Indian states being conquered by Portugal. It didn’t always, of course. But there were lots of fights and lots of opportunities, dice cast over and over and over again, so those conquests mounted up. And never a single die cast to decide whether Indian traders in Europe would try to take over a place – because there weren’t any.
Otherwise, in today’s Diversitarian world we can now acknowledge that there was nothing special about Europe. (Laughter) If, for some reason, a Chinese or a Bisnagi fleet had arrived in Hamburg during the Thirty Years’ War, of course John George I of Saxony would have considered making an alliance with them against the Hapsburgs. They might be pagans, but better pagans than Papists! (More laughter) And perhaps, after help conquering Mecklenburg, they might have handed over the island of Rügen to the traders to ensure they stuck around to help in the next war. Or King James II, hiding out in Ireland with his Jacobites, might have teamed up with a Bengali fleet to retake his throne in England – and find himself giving them the Isle of Wight and allowing ‘advisors’ at his court. Indeed, in 1658 English royalists and republicans had fought on opposite sides of the Battle of the Dunes between the French and Dutch, divided against themselves by internal disagreements. European potentates were just as selfish and short-sighted as Indian ones; but Indians never had those same economically-driven opportunities to take advantage of this.
So repeat that, over and over, for many years. Every time an Indian power won a battle against Europeans, it was a temporary setback; but the Europeans only had to be lucky once to establish a foothold and ensure the next battle would be fought deeper into India, never anywhere near their own homelands. Soon there would be more Europeans than just the Portuguese, and then there were battles between them for supremacy – first the Portuguese versus the Dutch, and then the English versus the French. Again, a paradox. Surely division between outside forces should make it less likely they would conquer Indian nations, but no. Nations, and factions within nations, sided with one European force over the other, and with each roll of the dice more and more of them lost ground.
Do you think the Cochinese regretted being the first Indian state to, more or less, invite the Portuguese in and start it all? (Inaudible calls from the audience) Ask a proud Bisnagi patriot today and they might say yes. But ask the Cochinese at the time…in the 1700s, Cochin would be conquered and subjugated. Not by the Portuguese, or by any Europeans, but by the Kingdom of Mysore. (Audience reaction) Today both Cochin and Mysore are part of Bisnaga, but back then they did not see themselves as one nation, but as enemies. Or take Bengal, where English takeover was made easy because the state had become exhausted by constant raids by the Marathas – approximately the Concanese, we would say today. There was not even any sense of solidarity within the modern Indian nations, much less between them. And, I emphasise, exactly the same would have been true of European countries if they had been subject to similar outside pressures. But there were not.
European supremacy really kicked off in earnest with the decline of the Mughal Empire and its nominal vassals feuding on the front lines of Anglo-French wars. The Hindu Marathas tried to take its place, but were shattered in defeat by the Durranis in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. This was the era of Clive, of Pitt and Rochambeau. Today, nationalists in the Indian states like to single out individual rulers of the time to praise as anti-colonial heroes. As is their Diversitarian right, of course. (A few chuckles) But Haidar Ali and Tippoo Sultan, or Siraj-ud-Daulah, were as happy to brutalise their own people as they did Europeans, and were also just as happy to make alliances with Europeans when they saw it in their own interests. If history had gone a little differently, they would be castigated as collaborationist traitors by those modern nationalists, with really nothing much changed. Again, it is easy for us to judge, but what of the awkward way we think of early Carolinian figures, from the days when many of them would still have seen themselves as American? (Audience reaction) Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
The truly unforgiveable figure to make an anti-colonial hero is, of course, the Mahdi. In the 1840s, many Indian nations were subject to European control or influence, especially coastal ones, with the Europeans having agreed to suppress their internecine feuding in the Pitt-Rochambeau Accords and the formation of the India Board. Bengal was the hotbed of English control – leavened with Americans of course (Laughter) – and the Nizam of Haidarabad was a reliable English ally. This meant that English influence was felt over modern Chola, Berar and parts of Panchala as well. The French dominated what’s now Bisnaga, the core of their empire, and the Portuguese in Goa had begun to rebuild their influence over several of the surrounding Maratha states, in what’s Concan today. And the Dutch, later the Belgians, controlled Kandy. But what I’ve described only takes in about half of the Indian subcontinent. (Audience reaction) The rest was ruled by – the term native states is misleading, as many of them had foreign dynasties, but then, do we consider our royal family to be German? …Don’t answer that. (More laughter and a few oohs)
But I digress. Much of modern Rajputana, Delhi and eastern Kalat was ruled by the Neo-Mughal Empire, as history calls it, a partial revival of the corpse of the old empire by one of the Durrani factions. Gujarat and much of Panchala were ruled by Maratha princes not subject to much foreign influence. The Sikhs and Kashmiris ruled parts of Pendzhab. The Europeans had not had much success, and frankly all that much interest (except perhaps in Gujarat) at undermining local independent control in these parts of the subcontinent. And then, of course, the Mahdi came along and ruined it all.
Yes, the Great Jihad beat the Europeans out of some parts of India, mostly by burning it down until there was nothing worth left trading. (Audience reaction) The Rape of Lucknow is only the most famous of the horrific depredations of the mujahideen. The Jihad left a scar on the Indian subcontinent far deeper, and far slower to heal, than all the European colonisers put together could have inflicted. And what happened as the shattered interior slowly rebuilt? Why, new outside colonisers moved in, of course! The Chinese, the Russians, the Kalatis and Persians, and a whole host of other Europeans and Novamundines operating through private companies. An anti-colonial hero? The Mahdi ensured colonialism in India probably lasted for decades longer than it would otherwise, and killed millions of people to achieve that. Ugh, when I think…
(Dr Wostyn’s note)
Though entertainingly impressive and doubtless justified, I have cut Dr Radley’s diatribe here for relevance. We resume the lecture a few minutes here.
…it began in Bengal. We all know the name of Nurul Huq, and there were many more less-sung heroes like him. Only in Bengal could the people of a nation buy its freedom in the most literal sense. “We have learned well what the Ferengi have taught us,” Huq wrote, using a term meaning Europeans or Christians. But, without wishing to minimise the successes of the campaigns of Huq and others, they were fundamentally helped by a shift in attitude on the part of the colonial powers.
I say powers plural because Bengal, perhaps more than any other part of the old Hanoverian Dominions, was contested for influence between Englishmen – or Britons, back then – and Americans. Not between Britain and America in a governmental sense, you understand, but between individual Britons and Americans. The East India Company, which once had managed trade between Britain and Eastern nations in general, had become increasingly synonymous with the governance of Bengal specifically. The British government had neglected the Company thanks to Britain’s own internal turmoil of the Inglorious Revolution and the People’s Kingdom. The Americans might have filled the gap, the power vacuum and some of us did as individuals, but not our government. For a time it looked possible, but then the Great American War broke out here just as the Great Jihad did in India. Commodore Cavendish, whose British fleet helped the Bengalis resist the mujahideen, had actually been trying to reach California to take part in the war here. Our attention was fixated on the Meridians for decades to come, and Bengal never became a focus for the direct influence of the Imperial government.
In the absence of this outside pressure, the plans of men like Huq, along with many businessmen among the high-caste Hindus who dominated the Bengal Army’s sepoy soldiers, allowed more and more control to slip from the hands of distracted Britons and Americans. Bengal did not need a violent revolution to transfer control; her people, via indirect means such as Huq’s fraternal building societies, slowly bought out the Court of Directors stock by stock. This worked for a number of reasons, because the distraction of Fredericksburg and London proved to be a vicious circle. Bengal had barely managed to fight off the Great Jihad, and the Company had lost its influence over areas such as the old kingdom of Oudh, in what is now Panchala. But as the Jihad burned itself out and left rival powers reeling even more than Bengal, it seemed inevitable that the Company would seek to take advantage of this by expanding its territory and influence once more.
Yet this did not happen. Such a project would have required investment from the Company’s shareholders in America and Britain, funds to build back Bengali military power in the hope of future trade more than paying back the down payment. In the aftermath of the Jihad, few were willing to risk it. Instead, they saw India as a volatile market, a money sink rather than a source, perhaps a place where they should cut their losses and run. Their governments agreed. And so, the successive sell-offs of the Privatisation of Bengal saw more and more shares in the hands of local Bengalis. The controlling government stake had been lost long before, almost anticlimactically, as ambiguity reigned over which parts of it fell under the jurisdiction of London and which under Fredericksburg’s. Such division would only help Huq and the Hindus – but, paradoxically, in time would also help preserve disproportionate influence for the wealthy white minority in Calcutta and Dacca. As the driving questions in Bengali society became internal ones of creed, caste and class instead of a unifying resentment against foreign ‘Ferengi’ rule, the ‘Anglo-Bangla’ whites who had, if you’ll pardon the phrase, ‘gone native’ found a new role as neutral arbiters between the Hindu and Muslim, or high- and low-caste, or rich and poor, factions. The Bengal Army also remained an important arm of the corporate state.
Now remember, all or most of this had happened by the time of that year I gave you before, 1896. So my picture of India dominated by outside colonial powers was already starting to ring a little hollow if you scratch the surface. But, of course, the Pandoric War was the final nail in the coffin of any Anglo-American influence in Bengal. Britain – and then England – had the Third Glorious Revolution and broke with America (Audience murmurs) and America got a new President, Lewis Faulkner, who chose to withdraw from many of the global commitments he had inherited and allow Bengal and Guinea to go their own ways. (Rather more fervent audience murmurs) Whatever you think about President Faulkner, in many ways he was just recognising the inevitable. Perhaps the Empire could have enforced its will in Bengal in 1901 still, but it would have required a full military intervention of the sort that the exhausted American people were simply unwilling to fund.
So English influence in India, which had begun in 1608, came to an end three centuries later, and the derived American influence with it. Just as economics had brought Europeans to India and drawn them into politics there, economics led them to abandon such entanglements in due time. But if Bengal had bought its own freedom and trailblazed an example for other Indian nations, this wouldn’t be the pattern they would follow. In the Second Interbellum, which some people call the Electric Circus – but which certainly wasn’t an accurate description in most of the Indian nations – there were two main wellsprings of anti-colonial thought, at opposite ends of the subcontinent in the north and south. I won’t make the crass error of treating them as naturally linked simply because they fall on the same landmass! (Chuckles) Panchala was, and is, very culturally different to Bisnaga; it would be like attributing two revolutions in Scandinavia and Italy to the same source.
Back then, there was no Panchala as we know it, although its borders were already beginning to be defined. There was Jushinajieluo, or Jushina for short, a Chinese-created colonial entity that covered the entire middle part of the vast Gangetic Plain. Though its cities and old kingdoms had been devastated by the Jihad, the fertile soil of this plain meant that Panchala, or Jushina, was well placed to bounce back if its reduced people were given some years of peace and a chance to rebuild.
This is where we have to be careful, because this subject is highly politically charged in China, as well as in Panchala itself. As far as the Chinese narrative goes, they sent armies to Jushina to protect its people from the mad mujahideen remnants, helped replant its fields and rebuild its cities, built roads and railways to link them, and after fifty years of rule Jushina was as advanced and wealthy as it had been at the height of the Gupta Empire, a jewel in the crown. And the Panchalis should be damn’ well grateful for it and stop whining, say the Chinese. (Laughter and reactions) Meanwhile, the Panchalis say that the Chinese were only there to loot the place, and built only what would help them do so. They taxed their farmers, they pushed their religions on the people by giving tax breaks to Buddhist practitioners, and they disarmed the people so the Chinese army forces had absolute power to enforce the will of the viceroy. Some claim that the Jihad had already died down, and there were no significant mujahideen bands left, with Chinese claims of defending the region being merely a cover for holding down a proud people.
I am personally more inclined to sympathise with the Panchali point of view, despite the…eccentricities of some of their post-colonial leaders (Nervous laughter) but in all fairness, our truth should probably lie somewhere in between. Post-colonial Panchala did benefit from the infrastructure the Chinese had built, but it is also true to say that the Chinese hardly built it for the Panchalis’ benefit. Fundamentally, Jushina was indeed run in part as a tax farm, and also as a pleasure-garden for Chinese Buddhist pilgrims who wished to see where the Buddha had walked and where Xuanzang had voyaged to find the Greater Vehicle scriptures. It was an insult to a proud people to be treated as the mere background denizens of a history that had little meaning to them.
Now Panchala was influenced by the apotheosis of Bengal to the status of a fully independent, albeit corporate, state – just as Bisnaga was. But both were inspired by what Bengal did in the Black Twenties rather than what Bengal was. In Panchala’s case, or Jushina’s, it was the fact that Bengal had helped the Sikhs and other Pendzhabis overthrow their Russian colonial rulers and eject them from India altogether. Russia’s abortive attempt to reclaim the territory in 1935 also ended in disaster, showing that the Pendzhabi triumph had been no flash in the pan. There was no way for the Panchalis to buy their way to freedom from the Chinese as the Bengalis had from the Americans and English, but if an uprising like the Pendzhabis’ could succeed, given sufficient distraction by other matters…
The process began as early as 1928, when Hindu adventurer Sakharam Bhari travelled into the Himalayas in order to seek out the Gorkha hillmen. The Gorkhas were fellow Hindus who had once conquered and exacted tribute upon Buddhist Tibet, only to eventually have the tables turned on them by the Chinese. Sakharam, part of the banned group known to the Chinese as Tuichu jushina yundong or ‘Leave Panchala Movement’, admired the half-legendary tales of the Gorkhas’ successes and sought to forge an alliance. The Gorkhas were initially suspicious, and the tests of loyalty they made Sakharam undertake have formed the basis of a half-dozen impressive Panchali propaganda films. But in the end, his perserverance paid off, and a deal was struck.
Of course, the Gorkha alliance was only one small part of the work that the LPM and other anti-colonial resistance movements quietly continued throughout the final years of Chinese rule. Though Narayan Kumar would later become the most famous leader of these networks, back then he was just one anonymous organiser among many, an ally of the rising star Paresh Anand. LPM and allied members ranged from trade unionists in cities fighting for workers’ rights under Chinese rule, to Sanskrit religious scholars, to romantics nostalgic for past glories. Many of them, including Anand’s group in Sangam, also had ties to groups of bandits who operated in the countryside, though few would risk confrontation with Chinese regulars these days.
In those early days, there was even an attempt by the LPM and others to build solidarity across Jushina’s different faiths. But perhaps this was doomed to failure. The small number of Buddhists – Chinese settlers, local converts and a few ancestral holdouts – naturally would side with Chinese rule which gave them a privileged position. More significantly, Muslims made up almost one-fifth of the population, many of them Durrani settlers from more than a century before. They feared mass revenge attacks motivated by memories of the Jihad (not helped by the Chinese whipping these up to remind the people of the importance of the Chinese army to protect them). Most Muslims in Jushina would also side with the Chinese authorities, and so the anti-colonial movement became increasingly Hindu-supremacist in character. Even sympathetic descendants of the old, overthrown Nawab of Oudh were viewed with suspicion due both to being Muslims and being painted as just another set of alien rulers (in their case, from Persia). Already some Muslims were moving to the other Chinese-influenced state, the last Mughal remnant, Delhi. The seeds were being sown for tragedy later.
In 1930, Prince Zhuzhong withdraw much of the Chinese army from Jushina in order to cross the Himalayas and intervene in the growing power struggle in plague-wracked Feng China. The majority of the ordinary people of Jushina watched with trepidation, for many believed the Chinese propaganda that only that army stood between them and chaos, invasion or a new Jihad. It was only after several months of peace that public anger began to grow, and that played right into the LPM’s hands…
(Dr Wostyn’s note)
This next section mentions events in China we have not yet covered elsewhere, so I will temporarily pass over it and instead go to Dr Radley’s final relevant segment, on Bisnaga.
…Bisnaga’s history made it very different to either Bengal or Jushina-Panchala. Both of those countries had had forces directed against them which served to trample much of their former internal divisions and forge, or rather rediscover, a national identity. (Murmurs) Bengal had been a coherent subah, or province, of the old Mughal Empire for many years, but had always had its internal divisions. British and then Anglo-American rule provided something to react against, especially when catastrophes such as famines induced by forcing farmers to grow opium provoked resentment among the Bengali populace. But it was the invasion by the Mahdi’s Mujahideen in the Great Jihad that forced all Bengalis, Hindus, Muslims, their Christian rulers, all castes and classes, to unite in defence of their land. In this they were largely successful, and the unity they had forged would pave the way for Bengal’s independence through privatisation. By contrast, Panchala was flattened and devastated by the Jihad, then ruled through a centralised viceroyalty by the Chinese afterwards, again creating a unity beyond the lands which Oudh alone had controlled a century earlier. Once again, war and foreign rule had created a single set of institutions for anti-colonial forces to seize.
The same can’t be said for Bisnaga. Bisnaga had never been, to use the word brutally, ‘rationalised’ by the French. The French East India Company had sought to build trade and to deny it to their English and British rivals. Later, when the two had allied against the Tippoo Sultan during the Jacobin Wars, they had agreed a mutually-beneficial peaceful division of India’s lands into spheres of influence. Unlike the ruthless annexation of Bengal by the BEIC after Siraj-ud-Daulah’s betrayal, the French did not try to administer the powerful Kingdom of Mysore directly after Tippoo’s defeat. In part this was because the FEIC was operating as part of only the western remnant of Royal France in Brittany and the Vendée at the time, and would not have had the resources to administer Mysore anyway. Instead, the French restored the Hindu Wodeyar dynasty to the throne, reversing the usurpation by the Muslims Haidar Ali and his son Tippoo Sultan, which also created a debt of gratitude (or, more cynically, a dependence) by the Wodeyars on the French to maintain their shaky throne.
Elsewhere, parts of Bisnaga did pass into something more akin to direct French control. The Nawabate of Arcot, also called the Carnatic Sultanate, ruled most of the eastern coast of Bisnaga and was theoretically tributary to the Nizam of Haidarabad. But this was an old Mughal imperial decree, which increasingly meant as little as the Holy Roman Emperor had authority to decide affairs in northern Germany, back in Europe. The authority of the Nawab was also fraught even without European influence, with the Carnatic having suffered in wars with Mysore and others. The French empire in India was run from the cities of Madras and Pondichéry which, farcically, were still theoretically under the Nawab’s authority. The French were soon running the Nawab’s tax affairs in his name, and the extinction of Wallajah’s dynasty led to the appointment of a ceremonial puppet ruling in name only. The final nail in the coffin was the conquest of Haidarabad by the Mahdi’s Mujahideen in 1852 and the end of the Nizamate; from then on, the French were able to ignore the legalities of the Nawabate of Arcot and control the Carnatic directly.
The French also exercised strong influence over the Kingdom of Travancore, which did, however, still maintain its Venad royal family and independent institutions. The same was true of the Kingdom of Cochin to its north, that same state which had started it all back in the early 1500s. Despite conquest and devastation by Mysore at some point, technically it survived, albeit under heavy French influence. As though to illustrate how money talked, even further north up the coast of Queralie were Calicut, a Dutch colony the Belgians had inherited, and North Malabar and Coorg, old British or English colonies; but none of them were actually controlled by their theoretical colonial powers anymore, instead having sunk into the French economic hegemony of Bisnaga. Old colonial regimes were no less susceptible to being drawn into the French orbit as independent Indian monarchies.
So much for Bisnaga; that blandly homogenous triangle of territory at the bottom of the Indian subcontinent, so familiar from maps, actually concealed a great deal of complexity – and in many ways, it still does. The Wodeyars, with their powerful Kingdom of Mysore, retained the most independent power – but had their own reasons for wishing to support French dominance as the lesser of two evils to protect their own throne. The Venads of Travancore and the Varmas of Cochin had the French bootheel to their neck, and knew any rebellion would be met with an iron fist. The defunct colonial regimes in Calicut, Malabar and Coorg were content with the status quo, while the Scandinavians in Tranquebar had been bought out altogether. There was plenty of anti-colonial resentment against the French, but no obvious central rallying point. And this described the situation for decades at the end of the nineteenth century, and the start of the twentieth.
What changed? Many things. Like the Chinese in Panchala, the French pursued developments for their own ends which had unforeseen consequences; railways linked up these groups of discontents, industrial factories and the growth of cities like Bangalore, Coïmbatour and Madurai led to a new mobile, resentful, organised working class. The University of Trivandrum, intended to turn out placid Bisnagi civil servants and scientists to help run the empire, instead ended up being a hotbed of anti-colonial ideology. And then came world events. Neutrality during the Pandoric War was popular, (Murmurs) but the French risking the lives of Bisnagi sepoys to seize influence over Concan, what was then called Senhor Oliveira’s Company, was not.
The Panic of 1917 led to widespread resentment among the suffering working classes, especially in directly French-ruled territory in the Carnatic and in the industrial city of Bangalore in the Kingdom of Mysore. Not only were jobs lost and wages cut, but the ‘Mitigation of Mercier’ policy favoured support for the people of France – who could vote – over those of Bisnaga, or even Pérousie. The Mercier government also sold off French government assets in Bisnaga to raise money and scaled back military commitments. As well as leading to a further loss spiral of jobs as bases and shipyards closed, this alarmed those powerful Bisnagi figures whose positions were invested in the assumption that stable French rule would continue. Mercier’s move was interpreted as a fear that France was drawing down its focus in Bisnaga and planning to withdraw, which ultimately became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most significantly, these powerful figures included none other than Chamaraja Wodeyar XII, the Maharajah of Mysore.
But the most significant shift would come with the Black Twenties. No sooner had the French reduced their military commitments than they were fighting the Russians and Belgians in Bisnagi waters. Admiral Van de Velde sought to provoke a response from the French by launching terror raids on Nagapatnam, Pondichéry and Tranquebar, among others, with the local French forces unable to stop them. Not only were the people resentful at being dragged into the war, but the French had inadvertently damaged their own reputations. Arguments were made that if the French lacked the capability to defend Bisnaga, they also lacked the capability to suppress an uprising there. Furthermore, this led to a boost of anti-colonial sentiment on the ravaged Carnatic coast in the east, whereas previously anti-colonial sentiment had been focused more on the western Queralie coast and in parts of Mysore.
All this erupted into the so-called Bisnagi Mutiny, which was really more a series of labour strikes. The ‘mutiny’ name stems from the fact that local sepoy troops refused orders to put down said strikers, though in reality this was not always the case, and only the refusals are remembered as part of heroic history. In addition to the resentment factors I mentioned, the Bisnagis were also influenced by the fact that the Pérousiens had obtained Autogovernance, and some moderates wanted it for themselves. This was before the Pérousiens and Bisnagis were seen as natural allies against the French government, you understand, which largely came with them fighting side-by-side in Bloody Gijlo later on. Chamaraja Wodeyar XII initially opposed the Mutiny as a potential revolution and backed the French, as did the other monarchs, but when the French failed to effectively suppress it, he decided that his position was doomed if he relied upon the French. Henceforth, he (and later the others) would tacitly support the mutineers and the Autogovernance movement. Chamaraja would shock society when, against the explicit instructions of Governor-General de Fontenoy to treat the labour organiser Thomas Mathieu as persona non grata, he met with him to discuss the dispute. Of course, the effects of the plague sweeping across Bisnaga, and an ineffectual and uncaring French response, also played a part.
Another important factor was a parallel with how the Panchalis were inspired by the Bengali-backed Sikh resistance to the Russians in Pendzhab. In this case, it was how the Bengalis, again, intervened in Kandy – then called Ceylon. Kandy is physically close to Bisnaga, separated only by the Gulf of Mannar, with a chain of islands described in both Hindu legend and modern geography as being a former land bridge. Furthermore, Tamil people are found on both sides of the water and have long shared trading connections. Technically, the Bengalis did not conquer Kandy; rather, the Russo-Belgian authorities surrendered the island to them rather than face the vengeful French after the terror raids they had inflicted. Some Bengalis initially had ambitions to turn Kandy into Bengal’s own colony, but in the end the Pitt-Bannerjee Doctrine of building up independent allied states prevailed. Though post-colonial Kandy certainly had its problems, the example of a neighbouring nation going from colony to independent country was a powerful example to the anti-colonial forces, both proletarian strikers and pragmatic monarchs, of Bisnaga.
Still, though it’s controversial to say nowadays, it might still have been possible for the French to retain some influence in Bisnaga if they had contemplated the idea of Autogovernance before it was too late. But it was not to be. Madame Mercier did attempt a placatory policy during her years in power, but was regarded with suspicion for her involvement in the economic policy following the Panic of 1917, not to mention the war policy of the Black Twenties.
Mercier attempted to introduce the same kind of conseils paroissials as had been adopted in Pérousie some decades before, giving Bisnagis at least local representation. But this was stymied by an uncooperative FEIC administrative structure and complicated legalities of jurisdiction. Not only were the conseils subject to property, literacy or registration requirements which limited the electorate, but they only covered areas subject to direct French administration. This took in most of the old Nawbate of Arcot (or of the Carnatic) but it was riddled with holes like a piece of Swiss cheese, for areas which remained under the theoretical control of local aristocrats. It also did not include Travancore or Cochin, even though most meaningful decisions there were made by the French instead of local monarchs. And, of course, it did not cover the coastal cities theoretically under the corporate control of foreign trading companies, much less the Kingdom of Mysore, where French authority really was somewhat limited. Ever since, bitter French historians, putting forth a francocentric version of history as is their Diversitarian right, (a few chuckles) have argued that at leas they tried to institute local representation; the Maharajah of Mysore, that darling of anti-colonial histories, did not attempt to institute parliamentary representation under his own rule until years later.
It was clear that discontent was building in Bisnaga, and that reflected a climate of change stirring across the whole of the Indian subcontinent – though, as I’ve said, these were very different regions, they could still indirectly impact and influence one another. We should not forget the Concan Confederacy and the Guntoor Authority. These bodies did not have a single strong colonial power governing them, but rather were ruled by miscellaneous, overlapping corporate bodies and local rulers. This disorganised system had only functioned because it was anchored at three points by the Chinese in Jushina, the French in Bisnaga and Bengal, formerly Anglo-American, and these three powers would enforce a collective agreement on the two pseudo-independent corporate entities, similar to the pre-Jihad India Board.
This system was now crumbling. The Russians had first upset it by their influence in Pendzhab being revealed, then upset it again by being thrown out of it. The Bengalis had turned towards supporting local independence in both Pendzhab and Kandy. Chinese rule in Jushina-Panchala was looking shaky. Kalat (also called Balochistan), freed from its Persian overlords and now a rising power, was interfering in Gujarat. And now, with consequences for Guntoor and the Concan Confederacy, even the comfortable old anchor of French Bisnaga was beginning to lose its grip on the metaphorical seabed.
Trouble in Bisnaga would not truly ignite until 1936, however, when Mercier had left power for the first time, to be replaced with men lacking both vision and ambition…
 The Gupta Empire is here described as ‘Panchali-led’ because its capital, the now-ruined city of Pataliputra, is in territory which in TTL is part of Panchala in the present day. Historiography in TTL tends to describe the empires which unified all or most of India as temporary constructs, treating them as dominions established by one modern Indian nation over others before reverting to the ‘natural’ state of India being divided. Also, ‘the Islamic conquest of the Middle East’ is summing up eight centuries of history here, with the overland trade routes not being completely closed until the Ottoman conquest of the last Byzantine remnants.
 Today in OTL Cochin and Calicut are usually referred to as Kochi and Kozhikode.
 See Part #32 in Volume I.
 See Part #82 in Volume II.
 See Part #200 in Volume IV and Part #222 in Volume V.
 See Part #218 in Volume V and Part #262 in Volume VII.
 ‘Pleasure-garden’ is the term used in TTL for theme park (coming from the phrase ‘garden of earthly pleasures’). It does not literally mean a garden, any more than theme park literally means a park to us.
 This is a bit of an oversimplification driven by an historical climate that presumes that Hindu-Buddhist enmity is the norm – one would assume that, as most interpretations of Hinduism do claim the Buddha as one of the avatars of Vishnu, most Hindus would care about his life and background to some extent.
 This process has been much more drawn out than the OTL version. Qing China in TTL lacked the Qianlong Emperor and had a longer reign from the Yongzheng Emperor, one consequence of which was less emphasis on westward expansion (with the Dzungars being shut out by a wall of forts rather than conquered). More significantly, the Three Emperors’ War and the ensuing division left a power vacuum for the Gorkhas (Gurkhas) to exercise a much deeper and longer-lasting period of control over Tibet, before eventually being thrown out and vassalised by the Feng Chinese in the mid-to-late nineteenth century.
 ‘Sangam’ refers to the city of Allahabad, which in OTL was recently renamed Prayagraj. The area is home to a confluence of three rivers, referred to as Triveni Sangam(a) in Sanskrit and derived languages, held as holy in Hinduism. There are other such triple confluences elsewhere in India but this is the most prominent (although technically there are only two physical rivers, the Ganges and Yamuna, with the third being the Saraswati river in a spiritual sense – as this river, named in Vedic texts, has never been satisfactorily identified with a present-day one). In TTL the term Sangam has been applied to the entire city by the later regime.
 The author’s being a bit vague with the chronology here, talking about nineteenth-century events before briefly mentioning eighteenth-century ones, hence the mention of the HRE as contemporaneous.
 In OTL Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah (whose birth predates the POD) allied with the British against the French; his French alliance here reflects the different tides of history after France kept Madras after the War of the Austrian Succession / Second War of Supremacy.
 Referring to the royal family of Cochin as the ‘Varmas’ is slightly misleading from the naming terminology.
 See Part #229 in Volume VI.
 See Part #270 in Volume VII.
 See Part #279 in Volume VIII.
 See Part #280 in Volume VIII.
 Although not explicitly mentioned here, Thomas Mathieu is from the large community of Thomasine Syriac Christians in Kerala/Queralie. The Maharajah’s move was particularly shocking to the French because they saw the Christians as natural allies fearful of Hindu and Muslim rule in the absence of French power. On the office of Governor-General, note that while the French East India Company was never fully nationalised and retains some corporate independence over trading affairs, in practice its other institutions (such as its sepoy military forces) were brought under de facto French government control following reforms by the Bouchez ministry in the 1870s, in the aftermath of the costly Great Jihad.
 See Part #290 in Volume VIII.
 See Part #292 in Volume VIII.