"Many hundreds of years before the coming of the English, the nations of India had been a collection of wealthy and highly civilised people, possessed of great language with an elaborate code of laws and social regulations, with exquisite artistic taste in architecture and decoration, producing conceptions which have greatly influenced the development of the most progressive races of the West." Henry Mayer Hyndman, 20th Century British politician.
"Indian philosophers' subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys." T. S. Eliot, British playwright.
"So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked." Mark Twain, American author.
A primary indicator of the success of any civilisation is its economic standing, which often directly impacts the quality of social justice, human development, polity, governance, as well as achievements in science, innovation and the arts. By this vital yardstick alone, India has been the most successful nation in recorded history.
According to the painstaking calculations of Cambridge University economic historian, Angus Maddison, India was the world's largest economy for the majority of the 1,700 years before the entrenchment of the British East India Company.
India had accounted for as much as 33% of global GDP - more than three times that of the whole of Western Europe combined - with even a GDP per capita often exceeding that of Britain. During the eras of loot, war and colonisation that preceded the British Raj, the 'Indian way' remained largely intact and as a result, India was still the second largest economy in the world, briefly overtaken by her giant sister civilisation, China (which was also subsequently brought to her knees by Imperial Britain).
"India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe or Asia. She had great merchants, businessmen, ship building - nearly every kind of manufacture known to the civilised world was already in India". Rev J. T. Sunderland, American Christian minister.
By 1700, India was again the world's largest economy, accounting for 24.4% of global GDP, more than that of the whole of Europe combined, and almost ten times the size of Britain's economy, whose growth had already began benefiting from 'trade' with India, China and Africa. By the time of independence, a socially, economically and industrially devastated India's share of global GDP had plummeted to a mere 4.2%.
"A significant fact which stands out is that those parts of India which have been longest under British rule are the poorest today." Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
Graduates from Indian universities such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and Management (IIM) are of the most prized in the world; a disproportionate number of Silicon Valley start-ups, Intel's Pentium chip, the USB stick, Google search algorithms, Hotmail and fibre optics are just some of the major new economy contributions derived from the exacting standards of Indian education (US Ivy League universities have been back-up options for Indians who have failed to gain admission to an IIT or IIM).
"India, which has just announced that it will do what Britain could not do - send a space probe to Mars - is now a country with more technological prowess than our own. Its economic progress has been remarkable." Theodore Dalrymple, English writer & psychiatrist.
According to various studies, including by PwC, Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, India is again expected to become the world's largest economy within the next few decades, barely a century after independence.
"God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of [England] is today keeping the world in chains. If [a country as large as India] took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts." Mahatma Gandhi.
"It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in history, the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way." Dr. Arnold Toynbee, British Historian.
indians were more literate prior to arrival of the british-in-india--a-historical-perspective