Mar 17, 2015

'Corporate Raiders'

I must have stated this a hundred times- I enjoyed reading history books and articles when I worked on 'The Mute Anklet'. One of the fascinating aspects of this period is the emergence and establishment of the East India Company as a 'ruler' from being a trader. The events around the time of Robert Clive and the earliest company employees leading up to the turn of the century dominance are intriguing.  Uma in the book asks Lindsay, the Scotsman,  why he fights for an English tea company. The unasked bigger question is what machinations were employed by the company to get folks like Lindsay to fight for it.

I stumbled across this article  that deals with that very topic and was a couple of pages into it without knowing who the author was. I resisted the temptation to scroll up and find out so I'd read it without getting influenced by any preconceived views about the author's background. I wasn't surprised when I learnt later that it was by William Dalrymple.

The article does a brilliant analysis on the power such large corporations wield then and now. The subtle differences between the company rule and the crown rule, perceptions about the company employees in the English society of that time, about the company in the English parliament etc. is not taught with enough clarity in India in my humble opinion.  Similarly the perspective of a local corporations\' impact on a distant economy, politics and society is perhaps taught with taints of nationalism in the UK.  Can there be separation of corporations and state, let alone religions and state?

Dalrymple, from what I can read in the article seems to have set out to tackle the history of the company in his upcoming book. Maybe shine some light on the influence of large corporations, foreign and domestic, in political systems as well as about humanity at large.I for one am looking forward to reading the book.

 Can there be separation of corporations and state, let alone religions and state?

March 17, 2015