'East India Company conquered India with 2000 soldiers,' says Dalrymple at LLF - Pakistan Today

‘East India Company conquered India with 2000 soldiers,’ says Dalrymple at LLF

–Panel discusses transformation of Pakistan media with the rise of digital outlets

LAHORE: Noted historian William Dalrymple talked about how the East India Company used the divide-and-rule tactics to conquer the entire subcontinent of India, as the 8th annual Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) came to its conclusion on Sunday.

Launching his book ‘The Anarchy: Post-Mughal Politics’, Dalrymple said: “It wasn’t white men that did the conquering, it was a brown sepoy army.”

“At no point in its history did the East India company ever send out more than 2,000 white British soldiers, yet those 2,000 manage to conquer the area. One British company runs out of one office in London and takes over the empire. How does it do it? It goes to South Asia, borrows money from Hindu Marwaris, and then trains South Asian able-bodied men to fight for it,” he added.

During the session ‘How traditional media outlets are coping with the rise of social media’ which was moderated by Benazir Shah, panelists Arif Nizami, Munizae Jahangir, Zafar Siddiqi, and Marium Chaudhry agreed that digital media has changed traditional media.

Arif Nizami, a veteran journalist, explained, “The digital age has changed traditional media, including television, drastically…but the first casualty of the change was print media.”

According to Munizae Jahangir, “Due to self-censorship, a lot of stories don’t make it to the people. However, the media landscape has been democratised. Social media still remains free and it is the voice of the oppressed”.

“Audiences have also changed due to digital media preferences. Before the arrival of social media, we turned on the televisions but now we check apps first thing in the morning,” Mariam Chaudhry quipped in.

While speaking to the session ‘Eyewitness: Brokering Peace in Afghanistan’, Vali Nasr shed light on the link between wars of the recent past and current affairs.

“[Barrack] Obama and [Donald] Trump may be different in many ways but they both want out of Afghanistan. War fatigue has grown – you have a generation that has come of age after or during 9/11 that see wars as expensive catastrophes. Half of America thinks that the existential threat to America is Trump himself. The other half thinks it’s not Arabs or Muslims but Mexicans and Guatemalans – migrants,” he said.

Sherry Rehman, who was sitting in the audience for this session, asked Vali about the fate of women in the Afghan region.  “Why would the Taliban in this reduction of violence mode not try to retain their fighting post. Who guarantees the rights of the women in the country?” she asked.

“We are living in interesting times. We never thought that Haqqani would write for NYT, which is essentially a love note to Trump. There is no doubt that women’s rights are the sacrificial lambs. The fear is that there’s going to be a decent interval and that the Taliban are going to hold their fire and live by the agreement and that after that they can resume fighting under any pretext and America is not going to come back,” Vali answered.

A Chilean protest song about rape culture and victim shaming was also performed in Urdu by the end of the event.

It may be mentioned here that more than 100 domestic and foreign intellectuals participated in 63 sessions held on topics related to art, culture, politics, literature, society, etc. at the Lahore Arts Council Alhamra during the 8th annual LLF.