By Dr. Jaijit Bhattacharya
A king in the modern world is an anachronism. It is not of this age and time. And yet, the world was witness to the coronation of another monarch in the Kingdom of Britain. A lavish, opulent ceremony at a time when millions of Britons are getting pushed into poverty. An abomination, when millions of poor in the United Kingdom are not having enough to pay for food and have barely survived a punishing winter.
The hard data on increase in poverty is pouring in from sources such as Food Foundation reports and from the Food Parcel data of Trussels Trust. Around 3.2 million adults in Britain are reported to have been not eating for an entire day because they could not afford food. That is, over 5 per cent of Britain’s population is starving while a new king was appointed in a pomp and show that is inappropriate for multiple reasons.
The coronation ceremony also appeared perverse when millions in its formal colonies are getting lifted out of poverty, while millions in Britain are going into poverty, and in the process, pushing Britain back into the poor backwaters of the world in which it once was.
Not showing off the Kohinoor diamond snatched from a pre-teen boy-king of the Sikh empire, does not redeem the ceremony from the fact that almost everything else is either stolen, or snatched or funded by the sweat and blood of millions around the world. From the red coats of the ceremonial guards to the gold plated carriage, these are all eventually funded by the capital accumulated through loot and slavery.
Here is the office, the monarchy that represents the brutal emptying out of Nigeria and other countries, by shipping off its people as slaves. Men, women and children all over the empire, where the sun did not set, were sold or killed or abused or starved to death to create the empire that is represented by the office of the King whose coronation was broadcasted in all its resplendent unapologetic hypocrisy.
Food was unnecessarily and knowingly snatched from over millions in India, leading to the great Bengal man-made famine, killing over 4 million people. And it was not the only famine that the British crafted that wiped out millions. It was merely the most recent. This is the office that represents numerous war crimes and heinous crimes against humanity. This is the office that has never made even a token apology for the ravaging of the world in a manner that was unprecedented in the history of humankind.
And yet, the coronation was undertaken, and unashamedly broadcasted to the world, including to the progeny of those that the empire looted, violated and killed in the most cavalier manner.
The whimper of an excuse is thrown in that these actions were carried out at a time period when such crimes against humanity were acceptable. Time period and acceptability are human creations. I am sure the ISIS will also be arguing that their actions are acceptable in this time and age of human sensitivity. And yet, there were civilisations influenced by the thought process of Jainism, Buddhism and other advanced philosophies, who for over 2,000 years, never believed that such crimes against humanity, or any living entity are acceptable. So, who defined the time periods where crimes against humanity were acceptable?
As individual family histories of the colonial times tumble out, thanks to social media and the general democratisation of narration, we see the colonial narration crumbling after over 70 years of actual colonisation stopping. We had seen paeans written in celebration of the contribution of colonisation of millions of humans. How colonisation led to railways, globalisation, more trade and so on. The list is endless. Is it worth having all of these at the cost of killing, violation or torture of a single human being? And, as we know of what really happened, are any of the so-called achievements of colonisation worth the millions that it butchered?
And for the record, the invention of zero did not require colonisation. The discovery of gravity by Bramhagupta did not require colonisation. The trigonometry and the trigonometric tables of Aryabhatta did not require colonisation. The oldest known surgeon, Susruta, did not require colonisation to become the surgeon he was. And what did the railways do? Ensured that loot was accelerated for its movement to the United Kingdom, whose King got coronated. It was this loot that formed the capital that funded further revenue generation for Britain. And as I had defined “Digital Colonisation” a decade and a half ago, the disproportionate economic benefits continued to pour into Britain through unfair trade agreements. As the colonies and the trade agreements disappeared, Britain’s march back into its historic pecking order in the comity of nations has begun. Back to where it was before the Romans discovered it and decided to pass civilisation that they had, in turn, picked from the Greeks and the Persians.
The ceremony was not repugnant just because of what it represents but also because of how it was conducted. It still mixed religion and government. It still had to be done inside an Anglican church, with the church anointing the king, to represent that the king is appointed by God himself. This is as absurd as it can be. A tokenism of getting objects from representatives of other religions, smacked more of a colonial mindset rather than modernism, as all other religions seemed subservient to the religion that appointed the king. Is this what the modern citizens of Britain stand for? Is this what the people of Britain deserve? Isn’t it more of an insult to the intelligence of people of Britain?
When an institution descends towards its demise, it does usually because it has lost the pulse of the people. With many of the Caribbean countries deciding to do away with the king of United Kingdom as their king and moving into becoming modern republics, it is a matter of time that the Canadians and Australians will also question this outrageous, anachronistic institution of monarchy that prevents them from becoming republics. The demise will, perhaps, be accelerated. A survey by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) shows public support for the monarchy has fallen to a historic low. A total of 45 per cent of respondents said either it should be abolished, was not at all important or not very important.
Perhaps, the least that could have been done during the coronation ceremony was to tone down the wasteful spend in the face of increasing poverty in Britain, and to truly and deeply apologise to entire humanity for what this institution had overseen in the past.
This article first appeared in India Today, https://www.indiatoday.in/opinion-columns/story/why-coronation-ceremony-was-repugnant-and-reeked-of-absurdity-opinion-2376874-2023-05-09
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