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The Story of India

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Ratings: 7.94/10 from 108 users.

Storyline

The Story of IndiaIn this landmark six-part series for PBS and the BBC, Michael Wood embarked on a dazzling and exciting journey through today's India, seeking in the present for clues to her past, and in the past for clues to her future.

The world's largest democracy and a rising economic giant, India is now as well known across the globe for its mastery of computer technology as it is for its many-armed gods and its famous spiritual traditions. But India is also the world's most ancient surviving civilization, with unbroken continuity back into prehistory.

Like other great civilizations - Greece or Egypt, for example - over the millennia it has enjoyed not just one but several brilliant golden ages in art and culture. Its great thinkers and religious leaders have permanently changed the face of the globe. But while the glories of Rome, Egypt, and Greece, have all been the subject of TV portraits, as yet there has been no television story of India on our screens.

This series sets out for the first time to do that: to show a world audience the wonders of India; the incredible richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes; and the intense drama of its past, including some of the most momentous, exciting and moving events in world history.

Beginnings. The first episode looks at identity and the roots of India's famous "unity in diversity". Using all the tools available to the historical detective - from DNA to climate science, oral survivals, ancient manuscripts, archaeology, and exploration of the living cultures of the subcontinent.

The Power of Ideas. The second episode of Michael Wood's journey through Indian history covers the last centuries BCE - the age of the Buddha, the coming of the Greeks and the rule of the emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest figures in world history.

Spice Routes and Silk Roads. The next episode in the story of India takes us to the early centuries CE, the time of the Roman Empire in the west, and to "the happiest time in the history of the world" as the historian Edward Gibbon put it.

Ages of Gold. Episode Four is the story of India in the Middle Ages. At the time of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, and the European Dark Ages, India had a series of great flowerings of culture, both in the north and the south.

The Meeting of Two Oceans. The fifth episode of the story of India takes us to the time of the Renaissance in Europe, when India was the richest, most populous civilization in the world.

Freedom. This last episode tells how a foreign multinational (the East India Company) thousands of miles away gradually and almost by chance took power over great swathes of the Indian subcontinent.

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Comments and User Reviews

  • TJ

    The sections of the playlist are terribly edited. They either skip over material or repeat the last few minutes of what you'd just watched. Its maddening.

    But regardless, this is a good series and worth the watch.

  • amar

    india, incredible...all my history classes came back for once....nostalgic is what i feel...thanks vlatko...
    as my grandfather said, Indianness is not a nationality but an idea....

  • Shawn

    India is a truly awesome country where people are truly sweet and the land is intself a sub continent almost as big as Europe is area and 1 billion plus population.It deserves more series on its truly glorious past.

  • real indian

    THIS DOC SUCKS INDIA ISNT JUST A PLACE WHERE "BROWN" SKINNED PEOPLE LIVE AFRICANS AND MONGOLOID PEOPLE WERE IN INDIA BEFORE ANY1 WITH BROWN SKIN CAME AROUND

  • TJ

    I don't think anyone is arguing that.

  • zeerak

    An excellent work. The narrative is exquisite. Does justice with the glory of India's magnificent past.

    I wish somebody would put up a better version of this documentary. Many parts won't load. Spoiled the fun for me.

  • Rabin Sapkota

    There is a huge information gap !!! and is tremendiously misleading in regarding migration and population distribution. IT totally ignores the fact of orizional population and mass movement of people from Ural Mountains.

  • Kitt

    "Brief heyday of the west" Wow, How arrogant. We fought in 2 world wars, saved entire countries from murdering dictators. Have fun with your documentary but save your comments on America for those with facts. America CRUSHES India economically, fiscally, mentally, and in every other way.Why do these left wing liberal documentaries always have to down America? Wait until another dictator tries to enslave you again. You will be back begging for us to come to the rescue.I promise you that.

  • James Jackson

    I admire India and its history, but the title "world's greatest democracy" seems premature. The caste system thrives and, oddly, meets acceptance by nearly all Indians. Democracy implies equal access to education, which India tacitly denies its lower castes beyond tokenism. Even visitors find themselves subtly assigned to a sort of parity in the class system based on occupation and religion. Outside observers might despair of India ever achieving equal rights for women and minorities despite the demands of modern technology; higher castes gain better employment in technology jobs than lower-caste people even with equivalent education, and, strangely, no one seems to object. Those who protest, such as the communists, remain in the periphery of society. Religion reinforces and supports this social inequality and, like all religions, pulls its adherents back into a primitive past and away from social progress. Even Gandhi refused to challenge the caste system.

  • rage

    FYI ...Buddha was not born in India. He was born in Lumbini in NEPAL, which borders near India.

  • simply simple

    Nepal was a part of India as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh (and few other small countries) were when Buddha was born.His real name was sidhharth and his father was a hindu king of a small state in India. 'India' is a name given by Britisher. India was actually called "BHARATAM " (Sanskrit) . The native pepole who lived here before Mugals (Middle east) came to India were known as "bharatkul". Buddha's father was one of them so was he too.

  • anbu

    a great comprehensive documentary!!!

  • rage

    @ simply simple

    As far as i know Nepal was never a part of India. Can you tell me where you got ur information from? cos i sure do want to find out more about it.

  • Vikrant

    Nepal didn't exist during Buddha's time!

  • Greywall

    @James Jackson
    "I admire India and its history, but the title “world’s greatest democracy” seems premature. The caste system thrives and, oddly, meets acceptance by nearly all Indians. Democracy implies equal access to education, which India tacitly denies its lower castes beyond tokenism."

    I fully agree with James Jacson. I would like to further add to his well identified facts that 'which democracy of the world runs only through a family dynasty'? Look at Nehru dynasty and India. Indians are perhaps addict to 'Nehru Family' like Pakistanis are addict to 'Bhuttos'.
    Further, why wasn't Sonia Gandhi allowed to head the Indian Govt.? This is the real face of this largest democracy...

  • Greywall

    Further to Rage's comments to Simply Simple:
    Mughals were not frpm 'Middle East', rather they were from 'Central Asia'... Now-a-days forming parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan etc.

  • Greywall

    @Vikrant
    "Nepal didn’t exist during Buddha’s time!"
    Nepal is the only officially Hindu state of the world and was an independent state even at the time of Budha, ruled by his own family.
    I agree with Rage, Nepal was never a part of India.

  • Porky

    What a dip !!!

    The first humans created by Brahma lived in mother India ,
    not in bloody Africa !!!

    P.S. This is atheistic propaganda ( like a lot of docs on
    this otherwise excellent site !!! )

  • Balaji

    India is unique in any age in it's own way with the rest of the world. Proud to be part of it.

  • verysmartindi

    @Greywall - Hey DumbWall.... learn your history or atleast google History of Nepal before posting your stupid comments...

    Nepal was just the Valley of Kathamandu and only came into existence as a unified country in the 18th century... It has numerous mention since the time of Mahabharata the great Indian Epic.... Do some study or your grades will be as low as your IQ...

  • raju

    @verysmartindi: Just because Lumbini was not a part of Kathmandu valley does not mean that the kingdom was part of "India". And what do you mean by "India" anyway? What was India during Harsha's time? What was India during the Mughal empire? What about during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization? What do you mean by India? It looks like it's you who needs to do the studying.

  • ghost rider

    Now i understand why the people called mother india :)

  • Musing

    This documentary is old and dated. A lot more has been discovered since then. Rigveda itself has been dated to before 8000 BC!! Sarasvati river has been discovered. It has also been verified in the caves of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh..that horses and horse taming has been dated to 20,000 BC...

  • Templar Knight

    it was great

  • Sachin

    @Kitt My American friend, looks like you have to taste the essence of your own medicine soon... :P
    Learn Indian history before you speak anything about it...
    *peace*

  • Sachin Dev

    @Kitt My American friend, looks like you have to taste the essence of your own medicine soon… :P
    Learn Indian history before you speak anything about it…
    *peace*

  • TonyIII

    I found this documentary, informative and inspiring. The Indians have a magnificent history and deserve respect. All too often people judge another nation without any knowledge of it. I'd recommend it for any westerner especailly high school and college students.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1535930377 Thien Warder

    that's very interesting, can you point me to where I can read more about it ?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_A7L2FDZXVVOHXCBXBVKZGV3QKY jaydeep

    It does seem that Nepal has had an independent history since a very long time....certainly longer than the period of Buddha. They have a book, Nepal Vamshavali, that describes their history from before the time of Mahabharat.

    However, Nepal was part of the cultural landscape of Ancient India. India has had periods of unification when the entire landmass was ruled by one dynasty or king but they generally never eliminated the rulers of the smaller kingdoms & allowed them to govern their kingdoms in deference to the conquerors. As a result, when the conquering dynasty had weak rulers, the smaller kingdoms asserted their independence from them. It is also said that all the ancient Indian dynasties including that of Nepal descended from one great king named Manu Vaivaswata. His descendants are said to have established kingdoms across the length & breadth of India & beyond.

    Gautama Buddha was a descendent of Lord Rama, the hero of Ramayana.

    To be more precise, it is said that the 30th king after Lord Ram fought & died in the Mahabharat war & from that king Gautama Buddha's grandfather was about 23rd in line. The no. of kings or generations between Lord Ram & Buddha maybe greater than this but it is claimed that Buddha was a descendent of Lord Ram. It is believed that Gautama Buddha's grandfather was named Shakya & it is he who established his kingdom at Lumbini.

    Moreover, Nepal was part of the kingdom of King Janak, the father-in-law of Lord Ram.

    Finally, many places that Buddha travelled to & made holy are in present day India.

  • Guest

    Pretty extensive for an occidental person. Organised society started ~ a millenium before Christ. All considered, not as bloody as occidental history.
    But not the case for the "Grand hoaxes", typical to the humankind.
    First time I ever heard of seen great things produced by the Moguls.
    I always thought that they only ransac foreign society, got drunk, rape the women and go on to the next one on their list.

    Still, it reminds everyone that behind any "Modern Educated" homosapien, there's the danger of an phychotic maniac sleeping.
    Here, in this document, the Brits.
    I wonder if the then new Nations Society (After WWI) ever charged the Brit's officer who order his soldiers to shoot on villager?
    Isn't that typical war crime?
    Althought, we all now know that the Brits are as much good liars as the americans are as Blair & Powell proved to be.
    Does any Brit owe anything after this?
    No, he earn his life out of that.

    There's more to learn about humankind in India history than in the occiental one.

    Pierre.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002644825235 Das Holden Berris-D'Amico

    umm....hi
    just wanted some correction there in your comment....Nepal was known as Vajji mahajanapada the capital of which was vaishali (now in bihar...India) . There were a total of 16 mahajanapada (mega cities) and vajji was one of them....GO FIGURE

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002644825235 Das Holden Berris-D'Amico

    umm....LUMBINI WAS A PART OF VAJJI....WHICH WAS A STATE IN ANCIENT INDIA.... technically buddha was born in bharatvarsha (not india though)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4RAPJETOQZXRSAOQRU7SQSIIEU Pangaea

    darn i missed this one .. youtube user has taken it offline

  • http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/about/ Vlatko

    @Pangaea

    Use the links above the video.

  • jojosally

    this is bull...there is no way the indians travelled all the way from the USA to Asia...are we really meant to believe this?

  • in_SANE

    lol all the way from USA??!?!?!? Did you even think some place called USA existed then?

  • http://2wid.blogspot.com/ 2wid

    youtube link is dead.

  • Sunil Purohit

    america is great country brother and i must tell you that in india majority people have positive view about america and rest are just ignorant(but not jealous)-guy from india

  • http://www.facebook.com/baibhavp Baibhav Patel

    I can't believe people arguing over whether Nepal was part of India or not. In the time of Lord Buddha, there was no concept of a nation state called India.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TA7CAUPKTYP6JT3NER35GWFMH4 vk

    There was no India and no Nepal at the time of birth of Buddha. There was Bharatvarsha and Lumbini was part of it. India is a name given by Brits to a conglomerate of more than 600 kingdoms (riyasats). It was difficult for Brits to refer to so many kingdoms individually, so they called this, as a group, India.

  • Reshma Sharma

    In that case, James, democracy doesn't exist anywhere in the world, does it? I don't know any place where everyone is equal. I think the title refers to the vastness of the land and the sheer volume of diverse people who inhabit it. How does one challenge the caste system overnight? India is under renovation as we speak. It's very difficult to get the movement going in remote villages but someday it will get there. Till then, let's not be harsh and judge so quickly and frivolously. Every single community across countries operates based on a hierarchy. Whether it's caste, income or colour that separates us, it's all about power in the end. I've lived in India for 30 years and seen it change for the better. We have a very long way to go, but we're trying.

  • anurag gaur

    rightly said.......but it is sad that we are still using this name given to our country by europeans for there comfort...........

  • Subramanyam Pn

    Very informative and educative. For those who had some knowledge of the same, its refreshing.

  • Affirmative Action 187

    lol the forefathers of America were none other than the first wave of British colonials who amassed all their wealth by plundering and pillaging nations around the world, not to mention the organized slave trade which you folks were most notorious for. Had India not eschewed their previous martial culture and adopted non violence and other passive religious doctrines we would have probably been just as high and mighty as you white imperialists. Don't even go there "cracker" !!!!

  • Affirmative Action 187

    by the way most of the dictators and terrorist rogue elements around the world were Frankenstein creations of the US so that their respective countries would implode, which would in turn give Uncle Sam a legitimate alibi to "intervene" and exploit the natural resources and human capital of the nation. Is that what constitutes the "lofty" accomplishments of your "great" nation? hmmmm lets see capitalism, racism, slavery, genocide, human rights violations, imperialism, exploitation.... the list is endless. Not so smug now are you ? :)

  • Kmohan

    Can you please update the link three Spice Routes and Silk Roads

  • ssb7

    Historians like Michael wood are the reason that the most important event of the Indian History of the Mughal era, the Sikh history is given very little importance. It is also the reason the West cannot understand certain issues like driving factors behind terrorism by Islamist extremists.Sikh history was the single most important event during the Mughal era, as Sikhs, outnumbered by thousands to one, performed acts of bravery and personal sacrifices probably unmatched in World history, to prevent Islamification of India. Misrepresentation of Indian history by western historians and Michael Wood’s lack of understanding of motives of people like Jinnah, who he believes to be a secular person who wanted a united India, is typical of misrepresentation of Indian history by so called Indian history experts. Jinnah wanted a united India as an Islamic state and not as a secular state. Anyone as naive as Michael Wood should undertake more research to help prevent making misleading documentaries.

  • GB63

    The documentary is interesting, as are the comments listed below.

    What I find most interesting is that people are still debating issues such as colonialism, imerialism, democracy and of course religion - and in particular who has more legitimacy than whom. But one one seems to acknowledge that no matter what has happened in the past, people (all peoples) are responsible and accountable for their current actions - when will people stop blaming what has happened in the past for their current situation? Oppression has happened to all and within all cultures, creeds and religions. I challenge anyone to nominate a culture, creed or religion where oppression (in all its forms) has not occured.

    At some point going back hundreds and hundreds of years to blame others and upon which to based current action and views has to become irrelevant.

    On Michael Wood, he suffers from a good dose of 'white guilt' which is also not helpful or appropriate from a historian.

  • Regular_Listener

    Annoying to watch on Youtube because of the writing in the center of the screen. I shut it off after a couple of minutes. Also, part 1 links to a brief excerpt of one of the programs, and not the whole thing. I would like to see it someday, but not this version of it.

  • Muralidharan

    Seems like observational film made with a small budget and with very little research on a very good subject.

  • sam

    Well, i actually agree with u but it was never made to divide people , it was actually made for wat today we learn in management right person at the right place at the right time. well it was the corruption at that moment which led to debacle. Well it is not actually division of people as u say caste system, it is actually division of work and that is why right people for right job. Our ancestors were practicing human resource management. Well if u say about corruption it might be correct that we hav carried it from our history. All the above are my personal view, it has nothing to do with any records, or to heart any society or any thing.

  • mahesh

    All bout Buddha debates, the fact is he was born in Lumbini, which is in Nepal. Nepal was never under any occupation ever but divided into small independent states. However saying Buddha was born in India is ridiculous in every sense. Does that mean every Indian born during British occupation was born in England, including Gandhi.

  • basawa

    the most important chapter of who were the first inhabitants and the rise of the untouchables in India is forgotten here as it is the most important part of story of our country

  • Prasan Dutt

    Thanks to Micheal Wood for presenting India with such great enthusiasm. I'm really a fan of him now. Whatever the situation India living in now, but the energy he showed in presenting things is such a real work of a historian.

  • ehtesham khan

    It was a great work and easy to under stand rather than reading and I think it is abase for leaners not only in current time but also to the coming generations

  • Tamera J Edwards

    I loved the video! We are studying about this in our Cultural Realm of India course in college. Very nice!

  • deshu

    Its nice to see that someone other than an Indian has watched this video and appreciated it.

  • rbl

    had u been born at that time u wd hav given every chance to Mr Jinnah to fabricate the unity of India .. it wasnt Jinnah who created Pakistan bt inept leadership of Congress

  • http://www.gafelk.co.nz/ Mark Probett

    Have yet to see the series and will for sure. But I would love to talk with Michael Wood about another side of India and importantly The British Raj, EIC and the events leading up to the Mutiny of 1957. The upheaval and horrors of the period, seem to have been long forgotten by Britain and such can be readily seen in any British cemetery one would visit right across Northern India, where overgrowth and elephant grass stand 2 meters or more covering 1,000's of the most of solemn of graves. There are of course, the usual relics of British colonialism that stand as they were in 1857, like The Residency at Lucknow, frozen in time. But too, there are also hidden things ... thing's so dark and painful, that Britain and India would rather forget and indeed have made great efforts to wipe from the face of the earth. In Kanpur, there is a well, now covered over with brown concrete and is the final resting place of 220 British Women and Children (86 women and 124 children) who had suffered the cruellest abuse for 6 weeks and were hacked to death with meat cleavers and talwar's in a small bungalow, dismembered next morning and cast "the dead with the dieing" into the abyss. This happened in the early evening of July 15th 1857. Type "Bibighar Cawnpore" and search, less they be forgotten. Nearby in what is left of General Wheelers entrenchment, stands an old well with a memorial church in a 5 acre paddock, as a reminder of those who drew water there in June 1857 and who put up an exhaustive defence, while waiting for relief in the form of Major Gen Sir Henry Havelock. Temperatures in the entrenchment topped out at 130 degree F and another well nearby consumed over the 3 week siege, another 250 British men, women and children from the entrenchment, who perished from wounds, dysentery, heat stroke, hunger and whereby children with little or no drinking water were
    reduced to sucking leather straps to quench the most appalling thirst. After 3 weeks of this and being shelled and shot at with over 1,200 rifles without letup, the Mutineers offered false terms and a guarantee of repatriation to Allahabad in boats that would be provided. Sadly, the garrison had no choice but to surrender to the Mutineers and on the morning of June 27th 1857, the 700 remaining, who were in an incredibly poor state, suffering from dysentery, hunger, thirst, heat stroke and with many carrying grievous wounds, made the slow, painful walk down to Sati Chaura Massacre Ghart a mile distant, where another 550 were put to the sword on the banks of the Ganges. All very reminicent of the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. These places are still pretty much as they were, although a visitor would never know, because most of the memorials and markers have been removed by common agreement between Britain and India. The story of Lucknow, Agra,
    Meeret, Delhi, Allahabad, Benares, Jaipur and dozens of small settlements across northern India, tell a similar story of rape, slaughterer and absolute soul destroying desperation that the British never saw coming, although they should have. The signs were all there of an uprising, but unfortunately the EIC's policy of retaining stupid Generals, who had little or nothing to do with their Sepoy infantries, failed to note the winds of change and the destruction that would follow.
    However, with the relief that eventually came, so came the most appalling revenges by the British. Hundreds of Scot's of the 78th,
    viewed the carnage in the Bibighar and looked into the well that was choked to the brim with the torso's, limbs, faces and hair of their women folk and children and in the intense heat, they exacted a terrible revenge on any Indian they could lay hands on. Tens of thousands were hanged and in not a few cases, dozens were blown from 9 pound cannons. The events of 1857 in Northern India form the basis of an incredible epic journey that should be retold, less this vital piece of British Anglo Indian history be lost forever

  • cmos89

    The fact is that 3 lakh britishers were killed in the revolt of 1857, but the merciless britishers killed 9 lakh indians brutally in return. and whatever whatever happened the britishers are to be blamed..... they were responsible for bringing sorrow, poverty, agony, humiliation to which was otherwise a very rich and prosperous nation in the world. Rather than just researching on the killings in the revolt of 1857, you need to research what led to the revolt, because civilians killing so many people is a very extreme scenario or situation, that too in a country like india where we believe in "AHIMSA" (Non-violence).

  • Mukunda

    ha ha ha what a great joke !!! Nepal was there but not united as present. It had been spread into different states. Nepal was there not only in Buddha's time but also Ram's Period as well so that Ram from India married Sita from Janakpur of Nepal.

  • Aditya Rajan

    There are two meanings of the word India, one is the republic of India and the other is the ancient civilization called India (Bharat, Aryavart, Jambudvip) and you cannot deny that nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhuta, Srilanka belong to the latter India. India in ancient times was a cultural idea like the idea of Europe (which is not geographically a continent) and the people in the time of the Buddha would have seen themselves as part of this "India" the same way the both French and Germans see themselves as European.

  • Aditya Rajan

    There was not concept of a nation state called India in fact that concept is misguided because nation-state itself is a Western concept. Just like Europe, or China at that time India was a civilization and all people in this cultural "india" viewed themselves as being part of India in the cultural sense including the people of modern day Nepal. India itself was divided into many states some of them which were in modern day Nepal just like Europe has many countries. But the people at that time in what is now Nepal would not have considered themselves collectively as very different from neighboring kingdoms in what is now India.

  • Aditya Rajan

    Violent Islamic enemies of India like Mahmud of Ghazni deserve to no praise they were violent booldthirsty Hindu hateing murderers

  • Dave

    For a country that believes in non violence, you sure kill each other a lot India is held back by this infantile blaming of colonialism for current problems. Congress has been doing it for generations now - Independence was too long ago not to grow up, have a dispassionate look at your real history with crimes and heroes on both sides and take your true place as a leader in the world. That wont happen until Hindu nationalists stop this ridiculous whining.

  • cmos89

    Point taken... I agree that independence was long back and 67 years is a huge period and india should have changed by leaps and bounds in this period. But in order to understand why this has not happened , you have to think beyond your present way of thinking. The future, economy , progress and everything of a nation depends on the education system of a country... If u look at the parliamentary speech of T B Macualay in 1835 , he clearly States that the back bone of india is its education system and in order to enslave india their first step is to uproot the indegenous education system.. And hence they introduced a completely alien education system ( wich even runs today with very few ammendments) wich completely isolated the society from its own past. As a result of this the indegenous science , technology, art, traditions got lost into oblivion within few generations from then... Now this is wat i call systematic and calculated demolition. The people who come out of such an education system will only feel their utter inferiority to their masters ( britishers) . This kind of subjection was so much incorporated into the fabric of india that by the time of independence the educated class ( like jawaharlal nehru) always felt that there is no way forward for india other than following the west( this kind of mentalty exists very much exists even today among the ruling class), but thing is the india and the west are geographically, culturally and philosophically are completely different entities.. Installing an alien governance system in a nation, which doesnt suite her will only be suicidal... In this way if u trace any of our problems back into the history, u will only find the cause to be a british policy or act... This may be hard to digest for you.. But its a fact... Even the inherent caste system wich is ofcourse a huge drawback of indian civilisation was so much exploited by the britishers that it is in a total mess today. True that Every civilisation has its own drawbacks but indias todays state is definitely not becoz of its inherent drawbacks. All this may not sit well with you, but blaming colonialism is not a mindless and ridiculous act....

  • Ramachandran

    The movie promotes the much discredited and false Aryan Invasion Theory.
    We do not need westerners especially the British discover India for us.
    The British should celebrate events the should be proud of the killing of millions of Indians including special events Jallianwala Bagh, Bengal famine, slave trade, indenture of Indians in Guyana Fiji Mauritius etc.
    We do not need their services anymore let them worry about their own decrepit British Empire and aging Queen.