The Sun Never Set on the British Empire, circa 1937

The sun never set on the British Empire
because the sun sets in the West
and the British Empire was in the East.

Anonymous Student

Below is a 81.9K animated GIF file. It may take a while to load, though individual frames should display during loading; and then, as the file runs, it may slow down the response of your computer for scrolling and other functions, even when the browser is minimized and other programs are used. The animation can be stopped at any time by hitting the "STOP" key (in Netscape), though I have noticed that this may not work for the Microsoft Internet Explorer. Animation may be restarted by reloading the page or by leaving and returning to the page. Note that Los Angeles, the home of The Proceedings of the Friesian School, is in the same time zone as Vancouver (GMT -8).

Not all British possessions are listed in the image, only representative ones for each of the 24 time zones of the Earth. (All British possessions are listed below.) The time zones themselves may be said to be artifacts of the British Empire, since they are based on the Meridian of Greenwich (at the original Royal Observatory, 1675-1953, in London), which since 1884 is the internationally accepted prime meridian for the calculation of longitude. The animation may also be used to inspect the operation of the International Dateline, which divides the -12h/+12h time zone. It is interesting to note that although several places in the Pacific might fall into the -12h time zone, the Dateline itself and the boundaries of the -11h zone are today drawn in such a way that no jurisdiction uses the -12h zone (Tonga, formerly British, uses +12h; Midway Island & the Aleutians use -11h). Some time zone boundaries have been changed since 1937. Gambia no longer seems to be in the -1h time zone. Also, there have been several time zones that are at a half hour rather than a whole hour interval from Greenwich, including today India (+5h30m), Burma (+6h30m), and central Australia (+9h30m). My source for the 1937 zones (in the Atlas of the British Empire, edited by Christopher Bayly, Facts on File, 1989, p.246) does not clearly indicate these variations, so no attempt is made to represent them.

The "British Empire" was not a de jure entity (like the German Empire, Austrian Empire, Russian Empire, or Japanese Empire), since Britain itself was a kingdom (the "United Kingdom" of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). One British possession, however, was an empire, namely India. Queen Victoria became "Empress of India" in 1876. Subsequently, the term "imperial" worked its way into various official terminology about British possessions, e.g. the "Imperial General Staff" and the "Imperial War Museum." When India and Pakistan became independent in 1947, the Indian Empire ceased to exist and both countries became, for a time, Dominions -- the category for previous British self-governing territories, starting with Canada (1867) and later coming to include the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, and, for a time (1926-1934), little Newfoundland (which did not join Canada until 1949). As the "Empire" faded, the British Commonwealth took over, though that organization seemed to offer less and less as time went on in terms of real economic, military, or political advantages.

Today Queen Elizabeth II is still the official Head of State of scattered former possessions, like the Solomon Islands; but the British connection for the remaining Dominions (Canada, Australia, & New Zealand) has been increasingly compromised and questioned. Canada has come up with its own flag (losing the Union Jack canton), its own national anthem ("Oh Canada!"), its own constitution, and its own perhaps fatal political division between francophone Quebec and all the other, sometimes bitterly resentful (for the cost of bilingualism -- mandated everywhere except Quebec), anglophone provinces. Why Canada should then continue with a "Queen's Government," or even as a single country, is increasingly an open question. When I visited British Columbia as a child in 1959, there were Union Jacks as well as Canadian Ensigns on sale everywhere for tourists. On my last visit to Canada, in 1995, there were no Union Jacks to be seen at all. Meanwhile, Australia, always resentful of much of what happened in World War I (at Gallipoli) and in World War II (at Singapore and in Burma), contains a powerful movement to become a Republic. Recently, however (November 6, 1999), this was put to stand-up vote and lost; so Australia will remain a Dominion for a while yet. The British Empire, in one sense long gone, confirmed with the return of Hong Kong to Communist China in 1997, thus continues a slow fade everywhere. At the same time, British sovereignty in Britain itself becomes increasingly compromised by participation in the ill designed, ill considered, corrupt, and heavy handed Euro-government of the European Community, and by separatist movements in Scotland, Wales, and, as always, Ireland.

In 1909 the British Empire encompassed 20% of the land area of the Earth and 23% of its population. Although the first industrial power, by 1900 Britain had been surpassed by both United States and by Germany; but Britain was still the financial center of the world and the premier merchant carrier.
country or area
1900 1914
millions of £
millions of £
millions of £
Canada 22/8 22.2/9.6 500
United States 139/20 138.8/37.4 750
India 27/30 27.4/31.0 400
Australia 24/22 23.8/23.6 400
New Zealand 10/6 11.6/5.9
West Indies 2/4 1.8/4.7 750
South America 28/24 287.3/216.5
Europe 221/118 200
Mediterranean 27/21
Middle East 19/12 1000
East Asia 20/26
8/20 8.4/21.6
Bayly's Atlas,
pp. 170-171
Lloyd's British
, p. 423
Lloyd's British
, p. 258
British trade in 1900 and foreign investment in 1914 is shown in the following table. Somewhat different figures for trade are given in Cristopher Bayly's Atlas of the British Empire and T.O. Lloyd's The British Empire, 1558-1995, so both sets of figures are given. Where there is disagreement, Lloyd tends to show slightly greater British exports than Bayly; but if we add Bayly's figures up for Lloyd's "world" category, we get 315/201, which is slightly smaller exports and much larger imports (against 287.3/216.5).

Indeed, Britain in this period is running a large trade deficit. This is usually taken as a sign of British decline. However, as David Hume noted as early as 1752, this really just means that enough money is exported to make up the difference. This would cause a deflation, unless enough money is created or brought in (for investment) to make up the difference. Since Britain did not experience any deflation after the 1890's, it is fairly clear that the money flows were correcting the balance. This kind of thing was later thought to be indicative of American decline when the United States began to run large trade deficits and in the 1980's became a net debtor from foreign investment in United States securities. However, the dire predictions at the time gave no hint of the relative strength of the United States economy, with good growth, low unemployment, and negligible inflation in the 1990's, with the American advantage over Europe and Japan increasing in the course of the decade. By 1999, the United States economy was all but carrying, Atlas-like, the stagnant or shrinking economies of the rest of the world.

The British balance of trade and balance of payments situation in 1900 thus need not have been an indicator of any real ill health. British decline ultimately had to be from other causes, like an absolute decline in innovation and investment at home. Indeed, when Americans in the 1980's worried about the Japanese buying up the United States, the largest foreign investors were actually British -- which for the future meant American growth rather than British growth.

Another lesson to be read off the trade figures is that a relatively small fraction of British trade involved colonies that would later constitute the "Third World." Indeed, the only trade surpluses in the table are with India, Africa, the West Indies, and the Far East, which might give some heart to Marxist claims that British colonies, especially India, were the outlet for Capitalist "excess production." However, the trade surpluses are small, and overall British trade with India and the other colonies is hardly larger than with the much, much smaller populations of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. No serious argument can be made that the likes of Australia and New Zealand, with their own autonomous governments and protective tariffs, were being "exploited" by Great Britain. Instead the largest British export market is simply with the rest of Europe. Indeed, Europe, the United States, Australia, Canada, etc. are the places where more people would have enough money to buy British goods.

The figures for investment reveal the truth about the thesis first advanced by J.A. Hobson in 1902 (Imperialism), and later taken up by Lenin, that British conquest followed British investment. Hobson wished to explain the recent Boer War as the effect of £400 million of investment in the South African gold and diamond minds. Lenin saw British colonies as the necessary outlet for British capital, as well as for British capitalist "overproduction." Unfortunately, if this thesis were true, then the British should have been conquering the United States, not South Africa, since the largest single destination of British investment was the Americas, but Canada was the only large scale British possession.

In the following list of present and former British possessions, current British possessions and dependencies are in boldface red, current members of the British Commonwealth are in plain red, and independent states in the Commonwealth that retain Queen Elizabeth as their Head of State are followed by a crown, . The list of Princely States in India is incomplete but is certainly enough to convey the complexity of the place under British rule.

The animated GIF file on this page was originally 226.2K in size. Sven Mitsdörffer sent me a 43.8K version, which, however, did not seem entirely compatible with my assembler [the Alchemy Mind Works GIF Construction Set (32-Bit) 1.0Q, 1995]. The present 81.9K image is one that is redone using some of the techniques I found in Sven's version.

Bibliography, and Suggested Reading

for all British Empire pages

British Battleships, "Warrior" 1860 to "Vanguard" 1950, A History of Design, Construction and Armament, by Oscar Parkes, Seeley Service & Co., London, 1957

The Horizon History of the British Empire, edited by Stephen W. Sears, American Heritage Publishing/BBC/Time-Life Books/McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1973

The Pax Britannica Trilogy, by James Morris, Harvest/HBJ/Helen Kurt Wolff Book

The Black Battlefleet, by Admiral G.A. Ballard, Naval Institute Press, 1980

The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, edited by Kenneth O. Morgan, Oxford, 1984

End of Empire, by Brian Lapping, St. Martin's Press, 1985

Jutland, An analysis of the fighting, by NJM Campbell, Naval Institute Press, 1986

Atlas of the British Empire, edited by Christopher Bayly, Facts on File, 1989

The British Conquest and Dominion of India, Sir Penderel Moon, Duckworth/Indiana University Press, 1989

Dreadnought -- Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War, by Robert K. Massie, Random House, 1991

Great Battles of the Royal Navy, as Commemorated in the Gunroom, Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, editor-in-chief Eric Grove, Naval Institute Press, 1994

The Royal Navy, An Illustrated History, by Anthony J. Watts, Naval Institute Press, 1994

The British Empire, 1558-1995, by T.O. Lloyd, The Short Oxford History of the Modern World, general editor J.M. Roberts, Oxford, 1996

The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Navy, general editor J.R. Hill, Oxford, 1995

The Oxford History of the British Empire

Crucible of War, The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, Fred Anderson, Alfred A. Knopf, 2000

Prime Ministers of the Dominions

British Emperors of India

The Kings of England and Scotland


British Coins before the Florin, Compared to French Coins of the Ancien Régime

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

Prime Ministers of the Dominions

Prime Ministers of Canada
John MacDonald 1867-1873,
Alexander MacKenzie 1873-1878
John Abbott 1891-1892
John Thompson 1892-1894
Mackenzie Bowell 1894-1896
Charles Tupper 1896
Wilfrid Laurier 1896-1911
Sir Robert Borden 1911-1920
Arthur Meighen 1920-1921,
William Lyon MacKenzie King 1921-1926,
Richard Bennett 1930-1935
Louis Saint Laurent 1948-1957
John Diefenbaker 1957-1963
Lester Pearson 1963-1968
Pierre Trudeau 1968-1979,
Joe Clark 1979-1980
John Turner 1984
Brian Mulroney 1984-1993
Kim Campbell 1993
Jean Chrétien 1993-present
Canada was the first Dominion, a term invented for the specific purpose of referring to self-governing British possessions, rather than having them be kingdoms or some other traditional territorial realm.

Newfoundland did not join Canada until 1949, and for a brief period it was even a Dominion in its own right (1926-1934).

Almost from the beginning Canada had to contend with comparison to, and influence from, the Great Republic to the south. Indeed, one of the first acts of the Dominion was to adopt a Dollar coin equal in value (in gold) to the United States Dollar. Canadian silver and bronze coinage, however, for many years was proportional in size to British coinage. Thus, Canadian silver dollars were smaller than American ones, but nearly equal in size to the British 4 shilling (double florin) coin, which was worth 97 US cents. Until after World War I, Canadian cents were equal in size to the British half-penny, which was worth about one US cent. Briefly, there were Canadian half-cents equal in size to the British farthing.

Expanding an identity for Canada separate from Britain (no one, indeed, ever would have confused them) became a goal in the 1960's. A new flag was adopted in 1965, eliminating the Union Jack canton. And a new National Anthem, "Oh Canada!" is now heard. Since the constitution of Canada was actually the British North American Act, Pierre Trudeau cut the last legal ties to Britain by writing a complete, new Constitution. Since that document, however, makes many special provisions for French-speaking Quebec, it introduced a source of irritation and binationalism that occasionally threatens to break Canada apart. One curious result of this was the election of 1993, when the "Progressive Conservative" Party, despite a woman Prime Minister (Kim Campell), was all but annihilated, with new power going to regional parties.

Prime Ministers of New Zealand
Richard Seddon 1893-1906
William Hall-Jones 1906-1907
Joseph Ward 1907-1912,
Thomas MacKenzie 1912
William Massey 1912-1925
Francis Bell 1925
Joseph Coates 1925-1928
George Forbes 1930-1935
Michael Savage 1935-1940
Peter Fraser 1940-1949
Sidney Holland 1949-1957
Keith Holyoake 1957,
Walter Nash 1957-1960
John Marshall 1972
Norman Kirk 1972-1974
Hugh Watt 1974
Wallace Rowling 1974-1975
Robert Muldoon 1975-1984
David Lange 1984-1989
Geoffrey Palmer 1989-1990
Michael Moore 1990
Jim Bolger 1990-1996
Jenny Shipley 1997-1999
Helen Clark 1999-present
New Zealand contains a large Polynesian population, the Mâori, but otherwise is alike another Great Britain in the Antipodes. It also boasted the first officially socialist Government in the world. By the 1990's, however, decades of socialist attempts to control the economy and "protect" workers had done their damage. Growth was slow, unemployment high, and "social" spending out of control. The heroic response was a volte-face that turned New Zealand into one of the freest economies in the world, with a spurt of growth, investment, and prosperity. Suddenly, workers could no longer even be forced to join unions as the result of "collective bargaining." Not all state social entitlement programs, to be sure, were abolished, but it should be encouraging for all to see that the creep of social democracy can be dramatically reversed. A recent setback has been the return to power of the Labourites and the compromise of some reforms, but one does not expect the Opposition to be out of power forever. Hopefully, reform will eventually start up again and whole nasty lesson will not have to be learned all over.

When I lived in Hawai'i in the early 1970's, I was struck by a photo one morning on the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser. A volcano in New Zealand, Mt. Ngauruhoe, was erupting. It was some years before I found an atlas detailed enough to show that particular mountain, one of several active volcanoes on the North Island. At the time, I was interested in Polynesian languages and ended up ordering Bruce Biggs's Let's Learn Maori, book and records, [A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, 1969, 1973] through Basil Blackwell at Oxford. It took many months for them to make their way from New Zealand to Oxford and then out to Hawai'i. I rather liked the idea of them around almost entirely around the world to get to me.

After I moved to Texas in 1975, one of my new neighbors, Donna, ordered something from New Zealand herself, a spinning wheel. It needed to be assembled and stained, and I helped her out. I even learned from her how to use it. I thought it was enough fun that I considered buying one myself; but the price, $50 back then, was far beyond my budget (and the price subsequently went up). I don't know what I would have done with the thread anyway, since I never got into weaving the way Donna did. Now, however, the question has arisen again. Donna bought other spinning wheels, and last year (2000) decided that the original one was maybe more than she needed. So she offered it to me. It arrived at our house in January (2001), and I got to put it back together all over again. After 25 some years, I had forgotten how to spin, but Donna had retained, and sent, all the original documentation, including instructions on use, and the story of how these particular spinning wheels had been developed in New Zealand, a country with more sheep than people, during World War II so that women could make homespun clothing for the boys off in the War. Donna also sent a selection of materials to spin, including hair from the Angora rabbits that she keeps. As for what to do with the thread, she says that she even sells some of hers on eBay.

Prime Ministers of Australia
Edmund Barton 1900-1903
Alfred Deakin 1903-1904,
John Watson 1904
George Reid 1904-1905
Andrew Fisher 1908-1909,
Joseph Cook 1913-1914
William Hughes 1915-1923
Stanley Bruce 1923-1929
James Scullin 1929-1932
Joseph Lyons 1932-1939
Earle Page 1939
Robert Menzies 1939-1941,
Arthur Fadden 1941
John Curtin 1941-1945
Francis Forde 1945
Joseph Chifley 1945-1949
Harold Holt 1966-1967
John McEwen 1967-1968
John Gorton 1968-1971
William McMahon 1971-1972
Gough Whitlam 1972-1975
Malcolm Fraser 1975-1983
Bob Hawke 1983-1991
Paul Keating 1991-1996
John Howard 1996-present
Australia is actually a "Commonwealth" rather than a "Dominion," because individual Australian states were originally Dominions themselves.

Foreigners know that Australians are called "Aussies." Americans, however (like me), tended to think of the "ss" as pronounced voicelessly, like, indeed, an "s." But it appears that Australians actually pronounce it as a "z":  "Auzzie." The Crocodile Dundee movies were largely instrumental in correcting this misperception. The right pronunciation produces several happy puns, like calling Australia itself the "Land of Oz."

Australia may now be the Dominion most tempted by Republicanism. The relationship with Britain has been of a love-hate variety ever since the first shipload of prisoners arrived at Botany Bay. Real strain began in World War I. Britain declared War against Germany in the name of all the Dominions without actually asking them, or even telling them, first. This was an irritation that could be perhaps forgiven, once. Australians enthusiastically volunteered for the Army, and the ANZAC, "Australia-New Zealand Army Corps," entered combat. Unfortunately, the combat ended up being at Gallipoli, where Winston Churchill had gotten the idea of seizing the Dardanelles and putting Turkey out of the War. This was a good idea, but amphibious landings were a new idea, and the campaign ended up poorly conducted, and a failure. There was great slaughter on both sides, but many of the Allied dead were specifically Australians and New Zealanders. Were the British really this careless? Or were they just careless with the ANZAC's? Well, that was World War I, but the Australians can certainly be forgiven for some resentment about dying in a campaign that owned nothing to their direction or consent.

The postwar era got off to a bad start with the Washington Naval Treaty (1921), whereby Britain accepted naval parity with the United States and agree with Japan to limit its military presence in the Pacific. This gravely compromised Britain's defense responsibilities to Australia and New Zealand; and, again, it looked like Britain was making its own decisions without concern or consultation about the Pacific Dominions. Meanwhile, in the 20's and 30's, the Dominions were recognized as independent in all but name. In the Statute of Westminster of 1931, the British Parliament renounced all legislative, even constiutional, authority over the Dominions. This could not mean that they were simply on their own, however. Australia and New Zealand did not have the means to defend themselves against Japan and had no desire to do so alone.

When Japan entered World War II, Britain was already stretched thin. And the ANZAC force was in North Africa. The whole British position in the Pacific depended on the base at Singapore, with obsolete aircraft and few ships. The Japanese landed in Malaya, drove against Singapore and, in part by bluff against a larger force, compelled a British surrender. Many Australians ended up dying in Japanese prison camps, or suffering to build the infamous Japanese railroad from Thailand to Burma (as seen in The Bridge on the River Kwai [1957]). Britain had little left to offer for the defense of the South Pacific. Only America could help, and the war effort in New Guinea and the Solomons came to be a cooperative ANZAC-American effort. Henceforth, while Constitutional ties were retained with Britain, Australia would always be as much a partner of the United States as of the "Mother" country. Republican advocates, like the art critic and historian Robert Hughes, seem to spend as much time in the United States as Down Under. And the British ("bloody pommies") would never understand surfing.

Waltzing Matilda

Prime Ministers of South Africa
Louis Botha 1910-1919
Jan Christiaan Smuts 1919-1924,
James Hertzog 1924-1939
Daniel Malan 1949-1954
Johannes Strijdom 1954-1958
Hendrik Verwoerd 1958-1966
South Africa
becomes a Republic,
leaves Commonwealth,
Robberts Swart
François Naudé
B. J.
Johannes Fouchá
J. Diederichs
Marais Viljoen acting,
1978-1984 Pieter
B. J. Vorster 1978-1979
Marais Viljoen 1979-1984
J. Christian Heunis acting, 1989
Frederik W. de Klerk 1989-1994
Nelson Mandela 1994-1999
Thabo Mbeki 1999-
The Union of South Africa was formed from the British colonies of the Natal and the Cape Colony, together with the subjugated Boer Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The flag of the Union was, significantly, an archaizing
Dutch flag, with an orange instead of a red stripe, and the flag of Britain, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal on the middle stripe. Since the Boers never wanted to be ruled by Britain in the first place, and they had gone on the Great Trek into the interior to get away from them, it was perhaps only a matter of time before this was made good. Meanwhile, relations were cordial enough, and General Smuts became a familiar elder statesman of the British Empire, though in World War II South Africans refused to fight anyplace but in Africa -- little did they know that very serious fighting would actually occur in North Africa (though General Smuts himself had encountered tough fighting in World War I against the Germans in Tanganyika). In 1948, however, Boer nationalism seized the helm. The laws that had always been discriminatory and humiliating against non-whites, against which Mahâtma Gandhi had already been fighting in the 1890's, were then expanded into the rigid, police-state-like system of Apartheid. By 1960, with African colonies becoming independent, and the harsh racist principles and rhetoric of the Boers all too reminiscent of Hitler, this had grown into an embarrassment, and worse. In 1961, after condemnation at a Commonwealth Conference, the Union was turned into a Republic, which left the Commonwealth, to live under international hostility through the 60's, 70's, and 80's, until a peaceful transition to majority rule in 1994. Whether the new South Africa will be able to remain peaceful is a good question. Already with a very high crime rate, the precedent of neighboring Zimbabwe, with one party rule and the increasing expropriation of white farms, usually by informal violence, is not reassuring.

Prime Ministers of Ireland
Eamon De Valera 1919-1922
Arthur Griffith 1922
Michael Collins 1922
William Cosgrave 1922-1932
Eamon De Valera 1932-1948,
Ireland becomes a
Republic, 1938;
leaves Commonwealth,
Douglas Hyde 1938-1945
Sean O'Kelly 1945-1959 John Costello 1948-1951,
Eamon De Valera 1959-1973 Sean Lemass 1959-1966
Jack Lynch 1966-1973,
Erskine Childers 1973-1974
Carroll Daly 1974-1976 Liam Cosgrave 1973-1977
Patrick Hillery 1976-1990 Charles
Mary Robinson 1990-1997 Albert
John Bruton 1994-1997
Mary McAleese 1997- Bertie Ahern 1997-
Ireland gained independence as a Dominion -- though I have also seen this denied. The original idea was Home Rule, which would have made it an autonomous Kingdom within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Several Liberal British governments fell over Home Rule bills. When one finally passed, World War I led the British to delay its effect. Then in 1916 there was an Irish Rising. None of this made anyone any happier. When autonomy finally came in 1921, however, the terms were the subject of bitter debate in Ireland. Britain expected there to be a Governor-General and a loyalty oath to the King. Acceptance of these terms led to near Civil War in Ireland. Michael Collins was killed by the Irish Republican Army, and Eamon De Valera was imprisoned by the Irish government. When De Valera came to power in 1932, the loyalty oath was abolished, the Governor-General was stripped of all power, and then in 1938 a Republic was declared, just in time for World War II (and Irish neutrality -- though many Irish fought in the British Army nevertheless). The expectation of many British colonial possessions, that they would suddenly become rich once the predatory British were gone, was repeated in Ireland. And consequently Ireland remained for many years one of the poorest countries in Europe. By 1986 unemployment was over 15%, inflation at 10%, growth only 0.4%, and the budget bleeding hopelessly. As in the days of the potato famine, people left Ireland for better lives elsewhere. The English, and even the Irish, told "stupid Irish" jokes. Then Ireland awoke. The
supply-side, Reagan/Thatcher formula of tax cuts was adopted, and the economy took off like a rocket. Ireland is now growing at triple the rate of the European Union, 9.4% per year. People now move into Ireland, not out of it. There is a budget surplus. American companies put their European headquarters there. Unemployment, at 15.7% in 1993, was down to under 5% in 2000. Public housing, which an audit discovered cost more to run than if it were just built and given away to tenants, is being sold off. Brussels, the statist headquarters of the European Union, which continues to love high taxes, is screaming; but Irish finance minster, Charlie McCreevy, is telling them where to get off. What a blessed day for what was so long a sad and suffering land. How wonderful what a little real capitalism will do. Erin go brah! As in the days of St. Columba, they now could use a little of the Irish formula in Great Britain, which has forgotten its Thatcherite wisdom. Never have I been happier to be a Kelley.

Prime Ministers of India
Jawaharlal Nehru 1947-1964
India becomes a
Republic, 1950
Rajendra Prasad 1950-1962
1962-1967 Lal Bahadur
Zakir Husain 1967-1969 Indira Gandhi 1966-1977,
Venkata Giri
acting, 1969
Hidayat Ullah
acting, 1969
Venkata Giri
Ali Ahmed
Danappa Jatti
acting, 1977 Morarji Desai 1977-1979
N. Sanjiva Reddy 1977-1982 Charan Singh 1979-1980
Zail Singh 1982-1987 Rajiv Gandhi 1984-1989
1987-1992 Vishwanath
Pratap Singh
Chandra Shekhar 1990-1991
Dayal Sharma
1992-1997 P.V.
Narasimha Rao
H.D. Deve
1997- Inder Kumar
Atal Bihari
India and Pakistan both became independent as Dominions, mainly because the procedures for doing this already existed and it could be done quickly. India then soon enough became a Republic. Bitterness, however, was minimal, and India remained a friendly member of the British Commonwealth. Although
Mahâtmâ Gandhi was affectionately, reverently regarded as the father of Indian independence, he never had the slightest interest in exercising political power, and Nehru, a British educated Brahmin, had always been the logical choice. Unfortunately, Nehru had been educated in the fashionable socialism of the day and immediately applied to India the tried and true techniques of that paradigm of economic development, the Soviet Union. This, of course, condemned India to decades of continued poverty, even while Indian emigrants prospered mightily elsewhere. The day of reckoning may have come in 1991, when the new Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, discovered that the country's gold reserves had been flown to London to cover an International Monetary Fund loan, itself sought because of the looming exhaustion of foreign reserves. Soon Rao's government was moving to liberalize the economy, allowing foreign investment and something approaching free, certainly freer, trade. Most importantly, the "License Raj," by which no business count start, or do much else, without the endless red tape of government permission, was in great measure dismantled. The economic acumen of Indians now could be manifest in India itself, not just in emigrant communities. The effects of the Nehruist folly have not been shaken off completely, however. The government itself is still a vast parasite on the economy, it is all but impossible to fire workers, and bankrupt or unproductive businesses cannot legally close or lay off workers. The State of Bengal remains in the grip of an actual Communist government, with monuments to Ho Chi Minh and the other luminaries of leftist murder and dictatorship. Since Bengal, like adjacent Bangladesh itself, remains about the poorest place on Earth, one wonders when such people will give themselves a break.

Looming large in recent Indian history is not just Jawaharlal Nehru but his family. Nehru's daughter Indira dominated the country for nearly twenty years. When she arrested the opposition, India briefly lost its democracy. When she figured on a vote of confidence from the people in 1977, she was voted out of power instead. The opposition, however, was no more popular; and Indira returned to office in 1980. Ordering a military suppression of the Sikhs, she was assassinated by a Sikh guard in 1984. Her son Rajiv was also assassinated.

Prime Ministers of Pakistan
Liaquat Ali Khan 1947-1951
Khawaja Nazimuddin 1951-1953
Muhammad Ali Bogra 1953-1955
Chawdry (Chaudhri)
Muhammad Ali
Hussein Shahid Suhrawardi 1956-1957
Pakistan becomes
a Republic, 1956;
out of Commonwealth,
Iskander Mirza 1956-1958 Ismail
Malik Feroz
Khan Noon
1958-1969 Muhammad Ayub
Yahya Khan
1971-1973 Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto
Fazal Elahi
1973-1978 1973-1977
Khan Junejo
Ishaq Khan
1988-1993 Muhammad
Aslam Khan
Benazir Bhutto 1988-1990,
Mustafa Jatoi 1990
Nawaz Sharif 1990-1993,
Farouk Ahmed
Rafiq Tarar
1997- Pervez
With a slightly greater delay, Pakistan followed India to become a Republic. Pakistan left the Commonwealth for a while after India, and international opinion, supported the revolt of East Pakistan against the Western dominated central Government. The East then became Bangladesh, the "Bengal Nation," which retained its own Commonwealth membership. Unlike India, Pakistan has had long periods of military rule, but has distinguished itself as the only Islâmic country to have been led by a woman, the admirable Benazir Bhutto.

Some periods of outright dictatorship, under Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, and Zia-ul-Haq, are evident from the absence of a Prime Minister. The secession of East Pakistan and the disastrous defeat by India over it led to the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was later executed, supposedly for corruption under his rule. Benazir was his daughter and set out to vindicate him.

The red, white, and blue of the flags of Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand contrast with the oranges and greens that turn up in the flags of South Africa, Ireland, India, and Pakistan. The orange of South Africa and Ireland is actually of the same origin, the Dutch House of Orange, following the Dutch settlers of South Africa and the cause of the Protestants of Ireland, delivered from James II by William of Orange. The Republican tricolor of Ireland hopefully lays the white of peace between Protestant orange and Irish green. The green of India and Pakistan is also of the same origin, for Islâm, which India hopes to reconcile with Hinduism as Ireland hopes for the Protestants and Catholics. Pakistan, however, was founded to be a purely Islâmic state.

British Emperors of India

The Kings of England and Scotland


British Coins before the Florin, Compared to French Coins of the Ancien Régime

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2000, 2001 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved