This story began in the 18th century, when a small seafaring island, one tenth the size of the Indian subcontinent, dispatched fragile sailing ships laden with iron, tools and workers over a distance of 12,000 miles on a six-month voyage via the Cape of Good Hope. During the next two centuries, the girders for over 100,000 bridges, 45,000 miles of track, the locomotives and the vast array of machinery required at the outset to build every piece of infrastructure were all made in Britain and loaded onto countless craft and transported on a hazardous journey to the subcontinent where they were assembled according to plans laid by the finest engineers of the time who arrived by the same route. In the end they helped build a new nation. The sheer audacity and scale of such an endeavour, the courage and enterprise have no parallel in world history. This book is the first to assess in a single volume all aspects of Britain's colonial contribution in providing India with its lasting institutional and physical infrastructure which continues to underpin the world's largest democracy in the 21st century.
This book is a long-overdue recognition of the effort and ingenuity of those courageous pioneers who have so often and so wrongly been derided as no more than corrupt plunderers, bent on pillaging the wealth of the people and land they conquered. Although there were many wrongs committed by the British against India, as widely recognised by the British themselves, there is much that was and remains positive and which the author has illustrated. The detail in the 22 concise chapters will provide ample evidence to bring to light the under-appreciated reality that, in almost every walk of life, Great Britain has made a significant contribution to the making of India.