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The Initial Catastrophe
The Year of 1901 began as all others had. With little fanfare and recognition other than some initial noting that it's the beginning of a new century. Other than that, it passed without much note. However, for unknown reasons to the Indian Viceroy at the time, George Curzon, everything stopped. No ships returned from Britain with news of the world. No ships returned from the British Orient to sell goods goods. No ships came from any foreign nation to buy goods. Any glace out into the Bay of Bengal would note that nothing came from the horizon, and that anything that left it, never returned. For a year and a half, this mystery continued. What had happened to the world? This question was constantly written and asked by Viceroy Curzon, but it never received an satisfactory answer. Some of the English believe that Christ had come, but forsook them. Some of the Indians believed that this is a sign that Karma, that Allah, that the Buddha, had abandoned their favor of the English and have finally favored the Indians to prove themselves against a weakened English. However, all knew that no matter the cause, this was the beginning of nothing good. And so, from this dawn of darkness, the British Raj's economy began to falter, and unconscious support for anarchy ensured.
Fear Takes Hold
With the Indian Famine of 1899 in full swing, just after the 1896-1897 Indian Famine, by this dark turn in the British Raj's history, things only got worse. With contact to the outside world gone, importation of food to help relieve the drought that caused the famine only worsened it. By 1900, eight million Indians had starved to death. By 1903, two million more had gone the same way. Where will food come from now that the monsoon rains do not fall as much as they used to? How can I secure the safety and well being of my family in the wake of all this? These questions were answered by both the Englishmen and the Indians.
The Englishmen, more susceptible to ideas of the end of days, looted food storage, robbed stores, and broke into homes, in the name of getting food and supplies to support their families. Optimistic Englishmen did this to secure their economic well being once these "bouts of troubles" pass. Pessimistic Englishmen did this because they believed that nobody could stop them, and that if they are all to die soon, why not have fun? The Indians that panicked were far calmer, yet lumped into the same group as the Englishmen. While some Indians did the same as the English in looting food storage, robbed stores, etc., many Indians simply returned to their farms to scrape together what they can, but this too leaves them susceptible to raids by Englishmen and other Indians.
In the midst of all this turmoil, an unknown disease began to sweep across India, starting in Karachi, Sind, and spreading like wildfire across the whole of India. Disease, anarchy and disorder have swept the British Raj into chaos in just four years.
This sense of anarchy and self-preservation without taking the time to stop and think overtakes the British Raj in just one year of the beginning of their troubles. In order to combat this threat to the stability of the Raja, his own power, and to hopefully prepare the Raja for the ultimate outcome, whatever it may be, of these disasters, Governor-General and Viceroy of India, George Nathaniel Curzon, finally uses his power to the fullest extent.
The English Attempt to Keep The Peace
To combat the anarchy, the first order of Viceroy Curzon is for all active British and Indian soldiers, within contact, to guard food storage, roam the streets of large cities and villages, and to revoke the right of Habeas Corpus. This move effectively ends looting across the whole of the British Raj, ensuring that those who wish to loot are able to be detained, tortured, or killed, without court. To alleviate the problems of the famine, the Viceroy opened up a famine relief works that fed between three and five million, reduced taxes (For it was still believed that at some point, Britain would make contact with the Raj, and would expect adequate taxation of its subjects), and began spending a vast amount of money on irrigation works.
For all the intense work that the Viceroy put into solving the immediate problems of the British Raj in just five years, he neglected his personal life. While his wife, Mary Victoria Leiter was traveling through the Raj, to Jodhpur, she became sick through some mysterious illness in the summer of 1904. It was from this sickness that she died in early 1905, without seeing her husband for an entire year, and her husband never knowing her final fate. This disease was unknown to the world before 1903, where it manifested by spreading person to person, claimed to spread by infected breath, all of this deadly for a tightly packed Indian people. Within days of being sick, the person would be immovable, not able to be moved in any serious manner without excruciating pain. Within weeks of being sick, the person would drift in and out of conscience almost daily, the constant bed rest building up fluids in the lungs. If a person survived this, by the beginning of the first few months of the sickness, people are said to just suddenly stop functioning entirely. A sick man speaking to his children was said to have gotten a look of sheer terror upon his face, was silent, clutching his throat, gasping for air, dying without warning of his sickness getting worse.
Coming back to the issue of the disease, word of it reached the viceroy before the sickness itself, now commonly called "Kālī kā prakōpa" or "Kali's Wrath", after the Hindu Goddess of Destruction and Rebirth. The Viceroy, sparing no time, ordered a recreation of the Inland Customs Line of India, but with slightly altered borders. These altered borders placed the line directly crossing Delhi and Meerut in the north to the mountains, following the old Great Hedge path until it reached Nizam's Dominion's, upon which the line ran to Hyderabad, to Bangalore and Mysore, and finally to Tanjore and Trivandrum. It was this Line, dubbed the Great Divide by some, that filled with forts, checkpoints, and walls, stopped the spread of disease to the rest of the British Raj.
It is 1910. The British Raj, can detain any person without court, chooses who is given rations, continues to collect taxes in the name of the British Crown (The taxes themselves getting less and less coin, and more and more non-monetary, but still valuable items), and assumes direct control over India with the lack of crown authority at the time. No expeditions by soldiers are taken to neighboring countries because of the need of them to keep the peace within India.
Almost half of India is not controlled anymore. Resources scarce to India were used in mass quantities to build the Great Line. The lack of decent Monsoon rains in recent years continue to hurt the Raj's food production, despite irrigation work. The year is 1910, and the resources of India have begun to disappear.
A choice was made by Viceroy. Only the Great Line, Coastal India, parts of the Ganges, Meghna, and the Brahmaputra were worth saving. The Great Line would prevent the disease from reaching Eastern India, controlling the coast would allow for fishing and ease of communication between the remnants of the British Raj, and the rivers would allow for some semblance of agriculture to continue to attempt to provide for the excessively reduced population of India. However, in doing so, numerous large-scale farms in central India were abandoned. The main source of food for the Raj came from rice farms in Bengali and Burmese lands. In opposition, rice does not feed a population for a long term, it only delayed the inevitable. By 1913, with terrible monsoon rains, droughts and a loss of viable farmland through excessive overuse, the rice production that began in 1913 was two-thirds of what it was in 1910 when the decision was made by the Viceroy to abandon central India. People began to starve once more, but in larger numbers than ever before. It was said that the population of territories controlled by the British in 1910 was at least ninety-million. By 1913, it was said to be eighty-two million. The measly agriculture of these small territories couldn't sustain the population of the Raj.
India's main source of commerce at the time of the British Raj and before the chaos was exportation of cotton textiles, silks, spice, and rice. How many people's livelihoods disappeared when they couldn't sell overseas, and nobody at home needed textiles, silks, or spice? Any amount money made it extremely helpful for Indian families, but now, with over half of the economy of India disappearing in ten years, even money became scarce. Rampant inflation took place, with those who earned at least some money suddenly unable to take part of private market selling of food, and were forced to accept rations by the government. Less people began to make any money by selling food privately, and it either spoiled, or was stored. India at this time had very little industry and relied mostly on its agriculture, which now could no longer provide for it.
Fearing the potential wrath of the masses, many wealthy Indians and Englishmen fled on their own personal ships, greedily offering extremely overpriced tickets to the less well-off as their chance to escape the chaos of the British Raj. Thousands of people left upon these ships, never to return. The wealthy of the British Raj was nearly gone, save for those who worked almost exclusively in government positions. Large and formerly wealth farms were overtaken by the workers, leading to a severe lack of leadership and regulation of these farms, as well as numerous disputes over how big a persons claim is.
Inflation is rampant, food is scarce, the wealthy are almost gone, and the economy is in shambles. It is 1916, and the government has to task of becoming the outright savior of the Raj, facing an opponent that destroyed everything everyone knew in just six years.
At What Cost
With all of this taking hold of what was left of the British Raj, all hope was gone. This was the end of days, the tribulation, the desire of Kali to create a new world, and the descent of man. Except, there was one man who did not believe such. Governor-General and Viceroy, George Curzon was outright determined to save what he ruled. If he could not stabilize what was left of the Raj, how could he have any chance of finding his wife, Mary? If he could not save the Raj's economy, how would the Queen Victoria react to his incapabilities? If he couldn't provide food for the Raj, how would its people eat?
It was these questions that spurred him into complete devotion to his work. To answer these questions, he created and passed the Anti-Disorder Acts that, in essence, preserved the British Raj. But considering all the acts do, at what cost was it saved?
Anti-English Sentiment Grows
While the Anti-Disorder Acts did what they were supposed to, meaning that they effectively curbed the famines, stabilized the economy, and promoted the stability of the political institutions of the British Raj. However, these came at a cost. By 1920, the Viceroy of India was the Emperor of India and had unrestricted powers. Those that opposed his unrestricted powers, the soldiers of the Raj confiscating excess food, with "excess" never being defined, and the government changing prices to what benefits itself, not what is fair, are arrested at the slightest hint of dissent, and imprisoned without trial.
Hundreds of normal citizens were arrested within months, and tens of ethnic Indian officials were jailed for refusing to implement the Acts. These officials were replaced solely by Englishmen, making it very clear what the intention of the law was: To assert English domination over all of the Raj. Soon after, almost all political institutions of the British Raj, no matter how low, was held by an Englishman. The Indians no longer had any say in their governance, as if they did before. This was unacceptable to the relatively new, but extremely competent and still existent Indian National Congress, created in 1885 for the purpose of advocating for an Independent India.
They began to organize protests, not against the Acts themselves, but against the British rule of India, and their ability to create any law, without opposition. Within a year, hundreds of thousands of Indians flocked to the Indian National Congress banner, demanding a say in their government, and some even saying that the Englishmen should be deposed of in all offices. Numerous demonstrations of thousands of Indians began to grow, leading up to singular demonstrations organized by the Indian National Congress, led by their President, Subhas Chandra Bose, to include tens of thousands of Indians.
By the time of elections for British Raj parliament in early 1922, the INC had a majority of the remaining Raj population vote them into the new majority at parliament. Celebrations took place as it finally seemed that Indians would gain a say in Indian politics. However, citing fraud and abuse, Emperor George Curzon throws away the result of the election. The Indian people were furious, with over two-hundred thousand organizing to march on the streets to the Emperor's Palace in Kolkata. The soldiers of the British Raj, both Indian and English, stood in front of the palace to protect it and oppose the crowd. The crowd stopped, and grew restless. Obscenities were shouted and rocks were thrown at the soldiers. It is unknown who fired the first shot, but what happened next changed the British Raj forever.
One shot was fired from the crowd, and one soldier fell. The soldiers almost immediately were ordered to aim, and then to fire. They fired into the formerly hostile, now fearful crowd. Two volleys of ammunition hit the crowd, killing seven and injuring fifteen. After these two volleys, more shots came from the crowd and a few more soldiers fell victim to death. As the soldiers died, the riotous crowd was inspired. They charged forward, almost as a mod, and overpowered the outside guard. Immediately afterwards, nearly thirty British soldiers emerged from the palace, flanking the Emperor Curzon.
The Emperor Curzon, sensing that no matter the outcome of this crowd, be it dispersing them through gunfire, or surrendering outright, it would not be good for the British Raj. Under a hail of insults, common objects, and rocks, the Emperor asked for a truce with the INC, and the opportunity to discuss further action. Initially, the President refused, but was then spoken for by another member of the INC, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi stipulated that the President Chandra Bose would be delighted to end hostilities and discuss peace, nearly forcing the President into a discussion he long dreaded.
Appealing to the desires of his co-leaders, President Chandra Bose of the Indian National Congress agrees to meet with the Emperor Curzon. They, and tens of others for both sides meet and deliberate for over two weeks on the status of India, the Indian people, their rights, the British, and the future of India. After these weeks of negotiations and an uneasy ceasefire, an agreement is reached. The Empire of India shall be maintained as an Empire, but its Emperor will be limited by a constitution, and its peoples rights shall be guaranteed by the same document.
This constitution is named the Constitution of the Indian Empire. Celebrations take place across the Indian Raj as the rights of the Indian people are established, and total English hegemony is overturned for a more fair system of politics that had never been seen before in India. The establishment of this Constitution was not just a victory for the ideals of India, but it was also a personal victory of the Emperor Curzon. He was able to keep his Emperor title for the sake of another branch of government, and for the sake of keeping the title alive. In an even more personal note, the Emperor found his second love, an Indian woman by the name of Śānti kī-mahilā, who was part of the delegation from the Indian National Congress. Together, they have three children, one boy, and two girls, giving the Emperor Curzon his blood heir.
After almost three decades of chaos, instability, famine, riots, looting, and disorder, peace has truly been reached. To describe the India-saving Constitution, both Prime Minister Chandra Bose and the Emperor Curzon declared it to be "Peace In Our Time".
Peace In Our Time
It is 1925, and Peace has been reached. The Indian National Congress's election successes are made valid and legitimate, the powers of the Emperor are severely cut back, and the rights of all people in the now aptly named Indian Empire allow all to flourish. Hundreds, if not thousands, of feudal-like states are approved by the imperial government to exist within the claimed area between the Empire's actual borders and the Great Line, still maintained to prevent the reintroduction of Kali's Wrath into India. With the feudal-like states set up in Central and Southern India, truly stable prices, and a government of the people, with a monarch to guide them, food is provided for, a private market is achieved, and all are happy and content with their lives under the Indian Empire.
The Emperor George Curzon and his wife, Empress Śānti kī-mahilā Curzon, have a son, and two daughters a year and a half after their marriage, the son being named Varghese (George) II. Excitement over an heir to the Empire, and the knowledge that the position of Emperor will be a stable one, sets India into a new dawn from Chaos by 1934, universally known in the Empire as "Bhārata Kī Sānti" or "The Peace of India".
Bhārata Kī Sānti
The Peace of India does not begin with a declaration of a thousand years of peace, nor does it begin with golden sunshine and clear skies. It begins with the death of Emperor George Curzon at the age of 75 early in the morning on a foggy day. Why does the age of peace begin with the death of an Emperor, who is mourned for two weeks before his son official ascends to the throne with his mother as regent until he is 16? Because the death of the Emperor, who, while having saved the Indian Empire during the days of chaos, was nonetheless responsible for thousands of wrongful imprisonment, starvation and a symbol of oppression in some Indian groups. And so, with his death, so passed an age of fear and oppression that ended with hope and peace.
Facing no conflicts for one full decade, in 1944, the Emperor Varghese II decides that it is finally time to reclaim the India he was taught about existing before 1900. Using the Great Line as a staging point, English and Indian soldiers move, almost side-by-side and step-by-step across India from the Great Line to reclaim it. The Kali's Wrath that was confined to western India has disappeared, killing almost all of those caught outside of the Great Line in 1910. With no more life, Kali's Wrath was said to disappear to allow a new India to build and establish itself, no longer a part of any history but their own.
By 1957, the land from Gujarat to Punjab is reclaimed for the Indian Empire. The Imperial government, however, does not outright enforce their claims and control of this land, but instead establish a smaller scale, and more flexible, Lesser Line on the Gujarati and Punjabi borders to Persia, and establishing the same principle of the Acts feudal-like states into this new territory. Coastal land however, is almost exclusively claimed by the Empire, so as to better facilitate the transfer of goods now that ships have learned to hug the coast, rather than embrace the expanse of the Indian Ocean, to never return. Mining of coal in these new lands becomes profitable extremely quickly, due to an interest by the Emperor Varghese II's to re-establish the formerly prestigious Indian Rail System, and his need for coal to power the ancient locomotives that once crisscrossed India on a daily basis.
The year is 1960, The Emperor Varghese II has a son named Varghese III, with his wife, Ēka aura-caritra Curzon, who is rumored to be the first person found alive in Western India. The Peace of India is defined by the words of the Emperor Varghese II:
"Let it be known that from this day, that India was not consumed by chaos! Let it be known that from this day, we refused to give into despair! Let it be known that from this day, we triumphed over the death of the world itself! My countrymen, we are invincible, unstoppable, and all-powerful! Let it be known that from this day, we reclaimed our nation, our people, our cities, and the spirit of India itself!"
A Change of Culture
From the creation of the Constitution of the Indian Empire in 1925, to the present day, one thing has become exceptionally clear. No people are separate, and all are finally equal. There are no English ruling over the Indians, and there are no Indians ruling over what is left of the English. Rather than having one dominate culture by the present day, being English or Indian, the presence of two extremely different cultures that are declared equal by 1925 has led to a melding of cultures.
By the present day, the two cultures are virtually indistinguishable. Traditional Bengali and Punjabi music is now interlaced with British stylings and flow that were developed before and after the Chaos. Salted beef tongue, kedgeree, ball curry, fish rissoles and mulligatawny are the most popular dishes in the country. In some regions of India, a certain dialect has become very popular which mixes Hindi and English words and vocabulary to form "Hiṅgliśa" or "Hinglish".
Forms of entertainment have also melted together. The most popular plays of India are Shakespearean adaptions that prominently feature elaborate costumes, local Indian beliefs, and various other Indian stylings. Thanks to the appearance of lone English films in Mumbai in 1895, the Lumière films, the British film industry has been re-established by the late 1980s to include the fast-moving, black and white, extremely short, slapstick, and silent films that today we see as nothing more than nostalgic novelties.
In the present day Indian Empire, there is but one culture, and there is but one people, united, in peace, created by the Parliament and led by the Emperor.
A New Shadow
An India for the Indians, and the white man is equal to his fellow Indian. Truly, the former British Raj, turned Indian Empire had seen no such tolerance ever. But with all great things, there are some who resist change. In 1925, there was peace. In 1925, there was tolerance. In 1925, a bright future arose. In 1925, one man was dissatisfied with it all.
Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck was that man. In his mind, India had been ruled by the British for over a century. If it was the Indians to control, why did the British gain it? If the British weren't the rightful rulers, why, for decades, had India been known not as India, but as The British Raj. To him, this idea of India dominated by the Indians and the British being relegated to nothing more than citizens, when it was them that brought civilization to such a backwards people, was not just dishonorable, but it was punishable. Sir Claude Auchinleck had already seen the disappearance of his home, the United Kingdom, from the world, and now he is seeing the disappearance of the British people from any position in this world. For him, the loss of the nation he fought for, the loss of the nation he swore an oath to protect, and now the threat of the loss of his own people has brought him determination to protect it. Sir Claude Auchinleck had become a Lion of Britannia, sworn to do everything to recreate his home, and preserve his people.
(More to come)
The Golden Age of Understanding
The year is 2014. Today, India is entirely different from what it was supposed to become without the chaos. But this is not a worse outcome than our timeline, for while many things are not the same, some would prefer this outcome over our own. Rather than have regionalism, religious differences, ethnic differences and post-colonialism threaten to tear India apart. India is, instead, one united people, of one culture, living for one goal: The Restoration of India.
Guns have all but disappeared. From being lost and degrading during the Chaos, lack of maintenance for existing ones, the lack of factories to make them and the lack of a general knowledge of how to create them, there are very few in working condition, and all those that can work are mainly used for ceremony, or used by the Emperor's personal guard as "heirlooms of an earlier age". The most common and popular weapons are crossbows, bows, swords, axes, and spears. With melee and medieval combat becoming the sole type of combat, experimentation with body armors begins anew, leading to the revival of plate and scaled armors.
There is almost no heavy industry left in India, let alone any that functions. Before the Chaos, India was barely industrialized, and therefore the fall of its industry was not a detrimental outcome to the nation.
The trains run on time still. With the recovery of coal mines in the feudal lands of the Empire, coal is mined again and fuels the still functioning train transportation sector of the Empire. With no cars, planes or larger ships, these trains become the heart of transportation of people and goods in the Empire.
(More to come)
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