European colonization was one of the worst things to happen to African, American and Asian countries. The human dignity of people in the colonies was undermined as Africans were transported on ships as goods, Indians were taken as indentured labor and resources swindled from all these places, enriching Europe and later the USA. France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands and various other countries are guilty of this. India, too, was a colony of Britain once, a fate that has affected the entire Subcontinent since. Many of our major problems can be traced back to the time we were colonized including communalism. I am not claiming that things were amazing for brown people before the British took all our wealth and made us their bawarchis, but they were workable.
If the British did anything, it is to create monuments and architecture that celebrated them and their propaganda. The India Gate in Delhi, the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, the Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhawan are all part of the overarching category of colonial architecture in India. Further West, we have the Churches and forts made by the Portuguese in Goa. Point is when they are not being used as government buildings, what do we do about them? They will often be found in ruins and the Archeological Survey of India will find their hands full. However, fundraising can provide an answer to these questions.
Here me out. A colonial architecture may not feel right. It may make us feel wrong. It reminds us of the Delhi Durbar which was organized to honor Victoria when the rest of the country was languishing from famine. But it is a part of our history. We have to save these architectural works. But yes, we will not save them all without our own postcolonial agendas. When the crowd engages in something, it does so differently. Like when we save monuments, we do it with our own agendas. These monuments are reminders of heinous crimes which we can choose not to forget. We can save the monuments, the documents that come with it, the museums and we can write our own history there.
For example, we can begin by honoring the workers who worked on that monument but were never recognized. We can have programmes, leaflets, and booklets and sell them to people who come to visit the monuments. We can have intellectuals talking about the exploitation that resulted in these monuments on these very sites. Letting colonial architecture fall apart is not going to help us if we really want to help, we should write our own history.
Fundraising in India, which works through crowdfunding platforms like Impact Guru can work with this. You can be a student, teacher, researcher – anything and still work on saving these monuments. If we lose these, we lose a part of this history and that will result in historical amnesia. Keeping the monuments can be done through fundraising. Sure it is not medical crowdfunding and NGO crowdfunding, but history is important and we should not forget that historical forces are what shape us in the first place.