Empire (2012) s01e04 Episode Script

Making a Fortune

JEREMY PAXMAN: Welcome to one of the most densely populated places on Earth.
When Britain took Hong Kong in 1842, it was just a cluster of fishing villages.
In a few decades, they had made it one of the busiest, richest trading posts in the world.
The British Empire wasn't just about conquest and government, and chaps in shorts telling foreigners what to do, it was also about money and profit.
It began with a few unscrupulous adventurers and it grew into a vast network that spanned the globe from Britain to Australia, from Calcutta to Jamaica, from Australia to Hong Kong.
Off the coast of China, British traders made fortunes from ships freighted with addictive drugs.
And they helped themselves to the riches of ancient India.
Money flowed to Britain from piracy in the Caribbean.
And from estates worked by slaves taken from Africa.
Empire trade and empire theft helped make Britain a world capital of money it still is today.
On a hot afternoon in September 1668, a fleet of nine ships sailed home to harbour in the Caribbean.
There was wild celebrating on board, for these "Brethren of the Coast", as they called themselves, were returning from a smash-and-grab raid on the Spanish town of Portobello in Central America.
They had stolen a staggering 25,000 pieces of eight, that's the Spanish dollar minted in pure silver.
It was worth about £10 million at today's prices.
Leading the so-called "Brethren" was Henry Morgan, a ferocious, hard-drinking Welshman from Monmouthshire, who made his living by theft and violence.
Men like Morgan were the founding fathers of the British Empire, for it began not in trying to rule other countries, but in robbing them.
But this was piracy with a twist.
It even had a different, more respectable name - privateering.
It worked like this.
The government licensed merchant ships to attack and rob the country's enemies.
And in exchange, the government got a share of the stolen goods.
This was empire building on the cheap.
The freelancers took the risk, the government took the money.
The pirates' victims were Spanish ships.
These were laden with gold from their colonies in the Americas.
Morgan's base was a place that had recently been seized from the Spanish.
The island of Jamaica.
The British set up a new capital here - Port Royal in the south of the island.
With its vast number of taverns, brothels and rowdiness, it quickly earned the name "The Sodom of the New World.
" Then all that came to a sudden end.
Peace was declared between Britain and Spain.
But Jamaica stayed in British hands.
Henry Morgan saw the way things were going and decided to diversify.
He hung up his cutlass and bought 4,000 acres of land on which he built a second fortune.
The empire had been conceived in robbery, but it grew fat on the cultivation of sugar.
Theft was the past, trade was the future.
The British at home had developed a lust for sugar, to sweeten the novelties arriving from the tropics - coffee, chocolate and tea.
The British were already becoming a nation of sugar addicts.
Sugar from Jamaican plantations could satisfy their sweet tooth.
But the island's population was tiny, and the plantations needed vast amounts of labour.
The answer to the problem lay in the traffic of human beings from Africa.
The slave trade.
The British didn't introduce slavery to the Caribbean, but they took to it with enthusiasm.
Traders bought slaves in Africa, and then shipped them thousands of miles across the world.
Many died in the packed, filthy, airless cargo decks.
Sugar was a back-breaking crop to harvest.
The cane had to be cut down and then stripped of its foliage, and then transported to the mill often in intense, blazing heat.
The plantations devoured slaves.
Within three years of their arriving here, a third of them would be dead.
By 1775, a million and a half men, women and children had been forcibly transported from Africa to the British West Indies.
Their descendants now people these islands.
Treating human beings as beasts of burden made the owners of sugar plantations rich.
This is the planter's house on the Good Hope Estate, built in 1755.
Its owner was 23 when he bought it.
He became the wealthiest man in Jamaica, owning over 10,000 acres of land and 3,000 slaves.
The sugar planters, known as the plantocracy, enjoyed enormous power.
Each estate was its own little tyranny.
And since slaves enjoyed no rights, the planters were free to behave as dictators.
One was Thomas Thistlewood.
He'd been a farm-worker in England.
Slavery turned him into a man of means.
He fancied himself a man of letters too and kept a diary.
Even though we all think we are familiar with the routine horrors of the slave trade, when you read what some of these slave owners did, it really does make your stomach heave.
Here are three accounts of punishments meted out by Thistlewood in three months in 1756.
"Derby catched eating canes.
"Had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector shit in his mouth.
"Rubbed Hazat with molasses and exposed him naked to the flies all day, "and to the mosquitoes all night.
"Flogged Punch well, "and then washed and rubbed in salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper, "made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth.
" Thistlewood kept a tally of what was known as "nutmegging," the rape of female slaves.
Something he did, by his own reckoning, on 3,852 occasions.
He would allow his guests to do the same.
When these slave owners went to church on a Sunday, they doubtless did so believing they were good Christian folk.
They behaved as they did because they didn't regard their slaves as fellow human beings, but as their property to do with as they pleased.
More than two centuries later, the memory of slavery hasn't faded.
How long ago did your family originally come to this country? In 1760.
According to my grandmother.
And how did they come here? The first one in that lineage, they remembered, in 1760, when they came over, was that actually he was taken from the Gold Coast, in Africa.
- As a slave.
- As a slave, yes.
And he ended up in Jamaica.
I think on a good old plantation.
And a lot of times, when my grandmother talked, she would actually cry.
Because even, like We would stand here in a mill like this, they would put the cane in one hand, - and a horse would be - A horse.
Yes, would be turning it, turning the mill.
And when they turned it, this part would take in the cane, and squeeze it, squeeze the juice out.
The juice comes out of the funnel? The juice now would come out from At the front of it here.
And so when they were working as slaves, and they were working for 12 hours, and he would fall asleep.
He would have to have an axe here.
That if his hand, if he falls asleep on it, and he made a mistake, and his hand go in here, he would have to chop it off.
PAXMAN: Yeah.
You know, when Someone in my extended family, probably was involved in bringing your ancestors over here as slaves.
- Yeah, um - Doesn't it make you feel furious? No, I think, for now, we are past that in this generation.
But let's be realistic.
You were, as slaves, being used as beasts of burden, - essentially.
- Yes, yes, it's hard to understand why some people would want to do that to other people, or want to say, "You should work for me for all of your time, for generations, "and I'm never going to pay you.
" I hope that Britain one day, will look at us here in Jamaica and say, "Jamaica made us rich, Jamaica was the sugar capital of the world.
" PAXMAN: Eventually, the people in Britain became so outraged by what was happening in the Caribbean, that the slave trade was abolished in 1807.
But the wealth of the fledgling empire didn't come from slavery alone.
There were riches of a different kind to be found on the other side of the world.
In the 18th century, this was the home of India's ruling dynasty.
The first British visitors were awestruck by what they found.
Places like this must have been absolutely amazing to encounter.
You'd arrive from somewhere cold and bleak in the northern hemisphere, and one can only imagine what effect it must have had upon some young lad on the make.
There was a throne somewhere in here.
The Emperor's throne, the Peacock Throne.
Which was encrusted with jewels, including the Kohinoor diamond.
An inscription on the wall Oh, that's it up there.
In Arabic, which says, "If there be paradise on Earth, this is it.
" The effect must have been astonishing.
The earliest Britons in India were traders, men who had gone there for spices, cotton, calicos and indigo.
The East India Company, which soon dominated trade, raised its own army of local troops.
In 1744, a young man arrived in India to work as a clerk for the company.
His name was Robert Clive.
Ambitious, short-tempered and impatient, Clive could see that wielding a sword was a faster route to riches than pushing a pen.
Clive taught himself to be a soldier.
He learned, for example, that the best way to repel troops mounted on elephants, should you ever need to know, is to fire a volley of shots at the animals until they stampede.
But his greatest talent of all was, in his own words, for politics, chicanery, intrigue and the Lord knows what.
At the Battle of Plassey in 1757, Clive outwitted the ruler of the state of Bengal, a man who had dared to challenge the power of the East India Company.
Clive then walked into the prince's treasury, and coolly helped himself to a fortune.
He then shipped it in a fleet of 75 barges to the company's headquarters in Calcutta.
Soon afterwards, a new word entered the English language.
It was a Hindi word - "Loot".
When Clive returned to England, he was met with the characteristic British disdain for men who make their money in a hurry.
But when hauled before Parliament, he simply said, "An opulent city lay at my mercy.
"Its vaults were thrown open to me alone, "piled on either hand with gold and jewels.
"Mr Chairman, at this moment, I stand astonished at my own moderation.
" With wealth came power.
The East India Company gradually took control of huge swathes of the land.
The Company men were the new princes of India.
They built themselves great palaces in the British style on Calcutta's main street.
Many of them still stand today.
As for Clive, he became Governor of Bengal.
So what had begun in plunder, had ended in government.
And so it was to prove right across the world.
It was the greed of Robert Clive and men like him which built Britain an empire.
(CROWD CLAMOURING) Oh, what's that? - What is this? - Tamarind.
- Tamarind.
- Ah, tamarind.
18th-century India provided Britain with a spectacular array of goods.
Sheer variety.
I mean, of course, I have no idea what most of these things are.
There's an awful lot of this yellow stuff.
I wonder what it is.
It was the spice trade that had brought early travellers to India.
Chillies, pepper, even turmeric, are familiar tastes now, but in the early days of empire, they were an exotic luxury.
Pretty good.
Crikey! It is quite strong.
India offered Europe a whole new world of taste and colour.
Must be the pepper.
And it wasn't just spices, but fabrics and furniture too.
A network of global commerce was bringing the cultures of distant lands closer together.
Mind you, uh A bit of a traffic jam here.
Sorry.
It's no surprise to us now that spices come from India, but there was one Indian product that became so familiar, it's hard to believe it didn't originate in England.
Chintz.
Good morning.
How do you do? - Niranjan.
He's the king of chintz.
- Niranjan, very good to see you.
- And that's Morolina.
- And you're a princess of chintz.
Okay, good.
Excellent.
Chintz is calico cloth that's been painted or printed with a wood block.
Here on the outskirts of Calcutta, they've kept the traditional way of making it alive.
They're still using techniques pioneered centuries ago.
I'll be honest with you, chintz has a very bad image in my mind.
It's this sort of thing It's the sort of thing grannies have on their sofas.
- Yes.
- I mean, that's not just what chintz is.
No, no, no.
This is what has been, in later times, adapted to the taste of the British people, - and has been done on the screen - Oh, it's our fault! Yeah, it's screen-printed.
So, therefore, if you go back to approximately the 16th, 17th century, this is what is the original Indian chintz, which is sprinkled, sprayed, hand-painted, and hand-block-printed fabric.
So, it's a drawing with the pen, and using natural dye process to fill in the various colours.
Britain first fell in love with chintz in the 17th century.
Nothing that Britain produced then could match the rich patterns and colours of this Bengali textile.
Astonishingly labour-intensive, isn't it? Yes, it is.
- You need more patience.
- You certainly do.
The worst thing is you can't make a single mistake ever.
So, you put all the colours on like this and what's the finished product? - I have pieces, I will show you.
- Okay.
These are the final products.
- PAXMAN: This is your work, is it? - Yes, sir, this is my work.
- This is a traditional pattern.
- It's a traditional pattern.
So is this the sort of thing that would have been shipped to Britain and to Europe? Yes.
They're brilliant colours and a brilliant design.
Thank you very much.
You can see why people went crazy for it.
Thank you, sir.
At one time, chintz made up three quarters of India's exports.
It became so popular that British cloth-makers protested.
In 1720, it was actually banned in Britain.
And after that, the British started making their own.
For more than three centuries, it was trade, not conquests, which brought new colonies into the empire, though it was often trade at the end of a gun or a sword.
Private companies run by speculators and the odd crook, took over huge chunks of foreign territory.
They ran them as they liked, raising armies, doing deals with local rulers.
The East India Company was the grandest of them.
Canada was opened up by the Hudson's Bay Company, which traded in skins and furs.
And the African Lakes Corporation bought and sold the bounty of swathes of Africa.
Most were accountable to men sitting in offices thousands of miles away.
At the heart of empire was the City of London, the centre of a spider's web of global trade.
This was where money was made, goods bought and sold.
At the London Metal Exchange, they've been doing business in this way for over 200 years.
It all looks utter chaos down there, with people shouting and making strange gestures, and talking into two or three telephones at the same time.
But behind it all is an important clue about why Britain became such a powerful force in the days of the empire.
On floors like this, traders speculated on tin from Malaya, cotton from India, wool from Australia, gold from South Africa.
From the 17th century, Britain took the lead in global banking, finance and insurance.
City bankers and merchants made London the pivot of the world's entire commercial system.
And London held that lead well into the 20th century.
By the end of the 19th century, more than half the world's trade was financed in British pounds.
Victorian investors grew rich trading in things on the other side of the world, things they never saw, or perhaps never wanted to see.
The Merchant Banking House of Anthony Gibbs and Sons made their fortune trading in a very unglamorous commodity - bird poo.
It was called guano, and it was collected from some islands off the coast of South America.
Hence it was said, "The House of Gibbs made their dibs, "by selling the turds of foreign birds.
" Guano was gathered off the coast of Peru and sold as fertiliser.
It made a fortune for British businessmen.
The Gibbs family made so much money from guano they were able to bankroll much of the Peruvian economy.
Victorian Britain, in effect, had two empires.
One run by politicians, the other by money men like Gibbs.
In South America, British banks supplied governments with credit.
British companies built railways across Argentina.
British settlers bought huge ranches and raised cattle.
But the real killing to be made in Queen Victoria's empire was from something far more pernicious than bird droppings.
And it made some Britons rich beyond their wildest dreams.
The former British island colony of Hong Kong is so densely packed with banking and trading firms, it's known as the world's most vertical city.
The place lives, eats, and breathes money.
The story of how Hong Kong came to be British reflects the empire's often ruthless pursuit of profit.
It's an extraordinary story, even if it is one of the most shameful in British history.
And yet this dark episode began innocently enough.
It was born from the English passion for a cup of tea.
PAXMAN: Hello! MAN: Hello.
Hello.
PAXMAN: How many types of tea do you have? Mainly it's all the Chinese tea we have.
- PAXMAN: All of them? - Yes.
PAXMAN: Oh, that smells lovely, doesn't it? - Would you like to have a cup of tea? - Oh, I'd love to have one, yes.
- This way, please.
- Thank you.
PAXMAN: In the early 19th century, China was virtually the only place tea was grown.
But there was a problem.
For three centuries, China had severely restricted trade with the West.
The British were desperate, and even sent a delegation to China.
They begged the emperor to open up his country and take some British products in exchange for tea.
They presented him with all sorts of trinkets - games and curiosities, scientific instruments and toys.
But he remained resolutely unimpressed.
"We possess all things," said the emperor.
"I set no value upon things strange or ingenious.
"And I have no use for your country's manufactures.
" But to get the tea they craved, the British had one thing to trade that many Chinese craved even more.
Opium.
The drug was illegal in China, though the ban was widely ignored.
There were an estimated 12 million peasants addicted to opium.
The authorities there called it "A deadly poison ruining the minds and morals of our people.
" The British grew opium poppies in India.
There they processed it in factories on a colossal scale.
Finally, it was shipped to China and sold to smugglers.
With the profits, British traders bought Chinese tea.
Two men in particular made a handsome profit out of opium.
One was William Jardine, the son of a Scottish farmer.
The other was his business partner and fellow Scot, James Matheson.
From boats moored off the Chinese mainland, they sold industrial quantities of opium to be trafficked into China.
At the time, selling opium wasn't illegal in Britain, nor did it cause them any moral qualms.
Jardine himself said that "Trading in opium "was the safest and most gentlemanly speculation I'm aware of.
" And his partner Matheson thought it no more than morally equivalent to selling brandy or champagne in Britain.
Business was just business.
In 1839, the Chinese emperor decided he'd had enough.
He ordered more than 1,000 tons of British-supplied opium to be seized and destroyed.
The British government was outraged.
It invoked a sacred and very convenient principle - the principle of free trade.
Britain had to be allowed to trade what and where she liked, especially in the case of opium.
Opium was making Britain rich.
It soon accounted for over a fifth of the income of the government of India.
Two mighty empires, each convinced of their own superiority, were now set on collision course.
The Opium Wars were about to begin.
Britain's first ocean-going iron warship, the Nemesis, built in Liverpool, was sent out to take on the emperor's navy.
It helped destroy much of it in a single afternoon.
This was the modern world confronting an ancient one, sailing junks against steam-driven gunboats.
The Chinese had no choice but to surrender and to open five ports to British trade.
China had been forced to enter the modern global economy.
Hong Kong was one of Britain's prizes from the Opium Wars.
Close to the Chinese mainland, it was perfect for trading with the newly opened Chinese Empire.
Matheson moved his headquarters to Hong Kong in January 1841.
Profits from the opium trade doubled.
So, this most bustling of British colonies was built on a drug which stupefies people.
Even more remarkably, the British continued to ship opium into China until well into the 20th century.
Hong Kong grew at an astonishing rate.
A new bank was founded to service the China trade, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.
We know it as HSBC.
Today, Hong Kong is a hothouse for global finance.
But what about the company that played such a large part in founding Hong Kong's prosperity, Jardine, Matheson & Co? Well, they're still here, and still doing very well.
These are the modern headquarters of Jardine Matheson.
The round windows have earned it the local nickname, "The building of a thousand orifices.
" At least, that's the polite version.
Doubtless, somewhere in the foundations are buried the consciences of its founders.
In 1997, more than a century and a half after the Opium Wars, Hong Kong was returned to China.
(PLAYING FANFARE) ANNOUNCER: The Union flag will now be lowered.
And the national flag of the People's Republic of China will be raised.
(APPLAUSE) MAN: All the important people in Hong Kong greet the first sight of their new flag.
PAXMAN: When the British finally quit Hong Kong in 1997, they did so boasting they were handing on a territory intimately wired into the world economy, the shameful origins of British colonial presence here conveniently forgotten.
But China has never entirely forgotten how a foreign power forced it, at gunpoint, to allow millions of its citizens to be turned into drug addicts.
The spoils of empire made Britannia rich.
From the colonies came gold and silver and spices.
Even plants.
And so vast was her empire, Britain could choose to grow them where she liked.
Tea bushes could be planted for the first time in India and Ceylon, tobacco planted in southern Africa.
And there was a particular seed that made a very rich empire even richer.
In the summer of 1877, a large packing case arrived here in Singapore's Botanic Gardens.
Inside the case were 22 seedlings of rubber trees, collected by British plant hunters in Brazil.
These trees are descended from those original seedlings.
Inside them is a milky fluid called latex.
You make rubber from it.
The director of the Botanic Gardens, Henry Ridley, was a man with a vision.
He saw the truly massive potential of rubber, and launched a crusade to convince every planter in the region to grow it.
Ridley stuffed the planters' pockets with rubber seeds, he lectured them on how to protect their plants, he waved specimens of processed rubber under their noses.
He was a man obsessed.
They called him "Rubber Ridley".
That was to his face.
Behind his back they called him "Mad Ridley".
ELANGO VELAUTHAM: Most people associate his madness to his passion.
He was a great visionary of his time.
A keen scientist.
And he's responsible for most of what we see here in the rubber industry today.
Now, Ridley came up with a new way of tapping rubber trees, didn't he? Yeah, the methods used were pretty harsh before that.
They would hack into the rubber tree, injuring the vascular cambium, which is necessary for the tree's survival.
And what actually happened was he experimented with various trees that were in existence in the Singapore Botanical Gardens.
He found a way to tap the rubber by exposing the vessels that produce the latex without harming the vascular cambium.
- And the tree carried on living.
- Yup.
So you could tap it again and again and again.
Yeah, for up to five years on one side.
And once you're done on one side, you can actually let it heal while you tap the other side for another five years.
Basically, it is cut in an angle.
PAXMAN: So, this white That's latex, is it? VELAUTHAM: That's latex, yes.
There's a bowl or something down here to collect it.
Yes.
PAXMAN: God, it's really prolific, isn't it? It's sticky, isn't it? Pair of rubber gloves there, or something, maybe.
Yeah.
(CHUCKLING) PAXMAN: Ridley was so excited because he knew just how much rubber could be worth to the British Empire.
Rubber was the plastic of the 19th century.
It could be made into just about anything.
Rubber boots, rubber hoods, coats, hats, hose pipes, rubber raincoats.
British manufacturers wanted as much as they could get their hands on.
Millions of rubber trees were planted in Singapore's neighbouring British territory, Malaya.
And thousands of workers were brought in from another colony, India, to work on the vast new estates.
It transformed the country.
By the 1930s, three-quarters of the world's rubber was coming from here.
British companies produced most of it.
All over the empire, British ships sailed home with cargoes of rubber, or cotton, or bananas.
They went back to the colonies loaded with things manufactured in Britain.
Teapots, saucepans, knives, even cloth caps.
But one product would put Britain and its most important colony on a collision course - cotton.
British factories took raw cotton from India, and spun it into cloth.
By the 1920s, Lancashire's cotton mills dominated the world market.
By contrast, the once flourishing Indian cloth trade had virtually collapsed.
They had to rely instead on cloth woven in Britain.
For many Indians, it was the final insult.
The leader of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, burned his suit and adopted the dress of an Indian peasant.
He took the spinning wheel as a symbol of Indian freedom and told his countrymen to stop buying British cloth.
(INDISTINCT) The effect of Gandhi's boycott was felt 4,500 miles away in the heartlands of Lancashire's weaving industry.
Lancashire had done well out of the empire.
At one time, almost two-thirds of its manufactured cotton had been sold back to India.
But now, times were hard.
No fewer than 74 of the mills had closed and angry unemployed mill workers blamed Gandhi for his boycott of British cloth.
In towns like Darwen, whose mills were used to weaving cloth for the empire and beyond, there was frustration and despair.
(HORN BLOWING) Then came extraordinary news.
Gandhi was coming to Britain and would visit Lancashire.
He was entering the lions' den, coming to see for himself the effect the Indian boycott was having on textile workers here.
MAN: Then came a little man, still scantily clad, but with an extremely wet blanket around his tiny frame.
I'm sure he must have been frozen - we were in thick overcoats.
The local paper praised Gandhi's celebrated sympathy for the poor.
Surely his heart would soften at the sight of so many hundreds of unemployed weavers.
The peace and simplicity of the place, the Lancashire air, it was hoped, would soothe what it called "deep differences of opinion.
" Gandhi arrived in Darwen on September the 26th, 1931.
Crowds turned out to wonder at, and to welcome him.
(CHEERING) For those with eyes to see, this was a hugely significant moment.
The charisma, the excitement, belonged not to a defender of empire, but to a would-be dismantler of it.
GANDHl: I am thankful that I got this opportunity of being surrounded by these happy children, and seeing the homes of the poor.
Mill workers took their children to see this remarkable visitor.
Some of them still remember it.
Hello, you must be Ruth.
I'm Jeremy.
Hello, how do you do? - Can I come in? Thank you.
- Certainly.
What did your mother tell you you were going to do when you set off that day to go and see Gandhi? Well, she just said, "We're going to see a very important man from India.
"And he's going to make things better, we think, "with the cotton trade.
" Which I didn't understand what he was talking about what she was talking about because I was only seven at the time, you know.
And I remember all the people there and where I stood, you know.
And this little man came on and I looked at me mother and I said, "Which is Gandhi, Mother?" She said, "It's that little man there.
" And I said, "But he's not an important man," I said, "He's a poor little man.
He has no clothes on.
" He had sort of a white-type cloth between his legs.
Well, it looked like a big nappy.
- Yes, it did, to be honest.
- It looked like that.
And this thing round his And it was hugged around him like that.
And he had nothing on his feet.
Only a pair of sandals.
And I was horrified because I said, "He's no shoes on, Mother.
" You know, I was really disappointed.
But he obviously had amazing charisma that you two remember him so vividly.
- It's still with us.
Yes.
- Oh, yes.
- Yes, it is.
- PAXMAN: Eighty years after the event.
- Yes.
- Eighty years.
(CHUCKLING) PAXMAN: Gandhi had not come all the way from India to call off his boycott.
He had a far bigger vision - to make the workers of Britain sympathetic to the plight of the Indian people and to the cause of Indian independence.
For Gandhi it wasn't his boycott that was to blame, but the system of empire itself.
The workers had been hoping that when Gandhi saw their plight, he'd call off the boycott.
Well, Gandhi listened but he didn't budge.
And when someone said, "But we have three million unemployed," he just replied, "I have 300 million.
" The boycott and others like it helped inspire many of those 300 million to protest against British rule.
They would demand and eventually get independence in 1947.
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU: At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.
PAXMAN: Well over half a century has passed since that historic moment.
Britain has still not escaped its imperial past and neither, in many ways, has India.
(COW MOOING) I'm waiting to meet a group of people who devote much of their lives to celebrating one of empire's more curious remnants.
The Royal Enfield motorcycle.
(PUNJABI MUSIC PLAYING) These classic bikes have been close to Indian hearts since before the Second World War.
Once they were made in Worcestershire, but production stopped around the time the empire ran out of steam.
By then, Indians were building them for themselves.
(MAN SINGING) MAN: Enfield Bullet - You're bored too, aren't you? - (HORN HONKING) The Royal Enfield motorcycle has become as much a feature of Indian roads as painted trucks and wandering cows.
Thank you for coming.
The cow would like to thank you, too.
Now, who's the chief here? You're the chief.
You're Amit, are you? - Yeah.
- Excellent.
Good.
I want to ask you about what is it your club They're the - Royal Riders Club.
- The Royal Riders Club.
- Hi, I'm Jeremy.
Hello.
- Hi, Amit.
- And how many members have you got? - 70 members.
- 70? What you got half of them here? - DHAR: Yeah, half of them are here.
PAXMAN: And what is it, that you only ride Royal Enfields? DHAR: Yeah, only.
PAXMAN: How many of these are Bullets? They're all Bullets, are they? DHAR: They're all Bullets.
PAXMAN: That was the great slogan, wasn't it? "Built like a rifle, goes like a bullet.
" DHAR: Yeah.
And why do you like Why do you like the Royal Enfield? - It's for the man.
- It's for the man! - It's a masculine thing.
- A masculine bike.
- Yes, obviously.
- Don't you let girls ride it? (BOTH CHUCKLING) - On the back seat.
- Only on the back seat.
I see.
MAN: This is the symbol of freedom.
- PAXMAN: Symbol of freedom? - Symbol of freedom.
When we ride this bike, we feel that we are free.
- You say it's a symbol of freedom.
- Yes.
But isn't it a symbol of the British Empire, too? No, because we take the best part of the regime and not the worst part.
That is why we say this is the symbol of freedom.
We have taken the best part and thereafter now we are free.
Good.
You've got a big head too.
I feel more virile already.
This great, old-fashioned machine, invented in Britain, now made in India, seems to sum up the changing fortunes of the two countries, their long, troubled marriage and their divorce.