Sunday, 3 April 2016

Independence - The Origins Of The Struggle

The most common misconception is that The Indian Independence Struggle started with The Mahatma, or with The Lokamanya, or indeed with Gopal Krishn Gokhale; a rising stream of thought credits Netaji, with another stream adamant on crediting The Mahatma; nothing could be more simplistic; and nothing could a more incomplete picture of the true story.

The events leading upto and of 1857 were integrally connected with the Independence Struggle in the latter period of 1900-1947, and deserve equal credit. Furthermore, crediting any one single event or source is also not advisable. Such an attempt assumes history to be a standstill pond – rather than the river it is in reality. Let us look at the full picture in a relative short panoramic and simplified view, focussing on key factors that will hopefully place the entire scenario in front of everyone’s eyes

FACT NO 1 : THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS {Let us first settle this, as it is at the center of the current debate}

No Indian could have started The Congress; If an Indian had come forward... the officials would not have allowed it to come into existence - Gopal Krishna Gokhale... [ISFI / Bipin C Pal et al]

The INC was not formed by the British; it was not a sudden event, as the entire sequence traced from around mid 1860s shows. Please read the truncated article for more - ideally the referenced book for detailed evidence and proof. The reason was simple - at this stage, there was no struggle as we know it; it was all about getting greater concessions and better life for the people within the Raj. The Lokamanya and Poorna Swaraj lay all in the future at this juncture. This stage was all about fighting court cases, and more court cases.

Why this was so? Why was there no demand for more? And where did these leaders arise from? Read on further for the truth.


{Before we dwell on the above questions – it is imperative that we dispel the myth that India was one political entity}

"So, we are looking at a people in a state of flux, a people in whom the first stirrings on national thought had begun to awaken. For example, the family of the Authorrefers to the trip to Gwalior as a trip to "Hindustan", "their women are full of wiles and entice an innocent man" . We are looking at our India in a proto-nationhood stage of its lifecycle, and that is the prime take-away from this book... " [Italics from : TRSOTGU, M Pande / Vishnu Bhatt Versaikar Godse]

Despite the many claims of United India going back eaons, the fact is that there was no concept of a politically united India as late as 1885 - the date the above book was penned. There was a realisation of a strong cultural union; of the concept of Bharat; of an interdependent economic and socio-political concept [ORL - Parag Tope / EI - Romila Thapar / TLOTSR - Sanjeev Sanyal] - but politically the people were just stirring in the mid-to-late 1800s. When and how did this stirring happen? Read on...

It is commonly assumed that the real struggle started around 1905 - 1915; this is counter factual for the following reasons :

The anti British sentiment was building up rapidly due to socio-cultural, religious, political and economic reasons from the early 1800s almost like a tidal wave, with a series of movements and revolts, and wars being fought against the British - culminating in the grand-daddy of them all, the First War Of Independence. The origin of these feelings lay in the period from 1757- early 1800s, with a series of events that rocked the foundation of life in India. The full-on attack on Religion, Arts, Language, Culture, Society, Economy in India was stinging, brutal, forceful-  and hard. That is what kindled the War of 1857.

The evidence of this attack from 1757 till 1857 is aplenty – from the denigration of traditional education, to the virtual destruction of our handicrafts and arts; from the wrecking of  the existing industrial strength [TCOI – Will Durant; IEUBR – Irfan Habib] to full-on targeting of religion with open targeted attempts at conversion and clear targeting of Sanaatani as well as Islamic people [ORL – Parag Tope; TSOMEWTT – Mahatma Gandhi], to the destruction of the agricultural backbone, to the targeting of our beliefs and degradation of our dramatics and culture.

We can see the impact as late as the 880s – 1890s  in The Mahatma’s autobiography of open conversion pressure; other sources above make the picture crystal clear. Given the first-person account of [TSOMEWTT – Mahatma Gandhi], it is a valuable window into those tumultuous times, despite it being dated some 40 years afterwards. . Thus, by the turn of the 1840s, the situation was ripe for major upheaval, with every aspect of life in India being under a vicious attack. That lead to a solidification of forces, and perhaps a first stirring on oneness, of us versus them on a relatively national scale

The evidence is catergorically clear - The Rani of Gwalior, with the Pune rulers sent letters to a series of local rulers from mid to late 1840s, culminating in the Bahadur Shah Zafar Decleration [ORL, Parag Tope]. The contents of that Decleration, given in the references, make the matter clear, and virtually beyond debate. Thus, by the time we reach 1857, we have a set of rulers aligned against the British, smarting under the insults and the damage; we have a people whose entire life – earnings, eating, music, life, culture, religion everything was under direct external attack. The combination proved deadly, almost – as they rose as one... [ORL-Parag Tope]

This was the start of the fight against the British - a common, massive uprising - one that was brutally crushed in what is one of the most heinious genocides ever conducted in Human History [ORL - Parag Tope, TRSOTGU - Pande-Godse], when villages, towns, cities were exerminated by the British - it stands as one of the largest targeted war on civilian non-combatants conducted with the express purpose of bludgeoning a people into hopeless surrender. And that is where things stands as the year 1859 turns to 1860...

[culture - extrapolated from BI:TURCI - Pavan Verma; also in ORL - Parag Tope; full research in VST - Maria Misra, FTROE-Pankaj Mishra, rising anger in ISFI / Bipin C Pal et al, Economic Destruction in IEUBR - Irfan Habib, AEHOI - RC Dutt, and in Tope book]

By the beginning of the 1860s, India lay in a total shambles; the old order had crumbled fully, and there was a void; the people were shocked into senseless surrender - leaving no question of an independence struggle, The combined fight against the intruder had been brutally crushed, and not by courage & war, but by brutality, fighting civilians and crushing the people, and mass genocide. In such an atmosphere, there was no question of a struggle.

It is from this void that arose the first set of leaders, people who went on to create the Indian National Congress. This was the link; without 1857, 1947 was a pipe dream. 1857 is what caused and practically assured 1947 - in almost every way you can think of. This period also made clear one thing - the fight had to be done differently, an armed war was out of the question.

That is why you have the lawyers fighting in courts for greater amenities from 1870s-1900s - which the British gleefully allowed in their short-sighted myopia. That is why you have the rising local groupings, that went onto become almost one by the 1930s.

1857 was lost due to treachery - as some Indians supported the British; this was a learning well learnt-  as the first task became eradicating treachery and building a consensus - a feeling of nationalism. The next large scale uprising was also similarly lost, as the plans were in British hands within minutes of finalisation, by two treachorous swines in our midst.

1857 also lead to the communal problem, as the British that there was a need to divide the two communities. Enter Divide and Rule. End of United India dreams. From this point onwards, United India was impossible.

1857 was thus the prime mover and causative in 1947...

[ORL - Parag Tope; ISFI - Bipin C Pal et al; BD:TUOAN - Nitish Sengupta]

I have attempted to trace the Independence struggle as one continuous flow right from the 1700s till 1857, as well as lay bare the reality that Independence was only feasible the way we had it; and that one cannot lay the laurels on any one person alone. As we stand on the cusp of the 1900s, we see a fledgling INC debating in the courts and fighting for greater rights, and a rising tide on two fronts – the bolder leaders who started to desire more than just rights... and the second front being... the rise of communalism as the British policy of Divide and Rule began to pay rich dividends, culminating in what I and [TSOTGG - Narendra Singh Sarila ] call the Anglo Muslim League Alliance... this is what we look at in the second and concluding article on The Independence Struggle

REFERENCES {consulted and read during the past 7 years of study; the article  above is a collective result of the following. Where stated above, the relevant sections were basis some facts stated in the referenced book enabling me to understand or to extrapolate} :
1.                  [IFSI Bipin C Pal] : India' Struggle for Independence, Bipin C Pal et al
2.                 [TRSOTGU, M Pande / Vishnu Bhatt Versaikar Godse]: The Real Story Of The Great Uprising, written by Vishnu Bhatt Versaikar Godse, translation by Mrinal Pande
3.                 [ORL, Parag Tope] : Operation Red Lotus, Parag Tope
4.                [TLOTSR, Sanjeev Sanyal] : The Land Of The Seven Rivers, Sanjeev Sanyal
5.                 [IE, Romila Thapar] - Early India by Romila Thapar
6.                [BI:TURCI - Pavan Verma] : Becoming Indian - The Unfinshed Revolution Of Culture And Identity, Pavan Verma
7.                 [VST - Maria Misra] : Vishnu's Crowded Temple, Maria Misra
8.                [FTROE-Pankaj Mishra] : From The Ruins Of Empire - The Revolt Against The West and The Rise of Asia - Pankaj Mishra
9.                [IEUBR - Irfan Habib] - Indian Economy Under Early British Rule, Irfan Habib
10.             [AEHOI - RC Dutt] : An Economic History Of India, RC Dutt
11.               [BD:TUOAN - Nitish Sengupta] - Bengal Divided - The Unmaking Of A Nation, Nitish Sengupta
12.              [F : Arun Shourie] - Fatwa by Arun Shourie
13.              [Jinnah : Jaswant Singh] : Jinnah : India, Partition, Independence by Jaswant Singh
14.             [TSOTGG - Narendra Singh Sarila] - Partition : The Shadow Of The Great Game by Narendra Singh Sarila
15.              [TCOI – Will Durant] – The Case For India by Will Durant
16.             [TSOMEWTT – Mahatma Gandhi] – The Story Of My Experiments With The Truth by Mahatma Gandhi

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