Saturday, 28 March 2020

An Odyssey Through Indian Freedom Struggle

Updated: March 23, 2016 12:50 pm

The book ‘India: Mutiny to Mahatma and Swaraj’ begins with how Europeans captured India. The author’s historical narrative is too much replete with, familiarity which is enlivened by interpretive freshness. She gives a brief account of one hundred years of Indian history mainly from mutiny to emergence of Mahatma Gandhi and finally Swaraj. The book highlights the differences between Hindu and Muslim rulers, which gave advantage to the Europeans traders to capture Indian market. Consequently, the British East India Company gained great power in India and ruled until 1857. It discusses the reasons behind the transfer of power from Company to the Crown after the mutiny of 1857. The British divided India into provinces ruled directly by the British governors and the states ruled by the native princes. The book sheds light on Indian nationalist movements, both by the Indian National Congress and by the Muslim League, which compelled the colonial rulers to grant independence in 1947, not as united India but as a divided India. One dominion kept the name India and the other Pakistan. The Partition is attributed to a variety of people — Jinnah, the British, Nehru, Gandhi — but more commonly to the ordinary Muslim citizen. There’s the nightmare of Kashmir, a continual challenge to the moral high ground that India, with its public posture of post-colonial certitude and humanitarian dignity, has tried to occupy since Independence.

The contemporary independent India was confronting varieties of tasks and challenges such as economic and political legacies left by the rulers and above all, to hold India together as a country and keep united a multi-religious, multi-cultural, multilingual nation within a democratic framework. Finally, but importantly, it also evaluates the impact of British rule, which lasted for almost 190 years in India. Here the author tells only what happened, but historian’s job is also to speculate what might happen.

INDIA MUTINY TO MAHATMA AND SWARAJ

KAMINI KRISHNA

GYAN

Price : `950

Pages : 297

However, there are reasons for that tenacious feel-good experience. The author delineates them effectively: the World War II and struggle for freedom (there’s an excellently orchestrated chapter on how WW II happened and its effect on Indian); the fate of princely states and creation of provinces along linguistic lines (which should have led to conflict) by forgotten historical figures; the survival of democracy and free speech in spite of poverty, corruption, sectarian strife. Every dubious development has a positive outcome; it’s a story of incorrigible resilience and charm. In the first two-thirds of the book, the author describes the consolidation of Indian freedom movement, and later on she talks about the free India.

The book also extensively covers Nehru’s political scene, his glamour and charm. British utilised India’s economic resources for the benefit of their motherland. Overall it is a good book on Indian history. Meanwhile, reading non-fiction is to educate ourselves, so it is always better to refer multiple sources, but here the author tries to cover up all the events in a single volume, which is not enough.

 By Sanjay K Bissoyi

27-03-2016

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