Impact of 1857 War
On May 10, 1857, Indian soldiers of the regiments stationed in Meerut killed their British officers, marched to Delhi, and liberated the city from British control. They proclaimed 82-year-old Bahadur Shah Zafar as the “Emperor of Hindustan.” The Emperor then appointed a Hindu, Mukund Ram, as his “Prime Minister” just as Nana Saheb Baji Rao, the adopted son of the Peshawas and partner in the revolt, appointed a Muslim, Azimullah as his “Prime Minister.” At the Red Fort, the Bhagwa Dhwaj (saffron flag) was unfurled.
The uprising did not last long. In Delhi, it was over by September 1857. The domino effect in the country as a whole was contained by end 1858. But the popular uprising fired the imagination of the nation. From the ashes of the burnt-out revolution, sparks continued to ignite revolt in the country until Mahatma Gandhi led the nation finally to freedom in 1947.
But now, the whole of India has become oblivious of this historic date and of the event that was the forerunner of India’s freedom. No meetings, no discussions over television, no resolutions for this revolutionary day in a country that is ready to celebrate or mourn anything or anybody. We forgot May 10, 1857 because we were programmed for nearly a century to delete it from our collective memory.
The book India: Mutiny to Mahatma and Swaraj (A History of Hundred Years) by Kamini Krishna gives a brief account of one hundred years of Indian history mainly from mutiny to emergence of Mahatma Gandhi and finally Swaraj. It highlights the differences between Hindus and Muslims rulers, which gave advantage to the European traders to capture Indian market. Consequently, the British East India Company gained great power in India and ruled until 1857. The book discusses the reasons behind the transfer of power from the 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 Muslim League, which compelled the colonial rulers to grant Independence in 1947, not as a united India but as a divided India. One dominion kept the name India and the other took the name Pakistan. The book presents the contemporary situation of independent India, which 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.
In a nutshell, this book would vividly remind the readers about the great struggles, through which we got our Independence. Also, this book gives an insight into the impact and legacy of British rule on the education, politics, law and administration, economical and social and cultural life in initial years of Independence and later too.
By Ashok Kumar