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Large chunks of Strachey's book are taken up by an administrative history of primer for those who might work in India after coming down from. Share this post to the needy aspirants. India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha Click here to Download · For Other E Books Click Here Can you add 'physical geography' by savindra singh pdf? Reply. Swamy Vivekananda says. We understand your need, so we come with more and more Books and Magazines in PDF for you. Today, we are here with India After Gandhi.
Jawaharlal Nehru flew over one refugee convoy which comprised , people and stretched for ten miles. In addition there are substantial communities of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains. Others include Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali and Assamese, each of which is written in a distinct script and boasts many millions of native speakers. The peace held, prompting Lord Mountbatten to remark famously that one unarmed man had been more effective than 50, troops in Punjab. They were generally viewed as feckless and dissolute, over-fond of racehorses and other mens wives and holidays in Europe. City New York.
Democracy in Disarray Rights Riots Rulers Riches A Peoples Entertainments Epilogue: I Because they are so many, and so various, the people of India are also divided. It appears to have always been so. Six months later he reached the holy Hindu city of Banaras.
Here he wrote a poem called Chirag-i-Dair Temple Lamps , which contains these timeless lines: Said I one night to a pristine seer Who knew the secrets of whirling Time , Sir, you well perceive, That goodness and faith, Fidelity and love Have all departed from this sorry land.
Father and son are at each others throat; Brother fights brother. Unity and Federation are undermined. Despite these ominous signs Why has not Doomsday come?
Why does not the Last Trumpet sound? Who holds the reins of the Final Catastrophe? His home territory, the Indo-Gangetic plain, once ruled by a single monarch, was now split between contending chiefdoms and armies. Brother was fighting brother; unity and federation were being undermined.
But even as he wrote, a new and foreign power was asserting its influence across the land in the form of the British, who were steadily acquiring control of the greater part of the subcontinent. Then in large sections of the native population rose up in what the colonialists called the Sepoy Mutiny and Indian nationalists later referred to as the First War of Indian Independence. Some of the bloodiest fighting was in Ghalibs home town, Delhi still nominally the capital of the Mughals and in time to become the capital of the British Raj as well.
His own sympathies were divided. He was the recipient of a stipend from the new rulers, yet a product of Mughal culture and refinement. He saw, more clearly than the British colonialist did then or the Indian nationalist does now, that it was impossible here to separate right from wrong, that horrible atrocities were being committed by both sides. Marooned in his home, he wrote a melancholy account of how Hindustan has become the arena of the mighty whirlwind and the blazing fire.
To what new order can the Indian look with joy? After the events of the Crown took over control of the Indian colonies. A sophisticated bureaucracy replaced the somewhat ad-hoc and haphazard administration of the old East India Company. New districts and provinces were created. The running of the state was overseen by the elite cadre of the Indian Civil Service supported by departments of police, forests, irrigation, etc. Much energy and money was spent on building a railway network that criss-crossed the land.
This contributed enormously to the unity of British India, as well as to its stability, for now the rulers could quickly move troops to forestall any repeat of II By the British were so solidly established in India that they could anticipate, if not a thousand-year Raj, at least a rule that extended well beyond their own lifetimes. In that year a man who had helped put the Raj in place gave a series of lectures in Cambridge which were later published in book form under the simple title India. The man was Sir John Strachey.
Strachey had spent many years in the subcontinent, ultimately becoming amember of the Governor Generals Council. Now in retirement in England, he set his Indian experience against the background of recent political developments in Europe.
Large chunks of Stracheys book are taken up by an administrative history of the Raj; of its army and civil services, its land and taxation policies, the peculiar position of the native states. This was a primer for those who might work in India after coming down from Cambridge.
But there was also a larger theoretical argument to the effect that India was merely alabel of convenien-. In Stracheys view, the differences between the countries of Europe were much smaller than those between the countries of India. Scotland is more like Spain than Bengal is like the Punjab. In India the diversities of race, language and religion were far greater. Unlike in Europe, these countries were not nations; they did not have a distinct political or social identity.
This, Strachey told his Cambridge audience, is the first and most essential thing to learn about India that there is not, and never was an India, or even any country of India possessing, according to any European ideas, any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious. There was no Indian nation or country in the past; nor would there be one in the future.
Strachey thought it conceivable that national sympathies may arise in particular Indian countries, but that they should ever extend to India generally, that men of the Punjab, Bengal, the North-western Provinces, and Madras, should ever feel that they belong to one Indian nation, is impossible. You might with as much reason and probability look forward to a time when a single nation will have taken the place of the various nations of Europe.
At the time, new nations were vigorously identifying themselves within Europe on the basis of a shared language or territory, whereas none of the countries that he knew in India had displayed a comparable national awakening. But we might also read them as a political exhortation, intended to stiffen the will of those in his audience who would end up in the service of the Raj. For the rise of every new nation in India would mean a corresponding diminution in the power and prestige of Empire.
Ironically, even as he spoke Stracheys verdict was being disputed by a group of Indians. These had set up the Indian National Congress, a representative body that asked for a greater say for natives in the running of their affairs. As the name suggests, this body wished to unite Indians across the divisions of culture, territory, religion, and language, thus to construct what the colonialist thought inconceivable namely, a single Indian nation.
Very many good books have been written on the growth of the Indian National Congress, on its move from debating club through mass movement to political party, on the part played by leaders such as Gokhale, Tilak and above all Gandhi in this progression.
Attention has been paid to the building of bridges between linguistic communities, religious groupings and castes.
These attempts were not wholly successful, for low castes and especially Muslims were never completely convinced of the Congresss claims to be a truly na-. Thus it was that when political independence finally came in it came not to one nation, but two India and Pakistan.
This is not the place to rehearse the history of Indian nationalism. There were, of course, British politicians and thinkers who welcomed Indian self-rule and, in their own way, aided its coming into being.
One of the prime movers of the Indian National Congress was a colonial official of Scottish parentage, A. Yetthere were many others who argued that, unlike France or Germany or Italy, there was here no national essence, no glue to bind the people and take them purposively forward. From this perspective stemmed the claim that it was only British rule that held India and the Indians together. Among those who endorsed John Stracheys view that there could never be an independent Indian nation were writers both famous and obscure.
Prominent in the first category was Rudyard Kipling, who had spen this formative years in and was to write some of his finest stories about the subcontinent.
In November Kipling visited Australia, where a journalist asked him about the possibility of self-government in India. Oh no! They are 4, years old out there, much too old to learn that business. Law and order is what they want and we are there to give it to them and we give it them straight.
A cricketer and tea planter insisted, after forty years there, that [c]haos would prevail in India if we were ever so foolish to leave the natives to run their own show. Ye gods! What a salad of confusion, of bungle, of mismanagement, and far worse, would be the instant result.
These grand people will go anywhere and do anything if led by us. Themselves they are still infants as regards governing or statesmanship. And their so-called leaders are the worst of the lot. Politically speaking, the most important of these Stracheyans was undoubtedly Winston Churchill. In the s, with Indian independence manifestly round the corner, Churchill grumbled that he. A decade previously he had tried to rebuild a fading political career on the plank of opposing self-government for Indians.
After Gandhis salt satyagrafra of in protest against taxes on salt, the British government began speaking with Indian nationalists about the possibility of granting the colony dominion status. This was vaguely defined, with no timetable set for its realization.
Even so, Churchill called the idea not only fantastic in itself but criminally mischievous in its effects. Since Indians were not fit for selfgovernment, it was necessary to marshal the sober and resolute forces of the British Empire to stall any such possibility. In and Churchill delivered numerous speeches designed to work up, in most unsober form, the constituency opposed to independence for India.
Speaking to an audience at the City of London in December , he claimed that if the British left the subcontinent, then an army of white janissaries, officered if necessary from Germany, will be hired to secure the armed ascendancy of the Hindu.
Three months later, speaking at the Albert Hall on Our Duty to India with his kinsman the Duke of Marlborough presiding Churchill argued that to abandon India to the rule of the Brahmins [who in his opinion dominated the Congress Party] would be an act of cruel and wicked negligence.
If the British left, he predicted, then the entire gamut of public services created by them the judicial, medical, railway and public works departments would perish, and India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages.
A time of barbarism and privation did ensue, the blame for which remains a matter of much dispute. But then some sort of order was restored. No Germans were necessary to keep the peace.
Hindu ascendancy, such as it was, was maintained not by force of arms but through regular elections based on universal adult franchise.
Yet, throughout the sixty years since India became independent, there has been speculation about how long it would stay united, or maintain the institutions and processes of democracy.
With every death of a prime minister has been predicted the replacement of democracy by military rule; after every fail-.
Among these doomsayers there have been many Western writers who, after , were as likely to be American as British. Notably, Indias existence has been a puzzle not just to casual observers or commonsensical journalists; it has also been an anomaly for academic political science, according to whose axioms cultural heterogeneity and poverty do not make a nation, still less a democratic one.
That India could sustain democratic institutions seems, on the face of it, highly improbable, wrote the distinguished political scientist Robert Dahl, adding: It lacks all the favourable conditions. India has a wellestablished reputation for violating social scientific generalizations, wrote another American scholar, adding: Nonetheless, the findings of this article furnish grounds for skepticism regarding the viability of democracy in India.
Here, let me quote only a prediction by a sympathetic visitor, the British journalist Don Taylor. Writing in , by which time India had stayed united for two decades and gone through four general elections, Taylor yet thought that the key question remains: When one looks at this vast country and its million people, the 15 major languages in use, the conflicting religions, the many races, it seems incredible that one nation could ever emerge.
It is difficult to even encompass this country in the mind the great Himalaya, the wide Indo-Gangetic plain burnt by the sun and savaged by the fierce monsoon rains, the green flooded delta of the east, the great cities like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It does not, often, seem like one country. And yet there is a resilience about India which seems an assurance of survival. There is something which can only be described as an Indian spirit.
I believe it no exaggeration to say that the fate of Asia hangs on its survival. The place was too complicated, too confusing a nation, one might say, that was unnatural.
In truth, ever since the country was formed there have also been many Indians who have seen the survival of India as being on the line, some the patriots speaking or writing in fear, others the secessionists or revolutionaries with anticipation. Like their foreign counterparts, they have come to believe that this place is far too diverse to persist as a nation, and much too poor to endure as a democracy. IV In the last decade of the last century I became a resident of Ghalibs native city.
I lived, however, not in the old walled town where his family haveli, or mansion, still stands, but in New Delhi, built as an imperial capital by the British. As in the poets day, Indian was fighting Indian. On my way to work I had to pass through Rajpath formerly Kingsway , the road whose name and location signal the exercise of state power.
For about a mile, Rajpath runs along flat land; on either side are spacious grounds meant to accommodate the thousands of spectators who come for the annual Republic Day parade. The road then ascends a hill and reaches the majestic sandstone buildings known as the North and South Blocks, which house the offices of the Government of India.
The road ends in the great house where the Viceroy of British India once lived. By the time I moved to New Delhi the British had long departed. India was now a free and sovereign republic. But not, it seemed, an altogether happy one. The signs of discord were everywhere. Notably on Rajpath, where the grounds meant to be empty except on ceremonial days had become a village of tents, each with colourful placards hung outside it.
One tent might be inhabited by peasants from the Uttarak-hand Himalaya, seeking a separate province; a second by farmers from Maharashtra, fighting for a higher price for their produce; a third by residents of the southern Konkan coast, urging that their language be given official recognition by inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
The people within these tents and the causes they upheld were ever changing. The hill peasants might be replaced by industrial workers protesting retrenchment; the Maharashtra farmers by Tibetan refugees asking for Indian citizenship; the Konkani speakers by Hindu monks demanding a ban on cow slaughter. In the early nineties, these tents were summarily dismantled by a government worried about the impression made on foreign visitors by such open expression of dissent. Rajpath was vacated of encroachments and the lawns restored to their former glory.
But the protesters regrouped, and relocated. They now placed themselves a mile to the north-west, next to the Jantar Mantar observatory in Connaught Place. Here they were away from the eyes of the state, but directly in view of the citizens who daily passed through this busy shopping district. In the police decided this would not do either. The shanties were once again demolished, but, as a newspaper report had it, as far as the authorities are concerned, only the venue has changed the problem persists.
The squatters are merely to be shifted to an empty plot at the Mandir MargShankar Road crossing, where they are likely to draw less attention. That would be the story of India as told from a single street, and in a single year. The book that is now in your hands follows a different method. Its narrative extends over six decades, from to the present. However, like the book that I once intended to write based on a year spent walking up and down Rajpath this too is a story, above all, of social conflicts, of how these arise, how they are expressed, and how their resolution is sought.
These conflicts run along many axes, among which we may for the moment single out four as pre-eminent. First, there is cast, a principal identity for many Indians, defining whom they might marry, associate with and fight against. Caste is a Portuguese word that conflates two Indian words: There are four varnas, with the former Untouchables constituting afifth and lowest strata. Into these varnas fit the 3, and more jatis, each challenging those, in the same region, that are ranked above it, and being in turn challenged by those below.
Then there is language. The Constitution of India recognizes twentytwo languages as official. The most important of these is Hindi, which in one form or another is spoken by upwards of million people. Others include Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali and Assamese, each of which is written in a distinct script and boasts many millions of native speakers.
Naturally, national unity and linguistic diversity have not always been seen to be compatible. Indians speaking one tongue have fought with Indians who speak another.
A third axis of conflict is religion. A vast majority of the billion-plus Indians are Hindus. But India also has the second largest population of Muslims in the world about million only Indonesia has more.
In addition there are substantial communities of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains. Since faith is as fundamental a feature of human identity as language, it should scarcely be a surprise that Indians worshipping one variation of God have sometimes quarrelled with Indians worshipping another.
The fourth major axis of conflict is class. India is a land of unparalleled cultural diversity but also, less appealingly, of massive social disparities. There are Indian entrepreneurs who are fabulously wealthy, owning huge homes in London and New York. Yet fully 26 per cent of the countrys population, about million individuals, are said to live below the official poverty line. In the countryside there are deep inequalities in landholding; in the city, wide divergences in income.
Not unexpectedly, these asymmetries have fuelled many movements of opposition. These axes of conflict operate both singly and in tandem. Sometimes a group professing a particular faith also speaks a separate language. Often the low castes are the subordinate classes as well.
And to these four central axes one should perhaps add a fifth that cuts right across them: Here,again, India offers the starkest contrasts. A woman served as prime minister for a full fifteen years, yet in some parts of India female infanticide is still very common. Landless labourers are paid meagre wages, the women among them the lowest of all.
Low castes face social stigma, the women among them most of all. And the holy men of each religion tend to assign their women an inferior position in both this world and the next.
As an axis of discrimination, gender is even more pervasive than the others, although it has not so often expressed itself in open and collective protest. As a laboratory of social conflict the India of the twentieth century is for the historian at least as interesting as the Europe of the nineteenth. In both the conflicts were produced by the conjunction of two truly transformative processes of social change: In India the scope for contention has been even greater, given the diversity of competing groups across religion, caste, class and language.
Conflicts are also more visible in the subcontinent since, unlike nineteenthcentury Europe, contemporary India is a democracy based on adult suffrage, with a free press and a largely independent judiciary. At no other time or place in human history have social conflicts been so richly diverse, so vigorously articulated, so eloquently manifest in art and literature, or addressed with such directness by the political system and the media. One way of summarizing the history of independent India and the contents of this book would be through a series of conflict maps.
One might draw a map of India for each decade, with the conflicts then prevalent marked in various colours depending on their intensity: Reading these maps chronologically, one would find major variations across the decades, with red areas becoming black, black areas becoming red, and blue and red areas becoming white, that being the colour of those parts of India where there appears to be no major conflict at all.
These maps would present a vivid kaleidoscope of changing colours. But amid all the changes the discerning observer would also notice that two things remain constant. The first is that the shape of the map does not change through all its iterations.
This is because no part of India has successfully left India. The second is that at no time do the blue, red and black areas, taken together, anywhere approximate the extent of the white areas of the map. Even in what were once known as its dangerous decades, much more than 50 per cent of India was comfortably at peace with itself.
The press nowadays broadsheet and tabloid, pink and white, Indian and Western is chock full of stories of Indias economic success, this reckoned to be so much at odds with its past history of poverty and deprivation. However, the real success story of modern India lies not in the domain of economics butin that of politics.
The saluting of Indias software boom might be premature. We do not yet know whether this will lead to amore general prosperity among the masses. But that India is still a single nation after sixty testing years of independence, and that it is still largely democratic these are facts that should compel our deeper attention. A recent statistical analysis of the relationship between democracy and development in countries found that the odds against democracy in India were extremely high.
Given its low levels of income and literacy, and its high levels of social conflict, India was predicted as [a] dictatorship during the entire period of the study Since, in fact, it was a democracy practically the entire period studied, there was only one way to characterize India, namely as a major outlier. The forces that divide India are many. This book pays due attention to them.
But there are also forces that have kept India together, that have. These moderating influences are far less visible; it is one aim of this book to make them more so. I think it premature now to identify them; they will become clearer as the narrative proceeds.
Suffice it to say that they have included individuals as well as institutions. V [The] period of Indian history since , writes the political theorist Sunil Khilnani, might be seen as the adventure of apolitical idea: Viewed thus, independent India appears as the third moment in the great democratic experiment launched at the end of the eighteenth century by the American and French revolutions.
Each of these experiments released immense energies; each raised towering expectations; and each has suffered tragic disappointments. While the Indian experiment is the youngest, says Khilnani, its outcome may well turn out to be the most significant of them all, partly because of its sheer human scale, and partly because of its location, a substantial bridgehead of effervescent liberty on the Asian continent.
As a historian, I know only that it is much less studied. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books on the French and American revolutions: By contrast, the works by historians on any aspect of Indian democracy can be counted on the fingers of one hand or, if one is more open-minded, two.
The educationist Krishna Kumar writes that for Indian children history itself comes to an end with Partition and Independence. As a constituent of social studies, and later on as a subject in its own right, history runs right out of content in All that has happened during the last 55 years may filter through them easly civics syllabus, popular cinema and television; history as formally constituted knowledge of the past does not cover it.
In the academy, the discipline of history deals with the past, while the disciplines of. This is a conventional and in many ways logical division. The difficulty is that in the Indian academy the past is defined as a single, immovable date: Thus, when the clock struck midnight and India became independent, history ended, and political science and sociology began.
In the decades since , the present has moved on. Political scientists studied the first general election of , and then the next one held five years later. Social anthropologists wrote accounts of Indian villages in the s, and then some more in the s. The past, however, has stayed fixed. By training and temperament, historians have restricted themselves to the period before Independence.
A vast literature grew and is still growing on the social, cultural, political and economic consequences of British colonialism. A even more vast literature grew and it too is still growing on the forms, functions, causes and consequences of the opposition to colonial rule. Leading that opposition was the social reformer, spiritualist, prophet and political agitator Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Gandhi was, and remains, greatly admired by some and cordially detested by others. Much the same could be said of the monumental edifice he opposed, the British Raj. The British finally left India in August ; Gandhi was assassinated by a fellow Indian a bare five and a half months later. That the demise of the Raj was followed so quickly by the death of its most celebrated opponent has had a determining influence on the writing of history. One cannot say whether, if Gandhi had lived on much longer, historians would have shown greater interest in the history of free India.
As it turned out, by custom and convention Indian history is seen as ending on 15 August although biographers of the Mahatma are allowed a six-month extension. Thus many fine, as well as controversial, books have been written on the last intense, conflict-filled years of British India.
That great institution, the British Raj, and that great individual, Mahatma Gandhi, continue to be of absorbing interest to historians. But the history of independent India has remained a field mostly untilled. If history is formally constituted knowledge of the past, then for the period since this knowledge practically does not exist. And yet, as this book shows, the first years of freedom were as full of dramatic interest as the last years of the Raj.
The British had formally handed over power, but authority had to be created anew. Partition had not put an end to HinduMuslim conflict, nor Independence to class and caste tension. Large areas of the map were still under the control of the Maharajas; these had to be brought into the Indian Union by persuasion or coercion.
Amidst the wreckage of a decaying empire a new nation was being born and built. Of his recent history of postwar Europe, Tony Judt writes that a book of this kind rests, in the first instance, on the shoulders of other books'. He notes that for the brief sixty-year period of Europes history since the end of the Second World War indeed, for this period above all the secondary literature in English is inexhaustible.
Here the gaps in our knowledge are colossal. The Republic of India is a union of twenty-eight states, some larger than France. Yet not even the bigger or more important of these states have had their histories written.
In the s and 60s India pioneered a new approach to foreign policy, and to economic policy and planning as well. Authoritative or even adequate accounts of these experiments remain to be written. India has produced entrepreneurs of great vision and dynamism but the stories of the institutions they built and the wealth they created are mostly unwritten.
Again, there are no proper biographies of some of the key figures in our modern history: Ramachandran, provincial leaders each of whose province is the size of a large European country. Unlike a history of postwar Europe, a history of postwar India cannot simply rest on the shoulders of other books on more specialized subjects. In matters great and small it must fill in the blanks using materials picked up by the author. My first mentor, a very wise old civil servant named C.
Venkatachar, once told me that every work of history is interim, to be amplified, amended, contested, and overthrown by works written in its wake. Despite the range of subjects it covers, this book cannot hope to have treated any of them comprehensively. Individual readers will have their own particular grouses; some might complain, for instance, that I have not said enough here about tribals, others that I should have written even more pages on Kashmir.
My own hopes for this book are best expressed in the words of Marc Bloch, writing about another country in another time: I could liken myself to an explorer making a rapid survey of the horizon before plunging into thickets from which the wider view is no longer possible. The gaps in my account are naturally enormous. I have done my best not to conceal any deficiencies, whether in the state of our knowledge in general or in my own documentation.
When the time comes for my own work to be superseded by studies of deeper penetration, I shall feel well rewarded if confrontation with my false conjectures has made history learn the truth about herself. VI The great Cambridge historian F. Maitland liked to remind his students that what is now in the past was once in the future. There could be no better maxim for the historian, and especially the historian of the recent past, who addresses an audience with very decided views on the subjects about which he presumes to inform them.
An American historian of the Vietnam War is read by those who have mostly made up their minds on whether the war was just or not. A French historian of the student movement of knows that his readers shall have forceful, if mutually contradictory, opinions about that particular upsurge.
Those who write contemporary history know that the reader is not a passive vessel to receive the text placed before him or her.
The reader is also a citizen, a critical citizen, with individual political and ideological preferences. These preferences direct and dictate the readers view of the past, and of leaders and lawmakers most particularly. We live with the consequences of decisions taken by modern politicians, and often presume that an alternate politician someone modelled on oneself would have taken better or wiser decisions.
The furtherback we go in time, the less of a problem this is. Historians of the eighteenth century seek to interpret and understand that time, and so, following them, do their readers. A biographer of Jefferson or Napoleon can count on more trusting readers they do not presume to know the things those men did, or wish they should have done them differently.
Here, the reader is usually happy to be led and guided by the expert. But the biographer of John F. Kennedy or Charles de Gaulle is not so fortunate. Some, perhaps many, potential readers already know the truth about these men, and are less willing to hear alternative versions of it, even if they are backed up by copious footnotes. Contemporary historians thus face a challenge from their readers which their more backward-looking colleagues avoid.
But there is also a second, and perhaps less commonly acknowledged, challenge. This is that the historian too is a citizen. The scholar who chooses to write on the Vietnam War already has strong views on the topic. The scholar who writes on the American Civil War would have less strong views, and one who writes on the Revolutionary War weaker views still. For the historian as well as the citizen, the closer one gets to the present, the more judgement alone tends to become.
In writing this book I have tried to keep Maitlands maxim always in front of me. I have been driven by curiosity rather than certainty, by the wish to understand rather than the desire to pass judgement.
I have sought to privilege primary sources over retrospective readings, thus to interpret an event of, say, in terms of what was known in rather than in This book is, in the first instance, simply an attempt to tell the modern history of onesixth of humankind. It is an account, as well as analysis, of the major characters, controversies, themes and processes in independent India.
However, the manner of the storys telling has been driven by two fundamental ambitions: The disappearance of the British Raj in India is at present, and must for along time be, simply inconceivable.
That it should be replaced by a native Government or Governments is the wildest of wild dreams. As soon as the last British soldier sailed from Bombay or Karachi, India would become the battlefield of antagonistic racial and religious forces. WELLDON, former Bishop of Calcutta, I have no doubt that if British governments had been prepared to grant in what they refused in but granted in ; or to grant in what they refused in but granted in ; or to grant in what they refused in but granted in then nine-tenths of the misery, hatred, and violence, the imprisonings and terrorism, the murders, flogging, shootings, assassinations, even the racial massacres would have been avoided; the transference of power might well have been accomplished peacefully, even possibly without Partition.
In the first week of January the Indian National Congress passed a resolution fixing the last Sunday of the month for countrywide demonstrations in support of purna swaraj, or complete independence. This, it was felt, would both stoke nationalist aspirations and force the British seriously to consider giving up power. In an essay in his journal Young India, Mahatma Gandhi set out how the day should be observed. It would be good, said the leader, if the declaration [of independence] is made by whole villages, whole cities even.
It would be well if all the meetings were held at the identical minute in all the places. Gandhi suggested that the time of the meeting be advertised in the traditional way, by drum-beats. The celebrations would begin with the hoisting of the national flag. The rest of the day would be spent in doing some constructive work, whether it is spinning, or service of untouchables, or reunion of Hindus and Mussalmans, or prohibition work, or even all these together, which is not impossible.
Participants would take a pledge affirming that it was the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil, and that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them, the people have a further right to alter it or abolish it. It was here that Jawaharlal Nehru was chosen President of the Congress, in confirmation of his rapidly rising status within the Indian national movement.
Born in , twenty years after Gandhi, Nehru was a product of Harrow and Cambridge who had become a close protg of the Mahatma. He was intelligent and articulate, knowledgeable about foreign affairs, and with a particular appeal to the young. In his autobiography Nehru recalled how Independence Day came, January 26th, , and it revealed to us, as in a flash, the earnest and enthusiastic mood of the country. There was something vastly impressive about the great gatherings everywhere, peacefully and solemnly taking the pledge of independence without any speeches or exhortation.
Towns and villages had vied with each other in showing their enthusiastic adherence to independence. Mammoth gatherings were held in Calcutta and Bombay, but the meetings in smaller towns were well attended too. However, when the British finally left the subcontinent, they chose to hand over power on 15 August He, and the politicians waiting to take office, were unwilling to delay until the date some others would have preferred 26 January So freedom finally came on a day that resonated with imperial pride rather than nationalist sentiment.
In New Delhi, capital of the Raj and of free India, the formal events began shortly before midnight. Apparently, astrologers had decreed that 15 August was an inauspicious day. Thus it was decided. The function was held in the high-domed hall of the erstwhile Legislative Council of the Raj.
The room was brilliantly lit and decorated with flags. Some of these flags had been placed inside picture frames that until the previous week had contained portraits of British viceroys. Proceedings began at 11 p. The ceremonies ended with the presentation of the national flag on behalf of the women of India. Between the hymn and the flag presentation came the speeches.
There were three main speakers that night. One, Chaudhry Khaliquz-zaman, was chosen to represent the Muslims of India; he duly proclaimed the loyalty of the minority to the newly freed land.
A second, the philosopher Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, was chosen for his powers of oratory and his work in reconciling East and West: His speech was rich in emotion and rhetoric, and has been widely quoted since. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom, said Nehru.
This was spoken inside the columned Council House. In the streets outside, as an American journalist reported, bedlam had broken loose. Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs were happily celebrating together.
More than anyone else, the crowd wanted Nehru. Even before he was due to appear, surging thousands had broken through police lines and flowed right to the doors of the Assembly building. Finally, the heavy doors were closed to prevent a probably souvenir-hunting tide from sweeping through the Chamber. Nehru, whose face reflected his happiness, escaped by a different exit and after a while the rest of us went out. No event of any importance in India is complete without a goof-up.
In this case, it was relatively minor. When, after the midnight session at the Constituent Assembly, Jawaharlal Nehru went to submit his list of cabinet ministers to the governor general, he handed over an empty envelope. However, by the time of the swearing-in ceremony the missing piece of paper was found. Apart from Prime Minister Nehru, it listed thirteen other ministers. These included the nationalist stalwarts Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, as well as four Congress politicians of the younger generation.
More notable perhaps were the names of those who were not from the Congress. These included two representatives of the world of commerce and one representative of the Sikhs. Three others were lifelong adversaries of the Congress. These were R. Shanmukham Chetty, a Madras businessman who possessed one of the best financial minds in India; B. Ambedkar, a brilliant legal scholar and an Untouchable by caste; and Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, a leading Bengal politician who belonged at this time to the Hindu Mahasabha.
All three had collaborated with the rulers while the Congress men served time in British jails. But now Nehru and his colleagues wisely put aside these differences. Gandhi had reminded them that freedom comes to India, not to the Congress, urging the formation of a Cabinet that included the ablest men regardless of party affiliation.
Its members came from as many as five religious denominations with a couple of atheists thrown in for good measure , and from all parts of India. There was a woman, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, as well as two Untouchables. On 15 August the first item on the agenda was the swearing-in of the Governor General, Lord Mountbatten, who until the previous night had been the last viceroy.
The days programme read: Swearing in of governor general and ministers at Government House Procession of ministers to Constituent Assembly State drive to Constituent Assembly Royal salute to governor general Hoisting of national flag at Constituent Assembly. It appeared that the Indians loved pomp and ceremony as much as the departing rulers.
Across Delhi, and in other parts of India, both state and citizen joyously celebrated the coming of Independence. Three hundred flag-hoisting functions were reported from the capital alone.
In the countrys commercial hub, Bombay, the citys mayor hosted a banquet at the luxurious Taj Mahal hotel. At a temple in the Hindu holy town of Banaras, the national flag was unfurled by, significantly, a Muslim. When the first, so to say fantastical, Independence Day was observed on 26 January the crowds were solemn and orderly as Nehru observed. But, in , when the real day of Independence came, the feelings on display were rather more elemental.
To quote a foreign observer, everywhere, in city after city, lusty crowds have burst the bottled-up frustrations of many years in an emotional mass jag. Mob sprees have rolled from mill districts to gold coasts and back again. The happenings in Indias most populous city, Calcutta, were characteristic of the mood. For the past few years the city had been in the grip of a cloth shortage, whose signs now miraculously disappeared in a rash of flags that has broken out on houses and buildings.
Meanwhile, in Government House, a new Indian governor was being sworn in. Not best pleased with the sight was the private secretary of the departing British governor. He complained that the general motley character of the gathering from the clothing point of view. There were no dinner jackets and ties on view: With the throne room full of unauthorized persons, the ceremony was a foretaste of what was to come after the British had left India.
Its nadir was reached when the outgoing governor of Bengal, Sir Frederick Burrows, had a white Gandhi cap placed on his head as he made to leave the room. Outside, the crowds shouted Mahatma Gandhi ki jai. Yet Gandhi was not present at the festivities in the capital. He was in Calcutta, but did not attend any function or hoist a flag there either.
The Gandhi caps were on display at Government House with neither his knowledge nor permission. On the evening of the 14th he was visited by the chief minister of West Bengal, who asked him what form the celebrations should take the next day. People are dying of hunger all round, answered Gandhi. Do you wish to hold a celebration in the midst of this devastation?
When are porter from the leading nationalist paper, the Hindustan Times, requested a message on the occasion of Independence, he replied that he had run dry. The British Broadcasting Corporation asked his secretary to help them record a message from the one man the world thought really represented India. Gandhi told them to talk to Jawaharlal Nehru instead. The BBC were not persuaded: Gandhi was unmoved, saying: Ask them to forget I know English.
Gandhi marked 15 August with a twenty-four-hour fast. The freedom he had struggled so long for had come at an unacceptable price. Independence had also meant Partition. The last twelve months had seen almost continuous rioting between Hindus and Muslims. The violence had begun on 16 August in Calcutta and spread to the Bengal countryside. From there it moved on to Bihar, then on to the United Provinces and finally to the province of Punjab, where the scale of the violence and the extent of the killing exceeded even the horrors that had preceded it.
The violence of AugustSeptember was, in the first instance, instigated by the Muslim League, the party which fuelled the movement for a separate state of Pakistan. The League was led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, an austere, aloof man, and yet a brilliant political tactician. Like Nehru and Gandhi, he was a lawyer trained in England.
Like them, he had once been a member of the Indian National Congress, but he had left the party because he felt that it was led by and for Hindus. Despite its nationalist protestations, argued Jinnah, the Congress did not really represent the interests of Indias largest minority, the Muslims. By starting a riot in Calcutta in August , Jinnah and the League hoped to polarize the two communities further, and thus force the British to divide India when they finally quit.
In this endeavour they richly succeeded. The Hindus retaliated savagely in Bihar, their actions supported by local Congress leaders. The British had already said that they would not transfer power to any government whose authority is directly denied by large and powerful elements in the Indian national life. Now each communal outbreak was cited as a further endorsement of the two-nation theory, and of the inevitability of the partition of the country.
When the first reports came in from rural Bengal, he set everything else aside and made for the spot. This year-old man walked in difficult terrain through slush and stone, consoling the Hindus who had much the worse of the riots.
In a tour of seven weeks he walked miles, mostly barefoot, addressing almost a hundred village meetings. Later he visited Bihar, where the Muslims were the main sufferers.
Then he went to Delhi, where refugees from the Punjab had begun to pour in, Hindus and Sikhs who had lost all in the carnage.
They were filled with feelings of revenge, which Gandhi sought to contain, for he was fearful that it would lead to retributory violence against those Muslims who had chosen to stay behind in India. Two weeks before the designated day of Independence the Mahatma left Delhi. He spent four days in Kashmir and then took the train to Calcutta, where, a year after it began, the rioting had not yet died down.
On the afternoon of the 13th he set up residence in the Muslim dominated locality of Beliaghata, in a ramshackle building open on all sides to the crowds, to see whether he could contribute his share in the return of sanity in the premier city of Calcutta. Gandhi decided simply to fast and pray on the 15th. By the afternoon news reached him of to quote a newspaper report almost unbelievable scenes of fraternity and rejoicing in some of the worst affected areas of Calcutta.
While Hindus began erecting triumphal arches at the entrance of streets and lanes and decorating them with palm leaves, banners, flags and bunting, Muslim shopkeepers and householders were not slow in decorating their shops and houses with flags of the Indian Dominion.
Hindus and Muslims drove through the streets in open cars and lorries, shouting the nationalist slogan Jai Hind, to which large, friendly crowds of both communities thronging the streets readily and joyfully responded.
He decided he would make a statement on the day, not to theBBC, butthrough his own preferred means of communication, the prayer meeting.
A large crowd of 10, according to one report, 30, according to another turned up to hear him speak at the Rash Bagan Maidan in Beliaghata. Gandhi said he would like to believe that the fraternization between Hindus and Muslims on display that day was from the heart and not a momentary impulse. Both communities had drunk from the poison cup of disturbances; now that they had made up, the nectar of friendliness might taste even sweeter.
Who knows, perhaps as a consequence Calcutta might even be entirely free from the communal virus for ever.
That Calcutta was peaceful on 15 August was a relief, and also a surprise. For the city had been on edge in the weeks leading up to Independence. By the terms of the Partition Award, Bengal had been divided, with the eastern wing going to Pakistan and the western section staying in India. Calcutta, the provinces premier city, was naturally a bone of contention.
The Boundary Commission chose to allot it to India, sparking fears of violence on the eve of Independence. Across the subcontinent there was trouble in the capital of the Punjab, Lahore. This, like Calcutta, was a multireligious and multicultural city. Among the most majestic of its many fine buildings was the Badshahi mosque, built by the last of the great Mughal emperors, Aurangzeb.
But Lahore had also once been the capital of a Sikh empire, and was more recently a centre of the Hindu reform sect, the Arya Samaj. Now, like all other settlements in the Punjab, its fate lay in the hands of the British, who would divide up the province. The Bengal division was announced before the 15th, but an nouncement of the Punjab award had been postponed until after that date.
Would Lahore and its neighbourhood be allotted to India, or to Pakistan? The latter seemed more likely, as well as more logical, for the Muslims were the largest community in the city. Indeed, a new governor had already been appointed for the new Pakistani province of West Punjab, and had moved into Government House in Lahore. On the evening of the 15th he threw a party to celebrate his taking office.
As he later recalled, this must have been the worst party ever given by anyone. The electric current had failed and there were no fans and no lights. The only light which we had was from the flames of the burning city of Lahore about half a mile away. All around the garden, there was firing going on not isolated shots, but volleys. Who was firing at who, no one knew and no one bothered to ask.
Not in the governors party, perhaps. In Beliaghata, however, Mahatma Gandhi expressed his concern that this madness still raged in Lahore. When and how would it end?
Perhaps one could hope that the noble example of Calcutta, if it was sincere, would affect the Punjab and the other parts of India. As an army memo mournfully observed: In office there were the Unionists, a coalition of Muslim, Hindu and Sikh landlords.
They held the peace uncertainly, for ranged against themwere the militant Muslim Leaguers on the one side and the no less militant Sikh political party, the Akali Dal, on the other. Starting in January, episodic bouts of violence broke out in the cities of Punjab. These accelerated after the first week of March, when the Unionists were forced out of office. By May the epicentre of violence had shifted decisively from the east of India to the north-west. A statement submitted to the House of Lords said that 4, people were killed in riots in India between 18 November and 18 May Of these, as many as 3, had died in the Punjab alone.
Both had Muslim majorities, and thus were claimed for Pakistan. But both also contained many millions of. In the event, both provinces were divided, with the Muslim majority districts going over to East or West Pakistan, while the districts in which other religious groups dominated were allotted to India.
But there were some crucial differences between the two provinces as well. Bengal had along history of often bloody conflict between Hindus and Muslims, dating back to at least the last decades of the nineteenth century. By contrast, in the Punjab the different communities had lived more or less in peace there were no significant clashes on religious groundsbefore In Bengal large sections of the Hindu middle class actively sought Partition.
They were quite happy to shuffle off the Muslim-dominated areas and make their home in or around the provincial capital. For several decades now, Hindu professionals had been making their way to the west, along with landlords who sold their holdings and invested the proceeds in property or businesses in Calcutta.
By contrast, the large Hindu community in the Punjab was dominated by merchants and moneylenders, bound by close ties to the agrarian classes. They were unwilling to relocate, and hoped until the end that somehow Partition would be avoided. The last difference, and the most telling, was the presence in the Punjab of the Sikhs. This third leg of the stool was absent in Bengal, where it was a straight fight between Hindus and Muslims.
Like the Muslims, the Sikhs had one book, one formless God, and were a close-knit community of believers. Sociologically, however, the Sikhs were closer to the Hindus.
With them they had a roti-beti rishta a relationship of inter-dining and inter-marriage and with them they had a shared history of persecution at the hands of the Mughals. Forced to choose, the Sikhs would come down on the side of the Hindus. But they were in no mood to choose at all. Maybe it's not the best book if you are preparing for any competitive exam but otherwise it is certainly a book every Indian must read -wonderfully and deeply researched consolidated form of post independent history of India.
It's not just about the political history but talks about real meaning of democracy to a common man , freedom of speech, ethnicity, communalism, federalism , culture and other similar aspects. This is the most authentic source to know about the actual facts for any lay man instead of reading the manipulated history told by politicians via speeches and social networking platforms.
It is a book that will transform you from semi-literates to literates as far as post independent history is concerned. And only semi-literates can be manipulated by the discourses established with an agenda and not based on facts. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I found the book very informative and objective. Ramchandra Guha has done an excellent work of encapsulating such a vast amount of data about our country.
Good book for all those Indians who want to learn what is India today and how we got there. I immensely liked the book. Excellent portrayal of post independence happenings. Guha's centrist ideology is laudable. He doesn't spare Gandhi family even, despite several criticisms of favouring the dynastic politics. With great discount comes defect. You will not lose your interest till end.
Best novel. Yes novel. People think it is for upse, no it is for knowlage and joy How many of you knew that somnath temple was destroyed many time. Every time destroyed , it was built. But, last time it was destroyed under Aurangzeb. Then it was left in shambles. After independance, people of india, all alike paid money to build it. President , PM , Home minister and others were invited to inaugurates the temple.
Nehru not only refused to come, he advised Rajendra prasad not to go. But rajendra prasad, patel went. Nehru's pretext was that government can't lean toward a religion. I t must remain secular. And called Rajendra prasad first of medivalist in free india.
Nehru was right. But it was inauguration of temple, plunderd many time in history. It was not a ceremoney to declare the official religion. It was related to respecting people's faith which had been trampled in every epoch for rich booty and political hold. Finally, history also got to see that he married his daughter to muslim man who was first given hindu title. Question rises Was he so intolerant that he could not merry his daughter to muslim man becouse of his faith.
Or It was a monkey business of hijaking the title of gandhi, cause nehru had no boy heir of himself. So technically, nehru title was to die. Hardcover Verified Purchase. Eventhough it is mentioned as hardcover, it isn't.
Books such as these should be built to last few decades at least. Why is there no HardBound edition available in India, even if the price it on bit Higher side? Very disappointed or not Happy about how such a huge book as this is constructed. I think it is the author and Publishing House both to decide how a book should go into Public and looks like they both do not worry about it.
I prefer a "Kindle Version" of this book than Hard Copy simply wasting my rack space. Off Course, i have no complaints with content of this Book. This is a very detailed chronological account of India post independence history.
The author analysis is balanced and unbiased. This is a good book to read and better understand how the India of today has evolved. Concise and accurate. Guha, through his illustrative writing, encourages user to explore more about India. The book gives unparallel insight to many historical incidents. A perfect anecdote is the description of the process through which refugees were settled after partition. A perfect recepie for someone who's looking to find exactly what happened after See all reviews.
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