Wednesday, 21 March 2012

india's quest for independence

India has always been subjected to the foreign rule. From Qutubuddin ai-e-bak, mughals and then ultimately to britishers, we Indians have experienced being led by almost every kind of people. Out of all these the British rule is considered to be the most exploitative because all other rulers excluding britishers did not rule over us as some foreign power, instead they became indianised, settled in our country & did not interfere in our existing institutions. They did not consider Indians inferior. Contrary to this, Britishers assumed themselves to be the most superior race in the whole wide world. They perceived Indians as uncivilized, backward & ill-mannered. The English political thinkers gave this very reason to the whole world that the britishers took over India only with the intention of civilizing people in India as the condition of people in India was more worse than that of feudalism in England. Initially they just had trade relations with our country ( India was a very rich country that time. It was called the golden bird) but gradually they started establishing their control over whole of India. And because we were not unified we just could not do anything. They divided us & ruled over us for so many years and we just remained mere spectators. Their basic aim was to drain India of its wealth and for that they took every measure possible. Dadabhai nairoji rightly said that Britishers exploited us economically & drained India of its wealth.
They arrived officially in 1765 when Lord Clive defeated Shirajudulah in the Battle of Plassey. For another 100 yrs they ruled without any major threat. Though local peasant movements arose but they were brutally suppressed. Then came the first war of independence in 1857. Many Indians participated, but with difference in objectives. It shaked the east India company because they had not expected such things from Indians. Some prominent names who contributed extensively to this revolt were mangal pandey, rani lakshmibai, tatya tope, kunwar singh, nana sahib & others. This revolt failed due to the lack of a unified objective. There was no clear goal. Though the revolt was brutally suppressed, but it surely arose the need for a better control over India’s administration among Britishers. Most importantly the power of Indian Territory shifted to the British crown from the east India Company. Many Indians did not even participate in this first revolt of independence because their interests were not violated and some of them actually helped Britishers to suppress the revolt. Our historians & freedom fighters have termed this revolt as the ‘first war of independence’ whereas the Britishers called it the ‘sepoy mutiny’. As Gandhi believed that British rule over us only because, we let them. The day we start non cooperation they will have to leave.
After the revolt of 1857, British became more alert as they were now aware that Indians were not so easy to handle. Power shifted to the British crown and now the British parliament was responsible for making laws for India. Various changes took place. Railways were introduced, supreme court was set up, new schools and colleges opened up. But one thing should be clearly understood that the intentions behind all this were purely to gratify their own interests. Historians like Dadabhai nairoji, R.C. Dutt, Justice M.G. Ranade were among the few people who did the economic analysis of British India. They came to the conclusion that colonialism was the essence of British rule in India and their main intention was exploitation. In 1885 Indian National Congress was formed under the chairmanship of A.O.Hume. Initially the moderates in congress did not want to overthrow the British rule. Their main objective was to gain equal rights for Indian people and have a say in the functioning of the government. But gradually extremists like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin chandra Pal and others started demanding for the complete abolition of British rule. The real turn in the history of Indian independence came with the advent of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1911. He with his principles of truth and non-violence motivated people to demand Swaraj i.e. complete freedom from British rule. It was only after his arrival that congress became a mass party. People started associating themselves with the party and Gandhi was successful in arousing patriotic sentiments in Indians. Even women began participating extensively in this quest for independence. Non-violent methods superimposed the violent ones. Gandhi was perceived as the greatest threat the British. By the 20th century with the hard-work of all the freedom fighters common people became aware of the true colors of the British. Their extent of discrimination can be understood from the simple things that a board was hung up in front of every government office which read ‘dogs and Indians not allowed’. After numerous protests, defiance and tremendous hard work we ultimately attained independence on 15th august 1947. But even the independence instead of bringing immense joy, became a traumatic experience. Due to the reluctance & undue pressure of the Muslim league led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, india had to be separated into two nations: india & Pakistan. The latter was to be an all muslim state as Muslim league had wanted. Partition caused a lot of killing, bloodshed and rage among people. Instead of becoming good neighbors, India and Pakistan became hardcore enemies which hitherto continue.
After independence, India went ahead to form its own constitution which came into existence on 26th January, 1950. Our constitution is one of the longest written constitution ever. Congress party remained in power continuously for 30 years. It was only in 1978 elections that janata party came to power.  We will complete 65 years of independence this year, but there are still few things which have remained the same: plight of common man, communalism, boundary issues, facilities of all kinds(health, education & others) and the most important of all the widening gap between the rulers and the ruled. Guess some things never obtain a CURE!

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