Thursday, September 4, 2008

True story of Indian independence...

The so called fathers of Indian independence reached the final point in such tranquility, with no sense of crisis or of being swept away of events, had always been a matter worth reckoning in Indian history. Was British opinion prepared for the new era of British Indian relations which opened on August 15th. What is now a part of history was a structure so solid in the memory of men then living then, that it had appeared to be an institution of remote antiquity. But the British supermacy in India remained hardly for 200 years. The 200 year period has been but a brief episode in a history which archaeology has now taken back to the great brick built cities of Sind in the third millenium B.C. When British stormed Seringapatam in 1799 the greater part of India was still under independent native rulers. Twenty years later everything except Nepal and the Punjab was under the sway of the "koompany bahadur" the strange impersonal being made manifest for the Indian population in the princely magnificence. In a few years the whole Indian scene was transformed and the British in India became the ruling race, Elphinstone was soon to claim of high handedness of his younger politicians who had never seen the Indian states in the days of their power. Yet there remained always an underground of memories and sentiments which the new rulers could ignore, but not dispel. A British official in 1832 wrote of "the ghosts of former reverence still existing in the immense shadows that make up the Indian opinion, ghosts always active and for the most part maligned to the British". Some of those ghosts showed their power during the first war of independence in 1857. They are still active, but today their malignancy is no longer so much for the British as for the policy makers of a single national democracy of India which succeeded the British Raj. The Congress leaders casted no glance itno the "immense shadows" beyond the light of their vision. But out of those shadows emerged Pakistan. The name "Pakistan", an artificial verbal compound, said to have been invented by a Muslim Indian student in Cambridge, was unknown to Indian politics until 1930s. It was not a name which in itself could stir patriotic emotions or evoked mental images of past glory and greatness. But what really embodied for the zealots of Muslim League was nothing else than the old Mogul empire, the great monarchy which for a while did rule nearly all India and long after it had ceased to have any real power, retained such prestige that even in the second quarter of 19th century the Princes sought honors from the "King of Delhi" rather than from the British Governor General. This is the significance of shouts of "Emperor of Pakistan" with which Mr. Jinnah was greeted by his followers after the announcement of partition scheme. Mr. Jinnah modestly declined the title of emperor, after all,that was a democractic age. But he was to become the Governor General of new baby "Pakistan". The development was more serious because Mr.Jinnah's rule gave promise of being a very thinly veiled dictatorship. The division by districts which was laid down in principle in whtie paper was only provisional, the frontier itself had to be drawn by Boundary Commission and although Sir Cyril Radcliffe was to direct its work, it was doubtful whether even his icy clarity of mind and austere legal presence would be sufficient to prevail over the passions that burnt in the distracted provinces. The political map of India had the same remarkable patch-work quality which was characterstic of 18th century Germany or Italy in historical atlases of Europe. Interspersed among the provinces of British India were numerous areas of varying shapes and sizes, corresponding to the lesser entities of the old European order from Bavaria or Tuscany to the pitty jurisdictions of Knights of the Empire. Indeed, during the last few years many people in this country had been inclined to thinking how much better it would have been if they had never been unified at all. But it is generally admitted that, where a sense of nationality really exists, the process of unification at the expense of former feudal lords is an irresistible one and that rights of ruling dynasties, which do not correspond to national sentiments, have to be set aside in the making of national states.

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