First War Of Independence

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Independence – The Origins Of The Struggle

Published April 3, 2016 by vishalvkale

The most common misconception is that The Indian Independence Struggle started with The Mahatma, or with The Lokamanya, or indeed with Gopal Krishn Gokhale; a rising stream of thought credits Netaji, with another stream adamant on crediting The Mahatma; nothing could be more simplistic; and nothing could a more incomplete picture of the true story.

The events leading upto and of 1857 were integrally connected with the Independence Struggle in the latter period of 1900-1947, and deserve equal credit. Furthermore, crediting any one single event or source is also not advisable. Such an attempt assumes history to be a standstill pond – rather than the river it is in reality. Let us look at the full picture in a relative short panoramic and simplified view, focussing on key factors that will hopefully place the entire scenario in front of everyone’s eyes
FACT NO 1 : THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS {Let us first settle this, as it is at the center of the current debate}
No Indian could have started The Congress; If an Indian had come forward… the officials would not have allowed it to come into existence – Gopal Krishna Gokhale… [ISFI / Bipin C Pal et al]
The INC was not formed by the British; it was not a sudden event, as the entire sequence traced from around mid 1860s shows. Please read the truncated article for more – ideally the referenced book for detailed evidence and proof. The reason was simple – at this stage, there was no struggle as we know it; it was all about getting greater concessions and better life for the people within the Raj. The Lokamanya and Poorna Swaraj lay all in the future at this juncture. This stage was all about fighting court cases, and more court cases.
Why this was so? Why was there no demand for more? And where did these leaders arise from? Read on further for the truth.
FACT NO 2 : INDIA
{Before we dwell on the above questions – it is imperative that we dispel the myth that India was one political entity}
“So, we are looking at a people in a state of flux, a people in whom the first stirrings on national thought had begun to awaken. For example, the family of the Authorrefers to the trip to Gwalior as a trip to “Hindustan”, “their women are full of wiles and entice an innocent man” . We are looking at our India in a proto-nationhood stage of its lifecycle, and that is the prime take-away from this book… ” [Italics from : TRSOTGU, M Pande / Vishnu Bhatt Versaikar Godse]
Despite the many claims of United India going back eaons, the fact is that there was no concept of a politically united India as late as 1885 – the date the above book was penned. There was a realisation of a strong cultural union; of the concept of Bharat; of an interdependent economic and socio-political concept [ORL – Parag Tope / EI – Romila Thapar / TLOTSR – Sanjeev Sanyal] – but politically the people were just stirring in the mid-to-late 1800s. When and how did this stirring happen? Read on…
FACT NO 3 : THE START OF THE FIGHT
It is commonly assumed that the real struggle started around 1905 – 1915; this is counter factual for the following reasons :
The anti British sentiment was building up rapidly due to socio-cultural, religious, political and economic reasons from the early 1800s almost like a tidal wave, with a series of movements and revolts, and wars being fought against the British – culminating in the grand-daddy of them all, the First War Of Independence. The origin of these feelings lay in the period from 1757- early 1800s, with a series of events that rocked the foundation of life in India. The full-on attack on Religion, Arts, Language, Culture, Society, Economy in India was stinging, brutal, forceful-  and hard. That is what kindled the War of 1857.
The evidence of this attack from 1757 till 1857 is aplenty – from the denigration of traditional education, to the virtual destruction of our handicrafts and arts; from the wrecking of  the existing industrial strength [TCOI – Will Durant; IEUBR – Irfan Habib] to full-on targeting of religion with open targeted attempts at conversion and clear targeting of Sanaatani as well as Islamic people [ORL – Parag Tope; TSOMEWTT – Mahatma Gandhi], to the destruction of the agricultural backbone, to the targeting of our beliefs and degradation of our dramatics and culture.
We can see the impact as late as the 880s – 1890s  in The Mahatma’s autobiography of open conversion pressure; other sources above make the picture crystal clear. Given the first-person account of [TSOMEWTT – Mahatma Gandhi], it is a valuable window into those tumultuous times, despite it being dated some 40 years afterwards. . Thus, by the turn of the 1840s, the situation was ripe for major upheaval, with every aspect of life in India being under a vicious attack. That lead to a solidification of forces, and perhaps a first stirring on oneness, of us versus them on a relatively national scale
The evidence is catergorically clear – The Rani of Gwalior, with the Pune rulers sent letters to a series of local rulers from mid to late 1840s, culminating in the Bahadur Shah Zafar Decleration [ORL, Parag Tope]. The contents of that Decleration, given in the references, make the matter clear, and virtually beyond debate. Thus, by the time we reach 1857, we have a set of rulers aligned against the British, smarting under the insults and the damage; we have a people whose entire life – earnings, eating, music, life, culture, religion everything was under direct external attack. The combination proved deadly, almost – as they rose as one… [ORL-Parag Tope]
This was the start of the fight against the British – a common, massive uprising – one that was brutally crushed in what is one of the most heinious genocides ever conducted in Human History [ORL – Parag Tope, TRSOTGU – Pande-Godse], when villages, towns, cities were exerminated by the British – it stands as one of the largest targeted war on civilian non-combatants conducted with the express purpose of bludgeoning a people into hopeless surrender. And that is where things stands as the year 1859 turns to 1860…
[culture – extrapolated from BI:TURCI – Pavan Verma; also in ORL – Parag Tope; full research in VST – Maria Misra, FTROE-Pankaj Mishra, rising anger in ISFI / Bipin C Pal et al, Economic Destruction in IEUBR – Irfan Habib, AEHOI – RC Dutt, and in Tope book]
FACT NO 4 : THE LINK FROM 1857
By the beginning of the 1860s, India lay in a total shambles; the old order had crumbled fully, and there was a void; the people were shocked into senseless surrender – leaving no question of an independence struggle, The combined fight against the intruder had been brutally crushed, and not by courage & war, but by brutality, fighting civilians and crushing the people, and mass genocide. In such an atmosphere, there was no question of a struggle.
It is from this void that arose the first set of leaders, people who went on to create the Indian National Congress. This was the link; without 1857, 1947 was a pipe dream. 1857 is what caused and practically assured 1947 – in almost every way you can think of. This period also made clear one thing – the fight had to be done differently, an armed war was out of the question.
That is why you have the lawyers fighting in courts for greater amenities from 1870s-1900s – which the British gleefully allowed in their short-sighted myopia. That is why you have the rising local groupings, that went onto become almost one by the 1930s.
1857 was lost due to treachery – as some Indians supported the British; this was a learning well learnt-  as the first task became eradicating treachery and building a consensus – a feeling of nationalism. The next large scale uprising was also similarly lost, as the plans were in British hands within minutes of finalisation, by two treachorous swines in our midst.
1857 also lead to the communal problem, as the British that there was a need to divide the two communities. Enter Divide and Rule. End of United India dreams. From this point onwards, United India was impossible.
1857 was thus the prime mover and causative in 1947…
[ORL – Parag Tope; ISFI – Bipin C Pal et al; BD:TUOAN – Nitish Sengupta]


I have attempted to trace the Independence struggle as one continuous flow right from the 1700s till 1857, as well as lay bare the reality that Independence was only feasible the way we had it; and that one cannot lay the laurels on any one person alone. As we stand on the cusp of the 1900s, we see a fledgling INC debating in the courts and fighting for greater rights, and a rising tide on two fronts – the bolder leaders who started to desire more than just rights… and the second front being… the rise of communalism as the British policy of Divide and Rule began to pay rich dividends, culminating in what I and [TSOTGG – Narendra Singh Sarila ] call the Anglo Muslim League Alliance… this is what we look at in the second and concluding article on The Independence Struggle
REFERENCES {consulted and read during the past 7 years of study; the article  above is a collective result of the following. Where stated above, the relevant sections were basis some facts stated in the referenced book enabling me to understand or to extrapolate} :
1.                  [IFSI Bipin C Pal] : India’ Struggle for Independence, Bipin C Pal et al
2.                 [TRSOTGU, M Pande / Vishnu Bhatt Versaikar Godse]: The Real Story Of The Great Uprising, written by Vishnu Bhatt Versaikar Godse, translation by Mrinal Pande
3.                 [ORL, Parag Tope] : Operation Red Lotus, Parag Tope
4.                [TLOTSR, Sanjeev Sanyal] : The Land Of The Seven Rivers, Sanjeev Sanyal
5.                 [IE, Romila Thapar] – Early India by Romila Thapar
6.                [BI:TURCI – Pavan Verma] : Becoming Indian – The Unfinshed Revolution Of Culture And Identity, Pavan Verma
7.                 [VST – Maria Misra] : Vishnu’s Crowded Temple, Maria Misra
8.                [FTROE-Pankaj Mishra] : From The Ruins Of Empire – The Revolt Against The West and The Rise of Asia – Pankaj Mishra
9.                [IEUBR – Irfan Habib] – Indian Economy Under Early British Rule, Irfan Habib
10.             [AEHOI – RC Dutt] : An Economic History Of India, RC Dutt
11.               [BD:TUOAN – Nitish Sengupta] – Bengal Divided – The Unmaking Of A Nation, Nitish Sengupta
12.              [F : Arun Shourie] – Fatwa by Arun Shourie
13.              [Jinnah : Jaswant Singh] : Jinnah : India, Partition, Independence by Jaswant Singh
14.             [TSOTGG – Narendra Singh Sarila] – Partition : The Shadow Of The Great Game by Narendra Singh Sarila
15.              [TCOI – Will Durant] – The Case For India by Will Durant
16.             [TSOMEWTT – Mahatma Gandhi] – The Story Of My Experiments With The Truth by Mahatma Gandhi

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The Massacres of 1857…

Published June 8, 2014 by vishalvkale

This is based on the book referenced below; I have also read one of the books the main source I have referred to, which has also been linked below. This is an unknown part of Indian History… The First War Of Independence in 1857, and how the British won it…
This is what I call The Genocide of Indians in 1857 – 59 : This took place in 2 waves – and was planned at the topmost levels of the British Hierarchy. Village after village were targeted in a cold-blooded manner, and emptied of its citizens through murder – planned, brutal and cold-blooded murder. This was not an impassioned outrage {albeit fanned by vested interests}, nor was it done as a result of a conquerers victory in war.

What makes it mind-numbingly shocking and stunning is the simple fact that this was planned, and perpetrated as a vicious punishment, as a war strategy to take the war to civilian non-combatants with an intention of defeating the enemy – against a people who were fighting for independence, in their own country – and it was done by a people who had no business being here in the first place

This was supported – believe it or not – by legal acts which were drawn up solely to provide a legal cover for the same. The shocking content of those acts – no less than 4 in number – virtually gave a free hand to the wholesale slaughter of an entire people. This was repeated across innumerable villages, where countless men, women and children were wantonly put to death in 1857-58. This was a shocking saga of wholesale and planned Genocide that surpasses belief.

The impact of the same was immediate: the first wave of retaliation resulted in the collapse of the War effort in 1857. The planners resurrected; the British responded again. Jhansi was reduced to rubble, the majority of its citizens reduced to dead bodies. The brutality at Jhansi was unparalleled; so much so, none of this reached the official historical record.

Except for 2 little details. First, an eyewitness – who survived at Jhansi, wrote a Marathi book {I have read its translation} – Mazhaa Pravaas detailing the brutal genocide in stomach-turning detail.

And second, in an effort to win the prize money {oh, yes – there was a prize money as well}, several soldiers and officers wrote to their superiors. This became a part of the archival records. Add to that the reality that more than several soldiers wrote their diaries and memoirs which were subsequently published…

This  is supported by documented evidence from a multitude of sources. The  Genocide of Indians – which no one among us knows – goes against every  grain of civilization, and humanity – and destroys the British {and, by  relation, western} homilies of being a more civilized nation. The impact  of the Genocide at Jhansi is even supported by a congratulatory letter  of the English. This was a planned, and targeted attack on the civilian  population, designed to kill the support for the war from the local  population. The inhuman strategy worked – it took more than 7 decades  for the people to rise again. It also explains why The Mahatma and other  leaders were wary of an uprising – it would only have led to wholesale  slaughter of the population. The English proved that, as late as 1919,  they had no compunction in killing unarmed and peaceful civilians. The  real tales of the murders will jolt your heart, and shock you into  numbness, so brutal were the massacres, and so terrifying their import  and inhumanity. Till the modern day, no one in the west recognises these  uncomfortable realities, and instead pontificate to the rest of the  world on the aspect of civilization!!!!! . So wondrously civilised were  our rapists, they received – and followed- orders to use their own  families as human shields in the course of the war – something which is  unknown to the Indian People in our entire history.

“Most of the citizens and all of the Queen’s soldiers in Jhansi were killed; the streets were  left thick with blood slush. Vultures darkened the skies of the city.  Hugh Rose had given strict orders not to allow the Indians to perform  the last rites of the dead. After 7 April, when the entire city was  stinking, and jackals and vultures roamed greedily in search of  decomposed bodies, did he grant permission for the last rites. –  Mahashweta Devi

And for this, he was given the Victoria Cross!  And Knighted, as well. May I remind everyone that the Victoria Cross is  highest award for valor in The United Kingdom. Contrast this with our  own Paramvir Chakra, and the people who have won it and their deeds.  Truly, his deeds were indeed brave: butchering women and children,  killing civilians… The Butcher Of Jhansi. And we Indians are blissfully  unaware of the true horror of those 4 days…

In the entire  historical record, the above does not find a mention. The record shows a  humane and tolerant treatment to the people; the record was, after all,  written by The Butcher Of Jhansi himself. According to Rose, even the  heavy shelling and cannonading targeted only men!!!!! (Wow, what  technology: and this was in 1857!). Remember that they were attacking an  entire town… further, Rose makes the claim that it was the Indian Men  who killed their women! And this found its way into the official record!  –

Why is it that the English records to this day teach of the  Black Hole etc where the English died: but is totally silent on these  atrocities? Even in the modern day, the Westerner is blissfully unaware  of the scale and scope of the horrors and genocide perpetrated in India  from 1757 to 1857! The general consensus seems to be that they brought  order to India, introduced Railways, laws, education etc! Unfortunately  for them their own meticulous records lay bare their claims – as we  shall see in my next post: The Distortions of History – And Their Modern  Repercussions… you will readily find details of Europeans being  massacred in India – but no mention is made of the people they massacred  – even today; in the internet age… That, my dear friends, is that hard  truth… as I always say,

Jaago, Sonewaalon

References :

1) Operation Red Lotus : Operation Red Lotus
2) The Real Story Of The Great Uprising : The Real Story Of The Great Uprising

Book Review : Operation Red Lotus

Published April 22, 2014 by vishalvkale

1857, The event known, till date, as the Sepoy Mutiny by a fairly large segment of our population. Even those who refer to it as a War of Independence call it a spontaneous uprising; thanks largely to the incorrect narrative of the war written and recorded by the English, and dutifully followed by Indian Historians inspite of pervasive evidence to the contrary. Even the most balanced of books on the national movement refer to the presence of some form of conspiracy, but leave it at that, saying no proof exists. Surprisingly, they did not need to look any further than an existing book – Mazhaa Pravaas – an eyewitness account of the events, that lay bare the reality. I have read and reviewed its English translation on my Blog, so am aware, and recognise the need for an honest investigation into the reality of 1857. The current book under review, is a truly commendable start in that direction.

This book goes much further than that one single source stated above; to prove its point, it sources innumerable bits of period evidence – EEIC records, letters and statements from before, during and after the war; British Govt Letters and records, books by Englishmen who fought in the war; British Parliamentary proceedings, Indian Books – official as well as individual, communication letters of the so-called “rebels”, and much much. This solid supporting proof has been extremely well documented in the Bibliography and Appendix, and weaves a web of the intricate nature of the the entire war plan.

The book starts with the period prior to the war, and traces the rising resentment against the British basis Religious, Economic and Political Parameters. This part, though not known to many Indians, is pretty well known and extremely welll documented by Indian Historians – although Western Historians and people still cling to the idiotic belief that British Rule was good for India. It looks at the planned and systematic destruction of the Economy, and the hardships faced by Indians {as reviewed previously by myself on Irfan Habib’s book}. It looks at the rising anger due to this phase of the British Rule, and the total lack of morality of the British. Most critically, this is the first book to explicitly state that the English Civilization was less advanced culturally and socially than the highly developed Indian Civilization. The nearest anyone has come to such a clear statement has been Shashi Tharoor, who was bluntly called the Indian Civilization as one being a highly advanced civilization in an advanced state of decay.

The book next looks at 2 critical plans of the British : to Christianise the country – the entire length and breadth of the nation. It provides categorical proof of the plan to attack the religious foundations of our nation, which was driven from the highest levels. The second abortive plan was a suggestion to raise a European element in the Indian Population. To those of you to whom this sounds fanciful, please take a look at some other colonies of the British as confirmation. What is more, the book leaves no doubt that 1857 – 59 torpedoed both plans permanently. And that is how we won the First War Of Independence – despite having lost it on the battlefield.

The main thrust of the book is the circulation of Red Lotuses and Chapaties just before the events of 1857. These circulations went on for nearly one year. Furthermore, they were reported only from the areas in which the so-called mutiny occurred. Not only that, there has never neen any repeat occurence of these rotis and lotuses before, or since 1857. And, despite this, few people have given credence to these events – despite the fact that the reverberations of these lotuses and rotis reached the British Parliament, and caused a comment – an acerbic comment and a warning from no less a personality than Benjamin Disraeli. What did the lotuses and rotis have to do with war? Read the book to find out! Unlike other reviewers, I am not going to be the one to spoil your fun!

The book traces the entire war from start to finish in a fascinating narrative, engaging and deeply absorbing, and lays bare several historical inaccuracies – using, by and large, sources from the English themselves! The alliances between hindu and muslim rulers, as well as active participation of the entire people is well covered and proven, laying well and truly bare the claim of this being a soldiers’ war. The total lack of humanity in the English is brought out in a shocking series of genocides carried out by the English forces, when entire villages were destroyed, and its inhabitants brutally murdered as retribution for the war.

This is supported by documented evidence from a multitude of sources. The Genocide of Indians – which no one among us knows – goes against every grain of civilization, and humanity – and destroys the British {and, by relation, western} homilies of being a more civilized nation. The impact of the Genocide at Jhansi is even supported by a congratulatory letter of the English. This was a planned, and targeted attack on the civilian population, designed to kill the support for the war from the local population. The inhuman strategy worked – it took more than 7 decades for the people to rise again. It also explains why The Mahatma and other leaders were wary of an uprising – it would only have led to wholesale slaughter of the population. The English proved that, as late as 1919, they had no compunction in killing unarmed and peaceful civilians. The real tales of the murders will jolt your heart, and shock you into numbness, so brutal were the massacres, and so terrifying their import and inhumanity. Till the modern day, no one in the west recognises these uncomfortable realities, and instead pontificate to the rest of the world on the aspect of civilization!!!!! . So wondrously civilised were our rapists, they received – and followed- orders to use their own families as human shields in the course of the war – something which is unknown to the Indian People in our entire history.

The book traces the events of the war, and leaves no doubt of the scale of the entire war, which had large parts of India aflame, and up in arms in a total uprising against British Rule, and looks at how the British came within an inch of losing India. Not only that, it also proves the Russian interest in India, as it was willing to help Indian rulers in their efforts, and the British Worry of the same. This is the precise worry that led, 50 years later, to the British actively supporting, planning, aiding and abetting the partition of the nation. The book also has you laughing at the ineptitude of our great, civilised geniuses who taught us – aah – civilization {Yup. Killing innocents, murdering non-combatants, and peaceful protestors, creating famines etc is civilised, you know} – as they try to apprehend Tatya Tope, whose stupendous planning and bravery will bring a smile to your lips, a prayer to your heart.

All in all, a must read book, one that succesfully challenges pre-concieved notions about the British Rule and its – aah- benefit to India, its overall inhumanity and cruelty, as well as proves beyond all doubt that without 1857, 1947 would not have happened. In the end analysis, it was the events-  the brutal murder of an entire people in village after countless village, including men, women and even children – that bludgeoned an entire nation into shocked, tortured and silent obedience.

The sheer ferocity, inhumanity and abject amorality of the Genocide leaves you in wonder – can a human do such acts? And they called US dogs! Furthermore, it was this very animal-like brutal assault that shocked an entire nation into stunned silence, and necessitated a measured and non-violent approach towards independence. Just as the British were scared of Hindu – Muslim Unity {This unity nearly kicked them out in 1857}, Indians were scared stiff of the British retaliation, which crossed all known measures of morality, humanity and decency…

Till date, no one knows how many innocent men, women and children were brutally tortured, raped and murdered by the British soldiers. If it were known, I for one would not be surprised if it were amng the largest genocides ever perpetrated on earth. May God Bless Their Souls – everyone of those who were tortured, raped and murdered, and everyone of the martyrs… Rest In Peace…

Rest In Peace. India Owes A Heavy Debt To Your Sacrifices…

The Significance of 1857 in our Independence

Published November 26, 2013 by vishalvkale

1857, The First War Of Independence… what was its true significance and importance in our freedom struggle?
To understand this, we first have to understand the sequence of events leading upto and during 1857…

Until we really colonise India, and raise up a European element in the population… Edward Humphreys, Manual of British Government In India, 1857

..May be no dilatoriness on any account in continuing in the country the grand work of making India Christian – Mr Mangles, Chair, EEIC, in the house of Commons, Early 1857

The whole land has been shaken by missions to its innermost centre… the Hindu trembles for his religion, and the Muslim for his… Rev M A Sherring, The Indian Church During The Great Rebellion, 1858

Areas covered by the proclamation of Bahadur Shah Zafar: Taxation (I commit to lower taxes, to preserve the dignity…); Trade and Commerce (Open trade of every article, both by land and water, to all Indian Merchants, access to Capital, lower costs); Public Servants Industry; Personal Freedom… 1857 in India – Mutiny, Or War Of Independence, Ainslee T Embree, 1963
The documented evidence above will suffice for this write-up; it should raise a few pertinent points in the readers’ mind: firstly, there was a massive agenda of colonisation, Europeanisation, as well as conversion that was organised right from the top. This existed right from the Early 1830s onwards, and was steadily gathering steam.This was a direct attack on every Indians complete lifestyle, an attempt to change everything. 
This was playing havoc in Indian Society and its framework, assiduously built up over centuries, The point of Muslim Rule does not hold, for the perfectly simple reason that large parts of India were under continuous Hindu or Sikh Rule throughout. The central authority may have been Muslim, but over the years even there an element of Hindu support and power and grown due to adjustments, as the Mughals became Indian. Thus, an equilibrium was reached. 
The disturbance of this equilibrium had far reaching effects -right upto the caste scenario, as previously soft caste distinctions became rigid. This was a direct attack on the complete societal framework. 
This, in combination with the destruction of India’s industrial background through various means – like denial of raw material as well as market access in combination with 80% duties, as well as the destruction of Agriculture formed the backdrop for the war. Opium, Indigo replaced food crops, leading to food shortage; Farmers were not paid even for these crops (documented fact), leading to further erosion of sustenance and wealth. Agriculture was not developed, and supported – this combined with land tax of 60 – 90% and refusal to allow farmers to keep a part of their own produce for food and seeds led to famine. 
This is the backdrop – the complete backdrop to the War, which was a planned war, planned in detail. British Strategies were studied in various theatres of War, even the Russians were visited. Fact.. but that is another story, to be taken up in another post. It was not a mutiny; it was a planned and mass-supported effort…, and has been documented as such by several reputable sources
There was massive support to the War, with hundreds of villages, towns and cities rising in en-masse to expel the Brits. The reason was simple – every facet of life in India was under attack – from religion to livelihood, from beliefs to vocations. Everything was under attack. Something had to give, and it did. Big time – and it scared the Brits out of their wits, Had it not been for timely help from some Indian Princes,. it would have been over in 1857 itself… and it scared the the British to the roots of their existence, for perhaps the first time – and the only time before, or since. 
1857 told the Brits that they were not invincible, that they could be conquered – if India ever united again as one. And they were right; when India rose again – the Brits were chucked out – when the entire people and the Armed Forces rose in revolt during the INA trials. 
During quelling the war, the sequence of events hold further hints and learnings for us, which tend to support the belief that 1857 led to 1947; without 1857, 1947 would not have happened. 
First, two dastardly acts – Act No XI (30/5/1857) and Act No XIV (6/6/18557) gave local commissioners to impose the death penalty on all persons – military or not – whether amenable to the articles of war or not. Then came Act XVI which empowered executionary powers to civilian officers, military officers as well as trustworthy people not connected with the Government, In short, a licence to kill. 
A list of persons tried by the commissioner at Allahabad showed that anything from rebellion, to desertion, to possessing money for which  the accused has no explanation – was punished by death. 
Point to be noted – The so-called Cawnpore incident had not yet occurred yet! By the way, an interesting aside – The Great English Army used non-combatants as defensive shields during the seige… their own families! Documented records show officers being reprimanded for wanting to shift families to safety. In the ensuing war, these gallant English soldiers are known to have abandoned their own families to save their own skin – the families were saved by Indians, and initially escorted to safety, and treated with honour – unlike the brits, who used them! And this is despite the massacres of Indians already taking place at the hands of the Brits! THAT is the truth of the so-called Cawnpore incident and its complete picture, True Blue gallantry in classic English style, hiding behind a petticoat to win a war! What awesome bravery, it has to be said!
But more was to come – as entire villages and towns were exterminated… like Jhansi : http://reflectionsvvk.blogspot.in/2013/09/the-butcher-of-jhansi.html. Again, the massacres started before Kanpur – on the way to Kanpur, in fact. Village after village was raped and razed to the ground, empowered by those 3 acts enacted by the great Parliament of the UK….

Destroyed the village of Goura… CW Moore…

All the villages were burnt… an English officer in Russells’ company

Some young boys, who had flaunted rebel colours, were hanged

Certain Guilty villages marked for destruction; all men inhabiting them to be slaughtered; —– orders to the Army

Finished off in an artistic manner with Mango trees for giblets and elephants for drops… an English – aah – civilised Gentleman

SUMMARY AND IMPORTANCE OF 1857
The facts above tell the tale: it was a popular uprising, involving both military as well as mass civilian support. I shall go into greater detail in subsequent posts- or read the references mentioned. The massacre and genocide that cut across all of India between 1857 – 1859 was specifically due to this. The English are on record in innumerable documents, praising these massacres and their salutary impact. 
But coming to the question, 1857 established a few  things to the Brits – one, colonisation of India by the White Man was impossible. Next, it also made clear to them that conversions and religious attacks were also a recipe for certain disaster. And that is why 1857 is the first War of Independence: we protected out way of life, and our society – which is 100% brown and pure. We protected our religion, and our country. Had this not happened, who knows what the future held? Look at other esp African countries…
Next, the wave of massacre and genocide perpetrated by the Civilised British made one thing clear to Indians – armed resistance was futile. It also made clear that the way forward was uniting India; it also made clear that the way forward for the foreseeable future was negotiation… which led to the events leading to the formation of the Congress. {http://reflectionsvvk.blogspot.in/2013/03/formation-of-indian-national-congress.html} The intelligentsia were also clear of the role of traitors who supported the British – and understood that it required a different approach. That is why, after 1857, riots and armed uprisings reduced to a substantial extent. In  simple terms, the entire population was bludgeoned into hopeless surrender. This was not a surprise, given that an entire population was subjected to mindless murder and genocide-  those 3 acts of parliament of the Great UK are silent proof of the inhumanity and brutality of the English. 
It also made clear to the English that if India united as one ever again – they would be chucked out. This led to divide and rule, leading to Pakistan…
The First War Of Independence was thus, central to Indian Independence; we won the right to live our own way, and gave our future leaders of 1880-1940s the road to proceed… without it, we would not have been what we are today. 

Let us all join together to thank those heroes who gave their all – everyone, including the massacred civilians. May you rest in peace; India / Bharat / Hindustan owes what it is today to your supreme sacrifice… you gave your todays for your children’s today… for that, All India is thankful to you… 
References: 
  1. Operation Red Lotus – Parag Tope
  2. India’s Independence Struggle – Bipin Chandra Pal et al
  3. Bengal Divided – Sengupta (For divide and rule policy)
  4. The Discovery of India – Jawaharlal Nehru
  5. The Real Story Of The Great Uprising – Vishnu Bhatt Godse Versaikar

The Post-Colonial Hangover: Our Colonial Heritage Part – 2

Published October 29, 2013 by vishalvkale

The dawn of the early 1950s saw the recession of colonialism as a workable model of growth across the world; by the end of this decade, Colonialism was a dead word in the world at large, with only a few sporadic colonies remaining. 50 years and more have passed since that day (67 for India); and the development and growth, while present in India, has done little to solve the crippling problems facing the Indian nation. We are undoubtedly much, much better off – with world class amenities in the cities, a tremendously improved amenity profile in the villages, a bustling economy, stupendous success in high-tech sectors – where we are one among the top 6-7 nations in the world, much better infrastructure, improved – in fact, highly improved health facilities in towns and villages with world-rated medical centers in the cities, a multitude of renowned growth successes in various sectors of the economy spanning information technology to pharmaceuticals, no famine deaths, absence of repression, personal and political freedom, a vibrant and assured democracy, freedom of speech, expression and movement, and a life of honour. These are no small achievements – take a look around you and compare with other colonies (especially those who have undergone what we did; consider we were raped for 200 straight years, and looted for 300-plus).
And yet, despite the sizeable achievements listed above, we remain a nation beset with problems. The bottom 40% of our population is in dire straits; growth is skewed, with only a trickle reaching the lowermost sections of our society, while famines are now a thing of the past – people still struggle for 2 meals, farmer suicides still do happen, marginal farmers still operate at a loss-  and there are around 80 –  90 million small holdings in India. Infrastructure is in dire need of massive upgradation, we are surrounded by enemies on the strategic front etc. The question that occurs is – how many of our current problems are of our own creation, and how many are a colonial hangover? 
This is an important quest, as there is a disturbing trend among the youth – that of blaming ourselves for everything that is wrong. Nothing could be farther from the truth; while we have undoubtedly made mistakes- the fact remains that our colonial history lies at the root of most of our problems – if not all. Poverty, for one. The per capita earning chart reveals the story: 
Graph of Purchasing Power Parity Converted GDP Per Capita, G-K method, at current prices for India
The charts above tell the story; note the flat trajectory from 1880s to  around 1950 – and note the uptick after independence.In 1947, we had nearly 80% plus citizens below the poverty line; we had an infant mortality rate of more than 140 per 1000; a life expectancy of around 31; literacy rates were around 12%, and no industrial base of note. These numbers tell the tale; this is the colonial heritage; this is the price we are still paying for our colonial past. And our achievements, seen in the light of these numbers, are a matter of considerable pride – just 2 figures will be enough to convince people. We now have a life expectancy of 67, and a literacy rate of 74.
Rather than disparage the nation for its failures, let us all celebrate its tremendous achievements, as being one of the few to have bridged this massive gap in an atmosphere of relative internal peace and democracy. It would not be too far-fetched a statement if I were to state that we are among the few countries to have done this – and begin to be counted as among the nations that can become regional, if not superpowers. By no stretch of imagination is this a small feat, considering where we started – a total lack of electricity in the interiors, nearly absent medical care facilities, food shortages, destroyed infrastructure except rail networks (and roads to an extent), no industrial base to speak of, no schools in large tracts, destroyed morale… truly, a tremendous feat by any yardstick. We have managed to overcome the Colonial Hangover in this field…
To do this, we had to build huge numbers of schools, primary and secondary health centers, open new colleges and universities, build roads in the interiors, build electricity generation facilities, build and modernise our armed forces, build agricultural research and extension networks, introduce new crop varieties and scientific agriculture, build crop storages, improve market access, improve awareness, build a functional administration, build various and sundry industries spanning every imaginable product, build high-tech capabilities, build a world-class set of industrial capabilities, skill-sets and industries. Just pause a moment and think of the scale of challenges that we overcame- think of the number of plants, schools, colleges, industries opened; how we made a famine-hit nation into a food-surplus nation.., it boggles the mind – and we did it across a land-span of 3287590 square kms encompassing more than a 100 languages and dialects, dozens of cultures and sub-cultures, and every imaginable religion.
We can be justifiably proud of what we have achieved – in an environment where we were by-and-large alone, in a post-colonial world dominated by the Cold War politics and big-business-driven economic policies of the West married not to economic or humanitarian principles, but to cold hard profit and/or primarily strategic motives; an environment where a secondary strategic motive frequently became the determinant factor over-ruling business, economic and humanitarian principles. This was the post-colonial world; where the big guns focussed on their rivalries and tensions, to the exclusion of all else. A world where the same realities continue in a hidden and seemingly softer form, as we shall see in the next post wherein I look at the remaining aspects of the Post Colonial Hangover… 

HISTORICAL DISTORTIONS – AND THE MODERN REPERCUSSIONS

Published September 6, 2013 by vishalvkale

From the days of our early schooling, we come across innumerable references to our glorious time of the ancient past; we are subsequently exposed to the Arab and Mughal conquests, and thence to the independence period during the course of our schooling. As we grow into our teens and the early twenties, various external sources also fashion our understanding of our past, which we eventually come to accept as the absolute truth, without questioning anything. Rarely do we question anything; rather, we accept it at face value as more often than not, it comes from sources that we consider above reproach: namely, western sources, school books and Media – international as well as Indian. 
Take a look at a few instances of modern distortions that are materially impacting us in some ways – both small and large:
1. Most people in the West consider our distance from them largely due to our pro-Russian tilt, and defend their pro-Pakistan posture due to this. However, the correct historical record shows the exact reverse: India approached the West first, but was spurned – and spurned royally, as my previous posts have shown. It is a matter of documented   record that Pakistan was on the western radar  since at least 1945, due to their imagined Russian fears. Then the security deal with Pakistan, denial of steel and other technology to India all predate our Russian tilt…
2. Indians still blame solely Nehruji for the entire Kashmir imbroglio, when an impartial reading of the account throws up an entirely different story… the double game played by the UK, Mountbatten’s statement to Pakistan, India’s intentions, the international scenario wherein the western powers were clearly and unabashedly pro-Pakistan are all ignored by the historical record; the fact that Kashmir was singularly calm during the terrible riots, and that fact that the chances of Pakistan winning a referendum being remote, is never mentioned. 
The combination of these 2 tends to give a slightly defensive posture to the normal Indian citizen even in the modern day. Take Kashmir; instead of blaming the West and Pakistan, more often than not we curse Nehruji, who was at best peripherally involved, and can be counted as one of the victims of the entire game – a game which he was powerless the control! This is brought out clearly by the MOMs between the Chief of both armies – who in 1947-48 were both Britishers, and clearly discussed their plans with each other, when their soldiers were fighting a war! The result: we, as a people, heap ridicule on Panditji, and grow angry and defensive – when there is no need to be defensive whatsoever!
Similarly, in the case of US relationship, instead  of putting a strong face forward, we are apologetic for our so-called leftist tilt! This despite the fact that our leftist tilt was because of the prevalent international scenario, wherein we had no choice but to go to Russia for help and technology – technology the great west was refusing to provide; and for our existential security concerns, as is manifest from the US’ reprehensible behavior by sending a submarine to pressurize India despite having clear knowledge of a genocide in Bangladesh. We have no reason to be defensive; we are the victims, for God’s sake! This translates to a collective defensive posture; which does massive harm to our national self-image and ego – essential factors in any nation. 
Most of us would consider it a waste of time, or at the most an indulgence to feed our national ego or self-image; most of us would not give a second thought to the political aspect of writing history. Even the most cursory glance will show how politics has gotten intertwined with accepted history, and how vested interests of various hues vociferously defend the status quo, without exhibiting any sign of inquiry towards the alternative viewpoint. The result is that the national image suffers at the cost of feeding a few egos and reputations…
 The  fact of the matter is that a positive, aggressive and confident self-image and national ego is a powerful driver of a people. It has a very material impact on how we conduct ourselves, and how we project ourselves to the world. Pride is a known driver and motivator; it has a positive impact when taken in the right amounts. As a corollary, defeatism is a poison and a cancer that eats into our own competitiveness and fighting abilities. A positive national image binds a nation together; and drives it to further great deeds. Defeatism breeds discontent, resulting a outflux of talent – which can be seen in India, albeit in small amounts. 
What it does is it changes the attitude and behavior of a people, who come to believe that they are what they are purely due to their own faults; this tends to suppress talent – resulting in the more talented wanting to break out and reach for greener pastures. The national attitude changes from a positive outlook to a negative and defensive outlook. This seemingly esoteric factor is in reality a very pertinent driver of growth – personal as well as national. For example, a people with pride in their past, will not back down from active promotion of their indigenous arts and culture. The vibrant outlook naturally translates into a positive image in communication, marketing etc other activities. And the driving factor ceases to be ‘protection of the indigenous crafts’ and moves onto the far more positive ‘marketing of art and culture; the positive outlook creates an internal market as well – as the people are far more amenable to what they perceive as class in their consumptive choices. 
That is why a correct knowledge and understanding of History is so important. There is a lot in our history that has been ignored; as it was largely compiled in its present form by westerners. As we shall see in the coming book review of Operation Red Lotus, this was at times deliberate. In point of fact, we have no reason to be defensive about anything in our history; except perhaps that dark period of the license raj from the late 60s. We further have no reason to be in derision about the more seemingly unexplained claims made by some historians – for example, the First War of Independence, or even casteism, or sati, or our ancient past… none of which have been adequately covered in the popular discourse. A confident and aware people will be more at ease with their own selves;  lessening to a large degree the fawning of the west that is so apparent in India. 
And please remember: all successful nations in the Modern World have made it by being themselves; not by wanting to be someone else. That is a hard truth… one we as a people cannot afford to ignore!

THE BUTCHER OF JHANSI

Published September 2, 2013 by vishalvkale

We shall look at the 1857 War in greater detail at a later date; in this post, I shall attempt to introduce an aspect of the 1857 that has been left untouched by recorded history, which simply does not do justice to the entire heroic and horrendous affair that was the First War Of Independence. Today, let us take a look at a man honoured by the civilized britishers with the Victoria Cross, and was also knighted by the Queen. This man’s name was Hugh Rose, about whom Captain F. W. Pinkney writes : “The example made at Jhansi will, I have no doubt, have an excellent effect in facilitating the tranquilizing of Bundelkhand”…
We in India can refer to him as the Butcher Of Jhansi…
He is the same man who choreographed a terrifying dance of death spread over 4 days – a dance of death that is so horrifying in its detail, so brutal in its scope and so evil in its scale, that it ranks as a genocide as far as I am concerned. This was the Genocide of Jhansi…
This should also give you some idea as to why Rani Lakshmibai is famed throughout The Sovereign Democratic Republic of India… but that is a story that deserves a full blog post in itself…
In the town of Jhansi, all the people that could be caught from young children to men over eighty were massacred. Women, fearing rape, jumped into wells. The English started entering houses demanding money, gold… if a person was spotted, he was killed… “The entire town had turned into a cremation ground… the town was ablaze… as some people tried to hide in the hay, the English set it on fire… as people ran and jumped into the well to escape, the English chased them to the well… and shot them as their heads bobbed above the water” – an eyewitness account
“After he was arrested, a Senior Military Officer ordered the young children of Dulaji Singh aged 5 – 25 (Dulaji was the Regimental Commandant of the Town Guards) to be brought from his house. Thery were lined up in front of him and shot in front of his eyes. Dulaji Singh was then  beheaded. “
“The 2 white soldiers went straight into the Puja Room and saw a couple of baskets… the kicked the baskets… and saw ash… suspecting treasure, they put their hands in… and burnt their hands. The English soldiers, flaming with anger, killed all the members of the Agnihotri family – including women and
I could go on in this vein for quite a bit more  – but you get the drift. The town of Jhansi paid a heavy price for its desire for freedom from oppression; and they were butchered, massacred and looted bone dry. The survivors were in no physical or psychological condition to do anything  of note; such   was the sheer ferocity of this   genocide, that it had a material impact on the entire surrounding areas. To this day, Jhansi is a small hamlet, and on one can imagine what it once was… you have to read the description of Jhansi in its resplendent glory to understand; its bazaars, its palace and its magnificent and famed library… and even then, you will probably fall short: well short.
“Most of the citizens and all of the Queen’s soldiers in Jhansi were killed; the streets were left thick with blood slush. Vultures darkened the skies of the city. Hugh Rose had given strict orders not to allow the Indians to perform the last rites of the dead. After 7 April, when the entire city was stinking, and jackals and vultures roamed greedily in search of decomposed bodies, did he grant permission for the last rites. – Mahashweta Devi
And for this, he was given the Victoria Cross! And Knighted, as well. May I remind everyone that the Victoria Cross is highest award for valor in The United Kingdom. Contrast this with our own Paramvir Chakra, and the people who have won it and their deeds. Truly, his deeds were indeed brave: butchering women and children, killing civilians… The Butcher Of Jhansi. And we Indians are blissfully unaware of the true horror of those 4 days…
In the entire historical record, the above does not find a mention. The record shows a humane and tolerant treatment to the people; the record was, after all, written by The Butcher Of Jhansi himself. According to Rose, even the heavy shelling and cannonading targeted only men!!!!! (Wow, what technology: and this was in 1857!). Remember that they were attacking an entire town… further, Rose makes the claim that it was the Indian Men who killed their women! And this found its way into the official record! –
Why is it that the English records to this day teach of the Black Hole etc where the English died: but is totally silent on these atrocities? Even in the modern day, the Westerner is blissfully unaware of the scale and scope of the horrors and genocide perpetrated in India from 1757 to 1857! The general consensus seems to be that they brought order to India, introduced Railways, laws, education etc! Unfortunately for them their own meticulous records lay bare their claims – as we shall see in my next post: The Distortions of History – And Their Modern Repercussions… you will readily find details of Europeans being massacred in India – but no mention is made of the people they massacred – even today; in the internet age… That, my dear friends, is that hard truth… as I always say, Jaago, Sonewaalon
References: 
1) Operation Red Lotus – Parag Tope
2) 1857: The Real Story Of The Great Uprising – Vishnu Versaikar