India's Independence day 2021 - a brief note on the British India

Independence 2021

remembering patriots with gratitude.

''Happy independence day 2021 wishes to all''. 

Here is a  brief account of how  India won the freedom from the British who landed in India in the 1600s  as Mercantile Traders under East India Company during the last phase of Mogul rule - (Emperor Jahangir was the ruler). In 1615 EIC got the rights to trade in India. Confronted with a country where unity and cooperation among the Indian rulers was an anathema  because of  cultural, caste, regional  and religious differences among the Indian population, the wily British officials  had no difficult in instigating the enmity among them  and secured the kingdoms one by one in a subtle manner.  Indian rulers  with limited firepower  could not  stop their military advances and land-grabbing spree. By 1800s the British controlled most of the Indian lands. Both the East India company rule till 1857-58 and later the British Crown rule (1859 onward)  were oppressive, autocratic  and against the natives, and their focus was  more on extracting as much revenue as they could from the Indian subcontinent  than in the welfare of the natives.

British East India Co.

Both the Est India company and later the Raj  ruled the country dishonestly trampling upon humans rights, and violation of basic norms when dealing with farmers and tribal people.   In 1651  the British set up the first factory  in Hooghly and later  Job Charnock  established with better facilities  to  expand the business in Bengal. In 1698,  for security reasons, it was fortified to protect it against their enemies and competitors. The British  purposely abused  their trade treaty and refused to pay the  customs duty to the ruler as agreed upon before. Obviously, this led to several skirmishes between the Bengal Nawab  Siraj-ud-dualah, and the English Company.  Siraj refused to cooperate with them  and captured their settlement  Ft. William, Robert Clive led a troop from Madras and recaptured the fort. Being shrewd as he was, with considerable war experience at Arcot, Tamil Nadu, Clive had a plan to take over Bengal from the Nawab, who happened to be wealthy and  had plenty of revenue from the lands.  

In collusion with dissident Amirs in the court of the Nawab  like Mir Jaffer, a traitor Clive had Siraj killed after the battle at Plassey.  Mir Jaffer was the one who indirectly helped the English gain a foothold in India. After the decisive wars - Battle of Plassey (June 1757) and Battle of Buxar (June 1763), the entire fertile Bengal with its vast revenue  (Ferman) became their prized possession and the British economy, which was in a shambles (their GDP was less than 1%), began to move upward. 

India's  GDP, then was around 23 to 24%,  had begun to go down hill over a period time. Now EIC became a proxy government for the Crown and with vast revenue from Bengal and other areas, they took care of Britain's public welfare and used part of the money for wars and expansion of military stationed in India to seize more lands. The British Crown allowed the English company to use force to expand and safeguard their business activities in India. The EIC became a  breeding ground for corruption, illegal commission and  illegal activities. They siphoned off a part of the profit illegally to become ''British Nabob'' back home. Between the 18th and 19th centuries they toppled many kingdoms using the Doctrine of Lapse (introduced by Lord Dalhousie in 1834) and the Doctrine of Subsidiary  Alliance  (introduced by Lord Wellesley from 1798 to 1805). 

In South India after the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1798 at Sriorangapatna (in the  final Angelo - Mysore War), by 1900, the British controlled most of  the  Indian subcontinent, including Burma, Nepal and Sri Lanka.  Millions of people were reduced to abject poverty and countless Indian Maharajahs and Nawabs not only lost their  Crown and land, but also  their  honor and dignity.  Driven to the edge of desperation and subtle humiliation, being at the   receiving end, they had to be  content with an annual dole offered by  the British and a small  part of the princely state. Of course, the wily British royalty in London  cajoled the Indian rulers  by awarding  some fancy titles  to satisfy their past glory and ego; hence the creation  of Salute States.  This was done with a view to keeping the Indian princes in  good spirit and to get their continued support to keep the Raj on the pedestal. 

During their long rule in India from 1700s onward   dishonest activities such as corruption, racial discrimination, seizing of tribal lands, forcing farmers to sell their land in order to raise tea, coffee plantation, etc., and above all compelling the Indian farmers to grow and process opium to be exported to China for enormous profits had continued. Consequently,  all these unpalatable  activities by the arrogant British affected the  overall lives of  Indians and their quality of life.. 

Ever since the fall of Bengal Province  to the British company, Indian natives patience had reached the fag end and then and  there erupted  many revolts against them. The Vellore Mutiny of July 1806 and the big armed rebellion called Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 are worth noting . The latter in which even the peasants and tribes took part, shook the British rule which subsequently  came under the direct administration of the British Crown. The EIC used brutal repressive measures to quell the uprising and got a bad rap. Roughly a million people were killed during the rebellion. Hundreds of Indians were blown right before the canons. Even under the crown administration, disenchantment and discontent prevailed among the natives that resulted in small revolts in some parts of India. 

India's freedom from the British rule was the result of culmination of above revolts, besides the sacrifices of so many Indian patriots, including women  across India. The British repressive rule continued without any break, so were the political protests and unrest by prominent national leaders which became a national movement, uniting patriotic leaders from different states. The mass struggle put them all on one platform to rant their voice against the British 

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (or Lokmanya Tilak; 23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920), an Indian nationalist, teacher and a  lawyer  was the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him "The father of the Indian unrest." He was also conferred with the title of "Lokmanya", meaning "accepted by the people (as their leader)".  Being a contemporary of Gokhale, a great freedom fighter, Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj ("self-rule"),  a strong radical approach that awoke the  Indian consciousness. Who will forget  his famous quote in Marathi: "Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!". He had a close rapport and formed an  alliance with many Indian National Congress leaders of repute including Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. A fairly rich and independent country, centuries after British rule, became a poor nation with emaciated and impoverished people having  poor revenue and low literacy rate.


Freedom fighters of Tamil

Above image: Freedom fighters like V.O.Chidamparam Pillai, Rajaji (former Gov. General and CM of Madras Presidency), Kamaraj,(former CM of TN) Vanchinathan, Puli Thevar, Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar (former MP), Bharathiyar (national poet) and a host of others made solid contribution to India' s freedom. VOC was the first Indian to run a shipping company during the Raj and Sri Pasumpon Thevar was a close associate of Netaji and an active member of INA. ..........

Though the freedom struggle had begun to shape, the  Indian Army was forced to be active during World War I; a large number of divisions and independent brigades served in the European, Mediterranean and the Middle East theatres of war. Over one million Indian troops - a whooping figure served overseas. In the bloody war that started on a whim in Europe,  62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In total at least 74,187 Indian soldiers died during the war. The disgusting fact is the major contribution made by Indian soldiers in WWI was not well appreciated in British History. In England here is no memorial or a statue on Indian soldiers killed in action.  This infuriated the Indian leaders and the people. 

Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Punjab, India.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, taken place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Brig. Gen. Reginald Dyer using high-powered rifles fired on the unarmed peaceful crowd of Indians without any prior warning. The people  had gathered on a festival day in  the Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. Gen. Dyer had kept only one exit open and the rest closed. More than 1000 innocent people, including children and women were mercilessly killed; equal number of people were severely wounded. No medical aid or ambulance service was allowed and countless people were bled to death. it was a painful death for them.  This incident that shook the entire world angered the peace-loving Indian National leaders, including Gandhiji. This barbaric incident accelerated India's freedom struggle and it was a turning point in Indian history and soon Satyagraha/ non-cooperation introduced by Gandhiji became a political tool across many parts of India.

The legitimate freedom struggle continued on one side by the national leaders and in the 1920s and 1930s young patriots, in particular from Bengal, became revolutionaries and took to violence as a means to get India freed from Britain's oppressive rule. In the aftermath of failure of the Simon Commission, civil obedience on a large scale  became a trump card for the Indians who wanted just Purna Swaraj. Quit India movement became yet another important phase in India's freedom struggle. During the WWII, great patriot Sri Subbash Chandra Bose formed INA (Indian National Army and blazed a different trail to fight for Azad India. It had a remarkable impact on the people as well on the Indian soldiers in the British India Army. The trial of Azad Hind Fauz officers further infuriated the Indian natives and there was wide-spread strikes across India.  Gandhiji's  Satygraha/ non-cooperation, Salt march to Dandi (1930), his role in INC (Indian national Congress) and Quit India movement and  his close link with various leaders across the country had a  deep impact on India's freedom struggle. 

From February 1946 onward there were many serious strikes by a section of the armed forces across India. The most serious one being that of Navy Revolt by Indian sailors of the Royal Indian Navy on board ship and shore establishments at Bombay harbor on 18 February 1946. The revolt spread from Bombay harbor and found support throughout British India, from Karachi to Calcutta, involving  over 20,000 sailors in 78 ships and shore establishments. The British rulers in London now understood that they were losing their firm grip on the Indian subcontinent and anything short of full freedom won't work. The previous Conservative  Government headed by hot-headed Winston Churchill who despised the Indians, Hindu Gods and Gandhiji and who was responsible for the death of millions of people in the 1943 great Bengal famine, purposely stalled the freedom process. With the emergence of labor Government headed by Earl Attlee, the scenario became conducive to the formation of free India. After several negotiations  regarding transfer of power, the dreams of generations of Indian realized when India became a free country on 15 August 1947. 

Though it was a joyous occasion for millions, countless national leaders were not happy as the British in their last hours had the Indian subcontinent divided into two countries - Democratic India and Theocratic Pakistan. The latter being the brain child of Mohd. Ali Jinnah who, at last, became a puppet in the hands of the British Britain diabolically used the communal problem as a trump card to form a new nation simply on the basis of religion.

 A fairly rich and independent country, centuries after British rule, became a poor nation with emaciated and impoverished people having  poor revenue and low literacy rate of around 17%. Indian treasury was almost empty - just bare minimum to survive  a few months!!

and from various sources.