History Of Modern India Part 14

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In the 1930.s the Congress took a firm stand against imperialism in any part of the world and supported national movements In Asia and Africa. It condemned Fascism which was rising at the time in Italy, Germany, and j.a.pan as the most extreme form of imperialism and racialism and gave full support to the people of Ethiopia, Spain, Czechoslavakia, and China in their fight against aggression by the fascist powers. Iq 1937, when j.a.pan launched an attack on China, the National Congress pa.s.sed a resolution calling upon the Indian people "to refrain from the use of j.a.panese goods as a mark of their sympathy with the people of China." And in 1938, it sent a medical mission, headed by Dr. M. Atal, to work with the Chinese armed forces.

The National Congress fully recognised that the future of India was closely interlinked with the coming struggle between fascism and the forces of freedom, socialism and democracy. The emerging Congress approach to world problems, tbe awareness of India.s position in the world, were dearly enunciated in Jawaharlal Nehru.s presidential address to the Lucknow Congress in 1936: Our struggle was but part of a far wider struggle for freedom, and the forces that moved us were moving millions of people all over the world and driving them into action. Capitalism, in ita difficulties, took to fascism. .It became, even in some of its homelands, what its imperialist counterpart hed long been in the subject colonial countries. Fascism and imperialism thus stood out as the two faces of the now decaying capitalism.. .Socialism in the west and the rising nationalism of the Eastern and other dependent countries opposed this combination of fascism, and imperialism.

While stressing the Congress opposition to any partic.i.p.ation of Indian Government in a war between imperialist powers, lie offered full cooperation to the progressive forces of the world, to those who stood for freedom aDd the breaking of political and soda] bonds," for "in their struggle against imperialism and fascist reaction, we realise that our struggle is a common one."

States Peoples. Straggle The third major development during this period was the spread of national movement to the princely states. Appalling economic, political, and social conditions prevailed in most of them. Peasants were oppressed, land revenue and taxation were excessive and unbearable, education was r.e.t.a.r.ded, health and other social services were extremely backward, and freedom of the press and other civil rights hardly existed. The bulk of the state revenues were spent on the luxuries of the princes. In several states serfdom, slavery, and forced labour flourished. Throughout history, a corrupt and decadent lulei was checked to some extent by the challenge of internal revolt or external aggression. British rule freed the princes of both these dangers, and they felt free to indulge in gross mis>government.

Moreover, the British authorities began to use the princes to prevent the growth of national Unity and to counter the rising national movement. The princes in turn depended for their self-preservation from popular revolt on the protection by the British power and adopted a hostile att.i.tude to the national movement. In 1921, the Chamber* of prince? was created to enable the princes to meet and discuss under British guidance mailers of common interest. In the Government of India Act of 1935, the proposed federal structure was so planned as to check the forces of nationalism. It was provided that the princes would get 2/5th of the seats in the Upper House and l/3rd of the seats in the Lower Hwse, People of many of the princely states now began to organise movements for democratic rights and popular governments. All-India States* Peoples. Conference had already been founded in December 1927 to coordinate political activities in the different states. The second non-cooptation movement produced a deep impact on the ftiihds of the peddle of* these states and stirted them into political activity. Popular struggles were waged in many of the states, particularly ih Rajkot, Jaipur, Kashmir, Hyderabad, and Travancore: The priflflfcS ftief these struggle, with Violent repression. Some of them also took bourse116 edffifhufialiarii.

The Nixam of Hyderabad declared that the popular agitation was anti- Muslim; tbe Maharaja of Kashmir branded it as anti-Hindu; while the Maharaja of Travancore claimed that Christians were behind the popular agitation.

The National Congress supported the states. people.s struggle and urged the princes to introduce democratic representative government and to grant fundamental civil rights. In 1938, when the Congress defined its goal of independence it included the independence of the princely states. Next year, at the Tripuri session, it decided to take a more active part in the states. people.s movements, As if to emphasise the common national aims of the political struggles in India and in the states, Jawaharlal Nehru became the President of the All India States. People.s Conference in 1939. The States. people.s movement awakened national consciousness among the people of the states. It also spread a new consciousness of unity all over India.

Growth of Communallsm The fourth important development was the growth of communaiism. Once again the elections for the legislative a.s.semblies, organised on the basis of restricted franchise and separate electorates, had produced separatist sentiments. Moreover, the Congress failed to win many seats reserved for the minorities-it won 26 out of 482 s^ats reserved for Muslims and even out of these 26 seats 15 were won in the North Western Frontier Provinces-though the Muslim League too did not capture many of these seats. The Muslims League, led by Jinnah, now turned to bitter opposition to the Congress. It began to spread the cry that the Muslim minority was in danger of being engulfed by the Hindu majority. It propagated the unscientific and unhistorical theory that Hindus aud Muslims were two separate nations which could, therefore, never live together. In 1940> the Muslim League pa.s.sed a resolution demanding part.i.tion of the country and the creation of a state to be called Pakistan after independence.

The Muslim League propaganda gained by the existence of such communal bodies among the Hindus as the Hindu Mahasabha, The Hindu communalists echoed tbe Muslim communalists by declaring that the Hindus were a distinct nation and that India was the land of the Hindus. Thus they too accepted the two-nation theory, They actively apposed the policy of giving adequate safeguards to the minorities so as to remove their fears of domination by the majority. In one respect, Hindu com- nvunalism had even less justification. In every country, the Teligious or linguistic or national minorities have, because of their numerical position, felt at one time or the other that their 9ocial and cultural interests might suffer. But when the majority has by word and deed given proof that these fears are groundless the fears of the minorities have disappeared, but if a section of the people belonging to the majority become communal or sectional and start talking and working against the minorities, the minorities tend to feel unsafe. Communal or sectional leadership of the minori-ties is then strengthened. For example, during the 1930's the Muslim League was strong only in areas where the Muslims were in a minority. On .the other hand in such areas as the North-Western Frontier Province, the Punjab, the Sindh, and Bengal, where the Muslims were in a majority and, therefore, felt relatively securer, the Muslim League remained weak. Interestingly enough, the communal groups-Hindu as well as Muslima- did not hesitate to join hands against the Congress. In the North- Western Frontier Province, the Punjab, Sindh, and Bengal, the Hindu communalists helped the Muslim League and other communal groups to form ministries which opposed the Congress. Another characteristic the various communal groups shared was their tendency to adopt pro- government political att.i.tudes. It is to be noted that none of the communal groups and parties, which talked of Hindu and Muslim nationalism, took active part in the struggle against foreign rule. They saw the people belonging to other religions and the nationalist leaders as the real enemies.

The communal groups and parties also shied away from social and economic demands of the common people, which as we have seen above, were being increasingly taken up by the nationalist movement. In this respect, they increasingly came to represent the upper cla.s.s vested interests. Jawaharlal Nehru noted this as early as 1933 : The bulwork of communalism today is political reaction and so we find that communal loaders inevitably tend to become reactionaries in political and economic matters. Groups of upper cla.s.s people try to cover up their own cla.s.s interests by making it appear that they stand for the communal demands of religious minorities or majorities. A critical examination of the various communal demands put forward on behalf of Hindus, Muslims or others reveals that they have nothing to do with the ma.s.ses.


The vSecond World War broke out in September 1939 when n.a.z.i Germany invaded Poland in pursuance of Hitler.s scheme for German expansion. Earlier he had occupied Austria in March 1938 and Czechoslovakia in March 1939. Britain and France, Which had tried their best to placate Hitler, were forced to go to Poland.s aid: The Government of India immediately joined the war without consulting the National Congress or the elected members of the central legislature, The National Congress was in full sympathy with the victims of fascist aggression. It was willing to help the forces of democracy in their struggle against Fascism. But, the Congress leaders asked, how' was' it possible for an enslaved nation to aid others in their fight for freedom? They therefore demanded that India must be declared free-or at least effective power put in Indian hands-before it could actively partic.i.p.ate in the War. The British Government refused to accept this demand, and the Congress ordered its ministries to resign. In October 1940, Gandhi gave the call for a limited satyagraha by a few selected individals. The satyagraha was kept limited so as not to embarra.s.s Britain.s war effort by a ma.s.s upheaval in India- The aims of this movement were explained as follows by Gandhi in a letter to the Viceroy.

..The Congress is as much opposed to victory for n.a.z.ism os any British citizen can be. But their objective cannot be carried to the extent of their partic.i.p.ation in the war. And since you and the Secretary of State for India have declared that the whole of India is voluntarily helping the war effort, it becomes necessary to make clear that the vast majority of the people of India are not interested in it. They make no distinction between n.a.z.ism and the double autocracy that rules India.

Two major changes in world politics occured during 1941. Having occupied Poland, Belgium, Holland, Norway, and France in the west as well as most of Eastern Europe, n.a.z.i Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. On 7 December j.a.pan launched a surprise attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbour and joined the war on the side of Germany and Italy. It quickly overran the Philippines, Itido-China, Indonesia, Malaya and Burma. It occupied Rangoon in March 1942. This brought the war to India.s doorstep.

The British Government now desperately wanted the active cooperation of Indians in the war effort. To secure this cooperation it sent to India in March 1942 a mission headed by a Cabinet Minister, Sir Stafford Cripps, who had earlier been a radical member of the Labour Party and a strong supporter of Indian national movement. Even though Cripps declared that the aim of British policy in India was "the earliest possible realisation of self-government in India", detailed negotiations between him and the Congress leaders broke down, The British Government refused to accept the Congress demand for the immediate transfer of effective power to Indians. On the other hand, the Indian leaders could not be satisfied by mere promises for the future while the Viceroy retained his autocratic powers in the present. They were anxious to cooperate ia the war effort, especially as the j.a.panese army endangered Indian territory. But they could do so, they felt, only when a national government was formed in the country.

The failure of the Cripps Mission embittered the people of India. While they still fully sympathised with the anti-Fascist forces, they felt that the existing political situation in the country had become Intolerable. The Congress now decided to take active Eteps to compel the British to accept the Indian demand for independence. The All India Congress Committee met at Bombay on 8 August 1942. It pa.s.sed the famous 'Quit India. Resolution and proposed the starting of a non-violent ma.s.s struggle under Gandhi.s leadership to achieve this aim. The resolution declared.

,.. .the immediate ending of British rule in India is an urgent necessity, both for the sake of India and for the success of the cause of tbe United Nations.... India, the cla.s.sic land nf modern imperialism, has become the crux of the question, for by the freedom of India will Britain and the United Nations be judged, and the peoples of Asia and Africa be filled with hope and enthusiasm. The ending of British rule in this country is thus a vital and immediate issue on which depends the future of the war and the success of freedom end democracy. A free India will a.s.sure this success by throwing all her great resources in the struggle for freedom and against the aggression of n.a.z.ism, Fascism and Imperialism.

Addressing the Congress delegates on the night of 8 August, Gandhi said : I, therefore, want freedom immediately, this very night, before dawn, if i. can be had... .Fraud and untruth today are stalking the world ...You may take it from me that I am not going to strike a bargain with the Viceroy for mil. is tries and the like. I am not going to be satisfied with anything ahort of complete freedom .. .Here is a mantra, a short one, that I give you. You may iibprlnt it on your hearts and let every breath, of yours give expression to it. The mantra is: "Do or Die". We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not livf to see the perpetuation of our slavery _________________________________ But before the Congress could start a movement, the Government struck hard. Early in the morning of 9 August, Gandhi and other Congress leaders were arrested and the Congress was once again declared illegal.

The news of these arrests left the country aghast, and a spontaneous movement of protest arose everywhere, giving expression to the pent up anger of the people. Left leaderless and without any organisation, the people reacted in any manner they could. All over the country there were hartals, strikes in factories, schools and colleges, and demonstrations which were lathi-charged and fired upon. Angered by repeated firings and repression, in many places the people took to violent actions. They attacked the symbols of British authority-the police stations, post offices, railway stations, etc. They cut telegraph and telephone wires and railway lines, and burnt government buildings. Madras and Bengal were the most effected in this respect. In many places the rebels seized temporary control over many towns, cities, and villages. British authority dis-appeared in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. In some areas, tho revolutionaries set up 'parallel governments.. In general, the students, workers, and the peasants provided the backbone of the revolt. while the upper cla.s.ses and the bureaucracy remained loyal to the Government.

The Government on its part went all out to crush the 1942 movement. Its repression knew no bounds. The priss was completely muzzled. The demonstrating' crowds were machine-gunned and even bombed from the air. Prisoners were tortured. The police and secret police reigned supreme The military took over many towns and cities. Over 10,000 people died in police and military firings. Rebellious villages had to pay huge sums as punitive fines and the villagers had to undergo ma.s.s floggings. India had not witnessed such intense repression since the Revolt of 1857.

ID the end the Government succeeded in crushing the movement. The Revolt of 1942, as it has been termed, was in fact short-lived. Its importance lay in the fact that it demonstrated the depth that nationalist feeling had'reached in the country and the great capacity for struggle and sacrifice that the people had developed.

After the suppicssion of the Revolt of 1942, there was hardly any political activity inside the country till the war ended in 1945. The established leaders of the national movement were behind the bars, and no new leaders arufie to take their place or to give a new lead to the country. In 1943, Bengal was plunged into the worst famine in recent history. Within a few months over three million people died of starvation. There was deep anger among the people for the Government could have prevented the famine from taking such a heavy toll of life. This anger, however, found little political expression.

The national movement, however, found a new expression outside the country.s frontiers, Subhas Chandra Bose had escaped from India in March 1941 to go to the Soviet Union for help. But when ihe Soviet Union joined the allies in June 1941, he went to Germany. In February 1943 he left for j.a.pan to organise an armed struggle against British rule with j.a.panese help. In Singapore he formed the Azad Hind Fauj {Indian National Army or INA for short) to conduct a military campaign for the liberation of India. He was a.s.sisted by Rash Behan Bose, an old terrorist revolutionary. Before the arrival of Subhash Bose, steps towards the organisation of the INA had been taken by General Mohan Singh (at that tnre a Captain i" t.ie British Indian army). The INA was joined in large . u I: u. - - I i,!:; l residents in South-east Asia and by Indian soldier- , >.! < i"="" ijj="" by="" the="" j.a.panese="" forces="" in="" malaya,="" singapore="" and="" burma.="" subhash="" bose,="" who="" was="" now="" called="" netaji="" by="" the="" soldiers="" of="" the="" ina,="" gave="" his="" followers="" the="" battle="" cry="" ofjai="" hiad.,="" the="" ina="" joined="" the="" j.a.panese="" army="" in="" its="" march="" on="" india="" from="" burma.="" inspired="" by="" the="" aim="" of="" freeing="" their="" homeland,="" the="" soldieri="" and="" officers="" of="" the="" ina="" hoped="" to="" enter="" india="" as="" its="" liberators="" with="" subhash="" bose="" at="" the="" head="" of="" the="" provisional="" government="" of="" free="">

With the collapse of J^paa HI the War during 1944-45, the INA too met defeat, and Sub hash Bose was killed in an aeroplane accident on his way to Tokyo. Even though his strategy of winning freedom in cooperation with the Fascist powers was criticised at the time by most Indian nationalists, by organising the INA he set an inspiring example of patriotism

before the Indian people and the Indian army, He was hailed as Netaji by the entire country.

Post-War Struggle With the end of the war in Europe in April 1945, India.s struggle for freedom entered a new phase. The Revolt of 1942 and the INA had revealed the heroism and determination of the Indian people. With the release of the national leaders from jail, the people began to look forward to another, perhaps the final, struggle for freedom.

The new struggle took the form of a ma.s.sive movement against the trial of the soldiers and officers of the INA. The Government decided to put on trial in the Red Fort at Delhi Generals Shah Nawaz, Gurdial Singh DhiUon, and Prein Sehgal of the INA, who had earlier been officers in the British Indian army. They were accused of having broken their oath of loyalty to the British Crown and thus of having become traitors.. On the other Subhash Chandra Bose at a rally of Indian women in Singapore (Courtesy: Nehru Memorial Museum and Llbntry)

hand, the people welcomed them as national heroes. Huge rormlar demonstrations demanding their release were held alt over the i.ountiy. The entire country now seethed with excitement and confidence lhi:> time tile struggle v.ould be won. They would not let these 1* roc; hr pui'.ishcd. But. ihe British Government was this lime in no to igiH'ia nJimi opjnion. Even though the Court Martial held the ,TNA ;vJr^i>ei* guilty, ihe Government felt jt expedient to set mc-ir. free, Tie ebanged annum: i>r ihe Bntish Government is explained by several iiiciors.

Firstly, the war he,(J changed the balance of power in the w'orld. Not .'.mrir. but the Urjtcrl Sidles of America and the Soviet Union emerged *> 11 of the war as big powers. Both supported India.s demand for free- liorn.

Sv'cnncly, even ihou^h 13main was on the winning side in the war, its t.comnnit/ ani :nj!it.uy power was shatteied. It would take Britain years to rehabilitate itself. Moreover, there was a change of government in Britain. The Conservatives were replaced by the Labour Party many of whose members supported the Congress demands. The British soldiers were weary of war. Having fought and shed their blood for nearly six years., they had no desire to spend-mariy more years away from home in India suppressing the Indian people.s struggle for freedom.

Thirdh, the British Indian Government could no longer rely on the Indian personnel of its civil administration and armed forces to suppress tbs national movement. The INA had shown that patriotic ideas had entered tiie ranks of the professional Indian army, the chief instrument of British, rule in India. Another straw in the wind was the famous revolt of the Indian naval ratings at Bombay in February 19.46. The ratings had fought a seven-hour battle with the army and navy and had surrendered only when asked to do so by the national leaders. Moreover, there were also widespread strikes in the Indian Air Force. The Indian Signal Corps at Jabalpur also went on strike. The o.ther two major instruments of Bntish rule, the police and the bureaucracy, were ^.Iso showing signs of nationalist leanings. They could no longer be safely used to suppress the national movement. For example, the poUpe fore in Bihar and ReUli went an strike.

Fourthly, and above all, the confident and determined mood, of the Indian people was by. now obvious. They would, no longer tolerate the humiliation, of foreign rule. They would no,lon.ger rest till freedom was waii, Thece was; the Naval Mutiny and the struggle for. the r^Lqase o INA prisoners. In addition there were during 1945-46 numerous agita-

lions, strikes, hartals and demonstrations all over the country, even in many Princely States such as Hyderabad, Travancore, and Kashmir. For example, 111 November 1945, lakh,1; of people demonstrated in the streets in Calcutta to demand the release of the INA prisoners. For three days there was virtually no government authority left in th& city. Again, on 12 February 1946, there was andthej ma.s.s demons'tf-ation in the city to demand the release of Abdui Rashid, one of the INA prisoners. On 22 February, Bombay observed a complete hartal an4 general strike in factories and offices in sympathy with the naval' ratings in revolt?. The army was called in to suppress, the popular upsurge. Over 250. people were shot dead on the streets in 48 bouts.

There- was also larfgp scale labour unrest all over the country. There was. hardly an industry in which strikes did not occur. In July 1946, there was art all-India strike by the postal' and telegraph workers. Rail/Way workers in South India went on strike in August 1946. Peasant movement also became more militant in this period. Struggles for land and against high rents took place in Hydetabad. Malabar, Bengal, U.P., Bihar, and Maharashtra Students in schools and colleges took a leading part in organizing strikes, hartals, and demonstrations.

The Biitish Government, therefore, sent in March 1946 a Cabinet Mission to India to negotiate with the Indian leaders Ehe terms for the transfer of power to Indians. The Cabinet Mission proposed a two- tiered federal plan which was expected to maintain national unity while conceding the largest measure of regional autonomy. -There was to be a federation of the provinces and the states, Jfiwahailal Nehru, Tej Bahadur Sapru and Kailash Math Katju arriving to defend INA prisoners. (Courtesy; Nehru Memorial Museum and Library).

with the federal centre controlling only defence, foreign affairs, and communications. At the same time, individual provinces could form regional unions to which they could surrender'by mutual agreement some of their powers. Both the National Congress and the Muslim League accepted this plan. But the two could not agree on the plan for an interim government which would convene a const.i.tuent a.s.sembly to frame a const.i.tution for the free, federal India The two also put differing interpretations on the Cabinet Mission scheme to which they had agreed earlier. In the end, in September 1946, at. Interim Cabinet, headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, was formed by tbe Congress. The Muslim League joined the Cabinet in October after some hesitation; hut it decided to boycott the const.i.tuent a.s.sembly. On 20 February 1947, Clement Attlee, British Premier, declared that the British would quit India by June 1948.

But the elation of coining independence was marred by the large- scale communal riots during and after August 1946. The Hindu and Muslim communalists blamed each other for starting the heinous killings and competed with each other in cruelty. Mahatma Gandhi, engulfed in gloom at this total disregard of elementary humanity and seeing truth and non-violence cast to the winds, toured East Bengal and Bihar on foot to check the riot. Many other Hindus and Muslims laid down their lives in the effort to extinguish the fire of communalism. But the seeds had been Bown too deep by the communal elements, aided and abetted by the alien government. Gandhi and other nationalists fought vainly against communal prejudices and pa.s.sions.

Finally, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who had come to India as Viceroy in March 1947, worked out a compromise after long discussions with the leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League: the country was to be free but not united. India was to be part.i.tioned and a new state of Pakistan was to be created along with a free India. The nationalist leaders agreed to the part.i.tion of India in order to avoid the large-scale bloodbath that communal riots threatened. But they did not accept the two- nation theory. They did not agree to hand over one-third of the country to the Muslim League as the latter wanted and as the proportion of the Muslims in Indian population would have indicated. They agreed to the separation of only those areas where the influence of the Muslim League was predominant, In the North Western Frontier Province, and the Sylhet district of a.s.sam where the influence of the League was doubtful, a plebiscite was to be held. In other words the country was to be part.i.tioned but not on the basis of Hinduism and Islam.

The Indian nationalists accepted part.i.tion not because there were two nations in India-a Hindu nation and a Muslim nation-but because the historical development of communalism, both Hindu and Muslim, over the past 70 years or so had created a situation where the alternative to part.i.tion was ma.s.s killing of lakhs of innocent people in senseless and barbaric communal riots. If these riots had been confined to one section of the country, the Congress leaders could have tried to curb them and taken a strong stand against part.i.tion. But unfortunately the fratricidal riots were taking place everywere and actively involved both Hindus and Muslims. On top of it all, the country was still ruled by the toreigneia who did little to check the riots. On the other hand, the foreign government rather encouraged these riots by their divisive policies, perhaps hoping to play the two newly independent states against each other.*

The announcement that India and Pakistan would be free was made on 3 June 1947. The princely states were given the choice of joining either of the new states. Under the pressure of the popular states. people.s movements and guided by the masterful diplomacy of Sardar Patel, the Home Minister, most of them acceeded to India. The Nawab of Juna- gadh, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir held back for some time. The Nawab of Junagadh, a small state on the coast of Kathiawar, announced accession to Pakistan even though the people of the state desired to join India. In the end, Indian troops occupied the state and a plebiscite was held which went in favour of joining India. The Nizam of Hyderabad made an attempt to claim an inde-pendent status but was forced to accede in 1948 after an internal revolt had broken out in its Telengana area and after Indian troops had marched into Hyderabad. The Maharaja of Kashmir also delayed accession to India or Pakistan even though the popular forces led by the National Conference wanted accession to India. However, he acceeded to India in October 1947 after Pathans and irregular armed forces of Pakistan invaded Kashmir.

On 15 August 1947, India celebrated with joy its first day of freedom. The sacrifices of generations of patriots and the blood of countless martyrs had borne fruit. Their dream was now a reality. In a memorable address to tlie Const.i.tuent a.s.sembly on the night of 14 August, Jawaharlal Nehru, giving expression to the feelings of the peoplej said : Long yean ago we made a tryst with daft tiny, and now the time coma when we utial) redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very autatan dally.

*Referring to communalUm Jawaharlal Nehru had written in 1946 hk M* 7h* Discovery of India: It is our fault, of course, and we mu it suffer for our failings. But I cannot excuse or forgive the British authorities for the deliberate part they have played in creating disruption in India. All other injuries will pa.s.s, but this will continue to plague us for a much longer period.

At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life ana freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarefy in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance, It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people ami to IV still larger cause of humanity. ..We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself ugaiiu The achievement we celebrate today is but of incessrnt striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken.

But the sense of joy, which should have been overwhelming and unlimited, was mixed with pain and sadness. The dream of Indian unity had been shattered and brother had been torn from brother; what was worse, even at the very moment of freedom a communal orgy, accompanied by indescribable brutalities, was consuming thousands of lives in both India and Pakistan. Lakhs of refugees, forced to leave the lands of their forefathers, were pouring into the two new states.* The symbol of this tragedy at the moment of national triumph was the forlorn figure of Gandhiji-the man who had given the message of non-violence, truth, and love and courage and manliness to the Indian people, the man who symbolised all that was best in Indian culture. In the midst of national , rejoicing, he was touring the hate-torn land of Bengal, trying to bring comfort to people who were even then paying through senseless communal slaughter the price of freedom. And the shouting and the celebrations had hardly died down when on 30 January 1948 an a.s.sa.s.sin-a hate-filled Hindu fanatic-extinguished the light that had shown so bright in our land for over 70 years. Thus Gandhi "died a martyr to the cause of unity to which he had always been devoted."**

In a way, with the achievement of ffeedom, the country had taken only the first step: the overthrow of foreign rule had only removed the chief obstacle in the path of national regeneration. Centuries of backwardness, prejudice, inequality, and ignorance still weighed on the land and the long haul had just begun. For as Rabindranath Tagore had remarked .Writing of those months, Nehru wrote later:.

Fear and hatred blinded our minds and all the restraints which civilization imposes were swept away. Horror piled on honor, and sudden emptiness seized us at the brute savagery of human beings. The lights seemed all to go out; not all, for a few still flickered in the raging tempest. We sorrowed for the dead and the dying, and for those whose suffering was greater than that of death. We sorrowed even more for India, our common mother, for whose freedom we had laboured these long years.

.*Earlier, in reply to a journalist on the occasion of his birthday in 1947, Oaodhi had said that he no longer wished to live bag and that he would "invoke the aid of the Almighty to take me away from this vale of tests' rather than make me a helpless witness of the butchery by mu become savage, whether he dares to call himself a Muslim or Hindu or what not."

three months before his death in 1941 :.

The wheels of fate will some day compel the English to give up their Indian Empire. But what kind of India will they leave behind, what stark misery? When the stream of their centuries. administration runs dry at last, what a waitc of mud uid filth will they leave behind them.

With confidence in their capacity and their will to succeed, the people of India now set out to change the face of their country and to build the just and the good society.


1. In what ways did the developments during the first World War and in the immediate post-war years favour the resurgence of nationalism in Africa and Asia in general and in India in particular?

2. Trace the early development of Gandhi as a political leader and discuss his basic political ideas.

3. Trace the development of the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Khilafat agitation from 1919 to 1922. How far did ihese two movements represent a new stage in the growth of the national movement?

4. What were the different aspects of nationalist resurgence in the years 1927 to 1929?

5. Discuss the course of the nationalist movement from the Lah.o.r.e Session of 1929 to the withdrawal of the Second Civil Disobedience Movement in 1934.

6. Bring out the major political developments in India in the 1930.s with special reference to the Congress Ministries, growth of socialist ideas, Congress att.i.tude to world affairs, national movement in the princely states, and the growth of communalism.

7. Why do you think did the British change their att.i.tude towards India after 1945?

8. How did the National Congress react to the Second World War? What progress did the national movement make during the war years. Clearly bring out the role of the "Quit India Resolution," the Revolt of 1942, and the Indian National Army.

9. Write short notes on :.

(a) The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, (b) The Rowlatt Act, (c) The Swarajists, (d) The Revolutionary Terrorist Movement after 1925, (e) The Government of India Act of 1935, (0 The Cabinet Mission, (g) Gandhi and the part.i.tion of India, (h) IntegSRoit-at Jthe princely states with the Union of India. at '


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History Of Modern India Part 14 summary

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