11 May 2007

1857 and the new myth

The celebrations have kicked off today. This begs several question. Why is 1857 important? Is it as the government saying a revolt that involved people of all castes and regions? Was it an event that made us think of our selves as one nation? Did it lead to our Independence?

1857 is important in the sense it was an event where the East India Company almost lost a cash cow(er... i mean colony) due to initial mismanagement by their officers. It actually ended up strengthening the British rule and subsequent exploitation that followed for about 100 years.

Did people of all castes and regions participate in it? Maybe in the north but the south was largely unaffected. In fact the British were able crush the revolt because many of the landlords and soldiers remained loyal them. The latter half of 1857 seems like a power struggle between the old rulers and the new ones. The general populace was unaffected unlike in the case of the Indigo revolt.

India gained independence after 90 years. In contrast the American colonies revolted in 1776 and defeated the British in 1783. It took a new elite educated class to put in place a national movement for Independence. Saying that 1857 led to our Independence is like saying Babar was responsible for Taj Mahal.

We had already learnt the story of our Independence in schools. So why is the nation searching for new myths now?


Shyam said...

In comparing the American Revolution with the the 1857 Revolt, it is curious that former was initiated by a monetary dispute (taxation) while the latter by a religious one. Wonder if this means that money is a better driving force than religion - but of course, there were many other parameters so this is not a perfect comparison.

ifnotme said...

well the American Constitution itself has been interpreted as something that has been written by small business interests to preserve their freedom to do business... of course money is a stronger driving force.