Sunday, January 27, 2008

The case for India

This is the title of Will Durant's awesome book on India. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I've been reading a lot of India books lately, and this one is probably the last on the list. Written in 1930, the book, banned by the British government, and God knows why, never resurrected by the Indian governments, is an excellent account of how the country was raped, with the connivance of our own people, for over 200 years by the British.

The figures are amazing. Robert Clive, the resident governor of Bengal, getting an annual tribute of US $140,000, in 1930s money. The national debt of India, which was really caused by twisted pricing of goods, rising to a whopping 3.5 billion dollars by 1929, the cost of maintaining the British army in India was paid by Indians, to the tune of 200 million dollars a year, wars, in which Indian troops fought for the British were paid by taxes on Indians, to the tune of 1.2 billion dollars in the late 1800s, all of these reducing India from the second largest economy in the world in the 1820s to a basket case by 1947.

The book talks of how Indian industry was broken and how farmers were driven to penury in supporting the opulent lifestyles of company and British officials. What is more shocking is the kind of torture inflicted upon the common men by the British:

"A troop of English soldiers had reached the spot, and without warning, began firing into a crowd that had women and children. [...] Some people got as many as twenty-one bullet wounds in their bodies. [...] A young Sikh boy stood in front of a soldier and asked him to fire at him, which the soldier unhesitatingly did. Similarly, an old woman [...] came forward, was shot, and fell down wounded. [...] The police snatch off the men's garments, twist and squeeze the testicles, and even batter them until the victims foam at the mouth and become unconscious."

Madeline Slade, an eyewitness, says: "And so we went on from this house to another. [...] 1.Lathi blows on head chest, stomach and joints, thrusts with lathis in private parts, tearing off loin cloths and thrusting of sticks into anus, dragging of wounded by legs and arms, beating them, throwing of wounded men into thorn hedges or salt water, thrusting of pins and thorns into men's bodies..."

What stands out in the book are these:
- The extent of torture and exploitation of the British
- Active connivance of Indians in the British services, including the police force
- The bravery and determination with which "ordinary" Indians fought for freedom.

After reading this though, I started to wonder. As a country, we have such a poor sense of history. Our Moronic PM, intoxicated by a doctoral degree, praises British rule. Common people have no clue about how we won our freedom. Even educated people think the positives of India are the grace of the British.

Read this book. Buy this book. At 140 pages, it is not a long read. And let me know, if like me, you kept wondering whether we have simply replaced a white brute with a brown one after Independence.

Happy Republic Day folks!

20 comments:

Karthik Kambatla said...

Thank you very much for blogging about it. I seriously had no clue of the facts and figures in your blog. I heard that the British robbed India but had no clue how.

I shall make it a point to read the book.

Thanks again
Karthik

kattricker said...

gops i want to read this book too, the torture story seems so grusome. i just searched amazon and one seller is selling an author signed collectible copy for $1750!! the cheapest seems to be $69. maybe i will search around old corner book stores downtown.

SpacedOut said...

I came across your post while Googling for A Case for India. Amazon has gazillion users who buy and read books , but not one has bought any, nor posted any comments about this book !!
Will Durant (and his wife Ariel) have authored some amazing collection of book on the Civilization .. it could take years to complete all of them, but defintely worth spending few years in our lifetime doing that !
I also came across an article published in Hindu about this (A Case for India) book. I concor with you that is a must read for all Indians. At the moment Im reading Amitav Gosh's Sea of Poppies... and it's no small wonder the atrocities commited by the Europeans are no small scale..

Gops said...

Thanks for your comment, SpacedOut :)

Anonymous said...

You can get this book from :
http://www.strandbookstall.com/store/search search.php?word=Will%20Durant&r1=author&pagenum=1

The Case for India by Will Durant. You can order from strand book stall, Mumbai, India - see details from Strand Book Stall.
Price Rs.250.00

Anonymous said...

I too, like SpacedOut, stumbled upon this blog while searching for Will Durant.

I was in a bookstore and saw a couple of his books on sale. Wanted to know more about him before buying (I hate it when I buy a book and then learn that the author is actually a leftwing/Marxist nutcase).

Durant, of course, tends to be objective and fact-led in all his writings.

One key reason why many Indians have so little insight into their own history is becuase the educational system has so much DILUTED and watered-down everything that what is left is insipid and bland.

In countries where formal education is unable to inform the masses, other mass media (movies, books, etc) step in to fill the void. But in India, that does not happen either.

The "secularisation" of education social thinking has resulted in negative portrayal of notions like patriotism.

Gops said...

Thanks Anonymous, for your comment! Needless to say, I couldn't agree more.

Niharika said...

Gops, Thanks a lot for putting up this post and information on the book. I am looking for this book "A Case for India" from long time. Please let me know where it is available.

Thanks and Best Regards,
Krishna Murthy R
krivee@yahoo.com

Gops said...

Hi Krishna Murthy,

The book is available in Strand Book House at Manipal Centre. Or you can order online from their store (see an earlier comment here for details on that.)

HTH,
Gopal.

Simply KaySea said...

I have recently been very interested in the history of India, from the Ancient to the modern as well as the history of invasions and rulers of the Indian sub-continent.
I want to understand the true nature of each of these rulers and their effect.
I will definitely read this book.
Thanks for the introduction to it.

Anonymous said...

hi. like u i too share the same feeling and have read a few books on INDIA including THE CASE FOR INDIA. i too want that all educated INDIANS should read this book. at least lets' put the facts in the right perspective. i saw ur blog when i was searching for this book as i want a personal copy of this book.

Priti said...

Stumbled on your blog after reading Shobha De,s blog today where she had mentioned about this book.I was googling about it and came across your article and I am determined not only to buy it but also share the book with my British colleagues here.I live in the UK by the way.

I would also suggest putting up a review of this on facebook and other networking sites for history loving Indians to know about this book.

Its a shame we havent learnt much from all these years of subjugation i,e United we stand ,divided we fall.Indians will still backstab an Indian to get into good books of the goras...anyways I shallstop my rant.

Anonymous said...

The Case For India
This is the timely publication of a book that will serve as an inspirational guide to India, a nation on the rise. Written in 1930 by the world's greatest historian, Will Durant, this little known gem has resurfaced. Best known for his monumental 11 volume "The Story of Civilization" as well as the very popular "The Story of Philosophy", this book trains a searchlight on the quiet strength of a great and glorious civilization in the face of subjugation during the days of the British Raj. Will Durant alludes to Indian civilization as the greatest known to man. His style is compelling. It is stark and unwavering, pbjective and unbiased. And through its unrelenting attention to detail, it reveals India's glorious heritage and philosophical underlay in a way that leaves no doubt that India's resurgence today is not by historical accident.

Anonymous said...

Can order 'the case for india' will durant from http://www.strandbookstall.com/DetailsView.aspx?ProductNo=4990

for inr 200

SURESH MITTAL said...

Hi,

I have just read the book THE CASE FOR INDIA. It was banned by the British. However very recently it has been published by Strand Book Stall, Mumbai. I quickly ordered a copy.

This great book provides detailed account how the British systematically robbed and exploited Indian wealth. Peasants became paupers due to crushing land tax. Home Industry was almost closed due to high import tarrifs. Britain became wealthy and industrial due to Indian wealth. More gory details are available in it. A must read

Anonymous said...

Please upload or state where is the PDF download of this book on the net: 'The case for india' by Will Durant (Pub. 1930)

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone brought it out. Thanks. Available http://www.strandbookstall.com/DetailsView.aspx?ProductNo=4990

An distressed Indian said...

So gruesome torture...I read the book and left speech less. we have done nothing to recognize the agony and pain of our fellow men nor had any pictures or history books reveal this.. why are we not publicize these events after independence.. it throws out a different aspect of barbaric rule ..

ASHISH ANKIT said...

It is a nice work,a true story from non other than Will Durant. I read the book. The hatred against British rule has soared even higher. I thank my mentor for giving me this book to read.

Ranjith Vadiyala said...

You can read the book online at http://www.vifindia.org/ebook/1930/the-case-for-india