TODAY -

E-Pao! Opinion - How to read 1857 today

How to read 1857 today
The Relevance of 1857

By: kadamfilms *


2007 is the 150 anniversary of India's First War of Independence and there is a flurry of activities on this issue. Several seminars and discussion panels are being organized and papers being presented on 1857, recorded as a turning point in Indian history.

For most of the work being done on 1857, the underlying theme appears to be biased or limited in their scope and readings. Some, written by Eurocentric/British historians describe 1857 as a "Sepoy Mutiny" while those of the "Swadeshi and feudal mindset" tend to overplay the role of the feudal princely estates and "Rajwadas".

Their heroes such as Jhansi ki Rani and Tatia Tope are often represented as front line heroes of 1857, such perceptions have been perpetuated by pop-history readings through sources such as "Amar Chitra Katha". Other wrong representations have been made by over playing the issue of greased cartridges, religion, caste and creed.

The term, "National Rebellion" was used for the first time in the British Parliament debates where the attempts by the ruling parties to underplay the uprising as a simple "mutiny" were contested by the opposition parties, who wanted the rebellion to be put down with the severest possible means.

Though the exact events of 1857 are important to understand, it is even more important to contextualize 1857 in today's India. Right across different ruling class parties there has been a serious attempt to water down the relevance of the 1857 uprising, both in terms of its scope and relevance to our present times.

The CPI (M) oriented camp of historians have even gone to absurd lengths to force down their own concepts of modern political thought by insisting that 1857 contained within it the idea of "Nation State". Nevertheless, all the ruling class parties seem to converge on one point that, 1857 was an anti imperialist struggle which was successfully concluded in the 1947 Independence of India.

The primary point of the thesis being outlined is that 1857 was definitely an anti-imperialist struggle, but its tasks have not been completed as yet, since 1947 was only a formal Independence and India is still in the grip of neo-colonialism and its policies are still being dictated by the imperialist powers and its agents.

These current economic, social and political policies can clearly find their roots in the brutal suppression of the 1857 and the rise to power a class of Indians who aided the British in ruling India till 1947 and continue to aid and assist foreign imperialist interests even today.

In the first place: 1857 was largest ever armed uprising in the British colonial empire, and the impact of the uprising was such that it shook the foundations of the empire. 1857 was a peasant rebellion, the underlying cause was the increasing land settlement laws being introduced by the British.

In earlier times, before the British implemented the idea of land settlement; land was an inalienable right and the zamindar, feudal lords and the king had only rights over revenue collection. By introducing the principle of "Eminent Domain" the British had in one stroke reversed centuries of security over land tenure granted to the peasant.

The principle of "eminent domain" declares the "ownership" of all land to reside in the crown, thereby allowing the eviction of rightful owners from their land, with only the need to pay due compensation. The growing insecurity of the peasantry over the probable loss of land quickly engulfed the regions of North India and even bringing the sepoys into the fray.

Since the sepoys employed by the British army were peasants, they could directly relate to the issue of growing insecurity over land rights and took up the cause for armed resistance.

In the second place: it was only after the initial success of the peasantry and the sepoys that the feudal estates such as Jhansi came into play, for most of the feudal estates, it was a struggle against the increasing strangle hold of the British and to retain their dominion and their alignment with the peasantry was taken after due thought and consideration.

They assumed that the whole of British India would rebel successfully and after kicking the British out, they would continue to rule. These feudal estates did not enter the fight with any sense of any progressive values which would have led to the emancipation of the toiling peasantry.

In the third place and most the important point, is to be able to understand and place 1857 within the context of our current era. There is little point in us celebrating 1857, if it does not carry some relevance for us today. The most important lesson that we can get from readings on 1857 is the "institutionalization of traitors".

Traitors have always been the part and parcel of history, be it Jai Chand or Mir Jaffer, but eventually they get relegated to a foot note of history. It is only after 1857, we can clearly find, that those who sided with the British in defeating the Indians were felicitated, given appointments in administration, business contracts, judiciary, land, zamindari, princely tutelages, "Rai Sahib Titles, provided secure residences (the concept of "civil lines" came up only after 1857). The lesson to be learnt is that it is this class of traitors, who first of all took sides with the British in defeating our people, also took over as the rulers of India in 1947 and continue to rule over us even today.

We can even directly trace numerous families such as the Scindias and many other "Maharajas" who continue to rule India today. All such families who claim the title "Maharaja" were those who either continued to sit quietly on the sidelines during the war or they actively supported the British in quelling the rebellion and for that favour, were bestowed with numerous privileges by the British.

Not one among these traitors of the feudal brigade have had the courage to speak up against their ancestors or retune the land and estates bestowed upon them by the British. It is their tacit support of the imperialist powers that have ensured their retention in the current political arena even today.

It is this class and their obvious alignment towards propagating and protecting the interest of western economy and politics, which has ensured that agents of foreign capital such as World Bank continue to dominate the political and economic agendas of our country. It is this class of traitors who enabled the British to rule over India for the next 90 years till 1947 and then were left to rule as British colonial agents till today. It is these very same families who continue to rule as Shaheed Bhagat Singh called them, "The Black British" (Kaale Angrez).

If we see the economic, social and political policies of our current times we can see that they favour the developed and nations at the cost of the Indian polity. In each and every point of intervention, whether it is the support for multi national corporations to find India a point of cheap labor, or the development of SEZs (tax and customs duty free zones), or recent shameful statements by Man Mohan Singh in Oxford, where he praised colonial rule over India!

Is our PM blind or illiterate that he does not know about the devastation of Indian business and economy by British colonialism? The problem is not in incorrect assessment of the ills of the colonial rules, the point to note is that this class of people have aligned themselves with the ruling class interests of the developed nations and not with the toiling Indians.

Lets take a small case to explain: It is India's open door iron ore export policy which is enabling Mittals and TATAs to buy European steel mills. Since European mines are now almost depleted and will soon lead to a closure of the steel mills in Europe their mills are up for grabs. The terms of sale inset on the buyer showing a guaranteed supply of iron ore.

So TATA and the Mittals have bought Corus and Arcelor, with the assurance given by the Indian government that they will be given captive mines for exporting ores in Orissa!! Great news, first the Europeans colonized us and raped us and our economy, now that their economy is facing a meltdown, here comes the native cavalry to their support. How are all these insane policies being implemented?

Why must Delhi never be cleaned for its citizens, but more than 300000 slum dwellings be demolished for beautifying Delhi for the 2010 Common Wealth Games, it is a shame and a blot on the nation's people.

Traveling down U.P., Bihar, M.P., Haryana, A.P. and almost any other corner of India one has to only see the manner in which the policemen treat the "poorer natives" of this country, exactly as they did during the British Colonial era, the same goes for the administration and the Judiciary.

It is quite common to see the police hanging working class people upside down and beating the soles of their feet, false encounters, custodial rape and deaths, false cases being framed.. These remnants of the Raj still continue and are being perpetuated by the same class of people who traditionally sided with the stronger side and oppressed the weak.

An oppressive and arrogant administrative machinery acts as a very effective tool in suppression any form of dissent which directly affects their economic stakes and greed for more profits.

It is only in reading 1857 and contextualizing it within the current ills that plague India, that we can clearly see that the roots of this oppressive and anti-people administration, development policies and continuing poverty, lie within our current ruling classes who learnt to fear the strong and oppress the weak in 1857.

It is only then, will we be able to understand the struggles in Kalinganagar, Nandigram, Sigur, Barnala, Gurgaon, Amritar, Narmada basin, Pen Tehsil, Telangana, Bajhera Khurd, where the peasantry is still fighting to complete the unfinished tasks of the martyrs of 1857.


* kadamfilms writes to e-pao.net for the first time. The writer can be contacted at kadamfilms(at)yahoo(dot)com. This article was webcasted on May 19th, 2007.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • CCpur victims laid to rest :: Gallery
  • UG admission info for Delhi University 2017
  • College Principals' Conference at NEHU
  • Mortal remains of CCpur victims laid to rest
  • Redefining Manipuri Hindu
  • Private tuition : Financial burden on parents
  • Nungbi Chaphu - Ukhrul Pottery :: Gallery
  • International Yoga Day #1 :: Gallery
  • New Government, New Hope #2
  • Auditorium of High Court of Manipur :: 360 °
  • Book publishing as a career option
  • Simplifying the pursuit of happiness
  • Shirui festival: Let us not go with words..
  • Count pigeons around you
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Hill dists : Lagging in Science stream
  • The lesser truth of National media
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Science Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Arts Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Commerce Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Science Stream
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Arts Stream
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Commerce Stream
  • Barak Spring Festival @Senapati :: Gallery
  • Phalneilhing, Sinchui :: eMing
  • Incarnations of Goddess Nongthang Leima
  • Ebudhou Thanjing Laishang #1 :: 360 °
  • Media & Contemporary Manipuri Society #2
  • Cleaning up the air we breathe
  • 'Maj Rati Keteki', an author's insight
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • SC notices in Biren son case
  • Army act extended by six months
  • Timely acted, but need to rethink...
  • Lamkang Cultural Day @Chandel :: Gallery
  • Ambassador Of Japan with CM :: Gallery
  • JNIMS Ortho scripts history
  • Indigenous people are ST, so are Meeteis
  • Grooming security experts in admin service
  • Parents are supposed to be cheer leaders ..
  • Applauds CM for Building Peace & Harmony
  • 2 trucks carrying logs seized
  • Japan to invite 25 people from Manipur
  • Bomb blasts rock border town in Manipur
  • Shirui Lily Festival, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • 73rd anniv of Battle of Imphal :: Gallery
  • Nachom Arts : Encouraging Artists
  • Manipur: In the waiting room of justice
  • Cheiraoba Ching Kaba :: 360 ° View
  • Of storms, flying saucers & lazy thoughts
  • Anti-Terrorism day observed
  • Ex-Servicemen Meet organised
  • Managing natural resources
  • Ksh Bhaktakumar- Mr India 2017:: Gallery
  • Tanglei Music Festival :: Gallery
  • Effort To Bridge The Hills And Valley
  • Colloquium: Japanese Culture & Nationalism
  • Urban flood effective mgmt strategies #1
  • Meet rejects oil exploration at Khaidem
  • Training on Service Marketing in Healthcare
  • Illegal migrant detection with 1951 cut-off
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Ghost of 2010 continues to haunt
  • Brahmacharimayum Roji - Actress :: eRang
  • Handloom @Temporary Market #1:: Gallery
  • New Government, New Hope #1
  • Nightmares of event management
  • Big data for big impact
  • Free Counselling & Awareness Program
  • One belt one road
  • Jobs: Counseller for Family Court, Ukhrul
  • Sadar Hills Demand 2011-2017 : Timeline
  • Total shutdown against blast in Moreh
  • Tribals reject MoU signed- govt, JACAATB
  • Naga Hoho appeals NIA over arrests
  • First visible step to check corruption
  • International Dance Day :: Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai @Majorkhul #2 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Children Club:: 360 ° View
  • Take smart choice before admissions
  • Love one another ... for living together
  • Shirui Lily Fest off to a grand start
  • On Shirui festival
  • Seminar on 'Life of Gangmumei Kamei' #2
  • Shirui Lily Fest @Shirui, Ukhrul #1 :: Gallery
  • Civil Service Tennis Tournament :: Gallery
  • Barak(Spring) Festival at Senapati
  • When will India cashless island go cashless
  • The winsomeness of human mind
  • Jobs at NIELIT centers
  • Aadhar Registration & Distribution Program
  • Work starts on Trilateral Highway in Myanmar
  • AI plans NE expansion, to inject more flights
  • People's Day Bridging the gap
  • Reality bite - something seems fishy
  • Meeyamgi Numit hosted by CM :: Gallery
  • Andro AMMA FC : Winner of Doon Cup 2017
  • How great is my mother's love for me
  • Boat House, Kangla :: 360 ° View
  • Pinch of love :: Poem
  • Fingerprint & Iris code for Aadhaar
  • Sharmila solidarity with Africans
  • Trust deficit in Framework Agreement
  • Equality in place of majoritarianism
  • A hope for better Manipur
  • Kangleipak Kang Trophy #3:: Gallery
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #2 :: Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai : Festival of Zeliangrong
  • Fishery as an agenda for Barak Festival
  • Supermom :: Poem
  • 2nd Startup Weekend Imphal
  • May Day #2 :: Essay
  • For inclusion of Meitei in ST category
  • NE turning into a hub of Cannabis
  • Muslims cannot dissolve marriage- Guv
  • Police probing 'threat' to SC advocate
  • Hands that rock the cradle rule the world
  • Film Personalities #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Handicrafts of the Zeliangrong #2
  • High Court of Manipur :: 360 ° View
  • From head-hunters into money-hunters
  • Importance of dialectic in Philosophy
  • Binalakshmi Nepram threatened by Police
  • Cleanliness drive conducted at CCpur
  • Gudui Ngai @Majorkhul #1 :: Gallery
  • Bringing TB out of the shadows
  • Women are the salt of the earth
  • Superstition and its side-effects
  • Temples of learning
  • Guidelines of play schools
  • Bucket of cold water after a hot shower
  • Breaking the barrier
  • Lai Lamthokpa @Yaiskul #2 :: Gallery
  • MIMS (MU) - ManFete #4 :: Gallery
  • Impact of October Revolution Manipur #2
  • Bir Tikendrajit Park :: 360 °
  • Nurses are heart beat of healthcare
  • The Sun Behind the Cloud :: Poem
  • Nagas of Nagaland can decide their future
  • 85 unelectrified villages to be lit up by Dec
  • Go to the hill districts too
  • Beginning of a new era; but ...
  • Seminar on 'Life of Gangmumei Kamei' #1
  • OORJA football Closing ceremony :: Gallery
  • May 10, 1942: first bomb hit Imphal in WW2
  • Manipur killings: Amicus Curiae on Army...
  • A white paper on good governance
  • Butterfly a living parable of resurrection
  • Global Manipuri Mega Photo Contest
  • Inquiry on "School Van accident"
  • Inking an MoU with CCpur JAC
  • Calls for human security
  • Laishram Lalitabi - Actress :: eRang
  • Manipur & Nagaland CMs :: Gallery
  • Cheirao Ching Kaba #1 :: 360 ° Photo
  • MLA - defection politics in Manipur
  • Japan interest to develop Education in NE
  • CM floral tribute to Martyred Jawans
  • More than a 'courtesy call'
  • Development & security matters
  • Thongjao potters adapt to modern reqt
  • Prize Distribution- MU Sports :: Gallery
  • Handicrafts of the Zeliangrong #1
  • Imphal Intl Airport : How International?
  • The mystery of nine :: Poem
  • RIST popular talk 29 - Molecular Electronics
  • Gudui Ngai celebrated
  • 122nd rank in the list of cleanliness
  • Consumers' rights
  • Sagol Kangjei Exhibition :: Gallery
  • Musuem, Kangla :: 360 ° photo
  • Keeping workforce healthy-smart business
  • Brief story of Karl Marx (199th Birth Anniv)
  • Manipuri resurgence & Jewish lessons
  • Visit of Japanese Ambassador to MU
  • Poems released at Barapani, Meghalaya
  • CMD, NHPC Visit to Loktak Power Station
  • Right venue for seminar on bridging the gap
  • Landscape of Manipur #6: Wallpaper
  • Impact of October Revolution Manipur #1
  • Climate change: Case study on wildlife
  • Longing for peace in this region
  • Why happiness can be so elusive
  • ShiRock 2017 at Ukhrul
  • Airline Ticketing Consultant training
  • Civil Society Delegation met CM
  • Lai Lamthokpa @Yaiskul #1 :: Gallery
  • Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon #1 :: Gallery
  • Binalakshmi Nepram selected by Colombia
  • Separate time zone for NE : Petition
  • Arbind Soibam - Emerging Singer :: eRang
  • Phaknung rape protest @Kakching :: Gallery
  • MIMS (MU) - ManFete #3 :: Gallery
  • Traditional Thabal @Pourabi :: Gallery
  • River Bank Music Festival :: Gallery
  • Henjunaha - A folk play :: Gallery
  • The Mighty Mystic Manipuri Women
  • Arambai show #2:: Gallery
  • Shakuhachi meets Pena, Manipur & Japan
  • Tributes paid on Khongjom Day #2:: Gallery
  • Laishram Birendrakumar recieve Padmashri
  • Kei Onba Kom Gi Eshing :: Funga Wari
  • 'Nura Pakhang'(Video) @Portugal:: Gallery
  • Mr India 2017- Ksh Bhaktakumar :: Gallery
  • Purul, Senapati :: 360 View Panorama
  • Ethoi Oinam #1 (Actress) :: eRang
  • Nura Pakhang : Music video
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba @Pune :: Gallery
  • Thabal Chongba @Kolkata :: Gallery
  • CM N Biren visit to Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #4 : Ooba
  • Nungshiba Khongel @Sylhet :: Gallery
  • Maphou Dam :: 360 View Panorama
  • SPONSORED ADS