Colonial imaginings?


It is also true that there was huge demobilisation of soldiers during the first half of the 19th century. Mughal rule was on its last legs and small rulers did not have the resources to maintain a regular army. Many of these men, Muslims and Hindus alike, did take to highway robberies. But thugs are a different story. Were they for real or were they just a figment of the Company Bahadur’s imagination? The question deserves an answer. (via Colonial imaginings?).

Indian history has become a two-trick pony

Produce Gandhiji or Nehru to blame or credit for anything in Indian history. That is the sum and substance of modern India’s approach to history.

The real tragedy here is not the colonial falsification of history. It is the abdication of the Indian academia in correcting colonial history. The entire Western historiography, based on a colonial agenda and racial superiority is not being challenged – at least not enough.

Amaresh Misras War Of Civilisations: The Road To Delhi; India AD 1857

Amaresh Misra's War Of Civilisations: The Road To Delhi; India AD 1857 (Click for larger image).

Perplexed … Angry … Disappointed!

Sometime back, another book, on the Ghadar Party is a demonstration of how Indian Universities are letting us down.

Ghadar Party has not got its due from our historians or even from the official chroniclers of India’s freedom movement. The author, Savitri Sawhney, is the daughter of Pandurang Khankhoje, one of the co-founders of Ghadar Party.

Parag Tope’s forth coming book, Operation Red Lotus, on the life and wars of Tatiya Tope; another non-specialist book on  Chhatrapati Shri Sambhaji Maharaj by Anant Darwatkar, are all non-specialists, trying to do the job that a specialist should have done a long time ago. While on the subject of thugee and dacoits, Parag Tope’s write up on the Pindaris is worth a read.

Most impressive is the work by Amaresh Misra – a film critic and journalist, who was moved sufficiently to research for a few years, because, “Since 1957, no Indian has written a comprehensive account of the Revolt. Indian historians have done a limited work”. His work, based on some excellent research and insights, is of course, let down by his referrals, to partisan political interpretations and Western political frameworks.

The truth behind Thugee

Another book reveals how ‘Thuggee and Dacoity Department’ established with William Sleeman as Superintendent in 1835, could capture no more than 3000 highway robbers – of which only 400 were executed. In nearly a decade! In a population of possibly 25 crores.

Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published: Daily Mail, 4 June 1947

Colonial propaganda - Artist - Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 4 June 1947

Some of the most infamous, like Behram was attributed to have committed more than 900 murders – for which he never faced any trial, for murders he confessed to, even after being captured.

Most of these thugs were actually rebel peasants who were waging a war against the dispossession of the lands – like the Santhals, Bhils, Gujjars, etc.

How many innocents were killed on trumped up charges, I will not estimate!

Dysfunctional academia

Indian academicians and historians – especially in higher education, in non-technology, non -science related fields are big let down. Why are academicians (paid for doing this research) not doing this research? Why are non-specialists doing this job? My dissatisfaction is not a reflection on the non-specialists – but on the specialists.

Indian school texts have seen some basic spit-and-polish’ on the colonial text and syllabus. Of course, the dominance of English language in higher education must take a major blame for this.

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  1. February 4, 2011 at 1:24 am

    My compliments on your excellent blog.Keep up the good work of exposing “Benevolent British civilisation”.Like you correctly pointed out non-specialists are doing the work the so called specialists should be doing! But more often than not the work of the non-specialists is far superior and truthful than those actually supposed to do their jobs!

    all the best.

  2. July 4, 2011 at 7:33 am

    as you rightly said, the indian academic is dysfuncitional.. partly because the academic system itself is set by colonial government.. the criteria for selecting studens is nonsense and the usual maoist rhetoric of everyone has right to enter.. no consideration of the background of the candidates..

    Even in agri colleges, people who dont know how rice is grown, is getting admitted to the colleges..

    In my view, the western model of academic system itself is unsuitable and exploitative.. is there any connectivity of these institutions to the common people?

  1. July 15, 2009 at 5:43 pm
  2. August 21, 2010 at 1:57 pm

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