The Question of Who Truly Freed India

15 August 2015
Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India bidding his farewell to the country after India had gained independence.
Ullstein bild / Contributor/Getty Images
Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India bidding his farewell to the country after India had gained independence.
Ullstein bild / Contributor/Getty Images

In September 1947, barely a month after India became independent from British rule, Vishwa Nath, the founding editor of the Delhi Press—that originally launched The Caravan in 1940wrote a scathing editorial about the culture of public memory surrounding colonial rule in India. Although this was a time that was largely characterised by the triumph of independence, it was also replete with uncertainty around the ability of Indians to govern themselves. In his editorial, Nath rejects this notion and challenges the idea of an invisible colonial Britain. . “Do these people forget the unending fight for liberty that the country has waged during the last 150 years,” he asks of those who believed that India gained independence solely due to the statesmanship of Britain. Nath concludes by taking to task those who denied Indians agency in their own struggle for independence, viewing it as British magnanimity instead.

15 August 1947 will go down in world history as a landmark. It was on this day that a vast sub-continent holding one fifth of the human race was freed from a foreign power’s domination.

It has become a tendency with our national leaders to sing unending songs about the manner in which this transfer of power has taken place; they point out that the way it has come about is unique in the history of the world, and is solely due to the statesmanship of the British.

Public memory is proverbially short, and national leaders are no exception. They seem to have forgotten the case of Phillippines [sic], India’s next-door neighbor.

When the United States of America declared the Phillippine independence, it proved itself a really liberty-loving non-imperialist nation because there were none of those compelling reasons for the United States to free the Phillippines with which Britain was confronted in the case of India.

Vishwa Nath Vishwa Nath was the founding editor of the Delhi Press and The Caravan.

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