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The Last Mughal and the First Empress – Part 1: Vultures

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This three-part series looks at British imperialism in India, and specifically the Indian Uprising of 1857, partly through the lens of William Dalrymple's book The Last Mughal, which follows the downfall of the last Indian emperor, and draws some parallels to current events. Read parts two and three. 

English-speaking people who are deaf to aspirates and aspirated consonants in Indian languages can't say ghee, and tend to produce incorrect spellings like Ghandi and Dehli. Because of this speech impediment, the word sipahi – meaning soldier in Persian and Urdu – became sepoy for the British, who gave this misheard word currency by giving the Indian Uprising of 1857 against themselves a misleading nickname –The Sepoy Mutiny.

The Uprising involved not only huge numbers of mercenary Indian soldiers under British pay and command, but also Indian princes, their subjects of various classes, their armies and camp followers, the peasantry of those parts of the Gangetic plain then under direct British control, tribal peoples of the Himalayan foothills and Northern plains and motley others.

By simplifying the facts, the spin machine of the British Empire was able to promote the idea nearly unimpeded for well over a hundred years that it was all a matter of animal grease (beef and pork tallow) needed to insert rounds into Enfield rifles. How this single matter was supposed to have offended both Hindus and Muslims so much as to give rise to the events of a whole year, in which Indian soldiers and civilians massacred British men, women, and children, burned down their dwellings and destroyed key installations of the colonial administration is quite a mystery.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketApparently, at that time in England, a popular supplementary explanation for the Uprising was that everybody in India was completely enraged at having to learn to behave themselves under the wonders of British rule — much the way we are told today that 9/11 happened because an unspecified "they" were "jealous of our freedoms" (e.g., see how it seemed to the Metcalfe family.)

William Dalrymple is the first British historian to use material in translation from numerous sources written in Persian and Urdu, and among the first to use the palace and city records now stored in the National Archives. As a writer of popular histories, he has a tough row to hoe in terms of publicizing his perceptions and findings, novel and dangerous to some and not radically different enough for others. Still signing away on his book tour, I suppose he is more inclined to discuss the hard causes of the Uprising during interviews than in this book.

With respect to softer causes, like evangelism, which he positions centrally, he doesn't indulge in overkill to make a point, but sometimes confuses anger with fear and takes at face value what he could examine a bit more critically. Animal grease and surging evangelism were no doubt the last straw, but only because the orders to use them could not have been perceived as a simple misunderstanding after a century of many kinds of deliberate and outrageous British assaults on Indian culture, property, laws, and human rights.

About this, a variety of Indian and foreign-born people had already reached consensus many times, sometimes long before 1857. Those harsher provocations are not discussed in The Last Mughal, which focuses on events in Delhi, which was at that time still a grand and antique city in a state of preservation, home to an exquisite culture. One hopes Dalrymple is saving the tougher subject matter of how to assign responsibility for the background of the cataclysmic events of 1857 for another book. As it is, he has already told the Hindu that this book has made him more friends in India than in England.

The book is cause for celebration. The thinking is sensitive, the language is fluid and rich. It conveys the excitement of breaking new ground, and the pictures and line drawings at the start of each chapter are delightful. The two new maps parading as old ones, in which Metcalfe House seems to dwarf the Imperial Palace, Hindus seem to live east of the Ganges, and 1857 looks like the 16th century, are very silly, but one can't let that get in the way. The British sources tend towards diaries and letters, and produce an up-close-and-personal effect, while the Persian and Urdu source material is more often drawn from professional writing of various kinds, so it generates a more public voice and panoramic view. Going back and forth between the two sides of the narrative, I felt as if I was walking up and down a seesaw, faster and faster, back and forth, until the final British-led bloodbath led onto the slow, grim comedy of the denouement.

As a child, I always wondered about the the strange reek inside the Mughal tombs of Delhi, something like ancient bird droppings, which was missing at the Taj Mahal. I'd been told that these crumbly, dark and elegant monuments belonged to the 16th and 17th centuries,and never thought about that again. Now, this book has brought home to me how recent was their ruin, how active the scent of death and decay that hangs about them still, that many of them were family mausoleums, and that my great-grandfathers had already been born before a long, gruesome seige and a grisly genocide was carried out in those environs in broad daylight. I remember the vultures were still all over Delhi more than a century later.

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Khooni Darwaza, where three senior princes were stripped, shot, and their bodies robbed of jewelry by one Major William Hodson

Dalrymple's recent article in The Guardian explores similarities between British thinking in 1857 and widespread present perceptions in the West about the Iraq War. From some perspectives, the similarities are obvious and striking; from others, the similarities are not fully admissible. It is certainly alarming to find that the mainstream press has reactivated the very same language last used by the British in 1857 to describe the Uprising — to describe the Iraq War today.

It is disheartening to see that in the post-colonial world, complications and spiraling violence can still be as easily provoked and fed upon by occupying forces playing on internecine rivalries. It is unpleasant to remember that the Bush Administration claimed to have received their intelligence about WMD from British sources. It is strange to see Queen Elizabeth, who last visited Washington to bestow an award on George Bush Sr. for planning and executing the first Gulf War, now returning to reinforce the military alliance. Meanwhile, Tony Blair, who should probably, given the current scheme of things, be tried by a kangaroo court and hung up to dry, is being sent off on an international farewell tour instead. One must wonder, are her private assets not yet suitably diversified?

I appreciate and enjoy The Last Mughal for the depth and decency and richness of its narrative, and will read it many times, but I don't see the point of setting out a new and elaborate defense to counter the British allegations of 150 years ago. The British position, developed to justify deposing the monarch, was that Bahadur Shah Zafar was singularly responsible for fomenting a pan-Islamic rebellion against the British stretching from West Asia across India. Although Saddam Husein might not have been plotting anything like that either, to draw any similarities by implication and suggestion is to stretch facts to fit the polemic.

The question that goes unanswered is, did the British deserve it then, and have we and anyone else done anything to deserve it now? There is no question that the movements of 1857 included Muslim jihadis, as did others that came before in the multitude of violent eruptions that represented efforts to rid the Subcontinent of the British occupation. Surely the more important point is that these populist, pan-Indian movements brought about consensus across religious and cultural lines about British wrongdoing, and eventually gave birth to cooperative, sustained resistance, rather than belonging to or advocating for any religion. Today's popular resistances in West Asia carry forward a different set of historical grievances and cultural motifs, although they may one day coalesce and draw a motley set of movements together so that even Sunni and Shia will come to terms.

Image sources: Maps of the World, The Milli Gazette

Read parts two and three of this series.

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  • Sachin

    What the will not tell you about 1857:

    The war of 1857-59 was the biggest revolt in European colonies. It had uprooted British colonial rule from a large part of India. Not only did this war shake the roots of British imperialist rule but also caused panic in the European colonial powers. For the European powers, based on colonial exploitation and loot, it was necessary to distort the facts about this war and to spew poison against it. So was it necessary for the ‘intellectuals’ nurtured by colonial rule to discredit the proud saga of this war of independence. Whatever was taught under colonial rule about this War of Independence and whatever continues to be taught post 1947 under semi colonial rule, aims only to crush and maim the anti imperialist aspirations of the Indian people.
    The propagated perception about 1857 is that it was a mutiny by Hindu and Muslim sepoys against the British practice of putting the fat of cows and pigs on cartridges. This propaganda was definitely used to aid the struggle. But had this been the main reason, how would the Hindu and Muslim sepoys have continued to use these very cartridges in the fight against the British Army? It is an uncontested fact that the Hindu and Muslim sepoys fought the British army with these very cartridges, and that they put up heroic fights. The British judges themselves cited this fact during the cases against these freedom fighters. But the colonial rulers and their Oxbridge servitors registered this myth in the textbooks. The motive was and is clear. It was to falsely establish that the Indians were incapable of fighting against colonial rule and they had committed this ‘mistake’ swayed away by religious sentiments.
    Not merely a revolt of feudals
    The other widespread and deceptive propaganda about the War of 1857 is that this was merely a revolt by old feudal rulers whose riyasats were being annexed by the British. But the events of 1857 themselves belie this proposition. On 10th May 1857, the sepoys in Meerut uprooted British rule and marched to Delhi. At that time no feudal ruler was fighting the British militarily. The overthrow of British rule by the sepoys definitely encouraged those feudal kings who opposed colonial rule over India. This is also significant, that after being uprooted from major parts of the country, British colonialists tried to woo many ‘rebel’ kings to join their side; these rejected their offers and jumped into the struggle for independence. Oxbridge-bred intellectuals are unable to digest this fact that major section of the people took to struggle against colonial rule. The reality however is that the war of 1857 was a war by the people in which feudals opposing colonial rule also took part.
    Not a Sepoy Revolt alone
    The third fallacious position has been of characterizing 1857 merely as a ‘sepoy mutiny’. This falsehood divorces the war of independence of 1857-59 from the peasant struggles ongoing in the country for several years before 1857. Between 1853 and 1857 armed struggles of the peasantry and including struggles by Adivasis were on against colonial rule in large parts of the country. Sepoys anyway were peasants in uniform. To see a Chinese wall between the peasant struggles and revolt of sepoys is wrong. We are quoting just one example here, which clearly shows the understanding of the freedom fighters; “A special feature of the revolt of 1857 was that the rebels were interested in destroying the survey records of the villages which contained records of the duration of ownership and descriptions of the rights.” (Edwards, Collector of Badaun)
    In the course of the War of independence of 1857-59, the Indian sepoys gave crushing defeats to the British forces at many places. By this is established the lie of the premise that the Indians could not take on the British army. Bankim Chandra in his Anand Math and also several Oxbridge intellectuals have tried to keep alive this falsehood.
    British Repression
    This fact is clear from history that the people participated in a big way in the War of Independence of 1857-59. but the outrages heaped by the British colonialists on the masses have remained imprisoned in the subterrans of history. More than 20 lakh Indians were killed and lakhs died due to famines and illnesses due to war. Rape of Indian women was resorted to on a large scale. Symbols of British barbaric repression were established in village after village, town after town. The entire native industry was destroyed, lands were confiscated. The British looted property worth millions and these were loaded onto thousands of ships and transported to England.
    Between 1757 to 1857 the British unleashed barbaric exploitation over the major part of the Indian subcontinent; infact this would be better termed as unbridled loot. The keenest edge of this loot was borne by the peasantry who came forward in struggles against colonial rule. Their rebellions laid the foundations of 1857-59. The War of Independence of 1857-59 was the last ‘independent’ act on the political stage of the country of those feudal powers who were not ready to accept subjugation by British colonialists. They saw a chance to achieve independence in the war of independence launched by the sepoys on the foundations of the peasant revolts. Where this was the last ‘independent’ act of the feudal forces, it was the first ‘independent’ act of the peasant masses in widespread parts of India. The main force of the War of Independence of 1857-59 was the peasantry. Bahadur Shah Zafar had not prepared the peasants and sepoys for the revolt; rather the peasants and sepoys prepared Bahadur Shah to take the leadership of the War.
    An unprecedented unity between Hindus and Muslims against foreign colonial rule was seen in the War of Independence of 1857-59, and this was based on the equal interests of the people against colonial loot. Whenever the struggle against imperialist exploitation intensified in the country, unity was established between various communities, between Hindus and Muslims. Along with, whichever organizations decided to fight imperialist exploitation, tried to establish the unity of the people especially of Hindus and Muslims the two big communities and they adopted 1857 as a symbol of the same. Savarkar is a good example of this. In 1907 he wrote about India’s First War of Independence. Later, after surrendering before colonial rulers during his jail tenure, he became an enemy of Hindu-Muslim unity. There have been continual conspiracies to give a communal colour to the War of 1857 and there have also been attempts to portray it as a ‘jihad’ by Muslim feudal forces although the presence of large numbers of Hindus in the rebels exposes that such attempts are wrongly inspired. British historian William Dalerymple’s recent attempt related to the history of 1857 should be seen in the context of the current anti Muslim campaign of US-British imperialism.
    Indians were defeated in the War of 1857-59 and British rule was established over the entire country. There has been discussion on the various aspects of our weaknesses in the War of Independence. The leadership of the War of Independence was in the hands of feudal forces who were in a state of disunity after the decline of Mughal rule. In the struggle between feudal forces after the decline of the Mughal empire, the Marathas emerged as a major force, but the defeat in the III rd battle of Panipat greatly weakened them. The English used the mutual fights between the feudal forces to expand their own rule. The feudal class was a declining force and was not capable of leading the War of Independence. The capitalist class developing in the womb of feudal society was very weak, and the industrial working class was not there at all on the scene. The widespread revolt of the masses, whose main force was the peasantry, was afflicted with weakness of leadership.
    Confinement to the northern part of India is described as one more weakness of the War of Independence. To some extent this is true. The war of independence was strongest in North India, but the flames of this War spread as for as North West, current Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Wars against British colonial rule in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the South took place from the last decades of the 18th century to early 19th century. In 1845-46 the British fought the Lahore durbar in Punjab in which many feudal kingdoms of North India supported the British. Many feudal kingdoms supported the British even during the war of independence of 1857. Among them were Scindias, Holkar, the Nawab of Rampur, King of Patiala etc. In Nepal the Ranas, who had killed a part of the ruling elite, captured power and became puppets of the British. The then ruler, Jang Bahadur Rana, arrested many leaders of this War for Independence and showed his loyalty to the British. It should also be borne in mind that this was the ‘first’ war fought by the people of India.
    The widespread caste system in the feudal society of India became another weakness of the War of Independence, as it held a large part of society in the fetter of caste exploitation. Actually the caste system was and is a big hindrance in the building of a anti colonial nation (society)-state. The upper castes were a majority in the army and the feudal forces were committed to maintain the caste specific privileges. Even then, the militants from dalits and backward castes contributed in this war for independence. The feats of many of such women and men are remarkable. Everyone knows that the British colonial collaborated with feudal rulers and maintained that instrument of exploitation of surplus labour – the inhuman caste system. Democratic revolution in India would have played a big role in weakening the caste system but the capitalist class of that time was very weak. The British colonial rulers ruthlessness crushed the forces of democratic revolution. The main weight of the exploitation-oppression fell on the peasant masses, the big section of which were dalits and backward castes. Even today, the task of completing democratic revolution lies before us, which can be completed only by a successful new democratic revolution led by the working class and having worker-peasant alliance as its basis. Only new democratic revolution can lay the foundation for ending caste oppression and the caste system from the country.
    The 150 anniversary of 1857 is not important for us only because it marks a proud period of our history when we took up weapons to end colonial rule. It is most important for us because the classes the British nurtured after crushing the War of Independence of 1857, the classes they developed, those classes are in power today and are the enemies of new democratic revolution. Those same feudal kingdoms, which had supported the British in 1857 and participated in the loot of the people and the country, are today part of the ruling elite. That feudal class which the British created through permanent settlements, are part of the state. That capitalist class who were compradors for British industries and were junior partners of British capital i.e. India’s comprador big capitalists, are part of the power structure. These comprador big capitalists and big landlords are the ruling classes in the current semi-colonial semi feudal system based on loot and exploitation of the people and the country, and they are responsible for the current poverty, deprivation and difficulties of our people.
    A section of intellectuals, similar to those whom the British prepared through the education system of Macaulay, serves these ruling classes who are dependent on imperialism. The earlier bread looked down upon the country and people and sang praises of the colonial rulers. They did not look at the weaknesses of Indian society from the point of view of removing them, but rather of justifying the colonial rule. Today these ‘intellectual’ servitors are singing praises of the new economic policies which are increasing imperialist loot, and are terming the loot of the country and the exploitation of the people as ‘development.’ Posts in the Govt. institutions and departments, foreign travels on the invitations of foreign universities and institutions, convening of NGOs conducted by imperialist capital or associating with them, place in the media under monopoly of imperialist capital or comprador big capitalists – these are the incentives for which they pawn their intellectual capacities. This much democratization is there that such intellectual servitors come from all sections of society.
    In 1947 the British colonialists transferred power to those comprador classes who stood by them in 1857 or those the British eventually developed. An investigation into those who were awarded with Rai Bahadur, Khan Bahadur and Sardar Bahadur for treachery with the War of Independence between 1857-1860, would be an exposure of a big section of today’s ruling classes. The political representatives of these, the Congress and Muslim league, had no objection to the representatives of feudals in the then Central Vidhan Sabhas, nor did they raise the demand that such people should be elected by the people of the stat. Along with the British colonialists these comprador classes and their parties drowned the country in a communal holocaust. They were not the inheritors of the anti imperialist legacy of 1857.
    When Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh, in that very Britain whose rule set new records in loot and plunder, held the 200 years of colonial rule as positive for our country and when this raised no debate in the Parliament of India where there are good numbers of pseudo leftists and pseudo patriots, does the character of the ruling classes of India not get exposed? The rightist, centrist and ‘leftist’ sections of the ruling classes are all one on serving imperialist capital. It is not accidental that no attention has been paid to the condition of those families who lands were seized by British rulers in 1857.
    Here forces who continued to struggle for freedom of the country from colonial rule and to give sacrifices for the same are the real inheritors of the First War of Independence of 1857 (a name given by Karl Marx). Today its real inheritors are the communist revolutionaries who are fighting against imperialism, comprador capitalists and feudals and are giving sacrifices in this struggle. The real homage to the martyrs of 1857 is to intensify the struggle against imperialism and its comprador classes.
    Assemble at Meerut on 10th May 2007 in memory of the war of independence of 1857 and pay homage to the anti imperialist martyrs of the anti-colonial war.
    (Translated from Pratirodh Ka Swar (Hindi) January 2007, Vol. 21, No. 1)

  • kadamfilms

    How to read 1857 today? What is the The Relevance of 1857

    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.

  • zade

    Please read parts 2 and 3 of this article — either on blogcritics, at the links provided above, or at zadeblog — for my take on the role played by some of the women involved.