The book, Modren India (Class XIIth), authored by Bipan Chandra, was originally published in 1990. In its recent edition of March 2005, no change even of a single comma has been made. However, a lot of historical researches have been done on the subject, which reveals new facts and new interpretations.
Full of factual and historical errors
The textbook is full of factual mistakes. Some of the gross errors are as follows.
Subhas Chandra Bose
?In 1833 the Government appointed a law Commission headed by Lord Macaulay to codify Indian Laws.? (Page 84). It is absolutely wrong. Lord Macaulay came in India in 1834. The Law Commission was appointed on June 1, 1835.
?Ramakrishna Parmahamsa (1834-86) was a saintly person.? (Page 173). The year of birth of Swami Ramakrishna has been given wrong. It should be 1836.
?H.S. Olcott, who later came to India and founded the headquarters of the Society at Adyar near Madras in 1886.? (Page 175). The year of the establishment of the above (Theosophical) society has been given totally wrong. It should be 1882.
?For instance of the 68 members of the Imperial Legislative Council??( Page 202). The numbers of the Members of the Imperial Legislative Council as given is wrong, it should be 69.
?General Dyer, the Military Commander of Amritsar? surrounded the Bagh (Garden) with army unit.? (Page 225). General Dyer was not the Military Commander of Amritsar. He was the Brigadier General of the 45 Brigade at Jallandhar. He was suddenly called to Amritsar to control the law and order, situation. Similarly, the Jallianwalla was not a garden as mentioned but it was a land of a Zamindar named Jallian.
?India and the Company made peace with Holkar in January 1806 by the treaty of Raighat.? (Page 57). The date and place as given is wrong, it would be treaty of Rajpurghat, which was held on December 25, 1805.
?Subhas Chandra Bose has escaped from India in March 1941.? (Page 265). It is wrong. Subhas escaped from India in January 1941.
?Subhas Bose was killed in an aeroplane accident on his way to Tokyo.? (Page 266). The death of S.C. Bose is still a disputed issue. The Government of India could not confirm his death even after appointing many commissions.
Events of 1857
Some of the misleading and vague statements given are below.
?A mighty popular revolt broke out in Northern and Central India in 1857.? (Page 103).
?It did not spread to South India and most of Eastern and Western India.? (Page 116).
?Madras, Bombay, Bengal and the Western Punjab remained undisturbed, even though the popular feeling in these provinces favoured the rebels.? (Page 117).
?Here the peasants and zamindars gave free expression to their grievances by attacking the money-lenders and new zamindars who had displaced them form the land. They took advantage of the revolt to destroy the money-lenders account books and records of debts.? (Page 111).
?Nana Saheb tarnished his brave record by deceitfully killing the British.? (Page 114)
?The Rani (Lakshmibai of Jhansi) vacillated for some time.? (Page 114)
The above statements about the various aspects of 1857 like the nature of the great revolt, of the extent of the area, nature of leadership and the role of the peasantry are biased, partial and one sided. It is totally wrong on the basis of the facts. To regard the Great Revolt of 1857 as it was limited only to north and central India is false and baseless. Latest researches based on the archival material, which are easily available and provincial archives at Andhra, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and even at London reveal the altogether different realties. Some of the details may be found in the book entitled South India in 1857, War of Independence, by Prof (Dr) V.D. Devekar (Published from Poona in 1993). The revolt had been spread even at Goa and Pondicherry. In south even the Vanvasis of hilly forests of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra participated in the Great Revolt.
The author has totally denounced the role of the leaders like Nana Saheb, Rani Jhansi and Kunwar Singh. The fact is that Nana Saheb along with Tantia Tope and Azimulla Khan was the chief organiser of the Great Revolt of 1857 in northern as well as in the southern India. To call his act deceitful is a gross injustice on the part of the author. He did not deceive revolutionaries or their cause. The author'scomments about Rani Jhansi is absolutely vague as she fought a fierce battle with the British army. Similarly, Kunwar Singh at the age of 80 had led the revolt and defected the British army near Arrah. The above statements are not based on historical facts but are committed to leftist ideological and misleading views.
(The author is former Professor, Department of History, Kurukshetra University.)