A book that goes into the fifth edition reveals that it has been received well by the reading public. On reading the book, one finds that it tries to bring out the fact expressed by a British judge in Bombay, that the British Empire in India was ?acquired not by any plan or ambition conceived at home, but by the accidents of fortune, the courage, the fears, the vigour, the despair and the crimes of individual adventures.?
In 1885, the Indian National Congress proved the main vehicle for carrying on the drawn-out struggle for Independence. From the first stirrings in the 19th century to the final British withdrawal in 1947, the emergence and marshalling of Indian opinion was a long, diverse process. The author says that no amount of national movements in pre-1947 India could be limited merely to evolution of ideas, to the growth of organisations or debates on techniques. Underlying everything was the nature of the society in which they operated. The Indians were affected by the British presence and policies which the imperialists sought to impose. There emerged in the 19th century, disruption and establishment of new forms, new social groups, economic patterns and vested interests which influenced the nature and approach of the Western style of public and political organisations.
The early chapters in this book outline the broad facets of Indian society and analyse some of the social changes that occurred in the subcontinent during the 19th century, initially in the urban areas of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It was here that the seeds of national unity and even of independence were laid in a hesitant manner. The later chapters deal with the growth of militancy, the experimentation with ways of violence and revolution by the same kind of elite that was responsible for the early developments. Subsequently there is an assessment of Mahatma Gandhi, his leadership of the Congress and the techniques of non-violent action. Counter-pointing these developments in the Congress party is a study of Muslim opinion and the growth of the Muslim League to a position where it became necessary to include the party'sopinion over the grant of independence.
The book concludes with a brief account of what has occurred in the successor states. The conclusion in the last chapter was written after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi'sassassination and the election of her son Rajiv Gandhi as the prime minister. In other words, the narrative traces the developments that took place from the time of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi through to Rajiv Gandhi; the entry of V.P. Singh; the demolition of Babri structure in Ayodhya in 1992, its aftermath, the coming of the National Democratic Alliance to power with BJP as the head in 1999 till its loss of power in the 2004 elections; and the return of the Congress to power.
Written by an Honorary Reader in history at the University of Sydney, the book highlights the events of the 19th century, the organisations and ideas that ?emerged, developed, contested and displaced just as different techniques and technologies of resistance that were created and contested.? The concept of the nation and of national justice is defined and through the process of contest and struggle, it expounds on the nationalist struggle and an overview of the developments that led to the election of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre in early 2004.
(New Dawn Press, A-59 Okhla Industrial Area, Phase II, New Delhi-110 020.)