Do you battle with questions and thoughts like what would have happened had Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and other extremist freedom fighters survived and led the Indian independence struggle? Why was Jawahar Lal Nehru chosen as the first prime minister of free India and not Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel? Why did the 1857 mutiny fail when the native soldiers unequivocally formed the majority? Did the British actually contribute to the development of our country? These are only a few intriguing questions and topics that are timelessly and incessantly debated by people from all over the country constituting all age groups when it comes to India’s independence.
A book that can quench your thirst for the answers to the above stated perplexing questions is India’s struggle for Independence. The book has chronologically covered the labour for freedom, starting with the first ever organised struggle in 1857 to the realisation of independence in 1947. It will give you a perspective that you can’t cultivate by mere web articles or during tea time discussions. For instance, one of the biggest eye-openers was the effort to invoke a nationalist pride throughout the country which was never fully unified under any emperor. A few leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Lokmanya Tilak, GK Gokhale, Pherozeshah Mehta and others devoted their whole lives to instil the sentiment of belonging to one nation i.e. India where everyone will be equal and free from the oppressive British rule. To imagine that there was no unified India before the British occupation gives us the jitters and that only justifies the 30 years spent to nurture the nationalistic self-respect which is a pre-requisite for any independence struggle.
The book also covers the rise of communism and socialism in the country and the effect of the Russian revolution of 1917 on the leftists. It illustratively explains the convergence and divergence of leaders with different ideologies and ideas for the country. It explains how leaders like GK Gokhale and Lokmanya Tilak who were close confidantes in personal life went on different paths of moderates and extremists, the roads that reconciled and diverted multiple times during the course of their lives. Another detail that is often understated is the role of an indigenous and vernacular press that kept the fire of the toiling alive even during the dismal days that followed the calling off of the non-cooperation and civil disobedience movement among others.
The writing style of the authors is factual, logical, coherent and analytical; also the content is well-researched. The language used is moderate with jargons used wherever necessary, and at the end of the day the substance is easy to comprehend, is enlightening and engaging. It is a comprehensive coverage of what we are never taught in our history books. Though one may argue that Bipin Chandra is leant towards Congress and Gandhiji, he touches upon all aspects of one of the best independence struggles of world history. It has gone above the academic style and delved more into circumstantial understanding, but due to that, the finer details are avoided in some instances like the Quit India movement of 1942. It is good for understanding the gross picture and an ideological march of civilisation.
The truth is that this is a first of its kind attempt to unfold the struggle for Independence which offers an insight like no other. This book is an adventurous ride which opens those doors of events that you never knew even existed. Anyone with even a remote interest in history should go through this book only to come out illuminated and ever more proud of our nation