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On Parallel, Shining Paths

Gandhiji’s vision of India—a moral, secular version of village life and economy—was the opposite of Nehru’s ideals of socialism, democracy and science. Both made compromises in their stands.

On Parallel, Shining Paths
Illustration by Sajith Kumar
On Parallel, Shining Paths
outlookindia.com
2017-08-11T15:16:40+05:30

It is possible to argue that the Indian national movement has been the greatest achievement of the Indian people. Like all revolutionary movements it had modest beginnings, traceable in complaints against particular policies and measures of the British government, without yet any notion of direct opposition to that government, let alone any vision of what India would be, if or when the colonial rule was to end.

By the end of the century, Indian nationalists had produced brilliant critiques of British rule. Dadabhai Naoroji, the ‘Grand Old Man’ of Indian nationalism, published his Poverty and UnBritish rule in India (1901), a collection of his writings of over some 30 years. R.C. Dutt brought out his two volumes of the Economic History of British Rule in India (1901 and 1903), and G. Subramaniya Iyer his Economic Aspects of British Rule (1903), all devastatingly critical of British rule, of the tribute Britain exacted, its heavy taxation, and its forcible capture of the Indian market. But beyond calling for certain specific measures of reform, they could counterpose no large vision of a liberated India. Indeed, R.C. Dutt disowned any such intention, when he wrote, for example, in his preface to his first volume of the Economic History of British Rule: “The people of India are not fond of sudden changes and revolutions. They do not ask for new constitutions, issuing like armed Minervas from the heads of legislative Jupiters. They prefer to work on lines which have already been laid down”. It almost seemed that what was desired was an improved or reformed British rule with larger Indian collaboration. It is true that that great leader of the ‘militant’ nationalists, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, already spoke of Swaraj or self-rule, but he also held that what India would be like under Swaraj would be for...

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