The Joke Called Indian 'History'

May 9th., 2004.

Standard Eight History Textbook. Copyright, Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, Pune. Part of the 'Syllabus for Primary Education, 1988', prepared in accordance with the Indian Union's 'National Policy on Education, 1986' and implemented with effect from the academic year June 1989 - April 1990.

The Preface says: "This book was scrutinized by many teachers, educationists and experts from all over Maharashtra State to make it as flawless and standard as possible. The History Subject Committee, the authors and the artist have taken great pains to prepare this book."

This textbook is used in all the 'Government aided' 'Catholic' Church-run schools...

Chapter I:
Dawn of the Modern Age

Indians came into contact with the European people after the European merchants started coming to India in the sixteenth century. The interaction between them continued to grow in later years. The Portuguese were the first to come to India. Subsequently, the English and the French also settled in India. The growing contact with the Europeans deeply affected the Indian people. Values such as rationalism, individualism, humanism embedded in European society during the Renaissance period began to take root in India as well. It resulted in the spread of modern ideas in India. This year, we are going to study the history of modern India. To understand it properly, it is ncessary to study the conditions which gave rise to the modern age in Europe.

Beginnings Of A Change In Medieval Europe

Till the fifteenth century, European society was strongly under the influence of feudal lords and the clergy, while the monarchies were comparatively weak. Common people suffered under the dual burden of feudalism and the Church. The medieval social order had started cracking in the fourteenth century. Thinkers like Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas severely attacked the traditional way of thinking and impressed upon the people the importance of a rational approach. They taught the people to look at the world with open eyes and to believe only what was acceptable to reason.

Nature Of The Renaissance

The Renaissance that set in in Europe during the fifteenth century was an intellectual revolution. This period witnessed the revival of the study of ancient literature written in Greek and Latin. The invention of the printing press provided a great impetus to the spread of learning, which inspired the intellectual revolution in Europe. A rational and critical approach to life, realization of the importance of the material world, capacity to appreciate beauty in its various forms and other such ideas characteristic of the ancient classics, took root in Europe once again. Man became the centre of all thought. This new trend affected various fields of human activity such as literature, painting, sculpture, sciences, etc. Instead of narrating the stories of divine beings, artists began depicting human emotions, beauties of Nature and human beings in various forms. Breating the barriers of traditional though, scientists like Copernicus and Galileo conducted research on independent lines and advanced new theories in science which boldly challenged the prevalent ones. They struck at the very roots of the age-old beliefs which were based on tradition. The new independent way of thinking influenced the religious field also and gave rise to the religious reform movement.

The Reformation

The Christian Church had a tremendous hold on medieval European society. Bible, the holy book of the Christians was in Latin, which the common people did not understand. Naturally, they could not read the holy book themselves. The clergy took advantage of their ignorance and gave undue importance to rituals. The Church was rife with corruption. The movement which took place in Europe against such evils in the institution of Church is called the 'Reformation'.

Thinkers like Wyclif, Erasmus, and Calvin raised their voice against the evil tendencies prevalent in the Church. To enable the common people to read the Bible on their own, it was translated into the regional languages. Martin Luther, a German monk, issued pamphlets severely condemning the corrupt practices rampant in the Church. He exhorted the people not to follow the preachings of the clergy blindly, but to read the Bible in order to understand the basic religious tenets. He openly challenged the absolute authority of the Pope, who was the head of the Church. Thus he inspired the religious reform movement in Europe. Since Martin Luther 'protested' against the corrupt religious practices, his followers came to be called the 'Protestants'. The religious reform movement led to the lowering of the Pope's prestige in the Christian world. Some European rulers, who disliked the Pope's domination, denounced his authority and started acting independently. The English King Henry VIII was one of them.

The Renaissance and Reformation laid the foundation of modern ideas in Europe.

Rise Of Nation-States

During the sixteenth century, political power of feudal lords declined in Europe and that of the kings increased. This century also witnessed the rise of a feeling of unity among people, who had lived together for years in a particular region, and who were tied by common bonds of race, language, historic traditions and who shared common political and economic interests. People, inspired with such a sense of national unity, extended support to their kings. The king thus became a symbol of national unity. Gradually, all power came to be concentrated in his hands, and he became powerful. All these factors led to the rise of nation-states in Europe. England, France, Spain and some other countries emerged as nation-states during this period. Rise of nation-states is a characteristic feature of the modern age.

Trade Of Europe With Asia

Towards the end of the medieval period, important changes took place in the economic field as well. Arab merchants used to bring commodities like spices, precious stones, fine cotton and silk cloth, sugar, etc. from Asian countries to Europe for sale. These commodities were unloaded in the Italian cities like Genoa, Venice and Milan. From there, European merchants carried these commodities to different markets all over Europe, where they were in great demand. At the end of the fifteenth century, European sailors discovered new sea-routes from Europe to Asia. They also discovered new lands unknown to the Europeans till then. Consequently, European trade expanded and with it, profits earned by European merchants also increased to a great extent.

Commercial Rivalry

When the new lands were discovered, Portuguese and Spanish merchants rushed there for trade and made enormous profits. England, France and Holland followed suit in the sixteenth century. They developed their naval power and encouraged their sailors to undertake sea-voyages for trading in the newly discovered lands. This naturally led to commercial rivalry among the European nations.

Rise Of Mercantilism

Europe's overseas trade increased by leaps and bounds in the seventeenth century. Resourceful merchants, adventurous sailors and ambitious kings supporting them were the main pillars of the growing European trade. Trade and commerce became an important part of Europe's economy. To provide incentives for promoting trade became the main policy of the rulers. For the prosperity of their country, they considered it essential to outmatch their commercial rivals. To attain this objective, they granted concessions in custom duties to their merchants. This economic policy is known as mercantilism.

With the growth of trade, enormous amounts of money accumulated in the hands of European merchants. They utilized this money to increase the production of goods. They supplied money and raw materials to artisans for increasing their output. Money thus invested in the process of production with a view to gaining larger profits is called 'capital'.

Establishment Of Trading Companies

Although European merchants obtained enormous profits out of overseas trade, it involved innumerable difficulties and risks also. To solve this problem, some merchants started undertaking a few mercantile activities collectively such as placing orders for goods with artisans, collecting goods from them and keeping those safely stored; while some others started pooling their capital and performing all trading activities collectively. Such practices soon culminated in the formation of trading companies. The English East India Company, which started trading in India in the early seventeenth century, was such a company established by a few London merchants. Shortly thereafter, similar companies came into existence in other European countries like Holland and France.

Effects Of The Growth Of Trade In Europe

The growth of trade in Europe introduced remarkable changes in the economic, social and political life of Europe. Trade and industry came to occupy an important place in European economy. Barter system, prevalent in medieval Europe gave way to the use of coins of precious metals like gold and silver as medium of exchange. Cities like London, Antwerp, Dieppe, Bristol became new trading centres. The number of banks extending credit for trade increased significantly. More and more capital came to be invested in trade and commerce. The number of industries connected with trade such as shipbuilding developed rapidly. With the expansion of trade and industry, European nations acquired enormous profits and consequently became wealthy and prosperous.

Development of trade and related occupations gave rise to a new class of people such as bankers, brokers, shopkeepers, clerks, accountants etc. carrying out different commercial activities. This came to be called the middle class. Not bound by traditional ideas, this class was eager to learn new things and to undertake new activities. The middle class, therefore, readily assimilated modern values like rationalism, freedom of thought, individualism, experimentalism etc. The middle class thus became the backbone of modern social order.

Political life in Europe was also affected by the growth of trade. For their own benefit, the merchants supported their kings, while the rulers, realizing that the prosperity of their country depended chiefly on the merchant class, extended them full support. The mercantile community, therefore, came to occupy a prestigious position in the country.

Establishment Of Colonies

The Europeans established their colonies first in the continents of America, where they acquired rich territories. Spain set up her colonies chiefly in South and Central America. England established colonies along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean in North America. The Dutch secured control of Indonesia in South-east Asia. In India, the Portuguese were the first to establish their colony. They were followed by the English, the Dutch and the French. Later, Europeans set up colonies in Africa and Australia as well. European settlers carried their culture and values with them to the new lands. As a result, people living in different parts of the world came into contact with modern European culture and civilization.

Rise Of Colonialism

The goods which were in demand in European markets were purchased by European merchants at the lowest possible prices in the colonies. On the other hand, they sold their goods in the colonies at a high price, thereby earning enormous profits. To earn more and more profit from colonial trade, they imposed various restrictions on their colonies. It resulted in economic exploitation of the colonies. In course of time, they suppressed the original inhabitants and became rulers of the colonies. This policy towards the colonies is called colonialism. Rise of colonialism was thus a direct result of the growth of trade of European countries.

Chapter IV:
Establishment And Expansion Of The British Power In India

At the beginning of the sixteenth century the Portuguese had established themselves firmly on the West Coast of India. The Dutch, the English and the French merchants followed in the seventeenth century. At that time, the Mughals were very powerful in India. Hence, initially, the European merchants concentrated on trade.

Initial Activities Of The European Traders

Initially, the European merchants carried out their trade by peaceful means meekly seeking permits from the Mughal Emperor. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the English and the French trading companies, had, for convenience of trade, established trading depots or factories at different places in India. The Portuguese had their factories at Goa, Diu and Daman; the Dutch at Surat, Khambat, Patna and Machilipatnam; the Englsh had their factories at places like Chennai (Madras), Surat, Hugli, Patna, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai while the French had established factories at Mahe, Karaikal, Puduchcheri (Pondicherry) and Chandranagar. With the death of Aurangzeb started the decline of the Mughal Empire. The Mughal Governors began to administer their provinces as indepenendent rulers. The political scene was filled with instability and chaos. This situation was fuly exploited by the European merchants.

The Anglo-French Rivalry

By the end of the seventeenth century, the English had eliminated their Portuguese and Dutch rivals from the commercial field; but the rivalry between the English and the French for monopoly of trade in India had assumed serious proportions. Chennai on the East Coast of India was the chief trading centre of the English, while Puduchcheri, which is close to it, was that of the French. These territories were under the suzerainty of the Nawab of Carnatic. Around the middle of the eighteenth century, open conflict flared up among the native rulers who aspired to be the Nawab. The French and the English saw this as a golden opportunity to enter the Carnatic politics. The Englsih and the French, each offered military support to rival claimants. This situation directly led to three wars between the English and the French during the period from 1744 to 1763. They are known as the Carnatic Wars. In the third battle, the French suffered a defeat. As the French were routed in this power struggle, the English did not have any European rival left in India.

Chapter XVIII:
India Attains Freedom

Mountbatten Plan

Lord Louis Mountbatten arrived in India in March 1947. He held discussions with all eminent Indian political leaders. Thereafter he drafted a plan for the creation of two independent States of Bharat and Pakistan by partitioning India.

The possibility of partition of the motherland was naturally intolerable to Indians. Unity of India had been the very basis of Congress ideology. The League however was determined to have Pakistan. For the attainment of its objective, the League indulged in indiscriminate violence throughout the country. The Congress ultimately came to the sad conclusion that there was no alternative to partition, if India was to be free. With extreme reluctance, the Congress gave its consent to the plan of partition.

End Of The French And Portuguese Powers In India

Even after India became independent, some parts of the country remained in French and Portuguese hands. Chandranagar, Puduchcheri, Karaikal, Mahe, Yanam were under French control, while Goa, Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli were with the Portuguese. Indian inhabitants of these regions were eager to be citizens of India. Indian Government demanded the transfer of these territories to Indian hands, since those were integral parts of the country.

In 1949, the French transferred Chandranagar to India in view of the result of the plebiscite taken therein. Thereafter the other Indian territories in their possession were also handed over to India by the French.

The Goa Liberation Movement

Portugal, unlike France, declined to give back the Indian territories under its control. Indians had to struggle hard for the acquisition of those territories.

The first person to strive for the political awakening of people in Goa was Dr. T.B. Kunha. Through his writings, he strongly criticized the exploitative nature of Portuguese rule. With his initiative, the Goa Congress Committee was formed with a view to organizing the Goanese people to fight against the Portuguese. In 1946, Dr. Rammanohar Lohia organized a Satyagraha movement for the liberation of Goa. At about the same time, the Azad Gomantak Dal was formed to liberate the Portuguese colonies at Dadra and Nagar Haveli in Gujarat. Young members of this Dal made an armed attack on the Dadra and Nagar Haveli region and freed it from the clutches of the Portuguese power. Vishwanath Lavande, Nanasaheb Kajarekar and Sudhir Phadke were among those who took part in this attack.

From 1954, the Goa liberation movement gathered momentum. A committee for the liberation of Goa was establishd. It sent a number of batches of satyagrahis to Goa. Well-known personalities like Senapati Bapat, Mahadevshastri Joshi and his wife Sudhatai, Sudhir Phadke, Nanasaheb Gore participated in the movement. A leading figure in the Goa Liberation Movement was Mohan Ranade. The Portuguese inflicted indescribable atrocities on the satyagrahis. It infuriated Indian public opinion and the struggle was further intensified.

During this period, the Indian Government was conducting negotiations with Portugal. But it proved of no avail. At last, in December 1961, Indian troops marched in Goa. Within a few days, the Portuguese Army surrendered. Goa was liberated. Imperialism was totally uprooted from the Indian soil.
May 9th., 2004.
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