As commoners say every action can be viewed from more then one perspective. Similarly, India’s struggle for independence was interpreted in different ways by many historians who lived during that period. For some it was a worthless act by jobless people whereas for others it was their prime motive of life. Many viewed British rule over India as a means for civilising the uncivilised, poor people in India and for some others British rule was the symbol of exploitation.
In this seventy fifth year of independence, we could Look back to these thoughts and could identify the reality from the facts available before us. Let us look into some of these school of thoughts:
- Colonial Approach is influenced by the colonial ideology of domination. It focuses on criticism of indigenous society and culture, and praises the Western culture and values. James Mill, Vincent Smith etc., followed this approach.
- Nationalist Approach evolved as a response to and in confrontation with the colonial approach. Before independence, this school dealt with the ancient and medieval periods of Indian history, and not the modern period. After independence this school focused on modern India. R.C. Majumdar and Tara Chand belonged to this school.
- Marxist Approach focuses on the primary contradiction between the interests of the colonial masters and the native subjects. It also takes notice of the inner contradictions between the different sections of Indian society. R.P. Dutt and A.R. Desai were noted Marxist historians of India.
- Subaltern Approach takes the position that the entire tradition of Indian historiography has an elitist bias and the role of the common masses has been neglected. Ranajit Guha belonged to this school.
- Communalist Approach views Hindus and Muslims as permanently hostile groups whose interests are mutually different and antagonistic to each other.
- Cambridge School envisages Indian nationalism as a product of conflicts among the Indians themselves for getting the benefits from the British rulers. For them Indian nationalist leaders were inspired by the greed of power and material benefits.
- Liberal and Neo-liberal Interpretations imply that the economic exploitation of the colonies was not beneficial to the people of Britain as it delayed the development of the ‘new’ industries in Britain.
- Feminist Historiography focuses on areas of research that analyse colonial structures, such as the legal structure, which affected women’s lives. It also focuses on women’s vulnerability due to the denial of ownership of productive resources.
When we closely examine these thoughts, we could find some of these extremely different from reality. It also symbolizes different ideologies that prevailed during the period. Even if bring it to discussion today, people may find it difficult to reach to an opinion accepted by all the people. It is because even today many stands with colonial thinkers and many are with nationalists.
Even though it is the case when we closely examine the historical text from ancient and medieval ages India was a civilised nation with rich historical background rooted in Indus valley civilisation and such golden ages. The present position of India as the torch bearer of world democracy also makes it clear that India never required an external intervention to be civilised. The people of India were capable of building a strong nation then, now and in future.
So, we could conclude that most of the thinkers who tried to give a communalist, colonial or any such face to this great struggle were mistaken. It was India’s struggle to reach its uncontrollable destiny and on fifteenth of august in 1947, it made its tryst with destiny.