• Indian Nationalism v/s Hindu Nationalism

    A. G. Noorani

    August 13, 2016

    Three very revealing statements by the then president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) imply all too clearly that the BJP is an admittedly “Hindu party”; rejects “secular policies”; and has as its main objective the establishment of a Hindu Raj so that “Hindu interests” would prevail (“rule India”). This, of course, is not Indian nationalism but Hindu nationalism, which the BJP calls Hindutva or “cultural nationalism”.

    All this rests on a basis that is obvious unstated by the BJP. But its ideologue V. D. Savarkar spelt it out boldly. It is that Hindus constitute a separate “nation”. Hindutva is another name for the two-nation theory — a “Hindu nation”, as distinct from other Indians, over whom it rules to promote “Hindu interests”. Savarkar was also the author of both Hindutva and the two-nation theory. 

    This is the very basis that underlies Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s insidious ventures. A secular Constitution is being silently chipped away by executive acts to establish a Hindu Raj. The shell will remain. The kernel will be gone. Its architect, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, would have fought against it. So must we — Indians who reject the two-nation theory and value our secular credo.

    If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.” (Dr B. R. Ambedkar; Pakistan or the Partition of India, 354-55.)

    noorani 2

    Image courtesy http://www.columbia.edu

    With an eye to the Assembly elections, the BJP has once again launched a menacing campaign for the establishment of Hindu Raj in India and thus effectuate V. D. Savarkar’s concept of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, in short. The opening salvo was fired by its president, Amit Shah. But it was left to Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, to let the cat out of the bag when, on March 26, 2016, he lauded “the nationalism of Savarkar”: “This is a huge challenge for us. This is a big ideological challenge. We should consider this an ideological battle” (Hindustan Times, March 27, 2016). Why now, nearly two years after the BJP regime came to power? The answer is obvious. Having concealed the Hindutva card cleverly and touted “development” instead in 2014, the BJP has now reverted to its original faith and to its mentor, Savarkar, author of Hindutva: Who is a Hindu. He was judicially indicted by Justice J. L. Kapur of the Supreme Court as a participant in the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhi.

    On February 8 this year, Amit Shah acknowledged with pride that Modi “has been working to the true traditions and culture of this country and this is a proud moment for Hinduism (Sanatan dharma)”. By performing aarti at Kashi, Modi had aroused hopes in the hearts of millions of people that he would protect “our” culture. The context lends added significance. He was speaking at Vrindavan after visiting the Banke Bihari Mandir “to seek blessings” and inaugurating the Priya Kantju temple. The Times of India’s correspondent Anuja Jaiswal, who reported the speech (February 9), correctly sized up what Shah was up to:

    Setting the tone and tenor for the BJP’s ‘Mission UP 2017’, the party’s president, Amit Shah, played the Hindutva card by portraying Narendra Modi as a true Hindu nationalist… whose idea of governance was not limited only to material (bhautik) development of the country but also spiritual (adhyatmik).

    One has reason for disquiet when men in power profess to look after the people’s spiritual needs (emphasis added, throughout).

    The plans had evidently been made earlier. The incident at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on February 9 came in handy, as did the Member of Parliament, Asaduddin Owaisi’s justified refusal to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. The symbolism of the Mother in Hindutva’s credo deserves greater notice than it has received so far.
    Secularism has ever been an integral part of Indian nationalism ever since the Indian National Congress was founded in 1885. These swadeshi McCarthyites prescribe their own loyalty oaths to the rest of the countrymen. Joseph McCarthy did not wield governmental power. His Swadeshi followers are in the driving seat of power. He did not pretend religious sanction. They do. It is one thing to refer to one’s country as a motherland in common parlance; another as Mother (with a capital M). The former is an object of love and loyalty. The latter is an object of worship. Politics merges with religion.

    When, on March 17, 2016, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale declared that “anyone who refuses to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is anti-national for us”, he was proclaiming the Sangh Parivar’s version of nationalism; namely Hindu, not Indian, nationalism.

    Two days later, Amit Shah raised the pitch. The BJP “will not” tolerate “criticism [sic] of the nation”; “will not tolerate criticism of the country”. Besides “anti-national activity cannot be justified on the plea of freedom of expression” (Asian Age, March 20). How will the BJP and the RSS express their refusal to “tolerate”? By acts of violence? Whatever constitutes “criticism” of the country or the nation as distinct from that of the state’s acts and policies? Clearly, the Sangh Parivar sets itself up as an umpire of what constitutes “anti-national” activity, very much as Joseph McCarthy took it upon himself to decide what constituted “Un-American” activity.

    The BJP’s assertion of right and power is a menace to democracy. No one has a right to take the law in his own hands, define the offence by himself and exert himself to express his refusal to “tolerate” it. Even the state cannot wield executive power without the sanction of the law laid down by the legislature.

    But Amit Shah is not deterred by legalities. “BJP workers should launch a campaign against anti-national activities across the country,” he said on March 19 (DNA, March 20). The BJP’s national executive went one better with an even vaguer resolution on March 20 (“will firmly oppose any attempt to disrespect Bharat [sic]” (The Hindu, March 21).

    To Jaitley the slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” was above debate. “The ideology of nationalism guides own beliefs and philosophy” (Hindustan Times, March 21). Confusion of thought is coupled with clumsiness of expression. Nationalism is a concept, not an “ideology”. What part of the BJP’s “philosophy” does it guide? But, of course, Jaitley’s nationalism is Hindutva, not Indian nationalism. 

    During this entire debate Modi never spoke up, not even when intolerance began to rage over the land. He has his Dev Kant Barooahs. If on February 8 Amit Shah praised him to the skies, on March 20, Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu called him “God’s gift to India”, citing two clinching bits of evidence — his wax statute at Madame Tussauds museum in London and a place on Time magazine’s list of 100 most important persons in 2015 with a deserved elevation this year to the top 30 (Hindustan Times, March 21).

    Coming as it does from a man of such high sophistication as Venkaiah Naidu, the testimonial acquires great weight. Not long ago, he had called L. K. Advani Loha Purush (iron man), and A. B. Vajpayee a distant second Vikas Purush (development man). He can be trusted to shower equally offensive encomiums on Modi’s successor, should the wheel of his fortune turn for the worse. Modi’s Cabinet is stuffed with persons of impressive sophistication such as Uma Bharati, Smriti Irani and Ravi Shankar Prasad.
    It is unlikely that such praise by Amit Shah or Venkaiah Naidu offends Modi. The 18th century English poet Alexander Pope’s immortal lines fit him to perfection in "Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot": 

    Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,            
    Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,    
    View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,    
    And hate for arts that caused himself to rise;    
    Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,    
    And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;    
    Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,    
    Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;    
    Alike reserved to blame, or to commend,    
    A timorous foe, and a suspicious friend;    
    Dreading even fools, by flatterers besieged,    
    And so obliging that he ne’er obliged;    
    Like Cato, give his little senate laws,    
    And sit attentive to his own applause    

    Modi’s silence

    The Economist foresaw this trend five months ago. The BJP had “made a naked appeal to Hindu unity. Mr. Modi himself intervened to hint that its opponents were planning to take affirmative action privileges away from lower-caste Hindus in favour of Muslims.

    The BJP’s election victory last year was attributed to its promise of competence and good governance. It persuaded enough voters that the Hindu-nationalist part of its agenda and the shadow over Mr Modi’s past — allegations of his complicity in anti-Muslim violence in the state of Gujarat in 2002 — were marginal. Now many worry that Hindu nationalism is a pillar of Mr. Modi’s vision after all. During its previous stint in power the BJP ruled with a parliamentary minority and had to ditch some of its Hindu aims, such as a federal ban on cow slaughter. Now, although it has a majority on its own, with a coalition as an optional extra, many hoped its emphasis on economic progress would nevertheless serve as a constraint.

    Mr Modi’s willingness to play communal politics in Bihar, and his failure to take a firm stand against those perpetrating crimes in the name of Hinduism, cast doubt on that. Perhaps, with his eye already on re-election at the end of his term by 2019, he feels that he cannot alienate the BJP’s Hindu activists, who are an essential part of his support and electoral machine. This is a disturbing notion, implying that defeat as well as victory in Bihar might make Mr. Modi more beholden to the extremists. Worse, however, is the thought that perhaps he agrees with them” (November 7, 2015).

    The assault on an Indo-Canadian, Supinder Singh Khehra, in Quebec City in the last weekend of March by four men drew instant condemnation by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was then in the United States. He said that such “hateful acts” had “no place in Canada. We stand clearly against the kind of discrimination and intolerance that it represents” (Hindustan Times, April 3, 2016). Modi’s silence on graver outrages against the minorities in the country reveals him in his true colours. It is the duty of the Prime Minister of a country to condemn outrages against the minorities. He sets the tone and conveys a message. The British Prime Minister David Cameron does so repeatedly as a matter of course. Modi prefers to convey by his silence a different message to his followers. The BJP’s leaders’ ravings about “nationalism” and “anti-nationalism” serve only to invite attention to their own cover-up. The Hindutva which they so ardently believe in is only a wrapping for the two-nation theory. Both were espoused by the same man, their hero — Savarkar. He had inherited a poisoned legacy and injected his own added poison.

    Lajpat Rai’s Ideas

    In 1899, Lajpat Rai published an article in Hindustan Review in which he declared that “Hindus are a nation in themselves, because they represent a civilisation all their own”. This was not a new idea even then. Lajpat Rai was directly influenced by a conception of Hindu nationalism in the aftermath of the “purification” of Hinduism by the Arya Samaj. In 1902, Lajpat Rai entered into a debate in the pages of Hindustan Review and Kayastha Samachar with an anonymous “Hindu Nationalist” and Pandit Madhao Ram, about the basis for initiating a discussion on Hindu nationalism.

    “In several key passages of his response, Lajpat Rai expressed a series of gestatory ideas, many of which were to find their way virtually unchanged in Savarkar’s definitive Hindutva” (Chetan Bhatt, Hindu Nationalism: Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths, 50). In 1917 he proclaimed that he was “a Hindu nationalist”. 

    In 1923, Lajpat Rai argued that Muslims should have four States (the Pathan Province, western Punjab, the Sind and eastern Bengal). But he added: “It should be distinctly understood that this is not a united India. It means a clear partition of India into a Muslim India and a non-Muslim India.” Lajpat Rai is credited with being “the first major leader of the national movement to propose the theory of two exclusive nations in India and is said to have proposed this from the late nineteenth century” (ibid., page 73).

    Dr Ambedkar quoted another Sangh Parivar luminary, Lala Hardayal’s statement in Pratap of Lahore in 1925, which he called his political testament. 

    I declare that the future of the Hindu race, of Hindustan and of the Punjab, rests on these four pillars: (1) Hindu Sangathan, (2) Hindu Raj, (3) Shuddhi of Moslems, and (4) Conquest and Shuddhi of Afghanistan and the Frontiers. So long as the Hindu nation does not accomplish these four things, the safety of our children and great grandchildren will be ever in danger, and the safety of the Hindu race will be impossible. The Hindu race has but one history, and its institutions are homogeneous. But the Musalmans and Christians are far removed from the confines of Hindustan, for their religions are alien and they love Persian, Arab and European institutions (Pakistan or Partition of India, 117).

    As president of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar repeatedly espoused the two-nation theory well before M.A. Jinnah did. It flowed logically from his Hindutva, in which Hindus alone constituted a nation. At the Mahasabha’s annual session in Ahmedabad in 1937, he said, 

    Several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a harmonious nation or that it could be welded for the mere wish to do so. These, our well-meaning but unthinking friends, take their dreams for realities… Let us bravely face unpleasant facts as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a Unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary these are two nations in the main, the Hindus and the Muslims in India (ibid, 131).

    He said later in 1939: “We Hindus are marked out as an abiding Nation by ourselves.” It must shun “territorial nationalism” which implies that all who are born in India belong to the Indian nation. He opts for “cultural nationalism” — only they are nationalists who subscribe to Hindu “culture” (read: religion). This is the “cultural nationalism” which Savarkar propounded. Golwalkar supported it, as did L.K. Advani and the BJP’s election manifestos. Are those people Indian nationalists or Hindu nationalists?

    Savarkar urged: 

    Let us Hindu Sanghathnists first correct the original mistake, the original political sin which our Hindu Congressites most unwillingly committed at the beginning of the Indian National Congress movement and are persistently committing still of running after the mirage of a territorial Indian Nation and of seeking to kill as an impediment in that fruitless pursuit the life growth of an organic Hindu Nation. (L.G. Khare (Ed.); Hindu Rashtra Darshan, 63)

    Golwalkar’s theory

    Savarkar’s ideology is writ large in Golwalkar’s book We or Our Nationhood Defined (1938). The book was cited in a formal legal document filed in 1978 before the District Judge of Nagpur by the RSS as an organisation. In a speech in Mumbai on May 15, 1963, Golwalkar said that “he found the principles of nationalism scientifically explained in Savarkar’s great work Hindutva. To him it was a textbook, a scientific book”. He publicly acknowledged his debt to the book Rashtra Meemansa by Savarkar’s elder brother Babarao (G.D.) Savarkar. Golwalkar’s own Bunch of Thoughts reflects a deep impress of Savarkar’s Hindutva.

    In his essay of 1939, "We or Our Nationhood Defined", Golwalkar gave free rein to his emulation of Savarkar. He wrote: 

    Guided by this Religion in all walks of life, individual, social, political, the Race evolved a culture, which despite the degenerating contact with the debased ‘civilisations’ of the Mussalmans and the Europeans, for the last ten centuries, is still the noblest in the world.

    He elaborated: 

    Applying the modern understanding of ‘Nation’ to our present conditions, the conclusion is unquestionably forced upon us that in this country, Hindusthan, the Hindu Race with its Hindu Religion, Hindu Culture and Hindu Language, (the natural family of Sanskrit and her offsprings) complete the Nation concept; that, in fine, in Hindusthan exists and must needs exist the ancient Hindu nation and nought else but the Hindu Nation. All those not belonging to the national i.e. Hindu Race, Religion, Culture and Language, naturally fall out of the pale of real ‘National’ life.

    We repeat; in Hindusthan, the land of the Hindus, lives and should live the Hindu Nation — satisfying all the five essential requirements of the scientific nation concept of the modern world. Consequently only those movements are truly ‘National’ as aim at re-building, re-vitalising and emancipating from its present stupor, the Hindu Notion. Those only are nationalist patriots, who, with the aspiration to glorify the Hindus race and Nation next to their heart, are prompted into activity and strive to achieve that goal. All others are either traitors and enemies to the National cause, or, to take a charitable view, idiots. (43-44)

    His bluntness of speech was much admired by his followers. Read this: 

    There are only two courses open to the foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the country at the sweet will of the national race. That is the only sound view on the minorities problem. That is the only logical and correct solution. That alone keeps the national life healthy and undisturbed. That alone keeps the Nation safe from the danger of a cancer developing into its body politic of the creation of a state within the state. From this standpoint, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation, and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races who have chosen to live in our country. (47-48) 

    This is the ideology that inspires the Ghar Wapsi programme. 

    Rejecting “territorial nationalism”, Golwalkar said that the "amazing theory was propounded that the Nation is composed of all those who, for one reason or the other, happen to live at the time in the country":

    … But as we have seen we Hindus have been living, thousands of years, a full National life in Hindusthan. How can we be ‘communal’ having, as we do, no other interests but those relating to our Country, our Nation?… Let us rouse ourselves to our true nationality, let us follow the lead of our race-spirit, and fill the heavens with the clarion call of the Vedic seers ‘from sea to sea over all the land — One Nation’, one glorious, splendorous Hindu Nation benignly shedding peace and plenty over the whole world. (59, 63 and 67)

    Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts (1968) was avidly devoured by the Parivar’s men and ran into several impressions. It is to the Sangh Parivar what Hitler’s Mein Kampf was to the Nazis. The chapter headings reveal the author’s mindset — “Territorial Nationalism” (which he rejects); “Internal Threats”, which are “the Muslims, the Christians” and “the Communists”. 

    These gems reflect Golwalkar’s brilliance:

    In fact, we are Hindus even before we emerge from the womb of our mother. We are therefore born as Hindus. About the others, they are born to this world as simple unnamed human beings and later on, either circumcised or baptised, they become Muslims or Christians…

    Everybody knows that only a handful of Muslims came here as enemies and invaders. So also only a few foreign Christian missionaries came here. Now the Muslims and Christians have enormously grown in number. They did not grow just by multiplication as in the case of fishes. They converted the local population. We can trace our ancestry to a common source, from where one portion was taken away from the Hindu fold and became Muslim and another became Christian. The rest could not be converted and they have remained as Hindus…

    It is our duty to call these our forlorn brothers, suffering under religious slavery for centuries, back to their ancestral home. As honest freedom-loving men, let them overthrow all signs of slavery and domination and follow the ancestral ways of devotion and national life. All types of slavery are repugnant to our nature and should be given up. This is a call for all those brothers to take their original place in our national life. And let us all celebrate a great Diwali on the return of those prodigal sons of our society. There is no compulsion here. This is only a call and request to them to understand things properly and come back and identify themselves with their ancestral Hindu way of life in dress, customs, performing marriage ceremonies and funeral rites and such other things. (130-131).

    By now we know the name for this. It is “Operation Ghar Wapsi”:

    Here was already a full-fledged ancient nation of the Hindus and the various communities which were living in the country were here either as guests, the Jews and Parsis, or as invaders, the Muslims and Christians. They never faced the question how all such heterogeneous groups could be called as children of the soil merely because, by an accident, they happened to reside in a common territory under the rule of a common enemy…

    The theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis for our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu Nationhood and made many of the ‘freedom movements’ virtually anti-British movements. Anti-Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of the freedom struggle, its leaders and the common people. (142-143)

    …Then came the question of Muslims. They had come here as invaders. They were conceiving themselves as conquerors and rulers here for the last twelve hundred years. That complex was still in their mind. History has recorded that their antagonism was not merely political. Had it been so, they could have been won over in a very short time. But it was so deep-rooted that whatever we believed in, the Muslim was wholly hostile to it. If we worship in the temple, he would desecrate it. If we carry on bhajans and car festivals, that would irritate him. If we worship cow, he would like to eat it. If we glorify woman as a symbol of sacred motherhood, he would like to molest her. He was tooth and nail opposed to our way of life in all aspects — religious, cultural, social, etc. He had imbibed that hostility to the very core. (147-148) 

    Those “twelve hundred years” are exactly what Modi talked about in his first speech to the Lok Sabha as Prime Minister.

    “The name ‘India’ given by the British was accepted. Taking that name, the ‘new nation’ was called the ‘Indian Nation’. And the Hindu was asked to rename himself as ‘Indian’” (150). This is the “nationalism” that Savarkar, Golwalkar and the BJP espouse — not Indian nationalism. In 1969, the BJP’s ancestor, the Jana Sangh, revived the cry in the name of “Indianisation”. A resolution passed at its Patna Session on December 30, 1969, exhorted: 

    Every effort should be made to revive and strengthen the sense of nationalism which is the sum total of cohesive forces in any country. This requires a clear understanding of the concept of nationalism and its main-springs… With the lapse of Preventive Detention Act, the need for enacting a law of treason has become an imperative necessity. This law should define treason and treasonable activities.

    In BJP’s Manifestos

    That explains the formulations on “cultural nationalism” in the BJP’s election manifestos, some of which have been quoted above. The one of 1998 was headed “Our National Identity: Cultural Nationalism”. It said in plain language: 

    Our nationalist vision is not merely bound by the geographical or political identity of Bharat but it is referred by our timeless cultural heritage. This cultural heritage, which is central to all regions, religions and languages, is a civilisational identity and constitutes the cultural nationalism of India, which is the core of Hindutva. This we believe is the identity of our ancient nation ‘Bharatvarsha’…

    The BJP is convinced that Hindutva has immense potentiality to re-energise this nation and strengthen and discipline it to undertake the arduous task of nation-building. This can and does trigger a higher level of patriotism that can transform the country to greater levels of efficiency and performance. It is with such integrative ideas in mind the BJP joined the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

    The 2004 manifesto was as explicit:

    Cultural Nationalism: The BJP draws its inspiration from the history and civilisation of India. We believe that Indian nationhood stems from a deep cultural bonding of the people that overrides differences of caste, region, religion and language. We believe in the Cultural Nationalism for which Indianness, Bharatiyata and Hindutva are synonyms — is the basis of our national identity.

    This stark conflict between Indian and Hindu nationalism has been noted by all. Dr. D.R. Purohit’s analysis (in Hindu Revivalism and Indian Nationalism 1990) is incisive:

    The two nationalisms, as Dr Beni Prasad puts it — the Hindu and the Indian — were fundamentally in opposition to each other with respect to their ideals. The former was exclusive, narrowly-based, mixed with religion and partial: it considered the Hindus the only nationals of Hindusthan and did not include other communities living in India within its scope; it had grown even militant and aggressive towards other religions. The latter believed in a composite culture of India, and viewed India as a nation composed of all the communities living therein. It was broad-based, pacifist, secular, democratic and liberal in temperament. One exalted a community over other communities while the other emphasised unity in the diversity of various communities. The one had great belief in centralised leadership and in militancy; the other was wedded to liberal and democratic traditions…

    Thus the forces of Hindu nationalism defended by the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh presented a formidable challenge to the growing forces of Indian nationalism during the thirties and the forties of the twentieth century. It was, so to say, a struggle for existence between two ideologies, and as such there could be little room for cooperation between the rival ideologies. Its positive qualities apart, in so far as Hindu nationalism clung to its limited ideal and lost sight of the comprehensive national ideal, it did hinder the steady growth of the Indian national movement. (174-175)

    It continues to perform this nefarious role even in this day and age in 2016 by passing off Hindutva or Hindu nationalism as the real nationalism and arrogating to itself a right to denounce Indian nationalists as “anti-nationals”. Hindutva, a euphemism for the two-nation theory, exposes these bogus nationalists.

    A blight has descended on our great land with these “anti-nationals” — incompetent in governance; rapacious for power; intolerant of dissent; hostile to minorities; repressive of autonomous cultural and educational institutions, especially universities; and betrayers of Indian nationalism. This is a government that openly proclaims that it rules only in the interests of the majority community — as Advani had urged. 

    With Narendra Modi as Prime Minister; an Arun Jaitley as the Finance Minister; a Rajnath Singh as the Home Minister; a Smriti Irani as the HRD Minister; a Ravi Shankar Prasad as the Telecom Minister; a Sadananda Gowda as the Law Minister; and others of the same kind, too numerous and inconsequential to deserve mention, what the celebrated Junius wrote in a letter, on January 21, 1769, on the misgovernance of the regime of the day, is all too true of the Ministry that rules India today: 

    If, by the immediate interposition of Providence, it were possible for us to escape a crisis so full of terror and despair, posterity will not believe the history of the present times. They will either conclude that our distresses were imaginary, or that we had the good fortune to be governed by men of acknowledged integrity and wisdom: they will not believe it possible, that their ancestors could have survived or recovered from so desperate a condition.

    A.G. Noorani is an Indian lawyer, historian and author. He has practiced as an advocate in the Supreme Court of India and in the Bombay High Court.

    We thank the EMS Smrithi Organizing Committee, Ayaanthole for allowing us to publish this essay from Idea of India, Background Papers, EMS Smrithi Series compiled by M.N. Sudhakaran et al, Thrissur, June 2016.
     

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