History of Indian Colonisation
India was colonized by various European powers during the Age of Discovery. India was a wealthy and prosperous region and these features attracted the foreigners for both trade and conquest. India was a rich hub for raw materials and a ready market to sell the finished goods. The Europeans continued the commercial exchange and slowly entwined themselves into the economy, culture and the territorial conquest of setting up colonies and proclaiming their rule in the various states.
When Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498, he established the sea route to India for the Europeans. The following centuries saw a rush of Europeans to India. The Dutch, The Danish, The Norwegians, The British, The Portuguese and The French. They would build settlements near the port cities throughout India as it was easy to export and import the goods by sea. The arrival of these powers had a far–reaching consequence on history as well as the Indian society as a whole.
The British were the most successful of the colonists and they became the political masters of India through 18th and 19th century; it was only by mid-20th century, when India got freedom after a long struggle against the European powers. In the 18th century, the fall of the Mughal Empire after the reign of Aurangzeb left a big vacuum. This was filled in by the British East India Company and The French East India Company. The French had lost power in the region by the late 18th century and the British were dominant as they continued with their protective trade measures which forced the traders to export goods on British ships.
The British diversified their focus on acquiring lands using military power, consolidating their sovereignty, exploiting the regional and religious differences. The British spread their rule in the whole region and brought in technological changes like telegraph, roadways and steam transportation. They introduced a new system of education, which would usher in a progressive, capitalistic and introspective society with the ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity and democracy.
After the Great Rebellion of 1857, the British Parliament transferred the administrative rights of the region from the East India Company to the Queen. This transfer of power initiated the era of British Raj in India from 1757 to 1947. This transition process continued to change the system in all spheres of life affecting the human activity in India. The foreigners tried to bring about a change in the basic outlook and attitude of the people but the Indians resisted these powers, facing the challenge by sticking to their strong cultural values which they inherited from their ancestors. Finally, with their strong will to gain freedom and with their unity, India won Independence from the British.
The Indian Struggle for Freedom
At the significant stroke of Midnight on the 15th of August, 1947, the bell marked the memorable moment- the moment of India’s Independence from the clutches of British rule- a much-awaited and much-deserved culmination to a two-century-long imperialistic rule and long years of struggle for accomplishing freedom. The momentous hour was decreed by Jawaharlal Nehru, who became the First Prime Minister of Independent India. In his most momentous address, Nehruji remarked, “At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”
India’s struggle for freedom was indeed a series of long-drawn battles and feuds, a saga of relentless sacrifices, violent rebellions and non-violent protests against the British colonial rule that sought to cripple the very essence of our nation’s culture, its religious solidarity and integrity. It all began with the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 where the discontented soldiers arose in an upheaval against the British, repulsed as they were towards the compelling need to use rifles loaded with cartridges containing beef. The rebellion although crushed, first sowed the seeds of discontent among the mass, echoing their unity against the tormenting colonial power and was the harbinger of the colossal uprising that was to come years later. From Moderate leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, S.N. Banerjee and Mahadev Govinda Ranade who entrusted their path of progress on the prosperity of the British, to the Extremists like Aurobindo Ghosh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal who believed in complete extremist policies of “Do or die” to uproot the imperial power and attain complete “Swarajya”; and those, like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who was ready to go to any extent to obtain independence, the country witnessed staunch rebellions from all strata of the society.
Common people suffered economically with the educated Indians reeling under a sense of disillusionment, being denied jobs despite their high qualifications in favour of their British counterparts. The fight that had been initiated by the upper classes, gradually percolated down to the middle and lower sections of the Indian society. The result was a mass uprising, a greater impetus being proffered by Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of non-violence and his Quit India movement which finally nailed the hour of freedom and justice for the Indians in 1947.
Seven decades down the line, as India gears up to celebrate its 72nd Independence Day, we look back through those decades and feel elated to extol the stupendous milestones that India has achieved in various spheres. From making path-breaking progress in the genre of medicine with the eradication of Wild Polio virus to attaining avant-garde development in the sphere of space research; from carving an enviable niche in the global sports arena to becoming the supplier of the largest and most qualified workforce across the world, India has come up in leaps and bounds. And yet, looking at the other aspects that our nation is still struggling to accomplish, we are left to ponder “Are we truly independent?”
Are We Truly Independent?
Our country, though independent, is still fraught with social atrocities, which are plaguing our very existence at every moment, questioning the actual worth of independence. Thousands turn the butt of corruption in India every year. Justice is denied because of mere acts of bribery crippling the very essence of our Judicial system. Politicians, bureaucrats and criminals come hand in hand to veil the truth through false pieces of evidence and the poor and the helpless become gullible to injustice and often getting transformed into real criminals as a way of avenging the maltreatment meted on them by the society. The Constitution of India declared our nation as a secular, democratic country, but even today, communalism and petty feuds between communities and religious sects are creating havoc across the nation. The country which gave birth to such valiant women like Rani Lakshmi Bai, Bachendri Pal, Indira Gandhi or the only woman CEO of the world Ms Chanda Kochar, at the same time still reels under the heinous acts of female foeticide and molestation.
Today, we assemble here, free to speak our minds, free to participate and express interest in anything we want to, without any qualms or repercussions. And yet there are so many questions unanswered, so many avenues still waiting to be explored. True independence demands us to contribute in our own small way towards the nation. Education in India is one of the finest in the world and with pride we say that good institutions like The Lexicon Schools strive to imbue the values of respect, secularism, integrity and empathy to its students, the future citizens of the nation, enlightening them about the sacrifices of our gallant freedom fighters and how we should keep up to their ideals, not letting their battles go futile. Our forefathers have struggled to gain independence from the British rule, but does independence only mean being free of the chains of the imperial rule?
We are still struggling to gain freedom- freedom from corruption, freedom from poverty, unemployment and injustice, freedom from child labour and infanticide, freedom from the nefarious victimization of women to acts of molestation, dowry and child marriage. Independence in the truest sense of the term will only be reality when we as the responsible, conscientious citizens of the nation come united to raise our voice against all the atrocities taking place around us, to re-create the India that had been the dream of its creators back in 1947, a haven of peace, safety and happiness, a true paradise on earth.
The Future Of Our Country
This year, at the stroke of midnight we would be ushering in our 72nd Independence Day. Undoubtedly this would be a day when everyone would be popped up in nationalistic sentiments and the media would be blaring every detail of celebrations happening around the country and the diplomatic missions abroad. Some people would also love to soak up the atmosphere of patriotism and would gather at various flag hoisting ceremonies, while loads of others would be glued to their television sets and listen to the Prime Minister's speech from the Red Fort.
While the Independence Day calls for a celebration of the democratic rights we enjoy in our country, it also makes one realize how fortunate we are to be born at a time when we can pretty well lead a life we want to without any fear of being reprimanded. Of course, a century ago or even a few centuries ago this must have been a ‘wish come true’ for a lot of people. A country like ours in all its diversity and varying views, just came together to live a peaceful existence. Nothing can stop the goosebumps when the National Anthem is played or someone amongst us achieves international glory. It clearly shows the strides we have made since our independence and how despite all odds and every attempt to separate and divide us, we have stuck together and steadily becoming one of the largest democracies of the world. From a country of the deprived, we have become an economic powerhouse, and are poised to become one of the largest economies of the world in a few years. We have been able to move a lot of people from below the poverty line and fostered in huge revolutions in agriculture to become self-sustained.
So what does the future look like for India?
Just imagine a country with a billion plus population, of which around 350 million are in the age group of 10-24 yrs, which makes it the youth capital of the world. This generation is educated, and hungry to face all the challenges and leave a mark in the global arena. Hence, it goes without saying that this country can be a potential leader in its own rights. With talent flowing in, and opportunities rising, there cannot be a better platform to launch a great country.
Having said that, it is imperative to understand that this huge energy can easily be demonized by people with narrow mindset who are looking at opportunities to create diverse views and fan trouble for their own betterment. This would be the saddest part because it is this attitude that helped foreign invaders divide and rule our country for over 5 centuries.
With this in mind, we at The Lexicon Schools, strive to inculcate those values in our children, which would help them understand the various nuances and make informed decisions and they grow up into young adults. With our motto of ‘Believe in Yourself,’ we aspire to build creative minds, which would have no boundaries in thinking and help create an India which we all dream of. A country which allows independent thinking, which gives opportunities to all, which doesn’t differentiate on the basis of religion, caste, creed, and sex, and overall, which gives creative freedom to express one's thoughts. This is the only way to repay our gratitude to the millions of people who sacrificed their lives in the last few centuries for securing a free India.
As we celebrate our Independence Day this year on 15 August 2018, let us all pledge to live up to the dreams of our great leaders and the revolutionaries who laid down their lives for our motherland. Let us feel proud to be Indians and take our country to greater heights and live by the principles that have enriched our country. Let us be the young blood of the nation willing to work harder than ever, smarter than ever, and strive to make India the greatest nation of the world.