The Unveiling India
Author: CS Sunny Pagare
Edited by Geetika K Bakshi
Artwork and Ilustrations: Renuka Saptarshi
Published by Notion Press
MRP: Rs. 499/-
The Unveiling India by CS Sunny Pagare aims to shed light on the lesser known aspects of India's freedom struggle by chronicling the contributions of revolutionaries and armed struggles against the British Raj. As the title suggests, the book attempts to unveil the parts of history that have remained obscured in popular narratives and school textbooks.
In the introduction, the author highlights how British historians portrayed India as a troubled land that only found stability and order under imperial rule. He argues that such biased accounts were used to demoralize the Indian people and create an inferiority complex. The book aims to counter this by bringing forth stories of courage and sacrifice that hastened India's independence.
The contents reveal that the book will trace India's experience under foreign invaders and the subsequent manipulation of history. It promises to cover key events right from the First War of Independence in 1857 to the Naval Revolt in 1946. The chapters indicate that the book will profile fiery revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh as well as provide context around the World Wars. There is a clear focus on armed uprisings that challenged the British army, especially the naval revolts that proved to be the proverbial last straw.
The book lays the groundwork by delineating 17 invasions of India leading to a subjugation and distortion of history. The author surfaces atrocities against Indians that have not been memorialized. He argues that this colonial stranglehold led to the draining of material and mental resources, preventing India from becoming a superpower.
There is a critique of Marxist historians who dominated institutions and propagated accounts aligned to communist politics. Their influence on history writing led to the glorification of Congress and the undermining of revolutionary groups like Netaji's Indian National Army. The author advocates revisiting modern Indian history with an open mind to acknowledge diverse perspectives.
Subsequent chapters profile the long tradition of armed rebellions against the British Raj starting from 1857. The book reveals the bloody struggles of famous and everyday revolutionaries who contributed to the independence movement through violent resistance. It makes the case that such relentless pressure was a decisive factor behind Britain's exit.
The crux of the argument lies in Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army and the Royal Indian Navy revolts of 1946. The author presents compelling evidence that these rebellions increased the urgency of quitting India for fear of mutinies spreading through the British Indian armed forces. Excerpts of Clement Attlee's conversation confirm that the agitation and unrest made their position untenable.
The engaging illustrations by Renuka Saptarshi add visual appeal while capturing the essence of key events and personalities. The artwork brings alive the nationalist fervor and actions that pushed the freedom struggle forward. (Images of some of the illustrations at the
end of the review)
The concluding chapters tie together the two bookends of the 1857 War of Independence and the 1946 Naval Revolt that signaled the beginning and end of the freedom movement. The British remained haunted by the prospect of another 1857-like mass mutiny of Indian soldiers who had returned after World War 2. Hence the naval revolts and INA trials tipped the scales, despite conventional narratives crediting Gandhi's non-violence.
Overall, The Unveiling India succeeds in broadening perspectives on how India achieved independence. It assembles credible references to armed uprisings that hastened the end of colonial rule. The book undertakes a bold re-examination of modern Indian history and includes revolutionaries that deserve greater recognition. It compellingly surfaces the psychological impact of mutinies in undermining the imperialist hold.
However, the book would benefit from more rigorous academic standards and citation of sources. The arguments presented are convincing but need backing through scholarly works for added credibility. Proper footnoting and a bibliography section are conspicuously missing. The passionate style also tends to sensationalize at times, like claiming a Hindu holocaust. Still, the book undoubtedly sparks an important debate and opens new avenues for inquiring into the freedom struggle.
The Unveiling India is recommended for readers interested in understanding the complex forces that shaped India's independence. It provides a more complete picture by spotlighting the heat generated by revolutionary fire. The book reminds us that independence involved countless ordinary citizens willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, beyond a few iconic leaders. For history aficionados hungry for fresh perspectives, The Unveiling India offers food for thought and warrants a close read. While academic rigor could be enhanced, the book succeeds as a provocative counter-narrative that forces a re-evaluation of long-held beliefs.
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Some of the beautiful illustrations from the book for you to enjoy: