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The First Republic: A Forgotten Chapter of Indian History


 

The First Republic: The Untold True Story of the The Imperial Karbhari Sarkar

Author: Venkatesh Rangan

Genre: History

Published by Notion Press

Pages 440

MRP: Rs. 575/-

 

India is a land of many histories, some celebrated, some neglected, and some erased. One such history is that of the Karbhari Sarkar, a republican government that emerged in the 18th century and challenged the might of the British East India Company and the Mughal Empire. In his debut book, Venkatesh Rangan brings to light this remarkable story of India’s first republic, based on extensive research of primary sources in multiple languages.

The book begins with the declaration of the republic on January 30th, 1774, by a group of revolutionaries led by Nana Phadnis, a minister of the Peshwa, the nominal head of the Maratha confederacy. The republic was a radical departure from the feudal and monarchical systems that prevailed in India at the time. It vested executive power in a council of representatives chosen by popular will, rather than in kings or emperors. It also adopted a federal structure, allowing regional autonomy and diversity. The republic was inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution, and sought to create a modern and progressive nation.


The book then traces the expansion and achievements of the republic over the next 25 years, as it fought and won several wars against the British, the Mughals, the Afghans, and other enemies. The republic also forged diplomatic relations with foreign powers, such as France, Russia, and Persia, and established trade and cultural ties with them. The republic was a pioneer in many fields, such as military strategy, administration, finance, education, and social reform. It was also a champion of secularism and pluralism, respecting the rights and beliefs of all its citizens, regardless of caste, creed, or gender.


The book also narrates the decline and fall of the republic, as it faced internal and external challenges. The republic suffered from factionalism, corruption, and succession disputes, which weakened its unity and legitimacy. It also faced a resurgent British Empire, which had learned from its defeats and adopted a policy of divide and rule. The republic was eventually betrayed by some of its own allies, who sided with the British in exchange for personal gains. The republic was finally dissolved in 1799, after the death of its last leader, Mahadji Shinde, and the defeat of its last ally, Tipu Sultan.


The book is a well-written and well-researched account of a fascinating and forgotten chapter of Indian history. The author has done a commendable job of synthesizing and analyzing a vast amount of information from various sources, and presenting it in an engaging and accessible manner. The book is rich in details and anecdotes, and provides a balanced and nuanced perspective on the events and personalities involved. The book also raises some important questions and insights about the nature and relevance of the republic for contemporary India, and its place in the global history of republicanism.


The book is a must-read for anyone interested in Indian history, politics, and culture. It is a tribute to the vision and courage of the republic’s founders, and a reminder of the potential and challenges of republican democracy in India. The book is also a timely and inspiring work, as India celebrates its 75th year of independence, and faces its own struggles and opportunities in the 21st century.


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