Date: 15/08/2016


On this day in 47, �the largest empire world has ever seen did something no empire had done before. It gave up�. The British Empire did not decline or implode it simply fell of its own accord and marched out ceremoniously handing over its keys to what history must vindicate were only those who were schooled by it and cultivated for this role. For as we celebrate another anniversary amidst jubilation and reassuring fervency, recall sacrifices, must also not miss contradictions that belie the euphoria and strike a note of severe failing in those who inherited freedom as its caretakers and stewards. What then made the Empire suddenly give up Jewel in its Crown that changed an under developed , semi feudal , religiously bigoted , illiterate, diseased island into a prosperous bountiful realm on whose territory sun never set ? Abandon its prime possession speckled with landmarks of its achievement, a testimony to impassioned commitment of its pioneers and trail blazers. Bearing all signs of permanency in indulgence of splendor they possessed. A possession for which exceptionally the possessed themselves were to credit. Except for sentiments of civil disobedience, expression of opposition to colonial masters was unthreatening, without any armed uprising by civil society only what could unhinge a mighty empire from its hold. Instead the civil society itself was crumbling with deluge of religious blood bath fomented by policy of British themselves. What is made out of quit India was thus not unbearably intolerable for such a might had it stomach to hold on. For there was much haste and unfinished work in the very manner that British left. An uneasy expectancy of events as fallout for entirely different and unspoken reasons . An ominous foreboding of what may befall if they held out any more. First, British went broke. Rattled to find themselves more as victims than victors after 1945. Shattered and impoverished found wartime privation succeeded by peacetime austerity and rationing.
Heavily burdened by wartime production with no exports and overly indebted to US funded Lend Lease programme even for sustaining import of food. US unexpectedly terminated Lend-Lease which came as shock. England�s coffers were getting empty even to extent of sustaining daily wages in its mother colony. Second, if not the first, biggest threat came from largest volunteer army of the world. As its members provided the first contingents for Indian National Army in Germany largely from PWs taken by Rommel�s Afrika Corps. Later when Netaji travelled by German submarine to continue his struggle from East entire units joined the INA fighting right up to Kohima . A tired army returning home only to find its compatriots many from same villages on trial, to add a naval mutiny made it an extremely volatile potion. A descent of same soldiers who rose against the same master in 1857 which nearly brought British to their knees as they lacked any higher leadership and a national mission . This time this phantom loomed larger with rallying figure of Netaji more formidable a unifying force even in absentia and so the British too were not only more than convinced but unsettlingly disturbed. Were there to be a show down of any nature by elements of the army there was no way the British could have averted a situation worse than that US faced in Vietnam. It was M Gandhi who rendered great service by supporting British cause , not only rallying peasants to join up and provide cheap cannon fodder for both World Wars but also denounce and muffle any patriotic surge in the soldier . For this he was more than rewarded with statues all over in Anglo Saxon world. History revisited in right archives must disabuse us as to how we ushered independence.
In this vein the occasion has a historical connection with freedom of action and support extended to Netaji which made it possible to seed a liberation struggle from distant battlement provided by Germany for our Second War of Independence, under most turbulent circumstances. An unprecedented historical example of war of liberation which he led with same soldiers who rose earlier against same foreign masters in our First War of Independence.
Ironically were it not for WW2 and direct impact of this in West , there could be little reality to British marching out of the subcontinent. Let us dedicate a stamp to the Indian soldier and imprint Netaji image on 100 R Note
Jai Hind
15th Aug 2016
Our thanks to the writer.