History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1997: Q.1 (d)
Q.1 (d) “India broke her British fetters with Western hammers.” Comment.
The rise of nationalism and independence of India from British yoke was also due to spead of Western ideas and institutions in India.
The impact of modern western ideas and consciousness of defeat by a foreign power gave birth to a new awakening among Indians.
Thoughtful Indians began to look for the strengths and weaknesses of their society and for ways and means of removing the weaknesses. They were impressed in particular by modern science and the doctrines of reason and humanism.
In the face of increasing criticism of Indian traditions and religions by Christian Missionaries and colonial officials, intellectuals such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Debendranath Tagore and others spearheaded socio- religious reforms in 19th century, which prepared the ground work for later struggle for independence. . These movements were influence by Western ideas like equality, liberty and humanism. Though most reforms were sought from within, many reformers came to hold that elements of western thought had to be imbibed for the regeneration of the society.
The modern educational systems familiarised the educated classes with the ideas of equality, liberty and nationalism. They were exposed to the works of Western liberal writers and thinkers. Indians who were studying in England found on their return to India that they were denied all the rights which were taken for granted in the European countries. The educated middle classes became the chief medium for the channelization of popular discontent, and was instrumental in the development of national consciousness in India.
Western institutions, organisations and technology which was expected to strengthen the british rule had unintended effect of advancement of the nationalism in India.
The uniform system of administration, development of postal and telegraph, railways, printing press and educational institutions created by the British primarily as measures for running an effective administration and strengthening British rule became instrumental in providing favourable conditions for the rise and growth of nationalism and national movement.
Railways became the carrier of indian nationalism and helped the country unite. Western mode of communication such as telegram, press, newspaper was used to fight and reveal the true nature of colonial rule. They gave rise to national consciousness among Indians.
The ‘rediscovery’ of India’s ancient past through British Orientalism brought pride in Indian culture and traditions among the educated Indians. Orientalist knowledge contributed to the emergence of a middle class, proud of its culture, and in the development of a national consciousness in them. Balgangadhar Tilak, Jawaharlal Nehru and others, all wrote extensively on the ‘glorious’ ancient Indian past and advocated to turn to it by throwing out the English yoke.
Hence, it can be said that India broke her British fetters with Western hammer.