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What Made India a Free Nation Colonialism or the

What Made India a Free Nation Colonialism or the Bible?
Making India a Great Nation Part XI
by Vishal Mangalwadi
One of Indias top broadcast outlets, NDTV, celebrated Indias 66th Independence anniversary with a TV Dialogue
on Nationalism. It was broadcast on August 18, 2013. The panelists were BJP leader Jaswant Singh,
academician Professor Ashis Nandy, poet and Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar and senior journalist Swapan
Jaswant Singh began the dialogue
by confessing that Independence
India adopted a European concept
of nation, which had never
existed in India: I personally
think that nationalism is an
adopted word. It really got born as
a concept in Westphalia, before
that there were states . . . Which is
why until the East India Company
came on the scene, there is not a
single map of India that you can find. There is no map. He was right, no Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist ever made a
map of India, before the days of British rule because no one ever thought in terms of a nation called India.
None of the other panelists disagreed with Jaswant Singh. In fact, Swapan Dasgupta affirmed his view, saying: I
think the extent to which European influences have played a role in shaping India have subsequently been
underestimated by a lot of people. In the first flush of freedom we thought that really weve achieved it ourselves.
But the extent to which, what we are today, as being defined by the European influence, is tremendous. Just to
take two or three minor examples: the notion of trust, the notion of Government by trust. Government should exist
. for all the people, is something that is from the 1688 glorious revolution in Britain. That concept did not
exist in India before this. Similarly, the term nationality was very much a European import, particularly, at the turn
of the century.
Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram concurs with the BJP intellectual, Jaswant Singh. He
is the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, and has served as UNs Under SecretaryGeneral. In an Op-Ed piece for NDTV (March 12, 2014) he wrote, The Idea of India as a modern nation based on
a certain conception of human rights and citizenship, vigorously backed by due process of law and equality before
law, is a relatively recent and strikingly modern idea.
So, where did this idea of a free India come from? What made India a free nation?
The idea of a free nation came not from the
Colonialists but from the Bible. It is a
compilation of 66 books, which began to be
written 3,400 years ago. One objective of the
early books was to reveal God in order to
transform 12 tribes of Hebrew slaves coming
out of Egypt into one free and great nation in
the land of Canaan, an area now within the state
of Israel.

William Carey (1761 1834) is the father of modern Christian missions and modern Bengali. He began giving the
Bible to Indians in our own mother-tongues. Before he knew that he would be coming to India as a missionary, he
supported his manifesto of missions with the argument that the Bible is the seed that would produce civilized and
free governments in the non-Christian world, just as it had done in Europe. Responding to the objections that
lawless communities will kill missionaries who teach foreign religions, Carey wrote: Secondly, as to their
uncivilized, and barbarous way of living, this can be no objection to any, except those whose love of ease renders
them unwilling to expose themselves to inconvenience for the good of others. Careys view and his commitment
to India changed world history!
He went on to say: It was no objection to the [Christian] apostles and their successors, who went among the
barbarous Germans and Gauls, and still more barbarous Britons! They did not wait for the ancient inhabitants of
these countries, to be civilized, before they could be Christianized, but went simply with the doctrine of the cross;
and Tertullian could boast that those parts of Britain which were proof against the Roman armies, were conquered
by the gospel of Christa cordial reception of the gospel produced those happy effects which the longest
intercourse with Europeans, without it could never accomplish. . . Can we hear that they are without the gospel,
without government, without laws, and without arts, and sciences; and not exert ourselves to introduce amongst
them the sentiments of men, and of Christians? Would not the spread of the gospel be the most effectual mean of
their civilization? Would not that make them useful members of society?
Englishmen, who did not take the Bible seriously, disagreed with Carey. Yet, the morality of his mission
triumphed. A year before Careys death, in 1833, Hindutvas most hated colonial icon Lord Thomas Babington
Macaulay, won the moral argument in British Parliament that Britain must rule India in such a way as to prepare
Indians to govern themselves as a free nation a biblical legacy of national freedom and independence.
Famous constitutional lawyer, late
Mr. Nani Palkhivala, summarized
Macaulays work in his book, We,
The People. If India is a free
republic today, that is also a
consequence of the British rule.
Indians fought, and fought
valiantly, to get rid of foreign
domination. But it is probable that,
up to now, India would not have
shaken off the domination of
Indian rulers but for the notions of
freedom imbibed from the days of
the British rule. Macaulay foresaw
this development. He said, By
good government we may educate
our subjects [so] that they may in
some future age demand European
institutions [of freedom].
Whenever such as day comes, it
will be the proudest day in English
Here is the context of Macaualys
moral argument, in his own words,
for Indias freedom that won the day in British Parliament: Are we to keep the people of India, ignorant in order
that we may keep them submissive? Or do we think that we can give them knowledge without awakening
ambition? Or do we mean to awaken ambition and to provide it with no legitimate vent? Who will answer any of
these questions in the affirmative? Yet one of them must be answered in the affirmative, by every person who
maintains that we ought permanently to exclude the natives from high office. I have no fears. The path of duty is
plain before us: and it is also the path of wisdom, of national prosperity, of national honour.

This was no lofty-empty rhetoric. Indias freedom and true liberty was a mission because Jesus, the Messiah, came
to this earth to break every yoke of oppression and to set the captives free (Isaiah 58:6). Quoting the Prophet
Isaiah, the Lord Jesus said, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel
to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to
the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4: 18). In 1838, Macaulays brother-in-law, Charles
Trevelyan, spelled out missionaries practical, educational strategy to set India free. In his book On the Education
of the People of India, Trevelyan wrote:
The existing connexion between two such distant countries as England and India, cannot, in the nature of things,
be permanent: no effort of policy can prevent the natives from ultimately regaining their independence. But there
are two ways of arriving at this point. One of these is through the medium of revolution; the other through that of
reform . . . [Revolution] must end in the complete alienation of mind and separation of interests between ourselves
and the natives; the other [reform] in a permanent alliance, founded on mutual benefit and good-will. The only
means at our disposal for preventing [revolution] and securing . . . the results [of reform] is, to set the natives on a
process of European improvement. The natives will have independence, after first learning how to make use of it;
and we shall exchange profitable subjects for still more profitable allies . . . trained by us to happiness and
independence, and endowed with our learning and political institutions, India will remain the proudest monument
of British benevolence . . . .
For six decades our people have been nurtured on myths such as India became a free nation because of Mahatma
Gandhis non-violent agitations such as the Quit India movement. The reality is that Gandhis contemporaries
such as Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar saw the Quit India movement as hypocrisy. One of Gandhis real agendas was to
side line his rivals such as Subhas Chandra Bose. In his attack on Dr. Ambedkar, Arun Shourie writes that during
the Gandhi-led Quit India Movement,
As Congress leaders rotted in jails, Ambedkar was broadcasting on behalf of the British Government . . . Instead
of harping on Quit India, Ambedkar declared, the emphasis should have been on a New India. The demand
that Independence be declared as a condition for support of the War effort was not understandable, he said. It
could have been justified only if there had been any sudden conspiracy to rob India of her right to freedom. But
there is no evidence of any such conspiracy, he declared. If Indias Independence is in the balance, he said, it is
because of disunity among Indians. The enemies of Indias Independence are Indians and no others, said
Ambedkar from his perch in the Council of the British Viceroy (Arun Shourie, Worshiping False Gods, New
Delhi: ASA Publications, 1997, pp. 1023).
Ambedkar clearly saw what Shourie wants us to overlook: by 1942 the British had fully committed themselves to
Indias independence. The delay was due to disunity among Indians. It was not just the distrust between Hindus
and Muslims. It was a conflict between feudal princes and democrats that erupted during the Second Round Table
Conference. It was the deep divide between the upper castes and the backward classes. Gandhis biggest headache
was disunity within the Congress; the rift between radicals and conservatives as between Bose and himself.
The Theological Background of Indias Self-Determination
By August 14, 1941, American President,
Franklin Roosevelt, had already persuaded
British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill to
give up the pagan/Roman concept of Empire
in favor of the biblical idea of Nation. Their
agreement, known as the Atlantic Charter,
affirmed that at the end of the Second World
War victors will not colonize defeated nations; rather they will give to all the colonies the right to selfdetermination.
This principle of national self-determination (In German, Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Vlker) was first
hammered out in Germany in 1555, at the end of the conflicts between Roman Catholics and Lutherans. During

the terrible Thirty-Year Wars (16181648) this doctrine of self-determination was refined and articulated by
theologians such as John Amos Comenius, the last bishop of the Moravian Brethren, better known as the father of
modern education. His case for every nations right to determine its own political style and destiny was grounded
in the Bible (Genesis 1012; Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26, etc.) that teaches that nations are sacred because they
are not historical accidents. They are created by God so that they may seek Him.
Nationalism can be a virtue only if nations are sacred. It was this biblical concept of nation that resulted in the
Peace of Westphalia referred to by Jaswant Singh in the NDTV discussion. That peace became possible because,
in spite of their many differences, Calvinists, Lutherans, and the Catholics accepted the Bibles authority. In 1648,
this biblical idea of nation became the theological basis for the formation of Holland. Until then Holland was 12
or so provinces ruled by Spain. A hundred and twenty years later this doctrine led to the creation of the United
States of America as a nation independent of the British Empire.
Through the Atlantic Charter, Roosevelt universalized the Bibles idea of nation. That is why WWII ended with
creation of United Nations, rather than United Empires. Terms such as national self-determination have no
meaning unless nations (like families and churches) exist as real entities before God, capable of making choices
that ought to be respected.
Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian nationalist, thought that teaming up with Adolf Hitler was the easiest way to get
rid of the British. Mahatma Gandhi thought that since America had joined the war, Hitler could not win. In any
case, violent conflict would shed unnecessary blood, because the British had already committed themselves to
give the right to self-determination to every colony. In order to get freedom it was enough for Indian masses to
come out on the streets and make their desire known to the British rulers.
Mahatma Gandhi needed the Quit India movement in order to retain his control over the Congress not in order to
drive out the British. He had to appear more radical than the radicals like Bose. Leaders such as Dr. Ambedkar did
not see Gandhis antics as lofty nationalism, because historically they had little to do with Indias freedom. Their
objective was to get power in the hands of his political party.
Vishal Mangalwadi, LLD, is Honorary Professor of Applied Theology
in SHIATS, Deemed University, at Allahabad
This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2014 by Michael Austin.