Distortions of History

By Radharao Gracias
09 December 2012 23:13 IST

History, as taught in our institutions is a complete distortion of truth. Credit for India’s independence is given to Indian National Congress and Mahatma Gandhi. Let us look at the facts. Until the outbreak of the Second World War, Britain was the pre-eminent power holding sway over the oceans. By the end of the war, the old order changed yielding place to a bipolar world headed by the USA and USSR, with opposing ideologies. The latter, backed the colonies and their independence. Britain was completely drained off its manpower economic and military muscle and could not sustain, the empire. It had no choice, but to withdraw from its colonies, beginning with India. Within a decade,, the British Empire was dismantled. If India got independence because of Gandhi and the Congress, how did Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Burma, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and a host of other colonies gain independence? There was neither Gandhi nor Congress there.

The Spaniards were evicted from Latin America, by use of armed force led by such leaders as San Martin, Simon Bolivar and Bernardo O’Higgins. And the British were not unaware of what Indians could do to them, if we took up arms. 1857 was proof enough. Gandhi’s non violence movement actually hindered independence, and suited the British who had managed to dominate the world more with their cunning and guile, than with their military strength. Hence, they soft peddled Gandhi’s movement, as it complemented their strategy. In reality if it was not for the Second World War the British would have continued to rule indefinitely. And there would be no scope for Italian Direct Investment in India!

Adolf Hitler thus is the unwitting hero of Indian independence. The war unleashed by him decimated the colonial powers like Britain, France and Netherlands, who were compelled to give up their colonies by the end of the war. Remember, that Portugal remained neutral, during the War, hence retained its strength to cling on to its colonies until the April revolution in 1974.

Gandhi’s stress on a peaceful agitation impeded the growth of armed resistance to colonialism and delayed independence. A bit of militancy and the British could have been pushed out of India during the First World War. Instead, Gandhi and the Congress chose to support the British war effort.

In the 29 March 1931 issue of Young India, Gandhi wrote:

"Bhagat Singh and his two associates have been hanged. The Congress made many attempts to save their lives and the Government entertained many hopes of it, but all has been in a vain.

Bhagat Singh did not wish to live. He refused to apologize, or even file an appeal. Bhagat Singh was not a devotee of non-violence, but he did not subscribe to the religion of violence. He took to violence due to helplessness and to defend his homeland. In his last letter, Bhagat Singh wrote, "I have been arrested while waging a war. For me there can be no gallows. Put me into the mouth of a cannon and blow me off." These heroes had conquered the fear of death. Let us bow to them a thousand times for their heroism.

But we should not imitate their act. In our land of millions of destitute and crippled people, if we take to the practice of seeking justice through murder, there will be a terrifying situation. Our poor people will become victims of our atrocities. By making a dharma of violence, we shall be reaping the fruit of our own actions.

Hence, though we praise the courage of these brave men, we should never countenance their activities. Our dharma is to swallow our anger, abide by the discipline of non-violence and carry out our duty."

Gandhi’s role in India’s independence and the impact of his non violence movement is hugely overrated. Credit is of course due to Gandhi for having correctly foreseen that the Congress would ruin the country and therefore recommending its dissolution, after independence. Tragically, this worthy suggestion, found no favour and the consequences, are now so visible.

It is an irony that Gandhi opposed violence to overthrow British rule, but himself fell victim to an assassin’s bullets. One can neither justify, nor condone, the act of Nathuram Godse, in assassinating Mahatma Gandhi. But, the conduct of Godse after the fateful event, is exemplary.

The record shows that Godse surrendered forthwith, to the police along with the weapon. The police recorded his statement under Sec.160 of Cr.P.C, wherein Godse truthfully narrated the events. He justified the shooting. He was prosecuted, for murder. He did not deny the shooting, but defiantly addressed the Court, believing that he had acted in the interests of the country. He did not engage in any legalistic defence. He had acted knowingly and consciously, and went to the gallows without remorse and with his head held high. By all means Godse died an honest man.  

We have a similar situation, towards the end of the twentieth century. L. K. Advani, leader of the BJP, takes out Rath Yatra campaign, to demolish the Babri Masjid and build a Ram temple in its place, at Ayodhya. The movement gathers force, under his leadership and the BJP comes to power in Uttar Pradesh. Despite undertaking to the Supreme Court, the Masjid is demolished in 1992, in full public view by Ram Sevaks.

And we have L. K. Advani telling the press “This is the saddest day of my life”. Here is a man who starts the movement to demolish the Masjid and succeeds but fears facing the court. At this critical moment, Advani denies all involvement, engages the best of lawyers and takes legalistic defence in Court. The question is since Advani publicly instigated the movement, why does he shy away from the consequences? How would you place Godse’s conduct after the assassination vis a vis Advani’s conduct after the demolition?

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.

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I have been reading the stuff that you pen down almost regularly . Most of the time the thread of your argument is well articulated and the point that you wish to make gets clearer as you conclude.

This piece , however , is disappointing and aptly displays the ideological ‘ khichdi' in your grey matter.

It is largely agreed by now that Gandhi, Congress, Muslim League as well as RSS were used as pressure valves by British to regulate the pressure of discontentment by the rising number of working class in India. They perceived communist as their real enemies who somehow time and again botched up the chance to provide a sound leadership as they completely failed to understand the mindset of Indians ( they continue to be headless chicken till date). Peasantry was always indifferent towards their liberation as it knew the immediate masters:not British but landlords and small time feudal ' rajas'. On the spiritual front they had accepted the total subjugation to the hierarchical order within to reach out to 33 crore gods or one all mighty whose agents lived with comforts without engaging in any productive labour but only through the cunning theories of salvation.

As rulers, British knew very well as whom to use and whom to discard and had their own compulsions to selectively lquit from their colonies. And here you cannot rule out Gandhi's contribution as an ' accredited' negotiator with the Raj. Naturally, the philosophy of 'Ahimsa' found several takers in the West, especially in the aftermath of the post world war II holocaust.

But from the point of giving 'credit' to Gandhi for the independence you directly jump to glorify his assassin who was a raw and uncut version of the present day Talibani unlike Bhagat Singh whom you earlier mentioned. Bahagat SIngh was not a narrow minded fanatic carrying the burden of safeguarding the age old decadent ' sanskriti' that had enslaved its own people. Bhagat SIngh belonged to the category of Simon Bolivar and not Kasab or Godse or Nathan Bedford Forrest.

And further you argue that yesteryear's RSS flag bearers were more sincere and honest than the current crop. Advani is a leader whereas Godse was a foot soldier. This can be compared to Floriano Vaz vis a vis Radharao Gracias considering your engagement in Caitan Jackson issue and embracing the saffron power when it was convenient to you prior to 2005 and later lambasting Mathany Saldanha as a traitor when he supported BJP.

You are a lawyer and a politician who very well knows the modern day manipulations of the system. Picking up stray references and putting them together does not make a sound and well articulated argument.

Better luck next time.

- Roy Rebello, Cortalim | 12 th December 2012 11:32


Respected sir,

While this article is written nicely it has no historical basis. It will only confuse the uninitiated.

I will try to keep my response brief.

The contention that Britain was completely drained off its manpower economic and military muscle and could not sustain, the empire is baseless from historic point of view. Even staunch British nationalist historians like Metcaffe give multiple causes as to why British left. Gandhi, though non violent, was a good tactician aided by his loyalist faction in INC. He launched the Quit India Movement on 9th Aug 1942 taking advantage of war which Winston Churchill hated. Churchill knew he could not fight on too many fronts. Also 85% of second world war was fought on the Russo German frontier the so called Eastern Front. Being an island Britain did not bear the brunt of the Wehrmacht, the back bone of German war machine. They only suffered air raids.

Again the relationship between Gandhi and INC was complex. INC always had two factions one of which never believed in non violence. Every time Gandhi went to jail these two factions fought. One glaring example of this is S.C. Bose being made the INC president in 1938 and again winning a second term against Gandhi's candidate Dr Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Gandhi declared that Sitaramayya's defeat was his defeat. Though Gandhi was a founder member of INC he presided over INC only once in Belgaum. To Gandhi INC was formed only to attain independence from British rule and its work was over after that. So your statement that Credit is of course due to Gandhi for having correctly foreseen that the Congress would ruin the country and therefore recommending its dissolution, after independence, is meaningless to me.

The statement that Gandhi and the Congress chose to support the British war effort is a gross distortion of history. Gandhi initially favoured offering "non-violent moral support" to the British effort when World War II broke out in 1939, but the Congressional leaders were offended by the unilateral inclusion of India in the war without consultation of the people's representatives. All Congressmen resigned from office.After long deliberations, Gandhi declared that India could not be party to a war. This was Gandhi's and the Congress Party's most definitive revolt aimed at securing the British exit from India.

Regarding Gandhi's assassination again the statements made in this article defy history. Congress and Nehru knew details about the plot to kill Gandhi. Gandhi refused security as he believed that he was destined to die a violent death.

I would like your response to my comments here. Thanks.

- Mukul, Margao | 11 th December 2012 10:57


I just don't understand what you are trying to express, or what you are trying to tell.

- M S Talauliker, Margao | 10 th December 2012 06:51


Wow!!! Your writing smells of courage and guts. One can see the Radha, of years gone by, and not of the recent past. What Gandhi said about Bhagat Sigh- quote from your article above "These heroes had conquered the fear of death. Let us bow to them a thousand times for their heroism". should be applied to you for this article. You have gone ahead and mentioned some hard truths, knowing very well what its' repercussions will be. (In the recent past, you have tried to copy Gandhi by your actions).....The Congress and it's supporters will jump at you now. By the time they read the end of your article, the BJP and its croonies will swear by blood!!! There may be a Margao Bandh. Looks like you are making a come back.


Just a suggestion, you would make an excellent script writer... the Tiatrists should take a point or two from you on how to build a plot and surprise all with it's ending.

I just loved your article, not only for the hard truths you have put in writing, but for the style it is written.

- Jaret de SIlva, Chandor | 10 th December 2012 02:16


Finally you proved that you are a congress loyalist. Then why did you go around explaining world wars and Hitlars!

with great respect I would ask you guys ever believe that portuguese ruled Goa for 450 years and converted our ancestors with force, rape, money power etc. Why don't you write an article on the Goan atrocities to bring awareness among the Goans. Brits were at least better than portugese, see how Goans story is being propogated outside Goa.....Drunkurds and Sushegad...this what the was being tagged.

- Dsouza, Mumbai | 10 th December 2012 00:07


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