Indian Ideology

Perry Anderson is a British Historian , who teaches History at the University of California, Los Angels. He is author of numerous books Which, among others, include Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism ,Lineages of the absolutist State & A zone of engagement etc. His books have achieved an instant prominence for him, for wide-ranging analysis ,synthesized elements of history, philosophy, and political theory.

The Indian Ideology is short book of contemporary history of India. The book deals with many myths with which Indians Identify themselves and Anderson blasts these myths with convincing arguments & sound reasoning. 

According to him the Indian idea of subcontinent unity stretching back to 6,000 years is a myth. Second, Gandhi’s injection of religion into the national movement was ultimately a disaster for it. Third, the primary responsibility for partition lay entirely with congress. The fourth, that Nehru’s legacy to the Republic was far more ambiguous than his admirers will admit. Fifth, the Indian Democracy is not contradicted by caste inequalities, but rather found on it.

According to Anderson, Indian democracy is a farce which is severely compromised by its origins in an anti-colonial struggle led by the “monolithically Hindu” Congress party, which Anderson holds largely responsible for the bloodiness of the partition of the British-ruled subcontinent in 1947.The Book also criticizes India’s relations with neighboring Countries that many Indians would take not with a pinch but a large dollop of salt. In his scathing comments on India’s treatment of Kashmir policy, the author has torn the Indian nationalist narrative to pieces when he says: 

“It is now sixty five years since Congress seized the larger part of Kashmir, without title from the colonial power, though with vice-regal connivance, in the name of a forged document of accession from its feudal ruler, the assent of its leading politician, and the pledge of a plebescite to confirm the will of its people. Having secured the region, Nehru the prime mover-made short of all the three. The Mahraja was soon deposed, the promise of referendum ditched.

Abdullah, ‘the lion of Kashmir’, as he enjoyed being styled, was the most prominent opponent of the Mahraja in the valley of Kashmir. There his party ,the NC had adopted a secular platform in which local communists had played some role, seeking independence for Kashmir as the ‘Switzerland of Asia’.But when partition came, Abdullah made no such demand. For some years he had bonded emotionally with Nehru, and when fighting broke out in Kashmir in the autumn of 1947, he was flown out of Srinagar to Delhi by military aircraft and lodged in Nehru’s house, where he took part in planning the Indian take-over, to which he was essential. Two days later, the Mahraja-now safely repaired to Jammu-announced in a backdated letter to Mountbatten, drafted by his Indian Minders, that he would install Abdullah as his Prime Minster.”

About Abdullah’s arrest, the author says that at the outset, Nehru believed in his friend’s popularity capable of carrying all with him. But when subsequent intelligence indicated otherwise, and Nehru acutely aware that Badshah Khan, with a much stronger popular base than Abdullah, had lost a referendum in the NWFP, he rejected the idea of a plebiscite in Kashmir. Abdullah’s utility for Nehru was over & this paved way for his arrest in 1953.

Anderson minces no words in pointing to a consistent Indian pattern of silence, evasion, and distortion about India’s military occupation of Kashmir and its attendant regime of extrajudicial execution, torture, and detention. In her comments, Arundhati Roy advises Indian scholars & ideologues to read this book with equanimity & and open mind to know the facts, unspeakable violence & egregious injustice in Indian society & also to note the serious structural flaws & deep seated social prejudices prevailing in the system.

The book is a valuable addition to Kashmir literature & a must read for those who write on the subject and are in need of authentic references. Regarding the instrument of accession being a forged one, it corroborates the view of our own Historian, Dr. Abdul Ahad (Kashmir-Triumphs & Tragedies-Page 202).It will henceforth be referred along with other important treatises on Kashmir.

(The reviewer is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com)