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Decline of an Empire

Shila Sen

By M.N. Das
Ajanta Publications, Delhi, 1978, pp. 424, Rs. 100.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 3 November/December 1979

The book is not a mere addition to the much discussed topic of Britain's responsibility towards India and India's response to it as well as her reaction. Nor is it a mere narration of the emergence and growth of a political party. Indian Na­tional Congress Versus British presents a factual analysis of how an all powerful alien government and a national political party fought their elaborate battle over six decades. The expansion and consoli­dation of the empire and the British desire to give it a semblance of justified possession let to the emergence of rebel India, which itself, the author asserts, was the creation of the British. The growth of the Indian nationalism signified the decline of the British Empire. This in a nut-shell is what the book is about. The British Empire was an established institution when the Indian National Con­gress was founded in 1885 or rather the latter was the end product of the process of evolution of the British Empire. There­fore the history of the sixty years from the birth of Indian National Congress to the departure of the British is the story of adjustment of two forces. The entire story has been told in two parts. The first volume deals with the period from the birth of Congress in 1885 to the First World War when the nature of both British attitude and India's response changed. The second volume therefore would carry the story upto the end of British rule. The end of the First World War signalled, according to the author, the end of the Indo-British cooperation and prelude to Indo-British confrontation of a momentous character which with occasional intermission continued to the end of British rule. There are many studies on the Indian National Congress discussing its birth, growth and transformation besides a host of books on India's struggle for freedom. There are also many studies on British policy in India covering this period. This book has however portrayed both sides of the picture i.e. the interplay of the clash of ideology and clash of interests between the two forces, British imperialism and Indian nationalism. The book is a welcome exception to the recent trend in writing history of India's national movement which tends to deny the relevance/existence of an all-India nationalist ideology and concent­rates on factionalism at the local level which, according to them, with some inner pulls ...

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