Books Indians Should Read – 17 (Post No.8517)

Sri Dharampal

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8517

Date uploaded in London – – – 16 August 2020   

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Books Indians Should Read – 17

Chapter 6 Part 2



R. Nanjappa

Was India poor and backward?

Dharampal unearthed these original sources, and revealed for the first time what was the actual state of affairs in the areas which first came under British influence and rule.  Claude Alvares records in his general introduction to these volumes:

“This picture that emerged from the total archival record was nothing short of stunning. Contrary to what millions of us were taught in our school text-books, it indicated the existence of a functioning society, extremely competent in the arts and sciences of its day, its interactive grasp over its immediate natural environment was undisputed; in fact it demanded praise. This was reflected in both agricultural and industrial production. We know today that till around 1750, together with the Chinese, our areas were producing  some 73% of the total world industrial production, and even till 1830 what both these economies produced still amounted to 60% of world industrial production. Even in a moderately fertile area like that of Chengalpattu (Tamil Nadu), our paddy production in a substantial area of its lands around 1760-70 amounted to 5-6 tons per hectare, which equals the production of paddy  per hectare in present day Japan – the current world high. A vast educational set up – based on a school in every village – looked after the learning of large masses of young people.”

Dharampal found from the archival material that 

“the British successfully initiated  an intricate system of widespread control and  extortion, taking away as tax most of what the land produced, as well as the products of manufactures…..this was often done at the point of the bayonet.”

In fact, for long periods in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the tax on land in many areas exceeded the total agricultural production of very fertile land. This was particularly so in the areas of the Madras Presidency (comprising current Tamilnadu, districts of coastal Andhra, some districts of Karnataka and Malabar)….In the Madras Presidency, one third of the most fertile land went out of cultivation  between the period 1800-1950. Thus, our poverty and backwardness were of recent origin, and direct result of colonial policy and practices. The image that we have developed of ourselves as poor, illiterate, backward etc is an imposition on us by the colonial powers, which our educators still pursue in mindless imitation.

 The significance of Dharampal’s works is that they furnish us for the first time first hand material from the very same colonial sources which reveals how good we were, and how we were brought down by colonial powers. 

Swami Vivekananda opened our eyes to the greatness of our religion and philosophy. He did it effectively because he spoke and wrote in English to an international audience.

Gandhiji wrote about Hind Swaraj- what it means for India to be ” free” and indicated in general terms that India was great. But he could not give details due to his other preoccupations. 

Romesh Chunder Dutt wrote the Economic History Of India in two volumes by the turn of the last century and he made use of original sources. 

Dharampal has carried on the work forward, and gone further and opened our eyes  in respect of our economy and society, unearthing from the British archives first hand material. We learn to see the real India- India as it was before it was destroyed by the colonial goons.

No true, self-respecting Indian can afford to ignore Dharampal’s writings.

We shall see some salient features of his findings by and by.

tags- books to read -17


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