Rommohun Roy was the “leading figure of the Hindu Renaissance”. He was born to a Bengali Hindu family. He began to gain wealth with investments with the British East India Trading Company. For a short period of time he was an active servant to the East India Trading Company. “During this period he mastered the English language and culture and absorbed Western religious radicalism.” He was heavily associated with Western culture and ideals. He was in support of the British rule and embraced it very strongly. Roy was able to spread this support through out India by becoming “a pioneer of Bengali journalism.” He spread his support for Westernized education and actively defended the freedom of press. Roy was a true pioneer in India. He was the “founder and editor of two of India’s earliest weekly newspapers.” These examples showed his support for British rule because without them there would be no Western education in India. He was profiting from what they had brought to India. He was also committed to expanding the knowledge of the west through out India and was establishing “English-language schools, and opposed the 1823 establishment of Sanskrit College, Calcutta, because he believed the British were obligated to introduce modern Western knowledge.” Roy was so pleased with what the British were doing and felt he had to experience it for himself, began his journey to Britain. He was “one of the first Brahmans to cross the ‘dark waters’”. He was given the position of King by the Mughal emperor. He was embraced by the British community like one of their own. He showed his devotion to their culture and government. He set out to change many things in Britain including “securing redress of the emperor’s complaints against the East India Company.” Roy went to Britain to achieve many personal goals but traveled to France where he died. He was an advocate for many people. He spread important Western culture through out India and fought for the freedom of press. He was a supporter of western culture and ideals in India. He had not only learned from the British but they had learned from him.
Mahmud al-Hasan or Shaikhul Hind (leader of India) was born in a Muslim family in 1851 at Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. He was educated in Islamic teachings by the world renowned institution of Islamic Sciences, Darul Uloom Deoband. His father, Maulana Zulfeqar Ali, was also a well known Arabic scholar.
Shaikul, an influential freedom fighter, fought against the British rule in India. The West plotted to overthrow the Ottoman Empire, whom Indian Muslims respected and revered. He became a diplomat in order to start an armed rebellion towards freedom from British rule. Shaikul wanted to fight the British with force from the inside and outside India. His idea was to take the British by surprise in the north-western border and Indian Muslims were to stir a rebellion in India itself.
Shaikul arranged material support from several leaders outside of India to fight Britain, since Britain took India’s weapon. Wali (governor) of the Khilafah in Makkah wrote documents, the Ghalib Namah, encouraging Muslims of India to follow Shaikul in his efforts for freedom. Anwar Pasha wrote a letter with similar intent as well telling the Indians that they would support Shaikul with the necessary material. These letters circulated in India and encouraged Indians to fight for their freedom under the leadership of Shaikul.
In Shaikul’s journey to Hejaz, Sharif Hussain arrested and handed Shaikul and his companions over to Britain. The prisoners were later transferred in 1917, to Malta for questioning. In 1920, they were released from prison and Shaikul returned home.
Shaikul joined the Khilafat movement after his return to India from the imprisonment in Malta. It is a protest campaign by Indian Muslims against British policy towards the Sultan of Turkey, who was also the Caliph of Islam. He issued a fatwa of Non-cooperation against the British Government concerning caliph’s duty and his perspective on cooperating with colonialists. With his joining of the campaign, the armed rebellion for India’s independence ceased to exist. Shaikul decided in a conference at Delhi to organize a non-violent cooperation named Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind in 1919, and to adopt non-cooperation, which led to India’s freedom.
Robert Clive was born on September 29, 1725 and raised by his uncle. He loved outdoor activities and fighting. He went to four different schools, in which all his teachers declared that he “lacked discipline”. Clive tried to commit suicide twice, but after living through the attempts he stated, “It appears I am destined for something, I will live.” His first trip to India happened when he was only eighteen in service of the East India Company as a writer, and he was detained in Brazil for nine months.
Robert Clive was a soldier and later a British administrator in India, specifically in Bengal. He was sent to India three times over the years. Clive gained a lot from his services in India, which were a great advantage for him and gave him wealth and a great fortune. In 1765, Mir Jafar (Nawab of Bengal) left him £70,000. His services in India also led him into military services in which he later found out he had great abilities in. So Clive did benefit from the British system in India. He led the British to win the Battle of Plassey, which was what gave the British East India Company control over Bengal. Europeans and Indians were extracting wealth from the area, weakening the company. (source)
Clive is also thought to have played a major part in establishing the British Empire in India, with that he included a strong administration, in fact he is said to be the one that established it. Most of the changes were based on the British servants who were serving in India and were made for their benefits, like increasing their salaries. Also accepting gifts from the Indian people was forbidden, so the British were slowly sweeping away the Indian culture to influence it even more with the British culture, and Clive was a big part of that. (source)
When back in England Clive ran for Parliament unsuccessfully, and after that he was recalled to India as lieutenant colonel of the English Army. After his definite return to England, the Company started to fall, forcing them to ask for the English government’s help. Clive was being accused of corruption at that time and all the attacks and problems with his health led him to commit suicide.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is also known as Mahatma Gandhi, meaning great soul. He came to get this name by being the leader of a non-violent movement against the British. In 1864, India became a colony under the rule of the British. While in control, the British were running an operation that was exploiting all of the natural resources of India, such as cotton, indigo, spices and tea, to support the British economy. Gandhi was a lawyer who studied in Britain and practiced law in South Africa. On his return to India later in life, the unevenly divided status of Indians and policies encouraged the divide on Hindus and Muslims. This lead Gandhi to start a nationwide cooperative movement against the British Empire. In 1920, the movement demonstrated why it was pointless to rule a society where there is a reluctance to be ruled. During the movement the Indian people did not take part in any economic or social activity relating to the British.
Gandhi’s religious beliefs had a lot to do with the creation of this movement against the British. One of the most important rules related to his religious aspect was the word swaraja meaning self-rule; this was used by Gandhi more broadly as a way to refer to personal identity. Linking this to the goal of finding ones inner self.
Gandhi’s beliefs that everyone should be treated equal and the traditions of Hindus effected his views, but his overall view about the British helped the well being of India, and he has come down as a hero in the country of India as well as everywhere else in the world. His views on the British rule over India where built off of stone cold facts that prove that the force of the British was not a good thing in the eyes of the Indian community.
BR Ambedkar’s life in Indian politics is a fascinating one, a story dedicated to bettering the fortunes of the untouchables, the caste that he himself was born into. Ambedkar rose from his low position through education, studying in Indian schools before becoming a student at Columbia University in addition to legal studies done in England. Ambedkar used his education to gain teaching positions when he returned to India (source). His political career was based on his lifelong battle for the equal representation of the castes.
The British occupation of India had much impact on the caste system, what Ambedkar was most concerned with. The Brits in power viewed the caste system as an easy way of dividing up the population, and they equated the castes with the class system of the UK (source). Ambedkar was quite critical of the Hindu culture, saying that “Hindu society as such does not exist. It is only a collection of castes. Each caste is conscious of its existence. Its survival is the be all and end all of its existence,” (source). In that vein, Ambedkar may have been satisfied with Britain’s role in deconstructing Hindu society, though his moral opposition to the inequality of the caste system would have caused him to be unhappy with Britain’s use of the caste system to easily control Indian society.
Ambedkar’s battle for equality would not have necessarily pitted him entirely against the British occupation, though he was not in outspoken favor either. He was not a Hindu nationalist, and was supportive of Hindus and Muslims living in harmony as seen in his paper on the issue of the seperation of Pakistan from India. Most likely Ambedkar would have disagreed with Britain’s involvement in Indian affairs, and would have believed in an India that was truly controlled by the Indian people. His fight for equality of the castes shows Ambedkar’s ideal of equality among all Indian people, and this belief would likely have translated into an opposition of the British rule.
Lord Kitchener was sent to India as a commander in chief in 1902. He reorganized the Indian army, shifting the previous focus of inner rebellion to one of outside aggression. On top of reorganizing the army, Kitchener helped with administrative reforms. The government in London supported Kitchener, which was crucial in Kitchener’s taking over of India from Lord Curzon. Kitchener then held a lot of power, because when Curzon resigned, Kitchener took over his position as well. This resulted in Lord Kitchener being both the Commander-In-Chief as well as the Military Member (in charge of transportation and logistics). One thing that was controversial about having Kitchener lead the army was the fact that he had no prior “Indian experience”. He could not interfere with the existing structure of the time of that army. Lord Kitchener did not have any special reverence for the army, and it has been noted that he seemed impatient with the traditional customs of the army. Kitchener brought ideas “ready-made from England“. Many soldiers were not happy under Kitchener. One reason was the increased separation the soldiers felt from their homes. There were also many problems with recruiting, stemming from past soldiers that did not want to re-enlist. Despite Kitchener’s inexperience with India, the Indian army was loyal, and this was a huge asset to the British Raj. Lord Kitchener was denied the position of viceroy, however, and was sent to work in Egypt shortly after his work in India.
Sometimes called the “Architect of Modern India,” Jawaharlal Nehru was a staunch opponent of British rule in India. Throughout his long activist career, he served as both the President of the Indian National Congress, as well as the Prime Minister of India.
Nehru was raised in Allahabad, India, in an affluent Brahmin family, which is the highest level in the Indian caste system. He was tutored until the age of 15, at which point he was sent to the prestigious Harrow School in England, and then at Trinity College, Cambridge. After college he returned to India and practiced law, without much enthusiasm. Nehru’s involvement in the Indian struggle for independence ramped up after notable socialist and supporter of Indian Home Rule Annie Besant was arrested by the British. The Massacre of Amritsar, which resulted in the death of hundreds, further solidified his anti-British sentiments. He believed that India should be able to self-govern, while still being a part of the British Empire, similar to Canada and Australia
In 1929, Nehru was elected President of the Indian National Congress, which was his first major leadership role. While serving on the Congress, he was introduced to Mohandas Gandhi. Nehru was inspired by the passion of Gandhi, and soon grew to be engaged heavily in his cause. His views on the British occupation soon changed from dominion to demanding a complete withdrawal of the British and total independence for India. Soon after the end of World War II, India was finally given independence and Nehru was elected to be the country’s first prime minister.
While Nehru’s main goal was political, he also was a big proponent of several economic and social reforms. He was against the caste system, which is surprising seeing as Nehru was from the highest caste level. He was also a firm believer in the benefits of socialism as opposed to capitalism. He favored industrialization as the best way of progressing, saying “I’m all for tractors and big machinery.” While Prime Minister, he implemented several plans and reforms designed to industrialize India and propel it into the modern world.
William James was born in 1721 to a poor Miller’s family in Pembrokeshire, Wales. At the age of 12 he snuck off to join the navy. His leadership qualities were apparent in his ranks. At the age of 18 only, six years after his flight to the sea, William James was promoted to Ship’s Boy (or Servant) under Admiral Lord Hawke to be a commander of his own vessel. His duty was in the West Indies (Caribbean). History of the Indian Navy. In 1747, William James joined the East India company and not long after, he was appointed Commodore of the East India Company’s marine forces stationed at Bombay. On April 2, 1755, with the ship The Protector, he attacked and destroyed the fortress of Suvarnadurg which had belonged to the pirate Tulaji Angre who had sacked many ships of the East India Company previously. William James the 1st Baronet. James’s expert knowledge of the ocean allowed him to move the ship close enough to blow up the pirate’s fortress. He brought the riches he found back to England and he was honored for his achievements however, he was only paid 100 pounds for all his trouble. Take a step back in time. James also supported Colonel Robert Clive on occasion and was a major player in securing British dominance over French forces in India. It is possible that James kept a portion of the plundered treasure for himself, which explains why he returned with considerable riches. He also defeated someone whom the British called a ‘pirate’, yet he became rich as a result. Who is to say he wasn’t the actual pirate? And so, in 1759 he returned to England to settle down with his wife Anne Goddard and was later appointed chairman of the directors of the East India Company. He was also named a Fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S.) for his contributions to naval navigation. Commodore Sir William James. In order to join the Royal Society, a candidate must have natrual knowledge of mathamatics, engineering science or medical science. The Royal Society. James had never been formally educated so he was lacking in many of these areas; however, Jame’s natural abilities in sensing the actions of mankind was very valuable. His many successes led to his crowning as a baronet in 1778. On his daughter’s wedding day, William James suffered from a massive stroke at the age of 62. His life is one of complete transformation from lowly beggar to rich, esteemed, baronet, James brought great wealth to England, and thus, turning his rags into riches.
Sri Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist who fought for liberation fo India from the British control. Aurobindo was a well renowned scholar after studying in England for fourteen years learning english and french he went back to india and became vice principal of Baroda college.(source) He worked hard learning sanskrit and translating ancient Indian texts into english. After a while he joined the radical Indian nationalist party to keep England out of India and he fought to preserve the spirituality of India.(source) Aurobindo became a very important and influential leader in the Indian nationalist movement, he became the editor of a magazine called revolution weekly and convinced many people to join the cause. Aurobindo was a very spiritual person and one of his main motivations for this revolution was to protect the sacred land of India. However, Aurobindo’s writings against England did get him in trouble and caused him to end up in a british prison for a year. What at first seemed terrible for Aurbindo actually was a blessing in disguise. While stuck in prison Aurobindo did not have much else to do but think, pray, meditate which made him become much more spiritual and religious. He intensely studied the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita which brought him spiritual enlightenment. In jail he also engaged in deep meditation and yoga practice and siad that he confronted Krishna in a vision.(source) After being released from prison Aurobindo gave up all political affiliations and quit the Indian liberation party to become more focused on religion. He spent his time studying hinduism in Pondicherry in south India and around him grew the community Ashram which still brings spiritual followers in to this day. Sri Aurobindo was strongly against the british rule in india, however, he found that religion was more important than fighting.
Thomas Macaulay, a British historian, essayist, and politician, is one of the most influential social reformer of British presence in India. He was appointed to be the Supreme Council of India in the year 1934 to 1838. He was the one who introduced the English language into India, with the goal of creating a class of anglicized Indians, who would serve as cultural intermediaries between the British and the Indians. Ideally, if this was accomplished, the political, social and economic bond between the English and the East will be much tighter, whether the Indians like it or not. Thus, the controversy arose between the Orientalists and the Anglicists, to carry on the education system in Sanskrit and Arabic or introduce English into the lives of the Indians. The decision was made shortly after Macaulay submitted his famous “Minute on Indian Education” essay written in 1835. This essay was a rebuttal to those who advocated that Indian students should continue be studying in Sanskrit and Arabic. In the essay, Macaulay proposed that English is the language that is best worth knowing, for no one can deny that “a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.” Moreover, he discussed the prevailing power of the language during that time, that by knowing English, one will gain “ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth, which all the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of ninety generations.” He has redefined the characteristics of the “elites”, the idealism, and the higher education in India. Consequentially, the translation of English books to Sanskrit and Arabic was immediately terminated, and English became the spoken language from schools to households. Other than being the most important education colonialist, he also crafted the basis of justice and social order, the British-India’s Code of Criminal Procedure.