Nirad C Chaudhri lived during the time of India’s freedom struggle and he had recorded his experiences in the book: Thy Hand Great Anarch. He was a polished man supportive of the British regime and he was highly critical of the freedom struggle.
He begins his memoir by recording his life as a clerk. Having failed his MA he could get no other job. He rails at the Non Cooperation Movement stating that it was a mass brainwashing of the people. The non cooperation movement was a civil disobedience movement started by Mahatma Gandhi to eject the British from India. The non cooperation movement included withdrawal of Indians from work areas and civil protest. The aim of the non cooperation movement was to paralyze the British government. The agitating masses were illiterate and Chaudhri records an instance where he was physically harassed by the non cooperation agitators.
After the Non Cooperation Movement came the Chauri Cahuri incident when an irate mob torched a police station and burnt to death British policemen. Then Gandhi withdrew the non cooperation movement. This was followed by the massacre at Jalian Wallah Bagh incident where peaceful protesters gathered and they were shot to death under the orders of Colonel Dyer. This brutal assassination was met with a storm of protests from the country.
Then came the Simon Commission to placate the Indians and to offer partial autonomy to India. The Simon Commission was met with hostile resistance. People waved placards saying: ‘Simon go back’ and burnt effigies. After the Simon Commission, Gandhi adopted the Salt Satyagraha at Dandi where people marched to the shores of sea to make salt. This was done in protest against the harsh taxes imposed on commodities by the British. For Chaudhri: Gandhi was no apostle of peace and he indulged in moral and psychological violence.
The times leading to the independence were severe for India. There was much causality. The British were fed up of ruling India so they decided to leave. Lord Mount Batten was appointed as the British representative in India. Along with India the Muslims in Pakistan wanted a separate nation. Jinnah was vociferous in the creation of Pakistan. Gandhi was very disturbed Independent India was besieged with many problems. They were unemployment, poverty, death and starvation. Nehru decided to make India a socialist country.
Chaudhri’s struggle is so poignantly portrayed in a pristine language. For the average India life was queasy. The British exploited India’s economy by taking away its resources and bringing in finished goods. Cottage and handicraft industries the backbone of the Indian economy was severely in a ditch. A positive development of the British rule in India was the spread of the vernacular press the development of the railways. Railways united the country. Post independent India was one quarrelsome princely states. It was the iron man of India Sardar Vallabhai Patel who united India and made it into a single country. The press played an important role in spreading the gospel of freedom. Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan created a lot of problems. There was a mass exodus of refugees from Pakistan to India and from India to Pakistan.
Chaudhri’s work is highly philosophical and literary synthesizing India and its turmoil into a political catharsis. Nehru remarked in his opening speech that we have made a tryst with destiny. When the world sleeps India will awake to freedom. Chaudhri marvelous rendition of India’s political and cultural landscape is an essential reading.