As we celebrate India’s 75th Independence, Hindustan Times’ journalist Prashant Jha will take us through a journey that traces back to how India became one of the first countries in Asia to get freedom from colonial rule and attain its independence.
This is a Hindustan Times podcast, brought to you by HT Smartcast.
Ep 13: Series finale - The story of Azaadi
The road to Indian Independence was long. It was tough. It was marked by moments of political high, interspersed with long periods of political low. But the freedom struggle eventually succeeded, with the British leaving the land that they had no business occupying in the first place.
In this finale, HT senior editor Prashant Jha traces the brutality of colonial rule and its systematic policy of encouraging a Hindu-Muslim divide which left India with a tragic Partition. He also examines the brilliance and bravery of Indian nationalists who slowly built the edifice of the freedom struggle, and offered India a vision of an inclusive, progressive and internationalist nationalism, leading to the triumph of August 15, 1947.
Ep 12: A Second Mutiny, a final challenge
The war had ended. India was inching towards independence, but a clear political roadmap and timeline was missing. The Muslim League had stepped up its agitation for Pakistan. It was a turbulent, uncertain time.
And then, in 1946, the Empire was struck with a final blow from within. The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny started from Bombay, and spread across the country and, at its peak, saw the involvement of 20,000 sailors across almost 100 ships and shore establishments. It sparked popular mobilization. The Mutiny eventually ended, but 89 years after the Sepoy Mutiny, colonial rule was on its final leg.
In this penultimate episode of the podcast, publisher and author Pramod Kapoor examines the roots of the Mutiny, takes us through nature of the rebellion, and the nationalist and British response.
Ep 11: Netaji: The life and politics of Subhash Bose
Even as a war broke out in Europe, a clash between different streams of the Indian nationalist movement broke out at home. Triggered by differences with the Mahatma and his protégés, and a desire to leverage the the crisis presented by the war, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the political lion from Bengal, decided it was time to embark on his own path.
Bose, after a dramatic escape from India while under arrest, travelled to Europe and Japan decided to work with Axis Powers. His subsequent leadership of the Indian National Army inspired the young and by creating a new, inclusive, armed force to fight for independence, Bose pioneered a new form of struggle. But in 1945, Bose died in a tragic and sudden air crash.
In this episode, the historian and Netaji’s grand nephew, Sugata Bose takes us through Bose’s life, politics, beliefs, relationship with the Mahatma, INA and explains his legacy.
Ep 10: It’s time: Quit India
In 1939, the Second World War broke out in Europe. And India suddenly found itself as a participant in the war, on behalf of the allied powers. There was one problem — no Indian had been consulted. Indian nationalists were clear. They were opposed to Fascism in Europe, but wanted independence at home first. But, by this time, there were a range of other actors on the Indian political stage, from the Muslim League to Babasaheb Amedkar to VD Savarkar, who had their own approach to India and the war.
In 1942, the Mahatma issued what was to become one of the most powerful and evocative slogans of the freedom struggle. He declared that it was time for the British to Quit India. The Quit India movement commenced, and saw a fierce British crackdown, in what was to become one of the final chapters of India’s freedom struggle.
In this episode, the eminent historian Srinath Raghavan reconstructs India’s tremendous contribution to the war, the nationalist dilemma, the roots and impact of the movement, and how the war years Quit India hastened independence but also deepened India’s internal divisions.
Ep 9: The Years of Constitutionalism
As the civil disobedience movement faded, the British embarked on a political exercise to defuse nationalist aspirations — in a way that would help the Empire retain absolute political control. This manifested itself in the Round Table Conferences, the Government of India Act 1935, and the 1937 provincial elections, in which the Congress participated and performed exceedingly well.
But each of these measures had both intended and unintended consequences. Why did the Congress have an ambivalent attitude to the Round Table Conferences? What was the 1935 Act do and what were its long term implications? And did being in power give Indian nationalists prepare them for the future, or did it deepen the Hindu-Muslim faultline within Indian nationalist movement?
In this episode, the scholar Arvind Elangovan reconstructs the years of British Indian constitutionalism and explains its long lasting legacy.
Ep 8: The Mahatma’s March
The nationalist movement was at a crossroad by the end of the 1920s. On one hand, the British had shown no inclination to give Indians the right to self rule and continued with their repressive methods. On the other, anger against colonial rule had been building up, with the Congress finally declaring its aim was purna swaraj, complete independence.
The Congress decided to launch a civil disobedience movement and turned to the only man who could mobilise the masses — the Mahatma. And the Mahatma turned to the most unusual commodity, and the most unusual method to challenge the Empire. He decided to defy colonial salt tax laws, and he decided to do so by leading a march.
In this episode, Tridip Suhrud, among India’s most eminent Gandhian scholars, take us back to the iconic Dandi March, the Mahatma’s meticulous preparation for it, and how it captivated the masses.
An insightful and interesting look into Indian freedom struggle
The podcast is a fantastic way to learn about or refresh your knowledge of Indian freedom struggle. It’s a holistic take and the conversations with various historians make for a very interesting podcast series. Highly recommended!