Kaleem Kawaja 


Sunday, February 25, 2007, marks the 150th anniversary of the date in 1857 on which the first war for India’s  independence began.  On that day the 19th native regiment of the Indian army rebelled against their British  officers in Berhampur, Bengal.  On that day the Indian soldiers of the regiment refused to use the cartridges  for their guns that the Indian army gave them.


The rebelling soldiers of Hindu faith rebelled against the use of fat from cows in the cartridges and the  Muslim soldiers rebelled against the use of fat from pigs in the cartridges.  On March 29, 1857, Sepoy  Mangal Pandey of the native regiment of the Indian army in Barrackpur, Bengal, rebelled against his British  Sergeant and shot him.  On March 31, 1857, the native Indian regiment was disbanded.   In due course of time it became a full fledged rebellion for the independence of India. Let us remember those  valiant heroes of India’s first war of independence.   9. On 1857 (Daya Varma) A question has been raised on FOIL network about 1857,  Marx, Savarkar, Indian identity.  It  does not matter how  Marx saw  the 1857 event; what does matter is how a majority of Indians, Pakistanis  and Bangladeshis feel about it. For the record,  Marx wrote at least 19 articles and Engels 9 on the 1857  events mainly characterizing it as Indian Revolt. Marx predicted its defeat. Marx did not use the term  “India’s First war of Independence” although a book by that title with Marx as author exists. The title was  given unfairly by the Soviet Publishers to the collections of articles by Marx and Engels on 1857.


Savarkar’s book about 1857  is very exhaustive and highly laudatory of Hindu-Muslim unity. I have no idea  when and how he became an ideologue of Hindutva.


Nations predate nation states; the emergence of  nation state is not a precondition for a people being known  as a nation; this is especially true for Europe where most of the countries as they exist today within specific  borders  (e.g. Italy) did not exist even 200 hundred years ago. In my opinion a debate on whether or not there  was an India in 1857   is not meaningful.  

Top - Home