The Story of India (2007) s01e06 Episode Script

Freedom (1700 CE - 2009 CE)

You see that when you There are times in the life of a civilization when history seems to burst with possibilities.
That's India in the 21st century.
This is the tale of British occupation of India, the winning of freedom, and the establishment of democracy, and with them, all the possibilities of a hitherto undreamed of future.
What do you want to be when you grow up and leave the school? When I grow up, I'll be a commercial pilot.
A commercial pilot! Doctor.
A doctor.
I want to be a captain in the navy.
A captain in the navy.
An archaeologist! Fantastic! I want to be a movie director A movie director! Fantastic.
The Modern Age is the next chapter in the story of India.
The coast of South India.
It was here in the 18th century that a series of events began that would lead to a small island off the shore of Europe, Britain, coming to rule a vast empire 5,000 miles away in India and in the process, giving birth to the modern world.
The tale of India's last invader, the British, is a chain of accidents, as so often in history, events that need never have happened in the way that they did except perhaps for some destiny written deep in India's own past.
Here in Tanjore in the late 18th century, the armies of a private multinational, the British East India Company, imposed their rule on a civilization that had come down from ancient times, still with its own distinctive vision of the world.
At that time while the Moghuls still ruled in the north, South India was divided between many independent princely states, but history was on the move.
The 18th century rajas of Tanjore, men like Serfoji, were importing European knowledge, and in their library here along with 50,0000 Indian manuscripts are books in English, French, Italian, and Latin.
They're both on palm leaf and paper.
There are 25,000 Even without the British, India would still have taken the path to modernity.
isn't that fantastic? So he was interested in combining Indian and European? That's fascinating.
Samuel Johnson's dictionary.
Ha ha ha! Samuel Johnson's dictionary.
The first great dictionary of the English language, and here it is in the court of 18th century Tanjore.
The very moment of the British taking over in India, this kind of almost like a renaissance culture is taking place.
This library when you think about it is as old as the Bodleian library in Oxford, older by far than any library in the United States, and maybe that's the hallmark of all great civilizations, that they have the ability to conserve their own genius but to bring in the discoveries of other civilizations and incorporate them, and India has always had the ability to do that, just as it does today.
He had a very deep interest in medicine also.
You can see here.
Even it's fascinating to know that he has imported a human skeleton from London.
He wants his doctors to be taught about the anatomy.
He was into polyglot and polymath.
He spoke English, I gather? He spoke several languages.
So all this time, Tanjore was under the rule of the British, is that correct? Yeah.
Actually what happened, he had to he was forced to undergo a treaty with the British and from 1798 onwards, so he was relieved of his powers from maintaining his territory.
With Moghul power in the north on the wane, India now found itself part of the global confrontation between the European powers, and the South became a theater of war between the armies of the British and the French.
And it was the ordinary people who were caught in the crossfire.
The key to the nascent British empire was the new fort of Madras.
By about 1650, 1660, the Dutch, the Danish, the Portuguese, all of them, you know, sort of become subservient to the powers of the British and the French.
So these are European powers competing for empire internationally, but here in south India, this becomes a focus for their rivalries.
Every time there is some sort of a difference of opinion or altercation in Europe between the French and the English, thatwhat shall we say that is very clearly reflected in the South India also.
It was a time of war as European armies trekked back and forth across South India.
In the towns of the old Cholan heartland, the dead lay unburied in the streets.
The great Tamil temple enclosures were turned into forts and prison camps as columns of famine-stricken refugees fled the fighting.
When you read British accounts of these wars in the late 18th century, you get actually a very horrifying impression of armies of British and French crisscrossing the Tamil land.
Terrible massacres are taking place of the kind that we see today in, you know, Darfur or Iraq almost.
I mean, thousands of Tamils were killed.
It must have been a terrible time in the south.
It must have been.
the first form of uprising starts only in this part of the country.
The first uprising against the British.
Against the British.
Of course it's all local.
It is notyou know, it's nothing organized.
I wouldn't call it a fight for freedom, but I am just they are rebelling against certain norms which have been forced upon them.
The British victory in South India came in 1799 at the battle of Seringapatam, where an East India Company army overwhelmed the Muslim sultan of Mysore.
And there's a modern twist to this story.
These were not national armies but the first global corporations fighting for the spoils of India, and the prize was huge.
In London, the East India Company archives in the British library show that the war was not just about power but profit.
The profit and loss, the balance sheets of the East India Company.
this was what it was all about.
The crucial turning point in the finances of the company, 1799 after the great battles in South India at Seringapatam.
Company revenues: ã8.
5 million.
Four years later, 1803: ã13.
5 million.
That's getting on for 3 quarters of a billion pounds in modern spending money.
Previous invaders of India had come by land through the Khyber Pass, but the British came by sea, establishing bases around the coast, and in Bengal, the British had extorted the right to raise taxes from the enfeebled Moghuls, and here in Calcutta, they began to develop a classic colonial economy.
Sailing into Calcutta in the 18th century, you were entering the hub of an operation which spread its power and influence across half the world.
Opium being processed here in warehouses to be sailed off to China; textiles being processed to go into Northern India and across to Europe.
A network that controlled hundreds of thousands of skilled workers weavers, dyers, and washers.
In later times, the British liked to say, disingenuously, that they gained their empire in a fit of absent-mindedness But there was nothing absent-minded about the ruthless way they pursued the imperative of profit.
And in the late 18th century, driven by the Industrial Revolution back in Britain, Bengal became a mainstay of British imperialism.
The British left their mark all over Calcutta.
The great 18th century cemetery here in Park Street is still lovingly maintained.
But perhaps the greatest legacy of the British was to give Indians a new idea of India itself.
The Britishers gave us a complete map of India.
The Britishers gave you a complete map of India? United.
They showed a complete map.
Prior to Britishers what happened actually, India was divided into several small countries, different like that.
They are all united.
So do you think that without the British India may never have been united as India? Yeah.
That is true 100%.
I fully agree with you.
Ha ha ha! Really? You're making me feel better about being an imperialist! It's absolutely correct.
And that map was not only physical but mental an idea of India, for it was the British who began the recovery of the ancient Indian past.
Orientalists like James Prinsep and William Jones learned India's languages.
"I love India more than my own country," said Warren Hastings.
They founded the Asiatic Society here, conscious that India was a far older and richer civilization than their own, and as one of them said, "Wealth is not the only "or the most valuable commodity India has "to offer Britain and the world.
" The early orientalists who came to India, they wanted to know what was happening in this new place.
William Jones, H.
Colebrooke and a whole host of others, they took India seriously.
So they went, sat with the Brahmin pundits and tried to understand Sanskritic texts and so on.
People had been, you know, nostalgically looking back to a world which they have lost.
To look for the lost world in the East.
And they found it in India? They found it in India.
Some East India Company officers were accused of thinking more of Hinduism than Christianity and more of the Koran than the Bible.
There's even a tomb in Park Street Cemetery covered with Hindu deities.
it's the tomb of one of the most interesting characters from British India Major General Charles Stuart.
His love of things Indian earned him the nickname Hindoo Stuart.
He was here for 50 years, used to go down to the Ganges to bathe every day, wore Indian clothes off duty, and even worshipped Hindu gods.
Perhaps his most characteristic attempt at cross-cultural dialogue was to try to persuade the British ladies of Calcutta, the memsaabs, to throw off their whalebone corsets and their iron dress hoops and wear the sari.
"The sari," wrote Stuart, "is the most alluring dress in the world, "and the women of Hindustan enchanting in their beauty.
" In his book, "The Vindication of the Hindoos," Stuart spoke of the greatness of Indian civilization and the need for the British to understand it.
"Hinduism," said Stuart, "little needs the ameliorating hand "of Christianity to render its votaries "a correct and moral people in a civilized society.
" "On the contrary," he said, "the glorious scriptures of the Hindoos were written "when our own ancestors were savages in the forests.
" The British were particularly attracted to the mixed Hindu-Muslim culture in the Ganges Plain, a legacy of the days of the great the Moghuls like Akbar, who had tried to bring the two communities together.
Ah, wow.
they're so Oh, look at this.
So what are these documents? This is for Hanumangarhi? And this is the seal of the Nawab? These are the documents for Muslim Nawabs of Ayodhya, giving their resources to building a Hindu temple.
In the Middle Ages, relations between Hindus and Muslims had often been marred by the intolerant attitudes of some Muslim rulers, but accommodation under the later Moghuls gave birth to the most seductive and charismatic of all Indian civilizations in Lucknow under the Muslim Nawabs.
and that time is still fondly remembered in the old aristocratic houses.
Ah, so family portraits.
So this is magnificent.
Who is this here? This is my great grandfather, Amiltolla Raja, sir.
Rajabut sir.
So he was knighted by Knighted by Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria herself! Fantastic.
This is me.
Ha ha! With a beautiful ceremonial crown.
Rubies, emeralds, diamonds.
People talk about the culture of Lucknow in theespecially the 18th century period, don't they, as being an extraordinary period in Indian history.
Why is that? What does that mean? Right.
So at that time, the 2 cultures here intermingled? Intermingled.
That rich culture of Urdu literature and poetry has left its legacy across India, Pakistan, and the world.
in food, too.
And in that intermingling of Hindu and Muslim was a possible pointer to the future, had the British rulers been more sensitive.
Verdict on the biryani, then, everybody? A-1.
But everything would be changed by the Great Rebellion of 1857.
The signs had been there the previous 30 years: the British more intolerant under the growing influence of evangelical Christian missionaries; a decree replacing Persian with English as the language of administration and education.
The mutiny began over the use of cow and pig fat to grease cartridges, deeply offensive to both Hindu and Muslim.
It was a stupid mistake born of disrespect towards the native culture, but it provoked a terrifying uprising by the Sepoys, the native troops employed by British.
This was the mosque from where in the leadership of Maulana Fazl-e Haq Khairabidi around 350 A'immah, of the mosque, Islamic scholars, gave the fatwa ofjihad against the British rulers in India.
Hindu and Muslim joined together.
All communities came together, and I think it was the golden period of India.
All the communities, without the any differences, they were Indians at that time.
They were following their religions, but they were fighting for 1 cause, to get the freedom of India.
Through the sweltering summer of 1857, the edifice of British power tottered in what the British called the Indian Mutiny.
it was the greatest war of resistance ever fought against a colonial power in the whole age of European imperialism and new discoveries in the archives in Delhi reveal the story from the rebels' side and their anger at the attitude of the new breed of British officials.
They are denigrating traditional forms of performance, they are denigrating traditional texts, they're denigrating traditional poetry.
so there is a hectoring, interrogating machine that has been set in motion 20, 25 years before the uprising happens.
Otherwise we just can't make sense of the rage that bursts forth.
And what's interesting about 1857 is that certainly in Delhi in the documents we've been studying here over the last 3 years, is that the expression of resistance in Delhi is done in religious terms.
The British are the people who destroy all religions.
What has happened to our guns? the rebel leaders like the Rani of Jhansi, who died fighting, became national heroes.
To get at them, I have to blow up the temple.
Then blow them up.
Our country above our religion.
Ohh! There is a violence that bursts forth, you know, in a turbulent wave, which totally takes the English by surprise.
No prisoners are taken.
They are completely shocked by the kind of violence that has manifested by the Sepoys.
And the British respond in kind andand worse, and they level whole cities.
Delhi, which is a city of 100,000 people, which contains around 250,000 people at the time the British attack it, refugees and the Sepoys and so on, is left a completely empty ruin.
There is not a single human being left in the city by the time the British are finished with it.
For the British, the most evocative place in the story was Lucknow, scene of the heroic defense of their residency.
After the victory, journalists picked their way over ruins, using the new art of photography to record the destruction Though some shots of the damage and cruelty inflicted by the British in their frenzy of revenge were not published at the time.
In the immediate aftermath of the great rebellion of 1857-8, a European photographer, Felice Beato, took an amazing top shot of the whole city.
It's just laid out here before us, the great Imambara with the minarets.
In the middle of the panorama, you can see the mosque of Aurangzeb by the river there, painted white now.
A British cavalry regiment camped just down there in the courtyard with their tents, their horses grazing, and in fact, you can just see their washing by the side of the road on a washing line.
Those look like long johns to me.
"We have power of life and death in our hands," wrote one British officer, "and I assure you we spare not.
" Writing for the "New York Daily Tribune," Karl Marx railed against the failure of the British press to cover British atrocities.
"The cruelty of the Sepoys," he said, "is only the reflex of England's own conduct in India.
"The European troops have become fiends.
" In real history, things do not have sharp endings.
only periods that flood into each other, but 1857 is a very clear open-and-shut case.
1857, the East India Company ends, the Moghuls end.
The 2 principle forces that have guided Indian history for the past 300 years, come to an abrupt end, and immediately you get the British government imposing direct rule from London.
Very soon after this, Disraeli goes to Queen Victoria and says, "Will you be Empress of India?" Of course, history is never black and white.
The war divided North Indian society.
Some saw British rule as progress, a chance to break with the old ways.
Others though were implacable in their resistance, as I discovered when I met the descendents of 2 Indian families who were on opposite sides.
This is the Grand Trunk Road coming northwards from Kanpur.
We're looking for one of the most extraordinary stories in the aftermath of 1857.
And the person who knows more about it than anyone alive is an Indian scholar, who comes form a village just up the road.
We've arranged to meet at a place where there's a brick kiln and a temple, and he'll be wearing a red Himalayan shawl.
A red Himalayan hat.
I didn't hear him right.
Ha ha ha! Very nice to meet you.
Ha ha ha! This is Jeremy and Callum.
So we've made it, fantastic.
Now look, I will have to take you to Bareh.
The Raja is insistent.
You can't have a picture with only the collaborators.
You must have a real, real rebel.
Thank you very much.
People still think about it as collaborators, do they? I am not, you know 150 years I can't feel guilty about it.
Have your friends follow me.
Don't get run over.
We've haven't done the interview yet! Sriram is the historian of the Indian National Congress, the freedom movement that arose out of the struggles of 1857.
That's the ancestral house.
Your house? Yes.
But like everyone in India, he has his own stake in the story.
His ancestors sided with the British, believing in their order, their future.
Heh heh heh.
Unstoppable, isn't he? This is the fort? Yes.
So this fort was your ancestors' fort? Yes.
So are you officially still a Raja? Oh, no.
Rajas are over now.
Rajas are over? An hour or so out into the countryside, we reached Bareh the descendants of the collaborator and the resister and the oppressor.
Wow, that's impressive, isn't it? What was this here? The ladies' apartment.
The ladies' apartment? Fantastic, isn't it? And this is what they were fighting for.
That's India which you can call the eternal, the unchanging.
So what happened here in 1857? You were the rebels.
First the War of Independence, they call it now, don't they? These were the local rebel commanders? Oh.
The Rani of Jhansi? Yes, yes.
She was the heroine, the Joan of Arc of the resistance.
"Nana's coming! Nana's coming!" It was Nana who attacked Lucknow.
So these were the greatest of the rebel leaders.
So your family were committed to fighting against the British? Yes.
And what happened here? And here in Bareh, in the baking summer heat of the Jumna Plain, a long way into myjourney in search of the story of India, I felt enveloped by the greatness of Indian history, by those terrible events 150 years ago that seemed to have only happened yesterday.
Had their guns on that side.
The 2 of you may be represent 2 different Indian views of all these great events, these great events.
I am not ashamed of the fact that my ancestors cooperated with the British.
Situated as they were, and being educated, they knew the might and the resources of the British.
Your view different is different? It was a matter of honor, "We have nothing to lose, we fight.
" Your father was a rebel with Gandhi? Yeah, yeah.
He joined Gandhi, yes.
So the freedom struggle is rooted in your family? And to see how the freedom struggle came out of the mutiny, you need first to come back to the district capital Etawah because here lived one of the key figures in the beginning of the freedom movement, and believe it or not, he was a British civil servant.
He built this school.
Hume fought here against the rebels but then began to speak out for Indian self-determination.
He believed in the power of imperialism to do good, I suppose.
You could put it that way, could you? He was rather a kind of anwhat should I say a cultural imperialist.
Hume helped start the independence movement by bringing together the best young Indians to form the Indian National Congress.
That's him in the middle.
His is one of the great untold Indian stories.
In fact, Sriram thinks that Hume is almost as important as Gandhi.
It was their duty as trustees of the Indian empire to prepare the people of this country to take the destiny of their country in their own hands.
So that's what the British That's what Hume thought the British should work towards.
This is what the British should work towards, and when they are ready for self-government to hand over their trust to them and to retire from this country because if they retire after doing this much, they will have done 2 things.
First you have trained a people in self-government, and second, to have ensured that their own commerce and culture would continue.
The first meeting of the congress, Bombay, 1885.
In the center, the only white man, Hume, the rebel in the Raj.
In the 1880s, they also gained a free press when the British lifted their restrictions, and a flood of hundreds of papers hit the stands, mainly vernacular ones which the British couldn't control.
The British period would be brief, a blip in the story of India, but the Raj would see the birth of the idea of India as 1 nation, unified as much by the idea as by the railways, maps, and communications.
The British Raj was one of the most ingenious and adaptive empires in history, an immense patchwork embracing nearly a quarter of the people of the planet, an arrangement so extraordinary that it's scarcely believable that it existed on the ground, but it did Hello.
And this is the Archive of British India.
This building was constructed by the British people.
So it contains all the government records.
Yes, these are all government records.
Just look at this! But imperialism is never benign.
We have 30 kilometers of lined-up shelf space.
30 kilometers.
yes, here in this building, and in addition to this building, then in the next building, we have another 40 kilometers of lined-up shelf space.
So 70 kilometers of documents.
Total we have 70 kilometers.
This is the social history of India, isn't it? For such forms of knowledge are never neutral.
By the middle of the 19th century, the nature of colonialism in India is changing from a relatively benign, what we call orientalist phase of colonialism.
This is now an arrogant Britain, the first country of the industrial revolution ruling the world, and then from the 1850s, the competition worldwide for colonies.
Other countries are coming up and competing for colonies.
So therefore, there's a great need to have a very systematic ordering of peoples' lives, the information and everything relating to them.
And how did they set about it in terms of defining the people of India? This is the report which is preparing for the first census of 1881, and the first item in this is about religion, and once you begin counting people according to their religious origin, then when politics comes in, religion then becomes a religious community.
At the turn of the century, for example, in 1909, there was a big debate that started that Hindus were actually going to disappear because, in fact, one of the census commissioners of Bengal made a statement that if the Muslims continue to grow at this rate, Hindus will disappear.
And then some Hindus took it up and said, Hindu's a dying race.
Similarly, the Muslims.
when they took their first delegation, out of which the Muslim League was formed, and the went to see the viceroy, they said, "We number so much.
"We are outnumbered by the Hindus.
"If you are going to have a representative system "which is based on majorities principle of election, "we are never going to be there" because "we" now means Muslims.
The implication of that seems to be, that by defining an Indian people in this way, the British set a path for the way that Indians would construe their path to independence.
Absolutely right.
And we are still living with that legacy, we're struggling with it, we fall victim to it, we resist it, but it is still with us.
Subjects of the greatest empire the world had ever seen, the Indian people were drawn into Britain's world conflicts.
In the first world war, Indians fought for the king emperor in the trenches of Flanders and the deserts or Iraq.
But when the war was over, the freedom movement, led by the Congress Party and the Muslim League, who now represented a Muslim electorate, were expecting a payoff.
For more than 2 million Indians who fought in the war on behalf of the British, thousands had been killed, but still there was a loyalty to Britain despite a strong home rule movement, but the British rewarded that loyalty by imposing the wartime sedition laws in peacetime no trial, no lawyer, no appeal.
Only months after the end of the war, a peaceful demonstration took place in the Punjab, in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar.
The callous ineptitude of the British General Dyer would make Amritsar a notorious name in the history of Britain and India.
Aim! Fire! Fire! Take your time! They come here from this passage.
This was the only entry or exit.
they put the guns here, open fire on the public.
So there was no warning? No warning.
How big was the crowd? About 20,000 people had gathered there.
20,000! At least 400 people were killed that day and 1,500 injured.
Did you have family members present that day? My grandfather, Dr.
Mukherjee, he was present on that happening but luckily escaped, and since then, we are looking after this.
On such moments, history can turn.
The Amritsar Massacre gave an irresistible impetuous to the freedom movement.
The main players were all British-educated lawyers: the canny Mohandas K.
Gandhi; the brilliant Mohammed Jinnah of the Muslim League; and Jawaharlal Nehru, the austere star of congress.
Together, they were to plan one of history's greatest revolutions, driven by the ancient Indian idea of non-violence.
They were great times and rare times and unique times, I always think, and I'm glad that I lived almost through all these times.
Aged 95, P.
Tandon has died since we met.
He was an old Nehru family friend, a freedom fighter in the 1930s and 1940s.
So you had a sense of being present when history was being made.
For 14 months? When was this? 1942? You knew Nehru from the early days.
Was it apparent even then that he was a man marked by destiny? Ha ha ha! Very confident and sure of himself? Yes, that is right.
You must have got to know Gandhi well, also.
Oh, yes, I knew him, too.
What kind of impression did he make on you? Many people speak of his magic spell on people.
Tell us what you thought.
Today, the Anand Bhavan, the Nehru family house in Allahabad, is a shrine to India's struggle for freedom.
They're worshipping Gandhi, they're worshipping Nehru.
They were the greatest, greatest people of our country.
So Gandhiji is not forgotten? Never! Never? Never, never! People do not realize how difficult it was to get freedom.
Those who were not born, those who have not seen don't know what was freedom struggle.
British rulethat it was a very disciplined rule.
They accept this thing, but, you know, bondage nobody likes.
Everybody likes to be free.
They were engaged in the greatest liberation struggle that had ever been in history, but what India did they hope for? Nehru and Gandhi wanted one secular India, but Jinnah had come to believe that Hindu and Muslim were "2 separate nations "that cannot live together.
" By 1940, the big 3 had fallen apart, and talk began of partition.
The British attitude towards the partition of India was slightly ambivalent.
On the one hand, they had created this unity where there was none.
They gloried in the fact that they had created a united India, and they also knew that if India became divided, all sorts of defense problems would arise.
And they were also very conscious of the great divide between the Hindus and the Muslims.
Here in the viceroy's lodge in Simla in 1946, the British tried too late to broker a loose federation comprising groups of Hindu and Muslim states under a central government, but the coalition collapsed in mistrust from both sides, and Jinnah finally pushed for a separate state for Muslims, Pakistan.
Jinnah had moved towards the idea of Pakistan.
What he used to say, "After we have divided, "then we can come together, "then we can cooperate.
" This is what Maulana said.
"This is divorce before marriage.
" So finally in the summer of 1947, the British washed their hands of the problem, and with great pride and yet profound disappointment, Nehru accepted India's destiny.
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure but very substantially.
At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.
But a partitioned India with Muslim Pakistan itself divided by 2,000 miles from east to west.
On the 2 sides of India, in the Punjab and Bengal, the dividing line between Muslim and Hindu had been drawn up by a British civil servant in 6 weeks using information gathered from the censuses.
The line ran through fields and communities, across railways, roads, and irrigation schemes.
It went through villages and even through individual houses, and it cut through the deepest layers of the history of the subcontinent.
Hello, very nice to meet you.
I'm Michael.
So how old is Mr.
Swaran? 82.
82? You are in fine form.
Ha ha ha! To make matters worse, the British kept the line secret till after independence on the 15th of August, and they were culpably negligent in failing to provide troops to protect the people in the ethnic cleansing that followed, when Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim began to kill each other.
And the village was just over the border in what is now Pakistan, is that right? Pakistan.
Yeah, yeah.
Sikhs? Sikhs.
17 members of your family? Yeah, yeah.
In the summer of 1947, that story was repeated across the Punjab as great floods of people fled in fear: Hindus and Sikhs eastwards into India, Muslims westwards into the new Pakistan.
14 million people, the largest migration in history, and up to a million died.
We console ourselves by talking of common human feeling, but there are times in history when there is no such thing.
But could the partition have been avoided? What if the Congress and the Muslim League had made concessions and accepted the federation? Why did the British have to rush independence? Could the slaughter have been avoided if they'd provided a few battalions to protect the refugees, and will India and Pakistan come back together again as Jinnah hoped? A few miles inside the Pakistani border, we found Swaran Singh's old village, still with its Hindu name! This was the place he left as a boy in terror in 1947 after the murder of 17 of his family.
Not me.
Not me.
OK, shokria, shokria.
Yeah, OK.
So we are in the right place.
And the old people here, Muslims, had the same story uprooted, fleeing for their lives from India, but here at the end, they told a tale with a glimmer of hope.
Were there cases where friends helped friends? They still get letters.
No! Wow, what an amazing story.
History sometimes happens in a way which is not willed by the main participants.
Nehru and Gandhi saw themselves as the great idealists but in the end failed to grasp the biggest prize.
Jinnah was a convinced secular nationalist who only at the very end took an independent Pakistan, and as for the British, they were tried and found wanting.
So that's how India and Pakistan got freedom 60 years ago.
It's not been plain sailing since.
There's been 3 wars, nuclear bombs, they're still at loggerheads over Kashmir.
In 1971, East Pakistan, with India's help, broke away and became Bangladesh, and India and Pakistan have not yet become the friends after the divorce that Jinnah hoped, but when the dust settles on 1947, that surely will come.
And as for India, the tale of the last 60 years is above all the triumph of democracy.
To manage the art of building democratic and stable political institutions over 6 decades in a country which in the first 20 years after independence was predicted to disintegrate, and it's begun freeing the creative energies of its people, which had been stifled by certain political and economic choices made after 1947.
We've seen a transformation of national level politics where we've gone from a dominant 1-party state to coalition governments.
We've seen a transformation in the economy.
And its economy is making India a global giant in the new century.
Soon to become the world's biggest population, by the 2030s it's predicted that India's GDP will overtake the United States and India will resume the position it has had for much of history.
The world's biggest democracy is looking once more to the future.
Indians are filled with a sense of the possible.
There is a tremendous degree of optimism about the future, which I think is all the more interesting for coming from a people who in so many other ways are anchored in the past.
We've come on a journey of thousands of years and thousand of miles, a tale that began with the first migration of human beings out of Africa and ends at this point with India as a global power.
Great civilizations over time develop responses, habits, cultural immune systems that enable them to absorb the shocks and wounds of history and also to use the gifts of history.
Those are the habits of successful civilizations, and India has always done that, always renewing its gene pool, always being receptive to new ideas, and yet tenaciously holding on to that essential vision, that way of seeing the world which is Indian.
"At the dawn of history" Nehru said 60 years ago, "India started on her unending quest, "and trackless centuries are filled with her striving "and the grandeur of her success and her failures.
"Through good and ill fortune alike, "she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten "the ideals which gave her strength, "and today, India discovers herself again.
"India, the ancient, the eternal, and the ever-new.