V. P. Menon on British role in political consolidation of India

Perhaps the most definitive answer to those who claim that India was politically united from time immemorial comes from none other than V. P. Menon who was considered the "right hand" of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The two gentlemen were tasked with the herculean task of the political integration of India after independence from the British. Mr. Menon writes in the very first paragraph of the very first chapter of his 1956 book Integration of the Indian States:
India is one geographical entity. Yet, throughout her long and chequered history, she never achieved political homegeneity.
Mr. Menon then goes on to state how sporadic-but-ultimately-futile attempts were made in history to bring under a single ruler a large part of what the British left behind. The author surprisingly mentions only kings from North India, forgetting efforts of Kannadiga kings like Pulakeshi II and kingdoms like the Rashtrakutas whose conquests of India were no less great or geographically spread out, but that is not my point here.

Mr. Menon also points out that if it weren't for the political unification of India achieved by the British, the peaceful unification of the princely states could have hardly happened:
No greater achievement can be credited to the British than that they brought about India's enduring political consolidation. But for this accomplishment and the rise of national consciousness in its wake, the Government of Free India could hardly have taken the final step of bringing about the peaceful integration of the princely States. Today, for the first time in the country's history, the writ of a single central Government runs from Kailas to Kanyakumari, from Kathiawar to Kamarupa (the old name of Assam).
Note that Mr. Menon also points out that the very concept of "national conciousness" arose due to the political consolidation of India by the British.

Isn't it time Indians realized the fact that the diversity and true history of India cannot be wished away or hidden under the carpet for long? Truth always asserts itself. The diverse linguistic peoples of India will ultimately assert their identity and right to power and the need for less and less power at the center. We already see it happening in many states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam. It is in paving the way for a peaceful re-structuring of India as a true federation of states that the unity and integrity of India can be safeguarded. It is in this that the future of India as a true world-power lies.

1 comment:

Rohan said...

V P Menon's own role in integrating the Indian states and during the period leading to independence is not given sufficient recognition. More information on him can be found in the article 'V P Menon - The Forgotten Architect of Modern India' which is available on www.forgotten-raj.org.

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