A review of the book- India, That is Bharat which generated a tsunami in intellectual circles in India and globally
Writing on topics like colonialism and western imperialism is a challenging task for any intellectual.
It is a phenomenon limited not just to India, but is something that happened globally.
In that context, J Sai Deepak, an arguing counsel before the Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court took up a challenging task.
The task was to reframe the narrative of India’s colonial history and frame in the global context.
India, That is Bharat-Coloniality, Civilisation and Constitution is one such book. It became an instant bestseller after its publication.
The book gives an indepth insight on how the British colonised India physically but also mentally and the various dimensions of such a colonising exercise.
Decolonial Approach to Colonialism
One of foundational pillars of the book is the emphasis made by the author on the importance of the decolonial approach.
This approach not only advocates deconstructing colonialism via its interstices, it also advocates the need to accord priority to revival of indigenous institutions, practices, sciences, in short the indigenous way of life.
He has cited the works of Peruvian-American academic Anibal Quijano, historian S.N Balgangadhir among others.
In doing so he has questioned the other approaches.
These include the post colonial, modernization approaches etc.
OET Motivation of Colonisers
OET stands for Ontology, Epistemology and Theology.
Sai Deepak has highlighted how the admixture of these three approaches underline theological motivation of the European colonisers.
He cites the example of the Papal Bull( religious command issued by the Pope of Vatican) in the early 15th century to spread the message of Christ.
What was the message- to spread the one true faith i.e., Christianity and rescue the souls of the ‘heathens’.
In that context, the author notes that the discovery of America in 1492 which was termed as the ‘New World’ set the template for the colonization of the rest of the world.
This OET framework was applied to every region by the European colonisers.
The Modus operandi was the same throughout the Oriental World.
Undermining of Bharat’s Foundations
The authors in chapters 6,7 and 8 delved into how this European OET framework operated in Bharat.
Every single arena of Bharatiya society be it education, culture, religion or even personal laws were berated.
This is epitomised by the quote of Thomas Babington Macauley-“A Single Shelf of a Good European Library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia”.
In that context, J Sai Deepak has also criticised the nature of international law.
He argues that the Covenant of the League of Nations was based on that colonising OET framework.
Indigeneity was alien to it.
He also criticised the enlightened Hindus for the dismal state of Bharat.
The premise of such a criticism was that such western educated Hindus like Raja Ram Mohun Roy were essentially hollow.
Notwithstanding the great personality’s contribution to the reformation of Hindu society, people like him, according to the author, were fundamentally deracinated.
The book generated an earthquake among Indian intellectual circles.
In conclusion, it can be said that people need to learn from history and make amends accordingly.