Rammohun Roy and the British Rule
CRITICS are poles apart in assessing the role of Rammohun Roy in our national history, his 200th birth anniversary having offered one more such occasion.1 Rammohun's Writings being mostly polemical, his critics could never avoid p3lemics. As far back as 1920 Pramatha Chowdhury observed, "We shall have to face the same arguments Rammohun Roy himself had to come across hundred years ago"!2 And on the occasion of his second birth centenary we found the very same arguments being repeated by a newer set of persons. But his role and personality should be understood by Indian Marxists in the proper perspective so that they may arrive at a correct assessment of the nature of the cultural heritage from Rammohun, while avoiding the oftrepeated mistakes of oversimplification and hasty generalization.8
Recently Prakash Karat in his article, "Role of English Educated in Politics" Social Scientist, Number 4, November 1972, p 57 has observed:
"Raja Rammohun Roy known as the "Father of Modern India" for his enlightened attitude on matters of social reform, defended the British indigo planters. Indigo planters were the most vicious and cruel exploiters of all British planters and their behaviour aroused great indignation not only among Indians but also among some of the British civil servants".
Taking two quotations from Rammohun and his friend and associate Dwarakanath, Karat concludes that they were sincere allies of the British Rule. I shall briefly state my differences with Karat on the subject.
The British rule in India had a two-fold character, positive and negative. In its negative aspect, it destroyed the ancestral way of living and mode of agricultural production in the rural economy. To quote Marx:
England has broken down the entire frame-work of Indian Society, without any symptom of reconstitution yet appearing. This loss of his old world, with no gain of a new one, imparts a particular kind of melancholy to the present misery of the Hindu and separates