Special Centre for the Study of North East India (SCSNEI)
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Two-Day National Seminar
Participation of Poorvottar Bharat in the Bharatiya Swadhinata Sangram
To commemorate Swadhinata ka amrit mahotsava, Special Centre for the Study of North East India (SCSNEI) Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi is organizing a two days national conference on “Participation of Poorvottar Bharat in the Bharatiya Swadhinata Sangram” in collaboration with CNES, New Delhi on 20th June and 21st June, 2022 at Guwahati, Assam. The conference is sponsored by Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi and Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi.
Bharat is a land of rich social, cultural and political heritage. Since the Vedic times, it has witnessed both good and bad times under different political regimes. The rajas (rulers) of Bharat, ruling in different parts of the country in different historical time-periods, had proper knowledge of the state of mind, skills and capabilities of their prajas (people residing within their political territories). In such a situation, Bharat, despite consisting of many different politically administered units, functioned as a Rashtra on the basis of a common culture and value systems of the people. However, the British tried to take advantage of the existence of multiple rulers within the country. They targeted this attribute of the polity of Bharat to capture political power through divisive tactics. But, much to their surprise, they had to face several hurdles from people from different regions of the country, who challenged the foreigners through their spirit of Swa or self.
Decentralization was one of the chief characteristic features of the pre-colonial political system of Bharat. The country was divided into many different regions, each administered by different rajas (rulers). Several regions remained under different rajas at some point of time or the other, but this did not affect the living conditions of the people living there. The rulers of these kingdoms had been ruling through several generations and were therefore quite well-aware of the challenges being faced by their praja and as well as the measures required to solve them. Very soon, the British understood the fact that they would not be able to implement their exploitative economic policies in the country unless they destroyed its socio-economic fabric that was naturally embedded in the society by different local rajas over a period of several decades. This was possible only by gaining direct or indirect political power over the territories. In the larger context, in such a conflict-like situation, the rulers also gained the support of their people. Through numerous unethical measures, the British attempted to impose misrule over the country and its people for their own economic gain. Many rulers, assisted by the local populace of the region, gave a befitting reply to the British for such misdeeds, but the tales of their valor have not been able to find their place of prominence in Bharatiya itihas even today. They remain only vaguely alive in the memory of the local public.
The story of the Bharatiya Swadhinata Sangram in Poorvottar Bharat is one of the contributions of millions of people irrespective of their age, community, or gender. The villages of Poorvottar Bharat at that time were economically self-sufficient in nature. They were also bound by wonderful cultural and economic ties with their neighboring villages and towns. The production and processing of food crops and non-edible crops was significant to the economy of this region. Additionally, the rich reservoirs of resources like coal, iron, gold, limestone etc. added to the glory of this region. In such a scenario, the British colonialists began implementing a host of exploitative policies so that they could make full utilization of the vast natural and human resources of this region to suit their own commercial and economic interests. From increased land revenues to the promotion of tea plantations, such policies of the colonial state adversely impacted the day-to-day lives of the people of this region of Bharat to a large extent. It eventually led to the outbreak of several battles for independence. These movements played an equally important and historically significant role in the Bharatiya Swadhinata Sangram, especially from the point of view of questioning and challenging the self-proclaimed hegemony of the British. It may be mentioned here that some regions of Poorvottar Bharat specially Manipur and Assam, or what is today popularly known as North-East of India, went into the British hands after the signing of the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. But, the attempt of the British to subjugate the bravery of the common people was immediately challenged by the likes of Gomdhar Kunwar and his associate Piyali Baruah in 1828. Their attempt to question and challenge British authority was met with imprisonment and death sentence. The authority of the British was also challenged in the hill areas of this region from the beginning of their advent in 1761 till India gained Independence. The people of Poorvottar Bharat also actively participated in the war of 1857. Freedom fighters like Maniram Dewan, Piyali Baruah, Narendrajit Singh, Matmur Jamoh and many more made the supreme sacrifice of their life for the freedom of motherland.
Keeping the above in mind, it is proposed to organize a two-day seminar in Guwahati. This seminar will be organized by the Special Centre for North East Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in association with CNES, Delhi at National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Khanapara, Guwahati, Assam.
War of 1857 and the contributions of the people of Poorvottar Bharat.
The region of Poorvottar Bharat between the two World Wars, and its role in the Bharatiya Swadhinata Sangram.
Resistance of the people of Poorvottar Bharat against the Britishers interference in culture and faith.
Peoples’ retaliation to exploitative legislations and economic policies imposed by colonial powers.
Poorvottar Bharat and the INA.
Bharat Vibhajan and the story of Poorvottar Bharat.
Heritage/memorials of Bharatiya Swadhinata Sangram in Poorvottar Bharat.