The Case for India – Will Durant

The Case for India  – A Primer

An excerpt from the Book “The Case for India”. Reading the book one would think it was written by an Hardcore Hindu Fundamentalist. The rage that is swelling in the heart of the Author is so apparent, one could almost touch it. The Author had seen it all; after all he was the man who wrote the monumental ten volume tome “The Story of Civilization”. Will Durant in his own words,

“I went to India to help myself visualize a people whose cultural History I had been studying for The Story of Civilization. I did not expect to be attracted by the Hindus, or that I would be swept into a passionate interest in Indian politics. I merely hoped to add a little to my material, to look with my own eyes upon certain works of art, and then to return to my historical studies, forgetting this contemporary world.

But I saw such things in India as made me feel that study and writing were frivolous things in the presence of a people – one-fifth of the human race – suffering poverty and oppression bitterer than any to be found elsewhere on the earth. I was horrified. I had not thought it possible that any government could allow its subjects to sink to such misery.

I came away resolved to study living India as well as the India with the brilliant past; to learn more of this unique Revolution that fought with suffering accepted but never returned; to read the Gandhi of today as well as the Buddha of long ago. And the more I read the more I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding of India by England throughout a hundred and fifty years. I began to feel that I had come upon the greatest crime in all history.”

If he had written those words today, he would have been branded a Hindutvavadi. And today not even many Indians feel the way that this Great Author felt about India. Some excerpts from his book:

“….They taxed the provinces under the Company so exorbitantly that two-thirds of the population fled; defaulters were confined in cages, and exposed to the burning sun; fathers sold their children to meet the rising rates. It was usual to demand 50% of the net produce of the land. “Every effort, lawful and unlawful,” says a Bombay Administration report, written by Englishmen, “was made to get the utmost out of the wretched peasantry, who were subjected to torture, in some instances cruel and revolting beyond all description, if they would not or could not yield what was demanded.” ……. “Everybody and everything” says the Oxford History of India, “was on sale.” And Macaulay writes:

During the five years which followed the departure of Clive from Bengal, the misgovernment of the English was carried to such a point as seemed incompatible with the existence of society…… The servants of the Company……forced the natives to buy dear and sell cheap…..Enormous fortunes were thus rapidly accumulated at Calcutta, while thirty millions of human beings reduced to the extremity of wretchedness. They had been accustomed to live under tyranny, but never under tyranny like this. ….. Under their old masters they had at least one resource: when the evil became insupportable, the people rose and pulled down the government. But the English Government was not to be shaken off. That Government, oppressive as the most oppressive form of barbarian despotism, was strong with all the strength of civilization.”

He goes on to say:

“….When at last in 1857 the exhausted Hindus resisted, they were suppressed with “medieval ferocity”; a favorite way of dealing with captured rebels was to blow them to bits from the mouths of canon. “We took”, said the London Spectator “at least 100,000 Indians lives in the mutiny. This is what the English call the Sepoy Mutiny, and what the Hindus call the War of Independence. There is much in a name.

He must know. After all he dealt only with words.

“Let Englishmen describe the result. A report to the House of Commons by one of its investigating committees in 1804 stated: “It must give pain to an Englishman to think that since the accession of the Company the condition of the people of India has been worse than before.” In 1826 the English Bishop Heber wrote: “The peasantry in the Company’s provinces are, on the whole, worse off, poorer, and more dispirited, than the subjects of the Native Princes……  I met with very few men who will not, in confidence, own their belief that the people are overtaxed, and that the country is in a gradual state of impoverishment”. James Mill, historian of India wrote, “Under their dependence upon the British Government …… the people of Oudh and Karnatic, two of the noblest provinces of India, were by misgovernment, plunged into a state of wretchedness with which …….hardly any part of the earth has anything to compare with.” “I conscientiously believe,” said Lt. Col Briggs in 1830, “that under no Government whatever, Hindu or Mohammedan, professing to be actuated by law, was any system so suppressive of the prosperity of the people at large as that which has marked our administration.”

To be followed by: Social Destruction – The Case for India


43 thoughts on “The Case for India – Will Durant

  1. Does these form part of the history books of today, which are read by our children? History books say, and many of our own so-called intellectuals think that India developed during the British rule, especially in the field of education. This was clearly proved wrong by the extensive research done by the Gandhian late Sri. Dharampal, with many facts. In fact he proves that in 1820 the literate people in India was 33%, while it fell down to a paltry 17%in 1947. History had been written by the Pro-British, Left-leaning Historians who have contempt for anything “Indian”, especially anything “HINDU”

  2. Shridhar Ji, I am greatly interested in this book and I wish to spread this cause through writing article/ blog etc. Could you please email me soft copy of the book. Thanks a lot.

  3. Dear Sridhar… could you send me the soft copy of this book as well? Searching for it for a while now without much success. (reply2jaya AT yahoo DOT com)


  4. Hello Sridhar…was hunting for Case for India book…online books stores dont seem to have it anymore. Could you please share a copy if you dont mind? (cr dot mahesh at gmail dot com)

  5. Dear Sridhar

    Happy to see your blog post. As you had kindly done with many of your readers, please also send a soft copy of the book by Durant. Mt mail id is

    Thanks in advance

  6. Hi Sridhar,

    I tried to get a copy of Case for India – 1930 but all my efforts went in vain. Great to know that you have a copy. Can you please forward it to my email id Looking forward for your mail. Thanks in Advance Sridhar .. Do let me know if you have any other books by Will Durant

    Ravi Upamanyu

  7. DearShri Shridhar Krishna
    Thank you very much for this excellent post .Case for India by Will Durant must be in every Indian’s hands .The story of civilisation is available as Kindle edition .
    The Case for India , I tried to buy while I was in India, no luck . If you have a copy of the e book please send me a copy to mtreddy2004 at gmail dot com. Another book I am searching for is Madura Vijayam by Gangadevi.If you have presented anywhere please send us the link
    Awesome work ! Please continue

  8. Dear Sridhar,

    Case for India – 1930 book is not available. Could you please send me a soft copy. Thanks in advance.


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