Karl Marx on India: A Postcolonial Perspective
Abstract: This paper focuses on some of the writings of Karl Marx on India in English to indicate something of the extent of his astonishing knowledge of the subcontinent’s political and socioeconomic history, and to highlight the incisiveness of his critique of British rule in India. In the process, it attempts to show Marx’s (and Friedrich Engels’) sensitivity as well as understanding of the plight of Indians under the East India Company’s rule, and his quite overt and powerful denunciation of British excesses during the Sepoy Mutiny. In addition, the paper underscores the importance of these writings for us in South Asia, and stresses their continuing relevance in our time. It also emphasizes Marx’s mastery of details of Indian history, land laws, and topography. Moreover, it accentuates the rhetorical persuasiveness with which he makes his case against British rule in India and underscores his command over English prose. The paper ends by suggesting that all postcolonial scholars dealing with the subcontinent as well as students of Marxism can benefit by studying Marx’s pioneering role in critiquing British colonial rule in India.
Keywords: Marx, British rule, Sepoy Mutiny, South Asia, Said
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Published in March 2020