Ashutosh Mehndiratta Connects The Dots For The Global History Buff
India-West Staff Reporter
‘India and Faraway Lands’ is the story of India from a global perspective. It takes a bird’s eye view, connecting the dots, speaking of world influences and making sense of a world gone by – and the moment it has brought us to. The book maps salient moments in world history and points to connections to India.
We all know how the present time’s Russian invasion of Ukraine has affected the globe. But author Ashutosh Mehndiratta strives to show that the world was always small, just that things happened with less rapidity and less visibility than it does today. The Indian national movement was influenced by the American Civil War (1861-65), he says. The war hindered the movement of cotton from the farms of the US to British markets. A strapped Britain turned its attention to cotton growing in India leading to the growth of the Indian textile industry. Not just that, the newly created industrialists, flush with cash, bankrolled the national movement.
Not just the US, Mehndiratta finds the common thread of human history, from ancient to present India with the evolution and rise of power centers in Rome, Persia, Greece, Central Asia, Japan and various Western nations.
He dubs the Seven Year War between Britain and France as World War Zero. When France lost, it not only gave up American territory but in India, as they were banned from having a military presence, it put an end to their ambitions there. A study of local princes and their governance shows that the French there simply attached themselves to various kingdoms and fought for their new masters.
The author also shows that Mysore, under Haider Ali, had nurtured good relations with the US to stave off their common enemy, Britain, and was among the first to recognize the colonies when they declared independence. In 1781, the Pennsylvania legislature launched a battleship named ‘Hyder Ally’ to express their friendship!
Full of anecdotes, and traveler accounts, Mehndiratta has also mostly been careful with the bibliography, leaving enough room for a curious reader to pursue a subject further.
Mehndiratta was born and raised in New Delhi. He holds an MBA from the University of Alabama and has had a long career in consulting and the technology industry. He has lived in the US, India, and New Zealand, and traveled extensively around the world. His experience straddling the East and the West for almost three decades sparked his interest in global history. He and his wife now live on the east coast of Canada.