Legacy of courage
In today’s divided times, the Indian youth must be appraised of the vital role played by revolutionaries in the freedom struggle
In the pre-independence period, India witnessed leadership of the highest calibre in varied fields of human endeavour. It inspired people to the highest levels of courage and sacrifice. They brought together people across the diversities of culture, religion, linguistics and others. Think of India some hundred years before independence. We were blessed with Swami Vivekananda, who fired global imagination and the interest of the young and old alike in what was India and its civilisation, its philosophy, its eternal and universal values; and most prominently, the great ancient tradition of knowledge quest in India. We had Swami Dayananda who awakened a demoralised community that had lost links with its heritage, contributions to global civilisation, scientific explorations, philosophical comprehensions of the highest order and much more. Think of Raman Maharishi, Sri Aurobindo, CV Raman, Prafulla Chandra Ray, Gurudev Tagore and so many others. They were blessed with the power of imagination, power of ideas and a will to dedicate them for the welfare of others. They enriched India, Indians and made people aware of the fact that those who forget their history are forgotten by history! The cumulative impact of making people aware of India, its past role, its potential and future responsibility, fired up several young persons who decided to free India of the foreign yoke and let it flourish in free air, regain its role of the intellectual, social and cultural leadership of the globe once again.
There were sustained efforts to demolish the indigenous system of knowledge creation and education. A national renaissance needed not only illustrious social, religious, spiritual reformers, scholars. researchers and innovators, it also needed men and women who could bring Independence from the foreign yoke, let Indians live with dignity and honour that every human being deserves as his natural right.
The 19-20th century also witnessed how India embarked upon its journey for freedom, underwent immense sufferings and sacrifices and could achieve independence only for a truncated nation on August 15, 1947. What could have been the best of times unfolded an unprecedented tragedy that witnessed an unprecedented transfer of population, violence, misery and killings? Those who had agreed to partition assumed power. Obviously they were keen to project only their positive achievements and hide their failures. Further, organised efforts were made to ignore the contributions of those who occupied a place of pride in the hearts of Indians for their valour, courage, sacrifice and leadership but were not with the Indian National Congress.
The youth of India were taught about the freedom struggle led by Gandhi and also learnt about the contributions of stalwarts like Dadabhai Nauroji, Firoj Shah Mehta, Gopal Krishna Gokhle, Lokmanya Tilak, Sardar Patel, Nehru Ji, Dr Rajendra Prasad, and others. There were only marginal references to revolutionaries like Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru, Sukhdev, Ashfaqullah Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil and several others. The revolutionary spirit in which they sacrificed their lives was never highlighted. While India never attacked any other nation in its entire history, a fact that is globally acknowledged; it has also always accepted that everyone must be ever prepared to defend the motherland. This is what Sikh Gurus did; this is what fired the spirit of revolutionaries who walked to gallows chanting glory to the Bharat Mata!
This spirit has to be revived and sustained. It has become more relevant in the current times of terrorist violence and religious fundamentalism weighing heavily on all efforts to create a peaceful world. The multi-religious society that we have in India demands greater emphasis on values of social cohesion and religious amity. The youth need icons who could inspire them for national causes, including the safety, security, equality of access and success to one and all. The neglect of the role of Subhash Chandra Bose and the INA illustrates it all. He had to quit the position of the President of the Congress Party only because of Gandhi. But the measure of the man was revealed when, while in exile, he projected Gandhi Ji as the father of the nation. It could be a great lesson for the poetical leaders of the day. It would be relevant to recall his memorable broadcast, addressed to Mahatma Gandhi, after the failure of the valiant effort of the INA to enter Assam and Bengal. The Japanese had ordered the withdrawal of their troops from NEFA. He summarises in this broadcast all that he had done since 1941 after his bold and courageous escape from India, "I can assure you; Mahatma Ji that I and all those who are working with me, regard themselves as the servants of the Indian People. The only reward that we desire for our efforts, for our suffering and our sacrifice is the freedom of our motherland. Many amongst us would like to retire from the political field once India is free. The remainder will be content to take up any position however humble… we know that there are hundreds of thousands of able men and women at home, to whom India's destiny could be entrusted, once freedom is achieved." Ideologically unconstrained historians and scholars are now establishing the role of revolutionaries and leaders like Netaji. New facts and hidden machinations are emerging. From the same broadcast, it is also relevant to analyse the following, "Nobody would be happier than ourselves if, by any chance, our countrymen at home should succeed in liberating themselves by their efforts or by any chance, the British Government accept your Quit India resolution and give effect to it. We, are, however, proceeding on the assumption that neither of the above is possible." One wishes that the youth of India get a true picture of the freedom struggle, due credit is also given to the role of people of courage and indomitable spirit.
JS Rajput works in education and social cohesion.Views expressed are strictly personal