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Menace of 'organised elite'

Menace of organised elite

Most of those revolutionary nationalists who died or suffered extreme deprivation because they dared to challenge the might of the British empire, would indeed find this debate on the singing of Vande Mataram absurd and incomprehensible. If only they had been around to witness the imposing discourse which takes a certain pride and displays nonchalance through a refusal to salute India as the Mother incarnate of our aspirations and struggles.

That there can be such a debate, that such a discourse can at all gain traction is because a section of India's intellectual elite, the ones who most loudly speak of feeling 'insecure' today, have never really internalised the ideals of our struggle for freedom, have never felt a genuine pride in the dimensions of that struggle and have instead worked to suppress or erase, from the annals of the struggle, many names who have sacrificed themselves. Earlier this March, while honouring the descendants of the Paika Rebellion in Bhubaneshwar, Prime Minister Modi had observed how the narrative of the freedom struggle has been confined to a few individuals and families marginalising a large number of those who silently waged the struggle to free India from a foreign yoke.
In fact, such a debate has mainly been generated by generations of left-communist intellectuals who have had freedom given to them on a platter and have, over the last four decades and more survived and thrived on state patronage. It was a system of patronage that the Congress party – not the original one, but the one formed after the split in 1969 – put together. The Indira Congress – the predecessor of the Sonia Congress of today which is hardly an heir to the original Congress – outsourced all its intellectualism to the communist intellectuals who had little patience for or understanding of ideals and values of the Indian freedom struggle. Analysing the rich and many stranded struggle through the 'class conflict' lens, they deliberately distorted the saga, lampooned an entire section, especially those who saw themselves as revolutionary nationalists and argued that 'true' freedom was not yet achieved.
This denigration of the struggle suppressed many sagas, little is known of the first batch of political prisoners who were deported to the Cellular Jail, for example, Barindra Kumar Ghose and Upendranath Banerjee's accounts of their lives in the 'Kalapani', hardly saw reprints or contemporary discussions, Brahmabandhab Upadhyay's fiery articles in the Sandhya, for example, which called for open rebellion against the British have been forgotten. Among Brahmabandhab's editorials which saw him face trial and eventually death, was one which read like this: "We have said over and over again that we are not Svadeshi only so far as salt and sugar are concerned...Our aim is that India may be free, that the strangers may be driven from our homes, that the continuity of the learning, the civilisation and the system of the Rishis may be preserved...First free the Mother from the bondage, then seek your own deliverance...Heaven we do not want. Deliverance we seek not. O Mother! Let us be born again and again in India till your chains fall off...O Feringhi...Your overweening pride is due to your possessing a few cannons and guns...[But] we have all the advantage of the ancient greatness of India on our side...If you are wise, you should help towards the attainment of deliverance [of] India. Otherwise, come, let us descend into the arena of war. We hereby summon you to battle...The sons of the Mother are preparing themselves...Are we afraid of your cannon and guns? Arms, brothers, arm! The day of deliverance is near..." The articles of Jugantar, which serialised and evolved a narrative of revolution, the struggles of Jatindranath Mukherjee, the incarceration and political struggles of Savarkar, were either marginalised or distorted to suit a certain political angle and discourse.
This approach of suppression gradually strengthened a section whose sole intellectual and ideological agenda was to deconstruct India and intellectually and politically attack any attempt or reading that sought to crystallise her national consciousness. Members of this section became proxies for foreign ideologies, ideologies that aimed to dominate India politically, to dilute her civilisational, cultural, and religious moorings. Each time our freedom was threatened, one saw members of this group rise, not in defence of India, but advocating the point of view of the enemy.
These proxies abound in parties such as the Congress and the communist parties and also dominate sections of the academia. In an interesting foreword to Ram Swarup's 'Foundations of Maoism' (1966), former Chief of the Indian Army, legendary General K.M.Cariappa, perhaps alluding to this section, used the term 'organised elite', he called them 'traitors' amongst us who exploit crisis to the detriment of India's national interest. Giving the example of the Chinese invasion, General Cariappa recalled how this 'organised elite' "used to tell the thousands of innocent and illiterate tea plantation labourers in North Bengal during the 1962 Chinese invasion: Daro mat, Cheen ka mukti fauj a raha hai. Jab aega woh tumko bahut khurak, kapra or sub cheez dega so on, meaning, Do not be frightened. The Liberation Army from China is coming. When it comes, it will give you a lot of food, clothes everything else, or words to that effect." That proxy war by the 'organised elite' continues in other forms today and therefore, the attack on the vision of 'A New India' is intensifying.
The ideals of the freedom struggle have to, therefore, be kept at the forefront and reiterated, the sacrifices of numerous youth for India's liberty be narrated, a generation of Indians be nurtured who wish to live and die for protecting India's freedom, as General Cariappa noted, "our youth are our hopes and leaders of tomorrow and they must be warned now not to sleep but to keep awake to ensure that we will say till eternity 'Jai-Bharat' only under our National flag – the Tricolour with the Ashoka Chakra on it."
(The author is Director, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal.)

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