Friday, 15 August 2008

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

"At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom"
Sixty one years have passed since the speech by Nehru on the midnight of 15th August, 1947 but each time we hear it, the thrill, joy and excitement is the same. On this happy occasion, I wish each one of my compatriots a very happy independence day.

The very word "freedom" has amazed me from the time I was a kid. Dad used to tell me the stories of sacrifices made by numerous freedom fighters every night when we went to bed. When we were in school, we were summoned to the school play-ground by 7:30 AM early morning in neat uniforms and polished, white, shoes for the "flag-hoisting ceremony". Years later, I used to keenly observe the prime minister (Vajpayee, most of the times) hoist the flag at the "red-fort" and deliver his address to the nation. Seeing the magnificent tri-colour fly atop the grand fort filled me with some kind of respect and pride at the same time. I feel honored to be a citizen of this great country.

On this happy occasion, let us take a few moments to remember all the great fighters who laid down the life for our country. Usually, we associate the freedom of India with one man- Mahatma Gandhi. I don't disagree. But there are other numerous heroes who laid down their lives for the sole purpose of achieving freedom. Since 1857, right from Rani Lakshmi Bai, Mangal Pandey, Maulana Azad, Lala Lajpat Rai till Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sarojini Naidu, Tilak, etc numerous people have toiled, suffered, fought and ultimately sacrificed themselves for this nation. Each one of them deserves a special mention and appreciation form us.

From the stories that my Dad told, I feel like sharing the stories(in bits and pieces) of two of the lesser known fighters and the even bigger role they played in making our country what it is today.

"Bharat Mata ki Jai!"

The policman who held the whip in his hand was surprised. This time he hit even harder.

"Vande Mataram!"

How could it be? Was it whiplashes he was giving or some kind of energy tablets? He used all his force to this time.

"Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai!"

With every stroke of the whip, the slogan shouting became harder. The police man grew ashamed of himself. And the fact that he was hitting a small boy of 15 years made it even worse. Who was this boy who showed so much of strength and patriotism at such a young age?

He was none other than Chandrashekar Azad - the leader who inspired a new breed of young freedom fighters - revolutionaries. Their only mission in life was "Complete Freedom" - Azaadi.

Azad was inspired by Gandhi's ideals at a very young age. When he was 15, he participated in a peace rally in Varanasi. He was enraged when a police-man hit unarmed civilians and he attacked the police with a stone. When he was produced in the court and asked his name by the magistrate, he said "Azad". He was sentenced to 15 whip lashes and that was when the above incident happened.

Due to difference in ideology with Gandhi, Azad formed a team of freedom fighters who believed that only way for India's independence was revolt against the British with arms. He inspired the likes of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, RamPrasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan and others to join him. Since he had declared himself free, he never let himself be captured alive. When he knew he was about to be captured, he shot himself, sacrificing himself to the cause of independence.

"Mysore celebrates its 61st independence day today!"

"Happy Independence Day to all people of Hyderabad"

"The prime minister of Junagadh wishes all his country men a happy independence day"

Imagine the newspapers with above lines. Imagine 560 more countries in the world today - all small, small pieces of land that you don’t even know where one ends and other starts. Imagine requiring a passport to visit Chennai. Imagine planning a vacation to Goa and having to pass through 5 different countries for it. Imagine river Ganga to be shared by 80 different nations. Too much, isn't it? This could have been very much possible had it not been for one man - Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

When the British left India as per the "Partition of India cum India Independence act,1947", they also left with us 565 independent princely states and provinces. The power hungry rulers and leaders, immediately declared their independence and wanted to form separate nations. The daunting task of unifying them and making them agree to one nation was taken up by Patel. In some cases he used "smart talk"; diplomacy in others; "brute military force" for others but finally ended up unifying each and every of these states to the union of India. He was rightly titled - "The Iron Man of India".

It was almost a sure fact that India would get independence following "Quit India" movement in 1942 the end of World war2 in 1945. But the demand for a separate Muslim nation in Bengal and Punjab provinces was very strong and the Congress and the Muslim League had almost decided on a proposal to split the nation in number of states based on religious majority. But it was Patel who convinced both the parties and finally brought the current partition plan into place. Though the riots and violence during partition were really bad and provocative, it was important that the nations which had just acquired independence did not run into disarray. He took lead and organized refugee camps, peace rallies and restored order in the nation.

Patel is surely one among elite freedom fighters but he will always be remembered for his efforts of unifying a nation so big and so much diverse.

Each and every fighter who has laid down his life for this nation has given us this sweet fruit of independence. On this joyous day when we celebrate the spirit of independence, let us rasie a toast to all those great people. Jai Hind!


Saravanan said...

Happy Independence Day buddy.

I am sure guys like us will make this nation a better place to live for the next generation.

Cheers :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Independence day to everyone !!!

A very well written blog Shashi

All those brave hearts who fought for our freedom truly deserve appreciation and this article is a tribute to all those freedom fighters

I am proud to be an Indian

Jai Hind!!!