Thursday, July 30, 2009

THE IRON MAN OF INDIA

Inspiration

As a child, I always heard the stories of atrocities of Razakars from my grandmother and wondered how tough was it to survive the post partition period in Hyderabd. People had to leave their homes and run for shelter. That is when I realized that the magnitude of problems would have been unthinkable had there not been a Sardar Patel who almost single-handedly unified India on the eve of independence. He was a hero among heroes, a lion among men

Early Life

Vallabh Bhai Patel, the Iron-man of India was born on 31st October, 1875 in Nadiad, Gujarat. His father Jhaber Bhai Patel was a farmer and had fought bravely againt British in 1857 as a young man. His mother Laad Bai was a simple lady. Vithalbhai, Vallabhbhai's elder brother, was also a well-known patriot. From his childhood itself, Patel was a very hard-working individual. He used to help his father in farming and studied in a school at Patelaad. He passed his high-school examination in 1896. Throughout school he was a very wise and intelligent student. In spite of poor financial conditions his father decided to send him to college but Vallabh Bhai refused. For around three years he stayed at home, worked hard and prepared for the District Leader’s examinaton, hence coming through with flying colors.

He started his own practice of law in a place called Godhra. Soon the practice flourished. He saved money, made financial arrangement for the entire family. He got married to Jhaverba. He became a barrister in England and returned to India in 1913. After his return, he setup a lucrative practice in Ahmadabad. Around this time the struggle for freedom was gaining a lot of momentum.

Endless Public Service

In 1915 he met Mohandas Gandhi and within a short time became one of his closest associates, a staunch nationalist and a supporter of the Indian National Congress. He became an extremely popular person and he got elected to Municipal Corportaion in 1917. Patel came to prominence as the organizer of the Kheda satyagraha (1918) in which peasants sought exemption from land tax. A talented organizer, he successfully directed the civil-disobedience campaigns of the 1920s and 30s; several times he suffered imprisonment. In 1920, the Congress started the non-cooperation struggle and Vallabhbhai gave up his practice. He setup the Gujarat Vidyapeeth where children could study instead of attending Government schools. In 1928 he successfully organized the landowners of Bardoli against British tax increases. It was after this that Vallabhbhai was given the title of Sardar.

He was mayor of Ahmedabad (1924–28) and was elected (1931) president of the Indian National Congress. Later he joined M. K. Gandhi in the Salt satyagraha and was jailed for sixteen months. In 1942 he was imprisoned again, with other Congress leaders, for refusing to support the British war effort in World War II.

Patel played an important role in the negotiations that led to independence and the partition of the subcontinent into the two states of India and Pakistan. It was India's good fortune that in 1947 he was made deputy Prime Minister of India and Minister of State affairs. Holding these offices until his death, he affected the complex and difficult feat of integrating the many princely states into the new Indian political structure. As Minister for Home Affairs Patel was responsible for law and order and the rehabilitation of refugees displaced by the partition. He proved an able administrator and reorganized the public service with the launch of the Indian Administrative Service to replace the colonial Indian civil service.

The Architect of India

Patel's lasting achievement was the integration of 562 Indian (princely) states into the Indian Union. In this task Patel acted ruthlessly using force and persuasion alike. He successfully completed this tough task when most of the rulers were dreaming of becoming independent rulers once the British quit India. Those 600 states would have been 600 sores in the body of India. There would have been many Kashmirs by now. Because of Patel’s efforts most of the states joined Indian Union before 15th of August. The way he handled rulers of Junagadh and Hyderabad who were plotting secretly to join Pakistan by sending the army shows the resolve of this mighty man. It is because of these strong steps that earned him the title of "The man of steel". Patel's decisiveness on the partition of Punjab and Bengal had won him many supporters and admirers amongst the Indian public, which was tired of the Muslim League's tactics.

However, neither he nor any other Indian leader had foreseen the intense violence and population transfer that would take place with partition. Patel would take the lead in organizing relief and emergency supplies, establishing refugee camps and visiting the border areas with Pakistani leaders to encourage peace. His address to the massive crowd of an estimated 200,000 refugees who had surrounded his car after a meeting in Amritsar had such an effect that no further attacks occurred against Muslim refugees, and a wider peace and order was re-established soon over the entire area.

Death of the Bharat Ratna

Soon after Gandhi’s death in 1948, Patel suffered a major heart attack; Speaking later, Patel attributed the attack to the "grief bottled up" due to Gandhi's death. However on the morning of 15th December, 1950 Sardar Vallabhbhai passed away in Bombay. He died of a cardiac arrest. The news of his death spread all over the world. The General of Bardoli, Friend of the peasents, The servant of the people, The Iron Man, the Lion of Gujarat, India's Man of Steel, the Sardar of the country's fight for freedom, the Mighty Architect of the integrity of India, the Vallabhbhai Patel of rock-like will power, was no more. He was then seventy-five.

Finally

One day Vallabhbhai had to appear in a very important case. He was arguing before the judge with the utmost concentration. He was still on his feet when an urgent telegram was handed to him. He glanced at the contents and folded and put the paper in his pocket, and went on with the argument. It was only after he concluded his speech and sat down that even those near him learnt the contents of the telegram -his wife was dead! Such was his sense of duty.

As long back as on the 7th of November 1950, Patel wrote a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru and declared that China was not to be trusted. He wrote: 'The Government of China speaks of its desire for peace and is trying to mislead us. Hereafter, in planning the defense of our country,we must remember the intentions of Communist, China.' Five weeks later Patel passed away. About twelve years after his death China attacked India. Such was Sardar Patel’s foresight.

When in England, the glitter and luxury of fashionable life did not tempt him. He stood first in the Barrister-at-Law Examination. With a will of iron he completed whatever task he had under taken. The way he organized relief to flood & famine victims in Gujarat made the world realize that he was not only a great fighter but also a superb organizer. However he was plain in speech and action. He did not believe in making speeches. He was a man of very few words and was honest in word and deed. In 1991 the grateful nation conferred upon him the highest civilian honour of 'Bharat Ratna'

Sunday, July 26, 2009

THE LION OF PUNJAB

Inspiration

It has been two days since the 10th anniversary of Kargil victory was commemorated and time for me to rewind once again to those days when a commom man could defy authority, uphold the truth and refused to bow before tyrants. And it has to be a persona like ‘The Lion of Punjab’ who along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak & Bipin Chandra Pal (the famous trio of Lal-Bal-Pal we already know) were the first Indian leaders to demand complete political independence & wanted a degree of self-government that was considered radical at the time.

However, my first brush with this great man’s legacy came only when I realized that this was the man whose death gave birth to another inspirational revolutionary, Bhagat Singh. The kinetics of nationalism is moved by the fuel of sweat and blood. When courage and integrity withstand oppression, history is the natural offshoot. Lala Lajpat Rai’s death goaded revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev to lay down their lives at the altar of freedom.

Birth & Early Life

Lala Lajpat Rai was born on 28th Jan, 1865 at a village named Dhudike in Ferozepur District of Punjab
. His father, Munshi Radha Krishan Azad was a great scholar of Persian and Urdu. Lalaji's mother, Smt Gulab Devi, a strict religious lady, inculcated in her children strong moral values. Lalaji was brought up in a family background that allowed freedom of having different faiths and beliefs. Since childhood he had a desire to serve his country. In 1884 his father was transferred to Rohtak and Lala Lajpat Rai came along.

In college he came in contact with patriots and future freedom fighters like Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. He passed his Vakilship Examination (Law exams) from Government College in 1885 and started his legal practice at
Rohtak but moved Hissar. Lalaji's early legal practice at Hissar was very successful. His life of six years in Hissar became the apprenticeship for public service. He was elected to the Hissar municipality as a member and later as secretary. Lalaji started attending the meetings of the Congress Party and became an active worker in the Hissar-Rohtak region. He shifted to Lahore in 1892.

Vision

Like Lala Lajpat Rai believed that patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. He was convinced that India is one nation and that it belongs to all its inhabitants. To quote him:

"If Mother India is proud of Nanak, she is also proud of Chishti. If she had an Ashoka, she had an Akbar too. If she had a Chaitanya she had Kabir also; .... she can as well be proud of her Khusros, Faizs, Ghalibs, Zauqs, Farishtas and Gnimats as she can be of a Valmiki, Kalidasa, Tulsidas, Ram Das, Chand Nasin and Guru Gobind Singh".

Lala Lajpat Rai favoured a system of education which would inculcate higher values in an individual, awaken in him the desire to serve his motherland and yet help him to develop a global vision.

Endless Public Service

By establishing the Depressed Classes Education Society (1911), Servants of People Society (1921) and All- India Achhut Uddhar Committee (1924), Lala Lajpat Rai provided a great fillip to the movement of social reform. His humanitarianism came to the fore when he arranged help for the victims of famine during 1898-1900. When people fleeing the famine reached Lahore, they spent that night at Lalaji's house. In 1898, Lalaji curtailed his legal practice and vowed to devote all his energy for the nation. The Kangra district of
Punjab suffered destruction in the earthquake of 1905. Lalaji was there once again, organizing relief for extricating people from the debris.

Lala Lajpat Rai founded the Indian Home Rule League of America in October 1917 & Lalaji returned to India on Feb 20, 1920 as a great hero. He presided over the First Indian Trade Union Congress at Bombay in 1920, and was one of its founder members. Its purpose was "to further the interests of Indian Labour in matters economic, social and political" and "to coordinate activities of all organizations". In 1926, he represented Indian Laborers at the 8th International Labour Conference held at Geneva and created a great impression.

In the field of business, he promoted the growth of Punjab National Bank and sponsored Lakshmi Insurance Company Ltd. His contribution to the field of education was immense — the DAV College which grew under his patronage, and National College, Lahore, which he founded became nurseries of intellectuals, revolutionaries and reformers. Dwarka Das Library now housed in Chandigarh and Gulab Devi Hospital, Jalandhar, are among the living monuments of his work and vision.

Lala Lajpat Rai’s creativity expressed itself in almost all walks of life. 'He was not only a good orator but also a prolific and versatile writer. To spread the message of Swaraj, Swadeshi and social reform he founded three papers — Punjabee, Bande Matram (Urdu) and People (English) besides publishing a number of books and tracts. He instituted the ‘Tilak School of Politics’ to keep alive the idea that political rights could not be achieved by speeches or resolutions but by sacrifice.

Rai led the Punjab protests against the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre (1919) and the Non-Cooperation Movement (1919 - 1922) and he was repeatedly arrested. He founded the ‘Servants of the People Society’, which worked for the freedom movement as well as for social reform in the country.

Contribution


Lalaji injected new life in his countrymen. His writings and speeches were both hard hitting and effective. They swayed those they aimed to reach. He was a crusader, who knew no fear and championed every worthy cause with all the passion of his soul. He was indeed ‘The Punjab Kesari’, The Lion of Punjab. His love for service was insatiable. He founded educational institutions. He befriended the suppressed classes. In the political field he was indispensable. He was an ardent social reformer.

The Fatal blow

In 1928, British Government decided to send Simon Commission to India to discuss constitutional reforms. The Commission had no Indian member. This greatly angered Indians. A strong believer in leading by example, he himself led a procession in Lahore on Oct 30, 1928 to demonstrate against the Simon Commission, which was to prove fatal for him. While Lalaji tried his level best to keep the demonstration peaceful, the police targeted him and wounded him on his chest. The people were enraged at this insult and held a meeting the same evening. Lalaji, though in intense pain, spoke with such vigor that his words, "...every blow aimed at me is a nail in the coffin of British Imperialism...." became historic. Though he recovered from the pain within three days, his health had received a permanent setback and on November 17, 1928, he succumbed to the fatal injuries.

Legacy

"No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history", wrote William Hazlitt. If this yardstick is applied to Lala Lajpat Rai, he emerges as a giant among historic personages. The lesson which the Lion of Punjab Lala Lajpat Rai taught the country was to be brave. To the Indians in the chains of slavery his message was "Begging or prayer cannot bring freedom. You can win it only through struggle and sacrifice."

Lalaji once said: "If I had the power to influence Indian journals, I would have the following headlines printed in bold letters on the first page:

Milk for the infants
Food for the adults
Education for all,"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Its Vijaya Dashmi and not just Vijay Diwas

Today is 26th of July and I ought to break the chronology and mention something which inspired me to write this series ‘Lest We Forget’ I have to rewind & recollect our heroes whom I had watched on Television during the Kargil war. It is the ‘Kargil Diwas’. On 26th July 2009 we happen to commemorate 10th anniversary of the war. A war when 19, 20 year olds had whatever it takes to recapture those high peaks fighting an enemy who were placed comfortably. They had traversed the journey from being Boys to be the Men that matter too fast and met their end too soon. The wounds can never heal for those 527 families & the scars will remain forever with the wide gap left behind by those brave men. They have lost a dear member of their family. But life as they say has to move on!!

“How I wish it was just another day at work
and I was one more day nearer to go home

How I wish I saw my little baby
hugged her and just spent with her a little more time

How I wish I touched those feet of my mom
and wiped those teary eyes of her

How I wish I spoke to my better half one last time
and just told her how much I love her”

Those dreadful sequence of events right from the infamous Bus trip of our then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore till 26th of July when the Indian victory over Pakistan was complete, have left an indelible impression on me and I wish to pay my tribute to each and every soldier who was part of the Operation Vijay in this very small way.

Our soldiers were not just fighting enemy but extreme climatic conditions, high terrains, altitude peaks and ridgelines most of which are over 16000 ft. Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, CAPT ANUJ NAYYAR, Vikram Batra, Saurabh Kalia, Padmaphani Acharya, Yogendra Singh Yadav are just few of those countless heroes this very war had seen. All of 19, 20 years old, these were the ‘Men’ for whom First comes Their country, then it’s the Army, followed by their dear colleagues & thoughts about themselves only come in last.

“I live and I die
On those high terrains, air and sea
I do it for just for you & your family
And never for me

I fear neither the enemy
Nor even the fact that I may not see the next dawn
I only fear for my family
As they just have my memories to live on

I shed my blood & face the odds
Neither doing it for fame nor for any riches
I am aware of my enemy who fights with the same valour
Which makes me realise to 'Fight but with Honour'


Some moments are best felt in silence and all that these wonderful human beings who believed in ‘Fight with honour’ wish for, is solace to their family and if possible few minutes of our time to remember their valour while protecting our frontiers so we could safely say ‘India is my motherland’

“Forget the history & forget the lessons
Remember me as just another human being but with a difference
If you can, lend some solace to my near and dear
And just dont limit me to potraits, garlanded twice in a year”

Satyameva Jayathe

These were the two words a tireless campaigner who brought large sections of his countrymen into the national struggle had once said. This slogan has forever been embossed on our Natinal Emblem and will continue to remind many generations to come that only ‘Truth will conquer’. Little did I know about him until I saw the court rooms in our movies where these very words are of utmost importance :-)

Inspiration

Mahamana [an honorific] Pandit Madan Mohan Malavlya was an outstanding and noble son of India. He was a shining star on firmament of tumultuous history of the nineteenth century. He is the epitome of tolerance of Indian life style, of liberal Indian mind and political, economic, intellectual and cultural struggle of our country. His immortal creation, Banaras Hindu University, is not only the Capital of oriental learning but has also been the symbol of national consciousness and cultural renaissance. He made education the prime means for national awakening.

The Persona

His very life was a great inspiration for the youth. The masses could reach him easily unlike any other leader of his stature. Service to the poor and afflicted was the ideal and fact of his life. Public service was no mere means for popularity and prestige. He commanded equal respect from the educated as well as the masses. Except Gandhiji and Lokmanya Tilak, there was no other leader popular like him. Modesty and grace were hallmark of his personality. He was the first public speaker of his time with thorough command over Sanskrit, Hindi, and English. Despite possessing such' power and prestige he was extraordinarily modest. He did not have an iota of arrogance. He was simplicity personified.
His multifaceted personality made him, at the same time, a great patriot, an educationist with a vision, a social reformer, an ardent journalist, reluctant but effective lawyer, a successful parliamentarian and an outstanding statesman. The Indian people conferred on him the affectionate title of "Mahamana."

Early Life

Madan Mohan Malaviya, was born on 25th December 1861 on Wednesday, at Prayag (Allahabad), in a literate but financially poor family. His grandfather Pt. Premdhar was a great Sanskrit scholar, Madan Mohan's education began at the age of five when he was sent to Pandit Hardeva's Dharma Gyanopadesh Pathshala. He matriculated in 1879 and completed law education but his earnest eagerness to serve the nation prevailed upon his legal profession. Interested in study of scriptures at a young age, he grew into a bright intellectual. At sixteen he got married to Kundan Devi of Mirzapur. He was a proud husband. After taking B.A. Degree in 1884 he began teaching He wanted to study further but could not because of poverty of his family. He proved a successful teacher.


Endless Public Service

In the last week of December 1886, Madan with Prof. A.R. Bhattacharya went to Calcutta to participate in Second Conference of Indian National Congress where supporting Sri Surendra Nath Banerjee's resolution he gave a brilliant speech, a specimen of felicity and linguistic acumen. Conference President Dada Bhai Nouroji said that through this young man Mother India herself spoke. The speech impressed Raja Ramapal Singh of Kalakankar of Pratapagarh district so much that he requested him to edit the Hindi daily 'Hindosthan' brought out by him. In July 1887 relinquishing teaching he joined the Daily as its editor and the paper became very popular. His editorials and comments on contemporary problems were balanced and inspiring. Observing editorial propriety, supporting truth, asserting national interest, and criticism without personal attack characterized his journalism.

In 1887, he was appointed President of State Political Association and permanent member of Executive Committee .In 1889 he came back to Allahabad and under Pt. Ayodhyanath's stewardship joined the English daily 'Indian Opinion' as Coeditor. He also joined LLB Course. Passing LL.B. Examination in 1891, he started legal practice at District Court of Allahabad. Within a few years he achieved fame in Civil Law and he'd rank after Pt. Sundar Lal & Pt. Moti Lal Nehru. Soon he became a brilliant Civil lawyer. But wealth could not fetter him. National service would be his main work. Sri Gokhale said, "Malaviyaji's sacrifice is real one. Born in a poor family, he started earning thousands monthly. He tasted luxury and wealth but giving heed to call of the nation renouncing all he again embraced poverty".


In 1907, he organised D.P. Industrial Conference in Allahabad and established Prayag Industrial Association. On the Vasanta Panchami of 1907 he began publishing a Hindi weekly 'The Abhyudaya' to propagate his political and cultural views. On 24th October 1919, the day of Vijaya Dashami, the first issue of the English daily, 'Leader' came out.


Work in Congress

He joined Congress in its second year of inception and from then on till 1937-38; he participated in almost all annual and special sessions of Congress. He came out as a great thinker and fighter in context of different national problems. He remained ever a fighter for country's politico-intellectual and cultural emancipation. Opposition of the Rowlatt Act, vehement opposition of the Jaliawalah massacre, formation of Congress Swaraj Party, Nationalist Party, and Swadeshi Organizations, Ekata Conference made endless saga of his fighting spirit. Perhaps there was none like him in the history of Congress. The national party by offering him President ship in the 1909, 1918, 1930, and 1932 Congress acknowledged his leadership. The pivotal role that he played in nation's service is a glorious chapter in history of the Congress. He represented the whole of India with Mahatma Gandhi in the First Round Table Conference in 1931. His prime objective was country's liberation. To his last breath, he dedicated himself to the nation with immovable detennination. In 1937, he left active politics for good.

Banaras Hindu University

The Banaras Hindu University is the living picture of Madan's philosophy of education.' The dedication with which he founded the University proves that he showed exemplary capability to achieve his objective. Right from the beginning he had the vision of a great fully developed University. That is why after Independence the number of 'engineers and technocrats produced by the University is more than that by any other institution in the country. He chose Banaras as the site, because of the centuries old tradition of learning, wisdom and spirituality inherent to the place. His vision was to blend the best of Indian education called from the ancient centers of learning - Takshashila and Nalanda and other hallowed institutions, with the best tradition of modern universities of the west.

The active and effective role played by the University during the 1942 Quit India Movement could be possible only because the basis for national awakening was already here a decade earlier. Madan directly and indirectly influenced and affected it. He made the institution a major centre of national awakening.

Finally

Malaviya passed away in 1946. But his spirit still lives and there are many who bear the torch that he lit, Many more stand ready to shoulder the mantle of his responsibility. Here, I wish to quote few lines from the 12th Convocation Speech, (1929) of Benaras University delivered by the founder Mahamana Malaviya Jee

"I ask young men and women to remember the promises you have made to me through me to your alma mater before you obtained your Diplomas. Remember those promises. Speak the truth, think truth. Continue your studies throughout your life. Be just and fear none. Fear only to do that is ill or ignoble. Stand up for right. Love the motherland. Promote public weal. Do good wherever you get a chance for it. Love to give whatever you can spare"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it


These were the fiery words of Tilak which roused a sleeping nation to action, making Indian people aware of their political plight under a foreign rule…………


Inspiration

In my early days, I was fascinated by the way Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated across the country with such a zeal & enthusiasm. I was captivated when Hindus & Muslims of my city came together to celebrate this festival with grandeaur year after year . It meant a lot to me specially after I witnessed communal violence in the early ninetees when Ayodhya & Mumbai were under fire. That day I thanked the person who had a vision to celebrate festivities this way which was instrumental in bringing people together culturally - irrespective of their caste and creed & and I was told it was Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak way back in 1894.


Post 1857, Tilak was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement
. Militant nationalism emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century and prominent among the revolutionaries was the trio Lal Bal Pal (Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal). Bal Gangadhar Tilak is considered as Father of Indian National Movement. He was a social reformer, freedom fighter, national leader, and a scholar of Indian history, sanskrit, hinduism, mathematics and astronomy. People loved him and accepted him as their leaders and so he was called 'Lokmanya Tilak'


Birth & Childhood


Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on July 23, 1856 in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. His father Gangadhar Ramachandra Tilak was a Sanskrit scholar and a famous teacher. Tilak was a brilliant student and he was very good in mathematics. Since childhood Tilak had an intolerant attitude towards injustice and he was truthful and straightforward in nature. While Tilak was studying in Matriculation he was married to a 10-year-old girl called Satyabhama. After passing the Matriculation Examination Tilak joined the Deccan College from where he graduated (B.A. degree with a first class in mathematics) in 1877. He continued his studies and got the LL.B. degree too. He was among India's first generation of youth to receive a modern, college education.


Vision


Tilak did not question the British Sovereignty nor his demands were rebellious or revolutionary. All he was asking was favorable conditions in India, to enable people to learn to govern themselves. May be all over the world, the separatist forces should follow his vision and define freedom as ability to govern one's land. But the handful rulers who ruled India's millions thought otherwise. They thought that Tilak was whipping a rebellion and he was imprisoned twice; two years for the first and six during the second

Multifaceted

Tilak, in his early days had realised that good citizens can be molded only through good education. He believed that every Indian had to be taught about Indian culture and national ideals. Along with his classmate Agarkar and great social reformer Vishnushastry Chiplunkar, Bal Gangadhar Tilak founded “Deccan Education Society” to impart quality education to India's youth in 1880.

The very next year after the Deccan Education Society was founded, Tilak started two weeklies, 'Kesari' (which is a very popular weekly till date) and 'Mahratta'. 'Kesari' means ‘Lion’ and was a Marathi weekly while 'Mahratta' was in English . Soon both the newspapers became very popular. In his newspapers, Tilak highlighted the plight of Indians. He gave a vivid picture of the people's sufferings and of actual happenings. Tilak called upon every Indian to fight for his right.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He was a member of the Municipal Council of Pune, Bombay Legislature, and an elected 'Fellow' of the Bombay University. Tilak was a great social reformer. He issued a call for the banning of child marriage and welcomed widow remarriage.

After his first conviction, Tilak was released in 1898. Following the partition of Bengal in 1905, which was a strategy set out by Lord Curzon to weaken the nationalist movement, Tilak encouraged a boycott, regarded as the Swadeshi Movement. He spread the message to each and every village in Maharashtra.

He was convicted and imprisoned for the second time from 1908 to 1914 in the Mandalay Prison, Burma. While imprisoned, he continued to read and write, further developing his ideas on the Indian Nationalist movement. At 52, a diabetic and ailing Tilak wrote his famous commentary on Bhagavad-Gita, the sacred book of Hindus. By the time Tilak completed his six year prison term, he was the unquestioned leader of the Indians - the uncrowned king. He was known as the 'Tilak Maharaj'. He was released on June 8, 1914

Later Years and Death


After his second release, Bal Gangadhar Tilak tried to bring the two factions of Congress together. But his efforts did not bear much fruit. In 1916, he decided to build a separate organization called the 'Home Rule League'. Its goal was Swaraj. Tilak went from village to village, and explained the aim of his league to the farmers and won their hearts. He traveled constantly in order to organize the people. While fighting for people’s cause Bal Gangadhar Tilak died on August 1, 1920.


Finally


Tilak gave India the concepts of Civil resistance, Swaraj, and Nationalism Tilak's suffering did not go in vain. A band of leaders, full of zeal for nationalism and self-sacrifice had come up in India. National schools were coming up in all corners of India. He paved the way for Khadi, picketing against foreign goods and alcoholism.

When Tilak was convicted for the second time, he gave the famous statement :

" All I wish to say is that in spite of the verdict of the jury, I maintain my innocence. There are higher powers that rule the destiny of men and nations. It may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may prosper by suffering than by remaining free" . These words now can be seen imprinted on the wall of Room. No. 46 at Bombay High Court

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Khoob ladi mardaani vah to jhansi vaali raani thi.

Inspiration

Even before reading about this brave woman in my history chapters, I knew her all thanks to my mom. My mother was inspired by this lady who was an epitome of bravery and courage & this translated into me and my sisters playing her character many a time during the ‘Mono-Acts’. Those fiery dialogues made me realize she was no ordinary woman. She died at a tender age of 22 years, but is considered to be a lion at heart. And she still lives on….

Rani Laksmi bai was born on 19th of November 1835. The great heroine of the First war of Independence of 1857. She was the embodiment of patriotism, self-respect and heroism. She was the queen of a small state, but the empress of a limitless empire of glory. Rani Lakshmi Bai became a national heroine and was seen as the epitome of female bravery in India. When the Indian National Army created its first female unit, it was named after her.

Birth & Childhood

She was born to a Maharashtrian family at Kashi (now Varanasi). During her childhood, she was called by the name Manikarnika. Affectionately, her family members called her Manu. She also took formal training in martial arts, which included horse riding, shooting and fencing. In the year 1842, she got married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Niwalkar. On getting married, she was given the name Lakshmi Bai. Two years later she gave birth to a son. Unfortunately, the child did not survive more than four months.

Beginning of the unrest

In the year 1853, Gangadhar Rao fell sick. So, the couple decided to adopt a child to ensure that the British do not raise an issue over the adoption. The same year Maharaja died.

Because Anand Rao, the adopted son was not biologically related to the Raja, the East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, was able to install the doctrine of lapse, rejecting Rao's rightful claim to the throne. Dalhousie then annexed Jhansi, saying that the throne had become "lapsed" and thus put kingdom of Jhansi under his "protection". In March 1854, the Rani was ordered to leave the palace at the Jhansi fort. Lakshmi Bai was furious, and she spent the next few years passionately protesting. When her appeals left her empty-handed, she hired a British attorney to fight for her against the Company’s unjust rule. She at least made small headway, receiving a pension and permission to stay in the palace


Impact

Jhansi became the focal point of uprising before Sepoy Mutiny. Rani of Jhansi began to strengthen her position. By seeking the support of others, she formed a volunteer army. The army not just consisted of the men folk, but the women were also actively involved. From the period between Sep-Oct 1857, Rani defended Jhansi from being invaded by the armies of the neighboring Rajas of Orchha and Datia.

However, the army under Sir Hugh Rose declared war on 23rd March 1858. When his army entered Jhansi City, the Rani herself took up arms. She put on the clothes of a man and she fought like the Goddess of War. Whenever she fought the British army bowed down. Her organization of her forces and her fight – worthy of a man – surprised Rose. Finally, the Britishers succeeded in the annexation of the city. However, Rani Laksmi Bai managed to escape along with her son, in the guise of a man.

The Death of Rani - Battle of Gwalior

Along with the young Damodar Rao, the Rani decamped to Kalpi along with her forces where she joined hands with other rebel forces, including those of Tantia Tope. Then Rani and Tantia Tope moved on to Gwalior. At Gwalior, the combined rebel forces defeated the army of the Maharaja of Gwalior when his armies deserted to the rebel forces and they occupied the strategic fort at Gwalior. However on the second day of fighting, on 18 June 1858, the Rani met her destiny. As expected, that day Hugh Rose had the upper hand. A large part of the army of revolutionaries fell. British army entered the fort swift as a flood.

There was no other course for the Rani than to escape from that place. Holding the horse’s reins in her teeth and flashing the sword with both the hands the Rani rode away. Blood was flowing from her body. But there was no time to rest. When the Rani was about to cross the Swarnarekha Canal a shot from the gun or a British soldier who came there struck her right thigh. Flashing the sword with her left hand, the Rani put an end to him. She was taken to Baba Gangadas’ ashram where she died.

Finally

For her immense effort, she is referred to as the 'Icon of the Indian Nationalist Movement'. Her story became a beacon for the upcoming generations of freedom fighters.

In the words of the British General Sir Hugh Rose, who fought against the Rani several times wrote ‘Although she was a lady she was the bravest and best military leader of the rebels. A man among the mutineers.’

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tipu Sultan – The first freedom fighter of India & The Tiger of Mysore




Inspiration


This is how historians might remember this valiant, brave king who offered his blood to write the history of free India. But I better remember him as ‘Hero’ of the famous television series ‘Sword of Tipu Sultan’. The first larger than life character brought to our television screens post Ramayana & Mahabharata. He left an indelible impression on my mind & it was my first brush with heroics of our ancestors. His story planted the seeds for my eternal love for our dear nation. And rest I say is history :-)


Birth & Childhood


Tipu Sultan, the eldest son of Haider Ali, was born on December 10, 1750 at Devanhalli. Tipu's training in the art of war started as early as 1763, when he was hardly 13 years old, in Haider's attack on Malabar where Tipu displayed great dash and courage. That was his first experience of war. Right from his early years he was trained in the art of warfare and at the age of 15 he used to accompany his father Haider Ali, the ruler of Mysore, to different military campaigns. In Addition, he also learnt different languages, mathematics and science. Tipu Sultan had a fascination for learning. His personal library consisted of more than 2,000 books in different languages.


Vision


Tipu Sultan was a fascinating figure of 18th century; He had a vision and a mission in life. The vision was to make his people enlightened and prosperous, and mission was to liberate his land from the yoke of the colonials. His short but stormy rule is significant because of his view that only that life was worth living which would unfold the drama of human freedom, not only political freedom, but also social freedom, economic freedom, cultural freedom, and freedom from want, hunger, apathy, ignorance

and superstition. His definition of State itself was organized energy for freedom.


Impact


Having learnt the western techniques of warfare, Tipu was not slow in making use of it. He was himself bold, dashing, and a person of undaunted adventurous spirit. Under his leadership Mysore army "proved a school of military science" to Indian princes. The dread of a European army no longer wrought any magic on him. Tipu's infliction of serious blows on the English in the First and Second Mysore wars damaged their reputation as an invincible power.


Contribution


Long before the events of 1857, when a spirited reprising attempted to throw of the English, and before the formation of the Indian National Congress which set the pace for National Movement, Tipu struggled hard to rouse a consciousness of his neighbors to the impending danger to Indian Independence from the English.

He took over the kingdom of Mysore after the death of his father in 1782, who died of a carbuncle in the midst of a campaign against the British. The French in India had disappointed Tipu in his expectation of close co-operation to fight the British Empire. However he embarced the French ideals to a certain extent that he had planted a "Republican" tree out side his palace. In history it is not always a success that deserves notice, but the presence of a new idea, which has the potentiality of far-reaching results. His dream of a "Republic" came through about 150 years later when India ushered into a new era on 26th January 1950.


The Death of Tipu Sultan – Battle of Srirangapatnam


The second half of the eighteen century was a period of great confusion in Indian history which witnessed the rise of the Colonial power. The only State which offered stiff resistance to their expansion was Mysore, which fought not one but four wars. Tipu participated in all those four Mysore wars, in two of which he inflicted serious blows on the English. In fact Tipu's rule starts in the midst of a war against the English and ends in the midst of a war against them.

The Fourth Mysore war was a short affair. Keeping Tipu in false hopes, the Nizam joined hands with the English & suddenly surprised him by unacceptable demands. When Tipu refused to accept them, the English breached the fort and in a bloody encounter, fighting against heavy odds he was killed on fourth May 1799. The last hope for the freedom of the land was thus extinguished.

Srirangapatnam was besieged by the British forces on 5 April, 1799.The column that rounded the North-West corner of the outer wall was immediately involved in a serious fight with a group of Mysorean warriors under a short fat officer, which defended every traverse. The officer was observed to be discharging loaded hunting weapons, passed to him by servants in his service, at the British. After the fall of Srirangapatnam, in the gathering dusk, some of the British officers went to look for the body of Tipu Sultan. He was identified as the fat officer who had fired hunting weapons at the offenders, and his body was found in a choked tunnel-like passage near the Water Gate.

He died a Soldier's death for the defense of the cherished values of land under spontaneous combustion of hostile forces

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lest We Forget

No...it isn't a history lesson. It's just a means for me to recollect all those wonderful people who have been an inspiration all through these years. So just go on to know what exactly is it....Happy reading :)


It's about our country which has always had these fascinating stories of people who were not just brave but were dreamers. They dreamt of a nation which would be independent,

secular, democratic , republic & socialist (All those idealistic words we were taught in our schools :) )


There have been numerous organizations as well which were instrumental in making us realize the value of freedom. Hindustan Socialist Republic Association or HSRA), Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj), Indian National Congress & Indian Armed Forces just to mention a few. Most of us have heard and read these stories as our lessons at school revolved around them for most of the time. But it was always history, something which we were never a part of.


That was why The Kargil war was truly historic in a sense that it brought our heroes live on Television. And here we are in 2009, commemorating 10th Anniversary of the war. On such an occasion this is my small tribute to all those Martyrs of our country....

Right from Tipu Sultan to Mahatma Gandhi & Bhagat Singh to Captain Vikram Batra. Most of them who laid down their lives with a smile on their face and with a satisfaction of dying for their dear motherland

Over the next few days I wish to pay my tribute to few of those great souls....And who will the first one????


Keep guessing!!!!

A closer look at them

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