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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : No slander please, they are our freedom fighters first

 

Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Freedom struggle, role of Gandhi during freedom struggle etc
  • Mains GS Paper I & II: Freedom struggle(significant events), Gandhian phase, unity(communal harmony) etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • On March 23, 1919, Mahatma Gandhi was in Chennai on the invitation of Kasturi Ranga Iyengar.
    • Gandhiji had been struggling to find a way to counter the draconian and recently enacted Rowlatt Act by the British

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

 

 

Thread of selfless zeal in India’s freedom struggle:

  • The 1857 rebellion is called the First War of Independence.
  • Revolts against the British Empire in South India such as the
    • Attingal revolt
    • Poligar rebellion
    • Vellore Mutiny
  • Lal-Pal-Bal triumvirate and Aurobindo underwent rigorous imprisonment.
  • The valorous Bhagat Singh, Birsa Munda and Vanchinathan sacrificed their lives.
  • Gopal Krishna Gokhale and B.R Ambedkar, who served in the British Viceroy’s executive council and were probably never imprisoned.
    • But this does not dilute or even diminishes their patriotism and contributions to India’s freedom.
  • Subhas Chandra Bose valiantly raised an army overseas to free India, a venture where he worked with Japan, an Axis power.
  • The patriots Bhikaiji Cama, Shyamji Krishna Varma, Chempakaraman Pillai and Thillaiyadi Valliammai championed the cause of India’s liberty from abroad.

 

Important events and controversies:

  • D. Savarkar:
    • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wrote to Secretary of the Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak: “Veer Savarkar’s daring defiance of the British Government has its own importance in the annals of our freedom movement.
    • There needs to be an understanding of the era before indulging in coarse criticism.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru’s tryst with Nabha jail, in September 1923:
    • He was arrested along with Santhanam and Acharya Gidwani
    • Nehru was released on signing a bond that he would never enter the princely State of Punjab.
    • Nehru in his Autobiography: “I took shelter behind the advice of friends, and made a pretext to cover my own weakness.
      • For, after all, it was my weakness and disinclination to go to Nabha Jail again that kept me away, and I have always felt a little ashamed of thus deserting a colleague.
      • As often with us all, discretion was preferred to valor”.
    • Gandhiji: He supported the British in the bitter Boer war, or the South African war.
      • He was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind medal, in 1915, by the British for his humanitarian work in South Africa, which he later returned in 1920.
    • The moderates in the Congress supported the 1919 Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms in the immediate aftermath of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
    • In 1942, C. Rajagopalachari stayed away from the Quit India Movement as he felt it would not serve India’s best interests.

 

 

Way Forward

  • The Satyagraha of April 6, 1919 was an act of defiance that brought the nation to a standstill and shook the foundations of the Raj.
    • Many may still be unaware of this pivotal moment and its importance in our history despite Gandhiji describing it in his autobiography, in the chapter, ‘That wonderful spectacle’.
  • The central government’s ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ initiative, to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of freedom, has endeavored to honor unsung mileposts and icons.
  • History should be looked at holistically instead of becoming an exercise where there is selective denunciation and nit-picking.
  • The Congress party did play a pre-eminent role in India’s freedom movement, but this struggle that spanned over two centuries is not the fiefdom or sole preserve of any one person or establishment.
  • Janani Janmabhoomischa Swargadapi Gariyasi(Sanskrit shloka from the Ramayana): Mother and motherland are superior even to heaven”.
  • Our gallant freedom fighters did not plunge into their battle against the British for pelf, position or power, and they certainly did not know whether they would live to see the next day.
    • They were fallible humans who assessed circumstances and arrived at decisions with the sole aim of liberating their motherland.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

Many voices had strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement during the Gandhian phase. Elaborate.(UPSC 2019) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

How does Indian society maintain continuity in traditional social values? Enumerate the changes taking place in it.(UPSC 2021)(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)