-Dr. Ravindra Kumar*
Indians will celebrate their sixty-fourth Independence Day on August 15, 2010. On this occasion they will remember with one voice, and with a sense of gratitude, those hundreds and thousands of freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to liberate their motherland from the shackles of imperial rule. Particularly, people will remember those great leaders of India who illuminated the ray of hope in the hearts of crores of their somnolent compatriots. For a period of approximately ninety years, between 1857 and 1947 these gallant men showed their countrymen with great diligence how to regain their lost dignity, glory, honour, self-respect, strength and evolutionary nature. They inspired Indians to become conscious and throw away the bondage of slavery particularly endured under colonial rule. Thus, they played the vital role in opening the doors of freedom for the Indian people.
Although there is a long list of those great leaders who emerged as national heroes during the above-mentioned period of ninety years, and it is not possible to present an account of their work for freedom in this short essay, but the Gandhian era, considered the golden era of the Indian freedom movement, is especially worth mentioning in this regard. Under the unique leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru emerged as symbols of youth-power while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as a symbol of peasantry and rural India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad as a symbol of communal-harmony and composite culture of the nation, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu as symbols of devotion and dutifulness and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Rajaji as symbols of adroitness. Modesty and simplicity were on the forefront of the fight for freedom in this era. Undeniably, they were recognized public leaders who represented the whole of India and therefore all classes, communities and religions in India. That is why; they could ascertain the freedom of the country on the one hand, and on the other they became ideal sources of inspiration for those struggling for freedom in their respective countries all over the world.
Under the unique leadership and guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, those leaders successfully prepared their compatriots on the strength of Ahimsa, the prime, eternal and highest human value. Through persuasive non-violent techniques they coerced the imperialists to wrap up their bag and baggage from India. Simultaneously, the Indian freedom fighters established a unique road map towards human freedom in the annals of human history. Moreover, the Mahatma emerged as the matchless world hero of the Twentieth Century. In his speech, especially addressed to the Mahatma, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose said, “In all the countries, free from British influence that I have visited since I left India in 1941, you are held in the highest esteem, as no other political leader had been, during the last century.”
The Gandhian way became a potential and ideal tool for Afro-Americans leader like Martin Luther King Junior in his great fight for equality, freedom and justice for the blacks in the United States. That is why; King went to the extent of saying, “The method of non-violent resistance is the most potent weapon available to the people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe. These principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.”
On the occasion of India’s sixty-fourth Independence Day, the best way to remember our great freedom fighters, and particularly the Mahatma and his team for their unique work, is that we support those in their fights who are still looking for equality, freedom and justice in social, political and economic spheres at national and international levels. Furthermore, having Ahimsa as the nucleus, we can work honestly and without any discrimination for crores of those, men and women, who are still underprivileged, oppressed and helpless in the world, to move forward to ascertain equality in opportunities so that their rise could be peaceful. We must remember that Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of freedom for India meant equal independence for every Indian in all walks of life on the one hand, and through this to make certain freedom of each and everyone on this planet on the other.
* Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India; he is currently the editor of Global Peace International Journal.