Friday, February 2, 2007

India's Freedom struggle

Written on the eve of our republic day, Here is a breif history of our freedom struggle

The Indian Mutiny of 1857 or The First War of Independence
A century of accumulated grievances erupted in the Indian mutiny of sepoys in the British army, in 1857. This was the signal for a spontaneous conflagration, in which the princely rulers, landed aristocarcy and peasantry rallied against the British around the person of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah.

The rebellion also saw the end of the East India Company's rule in India. Power was transferred to the British Crown in 1858 by an Act of British Parliament. The Crown's viceroy in India was to be the chief executive.

"Nadir Shah looted the country only once. But the British loot us every day. Every year wealth to the tune of 4.5 million dollar is being drained out, sucking our very blood. Britain should immediately quit India.'' That's what the Sindh Times wrote on May 20, 1884, a year before the Indian National Congress was born and 58 years before the ''Quit India'' movement of 1942 was launched.

The Freedom Struggle

Ideas of democracy, individual freedom and equality were the antithesis of the empire and led to the genesis of the freedom movement among thinkers like Raja Rammohan Roy, Bankim Chandra and Vidyasagar.

formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885.

launching of the Swadeshi movement by leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghose.

The partition of Bengal along communal lines in 1905 by the British (''Vanga Bhanga'') triggered a nation-wide Swadeshi movement, giving a great fillip to the freedom movement throughout the country.

The first Indian political organization to call for complete independence from British rule was the Ghadar (or Gadar) Party, organized in 1913 by Indian immigrants in California.

on 13 April 1919, in the Amritsar Massacre (also known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre) in Amritsar, Punjab. The British military commander, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, ordered his soldiers to fire into an unarmed and unsuspecting crowd of some 10,000 people. They had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, a walled garden, to celebrate Baisakhi, a Sikh festival, without prior knowledge of the imposition of martial law. A total of 1,650 rounds were fired, killing 379 people and wounding 1,137 in the episode, which dispelled wartime hopes of home rule and goodwill in a frenzy of post-war reaction.

Non Cooperation Movement of 1920 -1922 and the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. --Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

In 1921, there was seething anger against the high taxes imposed by the British. Delegations from numerous districts approached Gandhi to lead a No-Tax campaign. In Guntur, the no-tax campaign began without the permission of the national leadership, but Gandhi responded by calling for all taxes to be paid by the due date. However, he agreed to lead a No-Tax campaign in the single district of Bardoli, but even that was withdrawn when he heard news of a peasant rebellion in Chauri Chaura village in UP. Gandhi's Bardoli decision created deep consternation in Congress circles. Subhas Chandra Bose wrote: "To sound the order of retreat just when public enthusiasm was reaching the boiling point was nothing short of a national calamity. The principal lieutenants of the Mahatma, Deshbandhu Das, Pandit Motilal Nehru and Lala Lajpat Rai, who were all in prison, shared the popular resentment. I was with the Deshbandu at the time, and I could see that he was beside himself with anger and sorrow." (quoted from The Indian Struggle, p.90)

The Naujawan Bharat Sabha (1925) was initiated by Shaheed Bhagat Singh who also coined the widely popular slogan 'Inquilab Zindabad' (Long Live The Revolution). Also in 1925, Ghadar supporters established a Workers and Peasant Party (Kirti Kisan Party) in the Punjab.
In 1939 and 1940, strikes and peasant uprisings reached a fever pitch. In 1941, the Indian National Army (INA) was launched by General Mohan Singh in Malaya with the help of the Japanese.

August 1942, the Quit India movement
"I want freedom immediately, this very night before dawn if it can be had.'.. we shall free India or die in the attempt, we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery", declared the Mahatma, as the British resorted to brutal repression against non-violent satyagrahis.

At the end of the Second World War, they saw the writing on the wall, and initiated a number of constitutional moves to effect the transfer of power to the sovereign State of India. For the first and perhaps the only time in history, the power of a mighty global empire 'on which the sun never set', had been challenged and overcome by the moral might of a people armed only with ideals and courage.
The RIN Mutiny (also called the Bombay Mutiny) encompasses a total strike and subsequent mutiny by the Indian sailors of the Royal Indian Navy on board ship and shore establishments at Bombay (Mumbai) harbour on 18 February 1946. From the initial flashpoint in Bombay, the mutiny spread and found support through India, from Karachi to Calcutta and ultimately came to involve 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors.


India achieved independence on August 15,1947. Giving voice to the sentiments of the nation, the country's first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, "Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance .... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again."

Independence, 1947 to 1950
Lord Mountbatten to continue as Governor General of India. He was replaced in June 1948 by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
The Constituent Assembly completed the work of drafting the constitution on 26 November 1949; on 26 January 1950 the Republic of India was officially proclaimed. The Constituent Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India, taking over from Governor General Rajgopalachari. Subsequently, a free and sovereign India absorbed two other territories: Goa (from Portuguese control in 1961) and Pondicherry (which the French ceded in 1953–1954). In 1952, India held its first general elections, with a voter turnout exceeding 62%; this made it the world’s largest democracy.


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