Thursday, July 25, 2024

Mahatma Gandhi-Not the Only Freedom Fighter

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Mahatma Gandhi-not the only freedom fighter, India has produced hundreds, he is simply one of them

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), the ‘father of Indian Nation’ is a revered yet highly controversial figure in the arena of Indian freedom struggle and academia.

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He, undoubtedly, was one of the architects of the Indian freedom struggle.

But he was, by no means, a saintly figure. During his years in South Africa he was an active advocate of British interests.

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While there is little doubt that he played a key role in ameliorating the condition of Indians in South Africa, he participated in the Boer Wars and was awarded by the White Afrikaner government with the title of ‘Kaiser-I-Hind’.

In South Africa, he formed the Natal Indian Congress as well as the Phoenix & Tolstoy farms.

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Upon returning to India in 1915, he plunged himself deep into Indian politics and India’s freedom struggle.

But let’s be clear about one thing- he certainly was not the only serious figure in India’s Independence.

Hence a re-examination of his role in the Indian liberation struggle is long overdue.

Crucial Role of Revolutionaries

The revolutionaries, particularly the neo-nationalists played a key role in cementing a pro-people base in the liberation struggle.

The triumvirate of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal & Bal Gangadhar Tilak were responsible for truly transforming the character of Indian Independence struggle into a mass base.

Among them, Lokmanya Tilak had reposed immense faith in the ability of the people to challenge the ‘might’ of the British Empire.

Gandhi simply managed to tap into that sentiment.

Also, it would be a Himalayan injustice on my part to not highlight the sacrifices of Khudiram Bose, Binoy, Badal, Dinesh and the squad of Bhagat Singh.

Bhagat Singh’s crusade against the British rule fired up the imagination of a generation of Indian youth.

The youth were infused with the values of taking up arms to fight for Independence.

Non-Violence-Not Really Effective

The method of ‘non violent struggle’ was, at best, a failed idea.

Yes, it is considered to be one of the foundational political ideas that Indian exported to other erstwhile colonized countries to fight for their independence.

But, let’s be honest- the very idea of non-violence is built on shaky ground.

The real reason why India won its independence and forced the British to leave the country is because of this man- Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Netaji-The Real Hero

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was a man of action, he could never tolerate the British in India. He was fired up with the fervour of freeing his motherland right from an early age.

His resignation from the ICS and deep dive in India’s struggle was an indication that this young man will do something.

He did, his escape from India in disguise, his whirlwind tour around the world to seek external help, his formation and leading of the Indian National Army in 1944-45 is a legend per se.

It was the Azad Hind Fauj and its entry, followed the ill fated failure that truly stirred the conscience of the nation.


Therefore, the question remains-does Mahatma Gandhi deserve all the credit for India’s Independence?

He certainly doesn’t, but then again the jury is out there to decide. Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi-not the only freedom fighter.


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