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Imperial India celebrates 1857
16 May, 2007 l 1006 hrs ISTlTarun Vijay
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That the Prime Minister forgot Mangal Pande, the hero of 1857 in his Parliament speech but remembered Karl Marx, shows the pressures and the stress he is working under to keep his government afloat. Most of the MPs and MLAs too stayed home glued to their TV channels for the UP results rather than attending the 1857 function at Red Fort.
It's a shame to see how the 1857 150th anniversary has been turned into a sham sarkari jholawala function devoid of any life and vibrancy. In fact in the whole melee Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty got more coverage than the revolutionaries whose martyrdom we were supposed to recollect and tell our children "look this is how we got our Independence". Instead revenge and Page 3 gossip have overshadowed the steely resolve and the invincible fighting spirit shown by the real fathers of our freedom.
There is hardly any celebratory mood about it; the most that hogged the headlines was a nauseating statement only Arjun Singh could make - delisting a political party which has ruled India and is ruling in more states than Congress and CPM combined, from the invite list of the 1857 celebrations. That's how neo-Stalinism works. Listing, delisting, black listing and finally 'Siberiaisation'.
The year 1857 was a symbol of national unity, a collective resolve to throw out the yoke of the colonial masters, to assert our Dharmas, our Majhab's identity and to respect each other as Indians first and Indians last. An undivided society fought for an undivided India. Now, 150 years later India has been divided into three and the state power plans to divide sections of Indians on the basis of castes, sub-castes, political affiliations and religion, making the pan-Indian identity inferior to micro assertions and brazenly promotes hate against ideological adversaries and opponents.
The year 1857 saw Bahadurshah Zafar decreeing death to slaughterers of cow and respecting Hindu sensitivities. In 2007, the state power stands with any one insulting the Hindu sense of faith and pride. Hence, Hussain's right to paint nude Hindu goddesses is sacred and so is the right to butcher cows for a secular Constitution. A deliberate attempt is on to make us forget that while Hindus accepted Bahadurshah Zafar as their leader, with great stars like Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope and Nana Saheb Peshwa, Awadh witnessed a unique solidarity where the Muslims promised to return the Ram Janma Bhumi temple to the Hindus.
The lotus, a religious symbol of the Hindus, was unitedly accepted as the icon of the revolution and the foreigner, firangi, was declared the enemy of Dharma or Majhab, as he had abused our religious sentiments. No sloganeering about Hindu-Muslim unity, because it stood there naturally. Every one fought the battle as a Hindustani, an Indian and that was just enough.
Today more than the British hated Indians, our own swadeshi fellows hate each other on ideological differences and try to annihilate the opponent through guns and fake media encounters, Naxals, NSCN, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar and blinkered reportage.
Despite the lack of a communications network, 1857 achieved a considerable amount of cohesion and pan-national support, but today in the IT age, all so-called national newspapers have turned into local village bulletins. Northern papers don't report north-east or south and vice versa. The idea of India seems to be shrinking in our global world view where London and New York get more space than Madurai, Leh or Aizawl.
In a bitterly dense colonised atmosphere we love to use language imposed on us by the colonial masters as a status symbol. Hence in Kanpur, a hub of the 1857 war, lala log still display the colonial spellings of the club the British left behind as Cawnpore Club and discard with the disdain a gora sergeant had for things Indian, even the desi spellings of their city. The Imperial Hotel in down-town Delhi proudly displays the photographs of British officers, Viceroys and their hunting missions with memsahibs , and the only Indians shown in the entire hotel are the black serfs, either polishing the boots of gora sahibs or organizing hukkahs or simply standing waiting for orders.
No one has objected, rather the antiquity of the photos get appreciated. Our jawans and brave contingents of the Army march past saluting the India Gate on every Republic Day. The India Gate was not erected in the memory of those revolutionaries who laid their lives for Indian Independence, but is a memorial to those who worked and died for the British Empire. When King George's statue was removed under compulsive patriotism from a canopy near India Gate and a Gandhi statue was suggested to be installed there, the aesthetic sense of the brown sahibs, with impeccable Oxbridge accent, opposed the Gandhi idea tooth and nail and poor Gandhi had to be satisfied with a place outside the Parliament's main gate. He was denied a Nobel first, and later Indians themselves denied him a place of honour where Republic Day is celebrated and from where he could have witnessed the progress of the democracy that officially reveres him as the Father of the Nation.
This is the patriotism of the rich and the famous. The new Rai Bahadurs.
Today, 1857 is understood through the eyes and writings of Marx and firangi writers; because that's what the western publishing houses based here have churned out. Romanticising the flirtations of the British officers and Viceroys and the debauchery and pusillanimous behaviour of the Rajputs licking dust before the white Mughals. We don't have our own historians, respected and honoured, except the ones who have abused and twisted the facts to suite their Marxist or colonial leanings.
Who stands for India after 150 years of the battle rightly called the First War of Independence? The man who re-christened the revolution as the war of Independence, Veer Savarkar, is the most hated person in the present regime; Muslims are given jobs and educational reservations to get their votes and Hindus feel they are being subjected to a situation where to live as Hindus has been made a matter of embarrassment. Shivaji is termed as a Kurmi leader in Maharashtra, Rana Pratap a Thakur icon, Gandhi a proud symbol of the business and sarkari class and Laxmi Bai's memory is a responsibility of the Uttar Pradesh government since Jhansi falls in its jurisdiction.
Marchers mobilized by the government to celebrate 1857 squat on the road demanding food and facility, forgetting what brought them there. Parties have more focus on the outcome of election results, Hindu organizations continue their hypocritical behaviour of high-pedestal preaching and still a God visiting the so-called low caste area makes big news as if a great step obliging them has been taken. It's not amazing at all why the barbaric behaviour towards Hindus of a different caste by their own co religionists never becomes a matter of a nationwide agitation or a firmly resolved movement while we keep on lamenting conversions and Jihadi attacks.
It's the high-caste Hindus who help fund conversion activities, help the easy flow of foreign contribution to fund hate campaigns against his own co-religionists, make a safe corridor for cows to be sent to Bangladesh for slaughter, run the highest number of butcher houses exporting beef to the Middle East, use Hindu issues to fool Hindus to get their votes for power, and very "methodically" keep temples the dirtiest places, pilgrim centres as a mall meant to disrobe gullible faithfuls, use state power financed by Hindu tax payers to ensure no school teaches the Vedas, Sanskrit, Geeta, Bhagwatam, Upanishads (though these are the books produced in this land that have dazzled and inspired the most celebrated intellect in the world). As if we are living in a Saudi colony, all in the name of secularism none understands. A dilapidated dargah in Surat or Madurai needs no historical proof to stop bulldozers for making way for a road, but a great heritage of the Hindus, the Ram Setu can be destroyed for a channel that would fetch money to corrupt ministers.
In 1857 we belonged to a united India, today we are divided into three nations and India, the residual one, stands being bled by the other two with jihadi hate. Even a truncated India has lost more than one lakh twenty five thousand square kilometers of land after 1947 and not a single leader finds it politically correct to announce that if he or his party is voted to power, the lost land would be taken back. That speaks about the 'courage and nationalist pride' of the free country's political movers and shakers.
We are more colonised today than we were then. We use the colonial language to rule people who do not understand, read or write English, impose an English-based IT culture on a people who still can't afford to study in English medium schools. Our attire, protocol, etiquette, behaviour within homes and outside, intellectual dialogues, club life, social interaction, small details on rail compartments to the labels on medicines and doctors' prescriptions to mobile phone instructions and restaurant bills to bus tickets - everything is in a colonial language that we fought against in 1857.
The period post 1857 saw social reformers and men of high scholarship who thought it quite natural to name their newspapers as the Hindu and the Hindustan Times . And the greatest of them unhesitatingly announced that Ram Rajya would be brought once Independence arrived.
Gone are those values and those days. Now Hindu assertion means "oh the RSS brand of communalism" and Hindus, who say all roads lead to one God, hardly ever read a single page of the Koran or know why Eid is celebrated. Similarly Muslims feel they just have nothing to do with the Geeta or the stories of Rama and Krishna because they are Hindu icons. And the leader means the corrupt thick-skinned investor who has to earn more than he invested to win the election.
That's 2007, the year that pronounces how we have dust-binned the precious 150 years passing through a renaissance and a revolution after the great war of Independence to save our civilisational identity and Indianness was fought in 1857.
While India plans to send astronauts to the Moon and our engineers, medical professionals, scientists and entrepreneurs are impressing the world immensely. But a soulless material progress is self-defeating and meaningless like the Soviet Union's march into oblivion. The war of 1857 began with Mangal Pande, a Brahmin taking a cue from what is known as a challenge from a Dalit. The year 2007 has also shown that Hindu consolidation and a solidarity of all castes brings power. That's the real one, away from the highly accented English-speaking chatterati which finds itself closer to the Manmohan-Sonia class, signals a yes to Husain's nudes of the Hindu goddesses, barters Kashmir under a "remove the head to get rid of the headache" formula , says no to Ayodhya but approves all efforts to convert Hindus.
This class shall very soon be history if a Dalit 's chances of ruling India from Delhi keep rising. Then it is quite possible that the artificially created colonised elite will be finally dust-binned and a new renaissance period will emerge seeing a re-assertion of our civilisational moors and contours. Then certainly the prosperity and security of the nation would be of prime concern.
A wholesome Hindu identity is not small, petty communalism but the ultimate flowering of the nation's quintessential character, which is the reassuring guarantee of equality to all faiths and streams of this land without compromising on the basic beliefs and spiritual heritage. India shall regain her lost place of glory when we stand on our own civilisational foundations with confidence and strength. Let that day be our day of resurrection and that would herald the logical culmination of the war 1857 had begun.
The author is the Editor of Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly brought out by the RSS. The views expressed are his personal.
Imperial India celebrates 1857
Comment:Dear Tarun, Your article was really thought provoking. I have read all your articles until now. What saddens me is the disclaimer that the Times Group puts at the end of your article which says the views expressed are your personal. Why have such disclaimers in the first place?
17 May, 2007 1422hrs IST
Comment:This is the best article I have ever read comparing social nature of pre & post independent India. Thanks for such articles. We expect more such articles from you.
Location:johannesburg, south africa
17 May, 2007 1357hrs IST