Friday, August 13, 2010

August Kranti: India's revolution goes on long after Independence

Madhavrao Sindhia used to recount a story of man pounced upon by commuters on a train when he threw away a ticket on the platform. Such a spirit was rare in India after August 9, 1942.Words like hartal, gherao, bandh, andolan, sanghatan and satyagraha entered our everyday speech after that day. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari once said that Gandhiji wouldn;t have approved of the Quit India violence when Gandhijis views on the subject were ambivalent, writes Sunanda K Datta-Ray in The Pioneer.

Read the whole article in Pioneer.

"When he was Railway Minister, the late Madhavrao Scindia was fond of recounting a possibly apocryphal story of public-spirited commuters on Calcutta’s Metro (this was before Delhi had one) angrily pouncing on a man who had screwed up his used ticket and thrown it on the platform. Apparently, they forced him to pick it up and deposit it in the litter bin. The Metro was theirs; it had to be kept tidy."

"Such concern for public property has been rare since this week shook the mighty British Empire 68 years ago."

"India hasn’t looked back since August 9, 1942. It was a day of widespread disturbances that exalted protest and made opposition a way of life. Its legacy incorporated words like hartal, gherao, bandh, andolan, sanghatan and satyagraha into everyday speech. "

"It’s difficult to say how much of the Quit India violence was premeditated. “If any people think they are helping Gandhiji by these ruinous activities, they are deluding themselves and bringing cruel discredit on him,” Chakravarti Rajagopalachari admonished, magnanimously exonerating Gandhi of blame for lawlessness. But Gandhi’s own attitude was more ambivalent than Rajaji’s comment suggests. The Mahatma stood for non-violent non-cooperation and made a fetish of the sanctity of means over ends, even to the extent of reiterating that means were the end. But his “Karengey ya Marengey (Do or Die)” exhortation at Bombay’s Gowalia Tank went further than the Congress resolution’s pledge of “a mass struggle on non-violent lines on the widest possible scale” which sanctified violence and vandalism in the name of freedom."

"The 1942 protest was originally going to be called “Get Out” but Gandhi thought it impolite. He preferred Quit India. Rajaji opposed it for the sound reason that disenchantment with the British was no reason to welcome the Japanese “who will be ten times worse”. Mohammed Ali Jinnah called Quit India a “Himalayan blunder”. Communists argued at the 1948 Calcutta Conference whether it was a movement, a revolution, a revolt or an uprising. Eventually, they decided on “August occurrences”. The politically correct speak of August Kranti."

This analysis of Indian democracy can be found on Miracle of Democracy.

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