India is soon to complete the seventieth year as an independent nation. We will celebrate our 71st Independence Day on August 15, 2017. On this occasion we will remember with gratitude those hundreds and thousands of freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to liberate their motherland from the shackles of imperial rule. We will remember those great leaders who led the country to achieve its independence. For a period of approximately ninety years, between 1857 and 1947, these gallant men motivated their countrymen to regain their lost dignity, glory, honour, self-respect and strength. They inspired millions to throw away the bondage of slavery and make their own destiny.
Although there is a long list of great leaders who emerged as national heroes it is not possible to present an elaborate account of their work. The Gandhian era, considered the golden age of the Indian freedom movement, is worth mentioning. Under the unique leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru emerged as symbols of youth-power while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel emerged as a symbol of the peasantry and rural India. Azad emerged as a symbol of communal harmony, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Sarojini Naidu as symbols of devotion and dutifulness and Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Rajaji as symbols of adoration. Undoubtedly, these great leaders were recognised and loved by all classes, communities and religions in the country. That is why they could ascertain the freedom of the country on 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 guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, these leaders led the people on the basis of Ahimsa which is the supreme, natural, highest and eternal human value. Through persuasive and non-violent techniques they coerced the imperialists to leave the country.
Simultaneously, the Indian freedom fighters could establish a unique road map towards human emancipation. Moreover, the Mahatma emerged as a global symbol for championing the case of the oppressed. In his speech, especially addressed to the Mahatma, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had 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-American leaders like Martin Luther King Junior in his great fight for equality, freedom and justice. Martin Luther King Junior 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 71st Independence Day, the best way to remember our great freedom fighters and particularly Gandhiji and his team is to wholeheartedly support those who are fighting for equality, freedom and social justice. Furthermore, having Ahimsa as the nucleus, we can work honestly and without any discrimination for those who are still underprivileged in India and the world. It is indeed painful that crores of people are deprived of civil liberties in the world even in the twenty first century. Crores are denied social justice. As per an estimate, 2/3 of total population of the world faces situations of human rights violations in some way or other in most of the counties. Bonded labour is still a reality. Millions remain captive. According to the census of the International Labour Organization (ILO), India is home to approximately 11.7 million bonded labourers. It is painful that out of 168 million child labourers in the world, more than half work in hazardous conditions.
While celebrating our Independence Day, we must remember the dream of our great leaders who fought for freedom and played the vital role in nation building and gaining freedom and prosperity for all.