India is celebrating 63rd year of its independence. Historical events such as the 1857 Mutiny (First War of Independence), freedom fighter Bhaghat Singh's Birth Centenary, centenary of the national song, Vande Mataram, and other such important events inseparably linked with the freedom struggle are commemorated in India and abroad. These celebrations and commemorations are important to keep alive the spirit of freedom, courage and conviction of the present and future generations.
The Indira Gandhi Centre for Studies on Freedom Struggle has organised several national seminars focusing on India's freedom struggle.
One Goal and Many Streams: Leadership and Mass Participation
The seminars aim at drawing the attention of the nation, particularly the young generation, to recall, remember and re-evaluate the tremendous contributions and sacrifices made by the freedom fighters. India's freedom struggle was an epic event that had many streams, often conflicting with each other on ideological issues, social priorities, political strategies, cultural diversities and so on.
Theme and Sub-Themes
In the first half of the 20th Century, great personalities like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishan Gokhale, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sarojini Naidu, Rabindranath Tagore, Subramanya Bharathi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, CR Das, Motilal Nehru, VK Krishna Menon, C Rajagopalachari, the communists, the socialists and a host of others who represented the many streams of the struggle that had one goal: freedom. But they profoundly differed on the means to achieve it, though they worked together with varying degrees of agreements and uneasiness.
Bose addressed Gandhi as the 'Father of the Nation,' yet differed with him almost entirely when it came to strategies and means of achieving the common goal. Nehru accepted Gandhi as the leader of the freedom struggle but ideologically, temperamentally and in other respects acted as the anti-thesis of Gandhi's vision of Free India. Ambedkar put forward the much-needed social and cultural reforms as the more urgent tasks for freeing India than the political goal of ending the colonial rule. Bhagat Singh had a grand vision of a country free of all kinds of exploitations.
These are a few examples of 'many streams'. Regional aspirations, distinct cultural and other identities also shaped these streams that have hardly been acknowledged. There are more serious questions: secularism, partition, the different visions of free India, the different forces responsible for the tragic flaws in achieving the goal and the common interests of the masses in the sub-continent that have been affected even after the end of the colonial rule. We could debate and discuss all these and many such issues embedded in India's freedom struggle that have much contemporary relevance.
The seminars focus on the following sub-themes:
- Untold Stories of Unacknowledged Heroes.
- Press, Freedom and Penalties: Journalism during the Freedom Struggle.
- Role of Art and Culture in the Freedom Struggle: Theatre, Literature and music.
- Voices from the Edge: Struggles of the Oppressed and the Marginalized- Dalits, Tribals and others.
- Gender Issues in the Freedom Struggle.
- Leadership and Mass participation in the Regions.
- Beyond the National Boundaries: International Perspectives of National Leaders.