We are a free nation today. We won the freedom the hard way. For this many people suffered extreme hardships and Passed the best periods of their lives in jails. Many more laid down their lives for the nation. The man who guided our Struggle for freedom was Mahatma Gandhi. He was the leader Of our freedom. He launched many movements during the freedom struggle.
He was born in the middle-class family on the 2nd of October. 1869. His father was the Dewan of Rajkot. He was an average student at school, but he showed the signs of future greatness. He refused to copy from a fellow student even at the instance oi his teacher. As a boy, he was influenced by the examples of Harishchandra and Sarwan Kumar. Later in his life, he was to -uphold the sanctity of truth like Harishchandra at great risk to his own lite. His faith in God found roots at an early age and grew with years.
He was married at an early age. After matriculation, he went to England to study Law. He returned to India after completing his studies. He then went to South Africa, where he found that the Indians were not being properly treated. They were victims of the racist policies of the white Government. He fought for their rights. He was not scared by the threats of the Government. After many years he returned to India. Here he impressed the leaders with his policy of Ahimsa or the theory of non- violence. He went on to become the leader of the Indian National Congress. He gave people the two most powerful weapons of non-violence and Satyagraha, with which to fight for the freedom of the country. The success of these weapons can be seen in the fact that we achieved freedom without shedding a drop of blood.
He held different religions in equal regard. He worked for Hindu-Muslim unity. When communal riots broke out, he tried to restore peace at great risk to his life.
He taught Indians the value of working with their own hands. He taught us the dignity of labor. He did not favor such a system of education that produced only clerks. He advocated basic education that is centered around the concept of work and community. He felt that by doing so the Indian tradition and conditions would not be ignored.
He left an indelible impression on the minds of people. He stood for simple living and high thinking. He refused to wear expensive clothes when the countrymen were starving and did not have enough clothes to cover their bodies. Hc only Wore loin’ cloth, so that he could be one with the common man. He impressed everyone by the simplicity of his lifestyle, Sincerity of purpose and strength of character.
It is a matter of great shame that he fell to the bullets of his countryman. He was shot on the evening of 30th January 1948. That was a dark hour for the country. Gandhi was called the ‘ father of the Nation’. He is no more but his memory and message are immortal. India shall ever remain proud of the political philosophy propounded by the ‘Saint of Sabarmati’. He was a living example of service and sacrifice. The great man had great ideals. He believed in the doctrine of action. He hated the sin but not the sinner. He was the greatest Indian who lived and died for the sake of others. He was a practical man. He preached only what he practiced. Jawaharlal Nehru called Gandhi the ‘Light of the Nation’. Though he was lean, thin and fragile in physique yet he was mentally and spiritually sound.
LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI
Nehru’s death was the dark hour of India. Everyone was dazed and dismayed. The news had plunged the nation into gloom and despair. There seemed none to take his place and lead the nation.
However, the process of democracy did not come to a halt. The mantle to lead the nation fell on a pygmy sized man. He was Lal Bahadur Shastri, who had won the confidence of Jawahar Lal Nehru during the closing years of his life. Many doubted his capacity to deliver the goods. Shastri proved all the doubting Thomases wrong and rose to a position of great eminence.
He occupied the chair of the Prime Minister during most testing periods in the history of the country. It was to his credit that he led the nation smoothly through those turbulent times. His leadership made the nation one out of every test with flying colors. His stock went up very high and he emerged the undisputable leader of the Indian masses. His devotion and duty towards the nation won him many admirers. National prestige grew and India occupied a place of pride among the nations of the world.
He was born of poor parents. He studied at Varanasi. Sometimes lie had to swim across the river Ganga, as he was not able to pay for the ferry. He made his marls as a serious and hardworking student.
He was greatly influenced by national leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai and Gandhiji. He joined the national movement at an early age. His influence grew slowly and reached its full glory when he became the Prime Minister of India.
Ever since Independence, he occupied responsible posts in the party and in the Government. He was the Railway minister. Home minister and a Minister without portfolio. He earned the reputation of being a soft-spoken and mild-mannered person. He had the knack of handling difficult situations and always rose to the occasion.
Pakistan took India’s desire for peace as her weakness. She invaded India in order to take away Kashmir by force. Under Shastri’s leadership, a wave of enthusiasm swept the country. The ranks were closed and unity was forged. India stood as one nation and faced the enemy. The attack was repulsed and the enemy was humbled. The National Honour stood Vindicated.
Although he emerged as the war hero, he never lost sight of the fact that war was evil even if it were fought for the defense of the country. He did not lose any opportunity to come to an honorable settlement with Pakistan. An agreement was signed in Tashkent. The two countries decided to live in peace and resolved never to go to war to settle their disputes. That was really his crowning achievement. He at the pinnacle of the glory of a short time after signing this historical agreement.
Every Indan was shocked by the suddenness of his deal. Eve.ty Indian eye was wet their tears. the nation lost her Captain who steered her through the times Of stress and strain. A glorious chapter in India’s history came to close with his death.
Under the Shadow of Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death. India had to choose her next Prime Minister. It was a complex problem. The person who should succeed in such a position should have integrity. ability. experience and capacity to lead the nation in her for survival, A woman was chosen for this position. She was none other than the daughter Of the famous Jawahar Lal Nehru.
She belonged to the younger generation. She was born on the 19th of November. 1917. She was the only child of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Kamla Nehru. ‘Morning shows the Day’. holds good in her Case. She Was born in a highly educated and renowned family. Therefore. she was exposed to highly educative and instructive surroundings both at home and outside. Her learned father and grandfather were always there to answer her questions. Early in life she gathered the servants of the household and spoke before them. She grew up in the traditions and values of the Nehru family. Those were the times when Anand Was the hub of political activities and freedom struggle.
She could not grow aloof of what was happening all around her. At the age of twelve, she organized the children messenger service to carry the messages from one place to another and from one leader to another. Soon after she was drawn into active politics and like the women of those times joined the freedom struggle with great vigor. She sought political training under her father and Gandhiji. Those were the days when women marched shoulder to shoulder with men and gave new momentum to the national freedom movement.
She went to jail in 1942 during the Quit India Movement. She married Feroze Gandhi and bore him two sons. After her husband’s death in 1960, Indira dedicated her life to politics and social work and for the betterment of the downtrodden. She worked for Hindu-Muslim unity when communal riots broke out in 1947. She organized the relief work of the refugees and worked for their rehabilitation. She organized child welfare schemes. She held independent opinion of her own on vital problems. She was critical of the policies of her father at times. She also occupied the position of President of the Indian National Congress.
She joined Shastri Government as a Minister of Information and Broadcasting after her father’s death. After becoming the Prime Minister in 1966, she intelligently faced many internal and external problems. She was a courageous and bold woman. She never hesitated while taking even the toughest decisions. She led India to victory during the 1971 war with Pakistan. However, she was very straightforward about India’s role in international politics. She helped Bangladesh attain independence, despite enormous international pressure. Her life was indeed one of great courage, principles, and conviction.
She was a successful Prime Minister. She initiated the 20 point program which was a bold way to bring prosperity to the poor. Unfortunately, she died a tragic death when her own bodyguards assassinated her. In her death, India lost a woman of vision, courage, and foresight.
JAWAHAR LAL NEHRU
Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru was one of the leaders who led India to Independence. He shaped India’s destiny during the seventeen years that he was the Prime Minister.
He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father, Pandit Moti Lal Nehru, was one of the leading lawyers of India. He was given elementary education at home by selected tutors. Later he studied at Harrow and Cambridge in England. The thought that the country was under foreign rule troubled his mind. He completed his studies and returned to India. He could not decide whether he should start a practice or join the freedom movement.
However, practicing law was never his forte, instead, he preferred to join politics. At that time he came in contact with Gandhiji and fell under his influence. Thereafter he devoted himself to the freedom struggle. He suffered many hardships and went to jail many times. Nothing could crush his spirit. Rather each hardship fortified his determination to see India free. He occupied an inviolable position and it was under his presidentship that the historic Lahore Session of 1929 was held. The Indian National Congress passed the resolution for complete independence on the 26th of January, 1930.
He became popular with the masses. The British Government got annoyed with his activities and put him behind the bars. His wife Kamla Nehru did not let his work suffer. Soon she became the rallying point of all the freedom-loving forces of the country. Even during his jail term, he took an active part in the Non-co- operation Movement and the Quit India Movement of Gandhiji.
As a result, India gained freedom on the 15th of August, 1947. He became the first Prime Minister of free India. He occupied this position till his death on the 27th of May, 1964. He worked for the public good. He tried to raise the living standards of the common man. He strove hard to see India become a strong nation. He laid down the foundation for the Industrial growth of the country. During his period many small and large scale industries were set up in the country.
He desired that all the nations of the is arid should live peace and harmony. The big countries should not threaten the existence of small countries. He always raised his voice against It was the aggressor and mobilized world opinion against here. on this account that he was heard with great respect in the Parliaments around the world. Nehru was a great politician, thinker, and orator.
He wrote a large number of books on Indian History like ‘The Discovery of India’. His letters to his daughter Indira are considered a must for every child. He löved nature and children. People loved him. He was their inspiration. Children called him Chacha Nehru. Nehru’s bold decision and his policy of peaceful co-existence made him famous as a great international statesman. He gave shape to the policy of non-alignment movement in the third world. Besides, he was also the author of the principles of the Panchsheel or the five tenets of peaceful co-existcnce. It is not surprising that the news of his death on the 27th of May, 1964 by heart attack plunged the entire nation into grief.
SUBHASH CHANDRA BOSE
Subhash Chandra Bose was born on January 23rd, 1897 at Cuttack. His father Shri Janaki Nath Bose was a renowned lawyer. Therefore he had a comfortable childhood. His parents spared no efforts for his education. tie in turn always lived up to their expectations by remaining in the top five positions in aa the examinations that he took.
While at school Subhash never got along with the other British boys of his class. This childhood antipathy for the British remained with Subhash all through his life. It was therefore not surprising that Subhash load took the vow to turn the British out of the country at a very early age.
He joined the Indian National Congress, and he was an active participant in all its activities. He was thrown behind the bars many times. The craze for freedom entered his mind and he never showed his back. He, however, did not like the peaceful methods of Gandhiji. In 1938 he was made the President of the Congress. It was from this position that he asked the people of India to take up arms against the British. But he soon resigned from this post after he felt that Gandhiji objected to his approach of gaining freedom. He founded the Forward Bloc in 1940. He wanted to use every weapon to snatch freedom from the Britishers.
Such was his popularity amongst the Common man that the Government soon arrested him and sent him to jail. He fell ill in prison and had to go to Europe for treatment. Even there he did not sit idle, instead, he made contacts and friends and tried to influence public opinion, so that India could attain freedom.
On coming back to India he was again arrested and put in jail. He went on a hunger strike. rearing his death he was put under house arrest. However, he escaped to Berlin and then to Singapore. In Singapore, he formed the Indian National Army (INA). At his clarion call of ‘Give me Blood and I will give you freedom’, many people including the women joined the INA. The call of Delhi Chalo’ was on everyone’s lips.
Subhash Chandra Bose went to Japan. He strengthened the INA there. His army consisted of those military persons who had left the Indian army while fighting against the Japanese on the Burma front. It was through his efforts that the freedom struggle of the Indian patriots spread beyond the country’s frontiers and broadened its base. Soon his army attacked British India. But they were outnumbered by the sophistication of the British army. Yet people waited for him and the INA to liberate the country.
Unfortunately, instead of the news of the victory of the INA, the news of his death in a plane crash destroyed all the hopes of an armed liberation of the country from the British. Netaji was .a controversial personality when he lived, and he remained so even in his death. Many people even today believe that he is still living. Yet whatever may have been his ultimate fate he will always be remembered as a nationalist leader who stopped at nothing to win freedom for his country. He was indeed a brave son of the motherland, who gave the slogan of Jai Hind to all the Indians.
DR. BHIM RAO AMBEDKAR
Shri Bhim Rao Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891, at Mahu in Maharashtra. His father’s name was Shri Ramji Sukpal and his mother’s name was Bhimabai. Therefore, he was named as Bhim Sukpal. He was sharp-witted from his early childhood. He started his education in a nearby village school. He took a keen interest in studies. Having been born in a low-caste family, he had to face disgrace, hardships, and humiliation at every step. His teacher gave him the name Ambedkar.
He was married in 1905 at the unripe age of fourteen with Ramabai. He secured a very’ high percentage of marks at the Intermediate Examination. He got his degree from Alfinston College, Bombay in 1912. Being highly impressed with the young erudite, the Maharaja of Baroda awarded him the scholarship. It enabled him to proceed to America for higher education. In 1916, he got an M.A. degree in Economics. He served for four years as a professor in a college. Then he left his job and left for England in 1923 to seek higher education. In England, he received the degrees of M.Sc; D.M.S; Bar-at-law and Ph.D.
Dr. Ambedkar held the highest posts in many top institutions. However, his low caste ‘always stood in his way. His heart was deeply pricked when he said that the people of low castes and depressed classes were subjected to inhuman tortures, bestial deprivation, and humiliation. His embittered heart urged to fight for their rights. He decried the maltreatment met out to him and his fellow untouchables.
Dr. Ambedkar formed the outcaste welfare society and organized the so-called untouchables. In order to procure social justice for them, he brought awakening in them to stand gracefully on their own legs. He launched a satyagraha on Chavdar Tank. His first and foremost victory was to seek the right to fetch water from the tank. At another time he burnt a bonfire of certain ‘disputed portions from Manusmriti. He strained every nerve to organize the down-trodden. The British Government which firmly believed in the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ fully supported him. The congress had also included the removal of untouchability in her schedule. He represented the untouchables at the Round Table Conference in 1930. He succeeded in getting the seats reserved for the Harijans in elections.
Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was a staunch revolutionary. He was deadly against Brahmanism and Capitalism. He formed a new organization of laborers. He named it ‘Swatantra Mazdoor Dal’. Fortunately, the candidates of Swatantra Mazdoor Dal bagged all the fifteen seats in the elections held at Bombay. It added a great deal to his popularity. The people of the downtrodden classes called, classed and worshipped him as their Messiah.
Dr. Ambedkar spent his entire life for the upliftment of the lowest category of society. Jn independent India, he was made the chairman of the constitution-making committee. He studied the constitutions of all the developed countries of the world thoroughly. He assimilated their good points in the Indian constitution. He is aptly called the Founding father of Indian Constitution by virtue of his yeoman’s service to the nation. We can also call him the modern Manu Dr. Ambedkar was a top-ranking reformer and national leader.
Dr. Ambedkar had adopted Buddhism at the fag end of his life. The people addressed him as Baba Sahib. Many colleges have been named after him. Many statues have also been erected in his honor all over the country. Dr. Ambedkar died on December 6th, 1956, He was awarded the title of ‘Bharat Ratna’ on the eve of the celebration of his posthumous birth centenary in 1991. Now he belongs to the ages.
SARDAR VALLABH BHAI PATEL
Often called the Indian Bismarck, Vallabh Bhai Patel was the architect of modern India. He was born on 31st October 1875. in a Patidar family of village Karamsad, in Kaira district, Gujrat. He was the younger brother of V.J. Patel, who was an illustrious president of the Indian Legislative Assembly at one point in time.
Sardar Patel had his education in the village primary school and later in a High School at Nadiad. In 1910, he went to England to study for Bar. After obtaining the first class and topping the list of the successful candidates, he was invited to join the Middle Temple Bar in 1913. He returned home the same year and set up practice in Ahmedabad district court. He proved to be an eminent lawyer and made plenty of money. His fame and brilliance spread far and wide and soon he was elected as one of the city Municipal Commissioners in 1915. It was during this period that he met Gandhiji. He joined the Civil Disobedience Movement started by Gandhiji.
During the 1918 Kaira Satyagraha, he gave his full cooperation to Gandhiji. But it was only after the 1919 Rowlatt Act Agitation that Patel rose to become a leader of national prominence. Subsequently, Sardar led many agitations. Each such campaign added to his already formidable reputation of being a true nationalist.
The British arrested him while he was educating the masses on the principles of Salt Satyagraha. By this time he was known all over the country as the Iron Man of India. After his release, he was appointed the President of the Indian National Congress.
As a supreme leader of Parliamentary wing of the Congress, guided policies of the Autonomy Schemes in the provincial constitution act. Besides he kept strict vigilance over the conduct of the congress ministers. In 1942 when Gandhiji gave a call for Quit India Patel gave it his full support. The British put him and other leaders into jail for this. The more he suffered, the more eager he became to serve his motherland. In the course of time, he became the chief assistant of Gandhiji. He made nearly all the movements success.
In 1946, he became a minister in the Interim Government led by Nehru. In 1947, he took over as the deputy Prime Minister of India. He was in charge of the Home and State Departments. His efforts were mainly directed towards integrating the country, by bringing into the Indian Union princely states. His success was complete and spectacular. India had become united by the time the new Constitution came into force.
He passed away on the morning of December 15, 1951. His death was mourned by millions throughout the country. As a patriot and statesman, he had no equal. His untimely death was a national calamity. It was an irreparable loss to the nation.
Dr. NELSON MANDELA – LIBERATOR OF SOUTH AFRICA
Dr. Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in Transkei, a territ01Y in Cape province in South Africa. His father Henry Gudla Mandela died when Nelson Mandela was only 12 years of age. At the age of 23, he fled to Johannesburg and worked in mines there.
The white people in minority from various European countries had settled in South Africa over the centuries. The white origin people treated the native black majority as slaves. They ruled the land as they chose. Later during the British rule in South Africa, the white people denied all democratic rights to black Africans and colored immigrants who formed the majority.
They introduced the policy of apartheid. It denied political rights to all non-whites, freedom of movements, residence ana worship. The policy perpetuated racial segregation. Dr. Mandela’s political party, the African National Congress (ANC) demanded self-rule and struggled hard against apartheid.
Dr. Mandela was married at the age of 26 in 1944. The same year, he founded the ANC Youth League which started his political career. He became the President of the ANC Youth League in 1950 Dr. Mandela started his defiance campaign in 1952. The white Administration did not tolerate his confrontation. He was jailed for nine months for his ant@overnment activities.
Dr. Mandela was charged with treason in 1956. However, he was acquitted in 1961 when the charge failed. He was rearrested in 1962 and wag charged with inciting people to strike and for leaving the country without a valid passport. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1964 for plotting to overthrow the state. He was moved to Robben Island prison. The South African Government did not release him in spite of the mounting world pressure.
President P.W. Botha offered to release Dr. Mandela if he renounced violence. But Dr. Mandela remained firm and undeterred and declined to accept his condition. His meeting and dialogue with President culminated in his release from prison after 27 years. He was released on February I l, 1990. He addressed a huge public meeting. Over 50,000 people attended the meeting.
He Was named Deputy President of the ANC in March 1990. It then suspended the 29 year-long armed struggle. He replaced Oliver Tambo and became the President of ANC in 1991. The pace of discussion and negotiations for initiating the political process was quickened in 1991. All the white referendum voted for reforms.
Dr. Mandela and Deplark shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their work for dismantling apartheid peacefully since 1990. Dr. Mandela declared in 1995 that the countdown to democracy had begun in South Africa. He called for the withdrawal of all sorts of sanctions (economic, political and commercial) imposed against his country.
Dr. Mandela’s ANC swept the polls in the first all-race democratic elections. The national assembly elected DL Mandela as the first black President, head of the state. He was sworn in as President on May 10, 1994. A 342-year-old white dornfnaåon came to an end and a new era dawned in Africa. Before assuming his office. Dr. Mandela said. Let us build a rainbow. nation, at peace with itself and with others’.
Dr. Mandela visited India as chief guest on the eve of the Republic Day Celebration in 1995. Many bilateral economic pacts were signed then. Dr. Mandela was, the recipient of Third World Award (1986), Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International understanding (1979), Bharat Ratna (1990) and Jamna Lal Bajaj Award (1990). Dr. Mandela married Graca Machel on his 80th birthday (July 18, 1998).