Context: On the occasion of Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary on September 28th, it is pertinent to delve into his perspective on the theme of India’s G20 presidency, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.” This theme reflects the idea that the world is one family, and it carries significant relevance in the context of India’s global leadership role within the G20.
More about the news:
- The success of India in garnering consensus in the joint declaration of the G20 was seen as a pivotal moment in the country’s ascendancy on the global stage.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated this achievement, emphasizing that India’s vision was not merely a slogan but a comprehensive philosophy deeply rooted in its cultural heritage.
- He highlighted that the world was taking note of India’s human-centric model of development, one that prioritizes inclusivity both domestically and internationally.
- The G20 declaration explicitly expressed concern about religious hatred and called for an end to the trust deficit, advocating for an era of cooperation.
Bhagat Singh’s views on the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’:
- In his early years, Bhagat Singh was captivated by the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, envisioning a world united as one family bound by love and mutual respect.
- His essay ‘Vishwa Prem,’ published in the Hindi weekly ‘Matwala’ in 1924, reflects his contemplation on the social and political hurdles obstructing the realization of this dream.
- Bhagat Singh posed a thought-provoking question and grappled with various complex issues, including communalism, hatred, violence, oppression, poverty, untouchability, and casteism.
- He highlighted the disturbing reality that mere religious affiliation had become a sufficient reason for enmity between religious groups.
- Bhagat Singh firmly advocated for the elimination of divisive elements, such as the distinction between the touchable and untouchable communities.
- In his influential essay ‘Why I am an Atheist,’ Bhagat Singh showcased his rational and critical thinking.
- He suspected that some self-proclaimed social reformers held superficial political stances.
- He didn’t hesitate to criticise prominent figures like Madan Mohan Malviya, questioning their sincerity in eradicating untouchability.
- He asked whether those who loudly proclaimed universal brotherhood genuinely aimed to bring about such a transformation.
About Bhagat Singh:
Bhagat Singh, a prominent figure in India’s struggle for independence, played a crucial role in the fight against British colonial rule. His early life, evolution as a revolutionary, and lasting legacy are all integral parts of his story.
Bhagat Singh’s Birth and Education:
- Born on September 28, 1907, in Lyallpur, which is now in Pakistan, Bhagat Singh’s upbringing was steeped in the atmosphere of patriotic fervour.
- He received his education at the Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School and National College in Lahore.
- These institutions were closely associated with Arya Samaj and the freedom movement, exposing Bhagat Singh to the ideals of Indian independence from a young age.
Family Influence on His Ideals:
- Bhagat Singh’s family played a pivotal role in shaping his political consciousness.
- His father and uncle, Ajit Singh, were actively involved in progressive politics, participating in significant events like the Canal Colonization Bill agitation in 1907 and the Ghadar Movement of 1914–1915.
Entry into National College and Ideological Shift:
- In 1923, Bhagat Singh enrolled at the National College in Lahore, which had been established as a response to Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement.
- Gandhi had urged Indian students to boycott educational institutions subsidized by the British government.
- Bhagat Singh’s journey into the freedom movement began to take a more radical turn during this time.
Bhagat Singh’s contributions to the Freedom Movement:
Initial Support for Non-Cooperation:
- Initially, Bhagat Singh aligned himself with Mahatma Gandhi and the Non-Cooperation Movement.
- However, his perspective shifted when Gandhi withdrew the movement following the Chauri Chaura incident.
- This incident led Bhagat Singh to embrace revolutionary nationalism as a means to achieve India’s independence.
Influence of Tragic Events:
- Tragic events such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 and the violence against unarmed Akali protestors at Nankana Sahib in 1921 deeply affected Bhagat Singh’s worldview, fuelling his determination to free India from British rule.
Association with Revolutionary Groups:
- In 1924, Bhagat Singh became a member of the Hindustan Republican Association, founded by Sachindranath Sanyal.
- He formed a close bond with Chandra Shekhar Azad, the main organizer of the association.
- Bhagat Singh’s commitment to the cause led him to establish the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in 1926, aiming to mobilize peasants and workers against British rule.
Role in “Kirti” and HSRA:
- Bhagat Singh also contributed to the monthly magazine “Kirti” published by the ‘Workers and Peasants Party.’ For a year, he served on the editorial board of “Kirti.”
- In 1928, he, along with Sukhdev, Chandrashekhar Azad, and others, founded the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).
Bhagat Singh’s Revolutionary Activities:
Shift Towards Armed Revolution:
- Bhagat Singh’s association with HSRA introduced him to the philosophy of armed revolution.
- His commitment to the cause led to his arrest in 1927, initially for his association with the Kakori Case and an article published under the pseudonym Vidrohi.
Involvement in the Saunders Case:
- The tragic death of Lala Lajpat Rai during a protest against the Simon Commission in 1928 marked a turning point.
- In an unfortunate case of mistaken identity, Bhagat Singh and his associates assassinated J.P. Saunders, leading to the Lahore Conspiracy Case.
Central Assembly Bombing:
- In 1929, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Assembly at Delhi, accompanied by pro-revolutionary slogans.
- Their intention was not to cause harm but to make the ‘deaf hear’. Both were arrested without resistance, using the trial as a platform for their revolutionary message.
The Trial and Death of Bhagat Singh:
Hunger Strike for Political Prisoners:
- During their trial in 1929, Bhagat Singh and his comrades initiated a hunger strike in Lahore prison to demand better conditions for political prisoners.
- Their strike garnered widespread support from leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sentencing and Execution:
- Despite widespread appeals, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru were sentenced to death.
- The execution was carried out on March 23, 1931, a day ahead of the scheduled date, at Lahore Jail.
- March 23 is observed as Martyrs’ Day, paying tribute to him and fellow freedom fighters.
Individual Heroism vs. Mass Movement
- Bhagat Singh initially believed in individual heroism but later realized the need for a broad-based mass movement to effectively challenge the British Empire.
Renowned quotes by Bhagat Singh:
- Bombs and pistols do not make a revolution. The sword of revolution is sharpened on the whetting stone of ideas.
- But mere faith and blind faith is dangerous: it dulls the brain and makes a man reactionary.
- Revolution is an inalienable right of mankind. Freedom is an imperishable birthright of all. Labour is the real sustainer of society.
Works of Bhagat Singh: ‘Why I Am an Atheist’; ‘Ideas on freedom, liberty and revolution: Jail notes of a revolutionary’; ‘Ideas of a Nation’; ‘To Young Political Workers.