Exactly 86 years ago, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru – the three revered figures of the Indian freedom struggle – were executed on March 31, 1931 in Punjab’s Hussainwala (now in Pakistan). The trio were responsible for killing John Saunders, a British police officer. These men were also at the forefront of the ‘Azaadi’ revolution or the independence movement. With their slogans of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ they had literally shook the foundations of british empire by throwing bombs in the central assembly hall of Delhi.

As the nation pays its tribute to these heroes of Indian independence movement on this Shaheed Divas, let us take a look at the present status of the ‘revolution’ which they started in their young days in the present context.

“You can kill people. But you can never kill an idea” is a popular quotation that often does the round in pictures flooding social media on Martyr’s Day. Nevertheless, today people have reduced their notion of freedom movement into a mere lip service. As a country where millions are below the poverty line, development is still a distant dream even after 70 years of independence. The idea of India for which these martyrs paid with their lives is not exactly dead, but is being slowly poisoned by different forces within our own country. These are the same ideologues who are intolerant towards any form of dissent and don’t hesitate to tag people who shout for ‘Azaadi’ from social evils as ‘Anti-Nationals’.

Bhagat Singh was an atheist. His idea of nationalism was the one which was inclusive of all sections of the society. He was against religious slogans like ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and ‘Naare Takbeer’, and opposed the use of religion in the Indian independence movement. Ironically people who beat the trumpets of nationalism today are no less than hypocrites. Often attempting to justify their idea of nationalism which is exclusive of minority community, their voice falls hollow while appointing religious bigots as protectors of constitution.

Bhagat Sigh, in a letter written in Urdu to his brother from Lahore jail where he spent his last moments, writes about the importance of education in building a developed nation. In recent years, the highest budget cut has been gifted to education sector by successive governments.

In today’s Pakistan, fans of Bhagat Singh had to seek protection through the court to celebrate his death anniversary. Even after decades of getting independence, activists have failed in their multiple attempts to rename the chowk in Lahore where he spent his last days on his name due to severe opposition from religious extremists who don’t approve of him being an atheist. Even though name changing drama is not new to today’s India, but the mixing of religion and politics that is spreading like wildfire under the pretext of development is something he was sternly against.

These heroes had a great impact in their deaths as great as in their lives. They taught us to revolt against the ‘wrong’ and fight for our rights. Their teachings of revolutions that we all grew up with has impacted India even after Independence. Many a times, revolutions in independent India have overthrown governments and brought in huge social as well as political changes across the country. Be it the post emergency agitation or the national movement against corruption, their ‘revolution’ was always in our blood.


As the authorities who hold power are on spree to – suppress dissent across universities, stifle dalit and tribal voices in the pretext of Naxalism, wage a war on minorities across the country from Kerala’s classrooms to Jaipur’s restaurants, propagate religious hatredness across the country’s heartlands, threaten journalists and reiterate that building a temple will bring in development, it is upon you to think if it is time for another ‘revolution’ and imagine who is the new ‘British’?

Long live the ‘Revolution’.

(The writer in a born bhakt of Bhagat Singh and his associates who sacrificed their lives so that he could write about them in peace)

Image Credits: www.devianart.com


Srivedant Kar

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Like many other spheres and domains of life, the literary space too worked on the politics of gender. It was long thought to be a space marked only for men, and women were always discouraged from writing or reading. But, there were some women writers who did not let anyone limit their potential. They wrote extensively and let their work speak for themselves.

1. Mary Wollstonecraft

Many of the ideas floating today about feminism and equality of genders were floated by Mary Wollstonecraft, an Anglo-Irish feminist, intellectual and writer, in as early as eighteenth century. She was born on April 27, 1759, in Spitalfields, London and had an abusive father who spent most of his fortune on a series of unsuccessful ventures in farming. Troubled by his actions, she set out of her household to earn a living for her own self.  In her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), she talks about how women are not biologically incapable of reason, but as they are denied exposure to proper education, they’re made to think illogically. She realised the true potential of the female gender and appealed to the in-place institutions to not limit women as helpless adornments of the household. Some of the excerpts from her work are:


The woman who has only been taught to please will soon find that her charms are oblique sunbeams, and that they cannot have much effect on her husband’s heart when they are seen every day, when the summer is passed and gone. Will she then have sufficient native energy to look into herself for comfort, and cultivate her dormant faculties? or, is it not more rational to expect that she will try to please other men; and, in the emotions raised by the expectation of new conquests, endeavour to forget the mortification her love or pride has received? When the husband ceases to be a lover—and the time will inevitably come, her desire of pleasing will then grow languid, or become a spring of bitterness; and love, perhaps, the most evanescent of all passions, gives place to jealousy or vanity.”

(A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft)

Image Credits: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/
Image Credits: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/

 2. Ismat Chughtai

Ismat Chughtai was one of the Muslim writers who stayed in India after the partition. She was an eminent writer in Urdu who was known for her boldness, fierce ideology and impregnable attitude. She was born into an upper middle class family yet was subjected to stringent mindsets. When other girls were taught to be docile and dreamed about becoming the perfect wives, Chughtai took to books and educated herself with the support of her father and brother.  Her mother disapproved of her decisions and Chughtai writes, “She hurled her shoe at me but missed.”

Her works became representative of the feminist ideas in the 20th century. Lihaaf is one of the most celebrated short stories written by her which talks about homosexuality in Aligarh. It was leveled with charges of obscenity but she never compromised on her outspoken nature and never apologized for the same. She won the case in court and became nothing less than an inspiration for the future generations of intellectuals.

Image Credits: http://images.indianexpress.com/
Image Credits: http://images.indianexpress.com

3. Virginia Woolf

Known for her famous dictum, A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” from her essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), Virginia Woolf was an English writer and one of the most talented modernists of the twentieth century. She was raised in a wonderful household where her father was a historian and author, and her mother had been born in India and later served as a model for several Pre-Raphaelite painters. She was also a nurse and wrote a book on the profession. Woolf was a happy child but soon was distressed after being sexually abused by her half brothers. She also lost her mother and her sister soon after, which led to a nervous breakdown.

But, despite all these challenges, she took up Ancient Greek, Latin, German and history at the Ladies’ Department of King’s College London. Her novels like Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927) gained much appreciation and are still read enthusiastically.

Image Credits: https://upload.wikimedia.org
Image Credits: https://upload.wikimedia.org

4. Maya Angelou

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise

(Still I Rise, Maya Angelou)

Maya Angelou was a poet, novelist, actor, civil rights activist and what not. She had published seven autobiographies, three books of essays and several books of poetry. Her first autobiography called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) outlines her life up to the age of 17 and brought her much international recognition. Her works revolve around the themes of race, identity, society and culture and she was considered a respected spokesperson for black men and women.

Image Credit: https://www.poets.org
Image Credit: https://www.poets.org

Nishita Agarwal

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By Arvind Kejriwal

Mechanical Engineer from IIT Kharagpur, he joined Indian Revenue Service in 1992. He started Parivartan, a Delhi based citizen’s movement for transparency and accountability in governance, in 2000. He was awarded Ramon Magsaysay award in the year 2006 for emergent leadership for his contribution to Right to Information movement in India.

Have you ever seen the same road or footpath being made several times over but the road in front of your house never gets repaired? We wonder why the government can’t ask us before taking these decisions.

A silent revolution has just begun in Delhi. People in some parts of Delhi are directly taking decisions about governance of their area. Local officials and politicians simply obey their verdicts. Sounds incredible?

Residents of Trilokpuri and Sonia Vihar were one day surprised to receive a letter from their ward councilor stating that the councilor had decided to do only those things which the people of his/her area direct him/her to do. “I feel that Indian democracy is a farce. People elect their leaders once every five years and then plead before them in the next five years. I have decided to change this. I will do only those things which you direct me to do,” said the letter.

Initiated in Delhi by Swaraj Abhiyan along with the councilors of these two wards, each ward has been divided into 10 mohallas. All residents of a mohalla are members of mohalla sabha. Each mohalla sabha meets once in two months. The councilor and all local municipal officials are present at mohalla sabha meetings. People decide how the municipal funds should be used in that mohalla. Till now, some officials or politicians used to take those decisions. Now, you can just walk into these mohalla sabhas and demand that your road be repaired. Your demand would be taken down as minutes of meeting and funds would be sanctioned on the spot by the councilor. If the number of proposals received are more than the funds available, then voting takes place to decide priority i.e. which work should be done first.

These councilors have announced that the payment for any work would be done to a contractor only if mohalla sabha expresses satisfaction. This would deal a body blow to corruption. Roads, which used to come off within a few days of being made, would now hopefully last their life.

Lists of those who are poor and deserve government social security benefits like old age pension, handicapped pension, widow pension etc are now being made in these mohalla sabhas. People collectively, transparently and openly decide who is the poorest and deserves pensions. Earlier, only party people or those close to the councilor used to benefit from these schemes.

The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi has not only congratulated these councilors but has also requested the Municipal Commissioner to explore the possibility of starting this in other parts of Delhi.

Arti Mehra, former Mayor of Delhi has decided to start this experiment in her ward from 1st September 2009.

The ball is now in the people’s court. The students and youth have a greater responsibility. Join Swaraj Abhiyan. Start this experiment in your area as well. Contact us at 9718255455.