The vapid and inane
politics of the present day India (and it is not better anywhere else in the world) are
enough to give even ex-idealists a heart attack from stress. In such times, wisdom lies in
looking for a spark of Hope. Howsoever faint it may still light up a square millimetre or
two and give some excuse for continuing to live.
For Hindi-speaking Indians there is no
distinction in the term used for yesterday and tomorrow. Both are called Kull. In any case
the Indian mind works in circles (we pompously call it cyclic as against the linear
favoured by the dominant or white Anglo-Saxon culture).
So and therefore for us Indians all Time is ever
present. Today is both what yesterday was and tomorrow will be. Itihaas can therefore
cover the 21st century as well as 2,500 BC. Let us transport ourselves to January 1, 1999.
Less than 100 days remain. Another 365 for 1999.
Thus as we read and write the Itihaas column before us, we are less than 500 days away
from the year 2000 AD. What is special about this new century which is nearly upon us?
Since the end of the 15th Century (when the
Christian Spaniards drove out all the Muslim and Jewish Spaniards from the Iberian
Peninsula of Europe) the self-proclaimed White nations of the world have been
conquering, plundering, brutalising and exterminating whoever they have identified and
stigmatised as the Other.
From the Incas of the Americas to the Uzbegs of
Samarqand the older civilisations have had their people exterminated and their cities
torched, sacked and plundered to accommodate what the whites called European
civilisation (sic). The 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries were lost to humanity
and the fine arts because of European barbarism.The 21st will be the first century to dawn
without the whites running the world as if it was their exclusive patrimony.
Older readers will recall that the white South
Africans who made Apartheid into a legally enforced discrimination interpreted the Old
Testament for obtaining scriptured religious sanction. They said that they, the whites,
were the offspring of the free woman Sarah from the patriarch or Prophet Abraham. The
blacks were descended from the slave woman Hagar. This was enough to justify Apartheid.
The most powerful man in the world of today is
the sex-scandal-stained Bill Clinton. In Islamic law he would have been stoned to death.
In the dispensation of Kautilya he would have been mutilated. In any decent society his
daughter Chelsea would be given into the care of foster parents who would set a better
example for her to emulate.
In the USA of today he sits playing with buttons
which he cannot distinguish from his own and launches missiles into Sudan and Afghanistan,
the poorest countries of the world. The only motivation he has is racial, the same as has
brought Botha of South Africa to the dock.
The oppressed, brutalised, diminished and
mutilated-by-colonialism world of Asia Africa and South America should plan a meet for
2001 AD when they can honour those who were martyred for the cause of freedom. India
should offer to play host as being the birthplace of Buddha, the Tirthankaras, Ashoka,
Akbar and Gandhi.
The meet can be dedicated to the founders of the
Non-Aligned movement and Nehru, Nasser and Tito duly honoured.Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-1964)
was the first idealist to rule India after Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (1556-1605).
Akbar abolished Jaziya when he was only 22 years
old. Nehru led the Constitutional Reforms which made equality spring into existence like
Pallas Athene who darted out of the brow of Zeus fully armed.
The Hindus who are born unequal, live unequal
and die unequal and who practise the extermination of the girl, both child and woman, from
embryo to widowhood were most offended by this abrogation of all upper caste privileges of
the male Hindu of the upper castes.
No wonder the RSS, the Akalis have always
opposed even the memory of Nehru while the Muslim League send grateful thanks to Allah
that India is a secular country which does not ram uniformity down all throats.
Jawaharlals very idealism led to his
downfall. He genuinely believed that all of humanity hitherto oppressed by others could
make common cause. Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai was real for him. In 1962, the totalitarian and
fascist Chinese stabbed him in the back.
Indian jawans went to fight in the eternal snows
of the Himalayas wearing canvas shoes issued for PT or physical training. All who remember
Jawaharlal in his last days mourn not only for his broken heart but also for a cause, the
cause of the oppressed being lost sight of for the time being.
Raghupati Sahay Firaq captured the
feelings of Jawaharlal and the nation in his ghazal (lyric) called Buree udaas
hei raat or It is a sad, sad night / It is a sad night weighed down with
pain. We shall on another occasion reproduce the ghazal and hopefully an adequate
For the moment we should concentrate on the meet
of hitherto oppressed-over-the-centuries nations to kick off the 21st Century. The obvious
invitees would be Fidel Castro, Nyerere and Nelson Mandela. The Irish were also the
victims of British Imperialism. They claim that the eagles went to other countries and
that the vultures came to Ireland.
They have a special bond with India because of
the dauntless courage of their patriots while imprisoned by the brutal British. As
September 13 marks the anniversary of the death of Jatin Das on the 69th day of his hunger
strike in 1929 the meet can start or peak on that date in 2000 AD.
Perhaps some details of his martyrdom will make
readers not only buy the idea of the meet but impel them to write to the PM, their Chief
Ministers and their MPs and MLAs to support it and push it forward. The extracts we quote
are culled from The Roll of Honour by the freedom fighter Kali Charan Ghosh.
On June 23, it leaked out from the maximum
security Lahore Central Jail that Butukeshwar Dutt had refused all food for the last nine
days despite most inhuman torture inflicted upon him in order to break his spirit. On July
9, Bhagat Singh was taken from Mianwali Jail to Lahore Central Jail in handcuffs and bar
fetters. It was the 25th day of his hunger strike.
Jatin Das had been brought to Lahore Central
Jail on June 16. It is said that when hunger strike as a weapon for more humane treatment
of political prisoners was agreed upon by Jatin, he bid farewell to his fellow prisoners
and he knew he was entering a oneway street.After waiting for 10 days the jail
authorities decided to apply force."
Five convict guards visited each
cell. The prisoner was thrown on the ground and all his extremities and his head held in a
vice like grip to prevent the slightest movement. A tube was then inserted into his
nostril all the way to the stomach and milk poured down it.
The prisoners clenched their teeth to block the
tube and were kicked and punched to relax the jaw muscles. Fingers were inserted into the
anus and the scrotum squeezed to achieve the same effect. The prisoners responded by
vomiting the contents of their stomachs after the guards let go off their limbs.
On July 13, prisoners were offered special diet
on health grounds. They refused as their demand was for the concession on the
ground of their being political prisoners. On July 26, Jatin developed pneumonia from the
milk he had inhaled during the torture inflicted on him to make him swallow.
After passing a restless night on August 23,
Jatin started losing his vision. Next day it was noticed that his brain was getting
anaemic and his leg losing movement. Medicine was forced into him and hiccups started. The
government succumbed when it was too late for Jatin. On September 1, Jatins left
side was paralysed down to the waist. He was unable to open his eyelids and his voice
The hunger strike was given up by the other
prisoners on September 2 in deference to the wishes of the Jail Enquiry Committee set up
to enquire into rules affecting prisoner. On September 10, the prisoner completed the 60th
day of the fast.
His brain became anaemic, his limbs lost all
power of locomotion and he was now more dead than alive. On September 11, the Home Member
declared in the Assembly that his condition was critical. The fateful day for which he had
striven came at 1.05 pm on September 13, 1929. Jatin became free of British slavery by
giving up his life.
Mary, the spouse of Terence McSwiney Lord Mayor
of Cork who had sacrificed his life in Ireland in similar circumstances wired Family
of Terence McSwiney unites with patriotic Indian in grief and pride in the death of Jatin
Nath Das. Freedom will come.Let us fulfill the tryst with destiny and
the promise made in the patriotic song of the 1930s.
Shaheedoan kay muzaaroan our
lugetngay hurr burrus maylay.
There will be annual fairs held to honour
martyrs. Let us hope that the site where the Lahore Central Jail stood in 1929 will have a
lamp or two lit on September 13 of every year from now on and that the 2000 meet will
visit the site.
Unless an effort is made the dead and dying
embers of idealism cannot be rekindled into the flames which will cleanse the dross which
has entered public life. It is hoped that the UN will take heed and support the meet
instead of going on wasting effort on Atom Bomb Non-Proliferation Treaties.