A Bharat Ratna or not?

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2001/jun/23/weekend.adrianlevy?CMP=share_btn_wa

Horrororror!Horror! was the insane cry of a Col Kurtz eerily played by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now(based on “A Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad) on seeing the inhuman carnage in Vietnam.That moment had remained frozen in the recesses of my memory, forever.Tragically,that sense of Hell seemed to spring yet again while going through this heart – wrenching narrative graphically told of the Cellular Jail and ruthlessly brought out in this article.The barbarism of the British skewered my inner vitals just imagining the vivid details of excruciating gore.Guilty and weak I felt ,as I stood free but hollow,being more aware of an Auschwitz, Gulag and Guantanomo, blissfully distant from our very own who died bloody,undignified deaths,screaming and squealing unheard to relentless ungodly tortures.Yes,a very few scared and fearful,shaken to their marrows chose to seek pardon making this theatre of the macabre seem human in a way,profoundly weird.Savarkar

was one of them.

Having finished reading I was not very sure of my courage anymore but sanguine of a cowardice deeply embedded within.I was both unashamedly frightened and strangely inspired.

Savarkar would be lionised,to me if succeeding generations of hero worshippers admit,concede and recognise the fallibility of frail human beings- like most of us – to get scared of the consequences of rebellion and seek pardon.It is one thing to lay down one’s life regardless and quite another to seek pardon.Particularly so when only 3 out of over 140 freedom fighters incarcerated for life at “Kalapani” only sought mercy repeatedly,I would imagine,because of the pain,misery,loneliness and sustained torture befitting not even animals to undergo at that God- forsaken prison.Those 3 incidentally were the Savarkar brothers and Barin Ghosh.Instead it would be respectful to remember that it was a Mahabir Singh,

a Bihari who had led a hunger strike until death who was a first of sorts in being a true Veer.It is also pertinent to recall that subsequently Savarkar was on a lavish British pension for several decades having assured that he would remain a humble servant of the Queen forever.
So the question that is moot for all patriotic (sic) Indians,to me is do all of these frailties common to man distinguish him to be Veer and to be even considered for a Bharat Ratna.
Because if that be so then millions of freedom fighters would justifiably stake claim to this honorific which fortunately is reserved only for the Bravest of the Brave !🐾

This interpretation is very personal and it is about how I choose to see it .Admittedly,it is beyond the stated purpose (loosely worded)of the Bharat Ratna Award ,

the highest Award in the Republic of India which is, and I quote “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order for any human endeavour”.This definition,albeit was arrived at after many tweakings up until the second decade of the new millenium which were well – meaning, creative to adjust to new unforeseen requirements in some cases but mostly designed and motivated for political purposes.The several controversies that beleaguered and diluted the importance of the very prestigious award is common knowledge mostly.

Historically speaking the context of immediate post-independent Bharat Ratna awards were based mostly on the contribution of individuals to the freedom movement and nation building.Even then some questionable selections or omissions had been made.Post the Seventies the Congress had lost much of its revolutionary elan and was fast degenerating to a power – loving anti-people,cult promoting new Party – a caricature of its founding objectives and laudable principles.Rajiv Gandhi and many other awardees were both a product and beneficiary of such times.That said – to the original question on “bravery” the changed context needs to be understood.Savarkar is being resurrected on virtues of courage,physical sacrifice and challenge to the oppressing British in which the Cellular Jail

is a powerful symbol.So bravest of the Brave is an attribution made on what you did in the face of the enemy.His wobbly integrity in dire circumstances,unflinching loyalty to the Cause in word and deed,effect on the other prison inmates’morale and camraderie and never-say-die spirit when under fire were questionable merely to seek a release from this “privileged hell-hole”.The stories doing the rounds fabled to have been done – to live and to fight for another day are wide òpen to debate – all this,despite the relaxation to the odious inhuman torture regime extended to him as a for his “mercy petitions and assurances of future good conduct.He at best was, then – a good man whose infatuation with revolutionary terrorism had run its course – a collaborator but a traitor,he perhaps,certainly wasn’t.His ideas were not in sync with the contradictions of diverse masses and the enormous challenge of their integration to make common cause with the freedom struggle and to ideate instead for making of a Hindu India as a mirror – image of a Muslim Pakistan by no stretch visionary or far sighted.Quite the contrary.India with all its limitations had chosen to be a pluralistic,diverse,multi – religious, secular democracy.In short Savarkar ‘ s vision of India was divisive and majoritarian to say the least.The atheist in him mysteriously found the Hindutva spirit sit equally well for perceived goals in the future.

Nevertheless, is the frequent and reflexive Whataboutery of the present rulers in defence an unconscious admission of Savarkar ‘s weaker credentials? Importantly a wrong award in the past is no vindication of a repeat of the same political manipulation,dubious motivations and historical fakery.

There is no gainsaying that the BJP and its RSS cohorts have efficiently exploited the many vulnerabilities of the Congress not to improve upon or correct imperfections,but to – instead,build on such – like weak foundations, a counter-culture of half – truths. It’s propaganda machinery is charged to impose on the popular malleable minds its dishonourable absence during the Freedom struggle to be a conspiracy of motivated historians to be redeemed emphatically with the “rajya-abhishek”(royal coronation) of Savarkar.

The consecration much like the construction of the Ayodhya Temple sadly,shall happen. Perhaps confirming the royal fakery that is afoot putting paid to all the sacrifices that the Brave had done for a nation unborn !

Musings on Martyrdom: Ibaadat sey Shahdat!

Since India became independent its uneven development and fractured growth, huge differences between the rich and poor or the majority and minority communities, the disenfranchisement of the tribal and the Dalits, among other things, have raised ugly questions afresh on the basic concept of freedom, egalitarianism, justice and sovereignty. State power has been frequently misused to repress the various voices of dissent, agitations and resistance struggles, who have strongly challenged the meaningless of it all. People’s Movements like Tebhaga, Telangana, the Naxalism, Free Kashmir and the demand of Naga liberation have left many thousands dead, even more, embittered. It is today in the crosshairs of what is true martyrdom. In Free India are they to be called, known, reviled or celebrated as terrorists or Freedom Fighters, secessionists or liberators? Is violence against organised state power unconstitutional and only non-violent resistance legit? Is defending and fighting for your legitimate rights fundamental? Will dying in such actions honour them to be called martyrs?

Source: Musings on Martyrdom: Ibaadat sey Shahdat!

 

#Martyrs

“They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest we forget..”

This is the season of the brave !
Many today would be proud to know that it was in these infamous “cells”great sons of India preferred to perish unknown and unsung,to court a ghastlier form of slow death in fighting for the flag and a nation- yet-to-be. Some of our very revered got scared too and preferred to sign documents praying to be released and never to fight again : the British.They became collaborators.But, before you wonder of how shameful it was, pause and reflect ;fear of death and love of life is dear, to most of us.The whole of Europe is pondering on how to record the role of those that joined hands with the Nazis.Mitterand, the former President of France was known to be one of the prominent personalities to have done so.Just like Sir Shobha Singh,Class 1 Contractor for Lutyens Delhi, father of Khuswant Singh signing off on Bhagat Singh and Veer Savarkar whose portrait adorns the Parliament and an acknowledged mentor of the current party in power,pleading for forgiveness from the British and vowing to become a better citizen !(whatever that meant)
We in our daily lives are confronted with little moments of dilemma and challenge of what is right and wrong.Invariably,howsoever small, we prefer the wrong one for it is popular, common and comfortable or convenient.Therefore those that gave their all for nothing and won everything for the people not their own blood or kin must have been made of sterner stuff.
For my part,I hesitate, to call the collaborators”desha-drohi” while unequivocally,to bend and bow before the Martyrs: yesterday,now and after ! And in silent pranam, bugle the “the Last Post,”for they, deserve to rest in Peace while we live on:our little lives.
“Cellular Jail, located at Port Blair, stood mute witness to the tortures meted out to the freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail. The jail, completed in the year 1906 acquired the name ‘Cellular’ because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement. It originally was a seven prolonged, puce-coloured building with central-tower acting as its fulcrum and a massive structure comprising honeycomb like corridors. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out of the seven prongs are intact. The Jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people, has been declared a National Memorial “.