The forgotten heroes…

Shaheed Bhagath Singh became a martyr at the age of 23. Along with Bhagath Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev laid down their lives for this country in 1931. These men had an unsurpassable love for this country and her independence, the fire in their belly burnt and sent the oppressors to the cinders. It has been a long time since men like Bhagath Singh have been able to stir us from within, it has been a long time since we have witnessed sincerity and dedication for the cause of this nation and it’s progress. Most heroes of today are still men from pre independence eras, I regret not learning enough about them during my school going years. The ICSE board that I studied in did not even mention these men in our text books. We learnt about these men from our grandfather’s, we learnt about their valor from reference books in libraries, we witnessed their stories through hindi movies made on their lives. But we have never learnt in detail about these great men in History.  I hope somebody tells me that this has changed and children are learning facts about these men and their heroic deeds but I hear that they are learning inaccurate things about them.

Fancy international schools sprouting everywhere is testimony to dwindling patriotism in the current generation. When I went to school there were close to sixty children in a class. We managed to face competition, pass our exams and arm ourselves for the future despite not getting that individual attention from the teacher which is now so sought after and the biggest excuse for expensive schooling. Even if our history books never told us the stories of Bhagath Singh, I am glad we were the grand children of a generation that witnessed their heroics and passed on their memories to us. I am sure the ICSE syllabus has not changed much in the last fifteen years and children are still learning about the destruction that Mohammed Ghazni brought to India instead of Bhagath Singh’s allegiance to Gandhi’s non co-operation movement at the tender age of thirteen.At the age of thirteen we were watching movies and giggling with our friends but we heard of Bhagath Singh’s heroics. At the age of thirteen children today are looking like eighteen year olds and behaving like twenty-five year olds. Try asking a teenager who is Bhagath Singh, they may say he is Manmohan Singh’s son ( if they have heard of Manmohan that is ) or a teenager from Bangalore may say Bhagath Singh is the local sweet vendor ( after the famous Bagathram sweet shop on Commercial street ) or worse that Bhagath Singh is a terrorist.

It is a good thing Bollywood has taken more responsibility than our history teachers educating the ignorant public about these men. At least our movies provide more accurate information than some history text books that refer to Bhagath Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev as terrorists. There was a complaint made by an individual in this context, here is his comment on the ICSE Board complaints website in May 2007 – “Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev have been referred as terrorists in an ICSE 6th standard class in social science subject text-book at page number 64 & 65 in Mumbai. I do not know how/what to do to get this issue highlighted.Anyone has any idea… Plz advise what can be done in this situation!”

It is not only false propaganda in history text books which is misleading the youth of this country, the Congress Government is no different in upholding the misnomer. The Congress Government does not seem to be interested in recognizing the martyrdoms but more interested in maintaining the existing popularity of the Nehru- Gandhi family and their contributions to our freedom movement. They wish not to take the limelight away from the family and have marginalised the contributions and sacrifices made by the martyrs.

There will never be another Chandrashekar Azad, Subash Chandra Bose, Bagath Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev. These men are testimony to an era that witnessed a gallant revolution and were instrumental to bringing us our freedom today. These men are barely spoken of today, our heroes have been redefined. Who exactly is a hero? Those who in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice – that is, heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence. In today’s world, sticking by this definition none of our cricket players, politicians, Bollywood stars, swamijis, realty show stars, TV stars fit the requirements and yet we call them heroes. The reel life hero is a real life hero for millions, the real life hero is seldom heard of.Thankfully there are some efforts made by a few TV channels that bring to life some deserving individuals and recognize the unsung heroes.

May we never forget those who laid their lives for us, from Bagath Singh to Major Unni Krishnan to the countless men in uniform who fought for India against her aggressors. Even if history books and the Government defile our heroes, we must continue to hear the voices of those who shouted ‘ Inquilaab Zindabad’  .These men died at the prime of their youths for us.

* On April 8, 1929 Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall while the Assembly was in session. The bombs did not hurt anyone. After throwing the bombs, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, deliberately courted arrest by refusing to run away from the scene. During his trial, Bhagat Singh refused to employ any defence counsel. In jail, he went on hunger strike to protest the inhuman treatment of fellow-political prisoners by jail authorities. On October 7, 1930 Bhagat Singh, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru were awarded death sentence by a special tribunal. Despite great popular pressure and numerous appeals by political leaders of India, Bhagat Singh and his associates were hanged in the early hours of March 23, 1931.*

 

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19 Responses to “The forgotten heroes…”

  1. We are a lost generation of Indians who are being led by leaders who themselves are a confused lot. Patriotism today is limited to tokenisms such as wearing Gandhi caps, khadi and lip-syncing to the National Anthem on 15th August and 26th January. We fail to appreciate the oppression, pain and anguish that our people faced bravely to win us this freedom. The sad truth is, we like to take everything for granted, and that includes our freedom too.

    • I agree, if you watch the Congress rallys, the neta caps and the khadi dhotis and shirts are a big farce. If Congress brands these men ar terrorists, what do they call terrorists then?!

  2. Aishwarya Says:

    Sharmila,

    If we ask a child today who a hero is, he probably might say Ranbir Kapoor…and it wdnt be his fault. Children only know what they see/hear all the time. The visual media is so powerful. Apart from textbooks, it would be nice if educational videos based on our freedom fighters and unsung heroes are a part of the school curriculum.
    Like the powerful impact the Kamal movie ‘Indian’ had … perhaps we need reel life heroes to tell us how great our real life heroes are/were…

    I read out the last para to my daughter. She only knew Bhagat Singh from a fancy dress competition until now…:)

    • Aish – That is a good idea, making educational videos on them as part of the curriculum would be superb. As a kid I remember watching Nehru’s Discover India on TV and learnt a fair bit. Well your daughter will now know Bhagath Singh is not a fancy item any more..:)

  3. Its a good thing that at least one medium-cinema creates awareness about Patriotism and True heroes this way But its a Bad thing that generation now and upcoming have to depend and rely on this medium. Authentication might be lacking sometime and absence of justification of Facts would be there as Factual matter might not be available then through different sources. The task of Historians & education can not be transferred to some other Industry where Money has become the Prime Goal to achieve.
    Its a shame if such Heroes are portrayed as terrorists in Text Books. Educational ministry must be in Deep Sleep i guess to notice such mistake and correct it. OR All Proof Readers must be on strike…! 🙂

    • MonaLisa – Yes, if historians cannot get it right, they must strive to get it right. I never imagined Bollywood would actually come close to historians and replicate facts quite authentically too, but thank god for that. I am also inklined to believe that education ministry itself is responsible for this misnomer.

  4. Hi Sharmila,I liked your topic today.
    Last year,on this day,every single newspaper from TOI to the
    local ones,screamed headlines”Jane Goody-dead”.
    But not even a tiny article in the hidden pages was there a
    tribute to Bhagat Singh who bravely gave his life to his country on that same day in 1931.
    What a shame!!5 mins of air time was not spared on any of the channels to show a piece on him.All day long,every channel were after Shilpa Shetty,and were playing bits from Big Brother.
    Terrible,disgusting.Let us not depend on TV,newspapers,or
    textbooks to educate our children on patriotism.Money is the new mantra for all of them,not desh bhakti.
    Very very sad situation.

    Shubha

    • Thanks Shubha. Thanks for bringing up Jane Goody and Shilp Shetty. A complete waste of time those two were. I guess we are the best educators for the next gen.

  5. The state school board in Maharashtra did have a lot of history related to Indian independence. We covered a lot of topics right from the Gupta, Maurya empires right down to Indian independence. If you see the stats, ICSE schools in the country would be far less..probably less than 0.1%.

    On the other hand, I feel Bollywood has unnecessarily patronized Bhagat Singh. It is surprising as a freedom fighter hero, people mention Bhagat Singh. I wouldn’t consider him even in the important 100 freedom fighters of India. Though his intentions were noble, through his violent means he would have done more harm than good to the Indian independence movement.

    • sorry..i thought ICSE is same as IgCSE the cambridge board. i guess there are more icse schools..still far less than the state board.

      • Thanks for the comment Ninad, ICSE too covers all the topics you discussed from Maurya, Gupta , Mughals and so on, but under the independence topic we did not cover Bhagath Singh if I remember correctly but covered Quit India Movement, Mutinys etc. I do not think Bollywood has done anything wrong in patronizing Bhagath Singh. He is a hero who fought a war againt the British. He was an officer without a uniform.History cannot be rewritten by calling Bhagath Singh a terrorist, he was not.

      • He can’t be considered a terrorist, although he chose to turn to violence. But his contribution to the Indian freedom struggle is far less than many others. But Bollywood and others obviously love him as violence and revenge attack is a sell out story. It was a dangerous move on his part to turn to violence, when India was already uniting behind one leader who was building upon the work of many others to enter what would be the finishing stage of the freedom struggle. Bhagat Singh’s role would have been counter productive if he would have lived on. India would have again been divided over a party which preaches ahinsa and others which preach violence. In the end, it was a good thing Bhagat Singh was hanged. Also if you look back, we are fortunate to be one of the few to have achieved freedom through non violence…which has had a big role to play in shaping our country.

        Just my opinion.

  6. Ninad – Thank you., enjoy reading your comments as always. We may have dfference of opinions but at the end of the day every opinion matters!

  7. Distortion of history textbooks by those in power is more of a norm across the nation. Even in Gujarat, certain changes were made in the social sciences were made after the communal riots against the minority community. The same goes with CPM in West Bengal. Unfortunately instead of banking on solid facts and research most of the history that is served to school children is a veiled political agenda ensuring only the good parts remain. The reason given is we would pollute the young minds with violence or other evil deeds. Surprisingly our epic Mahabharath shows through almost all characters the dual nature of human nature which is what the educationists try to censor! We really need an educational reform!

  8. These men truly are the real heroes and deserve reverence in every respect……

    😛 But now,what I am thinking is,even if you had about them in your syllabus,you may have missed it coz of your small radio underneath your desk,while trying to hear Gavaskar saying six 😛

    Just kidding di 🙂

  9. 2day after reading it,i feel very sad dat how much gratefull indians r abt our freedom fighters….nobody can give his life at the age of 23 for his country.
    nobody remember dem while at evry 2 october our government remember 2 stand for 5 minutes for mahatma gandhi silently in white kurtas..dey celebrate it as dryday..every news channel shows his programs…bt nobody knows the birthday of bhagat singh,his gratitude for indians..we have 2 respect our freedom fighters & their values

  10. Well said Vikunj.

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