October 3, 2006
Independence Struggle Took Fewer Than 100 English Lives *
By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India
New Delhi (UNI) – The number of Englishmen who died at the hands of Indians during 60 year struggle against the British Colonialism was less than 100, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh told an audience in Germany yesterday.
Singh cited the figure to illustrate the non-violent nature of Indian independence struggle at a seminar on Relevance of Gandhi held at historic Kaisersaal in Frankfurt.
Singh is currently attending the Frankfurt Book Fair, where India is the Guest of Honour this year. A copy of his remarks was released by the HRD Ministry in New Delhi today.
”Gandhiji constantly preached to his followers that Indian people’s’ struggle was not against the British but against Colonialism,” Singh recalled, adding that ”he also therefore tried to reach out to the British.
”It is remarkable indeed that in a 60 years long struggle of the Indian people against the British Colonialism, the total number of Englishmen who died at the hands of Indians during the entire period would be less than 100.”
Singh said Gandhi’s greatest contribution ”was in making the Indian struggle for independence a mass movement.
”What is even more relevant is that he interwove this movement with a social and ethical agenda – the use of right means to achieve right ends, the simultaneous struggle against internal social evils – untouchability, low status of women.
”He led by example and it is due to his strong and personal commitment to secularism, truth, non violence and social reform that modern India has held on to these values despite many pressures and provocations.”
A champion of the downtrodden, Gandhi began as a champion of the suppressed and the discriminated Indian community in South Africa, experimenting with his technique of non-violence and satyagraha as a mode of powerful resistance, Singh said.
After coming to India, he initially took up the cause of peasants of Bihar and Gujarat and the Ahmedabad textile mill workers, and on seeing that all those problems had the same common root– colonialism, he took on the source.
Even while waging the struggle against colonial rule, he continued his fight against domination of lower caste by upper castes and toured India’s length and breadth in 1927-28 and again in 1933-34 to pursue his fight against untouchability.
Whether it was the uplift of the status of women or the lower caste, Gandhi believed in arousing the people, convinced that social change came from change in thinking and behaviour.
Singh stressed Gandhi’s passion for civil liberties, pointing out that ”two of his four mass movements in India were on the question of right to speech and freedom of the Press.”
He said Gandhi’s passion for democratic values had to do with his belief in achieving right ends through right means– an ethic he injected in the minds of his compatriots ”very effectively.”
”The fact India could be a successful democracy after Independence whereas many other African and Asian countries that got independence around the Second World War fell prey to totalitarianism stems from Gandhi’s untiring insistence on using right means to achieve right ends.”
Singh said Gandhi’s passion for civil liberties and human rights was one of the reasons why he opposed Fascism.
He played a major role in persuading the Congress party to organise a boycott of the Japanese attack on China in 1926-27, 1936-37 and in 1938.
He went to the extent of saying that if any war was justified, it would be the war against Hitler for what he was doing to the Jews of Germany.
UNI MJ RP DS1701
- Bhagat Singh: the socialist revolutionary freedom fighter (ibnlive.in.com)
- NRIs invoke Gandhi’s name to demand voting right (thehindu.com)