October 2 is a celebrated day in India, honouring the rise of brave freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. The courageous act of Indians during the British era made the world gape at a country that celebrates unity in diversity.
On the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, it is imperative to stop and reflect if the present generation carried their rich legacy forward. Like the whole world, India too is reeling under a massive health crisis, a widening economic budget gap, and not to forget, the severe farmer protests that have been going on for months now.
'City Of The Dead'
The uncanny similarity in today's scenario is gut-wrenching. After Independence, when the hustling and bustling national capital was reduced to being the 'city of the dead', owing to the communal riots in neighbouring states, Gandhi had said, "if we do not cure ourselves of this insanity, we shall lose the freedom we have won."
Gandhi raised the question of moral responsibility and reminded the party in power of its duty towards its citizens, irrespective of their religion. On January 13, 1948, Gandhi announced his fast unto death to address the conscience. Gandhi's fast was motivated by the cause of curbing the riots taking place in the dark corners of the city. As fate would have it, this fast was his last.
Shastri Requested Citizens To Skip Meal
A few years later, when Lal Bahadur Shastri took oath as the Prime Minister after the shocking demise of Jawaharlal Nehru, he popularised the slogan 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' to emphasize the importance of self-reliance and self-sustenance as pillars of a strong nation. He highlighted the crucial role played by farmers in the country and stressed on the need to empower them.
Shastri always relied on moral principles, and his nation was more important to him than his family. During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, when there was an acute food shortage, he asked his family to skip dinner because he wanted to feel what his countrymen would feel if they let go of a meal the next day. The next day, he addressed the nation and asked them to forego one of their meals at least once a week; several eateries, too, abided by this request and put their shutters down.
India's freedom fighters gave their blood and sweat to release us from the British handcuffs. Today, we are spiralling down a path where communal tensions are rising, and the farmers are ill at ease. Self-reflection towards our rich history and extraordinary sacrifices is the need of the hour.