Bhagat Singh’s Inqulab is Gandhi’s Satyagrah

Today is the death anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He went to Gallows with two fellow revolutionaries Rajguru and Sukhdev. Bhagat Singh, One of the greatest inspirations for Indians. Inqulab Zindabad (Long Live the Revolution!) – a slogan given by him hasn’t lost its relevance even today, nearly a century after it was coined. Yet, Bhagat Singh is one leader who has been misunderstood the most, or at least has not been understood completely.

Before I write more about this Great Soul I set the rules which will guide us throughout this piece. First and foremost, I will not extrapolate what Bhagat Singh would have become had he not gone to gallows at the age of 23. Humans are no mathematical equation, life experiences have profound effects on the way we behave.  I will abstain from making assumptions on what future potential he held. I will not compare him with anyone. Not with Che Geurvara and Fidel Castro (attempts to draw comparisons to both have been there, Bhagat Singh was for conversion of mind set of adversary and the oppressed without use of force). Will not compare or contrast him with Gandhi. Not that I am insecure about the stature of these gentlemen had in society, and also not that I hold more or less reverence to Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, only because his greatness deserves no comparisons, it deserves absolute respect.

We are so ill informed about him that many think he went to gallows on 14th Feb. Every valentine’s day is preceded with the messages calling all not to celebrate valentine’s day but pay homage to Bhagat Singh. Most presume him to be a gun wielding and bomb dropping leader. We assume him to be such leader who, with Inqulab Zindabad slogan could have lead masses to mount a carnage on British. We assume all wrong and too less.

As a young boy he grew up chanting Gaitary Matra, yet religion had less influence on him than the events that surrounded him and the country, he died as an atheist. He mastered English, Punjabi and Urdu, not by formal education but mostly by self-education. A keen student who kept learning till the last days of his life.

While we celebrate Inqualab, it’s important to understand his concept of Inqulab – The revolution which he wanted to usher. In his message to students Bhagat Singh said, “Today we cannot ask youth to take pistols and bombs…”, he continues, “so that we will be independent and exploitation of man by man will become an impossibility”. He, in a letter close to 23rd march 1931 again wrote, “My heart nurtured some ambitions for doing something for humanity and my country.”

Having being known for killing British officer and then becoming famous for dropping bomb at parliament house (a bomb so designed that it was harmless) Bhagat Singh never wanted to kill. Said two acts of Bhagat Singh could never have terrorised any one, leave alone the British Empire, but he shook the conscious of Indians and The Inqulab began.

After Killing Saunders he ran away, perhaps, partly out of fear and also because he knew killing Saunders served no purpose, greater purpose awaits him. After dropping bombs at the parliament he had enough time and opportunity to run away, yet he did not. And to this account he says, “We deliberately offered ourselves to bear the penalty for what we had done and let the imperialist exploiters know that by crushing individuals, they cannot kill ideas.”

His Satyagrahi approach became more and more pronounced as he approached the climax of his plan. The plan of doing something such which shook the consciousness of the country and then during the trial sent out a strong message to the masses. The message was unequivocal, revolution for good of humanity and the country, Inqulab by self-sacrifice and sufferings.

Bhagat Sigh got brutally beaten up many times while in police custody only because he challenged the unjust and unfair system of British Empire. As a true Satyagrahi he observed a fast of 102 days in the jail. Sending out a strong message of revolution to the masses.

Inqulab and Satyagrah are the same concepts, expressed differently by two individuals, both influenced by different life experiences and separated by time and space. Inqulab was conceptualised and executed within a time frame of 5-7 years, even less. Concept of Satyagrah evolved over a great length of time. Perhaps that’s the only difference why we perceive both of them differently.

Special thanks to my good friend Paramjit S. Virk.

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She Won’t Regret What She Said, But What She Did Not Do

Gurmehar Kaur took the country by storm with her video. The dichotomy again came into fore with her video, dichotomy, which is basic principle of our existence. Good and bad, light and dark, fair and tyrant and so on we are dichotomous. Then why much ado about nothing.

For sure Gurmehar chose a topic and a medium to express herself on that topic, which without doubt would have shot her to fame (eye of storm).

She, for sure deserves compassion first than criticism. Compassion in the way we interpret what she said. It’s a fair chance what she meant was not what we interpreted. Given this assumption we can simply arrive at a conclusion that she just advocated for peace between India and Pak.

The freedom of speech does entitle her to express her opinion on any topic she deems fit. But freedom alone is not a virtue, with it comes responsibility, and with it also comes the onus of being aware of the social environment.  If my freedom of speech triggers the slogans of ‘Aazadi’ in campus where we expect people will be groomed to build the nation, I should sacrifice my freedom of expression. If my freedom allows political leaders to redefine slogans of Aazadi in such manner that they become legitimate, I should sacrifice my freedom. That sacrifice will certainly be much smaller than the sacrifice which Gurmehar’s father made. Because of people like her father we have all the freedoms we have.

But the story for me and you nearly ends here, we will move ahead. Some of us will call her names, others will shout slogans of Aazadi yet another group will empathise with her and many will use it as catapult to make political gains. Debates and discussions will certainly define the social discourse on such topic in future.

But for Gurmehar, it will have long lasting impact. She may or may not take pride in what she said, but what she did not do as a follow up to her video will certainly haunt her for long. In her hindsight she won’t take pride in running away. She certainly will have difficult times convincing herself that it was fine not to stand up for herself. She abandoned herself, it will turn out to be more painful than the pain inflicted by trolls.

Valentines Day

Sitting three tables across in the coffee shop she beheld me with piercing gaze, looking deep inside my eyes.

Stubbornness of my eyes yielded nothing.

Yet she continued her conversation, “I love you”, she said.

My eyes said nothing.

She corrected herself, “let’s be friends at least.”

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Waning moon made its appearance at the window sill, smiling at the conversation we were having.

My arrogant eyes made no concessions.

Yet she talked and talked, at times with her cup of coffee and at others with my inexpressive eyes.

She got up abruptly and paid bill for both of us- walked away, not even giving a gaze over her shoulders.

I followed her as the moon had a bigger smile on its face.

She started her car and drove away.

I yelled from behind, “let’s be friends at least.”

It was too late.

As I stood in despair, the moon hid behind the clouds.

She tapped my shoulder from behind, “let’s have a coffee together”, she said.

Moon blushed and made no appearance.

We shared the coffee table and eyes did all the talking.

In Search of Happiness

I sipped aromatic tea slouching in my rocking chair, aroma of rain drops mixing with dry soil and whispers of gentle breeze took me down the memory lane. Images of my childhood to teens, from my university days to my marriage, from my first job till few days back became vividly alive. All images conveyed me one thing in common, I had an extremely happy past, yet I wasn’t happy today…. In my present. It suddenly reminded me of the fact that at every stage of my life I had remembered my past and found that my past was happier and present wasn’t, rather present was sad at the least.

While a kid I had many good friends, we played, quarrelled, laughed and enjoyed to gather. We had almost everything, hand chiselled cricket bats rubber balls and a big playground to play. Yet I did not enjoy it, I wanted a real bat, a leather ball and pads to play and that all eluded me and so did the ability to enjoy those moments.

As I grew up I had a real bat, leather ball and pads too, yet I wasn’t happy. But I wanted to be a better player. Many more unfulfilled desires played havoc with my ability to stay happy. I must confess, I desired almost everything before the time was ripe to possess it.

While in class four I wanted to be in class six, I just could not wait to write with a pen. And pen was allowed only in class six. I simply did not enjoy what happened in class 4. I wasn’t happy while in class 4 because others, I assumed, were happier than me, simply because they were in class six. Nevertheless I arrived in class 6, already having realised happiness is not in writing with a pen, and real happiness was in being in college, after all it relieved me of the strict discipline of school. Freedom, I realised, was real happiness.

College was not far off, I got subjects of my choice, very good teachers to teach. I went around with my friends, we played music on canteen desks, we screamed, we yelled and we laughed a lot. But those in class six while I studied in class four had made to medical colleges and many had girlfriends as well. I wasn’t in a medical college, I assumed being in medical college was perhaps a precondition for a girl to fall for me. I wondered, what use this freedom is of if I don’t have a girlfriend.

I and my best friends would go out for strolls daily dreaming about a bright and better future. We would talk for hours on how happy we will be in years to come. The cups of tea and sumptuous servings of jalbis we had to gather, did not please us as much as their memories do today.

I realize today, my unfulfilled desires had good friends, comparisons and jealousy which made my life miserable.

I never went to medical college and never had a girlfriend as well. But I went to university, studied Management and lived in hostel. The days spent there still bring smile on my face. But I wasn’t in a best ranked university and my room did not have an attached toilet. There were hostel mates who could spend much more than me. And yes, I did not have a motorbike as well. I knew I will be happy when I have all this. Only once I get a good job.

I got a job, a motorbike, luxurious room and I spent generously. But those in class six had married by now, had kids and drove cars. I wasn’t happy yet, but happiness wasn’t far away, I assured myself. Dreams started becoming a reality, I married a loving girl, and have a daughter, own house, good income and two cars. Almost everything that the class six guys have, and almost everything much more than I ever dreamt of. But the cars are not big enough, after all my neighbour owns bigger ones.

By now drizzle had stopped, I had a heavy heart and I decided to go out for a long walk. As I walked by the nearby slum, I heard incoherent voices singing folksongs while music was being played with spoons and other utensils, scantily clad kids danced, everyone there was so happy. I stopped by and shook my legs with them. They offered me a worn out chair and a cup of tea. Chair did not rock but trembled, tea was too sweet for my taste and wasn’t that aromatic, but was much tastier. Ah!! Slum dwellers too were much happier than me as was my neighbour.

I perhaps am Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra….. the baggage I carry never lets me realise that happiness is now and here.

Beginning of Doubt is End of Faith

Krishn says in The Bhagwat Gita, fearlessness is granted to the ones who surrender in front of me. Fearlessness is not a tangible thing which one can have once he surrenders in front of God. Fearlessness for sure is a state of mind.  Then why at all do we need to surrender in front of God, He, for sure is no narcissist, and we can always get into that state of mind at our own.

It’s not that in case you surrender in front of God you will be absolved of all kinds of worldly sufferings and you can continue to live without fear of any suffering. If you are born you must go through the cycle of happiness and misery, brightness and darkness, hope and frustration, joy and grief, success and failure and so on.

Surrender makes you indifferent to such cycles. Your life becomes a straight line with no slope, nothing weavers it. The slope if at all exists is that of spiritual elevation, the realisation of more harmonious waves emanating from you. You keep deploying efforts but are indifferent to all that the efforts reap, good or bad, you keep aiming higher. Indifference does not mean you have no aim, you simply surrender desires associated with those aims.

Bible describes Jesus saying during crucifixion, “God have you forsaken me.” He was distracted from his vision of God, while being crucified by the pain inflicted upon him, it was not that Jesus doubted that the God would forsake him, but what worried him was how worldly pain could distract him from God. The unfettered faith that he had in God let him go in for crucifixion without feeling pain for long, and that was fearlessness.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji let his three Sahibzadas (sons) get entombed alive, refusing to bow in front of a tyrant, that was faith he had on his mission, he surrendered everything to that mission, and that was fearlessness. That’s when ‘Khalsa- The Pure’ came into existence. If you haven’t surrendered completely and have a grain of doubt within you, you are not Khalsa.

Mahatma Gandhi, after he was thrown out of train, chose nonviolence as his weapon, that was fearlessness and that came from the faith in the strength of nonviolence. He completely surrendered to the idea of nonviolence.

Bhagat Singh, after killing Saunders and throwing bombs at parliament could have escaped, yet he got himself captured. He had completely surrendered to the idea of enlightening the fire of nationalism in Indians by self-sacrifice.

Fearlessness is complete faith in any noble idea, that noble idea is God and unflinching faith is surrender. The moment your faith weavers you feel the pain and joy of happiness and misery, brightness and darkness, hope and frustration, joy and grief, success and failure and so on.

Fearlessness makes one realise the futility of abundance and absence of worldly things. Once fearless you realise the futility of absence and presence of almost everything you desired.

A grain of Doubt in the thought process of Jesus while he was undergoing made him realise he was undergoing pain. A grain of doubt on the holiness of his mission would have made Guru Gobind Singh not so great. A grain of doubt in Mahatma’s mind would have left us devoid of the great philosophy he gave to mankind. A grain of doubt in Bhagat Singh’s mind would have left him as ordinary as anyone amongst us.

An incomplete thought, blanks to be filled in by you.

 

Online Identity- A Double Edged Sword

As a child I saw shopkeepers sell goods to us, we had a need and went to buy, say a shirt, and ended up buying not we were willing to buy but what the shopkeeper wanted to sell. Sales man typically meant a street smart person, who could sell a comb to a bald man. The shopkeepers typically shoved down our throats what they felt like selling. We bought a refrigerator because the shopkeeper said it was best in the market, I bought a shirt as the shopkeeper felt I looked really good in it.

It all largely happened as the choices we had were limited. One or two shops for each kind of product and all mutually exclusive. Buying services also was more of a forced sale on us. Buying Life insurance was always obligatory in nature.

Expansion of economy, an aware customer, more competition and the internet have changed it all. Traditional ways of selling and buying are dying a sure death, if at all they haven’t died yet. The introduction of multiple brands in 90’s and increase in disposable incomes of people made customer much more assertive. He had many places to buy from, no matter how small the town was. Treatment the customer got from shopkeeper suddenly became better, shopkeeper knew customer has 4 more places to go, margins for sellers started dwindling but at the same time volumes saw an upsurge. The surge in volumes was disproportionate when compared to the reduction in margins, this lead to increase in choices from same seller.

With the turn of century a great revolution happened, internet took centre stage. Almost everyone started having online identity, almost everything is talked about online. Online identities have a typical digression from traditional identities businesses and people had, traditional identities were built and maintained on one to one basis. The owner of the identity was solely responsible for building it. Internet and social media changed the process of building identities, you like it or not business and personal identities are built in collaborative manner now. Customers contribute in the way how you as a business will be seen by others. Your personal twitter, FB whatsapp etc accounts and reaction of people to you decides how you will be seen as an individual.

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E-commerce has typically leveraged it. You buy anything online which has positive reviews. The reviews are collaborative brand building for given product.

A customer before walking into a shop to buy a refrigerator or another white good does an extensive research on models he has shortlisted to buy. Again a collaborative brand building. Handful of negative reviews online kill the product.

No one is pushing a product down the customers throat now. Customers are buying now, buying what their opinion tells them to buy. Customer assists other customer. Almost all business entities have to have an online identity, if one does not have one he is going to get left out pretty fast.

The products or services which haven’t built themselves a digital identity are going to suffer. A typical example being the Life insurance products. The organisations which are offering lesser ‘buy online’ options are suffering loss of market share. If as a seller of life insurance you are conspicuously absent online you already are a looser. Life insurance industry typically suffered from this, it hasn’t grown in same proportion as the awareness about life insurance has grown. On contrary the Health insurance has leveraged its self online and the market for it is exploding. Life Insurance industry, partly due to regulatory framework and partly due to indifference of organisations remains a push sales industry, unfortunately push does not work now a days, its pull sales which happen.

Online identities and collaborative brand building have assisted transformation from push sales to pull sale. But this advantage comes with a dangerous drawback. Your collaborative brand building might not always build your brand the way you might have intended. And once online brand building goes into a negative spiral it’s very difficult to stop the negative impact it brings. Even more, the online brand building will remain online always, its nearly impossible to get rid of it.

It’s high time we transform from pushing sales to pulling sales. Only way out to do it is collaborative brand building.

In my early science lessons I was told- It’s easier to move an object by pulling it than by pushing it. It indeed was an important lesson.

 

 

 

Not A Legal Tender

I was reading through a masterpiece by Rabindra Nath Tagore- Nationalism, that a tinkle on my phone informed me of a whtsapp message, a message informing me about a happening which world will talk for days or months to come, and my country will talk, may be for decades to come. It was from my cousin (a retired army man) urging me to switch on TV and watch news. It wasn’t a motivation for me to do so, I rarely watch TV, to dissuade me from watching TV was the sequences of events happening around me.

In last few days I have been reading a book on Bhagat Singh and Nationalism both, simultaneously. The books have been a great source of inspiration, The Gandhian thought, views of Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore and unique Revolutionary grit of Bhagat Singh coupled with the tense Line Of Control with Pakistan has left me wondering on how the nation was built and how our soldiers have been protecting it.

Coming Back to the Whatsapp message, it was followed by a phone call, bubbling with excitement and perhaps a pinch of uncertainty, for sure excitement made larger part of it. My cousin urged me to switch on the TV and watch PM Modi address the nation, I wondered if we were at war with Pak. By now the chats on whatsapp were talking of PM Modi only.

The current currency had been almost completely demonetised. The currency notes I held were no longer of any value. The banks and ATM would remain closed for next two days, we virtually had no money. My wife rushed to fetch her hand bag and my 7 yr old daughter rushed to fetch her Piggy bank. Wife was looking for Rs.100/ notes which were still a valid tender and my daughter was looking for how much of her wealth had become invalid. My wife had three Rs. 100/ notes and my daughter had two. That’s what we had for coming few days.  My wallet with nothing in cash but credit and debit cards gave me assurance, we will survive tough days ahead.

The Banks and ATMs opened up to long Qs. My wife has prodded me to visit a bank and get valid currency, I do go to bank, have a look at long Qs, and return back. Will have to do without cash for few more days.

The sufferings for me and likes of me are too small to be considered, sufferings for the worst sufferer too are small, I must say, but only when we juxtapose them with the thought and philosophy we inherit as the history of our great motherland. When we juxtapose them with the philosophy of NATIONALISM, when we juxtapose them with unshakable grit and commitment of Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, when we juxtapose it with what the inconvenience solider is facing at the border with Pakistan.

While contrasting the evolution of the values in India with those of west, Tagore brings out very emphatically the power of sacrifice, self-control and empathy for others over the great quest to achieve ability to build efficient organisations, which produce efficiently but wilfully squander the power of spiritually and morally evolved nation. The present day politicians who criticise the great move of demonetisation are falling in trap of greed for wealth and political power. They argue that the inconvenience caused to the people in unforgivable. I quote Tagore here-

“For greed of wealth and power can never have a limit, compromise of self-interest can never attain final spirit of reconciliation. They must go on breeding jealousy and suspicion to the end- the end which only comes through sudden catastrophe or a spiritual rebirth”.

I wonder if we had modern day politicians during our freedom struggle, would Bhagat Singh have gone to gallows singing joyfully. I wonder if such pack of politicians would have allowed Mahatama to give this world what he did. I think such opportunistic politicians are worse than the external adversaries, they are killing the spiritual and moral fiber of this great nation.

After throwing bombs in the parliament Bhagat Singh and his comrades made a statement, it follows

“We humbly claim to be no more than serious students of history and condition of our country and her aspirations. We despise hypocrisy”.

Bhagat Singh and his accomplices’ could have run away after throwing bombs, yet they surrendered, just to send a stronger message to masses, a message to be sent by going to gallows. And today we refuse the inconvenience of standing in a Q. It’s really sad. We belong to a country where inflicting misery on own self to send a strong message has been way of life for Mahatma and Bhagat Singh. We are a country in constant conflict with our neighbor for 3 decades and soldiers have been sacrificing lives for us. And we are becoming a country where for ulterior political motives we refuse to recognise all what has been done to build this great heritage of culture of- nation before self, word before nation, universe before the earth. We are country where the value system gives last place to family, when it comes to protecting interest universe, world and nation.

If this country had to become so intolerant to inconvenience, I wonder why at all we had the rich cultural heritage, why at all freedom fighters sacrificed lives for us and why at all the soldiers take inconvenience of protecting borders at -40 C temperatures.

Just ponder do the opportunistic politicians need intolerance from the collective national conscious.

I quote Tagore again-

“The real power is not in weapons themselves, but in the man who wields those weapons; and when he in his eagerness of power, multiplies weapons at the cost of his own soul, then it is he who is in even greater danger than his enemies”.

 

 

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