Mahatma Gandhi Martyrdom Day – Martyrs’ Day

On January 30th, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated before his evening prayer at Birla house in Delhi.

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Gandhi going for evening prayer in Birla House

The road where the Birla house stands has been renamed as Thees January Marg since the assassination took place on January 30th.

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Cement Foorprint of Mahatma Gandhi at Thees January Marg

The government of India observes this day as Martyrs’ day, in remembrance of all those selfless people who sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle.

The person who was standing next to Gandhi then, was his young personal secretary, Sri Kalyanam.

We had the good fortune of meeting Sri Kalyanam, who released our book “You Turn India” in Chennai.

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Sri. Kalyanam, Personal Secretary of Mahatma Gandhi, 2nd from left, releasing our book “You Turn India”

Hey Ram

Did Gandhi say “Hey Ram”, after being shot?

Sri Kalyanam, who was standing nearby, says he did not hear those words being uttered by Gandhi. Abha Gandhi who was pushed by Godse and into whose arms Gandhi fell, had countered Kalyanam. She says he said Hey Ram as he saw the gun. Kalyanam was a little behind and of course could not hear it.

Who heard what then, is in the realm of conjuncture.

The fact is the world has come to accept it, that Gandhi did say “Hey Ram”.

Speaking about prayer, Gandhiji once said,

“Prayer has saved my life, without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. I feel that as food is indispensable for the body so was prayer indispensable for the soul. I find solace in life and in prayer.

With the Grace of God everything can be achieved. When His Grace filled one’s being nothing was impossible for one to achieve.

Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart. You may express yourself through the lips; you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public; but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart… It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips.”

At Peace with Oneself

For a person to say Hey Ram when one is shot at, shows the internal calm of a person. It shows the peace a person has come to be with oneself, with life itself.

A task accomplished in one’s life, for one’s purpose of being born.

In Gandhiji’s case, a mission to liberate India from colonial yoke and set a model which the world did emulate.

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Raj Ghat, the memorial, marking the cremation spot of Gandhi

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Beating the Retreat

The Republic Day festivities last for four days until the 29th of January, since 30th January marks the day when the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead. Therefore 30th January is also observed as Martyrs’ Day in India besides being remembered as Gandhi Martyrdom Day.

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Beating the Retreat Ceremony

On 29th January, Beating the Retreat, starts at sun down, from Amar Jawan Jyothi, the memorial for martyrs, who lost their lives during the freedom struggle. It is a march to the tune of mellifluous music, signalling the end of Republic Day festivities, with which the armed forces return back to their respective duties.

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Beating the Retreat Function

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Military Bands Sound Beating the Retreat

‘Birthday’ of a song – Aye Mere Vatan Ke Logon

A Patriotic Song

The song “Aye Mere Vatan Ke Logon” stirred the nation with patriotic fervor in aftermath of the Indo China war in 1962.

 Written, Composed and Sung by….

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 Kavi Pradeep, Lata Maneshkar and C Ramachandra

The song was written by Kavi Pradeep, composed by C Ramachandra and sung for the first time by Lata Mangeshkar on January 27th 1963 in front of a live audience that included the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru.

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Lata Mangeshkar singing

 Sacrifice of Indian Soldiers

The song brings forth the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers during the then concluded Indo-China War. When sung, even to this day, it moves us to think of those soldiers who “gave their today for our tomorrow”.

 
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Indian Soldiers during the War

 Full Song

Ai mere vatan ke logon, tum khuub lagaa lo naaraa

Oh, my fellow citizens! Chant slogans in praise of our country.

yah shubhdin hai ham sab kaa, laharaa lo tiiranga pyaaraa

This is an auspicious day for us all, so fly our beloved tri-color flag.

par mat bhuulo siimaa par viiro.n ne hai praan ga.nvaaye

Yet, do not forget that brave soldiers have lost their lives on our borders.

kuchh yaad unhe.n bhii kar lo, jo laut ke ghar na aaye

Remember those who have not returned home.

ai mere vatan ke logo, zaraa aa.nkh me.n bhar lo paani

Oh, my fellow citizens! Shed a few tears.

jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii

Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

tum bhuul na jaao unko, is liye suno yah kahaanii

Listen to this story so that you do not forget them.

jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani

Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

jab ghaayal huaa himaalay, khatre me.n paDii aazaadii

When the great Himalayas were wounded and our freedom was in danger,

jab tak thii saa.ns laDe ve, phir apnii laash bichha dii

They fought until their last breath and then laid their corpses to the ground.

sangiin pe dhar kar maatha, so gaye amar baliidaanii

Resting their heads on bayonets, these immortal martyrs fell into an eternal sleep.

jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii

Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs. 

jab desh me.n thii diivaalii, ve khel rahe the holii

When our country celebrated Diwali, they were playing Holi on the battlefield.

jab ham baiThe the gharo.n me.n, ve jhel rahe the golii

As we sat comfortably in our homes, they were firing bullets.

the dhanya javaan ve apane, thii dhanya vah unkii javaanii

Blessed were those soldiers, and blessed was their youth.

jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii

Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

koii sikh koii jaaT maraaThaa, koii gurkhaa koii madaraasii

Some were Sikh, Jaat, or Marathi; some were Gurkha or Madrasi.

sarhad par marnevaala har viir thaa bhaaratvaasii

But each man who died on the border was an Indian,

jo khuun giraa parvat par, wah khuun thaa hindustaanii

And the blood that stained the mountainside was Indian blood.

jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii

Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

thii khuun se lathpath kaayaa, phir bhii banduuk uThaa ke

Although their bodies were soaked in blood, they still raised their guns.

das das ko ek ne maaraa, phir gir gaye hosh ga.nvaa ke

Each man shot tens of enemy soldiers and then fell unconscious to the ground.

jab ant samay aayaa to kah gaye ki ab marte hai.n

When the final moment came, they said: “Now we shall die.

khush rahnaa desh ke pyaaro, ab ham to safar karte hai.n

My beloved countrymen, stay happy. We now begin our final journey to the afterlife.”

kyaa log the ve diivaane, kyaa log the ve abhiimaanii

They displayed such passion and dignity.

jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani

Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

tum bhuul na jaao unko, is liye kahii yah kahaanii

This story has been recounted so that you do not forget them.

jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani

Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

jai hind, jai hind kii senaa

jai hind, jai hind, jai hind!


Victory to India and its armed forces!

 

Republic Day

This is a festival of modern, free republic India. This is celebrated on the 26th of January every year. It commemorates the establishment of the Republic of India and the day when the constitution of India was introduced. All this happened in the year 1950 on 26th January, more than two years after India got its freedom from the British on 15th August 1947.

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The First Republic Day Parade

Why was 26th January chosen to introduce our constitution?

In 1930, the then freedom fighters observed January 26th as Purna Swaraj day.

So after Independence, this apt day was chosen, as republic day to adopt our constitution.

On this day, India became a sovereign republic, meaning, she could rule herself, had a government system in place, and this governance was by the people themselves.

For Indians this day in their local tongue is known as Gana Tantra Divas. ‘Gana’ in Samskrt means an assemblage or society of people formed with the purpose of achieving the same objects. In this case, Gana denotes a nation. ‘Tantra’ means technique. Thus Gana Tantra Divas, ‘Divas’ meaning day marks the day in the life of Indian nation, when she was given a technique to govern. And what was this technique? It was the constitution.

The constitution of India was drafted by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who was born in MHOW, near Indore. The constitution of India carries the national emblem which has four lions facing the four cardinal directions of north, east, south and west, and also bears a chakra, a bull and an elephant. The elephant signifies the large expanse of the country and the elephantine strength of its people. At the same time, despite its size and strength, the way the elephant is a herbivorous and docile animal, capable of being domesticated, India, despite large size and large population, basically positions itself as a non-violent, peace loving, friendly nation.

This emblem was drawn by an artist also from MHOW called under the guidance of Nandlal Bose, a renowned painter from the Shanthi Niketan of Rabindranath Tagore. The inspiration for the lions and the chakra, came from Ashoka’s pillar, and the flow of lines in the lions came from observation of the lions in the Kolkata zoo, by the artist.

The bull in India is called Rishabh, and bull denotes the ability to be strong and standout, which is why we have the phrase, ’He was a bull among men’. With the bull in our emblem, the idea was for India to emerge as a bull among nations. Also being a predominately agrarian nation, i.e, having agriculture as one of the main stays of occupation and prosperity, the bull is also a life line of Indian prosperity.

The peacock with its myriad colours, its pride, and association with Goddess Saraswathi, the deity for knowledge, indicated India’s pride in its colourful, vibrant, knowledge rich heritage.

While the Shanthi Niketan of Rabindranath Tagore produced the national emblem, our nation anthem came from the pen of Rabindranath Tagore himself. Our national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was penned by Rabindranath Tagore and first published on 24th January, 1950. This poem which was adopted as the national anthem, was set to tune in ‘the dreamy hills beyond Madanapalle’ in the words of Tagore himself, i.e., the present day, Rishi valley hills in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh.

Margret Cousins was an Irish women who had settled down along with her husband James Cousins in Madanapalle to teach at the Theosophical school there. Besides, being an ardent supporter of Gandhiji and an ardent worker for the upliftment of women in India, she was also an accomplished musician. The tune for ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was the result of a collaboration between Rabindranath Tagore and Margret Cousins, when Tagore visited Madanapalle. And this tune forms the backbone of our Republic Day celebrations and every other event of national significance in India.

The other symbol of our national identity, the flag, the Indian tricolour, Tiranga, was designed by Pingali Venkayya and had been introduced on Independence Day in 1947.

In contrast to many nations which fly their flag as a mark of their strength, India flies its flag as a sign of friendship and peace. The three bands of colours denote the prominent characteristics of India. Saffron denotes wisdom, white denotes peaceful nature and green denotes the fertile nature of India. The blue chakra in the centre stands for righteousness and a long life through the passage of time.

All these aspects of India arise out of the principle that governs and drives the entire nation and its populace – the principle of “absolute truth”, which also forms the basis of the slogan of the nation.

The slogan of India, inscribed on the national emblem, is ‘Satyameva, Jayathe’ meaning,

Truth, ‘Sathyam’

Only, ‘Eva’

Triumphs, “Jayathe’,

The republic day or Gana Tantra Divas, is thus the day to mark the birth of a sovereign, democratic republic, called ‘Bharath, that is India’, as stated in the opening lines of the Constitution of India, itself. It is a day to celebrate our national identity denoted by our emblem, an anthem and a flag.

A joyous occasion, it is celebrated parades in Delhi, national capital and every other state capital comprising of colourful pageants that display the colour and valour of the country. The armed forces, army, navy and airforce from all across India participate in the parades and displaying the country’s military strength, along with the general public who put up shows and tableau displaying the country’s colourful cultural strength.

From 26th January onwards, the national capital wears a spirit of festivities. The Moghul gardens, a pride of India, in the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India are thrown open to public for four days until the 29th January.

National Voter’s Day

The Government of India has declared January 25th of every year as National Voter’s Day.

Vote, Etymology

Vote comes from the Latin word “Votum,” which translates as “vow, wish, promise, or dedication.”

First Lok Sabha

Post-Independence, the first Lok Sabha was formed in 1951 by the citizens of this country, culminating from a voting process.

Every voter a Bhagya Vidhata

The Indian National Anthem has the line, Bharatha Bhagya Vidhatha. In this context, it means the President of India.

Every voter in India is truly a Bharatha Bhagya Vidhata in his own right. Each person has the capacity and right to change, mould and shape the destiny of this land.

Each Citizen a King

The Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi refers to everyone as kings in one of his poetry, the relevant line being Ellorum Innattu Mannargal, meaning ‘Every citizen is a king’. He meant to say that every citizen has a role in shaping the destiny of this land. He made this observation even before Independence.

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Subramanya Bharathi

Voting not new to this land

Voting is not something new that was introduced in this land only after independence. Infact, many inscriptions have been found indicating how voting has been a regular feature of this land of Bharatha for many centuries. The 1000 year old temple inscriptions of Uttaramerur in Tamil Nadu speak about the voting system.

 
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The Uttaramerur Vaikunda Perumal temple inscriptions 

The temple inscriptions also mention that people who indulged in corruption were disqualified from contesting elections.

In Ancient India, a system called Kudavolai system was followed where the palm leaves with candidate names were placed inside a mud pot for counting.

In Independent India, initially the multiple ballot system was followed. Then the single ballot system became prevalent. And, now the electronic voting system is followed.

Janapada

There were many Janapada, republics in this land.

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16 Mahajanapada

The very term Janapada means, ‘People coming together to govern themselves through People Governance Body’. Thus implying that people voted to form their governing bodies in these Janapada.

We see from these examples that voting and the governance system has been a norm in this land for thousands of years.

More on Election System in Ancient India in our book, ‘You Turn India’.

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Universal Adult Franchise

In India, Universal Adult Franchise has been followed from the beginning. This has not been the case in other countries.

In USA, the voting rights for women were given only in 1927 after a hard fight. In Switzerland, women got their voting rights only in 1972. It is interesting that India already had a women Prime Minister in Indira Gandhi by then.

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Indira Gandhi

Similarly, voting rights have been hard fought for in many parts of the world.

Equal rights for all genders

In contrast, in India, all the three genders, male, female and transgender have had equal voting rights for many centuries.

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Moreover, in India, post elections, there was gender equality in choosing who should govern the people as can be seen in the case of Indira Gandhi. Other examples include Sucheta Kriplani, elected as the first women Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1966 and Nandini Satpathy, who became the first women Chief Minister of Orissa in 1972.

              
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              Sucheta Kriplani                                                        Nandini Satpathy 

Voting is and has been an important responsibility than just a right to exercise.

It is a responsible choice to be made for a good and clean governance.

Homi Jehangir Bhabha

His achievements may not be so well known outside the scientific community, but his contributions are highly significant. ‘The Father of Indian Nuclear Program’, as he is known, Homi Jehangir Bhabha played a key role in India’s first Nuclear Program, through the institutions that he established.

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Homi Jehangir Bhabha

Beginning of Nuclear Research

Bhabha started his career in Britain, but returned to India just prior to World War 2 in 1939. He then joined the Indian Institute of Science, under Sir C V Raman.  He soon started the Cosmic Ray Research Unit in 1944 as a part of the Indian Institute of Science and conducted his researches in nuclear field.

Founding TIFR & TAEE

In 1945, Bhabha established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai and later the Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment (TAEE) in 1954.

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Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Manufacturing Nuclear Weapons

Post-Independence, Bhabha let known his Nuclear Interests to the Congress Leaders and managed to convince the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru to invest in his Nuclear Programme.

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Homi Bhabha with Jawahar Lal Nehru

Nehru appointed Bhabha as the director of India’s Nuclear Programme. Bhabha through his institutions soon revealed India’s nuclear capability to the outside world.

Other Passions

Apart from being a Nuclear Physicist that he was, there are other aspects to Bhabha’s life such as him being a painter and his passion for classical music.

Inspiring Legacy

Homi Jehangir Bhabha died in a plane crash near Mont Blanc on his way to Vienna on 24th January 1966.

After his death, Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment was renamed as Bhabha Atomic Energy Establishment. Many other institutions came up in his name such as Homi Bhabha National Institute and Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education in Mumbai.

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Homi Bhabha Centre for Science and Education

A commemorative stamp on Homi Bhabha, was issued by India Post in 1966.

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First Day Cover & a commemorative postage stamp issued by India Post on father of Indian Nuclear Programme ‘Homi Jehangir Bhabha’ in 1966.

As one of India’s greatest physicists, Bhabha inspired many scientists to undertake further research in the nuclear field and also in other streams like astronomy and electronics, which he had encouraged throughout his career. Today, for all the achievements that we have in the Nuclear Power, both in civil and defense, we owe our gratitude to Homi Bhabha who set India on the path of Nuclear self-prowess.

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Fabulous rare pic of Einstein, Yukawa(1st Japanese Nobel), Wheeler India’s own Homi Bhabha on a walk in the woods.

Alexander Cunningham And ASI

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Alexander Cunningham, the founder of Archaeological Survey of India was born on January 23rd, 1814.  He came to India at the age of 19 in the year 1833 as second lieutenant of Bengal Engineering Cops.

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Alexander Cunningham

Excavation at Sarnath

When posted in Varanasi, the religious center by the river Ganges at a young age of 21, in the year 1835, he started excavation in nearby Sarnath.

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Sarnath Excavation Site

These excavations at Sarnath that he carried out with his own money, led to identifying the deer park, where Buddha gave his first sermon.

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Deer Park, Sarnath

Which is why in pictures of Buddha’s sermon, there is a depiction of few deer in the background, for, the deer also listened to the sermon of Buddha.

Infact, the syllable Sar in Sarnath means deer in Samskrt and Pali language.

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Buddha giving Sermon, Deer in the background

Those were the days when orientalism was a fashion among the governors of British administration.

Alexander Cunningham’s detailed reports of excavation is something every archaeologist should be proud of. His reputation as a meticulous archaeologist came through from this. He has been one of the pillars of Indian history, even though he was not a student of history. Every historian trusts his report.

These efforts of Alexander Cunningham led to the formation of Archaeological Survey of India in the year 1861 by which time he had risen in rank to become Major General Alexander Cunningham.

India is beholden to Alexander Cunningham for discovering India through archaeology.