India in 2017 commemorated the 75th year of ‘August Kranti’ or ‘Quit India Movement’. In the history of our freedom movement, the 9th August movement has been such an important, extensive and intense movement which even the Britishers could not imagine.
The Quit India Movement or the India August Movement, was a movement launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942, during World War II, demanding an end to British Rule of India.
The Cripps Mission had failed, and on 8 August 1942, Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan. The All-India Congress Committee launched a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called “An Orderly British Withdrawal” from India.
Mahatma Gandhi and all senior leaders were put behind the bars. This was the time when many new leaders came to the forefront – Lal Bahadur Shastri, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jaiprakash Narayan while many youngsters joined the movement to give it the desired momentum. Such movement in the history of our nation should be seen as a new inspiration, new energy, new resolve and the spirit of innovation among the people.
India became a free country in 1947. The period between 1857 to 1957 was a witness to different stages in our freedom movement as many people laid down their lives for the nation and there were several ups and downs. However, the movement in 1942 was in a way the final mass struggle that the fellow citizens were waiting for.
The 1942 movement prepared the ground work for our independence. We may recall the freedom struggle movement in 1857 when every corner of the country was reverberating with the call for freedom.
Mahatma Gandhi return from abroad, Lok Manya Tilak call for Poorna Swarajya (Total Self Governance) and “Swarajya is my birth right” represent the sentiments at that time. It was followed by Mahatma Gandhi Dandi march in 1930. Netaji Subhash Bose creating INA inspired the people while many youngsters like Veer Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Chandrashekhar Azad, Chapekar Bandhu, laid down their lives for the motherland.
All these events provided the momentum for the freedom and it was a situation of ‘now or never’. If it’s not for today, it will never happen again; such was the mood of the people of the country. Thus, every person of this country was involved in this movement. It seemed that Rajaji’s movement was being carried out through the elite class.
However in 1942, the movement had spread to every region and every social class in the country. The guiding forces were the words of Gandhi ji. This was the movements where the slogan of ‘Quit India’ was on everyone’s lips. One of the most striking features of this movement was that the sentiments which appeared in the minds of the people were altogether different from Gandhi ji’s thoughts, contemplation and ethics.
The key words of this great man were, ‘We shall do or die’. These words from Gandhi ji were unique for the nation. Gandhi had said, “From today onwards, everyone should consider himself as an independent woman or a man and should act accordingly. I’m not going to be content with anything less than complete independence. We will do or die”. These were Bapu’s words and Bapu also clarified that he had not left the path of non-violence. However the situation and the pressure was such that even Bapu, had to adapt to the people’s emotions while assuming the leadership.
All sections of the society; the villages, the farmers, the labourers, the teachers, the students joined this movement with the slogan ‘Do or die’. Bapu even used to say that – ‘whosoever becomes martyr because of the violence perpetrated by the British, one should write this slogan on his body that he was a martyr of this freedom movement’.
Bapu tried to take this movement to such a height and the result of that was that India was liberated from the slavery of the British. The country was desperate for that freedom, be it a leader or an ordinary Indian, there was no difference in the intensity of this feeling. I believe that when the country stands united and when there is a power of unity, when the goal is set, the target is set then the people can walk towards that direction. Within five-years i.e. between 1942 and 1947 Mother India became free.
At that time Rambriksh Benipuri had written a book titled “Zanjire Aur Diware” and inthat book he wrote, “There is a wonderful atmosphere throughout the country. Every person became a leader and every crossroad became the office of ‘the Do or Die’ movement. The country put itself inside the oven of revolution.
The flame of revolution was engulfing the country. Bombay showed the way. All means of transport were stopped. The Court proceedings were stalled. The news of the bravery of the people of India and the brutality of British government was reaching every corner. The public had well placed the Gandhian mantra of ‘Do or Die’.
This book provides the description of that time and shows the kind of atmosphere at that time. It is true that British colonialism began in India and also ended in India. It was not only the freedom of India; after 1942 the way this flame erupted against the colonial rule across the world, India’s freedom became a source of inspiration for colonies in Africa and Asia. The way this inspiration had spread to various parts of the world had become a cause of tribute to the masses of India.
Any Indian can be proud of this and after that we saw that once India got its independence, gradually all these countries became free. This tells us that this was a good evidence of the determination of India. The lesson for us is that when we are determined to do something we gradually move towards the desired goal. Then it becomes the strength of the country and we take the country out of the crisis and the country can be prepared for the new goals. The history is the evidence of this fact.
At that time, the poetry of the national poet, Sohan Lal Dwivedi, vividly described the power of Bapu and the time and movement . In his poem he had said-
चल पड़े जिधर दो डग, मग में
चल पड़े कोटि पग उसी ओर
गड़ गई जिधर भी एक दृष्टि
गड़ गए कोटि दृग उसी ओर