Remembering the Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary legacy in the times of cultural intolerance

bhagat singh

Let me remind that we are living in the era of the deep crisis of thought and ‘age of cultural intolerance’ across the world because of the Right-wing conservative forces has captured the power in most of the countries. For instance, the rise of Donald Trump in the USA, Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and PM Modi in India etc. could be taken as cases in point. To note that societies across the world are currently confronting all kinds of problems like, the menace of terrorism, (a recent New Zealand mosque terror attack can be seen as an example) and rise of de-humanizing forms of crony capitalism etc. in fact created deep crisis which led to the rise of extreme poverty, racism, and socio-economic inequality and communal tensions.

In the case of India, several academics and civil society groups have also expressed that since the rise of the BJP-RSS led Modi regime (2014) has in fact created deep fractured and tensions in Indian society on the lines caste, religion, and class. For instance during the last five years of Modi rule, one cannot deny that rabid communalism, mob lynching, love jihad and practices of untouchability, caste atrocities, discriminations against women etc. have tremendously increased and continued unabated.

Giving this deep crisis in all sphere of life, it is crucial to remember once again our forgotten revolutionary heroes like Bhagat Singh and his comrades contributions and sacrifices for the cause of humanity in general and toiling masses in particular, on the occasion of Singh’s 88th‘Martyrs Day’. Singh was born on 28th September 1907 at Chak no.105 of Lyallpur Banga, currently located in Pakistan and got a death sentence on 31 March 1931.

Historians of Modern India have noted that Singh and his comrades were deeply influenced by the philosophy of Marxism, Communism, and Socialism and committed to establishing an egalitarian society where there will be no scope for exploitations of men by men. It is to be noted that Singh  had deeply thought about and reflected on the issues like Communalism, anti-imperialism, caste system and practices of untouchability and economic and social exploitations of toiling masses.

In this respect, he contributed and wrote several articles in Kirti( Panjabi) in the late 1920s and 1930s on these above issues.  While writing on the menace of Communalism titled as ‘Communal riots and their solutions ‘in the Kirti in 1927 he empathized that to overcome the question of ‘communalism’ in Indian society there is a need to sharpen the ‘class consciousnesses’ among the workers.  In this respect, while giving his thought to solve the ‘communal questions’, Singh writes, ‘to prevent people from fighting each other, “class consciousness” is the need of the day. The poor labourers and the farmers must be clearly taught that their real enemies are the capitalists’.

In a similar way, he expressed his deep anguished while noticing the practices of untouchability in Indian society.  As Singh observers, “a dog can sit in our lap”, he wrote, “can walk around freely in our kitchen while mere touch of a human being will lead to a religious outrage’’.

To note that Indian revolutionaries like Ashfaqulla Khan (22 October, 1900- 29 December, 1927), Raj Guru (24 August 1908 – 23 March 1931) and others had often raised the slogans like “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Down with Imperialism” during anti-colonial struggles. In short, for Singh and his comrades the project of ‘human liberation’ could not be possible unless we fight against the British colonialism and address the problems like inequality, caste system and exploitations of toiling masses.

So given the deep crisis across the globe including Indian society as said earlier, I think we should not forget our Martyrs like Bhagat Singh and other Indian revolutionaries (particular in times of cultural intolerance) who suffer a lot during anti-colonial struggle and eventually sacrificed their life for the cause of the ‘human liberation’ during the height of anti-colonial struggle in general and for the Indian toiling masses in particular.

The author is a research scholar Department of political Science, University of Delhi.



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