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Small streams of protest swelled into national movement to regain freedom, says Kalam

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COMMEMORATION: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, accompanied by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left), Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, on their way to attend the joint session of Parliament in New Delhi on Thursday to mark the 150th anniversary of the First War of Independence in 1857.
COMMEMORATION: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, accompanied by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left), Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, on their way to attend the joint session of Parliament in New Delhi on Thursday to mark the 150th anniversary of the First War of Independence in 1857.

Neena Vyas

India, an example to world in unity in diversity: Shekhawat

  • Shekhawat recalls Nehru's pledge
  • Events of 1857 ignited the spirit of freedom: Speaker

    NEW DELHI: "Small streams [of protest and mutiny] joined together in a powerful flood as a nationwide movement to regain our lost freedom."

    This created "a resurgent leadership" in the diverse fields of politics, spirituality, music, fine arts, literature and industry, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said at a function held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of first War of Independence of 1857 here on Thursday.

    In the 1880s Lokmanya Tilak declared "Swaraj is my birthright."

    Later Professor Subramanyam Chandrashekhar noted that five or six great contemporary scientists, including C.V. Raman, J.C. Bose, Ramanujan and Meghnad Saha, were there in 1920-25.

    Jamshedji Tata started as industrialist and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan set up the Aligarh Muslim University in 1875, Madan Mohan Malaviya established the Banaras Hindu University in 1916 and Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Around the same time Subramanya Bharati expressed his views in his great poem, the song of freedom. Classical music flourished as never before and it was against this backdrop that Mahatma Gandhi gave the "Quit India" call in 1942, Mr. Kalam said.

    Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat recalled Jawaharlal Nehru's pledge at the moment of freedom that each one of us would dedicate ourselves to the service of the nation. He said India had emerged as a nation working within the democratic framework and it was an example to the rest of the world as it had successfully sustained its unity while preserving the diversity of cultures and religions.

    Indomitable courage

    Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee recalled that the First War of Independence might not have been militarily successful the British took one year to suppress it using ruthless oppressive tactics but the people displayed indomitable courage against a mighty empire. The events of 1857 ignited the spirit of freedom.

    Earlier, many VIPs, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Inder Kumar Gujral, were taken back to those trying times 150 years ago when Bahadur Shah Zafar's famous moving poem "Lagta Nahin Hai Dil Mera" was rendered by Jagjit Singh. Shubha Mudgal sang the equally famous poem on Rani of Jhansi by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan. Lyricist and poet Gulzar recited his poem written for the occasion "a poem, 1857."

    The moving event at the historic Central Hall of Parliament that began and ended with the playing of the national anthem lasted 75 minutes, but the collective memories it evoked would last a long, long time.


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