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‘Anti-imperialist ideals behind 1857 uprising forgotten’

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A NEW PERSPECTIVE: Historian Suryanath U. Kamath inaugurating a seminar on freedom movement in Mysore on Thursday. K.K.N. Kurup (third from left), former Vice-Chancellor of Calicut University; and S. Paramashivaiah, president, Marimallappa Educational Institution; are seen.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE: Historian Suryanath U. Kamath inaugurating a seminar on freedom movement in Mysore on Thursday. K.K.N. Kurup (third from left), former Vice-Chancellor of Calicut University; and S. Paramashivaiah, president, Marimallappa Educational Institution; are seen.

Special Correspondent

Commemoration of event reduced to recalling heroic deeds: K.K.N. Kurup

MYSORE: Well-known scholar K.K.N. Kurup has drawn attention to the relevance of the 1857 movement and its anti-imperialistic ideology in modern times.

He was delivering the keynote address at a seminar on “Perspectives on Indian National Movement” organised by Mallamma Marimallappa Women’s Arts and Commerce College here on Thursday.

Dr. Kurup, who is the former Vice-Chancellor of Calicut University and the Director-General, Centre for Heritage Studies, Tripunithura, said that any celebrations of the memory of 1857 or its 150th anniversary had been reduced to commemoration of its leaders and their heroic deeds while forgetting the ideology of anti-colonialism. The lessons and ideology of the event had to be taken to the common people for making them allied to the forces of anti-imperialism, said Dr. Kurup.

He said in the context of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the 1857 events that even the historiography of the event had changed. “The world from its bipolar situation of political power and its allied system had changed into unipolar system dominated by the ideology of globalisation and finance capitalism and a neo-imperialism was spreading throughout the world demanding submission through contracts and agreements. India was switching over to such a system of political allegiance to the dominant system”, he said.

Dr. Kurup said that new historiographical attempts were being made to define the 1857 events as a cultural confrontation between Christians and Muslims and underlined that it was fought at all levels of society but was destined to fail.

Suryanath U. Kamath, historian, in his inaugural address stressed the need for undertaking research on the freedom struggle and national movement at subaltern levels in smaller regions and of different social groups.

Dr. Kamath said there was wide scope for such research and was essential to make the local groups and region not only feel proud but to instil confidence in them to help play their own role in the all-round development of their respective regions.

He said a mere chronology of events without outlining the sufferings and sacrifices of the people would become fruitless and pointed out that in the context of Karnataka, the nationalist movement threw up new leaders in public life in theatre, literature, education, cooperation, khadi and village industries.

“All great writers of Karnataka of yesteryear, Bendre, Shivaram Karanth, Basavaraj Kattimani and Kuvempu to mention a few, were connected with the movement”, said Dr. Kamath who said local, regional and subaltern studies of freedom movements needed to be undertaken on a greater scale. These details were sure to inspire younger generation which had its own role to play in the development activities and social change, he added.

Dr. Kamath said although uprisings against the British in the 19th century was led by princes and feudal lords, the 20th century upheavals were people’s movement. “No doubt the Congress, led by Mahatma Gandhi, was responsible for creating the national awakening in every nook and corner of India and mobilise them in the uprising, the Congress alone cannot claim monopoly of the success of the movement as it was then a common platform and the Communist Party of India, Hindu Mahasabha, Socialist Party, Forward Bloc and other groups formed part of this platform”.

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