On the evening of 23rd March 1931, when the British government in India hanged Bhagat Singh along with Sukhdev and Raj Guru, he was merely 23 years old. With a smile on his face and sparkle in his eyes, he kissed the noose and met his death as if he was meeting a long lost friend. At 23, when our youth are still confused about what they intend to do in their lives, Bhagat Singh having already inspired millions of Indians with his revolutionary ideas and his call for complete independence, laid down his life for his nation.
But today after 70 years of India’s independence, can we stand up and tell Bhagat Singh that we have created the India of his dream? That his martyrdom has not been wasted and India has achieved total independence, from oppression, obsession, and imperialism. The answer, sadly is “No”. We have not only failed Bhagat Singh but also destroyed his dream and built a nation which is being destroyed intrinsically by more of its own citizens and leaders than its enemies.
Bhagat Singh envisaged an India where no one will be crazy for money or other worldly desires and no one will be obsessed with religion. There will be no chains on the body or controls by the state. But what got created instead was a nation which as soon as its independence from the foreign invaders, became a slave of its own people who took the reigns of nation building in their hands. India, in the last 70 years, has come to be associated with rampant corruption and British Raj gave way to Political and Bureaucratic Raj. Politicians and government servants who were supposed to be serving the ordinary citizens and the oppressed classes, themselves became the oppressors and still continue to abuse their powers. As a result the rich became richer and the poor became poorer. The hunger for money and power has become insatiable.
Bhagat Singh’s thoughts on religion are well reflected in an essay that he wrote while he was in prison. Titled “Why I am an Atheist” gives us a peek into the mind of this great martyr. He wrote, “As regard the origin of God, my thought is that man created God in his imagination when he realized his weaknesses, limitations and shortcomings. In this way he got the courage to face all the trying circumstances and to meet all dangers that might occur in his life and also to restrain his outbursts in prosperity and affluence. God, with his whimsical laws and parental generosity was painted with variegated colors of imagination. He was used as a deterrent factor when his fury and his laws were repeatedly propagated so that man might not become a danger to society. He was the cry of the distressed soul for he was believed to stand as father and mother, sister and brother, brother and friend when in time of distress a man was left alone and helpless. He was Almighty and could do anything. The idea of God is helpful to a man in distress”. This clearly states that he believed God should be the source of strength for the weak. However, instead of following his ideas we decided to follow the ideas of British and till today religion is being used as a weapon to divide his country. We have bled this country numerous times in the name of religion and still continue to hold religious grudge in our hearts without realising that religion is merely a tool to attain political power.
But it is not just the politicians and government servants who have betrayed martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru. We, the citizens of independent India are equally, if not more to be blamed. Since independence, we have placed blind faith in our leaders. Votes have been cast in the name of religion, caste, region, money, status and any other reason but merit. Even after being backstabbed in the form of multi-billion dollar scams, we continued to vote for the same leaders. When someone is being oppressed by the powerful, we turn a blind eye till the time it’s our turn to be oppressed. We are responsible for rampant corruption that prevails in the country because we chose to pay bribes for our comfort.
As citizens of this country, everyone is aware of the rights that constitution of India grants us. However, when it comes to our duties towards our nation we start looking at the next person. What does it take for a citizen to perform his/her duties towards their nation? Nothing much, just respecting the law and a sense of belonging towards the nation. But even that becomes too much of a task for most of us. Waiting at a traffic signal is an insult to us, throwing trash on the roads, in the parks is fashion, disrespecting women and senior citizens gives us a high, defacing the national monuments and our country with posters and graffiti is art for us. We can kill for religion but have no time to save the life of someone injured in a road accident. And most importantly some of us even shield terrorists and throw stones at the soldiers fighting for them.
Bhagat Singh also had a choice. He could have chosen to live an ordinary life. But he realized his duty towards his motherland and left all the pleasures of life waiting for him to choose death. He did not do it for himself, he did it for his country, for all of us, so that we can live in an independent India and can take it to greatness. If he would have been looking at us from heaven, he would be crying his heart out at our betrayal. It is time to realise our mistakes and the disrespect that we have been showing to the souls of Bhagat Singh and countless martyrs who laid down their lives. Every Indian should take a pledge that we would honor the martyrdom of those great souls and contribute whatever we can towards building the India of their dreams. We must pledge that we will do our duty towards our nation and will not allow anything or anyone to divide us. If we can do that only then we would have paid a proper tribute to Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. Otherwise, let’s take down the statues of these great souls across the length and breadth of the country and stop the façade of showing respect to their martyrdom.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.