Frontlist | Lessons from autobiographies of some of India’s founding fathers
On Jan 26 this year, India will celebrate its 72nd Republic Day. 26th January 1950 was the day when the Indian republic and its constitution came into force. Also, it was this day in history in 1965 when Hindi was declared as the official language of India. Republic Day is celebrated every year with much enthusiasm all over the country and to mark the importance of this occasion. A grand parade is held in New Delhi, from Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan along the Rajpath, past India Gate and on to the remarkable Red Fort.
India was a British colony for roughly 200 years. British ruled over the Indian subcontinent from 1858 until the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. In order to gain independence for the country, many brave hearts laid down their lives but never gave up. It was because of their sheer grit, determination and perseverance that India got independence on Aug 15 1947.
Apart from the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives, many other men and women constantly struggled and did their part to see India as an independent country one day. Their dream became a reality eventually and some of them also got a chance to participate in nation-building. Five prominent figures in this act are Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, B.R. Ambedkar and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Also known as the ‘Founding Fathers of the Indian Republic’, their contribution to the country is remarkable and irreplaceable.
Out of our five founding fathers, three of them – Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and B.R. Ambedkar penned down their autobiographies as a stepping stone for the future generations. Their autobiographies continue to be read by millions and give an insight into the principles on which India was created. Also, we can learn a lot from their lives and their autobiographies.
‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’ was written by Mahatma Gandhi and covers his life from early childhood through to 1921. It was written in weekly instalments and appeared in the weekly journal ‘Navjivan’ during 1925-28. The book includes reminiscences of childhood, child marriage, his relationship with his wife and parents, life in London and South Africa and his political awakening. There are many lessons that can be learnt from Gandhi including the importance of truth, the right way of living, nonviolence, respect for elders, freedom and striving for it. Even in his autobiography, Gandhi doesn’t present an ideal picture of himself. Rather, he presents a humane and truthful one with his own follies and strengths. All that matters is to experiment in life, learn from it, and move on.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s autobiography is named as ‘An Autobiography’ or ‘Toward Freedom’. First published in 1936, it was written while Nehru was in prison between June 1934 and February 1935. In the preface itself, Nehru clarifies his aim and objective behind the writing. He wrote, “my object was…primarily for my own benefit, to trace my own mental growth.” It is an honestly written book and provides authentic descriptions of prominent freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi. It also gives readers an idea about the character of Nehru himself. Reading his autobiography makes the readers understand that mistakes can be made, even by Nehru himself. But all that matters is having a vision, commitment to plurality, democracy, equality, progress and modernity. All of them constitute the foundations of India.
‘Waiting for a Visa’ is a 20-page autobiographical life story of B. R. Ambedkar written in the period of 1935–36. The book consists of sections relating to Ambedkar’s experiences with untouchability, starting from his childhood. It also includes other people’s experiences with untouchability. The book brings in light the social evils that untouchability and caste system are. The most important lesson that we can learn from it is to treat everyone with respect and equality. If we rise above various parameters that divide us, we can take India to new heights.
The life that Subhas Chandra Bose and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel lived are sources of immense knowledge and lessons. Through his drive, his persistence and his negotiation skills, Patel lobbied with princes of more than 562 princely states which led to the creation of today’s Indian republic. On the other hand, Bose formed the Forward Bloc and one of its main objectives was the independence of the nation. He provided leadership to the Indian National Army after he went to Japan in 1943. He also founded the Provisional Government of Free India at Singapore.
Source: Times Of India