Window Seat: Quit India Movement

9/08/2020 at 7:00 AM

It is said that Quit India (Bharat Chodo) movement shook the foundation of British Empire. On 8 August 1942 at the All-India Congress Committee session in Bombay, Gandhiji launched the ‘Quit India’ movement.  He gave a call for ‘Do or Die’- karoyamaro.

The British Goverment swung into action almost immediately and arrested almost all front-line Congress leadership including Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel under the Defence of India Rules. The Working Committee, the All India Congress Committee and the four Provincial Congress Committees were declared unlawful associations under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. The assembly of public meetings was prohibited.

Even without the top leaders and under severe repressive measures the movement erupted across the country. ArunaAsaf Ali unfurled the national flag at GowaliaMaidan in Bombay. In several places, local leaders declared National Governments- though most of them could survive only for few weeks. Without the top leaders and a well laid out strategy, the movement became rudderless. As a result most demonstrations had been suppressed by 1944, though upon his release in 1944 Gandhi continued his resistance and went on a 21-day fast.

Though the Quit India movement failed to dispel the British from India, it showed the mood of the public which eventually led them to quit India. There were other socio-political and geo-strategic reasons too. By the end of the Second World War, Britain’s place in the world had changed dramatically and the demand for independence of India could no longer be ignored.

Many of us know about the role Gandhi and other senior leaders played in this movement. However, not many (that include me as well) know about the leaders at the grass root level, about the leaders of these ‘National Governments’- beyond their state. I just read about ChittuPandey, popularly referred to as the Sher-e- Ballia (Lion of Ballia), who ‘established’ National Government in Ballia, UP on 19 August 1942 for a few days before it was suppressed by the British.

Similar National government was also established in Satara in Maharashtra and Tamluk in Bengal. In Tamluk, the TamraliptaJatiyaSarkar functioned for almost two years from December 17, 1942 to August 8, 1944. The chief protagonists were Satish Chandra Samanta, Sushil Kumar Dhara, Ajoy Mukherjee and MatanginiHazra. It had its own newspaperBiplabi.

I guess, feature films (or at least web series) could be made on each of these ‘National Governments’ and/or persons, who fought for the independence of the country and largely remained unsung.

Coming to films, a handful of films have been made on or with the Quit India movement as prominent background. Most prominent among them are Kismet, directed by Gyan Mukherjee (1943) and Saheed directed by Ramesh Saigal (1948) in Hindi and ‘42’ in Bengali. Made in early 1950s it was directed by Hemen Gupta. Music was by Hemanta Mukherjee. In Hindi a film 1942: A Love Story was made in 1994. But this VidhuVinodChopta directed film was more a typical ‘bollywood’ love story than a faithful documentation of the times of 1942.

Regional language in Digital Age

The emphasis on mother tongue in New Education Policy (NEP) has a futuristic construct. Historically, language has held a significant space in India. At present, over sixty-five per cent of the country converse in vernacular. Furthermore, the Indian diaspora and exodus from rural India retained their linguistic, civic, cultural, spiritual and emotional bond with their origin. Though people consume English publications, they are interested in media in native language they grew up in and uphold the presence of their mother tongue.

Social Media and most of the web initially adopted English as a lingua franca. However, they swiftly had to innovate and adapt to gain traction. These days, mother tongue is given much emphasis by not just newspapers and social media but every player in the digital domain.

The Saga of the Mobile Phone in India

Little over a quarter century ago, on July 31, 1995 to be exact, a phone call was made from Writer’s Building in Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Sanchar Bhavan in New Delhi that ushered in a communication revolution in India. It was the first mobile phone call in India. The then Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and the then Chief Minister of West Bengal JyotiBasu spoke to each other using hand held Nokia mobile phones over a private MobileNet service.

Mobile phones were slow to take off in India, owing to expensive call rates (Mobile call charges back cost Rs 8.40 per minute for both outgoing and incoming calls. Rates could go up to Rs 16.80 per minute) and the cost of early mobile hand-sets. But as rates fell and smartphones emerged which brought Internet to our palms- the mobile usage soared. Between 1995 and 2020, the growth in number of mobile phone users has been 3000-time. By end 2019, the number of mobile subscribers in India crossed 1161 million. Mobile internet users doubled in last 5 years.

Thanks to the advance in ICT, today’s mobile phone has become a multi-functional device. It could be and being extensively used in practically every field be it business, education, governance, health services delivery and myriad other activities. During Covid-19 pandemic- mobile phone has become the life-line for hundreds of millions of people.

Tailpiece: LIC

Wife was an LIC employee. She went to a portrait painter to get her painting done. She asked him to add an eleven lakh rupees necklace to her neck on the portrait, although she was not wearing any.  

The painter asked why she wanted it in her picture.  

She replied:  If I die, no doubt my husband will marry again.  The new wife will see this picture and will search endlessly for this non-existing necklace. They both will fight and that’s when my soul will find real peace.

This is called: JeevanAnand Policy. Zindagikesaathbhi, zindagikebaadbhi.

Tailpiece: Friendship

Corona infected Amitabh Bachhan. Amar Singh died.

This is called true friendship.

(Courtesy: Social Media)


Journalist-turned media academician MrinalChatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction. His novels have been translated in several Indian and Foreign languages.

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