Sunday, August 13, 2017

Maa Tujhe Salaam – a Salute to India on Independence Day 2017

Maa Tujhe Salaam – a Salute to India on Independence Day 2017

Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand.

A salute to India on its 71st anniversary of independence -15 August, 2017.

On the night of 14 August, 1947, the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, gave the historical, Tryst with Destiny speech”

Long years ago we made a tryst (date) with destiny (fate), and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. ”

Jai Hind-Hail India
I dedicate this article on behalf of Indian Diaspora in Auckland and also in memory of my Indian Girmitiya (indentured labourer) grandfather Bansi, to all the freedom fighters who were able to deliver this dream – a meeting with fate and cashing on the reality of an Independent India. 

I am a third generation Fijian (Indo Fijian).My grandfather Bansi, was displaced from Karouli, in Rajasthan and torn and tricked from his roots by British in 1915, to slave in Fiji to fill their coffer via sugar plantation, as an indentured (Girmitiya) labourer. I made a pilgrimage to his village some sixteen years ago.

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India (left) with father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. "Tryst with Destiny" was a speech made  to the Indian Constituent Assembly in The Parliament, on the eve of India's Independence, towards midnight on 14 August 1947.
As the Airbus 320 of Lufthansa Airlines glided towards Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, it was a milestone in my life. This was a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, around midnight of 20 October, 2003. Fate destined that I , together with my good wife were passengers on that flight. I was filled with emotions and unprecedented feelings of delight. I had pledged on the burning pyre of my father that one day I would visit my grandfather’s birthplace, to trace my roots, and also visit the places that we only read in Holy Scriptures. The land we looked upon with awe and reverence, and called Bharat Mata –mother India. As I stepped out, I knelt down there and picked some dust and anointed on my forehead. This was the earth where Ram and Krishn also treaded, and so did my Aja, Bansi. And the land we only knew from Bollywood, and little bit from my Girmitiya grandfather. This was his birthplace.

Bharat Mata - Mother India. Maa Tujhe Salaam- a salute to India on its 70th Anniversary of Independence.

I had good and exciting memorable times in tracing my roots to my lineage and the land of Prithviraj Chauhan, near Jaipur in a small town called Karouli in Rajasthan. I was saddened to see that the economic development and progress in India has failed to reach remote areas, as sections of the country is gripped in poverty, with deep division in the then leaders. Karouli is very close to Vrindavan, Mathura and Taj Mahal, and near stronghold of dacoits like Gabbar Singh of Sholay fame, near Chambal Valley. But those things some other day.

When the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi visited Fiji over three decades ago in 1981, she had good advice for descendants of indentured Indian labourers or girmitiyas as we are known there. She told us that Fiji was now our country, hence we belonged there. As a result, we owed allegiance, loyalty and love for our country, Fiji.

Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai - the country where River Ganges flows-India. The great country where  this author went in 2003 to trace his roots in Rajasthan. This Raj Kapoor movie gave world a lesson on how to treat your visitors- Atithi Deva Bhava - visitors are our Gods. This is a lesson world leaders need to learn from India.
When Fiji’s racist and ethno-nationalist deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase visited India some two decades ago, he failed to learn anything from Indian hospitality.  The uncrowned father of Indian movies, Raj Kapoor immortalized this aspect of Indian culture in his film, “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Baheti Hai” (the land where Ganges flows) with this song….”Mehmaan jo hamara hota hai, woh jaan se pyara hota hai, jyada ki nahin laalach humko thore mein gujara hota hai... hum us desh ke waasi hai jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...” His song translates to say that we value our visitors more than our life; we do not lust or greed for much as we manage in little that we have... We hail from the land where the Ganges flows…. And from that land if Qarase had learnt that language of Indian love, he may still be ruling Fiji today. But he failed to do so at his peril. And as they say, the rest is history.

Nationalist leaders and others around the world should gain immensely from Indian history and the way of life. Ethnocentric Anglo Saxons, Europeans and other ignorant people who still regard India as a land of snake charmers and rope tricks need to see Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood movie Namastey London. (Greetings to London) They need to get a translation of episode where the protagonist Akshay Kumar, shuts up the great grandson of an English East Indian Company employee who was running down India and its people.

  1. Namastey London: a scene from the movie where the protagonist, Akshay Kumar tells the true tales of real India to a grandson of an Englishman whose grandfather served in  India [Click on the (blue) link above to see that scene- strongly recommended-very inspiring for anybody who hates ethnocentrism.)

By clasping his hands, Akshay says that when we Indians greet each other in the tradition of five thousand year old civilization, we fold our hands close to heart in Namastey (greetings) because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being. 

We come from a nation where we allow a lady of Catholic Religion (Sonia Gandhi) to step aside for a Sikh (Manmohan Singh) to be sworn as the Prime Minister by a Muslim President (Abdul Kalam) to govern a nation with over 80% Hindus (India)

English is spoken and read more widely in India than in England. India has 5,600 newspapers, 35,000 magazines and 21 major languages with combined readership of 120 million, many more than in England. We have reached the moon and back but yet many Anglo Saxons (Europeans) still feel that India has reached only as far as gourd flute of snake charmers. We have third largest pool in the world of doctors, scientists and engineers. All these are of the details of our intellectual might, now look at our physical might.

May be the English grandfather did not tell that we have the third largest army in the world, and even then Indians clasp their hands in humility because they do not believe that they are above or beneath any individual…..end of the lesson. 

So next time you are confronted by an ethnocentric individual who runs down your Bharat Mata , then you repeat the above to shut him. Some good movies, among others, to enlighten you and your children on pride of India are Manoj Kumar’s Shaheed, Upkar and Purab aur Paschim.

Purab aur Pachhim  (East and West)), Manoj Kumar's movie that tells an exemplary tale of Indian culture versus London Anglo Saxon culture. A pride in promoting our culture-very relevant to our westernised Indian Diaspora, especially teens who frown on things Indian.
But how true are those dreams and future that Jawaharlal Nehru uttered some 70 years ago to the date?

The service of lndia means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over. And so we have to labour and to work and work…”

"You support me and be a good Indian, and I will make India number one..." NARENDRA MODI- The Lion of Gujarat - answer to our prayers for somebody to wrest back honour, dignity and respectability that Indian once commanded.
And that work shall continue. And we are proud that India today is in better hands than ever been so, under Narendra Modi. And shall we pray that he will be able to wrest back the dignity India once had. The economic development of the last 70 years has not trickled down to the common people. There is a lot more that needs to be done, where social justice is delivered to ALL Indians. 

A salute to India-Maa Tujhe Salaam

And as we raise the Tiranga, the tricolour flag of India, we pledge to emulate the dreams of our freedom fighters who brought independence to India.

Jai Hind (Hail India)

(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh, based in Auckland, New Zealand, is a third generation Indo Fijian. He was born in Fiji Islands. His indentured grandfather, Bansi came as an indentured labourer to Fiji in 1915. Thakur runs his blog site, FIJI PUNDIT)

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