Aligarh : Prof Mohammad Sajjad, Faculty member of the Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) got into the depth of how the Indian Nation emancipated from the fetters of the foreign rule by revisiting the larger than life Indian National Movement that galvanized over 350 million people against the British Raj.
He was putting the historic events in the hearts and minds of the audience in a lecture on ‘The Indian National Movement and its Legacy’ held to commemorate the Nation-wide ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ observations of the Faculty of Arts.
Delivering the lecture at the Arts Faculty Lounge, Prof Sajjad remarked: “The story of the Indian National Movement is basically a story of social change through democratic means as a prolonged process. This was the world’s biggest mass struggle for socio-economic emancipation, and an exercise in preventing the degeneration of politics into a counter-revolution and authoritarianism”.
“What kind of India was to be made, after gaining independence, had been visualised during this anti-colonial struggle, which had its own vicissitudes”, stressed Prof Sajjad as he was setting the tone and tenor of the gathering that resonated throughout the programme.
“One of the greatest problems was that there was something that had held us back and led to our colonial subjugation. Culturally, we had worked towards subjugating and excluding our own people through certain practices that were challenged by people like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Jyotiba Phule and scores of other reformists”, he said.
Winding the gathering through the historical ups and downs, Prof Sajjad spoke about how reformists uplifted the marginalized sections of society.
“The reformist movements helped create a proportion of the middle class which harboured enough cultural self-confidence to challenge, confront and negotiate with the colonial state. Partha Chatterjee called this phase of nationalism as the Moment of Departure. He found such articulations in literary outputs of Bankim Chandra Chatterji. One may also attempt to find such features in the writings of other Indian languages too. Hali, Shibli, and other associates of the Aligarh Movement also contributed to this, through their persuasive and unconventional writings. Hali’s long Urdu poem, ‘Mutawassit Tabqa’ (1891), which means the middle class, would be of particular interest. Moin Ahsan Jazbi’s booklet of the 1950s, Hali Ka Siyasi Sha’oor, is an important and interesting read, in this context”, he emphasised.
Prof Sajjad pointed out: Most of our biggest problems are the legacies of colonial subjugation and the manner in which the British had quit India with a blood wrenched partition.
He urged students and faculty members to look into some earlier scholarly works which show that there was no animosity between Indians of different religious fractions before the British ‘divide and rule’ policy engulfed the nation.
“B D Chattopadhyay’s book, ‘Representing the Other’, based on Sanskrit sources during 8th to 14th centuries, amply demonstrates that there did not exist any animosity or otherization of certain communities. People were referred to with their ethnic/racial identities such as Tajik, Turk, etc. Traders belonging to the faiths such as Jains, Muslims, Brahmans, Vaishyas, all donated for each other’s prayer houses”, said Prof Sajjad.
He added: “The territorial and political defeats and victories were not attributed to the respective religious communities. These kinds of fissiparous history-writing and massive popularization of such divisive notions are phenomena of the 19th century colonial state”.
Prof Sajjad discussed the period of 1930s as of particular significance in terms of the enduring legacy that the national movement bequeaths to us.
Deploring the rise in communal forces in the late 1930s and 1940s, he said, “We entered into the decisive 1940s with communal forces getting open and secret support from the colonial state. In this period Subhash Chandra Bose was quite clear about the communal threat even though the means he chose to employ in order to fight the colonial forces remains a question of concern”.
“Mohammad Ali Jinnah cunningly converted the minority rights discourse into separatism. Having converted a minority into a nation, Jinnah and his colonial benefactors inflicted most fatal injuries to the noble cause of minority rights, in our subcontinent”, asserted Prof Sajjad.
Presiding over the lecture, Prof Farhat Hasan (Department of History, University of Delhi) stressed, “Apart from the blame on the colonial state, Indians also need to look into why so much of violence spread despite the non-violent character of the National Movement”.
Prof S Imtiaz Hasnain (Dean, Faculty of Arts) introduced the speakers and presented an overview of the programme.
He also discussed legacies and uniqueness of the Indian National Movement.
Prof Arif Nazeer Ahmad (Department of Hindi, AMU) spoke on the economic plunder during the colonial rule and Dr Nazrin B Laskar extended the vote of thanks.