Wonderful multimedia program organized by the Thane Youth Committee of LRS to celebrate Independence Day.

Over the past year the Thane Youth Committee (TYC) of Lok Raj Sangathan has been investigating, and learning about various burning, contemporary issues that plague our country and world. It has been learning about the economic and political system that prevails today which keeps decision-making power out of people’s hands. Realizing that the problems of the day have their roots in the past, it has made a study of Indian history an important part of its activities.

During this process it uncovered numerous shocking facts that are not taught in schools and the question that immediately arose was – WHY? The answer they arrived at is that “History is written to suit the ruling class.” The more the members studied and learnt. The more the conviction kept growing that the way out of the all-round crisis is to establish Lok Raj

Eager to take this knowledge to as many people as possible, the TYC conceptualized the program, “India: Glorious Past, Disturbing Present and Wonderful Future Potential” as an apt way to celebrate 15th August this year. It was an ambitious exercise – how to present the key points in the history of thousands of years, and end by suggesting the path for the future. The additional challenge was to present it in an attractive way so that the audience would stay interested throughout. It was evident that a lot of attention needed to be given to the form as well as the content. The TYC was up to the challenge and kept the audience enthralled by using a variety of different forms – PPT, video with live commentary, movie clips, speeches, songs – in their 4 hour program.

The program started at 2 pm with the crowd packing the hall. An enthusiastic song was sung with guitar accompanying it to kick start the program. A skit involving a neta, two common people and an enlightened person was used as a technique for transitioning through the various eras in our history. It showed the frustration of the people with the neta. The first video with live commentary portrayed the scientific and technological advancement in our country thousands of years ago in the field of Mathematics, Astronomy, Architecture, Water harvesting, Metallurgy, Medicine etc. People were amazed that our country that had been tagged as backward and uncivilized by the British, had been a leader on a global scale!

A video on the pre-British education system of gurukuls was brought to light. It showed the overall environment for the development of students. They entered the Gurukul at the age of five and graduated at 22 learning a broad variety of 18 subjects including Vedic maths, Metallurgy, Medicine, History etc. Students were taught to be model citizens and not just robots with exceptional mugging capacity.

The compere used subtle humor and kept the mood light and crisp for the audience.

The next speaker highlighted our ancient political system that was in its true sense, democratic. An example of Siddhartha Gautama was given which showed that peoples’ committees had the power over the prince. He had to act in accordance with the majority view, even if his view was the opposite. . The kings were elected by the people and didn’t hold supreme power: they had to act in accordance of the people’s wishes.

The great havoc caused by the British rule was portrayed next. Looking upon our country as a source of enrichment, they went about destroying our industry, agriculture and the very social fabric. They created a class of zamindars (and later promoted traders and capitalists) who would benefit by their rule and hence uphold it even if it meant betraying their own people. When the British came to India they were surprised to see the high standard of education of the people and their general well-being, a land without beggars or thieves. A land where people never died of starvation started seeing famines in which crores died during British rule. It was but natural that the people would revolt. The speaker interestingly pointed out that 1857 was definitely not the First War of Independence as we are taught, but a culmination of various revolts taking place prior to it all over the country. It showed that not only the soldiers but also the common people of all castes, religions and regions contributed equally in the struggle. Two poems were read out by speakers with great passion. One was the Ghadar Ka Geet composed in Hindi by the warriors of those days. The other was a tribute in Marathi to the heroes of 1947. The audience was greatly moved and broke out in a big round of applause.

The next part explained the change in policies implemented by the British to maintain their Empire. The state machinery was set up – including the bureaucracy, the armed forces, and the judiciary. They made policies and laws in which fighting for the country could be labeled sedition and was treated as the biggest crime punishable by death. Very important is the fact that they established their own system of education and in a very planned way started teaching Indians to look down upon their past, to think that their country is ‘backward’ and to look at the British as their saviours and benefactors who would modernize it. They even more systematically implemented the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. The first ‘communal riots’ in the history of India were organized by the agents of the British rulers in the 19th century!
They established the Indian National Congress as a ‘safety valve’ to keep the people from revolting. In fact, later many instances of the repeated treachery of the Congress leaders was brought to light.

The people were introduced to the Hindustani Ghadar Party (HGP) and its role in the freedom struggle. Ghadar, the newspaper of HGP was used as a medium to spread awareness.

A series of inspiring clips from the movie The Legend of Bhagat Singh showed the role of Hindustani Socialist Republican Association in the freedom struggle.

A speaker talked about the Royal Indian Navy strike and the crucial role it played in driving the British out of our land. What was shocking was that we, who live in the very city which was the focus of the revolt are not taught about it.
In fact, ‘Why is this never taught to us?’ is the question that repeatedly kept coming to the minds of many in the audience.
The answer became crystal clear when two speakers pointed out that the system that the British established continues to this day. Most of the key laws and policies have been retained. Only a miniscule fraction of our population prospers at the cost of the rest.

The skit brought out the fact that people today may have the vote, but they have no say in making the decisions, the policies and laws, that vitally affect them. That is why Lok Raj Sangathan was formed; it is working to establish Lok Raj.
The next two songs – of resolve and hope – made the crowd groove to the beat and clap in unison. The program ended on a high note and the audience was glued to their seats till the end. It seemed as though they were reluctant to leave the hall!

The 4-hour program as a whole was a huge success. The research done by the members was extensive, elaborate and well presented. The Thane Youth Committee of Lok Raj Sangathan had worked it all out with finesse and grace, both on and off stage.

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