We owe a lot to the sweat and tears and the tremendous scarifies of the great men and women and the innumerable unknown soldiers of the epic freedom struggle for the freedom we enjoy today. It was, by no means, a small endeavor as they gambled with an uncertain future and found themselves pitted against the greatest and mightiest empire in history. But their iron resolve to sacrifice everything they cherished in life overpowered the bullying and insolent might of the Empire. Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the famous Salt Satyagraha and the Quit India Movement are just a few cases of bravery where a subject race loudly proclaimed to the world that freedom was more important than anything else.
Long before the old colonies in Africa woke up to the drum beats of freedom, Gandhiji appeared on the political scene of South Africa fighting for the oppressed compatriots who had settled down in Pretoria, Cape Town and Johannesburg. he was humiliated and bludgeoned and deprived of basic rights, yet this frail mans stood up to the contumely of the white rulers who had laid down different rules to discriminate the Negroes and the colored Indian settlers. The sufferings of his countrymen in South Africa steeled Gandhiji’s resolve to fight the prolonged war against British colonialism. What shocked the colonial masters was that here was an ordinary man who was prepared to fight the inveterate enemy with no weapons save the invincible weapons of truth and non-violence. At last this great Mahatma laid down his life so that his country might live as an independent country.
Gandhiji was not alone, there were several others who rallied under the banner of freedom – leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai who succumbed to injuries inflicted by lathi charges, the several hundred who courted jails like Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, and the three great warriors – Bhgat Singh, Rajguru and Chandrasekhar Azad who suffered martyrdom for the sake of the nation’s emancipation.
By they countries, societies or individuals, none could have gained their cherished objective without the pain of struggle. Let them be philosophers, statesmen, scientist, social activities or social reformers, administrations or technocrats, artistes or artists or sportspersons, they struggled hard to achieve success in life. Can anyone asses the scarifies that lay behind the French Revolution, the American War of Independence, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Chinese Revolution ? The people of Vietnam under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh fought the American military intervention until the great power was made to retreat ignominiously. The US is said to have used against Vietnam the total firepower used by the Allies during entire stretch of the Second World War, yet the brave people of Vietnam refused to surrender. On the other hand, it was the US that hat do quit Vietnam disgracefully. The war claimed the lives of 1.3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans.
Mr. Nelson Mandela has become the greatest living African leader and one of the greatest statesman of modern times for the sacrifices he made in putting an end to the notorious apartheid (racial discrimination) rampant in South Africa and elsewhere in the African continent. He became the first black President of South African in 1994. For the ‘crime’ of freeing his countrymen from the stranglehold of apartheid, Mr. Mandela was jailed by the white rulers in 1964 and by the time he was released in 1990, he had become a world celebrity, a symbol of freedom against oppression anywhere in the world.
Don’t we know that several people made their sacrifices or returned unsuccessful before Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mt. Everest the highest mountain peak in the world on May 29, 1953. Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator had to brave hurricanes and mutinies before he could reach the Malabar coast in 1498, the first Westerner to sail round the Cape of Good Hope to reach India.
Galileo (1564-1642), the famous Italian astronomer, mathematician and natural philosopher earned the ire of the ecclesiastical authorities for corroborating the discovery of Copernicus. Galileo was brought before the Inquisition and under threat of torture he recanted his statement. He was finally allowed to live under house arrest in his own home at Arcetri, near Folorence. Galileo’s discoveries include the mountains of the moon, the multitude of stars in the Milky Way and the existence of Jupiter’s four satellites. NASA has named one of their space probes after Galileo. On October 31, 1992, exactly 350 years after Galileo’s death, Pope John Paul II retracted the sentenced passed on him by the Inquisition.
“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.” said the world-renowned comedian Charlie Chaplin (1889-1997) who set the world laughing every time he came on the screen. He made the world laugh while coming up on the world stage he hard way. Chaplin’s father was an alcoholic and died when eh was a child, leaving the family in a state of extreme hardship, and his mother was mentally unstable and unable to support him. His first regular education was in the school at the poorhouse, and he worked for a while as newspaper boy and glass-blower. By the age of eight he was a seasoned stage performer, and his skill in comedy developed when he joined a vaudeville company that went to Hollywood in 1914. The rest is history. Even in the worst of crises, Chaplin never lost his cool.
Take a close look at our celebrities in the tinsel world. Satyajit Ray started his career as a commercial artist and by the time his time span on the world stage was over he had become a world celebrity.
Pear S. Buck, the American novelist and Noble Prize winner (1892-1973( faced several twists in her life. When she wrote The Good Earth, there was no publisher willing to accept the script. A disillusioned Buck dumped the script in the waste paper basket. When she had second thoughts over the merits of her script, she retrieved it from the waste basket a day after. Had the waste collector turned up in between, she would have lot the script for ever. Regaining fresh confidence, she touched the script here and there and it was not only published, but earned her the 1938 Nobel Prize of Literature.
Let’s go through the corridors of time walking up along with the Tatas from JRD Tata to Ratan Tata. In a system rife with corruption, JRD’s name was synonymous with integrity and probity. His companies built commanding positions in truck and locomotive manufacture, watches and chemicals. Tata also promoted philanthropy, financing research in cancer and population control and set up an institute to study alternative energy. But Tata’s first love was flying and in 1932, he founded Tata Airlines and piloted its first mail service between Karachi and Bombay. In 1953, after the government nationalized what had become Air India, he stayed on as its Chairman. He was entirely critical of what he called “the economic dictatorship of the government”. He died in 1993 around the time Narasimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh thought it was time for dismantling the ‘soul-breaking’ government control.
A new Tata is shining on the horizon of entrepreneurship with its footprints not only in India but in different countries. Mr. Ratan Tata’s business empire has spread far and wide in different countries. going beyond the dreams of the founding fathers of the Tata group, Mr. Ratan Tata acquired Tetley in 2000 and acquired Daewoo Motors over ten other bidders. Now spearing to seven other countries with the acquisition of NatSteel of Singapore, Tata Steel has a total installed capacity of 6 million tones and has access to Singapore, China, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia. And there are many in the vanguard like Mr. Azim Premji, Mr. Narayan Murthy, Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw…The one who was just a petrol pump boy decades ago turned out to be the tycoon of the biggest business empire in India — the late Dhirubhai Ambani.
From a scene, for man obscure village, with no government support, P.T. Usha emerged as the ‘golden girl’ of Asian sport. More youngsters are emerging on the Indian scene of field and track events. There are budding stars in tennis, track events, shooting, weightlifting, golf, motor racing, etc. India had a great tradition in chess, but until the advent of Viswanathan Anand, we were not even a peck on the international chess horizon. Anand has become a living legend in world chess tournaments with his current ELO rating of 2876.
For anyone prepared to struggle, the goal is not far away. Ask anyone who made it to the top. FO course, divine grace is a must. But that too will come, if only you take the first step. The late Hollywood director, Cecil B. De Mille who directed the classic movie, The Ten Commandments once said : “The person who makes a success of living in the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly.” Civilization is built brick by brick by those who fought every obstacle the courageous way; more the setbacks more their determination to reach the goal. “Pain makes man think. Thought makes man wise. Wisdom makes life endurable.”